Saturday, December 30, 2006

New Albany Man (and Woman) of the Year: Slumlordis ordinaris.

According to the 2000 census, the city of New Albany boasts in excess of 6,400 rental units. In some areas of the city, well more than half of the population lives in rental housing, the quality of which varies widely.

Cities across the United States have recognized an explicit need to regulate rental units. A clear and persuasive example, just one among hundreds, was first cited here in January, 2006.



A Comprehensive Community Model

This is to be accomplished by developing, passing and implementing a new city ordinance that would, in part:

· Contain an inspection process for all rental property
· Impose fines for violations of the ordinance on property owners/property images
· Establish a database of all rental property, and
· Include an enforcement process
· Would, as much as possible, be financially self supporting

Myriad benefits that would contribute to cleaner, safer neighborhoods are expected to result from the implementation of a rental inspection ordinance, and include:

· Increased property values
· Increased rental demand
· Decreased general calls for police services
· Decreased calls about rental property problems to Code Enforcement
· Increased property management involvement in solving rental property issues

Why Does Vallejo Need a Rental Inspection Program?

Rental inspection programs are designed to accomplish three main goals:

· To clean up rental stock
· To improve the quality of life in neighborhoods
· To increase the economic value of single family homes and other rental residences


But in New Albany, where the long-seated ward heelers eschew ordinance enforcement as a phenomenon that costs the machine votes, the largely uncontrolled and unregulated proliferation of rental properties inexorably contributes to, and in many ways both enables and perpetuates, the culture of unaccountability and dysfunction that must be reversed if the city of New Albany is to move into the future.Sadly, another year has passed, and although time and again the precepts elucidated in the Vallejo Rental Property Program have been discussed by our neighborhood groups and progressive advocates as essential components not only of citywide economic revitalization, but of a belated recognition of basic human rights with respect to the living conditions of tenants, these concerns yet again have eluded New Albany’s elected and appointed public officials.

The conclusion is inescapable.

Not only has the city formerly known as New Albany passed the “tipping” point, it has in fact become a veritable Gregoryville, as safe a harbor for rental property abuse and tenant exploitation as Paraguay once was for inexplicably unemployed and homeless ex-residents of Germany.

Neighborhood concerns are consistently ignored, and slumlords forever enabled, and so let us face reality and greet our real leaders here in Gregoryville with open arms and a humble spirit.*

Ladies and Gentlemen, we at NA Confidential proudly give you our city’s Man (and Woman) of the Year for 2006: None other than Slumlordis ordinaris, beneficiary of the Slumlord Protection Program, and as far from an endangered species as ragweed in summer.

Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.


* maybe they’ll knock a few bucks off the rent if we grovel.

We're taking another day off. Read The Parting Glass at the Potable Curmudgeon blog for an apt New Year's thought ... and see you again late Monday evening.

Friday, December 29, 2006

It's a date: "Confidentiaholics Identified" at the Public House, January 8.

To be exact, 7:00 p.m., and no jokes from me about Progressive Pints.

Rather, on January 8 at 7:00 p.m., we'll have a very informal meet 'n' greet for NAC readers at Rich O's Public House, 3312 Plaza Drive (off Grant Line Road, across University Woods Drive from Kroger).

It's "Confidentiaholics Identified," as coined by Bluegill, and there'll be no agenda beyond getting to know one another and widening the circle of faces to names.

All are welcome. Seriously. If it looks like the crowd is big, we can move into the banquet room and have a bit of privacy. Otherwise, we'll take the corner of the front room.

I'm flattered that the consensus is to have the gathering at my place of business, but if it looks like something we do again, we can spread the wealth to other establishments in New Albany with no objections from me.

Bring a friend or a neighbor if you please. See you on the 8th.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

New Albany's great shame, proliferating rats and the "trash brigade" commentary.

We’re closing 2006 with a late flurry of passion with respect to the state of the city and how it might be improved, and I’d again like to thank readers for their continued participation this week as we’ve again explored “cleaning up” New Albany as a major community theme for 2007.

With so many things happening in the city, and believe it or not, with numerous positive developments literally occurring every day, I keep thinking to myself that from an editorial standpoint, there are numerous other topics we could be covering.

Or are there, really?

Whenever the "clean up" topic arises, NAC's readership numbers skyrocket, comments spike, and the whole enterprise shifts to another level. Quite obviously, there are many among us who believe in the merits of the seemingly self-evident position that without addressing a fundamental enforcement failure on the part of this community, any conceivable foundation for future success will be shaky, at best.

Accordingly, this recurring notion of cleaning up the city obviously has some semblance of legs, and yet, as has been noted, nothing much ever is observed to happen. The bulk of the local political and governmental bureaucracy seemingly remains unmoved. We’re neither consistently acknowledged, nor presented with any clue as to projected institutional changes beyond the application of temporary Band-Aids and the occasional implementation of partisan political photo-ops in support of the two-party system.

In 2007, we hope to determine why, and to make inroads toward changing the culture of calculated unaccountability for which New Albany is rightly, if sadly, known.

Tuesday's “trash brigade” essay, which was reprinted from the suddenly burgeoning Tribune forum, raised a number of questions, comments and private e-mails. The essay came from an unidentified apologist of the status quo, who reasoned that any effort to bring slumlords into general compliance with basic property standards in fact constitutes an attack on the poor and less privileged. Arguably the most eloquent response to this curiously reasoned position came from New Alb Annie, author of the Diggin’ in the Dirt blog, and I’m lifting it to the NAC marquee to give her words the exposure they properly deserve.

And, be sure you read Ann's Thursday blog entry: Rats and Resolutions.


Whoever authored the "trash brigade" commentary certainly has the right stuff to hold a position in our current political cabinet, with its culture of non-enforcement and ludicrous reasoning for doing so.

How many homes in New Albany that are in violation are owned by 'poor people'? In the majority of cases, these houses are owned by slumlords, who take advantage of poor people. The unfortunate, many times uneducated tenants don't know that they, although they may be poor, uneducated and without other things like a good credit history or financial resources, are entitled to value for their rent money. They don't, in many cases, realize that means the windows and doors are supposed to work properly, the furnace and water heater is supposed to be functional, the roof isn't supposed to leak, vermin isn't supposed to be infesting the premises.

No, they are poor, and they consider themselves lucky just to have a roof over their head. Maybe they are in a Section 8 program, and they don't want to make waves. They simply do not know what their rights are, and the slumlords want it to stay that way. And the City of New Albany is happy to aid and abet.

Slumlord X makes a hefty campaign donation every few years to whomever the favored candidate is, and in return, the slumlord continues business as usual, safe from those pesky building inspections that cities with a tenant rights association have.

Tolerance? What about justice? What about minimum community standards being enforced, equitably, so that everyone, rich, poor or in the middle can enjoy the same basic rights--a clean, heated place to live, in a building that is maintained to those minimums set forth by law, in a community that does not allow heaps of trash to pile up and scofflaws to add to the heaps when it pleases them?

The new class of poor who seem to be getting exploited now are Hispanics, and the City of New Albany is helping all the slumlords out with this. Many of these renters do not speak the language well, do not realize they, as tenants, have certain rights when it comes to housing standards. When the educated among us complain about the conditions of these myriad dilapidated rental properties, we're not complaining about the people who live in them, unless those residents are blatant lawbreakers. No, it's the non-enforcement of codes that irks.

But what response do our complaints get? Oh, that's right, we're prejudiced against the poor. So who would be the more prejudiced, those who want to see rental properties cleaned up and well-maintained, or those who turn a blind eye to the conditions the occupants live in? My, my, our administration wouldn't be assuming that because these people may be poor, they like to live in dirty, ill-kept slums, would they?

One way out of the vicious cycle of non-enforcement of codes is an active tenant rights group. Tenants, especially those who are uneducated or have impediments to understanding their basic rights in terms of rental housing, need to be informed that they can withhold rent payments for certain reasons like non-functioning heat, and that they cannot be evicted for complaints about issues like this. But here in New Albany, the practice has been, and continues to be, to empower the slumlord at the great detriment of the city.


Thanks, Ann. That's a marvelous statement of principle.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

On the future of Silvercrest, courtesy of the New Albany Historic Preservation Commission.

