Wednesday, January 31, 2007

On Thursday: Chili and beer with Jeffersonville Main Street.

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In which we check the facts, since she won't.

In case you were wondering, a substantial portion of the text used in the Freedom of Speech blog entry dated Wednesday, January 24 (but actually published on Tuesday, January 30) was purloined without proper attribution (or even scant acknowledgement) from a far more coherent political blog called Tennessee Ticket.

Seems that the non-existent Professor Erika didn’t backdate her entry sufficiently far, as the original was published on January 22.

The preening professorial poseur is fond of demanding that rules be followed, and yet she’s entirely unable to consistently follow simple standards of honesty when it comes to identifying and attributing sources. Of course, this sort of serial misbehavior damages one’s credibility, but then again, credibility’s never been in ample supply at Dork and Mindy’s random character assassination generator.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The next NAC "Meet 'n' Greet" is on Tuesday, February 6, and you're invited.

Second call ... and I need to know: Will you be dining? Israel needs to know how to staff this, if in fact special treatment is required. If there will be only six of us, there's no sense putting him out to reserve and staff the upstairs.


On February 6, starting at 6:00 p.m., it'll be the second gathering of "Confidentiaholics Identified," this time at La Rosita Mexican Grill at 1515 E. Market Street in New Albany, which is a few doors down from the Tommy Lancaster Restaurant near Vincennes Street.

If you haven’t yet been to La Rosita, this is the ideal chance to sample superb, fresh and creative Mexican cuisine, and because I already know that the majority of Confidentiaholics adore Israel Landin's delicious offerings on a regular basis, I’m suggesting that we move the time to 6:00 p.m. to accommodate diners. Of course, you may come at any time, and it isn’t required that you purchase food.

Read Marty Rosen’s C-J review here for a mouthwatering description.

Israel graciously has reserved the upstairs room for us, and because he needs to know what to expect in terms of volume, please provide an informal RSVP to the e-mail address at my blogger profile. If he's willing, I'll bring a small five-gallon keg of Croupier IPA to accent the proceedings. Of course, Mexican beers also are available.

As was the case at our previous gathering, this evening is being designed as a very informal meet 'n' greet for readers and friends of the NA Confidential blog, and by extension, the New Albany blogosphere as a whole, but you're not required to have a computer to attend.

There'll be no set agenda beyond getting to know one another, widening the circle of faces to names, and chatting about local issues. All citizens are welcome. Tribune forum readers; owners and readers of other local blogs; sincere political hopefuls; innocent bystanders; whatever … and bring a friend or a neighbor if you please.

Looking ahead, tentatively we're hoping to hold the March edition of the gathering at St. Marks United Church of Christ in downtown New Albany, with pot luck, self-catered munchies, and Pastor John Manzo hosting and educating us about the church's community activities.

But first: See you at La Rosita's on the 6th?

Monday, January 29, 2007

Tribune's Tucker asks: "Why not urge someone that you think would make a good community leader to run?"

On Sunday, the Tribune’s John Tucker resumed his periodic cage-rattling with a prime, timely essay: TUCKER: A few good candidates.

Here are two excerpts.

Very few hear the call of public office and fewer still answer. It also seems that the same people keep hearing “the call.” Many times you’ll see a councilman defend his post against a former councilman (with candidates filing last week, it looks like there will once again be plenty of “currents” running against “formers” in southern Indiana). This gives the voter the choice of “keeping the status quo” or “going back to the old way of things” — not a great choice if you want to see changes in your community …

… Winning a local political race does not necessarily take the backing of a political party. It is not for the rich or the famous. An average person, with enough campaigning can attain a city council position. There is no reason that your boss, your neighbor or yourself couldn’t win a local election — so why not urge someone that you think would make a good community leader to run? It’s simple math — the more people who run for office, the better our chances will be for quality leadership.

To subvert Elvis Costello, Tucker’s “aim” is true. Here’s the single most important sentence in a thought provoking piece:

Winning a local political race does not necessarily take the backing of a political party.

Verily, for any issues-oriented human being, the existence of two political parties acting consistently and predictably as though they’ve mistaken the word “platform” for “bubonic plague contagion” is the biggest stumbling block to the involvement referred to by Tucker. You will recall that NA Confidential spent the run-up to the November, 2006 mid-term election begging for one, the other, or both local parties to take a stand on something – in fact, to declare a platform position on anything.

The sounds of faucets dripping, pins dropping and crickets chirping were the lamentable, but entirely predictable, response to our pleas.

If one favors the notion of politics as the art of the possible, and is committed to sensible, contemporary readings of progressivism and their application to revitalization and growth, what benefit can be derived from civic participation via hidebound political party structures that have been handily manipulated time and again by less principled time-servers within them – Tucker’s “currents” and “formers” -- to actively thwart change and to promote the ongoing entrenchment of locally vested interest?

It’s maddening. Both parties count reasonable, forward-looking people among their memberships, and yet neither seem capable of expanding these positives into the meaningful articulation of concepts as larger entities.

On the Democratic side, examples of this profoundly debilitating dysfunction are legion, and include the resistance of its ward heeling bloc to ordinance enforcement, the gang’s opposition to rental property reform, their pathological aversion to economic development and cultural diversity, and an accompanying genetic propensity to tout elementary school “logic” for solving university-level problems. Imagine Jethro Bodine manning the controls of a jetliner.

Local Republicans, already burdened with a regressive and theocratic national political strategy designed to elicit panicked escape, not passionate embrace, have responded to the city’s Democratic disarray by … by … little more than a shrug of shoulders and a pining glance at the GOP’s strengthening prospects outside the city’s gates. Only scarcely have they formed a credible opposition to Democratic hegemony, as underachieving as those decades have been.

However, the unaffiliated among us shan’t escape without self-criticism, and it is such grudging recognition that I gleaned from reading John Tucker’s Sunday morning column.

It’s true that a proportion of our seeming disorganization derives from the fact that it is far more time consuming to explain what one is “for” rather than to simply chant “no” and be against it, but it remains that in all places and times, reformers must do more than offer facts and evidence, for they must also find ways to convince people why it is preferable to treat with the unknown as opposed to the known, even if all seemingly are in agreement that the known has serially failed.

Make no mistake: I’m damned proud of the archive that has been compiled at this blogspot. We – including collaborators past and present – have covered a breathtaking, and by the standards of New Albany, groundbreaking, amount of platform and policy ground in a short period of time. We genuinely feel, as Ann at Diggin’ in the Dirt put it yesterday, that we’re on the right path:

I have said it before and will say it once more: I am looking for a leader, and so far, this town does not have one. The key ingredient this city needs is leadership, and it is sorely lacking. If it were not for the fact that I epitomize New Albany too, I'd be outta here.

But I'm not going anywhere, and there are a lot more people just like me. Things are going to change in this town, and if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the pollution. Which do you want to be?

In fact, we all know what must be done, and furthermore, we know that we must be the ones to undertake it – regrettably, without backing from our rudderless local political parties and their patronage assistance agencies, and truthfully, even if the end results probably will be setbacks, though temporary, from whence the grassroots network that we already know exists can be bolstered and widened, and the aura of inevitability brightened.

Anyone for an independent insurgency? It’s looking increasingly attractive to me.

As an example on very short notice – and I’d appreciate someone checking these purported facts, as I have a doctor’s appointment to catch – a quick glance at last fall’s election results showed that 1,086 people in New Albany’s 3rd city council district voted in the Indiana Secretary of State race. A couple dozen valid signatures from residents (2% of the above) on a petition of nomination along with the remaining necessary paperwork filed by July 2, 2007, would be sufficient for an independent candidacy in the district.

Like I’ve said before … we need a common color – blue and red having been taken, so I’d propose green (the color of the city flag) or perhaps the more compromising purple, as well as a shared basic reform platform, a commitment to educate, and with luck, some nimble strategic instincts. Care to discuss? I’ll be back later this afternoon.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sunday reading.

My top weekend pick can be found at Christopher Drake's New Albany Eyesores blog (Saturday, January 27), but his essay is not about blight. It's a touching and heartfelt tribute to his dad.

