Friday, November 30, 2007

The big clam-up: In which we inaugurate the Michael Dalby/One Southern Indiana stonewall watch.

Yes, it's become a full-fledged trend.

For those interested in statistics, it's Day 11 of the Michael Dalby/One Southern Indiana stonewall watch.

Dalby, 1SI's president, offered NAC a solitary, sadly disengenuous e-mail on November 19th, and has opted for silence ever since.

For the record, we do not agree that silence is golden. Yellow is another matter entirely, but we'll leave that to our readers to decide. What's keeping the leader of our region's foremost collection of political and economic clout from answering a few questions?

Here is the bibiography to date, from most recent to oldest:

Next: A dialogue about One Southern Indiana, ROCK and economic development as religious (why?) outreach.

Join the discussion: Is a stonewalling 1SI being disingenuous?

Familiar Tribune guest columnists (ahem) expose 1SI, Councilman Cappuccino.

Nobody listened to Eisenhower, either

Why is One Southern Indiana publicly endorsing a fundamentalist right wing agenda?

R.O.C.K. on, One Southern Indiana ... but first, please answer these inconvenient questions.

One Southern Indiana: Much to answer for, and most (perhaps all) of it at taxpayer expense.

Photos: No torture for a downtown bridge.

Not big enough, Mr. Dalby: If only it were Bono, and not merely a spectacularly failed president.

GOP chairman blows the lid off apathy amongst the voters.

Floyd County's GOP chairman returned to the editorial page yesterday, lamenting the passing of two local Republicans who he characterized as being among the heroes:

Pay homage to some true political stalwarts, by Dave Matthews, Local Guest Columnist (News and Tribune).

Those folks who serve, often unpaid and seldom thanked, who do so just because they feel they can make a difference. To folks like Charlie (Wilson) and Dick (Stewart), I want to say a very hearty “Thank You” for your faithful service through all the years when practically no one knew or cared that you were there.

For folks like Charlie and Dick, who can't tell you anymore but continue to say so by the example of their life's testimony, I want to tell everyone who thinks their participation doesn't make a difference: “It does!”

Point taken. Wilson was a friend of my late father's, and Stewart a feisty adversary in the blogosphere. Both were involved, and that certainly counts for something, doesn't it?

Matthews also briefly revisited the November election:

It was hard enough convincing people to vote for our Republican candidates when our party is already outnumbered in New Albany by a margin of 2 to 1. But add to that the apparent apathy that seems to be displayed by such poor numbers in voter turnout and it's almost enough to make one downright depressed.

Indeed, pervasive apathy and a low voter turnout are depressing phenomenons, but just as dispiriting to me is the tendency, almost certainly more pronounced among the city's older citizenry, of blindly choosing a straight party ticket. Straight ticket voting played a demonstrable role in returning to office the 3rd district's accidental councilman, Steve "Minor Chord" Price.

While Matthews probably isn't incorrect in blaming these social conditions for hampering the Republican cause, the collateral damage affects one and all, not just Republicans. Furthermore, when considering his party's catastrophic performance in November, its executive level campaign strategy is deserving of analysis, too.

New Albany's municipal Republicans by all rights should be in the position of the Bolsheviks in pre-revolutionary Russia: Fewer in number, but capable of greater feats of organization and political savvy. They're not, and for this persistent condition, the voting public's disinterest is not responsible.

The free market response is obvious, Dave: Offer a new and improved product, and see if you move more units.

And, like Mike Sodrel, pray for Hillary to run. Perhaps President Bush will visit New Albany yet again to court the Neanderthal vote ... and that's your bloc to lose.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

8664: better, cheaper, faster and completely reasonable

I'm sure it's no surprise for those who, like me, watched Bridges Coalition spokesperson Kay Stewart on the local news last week inexplicably announcing that there's a consensus in favor of two Ohio River bridges just minutes after a Louisville Metro Council committee held its first meeting to explore alternatives, but the Coalition hasn't been exactly forthcoming with relevant information.

The first clue may have been the council chambers shown overflowing with 8664 supporters, but the second was the testimony of veteran traffic engineer Walter Kulash, who last night, along with advocates Tyler Allen and J.C. Sites, shared his feasibility study with an enthusiastic group of citizens in the Bomhard Theater at The Kentucky Center for the Arts.

Some highlights:

*It's the proposed expansion of Spaghetti Junction to over 20 lanes (dubbed Fettucini Junction by an attendee as it's way too fat to be spaghetti) that's radical, not the 8664 proposal.

In searching the entire country, Kulash could only find one project similar in size and complexity to the Spaghetti Junction expansion on the Bridges books. It's in the Los Angeles metro area. Downtown freeway removal, though, is common. Portland, San Francisco, Milwaukee, and Chattanooga have all done it successfully. There's a current initiative in Portland to remove a second water-blocking freeway.

Other numerous, similar projects are in various approval and planning stages around the country with traffic models proving their meddle. Some were redesigned after initial planning as engineers began to figure out the advantages of smaller, surface level parkways over freeways.

* Fears of more endless studies and project delays are overblown. Even though much has been made by Bridges advocates of the dire consequences of trying to amend a federal record of decision, it just isn't that big of a deal. Kulash quoted an engineering friend who said that most major transportation projects in the country are operating under an amended ROD.

The initial approval process to reach a record of decision is made up of five steps that take years to complete. However, changes in plans require two questions to be answered: Does the changed proposal meet the purpose and need addressed by the original project and, if so, does it do so within the original project footprint so as to not further disturb the environment? If the answers are yes, all the original steps can be skipped and the record of decision can be amended in a matter of months. Kulash's work shows the answers to both questions are yes.

* Using numbers from the existing environmental impact study done for the Bridges Project, Kulash was able to show that the 8664 plan can handle the same traffic volume as the current proposal. Spaghetti Junction, greatly simplified under 8664, will have more than ample capacity to meet the peak hour, peak direction, year 2025 projections outlined in the Bridges study.

Waterfront traffic on I-64 was estimated by the Bridges project study to reach 100,000 ADT (average daily traffic) in the year 2025. 8664 would reroute 20,000 ADT to the northern, Indiana loop, leaving 80,000. The riverfront parkway would handle 40,000 to 50,000, leaving 30,000 to 40,000 ADT for the existing street grid. The east-west grid in and around downtown currently has 174,000 ADT in spare capacity, four to six times what's needed.

* Besides the obvious reclamation of riverfront property (valued between $130 and $260 million in real dollars, incalculable as a centerpiece), areas within sight or easy walking distance (calculated at 1/4 to 1/2 mile based on the experiences of other cities) would be greatly enhanced in value. Using the two mile stretch of the current waterfront 64 as a measuring stick, that equates to 300-600 acres or 60-120 city blocks.

* 8664 costs half as much as the current Bridges Project proposal and can be built faster.

The full feasibility study is available as a PDF on the 8664 web site.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Next: A dialogue about One Southern Indiana, ROCK and economic development as religious (why?) outreach.

Yesterday: Join the discussion: Is a stonewalling 1SI being disingenuous?

It will disappoint some of you to learn that, slightly paraphrasing General U.S. Grant, “I propose to fight it out along this line if it takes all winter,” so in today’s installment of li’l ol’ NAC versus the establishment leviathan of greenfield development, the one that still can’t manage a coherent response to the pertinent issues we’re raising – the one that can barely muster a response of any sort – the conversation turns back to One Southern Indiana's flirty winks and provocative nudges with ROCK (Reclaim Our Culture Kentuckiana), a lobby group that is wielding a bulky anti-pornography shield as means of obscuring a number of more controversial platform planks (anti-abortion, anti-stem cell research, anti-gay marriage) that involve matters that fall far outside of 1SI’s purported developmental realm.

Wow; that was one hellacious paragraph. But first, here’s a recent posting by a blogger completely unaffiliated with NAC who also can see the fundamental contradiction of ROCK.

Exactly What Battle? (from the John Manzo blog).

It would, on some level, be nice to be able to stand with this group. I do not believe that they are truly wrong about the issues of pornography and the difficulties the sex industry bring to any region. It is a legitimate issue on so many levels.