The following photo, text, link and principled position is from the New Albany Historic Preservation Commission web site.

It's worth noting that local developer "The Gary" has repeatedly stated that although it would constitute the type of hardship that comes along only once in a schlockmeister's lifetime, he'd be willing to raze the classic Silvercrest architecture and build Lauren's Corner II according to the familiar exurban model if the county doesn't want to take the state up on its offer and deal with it.

Do we need any other reason to hold on tight?


The New Albany Historic Preservation Commission has been monitoring the discussions of the Silvercrest Hospital Historic Site during the last few months. Recent articles mentioned the possible razing of structures on the site.

The Commission has drafted the following letter to our Floyd County Board of Commissioners urging the exploration of all alternatives prior to razing structures on this historic site in New Albany:

Full Text of NAHPC Letter to County Commissioners (.pdf) Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

"My heart is not part of the 'trash brigade' that spends all their time looking at garbage in other people's yards."

Until recently, the “New Albany Forum” section of the Tribune’s web site was seldom very active, a phenomenon I imagined had something to do with the profusion of blogs in New Albany, and the opportunity they have provided for comments and discussion.

But with many of the local blogs lapsing inexorably into a moribund state, and especially within the context of the “Clean Up New Albany” threads at NA Confidential over the past two weeks, the Tribune’s forum has finally started generating a hint of critical mass.

Why were neighborhood concerns omitted from the Mayor's "state of the city" address on Thursday?

UPDATED: It wasn't an isolated occurrence.

New Albany’s own Groundhog Day? That'd be ordinance enforcement.

At least Jethro moved the yard couch.

An absentee rental property owner's Yuletide gift to the citizens of New Albany.

There'll always be differing opinions. The following was posted in a thread bearing the title, “Problems in New Albany.” Contrary to the usual policy pertaining to anonymity, I offer it to you (unedited, except for the title above) without being able to verify its authorship, and cannot attribute its source in the customary fashion. Perhaps the writer will yet claim ownership, and consider joining the discussion here.

After all, he or she correctly predicted that it would “earn a spot” on NAC, and it has. Consider it “another” viewpoint, and let the discussion begin.



It seems like this thread has stalled, similar to forward thinking in New Albany.

I've followed the on and off for a little over a year. It seems that the biggest concern, along with the east spring street association, is garbage in alleys.

I'm not saying that it is right and I agree with you that it's a problem, but before i bought that bargain of a victorian for $90,000 and invested 5 years of my life to fix it up and make it beautiful, I sure would take a look around me and realize that my neighbors might not be as financially well off or inspired as I am in my endeavors to single handedly renovate a neighborhood.

It takes time for neighborhoods to be restored. I don't think it's done by a handful of people who move into a poor neighborhood and then use their knowledge of the system to start having private meetings with the mayor and select members of city council to try to increase enforcement or lobby to hire someone to do nothing but code enforcement.

I took note of some of the code "violations" that were posted on the blog, and then travelled to some of the better parts of town, and sure enough, there are some well to do people in this town, with much more resources, that are in violation. Should we start banging on their doors and let them know they can't do that? I'm sure this enforcement will be fair and just, and be city wide and not just concentrated on select neighborhoods.

I'm probably going against the grain here, because my heart is not part of the "trash brigrade" that spends all their time looking at garbage in other people's yards. It appears that anyone who is not part of the agenda is against it. who knows, maybe this will even earn me a spot on your blog.

I put a couch at the top of my drive, I call the city they come and pick it up. Maybe it's just because I live in the right neighborhood. I'm not sure, but it's never been an issue. If my neighbor is doing some renovating, and stuff sits at the top of his drive for a couple of weeks, I sure don't have a stroke over it. There are bad parts of town all over the world. If you're looking for perfection, maybe this isn't the best place to live. Some of the stuff is just unreasonalbe.

Wanting to hold a landlord responsible for a tennant leaving a dog? Just call animal control. I live in a somewhat secluded neighborhood and for some reason, people think it's the perfect place to leave their unwanted animals. We just call the shelter and they pick the animal up. We don't run out and chase down the car, get a license plate number and then post their name on a blog. Want to commit a crime of illegal dumping to prove a point? I thought all of the nonsense protesting of the 60's was finally over.

Whatever happened to tolerance? Isn't that supposed to be the big thing of today? Aren't we all just supposed to be tolerant? or does that only apply to agenda's?

I also ran across a link from someone, i think it was ceece? who went driving around looking for violations. what a waste of gas and time!! Of course there's violations. In every city!!

I guess it would just be unreasonable that people that passionate would actually pitch in really clean up new albany, and use their collective efforts and resource to be pro-active and possibly do some of this theirselves.

Has it occured to anyone that maybe that person in the house that needs to be painted is handicapped and on assistance? Have you ever thought about taking your resources and just fixing up the house? That would really impact the community, be a blessing to someone else, and could possibly be the start of a new grass roots movement that is willing to walk the talk. Or is it easier just to penalize them and fine them, because you're not happy with a poor person as your neighbor, or maybe you just have something against poor people or people that have fallen on hard times. Maybe someone who's house is in poor condition just doesn't have the funds to fix it up right now, and along comes the "trash brigade" heaping more fines and penalties at them, making it even more difficult for them just to survive.

As for as the landlords are concerned, i'm not sure about new albany, but i'm pretty sure in louisville that a landlord has the right to evict a tennant and set out all of their property. It does not belong to the landlord, it belongs to the tennant and it's the tennant's responsibility to remove the property. If it is not removed, then it's the cities responsibility to remove the property.

It really comes back to a city that can not manage its budget. If we had a well funded street department, they could get their job done. But now we have no real street department. We have a private company doing trash collection, and I noticed the first week that things were going to get worse. It's too late to do anything now, there's an 8 year contract. it would have been more pro-active for clean up new albany to beat the drums of fixing it's sanitation's department budget problems. Instead of fining a $100 for each violation (no offense bluegill, but $100 doesn't mean anything to a landlord or property owner), it would have been better to bill them $100 for picking it up. The trash would be collected, the street department would have additonal income, and it's a lot easier and more beneficial to pursue someone for a delinquent financial account than a code violation.

As for light up new albany, why is it planned the same night as louisville? Part of foward thinking is doing what you can that your event does not lapse with a larger more successful event. What is considered a successful event? do you consider a small huddle of people on pearl street a success? how do you promote? if the businesses down the street don't even know about it, how do the families in new albany know about it? Is light up new albany the one row of bushes on market street? if it is, Vicki's bar and grill out did new albany this year!!

Scribner place will do nothing for new albany, unless new albany is already moving forward. "just wait till scribner place opens". it's really the other way around. scribner place will fail if downtown still looks and feels like a ghetto. If people do not feel safe coming downtown they're not going to come. This isn't Kevin Costner and field of dreams. People are not going to come if you build it. There has to be an environment conducive of it's success. Right now, the only people who will be coming to Scribner place are the skateboarders. It will be the only smooth pavement for miles around, and there will be more steps, rails and ramps for them to tear up. Downtown's the perfect place for them, because there's no enforcement to keep them out, and they know it!

As i've said before, I'm not a trying to be negative , but I will put the truth out there and sometimes it's not pleasant. I'm a little dissappointed the the DNA people who are posting here have not presented any type of comprehensive outline as to what will change. It's obvious that they are well aware of the problems that exist in new albany.

In the meantime, I guess i'll be knocking on my somewhat affluent neighbors house and making them aware that they are in violation of city codes. I'm sure they'll quickly spend ten to twenty thousand to come into compliance, or maybe they'll just call their council member and mayor to explain what their voting interests are and what's important to them.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Why were neighborhood concerns omitted from the Mayor's "state of the city" address on Thursday?

NA Confidential’s bi-monthly feature, “Our City's Most Recent Embarrassing Steve Price Moment (Vol. 72)” has been delayed until later. We'll be taking a day off, and will return some time Tuesday afternoon.

Now, for something somewhat different …

At Thursday’s final city council meeting of 2006, Mayor James Garner offered his “state of the city” address, which surveyed the past year’s developments in finance, sewers, storm water, sanitation, Scribner Place redevelopment, Greenway Phase One and local road construction, and offered brief capsule summaries of the year to come.