Still My Hero

My father was New Albany to the bone. He returned here after his years in the United States Marine Corps, a little trip to a place called Vietnam, at a time when they could be shot at, but were not truly allowed to return fire, as they were just advisers. Outside of the Marines, he only worked one other job outside N.A., that was at Colgate's in Clarksville, biding his time. He was hired onto the New Albany Police Department in the early 1970's and spent the rest of his life serving this community, at 51 years old he passed away as a result of complications from treatment for non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, an illness attributed by his doctors brought on by exposure to chemicals the military "did not use" in the jungles of south east Asia.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

We're just delighted with our readership.

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Six syllables of squirm … but could you do it as a waltz next time?

“We all do 'do, re, mi,' but you have got to find the other notes yourself.”

--Louis Armstrong

Can there be any remaining doubt that NA Confidential writes the set list and dictates the tempo of the 3rd district's ongoing civic debate?

Consider this strange, plaintive moan emanating from the incumbent's assisted writing center:

Perception Management

Friday, January 26, 2007

Wheee!! It's blogosphere quote day!!

If Dork & Mindy were in hardback ...

From the moment I picked up your book until I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend reading it.

--Groucho Marx

The first wave of 2007 candidate filings, and a reminder of my rules of voting engagement.

Add to DISTRICT 1 (Precincts New Albany 1, 2, 17, 21, 23)
D Theresa Timberlake


Courtesy of the Tribune, here’s a list of first-day filings.

As a reminder to the candidates, you may submit detailed, substantive platforms to NA Confidential as a prerequisite for securing my vote in the forthcoming elections. In case you missed it, here are the guidelines:

Mr./Mrs./Ms. Candidate: Just in time for the filing period, here are my modified rules of voting engagement.

Therefore, lacking a potential challenger’s clear public articulation of intent and of discernable content -- no back room deals for me -- I propose to sit on my hands come Election Day if these strategies and goals are not forthcoming. Expediently selling out to the least objectionable bidder no longer fits into my grand scheme of ethical voting conduct. Now, the stakes are raised. You must earn my support against the primeval empire, both within the 3rd council district and as applicable to citywide races.

Here are the current aspirants.

MAY 8, 2007
(Precincts New Albany 1 through New Albany 29A)
DEMOCRAT James E. Garner, Sr
DEMOCRAT Larry Scharlow

(Precincts New Albany 1 through New Albany 29A)
D Marcey J. Wisman

(Precincts New Albany 1 through New Albany 29A)
D Jack Messer

(Precincts New Albany 1, 2, 17, 21, 23)
REPUBLICAN Richard Berryman

(Precincts 16, 18, 19, 19A, 19B, 22, 29)
D Bill Schmidt
R Harry T. Harbison

(Precincts New Albany 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11)
D Maury Goldberg

(Precincts New Albany 12, 13, 20, 24, 25)
D Pat McLaughlin

(Precincts New Albany 26, 27, 27A, 28, 28A, 29A)
R Richard “Dick” Stewart

Thursday, January 25, 2007

CM Kochert’s petard: Self-hoisting, no waiting.

The venerable phrase “hoist by your own petard” has a colorful background, and is meant to suggest that one has been “injured by the device that had been intended for use to injure others.”

In other words, those TNT-filled boomerangs tossed at the Roadrunner by Wile E. Coyote have a habit of coming back to explode in the face of the "genius" who threw them. And so it is that 4th district councilman Larry Kochert’s premeditated presidential shenanigans on January 18th have returned to pay him a visit.

EVANS: New Albany Council meeting disturbs pastor, by Rev. O. Lacy Evans (Local Guest Columnist; New Albany Tribune)

Having been called upon and identifying myself and the item I wished to address I was informed by the president of the council, Mr. Larry Kochert, that I would not be allowed to comment on this item because it had been postponed or removed from the agenda. Ironically, the person just prior to me had been allowed to comment on the very same item ...

... Such a “mistake,” i.e., granting permission to one person to speak while disallowing another the same privilege, has the tendency to infer something different, especially when the denied person is one of another ethnicity, gender, religious or political persuasion than the person who was granted permission.

There are times when the council Gang of Four’s fumbling ineptitude produces the type of embarrassed giggles one experiences while watching hoary reruns of "Hogan’s Heroes" – and then, in a sobering fashion, there are times when one grasps the extent of the mean-spiritedness that motivates this cabal’s enduring resentment against those manifestations of contemporary society that refuse to accommodate Luddite simplicity.

Looking on last Thursday as CM Kochert gleefully pursued the petty gamesmanship that has sadly defined his underachieving political career, all the while remaining painfully oblivious to the fact that his ward-heeling machinations were having the dual effect of insulting the African-American community leaders in attendance and empowering the very political target (think: Mayor James Garner) that he had intended these procedural hijinks to harm, onlookers were neither embarrassed nor laughing, but thoroughly disgusted with a spectacle that has no place in the process outside of redefining our city's socio-political dysfunction.

More and more people are starting to "get it," so please keep hoisting, Larry, while the NAC chorus sings from the Paul Simon songbook:

Slip sliding away, slip sliding away

You know the nearer your destination

The more you're slip sliding away

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Development, redevelopment, and working "around (CM Price) to accomplish something."

Earlier today, my NAC colleague Bluegill offered these marquee-worthy thoughts. For context, see: CM Steve Price auditions for Geico commercial, dismisses education and economic development as "feel good projects."


I'm glad you brought up the topic of Development/Redevelopment. I was going to address it anyway, particularly in light of Steve Price's "isn't that what we pay Paul Wheatley for" comment.

The city has an Economic Development Director, Paul Wheatley. He's been on the job a couple of years and is paid and budgeted solely via Economic Development Income Taxes. He receives no money from the general fund.

Currently, Wheatley's paid $38,000 per year plus benefits at $13,267 for a total of $51,267.

He's given an office budget (supplies, travel, postage, printing) of $8,500 per year.

The only marketing/development funds he has access to without Council approval is a contractual services line item funded at $35,000 a year. For real world perspective, that's about what it costs to run a quarter page ad in the Courier Journal once a month for the year.

If my math is correct, that brings the grand total to $94,767 per year. Outside of the $137,000 allocated to leveraging a much larger private investment in Scribner Place, that's the only money the city currently has specifically budgeted for economic development.

For comparison, consider that over $1 million in EDIT funds will be spent on the sewer system in 2007.

In addition to his daily routine of dealing with business owners, real estate agents, developers, etc, Wheatley has brought ideas before the Council to improve the development atmosphere in the city.

During this summer's budget hearings, Wheatley presented two solid ideas to the Council. One was to use EDIT funds for preliminary design studies on vacant historic buildings downtown, sparing prospective investors the upfront costs of determining suitable uses. The other was for the city to use some EDIT as matching funds for a revolving, low interest loan program in cooperation with the Urban Enterprise Zone and local banks.

Both ideas have proven successful in other communities but were immediately shot down by Coffey, Price, et al, as "corporate welfare".

A general breakdown of recent Redevelopment spending is available via The Tribune here.

One large expenditure not included in the paper's breakdown is $150,000 allocated for emergency repair to owner-occupied, low income households. Because compliance with federal regulations becomes much more difficult above a specified dollar amount, repairs are limited to $5,000 per house or about 30 houses per year.

Their budget comes from federal Community Development Block Grants, again not from the city's general fund. If CDBG money dries up, as almost happened last year per a President Bush proposal, we'll have no Redevelopment Department.

You'll notice that $149,777 has been set aside for payroll and administrative costs, approximately 20% of the overall budget. That's supposed to cover five full-time employees and one part-time employee, plus office supplies, equipment, postage, etc.

I know that Redevelopment has been living with fewer employees to counter CDBG reductions recently but I'm not sure to what extent that will be remedied. To my current knowledge (and don't quote me on this) they recently had four employees but are now down to three since Adam Dickey just moved on recently.

One of the other items you'll notice in The Tribune breakdown is "$10,000 to train neighborhood-association representatives in community leadership through the NeighborWorks program."

NeighborWorks is a national nonprofit with an extensive network of successful revitalization professionals across the country. Amongst many other services, they provide training and certification in community and neighborhood revitalization.

They recently started a national pilot program to bring that training directly to communities rather than requiring locals to travel to conferences in major cities and then try to replicate their activities at home.

Through the diligence of New Directions Housing Corporation, the Louisville metro area was selected as the locale for that pilot program and New Albany was offered five seats in exchange for $10,000 dollars of CDBG funding.

