Friday, September 30, 2011

Today's gathering of politicians: "The last time I saw that many suits, I was at Value City."

Who let that last guy in?

Verdict: Six more months and a mere $20 million.

ThunderFoot looms above Reaganplatz ... and also goes on sale tomorrow.

Tomorrow (October 1) is the Harvest Homecoming parade, NAC's parade party and the Something Different pig roast with craft beer. It's also the day NABC chose to release ThunderFoot 22-oz bomber bottles for carry-out purchase by the general public. This is the first bottle release ever of our highly rated "dry-cherried" Imperial Stout, which was a year old at the time of bottling. ThunderFoot bombers will be available all day on the 1st (one day only!) at both NABC locations, and if there's any left over, Southern Indiana commercial accounts get the next stab, followed by our friends at Cavalier Distributing Inc. in Indianapolis and other wholesalers.

Pricing for carry-out sales on October 1st, from either the Pizzeria & Public House or Bank Street Brewhouse, is $15 per bottle and $160 per case.

The moment we've all been waiting (and drinking) for ...

Ironically, with our weekly Bank Street Brewhouse team meeting set for 10:00 a.m., and the fire station conveniently situated along the
route downtown via the Spring Street bike lane, I might be able to flash my "These Machines Kill Fascists" shirt at St. Daniels and then still have time left over to open BSB early so as to deny entry to him when he asks for a belt o'bourbon before mounting his chopper to ride into one of those Major Move rathole cracks on the Sherman Minton Bridge

Sighhh ... a boy can dream.

Officials plan to provide time and cost of fixing bridge, by the C-J's Marcus Green.

The governors of Kentucky and Indiana plan Friday to deliver the news that thousands of people in their states have waited three weeks to hear — how long it will take to fix the Sherman Minton Bridge, and what it will cost.

While several government officials said the timeline for repairs could range between approximately three to six months, they stressed that the ultimate decision rests with Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear. Beyond announcing the news conference, their offices declined to comment.

Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez is expected to join Beshear and Daniels at 9:30 a.m. at New Albany Fire headquarters.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

We get a movie. And you?

No sooner had the major league baseball season ended than I received a Facebook greeting card from JDB: "Sorry the only positive thing to happen to your team in five years is Brad Pitt portraying your general manager."

That's true. Then again, Oakland hasn't had 19 straight losing seasons (like the Pirates) ... the A's did not finish the campaign by collapsing in historic fashion (see: Red Sox; Braves) ... and Pitt's "Moneyball" is a very good movie, although not as epochal as the book. The message of both is larger than sports: Information and its proper use can level any playing field.

Now, I merely must apply that principle to beer sales. Until then, I'll not be able to afford the A's, or Pitt.

ON THE AVENUES: Revisiting the Swill Walk.

ON THE AVENUES: Revisiting the Swill Walk.
A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.
Apart from the calendar on soon-to-be-former councilman Steve Price’s wall, the rest of New Albania is muddling through the year 2011, and now the city’s single greatest, sure-fire indicator of a year about to pass is about to begin.

That’s right: It’s Harvest Homecoming time again.

This year, the festival has been discussed in an entirely new context thanks to the Sherman Minton Bridge’s early September closure, and as we await requisite structural inspections, predict tea leaf readings and tolerate Kerry Stemler’s transparent glee that the public’s transportation hardship will ensure his repressive tolling regime in the future, there's beer to drink.

But in all likelihood, there’ll still be large crowds for Harvest Homecoming in spite of the closure. After all, it’s a New Albanian family tradition. Down at the Taxpayers’ Memorial Patio, NABC will stage its fourth Fringe Fest during booth days, and as before, we’ll be watching on Friday afternoon to see how much of the “beer walk” crowd spills over into our zone of opposing yeast cultures.

The following was originally published here at the conclusion of Harvest Homecoming, 2007. Four years later, how much has changed?


Harvest Homecoming's "swill walk" emblematic of clashing demographics.

New Albany’s annual Harvest Homecoming festival started life quite small and inconspicuously four decades ago, and it has since grown into what its organizers claim is the second largest gathering of its type in the state of Indiana, trailing only the Indianapolis 500 celebration.

There are numerous themed events for two weeks preceding the yearly parade, then four “booth days” during which streets in the heart of New Albany’s historic business district are closed, yielding to what amounts to an enormous food court with games, information and music thrown in for good measure. At its best, the ideal of Harvest Homecoming is civic-minded and predominantly local in nature, with generations frequenting the same rolled oyster booth or chicken dinner emporium run by the same church or charity.

When Harvest Homecoming took its embryonic shape in the late 1960’s, and unbeknownst to most people living at the time, New Albany’s downtown was about to commence a long, painful and degrading descent into dormancy. As my ruminations today are not intended to constitute an essay about the familiar phenomenon of inner-city urban decay, I’ll leave it at that, and observe that Harvest Homecoming’s governing committee might plausibly say that for a long period of time, certainly by the 1990’s, the festival was about the only game going downtown.

Harvest Homecoming has been planned accordingly. Now, with stirrings of downtown revitalization far too strong to be ignored, the plan likely will have to be modified in coming years. Unfortunately, a case can be made that Harvest Homecoming’s demographic and the demographic spearheading downtown revitalization are heading in opposite directions, with potential difficulties that might as well be addressed now rather than later.

For those who have glimpsed a bit of the planet outside New Albany, and who have had the good fortune to be exposed to post-secondary education and its expansion of consciousness, there almost inevitably exists a measure of ambivalence about Harvest Homecoming as the institution has evolved – some would say “devolved – over the years. This ambivalence does not imply rejection of it, but simply a recognition that sometimes the closer one is to something, the harder it is to see how it really looks.

The festival’s stewards are “lifer” volunteers who work hard year-round, and while any fair critique of their performance might point to a deeply ingrained conservatism and a general reluctance to think outside the Bud, their fundamental aim of maintaining a family-oriented annual celebration is admirable.

Admirable, yes, but certainly not easy to ensure, and no single Harvest Homecoming “event” grandly compromises the committee’s goal of a family friendly festival like the Friday afternoon “beer walk,” which might be termed the “swill walk,” and so I think I will call it that.

From the outset, make no mistake: The official Harvest Homecoming committee is no friend of the swill walk, and bristles when people contact the organizers for information about it. Although in the past, I merely shrugged and considered the committee’s attitude toward the swill walk to be an extension of its customary stodginess on other matters, this year I made it a point to observe the swill walk in progress.

The committee is right on target. It isn’t a pretty picture. In fact, the swill walk is a civic embarrassment, and as part and parcel of a litigious society, it’s probably only a matter of time before something ugly occurs and the torts begin flying. Speaking personally, at a time when many in my sector of the beer business are trying to raise the bar when it comes to responsible beer consumption, the swill walk sadly reminds us that neo-Prohibitionists occasionally have something approximating a valid point, and that the activities of the nation’s mass-market swill merchants are as much of a daily threat to our ability to offer the populace a changed paradigm as those who would eliminate alcohol entirely on grounds of its intrinsic “evil.”

