Monday, October 31, 2011

As sad as it gets when a business dies.

From ear X-tacy's Facebook page comes the sound of John Timmons letting go of a dream. We were headed that way to shop on Saturday when word came across the Twitter feed that the store had closed without explanation. I've been around long enough to know what that usually means, and it made me sick to think it might be the end, but I had no illusions. Capitalism is pitiless this way, which is probably why I love it and loathe it all at the same time.

Ironically, most of the day today, the usual suspects (me included) were debating the usual topics about local business, chains, ethics, personal responsibility and whatever else came up. About all I can add at this juncture is that if anyone ever cried when a McDonald's or Wal-Mart closed down, he or she is an imbecile. If this sentiment renders me an egotist, one upsmanshipman or pie-eyed leftist, so be it.

Dear Louisville, and all who have shopped, supported, and loved ear X-tacy over the years,

It has been a dream come true...actually, a dream exceeded, to be part of your musical lives here in Louisville for the last 26 years. My life was changed forever, and guided by the power of music since I can remember. Music has been the soul, the heart, the passion of my life for my entire 56 years. The record store experience has been the only child in my life. Now, it's time for me to let it fly.

Thank YOU...for allowing me to be part of your musical universe. Louisville, you made me feel like I was truly HOME when I moved here in 1976. It's been a great ride, but as George Harrison knowingly said, "All Things Must Pass." It's with sadness, but also with great pride I say to you now...

ear X-tacy is no more

Long live ear X-tacy!

Please keep the music alive. Support the incredible music scene and independent businesses we have here! Until you leave this great city, you cannot realize what a unique treasure we have here. Embrace it, celebrate it, and promote it. Love it.

Thank you all for making my dreams come true. Thank you for making ear X-tacy the wonderful place that it was. I thank all of the staff that made this store THE hub for music in Louisville for the past 26 years. Please take pride in knowing that YOU have been the heart and soul of what this store became. Thank you for sharing my dream and exceeding all of my expectations! To all of the musicians who have graced our store and stage, I cannot tell you what a thrill it's been. From the local newbies to the incredibly huge national artists...THANK YOU for gracing our store and sharing you incredible musical talents with us all...that's what I like to call: "earX-tacy".

Love, peace, music and ear X-tacy to you all,

John D. Timmons
President, ear X-tacy, Inc.

PizzaGate: Just making a point about localization, Candidate Oakley. Nothing more, nothing less.

The photo was cribbed from Matt Oakley's 6th district candidate site on Facebook. We've brought PizzaGate to your attention precisely because Oakley once said that he makes decisions based on facts, and the fact is that buying local is a positive boost for the economy in Oakley's district, and city. A fervent discussion took place at my Facebook site. Jeff included a few prime links to AMIBA. Let's all think for a change, shall we?

Can you identify these pizza boxes?

It's hard to see the logo, and obviously I wouldn't have any way of knowing this, so help me: Are these pizza chain pizza boxes? Papa John's? Pizza Hut? Or maybe Bearno's? Tune in later today for the explanation and the whole photo.

ORBP: "We need an affordable solution that does not include tolls."


"...The authority expects to decide actual toll rates sometime in 2012 once the construction contract has been awarded.." (Courier-Journal October 26, 2011)

We can't give up. The Bridges Authority is going to build the bridges and tell us later what it will cost. We need to keep calling and writing the FHWA officials--both state and Federal--and tell them we need an affordable solution that does not include tolls. Tolls are still in the plan unless the Federal Highway Administration intervenes.

Please send a message to FHWA representatives below that you are opposed to tolls. Here's a draft message that you can edit to your particular concerns regarding tolls, but please send a message to the Federal Highway Administration representatives list below:

I stand with other members of this community who are opposed to tolls on I-65. Tolls on I-65 will have a negative impact on the local economy. Public comments are 3-1 against tolls on I-65. There are 9 resolutions from all surrounding local councils opposed to tolling I-65. Other resolutions against tolls on I-65 include two from local government associations, Southern Indiana Tourism Bureau, Jeffersonville Main Street Association, statements from Jeffersonville mayor Tom Galligan, and New Albany Mayor Doug England. Over 11,000 people signed petitions opposing tolls on I-65. Those signatures were collected over just 9 weeks.

