Monday, April 30, 2007

Now that's a grand mal level of cognitive dissonance.

Evidently at least one voter likes the incumbent mayor, but wants to keep his hands tied by obstructionism. Has there ever been a better example than this photo of the New Albany Syndrome in all its unfettered futility?

Looking on the bright side, and perhaps because there remain more single family dwellings than rental properties on this stretch of East Elm, "Harshfield for Council" signs are abundant.

C-J's Moss sees good things downtown, and Bistro New Albany celebrates Year One.

Two days after your correspondent spent an informative hour and a half with the amazing Mike Kopp – time well spent to scan a future that still eludes fully half the current city council – the Courier-Journal’s Dale Moss devoted his Sunday column to the undeniable New Albanian renaissance that Mike is doing so very much to facilitate:

Downtown New Albany shows signs of vitality; Restaurant, other businesses a step in the right direction.

Kopp, 44, is a New Albany native who sells and leases commercial real estate. If he wins all for downtown that he envisions, a street should be renamed in his honor. He's talking a regional arts center and a plaza and condos. A jazz club is also in the plans.

The restaurant in question is the Bistro New Albany, which coincidentally will be celebrating its first year in business tonight, on Monday evening, April 30, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. All readers are invited to come and celebrate.

Owner, chef and occasional misfit clown Dave Clancy will be providing free appetizers, and there'll be a cash bar for beer (including NABC - note that I'll be buying a few rounds of progressive pints for the like-minded), wine and BNA's recently acquired and steadily growing selection of top-shelf spirits. Go here for a current beer list.

See you there? I hate to miss the NBA playoffs, especially after last night's stellar Golden State triumph over the heavily favored Mavs, but BNA is more important for New Albany.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

RFK -- in the context of New Albany today?

At Friday’s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, an annual Democratic Party rite of spring, keynote speaker Daniel Kalef of Louisville’s Muhammad Ali Center related an anecdote about a mid-1960’s automobile ride through Watts, with Muhammad Ali at the wheel of his convertible and Robert F. Kennedy the sole passenger.

In conversations with Kalef, Ali has noted that on this particular day it was not he that became the object of attention and adoration on the part of the crowds that inevitably gathered during the drive – a phenomenon to which Ali was well accustomed. Rather, it was RFK, the white, dynastic, complexly troubled politician, who the people in the predominately black neighborhood wanted to see up close.


Almost forty years on, there remains something profoundly moving – and utterly haunting -- about RFK’s impromptu speech in Indianapolis on the night of the King assassination. He discarded prepared comments in favor of heartfelt words, the audio of which was replayed to those attending Friday’s dinner.

Near the end, in a reference inconceivable in the present age of mass deconstruction, when candidates for office routinely clear brush and dumb themselves down to the level of public ignorance perceived by their survey-driven handlers, RFK reached with complete sincerity to the classics to find words to express his sadness:

My favorite poem, my favorite poet was Aeschylus. He once wrote, 'Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.'

As an atheist, I might quibble with the final line, except that the emotion on display these many years later is too real to be ignored.

The Ali Center’s Kalef candidly admits that having been born in 1965, he remembers nothing of RFK beyond what he learned later in school, but NA Confidential’s senior editor is five years older, and can vaguely recall Kennedy’s visit to New Albany, circa 1967, an event described in loving detail by William Lohmeyer on Friday evening. My recollection is that of Kennedy waving from an auto that passed our vantage point on Main Street, near the Knights of Columbus.

Knowing my father’s aversion to crowds, and his populist instincts that sometimes veered uncomfortably to the right, it must have taken some degree of interest and respect for him to agree to making the trip down from Georgetown.

A year or so later, after RFK was killed, my father and I were standing by the rusted oil drum that we used weekly to burn the trash. He was looking at the front page of the Courier-Journal, which bore a large photo of the slain candidate, and after scanning the article through for a final time, he tossed it atop the fire. I can see the face consumed by flames, and to this day associate the expanding ashes with my own fears and uncertainties as an eight-year old who was aware of societal turbulence and accompanying change, but not quite far enough along to make sense of it.

It is well documented that when Robert F. Kennedy decided to enter the presidential race in 1968, President Lyndon Johnson’s leadership position was rapidly eroding as the escalating insanity of the Vietnam War actively subverted any hopes that LBJ’s “Great Society” might substantively emerge here at home in an America plagued by division and strife.

Kennedy said:

"I do not run for the Presidency merely to oppose any man but to propose new policies. I run because I am convinced that this country is on a perilous course and because I have such strong feelings about what must be done, and I feel that I'm obliged to do all I can."

LBJ’s unexpected withdrawal from public life was yet to come, and Kennedy’s disclaimer (not to “oppose,” but to “propose”) might be read as deferential according to the prevailing rules of the game, but almost certainly the senator did see a clear and present danger emanating from the figure of the incumbent even if the sitting president was a member of the same party.

Speaking locally, NAC consistently has proposed new policies for the city of New Albany. For proof, look back at our archive of three years running, but get a big cup of coffee first, because it’s going to take you a while.

At the same time, we have opposed the men with names like Price, Coffey, Schmidt and Kochert, whose mantra might as well be, “Penny wise, future foolish.”

We will continue to propose what we believe to be the sensible new policies and trends, and to oppose the outmoded men who stand in their way, knowing that while progress may eventually bypass those bizarrely and often corrosively opposed to it, removal of the obstacles they embody can certainly assist the process of renewal and change that must come to the city if we are to survive.

Glancing around the room on Friday night, as Floyd County’s Democratic Party celebrated the life and legacy of RFK on the eve of an important primary election, I wondered how many seated at the Grand – many of whom are longtime friends and acquaintances – are willing to go further than pay temporary and polite lip service to the larger ideals being considered at the rostrum, and whether they genuinely can see that there are no practicing units of democracy, however small, that cannot benefit from the expansion of consciousness that accrues from absorbing bigger lessons like these and applying them to the everyday task of making the city a better place to live and work.

I’ve neither seen the movie “Bobby” nor read the consensus choice for best biography, whatever that is (with luck, both are on the agenda), and I understand that the final analysis of any human’s life and work is inordinately difficult and prone to differing interpretations.

Obviously, Robert F. Kennedy was not a perfect man, but just as obviously, none are.

Perhaps because of these imperfections, we can learn about ourselves by reflecting on RFK’s life and the experiences of his time.

The true meaning of "symbolism."

Don't blame me. I only took the picture ... and it's been on the ground for a while. But given that it originally had been placed without permission in a vacant lot, it would seem that some form of justice has been served.

There'll be more on errant political yard signs later this week, but a few more photos need to be taken first.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Maybe they thought I was talking about antique cameras?

The intention remains to offer a Sunday piece on Robert F. Kennedy, but until then ...

A few days ago at the Tribune’s discussion forum, I compared slumlords to leeches and Kulaks, and advocated using any measure possible to be rid of them.

To date, no one has taken me to task for this admittedly extreme historical reference, which I made knowingly in the hope that someone would call me on it.

Geez, what does a gadfly have to do to stir things up ‘round here?

Friday’s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, RFK and the Gang of Four.

It was an evening devoted to the legacy of Robert F. Kennedy, with a keynote speech by Daniel Kalef, a ranking official at Louisville’s Muhammad Ali Center, and not infrequent references to Dr. Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa and the contemporary relevance of liberalism, and as you might expect – this being New Albany, after all – when it comes to the importance of lessons like these, those local Democratic politicos most in need of schooling skipped class.

Current city council members not in attendance were Donnie Blevins (at-large), Dan Coffey (1st), Larry Kochert (4th) and Steve Price (3rd). All except Kochert are running for re-election as Democrats. No-show city council candidates were Roger Hefler (4th), Vicki Denhart (at-large; a.k.a. “Freedom to Screech”) and James Hollis (at-large).

Chairman Randy Stumler performed admirably, emphasizing party unity by aggressively taking certain local mainstream newspapers to task for allegedly portraying Democrats as “squabbling idiots.”

Given the fact that most of those Democrats responsible for the past three years of, well, squabbling idiocy on the New Albany city council were not in attendance (see above), Stumler’s polemical agility is to be fully commended.

There’ll be more ruminations on the dinner tomorrow. Apart from personalities, it really was a powerful reminder of core principles.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Good news in New Albany? Here’s some.

With the governor’s blessing, IU Southeast’s dorms are set for construction. Put simply, this is huge – and long overdue. Once the Purdue tech park is built on Charlestown Road, there'll be a buffer of higher education between the historic city center and the expanses of exurban TheGaryVille.

The state of Indiana has received two bids for the purchase of the Silvercrest complex. Can you say, “adaptive reuse?” If not, why?