The normal cost of that training for five people would be roughly $15,000, not including travel and hotel expenses for the five to attend several different conferences, a number that could easily equal another $10,000 to $20,000 and make it much more difficult for people to schedule. The total cost for bringing the whole program to the metro area is around $150,000.

After discussing the funding proposal with the Redevelopment Commission, it was decided that the five persons would be selected from a cross-section of citizens and not just neighborhood associations. In fact, only one seat was made available to association representatives.

During the Redevelopment budget approval process (the Council has to approve it even though we have a Redevelopment Commisssion and the money is federal), Steve Price singled out the training money for removal from the budget. His objection? Too many people in his district (or more specifically, certain neighborhood associations) might be selected for training. I'm neither kidding nor exaggerating.

When Redevelopment Director John Rosenbarger reminded Price that the Redevelopment Commission, of which Price was a member at the time, had decided to select a cross-section of citizens, he still refused to yield, insisting that the $10,000 be moved to the building demolition line item, enough to demolish one to two houses.

There was a legal question concerning whether Price and the Council had overstepped their bounds. The law isn't clear about the Council's authority to amend the Redevelopment budget. It seems to be a matter of either approving the budget or sending it back to the Redevelopment Commission for changes. The Council, with Price in the lead, amended it themselves against the wishes of the Redevelopment Commission and then approved it in one maneuver. It could've been grounds for a legal challenge.

In the end, it was decided to not waste additional resources fighting the inanity. Still, Price's political vendetta nearly cost New Albany the chance to participate in the program. Luckily, the City of Louisville and the Federal Reserve stepped in to cover the costs but that wasn't settled or known at the time.

Given the opportunity to learn and cooperatively achieve, Price spit in the face of those trying to improve things and, as usual, neighborhood associations, other nonprofits, and the Redevelopment Commission had to work around him to accomplish something.

CM Steve Price auditions for Geico commercial, dismisses education and economic development as "feel good projects."

(For more, visit the Highwayman: "And the Price Is.......!!" )


Our power-blogging, one-chord councilman -- or is that power-chording, one-blog councilman -- is back, and he’s more confused than ever about the fundamental meaning of words, with results far more revealing than he intends.

Need vs. Want Basic Economics

CM Steve Price begins by defining his terms ... sort of, as his definition of “need” is incorrect in the context used, even if a “lack of subsistence” inadvertently summarizes the prevailing paucity of ideas at his Dewey Heights compound.

In my opinion, I would say addressing the increasing need of 15th street to prevent a major catastrophe is a need. Giving $25 thousand to Montessori,or $92 thousand for Southern Indiana One to further the economic development of our city is a want. (Isn’t that what we pay Paul Wheatley for?) $117 thousand requested from Riverboat money so far this year.

Our councilman presumably was seated at a computer and linked to the Internet, so it isn’t too much to expect that he might search One Southern Indiana and render its name properly.

Sadly, but not at all unexpectedly, this lies entirely beyond his abilities, as does the correct pronunciation of the names of people with whom he disagrees (ask John Rosenbarger about that some time). In fact, this is a frequent Price stratagem: A bumbling, halting mispronunciation designed to entice titters from human laugh tracks like Professor Erika.

It's embarrassing.

Just as naturally, it wouldn’t be a vintage Steve Price yokel’s yodel without a disparaging cheap shot lobbed at someone like Paul Wheatley, complete with an ungrammatical sentence fragment about Riverboat money. Verily, writing requires different muscles than speaking, and can cause severe strains if the ones that have atrophied from lack of use are strained without proper stretching and preparation.

What about our NEEDS projects.

For example: the need to address 15th street, the need to address the deficient with our ambulance and street departments, the need to address our police and fire budgets, the need to address the issue of accountability and responsibility. $117 thousand could help in addressing these NEEDS.

To be honest, the “deficient” is something I worry about, too, seeing as he’s running for re-election on a head-in-the-sand-with-Dave Ramsey-tome platform of “no progress at any Price,” so perhaps someone will defeat him in the forthcoming election, thus correcting the “deficiency,” because if there’s any “deficiency” – any “need” -- that we must address, it lies in the 3rd district’s current mode of “deficient leadership,” which CM Price blithely expects us to believe is as easy as arbitrarily selecting a monetary figure, using it in conjunction with random citations of a half-dozen obvious problems of which we’re all aware (but not the only half-dozen), and using the predictable absence of a simplistic solution fit for a Sesame Street skit as the precise reason why all gears of the city must come to a complete halt, at least until a councilman who hasn’t managed to articulate a future-oriented strategy in three long years can catch up with a planet that refuses to stop spinning, evolving, and racing beyond his comprehension.

But here’s the bar-none, best part of CM Price’s plaintive paean to primitivism:

Where are our priorities? Funding feel good projects or attending to absolute necessities?

Check it out, New Albany. Read that paragraph very carefully, and remember it come election time. NAC most assuredly will.

In Steve Price’s mind, education is a “feel good” project.

In Steve Price’s mind, economic development of the sort pursued on a regional basis by One Southern Indiana is another “feel good” project.

Neither of these two necessary pillars of human civilization -- in the sense of things we "need" -- are "absolute necessities" to better the under-educated and the under-employed whom Steve Price is forever eager to help ... but in the end, to help do nothing except muddle through their lives while he selectively pursues shortsighted, futile policies of congenital limitation that are guaranteed to keep our pies – and our hopes, and our dreams – as small as his own narrow horizons.

This, my friends, is what the dreaded New Albany Syndrome can do for you.

Precious little.

CM Price's expressions of no-can-do are derived from the envy and resentment, the concurrent failures of the stunted small-timer to perceive politics as the art of the possible, and the cycle of miserable dysfunction that feeds on itself and perpetuates despair.

Price is a councilman, for heaven's sake. He's already confessed in print that he's done all he can do -- but my cats accomplished far more in the litter box today.

Don't you think we "need" something different in 2007?

Feeling "Auntie Bellum," Erika plays the gender confusion card.

Read what "she" said in PLAYING THE RACE CARD: TRUMP OR JOKER?, at "her" blog, Freedom to Screech.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The next NAC "Meet 'n' Greet" is on Tuesday, February 6, and you're invited.

On February 6, starting at 6:00 p.m., it'll be the second gathering of "Confidentiaholics Identified," this time at La Rosita Mexican Grill at 1515 E. Market Street in New Albany, which is a few doors down from the Tommy Lancaster Restaurant near Vincennes Street.

If you haven’t yet been to La Rosita, this is the ideal chance to sample superb, fresh and creative Mexican cuisine, and because I already know that the majority of Confidentiaholics adore Israel Landin's delicious offerings on a regular basis, I’m suggesting that we move the time to 6:00 p.m. to accommodate diners. Of course, you may come at any time, and it isn’t required that you purchase food.

Read Marty Rosen’s C-J review here for a mouthwatering description.

Israel graciously has reserved the upstairs room for us, and because he needs to know what to expect in terms of volume, please provide an informal RSVP to the e-mail address at my blogger profile. If he's willing, I'll bring a small five-gallon keg of Croupier IPA to accent the proceedings. Of course, Mexican beers also are available.

As was the case at our previous gathering, this evening is being designed as a very informal meet 'n' greet for readers and friends of the NA Confidential blog, and by extension, the New Albany blogosphere as a whole, but you're not required to have a computer to attend.

There'll be no set agenda beyond getting to know one another, widening the circle of faces to names, and chatting about local issues. All citizens are welcome. Tribune forum readers; owners and readers of other local blogs; sincere political hopefuls; innocent bystanders; whatever … and bring a friend or a neighbor if you please.

Looking ahead, tentatively we're hoping to hold the March edition of the gathering at St. Marks United Church of Christ in downtown New Albany, with pot luck, self-catered munchies, and Pastor John Manzo hosting and educating us about the church's community activities.

But first: See you at La Rosita's on the 6th?

Monday, January 22, 2007

“Save Silvercrest” web site is launched:

And now, straight from the new Save Silvercrest web site, here are the facts about Silvercrest, its history and future, and the grassroots, locally-based effort underway to stave off the wrecking ball and encourage its adaptive reuse. Be sure to check the web site itself for many more photos and pertinent details.


► What is Silvercrest?

Twelve buildings totaling 147,300 square feet nestled in a park like setting on a hilltop in New Albany, Indiana (1809 Old Vincennes Road). These magnificent buildings originally served as the campus of the Silvercrest Hospital and most recently the Silvercrest Children’s Development Center.