The problem is that as I watched their video I did not get the impression that ROCK is a group that's main interest is in dealing with the local sex industry. The very name of the organization, Reclaim our Culture Kentuckiana, hearkens to something more. A lot more.

They decry a moral decline in a culture and claim this as a fact. I hear this a great deal and it's usually from people who haven't studied ethics.

Subsequently, over at the NA Health blog, I tried to start a conversation with my friend and physician Dr. Dan, a supporter of ROCK who also appears in the group's hot video.


The New Albanian said:

Dan, do you think that 1SI should support a radical right wing organization like ROCK? You've been suspiciously silent on this issue, and I'm in desperate need of material.


Healthblogger said:

First off, how do you conclude they are a "radical right wing organization"?

Does just having Christian values label them in your mind?

Where is the tolerance?

Is this not bigotry on your part?

Their goal is better communities and families. That seems to be an admirable goal.


The New Albanian said:

What do anti-abortion, anti-stem cell research and anti-gay marriage planks have to do with economic development?

Does not ROCK have all three as part of the agenda? A cursory examination of the web site certainly seems to suggest so.

Must we then sign on to these in order to have (ahem) "good" jobs?


Healthblogger said:

So you always agree with 100% of every organization's viewpoints that you support.

If this is true, then I doubt you are supporting many organizations.

1SI did support ROCK in their stance against pornography because it has significant implications on economic development.

I do not recall 1SI outwardly supporting the other items.

If there is another organization standing up against pornography, I am sure they would consider standing behind them as well, as it does effect the growth of the economy.


The New Albanian said:

"Does just having Christian values label them in your mind?"

I didn't mention the word Christian. You did. Apart from that, you'll recall that my question was this:

"What do anti-abortion, anti-stem cell research and anti-gay marriage planks have to do with economic development?"

Don't forget that I watched the film on ROCK's website and turned past page one. I'm suggesting that (a) ROCK's ultimate ambitions aren't confined to the "bad porno" template, and (b) 1SI's endorsement of the marquee came sans consideration of the whole ROCK picture.

1SI seeks de facto establishment as the region's economic development authority. I fail to see how this enshrinement includes the authority to determine the "proper" cultural and religious viewpoints.


It strikes me that one argument in all this is that has passed largely unexamined, and that’s the view that pornography plays a quantifiably negative role in a region’s economic development efforts. More than one source has intimated privately to me that 1SI possesses sufficient evidence to back its assertion that pornography is an economic development issue, and certainly we’re all eyes.

I’ve made it a point to assure 1SI’s Michael Dalby in e-mail messages that NAC will happily publish such materials if they’re made available, and I’m hoping that these are based on credible research, and not merely the anonymous complaints of real estate agents unable to sell otherwise valuable plots of Veterans Parkway land with the misfortune to be adjacent to the adult bookstore formerly known as Theatair-X.

The fact remains that ROCK is seeking to embrace far more than the purging of a local adult entertainment business that’s been turning profits for something close to four decades, and to be honest, that’s what worries me the most about 1SI’s thoughtless plunge into bed with yet another in a series of groups that specialize in offering us slippery slopes as the solution to largely imaginary problems. As I’ve previously written:

When religious groups take the field over matters like this, check the locks on the public library. Literature and other manifestations of free thought are sure to be next, and accordingly, what part of economic development does censorship enhance ... unless, of course, one lives in China … or Zimbabwe.

The community deserves immediate clarification from 1SI.

Why isn’t it forthcoming?

And, under these uncommunicative circumstances, why should the city of New Albany contribute a red cent to 1SI’s coffers?

Egads -- now we're in bed with Councilman Cappuccino.

Now that's pornographic.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Join the discussion: Is a stonewalling 1SI being disingenuous?

Let’s keep the pot stirred by returning to this post, which you may reread at your leisure:

Familiar Tribune guest columnists (ahem) expose 1SI, Councilman Cappuccino.

Forget Cappuccino; he's a bit player in more ways than one.

In the article, I recounted sending Michael Dalby, One Southern Indiana’s president, all pertinent links to recent NAC articles on the topic of his organization’s newfound affiliation with an evangelical lobby group that opposes abortion, stem cell research and gay marriage, to name just three ROCK (Reclaim Our Culture Kentuckiana) planks that have nothing whatsoever to do with economic development.

To illustrate the organization’s subsequent stonewalling and circling of wagons, I published the text of Dalby’s only response to date, one that entirely avoided any mention of the issues raised, and instead bizarrely recited 1SI’s mission statement by rote as though the mantra alone might somehow make the questions go away.

NAC’s Bluegill offered a comment, Healthblogger answered, and we were off to the races, with the subject turning away from ROCK and toward 1SI's stance on transportation issues. Just imagine if 1SI were committed to such an exchange of ideas.

Here is the dialogue to date.


Bluegill said:

Dalby's disingenuous response is just the latest in a precedent setting history.

Again, it will be interesting to see which, if any, of the community and business "leaders" who've aligned their and their institutions' reputations with 1SI will have the fortitude to address the dishonesty ingrained in much of what the group says and does.

With their noted silence on matters thus far, could the establishment be acting anymore like the Establishment?


Healthblogger said:

Give all the readers some concrete examples of the "dishonesty ingrained in much of what the group says and does."

I for one would like to see what you are referring to.


Bluegill said:

HB said: "Give all the readers some concrete examples of the dishonesty ingrained in much of what the group says and does."

This request is somewhat amusing given Dalby's response to Roger. To accept what he says as true, you'd have to believe that, even with links to NAC posts that both quote and provide additional links to original source material, Dalby's reading comprehension is so poor that he legitimately doesn't know what Roger's talking about. If Dalby wants to really claim that and then try to justify why someone with such poor skills should lead economic development in the region, it'd be interesting.

Quotes from 1SI's web site about our current interstate/transportation situation:

Clark and Floyd Counties offer a complete intermodal transportation system. The converging of three major interstates (I-65, I-64 and I-71) provides the area with the best access to markets across the country.

Many companies have located here to enjoy the outstanding transportation system. See how you can enjoy the "Best of Both Worlds" by continuing through our site.

For business, the Southern Indiana/Louisville area is rated as having one of the best interstate highway systems in the country. Interstate highways running through the Southern Indiana/Louisville region include: I-65, I-64, I-71, I-265 and I-264.

A quote from 1SI's One Weekly newsletter in June:

We need to make the argument that the current bridges situation has gotten progressively worse in recent years and is clogging up the movement of goods, services, and employees.

We are seeking to collect information on how the congestion is negatively impacting your business. If you have an example of the problem, please take a moment and reply to this email (or give us a call at 945-0266 and we'll transcribe it) so that it can become a part of our public relations campaign.

The strongest argument will be situations that impact "just in time" deliveries (especially where you get product from or supply products to Kentucky) and that have forced you to change processes (timing, etc.) or that have negatively impacted a decision for growth or made you (or your owners) consider moving.

Anyone care to explain how "the best access to markets across the country" via "one of the best interstate highway systems in the country" is driving businesses away?

Be careful, though. If you follow the logical path that suggests the "best interstates" don't necessarily lead to the best business opportunities, Michael Dalby might tell you that you could be right but we're funded (which also isn't true) for interstate expansion anyway. That's what he told me when he couldn't answer questions about how 1SI's transportation plan provided more long-term benefits to the region than alternatives.

There are other examples but this is as good a place to start as any.


Healthblogger said:

The statements listed by Bluegill are neither false nor misleading.

We do have an interstate system that is very attractive to businesses.

We also have a bridge system that has problems. Although this is a negative, it does not dismiss the fact that we still have an attractive interstate system overall.

We need to address the Bridge situation to prevent it from further diminishing the positive interstate system.

Nothing that has been stated by Dalby is dishonest.

You just don't like the answers.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Itinerary notes: Pacific Northwest Brew Tour, May 6 – 14, 2008.