In summary: Money’s tight, it will remain tight, we’ve done what we could, and we’ll continue to soldier on to do what we can.

Fair enough. There have been victories, failures and rain-outs, just as in all like situations.

However, and significantly, Mayor Garner said absolutely nothing about neighborhood “clean up” issues pertaining to ordinance enforcement, winked-at substandard housing, slumlord enablement, crime, or other pressing inner city matters of daily life that have been addressed throughout the year by neighborhood associations and various progressive advocates therein.

Perhaps it is the case that such commentary fell outside the scope of the mayor’s speech, or there may be other reasons for the startling omission, numerous possible explanations for which are readily available around town in the form of quizzical wonderment, emanating from sincere people who are increasingly frustrated not just at inexplicable local government inaction, but at its ongoing inability to communicate, to express its hopes and dreams, or to behave in a pro-active way about these or virtually any other issue.

Day by day, this strange detachment begins to resemble the Bush Administration’s crazily delusional view of the disaster in Iraq, except that here in New Albany, City Hall doesn’t even make an effort to spin or fabricate its interpretation of central, persisting neighborhood concerns – if, in fact, there is an interpretation on call.

Rather, it merely reacts – well, sometimes it reacts – when prodded by blog photos, citizen petitions or perhaps even the stray pang of guilt, but through it all there appears to be no overall program of recognition or response, and if there is one, there certifiably has been no discernable effort to explain the program’s planks to those who continue to ask questions in the reasonable expectation of receiving a coherent answer short of something actually being done.

As before, NA Confidential is prepared to respect the mayor’s reasoning, with the firm and sadly necessary caveat that before we can do so, some evidence of a position on these matters must be presented and elucidated, and until it is, the unmistakable appearance is that there exists a widening and harmful disconnect between those potential actions and policies that an ever increasing percentage of residents see as absolutely necessary for New Albany to recover from decades of institutional neglect, and City Hall’s ability to survey this reality with an eye toward causes, effects and comprehensive solutions, and not mere bandages to suffice until the next election.

This situation is all the more bizarre because make no mistake, it isn’t happening because Mayor Garner lacks the requisite gray matter.

While he struggles at times like Thursday night’s address, when he must read from prepared materials, to speak with him close up and personal is to come away routinely impressed with his amazingly comprehensive grasp of facts, laws and procedures pertaining to every imaginable aspect of municipal governance. He is a veritable encyclopedia of often arcane and impenetrable knowledge applicable to his job.

Furthermore, Mayor Garner obviously stands for personal moral principles, possesses a core set of beliefs, and has displayed the determination and stubbornness to tackle daunting fiscal challenges and make tough decisions during his term. Speaking personally, I’ve come to like him. Some of you remember how unlikely that once seemed.

But in the end, there is a huge and mystifying gap, and if it isn’t closed soon, the outlook isn’t promising.

That's because there can there be a more damning indicator of our city’s prospects to resolve preexisting 19th-century problems and successfully chart a 21st century course than the colossal and repetitive failure of its public officials – mayor, councilmen, elected, appointed – to perceive that if we don’t join together to enforce the most basic societal regulations that comprise the superstructure of the community, nothing of permanence can be built, nothing lasting achieved, and no heights attained.

It is the polar opposite of the "can do" spirit of the city's founders. "No can do" would have been unacceptable to them, and it should be equally unacceptable to us. But, this admission of impotence has become standard operating procedure in New Albany.

As for the mayor himself, where is the leadership?

Or, as an NAC reader recently commented, "who’ll be the one to grab this tiger by the tail?"

We know conclusively that leadership won’t be forthcoming from the council’s Gang of Four obstructionists and their Coup d'Geriatrique allies in the business-as-usual segment of the community, although certain other council members certainly seem to get it. And, although many seem to be doing their earnest best, transformational leadership can’t really come from officials who are appointed, unless they’re following orders from higher up the chain of command, which is to imply those coming from above … and here, that’s City Hall, period.

That’s the mayor’s job, isn’t it?

On the other hand, leadership is breaking out all over at the grassroots level, and although we all can be more organized at these efforts, what the grassroots needs most of all for it to take root is some semblance of consistent, principled, public support from public officials, and with the council divided into armed and hostile camps, this support must come from City Hall.


Earlier this week, my NAC colleague Bluegll proposed these principled planks to begin addressing the city’s neighborhood needs:

  • A rental inspection/licensing program.
  • Legal staff whose sole purpose is ordinance enforcement.
  • A total revamping of the building commissioner's office, including all new employees.
  • A fine structure that's of high enough scale to actually act as a deterrent.
  • A city court to expedite the prosecution of offenders and to keep fine revenue in the city.
  • Local dollars budgeted for redevelopment. That amount is currently zero.
  • Much more than the measly $7,000 dollars a year total the city currently spends on historic preservation.
  • A scientific study of land use and value in the city in order to objectively strategize where to implement resources first.
None were deemed worthy of comment during the mayor’s address on Thursday – and that’s profoundly disturbing.

Earlier, referring to the “hung” firefighter hiring ordinance currently before the council, Chief Ron Toran made yet another impassioned request of the city's legislative body:

Vote it up, vote it down – just do something.

We ask the same of Mayor Garner. The positive achievements of his administration will be of no consequence if we do not begin to secure the neighborhood perimeters and to provide the prerequisites for future progress in revitalization. These steps cannot wait, because the future won’t.

Say you’re with us, or say you’re against – just say something.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

UPDATED: It wasn't an isolated occurrence.

If you missed it earlier this week, and especially if you weren't following the discussion thread, go back and look again at Tuesday's NA Confidential marquee. Throughout the day, I'll be adding links to earlier postings addressing the same topic.

An absentee rental property owner's Yuletide gift to the citizens of New Albany.

This mess from 418 East 11th Street. Steven Gregory is the landlord and he dumped this in the driveway of the other house behind it because 418 East 11th street does not have a backyard. This is illegal dumping on someone's property.

See also Gina's Letter from New Albany: Smile - I'm taking pictures of 7th Street.

Lloyd's View from the Highway: Mr, Can You Tell Me How To......?

And check back at NA Confidential on Sunday, Christmas Eve, as we consider the question: "Why were neighborhood concerns deemed unsuitable for Mayor's "state of the city" address on Thursday?"


13 June 2006: REWIND: City Councilman Cappuccino speaks with NA Confidential.

NAC: The rule of law?

CC: (Exasperated) Law, schmaw. No, VOTES! Can’t live with ‘em when they’re cast by those hoity toity East Enders, and can’t live without ‘em if they’re my neighbors on the West Side! They don’t call me the Wizard for nothing, you know. At the same time, my world-famous barbecued bologna cookouts only go so far, and at some point, you have to earn the respect of your constituents, and one great way to do that is to protect them from the heat.


26 November, 2006: CM Kochert's council legacy? One clue: It won't be a smoking ordinance.

In fact, you can bet your Christmas bonus check on the roulette wheel at Caesar’s … or take far better odds toward the likelihood that the same council persons supporting CM Larry Kochert’s anti-smoking ordinance will spin on a dime (your dime, that is) and begin chewing the scenery in full grandstand mode, demanding an immediate audit along with the resignation of every elected and appointed official in City Hall, if they’re so much as handed an estimated bill for enforcing a non-smoking decree.

We’ve seen them do it before, and on multiple occasions, so why would this instance be any different?


26 August, 2006: No, wait -- not on the carpet!

It’s ironic that New Albany’s 3rd District uncouncilman Steve Price would receive a blushing e-love letter from his self-professed, fanatically Democratic constituents, but it isn’t exactly unexpected.

Given the fever pitch of local political personality conflicts presumably dating back to the Eisenhower administration and our city’s general lack of interest in intellectual pursuits of the sort that generally lead toward enrichment and away from misery and poverty, human rationality is bound to be the first casualty of the Coup d’Geriatrique’s hate-infused war against modernity.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Racism at Freedom of Speech? Gee, say it ain't so, Auntie V.