With the recent closing of the Development Center, the Silvercrest structures are ripe for private development.

As described in the original hospital prospectus this site is “surrounded with the natural beauty for which Southern Indiana has long been famous … with the myriad lights of the metropolitan area of Louisville … alive with scenic beauty.”

► Why is Silvercrest at risk?

The state owned facility has been vacant since May 2006. If a preservation-minded buyer is not found, the state may seek to demolish all structures on the site. The state does plan to initiate a bidding process for private developers soon.

This website was created by supporters from the community and the New Albany Historic Preservation Commission to give potential buyers a chance to review all available documentation on Silvercrest.

Our goal is to Save Silvercrest, a historically and architecturally significant site, by encouraging its adaptive reuse and preserving an important piece of Hoosier history.

► Community Effort Launches Website

The community of New Albany shows its support for saving Silvercrest by helping launch this website. It was a team effort that included the New Albany Historic Preservation Commission, Develop New Albany, Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana and Dragonfly Realty LLC.

Special thanks to Jim Sprigler of Halo Applications for the site format and design.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

"There's no point in making a good argument when the body hearing that argument doesn't understand it."

Frequent readers know that my colleague Bluegill's thoughts are periodically lifted from the "comments" section to the marquee. Such is the case today. Refer to “Heart of Darkness: If Not for Me, This Could Be Us” for context.


As the Highwayman wrote, other than documenting Council Members' inadequacies, there's no point in making a good argument when the body hearing that argument doesn't understand it and has no inclination to learn.

Anytime anyone in the city tries to push for improvement that requires Council approval, even if it will save or make us money in the long run, they're met with disdain by at least three and sometimes more members of the Council, none of whom have yet to provide a sensible alternative plan for solving what they agree are problems.

Everyone in the city (municipal departments, constituents, developers, etc) legitimately trying to do a good job soon learns that Council involvement makes accomplishment more difficult and often impossible. Your reward for reaching out to the Council is to be publicly flogged by a group of angry, illiterate men who lack the capability to even identify success, let alone encourage it via intelligent investment.

Re: incentive pay system

Gee, you'd think a group of men with 50 years of financial "watchdog" experience between them may have come up with something like that by now, you know, as a means of asking the tough questions and all.

The idea that a group who makes no effort to hold themselves accountable (redistricting, comprehensive plan, rumormongering) is somehow suddenly going to develop an effective strategy to demand accountability in others doesn't offer much hope. In fact, they're currently using tax dollars to fend off a lawsuit rather than even trying. I wouldn't be surprised if more suits were on the way. They're deserved.

You want building inspection accountability? Provide inspectors a checklist of items to be inspected at each property and a digital camera. Require them to take a photo of each item inspected whether they approve it or demand corrective measures. When they return to the office at the end of the day with their inspection reports, it would take very little time to transfer the photos into a database or a folder with the properties' addresses attached.

That would prove that they're actually doing the inspections, serve as a visual record to resolve disputes, provide an objective measure of performance, and limit opportunities for corruption. Cost to the city? Less than $1,000.

Want an inspector just to handle rental properties? Set a fee structure that would pay for it. A single inspector checking three properties a day (two hours at each location and a remaining two hours each day to file reports and photos) could inspect 750 units in 50 weeks a year.

At a $60 average per inspection (hardly a burden on landlords once every couple of years), that inspector would generate $45,000 in fees each year. That would just about cover a $35,000 salary and benefits, the amount the city pays inspectors.

The current inspection system is dependent on citizen complaints and costs us money each time an inspection occurs. Mandatory rental inspections and an appropriate fee structure would guarantee that more buildings get inspected at no or substantially reduced cost to the city.

Could the Building Commisioner or Mayor's offices work on implementing these systems themselves?

Photos? Yes. Rental inspection? No.

As the fiduciary body of the city, does a responsible Council sit on its hands and wait for them to do so voluntarily?


Has famed building expert and Commissioner basher Larry Kochert been advocating for such an accountability system for building inspections?


Such a system would mean he'd have to back up his rants with objective information rather than innuendo. I've heard him drone on about the Building Commisioner numerous times but none of those grandstands were supported with specific examples of wrongdoing and, if they were, neither he nor the Building Commissioner could prove their respective positions.

It's OK for Kochert to blame the Commisioner for the Commissioner's shortcomings if he can quantify them. It's not OK for Kochert to blame his own shortcomings on the Commissioner.

Has self-described hero to the poor and taxpayer advocate Steve Price ever brought similar rental inspection ideas to the table under the guise of helping the poor, saving money, or both?

No. That would require a pencil and the ability to draw a line between dots. The problem with those country songs is that one line has to be followed by another, rhyming their way to resolution.

Nashville is safe for now.

CM Price and the need for "adequate legal resources to enforce local laws."

Here's an insightful comment by NAC reader Brandon Smith, which succinctly refutes the latest episode of historical revisionism (a form of blind man's bluff in hindsight) piously offered to the public by 3rd district councilman Steve "Yodeling Landlord" Price. See CM Price: The 3rd council district is "just like a spoiled child" for context. Take it away, Brandon ...


After further research and consultation with the actual City Attorney, the "neighborhood assocations" changed their minds about hiring a full-time City Attorney as a solution to the lack of resources in the City Legal Department.

The "neighborhood associations" did not change their minds about the need for adequate legal resources to enforce local laws.

According to our research and advice from the current City Attorney, the same $80,000 salary suggested by the Council could hire a full-time legal secretary and another part-time City Attorney dedicated to ordinance enforcement. Funding a single City Attorney at $80,000 would do little to expand his or her capability to enforce local ordinances. Furthermore, few attorneys would risk their private practices to serve at the whim of a Mayor and without adequate staff.

In the Council's defense, this plan was not properly articulated to them or the public. That will change.

More on this in the near future.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

“Heart of Darkness: If Not for Me, This Could Be Us.”

(Submitted press release)

Have you ever wondered, “After the smoke clears and the pony show is over what will be standing there?”

If this makes sense to you, then join 3rd district councilman Steve “Itchin’ Ears” Price as he hosts a fun and educational, fully escorted motorcoach inspection tour of Louisville’s Heart of Darkness – the Frankfort Avenue corridor.

CM Price’s “If Not for Me, This Could Be Us,” tour, which will serve as a campaign fundraiser, is designed to illustrate contemporary, viable principles of New Urbanism, area planning and revitalization, and to prove conclusively that such workable, contemporary techniques should not ever be permitted to flower in New Albany, at least as long as Steve Price is on the city council.

While cruising through the Crescent Hill and Clifton neighborhoods (since there’s never any place to park there, the councilman believes it best to keep the bus moving), you will scratch your head, gape in amazement, and gasp in horror at the unspeakable overcrowding and sheer human misery all around you.

You’ll be saddened and outraged at these depths of depravity, but unable to look away, as you view teeming niche shoppers, suave gallery habitués, multi-cultural eateries, happy and sated diners, all-hours coffee drinkers, high paying job holders, stolid taxpayers and highly valued properties. After witnessing this veritable catalog of wanton despair, you’ll surely echo the councilman’s heroic thoughts: We as a society shouldn’t “pack people in like sardines” – unless they’re jammed into economically efficient multiplexes carved out of otherwise useless old buildings in his council district.

But too much learnin’ makes a guy all ornery and smarty-pants, so there’ll be entertainment and vittles, too.

Councilman Price himself will provide musical interludes of old nursery rhyme favorites like “Three Blind Building Commission Members” and “The Old Woman Who Lived in My Rental Property,” performed on his vintage Stradaprecarious ukulele.

Cold barbecued bologna sandwiches on white bread will be offered courtesy of 1st District councilman Dan “Wizard of Westside” Coffey. Generic colas have been donated by Big Lots.

Bring the whole family and see what we should never allow ourselves to become. The price of admission is $2, and includes a voter registration form and a handy matchbook filled with the “Wit and Wisdom of Nanny Price.”


For context, visit: An empty chair's better than an empty suit -- or why Frankfort Avenue is bad for an Uncouncilman's stunted imagination. Posted by Picasa

CM Price: The 3rd council district is "just like a spoiled child."

I wonder what that makes him?