Like many other aspects of life, there surely are evils intrinsic to the consumption of beer. Most of us are devoted to the ideal of lessening these, so why encourage their exaltation?

The way it works is this. Every year on the Friday afternoon of Harvest Homecoming, a style show is held at the riverfront “beer tent” (“swill tent” is more like it) during lunchtime, and the show’s conclusion is the unofficial signal for hundreds of people to begin, or in many cases to continue, drinking while traversing a jagged route through the blocked-off and humanity-packed downtown streets where food and activity booths hold sway.

The ubiquity of gratis Anheuser-Busch advertising paraphernalia, which is generated in-house at the local wholesaler at a scale that would humble the propagandistic Communist and Fascist regimes of old, provides ample evidence as to the underlying grease that lubricates the phenomenon of the swill walk, namely, that the local A-B wholesaler has agreed not to cash the checks written to pay for two-story stacks of Bud Light until the week following the festival’s conclusion, something that is of borderline legality in the state of Indiana.

Meanwhile, duly oiled, the denizens of the swill walk surge through the most congested harvest Homecoming area, participants stumbling from one bar to the next, slamming liquor shots and chugging beer from cans that are seldom recycled while screaming obscenities in proximity to children, then urinating in places that even someone like me – a veteran of Oktoberfest in Munich and Pamplona’s festival of San Fermin – is hard pressed to imagine.

Once I saw a port-a-can being nearly toppled by drunks. Around the corner, bikers clad in ominous black costumes queued a short block away from where this year’s “teen scene” stage was erected. How Pamplona manages to achieve a balance between its children and an invading wave of Euro trash is beyond me; perhaps we might ask, because the New Albany way doesn’t seem to be working.

The family-unfriendly effect of all this is hard to exaggerate in print, and when taken in the context of an overall festival that sadly has devolved over the decades into low, lower and lowest common denominators – a metaphor applicable to the city as a whole – it’s frustrating, indeed, to witness the chaos and know that I’m in the same business.

I’m neither naïve, nor out to bring the furies crashing down on the urine-stained drunks gracefully bellowing at each other during the swill walk. It is not my intention to frown on the profit motives of downtown bar owners, who probably reap several weeks of revenue in three days during Harvest Homecoming, and who are happy to accept largesse as offered by wholesalers eager to see the cash registers hum.

Of course, I well understand that my “good beer” segment of the marketplace is small, but I also maintain that this niche is upwardly mobile and in keeping with humanity’s constructive (as opposed to anarchic) instincts, and furthermore, that it is capable of sense and sensibility in addition to windfall weekend profits.

If NABC’s projected downtown brewing project comes to fruition, I hope to be able to illustrate that beer quality can be good, not bland, and that better beer can be consumed responsibly in a wholesome, entertaining and better atmosphere – which, after all, is the lesson any thinking human being takes away after sitting for a couple of hours drinking beer in a Bavarian beer garden, with playground equipment and young children generally in close proximity. Our future beer sales during Harvest Homecoming will be contained and controlled as far as humanly possible, and we’ll try to offer a higher common denominator. We may fail, but we’ll try.

Disclaimers aside, and in spite of my reluctance to tempt unfavorable karma by saying it aloud, the swill walk that takes place during Harvest Homecoming is aided and abetted by a blind eye to illegality, and while I can understand this coming from the local gendarmes, I find it curious that the state tolerates it.

You’re free to disagree. On this call, I suspect many of you will.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Ubiñas: "I have a vibrant creative community is a constant feature of places that have rebounded from decline."

Roger mentioned "a seat at the table" earlier this week, a concept of upmost importance not just to the message development process but to the content of the message itself. What are we telling a diverse, creative community about access and opportunity in New Albany? What should we be telling them and how do we go about sending the message?

Ubiñas: A Commitment to the Arts That Will Transform Communities

...Artists and cultural institutions have a unique ability to kick-start local economies, create jobs, and attract new businesses. We now know that more inclusive communities - urban and rural, places that welcome a diversity of ideas and people - grow faster than cities that do not. We now know that places with thriving arts communities and facilities grow faster than those that don’t have promising cultural assets. Art is not a luxury; art is a precondition to success in a world increasingly driven by creativity and innovation.

Arts spaces are economic anchors around which communities can build. Think about it: Communities will lobby to locate a small manufacturing plant that can be moved off shore at any point, but how many communities will fight to attract the diverse, creative people and art spaces that can create just as many jobs and become a permanent asset that nourishes not just the pocketbook but also the soul?

Indeed, investing in arts and cultural institutions that are strong, powerful economic catalysts within their local communities can be the economic equivalent of bringing a manufacturing plant to a neighborhood and - from a cultural and quality-of-life standpoint - more than surpass it...

"There broke forth a wailing and a lamentation."

In which our fluffers make the Falun Gong look tame. At least defenestration isn't an option, given that most of them live in one-story suburban ranch houses.

Picture credit

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Time again for OSIN's Clere column boomerang.

If Rep. Clere were to be defeated in 2012 (I believe this to be highly unlikely, by the way) would his column return to him, or is it tagged to the job he holds? Does anyone know an Alabama retiree I might ask?
CLERE: My column is going away, but I am not

... Starting in April, after the Tribune and Evening News combined, my column was cut back to a bi-weekly publication, and I was told the policy the Evening News had followed would now apply to the merged paper: My column would cease publication as soon as I were to hold a fundraiser, announce my intention to run for re-election or file to run.

I’m getting ready to schedule a fundraiser, so this will be my last column — for awhile, at least. It’s No. 120.

The policy is especially problematic when it comes to a two-year term. I won’t be able to write a regular column for more than half of my term ...

Urban Indy: "Having a healthy conversation about how cyclists should be using the streets and sidewalks."

Preaching to the choir, brother -- preaching to the choir.

Urban Indy » Bicycling » Cycling on sidewalks in Indy

Cycling on sidewalks in Indy

I’m sure we’ve all seen it or experienced it a time or 10 here in Indy. Walking down the sidewalk (when there is one available) and someone either comes at you on a bike, or brushes past you from behind on a bike. Some go fast, some go slow but the fact that they are cycling ON THE SIDEWALK is the point I wish to examine with this post.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Attention, merchants and business owners: Merchant Mixer meeting (Harvest Homecoming edition) on Tuesday morning.

From Curt and Pam Peters.

This is a reminder that we have a Merchant Mixer tomorrow (Tuesday) morning at 8:30 a.m. at Strandz & Threadz on Vincennes Street. Art Niemeier of Harvest Homecoming will be there. On the agenda will also be signage, new openings, downtown windows, ad campaign, and whatever is on your minds. Please come and pass the word.

Cummins on poverty and infrastructure.

