Saturday, July 31, 2010

Can someone bring Dorothy to the council meeting on Monday night?

Some oppose possible rental registration ordinance, by Amanda Arnold (Tribune).

NEW ALBANY — The city of New Albany may soon require landlords to register their rental properties, but this idea is causing some concern. Longtime Realtor Pat Harrison recently voiced her opposition to the proposal during a concerned citizens meeting at the Southern Indiana Real Estate Office in Clarksville last week.

I smell a GOP rat.

Why is this unverifiable slam about "somewhat" of a break in tradition being reported as news, as opposed to an letter to the editor, where such opinions belong?
newsandtribune (Twitter) ... Negative view: Local woman says Obama snubbed 45,000 Boy Scouts by skipping annual jamboree ...
C'mon, guys. In what sense is this a story worthy of publishing? Haven't we seen that if you don't like this or any other president from the start, anything he does is subject to such a viewpoint? How is this not politically motivated -- did anyone check before printing?

Slow (real) news day?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Upcoming events in downtown ... courtesy of Develop New Albany.

Public safety and the Stemler Rules.

Any time I read an article like this one, even after filtering out Jethro Price's typically petty and miniscule perspective on proper governance, there remain figures with quite a few zeroes attached to the end.

No sure bet: With $1.8 million request lingering, New Albany council not happy about public safety spending, by Daniel Suddeath (Tribune).
It makes me think: A place like New Albany needs all the help it can get, especially when it comes to persuading people from other locales to come here and contribute their discretionary income to our local economy. In essence, although I generally cite the restaurant and pub business as my occupation, what I've really been doing for 20 years is trying to convince Louisvillians to accept Southern Indiana as part of the metro area.

Then it occurs to me how much this herculean daily effort to attract visitors from Louisville, not to mention other far-flung locales, stands to be irreparably damaged by the twenty years of tolling on existing Ohio River bridges required to justify the boondoggle and build the one bridge downtown that isn't at all needed, and to perpetuate reliance on autos and fossil fuels at a time when much of the world addesses the addiction, I must question how organizations like One Southern Indiana can publicly support such tragic initiatives without the heavy use of frequently administered hallucinogenics.

Perhaps 1SI can slip police and fire funding into the budget for the Bridges Debacle. Mr. Dalby does purport to represent ALL of us, right?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Rep. Baron Hill belongs to the House Small Brewers Caucus. He is encouraged to support H.R. 4278, too.

I may have written this previously, but if not: Alone among Indiana's delegation in the House of Representatives, Baron Hill (9th district) has signed on as a member of the House Small Brewers Caucus.

Thanks to Rep. Hill for doing so.

However, not one Indiana member of the House has yet declared co-sponsorship of H.R. 4278 (excise tax reduction legislation).

H.R. 4278 is the result of months of intensive effort on the part of Representatives Richard Neal (Massachusetts, 2nd District) and Kevin Brady (Texas, 8th District), individual Brewers Association (BA) member breweries and BA staff to ensure American small brewers are given the best chance to remain strong and competitive.
Representative John Yarmuth (Kentucky, 3rd District) recently climbed on board.

I encourage Rep. Hill to do so.

The Windsor reformats, and the Publican prattles.

The Tribune's Daniel Suddeath reports the cessation of the Windsor restaurant's regular dining hours* and its conversion to an "event facility" in conjunction with the Grand, next door.

“We were open for two years and unfortunately I believe the economy has played a large part in our decision to make this change,” said Windsor co-owner Jane Cravens.
The good news for the Windsor's owners is that they're still doing business at the Grand, and if the daily trade isn't there to justify a restaurant, it's a good tactical move to scale back and buy time. An eatery in the Windsor space could be rebranded and return later, perhaps when the economy improves and prospects for the future use of the two upstairs floors (preferably as a hostelry or residential space) brightens. I wish them luck.

The same article refers to the impending arrival of La Bocca, an Italian eatery in the former Connor's Place space on Market, and of course the advent of La Rosita's downtown draws ever closer, just around the corner on Spring and Pearl. I'm told that the Liquidz bar and club is progressing toward fruition on Main Street.

Failure junkies take delight in closings, but their focus is errant. The right question isn't, "do we need any more restaurants and bars downtown?" It's this: "Will the restaurants and bars opening downtown have what it takes to survive?" The story never really changes, because first and foremost, survival means being damned good at one's chosen mission, and then being agile enough to adapt if being good isn't quite enough. Most of us believe that the success of La Rosita's is all but assured owing to the former, while the Windsor's owners are practicing hard-headedness via the latter.

A brief digression, then.

Those readers who genuinely are close to NABC's principals already know that this year has been the most difficult in the company's history, bar none. It's been brutal. We haven't been able to get the various components of the business working well at the same time, there have been a thousand and one small reasons for this inability to achieve synchronicity, and they've added up to major annoyances.

And yes, a flat economy certainly does not help matters.

The upshot to me is that irrespective of the exact cause or causes, knowing that there's precious little margin for error from day to day is psychologically taxing, to say the least. I thought I knew all about stress until 2010. I've gone from AA ball to the majors.

However, and significantly, very little of it reflects adversely on our decision to invest in an expansion of brewing capacity and the location of a second unit downtown. Had we taken half the investment required for the new brewery and put it into our original location, we'd have achieved a costly renovation with the same number of seats as before and solved none of the larger issues of business life there.

Conversely, albeit expensively and at times maddeningly, NABC's investment downtown has increased brewing capacity, permitted an important brand extension in terms of on-premise dining, expanded our reach in terms of off-premise beer sales, created a platform for growth, and achieved revolutionary results in terms of a list of intangibles pertaining to attitudes and progress in downtown revitalization.

So far, our investment has failed to exceed expectations in only one way, and it's a biggie: Profitability. Even the most reluctant of capitalists understand the imperative of profit, and so I'll note the obvious and concede it. At the same time, despite obstacles now, this investment and expansion downtown is a better risk long-term because the returns will be greater. NABC has been profitable before, and we expected a hard slog the first couple of years as a market for the beers is built.

There can be no ambition without hard work, and vice versa (that's the bit that my councilman never will grasp, and so be it). Harder times are making us leaner. There's actually greater cohesiveness as a team, and we have top quality people, which in the end is more important than anything else. Most of the overall indicators are good, if les good than we'd hoped, and slower to grow than we'd wished.

But downtown remains the right place, and this is the right time, even if there doesn't seem to be a happy and well-adjusted individual in all of mad-as-hell America, and the daily business effort sometimes resembles trench warfare at its worst and goriest.

I believe these labors are aiming at something good, and that the best is yet to come. Next Tuesday, August 3, is my 50th birthday. During the day, weather permitting, I'll see if I can make a 50-mile bicycle ride. My evening plans are modest. We'll stroll down to Bank Street Brewhouse for a meal, and I'll enjoy some of the special beer that Jared Williamson brewed for the occasion: Ancient Rage, a Smoked Baltic Porter. There may be cigars involved on the patio. If you're out and about, come down and we'll tipple together.