Previously I've mentioned that in May, 2008, it is my aim to escort a motorcoach tour to selected locales in the Pacific Northwest. Prime objectives are beer drinking, seafood eating and all-purpose tourism ... in roughly that order. I've forwarded the following to those already on the mailing list. If you're interested, please let me know (use the e-mail address at my blogger profile page). We'd love to have you along.


Note that everything following is tentative. Our local tour operator is Tony Minden, owner of OregonWest Excursions. Tony submitted a plan to me, and I have edited his work and made a few changes, which he’ll be examining for accuracy. The edited version, minus exact timings, is here. I believe the information below to be substantially correct at this time. Assuming Tony agrees, we’ll begin the process of determining the price.

Note also that the group’s airfare is still being researched by Mary Pat Bliss of Bliss Travel in New Albany, but that you retain the option of arranging your own flights subject to land transportation constraints and my required foreknowledge. Some form of breakfast (continental or more) is included at each stop.

Tuesday, May 6th

We will depart Louisville for Portland, and depending on the final flight plan, the itinerary may change. Airport transfer; arrive in Portland. Read: New York Times on beer in Portland. We’ll be staying at the Embassy Suites (Downtown). There’ll be a tour, tasting and meal at BridgePort Brewing, Oregon’s oldest craft brewery (founded 1984).

Wednesday, May 7th

Private charter aboard the Portland Ducks Tour’s Hydra Terra amphibious vehicle for a half bus/half boat city tour with guide that travels city streets and the Willamette River alike. We’ll tour Portland’s waterfront and ship yard, and then end up at Widmer Brothers Brewing for a taste, followed by a free afternoon in downtown Portland to rest, relax and enjoy the city. Later, there’ll be a McMenamins Cosmic Bus Tour (visits to a selection of McMenamins' historic properties (i.e., McMenamins Edgefield, the Kennedy School, and the Crystal Ballroom) and appetizers, handcrafted ales, wines and spirits. We’re leaving the evening open pending a chance to socialize with Phil “Biscuit” Timperman. Phil currently works for Rogue Ales in Portland, and formerly was employed by Hair of the Dog and the Horse Brass Pub.

Thursday, May 8th

Morning departure for a drive through the gorgeous scenery of the Crown Point State Scenic Corridor, followed by a stop at Multnomah Falls, the second highest water fall in the United States. Lunch and beers will be at Walking Man Brewing in Stevenson. After lunch we’ll travel the "Hood River Fruit Loop," coming eventually to the landmark Timberline Lodge (where Jack Nicholson’s “The Shining” was filmed). During this time we will try to meet with Charles Porter, formerly the brewery at Bloomington Brewing Co. and Upland in Bloomington, Indiana. Charles now lives in Hood River and works for Full Sail Brewing. There might be a vineyard tour as well. Afterwards, an open final evening in Portland.

Friday, May 9th

Depart Portland for Seattle. Stop in Tacoma at Harmon’s Brewery & Restaurant for a tour, tasting and lunch, then free time in Tacoma. Near Harmon’s: The Museum of Glass, including work by the world famous Dale Chihuly; artists at work in the Hot Shop; bridge of glass; and the restored Union Station. In Seattle, we’re staying at the Silver Cloud Hotel. A monorail/tram to and from downtown is being built, and it may be operational by the time of our visit. The hotel also offers local shuttles. We are hoping to arrange an evening visit, tasting and dinner at Hale’s Ales Brewery & Pub.

Saturday, May 10th

A brief city tour of the highlights will be followed by morning free time. Circa 1:00 p.m., we meet at the Pike Pub & Brewery for lunch and a beer pairing. Next is a tour of Safeco Field, home of the Seattle Mariners and a pre-game tour and tasting at the Pyramid Alehouse, Brewery & Restaurants. At 7:00 p.m., Mariners vs. White Sox, sushi (Ichi-Roll) and IPA, then back to the hotel after the game. Note that the Safeco Field tour and game timings are contingent on the 2008 schedule, which thus far is tentative.

Sunday, May 11th

Depart for Astoria, Oregon, on the northernmost tip of the Oregon coast. The hotel is Comfort Suites Columbia River. Lunch is on your own in Astoria, which boasts a great downtown to wander, with unique shops, restaurants and pubs, among them the Wet Dog Cafe & Astoria Brewing Company (formerly Pacific Rim Brewing) and Fort George Brewery + Public House. We’ll visit the Columbia River Maritime Museum in the afternoon, then attend Seafood School for demonstrations, seafood, and a beer-themed presentation from Chef Eric Jenkins.

Monday, May 12th

Depart Astoria for Newport. This is about a 3-hour drive, and quite spectacular. We’ll allow an hour and a half for stops along the way, including Cannon Beach or Seaside. Arrive in Newport circa 1:00 p.m. The small, succulent Yaquina Bay oyster made Newport famous, and the town is a popular destination for seafood lovers, but we know it better as the home of Rogue Ales. Lunch at your own pace along the Historic Bayfront, location of Rogue Ales Public House and Local Ocean Seafoods. Rooms at the Elizabeth Street Inn. Monday evening is free to roam. There is the possibility of a program and session at the Rogue Ales Public House.

Tuesday, May 13th

We’re hoping to book a morning excursion with Marine Discovery Tours. Lunch is at Brewer’s on the Bay, Rogue’s restaurant inside its microbrewery complex, which is located on the south side of the bay (you can see the Public House across the way), followed by a Rogue brewery tour. Next, a visit to the nearby Oregon Coast Aquarium, then regrouping at the hotel. Dinner at the Hallmark Inn in the group’s own private dining room overlooking the ocean. Finally, weather permitting, the Elizabeth Street Inn will put on a bonfire on the beach, including smores and plenty of Rogue ales.

Wednesday, May 14th

Pending confirmation of the flight time, this day remains unplanned. It is 2.5 hours travel time to Portland and 1.5 hours check in time at the airport. This might require an early wake-up …

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Familiar Tribune guest columnists (ahem) expose 1SI, Councilman Cappuccino.

(Welcome back from a long holiday weekend. We all need time to catch up, so I'm leaving this posting on the marquee for now)

Just in case you missed it during last week’s predictable Thanksgiving rush, the senior editor contributed a Tribune guest column culled from a posting here at NAC:

BAYLOR: 1SI’s involvement with ROCK is sticky

Having concluded a revealing week during which One Southern Indiana unabashedly promoted a partisan Republican campaign stop for Mike Sodrel conducted by sitting and failed president, the regional “economic development” agency has inched further down a very slippery slope by aligning itself publicly with an anti-pornography lobby group, Reclaim Our Culture Kentuckiana.

1SI’s president, Michael Dalby, has been sent all pertinent links to recent NAC articles on the topic of his organization’s newfound affiliation with an evangelical lobby group that opposes abortion, stem cell research and gay marriage, to name just three ROCK planks that have nothing whatsoever to do with economic development.

Here is Dalby’s only response to date:

Thanks for the link, though I’m not certain what actions or goals of the organization you are referring to. We are a regional economic development organization, and our actions and goals seek to expand the economy, raise the per capita income and expand the tax base, thereby lessening the burden of government on individual tax payers. If there are efficiencies that can be gained by consolidating public service delivery systems (for instance, multiple 911 systems which today’s technology can consolidate), we do encourage those efforts as a means of getting the most from taxpayer dollars.

The dictionary provides this handy definition for assistance in interpreting Dalby’s sidestep:

dis·in·gen·u·ous adj.
1. Not straightforward or candid; insincere or calculating: "an ambitious, disingenuous, philistine, and hypocritical operator, who ... exemplified ... the most disagreeable traits of his time" (David Cannadine).
2. Pretending to be unaware or unsophisticated; faux-naïf.
3. Unaware or uninformed; naive.

We await Dalby’s and 1SI chairman Kerry Stemler’s clarifications, and gently suggest to them that any response take the form of addressing the actual question and specific issue rather than insult the intelligence of the reading public by reciting mission statements by rote.


Meanwhile, our local bookseller cooly and capably called our local political charlatan’s latest bluff:

Let’s examine those crime statistics from Coffey, by Randy Smith (guest column in the Tribune).