Dave Himmel is set to open Connor’s Place on Main Street within the next week or two. You’re going to love the bar and interior design. The owners of the Speakeasy pub, restaurant and music venue downtown on State Street are looking at an early June opening, including a rumored appearance by the Glenn Miller Orchestra.

Tonight at the Grand, the Floyd County Democratic Party will be holding its Jefferson - Jackson Dinner, with a tribute to Robert F. Kennedy and guest speaker Daniel Kalef, Vice President of Marketing and Development for the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville. It’s worth attending just to see which local party members won’t attend an event dedicated to a liberal.

Noteworthy absences will be recorded here. Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Bicycle path through New Albany: The Underground Railroad Bicycle Route.

Did you know that 2007 marks the debut of the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route?

The Underground Railroad Bicycle Route honors the bravery of those who fled bondage and those who provided shelter. This route passes points of interest and historic sites along a 2,058-mile corridor. Beginning in Mobile, Alabama – a busy port for slavery during the pre-civil war era – the route goes north following rivers through Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Kentucky. Waterways, as well as the North Star, were often used by freedom seekers as a guide in their journeys to escape slavery. Upon crossing into Ohio, the route leaves the river to head toward Lake Erie and enters Canada at the Peace Bridge near Buffalo, New York. In Ontario, the route follows the shores of Lake Ontario and ends at Owen Sound, a town founded by freedom seekers in 1857. Owen Sound is located on the southern side of Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay.

Did you know that the route passes through Corydon, down the Knobs via Corydon Pike, and up Main Street in New Albany in route to Madison and points beyond?

Well, it does. My friend Mr. G is about to take a month to travel the route from New Albany to Ontario, with fully loaded panniers, camping gear, an occasional libation in his belly and a song in his heart. I hope he’ll keep in touch as he peddles northward.

You do remember the significance of the Second Baptist/Town Clock Church on Main Street, right?

If the cycling tourists soon to be rolling through town aren’t unduly enticed by the adult bookstore in Westendia-Coffeyville, perhaps they’ll include the Carnegie Center’s permanent exhibit on their itineraries:

Ordinary People, Extraordinary Courage: Men and Women of the Underground Railroad in the Indiana and Kentucky Borderland.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

What if they held a political fundraising event, and no one came?

Following are a few odds and ends culled from comments here and on other boards.


According to yesterday's Tribune, at-large New Albany city council candidate James Hollis has yet to file his donation and expenditure records (due last Friday), and supposedly faces a $50-per-day fine for being late.

Hollis also didn't return his Tribune candidate questionnaire. I don’t know the man, but does this sound like the sort of official that you'd rely upon to "play by the rules"?

By the way, the trognonymous blogger Erika, herself a candidate under her real name of Vicki Denhart, endorses Hollis.

Do you believe she understands the meaning of irony?


There has been much well deserved discussion of the 15th street railroad corridor, its perpetual state of disrepair and the potential for serious derailments and accidents.

Over and beyond these legitimate concerns, every time I look at, cross over or think of that stretch of track, I see a bike path and pedway like Indy’s Monon Trail, connected to the Ohio River Greenway project downtown and leading straight out Grant Line Road to IU Southeast and beyond.

Maybe Hugo Chavez isn’t all wrong, after all.

Hence, the very first New Albanian mayoral candidate to endorse nationalizing (or city-izing?) the railroad has my endorsement, money and vote. This offer is non-partisan and includes Ms. Bolovschak, who may like to have the K & I Bridge thrown in as part of the deal.


You didn’t think I’d forget to remind readers that today is Day 50 of NAC’s award-winning Steve Price blogwatch, did you?

Well, it is. The 3rd district incumbent’s last blog posting appeared on March 6. Undoubtedly he’s resting his clichés for deployment in next week’s Q & A session at the S. Ellen Jones School.

The lamentable part about CM Price’s newfound (and rapidly aging) reticence is that it has been enabled by the presence of not one, but two candidates in opposition to his archaic brand of civic decay management. The incumbent could still win the primary with as many as 66% of the total Democratic vote cast against him – and that doesn’t include the Republicans.

CM Price’s re-election bid is much like the possibility of a 15th street train wreck with hazardous chemicals aboard: We’re hoping for the best … but probably should be planning for the worst.

Monitoring the French election campaign? I am.

Seldom does NAC publish verbatim reprints from the mainstream media, but today is an exception. The following piece appeared last Sunday in the New York Times on the occasion of the opening French election round. While it may have taken a back seat to New Albany's forthcoming primary contests, the French presidential selection process has been quite interesting this time around.

Have you ever noticed that vast conspiracies and sordid scandals invariably break on the front page, but later retractions appear on page 15? America’s typically uninformed lemming venom, expressed in the language of an adolescent temper tantrum, was unleashed on the French nation and its president, Jacques Chirac, when the Iraq war began more than four years ago and we were unable to contrive lock-step marching in all international quarters.

The situation looks very different now, doesn’t it? And yet I see little acknowledgement on the part of our chest-bumping buffoon class that the nasty “cheese-eating surrender monkeys” actually called the shot quite accurately – and before it became fashionable to do so.

As the NYT article following makes no effort to deny, France has its own roster of economic, social and cultural problems. So does every nation in the world, and this fact doesn’t justify facile stereotypes on the part of people who take little interest in what happens outside the comfort zone of their own tightly confined boxes.

While it's never been my primary choice of locales, I’ve been to France many times, and I’ve never experienced the snobbery and bias that Americans so love to fear. Perhaps that’s because I’ve taken an interest in the surroundings, given a general impression of being willing to learn, and been able to say “please,” “thank you” and something along the lines of “nice place you’ve got here.”

One more thing: I’ve been following the French election campaign at the French Élection 2007 blog, which purports to provide coverage from an “American perspective” – in this case, balanced and comprehensive. The second round approaches. Stay tuned – but hey, I wouldn’t want to take you away from “American Idol,” or anything like that.


France Looks Ahead, and It Doesn’t Look Good, by Tony Judt (New York Times; published on April 22, 2007).

It is easy to underestimate Jacques Chirac.

Today the French will begin to vote for a new president, and soon Mr. Chirac, the 74-year-old incumbent, will pass from the scene unmourned. Over a political career spanning nearly five decades, during which he was mayor of Paris, prime minister (twice) and president for 12 years, Mr. Chirac appears to have achieved little.

As mayor from 1977 to 1995, he oversaw a steady rise in political corruption and municipal graft (albeit both at insignificant levels by American big-city standards). As president, he abandoned his promises to resolve shortcomings in France’s employment laws and social services in the face of street protests. And he has done little to redress the grievances of France’s minorities or the anxieties of young people. On both sides of the Atlantic, Mr. Chirac’s political obituary is being written in distinctly unflattering terms.

But is the French situation really so dire? From every quarter one hears calls for “reform” to bring France more in line with Anglo-American practices and policies. The dysfunctional French social model, we are frequently assured, has failed.

In that case there is much to be said for failure. French infants have a better chance of survival than American ones. The French live longer than Americans and they live healthier (at far lower cost). They are better educated and have first-rate public transportation. The gap between rich and poor is narrower than in the United States or Britain, and there are fewer poor people.

Yes, France has high youth unemployment, thanks to institutionalized impediments to job creation. But the comparison to American rates is misleading: our figures are artificially lowered because so many dark-skinned men aged 18 to 30 are in prison and thus off the unemployment rolls.

Meanwhile, recall what Jacques Chirac has done. In 1995 he became the first president to acknowledge openly France’s role in the Holocaust: “The occupier was assisted by the French, by the French state,” he said. “France accomplished the irreparable.” This was a phrase that would have stuck in the craw of his much-lauded predecessor, François Mitterrand, and, it must be said, of Charles de Gaulle himself.

However low his political fortunes, Mr. Chirac forbade his supporters to ally or compromise with Jean-Marie Le Pen’s racist and xenophobic National Front — again in contrast with Mr. Mitterrand, who cynically manipulated French election laws in 1986 to benefit Mr. Le Pen (and thus weaken the moderate right).

Conscious of Europe’s links to the Muslim world — and the cost of rebuffing and humiliating Islam’s only secular democracy — Mr. Chirac has steadfastly supported Turkish admission to the European Union, an unpopular stance among his conservative constituents. In 2004 he created the first French administrative agency with explicit powers to identify and fight discrimination.

On the global stage, he has been perhaps the most outspoken major world leader on global warming, warning that “humanity is dancing on a volcano.” And, of course, he initiated and led international opposition to President Bush’s war in Iraq.

Let’s not forget the hysterical Francophobia of 2003: not just the imbecilities of “freedom fries” but xenophobic outbursts from Congress, the Bush administration and the mainstream American press, where prominent commentators called for France to be thrown off the Security Council and offered to let French “weasels” hold our coats while Americans once again did their fighting for them.