*Here's the Windsor's posting at Facebook:

"The Windsor Restaurant and Garden would like to thank everyone who shared their celebrations with us, or just been a "regular" through the past 2 years. Unfortunately, we believe it is time for us to take a break and close The Windsor for normal business hours. We will be booking small events & parties. If you would... like to join us for a party, please call 502-773-4105. Thanks again!"

Today's Tribune column: "BAYLOR: Boston’s monstrously green Fenway."

It was my first-ever visit to Boston. Did we really have to come back?

BAYLOR: Boston’s monstrously green Fenway.

What better place than New England, original settling ground of the Colonists, to view the American version of the old British game — moreover, in Boston, birthplace of the American Revolution?

And what better venue for being taken out to the ballgame than Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox since William Howard Taft resided in the White House?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Price to propose banning car use by cell phoners ... but maybe not.

Earlier today, we rolled our eyes as Steve Price glanced in the general direction of the public interest, then just as hurriedly climbed down from his previous stance of being tepidly in favor of it, at least in the narrowest possible sense of safety pertaining to banning the use of cell phones (primarily texting) while driving.

Scolded by his council colleague, Pat McLaughlin, for not paying heed to statistics (no mention of lies and damned lies), and seemingly terrified of the implications of even the most minimal life of ideas, Price told the Tribune, “I don’t know if this is the time to do that (cell phones) with the budget.”

Well, at least there's some consistency to this position.

When times were good monetarily, he was against public safety expenditures, and now that times are hard, he's still against it. He's even more against it now that he very nearly was exposed as being for it, thanks to the germ of an idea that is, by Price's exceedingly low standards, very nearly sensible.

It isn't clear which is more dangerous: Texting while driving, or nickle-and-diming public safety. At least we see clearly where Price stands on the matter. Add it to the list for 2011, will you?

Price to propose banning bicycle use by all 250-lb council critics ... or maybe not.

To survive in New Albany without dawn-to-dusk doses of tranquilizing chemicals is to accept a fundamental and capricious inequality of gray matter when it comes to governance.

While I was away in Boston, the third council district’s Steve Price – the man who votes “no” the way the rest of us make daily trips to the toilet – rolled over in bed and felt the urge to say “yes” to the notion of saying “no” to the use of cell phones by drivers of automobiles, citing a pressing interest in public safety that somehow never previously has emerged during wide-ranging discussions on other issues, ranging from living conditions in rental properties to working conditions for servers in smoke-filled rooms.

Having duly announced to voters in next year’s election that he possesses some measure of doo-dah rhythm approximating a legislative pulse, and passionately cares for their welfare even if there is little evidence during seven years of congenital underperformance to support such an absurd proposition, Price now has reverted to Drivel Libertarian form with August’s first council meeting just around the corner:

“I don’t know if this is the time to do that (cell phones) with the budget.”

He couldn’t have executed this latest white boy pump fake without a little help from his friends. In the grand tradition accorded the current occupant of the D. Blevins Chair for Persistent Council Indecisiveness, the fourth district’s Pat McLaughlin helped put the brakes on Price’s pretend-stagecraft, noting (wait for it) … Pat hasn’t made up his mind:

“I just haven’t seen the numbers on it yet, and I pretty much go by the statistics.”

If you’re keeping score at home, pull those again Twister games from the cedar closet and try to transcribe Price’s opposition to both code enforcement and the registration of rental properties, his support (albeit lukewarm) for banning cell phone use while driving, his votes against outlawing indoor smoking, and those favoring prohibiting novelty cigarette lighters.

Speaking personally, I can’t say that I’ve ever seen Price texting while behind the wheel, but driving while playing the theme from "Deliverance" on a harmonica?

That’s another matter entirely.

Ceece is an "Awesome Louisvillager" at the my loueyville blog!

Some great blogging press for Courtney ...

"Welcome to the first installment of Loueyville's newest periodic feature: Awesome Louisvillagers. It's no secret that my favorite thing about our fine, fine city is the people. And one of my favorite things about Louisvillagers is that they always seem to be doing nifty, innovative, and/or kind things. Wouldn't it be great to get to know these Awesome Louisvillagers a little better?

"Today's Awesome Louisvillager is a New Albany photographer who specializes in boudoir photography. Meet Courtney Paris!"

Awesome Louisvillager: Courtney Paris

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Rita Kohn and "True Brew" in NA on August 7th. Buy it, she signs it, and we'll all enjoy a Progressive Pint.

"True Brew: A Guide to Craft Beer in Indiana" is a wonderful account written by a fascinating lady (and prolific writer). Rita's testimony was central as "Sunday growler" legislation progressed. Not a politician dared contradict her, and it was inspiring. Here's Rita, photographed by me earlier this summer during a brewers guild meeting at the Broad Ripple Brewing Company. The proud author poses with an advance copy of her book.

Rita will be in town on the 7th to autograph, discuss and help sell copies of her book. The appearance is courtesy of Destinations Booksellers, with whom NABC is promoting it. We decided to do it at Bank Street Brewhouse for a very simple reason: What good is a book about beer, without beer? Trust me when I say that even if you don't like beer, you'll want to come and meet Rita.

Rita's book has inspired me to try my hand at an extended volume, perhaps collected essays. How's this for a title: "Everything You Know About Beer Is Wrong."

Or, "Lite Never Makes Right."

August 9 is the 1st Annual Louisville Craft Beer Week Golf Scramble fundraiser.

Editor's note: I believe most of the information below, detailing the 1st Annual Louisville Craft Beer Week Golf Scramble fundraiser, to be accurate. Information is courtesy of Clay Carpenter and the organizing committee.

When: August 9th, 2010 (Monday), 8:00-8:45 AM check in. 9:00 AM start

Where: Glen Oaks Country Club, 10601 Worthington Ln, Prospect, KY

$70.00 per person, $280.00 per team

$5.00 Mulligans - limit 4 per person

$75.00 hole sponsors - 1st come, 1st serve

Please Make Checks Out To:

Louisville Craft Beer Week Organization

Format: 4 person / best ball scramble, men tee off from white tees. Women tee off from red tees. This is a COUNTRY CLUB, so please, NO JEANS. Collared/Golf shirts ONLY with appropriate shorts or pants.

Prizes: COOL BEER SCHWAG for 1st place team, last place team, longest drive and closest to the hole!!!

Food and Beverage: ALL food, beer, water and soft drinks are

INCLUDED with $70.00 fee. Tickets will be given.
Please Send All Registration Information: names of all 4 in team, team name (optional), Hole Sponsors - please send hi-resolution company graphic/logo to:

Any Questions, Please Call Clay Carpenter @ 502-572-8140

Monday, July 26, 2010

File under: Not Here.

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Blue state reflections, and Brazilian appetizers.

Boston has survived visiting Hoosiers ranging from Larry Bird (French Lick) and Woody Harrelson (via Hanover College). It now has slumbered through the presence of a New Albanian delegation -- Mr. and Mrs. Confidential -- which traveled to Beantown last week for the annual family reunion, thanks to my cousin who resides in Concord.

Funny, that; I viewed the North Bridge in Concord, where the farmers gathered to unleash musketry on the redcoats, and there was not a tea bagger in sight.