Bob Tally, (FHWA co-chair)

Indiana Division

P: (317) 226-7476

Fax: (317) 226-7341

Jose Sepulveda, Division Administrator, Kentucky Division Office

Federal Highway Administration

330 West Broadway, Room 264
Frankfort, Kentucky 40601

P: (502)223-6720 FAX: (502)223-6735

Ray Lahood - Cheryl J Walker/ Special Assistant

Federal Highway Administration

Office of the Federal Highway Administrator

(202) 366-6378


We are a broad-based coalition of businesses, organizations and private individuals who are opposed to tolls on the I-65 Corridor/Kennedy Bridges System. Our targeted focus has been driven by recent announcements by the governors of both states to shift the financing burden for all of the downtown infrastructure needs to the Kennedy Bridge and its I-65 supporting new Downtown Bridge. We have formed under the entity of "Organization for a Better Southern Indiana, Inc." (OBSI.) Our purpose is to educate the public of the true impact of the current proposed bridge toll on both sides of the river. We are a 501-C6 non-profit organization that has been formed for the purpose of disseminating information. We are not against the bridges--just tolls or user fees on the I-65 Corridor/Kennedy Bridges System, which will divide our community, be a regressive tax that our citizens and businesses cannot afford, and will adversely affect the local economy, disproportionately affecting Southern Indiana.

"Berlin, Symphony of a Great City," the 1927 film by Walter Ruttmann.

I could sit utterly spellbound for hours watching footage like this. C'mon, wouldn't you love to see films of New Albany during the same period? I've chosen the excerpt here because it details one of my favorite times of day, lunch, but you can watch the whole film at YouTube, and also via your Netflix instant play queue. For more: Filmnotes to Berlin, Symphony of a Great City (1927) Walter Ruttmann.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Certain comments that have disappeared.

Some weeks back, I received a message about a new feature to reduce comment spam, and I duly ignored the suggestions made frequently since then to check the spam box periodically lest legitimate messages had been wrongly ticked as spam by the automatic eye.

Had I done so, I would have noticed a dozen or so legitimate comments made in recent weeks, each wrongly ticked as span. Finally learning this certainly does answer previous concerns from several of you (Spencer, Ecology Warrior, Wampla) about comments mysteriously unpublished.

Apologies. Now I belatedly know the score, and will check the spam box more often.

When your candidate pops up, just double down.

One Southern Indiana Newspaper's Daniel Suddeath briefly surveys the city council field in numbered districts. Remember to activate your pop-up umbrella before visiting the site.

Coffey, Caesar hoping to retain council seats in New Albany ... Bledsoe and Phipps vying for New Albany’s District 3 post

Parks, council health insurance among top issues for New Albany council candidates ... Seats in Districts 4, 5 and 6 up for grabs

A glorious autumn day for "The Ides of March."

Gracious, has it really been six years since this?

George Clooney's “Good Night, and Good Luck” will lure NA Confidential to the multiplex.

Yesterday afternoon, we viewed Clooney's most recent politically-themed work, and found it very good. The campaign platform Clooney espouses in the film as the character of Governor Morris perfectly positions Clooney, Morris or both as the candidate I'd happily favor in 2012, although perhaps there is still hope Barack Obama will embrace them.

The Ides of March – review, by Philip French (

The Ides of March is a serious film that reveals Clooney as a director capable of welding his fellow performers into a superb ensemble while sustaining both dramatic tension and moral focus. He's a liberal of a critical kind, and his respect for the audience takes the form of expecting us to understand that in bringing a self-critical searchlight to bear on events surrounding the Democratic party he isn't attacking the liberal left. He's simply addressing himself to the complications and vagaries of electoral politics.

The ultimate in reading niches: "Manufacturing a Socialist Modernity."

For 25 years, I've wanted to know more about the theory and practice of housing in the socialist countries of Eastern/Central Europe. Now, finally, there's a book, and I've ordered it from Destinations. I'm positively giddy. Really. Here's the description:

Eastern European prefabricated housing blocks are often vilified as the visible manifestations of everything that was wrong with state socialism. For many inside and outside the region, the uniformity of these buildings became symbols of the dullness and drudgery of everyday life. Manufacturing a Socialist Modernity complicates this common perception. Analyzing the cultural, intellectual, and professional debates surrounding the construction of mass housing in early postwar Czechoslovakia, Zarecor shows that these housing blocks served an essential function in the planned economy and reflected an interwar aesthetic, derived from constructivism and functionalism, that carried forward into the 1950s.

With a focus on prefabricated and standardized housing built from 1945 to 1960, Zarecor offers broad and innovative insights into the country’s transition from capitalism to state socialism. She demonstrates that during this shift, architects and engineers consistently strove to meet the needs of Czechs and Slovaks despite challenging economic conditions, a lack of material resources, and manufacturing and technological limitations. In the process, architects were asked to put aside their individual creative aspirations and transform themselves into technicians and industrial producers.