It wasn’t only Americans who objected. When in 2003 Mr. Chirac told the Eastern Europeans who backed Mr. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain on Iraq that they had “missed an opportunity to shut up,” his blunt talk upset a lot of people and did little for France’s popularity.

But in all of this, he has been proved right. By standing up to Mr. Bush and instructing his representatives at the United Nations to block a rush to an unprovoked war, the French president saved both the honor of the United Nations and the credibility of the international community.

It is not obvious that any of his likely successors would have done as well. Mr. Chirac is old enough to appreciate Europe’s debt to America — on the 60th anniversary of D-Day he said, sincerely, that “France will never forget what it owes America, its steadfast friend and ally” — but Gaullist enough to oppose Washington’s folies de grandeur. His heir presumptive, Nicolas Sarkozy, is neither.

Mr. Sarkozy’s admiration and knowledge of the United States appear confined to its economic growth rate. He opposes Turkish membership in the European Union in the most intolerant terms: “If you let 100 million Turkish Muslims come in, what will come of it?” And his Gaullism is tainted by a weakness for rightist catchwords — “nation” and “identity,” not to mention “scum” when referring to rioting minority youths — with which he hopes to outflank Mr. Le Pen.

Ségolène Royal, the socialists’ candidate, has a Joan of Arc complex (in her declaration of candidacy last October she spoke of hearing “calls” and accepting “this mission of conquest for France”), and she practices what could be called a “soft” demagogy. On crucial issues — the European Union Constitution, Turkish admission to Europe — she has avoided commitment, promising instead to “listen to the people.”

Many of Ms. Royal’s socialist supporters manage to be both anti-American and anti-European: a Royal presidency would thus probably weaken the European Union without in any way strengthening France’s trans-Atlantic leverage — a leftist mirror of the agenda of neoconservative strategists in Washington.

Neither Mr. Sarkozy nor Ms. Royal (nor the centrist François Bayrou, the only other candidate with a serious chance of advancing to the runoff after today’s initial voting) shares Mr. Chirac’s historical appreciation of what is at stake in the construction of Europe: why it matters and why those who would divide or dilute it are playing with fire.

On this score, Mr. Chirac has reason to worry. Some new European Union member states want it both ways: to have an American-style low-tax economy that is underwritten by subsidies from Western European taxpayers. Poles and Czechs are happy to accept such handouts from Brussels, in the form of “solidarity funds,” yet at the same time welcome American missile defense systems without even consulting their fellow Europeans. Romania’s entry into the union this year hasn’t kept its president, Traian Basescu, from continuing to seek a “strategic Washington-London-Bucharest axis.”

In the hands of a new generation of politicians out for local advantage and indifferent to the past, Europe could unravel very quickly. Those who now celebrate Mr. Chirac’s departure should recall Rhett Butler’s admonition to Scarlett O’Hara when she sneered at the straggling remnants of the Confederate Army: “Don’t be in such a hurry to see them go, my dear; with them goes the last semblance of law and order.”

With the departure of Jacques Chirac, we are saying goodbye to the last semblance of statesmanship from a generation that remembered where an unraveled Europe could lead. I fear we shall miss him.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

If Erika can do it, surely the literate ones can, too -- right?

Of the nine citizens currently serving on New Albany’s city council, all but two are standing for re-election.

Bev Crump (D-5th) and Larry Kochert (D-4th) are not seeking another term in office, although persistent rumors have “Slippery” Larry conniving at various independent, whacked-out, know-nothing or flat-earth candidacies if his handpicked successor, Roger Hefler, fails to dislodge presumptive favorite Pat McLaughlin.

Of the remaining seven council representatives, only one is unopposed in his party’s primary: Jeff Gahan (D-6th).

Three-quarters of the council’s Gang of Four obstructionists, including Dan Coffey, Bill Schmidt and Steve Price (all Democrats; 1st, 2nd and 3rd districts, respectively) face credible primary challenges.

This leaves the three at-large councilmen, who are the Democrats Jack Messer and Donnie Blevins, and the Republican Kevin Zurschmiede, the latter appointed to his seat after Mark Seabrook won a county commissioner slot in the 2006 election. Both parties are fielding multiple candidates on the spring primary at-large ballot.

You are being directed to these facts because previously we pointed readers to the Tribune candidate questionnaires, which appeared at the newspaper’s web site last week.

Apart from the mayor’s race, the Tribune’s policy is to not publish answers from unopposed candidates, which explains why platform planks from councilman Gahan, city clerk Marcey Wisman (D), 4th district candidate David Aebersold (R) and 5th district candidate Diane McCartin Benedetti (D) did not appear when the newspaper’s questionnaire results were published.

Accordingly, here is the complete list of candidates who also were absent, in this case by reason of not submitting the Tribune’s questionnaire by the mandated deadline:

6th: Sam Anderson (R)
At-large, Republican: Steve Burks, Tonye Rutherford
At-large, Democrat: Donnie Blevins, James Hollis, Jack Messer
City clerk: Ronny K. Hornung (R)

As a disclaimer, there might be many reasons for the omissions, and not all of them insidious or conspiratorial, ranging from simple forgetfulness to bad contact information, but ending at what we fervently hope isn’t the case: That the candidates in question are unwilling to go on the record, even with basic and forgettable electoral clichés of the sort dispensed by several of those who joined in the fun.

Time and again we have urged voters to give consideration to substantive issues somewhat beyond whether one’s aunt went to grade school with the wife of the candidate down the street. Whatever your take on the Tribune as a newspaper, it must be conceded that beyond a sprinkling of candidate blogs and a website or two, and with most non-mayoral candidates lacking printed campaign materials other than the unsightly litter known as yard signs, the Tribune’s questionnaires constitute the only real hope of gleaning a council candidate’s positions in the form of a lasting public record prior to the election.

It is especially disappointing that two sitting council members did not take part in the Tribune’s informational and educational exercise, but perhaps they merely missed the deadline, and if so, NAC is happy to offer blog space to Donnie Blevins, Jack Messer and the other candidates listed above to place their questionnaire answers on the public record, right here, prior to May 8.

E-mail the senior editor to schedule your time. We’d really like to hear from all of you. Your thoughts are important to voters, don't you think?

Greenwald, Brave New Films delves into short films.

Remember the joy with which NAC greeted the 2005 release of WAL-MART: The High Cost of Low Price? Here's the scoop on the documentary film company's recent activities, as mailed to the film company's e-list.


Dear activists, colleagues, and friends,

The last few months have been a time of intense debate, experimentation and trying new story telling and distribution at Brave New Films. Let me take a minute to fill you in as to where we are and then ask for your thoughts as we go forward.

Last year when we launched Iraq for Sale, our satirical ad of Halliburton's CEO attempting to cover up their obscene war profiteering garnered a tremendous response with over 100,000 views. We realized something was going on here. Soon after that we all saw the macaca moment and more as YouTube began to rock all conventional ways of thinking about story telling, impact and distribution.

And so we began intense conversations about our working in this short film area. Here was a radical game changer with the possibility for reaching millions of younger and more diverse people who are not part of our choir. Additionally, we could provide the choir with tools to quickly and easily pass around.

In a faster moving world, the ability to quickly create campaigns around immediate issues was exciting, demanding, and frankly, anxiety producing. How could we tell stories of political substance in 3 minutes? Would people pass them around as they do with cats chasing their tails and other culturally significant pieces? :) It was clear with the longer films that hundreds of thousands were motivated to organize and act, but would people take action from a short video?

Despite not having all the funding in place, we decided to change our course for 2007 in an effort to learn and master this new form before things really heat up in 2008. And then the political winds blew our way. Our first short was The Real McCain, which the LA Times ran a front page story on, and Cliff Schecter and the blogging community ran with. 250,000 views later, McCain's poll numbers are dropping and we are very happy campers.

Next up was a piece on Fox Noise Channel attacking Barack Obama. This time, we understood we were not just creating video, but building a campaign. We launched with our wonderful partners in the netroots and MoveOn. We asked people to sign a petition to stop Democrats from shooting themselves in the foot by pretending Fox was a news station, and the response was off the charts with 150,000 signatures and over half a million video views. Best of all, we actually beat Fox with the campaign, putting an end to their presidential debate in Nevada. Then we went and ended a second Fox-hosted debate with the Fox Attacks Black America film.

So here we are... passionate, excited, and with a growing list of ideas, plans, dreams to use these campaigns to help the fight for social justice.

Here are a few question we want your thoughts on:

What are the most important campaigns/subjects to take on? We can't do them all, but tell us which ones and why.

How can we build large coalitions of activist groups around the issues you care about? It's important that each campaign bring together diverse groups and strengthen the broader movement.