Now that my councilman finally has a re-election campaign just around the corner, and suddenly and expediently sees the pre-existing light of the blogosphere, he is choosing to dispense a veritable "Greatest Hits" of one-chord, shopworn homilies electronically – the theory, generation and transmission of electricity ironically being aspects of a “can-do” outlook toward the planet Earth rather than Steve Price’s usual “can’t-do” twang of resigned desperation.

More on that in a moment.

Nonetheless, I’ve credited him with this decision to generate simplistic Internet content even if the quality of it has tended to remind me of the impending need to visit Feeder’s Supply for another 50 pounds of kitty litter. Such are the flagrant, self-serving and outright false deceptions that he’s managed to foist on the mercifully small reading public during two short weeks of soiled Internet post-it notes, and of course this isn’t surprising given the approaching election season follies.

Take this claim:

Various neighborhood associations wanted a full time city attorney – when it was presented, they changed their mind.

As was made clear at last evening’s council meeting, and as has been addressed on numerous occasions previously, CM Price’s much referenced full-time city attorney was to be funded at a salary level commensurate with that of a Taco Bell shift manager.

Note also that the councilman’s depiction of shifting neighborhood whims is deceptive in the extreme, as it does not take into account the toil expended by so many transparently sincere people to devise strategies that are comprehensive and meaningful, not ephemeral, symbolic and cynical in the fashion of an inadequately funded attorney.

Citizens learning on the fly deserve more than the level of participation and assistance consistently denied their efforts by CM Price, who has preferred to point to himself holding a shovel rather than a book – perhaps because no etchings of the latter currently exist. Like his fellow conjoined councilman Dan Coffey, CM Price is fondest of photo-ops showing him presenting a fish to you, and far less eager to go on record as teaching you how to catch it.

Here’s another bit of doggerel from CM Price’s Book of Dreams:

It is way past the time for us to look within the means we already have for resolution.

No, Steve. A thousand times, “No.” Your paradigm is a recipe for failure, precisely because it has already failed.

It is way past time for us to look outside the means we already have for resolution.

And, outside these means is a place you simply – as well as simplistically -- cannot conceive.

Friday, January 19, 2007

"How can you be a leader?" Simple.

The persistent dysfunction of “New Albany Politics” can be seen in its genetic propensity toward stunted comprehension of the modern world, an inbred inability to visualize, and a sometimes sentimental but periodically violent adoration for the palpably untrue.

--NA Confidential, May 5, 2006


3:00 p.m. update
For more meeting coverage, read: City Council Meeting = Bad Manners, at the New Albany Today blog.


If last night’s city council meeting was any indication, the Larry Kochert Era is going to be remembered as the time when the reins finally were loosened, any remaining pretense abandoned, and all – not just some – of the Gang of Four’s persistently unprofessional, native dysfunction brought into full, Technicolor view of the city’s residents, and permitted to fester, then drown, in a puddle of self-generated bile.

A boy can dream, right?

New Albany council shuffles changes agenda; New firefighter rules were not considered, by Dick Kaukas, (short shelf life for Courier-Journal links).

Members of the New Albany City Council were criticized for not considering an ordinance last night that would set new rules for hiring firefighters.

It had been removed from the agenda over the weekend.

While CM Larry Kochert gyrated wildly from one direction to the next from a seated position in his well-greased presidential chair, seemingly unable to issue firm dictates on matters ranging from agenda items to public speaking topics, the handy “Wardheeler-O-Matic” grandstanding detector used by NA Confidential to measure the preposterousness of the Conjoined Councilman clicked like an amok Geiger counter positioned outside Professor Erika’s shabby double wide.

Details are important, of course, but it should suffice to note that while specific content varies, the institutionalized unprofessionalism of the current council remains consistent from meeting to meeting, and in spite of the best efforts of those council members who obviously have acted in a manner that differs from the baser instincts regularly flaunted before the gallery by members on the east side of the table, these self-aggrandizing outbursts are what sets the tone and will unfortunately be remembered by visitors, who walk away in amazement to perpetuate New Albany’s sad public image by word of mouth.

One such episode was the topic of last night’s posting, “A weasel ripped the Building Commission president's flesh.

Steve Laduke, president of the building commission, took advantage of speaking time allotted to public officials to present a brief overview of recent actions taken by the city’s building department to creatively facilitate the demolition of derelict properties. Laduke’s basic message: In the absence of a council resolution to restore the demolition fund from its current position in the “red,” and to push it into the “black,” such creativity is necessary, takes more time, but is being exercised on a weekly basis.

Given that many of these derelict properties had been part of an inaccurate list circulated by CM Bill Schmidt at the previous meeting, and later published by the non-fact-checking Erika, it’s probable that Laduke intended his presentation at least in part as a refutation, on top of his stated aim of providing good news amid the customary litany of acrimony and complaints.

And, surely, the simple act of pointing out that the building department is doing some measure of its job does not excuse legitimate criticism of it in several areas. This blog has joined in the criticism, and will continue to do so as merited by circumstances.

But rather, it was the ill-tempered response to Laduke’s comments that provided the most recent cogent illustration of the council’s persistent dysfunction, as well as pointing toward the most common offender.

If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it one hundred times: CM Dan Coffey complaining loudly and bitterly that he has not been provided information … or doesn’t know where the proper information is hidden … or that critical pieces of the puzzle are being denied him.

At least as often, one or the other public official has been heard to respond that CM Coffey’s request has yet to be forthcoming, that he hasn’t asked, that the phone hasn't sounded, or that he’s shown no interest in learning. Instructively, last night, Laduke provided precisely such information to the council – just as the council in general, and members such as CM Coffey in particular, had been asking for him or someone like him to do.

CM Coffey’s immediate and predictable response was to attack the building department (“it’s a mess”), to viciously accuse Laduke of performing shoddy work in his day job, and to ask Laduke to identify for the jury the part of town where he lives – as though this were at all germane.

(Germane … wait, GERMANS!! Nazis in the VFW exhuming the video poker games of our vets, NAAAHHHZZ – screeeeech – not now, CM Price … not now. Here, have a nice umbrella rum drink and read this article in Rental Property Weekly)

What’s worse, and more damning, is that CM Coffey maligned Laduke’s act of sharing information with the people who asked for it as “politics” and nothing more.

Think about that one for a moment.

Later, on another topic, CM Coffey lamented that very soon, New Albany could begin "losing companies" owing to a lack of acreage compared to Clark County. Have readers ever wondered how many businesses of any size -- whether these require bricks and mortar homes or merely the laptop occupying space at a coffee shop -- have been frightened away from New Albany by people like Dan Coffey himself, and the mode of "thought" that he represents?

Sometimes it’s so bad at these meetings that I arrive back home to find that my pot and kettle are no longer on speaking terms.


The Tribune’s Eric Scott Campbell was there, and we’ll link to his coverage when it appears on-line: ___ Posted by Picasa

Thursday, January 18, 2007

A weasel ripped the Building Commission president's flesh.

It was his own fault, though.

After all, why give a councilman information the CM couldn't find on his own?
 Posted by Picasa

Open thread: City council meeting of January 18, 2007.

Here is tonight’s city council agenda: 2007 JANUARY 18, 7:30 P.M.

And, here you can find agenda items in detail (.pdf), thanks to the city clerk, Marcey Wisman: Agenda items.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Mr./Mrs./Ms. Candidate: Just in time for the filing period, here are my modified rules of voting engagement.

This rumination has been a long time gestating. Am I just joking ... or not? Is it an early sign of bibulist’s dementia? Even I'm having trouble deciding, but at present, I'm comfortable with the notion of being clear and open about the current state of my thoughts. We’re told that voting is supposed to be a matter of conscience, and in the past, I've claimed status as a conscientious objector, but as we approach the next electoral milestone in this city’s cluttered history, anything short of perfect honesty would be remiss. In the absence of genuine choice, options are few.

Have a wonderful day.


What was that? You're running for office, and you'd like my support?

Damned glad you asked. It's going to be a (insert cliche here) this election season, isn't it? Brutal, unrelenting and vicious ... which reminds me, I have something to tell you. But first, a digression.

It isn’t that difficult to understand why election cycles bring out some of the worst manifestations of latent human savagery, and to grasp these venomous expressions of the heart of darkness lurking somewhere within us all, it’s barely relevant that we as voters are rarely offered anything that remotely resembles a choice.