Manufacturing a Socialist Modernity is the first comprehensive history of architectural practice and the emergence of prefabricated housing in the Eastern Bloc. Through discussions of individual architects and projects, as well as building typologies, professional associations, and institutional organization, it opens a rare window into the cultural and economic life of Eastern Europe during the early postwar period.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Organizing for localism, with coffee.

New Albany First's guest, Jeff Milchen of AMIBA, returned to the upstairs meeting room at River City Winery on Saturday morning to continue the discussion about strategies to build independent local businesses in New Albany.

It was a strong turn-out, and I'm grateful to Stacie Bale of Earth Friends Cafe for the coffee ... it had been a long Friday evening of localism in practice (not theory).

Special thanks go to Andy Terrell, who has been putting together the pieces of the NA First puzzle. I duly resolve to be of more help in this effort.

I'd also like to recognize council candidates Diane Benedetti (on the right) and Eddie Hodges, who attended the Saturday morning session, and Steve Burks (council candidate) and Jack Messer (mayoral candidate), who came on Friday night.

October 28: Localism in practice, not theory.

Leticia Bajuyo’s “Brew History: All Bottled Up” began coming down. The New Albany Public Art Project Bicentennial Series installation commemorating New Albany’s breweries and taverns was intended to be temporary, but we'll miss it.

At the opening reception for "Powering Creativity: Air, Fuel, Heat," a joint exhibit of Ohio Valley Creative Energy and the Carnegie Center for Art & History.

Jeff Milchen, co-founder of the American Independent Business Alliance, rallied the New Albany First crew upstairs at River City Winery.

It was Larry Schad's 70th birthday party, too, and Chef Matt prepared a feast, including these duck wings and veggie tray.

Music by Toledo Bend, as booked by The Dandy Lion boutique and shop.


A Few Questions With The Designer of that Awesome Highlands Mural, from the Consuming Louisville blog.

Image cribbed from Consuming Louisville (courtesy of the mural designer, Bryan Patrick Todd).

Friday, October 28, 2011

Look for it soon, and in real life.

The plumber with the incriminating photos?

Imagine the money it's taken to get this Spring Street home looking so great. It's a showplace. You'll notice a curtain on the porch, presumably placed so the view to the west is screened:

Parishioners at the newly refurbished St. Mary's, just a block down the street, have this view to the east:

Yes, I know we've been here before, but seriously: Why does this guy get a permanent pass? Is he the mayor's personal plumber, or something? Not a finger has been lifted since the hurricane damaged the structure in 2008, and it wasn't being maintained even before that.


Quartet of unendorsed at-large council hopefuls: England.

NAC previously has considered the depressing slate of at-large council candidates, three from each major party. Will Doug England, the current, former, and soon to be former former mayor.

I’ll freely acknowledge supporting England when he stood for election in 2007. Today, as precisely and as free from polemics as is possible given my usual proclivities, I will try to explain why I do not support his candidacy for city council at-large, even if I continue to suspect he’ll be one of the three chosen, along with incumbents John Gonder (D) and Kevin Zurschmiede (R) – such is the lamentable state of the slate.

Mayor England’s first-ever bid for a city council at-large seat is, and also is not, a referendum on his performance as mayor during the past four years. Insofar as it is, and since it is my view that the most benign assessment of England’s record the past four years is “underachievement by comparison to what was promised,” a look at his 2011 council campaign mailer is instructive.

It is almost identical to the “England for Mayor” brochure mailed in 2007, and in like fashion, his yard signs have been creatively doctored and reused to suit the changed direction. As such, it’s fair to ask: Did he achieve these goals during his most recent term?

Occasionally he did, but far too often England displayed an inexplicable and uncharacteristic inertia bordering on outright meekness in the face of opposition. Time and again, he issued warnings and threats against a recalcitrant council before opting to back away, rather than lead. Plainly, the old fighting spirit deserted him, although unfortunately, the nepotism fetish did not.

This begs a second question: Has England re-articulated his stances on the above issues with specific application to what is required to be an effective council representative, as opposed to what is required to be an effective mayor, and explained how his presence on the council might make it less adversarial for the next mayor?