It's Terry Cummins, not Stawar, and while the the OSIN columnist's essay ostensibly addresses bridges and infrastructure, he provides this devastating reminder of current American reality:
CUMMINS: A troubled bridge over stagnant waters

... Four hundred lucky Americans have more wealth than about 157 million other Americans combined. The richest 5 percent purchase 37 percent of consumer goods, and the richest fifth own 84 percent of the nation’s wealth, while the bottom 40 percent own only 0.3 percent. More than 46 million Americans now live below the poverty line, determined by a family of four existing on less than $22,000 per year, and we wonder why SAT scores go down. In 2009, 8,274 Americans made more than $10 million each, and it’s a hardship to kick in a little more to reduce the deficit and build a bridge.

ON THE AVENUES SPECIAL EDITION: Regaining consciousness in a city coming to?

ON THE AVENUES: Regaining consciousness in a city coming to?

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

All the way back in February, some of us were asking pointed questions about the ballyhooed “joint venture” between Develop New Albany, City Hall and the Urban Enterprise Association.

It was a device ostensibly intended to “brand” New Albany by financing an advertising campaign geared primarily toward promoting the city’s restaurants, which were deemed the most marketable engines of the city’s revitalization.
What is the brand, who does the branding, and other necessary questions.

What's the brand? Is it referencing price point, lifestyle, multi-cultural? What's the definition of downtown? Who gets to play? Why this marketing firm and not that other one? Is it for independent businesses, chains or both? Are ads on bus stops in Louisville really reaching the chosen target audience? What is the chosen target audience? Why not Columbus or Indianapolis? Why not all the people in Floyd County who still don't know downtown exists?
The campaign’s general theme, intent and parameters were unveiled at the YMCA on February 23, and I was there at the invitation of Paul Kiger. The reaction was muted, with insiders understandably jubilant and outsiders more analytical. Paul had requested that I ask hard questions, and I did. Overnight, my stock plunged accordingly.

Afterward, with the balloons and bunting safely packed away, almost seven months of silence ensued. Only last week, at an informal Merchant Mixer meeting called to discuss responses to challenges posed by the Sherman Minton Bridge closure, was the updated campaign described by the Dudgeon firm’s founder, accompanied by a new sense of inevitability and urgency (paraphrased):
The campaign is finished, the bridge situation demands that we implement it now, here are your marching orders, and we can talk about the details later.
Actually, last Tuesday’s plan seemed little changed from February’s preliminary bullet points, although with certain elements added (topical Interstate billboards) and others subtracted (Louisville bus stop ads) to reflect current, post-bridge-outage transportation realities.

One significant and purely terrifying addition was a proposed visual symbol and embedded tag phrase: Develop New Albany’s longtime logo, topped by the words “Come To City.”


Note that during the plan’s elongated seven-month gestation period, there was neither public discussion nor participation by the business community – especially those restaurants expected to carry the ball. As such, it is no wonder the discussion at last Tuesday’s Merchant Mixer meeting became somewhat agitated.

However, I find considerable hope in Tuesday’s final outcome, because something unexpected happened. A motion was offered. Another motion followed, and there was discussion and an amendment. An actual vote was held, and those in attendance overwhelmingly rejected the ridiculous “Come To City” portion of Dudgeon’s plan, favoring instead a temporary compromise using the DNA visual on modified billboards.

Do you see it?

This hitherto unstructured group of merchants entered into a process of debate, and by doing so tacitly made an abrupt passage from non-binding to semi-formality – a veritable union of business owners, as it were, and a transitional big bang, because the cliques-that-be did not challenge the decision of the collective. That’s huge.

Thus, even as former downtown business owner Don Preston flailed while mouthing his bizarre, Caesaresque, primal fear of “mob” democracy, grassroots democracy was emerging before his wide shut eyes. Liberated from the committee’s closed back room, with information openly on the table, the city’s business owning shareholders convincingly rejected a flawed, top-down idea and offered an alternative.

For at least one shining moment, the city’s historic boil was lanced.


Can we be honest?

This “joint venture” was a shotgun marriage from the very start. The impetus to work “together” did not evolve from the ground up, but was imposed from the top (City Hall) down.

Yet, it might have worked had the mayor and his sidekicks actually cared to engage in negotiation aimed at consensus and enlightenment, but unfortunately the task of persuasion was delegated from mayor to deputy, and then to the same tired DNA operatives as always, ensuring the UEA's role in conceptualizing the campaign remained miniscule, while its checkbook stayed within easy lunging distance when the bills came due.

To this day, no one outside a small circle of the anointed knows why the Dudgeon ad agency was chosen. There is no explanation for the secrecy involved. No City Hall official bothered to remain at last week’s meeting to offer insight. Rather, what we know is that once again, politicized methodology usurped possibility.

In February, the News and Tribune’s article ended like this:
Mayor Doug England said cross promotion is vital to sustaining the recent progress made downtown, and the joint venture is an opportunity to continue the growth. “It won’t work without everybody’s cooperation,” he said.
But the congenital absence of mechanisms purpose-built to encourage inclusiveness and participation thwarts cooperation, doesn’t it?

If you design a top-down process to achieve pre-determined outcomes (or in New Albany’s case, non-outcomes), that’s generally what will come out the other end of the meat grinder. Consequently, the joint marketing campaign now resembles little more than the faces of its handful of entrenched designers, seated before a mirror, looking back at themselves.

It breaks no new ground, nor offers a younger demographic any reason for future excitement. It is a testament both to the enduring prevalence of human design flaws, and the sheer, numbing and destructive nepotism for which the current administration chiefly will be remembered, and before the inevitable rejoinder is squealed: Contrary to popular belief, nepotism need not be remunerable to be toxic and capable of suppressing necessary public participation.

And yet, it is my sincere hope that with last week’s brief and transformative moment, New Albany’s small business persons may see a flickering light. Top-down is superfluous when the grassroots are mobilized, and now, more than ever, small business has the means to come together and take a seat at the table.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

You didn't miss Wax Fang and Cabin, did you?

We were just getting started, and this is the only photo I had time to take last night at the Cabin and Wax Fang show at our Riverfront Amphitheater. The weather cleared, and a good crowd turned out for quality entertainment, as booked by a private promoter who could have eased the bottom line by asking for a minimal cover charge -- if permitted by the city to do so. The show was well worth a few dollars. Numerous Progressive Pints were consumed, and a good time was had by all.

How many days until January 1? I have high hopes for a de-politicized riverfront season in 2012.

"Career," by Mott via Joe Elliott.

A month ago, we saw Def Leppard at Freedom Hall. At some point I was explaining the affection of the Lepps' front man Joe Elliott for otherwise forgotten British pop/rock of the 1970's, as epitomized by a side cover band project of his called Down 'n' Outz, and their album My Regeneration. With no new Def Leppard material to embrace, I've been rediscovering Elliott's homage, and it is a good one.

As an example, "Career," as performed originally by Mott, as the band Mott the Hoople was called after singer Ian Hunter left.

And how did a youthful Floyd Countian like me ever know about Mott, Hunter and other English artists of the early 1970's period like T. Rex and even David Bowie?