Yesterday at the Freedom of Speech blog, which is a joint troglodyte agitprop venture undertaken by the embittered Ms. Denhart (who masquerades as Erika the wacky professor) and the ambitious Ms. Bolovschak (who provides the gravitas), it was not Thursday, December 21, 2006.

It was Monday, December 18, 2006.

Vickster/Valley, is that the time in New Albany, or in NeverNeverLand?

Irrespective of inept Luddite lag, NA Confidential feels compelled to point out something that Ms. Denhart obviously never has considered, but that we’re reasonably certain Ms. Bolovschak learned during her residency in Atlanta:

When one refers to an African-American male as “boy,” it’s a term of belittling and purely racist derogation.

Thus, inquiring minds want to know:

Why does Ms. Bolovschak sanction derogatory racist comments at her joy toy, otherwise known as the Freedom of Speech blog?

When will the recurring embarrassment be such that Erika is left to her own clueless devices and drown in the bile of her choosing?

Why stoop in such a manner to conquer?

This one’s so bad that even the “noodleheads” might notice. Don't you think?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

New Albany’s own Groundhog Day? That'd be ordinance enforcement.

How many times during the past three rancorous years have we witnessed a member of the city council’s Gang of Four congenital obstructionists, i.e., councilmen Coffey, Schmidt, Price and Kochert, conclude an episode of passionate grandstanding with a meek abstention, and angry denial of responsibility, or much more often, an anguished cry that in the end, without the proper alignment of the stars and assistance from his handy Ouija board, nothing can be done about the problem in question?

Add to this propensity for legislative impotence the view apparently shared by all, but voiced most consistently and eloquently by the 4th district’s Larry Kochert, that for the council to take a pro-active stance with regard to the enforcement of the city’s (and the council’s) own rules is to risk losing votes, and must be pursued with caution, if at all, and the ideal recipe for self-serving gridlock is complete.

Even as we observe another groundswell of support for the idea of cleaning up New Albany’s neighborhoods, the Gang of Four is predictably silent, presumably plotting the necessary excuses for inaction, while CM Kochert himself continues to offer hints that his cherished pet project, an anti-smoking ordinance, is about to be introduced.

For someone like CM Kochert, who perpetually is terrified of losing votes, it would seem a curious move, and one guaranteed to alienate a certain percentage of the electorate. An ordinance requiring an enforcement mechanism that the councilman has been loathe to support in the past when needed elsewhere is … wait, perhaps it begins to make sense after all.

Pass another ordinance, and refuse to fund its enforcement. When the complaints come, all CM Kochert need do is commence an episode of passionate grandstanding, float an angry denial of responsibility, or more likely, emit an anguished cry that in the end, without the proper alignment of the stars and assistance from his handy Ouija board, nothing can be done about the problem.

And as always with the Gang of Four, and with the New Albany Syndrome itself, it puts us right back where we started.


There will be a city council meeting tonight. When the agenda is published, we’ll link to it here.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

At least Jethro moved the yard couch.

Yesterday, for the umpteenth time in just the past year alone, NAC revisited the seemingly eternal issue of New Albany’s only enduring, signature 20th-century social welfare program, the Slumlord Protection Act, in the context of yet another in a long series of slovenly, anti-social outrages committed by the friendly folks at Gregory Family Properties LLC.

If you missed the discussion, feel free to go back and reread it, because it was spirited and quite good: An absentee rental property owner's Yuletide gift to the citizens of New Albany.

Also, I recommend you visit Gina’s blog for a further primer in citizen activism: Smile, you're being photographed in broad daylight on my camera!

Don't forget Courtney's essay, Welcome to New Albany - What problem?

And, there has been much recent activity on the Tribune’s Floyd County Forum (go to the web site and scroll down).

Numerous New Albanians from all walks of life have known for quite some time that "Clean Up New Albany" must be the defining campaign issue -- the most accurate litmus test -- for the forthcoming 2007 election cycle.But in spite of this, think back to the recently concluded mid-term elections. Did any local candidates embrace the specifics of such a fundamental position, and speak aloud of the matters discussed here yesterday, and so many other forums so many other times before?

I can't think of one. Can you?By simple extension, who will be the candidates in 2007 to take what must apparently be the very bold step in advocating the precise condition desired by large numbers of voters, i.e., cleanliness and ordinance enforcement, as well as the even bolder step of articulating and supporting specific planks of a cleanliness and ordinance enforcement platform? Or, will they all revert to the Kochert Maxim: Enforcing existing laws costs the political machine votes?Yesterday, I asked: What would five specific planks of a cleanliness platform be?

Here’s my colleague Bluegill’s answer.


Phyllis Thomas, Republican candidate for the 1st District County Council seat, was the only candidate to my knowledge that mentioned clean up at all, and she offered no specifics.

Potential Planks:

A rental inspection/licensing program.

Legal staff whose sole purpose is ordinance enforcement.

A total revamping of the building commissioner's office, including all new employees.

A fine structure that's of high enough scale to actually act as a deterrent.

A city court to expedite the prosecution of offenders and to keep fine revenue in the city.

Local dollars budgeted for redevelopment. That amount is currently zero.

Much more than the measly $7,000 dollars a year total the city currently spends on historic preservation.

A scientific study of land use and value in the city in order to objectively strategize where to implement resources first.


Time and time again, we discuss and debate these problems, but heretofore, the necessary precondition to successful activism has been unachievable.

That precondition is unity of purpose across party lines, unity of purpose irrespective of neighborhood of residence, unity of purpose apart from perceived social class and the lingering distractions of decades-old slights, and unity of purpose absent probably a dozen other irrelevant considerations that customarily intrude upon the process of convincing people who agree on the nature of the big picture to move past petty self-imposed impediments so we all can begin tackling those injustices imposed upon our neighborhoods from a discredited and unresponsive system in need of immediate alteration.

Will this be the time?

Discuss ... if you please.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

An absentee rental property owner's Yuletide gift to the citizens of New Albany.

NA Confidential received the following from Greg Roberts, President of the East Spring Street Neighborhood Association. The title above is ours, and photo credits are not known.


This is what an absentee landlord does to our city and alleys!

This mess from 418 East 11th Street. Steven Gregory is the landlord and he dumped this in the driveway of the other house behind it because 418 East 11th street does not have a backyard. This is illegal dumping on someone's property.

The second pic is of a dog that the people and landlord has left behind.

The dog is now running the alley and neighborhood! I would like for everyone to call downtown tomorrow to the Mayor's office (948-5333) and ask what is going to be done about this illegal dumping.

Several of neighbors spoke directly to Mr. Gregory and told him that the city would not pick up this mess, and he stated it was not his problem. Also, they asked about the dog and Mr. Gregory replied that he didn't care about the animal and they could call downtown. We have the name of the illegal dumper and I am sure his telephone number and address (can be found)!

Will the city do something about this? Posted by Picasa

Monday, December 18, 2006

NA Health coverage of Floyd Memorial Hospital staff cuts.

Today I’m turning it over to Dr. Dan Eichenberger at his NA Health blog.


Tribune putting on some heat

Big headlines in the tribune on Friday reported that Floyd will be cutting staff in 2007.

The News and Tribune - Floyd Memorial Hospital cutting staff hours in 2007.

The reporter asked some very good questions, but still did not push for definitive answers in some areas.


Many NAC readers already know that in spite of the appearance fostered by our frequent disagreements over religion and politics, Dr. Dan is my personal physician, and we’re friends of long standing.

While the local blogosphere has contracted of late, he continues to regularly publish NA Health on weekdays, and to tackle health-related issues big and small, with an emphasis on news and events right here in New Albany and Floyd County. Of course, there are multiple sides to every story, but you needn't always agree with Dr. Dan (I don't) to understand the potential importance of his blog as a local forum.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Tribune considers high school basketball attendance.

On the Tribune's front page today, Chris Morris considers waning interest in high school basketball:

Clark, Floyd schools searching for more basketball fans.

So, where have all the fans gone?

Some say doing away with the one-class system took the excitement out of high school hoops. Others point to a loyal fan base which is dying off and no interest among current students.

The numbers back up all three reasons.