Unfortunately, no -- unless one charitably accepts the England pre-primary master plan, wherein handpicking a successor from the other political party and switching jobs from mayor to councilman somehow would break the impasse of an 8-1 council majority for the Democrats. It was a “solution” so patently self-serving that even the city’s Democratic voters wouldn’t accept it, opting for Jeff Gahan rather than Irv Stumler.

What’s harder to explain is why, having rejected Stumler, Democrats in the primary gave a Teflon-coated England – Stumler’s obvious patron – the highest vote total among at-large aspirants. It would seem to suggest that they found his performance as mayor worthier than I did … but if so, wouldn’t they rather have Doug England as mayor, alone, pre-eminent, than sitting on the council, his voice dulled in proximity to eight other crazed agendas?

Or does anyone give a damn?

All these considerations point to the single biggest cause of genuine concern with England’s campaign for a council seat. To be blunt, is he genuinely interested in being an effective council person, and committed to putting in the time required to perform effectively? Or, is it that he can’t let go?

After all, countless times have I and many others heard the mayor say that his “real” motivation for swapping the mayor’s chair for a council seat is his deeply felt desire to step away from the 24-7-365 grind of the executive office, and devote more time to his family. In a personal sense of one’s home and hearth, this is admirable, except that we cannot ignore what is being implied: Council service is far easier, a part-time job that takes less time.

If England thought a council seat would involve as much work as being mayor, his reason for swapping one for the other would be moot, and presumably, he’d not be running. Maybe I’m the only one to feel this way, but frankly, it’s an insult to all the other candidates for the city council.

At the same time the electorate increasingly grasps the complexity of a council person’s job, and sees that effectively doing the job requires time, effort and study, England is expressing a preference for the council for no other reason than the ease with which he imagines he’ll toy and dabble with it, and precisely because he won’t have to work as hard as he did before, as mayor. Sorry. That's not enough for 2011. In spite of it all, apart from politics, I like the man.

But isn’t it time for a clean flush?


Thursday, October 27, 2011

"New Albany is a city of entrepreneurs": That's why New Albany First is needed.

Andy's eloquent letter speaks for itself. Before I turn it over to him, permit this reminder about the many conceptually unified events tomorrow evening: Art and beer and localism, all at the same time.


(This is a letter to the editor I wrote and submitted to the Tribune, but it doesn't appear that it will get printed before Jeff Milchen's visit. I decided to post it here instead.)

New Albany is a city of entrepreneurs. That's the base idea that New Albany First, New Albany's Independent Business Alliance, uses as our foundation. An independent business alliance is not just a "buy local" organization although educating the public on the benefits of supporting locally-owned, independent businesses is a primary goal. An IBA is an organized group of entrepreneurs banding together to raise awareness, promote education and foster an atmosphere of working together to make their community better.

As New Albany First organized, we realized that one way we could help was by hosting seminars and speakers that could promote the importance of localism and encourage prospective independent business owners. In recent weeks, we've started a seminar series with local business owners telling their stories, good and bad, and explaining their passion for what they do. The conversation has been fascinating and we will continue that conversation in the coming months.

We're also bringing in Jeff Milchen, the co-founder of the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA). Jeff will be giving a talk on Friday night, October 28th starting at 7 pm at the River City Winery in New Albany. He'll be speaking about the importance of localism with a question and answer session to follow. Then, on Saturday morning the 29th at 10:00 am, Milchen will present his workshop "Strength in Numbers" which will look at how organized IBA's and other groups can work in their community. If you intend to come to the workshop, we urge you to also attend Friday night's talk as both events work in conjunction. Both events are free and open to the public.

On behalf of the board of directors for New Albany First, we're very pleased to be able to bring Jeff to New Albany, especially now when localism has become such a hot topic in our area. We hope to see many of our fellow southern Indiana residents attend. New Albany is a city of entrepreneurs. We at New Albany First urge you to think about that and to "be local.".

Andy Terrell
Director, New Albany First

ON THE AVENUES: Ladislav's language (1).

ON THE AVENUES: Ladislav's language (1).

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

Ladislav was a trim, polite, vaguely aristocratic older gentleman who lived in a peculiarly oversized flat amid a modern suburb of Ostrava, the epicenter of communist Czechoslovakia’s steel making and coal mining. If I correctly recall the circumstances, he was a retired educator, discretely moonlighting as an English tutor for my immigrant Czech friend’s mother.

We had been invited to his place for a social evening, perhaps because in that particular socialist neighborhood, visiting Americans were rather rare in 1989.