Because the supermarket now known as Floyd Central Thriftway carried Circus magazine. I read about it there, and tried to find the music here.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

Watch the debate.

Here's the link to Thursday's mayoral debate, as provided by Leah Tate.

A cavity rapidly being filled.

Open thread: Last evening's New Albany mayoral debate.

If you were there, please discuss.

Ready for more fun, NA commuters?

From the Board of Works comes this travel advisory. Suggested detour routes are West Street and Bono Road, and also I-64 and I-265.

State Street from Children's Academy school to near Green Valley Road will be closed for construction, including paving and restriping, from early Sunday morning, Sept. 26, to Thursday, Sept. 29. Additionally, the intersection of Green Valley Road and State Street will be closed Wednesday morning.

We will send additional advisories if weather or other circumstances force changes in the road closure.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The curb is so close, and yet so far.

Just curious, but why block the bike lane to supervise the once-a-year pre-parade maintenance of Spring Street, when the curb's only four feet away?

ON THE AVENUES: Blackjack it ain't.

ON THE AVENUES: Blackjack it ain't.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

I have a confession to make.

On Tuesday evening, while visiting Horseshoe Southern Indiana for an NABC beer tasting in Legends, there was an unprecedented occurrence, one utterly outside any existing box, far off in left field, and without previous charted experience.

For the first time ever, I boarded the casino boat itself.

Once there, seated at a convenient wet bar and reaching across the tabletop slots to grasp an approaching Sam Adams, I was reminded of something I’ve known for a very long time: I’m no gambler.

The last time I bought a lottery ticket was in Slovakia, and it was intended as a souvenir. In spite of my father’s earnest efforts, I don’t know how to play poker. The closest I’ve ever been to Las Vegas is my living room, watching George Clooney’s three Ocean’s flicks.

In the absence of a gambler’s genetic code, the Horseshoe casino proved a mysterious and voyeuristic place. It’s simply unfathomable to me. I’d come closer to spending fifty dollars for a Cuban cigar than consider sticking a buck into one of those flashy machines, but to each his or her own.

I suspect that if compelled by circumstance to be on board the casino vessel in a professional sense, say, as a bartender or physical plant worker, there would be no risk of any of these games of chance ever penetrating a prophylactic veneer of personal indifference. At the same time, looking just past the spinning roulette wheel, there’s probably a case to be made for me as an inveterate gambler of a slightly different sort.

After all, I’m a small business owner.


The small business owner’s risk may be calculated, and all factors heavily weighed, but how much of a gamble was it to ignore the safest route, which in NABC’s case was a pre-existing (and profitable) pizzeria with a reputation for its great guest beer program, and turn instead to the considerable start-up expense, daily challenges and overall uncertainty of developing new beer brands and selling them to people who would judge them without reference to any previous accomplishments?

Maybe I’m no gambler when it comes to cards, but it can be both daunting and thrilling to wake up each morning with hundreds of thousands of dollars hanging over my head, money pledged against the future progress of a community, the ongoing state of which I have only the very slightest input and influence.

Will Yakima be the NABC beer that strikes the jackpot in the marketplace, or is the better strategy to continue making small gains over time in hope of always doing just a bit better against the house, even when you know that in the end, the house always wins?

Many recreational gamblers, perhaps most, enter the game without a plan. My guess is those aspiring to the ranks of semi-professional have pre-considered tactics and at least a semblance of an overall strategy. Obviously, small business owners should seek to emulate the latter, although a surprising number settle for muddling through on a wing, some prayer and blind luck.

For better or worse, NABC has inhabited both camps at various times, and yet throughout the past two decades, all I’ve ever really wanted, first and foremost, is to have some measure of control over my message to the wider world. It may be the writer in me (think twice before you edit my words, ass hat!), or a primeval stubbornness inherited from opinionated forbearers, but when it comes to explaining who, what, where, when, how and why, it’s my job to do it – not yours.

At he same time, as a small business owner, I’ve no objection whatever to assistance in doing my job – in this instance, in disseminating my message. I believe the more people who know what my business has to offer, the more they’ll see what all the other small businesses in my community have to offer, and if one of us succeeds, we all succeed. There’ll be critical mass, and better recognition of life outside the big box chain.

In fact, I appreciate assistance very much. However, before you commit me to assistance that potentially compromises my fundamental message, I’d appreciate being asked what type of assistance I can use.

In fact, being asked is not too much to ask, is it?


There’s no obvious moral to my thoughts today. I actually do listen, and what I typically hear at times like this is:

Can you go through a single day without ruffling feathers?

What you’re saying might even make sense, but can’t you say it more nicely?

Couldn’t you just let us figure it out, be a good soldier, take orders from the leading elements, and help to combat the scourge of “democracy of the mob,” like that pleasant Mr. Preston said on Tuesday morning?

Alas, the answer to each of these questions is “no.” The daily ruffling of feathers furthers dialogue. “Nicely” is in the eye of the beer-holder, and passion is seldom negotiable, with or without subtlety. And, just because democracy might seem to be failing, it doesn’t mean we need our own local Mussolini Committee to make the trains run on time, or to preserve outmoded ways of thinking. We need more democracy, not less.

If you wish to commend small business for its smashing success, frameworks of definition are needed, because “success” is almost as nebulous a concept as “divinity.”

If you wish to make smashingly successful small business the engine of your branding effort, wouldn’t it be a good idea to ask small business to share the secrets of smashing success? Isn’t it presumptuous to assume you know them without asking? Why does trickle-down always feel like tinkle-on to me?

I’ll let someone else answer those questions, but as a non-gambler (and a grassroots mobster), I cannot establish the betting line on when, or if, they will.

UEA meets and works as Anti-Climax Meter tepidly wobbles.

(Cowardly Lion): Alright, I'll go in there for Dorothy. Wicked Witch or no Wicked Witch, guards or no guards, I'll tear them apart. I may not come out alive, but I'm going in there. There's only one thing I want you fellows to do.

(Tin Man): What's that?

(Cowardly Lion): Talk me out of it.

Meanwhile, New Albany UEZ chartered group to look for solutions during bridge closure, by Daniel Suddeath (News and Tribune)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Urban Enterprise Association meets today.

Next up for Come Down Low City: Today, City Hall "reaches out" for the UEA's checkbook. I suggest barricading the Elsby Building.

Hostile takeovers are another example of the top-down, government-by-the-usual suspects approach that leads inevitably to faulty sloganeering, but just remember: Only 101 days until finally, mercifully, we can flush.

City attorney: "No authority for any group or person to say they (handbills) are prohibited."

As promised, New Albany's city attorney, Shane Gibson, has answered my question.

Q. Does the city have a handbill ordinance? If no, how can Harvest Homecoming officials prohibit handbills?

A. No handbill ordinance found. No authority for any group or person to say they (handbills) are prohibited. Let me know if you need more.