Elsewhere in Sunday's newspaper, a possible fourth reason surfaces in the form of this score from Saturday night's games:

Pioneers turn back the clock, 38-28.

The uniforms were from the 21st century, however the scoreboard looked like it was stuck in the 1930s Saturday night at Floyd Central.

At a five dollar admission price, that's precious little bang for the buck.

In my youth, did I really see Floyd Central's 1971 squad score 41 points in the 4th quarter of the regional final against 9th district congressman Baron Hill's Seymour Owls, or was it a dream?

In Morris's article, one interviewee ventured into the realm of brutal honesty while gauging the box office decline of local basketball.

(Floyd Central Athletic Director Bill) Pierce said other factors also come into play when trying to attract young and old fans. He said area teams just aren’t as good as they used to be.

“We may get an occasional big crowd if a good player comes in or if they want to see the new coach. I don’t think we’ll see consistent sellouts until another Damon Bailey (the state’s all-time leading scorer) comes along,” he said.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A peek inside the Calumet Club's third-floor future ballroom.

Develop New Albany's annual meeting was held Thursday at the Calumet Club in New Albany.

After the meeting, Dick Bliss treated a lucky few to a glimpse of the reconstruction of the third floor, once the club's gymnasium, and now slated for use as a ballroom. First, looking south toward the evolving mezzanine.

Next, looking toward the Spring Street side. Note the size of the stage.

Here are windows ready for installation.

I've known the Bliss family for years, and never fail to be amazed at their energetic level of civic commitment. The ongoing restoration of this building alone would be sufficient testament, and of course, it doesn't hurt that you can get a Community Dark from NABC on tap in the downstairs banquet room bar ... thanks to Mark for that. Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 15, 2006

REWIND: Dear ACLU: Please come to Indiana and help rescue us from ourselves -- again.

Last year at roughly this same time, NAC linked to an Associated Press story in the Louisville Courier-Journal, "Diners complain about Christmas alcohol ban." The piece has disappeared from the Internet, but here was the gist:

Christmas dinners at Indiana restaurants don't include a champagne toast -- or alcohol of any kind.

State law prohibits restaurants and bars from selling alcohol on Christmas, a ban that annoys the managers of many Hoosier establishments, who say it hurts their business.

It bears repeating a year later that while there are archaic laws in every American state, it's hard to imagine a more obvious violation of church-state separation than this one -- or a better example of deaf legislators when it comes to making the case.

Sounds like a job for the ACLU.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

UPDATED: Nattering neo-con nabobs knocked in Tribune guest columns; grateful reading public requests links.

I’ve been intending to congratulate John Sodrel for his recent three-part guest column in the Tribune, “The great neocon con.”

It’s a delightful and systematic debunking of neo-conservative mythology, and delightfully appropriate to the weeks following the mid-term election, when several of the shaky neo-con planks were unceremoniously rejected by the electorate.

The reason why John’s contribution hasn’t been mentioned yet is that I’ve been waiting for the Tribune to archive the columns on line, and as of this morning, this hasn’t occurred. I suspect the newspaper's been waiting for the conclusion of Sodrel's series.

Tribune staff: Are you going to do this? If so, I'll link to you.

(Here it is, as provided in the comments section earlier today)

John Sodrel: If you’re reading, and wish to see your columns republished here at NA Confidential, let me know. I'm happy to do it.

Gettin' in tune with the straight and narrow, and an open letter.

The same ambition can destroy or save,
And makes a patriot as it makes a knave.

--Alexander Pope


Imagine you’re Auntie V.

Imagine also that you’re an inveterate behind-the-scenes schemer who, among other bizarre double-naught spying activities, regularly abets an anonymous Internet flame queen while denying even the slightest interest in the existence of the information superhighway.

Ah, but like Mark Twain ... I repeat myself.


Instead, imagine that you’re an aspiring GOP politico who campaigns for a providentially vacant position on the city council by enabling your guileless, tail-wagging flunky to stump on your behalf by means of artlessly lampooning the very party stalwarts who’ll vote to determine who occupies the seat.

Of course, you don’t spread the insults yourself, as even the most sophisticated of dry cleaning techniques won’t take the smell of manure out of a pair of white silk gloves, but you farm it out to your eager Sancho Panza of an incessantly enraged minion, Prof. Erika, who provides useful cover and lacks the insight to object to being used in such a humiliating fashion for so long as someone – anyone – continues to pay attention to her antics.

Especially her patrician idol.

Not unexpectedly, you lose the race to fill the seat, and you emerge from the predictable defeat -- the most recent public relations debacle -- looking exactly like Wile E. Coyote after the stick of dynamite inserted in his ear by the speedily departing Roadrunner ignites, and an earsplitting boom fills the air with confetti, soot and the laughter of both children and adults, all of whom are saying to themselves, boy, that coyote just doesn’t seem to get it … ever … just keeps on repeating the same mistakes, again and again, thinking it’ll turn out differently next time.

So clinical … and with another Putsch attempt derailed, what can you possibly do to regain some measure of equilibrium – to restore the proper balance of nature between yourself and the slider-slurping "noodleheads" and unresponsive sow’s ears who can’t seem to understand the majesty of what you're proposing to do for them?

Why, start by attacking the New Albany city clerk, of course, and follow by offering two flagrantly willful misinterpretations of recent council activity, and maybe, just as a change of pace, blame it all on the building commissioner, or the Mayor, or anyone else who wanders into the line of fire.

That’s it. Stress relief for the social saboteur.

Do we feel better, yet?


Auntie V’s latest salvos in the ongoing political flame war-by-proxy were launched with clocklike regularity in a Freedom of Speech blog posting Saturday, with another following on Sunday, and yet another some time after that (among other things, Erika can’t fathom the workings of the time/date stamp at her blog), and as always, onlookers lucky enough to emerge from the sliming session without collateral spitwads lodged in their own eyeballs are left to lament the recurring disingenuousness – the sheer volume of disinformation disguised as “outraged taxpayer” verbiage – that hangs thick like a pea soup fog within the confines of the Admiral Bicknell war room.

Consider Auntie V’s sentiments, as translated by the ever willing psychophant Erika, here: HERE WE GO AGAIN!...IS THIS ANOTHER POLITICAL FAVOR FOR JIMMY'S RE-ELECTION?

Be aware that at the Dec. 4 council meeting, the ordinance in question, which in essence is a routine bonding mechanism to allow the use of money already collected for tourism-related projects, passed its first reading by a 6-2 vote, with 1st district ward heeler Dan Coffey stridently objecting before meekly abstaining, and 3rd and 4th district councilmen Steve Price and Larry Kochert, respectively, voting against.

Go here to examine the state law referenced therein: Floyd/Clark County Innkeeper's Tax. Know that nothing in this ordinance merits the attention being given it at Freedom to Screech, beyond the need of the chronically dysfunctional to maintain disaffection amongst imagined future cadres of mad-as-hell squirrel brain eaters.

And know that the ongoing personal attacks against city clerk Marcey Wisman are both unwarranted and tactless, not unlike the majority of the vitriolic drivel oozing from Ms. Denhart’s (a.k.a. Erika’s) poison crayon – but never without the approval of the aspiring Ms. Bolovschak.


It’s sad that we must continue refuting churlish childishness rather than devoting column inches to the many examples of positive news in New Albany, but when the shameless slander vandals push, even feebly, genuinely decent people must push back, and that’s what I’m doing, because make no mistake: When it comes to the venom of FOS, there is an ultimate source, and it isn’t the masquerading collegiate site manager.

It isn’t Erika, it’s Ms. Bolovschak, and as the months slip past, it becomes so insanely surreal that one is forgiven for believing that it’s Groundhog Day all over again, and again, and again.

I’m no longer concerned with the possibility of rifts, feuds and other manifestations of the New Albany Syndrome, so let’s say it publicly.

Ms. Bolovschak, you’ve got much -- perhaps even all -- of what it takes to succeed. You possess a work ethic, abundant smarts, good looks, sufficient money, proven business acumen. These combine to create an enviable potential foundation from which to seek any political office you so desire.

Then why?

Why must you stoop in this continually abhorrent manner to conquer?

Why the ceaseless games, the empowerment of anonymity, the cloak-and-dagger nastiness?