Knowing there would be drinks served, we didn’t dare drive, choosing instead the handy tram, and winding through the industrial landscape of the municipality. Ladislav answered the door promptly, and after pleasantries and the ritual exchange of small gifts, he escorted us back outside and downstairs, to a semi-detached building with garage doors.

Right there in landlocked, socialist Central Europe, taking up precious square meters normally reserved for a Czech male’s single most prized possession (his Skoda automobile), Ladislav had constructed a genuine Tiki Bar, complete with bamboo and plasticized tropical plants. But his equatorial showplace, while initially puzzling, actually made perfect sense in the Socialist Bloc’s skewed international scheme of things.

Ladislav had traveled to Cuba as part of a cultural exchange program, and the journey made a deep impression on him. Cuban “guest” workers lived and worked in Ostrava; one afternoon, I drank beer with one of them. Like most Czechs, Ladislav grasped the irony of the enduring blockade that kept Cuban goods, which were available throughout both European geopolitical camps, safely out of American hands, and so a bottle of Havana Club rum was sitting on his back bar alongside a brace of Cohibas, all earmarked for the occasion of my visit. It was a reverse black market, and a much appreciated gesture.

Sufficient storage space remained in the garage for Ladislav’s bicycles, for he was an avid cyclist. Apart from his set of metal dentures, and what appeared to be a rather hopeless nicotine addiction, he looked the lean and ruddy part of an athlete. The countryside was hilly and rolling, with mountainous areas nearby: Jeseniky to the west, and Beskydy to the southeast. Apart from Ostrava’s wretched air quality, it appeared to be appropriate terrain for challenging riding.

Specific memories of this long evening at Ladislav’s Ostrava Cubano Tiki Bar are fleeting. The revel extended so far into the cool, wet June night that we came very close to missing the last tram to the Motycka home, located all the way across town, adjacent to the sprawling Nové hutě Klementa Gottwalda – the steel mill named for Czechoslovakia’s indigenous, long-dead, personal Stalin.

However, one part of our conversation never left my mind in all the years to follow, because after all his other guests except for my escorts had offered their goodbyes, it emerged that Ladislav – whose lifestyle plainly suggested an access to privileges of the sort enjoyed by party members – was disinterested in the past. Rather, he wanted to talk about the future.

He engaged me at length about hope, openness and reform, and about Mikhail Gorbachev’s “new” USSR, with glasnost and perestroika breaking out within the bastion of Czechoslovakia’s imperial overlord. He was highly complimentary about my desire to visit the remainder of his country, outside the boundaries of Prague, and thought that when westerners did so, and were able to meet normal working Czechs and Slovaks, artificial political barriers irrevocably fell no matter what his or any other government might say about it.

Ladislav, who of course spoke perfect British English, passionately believed language aptitude to be the key to furthering the fall of impediments to good relations between the diverse peoples of the world. He described his vision of the coming time when Americans exactly like me would come to Eastern Europe as English language instructors, and by doing so, further the process of reform and regeneration.

Granted, it was 1989, and the rigid and toadying Husak regime would never permit such linguistic and cultural incursions, but Ladislav was certain that Gorbachev’s revitalization movement eventually would spill out from the Soviet Union, into the satellite nations, and when it did … well, when it finally did, he fully expected to see me again, this time as a fellow teacher, working alongside him in his homeland.

I enthusiastically agreed, dumbstruck at the ease with which Ladislav, a complete stranger, managed to read my mind. While never an accredited teacher, I’d dabbled in education as a substitute. Back home in a file cabinet was a bulging folder of information on various ways to get “English as a second language” teaching certification. My long-held fascination with East-Central Europe was a given. How did he fathom my innermost thoughts?

We said our goodbyes, and a few days later, it was time to depart Ostrava on a roundabout journey to Moscow for Russian language instruction of my own. Weeks passed, life and travel went on, and by late November, I was home again in Indiana, watching CNN with amazement as the last bits of the Berlin Wall fell, and shortly thereafter, tearfully gladdened when the Velvet Revolution swept Czechoslovakia.

The playwright and intellectual Vaclav Havel, whom Ladislav had described to me in glowing terms as the impetus for Charter 77 and a hero of the opposition, suddenly became president of the country. It was incredible to imagine that Havel had been imprisoned as recently as April of 1989, just before I entered the country. Truly, all things seemed newly possible, and as a new year dawned, I started wondering what Ladislav had to say about it. I’d write to him, and find out.

(Part 2 next week)

Quartet of unendorsed at-large council hopefuls: Baird.