We stayed at a B & B of sorts, although without the second "B," and it was a fine experience. The lodging is located in Somerville, just across the Charles River from Boston proper, and east of Cambridge. Somerville is a densely populated, multi-ethnic city in transition. It is trying mightily to be green. Public transportation is profuse, and both walking and biking preferred. I've written here previously of Somerville's "buy local" movement, but it isn't the only place we saw it. All around Boston, there is consciousness. It's a liberating thing.

I understand that my experience in the Boston area was too brief for my observations to be universally valid. I also grasp that making comparisons between the vicinity of Harvard and MIT and any locale capable of electing Steve Price and Dan Coffey to city council is a glib and futile gesture; the contrast is self-evident, and speaks all too plainly for itself.

Still, as my Facebook friends already have heard me spout: I now feel what Peter the Great felt, and didn't have to leave the country of my birth to grok it. Quite simply, and I'm sorry if it offends you, my homeland here is immeasurably backward. I persist in believing that this owes to an over-abundance of fundamentalism, and far too little education.

Good beer eases the pain, though. If there's time, I'll write more. For now, it's back to work putting out fires. Many thanks to Jeff for pinch-hitting, and to our diligent cat-sitters.

Fenway Park.

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Here's some poetry for you.

Farmer poet Paul Hunter's reading at Destinations Booksellers on Saturday was truly one of the most thoughtful, thought provoking presentations I've experienced since moving to New Albany. Personally, his stories and erudite phrase turns served as a reconciliation of sorts: my household's city dwelling tendencies are largely the result of shared rural roots and an urge to preserve them.

Hunter's latest work, One Seed to Another, though still skillfully presented among more anecdotal truth telling, is a little less poetry and more factual hammering.

Consider this passage from a section titled "The Great Thirst":

The most neutral way to consider our choices might be as a physics problem, energy in versus energy out. With traditional organic agriculture, depending on animal-powered or human-muscle input, once calorie of energy will grow to 4 to 6 calories of food. By contrast, using current agribusiness methods and equipment, it takes ten calories of fossil fuel energy to produce one calorie of food-- which makes traditional farming and gardening 40 to 60 times as energy efficient as petrochemical monocropping. And we include transportation, we climb aboard the fast track to absurdity.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

NABC & Jack's to stage benefit for Jason Gore on Sunday, July 25.

(originally posted by Roger at The Potable Curmudgeon)

Tony's poster says it all. Jason is a longtime member of the extended NABC family, and his own family is looking at the high price of treatment. The silent auction and afternoon food and drink takes place at the NABC Pizzeria & Pub, before the action shifts to our friends at Jack's just down the street.

Friday, July 23, 2010

NA Event Watch: farmer poet Paul Hunter at Destinations, Farmer's Market, July 24.

'One Seed to Another' is staggering and bracing in its truths and relevance. This is straight talk from a man whose every breath is poetry and whose heartbeat is directly plugged into farming as right livelihood.

His accomplishment is our accomplishment for these words in this seminal book are at once familiar and fresh, testing and taunting. They give us ourselves.
- Lynn Miller, Small Farmer's Journal

Paul will be chatting and signing books at the Destinations Booksellers table at the New Albany Farmer's Market from 9-11 a.m. and will then do a reading at the store at 12 p.m.

A bio from PBS Newshour, where there's additional information, poems, and streaming media:

Paul Hunter is a poet, musician, instrument-maker, teacher, and editor and publisher. For over a decade, he has produced letterpress books and broadsides under the imprint of Wood Works Press, located in Seattle.

His poems have appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Bloomsbury Review, Iowa Review, North American Review, Poetry and Poetry Northwest.

Hunter is the author of several chapbooks and four books of poetry: "Ripening" (2006) and "Breaking Ground" (2005 Washington State Book Award), both published by Silverfish Review Press; "Mockingbird" (1981, Jawbone Press) and "Pullman" (1976, University of Washington Press).

He's also a member of the Small Farms Conservancy.

NA Event Watch: Landmarks Through the Viewfinder opens tonight at the Carnegie.

(from the Carnegie Center web site)

Landmarks Through the Viewfinder

50 Years of Preservation in Southern Indiana

July 23-August 21, 2010
Opening Reception Friday July 23, 6-8 pm

The Carnegie Center for Art and History in New Albany, Indiana, is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit, Landmarks Through the Viewfinder: 50 Years of Preservation in Southern Indiana, on display July 23 through August 21, 2010. To celebrate Indiana Landmarks' 50th anniversary in 2010, the organization's Southern Regional Office in Jeffersonville created a traveling exhibit of photographs depicting historic structures in Southern Indiana. Landmarks Through the Viewfinder features photographs of landmarks in Clark, Crawford, Dearborn, Dubois, Floyd, Gibson, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Jennings, Orange, Posey, Ripley, Vanderburgh, Warrick, and Washington counties, and New Albany architectural remnants including the Scribner Park Fireman, a stone finial from the post office, parts of the original steeples from St. Mary’s and St. Marks Churches, and marble flooring from the Floyd County Courthouse. Of special interest to local visitors may be the photographs of nearby subjects: the Colgate Clock and the Howard Steamboat Mansion, both in Jeffersonville, IN; Culbertson Mansion in New Albany, IN; Polly’s Freeze in Georgetown, IN; and the Big Four Bridge connecting Jeffersonville and Louisville, KY.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Another fine film from Copenhagen.

Cycling Copenhagen, Through North American Eyes, by Clarence Eckerson, Jr., Streetfilms

While Streetfilms was in Copenhagen for the Velo-City 2010 conference, of course we wanted to showcase its biking greatness. But we were also looking to take a different perspective then all the myriad other videos out there. Since there were an abundance of advocates, planners, and city transportation officials attending from the U.S. and Canada, we thought it'd be awesome to get their reactions to the city's built environment and compare to bicycling conditions in their own cities.

If you've never seen footage of the Copenhagen people riding bikes during rush hour - get ready - it's quite a site, as nearly 38% of all transportation trips in Copenhagen are done by bike. With plenty of safe, bicycle infrastructure (including hundreds of miles of physically separated cycletracks) its no wonder that you see all kinds of people on bikes everywhere. 55% of all riders are female, and you see kids as young as 3 or 4 riding with packs of adults.

Today's Tribune column: "Tears of joy at the Augustiner beer garden."

BAYLOR: Tears of joy at the Augustiner beer garden

Coming of age in the Ohio Valley in the 1960s and '70s meant witnessing on a depressing, first-hand basis the very nadir of beer culture in America.

In Colonial times, our beer making and drinking customs reflected English origins. Later, when Germans began coming to the United States in large numbers, their traditions traveled with them and remained intact. All big American cities and most of the smaller ones had breweries that took procedural, technical and atmospheric cues from the time-tested Central European playbook. It was a lovely thing, while it lasted.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Halt, or I'll say registration again.

The England administration says we need a rental property registration program.

We don't.
It's been over two years; maybe he'll read it now.
Except now it's been four.

It's spin.
"Because people are just laughing at us..."
Except really, just at City Hall.