How can we generate income? Unlike the films, there is no income

from these campaigns. The great folks at the Democracy Alliance are giving us support, but we will need more to take on a full plate.

What role can our 5,000 screening hosts play in this new world going forward?

What do you think about this whole approach? Strengths? Problems to look out for?

Don't hit that reply button! Instead, go to my blog and post a comment so we can all get a discussion going:

Your input on Brave New Films' future projects

That's plenty for now. As always, thanks for your time and attention.

Robert Greenwald and Brave New Films

P.S. We've got a new short film coming out later in the week. The fourth anniversary of "Mission Accomplished" is May 1st. Stay tuned!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Questions needed for 3rd district candidate Q & A session on Tuesday, May 1.

The 3rd district candidate Q & A session described in the press release below takes place one week from tomorrow (May 1, 2007).

What questions would you like to see asked? Here's an example:

How can we achieve progress by design through implementing the principles of New Urbanism in our core neighborhoods?

Please pass along your questions in the comments here, e-mail the senior editor privately (see the profile for address) or forward to the organizers by the method outlined below.

Good questions can make or break such a forum ... and NAC will be there to record the answers.


The S. Ellen Jones Neighborhood Association and the East Spring Street Neighborhood Association are proud to host a Question and Answer Session with the three candidates vying to represent the 3rd District of New Albany. The candidates are:

Steve Price (D) Incumbent
Maury Goldberg (D) Challenger
Charlie Harshfield (D) Challenger

When: Tuesday, May 1st – 6:00pm to 7:30pm

Where: S. Ellen Jones Elementary School, 600 East 11th Street, New Albany, Indiana
(Meeting to take place in the cafeteria)


§ Each Candidate will have 10 minutes to introduce himself to attendees (30 minutes)

§ Questions and Answers (60 minutes)

§ Resident Questions are to be submitted prior to the meeting*

§ Email Questions to SEllenJonesNA(at) (replace "at" with @) or call 812-941-0466 and leave a voice mail

§ A Moderator will read questions aloud and each candidate will have 3 minutes to respond

§ Candidate rebuttals of 1 minute will be allowed

§ If submitted questions are exhausted then the Moderator will facilitate questions from the audience

*Because time is limited, there is no guarantee that all submitted questions will be asked.

For more information, please call 812.941.0466, email at SEllenJonesNA(at) (replace "at" with @) or visit

Non-existent professor endorses … herself.

We don’t need no educayshion.

What strikes me is Vicki Denhart’s amazing ability to ignore her intrinsic tackiness in pretending to be someone else, then endorsing her own candidacy for the city council.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Lately my thoughts have turned to “Struttin My Stuff.”

Not my own, but the 1976 album by Elvin Bishop, a National Merit Scholar (physics was his bag) born in California and raised in Oklahoma, who became fascinated with what might now be called roots music, specifically R& B and the blues, learned the guitar, and became a professional musician who is still on the road today entertaining crowds at the age of 64.

Bishop embarked on a solo career right about the time that Americans were told by Charlie Daniels that “The South’s Gonna Do It Again,” and the opportunistic Tennessean name-checked the happy go luck Okie: “Elvin Bishop’s sittin’ on a bale of hay/He ain’t good lookin’ but he sure can play.”

Bishop, a fine player and writer who adopted the winking redneck nom de plume of Pigboy Crabshaw, was largely unconcerned with critical approbation in the sense of Rolling Stone magazine, a fact evidenced by some of his most enjoyable and unpretentious songs of the period, including “Stealin’ Watermelons,” “Holler and Shout,” and “Slick Titty Boom.”

While these were lazing, fishing and beer slopping tunes of a particularly effective order, Bishop’s obvious affection for his first musical loves always peeked through even the most formulaic of his early seventies offerings, and his faith was amply rewarded with the release of “Fooled Around and Fell In Love,” the single from “Struttin My Stuff.”

“Fooled Around and Fell In Love,” a huge hit in the spring of 1976, was both a reaffirmation of Bishop’s most fundamental instincts and an abrupt departure from the prevailing Crabshaw norm, the latter owing primarily to the appearance of a genuine singer in the guitarist’s consort.

It may have taken only a few years for Mickey Thomas to become the voice that we all loved to hate during his tenure with various incarnations of Starship in the 1980’s, but in 1976 he was fresh and bright, and the gospel-trained Thomas’s expansive vocal talents brought Bishop a memorable Billboard #3 song and a two-year window of headlining status.

What I remember best about “Fooled Around and Fell In Love” was that it landed in my ears during springtime, acting as a much needed palliative for the maddening emotional outpourings of adolescence that beset me then -- each and every ache of unrequited yearning, tug of hormonal confusion and hammerlock of youthful angst. The song was wistful, yet hopeful. One might indeed survive the sheer confusion of the inexperience of “love,” or lust, or whatever ephemeral reactions of brain chemistry that were being deciphered that way at age 16. Art actually helped. You could write about it, sing about it, sketch it, and work with it.

Three decades later, it is with immense pleasure and relief that I contemplate the cessation of such painful and distracting rites of passage, and find great solace in an unprecedented time of contentment, but for whatever reason, the notion of music for springtime has remained with me, and the joyful and emblematic annual recurrence came at the end of March, after I purchased “Twelve Stops and Home,” the debut album by The Feeling.

This collection of songs by a group of impossibly young Englishmen cannot be connected in any remotely stylistic or meaningfully thematic sense with the Bicentennial release by Elvin Bishop that prompted this recollection, although a case might be made that The Feeling’s comprehensive mélange of pop influences conceivably includes certain groups active contemporaneously with Pigboy Crabshaw’s unexpected popular ascendancy.

Recall that none other than the Bay City Rollers had a radio hit in 1976.

That’s meant as an absolute recommendation, by the way. As one whose musical preferences remain firmly wedded to the intricate simplicities of well written songs, fat hooks and whistle-worthy melodies, The Feeling’s sonic palate is a heaping platter of Krispy Kremes, an assortment of Godivas and a half-dozen servings of crème brulee, with bountiful snippets of the history of British pop from the Beatles through Badfinger, past Supertramp into the Commonwealth (Split Enz, Neil and Tim Finn, Crowded House) and landing somewhere in the vicinity of Keane – another current favorite of mine that I’ve yet to hear pounding from the trunks of passing boom cars.

That’s another recommendation.

It is unlikely that The Feeling will perform “Fooled Around and Fell In Love” any time soon, although the profitably mainstream Rod Stewart has, but if they took a stab at trying to cover Bishop’s classic, a version alchemized through the wry lens of Squeeze would be appropriate. I’ll try to imagine that possibility today while working outside in the yard, or walking the city streets, or merely sitting by an open window.

After all, it’s spring.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Diversions on an ear-splitting, "Thunderous" Saturday.

In case you were wondering, and even if you weren’t, weekends are slow here at NA Confidential. Readership generally drops 30% on Saturday and Sunday even on those weekend days when 70+-degree temps and the metro area’s annual Thunder over Louisville aren’t pulling a half-million people away from their monitors and placing them on Kentucky and Indiana riverbanks.

Last year we mentioned the fireworks and air show only in passing, but in 2005, the added attraction of a Christian fundamentalist rally the following day was too much for me to overlook:

Flatulence Over Louisville: This homegrown recipe for fascistic fundamentalism will be a sure hit at your Derby party.

This year, we turn it over to Lucinda Marshall's column in the past week's LEO: Connected Diss: Thunder air show sends the wrong signal.

Returning to today -- April 21, 2007 -- here are five random non-Thunder items worth knowing.

1. The NBA playoffs begin today. For those who loudly disdain pro basketball, enlighten yourselves by asking your favorite collegiate players (i.e., the professionals who don’t get paid) which league they’d rather be getting paid to play in. The answer shouldn’t really surprise you.

2. Today the Bistro New Albany is running an all-day NABC draft beer special, summarized by owner and chef Dave Clancy like this:

“Saturday only, Bistro New Albany will be featuring half price beers on all of Roger's wicked stuff. Avoid the crowds and come visit us!”

3. Also today, NABC is running its own beer special, but not on its own beers, summarized by the co-owner (that’s me) as such:

“Given the many barley wines currently on tap as Gravity Head winds down, we'll be running a carry-out special on the 21st, with $12 growlers of all barley wines still pouring on Saturday.”

Note that Sportstime will observe normal business hours, but Rich O's will not open until 5:00 p.m.

4. 56 years ago today, the criminally underrated rock vocalist and musician Paul Carrack was born in Sheffield, England. You’ve heard his voice on hit songs performed under his own name as well as others by Ace, Squeeze, Mike + the Mechanics.

5. Writer Samuel Langhorne Clemens, who we all know as Mark Twain, died on this day in 1910. Here’s a quote:

“In religion and politics people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing."