This issue most recently arose in a Facebook discussion about Harvest Homecoming in the context of the new generation of locally owned, downtown businesses. Gregg Seidl observed:
If folks can walk around and hand out religious pamphlets, I sure as hell don't see why I can't hand out something promoting local businesses.
Pete Lyons of DRC then provided the governing committee's justification, which we've been hearing for many years:
The rule according to HHC, is if you have a booth, you can hand out whatever you want. If you have a business, you're screwed. So a church (or any other group) that has a booth can have free domain to distribute whatever they want. If a business wants to distribute information, they MUST have a booth.
Note also that if a downtown business owner wants to have a booth, or in practice, if a downtown business owner wants to have an clear entry portal for customers during the four days of the festival, he or she must purchase it. In effect, certain downtown business owners must pay Harvest Homecoming to remain open during the event -- and then be prohibited from using handbills to remind attendees that the business remains open.

Now, with the city attorney clearly stating that there exists no legal mechanism to suppress free speech during Harvest Homecoming, it will be interesting to see what happens when the first person tries to do so. The first three persons might well be myself, Gregg and Pete.

Gonder: "The Commons ... requires attention."

With his collection of nudges, incumbent at-large council person John Gonder provides yet another reason to again vote for him this fall. Follow the link, and understand that at least one city leader (as opposed to the few and usual suspects) is thinking.



Nudge List- Intro.

So here is a list, gleaned from notepads, cigar boxes, and glove compartments, of things I'd like to see happen in New Albany if I'm elected to a second term.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Discussion of this morning's Merchant Mixer meeting.

Here is the place to discuss this morning's Merchant Mixer meeting. Please see preceding posts about the Dudgeon company's "Come To City" branding proposal.

You may check my Twitter feed for other references. I'd dearly love to have the time to devote to formulating points and leading the discussion, but I don't. Know that in a vote of those present, the "Come To City" tag line was rejected, and certain non-democratic proclivities among the progenitors were exposed.

Also, that the assembled top-down governing cliques were mostly oblivious to a branding "solution," the formulation of which summarizes the non-democratic nature of the governing cliques. This attitude was best illustrated by former downtown businessman Don Preston's chilling line, which he gave me permission to quote: "I am opposed to the democracy of the mob."

I'm not sure where it's going next, but I know this: It is far less effective to tell me how you can "help" me than to ask me how you might help.

And: Any solution targeted to a 50+ year old age group, such as that in attendance this morning, is doomed over the long haul. If youth is not served in New Albany, there'll be no revitalization, with or without a bridge. Until the graybeards get that, there'll be no movement.

Now more than ever, the grassroots are ripe for cultivation. I spoke out this morning against the top-down mindset that has been New Albany's primary problem for far too long.

If you wish, please discuss.

Dudgeon "Come To City" power point proposal, Part 1.

These admittedly bad photos (numbers 1 - 5) are from this morning's Merchant Mixer meeting, at which the Come To City campaign was revealed. In a vote of those present, the "Come To City" tag line was rejected, and certain non-democratic proclivities among the progenitors were exposed. More later, when (and if) I have time. Please discuss on the post to follow: "Discussion of this morning's Merchant Mixer meeting."

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Dudgeon "Come To City" power point proposal, Part 2.

These admittedly bad photos (numbers 6, 7 & 8) are from this morning's Merchant Mixer meeting, at which the Come To City campaign was revealed. In a vote of those present, the "Come To City" tag line was rejected, and certain non-democratic proclivities among the progenitors were exposed. More later, when (and if) I have time. Please discuss on the post to follow: "Discussion of this morning's Merchant Mixer meeting."

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Another special Merchant Mixer meeting at the Grand: Tuesday morning, 8:00 a.m.

I'm told One Southern Indiana's Think Local representative has been invited, and New Albany First will be represented. I have many questions -- what are yours?

Please come and invite other downtown merchants to come to the follow-up meeting at The Grand this Tuesday, Sept. 20, 8 AM sponsored by Develop New Albany and the Merchants Mixer group. Last week's meeting was very helpful. Let's keep it going. Information will be shared about a special advertising blitz. - Curt Peters

Come, Come On-A All of Our Houses.

Hooray for CFA!

Citizens Faux Accountability has returned with news of the wonderfully delightful weirdness that is the New "Come To City" Albany experience.
Bold Leadership from Common Council After Bridge Closure

“New Albany owes all its growth and development over the past 40 years to those little ‘WELCOME’ rocks on the levee. For generations, people have come across the Sherman Minton, seen those rocks, and thought, ‘Gee, I should move to New Albany,” said Price Planning CEO Steve Price. “It’s not the bridge, it’s the warm ‘WELCOME!’”
Not only that, but did you know that Indiana's Re-Education and Downward Social Immobility Minister is a traffic engineer, too?
Floyd Subdivision Votes for One-Way Streets, Increased Speed Limit

... "Since I take Spring to work every day I only thought it was fair that we increase the speed limit here too for all the New Albany homeowners who use our roads. None of my neighbors mind since we know we cause road noise and increase risks to pedestrians when we drive fast in New Albany. We're all about fairness!"

We think he thinks he's going to war: Is anyone ready for an adults-only discussion about City Hall's UEA provocations?

Maybe, maybe not. It depends on whether we can find any adults.

The Green Mouse says that this Wednesday's Urban Enterprise Association board meeting will be the culmination of a lame duck but still conniving City Hall's recent campaign against the UEA's statutory autonomy, and that the mayor will attend the meeting to demand (a) an immediate surrender, (b) defenestration for the UEA's director, Mike Ladd, and (c) an immediate screening of the Marx Brothers' classic satire, "Duck Soup," to be funded (of course) by the UEA's bulging and just-out-of-reach coffers.

Speaking personally, I join councilman Dan Coffey in saying: "UEA? Leave it be!" I wonder if our mayoral candidates have an opinion?

What is New Albany Venues, and how does it work?

Business First recently described New Albany Venues like this:
Nonprofit group that plans and manages concerts and other events downtown. In particular, New Albany Venues coordinates the summer concert series at the New Albany Riverfront Amphitheater. Contact Shelle England ...
As has been noted previously in this space, riverfront activities are coordinated by a committee under the aegis of the New Albany Venues incorporation. As state documents below show, the incorporation's address is the city's executive office address.

The small committee operates according to one primary caveat, as established by Mayor England: All public events must be free of charge. Without covers and admission fees, and with very little municipal funding available for support, this non-statutory stricture implies a complete reliance on outside sponsorship, as with the Horseshoe Foundation, Duke Energy and others.

Note that the committee's stewardship of the riverfront is not the issue here. Rather, it is the future implications of New Albany Venues, as currently configured. I've asked the city attorney (and Shane has agreed) to explain these implications to us, and to answer these questions. When he does so, I'll post the results.

Seeing as Mayor England is not seeking re-election, does his wife's name remain on the charter New Albany Venues incorporation, or is there an election/appointment procedure for a succession?

Do the non-profit incorporation rules permit the establishment of a truly non-political, community-infused, pluralistic board or committee, one not entirely dependent on personnel decisions made by future mayors?