With so much to offer, why hurt so many undeserving people by enabling Erika’s malevolence, and by using people for whom you feel nothing as a Auntiebellum corduroy road to drive atop in pursuit of your own ends?

Do you feel that you’re forced to do it? As a woman, as someone who “isn’t from here”? That unless you do the funky Machiavelli, they’ll not take you seriously?

Is there a conscience in there somewhere?

What happens to these pillars of support once you’ve achieved your goals, and they're no longer needed?

It isn’t as if you don’t know this already, but the buffoonish mock Professor Erika, the knee-jerk flatlining 3rd district uncouncilman, the clamorously vacant denizens of the Luddite Bar & Grill – all come to us largely unable to comprehend diversity, generally absent any unified vision for the future, and sadly unable to see a place for themselves and their own milieu in a world that must, by necessity, change and renew. That’s life, and if we’re to accept a planet teeming with human diversity, a certain percentage of the unreconstructed throwing themselves in the path of progress certainly constitute standard equipment during the course of any substantive journey.

You know as well as I do that often these folks often become frightened, panic, and seek reassurance and succor from others whom they perceive as better situated to “lead” them, but here’s the important difference between those duly chosen to "lead."

Some are born to transcend the limited options afforded them, and do so by their own talents and on their own merits without taking advantage of others, and seek to educate, empower and improve the options of the less fortunate.

But others choose to pursue power more cynically, by riding on the backs of those less able to discern reality while they’re perpetually face down in the mud … and populism of this calculating variety always brutally mocks the very people it purports to rescue.

Every time a FOS posting goes merrily into orbit, those among us capable of a fundamental clarity as to which leader is which have an obligation to expose the transparency of the fawning charade – of the sheer, hide-in-plain-sight chutzpah emanating from whichever of Sybil’s personalities awoke this morning and ventured into the cold light of day in pursuit of whatever it is, and is so important to obtain, right now, that it has been deemed necessary to publicly disassemble, to enable semi-literate Internet attack dogs, to construct one after another elaborately staged theatrical presentations, and to earnestly promise the “little people” – these same sincere citizens oblivious to the otherwise palpable “noodlehead” contempt showered on them behind closed doors -- that there’s someone who’ll look after them and be their savior.

But this town doesn't need a savior, at least not under such unfavorable terms. It needs multiple saviors, preferably one on each city block, and a few in city hall, and a few more business owners, all of whom willing to work together as equals to improve the quality of life and the prospects for all people choosing to live here.

You’ve undoubtedly done good things toward this end, and you are to be commended for the persistence and hard work.

Seemingly, you have it all.

Why isn’t all enough?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A rare forwarded mail that's actually worth a chuckle.

I'm not keen on forwarded e-mail, but there are times ...

First, a friend sent a compendium of old "Calvin and Hobbes" panels featuring Calvin and his surreal snowmen. Then, another one deposited a link to this send-up of the disgraced Rev. Haggard.

'Tis the season, and all that, but this is the finest holiday cheer I've had in a while -- and that's just the lyrics, because with a home computer missing sound after recent overhauls, I can't yet listen to the MP3.

Don't forget to visit the site and view the dynamic photo.


Parody of "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" (Sherman/Sherman)
Lyrics by M. Spaff Sumsion


I used to be a master of the anti-gay crusade
Until a butch disaster blew my pastor masquerade
But if it's true I'm pounding more than pulpits, don't blame me
It's 'cause I caught my hooker-tweaker-stud's infirmity

Supertelevangelistic sex-and-drugs psychosis
Worse than plague and bird flu crossed with osteoporosis
We were playing doctor and he gave this diagnosis:
Supertelevangelistic sex-and-drugs psychosis

Umm Haggard Bakker Swaggart umm Tammy Faye
Umm Haggard Bakker Swaggart umm Tammy Faye

I found the perfect therapist - the kind that gives massage
I like to drive my Escort and I park in his garage
I swear he only serves me crank when all his Coke is gone
And then he helps me straighten out my Peter, James, and John

Supertelevangelistic sex-and-drugs psychosis
That's my greatest guilty pleasure next to Guns N' Roses
Good thing there's no ban on it in all the books of Moses
Supertelevangelistic sex-and-drugs psychosis

Umm Haggard Bakker Swaggart umm Tammy Faye
Umm Haggard Bakker Swaggart umm Tammy Faye

It seems all pious public figures bugger on the sly
But Jesus loved republicans and sinners; so must I
Say "Holy moley, Mister Foley! That boy's underage!"
But I believe the congressman has turned another page

Supertelevangelistic sex-and-drugs psychosis
Next time, better cut me off at handshakes and Mimosas
No more meth or men for me - at least in overdoses!
Supertelevangelistic sex-and-drugs psychosis!

(Just a spoonful of crystal helps the prostitute go down...)

© 2006+

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Unleash your inner pagan at Saturnalia MMVI, a winter solstice draft fest at NABC.


In pre-Christian Rome, Saturnalia was the annual winter solstice celebration that originally coincided with the feast days for Saturn (god of sowing and the harvest), Consus (god of the storage bin) and Opa (goddess of plenty).

Many of our contemporary winter holiday traditions derive from Saturnalia’s pagan roots, including the hanging of wreaths and garlands, donations to the needy, prayers for peace on earth, time away from work to be enjoyed with family, and of course eating, drinking and merriment.

On Friday, December 15, Rich O’s Public House and Sportstime Pizza pays tribute to these ancient pagan origins with the kick-off of Saturnalia, a draft beer festival scheduled to last past Christmas and New Year’s into January of 2007.

For NABC’s third Saturnalia celebration, I’ve gathered more than 40 special kegs of beer – some rare, some seasonal and others just innately festive – from America and around the world (see complete list below). Some of these hard-to-find beers will be appearing in draft form for the first time ever in metropolitan Louisville.

When the doors open at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, December 15, the first 17 sacrificial Saturnalia selections for MMVI will be revealed, tapped in a ritualistic manner … and the hedonistic pleasure will begin. The remaining kegs will be tapped as needed as the first wave depletes … and so it will proceed past New Year’s into January, 2007.


Pricing and portion sizes vary according to alcohol content and style. Selections marked with an asterisk * are appearing on draft for the first time at Rich O’s Public House and Sportstime Pizza. There will more than 40 draft beers in all, with 17 to be tapped on December 15, and the remaining ones following in due course as openings occur. This will take several weeks. During the festival’s run, information and updates will appear on these web sites:

Potable Curmudgeon
NABC (under reconstruction)

Veterans observers of the process involved with procurement will recall that none of my festival draft lists are the same from beginning to end. The large number of trap doors waiting to be sprung, carpets ready to be pulled out from under and curves queuing to be thrown guarantees that 100% success is absolutely impossible. But ... the dust finally has settled for the most part.

Here is the entire list. Friday's starting lineup isn't yet clear.

Corsendonk Christmas Ale
De Dolle Stille Nacht
Delirium Noel
Gouden Carolus Noel
N'Ice Chouffe
*Petrus Winter Ale
St. Feuillien Cuvee de Noel
Regenboog Wostyntje Mustard Ale

*Jenlain Biere de Noel

Aventinus Weizen Doppelbock
Mahr’s Christmas Bock
Spezial Rauchbier

Kiuchi Hitachino Nest New Year Celebration Ale 2006
Kiuchi Hitachino Nest Red Rice

Hambleton Nightmare Yorkshire Porter
Harviestoun Old Engine Oil
Ridgeway Lump of Coal
Ridgeway Seriously Bad Elf
Ridgeway Santa’s Butt
Young's Winter Warmer

Anchor Christmas Ale (“Merry Christmas & Happy New Year”)
BBC Beer Company (Main & Clay) Hell for Certain
*Bell’s Hell Hath No Fury
*Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout
Dark Horse Tres Blueberry Stout
Flying Dog K-9 Cruiser
Great Divide Hibernation Ale
NABC Artemsia (mugwort/gruit ale; cask-conditioned; date TBA)
*NABC Bonfire of the Valkyries
*NABC Naughty Claus
NABC Strathpeffer (heather/gruit ale; cask-conditioned; date TBA)
New Holland Blue Goat Doppelbock
New Holland Dragon’s Milk
Oaken Barrel Epiphany
Pyramid Snow Cap
Rogue Chocolate Stout
Rogue HazelNut Brown Nectar
Rogue Santa’s Private Reserve
*Schlafly Christmas Ale
*Shmaltz He’Brew Monumental Jewbelation 5766
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
Stone Double Bastard
Three Floyds Alpha Klaus Xmas Porter
Three Floyds Dreadnaught IPA
Upland Winter Warmer
Posted by Picasa

... In which Prof. Erika receives her blogging orders.