From the amazing Mark Twain Quotations, Newspaper Collections, & Related Resources website.

Don't forget the sunscreen, and stay away from mass market swill.

Friday, April 20, 2007

City council’s pre-election charm offensive results in disbursement of mucho $$$ booty.

Destiny brought these three people together, but why, and for what purpose? Tune in later for the latest dramatic installment of:

"MISCELLANEOUS COMMUNICATIONS: (public comments on non-agenda items)," otherwise known as "public utility questions the egress of the self-appointed."

From left to right, these ships passing in the council's Thursday night are Kevin Hammersmith of Duke Energy; Valla Ann Bolovschak of Valla Ann Bolovschak, and John Rosenbarger, whose surname is regularly mispronounced by council member Steve Price, and who otherwise serves as New Albany’s redevelopment director.

Ms. Bolovschak came forward last evening to report on the progress of her shadow municipal government in taming the recalcitrant railroad, which at her behest is completing a signal at the downtown floodwall crossing. Two other railroad crossings between Main and the floodwall were permanently closed in exchange for this new signal, an achievement that Ms. Bolovschak suggested might place her in line for either a Nobel Prize or an at-large council seat, whichever best suits future political ambitions.

However, Hammersmith begged to differ: According to him, these machinations have had the net effect of depriving Duke from access to one of its electrical facilities, from whence flows power for more than 3,000 local residents, reducing the utility to an imperfect handshake agreement with an existing adjacent business, itself long put out by the closures, and perfectly willing to sell access road frontage to the city at an inflated price.

The latter fact was explained to the council by Rosenbarger, who as usual appeared to have all the possibilities and non-possibilities well within his experienced understanding, including a comprehensive but merry rebuttal of Ms. Bolovschak’s assertion that her shadow regime’s negotiations with the Scharlow family had in fact garnered Duke sufficient access – an apparent non-starter that both Rosenbarger and Hammersmith ("after all, it's been two years") handily rebuffed.

Several council members, including Kevin Zurschmiede and Jack Messer, promptly offered to intervene and redo the somewhat less than tied together aspects of the shadow government’s railroad handiwork, leaving egg to drip publicly in places that almost surely will not include the bile-stained pages of Professor Erika’s blog.


Throughout last evening’s council meeting, an eerie patina of civility was palpable in a chamber noted for its fractious infighting. One wag suggested that the presence of a group of Boy Scouts calmed the savage breasts, while another offered “primary-itis” as a more likely source of the incredibly polite demeanors.

(Actually, when I first spotted the uniforms, I wondered aloud: “Which Boy Scout funding request is CM Price slated to vote against tonight?”)

Whatever the source, the council’s ensuing love fest brought us to the land of milk, honey, paving, street and fire department equipment, a sewer utility manager and spanking new Big Chief tablets, with the customarily penurious Price reduced to excitedly suggesting that if the city's building and weights and measures inspectors drove in-house, used, high-mileage, souped-up former police cars instead of driving their own vehicles and being reimbursed for the mileage, that the city might somehow come out a few nickels and dimes ahead in the end in spite of astronomical maintenance costs for the aging fleet that he’s fought so hard against replacing.

File under: Self-parody. At least it was a reminder of past obstructionist glories.

Follow the links below for more information on the gathering. If you’re interested in the council’s pending smoking ordinance, be aware that in light of the Indiana legislature’s dropping of consideration of statewide smoking rules, CM Zurschmiede now will resuscitate the previously moribund council committee charged with making sense of the crusading lame duck council king’s muddled and repetitive first ordinance draft.

And here’s one you can take to the bank: The smoking debate will not be conducted in the calm, civil matter of last evening’s council backscratcher.
Earlier this morning:
As caffeine-inspired work continues toward our in-house council meeting commentary, the senior editor refers impatient readers to these links for coverage of last evening’s city council meeting:

For understated coverage from the Louisville newspaper:

New Albany street repairs coming, by Dick Kaukas (short shelf life for some Courier-Journal links).

It looks as if some New Albany streets will finally be repaved and repaired. The City Council voted unanimously last night to use about $950,000 for the work.

For insightful coverage from 3rd district council hopeful (and former councilman) Maury Goldberg:

$2,012,325 to Get Re-nominated? and Todd Solomon Resigns from Sewer Board.

And don’t forget: It’s already Day 45 of our ongoing Steve "Nickels 'n' Dimes" Price blogwatch. The 3rd district incumbent’s last blog posting appeared on March 6. How will the CM explain last night's multi-million dollar "yes" votes to his guru, Dave Ramsey? Perhaps swimming against the cart is too stressful for the horse's tide.

There may be more on the way. Have a happy pre-Thunder Friday.

Tribune's candidate survey answers begin to appear, and here are excerpts (Part Two).

Earlier this week, the Tribune’s candidate questionnaire answers started to appear at the newspaper’s website: Election 2007.

Previously, we perused the first batch: Tribune's candidate survey answers begin to appear, and here are excerpts.

Here are more current favorite quotes, pulled entirely out of context. Some are funny, some revealing, and others vapid. What are yours?


Bill Schmidt (D; council; 2nd): “ --- ” (apparently no answer was provided in the survey box marked “age,” although he received full credit -- 10 points -- for writing his name on the quiz).

Robert C. Caesar (D; council; 2nd): “We must have a vision for the future of New Albany and be willing to work together to reach that vision.”

Harry T. Harbison (R; council; 2nd): “New ordinances to bring us up to code with surrounding cities and counties. New restrictions on how long a zoning ordinance is in effect.”

Peter M. Lyons (R; council; 2nd): “I believe a unique contribution that I would make would be to be proactive, forward thinking, and to get things done. There needs to be progress for growth. It took 4 years for Scribner Place to be approved. Caesar’s Casino said it was the hardest time they’ve ever had to give away 20 million dollars. I believe there can be investment in Downtown AND the rest of the community.”

Shirley Baird (D; council; at-large): “I have never been involved in politics. Therefore I can come to this office with a perspective of a regular citizen and taxpayer. We are not, nor have ever, been wealthy, so I can identify with people who have limited financial means.”

Vicki Denhart (D; council; at-large): “Look at the facts, not the politics.”

John Gonder (D; council; at-large): “The most important issue facing the city and this position is untapped potential. As an example, one of the popular trends in municipal design is New Urbanism. The older neighborhoods of New Albany were built in the New Urbanist style long before the term was coined. These neighborhoods are a huge resource for the city. They not only represent wise use of physical resources, but with forward-thinking leadership, they can become powerful economic engines that power a revival of the central business district. Such a renewal will lead to city-wide prosperity.”

According to the newspaper, “Candidates(s) listed on the (Democratic at-large) ballot that did not submit questionnaires by deadline include: Donnie Blevins of New Albany, James Hollis of New Albany, Jack Messer of New Albany.”

Kenny Keilman (R; council; at-large): “I won’t let this office be a forum for me to have petty grievances be brought out.”

Richard T. Berryman (R; council; at-large): “I have 20 years’ experience in the sewer side of the city’s business which the sewers are costing us an arm and a leg and I would like to face the EPA one on one.”

Kevin W. Zurschmiede (R; council; at-large): “I will work towards creating new ordinances that will establish qualifications and performance guidelines for city employees. These new ordinances will help city employees retain there jobs through administration changes and reward employees that are willing to work hard to help improve our city.”

According to the newspaper, “Candidates(s) listed on the (Republican at-large) ballot that did not submit questionnaires by deadline include: Steve Burks of New Albany, Tonye Rutherford of New Albany.”

But seriously, folks: Why not return the surveys?

Editor's note 4/20/07: It should be noted that the Tribune's survey did not include unopposed candidates in non-mayoral races, i.e., 6th district D, 5th district D, 4th district R and city clerk D. It was the newspaper's, not the individual candidate's, decision.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

It's all about how you feel the morning after.

Life happens too fast for you ever to think about it. If you could just persuade people of this, but they insist on amassing information.
--Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007)


It seems like only yesterday that NAC’s Bluegill regaled readers with striking video coverage of 3rd district councilman Steve Price’s embarrassing gaffe at the last city council meeting. Missed it? Go here: "Why don't we get this two or three years ago?"

Even before that classic video moment, Bluegill deconstructed CM Price’s incorrect characterization of the city’s 2% constitutional debt limit: Playing the Percentages and New Albany is Broke (with plenty of money).

The public record since then has been predictably free of counter arguments on the part of the accidental councilman, because it’s Day 44 of the Steve Price blogwatch. His last blog posting appeared on March 6. Is silence golden? You be the judge.

But never fear, campers: Along with his tireless and tiring band, the Same Song Singers, CM Price will again be performing live this evening on the third floor of the City County Building. It’s a city council Thursday, and we direct you to Eric Scott Campbell’s preview in the Tribune for all the gritty details: Large funding requests hit New Albany City Council.