Indeed, ideological differences originating in the intellect aren’t what motivate otherwise placid and normally harmless individuals to become virulent, fire-breathing instruments conveying Dr. Thompson’s fabled fear and loathing. The subconscious roots of the ailment extend far deeper than that, reaching into base impulses of tribal mysticism that are expressed as “us against you,” not “our ideas and platforms against yours.”

It is by no means helpful that the cynical power-sharing accord brokered more than a century ago by America’s two-party system has rendered numerous Americans functionally impotent with regard to concepts of non-partisan achievement.

Just as basic training in the armed services is structured to instill a core set of conditioned responses that can be summoned from the depths of the subconscious decades after the instructional experience has concluded, political party identification acts as a self-defining urge apart from conscious reasoning and is intended to bypass external considerations. One doesn’t “think,” but instead “reacts,” as a Democrat or a Republican, customarily owing to a process of socialization that took place in childhood, and in some extreme cases, the womb.

Given that New Albany remains a veritable Amazon Basin of abundant, aberrant (sometimes abhorrent) sociopolitical species, it comes as little surprise that we’ve managed to do more than our fair bit in rendering null and void the concept of non-partisanship.

At this point in our city’s history, the most merciful thing to do would be to eradicate non-partisanship entirely, and to hasten our reorganization into armed camps. A demilitarized slumlord zone could be left under the protection of both sides, so as to encourage the continued economic boons of multiple-family rental properties, methamphetamine production and petty thievery. We'll also need a food court of burger joints. Otherwise, it’s off to the mattresses.

These all too probable musings aside, the current situation strongly suggests that one risks senseless redundancy to so much as attempt a sincere disclaimer of local non-partisanship.

Such a disclaimer might bear a shred of meaning only if one or the other of our two major local political parties possessed an action platform pertaining to distinctly local issues. Since neither does, and since both have in effect abdicated the game in terms of coherence and relevance, partisanship has been rendered moot in terms of ideological significance. A party member is no more than a clan member, a club member, or perhaps a Sam’s Club member, spouting the dogma “little progress at the lowest price.”

And this brings us, full circle, back to the ghostlike non-platforms that we’re about to be relentlessly insulted with as the 2007 election season rounds into full fury.

Consequently, and speaking here only for me -- as one who considers himself a small but sometimes annoyingly loud component of a genuine constituency that is working to bring about change and to offer a vision of the city’s future, while remaining grimly realistic about the willingness of ordinary people to play ball with the devil they know to the exclusion of ideas that strike them as incomprehensible and just plain crazy with a decidedly "progressive" taint -- I’m ready to publicly offer my conditions to vote for you, the candidate.

As the most immediate example, though hardly the only applicable one, it is widely known that I regard the city council tenure of Steve Price as a nadir for my 3rd council district. I am absolutely positive that the district and the city need better if we’re ever going to escape the leaden grip of the self-defeating, self-perpetuating, underachieving and anti-intellectual New Albany Syndrome.

This having been said, it should come as no surprise that I’ll not be voting for CM Price in his probable re-election bid. In fact, I'd sooner vote for the villainous neo-con troll Dick Cheney, the blessedly deceased dude who invented Miller Lite, or even one of Auntie V's many and varied personalities.

However, contrary to past habits, I’ll not necessarily vote against CM Price by voting for his opponent UNLESS his opponent provides a clear, coherent platform that addresses my concerns and the concerns of my neighborhood. It’s as simple as that.

Precisely because my expectations of job performance from CM Price are low, there's no chance of disappointment on my part. Conversely, I absolutely must demand more of those who may decide to run against him, because my expectations of he/she/them are accordingly higher, and it logically follows that my risk of crushing disappointment correspondingly far greater.

Therefore, lacking a potential challenger’s clear public articulation of intent and of discernable content -- no back room deals for me -- I propose to sit on my hands come Election Day if these strategies and goals are not forthcoming. Expediently selling out to the least objectionable bidder no longer fits into my grand scheme of ethical voting conduct. Now, the stakes are raised. You must earn my support against the primeval empire, both within the 3rd council district and as applicable to citywide races.

Mr./Mrs./Ms. Candidate, henceforth the two of us working together shall be a two-way street, and as we know, two-way streets are something that New Albany desperately needs to restore to working order, along with the notion that every once in a while, if only once in a generation, an election should be about a competition between ideas. I've been making my ideas clear for quite some time, so it’s entirely up to you, the candidate, to make the first move and to throw me some red meat. Higher standards begin right here, and at this instant.

It is revealing that as I write, CM Price has (only recently) set up a campaign kiosk in the blogosphere and is busy doing just that. We can't really call his product "ideas" -- not yet -- and what clear notions manage to sneak through his borrowed talking points and vapid homilies can be surreal in an acid-trip-like, Timothy Leary sort of way ... and though what CM Price is doing with his blog isn't even necessary given the blissful ignorance of his Coup de'Geriatrique constituency, he seems to recognize the importance of at least trying to say something.

And for that, I give him public credit. There are others with a far longer presence in the blogosphere who have not attempted -- not yet -- what CM Price now purports to do.

To repeat: I speak here as an individual.

Almost certainly my closest associates won't agree with me, and at any rate, my influence is severely limited, or so I’m told by the nay-saying cadre that continues to fear such unlikely contingencies. I fully understand that my purely figurative ballot fee of an idea or three -- no more, lest we confuse and frighten Joe Six Pack -- to punch your ticket may be far too high for prospective partisan office holders to proffer considering the long, dreary New Albanian history of offering absolutely nothing and usually delivering even less.

Mr./Mrs./Ms. candidate, please understand that my demands are less about you than about me, specifically, about my not wanting to feel ashamed and dirty any longer when it comes time to cast my vote. However, if you act soon to secure my support, it -- I -- we -- may be of some help acting together to displace those dreadfully simplistic remnant of discredited old ways that continue to retard progress in New Albany.

It’s all the more reason to illustrate very soon that you have a program, a plan and a platform.

If not – if you don’t, or you won’t, or you can’t – well, in truth, guerilla warfare becomes addictive after a while, and in the end, the council's obstructionists ultimately will dissolve and fade away, anyhow, whether one, two or all of them are re-elected this time around. Together, we can speed their departure. Apart, we're in for more long years of inactivity, excuses and non-business as usual. Make no mistake: I'm confident we'll win in the end. It'll just take longer.

But this year, "for a change," it's all about me.

Dear readers -- my fellow New Albanians -- in closing, it occurs to me that a former roommate’s telephone answering machine message used to be, “You know what to do and when to do it.”

Ditto. Let’s hear it, candidate(s). The sooner, the better. What’s it going to be?

(tick tock, tick tock, tick tock)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

On the downtown urban fabric.

I don’t always know which topics will spur a discussion on this streetcorner.

Sunday’s legal notice about the abandoned historic property on Main Street started slowly, then suddenly accelerated into a spirited debate over the nature and suitability of new construction downtown. Meanwhile, Monday’s human rights rumination elicited a few insightful comments, but didn’t reach critical mass.

Many thanks go to Lawguy for sharing at least some of the plans for new construction at 3rd and Main. There certainly is consensus that a building standing at the corner is preferable to the gravel-strewn scar currently occupying the space, and looking at the west side of 3rd between Main and Market, we hope that the building and renovation bug spreads inward from his firm’s job site.

One comment of Lawguy’s caught my attention:

It would be nice to have the resources to build a marvelous italianate design, or something equally exotic to compliment the Parthenon building a block away. However, in the end, it is an office, not a museum, so some amount of daily practicality will inevitably have to prevail.

Ironically, when it was built almost two hundred years ago, the Parthenon wasn’t a museum, either. It was a bank – an office of the time. How many of us have marveled at the epic scale and loving detail of buildings built in the city’s “imperial” era? Did the planners and builders of the day have the same discussions as we had yesterday about resources and practicality?

Something about this idea of exoticism vs. practicality strikes very closely to the heart of a topic that arises here with clocklike regularity, and perhaps mirrors a similar strain in the nation as a whole. Exactly how is it that our city’s founders “could do,” and did, and we chronically “can’t do,” and don't? Supposedly we’re far more advanced in every manifestation of knowledge and skill, yet we seem incapable of the simple feat of imagining qualities of bigger and better.