I read, first with amusement, then with genuine concern, the deceptive letter to The Tribune from District 1 Council Member Dan J. Coffey …

... With help from my bride, I quickly found the Department of Justice’s Web statistics page, managed by DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Statistics. As Mr. Coffey was brazen enough to try (yet again) to pose as an expert and to (yet again) mislead the public and especially The Tribune’s readership, we both thought it might be instructive to report to you the actual and official numbers on crime in New Albany.

Yet again, it looks like the Wizard of Westside has no clothes. It's a telling commentary on the times that 1SI joins Coffey in the act of conceptual disrobing.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

NAC Jukebox: We're all livin’ on "Coffey Time."

Coffey Time

(With apologies to the great Don Williams)

I left New Albany drivin' a Conestoga
Just about to lose my mind
I was goin' on to Birdseye, maybe on to Nabb or Milltown
Where all the people live so fine
My baby said I was crazy, my momma called me lazy
I was goin' to show 'em all this time
'Cause you know I ain't no prog an' I don't need no more schoolin'
I was born to just talk the line

Livin' on Coffey time
Livin' on retro time
Well you know I've been through it
When I set my watch back to it
Livin' on Coffey time

Well there I was in Perry County wishin' I was doin' good
Talkin' on the cell phone line
But they don't need me diggin’ ditches ‘cause the Mexicans are along
Guess I'm just wastin' time
Well then I got to thinkin', man I'm really sinkin'
And I really had a flash this time
I had no business leavin' and nobody would be grievin'
If I ran city council on Coffey time

Livin' on Coffey time
Livin' on my hometown’s dime
Gonna set my sun dial to it
Cause you know I've been through it
Livin' on Coffey time

Holiday Homecoming downtown, today

New Albany's annual "holiday homecoming" is today from noon to 6 p.m. It's also a Downtown Saturday, which means that downtown shops keep special hours.

Holiday Homecoming attractions include Christmas carols, free chili from local restaurants, cookies donated by Floyd Memorial Hospital and the arrival of Santa Claus at 3 p.m., and all this will be held on Pearl Street between Main and Market streets.

We're heading to Treet's for breakfast. Gotta have that bacon, you know.

(Information taken from the press release published in various local medias)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Black Friday, Part Two: “Literally millions of native peoples were slaughtered.”

See: Black Friday, Part One: "Any world that I'm welcome to ... is better than the one I come from."

Ever respectful of the cognitive dissonance associated with inconvenient hindsight, I decided to wait until the day after Thanksgiving to give vent to my contrarian instincts. Verily, there are two sides to every story.

You’ve already guessed what is coming. NA Health’s side of the story, which comes to us as sanitized as Ward Cleaver’s TV-land bedroom, can be perused here:

Remember the "Thanks" in Thanksgiving, by Healthblogger.

Thanksgiving is another wonderful holiday and yes it is another Holiday with a very strong Christian background.

According to this viewpoint, the Puritans and natives gathered for a quaint New England picnic, pausing from the consumption of corn chowder and non-alcoholic cranberry wine only to pray to respective deities for their continued prosperity and happiness.

Like the wishbone from yesterday's turkey, the scene is hard to swallow. Here’s an excerpt from an alternative viewpoint. The link is to the updated 2004 article; scroll down for the original piece, quoted below, which appeared in 2003. Both essays are well worth reading.

'Why I Hate Thanksgiving', by Mitchel Cohen (and others).

What Columbus did to the Arawaks of the Bahamas and the Taino of the Caribbean, Cortez did to the Aztecs of Mexico, Pizarro to the Incas of Peru, and the English settlers of Virginia and Massachusetts to the Powhatans and the Pequots. Literally millions of native peoples were slaughtered. And the gold, slaves and other resources were used, in Europe, to spur the growth of the new money economy rising out of feudalism. Karl Marx would later call this "the primitive accumulation of capital." These were the violent beginnings of an intricate system of technology, business, politics and culture that would dominate the world for the next five centuries.

All of this were the preconditions for the first Thanksgiving.

But what do you think? Does truth depend on the ease in which it is digested, or are other factors involved?

Black Friday, Part One: "Any world that I'm welcome to ... is better than the one I come from."

See: Black Friday, Part Two: “Literally millions of native peoples were slaughtered.”

Readers with long memories and commendable patience will recall that the senior editor's annoyance with the Christmas shopping season is a constant condition high atop his overworked soapbox.

I'd managed to avoid a relapse until yesterday, when the New Albany Tribune’s Thursday columnist shimmied with the zeitgeist by referring to the mother of all post-Thanksgiving shopping days as Black Friday. Not wanting to be left out, I'll follow suit in this and a folowing article. Here is the newspaper's contribution.

Thank goodness, tomorrow's Black Friday; When the day comes, you’re gonna stake your claim.

Fair enough. It's another buzz word, and some sweet day it will go away and revert to its proper "crashing market" connotation, but not yet.

I noticed something else, and it took a minute or two for the answer to pop up. Read all the way to the end of Fagen’s and Becker’s savvy thoughts from Steely Dan's album “Katy Lied” to learn where one of the Tribune's anonymous conjurers of headlines cleverly lyric-dropped:

When Black Friday comes
I'll stand down by the door
And catch the gray men
When they dive from the fourteenth floor
When Black Friday comes
I'll collect everything I'm owed
And before my friends find out
I'll be on the road
When Black Friday falls you know it's got to be
Don't let it fall on me

When Black Friday comes
I'll fly down to Muswellbrook
Gonna strike all the big red words
From my little black book
Gonna do just what I please
Gonna wear no socks and shoes
With nothing to do
But feed all the Kangaroos
When Black Friday comes I'll be on that hill
You know I will

When Black Friday comes
I'm gonna dig myself a hole
Gonna lay down in it
'Til I satisfy my soul
Gonna let the world pass by me
The Archbishop gonna sanctify me
And if he don't come across
I'm gonna let it roll
When Black Friday comes I'm gonna stake my claim
I guess I'll change my name.

I had to pour a beer and listen to the whole work of mid-seventies pop art: "Daddy Don't Live in That New York City," "Dr. Wu," "Bad Sneakers," and all the rest of the timeless gems.

Meanwhile, this year's looking like every other. The nation’s fevered economic analysis infrastructure is keeping one eye fixed on the fiscal condition of Chinese trinket manufacturers and another on the tea leaves in an effort to determine if holiday retail sales will be sufficient to float the materialism boat for another year.

Meanwhile, the dollar continues its long slide into irrelevance, the Iraqi money pit continues to suck increasingly devalued greenbacks into a black hole filled with crude, and our patriotically rabid shoppers pile merrily into their Hummers to drive 25 feet to the foot of the driveway and collect their amok credit card bills.

Change the dates, change the names -- but Pavlov's dog salivates just as predictably.

At least we have alcohol.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What I'm thankful for this week

(We'll be back on Friday, November 23. Have a good Turkey Day ... RAB)

Regardless of who you thank and why you thank them, it remains that sharing homegrown pleasures with friends is a good thing.


When Dylan sings "she knows there's no success like failure, and that failure's no success at all", he may as well be singing about Freakwater. Fiercely independent and totally disregarding of musical trends, Janet Bean and Catherine Irwin have made some of the finest country records ever put down, yet they're virtually invisible to the country music audience. They've cultivated a passionate fan base, but it's so diffused that making any real money touring seems impossible.

Perhaps their fortunes will improve upon the release their new record, Thinking of You. . ., but perhaps not. Problem is, Freakwater's music is faithful to the spirit, but not the letter, of country music's laws. As a result, they live a bastardly life, always on the outside of any side there is. "People with a punk background may think we're purists, but country fans think we're freaks," Irwin said in 1995. And that perception hasn't really changed.

People like this in school

The studio will focus on linking the pedestrian realm of downtown Louisville, especially Main Street, to the waterfront and even across the river to Indiana. Students will research the existing conditions as a basis for understanding the tissue that ties the city to the river, and how it can be enhanced. The problem is daunting, which precludes normal urban interventions. Instead, students will be asked to make a guerrilla attack on the Louisville waterfront, to imagine the improbable as a means of enlarging what is possible, and to restore the civic splendor of this timeless natural resource.