Last week, NAC surveyed the November 8 slate of at-large council candidates, including three each from the two major political parties. We found incumbent John Gonder (D) to be the best and most obvious pick, with Kevin Zurschmiede (R; incumbent) also serviceable. We remain unimpressed with the four remaining aspirants, and are inclined to vote for only these two, but there'll be a third seat holder whether we like it or not. Assuming Gonder and Zurschmiede pass through, who will the other winner be?

Perhaps it will be Shirley Baird, who was defeated in the 2007 at-large primary by a whisker before claiming third place in this year's springtime culling of candidates.

She's attended numerous council meetings and maintained a blog, although curiously, her blogging largely ceased when the 2011 political season began. A Facebook page has been maintained with occasional postings. Rather, Baird has enthusiastically emulated Bud Frump and pursued her seat the old-fashioned way, through the rapidly decaying but still periodically functional labyrinth of the internal Democratic Party structure, which almost certainly implies her dropping any strongly felt viewpoints in favor of the tried-and-true Dixiecrat backscratching preferred by behind-the-scenes, supposedly Democratic local power brokers.

Speaking personally, in all the years I've been reading Baird's blog postings and observing her council interactions, my viewpoint has not changed. Contrary to what she probably believes, I both like and respect her as a person, and she has come perilously close on numerous occasions to grasping the bigger local picture, only to fall safely back into ideological trappings of StevePriceIsm when the final bell rings. I wish she could make it over the top in terms of political stances, and yet I doubt she will.

You may feel differently. If so, let us know.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

When we weren't looking, Pauline's disappeared.

Surely Neace could have made it into a quadplex? Thanks to MK for the photo.

Quartet of unendorsed at-large council hopefuls: Harbison.

Previously, NAC considered the underwhelming slate of at-large council candidates, three apiece from the two biggest (and almost equally irrelevant) political parties, advising that while voters may opt for as many as three, the pickings are slim past incumbents Gonder (D) and Zurschmiede (R). There'll be a third winner whether we like it or not, and so who will it be?

Republican Harry Harbison, maybe? Consider this comment from Libertarian mayoral candidate Thomas Keister on Facebook after last week's downtown meet and greet:

"At the meet the candidates reception at La Rosita last night, I found out that Harry Harbison and I have now both filed for office four times ... would that make me the "Junior Perennial" in the city of New Albany?"

Only four times? Surely that doesn't include primary elections. But wait ... I invariably forget that Republicans seldom have primaries here in New Albanian. Instead, there are appointment campaigns in leftover phone booths. Saves on signage, I reckon.

At any rate: What can be said about Harbison's candidacy? He lost his most recent bid for office in 2007, when Bob "CM CeeSaw" Caesar handily triumphed 66%-34% in the 2nd. To be sure, Harbison has won at least one race, serving as at-large council person for one term during the dawning years of the first Reagan administration -- although we cannot rule out he was appointed then, too.

In short: Can't the Republicans do better?

Groucho attends a One Southern Indiana meeting.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Seeing is believing.

“He counted on America to be passive. He counted wrong.”
-- Ronald Reagan, following air strikes on Libya in 1986, and also sampled in Def Leppard’s “Gods of War.”

For those taking a longer view of history than is customary in our time of super-sized junk food and atrophied attention spans, Moammar Gaddafi’s grisly finale last week was not at all unusual. In short, we’ve all been here before.

When the armies of Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini helped jump-start World War II by invading Ethiopia, the Libyan desert already was a colonial possession of Italy’s, and it was not rid of Axis troops until 1943, when Gaddafi still was in diapers.

Not long afterward, Mussolini suffered the same fate as the future Libyan despot. He was captured by anti-fascist countrymen, tried very quickly and just as hastily executed along with his mistress and others. Il Duce had been rescued once before, and his captors were determined to avoid a repeat performance. The corpses were meticulously hanged by the ankles from the overhanging lattice of an Esso gas station in Milano, and as was the case after Gaddafi’s death, photographs of the scene were widely circulated.

In some of the images, American GIs can be seen, milling around like veritable tourists with their Brownies, arrived just in time for the spectacle. One of them was a New Albanian whose name I recall as John Scheller, who was a substitute teacher when I was in junior high school. He would be long forgotten, if not for the contents of his briefcase: Photos he had taken himself of the macabre scene at the Esso station. Understandably, they were his prized possession.