This rumination shouldn’t be taken as a swipe at Lawguy’s new building at 3rd and Main. I’ve not seen the design, and as noted yesterday, it is my fervent hope that the structure leans more toward the instincts of Columbus than Madison. Even as we observe the necessary protocols of historical preservation, which I personally find quite worthy, it remains that each era of human habitation should have its own signature -- and will, whether we always approve or not.

Ultimately, my favorite places are those where the different signatures of different eras each exhibit a similar conceptual exuberance and an explicit recognition of the striving toward the potentialities of excellence that should preface all our activities as people.

Make us proud, Lawguy. I’ll be happy to see the gravel displaced and the activity begin.

Monday, January 15, 2007

REWIND: An oblique nod toward “human rights in our own backyard.”

NA Confidential’s entry for November 10, 2005 was overtly inspired by the New York Times and its Sunday book review section.

Books, a bogus Texan drug sting, and New Albany's human rights obligation.

As I noted 14 months ago, there was an “ulterior motive” to introducing the subject, as there were efforts underway at the time toward reviving New Albany’s moribund human rights commission. These have come to nothing, and that's appalling even if there were valid reasons for the inaction.

Like so many other ordinances, a human rights commission is on the books – albeit unfunded, unused and unknown. It is an ironclad fact that there remains interest in the community for reviving it, and I’m equally certain that it is sorely needed in a place where topics like basic rights, diversity, and fundamental human dignity are regularly the targets of gleeful disparagement and outright malice on the part of those who've obviously not suffered owing to such generally institutionalized deprivations.

Might a functional human rights commission be at least a part of any possible slate of solutions to the city’s housing problems? Tenant rights and human rights are cut from the same bolt, aren’t they?

Are any candidates for office willing to go on record as supporting the revival of New Albany’s human rights commission?

Although a better question might be: Are any candidates for office willing to go on record as supporting anything?

Tune in tomorrow for more on that topic.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Legal notice: 1003 E. Main Street -- is the reign of Espinoza error ending?


FIFTH THIRD BANK, (LOUISVILLE) Plaintiff, v. LEOPOLDO ESPINOZA MORTGAGEIT, INC. UNKNOWN OCCUPANT (S) 1003 E. Main Street New Albany, Indiana 47150 Defendants


TO: Leopoldo Espinoza BE IT KNOWN, that Fifth Third Bank, the above-named Plaintiff, by its attorney, Nicholas K. Rohner, has filed in the office of the Clerk of the Floyd Circuit Court its Complaint against the above-named Defendant, and the said Plaintiff having also filed in said Clerk’s office the affidavit of a competent person showing that the residence and whereabouts of the Defendant, Leopoldo Espinoza, upon diligent inquiry is unknown, and that said cause of action is for default on the promissory note and to foreclose a mortgage on the following described real estate in Floyd County, State of Indiana, to wit: Parcel I All Lots 5 and 6 and the South 43 feet of Lot No. 9 in Plat No. 1, Floyd County, Indiana, described as follows: Beginning on the North line of East Main Street as its intersection with the East line of East Tenth Street; running thence North on the East line of East Tenth Street 163 feet; thence East parallel with Main Street, 120 feet to a 20 foot alley; thence South along the West line of said alley, 163 feet to the intersection of the North line of East Main Street with the West line of said alley; thence West on the North line of Main Street 120 feet to the Place of Beginning. Parcel II Lot No. Ten (10) and the North 7 feet of Lot No. Nine (9) on Upper Tenths Street in Plat No. 1 of the Floyd County, Indiana records. commonly known as 1003 East Main Street, New Albany, Indiana 47150. NOW, THEREFORE, said Defendant is hereby notified of the filing and pendency of said Complaint against them and that unless he appears and answers or otherwise defends thereto within thirty (30) days after the last notice of this action is published, judgment by default may be entered against him for the relief demanded in the Complaint.

Dated December 18, 2006 Eugenea Freiberger Clerk, Floyd Circuit Court Nicholas K. Rohner (23364-15) Attorney for Plaintiff, Fifth Third Bank WELTMAN, WEINBERG & REIS, CO., L.P.A. 525 Vine Street, Suite 800 Cincinnati, Ohio 45202

Telephone: (513) 723-2200
Facsimile: (513) 723-2230
Dec. 26, Jan. 2, 9

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Posted by Picasa

Hot time in the old town? Could be nerves, I guess.

The Highwayman asked first, and I’ll provide the echo: Is It Just Me or Is It Getting Hot 'Round Here?

Indeed, tempers seem to be fraying as the filing period for New Albany’s 2007 city elections draws ever closer.

Here’s my favorite blog comment of the week (unedited), which was directed at none other than your humble senior editor:

Why is it you hide behind your key board. And you do not speak out at council meetings? But it appears easier holding on to your digital camera, or writing with your so called solutions, opinions, and feeding your followers nothing but slanders lies.

It was written by (drum roll please): Anonymous!

Now that’s what I call “hiding behind a keyboard.”

Meanwhile over at Freedom to Screech, everyone’s favorite academic wannabe actually reaches deep to perform something roughly approximating a public service by publishing CM Bill Schmidt’s grail-like derelict housing list, complete with the names of owners – proving that as NAC has long held, even a stopped pre-digital clock is right twice a day, or in Erika’s case, twice a year.

The hottest new blog of the year comes from 3rd district councilman Steve Price. In his most recent posting, excerpted (again, unedited) below, CM Price does his best Michael Crichton:

It is inevitable that 15th Street will cave in.

One can only hope that a train will not be on the tracks when it happens.

What are we going to do when it caves in? Who is going to pay and where is the money going to come from? Where is our emergency fund when we need it?

If this problem was seriously addressed during the numerous time I mentioned it, would we be viewing this from a different prospective?

This is a true case of proactive vs. reactive.

Finally we understand why the councilman has been so regularly non-responsive (dare we say, reactive?) on so many other pressing everyday issues during his council tenure: Like those strange people carrying signs predicting the end of the world, he’s been busy focusing on just one of many potential future problems.

In fairness, 15th Street is mess. Perhaps CM Price agrees with me that the best way to repair it is to nationalize the railroad, which would solve numerous noise and traffic problems in addition to removing the threat of a hazardous waste spill form the vicinity of so many unregulated, substandard rental housing properties.

Against this backdrop of venom and bile, most of it dispensed by people who are plainly (and mistakenly) terrified of emerging non-partisan ideas to promote a less dysfunctional civic future – New Albany is a prime natural habitat for those preferring the devil they already know – the rebirthing work slowly unfolds downtown.

I donned the raingear and walked through the historic business district Saturday, and saw interior remodeling work being done in at least four different places, in addition to the construction area where Scribner Place is rising. Clearly there are people with vision hereabouts, ones who look forward and say “we can do more,” rather than “I’ve done all I can do” or "it's his fault, not mine."

My bet is placed on those who can. They're doing it even as the obstructionists insist that it can't be done.

Doing: That’s why there’s a city standing here in the first place.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Saving Silvercrest? The effort is underway.

In coming weeks, you’ll be hearing much more about the future of the hilltop wonder known as Silvercrest.

For now, it’s enough to be aware that there are people in our community who are diligently working toward imaginative and adaptive strategies to preserve and protect the city’s historical heritage. Newspaper coverage comes first; see below for further links.

Sides debate historic value of Silvercrest, by Eric Scott Campbell (News and Tribune).

Local preservationists have persuaded the state to take private developers’ bids for the former Silvercrest Children’s Development Center and postpone its application for demolition.

New uses sought for Silvercrest; Former child development center could become apartments or offices, by Dick Kaukas (short shelf life for Courier-Journal links).

About 30 developers, preservationists, government representatives and others toured the buildings and grounds of the former Silvercrest Child Development Center in New Albany yesterday.

They reached no conclusions about what to do with the property but talked about a range of possible uses, including offices or apartments in the five-story main building.

For further reading:

The New Albany Historic Preservation Commission’s history of the Art Moderne and Art Deco Silvercrest Hospital: An Architectural Treasure in the Hills of New Albany.

Full Text of NAHPC Letter to County Commissioners.

Images of Silvercrest and Silvercrest: Can It Be Saved?, at the Diggin’ in the Dirt blog. Posted by Picasa

Friday, January 12, 2007

Open thread, part three: "When (CM Steve Price) repeats that he's done all that's in his statutory power, it's clearly not true."

Earlier this week, 3rd district councilman Steve Price kicked off his 2007 re-election campaign by combining with unknown collaborators on a blog entitled “My Struggle.”

