Thursday, July 24, 2008

Boner & Jethro: On the nature of council opposition to progress.

Yesterday we took a look at a few of the things happening downtown.

A quick look around downtown ... courtesy of the Urban Enterprise Association.

It was by no means an exhaustive survey, and there could have been many more citations.

Considering that we’re in an inflationary period of economic uncertainty, it’s significant that urban pioneers continue to invest in a neglected downtown. They’re not doing so in spite of eroding traditional development models.

Rather, they’re doing so precisely because these development models are eroding, and with their passing will come new opportunities to create and profit by means of other, emerging strategic outlooks.

The impressive part of it to me is that they’re continuing to invest in the face of opposition, a motley assortment of flat-earthers, mail carriers, anti-tax zealots and embittered troglodytes that seems determined to weaken or eliminate the comparatively few enticements typically made available by governmental entities to slightly reduce the risk of attempting to raise the dead.

At each and every city council meeting, and constantly within the venom-flecked pages of our city's anony-blogs, there is an attitude reflecting what must be honestly termed as defeatism. That such an attitude will seep up at any given juncture from a handful of the city's residents isn't at all surprising. The clueless squalor that one knows is often preferable to the uncertainty of change, and that’s just part of the universal human condition.

But, that such destructiveness emanates from elected council persons, typically (but not restricted to) Dan Coffey and Steve Price, is plainly reprehensible. Never have there been two better examples of persons willing to sow confusion and incite fear to prevent the betterment of the community they’ve been sworn to uphold.

Take a walk through New Albany’s emerging downtown. Does Steve Price grasp even a small part of the significance of what's happening there, or is the fact that few of his voters reside there enough to keep his attention riveted to the environs of Dewey Heights … and to the exclusion of the public good elsewhere in his long-suffering district? Perhaps the latter is to be expected from a person who has publicly stated his aversion to the prosperity of Louisville’s Frankfort Avenue corridor.

As I’ve noted previously, Price – council president Gahan’s appointee – has missed five of seven Urban Enterprise Association board meetings this year.

Given that many of the UEA’s expenditures benefit Price’s own council district, you’d think he would give a damn about it if for no other reason that political self-interest, but like Jethro Bodine on moonshine, he thumbs his nose at economic development, whether assisted by the UEA, supported by the city, or undertaken by investors who scratch their heads in confusion at Price’s pathological resistance to their readiness to spend money in Price’s backyard.

The inescapable conclusion is that irrespective of his periodic words to the contrary, Steve Price’s actions almost always have the real-world effect of reinforcing decay and urging continued poverty on his unfortunate constituents. I’d use the word “commonweal,” but I won’t. Neither Price nor his coterie would know the meaning.

Nor would they care.

We've already watched as Dan Coffey energetically seeks to limit economic development in his own district. 'Nuff said about that.

Speaking personally, the solitary drawback to building a new brewing business downtown is the knowledge that people like Coffey and Price will seek to benefit from the emerging community that we’ll be playing a role in reviving – this coming after they’ve done everything in their powers to deprive the community of this opportunity to reinvent itself for the good of all.

We’ll do it anyway, because in addition to helping play a role in downtown revival, our work will eventually bring New Albany to a better place, where fear and stupidity are looked upon as reasons not to vote for shiftless demagogues.

The city simply can’t wait for that sweet day to arrive.

9 comments:

Daniel Short said...

Roger, I hope you continue on and make your establishment a quality place. What people need is a reason to venture downtown and a tap room is certainly a valid reason. I see other businesses springing up because of the added traffic around your place as people make a day of it. Councilmen that don't acknowledge, much less recognize, the benefit of locally owned businesses in or near their district need to take economics 101. I applaud your effort and the risk you are taking and may just have to stop in for a pint.

The New Albanian said...

Thanks, Daniel.

Iamhoosier said...

Daniel,
If I'm there at the same time, I'll buy.

Mark

Larry M. Summers said...

When is it supposed to open, again?

The New Albanian said...

Early October at the earliest for the taproom. Cross your fingers. Brewing equipment will be installed later.

R

Jeff Gillenwater said...

I smell Octoberfest, sort of, but in a localized, high quality, completely non-clich├ęd kind of way, of course.

That's what I'll be doing anyway. If the brewery could join in, it'd probably be a lot better.

In all seriousness, I've spent too much time the past couple of days with too many people who are excited about what's happening and what they're going to make happen in the region to be too bummed this afternoon that a few ignoramuses don't get it.

My internal vibe-o-meter tells me that they're going to get it, one way or the other.

It would be nice, though, for some of the other council members to be a bit more vocal and open about their support for the unfolding reality.

There are some days a rousing "F*** You" in response to Coffey's defeatist claims that people "would be crazy" to invest in our older neighborhoods would go a long way.

Anonymous said...

So why do they continue to vote these guys in?

I've said it before; it is very difficult to protect people from themselves and their own poor decisions.

G Coyle said...

Good rant today Roger.

“...they’re continuing to invest in the face of opposition, a motley assortment of flat-earthers, mail carriers, anti-tax zealots and embittered troglodytes...” rb

BUT...you left out:

A. The local economic elite of long-standing who have grabbed and run with what they could, through fancy accounting and legal tools available only to individuals of high net worth. A big aspect of the extraction economy that has prevailed here in my life-time. And let's not forget Slumlords and their devolving population of marginal members(?) of society.

Iamhoosier said...

People don't care. People don't, won't, can't make the time to get involved and learn. I'm embarrassed that I actually voted for certain people before I started going to meetings and trying to learn. There would be a lot of voters just as embarrassed if they knew.

We have a newspaper that will report who voted which way, a few brief statements and that's about it. Generally, what I read in the paper about meetings and such is pretty accurate. That's good and commendable. Very little analysis of the issues and absolutely no editorial stance. That's bad.

Part of it, I think, is New Albany's size. Not big enough to warrant a lot of news media coverage and investigative reporting but big enough that the population doesn't know each other that well or the issues. (I really need to go so will make this short) A town of 8,000 has maybe two grade schools and a high school. Parents see each other at ball games, band concerts, etc. You probably live within 10 blocks of 60-70% of the population. You are a neighbor to practically every one.

Contrast that with New Albany. Our bigger size makes most of the above comparison impossible. Our lack of size hurts the public coverage that could rally a public.

Sorry for being even more garbled than normal