Here’s the council meeting agenda, courtesy of diligent city clerk Marcey Wisman.

Meanwhile over at New Albany 15A, Coop asks: Council Code of Conduct??

If I were an industry rep thinking of relocating a major business to this city, and I happened to drop by the meeting I witnessed, I would frankly reconsider the move.

Earlier today, NAC looked at The Wizard of Westside and his self-imposed stormwater information imbroglio. A couple of days back, the Highwayman examined CM Coffey’s response: Finally- A Word From the Coffey House.

By CM Coffey's response, we seen once again a reluctance on the Councilman's part, to participate in a solution but rather be a promoter of division and discontent within the workings of our city government.

Aargh ... it’s the senior editor’s turn to endure the legislative machinations. I’ll see you on Friday morning with the gory details. It's bound to get better, right?

As a closing note, there are times during a Friday morning council hangover when you might see one or more of a certain colored animal: They're big.

The Wizard of Westside and his self-imposed stormwater information imbroglio.


(a) Drainage Board (Council Liaison) ... Mr. Kochert stated that he is appointing Mr. Coffey to act as the council liaison to the drainage board.

Having spent vast portions of the preceding 40 months bemoaning a multi-faceted conspiracy that always prevents the “right information” from falling into their eager hands, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the current council president and his longtime associate in gleeful obstructionism would themselves be plotting revenge … but surely not scheming to avoid the stormwater information so readily proffered?

Verily, Slippery and the Wizard work in mysterious ways.

We’re told that Lame Duck Larry stands by his appointment even if the liaison himself continues to insist that absence makes the landscape drain more fondly. And why not? After all, when one’s governing philosophy involves the infinite repetition of the same act in the hope that someday the outcome will be different, little is to be expected -- or gained.

Consider that following much opening night fanfare, the council’s smoking ban committee has all the appearance of being moribund, and tabled ordinances tower higher than the four columns on the front of the City-County Building, awaiting more resolutions calling for full investigations, criminal prosecutions and various other trog fodder and delaying tactics.

I imagine that in the end, helping your bilious pals to plant illegal political campaign yard signs is tiring work for community “leaders.”


From the Tribune: LETTERS: April 8, 2007.

Deatrick: What’s wrong with Coffey?

On behalf of the board of directors of the New Albany Stormwater Board, I wish to convey our appreciation to Councilman Jeff Gahan for initiating the release of the city council drainage fund to the New Albany Stormwater utility. I also wish to thank the six councilmen who voted to transfer the $54,000 to the utility and solve a prioritized list of identified drainage problems that have been brought to our attention from concerned citizens over the last five months of the Board’s operation.

Those councilmen are Jeff Gahan, Steve Price, Beverly Crump, Jack Messer, Kevin Zurschmiede and Bill Schmidt.

Unfortunately Council President Larry Kochert, whose project on Silver Street was identified as the highest priority, and city council liaison to the stormwater board, Dan Coffey, who has two identified projects in his district, both voted against this initiative.

What is most disheartening to me as board president are the actions of Mr. Coffey. As city council liaison, Mr. Coffey has not attended one board meeting since his appointment by the council to represent the council’s interests and work with the stormwater board. Instead he criticizes the choice we have made of management, EMC and in October at a stormwater board meeting states that we should ask for the drainage fund. Why the flip-flop of position, Mr. Coffey?

Since we have contracted with EMS, our operation has turned itself around and implemented scheduled preventive maintenance and been able to ascertain the true nature of the drainage problems and the capital improvement needs that this drainage fund will begin to address.

At least wisdom from the city council prevailed on this occasion and the citizens of New Albany will benefit rather than suffer from the politics that were obviously being played by Mr. Coffey and Mr. Kochert.

— Tim Deatrick, President - New Albany Stormwater Board
For an analysis of CM Coffey's response, consult the Highwayman: Finally- A Word From the Coffey House.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Million Dollar Challenge

Unsurprisingly, 3rd district uncouncilman Steve Price blew it.

When the The Tribune asked Price, allowing him total creative license to showcase his understanding of city redevelopment issues, what he'd do with a million dollars to help his constituents, he answered that he'd lower their sewer bill 28 cents a month.

Unlike Steve, think about it: The City Council has already granted the utility over $12 million in EDIT funds - which Price voted against- to subsidize the sewer rate through 2023. The result is that the average sewer user saves about $3.40 per month. That means each million equates to roughly 28 cents on each bill.

The only thing more baffling than shame not keeping people from putting Price's reelection signs in their yards is another challenge at the million dollar mark.

The map above is of census tract 704, which nearly mirrors the boundaries if taken in sum of the Main Street, East Spring Street and S. Ellen Jones neighborhoods downtown. According to the 2000 census, there are 14 owner-occupied homes in 704 whose values equal or exceed $1 million dollars.

I've been itching for a NABC Jasmine the Mastiff Stout and if anyone can figure out where there are 14 individual million dollar homes within a few blocks of mine, I just might buy them one, too.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Tribune's candidate survey answers begin to appear, and here are excerpts.

Beginning yesterday, the Tribune’s candidate questionnaire answers have started to appear at the newspaper’s website:

Election 2007

Here are my current favorite quotes, pulled entirely out of context. Some are funny, some revealing, and others vapid. What are yours? Visit the Tribune's web site and let us know.

James Garner (D; mayor): “We need to create a Landlord registration program for all rental housing units in the city.”

Doug England (D; mayor): “Too many of our beautiful and historic structures have been broken up into apartments and, all too often become slums. These neglected properties can be rehabilitated and provide homes for families to make our once charming neighborhoods desirable again.”

Larry Scharlow (D; mayor): (Answering the question, “What specific attributes make you a good leader?) "I am educated … I have 36 years business experience … I have successfully raised 8 productive children.” (8 kids ... 9 council members ... good luck, Larry)

Randy Hubbard (R; mayor): “The Greenway Project is well underway. It began more than two administrations ago. I will continue to monitor its progress and stay abreast of the overall plan.”

Dan Coffey (D; council; 1st): “Graduate of “75” New Albany High School.”

Theresa Timberlake (D; council; 1st): “Put more money in our children's education. They are the future we all are counting on.”

Maury Goldberg (D; council; 3rd): “I bring experience to the Third District City Councilman’s Office. I have held the office in the past. For I understand budgets, know how the City Council works and I know how to get things done. I have kept all my promises.”

Charlie Harshfield (D; council; 3rd): “Along with code enforcement I would like to establish a rental inspection program to insure safe and habitable housing for tenants. Rental housing is one of the largest industries within the inner city of New Albany and yet unlike other businesses does not adhere to any set of rules or guidelines.”

Steve Price (D; council; 3rd): "An open two-way line of communication that is respectful of others’ ideas and opinions will get us all on the same page.”

Roger Hefler (D; council; 4th): “Hometown Pride.” (Repeated four times in all)

Pat McLaughlin (D; council; 4th): “There has been improvement recently and finger pointing must top, rather the present culture must change even if it means changing personnel. We must change the culture of the system that has been in place for possibly decades.”

Jameson Bledsoe (R; council; 5th): “I plan on persuading the council to take aggressive action against those who do not want to see New Albany grow to become the premiere living area of all Louisville.”

Richard Bliss (R; council; 5th): “Would attempt to provide business-like, nonpartisan and professional conduct during public meetings.”

Sam Anderson (R; council; 6th): “--- ” (did not return the survey)

Dick Stewart (R; council; 6th): “Start a revolving home ownership program for first time home buyers who qualify to be repaid over a five to 10 year time frame. This would increase ownership and home pride while reducing rentals.”

V. A. Bolovschak (R; council; at-large): “New Albany is a diamond in the rough and all it's going to take is someone like me, with a vision and a commitment to develop this community to be all that it can be.”

Editor's note 4/20/07: It should be noted that the Tribune's survey did not include unopposed candidates in non-mayoral races, i.e., 6th district D, 5th district D, 4th district R and city clerk D. It was the newspaper's, not the individual candidate's, decision.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Who has what it takes to play these tunes? Step forward -- your disc is waiting.

In earlier days, when our pub business was young, I learned several valuable lessons about how one goes about shaping an atmosphere.

To be sure, one way is to try pleasing everyone, which generally implies mediocrity or worse, and usually at the expense of excellence. I don’t recommend the “all things to all people” approach. Pick something you do well, concentrate on it, and inform the specific consumer who seeks it out. That consumer will then come to you.

When it comes to alcoholic beverages, an “anything goes” mentality suggests that something violent or stupid certainly will occur, and while there’ll always be the possibility of behavioral problems in this milieu, it’s positively startling how many fewer fights break out (a) in the absence of cheap hard liquor, and (b) when prices for good beer are three times higher than what people are accustomed to paying for mass-market swill.