The peculiar magnetic field created by living in downtown New Albany nearly equidistant from Ken Pyle in one direction and Roger Baylor in the other

This Will Oldham / Bonnie Prince Billy show on WFPK's Live Lunch archive

Going to the country to see friends

That people all over town are talking about transportation

Our region deserves transportation solutions that:
- Address the financial, energy and environmental realities of the 21st Century
- Meet the needs of all people, regardless of socioeconomic status
- Are developed through an open, understandable public process

Feel free to pile on.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Do-gooders can become the worst cheats?

From the MSNBC web site … thanks R.

Do-gooders can become the worst cheats; Study: Sense of moral superiority might lead to rationalizing bad behavior, by Jeanna Bryner.

Morally upstanding people are the do-gooders of society, right? Actually, a new study finds that a sense of moral superiority can lead to unethical acts, such as cheating. In fact, some of the best do-gooders can become the worst cheats.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Nobody listened to Eisenhower, either

One Southern Indiana already has two public school systems, two colleges, four local governments, six banks, and the phone and electric companies represented on their board.

Rather than fostering inclusive, informed debate about the future of regional development from the grassroots up, however, they've fabricated a top down model, insinuating that their suggested course(s) of action are inevitable while providing little public explanation as to why their particular ideological choices are more (or less) beneficial to the region than any possible alternatives. They've yet to openly admit that plausible alternatives even exist.

If they're allowed to continue unchallenged, amassing consequential levels of financial and political support from a roster of executives with an inherent self-interest in protecting their own respective positions, 1SI could easily develop the power to dominate individual local governments, thereby lessening the degree to which public input matters and creating a situation in which our region's future would be decided by the appointed members of a private organization rather than elected public representatives.

Regardless of their intentions, that's dangerous.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sunday morning breakfast conversation.

Roger: Did you see the letter by Dan Coffey in the Tribune?

Diana: No. What is it about?

R: Something about a new parking garage being the work of Al Qaeda … or maybe the East Spring Street Neighborhood Association.

D. They’re the pointy-headed progressives, right?

R: ESNA, or Al Qaeda?

D: Yes.

R: Absolutely. I wonder if Coffey actually wrote the letter.

D: Was it coherent?

R: For the most part. It had a narrative, and came to a point.

D: Then it couldn’t have been him.

R: Do you think Steve Price's wife does contract work?

Sunday morning hoot.

The author of Erika’s “nary a lump” Thanksgiving poem today is unknown, but even so, an “author unknown” attribution should be provided by bloggers who respect such values.

At the bottom is a mistyped URL for Butterball turkeys. The academic apparently hasn’t yet learned to insert a link. Here it is, for your convenience:


Even more amusing is that the first section of the faux professor’s holiday greeting is cribbed from a message written by Gary Graham, mayor of O’Fallon, Illinois. Erika changes the order of a couple of words, probably by accident, and of course, no attribution is supplied. Pathetic, yet in this instance ironic, because the original message, dated November 15, 2006, bears the heading, “Traditional Values, Progressive Thinking.”

Our Erika. What a side splitter. I'll be back later this afternoon.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Why is One Southern Indiana publicly endorsing a fundamentalist right wing agenda?

I'm taking the day off on Saturday, but you have homework.

Compare and contrast these two mission statements.

From the One Southern Indiana web site:

One Southern Indiana is the combined Economic Development Council and Chamber of Commerce for Floyd and Clark counties on the Indiana side of the Louisville, Kentucky metropolitan area. One Southern Indiana proactively works to grow our regional economy through business attraction, retention and expansion; through encouraging and supporting entrepreneurs; and through providing government and workforce advocacy, business education, networking opportunities and other business services to our investors. We are one vision, one voice for business.

From the web site of ROCK, i.e., Reclaim Our Culture Kentuckiana:

Are you concerned about ...

The moral decline in our culture
Growth of sexually oriented businesses
Pornography and obscenity
Efforts to push expressions of faith out of the public arena
Attacks on marriage
Culture of death (abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, etc.)
Humanism and relativism

Go to ROCK's web site and watch the video, where you'll hear numerous phrases like, "The mission of ROCK is consistent with the mission of Christ.”

Now, recalling that 1SI chairman Kerry Stemler has indicated that his group is "on board" with ROCK, although not in the "front lines," answer these questions:

What does ROCK's theocratic advocacy have to do with economic development, and why is Stemler giving 1SI's imprimatur to a very specific and exclusionary Christian advocacy group?


See also:

R.O.C.K. on, One Southern Indiana ... but first, please answer these inconvenient questions.

One Southern Indiana: Much to answer for, and most (perhaps all) of it at taxpayer expense.

Photos: No torture for a downtown bridge.

Friday, November 16, 2007

R.O.C.K. on, One Southern Indiana ... but first, please answer these inconvenient questions.

Jim Morrison’s stone dead, but he still gets it right:

Strange days have found us
Strange days have tracked us down
They’re going to destroy
Our casual joys
We shall go on playing
Or find a new town

Having concluded a revealing week during which One Southern Indiana unabashedly promoted a partisan Republican campaign stop conducted by sitting and failed president, the combined “economic development” agency has inched further down a very slippery slope by aligning itself publicly with an anti-pornography lobby group.

As you read these extended excerpts from the Tribune’s coverage, understand that I’m making no attempt to blithely dismiss the hidden costs to human dignity that are inherent in the substantial business of adult entertainment, but know that if I’m asked to select which of two videos is “pornographic” – the first depicting sex between adults and the second surveying the carnage on any battlefield – my choice falls squarely on the latter.

And, when religious groups take the field over matters like this, check the locks on the public library. Literature and other manifestations of free thought are sure to be next, and accordingly, what part of economic development does censorship enhance ... unless, of course, one lives in China or Zimbabwe.

Group fighting adult businesses with ‘someone’s daughter’ campaign, by David Mann (News and Tribune).

A Louisville-based group is continuing its campaign against adult businesses with a new billboard along Interstate 65.

The group — Reclaim Our Culture Kentuckiana, or ROCK as they’re commonly known — held a press conference and unveiled the new sign Wednesday morning …

… Kerry Stemler, board chairman of economic development agency One Southern Indiana, was at Wednesday’s event. He commented that his organization is on board with ROCK because what it is working for effects economic development and the group is doing it in a very appropriate way.

“We do see the value of good, quality communities,” he said. “(ROCK) really works towards the end goal that we are trying to achieve.”

However, he added that because of the religious implications that ROCK carries with it, One Southern Indiana will not be “on the front lines” with them.

Adult businesses can be barred from joining the chamber of commerce, Stemler said. If such a business wanted to join, it would be a board decision and he would recommend that they not be allowed.

Stemler believes that adult businesses do hinder economic development because “not everybody wants to be right next to that.”

“I think it’s had a negative impact on that Veterans Parkway corridor” where adult video store Theatair X is located. He said few businesses have located near the theater and that most of the development has been the other side of the parkway.

Stated simply, chairman Stemler’s responses raise far more questions than they answer.


What are the components of “good, quality” communities?

Are these components dependent on a specific religious or cultural perspective, or is there room for other perspectives?

If the chairman is able to perceive “religious implications” to the group’s activities, why does this suggest that 1SI should refrain from the “front lines” and not suggest that it should refrain from participating, period?

If 1SI is to introduce a moral perspective to economic development issues, couldn’t it be that there a moral perspective to exurban development issues, whether from a Christian or any other religion’s point of view?

For adult businesses to “hinder” economic development, shouldn’t we as residents of Southern Indiana possess a shared view of what economic development means?

If we must discuss what economic development means, is there a chance that this discussion might proceed at odds with 1SI’s primarily exurban definition?

Might is not be possible that for an adult business, a strip mall, an greenfield development and a downtown bridge alike, that “not everybody wants to be right next to that?”