So 90s. So irrelevant. In dog years, we'd have our jetpacks by now.

*A&C image courtesy of internet thievery. All proceeds will be donated to the Bridges Coalition in small $6 bills.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

File under: oldest profession.

PR pro Kay Stewart has been constructing quite a resume as of late as the metro area's foremost spokesperson for increased oil dependence and decreased transportation options and against just about any rational point made about mobility that can be answered with "no comment" and a wink. I've wondered aloud more than once if she actually believes anything she says.

And there's only one thing one you can do with someone like that: Hire them. Again. To trumpet the exact opposite.

TARC Hires Bridges Coalition's Kay Stewart, by Curtis Morrison, Louisville Courant

Mayor Jerry Abramson announced at this evening's "Community Meeting" that TARC has hired Kay Stewart, the Executive Director of the Bridges Coalition, as it's new Marketing Director a job which pays about $87,000/ year. Stewart's current employer is the Bridges Coalition, an Astro-turf organization organized by the Mayor to counter the authentic grassroot efforts first of the 8664 organization, and more recently the "Say No to Tolls" organization. In June, I reported the DL on Stewart, the Bridges Coalition, and their real agenda. (It's in Jerry's voice- I was experimenting- Don't worry, I don't want to do that anymore, either.) LINK.

One detail that is interesting is Stewart is currently only part-time for TARC, while she wraps up her responsiblity with the Bridges Coalition. There's obviously a conflict of interest with Stewart being an employee of the city and the Bridges Coalition non-profit at the same time.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Placemaking? I thought she said pacemaker.

In dealing with largely the same stormwater issue, New Albany got news coverage last week while Jeffersonville produced its own good news. Given the similarity of aquatic circumstance, why the difference?

This is YOUR Jeffersonville - The Canal from Squire Davidson on Vimeo.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Jackie Green for mayor...of New Albany, if necessary.

Green sitting for the C-J editorial boors is akin to Julian Bond keynoting a Tea Party convention but if he doesn't win over there, there's plenty of time to establish residency over here and we have a couch open.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Mr. October and a nobody.

When I was a kid, Reggie was my man. In the end, he spent three-plus seasons in the big leagues doing nothing except striking out, but also hit almost 600 homers before steroids begat asterisks. My Oakland baseball blog of choice catches up with Reggie in Athletics Nation Interviews Reggie Jackson.

I've always loved the A's. I enjoyed my time there. I enjoyed playing there. I enjoyed getting my start there. I enjoyed learning from Charlie Finley and Dick Williams. I saw Rollie Fingers yesterday and enjoyed having the ability to play with him on the same team. I enjoyed the leadership of Sal Bando, the greatness of Vida Blue, the steadiness of Catfish Hunter and Kenny Holtzman, the wonderful character and personality and the great player that Joe Rudi was, so I have all fond memories there. I'm from Oakland. I hope they keep their franchise there. The fans are special, the place is special, and it's a place I enjoy calling home.

CM McLaughlin inadvertently opens Pandora's Box of ordinance enforcement.

Well, it says so, right there in Daniel Suddeath's council meeting report:

Approving the (garbage pickup contract) extension without bids “deflates what we passed that ordinance for,” McLaughlin said in reference to the 2008 measure the council approved calling for bids for services.
Having already emptied his can of worms to become the second of two receptacles on a new cannular communications system (we can't afford string yet) with Steve Price, CM McLaughlin now has said openly and publicly what heretofore has been whispered only privately between non-consenting neighborhood association operatives:


Now what?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

"Did you know flooding was caused by train vibrations and quicksand?"

Reader JP asks, "Did you know flooding was caused by train vibrations and quicksand?"

No, not until I viewed new WHAS-TV reporter Mike Colombo's film of "alderman" Steve Price's gesticulating explanation. On seemingly his first day on the job, Colombo spoke with Price and Dan Coffey, those council (not aldermanic chamber) members least likely to have been awake during class. Heaven help us if this sets the tone for crackpot television coverage yet to come.

Are trains still using the 15th Street track? Perhaps it is the absence of vibrations -- or ultrasonic waves from Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen and their Hot Rod Lincoln.

Wound it up to a hundred-and-ten
My speedometer said that I hit top end.
My foot was blue, like lead to the floor.
That's all there is and there ain't no more ...

... My pappy said, "Son, you're gonna' drive me to drinkin'
If you don't stop drivin' that Hot Rod Lincoln."

Today's Tribune column: "Scorned by the Gang of Pour."

There you have it: 900 words, when all I had to do was say, "I'm not going to the meeting tonight."

BAYLOR: Scorned by the Gang of Pour

I’m better now, but last month I was in rough shape.

The strange, misshapen dreams first started at some point after I “came out” as a tragically misplaced European, but before Miller Lite began bragging aloud about the three whole hop cones used to flavor every 10,000 barrels of carbonated dish water.

One bike leads to another.

The Bastille Day beer dinner at Bank Street Brewhouse last night was finished around 9:00 p.m., and as is my custom, I had a dessert beer after dessert.

It may have been two.

Both bicycle lights, front and back, were fully enabled before my pedaling away commenced just before ten. I crossed the Carnegie Center parking lot and made for 3rd Street, southbound, swinging a louie onto Market. Ahead I could see the barriers on 4th, and recalled that Steinert’s has been closing the street on Wednesdays, creating an outdoor party mall between Hugh E. Bir’s and Main Street.

Previously, I’d seen motorcycles lined up there, so I eased into the right lane to have a look, and just a split-second past Bir’s, there was movement to the side. I sensed the presence of someone standing there in the shadows, whom my quiet approach had startled, but he was entirely unfazed.

“Hey, it’s bike night,” came his voice from the gloaming.

Wit when your buzz is on … always appreciated.

Amid tittering, Wilcox lances another boil.

I’ve been devoting a few precious minutes each day to improving my vocabulary, with the aim of prompting Dave Matthews into further acts of public confusion over word usage, as noted most recently here: Local GOP's version of Arthur Carlson goes nutzoid ... alas, not for the first time.

It remains my persistent hope that Floyd County’s Democrats might become pro-active rather than reactive in such matters. Having noted this, it is a pure delight to read as the party’s chairman, John Wilcox, skewers his Republican counterpart in the Tribune’s letters section. Wilcox's response is directed toward this recent gem from Floyd County’s highest-placed tea leader: Someone else is biased just like I am -- but that's different.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I must go manicure the Taxpayers Memorial Patio.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A reminder: It's Bastille Day, and we celebrate tonight at Bank Street Brewhouse.

The kitchen crew is peeling, and the beers are chilling.

On Bastille Day, July 14, a 5-course French Biere de Garde dinner at Bank Street Brewhouse.

It's also Indiana Beer Week, so wherever you're reading, remember to support your local brewery.

"I wish maybe they'd tear down the walls of this theatre ... let me out, let me out."