Are there any plans for a succession of this sort, or for the establishment of the type of pluralistic, inclusive governing riverfront body?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

It was seventy years ago this month that Ted Williams surpassed .400

As all true baseball fans know, Ted Williams didn't play it safe.

He went for what he considered the legitimate, undisputed .400 average on the final day of the 1941 season, and succeeded in removing all doubt by shredding A's pitchers to the tune of 6 for 8 during a doubleheader at Shibe Park.

Ted Williams was my father's favorite player. My dad was 16 years old that summer, playing baseball when not working on my grandfather's property in Georgetown, and only a year away from running away from home to join the Marines, fighting as a naval gunner in the same conflict as his hero, a pilot.

Also, both of New Albany's two finest professional ball players were alive to observe the 1941 campaign. 31-year-old Billy Herman, a future Hall of Fame selection, was playing second base in the National League. Elderly Jouett Meekin, star pitcher during the pre-1900 days, had wrapped up his career as a New Albany fireman and was living out his years in the city of his birth.

Here's a toast to Teddy Ballgame of the MFL. If you know what the acronym means, you're a true baseball fan.
Ted Williams’s .406 Is More Than a Number, by Bill Pennington (New York Times)

Inside his room at Philadelphia’s Ben Franklin Hotel on Saturday, Sept. 27, 1941, Ted Williams was jumpy and impatient. That might have been an apt description of the mercurial Williams at most times, but on this evening he had good cause for his unease.

His batting average stood at .39955 with a season-finale doubleheader to be played the next day at Shibe Park, home of Connie Mack’s Athletics. Since batting averages are rounded to the next decimal, Williams could have sat out the final two games and still officially crested baseball’s imposing .400 barrier.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

86'ing heedless repetition.

"If a factory is torn down but the rationality which produced it is left standing then that rationality will simply produce another factory. If a revolution destroys a government, but the systematic patterns of thought that produced that government are left intact, then those patterns will repeat themselves...There's so much talk about the system. And so little understanding."

-Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Perhaps it's a bit early in the "adjustment" period, but the above quote shared by reader Josh and a neighbor's mention of how pleasant New Albany's downtown can be without the noise of interstate traffic have me (re)thinking.

Let's suppose the Sherman Minton Bridge needs replacement. The current projected cost of a new East End Bridge sans tunnel and other approaches is $406 million. One assumes a new Sherman Minton might come with a similar price tag. That's a lot. Given that level of expenditure, would merely replicating an interstate bridge really be the best investment of those dollars?

Haven't a lot of our issues in terms of urban devaluation and decay ridden shotgun on the destruction of Scribner Park and the insertion of an interstate into our downtown street grid and lives? The city's oft-referenced 20th century heyday was an interstate free affair.

Like Steve Wiser's better cross-river plan (PDF) in response to the Ohio River Bridges Project, could we be better served by two local access New Albany bridges, transit options, and park and rides on the perimeter and, like 8664, the removal of the Great Wall of the West End? Aren't a lot of the points we've all made about the downtown portion of the Bridges Project in general as true for New Albany specifically? That our neighborhood streets have become cut through highways and both our green and building spaces mostly unused surface parking might provide a clue.

Before we get too caught up in partisan bickering over paying for it, it may be a good idea to consider what we actually want.

Bring on the acid: Kerry Stemler sips, picks and grins as the Sherman Minton Bridge closes.

Photo taken early in the evening of Friday, September 9, at the Carnegie Center's annual fundraiser.

Crashers aside, it's even better that DRC is not Office Depot.

Strassenfest today, along with other New Albany events.

Strassenfest is today at New Albany's Riverfront Amphitheater, 1 -10 pm: Beer, food, music, community ... and a quiet bridge without cars.

You CAN get here from there. Parking for Strassenfest is at the foot of Pearl Street, by the levee. From Louisville, take I-65 N to I-265 W to I-64 E. New Albany's Exit 123 into downtown is open. From the ramp, go straight, and then left on Main to Pearl.

Also, both I-65 N and the Clark Memorial (2nd St) Bridge can be taken to State Road 62, which becomes Brown's Station Way and Spring Street into downtown New Albany. From Spring Street, go left on Pearl and you'll see the amphitheater roof on the horizon.

The NABC beer lineup for Strassenfest is Keller Pils and our first-ever Strassen Brau (Oktoberfest style), both brewed with Andechs yeast from Germany; Jenever; Bob's Old 15-B Porter; and Smoked Abzug. Also, a special gravity-pour Anstich keg of Schlenkerla Eiche (oak-smoked lager) from Bamberg, Germany, will be tapped at 1:00 p.m. and poured from the tabletop.

Food is being prepared by NA Exchange and R & P Dogs. Music starts at 1:00 p.m. with Roz Tate and Chris Shireman, followed by German Dance Troup, Miltary Band, Waitin' for Dave and Hugh E. Bir and the Concrete Canyon Cowboys. Vendors will be on site for shopping.

Elsewhere in New Albany, the weekly Saturday morning Farmers Market is up and running at the corner of Bank and Market, and it's also the day for the Midtown Neighborhood Festival & Yard Sale at Ritter Park (13th and Oak).

Friday, September 16, 2011

Tucker: "Louisville’s transportation solution."

There are some good ideas in this list, which I noticed after my reference earlier this morning to a southwest bridge. I particularly like numbers one and nine. Don't neglect to follow the link and read Tucker's pre-list commentary.
This is how we do it: Louisville’s transportation solution, by Brian Tucker (at Insider Louisville)
So, after having read and listened to the “man on the street,” here are a few ideas that will most likely be ignored by the powers that be.

Because this is how we do it.
  1. Dismiss and divest of all power every single person sitting on the Bridges Authority board.
  2. Throw away all the studies, drawings, and opinions of those on the board, take them to Standiford Field, tell them “thanks, nice try” and kiss them goodbye.
  3. Repair the Sherman Minton bridge assuming it can be repaired.
  4. Get started on building an East End bridge tomorrow.
  5. Make plans for a southwest Louisville bridge the day after tomorrow.
  6. What is old is new again: Make use of the K&I railroad bridge by allowing bus traffic and by giving mass transit vehicles the right-of-way.
  7. Encourage bus ridership by jacking up parking rates at meters and garages downtown, by lowering bus fares and by compelling local businesses to help subsidize expanded bus service.
  8. Get the mayor to make Bus Rapid Transit a priority. He brought it up during the campaign and has been running away from it ever since.
  9. Establish a commission comprised of both citizens and business owners to discuss transportation infrastructure in Louisville. Force the commission to have legal, open meetings and put the resulting ideas on the ballot.
To be living in a city on a river is a nice thing as long as people can cross the damn thing.

When we solve this, we win.

Lets get with it.

Horseshoe patron from Louisville takes Spring Street instead, arrives at poker table in same amount of time.