Kerry Stemler and 1SI apparently have little sense that they’ve embarked on a messy pratfall down these slippery slopes, and that absence of awareness is what I've found appalling throughout the current week.

Perhaps absolute power does corrupt absolutely, but be that as it may, wouldn’t you think that someone else or some other organization (hint, hint … I belong to such a group) purporting to support economic development might subject 1SI to just a bit of the same public scrutiny that we’re pursuing here at this otherwise lowly blog?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Play it again, Steve: Price and redevelopment is like AC-DC and chamber music.

I just rolled back into town following a rewarding afternoon at Cincinnati’s National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, which helpfully reminds those among us so inclined to regard history as it really was and not as we now wish it to be that all depictions of the halcyon antebellum Southern “way of life” lacking reference to the sheer brutality of slave labor are, shall we vastly understate, idiotically disingenuous.

Look for photographs this weekend. Until then, and with tonight’s city council meeting probably concluded at this hour (or close to it), here’s an item from today’s Tribune:

Messer wants to be president of New Albany City Council, by Eric Scott Campbell.

New Albany City Councilman-at-large Jack Messer believes he has majority support to make him president of the nine-member legislative panel in 2008, he told The Tribune.

CM Messer certainly has my vote as the best available antidote to sitting president Kochert’s incessant conniving and transparent chicanery, but what really makes the article funny is another in a seemingly endless series of conceptual malapropisms on the part of the 3rd district’s clueless councilman.

District 3 Councilman Steve Price serves on the Redevelopment Commission with Messer. He didn’t know whether he’d vote for Messer, calling (Jeff) Gahan “my first choice,” but Price drew attention to another duty of the president: appointing council members to other city panels.

“I think they want to take me off Redevelopment and I don’t have a problem with that, but I think it should be me or [District 1 Councilman] Dan Coffey. Our districts are directly related” to redevelopment funding, Price said.

That's a hoot. Not that Price comprehends redevelopment in any meaningful way great or small, and yet he hastens to stress the importance of having himself or his conjoined 1st district counterpart in a position to readily obstruct the tenets of redevelopment. As Bluegill presciently noted in a comment a few days ago:

Price's suggestion that he doesn't have time to deal with the redevelopment issues his district supports because he's too busy serving as council liaison to the Redevelopment Commission was a classic.

Alas, when hoary oldies are all you know how to play, you just keep strumming the same tune over, and over, and over.

Another road trip, another missed meeting.

There's a city council meeting tonight. Sorry, but I can't be there. Is anyone going?

Oh Lloyd ...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

"Great American God-Out" is tomorrow.

Here's the explanation from the Atheist Revolution blog. It's hard to imagine this one becoming a widely observed holiday, isn't it?

One suggestion stands out:

Learn how to identify and correct at least one logical fallacy for the day.

Hmm, looks like we'll be shadowing 3rd district councilman Steve Price ... but at least the job will be done by just after breakfast. The many ones coming after that are someone else's responsibility.

Happy Hour, here we come.

One Southern Indiana: Much to answer for, and most (perhaps all) of it at taxpayer expense.

At NAC on Tuesday: Photos: No torture for a downtown bridge.


Readers know where to go for coverage of yesterday’s visit by George W. Bush to New Albany, so those in need of the recap, consult the usual Courier and Tribune sources.

Meanwhile, the presidential visit was a surreal exercise in boarded tight window art at taxpayer expense, a massive logistics boondoggle at taxpayer expense, a transparent campaign rally for Mike Sodrel at taxpayer expense, a celebration of petro-imperialism overseas at taxpayer expense, and worst of all, a striking example of One Southern Indiana’s fawning and obsequious approval of outrages ranging from Constitutional erosion to institutionalized torture … and, yes, also at taxpayer expense.

With all these examples of tax revenue gone horribly awry, you’d have thought that the slumlord lobby would have been out in full force to protest. How incredibly strange that they weren’t.

How do you account for that? Truly, irony must be dead hereabouts.

Here are two of yesterday’s comments, lifted here to the marquee.


Mr. G wrote:

Add the link to Bob Hill's column in (Tuesday’s) Courier-Journal. It pretty accurately represents all the questions attendees were asking about this "event".

(Here is Hill's column)

Where is ISI's head in conceiving of this as useful or representative of our region's aspirations or needs?

It's entertaining to look at the enlarged photo of the Secret Service guys and imagine some captions: "Where will he have us going next?" "Is this what we have to do to find a 'friendly' audience?" "Small enough town equals dignitaries willing to appear enthusiastic." "Do these people know he's just vetoed spending for human services, education and job retraining?"

None of, not one, of the SS agents looks like he's having a good time and it's not because they think a sniper is going to jump up on the roof of The Fair Store building.

Also puzzling was ISI's press release claiming sponsors for today's visit was ISI, the chamber of commerce and local economic development groups--as if they were separate entities and not those who merged to create ISI.

Who's drunk the Kool Aid and who’s zooming who?


NAC’s Bluegill agreed:

Exactly, mr g.

I'm very sorry I couldn't make it today. Thank you for your sign, Roger.

Hopefully, Develop New Albany, who recently signed on as a 1SI member, and Mayor-elect England, who mentioned them repeatedly while campaigning, will have the wherewithal to speak out against such an egregious abuse of development dollars and the public trust.

The entire event amounted to nothing but partisan politics on behalf of a man and his minions who've consistently implemented policies of and advocated for (usually in that order since they had to be caught first) Constitutional destruction and the torture, maiming, and killing of hundreds of thousands.

1SI should be ashamed. It will be interesting to see what the heavy hitters on their board have to say about today's embarrassment.

1SI Chair Kerry Stemler even announced "They love you" from the stage during the introduction.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A milestone.

Roughly at 9:56 p.m., we went over the 200,000 visitor mark since October, 2004.

Wow. I'm humbled. While it pales numerically in comparison to Erika's many pre-election letters, thanks very much for reading. The fact that I just returned from a killer beer dinner is not contributing to the euphoria.


Photos: No torture for a downtown bridge.

Spitballs at Shrub: See you downtown today.

According to the Louisville Peace Action Community (LPAC), there'll be a formal protest today as President George W. Bush speaks about the economy at the Grand, circa 1:15 p.m.

"Join the protest against Bush, 12:15 - 2:00 p.m. on the north side of Market St., as close to the Grand as possible."

Speaking of the economy, it currently costs a buck forty five to buy a Euro. There's a waiting list to buy stainless steel kegs and hops (for use in beer) -- if you can get 'em at all. Has it occurred to you that with ten minutes worth of expenditure in Iraq, we could revitalize the whole of downtown New Albany?

Do you think this has occurred to the sycophants at 1SI? As Bluegill presciently noted a couple days ago, "Maybe we could open a high tech torture center to kick off the new industrial park and promote the bridges project."

Dave Clancy's former digs at the late, lamented Bistro New Albany have been transformed into Secret Service Central for Dubya's latest propagandistic incursion, and although Mike Sodrel is beaming, the reality of black clad snipers occupying space near to where I once dined on marvelous beef and satisfying progressive pints is damned near sickening.

I feel violated -- much like the Constitution during Bush's disastrous tenure in office.

Protesting? See you down there, and remember: Connor's Place for post-protest ales.

See: Not big enough, Mr. Dalby: If only it were Bono, and not merely a spectacularly failed president.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Imagine that: Charlie Brown & the C-J drop Cappuccino's name in attacking 8664, an idea none of them understand.

While their action was overshadowed by last week’s elections, it remains noteworthy that two members of Louisville’s Metro Council have done something almost revolutionary by Louisville area standards.

They’ve taken positive steps to promote public discussion of an innovative, futuristic perspective.

Hearings to be held on '8664' proposal; Metro Council to examine idea, by Marcus Green (The Courier-Journal)

A Louisville Metro Council committee will hold public hearings on a proposal to raze Interstate 64 along the waterfront as an alternative to building two new Ohio River bridges and redesign the Spaghetti Junction interchange.