For more on the Publican's newly reinvigorated mental health and the scheduling decisions that have enabled it, you'll have to wait until Thursday's "Beer Money" column in the Tribune, although I'll provide a teaser here and now:

I’d been refraining from those twice monthly council performances, and obviously my absences were why the abscesses healed, the gnarly dreams dissipated, my knee abruptly stopped aching, the acne cleared up, and I experienced a boost in intellectual potency approaching that achieved at the “express” chain hotel down the street.
Notice how I skillfully skirted tagging by a copyright lawyer down on his luck somewhere?

Meanwhile, for the rest of you, reality beckons in the form of the council's second of two monthly gatherings tomorrow evening, during which the 6th district councilman will propose an EDIT subsidy for yard waste pickup, thus prompting Steve Price to counter with, "ya now, we oughta just burn that shit like Andy in Mayberry."

Dan Coffey will glower and claim to know more about grass clipping than any human alive, the sole Republican will be sensible, and so on, and so forth.

Three Dog Night stole it from Leo Sayer, but verily:
Oh, I'm so blind
Oh, I'm blind
I wasted time
Wasted, wasted, wasted time
Walkin' on the wire, high wire
But I must let the show go on
Just without me, at least this time. I'm busy planning the comeback tour.

Gahan says New Albany trash deal should be bid-out; SIWS would pickup yard waste, cut monthly rate with new deal, by Daniel Suddeath

With SIWS collecting yard waste, the street department will be able to concentrate on maintaining the city’s roads, (Mayor Doug) England said.

The new deal “will lower the costs to the citizens, freeze the rate for five years and free-up our men in the street department so they can go and actually paint center lines, paint stop signs and do repairs in the city,” he said.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Getting more bicycles on the road, and keeping their riders safe.

Enjoy these two urban bicycling links, as provided by JP. Apologies if I'm repeating myself; I can recall conversations about these articles, though not attributions. Both pieces address questions of bicycle safety amid autos, beginning with perceptions reinforced by color.

Are Blue Bikelanes Better than Black?, by Lloyd Alter

... In other words, the driver ignores the painted line and treats the bike lane as part of his turf. Perhaps this is a good reason to paint the bike lanes a different colour, as they are considering in Toronto.
The next article considers safety by segregation.

Bicycle Highways: Should cities build specialized roadways for cyclists?, by Tom Vanderbilt.

... Not surprisingly, it's Portland—which may spend $600 million on bicycle infrastructure over the next 20 years, with a goal of upping the cycling rate to 25 percent of all trips by 2030—that has most energetically taken on the bicycle boulevard concept, even piggybacking bicycle-friendly traffic-calming measures onto
storm-water runoff treatments in its "green streets" program.

You should be reading Idealogy's "Marketing Minute."

If you are in the business of selling virtually anything, you also are engaging in marketing, and you should be on Allen Howie's mailing list. You may recall the Idealogy chief's Tribune column a few years back; lately, his weekly Marketing Minute has again become essential reading for me.

Here's my favorite passage from today's edition. Can we fire certain city residents, too?

Firing Customers

Everyone knows that some customers are more profitable than others. But what about those customers who might be profitable, but are simply awful people? Everyone dreads their calls and visits, their scowls and surliness, the unreasonable demands and perpetual dissatisfaction. Yes, they make you money, but at what cost to morale? And here's the difficult truth: they can't be satisfied, so no matter how you excel, they're still complaining about you (they complain about everyone). Firing a lousy customer can give morale a huge boost, and frees up resources to serve appreciative customers. And the one thing you won't have to worry about is the terminated customer telling anyone - the last thing they want to do is try to explain why they were asked to take their business elsewhere. Is there a customer you should fire today?

Monday, July 12, 2010

A brief aside: No Selig here, please.

Has anyone yet been able to determine why a single exhibition-caliber All Star game -- one meaningless game in midsummer -- establishes home field advantage for the World Series, and not team winning percentages compiled over a 162-game season?

It's nonsense, but that's the Bud Selig Numbskull Effect in a nutshell. Selig is among the select few persons on this sizeable planet whom I have pre-emptively banned from setting foot in any of my businesses, along with Dick Cheney, the Busch beer family, the Coors family ... well, okay, perhaps there are more than a few.

His "beef with meat."

The reporter donned his "opinion" garb yesterday, and as a result, we learned that Daniel Suddeath has been free of meat since January.

SUDDEATH: My beef with meat

When my grandmother decided she felt like chicken for dinner, she didn’t swing by the neighborhood supermarket and nab a few pounds of poultry.
If it were available on-line, I'd direct you to a column written for the old Sunday magazine of the Courier-Journal by the legendary John Ed Pearce, in which the writer introduced readers to the concept of Bowser Burgoo. If anyone finds this, please let me know.

Until then, I have only one tiny beef of my own about the meat-free column. Referring to what he sees as hypocritical public attitudes toward cruelty to animals, Daniel uses a recently opened Louisville gastropub, The Blind Pig in Butchertown, as an example:
I wonder how well received the restaurant would have been if it were perhaps named The Put Down Pound Puppy?
If one feels that it's always wrong to kill an animal for human food, my point is of far lesser significance. However, I'll note that while the gastropub in question specializes in meat and riffs off of its location, it serves (to my knowledge) "locavore" meat, coming from small producers in the region more likely to treat their livestock in a fashion more in keeping with Daniel's overall theme of cruelty-free management.

Overall, The Blind Pig is a fine establishment. I believe that fast-food chains are a far better target for oppribrium in this sense.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

To me, it's the Spacecakes vs. Rioja finale for the World Cup.

My co-conspirator Bluegill says to nix "versus," as we should not have to choose between the two. Indeed, I'm fortunate have visited both Netherlands and Spain on multiple occasions, and can't really make a pick.

One thing I know for sure is that if Spain wins, Pamplona will experience an even larger party than the one currently being held there. That's because the Fiesta of San Fermin, a.k.a, the Running of the Bulls, is concurrent with the World Cup every fourth year. In 1998, Don Barry and I enjoyed a meal of couscous at a North African restaurant in Pamplona, and remained there in the bar to watch France win the final.

It isn't clear to me how the street party could get any larger, but perhaps where there's an excuse to drink even more, there's a way. At the same time, it would be a mistake to bet against the Dutch when it comes to intensity of the potential celebration (or, for that matter, the drowning of sorrows following a loss). Perhaps the only difference between Pamplona and Amsterdam is that in the former, the bulls shooting past the fallen on Monday morning will be flesh and blood, while further north, they'll be jostling for space tonight in the bars, alongside the other denizens of numerous Star Wars cantina scenes.

Me? I gotta pull for the Netherlands, at least on the pitch itself. Amsterdam is better known for other substances, but there's plenty of good beer there once you get past Heineken -- and some damned fine Spanish restaurants, to boot.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Tonight's Riverfront Amphitheater event is postponed.

The city of New Albany's Matt Denison says:

"Tonight’s concert at the New Albany Riverfront Amphitheater has been postponed due to expected weather conditions. Please help us spread the word."

Moe: " could be that the preservation movement isn't what you think it is."