It occurs to me belatedly that a scant 30 years separated his witnessing of gruesome history in Italy, and the equally depressing sight of my vacant 13-year-old butt slumped in an FCHS classroom seat. It is quite plausible to imagine that Scheller the substitute might have been the same age then as the author is now. Is he still living? It’s possible, although probably not, but in the sense that he made an impact on an impressionable adolescent, his memory will live as long as I do.

Mussolini and Gaddafi aren’t the only hitherto supreme leaders to have been paraded ghoulishly before the cameras following their messy ends. In 1989, as communist Romania devolved into bloodshed, the last minutes of the husband and wife Ceausescu team were faithfully filmed, as was the lifeless aftermath of their sentencing. There was film at eleven, and it may have been the highest rated program of the year.

Of course, images of Saddam Hussein beneath the gallows undoubtedly are available on the Internet, although I’ve no interest in seeing them. It’s enough for me to know that although Idi Amin and Pol Pot got away, others like Gaddafi weren’t as fortunate. Whether the latter was killed in an accidental crossfire or purposefully dispatched by an opportunistic rebel is immaterial to me.

Either way, there’ll be a new chapter of some sort for Qaddafi’s country, while here in America, a quarter century after the Libyan leader counted wrong, we finally can close the book on the Reagan Era.

Free at last ... free at last.

Quartet of unendorsed at-large council hopefuls: Burks.

Previously, NAC considered the woeful slate of at-large council candidates, three apiece from the two biggest (and irrelevant) political parties, concluding that while voters may select as many as three on their ballots, only incumbents John Gonder (D) and Kevin Zurschmiede (R) are genuinely worthy to serve. That said, there'll be a third seat holder whether we like it or not. Assuming Gonder and Zurschmiede pass through, who will the other winner be?

Perhaps it will be Steve Burks, a Republican. His Facebook campaign page has been actively updated, and surprisingly, not too much time and bandwidth have been wasted there merely rallying his troops for tactical signage placement (see Oakley, Matt). Do you have a question for the Reverend Burks? My guess is he just might have an answer.

Will it matter? Probably not to me, but who knows?

OSIN reader backs Jack.

Previously, we have expressed a preference for Jeff Gahan in the forthcoming mayoral race: Decision 2011: Gahan tops this field. Following is another point of view, reprinted from OSIN in its entirety because I persist in believing, "Just say no to outmoded and discredited pop-ups."

Reader says he’s backing Messer

I’m a life-long Democrat. I even ran for office this spring in the Democratic Party’s primary. But I will not be voting for my party’s nominee for mayor of New Albany.

Instead, I will work to persuade my friends — Democrat, Republican or independent — to vote for Jack Messer, the independent candidate for mayor.

I back Jack because I’m convinced he is the only one running who is determined to change the culture of secrecy and insider dealing that has held our city back. Jack, perhaps for different reasons, rejected the party establishment and chose to run as a candidate for all the people. I’m certain that's the kind of mayor he’ll be, too.

This year’s Democratic candidate, Jeff Gahan, has shown me that he is unable to understand that as a public servant, he works for us under laws that we the people of this city, state and country have established. I’ve closely observed his performance in office for eight years and see no indication that any change is in the offing.

Gahan fought vigorously to maintain inequality in our council districts, saying the law doesn’t matter and no one could make him conform to the law. He has been a leading proponent of maintaining an unfair sewer rate schedule despite the fact that state law mandates otherwise, risking the loss of this city-owned asset. Gahan also sponsored an appropriation that diverted $200,000 in taxpayer funds to compensate private individuals for losses they incurred from a rainstorm, despite the fact that the city had no legal liability or other obligation to do so.

And in his most recent and blatant act of disregard for the interests of New Albanians, he torpedoed the merger of city and county emergency communications operations — a move that would have saved taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

Messer, on the other hand, has been a voice of reason and a highly approachable at-large council member during the same eight years Gahan has held office. Jack is for electoral fairness. He is for equity in utility billing. He won’t support giveaways of taxpayer money. And he was the leading proponent for merging emergency communications.

Jack will listen to all the people, not just the same old gang that has run things downtown. Unlike Gahan, he believes city money is our money and not a private piggy bank for political insiders.

Messer’s the man we need to take this city forward.

— Randy Smith, New Albany

Monday, October 24, 2011

NA First newsletter.


First, we want to welcome two new board members for New Albany First. Ann Streckfus (Earthly and Katrina Jones (Antiques Attic) have both agreed to work with us on the board of directors. We want to thank both for joining us as we continue to grow and improve.

We also want to thank Stacie Bale (Earth Friends Cafe) for her help and work on the board of New Albany First. We're sad that she isn't working with us on the board anymore, but know that she'll remain an advocate for our mission. We look forward to continuing to work with her in the future.