See Freedom of Speech's blog posting Saturday, and don't forget to tune into to the next exciting episode of "Dork & Mindy's Failed Crave Case Putsch." Posted by Picasa

Monday, December 11, 2006

Photographed in Fredericksburg, Indiana ...

... on December 7th, a day still known to a handful of Americans as Pearl Harbor Day, by loyal reader Edward Parish.

Ed writes:

If you haven't heard or seen for yourself, there is a Nazi flag flying from a home in Fredericksburg, IN, behind the post office on Hwy 150.

Constitutionally protected? Yes.

Tasteless to the extreme? Yes, again -- and a bit too high in the air to reach with NAC's patented SpamGone, the street spam removal facilitator.

First rural Washington County, and next they'll be coming after the video poker machines in New Albany's Legion halls ...

Saturday, December 09, 2006

First ballot GOP caucus victory for Zurschmiede, as projected tidal waves more closely resemble leaky faucets.

I declined to affix media credentials and attend tonight’s GOP caucus. After all, it’s bad karma to crash another party's party, and besides, if I really enjoyed being in a room crowded with Republicans, I’d be hanging out at the nearest exurban megachurch -- some place where a guy can get an espresso while waiting.

In the end, there was little drama to the caucus.

GOP picks Zurschmiede to join New Albany City Council; Replaces Commissioner-elect as lone Republican, by Eric Scott Campbell (News and Tribune).

On the first ballot of a local Republican caucus Friday night, Kevin Zurschmiede garnered a majority vote in a field of seven candidates, winning Mark Seabrook’s City Council seat for the fourth and final year of the term.

As the city council’s sole Republican for the past three years, the departing Mark Seabrook played a poor hand consistently well, and as the newcomer Zurschmiede heads to the plate to pinch-hit, we wish him luck and patience in dealing with the council’s obstructionist Gang of Four quasi-Democrats -- a skill at which Seabroook excelled.

And NAC sincerely promises not to mention Ward Churchill. Ever.

Meanwhile, over at Bazooka Joe University, deep within the confines of the pre-literate department’s Futility Hall, a failed campaign manager presumably is mulling her career options after yet another crushing disappointment for her idol. Personally, I thought it was an odd strategy for Professor Erika to try and better her patron's caucus chances by publicly offending the very same Republican party stalwarts who'd be voting, naturally causing them to look askance not at the sad sack blogger, but in the direction of her puppetmaster ... but hey, I'm neither a college professor, nor pretend to be.

I just cherish irony.

Really, with press agent friends like Professor Erika, who needs enemies?

Friday, December 08, 2006

One fine afternoon, just before the GOP caucus.

A dieter's lament: For all the meals I ate before.

I had an appointment last Saturday night at Floyd Memorial’s Sleep Disorders Center, and while there – strapped and wired to resemble a bit player in the classic “Plan 9 from Outer Space” – I took a reasonably comfy six-hour nap while sensors hummed, surveillance videos whirled, and somewhere in this great nation, a hand of solitaire was dealt.

The Sleep Disorders Center at Floyd Memorial, nationally accredited by the American Sleep Disorder Association as a certified laboratory for sleep-related breathing disorders, helps diagnose and treat sleep-related disorders and is staffed by registered respiratory therapists specially trained in diagnosing sleep disorders.

The Sleep Disorders Center treats many sleep related issues including obstructive sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, teeth grinding, sleepwalking, excessive daytime sleepiness and snoring. Patients of the Sleep Disorders Center undergo a three-step process including diagnosis, treatment and follow-up evaluation.

It is my hope that this altogether surreal experience in Floyd Memorial’s subterranean bunker is the final diagnostic act of 2006, a series of adventures that began in October. The crossroads, and my own subsequent less traveled road, came into view during what turned out to be a climactic visit with my regular physician, known to those habitués of the local blogosphere as Healthblogger, a.k.a Dr. Dan Eichenberger.

He listened with interest to my complaints of physical fatigue, discomfort and a general malaise, and answered with a suitably devastating observation: Even after more than 3,000 bicycling miles recorded since my last visit, there had been a noticeable weight gain.

Gee, asked the observant sawbones, somehow avoiding sarcasm -- how might that possibly be?

For a dedicated trencherman and avid connoisseur of all things tasty, either solid or liquid, it seemed a pivotal moment. Visions of crusty Bavarian pork knuckles and smoked lager, memories of red Algerian wine and spicy couscous with tagine, viscous flavor profiles of a hundred thousand jet-black Imperial Stouts, the gentle caress of Galway Bay oysters, enough vintage port to float Lewis and Clark up the Douro … and, of course, that famous time locked in all night at the Krispy Kreme warehouse … all flashed before my eyes as I pondered an intelligent response to a perilously succinct question.

Perhaps, I ventured, just perhaps … my eating and drinking habits were, uh, a bit excessive?

Could be, he harrumphed, though with professional compassion, and proceeded to put the hammer down hard – as well he should have, given the carefree nonchalance with which I’ve blithely ignored his medical advice previously. At deserved lecture’s end, the verdict was two-fold: Lose weight and at least venture in the general direction of restoring some measure of my boyish figure, and furthermore, as importantly, determine the degree to which sleep apnea is affecting my overall health.

Presumably, all else would follow these steps. As Dean Martin once lamented, “ain’t that a kick in the head?”

Ahhh, pasta. White clam sauce, plenty of garlic. Something strong, dry and red to wash it down? Don't mind if I do, only half (or less) as much.

Well, there could be worse things, and verily, the glass usually is half-full even if one is prohibited from drinking the contents. Broadly speaking, my other health indicators have been judged to be in uniformly good shape, leaving my own worst enemy – that fellow with the voracious appetite standing in front of the mirror – to be tamed.

Less than two months later, I’m delighted (and somewhat surprised) that it’s happening on schedule. I’m roughly twenty-two pounds lighter, and have had to cut notches in two belts (in the good direction). Last weekend’s sleep study results will be analyzed for clues as to the final pieces of the puzzle, and if the expected prescription results in more restful nights and more energetic days, I’m certainly for them, and I’m quite willing to start a new somnolent career as the masked snoozer.

Remarkably, dieting hasn’t been that tough, after all. Reducing the instances of less healthy eating (have you seen my hot wing fetish at full bore?), better control of portions, frequent snacking on fruits and vegetables, and continuing the traditional exercise program have been just as effective as I always knew they’d be, even if only part of the regimen ever was followed before.

To be sure, beer consumption is down, but by no means out. Half-pint shift beers and sampler portions of different styles mostly suffice, and as a beneficial side effect of a change in lifestyle, I seem to be witnessing a regeneration of the taste buds and finding new flavor dimensions to old favorites.

While territory south of 250 lbs hasn’t been explored since the Clinton Administration, and progress certainly will be harder during holiday season, there’s encouragement all around. No one, even Dr. Dan, has suggested that I can’t enjoy the foods and drinks I prefer to partake, only that less of them must be permitted to take the historically quick and easy journey from fork and glass to stomach.

Moderation. Less is better. Most of the time. I believe it’s possible. This can be done.

Of course, almost none of what I’ve been told and have absorbed in recent weeks has been startling news to me. I’ve always known quite well what to do to live a healthy life, and as in the case of most people, these have been declared purely optional tenets – practices to be deferred until the last minute. But 46 years of age isn’t the same as 26, is it?

In point of fact, I’ve had an edifying and absolutely delightful quarter-century binge, and while there are a few regrets, they’re far too few to mention. Almost none pertain to the staggering quantities of food and drink, with the possible exception of the time I agreed to accompany my Slovak students to an after hours “sport club” where the only menu items were insufficiently salty pretzels shards and Stolichnaya vodka. It was painful. Very, very painful.