Attorney, author, and speaker Richard Moe recently retired from the National Trust for Historic Preservation after leading the nation's premier preservation group as president for 17 years, including oversight of the Main Street program which exists as part of the Trust's Community Revitalization department. Beginning with an early battle with the Disney Company over greenfield development and manufactured history, Moe spent much of his incumbency changing the Trust's focus from one primarily concerned with individual buildings to one with a more holistic view of design, sustainability, community development, and quality of life. Though some local preservation leaders are still reticent to make it a central tenant of their advocacy, Moe plainly stated for well over a decade that the biggest challenge facing historic preservation in the United States is sprawl.

The address shared here, originally presented in Fresno in 1996, provides a solid introduction to his and the organization's thinking. With Stephanie Meeks, who spent 18 years at the The Nature Conservancy, named as his replacement, here's hoping that thinking doesn't change.

MOE: GROWING SMARTER: Fighting Sprawl and Restoring Community in America
Why is an organization like the National Trust for Historic Preservation so concerned about sprawl? If that question occurs to you, it could be that the preservation movement isn't what you think it is.

Of course we're concerned about sprawl because it devastates older cities and towns--and increasingly, older suburbs--where historic buildings and neighborhoods are concentrated. Sprawl has drained the life out of thousands of traditional downtowns and inner-city neighborhoods, and we've learned that we can't hope to revitalize these communities without doing something to control the sprawl that keeps pushing further and further out from the center.

But our concern goes beyond that, because preservation today is about more than bricks and mortar. We're convinced--and there's a growing body of grim evidence to support us--that sprawl is having a devastating effect on our quality of life, that it is corroding the very sense of community that helps bind us together as a people and as a nation. Preservation is in the business of saving special places and the quality of life they support, and sprawl destroys both.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

On Bastille Day, July 14, a 5-course French Biere de Garde dinner at Bank Street Brewhouse.

On Wednesday, July 14, the Bank Street Brewhouse will honor France’s national holiday, Bastille Day, with an exclusive five-course, fixed-price French menu prepared by Chef Josh Lehman and his intrepid kitchen staff.

As before, this year’s Bastille Day meal comes complete with flavors of French-brewed Bieres de Garde, as well as American craft versions of Northern France’s famous specialty style of malty, food-friendly ale.

In 2010, we’re adapting a changed Bastille Day format of a single-seating beer dinner, and pairing the beers with the food in an order yet to be determined as of this writing. The Publican will provide comments on the beers. Note that mussels and frites will be available on the 14th for those seeking a lighter bill of fare.

Advance reservations for Bastille Day are highly recommended, and can be made by calling 812-725-9585 or e-mailing The price is $65 each, service non compris (not including service).


Passed hors d'oeuvres

Salad Lyonnaise -- Frisse Lettuce, Shallots, Lardons of Bacon, Poached Local Egg, Lemon Vinaigrette

Capriole Goat Cheese Soufflé -- Lemon , Thyme, Mornay Sauce

Bouillabaisse -- Lobster, Clams, Mussels, Fingerling Potatoes, Saffron Broth, Rouille

3-D Valley Farms Beef -- Gratin Potato, Roasted Shallots, Wild Mushrooms, Dijon Mustard Veal Stock Reduction

Chocolate Mousse -- Local Fruit, Pistachios, Basil


Brasserie St. Germaine Page-24 Blanche (France; bottle)
Theillier La Bavaisienne Blonde (France; bottle)
Lost Abbey Avant Garde (USA; bottle)
Schlafly Biere de Garde (USA; 2009 bottle)
La Choulette 'Les Sans Culottes' (France; bottle)
NABC’s USA vs. Algeria – Maghreb Biere de Garde (USA; draft)

These Bieres de Garde will be paired with the courses in small portions. NABC’s draft Maghreb will be available throughout the evening for full pours, and additional bottles (varying quantities) of the preceding will be available for purchase at market prices, along with small quantities of other fine Bieres de Garde: Jenlain Ambrée French Farmhouse Ale, Jenlain Blonde Bière de Garde, Thiriez Blonde and Thiriez Extra. Naturally, NABC's lineup of house beers will also be on tap like always.

As a personal note, two previous Bastille Day dinners in conjunction with the late, lamented Bistro New Albany were among my favorite beer dinners ever, any place, any time. We at NABC are proud to revive and perpetuate the Bastille Day tradition in downtown New Albany.

Today's Tribune column: "History and sausages in Vienna."

There are no kangaroos in Austria, and for an outsider who doesn't speak German, the Viennese can seem a bit detached. In spite of a zealous tourist industry and its status as an internationally connected city, Vienna remains firmly itself -- self-aware, smart, and world weary.

Even now, decades past its imperial prime, there is a cosmopolitan reserve and a daily recognition of the past's influence on the present, neither of which stand in the way of innovation and forward thinking. The attitude of the Viennese is deserved, and as a sandbagging visitor of long practice, it has never offended me. The coffee's pretty damned good, too, and no one, nowhere, serves it quite the same way.

BAYLOR: History and sausages in Vienna
... later on the very same day in 1985, I saw Franz Ferdinand's blood-stained tunic and the restored automobile in which he rode to his death, both on display at Vienna's military museum, itself filled with relics of far more battles lost than won. The Habsburgs didn't conquer their empire through battlefield prowess. Rather, they married into it, piece by piece.
Photo credit

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

A vision from the archives.

While reading about Clarksville finally taking steps to stem dumping on the riverfront, I was reminded that in the early days of the national stimulus program, the State of Indiana compiled a document listing every project and idea pitched for potential funding. The brief description below comes directly from that document, with an image taken from a Purdue University presentation, concerning a potential new development along the Ohio River near New Albany's Loop Island.

The estimated cost - $459,060,000 - seems like a lot at first glance. For perspective, however, consider that the cost estimate for just the additional downtown bridge and accompanying Indiana approach portions of the Ohio River Bridges Project, which will further devalue the whole area and counteract preexisting investments in the Ohio River Greenway and connected downtowns, is $865,400,000, not including any work toward a twenty-three lane Spaghetti Junction which is estimated at over $1.7 billion all by itself.

For roughly half as much money, we could indeed be a global model of sustainable development rather than an overpriced, under thought anachronism. And even though both Kentucky and Indiana have worked to suppress public will by creating an appointed tolling authority with no accountability to citizens at the behest of an international financial firm, that choice is still ours.

Building a New and Renovated Sustainable Community: To provide a global model for sustainable and environmentally supportive development. Earth-Solar in partnership with the Global Design Studio, Purdue School of Architectural Technology has designed and proposes to build and operate a new community which is comprised of, jointly, 52 acres in New Albany, Indiana and 150 acres in Clarksville, Indiana. New Albany and Clarksville are contiguous, however, in the two separate counties Floyd and Clark, respectively.

This project is compelling because it integrates work, entertainment and residency within a community that is planned around the equalization of conventional transportation, pedestrian walking, bicycling and low impact personal transportation vehicles and public transportation. The Project will be the first community scale urban development in the United States which is offering its entire residential and commercial population a significant platform of solar renewable energy and chemical and waste treatment technologies utilizing biomimmicry, non-toxic and natural techniques which continuously replenish the health of the natural ecosystem.