Already the "word on the street" is that Horseshoe will decamp to Jeffersonville with lightning speed if the Sherman Minton closure isn't rectified sooner rather than later. Such rumors, while grounded in a degree of fact (statutorily, Jeffersonville might now host a casino), ignore other facts, namely the ridiculously high cost of relocation as well as the state-mandated process for moving.

Far closer to reality is the closing statement of reporter Hershberg's piece, as attributed to a casino official: "If they choose to gamble, they will come to Horseshoe for an extra 10 minutes drive."

Is it time to begin tolling for the future south(west)end bridge?
Bridge shutdown hurts Horseshoe Casino; Official: Casino business down, by Ben Zion Hershberg (One Formerly Great Louisville Newspaper)

Business at Horseshoe Southern Indiana Casino business was down by double digits last weekend and was slower than usual earlier this week after the closing of the Sherman Minton Bridge, an official acknowledged.

But Jonathan Jones, the casino’s vice president of operations, said business was good Wednesday, when buses brought in patrons from the metropolitan area and beyond, and Thursday morning showed continuing signs of progress.

He declined to provide more specific estimates of foot traffic this week but said “we are all very optimistic the business will come back and it will do so quickly.”

Nash: "I think we can use ... to pull together as a community and come out of this with a better grasp on what is really important.

Matt offers three excellent talking points in today's column.

NASH: Let’s put the bridge closure in perspective,by Matt Nash (OSIN)

... The most important thing to consider is this is not the end of the world. While it may be the end of the world as we knew it, we will survive just by making a few changes in our everyday lives. The first few days commuter traffic has been better than I thought it would be with most people adapting nicely ...

... Now that driving to Kentucky is not as easy an option as it was before, it is time for people to consider what Southern Indiana communities have to offer. You can get just about anything you need on the “Sunny Side” of Louisville, without the hassle of gridlock traffic standing in your way.

The news of the bridge closure had barely gotten out when members of the Ohio River Bridges Authority were basically telling us “I told you so.” The problem is that they do not understand the argument of their opponents, basically because they refuse to listen.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

ON THE AVENUES: We cannot let this window close.

ON THE AVENUES: We cannot let this window close.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

When it comes to presumed birthrights, absolute freedom of mobility ranks somewhere near the top of the bucket list, at least to American eyes.

In theoretical terms, this can be a positive trait. Even a hardened cynic like me must take note of the possibilities for personal development and realization inherent in greater mobility, as compared to the limitations of hidebound social castes and conventions in other sectors of the globe.

However, in this sense we’re speaking more of social mobility than physical transportation, which moves us from one place to the other.

Arguably, the intrinsically American solution to the problem of social mobility has been to strive toward an untrammeled state of purely physical movement. The earliest settlers may well have come here in search of social, religious and economic freedoms, but once landed, the first imperative for many was to race toward wherever the land stopped and the ocean resumed.

From dirt trails to plank roads, and from Conestogas to Chryslers, we’ve concluded that freedom of movement is synonymous with economic freedom, and the freedom to accumulate wealth is the sole key to upward social mobility.

The problem: As decades pass, it becomes increasingly hard to avoid the certainty that future generations will look back on what we Americans have accomplished in the cause of unshackling humanity from its roots, and judge it to have been wasteful, unsustainable and perhaps even tragicomic.


Here in New Albany and Southern Indiana, at least for the moment, posterity is of far less concern than posteriors, or those appendages resting atop car seats stuck in traffic, slated for transfer to office chairs once newly sticky rush hours are transcended, and ultimately destined for plopping down in sofas later that evening, when television, radio and Internet pundits comprise our Greek chorus: “Woe is to us, and how will we survive this disastrous catastrophe!”


Now that we’ve lost the Sherman Minton Bridge for an indefinite period of time, until its steel cracks are repaired or the entire structure replaced with Minor Moves bucks, there seems to be a prevailing temptation to parlay annoyance and self-pity into the sort of hyperbole that has become the modern world’s substitute for reasonable thought.

It’s too bad, because if we as a community conclude that the absence of immediate mobility gratification dooms us to irrelevance and impoverishment, we’ve lost the fight before the first bell is even rung.

Disaster? Hardly. Tsunamis, wars, earthquakes, plagues and famines are examples of genuine disaster, as is the collapse of a bridge carrying traffic, and in our local instance, potential disaster has been averted. This is to be celebrated, not unfairly characterized out of shapeless pique.

While it may be the first time in the lifetime of many readers that a functioning Sherman Minton Bridge has not been something to be blithely taken for granted, it also is the case that with the bridge’s sudden closure, a window has opened, and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities have arisen.

I may be guilty of over-simplification, but to me the concept of localism is, at root, the operational converse of sprawl, not in any sense of localism replacing all aspects of accepted civilization in the short term, but gradually swinging the pendulum back from the extreme unsustainability of the far-flung exurb to the greater utility of sacrificing a mere jot of absolute, unrestrained mobility to gain some of the economic and spiritual benefits of community rootedness.

We’ve not always been able to articulate the tenets of localism. Now, amid the inevitable snarl of transport in the opening stages of bridge deprivation, there is the chance to illustrate localism to Hoosiers by means of shared experience. Business owners in New Albany and environs will be grasping this brave new paradigm shift, and getting it fast, or else they’ll be swept away.

For a length of time yet to be determined, we’re no longer an afterthought. Rather, we’re the very best, most efficient option for Indiana residents accustomed to using the bridge(s) for purposes of discretionary spending. We may not be able to solve the perennial metropolitan Louisville employment quandary – yet. However, we can provide most of what one needs, and do so right here.

Think of it not as a captive market, but as a soon-to-be savvier market. The game board has been upended, and the pieces are scattered across the table. The beauty of this immense opportunity is that New Albany and Southern Indiana need not re-arrange the match under the rules previously handed us. We may now rewrite the rules, or play an entirely different game.

Perhaps, in the end, the greatest freedom of all stems from seemingly narrow options.


One last thought.

New Albany’s municipal elections approach, and while Facebook is not the ultimate arbiter of such matters, a cursory review of the 24 candidates who have a Facebook campaign presence (roughly half of them) reveals that as this monumental paradigm shift explodes in all directions through their neighborhoods, they remain primarily concerned with endless recitations of yard sign plantings and fundraisers.


Democratic council candidates John Gonder and Doug England (our current mayor) stand out as major exceptions. Republican mayoral hopeful DM Bagshaw at least seems to have noticed. Of those candidates not on Facebook, Dan Coffey is displaying a deep interest in the situation (trust me). Readers and candidates, you may enlighten us as to anyone I’ve missed.

We’ve long lamented the absence of platform content on the part of mayoral and council aspirants, but it simply beggars belief that at this juncture, they’re still prattling on about 4-by-4 monster signs and golf scrambles.

I’m not suggesting candidates panic, or rush to conclusions that cannot yet be determined. At the same time, isn’t showing the slightest semblance of recognition that the Sherman Minton’s condition is (a) not a disaster, but (b) an enormous and probably unprecedented opportunity the barest of minimums we should expect from New Albany’s slate of leaders?