With admirable diligence, the C-J’s reporter Green donned his brightly colored haz-mat suit and trekked into West Endia, soon locating New Albany’s resident village idiot seated atop an empty crate of barbecued bologna, and gleaning a quick and typically uninformed quote:

Dan Coffey, a New Albany City Council member, called the 8664 proposal "one of the most ludicrous things I've ever heard in my entire life" and said he believes Southern Indiana governments would consider taking a formal position on 8664 if it gains momentum.

"New Albany would definitely get involved in that," he said. "It would absolutely choke Floyd County."

Of course, virtually every aspect of Coffey’s malevolent political career chokes New Albany … but I digress.

Meanwhile, LEO’s Stephen George, whose yeoman service in explicating the 8664 campaign deserves some form of community recognition (I’ll buy him a progressive pint some day soon) noted that Coffey’s reaction isn’t entirely atypical of the Louisville area’s windbag guardians.

Representin': 8664 will have its day

Perhaps this is an opportunity for our city’s business and political leaders — who have rarely appeared so close-minded, brutish and reactionary as they do when confronted on this issue — to step back and reassess the political climate around the bridges. The Metro Council, on the initiative of (Tina) Ward-Pugh (who will chair the committee), is actually responding to broad constituent concern that someone, somewhere, pull a head out of an ass and listen. (Rick) Blackwell and Ward-Pugh should be celebrated for that.

It gets even funnier. In the Sunday, November 11 issue of the C-J, there was a letter from a man who obviously hasn’t met the Wizard of Westside.

'Trick or treat scenario'

The Halloween announcement that the Louisville Metro Council will hold public hearings regarding the 8664 proposal is a monumental waste of time, energy and the taxpayers' money. Local political grinches such as Tina Ward-Pugh and Rick Blackwell should be hooted out of office for supporting "one of the most ludicrous things I've ever heard in my entire life," according to Dan Coffey, a New Albany councilman who obviously is most upset over these shenanigans.

I was very pleased that the Courier-Journal editorial staff immediately and emphatically weighed in on this trick or treat scenario. This is an unwise and unsupported attempt at "mudding the waters," our mayor has said in both Frankfort and Washington. Indeed, the time has well passed for more posturing and discussion. It is time for action.

The letter, which freely mimics the comic strip “Peanuts,” is signed by a real life Charlie Brown. Accordingly, I’ve composed this response and mailed it to the newspaper:

Good ol’ Charlie Brown’s November 11 letter to the editor was far off the plate.

That's because quoting New Albany’s councilman Dan Coffey as an authority on 8664 is like citing Charlie’s good friend Lucy Van Pelt as an expert on psychotherapy.

Not that Councilman Coffey isn’t above claiming to be an expert, since he regularly flashes a Bazooka Joe Tech diploma as evidence of unparalleled skills on civic matters ranging from storm water drainage to garbage collection, but the problem remains that little of it is real. Coffey is an undereducated, ward-heeling embarrassment to the entire city of New Albany, and can be counted upon to know nothing about the notion of 8664 save that people he dislikes are in favor of it.

Much like the
Courier-Journal itself, for that matter.

Be careful, Charlie. Like Lucy, our councilman will pull the football away at the last minute, and you’ll be on your back in the mud – just like his district.

Read more about 8664 here.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

We Americans should be ashamed, but apparently that gene has gone missing.

Veterans Day falls on November 11th because that's when the Armistice took effect in 1918, ending World War I. A previous generation knew about the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, but numerous other mass bloodlettings have occurred since the war to end all wars, and there can't be more than a handful of living Great War veterans worldwide, so we forget the source ... as always, to our peril.

To my mind, it is unfortunate that memories of the First World War's suicidal tragedy are almost entirely extinguished, and yet far more jolting is the recognition that the same can now almost be said of World War II's legacy. It has been 62 years since VJ Day, and one needn't be a calculus major to do the Grim Reaper's math of inexorable attrition.

In terms of documentary filmmaking, Ken Burns's latest epic about the Second World War and the generation of Americans that fought it was imperfect in execution and too long by half. However, it succeeded in putting a significant truth across to those caring to listen: The majority of ordinary Americans sacrificed in some way, large or small, during the war years. There were inevitable exceptions, but sacrifice was demanded, and it was accepted.

Such a time when conspicuous consumption actually was frowned upon now seems more remote to us than the Pleistocene.

It's hardly a novel thought to remind readers that during the present period of our purportedly critical struggle against so-called "Islamofascism," not the slightest inconvenience has been asked of the American populace, leaving the brunt of the fight to be borne by servicemen and their immediate families.

Surely that's just another reason why posterity will rank the current occupant of the Oval Office far below Millard Fillmore, but as the United States settles into what almost surely is to become a long, steady decline into well-armed Third World status -- if you don't believe it, then watch your neighbors in their garish Hummer queuing to pay increasingly worthless dollars for petroleum so that they can travel to Wally World for another basket filled with Chinese-made plastic -- it's a depressing way to contemplate the Veterans Day observance.

Depressing ... and unavoidable. I'd dearly love to be more upbeat, but there are times when it makes more sense to be realistic. U2's Bono, who by all rights should have been the choice for 1SI's "economic policy" address Tuesday at the Grand and not our miserably failed president -- if for no other reason than guitarist The Edge serving as a more musical and trustworthy right-hand man than Dick Cheney -- once wrote a song about the unification of Germany entitled, "Daddy's Going to Pay for Your Crashed Car."

Who'll be America's Daddy?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Not big enough, Mr. Dalby: If only it were Bono, and not merely a spectacularly failed president.

U2's singer could provide an international perspective ... and he can even play an instrument, too.

Someone tell Dubya’s stonefaced advance men that I’ll consider listening to the lame duck’s ungrammatical blather -- consider, mind you -- only so long as he promises to bring, say, 50 kilos of Cascades hops with him as a love offering.

I’ll even wear my 8664 t-shirt to the party to annoy 1SI’s enduringly exurban brain trust, but only if hops are part of the deal.

Best throw in a few kilos of Centennial, too. Those are my favorite.

Tell you what: Shriveled shrub brings the hop bribe, and I'll bring a few gallons of Elector ale to lubricate the proceedings. After all, Elector's motto is "It Makes Democracy Pointless," which naturally refers to the original stolen election of 2000.

Yes, President Bush to visit New Albany Tuesday (News-Tribune).

The visit was the idea of One Southern Indiana Chief Executive Officer Michael Dalby. The organization wanted to bring in a speaker and decided to think big, (1SI chairman of the board Kerry) Stemler said.

One Southern Indiana asked the president to visit in order to give members a national perspective on economic matters. Stemler said the agency was quite fortunate to have him agree to do so.

Truly, it gets more and more difficult these days to suppress a yawn.

Does anyone really think this lastest drain on the local law enforcement budget would be happening if not for Mike “Hot Wheels” Sodrel’s wacko decision to spend another couple million dollars of Republican slush money from Mississippi, Idaho, and Riyadh to assist in avenging his providential 2006 loss to Baron Hill?

Looks like the "Sodrel 2008" campaign ads start on Tuesday. It’s going to be a long, long year, and there aren't enough Shop-Vacs in all of the former Northwest Territory to clean up the mud soon to be generated.

On the bright side, earlier today I escorted my wife’s British cousin to the Muhammad Ali Center, where she was delighted to learn more about a true American hero.

Oddly, we did not see Diane McCartin Benedetti there.

Maybe next time, eh?

Friday, November 09, 2007

Restoration work underway at 117 E. Oak.

Recently we reported that in spite of savage neglect inflicted on the 1840’s era railroad building at 117 E. Oak by its previous owner, Jim Stewart of Daisy Medical Supply, there was hope for its future.

The Daisy Medical Supply building may survive.

While it continues to strike NA Confidential as odd that people like this Stewart fellow should be rewarded with cash for what amounts to serial anti-social behavior against the city at large – the lash, public stocks or stringent financial penalties all seem more appropriate – it remains that an agreement to sell has been struck, an agreement in principle has been inked by both parties, and work apparently will soon begin on stabilization.

Indeed, the deal was completed soon thereafter, and Tom Johnson, masonry restoration contractor and owner of Keystone Restorations, took control of the building.