Of course, there comes a time (known as “last call”) when the drinks stop pouring. What does a bartender do to gently encourage evacuation of the barroom when the hour has come, but people don’t want to go to their homes quite yet?

Neither shouting nor tantrums provides a properly dignified formula. Rather, the answer can be found on the CD shelf, filed under “Balkan, folk (female).”

That’d be any CD of songs performed by the Bulgarian Women’s Choir, music that I personally enjoy, but that will clear any Southern Indiana barroom faster than fire, flood and Cliff Clavin -- combined. Strong words quite simply take a back seat to an uncomfortable habitat, and the human décor is infinitely malleable if properly directed.

I have reasons for considering these matters, having devoted much time over a period of weeks trying to determine my personal criteria for casting a vote in the forthcoming mayoral primary.

Considering the Democratic slate (Randy “Lockjaw” Hubbard, a Republican, is unchallenged, mute, and thus far irrelevant), there are surprising pluses and formidable minuses for each candidate, including the incumbent James Garner, and challengers Doug England (a former two-term mayor) and downtown businessman Larry Scharlow.

With a mind toward my unshakeable conviction that New Albany’s most recent half-century marketing “plan” has been a proven catastrophe, and accompanied by the perception that an increasingly broad consensus exists that neighborhoods are the fundamental building block of a revitalizing urban area, my act of surveying this field of candidates leads to certain conclusions pertaining to our collective choice of New Albanian dance music.

As a city, we’ve chosen too often to look the other way, permitted anything to go, and ignored our own rules. As a result, we have an unsavory, negative image that is difficult to reconcile with the many merits of living here when it comes to attracting investment – in terms of both money and people.

Obviously New Albany needs to exploit a Louisville area demographic niche by providing an up-market experience at slightly below-market prices. We need to do it as quickly as possible, lest our “barroom” be rendered entirely uninhabitable in the future tense owing to the accumulated weight of calculated disinvestment, neglected neighborhoods and decaying infrastructure, and of the prevalence of those entities most likely to thrive in such a shambolic social setting: Social disintegration, drugs, crime, gangs, boom cars, street spam and the unkindest profiteer of all, our ever-eager slumlord caste, i.e., cockroachis gregoryanis.

All of this is known and for the most part oddly tolerated, but now we’ve come to a point where we must decide, either to stay the course – in other words, to fail as a community – or to begin the process of thinking and acting according to different fundamental premises.

Which brings me back to the symbolic power of music, and a simple question:

Of the three Democratic mayoral candidates, which one is committed to spinning the Bulgarian Women’s Choir disc as a symbol of calculated displacement, making New Albany’s neighborhood habitat unprofitable for the looters and vandals among us, and espousing a pro-active philosophy of civic governance that rewards the city’s existing stakeholders and makes this city marketable to the sort of people we most need to attract in order to survive?

I have the CD. The hopeful who promises to play it may borrow it. It comes with my vote.

Just let me – let us – know.

Photo credit: Bulgarian singers

Sunday, April 15, 2007

New twist to old tale: Trognonymity Express goes off the rails with a published death threat.

As we’ve informed readers in the past, a disgruntled local resident named Vicki Denhart, author of the Freedom of Speech blog, has spent the past two years posing pseudonymously as a male academic (“Erik”) during the course of frequent slanderings and obsessive slimings directed with all the tactfulness of a grammar school playground sprite at her apparently numerous personal and political enemies.

Among the most pilloried of these adversaries is the incumbent mayor, James Garner.

Ms. Denhart’s Paleolithic gurgling has been periodically humorous, commonly misdirected, often completely false, and always cowardly, but now the transparent charade has escalated to new heights since she declared her candidacy for an at-large city council seat and began planting yard signs according to the Kochert Dictum, which hold that illegal acts aren’t really illegal if they can be deployed to annoy a political opponent.

Of course, the very fact that each local election cycle is pockmarked by numerous controversies over irrelevancies like yard signage points to the virtually non-existent state of substantive, issues-based discussion on the part of candidates and their parties, a lamentable absence that is one of the most prominent indicators of New Albany’s enduring contempt for the human brain … but I digress.

Unsurprisingly, and with the municipal races finally heating up, Ms. Denhart now accuses the mayor of Stalinist intimidation, alleging that he is orchestrating a widespread and horrible purge of … yes, political yard signs.

Again, You Sir...have a policy of removing selective candidates signs, to go with your selective billing and selective enforcement … Do you really believe Jimmy that you are above the law? Are you this desperate to stoop to this level of intimidation of the voters?

And, according to the History channel, what typically happens to such tyrants?

A message will be sent to you loud and clear on May 8th. That this is no longer your kingdom and the citizens are no longer your subjects.

History should be your teacher. Look what happen to Marie Antoinette, Nicholas Romanov the Czar of Russia and finally King James!

Odd that Ms. Denhart proposes to assassinate LeBron James of the up and coming Cleveland Cavaliers – maybe she’s a closet … uh, Pistons fan -- but wait: Upon closer examination, it seems that the bilious, anonymous and pseudonymous candidate is threatening the incumbent mayor with the guillotine and/or a cavalcade of bullets.

Unless, of course, she bears another of her fabled vitriolic grudges against the former English royal’s sanctioned Biblical translation. But that king is already dead, as any real “professor of history” would know. Perhaps she wishes to have the skeleton exhumed, drawn and quartered.

(As a side note, isn’t it interesting that “history should be your teacher” is a hoary cliché most often heard emanating from the vicinity of Councilman Steve Price?)

From where we’re sitting, nothing could be more “intimidating” than a death threat published on the Internet for the whole world to see, and if I were the mayor, I’d take it seriously. Vicki Denhart’s long months of cowardly playacting might be tragic-comical and worthy of contempt and derision (heaven knows I’ve tried my best), but lunatic ravings often are harbingers of genuine instability.

Isn’t it time that Ms. Denhart’s charade came to an end?
After all, it’s the reason why people laugh at us.

Whatever happened to the Coffeyite diaspora to Birdseye, anyway?

S. Ellen Jones Neighborhood Association to Host 3rd District City Council Candidates in Question and Answer Session, May 1.

The text of the press release is as follows. NA Confidential promises to be there.


Correction 04/16/07: The East Spring Street Neighborhood Association will be a co-sponsor of this event.


The S. Ellen Jones Neighborhood Association is proud to host a Question and Answer Session with the three candidates vying to represent the 3rd District of New Albany. The candidates are:

Steve Price (D) Incumbent
Maury Goldberg (D) Challenger
Charlie Harshfield (D) Challenger

When: Tuesday, May 1st – 6:00pm to 7:30pm

Where: S. Ellen Jones Elementary School, 600 East 11th Street, New Albany, Indiana
(Meeting to take place in the cafeteria)


§ Each Candidate will have 10 minutes to introduce himself to attendees (30 minutes)

§ Questions and Answers (60 minutes)

§ Resident Questions are to be submitted prior to the meeting*

§ Email Questions to SEllenJonesNA(at) (replace "at" with @) or call 812-941-0466 and leave a voice mail

§ A Moderator will read questions aloud and each candidate will have 3 minutes to respond

§ Candidate rebuttals of 1 minute will be allowed

§ If submitted questions are exhausted then the Moderator will facilitate questions from the audience

*Because time is limited, there is no guarantee that all submitted questions will be asked.

For more information, please call 812.941.0466, email at SEllenJonesNA(at) (replace "at" with @) or visit

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Yesterday's Gallery on Pearl ribbon cutting and grand opening reception.

Yesterday afternoon, a grand opening reception and ribbon cutting ceremony marked the official debut of the Gallery on Pearl, located in the White House Business Center at 222 Pearl.

According to Mike “The Human Turnstile” Kopp, Lopp Real Estate’s downtown New Albany impresario, exactly 48 people had come through the doors after one hour, and when Mrs. Confidential and I again walked past roughly an hour later (after a Bistro New Albany interlude), the gallery was still crowded with visitors.

The Tribune’s Eric Scott Campbell previewed the gallery in this February 27 news story: Gallery opens in downtown New Albany.

The Gallery on Pearl’s web site is up, but remains under construction. Bookmark it for future reference.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Local attorney Beardsley argues Indiana Supreme Court case.

Kudos to Stephen Beardsley – attorney, gadfly and downtown New Albany advocate:

Justices examine translator case; Court considers providing interpreter for all non-English-speaking defendants, by Lesley Stedman Weidenbener (short shelf life for some Courier-Journal links).

Attorney Stephen Beardsley of New Albany argued yesterday that the court should pay for translators to help all non-English-speaking defendants, regardless of their income.