Louisville Courant: "River Fields is not the evil holding up the Bridges Project."

Curt's back from the tar sand battleground, and while his blog post focuses on the River Fields angle, don't neglect reading the entirety of Shaw's original piece in LEO.

Kerry "Screaming Skull on Acid" Stemler may have spent last Friday evening doing the goosestep through Paris NA, but perhaps his Bridges Politburo should commission a typically half-hearted study of future lawsuits sure to arise as it ignores the implications of the Sherman Minton closing in order to propagandize the transport gospel according to St. Daniels.

Louisville Republicans: Leave River Fields Alone!, by Curtis Morrison (Louisville Courant blog)

If you picked up a copy of this week's LEO Weekly, in Broken Bridge you'll see one of Louisville's finest journalist fairly laying down the law in several ways, but one specifically deserves attention at the moment: River Fields is not the evil holding up the Bridges Project."
Contrary to popular myth, River Fields’ lawsuit is not delaying the project — yet."- Steve Shaw

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Not quite the Bosphorus, but there's a water taxi running through it.

My friend Jennifer posted this on Facebook. Granted, she has a job in downtown Louisville. What I like is her upbeat attitude in meeting the commuter's challenge.
If you are tired of complaining about the traffic on Facebook (and everyone is tired of reading about it!), then take the ferry. It's only $1 and I took it this morning and loved it. Not to mention it's very relaxing. Park your car, board, pay the lady, sit back, enjoy the breeze & watch the sunrise on your 10 minute ride. Beats the heck out of sitting on a questionably stable bridge, getting angry, wasting your gas, and being late to work. :) Happy Hump Day!
Water taxi to ferry people across river; Spirit of Jefferson will operate during morning and afternoon rush hours for at least two weeks, by Braden Lammers (News and Tribune)

News and Tribune editorial board swiftly embraces localism.

Our newspaper expedites, and offers the major themes of cracked bridge as community building opportunity, not faux "disaster."
OUR OPINION: Let’s make the best of the bridge bummer, by the News and Tribune editorial board of Publisher Bill Hanson, Editor Shea Van Hoy and Assistant Editors Amy Huffman-Branham and Chris Morris

... Hoosiers have a chance to help each other out by being courteous and helpful — and by spending money at local businesses.

Let’s treat this like the warnings during winter weather — don’t go out unless you have to, but alter it to “don’t go to Louisville unless you must.”

Take stress off the bridges and yourself and see what Southern Indiana has to offer.
For more on yesterday's special meeting:

New Albany business leaders hope for tradeoff during bridge's closure, by Harold J. Adams at the Courier-Journal.

It’s hard to leave, so you might as well stay; With bridge closed, New Albany business leaders talk marketing Southern Indiana, by Daniel "Told You So" Suddeath at the News and Tribune

Bridge cracks revealed to be Major Moves ratholes.

In Rep. Clere's OSIN column this week, he laments that other important issues will be "squeezed out" as constituents in Floyd County discuss the implications of the Sherman Minton Bridge's indefinite closure -- arguably the single most significant local issue in living memory.

Personally, I believe that after we recover from the understandable commuter shock, much good will come of this in the sense of business and community building, and Rep. Clere might even agree with me. At the same time, and whether intentional or not, something he writes begs a very obvious question. Let's see who in the state's Democratic opposition asks it; to help them, I've italicized the key point:

CLERE: Bridges pose challenges now and later, by Ed Clere

... Because of Indiana’s Major Moves program — which has been using proceeds from the lease of the Northern Indiana Toll Road to fund road projects all around the state — Indiana has increased spending on road construction at a time when most other states have been cutting back. Most of the Major Moves money has been spent, however, and we will have to look for new ways to fund future projects.

4th Annual Midtown Neighborhood Festival is this Saturday, Sept. 17th, from 11 am - 3 pm.

(Submitted by Ted Fulmore)

Get ready for our 4th Annual Midtown Neighborhood Festival – Saturday, September 17th from 11am-3pm. There’ll be fun games for the kids, the Bubble Truck, Buddy Bat, and more! We’re also having a neighborhood yard sale in Ritter Park to benefit the Neighborhood Watch group. The yard sale starts at 8am in the park (in the grass near 13th and Culbertson). Email Paige if you have questions about the yard sale at faithann102(at)

See more at this link.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Special Merchant Mixer meeting minutes and WLKY video link.

Here are the minutes from this morning's meetings (courtesy of Curt and Pam Peters), as well as the link to WLKY-32's meeting coverage.

Business Owners Staying Positive: Bridge Closure Affecting New Albany Businesses



Tuesday, September 13, 2011, 8:00 a.m.

Approximately 50 merchants representing downtown New Albany businesses met at the Grand Theater on Market Street for a motivational meeting to share ideas as to how we can work together after the closing of the Sherman Minton Bridge.

Many people expressed the idea that the key to our continued success at keeping the current momentum going in downtown New Albany is to remain positive. It is too early to tell what the impact will be for downtown merchants, but we must all begin tracking customers for at least six months so that we have a record of where customers are coming from and when they are coming. Mike Ladd of Urban Enterprise Association plans to get a picture of the economy on the Indiana side of the Ohio River by collecting such information merchants will send him. He will communicate via email the form for merchants to use in collecting the data and will create an excel spreadsheet to tabulate information. In this way we may be able to see what Kentucky brings into our community.

Many of the positive steps we can take are as follows:

  • We must put forward new efforts to market Indiana communities such as Clarksville, Jeffersonville, Hamburg, Sellersburg, Georgetown, Corydon and others. This is a great opportunity to reach people who do not know about all the business venues downtown New Albany.

  • Think about what other modes of transportation could be developed between southern Indiana communities of New Albany, Clarksville and Jeffersonville and others.

  • DNA (Develop New Albany, Inc.) will be putting up billboards prior to Harvest Homecoming to get the word out as to what downtown New Albany has to offer. It was suggested they emphasize a website for further information.

  • Re-examine all signage and highlight it.

  • Harvest Homecoming should add a major theme “Support New Albany.”

  • Do more with joint advertising.

  • Merchants need to get their staff “on board” so they continue to be upbeat with customers.

  • Employees need to be oriented as to what is available in downtown New Albany. A New Albany directory needs to be distributed to each business. DNA has already produced a map of downtown businesses which is going into its second printing.

  • Service at our restaurants needs to be top-notch to keep people coming back.

  • Produce something—possibly on DNA web page—highlighting various merchants.

  • Create a t-shirt using the theme “I survived the Sherman Minton Bridge Closing”. Use the tag line “We are surviving” in various ways.

  • DNA can be used as a clearinghouse to create links to all the business websites.

  • Businesses were encouraged to keep their normal business hours, not panic or shift hours around.

  • Utilize the TV morning shows to get the word out.

The meeting was extremely upbeat. Carl Malysz said it all when he expressed the following:


A follow-up meeting will be held at the Grand Theater next Tuesday, September 19, at 8:00 a.m.