Last weekend, Tom, wife Lisa, and several masked helpers (mold spores are in abundance) were spotted loading two dumpsters with accumulated detritus from the ravaged structure. They were the 8th and 9th dumpsters filled since work began, and more have come and gone in the days since.

Tom notes that while the collapsed section of wall that appears so dangerous from the street actually shouldn’t be that hard of a fix, the wretched condition of the interior, i.e., a disintegrating roof and many years of water damage, is worse than he expected. Nevertheless, he’s exuding quiet optimism in the early stages of the project.

Interestingly, the decades-old stucco on the south facing wall actually hides large windows and upper floor doors that once opened to lower and lift items. Work is underway on drawings that will give the public an idea of what the front of the building used to look like.

And, the bricked-in windows on the west wall likely will be restored, which will give the top floor an abundance of natural lighting.

It’s a big job, but it appears as if the right people are undertaking it. Stay tuned for further details as work progresses this winter.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


Before I forget, hearty thanks to NAC's readers. In the run-up to the election, visits and page views were well above average.

Actually, it isn't even necessary to look at the statistics. Whenever the volume of troglodyte-inspired vitriol being hurled against you doubles in mere days, it's a sure sign that what you're doing is working.

And that what you're doing is correct. Your patronage is sincerely appreciated.

Next up: Step inside the Daisy Medical Building to see the cleaning and restoration work now underway.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Hmm … not bad. Now for a few questions.

The general idea was to reconfigure New Albany's city council, and so it has been done. Where the reconfiguration goes from here is anyone’s guess, although at this moment I’m optimistic.

Moreover, the relatively simple notion here at NAC was that it might be helpful for there to be a bloc of five, six or maybe even seven council persons capable of rational deliberation and critical thought, and while there isn’t any such thing as perfection in any aspect of life on Earth, the goal of civic progress just might be better served overall by eliminating the insanely dysfunctional paradigm whereby “4 + 4 + poor unfortunate Donnie Blevins = irrational gridlock.”

Could be; we’ll see. I haven't been this encouraged in a while, but as Groucho Marx once observed, “it’s early yet.”

My morning’s (thankfully, not “mourning’s”) post-election scorecard shows Caesar, McLaughlin, Gahan, Messer, Gonder, Zurschmiede at least capable of supporting progress at any given time, while the shrunken heads over at the cinder block and tar paper headquarters of the Coffey/Price duodumbvirate remains consistently in favor of anti-intellectual societal regress. This countdown leaves one council person as an unknown quantity: Newcomer Diane McCartin-Benedetti, who defeated Dick Bliss in the 5th.

Among the questions to be asked:

Is the walking, breathing political contagion known as Dan Coffey now sufficiently quarantined?

Where will the incoming 5th district representative come down on the persistent issue of progress vs. regress?

How much damage can the bile-infused current council do in its remaining 2007 meetings?

Meanwhile, two alleged political swan songs turned out to be horribly discordant, though perfectly in keeping with the ineffectual careers that preceded them. Lame duck councilman Bill Schmidt (D, bizarrely) actively campaigned for eventual election winner Bob Caesar’s Republican opponent. Outgoing council president Larry Kochert (D, seldom) played precisely the same disloyal hand on behalf of the Republican challenger in his own 4th district, and for good measure, the 6th district’s Republican candidate, too. Tellingly, both of the GOP candidates were handily defeated (by Democrats Pat McLaughlin and Jeff Gahan, respectively).

That’s a sad preponderance of chicanery on the part of two Gang of Four stalwarts, both mercifully departing the council, but given that their tactics were entirely unsuccessful, it’s also an obvious and massive repudiation. The question being asked today is:

Was it enough of a repudiation to drive the political equivalent of a wooden stake through their reactionary hearts?

While we’re on the topic of pre-election chicanery, there was plenty more of it surging through the veins of the Main Street corridor’s forever Machiavellian opinion shifters, who navigate ever-shifting labyrinths murky enough to make Afghanistan’s feuding warlords appear as cribbage-playing tea sippers by comparison.

We’ll probably never understand the weekend’s fervent behind-the-scenes activities, with newspaper and blog attacks being launched, rebutted, refashioned and hurled again; with strange meetings between even stranger bedfellows; and amid a generally incomprehensible series of couplings, decouplings and recouplings. Given the dimensions of the scrum, the question that comes to my mind is this:

How is it possible that a 3rd district business owner -- mind you, not just one, but any business owner – support an incumbent (Steve Price) who has voted again and again against the sort of progress that enhances the value of one’s business investment?

Furthermore, as an observer whose Main Street lineup card currently carries enough white-out to coat the exterior of the City-County Building, another question to be asked is this:

Will there ever come a time when these people can row in the same direction for the good of the entire city?

And, while we’re at it …

How exactly can mayor-elect Doug England please the senior editor and Price at the same time?

My conclusion: New Albany’s political landscape has indeed shifted, but it’s too early to predict the extent.

Join us next time for another episode of “Connor’s Place Putsch.”


The Courier Journal's take: Democrat overcomes ex-sheriff's criticisms, by Dick Kaukas.

For further commentary: NA Shadow Council's Democrats Earn First At-Bat.

Preliminary doodlings indicate that the Coffey contagion may finally have been isolated. Of course, that's after a bunch o'Electors.

Overall ... a good outcome.

More later.

Consider this an open thread to discuss election results.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Election Day reporting at NA Shadow Council.

(These updates are well under way; go to NA Shadow Council to read them)

From Randy Smith:

I'll be hooking up with shadow5 for through-the-day reporting on election irregularities, anecdotes, and vote totals by precinct. We'll be feeding data newest to oldest. If you'd like to link to NA Shadow Council, people can e-mail me or shadow5 or call the store (number below) with reports today.

Randy Smith
Flood Crest Press/Destinations Booksellers
604 E. Spring St.
New Albany, IN 47150

Another NA (non-alcoholic) election day.

Don’t forget:

You must have an ID to vote – and to get served after you vote.

Don't forget:

If you're looking for a polling place, call the Floyd County Democratic Party at 812-207-7941.

Don't forget:

To quote Groucho Marx, when the taps finally open at 6:00 p.m., there'll be "dancing in the streets, drinking in the saloons, and necking in the parlor," at least until the sad reality of Dan Coffey's inevitable victory over write-in candidate Skittles the Cat begins to sink in. I'll likely be at Connor's Place for celebration and commiseration.

You've forgotten: The following first ran on May 2, 2006.


Another election day is here, and with it eleven hours of state-mandated prohibition against the sale of demon rum.

Presumably, this unwelcome vestige of an otherwise discredited social policy serves as a bulwark against the horrific possibility that unscrupulous politicos or their conniving agents might swap half-pints of Kessler (or a similarly valued slopping spree at a downtown tavern) in exchange for a poor wretch’s vote.

As there exists no commensurate prohibition against the sale of strong black coffee, chocolate-covered Krispy Kremes and hickory-smoked bacon, apparently the veiled but very real threat of breakfast-induced bribery is not worthy of the same scrutiny as that posed by the insidious grape and the grain.

If you’re hopelessly intoxicated after ingesting that half-pint of Kessler, are you really any more destructive to democracy than the perfectly sober voter who is following instructions provided by a fundamentalist preacher who has promised not temporal inebriation, but a favorable reference when the time comes to take up residence in heaven?

Nope, me thinks you're not. We hope you thought ahead and visited your favorite package store on Monday night. Cheers ...

It’s one year ago today ...

... since “unrestricted” went away.

First U of L’s Cardinals lost the big game to Rutgers, then Mike Sodrel gracelessly bowed to Baron Hill … the morass in Iraq escalated, and Bobby Petrino decamped to Atlanta … suddenly, Blogspastic was gone -- motorcycle and all.

To the unknown blogger at NA Unrestricted … we hardly knew ye, but the link still works, so readers can still travel back to those halcyon days of summer and fall, 2006, and relive all the magical moments.

Will NAU be back for Sodrel’s next race?

How many local blogs have come and gone since October, 2004?