"An interpreter -- so key to fundamental due process -- is part of the basic apparatus of the courtroom in the same way that a court stenographer, as a bailiff, indeed as a judge is," he said.

Day 38: Whatever it is, CM Price is against it.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Politics for Dummies: A Lamentation for the Rest of Us?

In yesterday’s post (Ain't no river wide enough), my colleague Bluegill both astutely observed and concisely questioned the nature of New Albany’s enduring malady:

As much as I value the revitalization efforts underway, I can’t help but wonder what made us so inhospitable to the creative spirit in the first place, what death led to the necessity of rebirth, especially given New Albany’s obvious appreciation of innovative endeavors in its earlier days.

The automobile and misguided development may have diminished investment in the physical infrastructure of downtown but what killed its intellect?

Is this puzzling dearth of respect for the concept of education in its ideal, necessary sense one reason why the theory and practice of local politics remains devoid of content and utterly dependent on tribalism?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Ain't no river wide enough

As referenced last Friday, the bluegill clan spent the evening across the river. While it was a special occasion for us in many aspects, it was, in fact, only one of hundreds spent on the other end of the bridge in search of culture in a state whose mere mention conjures assumptions of a grim lack thereof on a national scale.

Despite that stereotype, it was a fantastic evening spent in the company of old friends and the acquaintance of new ones. An artist friend sold thousands of dollars of his contemporary work; a boon to a young man who’s rehabbing a 1930 medical clinic in Portland for use as a studio and gallery. A recent University of Louisville music school graduate beguiled the crowd with his cello and voice, accompanied by a djembe, sax, and spoken word improvisations. I spent hours talking about art, music, and travel in a room filled with multimillionaires to the unemployed, representatives of several different countries to people from around the corner.

In other words, it was a typical Friday night less than five miles from here.

And yet, after crossing the bridge toward home, my family was relegated to a late night sit-down at Steak 'n Shake, the only place open save Denny’s with room enough for us at one table. It made me regret pointing the car in a northerly direction almost as much as I resented having to use the car at all.

What gives? As much as I value the revitalization efforts underway, I can’t help but wonder what made us so inhospitable to the creative spirit in the first place, what death led to the necessity of rebirth, especially given New Albany’s obvious appreciation of innovative endeavors in its earlier days.

The automobile and misguided development may have diminished investment in the physical infrastructure of downtown but what killed its intellect?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sunday evenin’ comin’ down … way, way down.

When I saw all the little people dressed in their Sunday finest, marching single file through the pet door into the crawl space below the Luddite Bar & Grill, I knew something was up – make that “down” – and that big guys like me weren’t likely to be on the invitation list.

Luckily, there was a hidden spot I knew behind the visibly listing building, where the vinyl siding was pulled away by that whining mutt they used to keep chained up back there. I wedged my bulk down between the busted AC unit and the reeking foundation, and peeked through the water-damaged plywood by the old coal chute.

Damned if it didn’t look like a genuine backwoods, old-style camp meeting. The cigar boxes were lined up like dominoes, and luminous pocket pen lights covered the walls. Kids were roasting Lucky Charms over a Sterno blaze in back, and the way the light came peeping through the cracks from weathered linoleum covering the barroom floor upstairs looked like stars twinkling.

A battered Realistic cassette tape player with green plastic on top and a “Kentucky Colonels – ABA Champs” decal was being frantically clicked by a wee DJ, crackling out agitated protest songs of despair, fury, hope and salvation … and occasionally, to placate the one-chord councilman, the latest Fats Domino chart topper. The crowd was edgy and excited.

The little plastic cocktail olive spears doubling as pitchforks were a nice touch, I thought.

Then I heard unsteady foot steps, and cautiously rolled over to scan the vacant lot behind me. It was just Winkin and Blinkin – no Nod, as he’d been keeping a low profile since he got caught planting those Tricky Dicky signs on the front lawn at IU Southeast. They looked to be sharing a bag of double cheese sliders with peach schapps chasers.

Like I said, Winkin, at least Steve Price has those family values. That’s why he had to vote against safe new police cars. It’s a matter of fiscal priorities, by Gawd. You just can’t go opening those Pandora’s boxes if you want to keep grandmaw's cookie jar right there by the cart where the horse oughta be, right?

Blinkin, you’re preachin’ to the choir, dude. Cop cars? Hell, that adds up to a couple of bucks a year each one of us taxpayers has to pay, and what for? We still can’t legally drag race on Spring Street or smoke pot in public. Now they wanna go and inspect rental properties? How ya gonna make money off guys even dumber and smaller than we are if you go to doin’ that? Price’ll put a stop to that one, too.

Regress over politics, Blinkin, that’s what I've always said. You know what really soils my trousers? That whole Scribner Place thing. It’s just gotta go. Can you imagine the type of people who’d pay to be healthy? Bunch of leftist sissies. Might as well give ‘em one of them tax abutments while you’re at it – Con-Dem says they’re nasty, nasty bad.

(CLINK – A peachy dead soldier hits the ground)

It’ll be okay, Winkin. It’s definitely the final nail in Jimmy's political career, all right. Same thing with Commander Buzzed Lightyear – like I told him, you do not own this City's right-of-ways, the citizens do. All us taxpayers pay for IUS’s grass – why can’t ol’ Nod put a few of humble Dick’s signs there?

Blinkin, it’s simple. The disrespect shown to Council and to the Citizens by the Mayor and his Administration can no longer be tolerated. I’m votin’ for that chick, Valli Villa Anna – she’s married to that councilman Schmidt, right?

Could be. Maybe they're just one big family. Winkin, you know what really rings my dinger? Blacks, Jews, and gays – God, what’s next?

You the man, Blinkin. The NBA definitely just hasn’t been the same since Larry Legend retired …

(THUNK – there went dessert)

After a quick tandem whiz by the oozing fire hydrant, the intruders went back inside for a few tasty ice-cold Lite beers, and I turned back to the crawl space to find the little people's revival in full swing.

“We will overcome Jimmy G some day, some day,” concluded the chorus of singers, and as a mouth organ hummed solemnly, the caped Grand Trogmentator stepped to the milk crate, leaned into the pink Mr. Microphone, and intoned:

“Some sweet day, Lawd, and not a moment too soon, we will overcome Jimmy G. and the pergessives.”

“Jimmy G, you work for me,” yelled a gaunt man on a fixed income. His "Big Johnson" tee was tattered but clean.

“Some sweet day, there’s gonna come a great big bubble through these overpriced and undersized sewage pipes of ours, and you know what this great big bubble is gonna be?”

“Whassit gonna be?”

“I’ll tell you, sister. It’s gonna be the instrument of our salvation, it’s gonna be the great big bubble that sets us free from these chains – it gonna be that Federal agent in a mighty wrathful sewer submarine!”


“F-Man in a mad sub!”

“Them pergessives’ll never think to look down there – tee hee!”

“Yes, long suffering children of the anti-Garner downtrodden masses, we’ve endured this overarching prog conspiracy for years. I say God knows we’ve tried on our own to break the soul-crushing chains, but we’re just little people and those nasty Garnerites retaliate by making us sign our names ‘n’ other shit.”

“Boo -- anything but that,” screamed a lady, who then fainted dead away into the arms of Jethro.

“Lawd, we need help, and that gleaming white-robed Federal agent – he will be coming here to New Albany to help little old us! He will be coming here to New Albany to incarcerate that uppity Jimmy G., and throw away the key!”

“Praise the F-Man!”

“Praise the F-Man!”

“Yes, little people, He will be coming to usher in a new age of justice, wisdom and lower bills for the salt of the earth, and what’s best about it is that we need only to wish … and wishing will make it so!

“Jimmy G, you work for me!”

“Jimmy G, you work for me!”

So began the chant. It grew and grew, and the Luddite Bar & Grill seemed almost to levitate above the slumlord properties all around the neighborhood, although it might have been the fat guy singing “Tequila Sunrise” at weekly karaoke in the public barroom upstairs.

No matter. The little people were rolling on the dirt, speaking in strange tongues (“Mein Fuhrer, I kann valk!”) and fondling terrified little newts and salamanders, and all of a sudden it dawned on me that I’d passed through a sewer line myself. When I came out the other side, I was no longer in New Albany – instead, it was a big Bosch painting, and the darkest triptych panel was far behind me, and unnoticed by the patrons of the Prado in Madrid, I was climbing down the garden’s other side.

I stood up and dusted off my clothes, exited the crowded museum to the north, strolled onto the Calle de felipe IV, and stopped for espresso at a clean and well lighted café on the way to the nice park I remember from '89. It was too early for tapas, so I bought a creamy chocolate treat at the counter.

New Albany’s little people seemed very, very far away.

In point of fact ... they are.