Profuse thanks go to all my friends for understanding and refraining from the temptation to tempt me, and to an ever patient Mrs. Confidential for rapping me on the knuckles (and worse) when I spot the chocolate, spare ribs and growlers of beer, and get all Pavlovian about them.

Time for some carrots and an apple.

Maybe just one small beer …

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Artist? Know one? Need studio space? Well, start reading. Mike's looking for you.

It’s always informative and fun to chat with Mike Kopp of Lopp Real Estate. If those who persist in dismissing the prospects for downtown New Albany – against all escalating evidence to the contrary – would take the time to watch Mike and others like him, they’d be humming a different tune.

Mike asked if I’d post today on the topic of an idea he and John Dowell, owner of the New Albany Inn building and Kentuckiana Music Center at the corner of Market and Bank (and Bistro New Albany’s landlord), have been discussing recently with respect to the building’s mostly unused third floor.*

I’m happy to pass it along.

Based on interest expressed to Mike and John by several individuals, the current idea is to make the third floor rooms into an artists’ studio, with space available for lease. For insight into how such “creative space for hire” arrangements work elsewhere, look no further than the Mellwood Art and Entertainment Center’s “leasing information” page, and be aware that the rates to be charged if the New Albany Inn project comes to fruition will be lower.

Also know that the Bistro’s fine food and NABC beers are just downstairs …

Readers, if you’re interested in potentially leasing space, or if you know someone who may be, please pass this information along. Mike would like to know what you think, and he can be reached by e-mail here, or call him at J.W. Lopp Real Estate.

In addition to plans for the New Albany Inn building, Mike divulged that he’s having serious nibbles on the remaining 2/3 of the old tripartite Fair Store building opposite The Grand on the north side of Market, and that ongoing plans to put a blues and jazz music venue into the former antique mall space on State Street (by the throwback Firestone) are moving ahead according to schedule.

Go get ‘em, Mike. We’re all just riding on your coattails.


* Much to my chagrin, I can't find a single archive photo of the New Albany Inn in its entirety, apparently having always aimed my camera at the ground floor bNA, and not anywhere else.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

On prohibitionist genes and local beer writing.

My "other" blogging endeavor is The Potable Curmudgeon, which is devoted primarily to news and views about my chosen profession, beer.

Today's essay is of slightly more general interest.

ICRUD, re-crud and the prohibitionist gene in America.

It would be foolish to suggest that society’s struggle against underage alcohol consumption has been “won,” primarily because it cannot be “won” in the manner preferred by those gazing upon it as a problem to be solved according to prohibitionist methodology.

Beginning next Wednesday, December 13, I'm slated to begin "From Beer to Eternity," which I believe is the name chosen for a bi-weekly beer column in the Louisville Eccentric Observer (LEO). At a brief 300 words, it will be good practice for someone who usually writes topic sentences of that length.

Thanks to all of you who continue to read my various contributions.

I believe in teaching, advocating, persuading and making a good case -- not idle threats, anonymous boasts and fireworks for the sake of eye candy alone. You don't have to agree with me for my efforts to be successful.

GOP caucus approaches as FOS waves a white chili-stained shirt from the veranda of St. Basil’s on Main.

There are many reasons for the phenomenon that we came to know as the Cold War, the decades following WWII when capitalist and communist ideologies squared off in ravaged post-war Europe. At the behest of the American and Soviet superpowers, countries on both sides of the Iron Curtain menacingly glowered at one another while on camera, afterwards quietly adjourning to isolated chancellery back rooms to cut trade deals and exchange stylish French lingerie for superior Czech pilsner beer.

Although there was nothing intrinsically amusing about the division of the continent, certain institutionalized idiosyncrasies of the Soviet Bloc’s client state arrangement never failed to elicit a chuckle, as with the necessity of supposedly autonomous national entities to echo the USSR’s official party line when called upon to do so.

These statements invariably paid homage to the sacrifices incurred by the highly motivated workers in the forward moving vanguard of the world’s original socialist state, then added the imperative for the Bulgarian/Romanian/Polish (or other) people to join in thwarting the aims of the American-dominated capitalist system of world enslavement. Although such communiqués certainly reflected the sincere and self-preservationist positions of the reigning party elites in their countries of origin, the stylistic templates for these sentiments just as certainly originated within the sturdy brick walls of the Kremlin’s finishing school for indigenous political leadership.

As was proven in 1989 when Mikhail Gorbachev withdrew support for the Eastern European satellite regimes, the absence of direct Soviet support equated immediate disintegration of authority and the subsequent unceremonious collapse of a 40-year-long fiction. Without the power of the patron, those remaining scraps of paper attesting to comradely benevolence between peoples became candidates for the geopolitical compost pile, and were deposited there by the occupants of the last Trabant chugging toward Cologne for a new life.


Meanwhile, back here in good ol’ irony-free New Albany, the “invisible hand” of the blogosphere is back. After a period of irrelevance during which Ms. Denhart, our colorfully non-degreed academic poseur at Freedom of Speech, could do no better than shamelessly crib Internet material without attribution and babble nonsensically about geriatric Barbie dolls, recent days have seen a sudden resurgence in topicality.

It appears that the chief FOS puppeteer, Auntie V, presently needs help in the political propaganda wars.

A crucial career-building turning point on the immediate horizon, and so Ms. Vickie’s kept-client blog is being trotted out to wheeze familiar statements of taxpayer empowerment and to bait the local GOP's elder statesmen. Of course, these are not emanating from the semi-literate collegiate pretender’s long abused word processor, but from behind the elegant stone walls of Ambition Central.

On Monday, Auntie Geppetto’s marionette contributed a lengthy recitation of political party caucus procedures, serving as ample warning for what was to follow. Typically, having droned on for multiple hastily pasted paragraphs, she arrived at the end of the posting and thanked Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita for the “following.” We think she meant “preceding,” although the syllabus for the grammar course at Bazooka Joe University, where she matriculated with honorable and numerous blobs stuck to the bottom of archaic schoolhouse desks, was unavailable for inspection.

Having set up her readers with an ineffectual right jab, the flaccid left hook landed yesterday, as the non-tenured anono-blogger furiously regurgitated the disgruntlement of her patron:

Freedom Of Speech would like to say to former Councilman (Ken) Keilman. Where have you been for the last 15 years? You Sir, were part of the problem in the past along with former Councilman (Dick) Bliss …

… We have had nothing but 30 years of good ole boy - screw the taxpayers, and not fix our sewers. We as taxpayers are fed up! …

… It's time for new Republican blood on our Council. Someone who can sit on the Sewer Board and demand answers!

By golly, the Vickster’s right! Kevin Zurschmiede would be a fine choice. He’s a downtown property owner, deals in real estate, knows building trades … but wait … alas, it seems that our MockroProf isn’t talking about him at all, because she continued:

And while were at it how many council meetings have the list of other candidates attended in the last 3 years?

Hmm, that’s “we’re,” Erika, and we all get the point of your forthcoming tout, but before you have the opportunity to blurt it out and butcher the grammar in the process, NAC proposes to rush into the breach and steal your thunder.

That's right: Bolovschak for temporary at-large replacement City Council person!

Sure, it’s easy for us to issue this incredible non-binding endorsement; after all, we’re not Republicans.

Moreover, we’re merely heeding the sage advice of a local political insider, who recently suggested to NAC that Ms. Bolovschak – who has filed the necessary papers to contend in Friday’s GOP selection caucus – would by far be the most entertaining choice.

In the insider’s own words, “It would be something to get us through the final year.”

Think of the Byzantine plot twists … the assumed identities … the secret midnight meetings on the K & I Bridge … the original "Mission Impossible" theme song from the 1960’s -- and that’s just the first night’s wacky action as the Conjoined Councilmen, both nominal Democrats, seek to curry favor with the well connected Cheneyesque newcomer from the GOP by donning sandwich boards and loitering outside the Bicknell.

Psst, Mr. Hancock -- think we can get a press pass to the Friday wing-ding?