Not really. It's actually called “My Vision.”

Because words actually have accepted meanings, it's important to point out that in its adjectival context, “revisionist” modifies the noun history in this manner:

Revisionist: Attempting to reevaluate and restate the past based on newly acquired standards.

Leave it to my colleague, Bluegill, to illustrate with devastating precision the fashion by which the councilman blatantly dissembles as he seeks now to rewrite the record of his disastrous term in office.

The following was posted as a comment to the post, Open thread, part two: Councilman Steve Price as reactionary progressive?

See also: Open thread: Councilman Steve Price - "progressive" or regressive?


Bluegill wrote:

Let's review what's painfully obvious to everyone but CM Price.

NAC recently put forward eight potential planks of a platform to advance city clean up. They're listed again below for convenience:

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.

Of the eight planks, seven of them are under the direct authority of the City Council. A revamped Building Commissioner’s office would fall under the authority of the Mayor, but the Council could certainly, through financial incentive or disincentive, attempt to influence such decision making.

There are certainly arguments to be made concerning which should be given higher priority, but has CM Price, who reportedly loves options, introduced any of these concepts as worthy of further exploration and possible action by the Council?


When he repeats that he's done all that's in his statutory power, it's clearly not true.

Unfortunately, this type of misrepresentation seems to be a habit for CM Price.

I've heard him personally state several times what he wrote to Sloburn*: That he voted to appropriate funds for a paralegal. He usually says, "We gave (City Attorney) Shane (Gibson) a paralegal."

The reality of the situation is that the Council appropriated $16,000 for the legal department. Trained paralegals typically make approximately twice that much, more with significant experience. What the Council actually approved was just enough money to hire a part-time administrative assistant. That's what we have.

I know this has been explained to CM Price because I've personally explained it to him. He simply ignores that explanation, however, and continues to repeat something to his constituents that's fundamentally inaccurate.

CM Price may respond to questions in a timely fashion. What he consistently fails to do, whether due to ignorance or malice, is to answer them in a manner that shows he understands the question and is able to help his constituents better understand a given situation.

He does have a point, though. He has, in fact, done all that he can do. It’s just too bad he doesn’t realize that’s such a strong argument for his replacement.


* Here is the text of CM Price's response to Sloburn's questions, referenced by Bluegill above, and as originally posted by Sloburn on Thursday.


What is going to change if I am re-elected?

Change with regards to cleanliness is going to have to be a team effort. I alone cannot fix the problem. I do feel I have started the movement towards the resolution by promoting the cleanliness ordinance as well as the Code Enforcement Officer. Unfortunately, I am unable to micro-mange the various departments within the city. (I do think that someone needs to) It is up to the administration to enforce the ordinances and resolutions enacted by the council.

Why hasn’t it already happened?

Options that I have presented in the past have been pushed aside and placed on the back burner. For instance, an actual route system in the street department would be a great first step towards cleaning up trash and debris from the alleys. As for the houses in disrepair the only means for resolution lies in the hands of the administration. The council, with my vote, appropriated funds for an Ordinance Enforcement Officer as well as a paralegal to assist the work load of our City Attorney.

As I stated in my posting, I have done all that is in my statutory power. I will help my neighbors resolve their cleanliness issues one house at a time. Posted by Picasa

On the lessons of the Ermin's relocation.

While walking downtown last Saturday night, we saw the “moving” sign on the window at Ermin’s. These days, if you wait too long to strike, the Tribune scoops you:

Ermin’s closes downtown, moves to Charlestown Road; Owner of Main Street restaurant cites lack of traffic at breakfast, dinner, by Eric Scott Campbell (News and Tribune).

Bob and Debby Haynes uprooted Ermin’s Bakery and Cafe downtown Saturday to move three miles north, the prospects of more traffic and tables outweighing the impact of a 40 percent spike in rent.

The new location is the former home of Bean Street Cafe, between a Subway and a Domino’s Pizza at 2736 Charlestown Road. Bob Haynes said Monday he expects to open next week.

As a fellow business owner, I wish them luck in the new location, where traffic flow indeed is heavier – though ominously, competition for the discerning diner’s discretionary income also is far greater.

That they’ll be moving to a location owned by a developer (Gary “The Gary” McCartin) with no apparent instinct for the downtown state of mind (or its potential for a certain demographic that he doesn’t try to comprehend) seems eerily appropriate, as their publicly stated rationale for the shift is the lack of sufficient downtown traffic and the slow pace of the Scribner Place development.

With no disrespect intended for the owners of Ermin’s, and accepting their sincerity and hard work as a non-negotiable given, it is nonetheless possible for us to consider such matters in the same fashion as we discuss coaching strategies in basketball or the “should haves” and “what ifs” of human history.

Having submitted my disclaimer, permit me to suggest that the business model of the New Albany branch of Ermin’s, and not traffic patterns or construction delays outside its walls, is the primary reason for the restaurant’s failure downtown and its subsequent change of venue.

The Ermin’s business model for downtown New Albany, and presumably for its other satellite in Kentucky, quite obviously has embraced the logistics of a relatively inexpensive catering operation rather than those necessary to provide genuine café ambience.

Most (perhaps all) of the food was brought in to the Main Street location from a central kitchen in Louisville, heated in microwaves, and served, like any fast food, with disposable plates, cups and utensils.

This may have made good business sense at the start, as start-up costs could be reduced, and the expense of operating a kitchen and a dishwasher fully avoided. However, it’s my opinion that once competition began to increase downtown, Ermin’s quickly lost several steps, and what’s more, other than tweaking opening hours, the café did very little to adapt its bill of fare and its mode of presentation to the obviously changing marketplace and expectations of downtown diners.

In short, at least two other establishments within a city block, both with warmer “dine in” atmospheres (Bistro New Albany and the reconstituted Main Street Café), began offering fresh, creative food prepared on the premises. While it’s true that BNA’s prices may have been 15-20% higher than Ermin’s, the food was served on real dishes with table service provided. Consider also Joy’s Coffee Nook, which served wraps and sandwiches, and with better coffee.

When La Rosita’s came into being, suddenly the Louisville area’s finest Mexican eatery was only a five-minute drive from Ermin’s. A longtime stalwart like Tommy Lancaster’s continued to pull its crowd irrespective of season and prevailing trend, and once again, provided a good value with pleasant atmosphere for people choosing to dine in.

In short, when Ermin’s first took up residence on Main Street, the competition was thin, and undoubtedly this was a primary reason for the owners taking the risk. However, increased competition exposed institutional weaknesses in the Ermin’s business plan, and if the café hadn’t moved now, it probably would have been forced to face the inevitable when the Treet’s café opens soon on Market Street.

Given these proliferating choices in an expanding competitive atmosphere, exactly what did Ermin’s do to differentiate itself from its competition, or to persuade the dining public to have a microwave casserole rather than visit the well-stocked steam table down the street or eat like kings at a critically praised Mexican eatery – both for the same price or perhaps less than Ermin’s?

Perhaps there’s hope for Ermin’s to ramp it up. When Bean Street Café was at the Slate Run location, there was a kitchen behind the counter, and at least some baking took place on site. Is it still there? If so, perhaps the Ermin’s model will be updated and adapted to new circumstances.

But it isn’t going to be easy. Even with more cars passing Lauren’s Corner, Ermin’s now must compete with the very popular Los Indios Mex-Mex, with national chains on both sides of Ermin’s, with Sam’s Food & Spirits, and with those cheap and tasty hot dogs cooked without pretense on the Thornton’s spits -- and out beyond the Interstate, there’s a whole exurb filled with dining alternatives, ranging from Japanese to Cajun, from Tumbleweed to Bearno’s.

In closing, allow me to stress again that none of this should be construed as criticism of Ermin’s. In my own business, I’m aware that as secure as one might feel at any given time, the marketplace remains forever volatile. With the possible exception of certain self-proclaimed “progressive” councilmen, nothing in the world actually stands still. Flux is a constant. Guessing which way it will travel can be maddening.

To succeed in selling anything, one must know the product, know the market, and know his or her own aptitudes and abilities. All these factors are subject to change, to modification, to improvement, and to regression.

As for me, I’m sure of few things in life, and this is one: In business, as in nature, certain fundamental things still apply. Consequently, you evolve … or, disturbingly often, you die.

Good luck to Ermin’s in its new location.