The Project overlays 21st Century contemporary design by architects from around the world onto building design which is traditional to the New Albany-Clarksville-Greater Louisville region. The Company has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the mayor of New Albany and agreements in principle with both the directors of Clarksville City Planning and Historical Preservation for both cities to support the project with Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and extensive additional official support. Clarksville is proposing to develop a 50 acre national park in honor of the explorers, Lewis and Clark. This proposed national park will form the eastern border of Loop Island Cove, the southern border of Clarksville Park, and would be a national attraction for purposes of recreation, science, and history.

Tribune: "Messer to retire from New Albany Police Department in May."

For the record, as reported in the Tribune.

Messer to retire from New Albany Police Department in May; Councilman filed for retirement in 2008 before allegations of racist remarks, by Daniel Suddeath

NEW ALBANY — New Albany City Councilman and policeman Jack Messer will retire from the force May 31.

But Messer said Tuesday the decision to end his career after more than 27 years as an officer was made in 2008 — well before accusations that he made racist comments during a January roll call meeting came to light.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Craft at the yard -- starting again on Tuesday.

The Louisville Bats open a six game homestand on Tuesday, July 6. Which local craft beers will be on the portable stand on the concourse by Section 115? Only Centerplate, the concessionaire, knows for sure. If you're there, give us a report and take photos. There's a new Facebook page for doing precisely that.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Tribune editorial: "Messer situation is mess for all."

Well, what do you think?

TRIBUNE EDITORIAL: Messer situation is mess for all; Public safety is no place for politics

We interrupt today’s celebration of our country’s independence to address a local situation that centers on one of our most vital democratic beliefs — free speech.

However, the complex words and actions surrounding New Albany policeman and elected city councilman Jack Messer is simply a mess and nothing to be patriotic about.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

New Albany's local and independent business sector: Is it awake?

The Louisville Independent Business Alliance (LIBA) moved its second annual brewfest fundraiser to a July slot last night in order to coincide with Independents Week, which is a nationwide effort to raise consciousness about the undisputed merits of buying and sourcing from local, independent businesses.

Earlier this week, Jeff celebrated the occasion by providing these two posts:

Independently speaking...

Learning about economic localization.

You’ll note that the second of these posts features a video link to the National Main Street Program.

It’s hard to be much clearer than this link. Main Street organizations and “buy local/independent” movements are intended to be natural pairings and fundamental pillars of the Main Street approach. Jeffersonville's Main Street program has been doing it for years.

As such, am I the only person in town wondering why this isn’t happening in New Albany?

And, furthermore: Are local independent businesses every going to get the big picture, stop waiting for leadership from entities who have no intention of providing it, and get the ball rolling?

Not trying to bug you. They're just a few thoughts on a weekend supposedly having to do with independence. Will we ever put these principles into action at the grassroots, the only place where individuals really can control matters?

Friday, July 02, 2010

"I see," said the blind councilman.

Anytime you see buzzards congregating on a tree limb, it's fairly obvious that they're not swapping baseball cards; sniff the air for carrion, instead.

Anytime Dan "Wizard of Westside" Coffey mounts one of his periodic charm offensives, as in yesterday's non-braining of a "no-brainer" paving plan, you'd better sniff the carrion for quid pro quo. The Tribune picks it up from here:

New Albany City Council goes for $1M paving plan; $300,000 of LRS funds could also be used for resurfacing, by Daniel Suddeath.

Councilman Dan Coffey called the appropriation “a no brainer.” Mayor Doug England said the list of streets to be paved will include some roads that weren’t resurfaced during last year’s $2 million campaign.
Meanwhile, untroubled by the Copperhead's crooked smile, guest columnist Matt Nash considers who is standing in the way of annexation:

Mr. Price also asked a question that has been raised on a couple of local blogs. If the city sees a net gain of $700,000 will the county lose that money? First, this shows a complete lack of knowledge of how the layers of government work. Second, it is not Steve Price’s job to worry about the county’s well being. Mr. Price’s job is to insure the city is in sound financial position. His only concern should be how this benefits New Albany citizens.

Local independence in and around New Albany on Independence Day weekend.

At least the weather looks to be marginally more tolerable as we embark upon another frantic national holiday kind of weekend, hereabouts.

Bank Street Brewhouse will open an hour early today (at 10:00 a.m.) if you have wriggled out of work and wish to view Netherlands vs. Brazil in the Wold Cup. NAC's Bluegill is pulling for the Dutch. Note that neither Heineken nor Brahma will be available for consumption -- real beer or no beer, just the way daddy likes it.

In New Albany later tonight, holiday weekend festivities at the Riverfront Amphitheater get underway at 7:30 p.m. with Persuasion, part of the concert series. As was the case last weekend, craft beer drinkers should be aware that NABC and Studio's are collaborating to bring Progressive Pints to the amphitheater for this weekend's performance, including the Riverfront Independence Festival tomorrow starting at 3:00 p.m. with Flathead Screws, Wulfe Brothers, 100% Poly and pre-4th fireworks.

Louisville Independent Business Association's Louisville Brewfest tonight at the Mellwood Arts Center (4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.) kicks off Independents Week. There'll be local breweries, local food, local music, and also a weekly newspaper owned by a company in Nashville. I'll be helping to man the NABC booth from 4 until around 7, so say hello if you're coming that way.

On Saturday morning, New Albany's Farmers Market is in full session, with produce starting to appear. Also, the friends of the NA-FC Public Library are holding their twice monthly sale in the usual place across the street from the main building. Tomorrow the friends celebrate Franz Kafka's birthday with 50% off classics. But, further up Spring Street, Destinations Booksellers is holding its own sale on new books: 50% off all in-stock merchandise. Randy's recent lessons in business elocution from Councilman Cappuccino must really be paying dividends for the entire city!

Finally, July 4 (Sunday) is Growler Independence Day, the very first day for craft beer carry-out sales from Indiana breweries. Bank Street Brewhouse will be open for special holiday hours of 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. for Progressive Pints, carry-out growlers (two regular-strength growlers for $17.76), the metro area's original Build-Your-Own Bloody Mary Bar, and both Scotch Eggs and our famous Burnt Weenie Sandwiches. Tell 'em Zappa sent you, and listen for the newly unearthed, rare recording of Three Dog Night's "Coffey Told Me Not to Come."

And: When stopping in for growlers, be sure to bring your identification: The do-gooders extracted their pound of flesh by inserting a new law that requires you to show ID each time you buy carry-out alcoholic beverages, irrespective of age. It makes them feel good, even when it does not attack the fundamental problem of underaged drinking.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Today's Tribune column: "In the groove."

In this world, "beat me, daddy, eight to the bar" is not considered obscene.
BAYLOR: In the groove

On a normal, quiet Sunday morning at home, I invariably awaken with the urge to listen to music. Specifically, my subconscious demands authentic recordings of the big bands, those long-forgotten dinosaurs of popular culture that barnstormed the United States during the approximate period of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s tenure in the Oval Office.

Independently speaking...

As the policy wing of our "local" chamber of commerce busies itself croaking dry mouthed praises of $6 Ohio River crossings to the accompaniment of a traveling Wall Street minstrel show, I'd suggest a different path altogether, pausing only occasionally along the way to piss in their general direction. With lips that chapped, the moisture would do them some good.

Besides, it's...

A statement from the American Independent Business Alliance:
As we honor national heritage and liberty, we also celebrate our nation's local independent businesses who have given so many citizens opportunity and underpinned and underwritten community life and prosperity. It's also a time to consider the independent decision-making ability each of us possesses to choose the future of the place we make our home.

And Frequently Asked Questions About Local First Campaigns from The Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE):

(1) Aren't local goods and services more expensive?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. The truth is we actually do not know. Careful studies of the comparative prices between local and non-local retailers are rare. But here are some intriguing data points.

*A recent survey of pharmacies in Maine, for example, found that chain drugstores there sold prescriptions at an average price 15 percent greater than local stores.

*According to Stacy Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, of the few studies available, a Consumer Reports study of bookstores found that Barnes & Noble and Borders prices are 4-8 percent lower than those at independent bookstores. Yet many of the best independent bookstores in the country now offer "frequent buyer programs" that completely erase these price differences for regular customers.

*Mitchell also notes that discount prices from chain stores are often temporary: An interesting aspect of the Maine survey was there were some dozen or so different Wal-Mart stores around the state included and prices for the list of drugs surveyed varied by 15 percent from the lowest-priced Wal-Mart pharmacy to the highest priced Wal-Mart. What was apparent was that Wal-Mart's prices are lowest in areas where it is fairly new on the scene, and highest in towns where it has largely eliminated the competition. What happens long-term to consumer prices as the number of competitors in the retail industry dwindles? Already two to three firms control a dominant share of every retail sector. Wal-Mart has 10 percent of all retail spending, more than 1/3 of the market nationally for numerous basic-needs products, and has a monopoly for some types of goods in many smaller communities. There's plenty of documentation that Wal-Mart routinely sells entire lines of goods below cost in order to squeeze the competition and gain market share. Then prices go up. It has done this in pharmacy goods, toys, gasoline, and now groceries.

A critical mission of Local First is to make sure consumers, businesses, and government purchasing agents ask the right question before spending dollars in a way that will hurt the economy: Is there a reasonably priced local alternative available?

(2) Isn't Local First protectionist?

Not at all. Local First is entirely about the free choices of consumers, businesses, and government purchasing agents. No one is being forced to buy local, and no tariffs or other burdens are being placed on non-local goods.

Some economists believe - incorrectly - that Local First must mean putting up trade barriers or inducing consumers to buy more expensive goods and services, which, as noted above, it doesn't. They also forget that economic models assume all consumers have perfect information. One way of looking at Local First campaigns is that they aim to give consumers better information - about the availability of attractive local goods and services, and about the significant benefits of buying local.

Paradoxically, Local First turns out to be the best way to develop prosperous links to the global economy. Export-led development usually means supporting a small number of globally competitive niches within a global economy. If one of these industries collapses - like automobiles in Detroit or steel in Youngstown - the entire local economy collapses as well, especially its export sectors. The work of Jane Jacobs and others has shown that import-replacing development, which underlies buy-local initiatives, tends to nurture hundreds of existing locally owned businesses, some of which will then become strong exporters. Development led by import replacement rather than export promotion diversifies, stabilizes, and strengthens the local economy.

(3) Does Local First seek to subsidize inefficient local business?

No. Free-market economists forget that the United States is a crazy quilt of thousands of market imperfections - subsidies, regulations, insurance liability limits, tax wrinkles - nearly all of which favor non-local business. Buy local campaigns are very modest efforts to adjust this tilt in the playing field. The tilt is so extreme - probably 99 percent of subsidies go to non-local firms - that we would have a very long way to go before it was undone.

(4) How sound is the methodology for the studies that show a better local multiplier for locally owned businesses?

Some critics have attempted to downplay the studies that have been done in Austin, Maine, and other places because of their small size and because they don't have complete data from the chain stores. To be sure, the methodology of these studies could always be improved, but the results are driven by a simple fact: Local businesses spend more locally - on local management, on local advertising, on local services, and on local profits. Because most economic multipliers are in the range of two to four times the initial expenditure, these differences in local business spending will always result in substantially greater benefits to the local economy.

(5) Aren't local businesses less regulated and therefore worse for the environment?

It's hard to generalize. Some communities have tougher environmental laws than the nation as a whole; some don't. Some types of pollution control devices work best at a large scale; others don't. There are four reasons, however, to believe that local businesses are generally better for the environment. First, many local businesses are service related, and these usually are labor intensive and have few environmental impacts. Second, a community is more likely to clean up a local polluter spoiling the local quality of life than to clean up a polluter located 10,000 miles away. Third, local business owners certainly have a higher commitment to clean water when their own children must drink it. Fourth, a community with primarily locally owned businesses - businesses that will not consider moving to Mexico or China - can raise environmental standards with greater confidence that these firms will adapt, which tips the political balance in favor of greater environmental responsibility.

(6) Don't local businesses pay worse wages?

Businesses with more than 500 employees pay about a third more on average than businesses with fewer than 500 employees. But these wage differences have been shrinking in recent years, as many high-paying larger firms move factories overseas and as low-wage retailers like Wal-Mart displace existing small businesses. Moreover, studies suggest that over time, as smaller businesses naturally mature and grow, these wage differentials largely disappear.

(7) Shouldn't we leave the market alone?

A healthy market requires, as Local First insists, that consumers fully gather information about available local alternatives before they make purchasing decisions, in full awareness that every dollar spent locally will have two to four times more benefit than a dollar spent non-locally.

(8) Are Local First campaigns legal?

Unquestionably. In a free-market economy, consumers and businesses may make any purchasing decisions they wish. And in a free-speech society, citizens may persuade one another why local purchases are advantageous. The only real legal questions concern government procurement policies that give preference to local bidders. The U.S. Supreme Court generally has held that the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, which normally prevents officials from discriminating against goods on the basis of origin, does not apply when they are acting as market participants, which is the case for procurement officers. The World Trade Organization and other trade agreements, however, may weaken the ability of officials to discriminate against non-U.S. goods and services, though these provisions have yet to be fully defined or tested.

(9) Won't Local First hurt the poor in the Third World from whom we import?

If a large number of U.S. communities successfully move toward self-reliance, then yes, many imports from the global South - whether bananas, aluminum, or oil - would be reduced, to the detriment of the exporting poor countries. But a growing number of development economists are recognizing that the key to improving the plight of these countries is to end their export platform status and to help them become more self-reliant. Communities committed to helping the South might form partnerships like sister cities that facilitate the transfer of state-of-the-art technology and policy. An example is the city-state of Bremen in Germany, which for two decades has been helping its Third World partners become more self-reliant in energy by sharing technology that converts manure, garbage, and sewage into biogas.

(10) Is Local First a front for a radical agenda?

The vision of a world of sustainable communities does differ dramatically from a vision of globalization that tolerates enrichment of a few at the expense of hundreds of millions of workers and families and the destruction of the communities and ecosystems in which they live. But it's hard to imagine more traditional values than those underlying Local First - namely free markets, small business, fair play, and local empowerment.