Lots of things happening around the area over the next few weeks starting with this weekend. Of course, this Friday and Saturday, we're pleased to bring Jeff Milchen to New Albany. Both events will be held on the 2nd floor at the River City Winery. Friday night's talk will be on the importance of localism and will include a Q & A with Jeff. We'll get started at 7 p.m.; the doors will open upstairs at 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, Jeff will present his workshop "Strength in Numbers" which is a look at the organizing of local businesses. The workshop will begin at 10 a.m. Coffee, drinks and pastries will be available.

If you're planning on attending the workshop Saturday morning, we encourage you to try and come Friday night as well as the two work in conjunction. We split the two on purpose to give business owners a chance to attend at least Friday evening. In the past, we noticed that some events like this were being held too early for local business owners to attend and wanted to make sure we gave them the opportunity to hear Jeff speak.

This is a big event for us and we hope that a good number of our fellow business owners and community members will attend.

We certainly want to thank our primary sponsors for the evening, River City Winery and Destinations Booksellers, as well as our supporting NA First members:, Mind's Eye Creative, Antiques Attic, New Albanian Brewing Company, and Gahan Architectural Veneer and Panel. Thanks to all of you for making this possible.

There are some other great events being sponsored by New Albany First members on that same evening. From our friends at the Carnegie Center:

"Check out everything you can do in New Albany on the evening of Friday October 28 - all within two blocks.

*Opening Reception for "Powering Creativity: Air, Fuel, Heat", 6:00-8:00 pm at the Carnegie Center, presented with Ohio Valley Creative Energy

*Deinstallation Celebration for "Brew History: All Bottled Up", 6:00-8:00 pm, New Albanian Brewing Company Bank Street Brewhouse, across Bank St. from the Carnegie Center

*Unveiling of NABC's IX – Ninth Anniversary Ale, an Imperial Smoked Chocolate Port Barrel Stout, in honor of their 9th anniversary of brewing

*New book "Sculpture and Design With Recycled Glass" available, featuring "Brew History: All Bottled Up". For sale courtesy of Destinations Booksellers, which is celebrating 7 years in New Albany in October 2011

*Presentation and Discussion on Localism and Independent Businesses, 7:00 pm, River City Winery, 321 Pearl St.

*After Party in the NABC Parking Lot, Featuring Music by Toledo Bend (courtesy of The Dandy Lion) 8:00 pm"

It should be a great night in New Albany!

Our friends at the Louisville Independent Business Alliance (LIBA) will also be hosting Jeff on Thursday evening, Oct. 27th at 5:30 for a discussion entitled "Job Creation: Myth vs. Fact" to be held at Interactive Media Labs, 124 North 1st St., Louisville. Afterwards, a members-only reception will take place. New Albany First members will be welcome to attend that reception.

LIBA has been very generous in their help (and advice) to us over the past few months. We're talking about ways to partner up in the future not the least of which is the upcoming AMIBA International Conference next spring. We thank them for the support they've shown us thus far.

Finally, the second of our 'be local' seminar series will take place on Tuesday, November 15th at Destinations Booksellers starting at 7 p.m. Scheduled panelists include Todd Antz of Keg Liquors and Blayr Bernard of the Small Business Development Center. Make plans to come and join in the conversation as we learn more about one of New Albany's newest businesses and how the SBDC can help prospective business owners achieve their dream.

More info will be on the way, but New Albany First will be hosting the 3rd annual Read-a-thon at Destinations Booksellers during Holiday Fest this year. We'll be raising money for the New Albany-Floyd County Animal Shelter. If you'd like to participate either by sponsoring a reader or reading yourself (it's fun, I swear!) then let us know.

We hope to have our website up and running soon so that you'll be able to find all of our members listed in the database and keep up with events. It looks like it's going to be a very cool website and we can't wait to unveil it.

Speaking of those events, please help us spread the word about Jeff Milchen's visit. We're asking for RSVP's although they aren't necessary. We've had contact with groups from both Indianapolis and a Cincinnati suburb who are interested in coming as well, plus Bloomington and some folks from Louisville who have expressed interest. As great as that is, we truly want this to "be local" with a great turnout of New Albany residents. You can help us achieve that.

The nightmare scenario: Weapons of mass pub grub destruction.

(Feast BBQ is going into the old Shirl-Ray's spot across from the YMCA. To learn more, visit their Facebook page)

If you derive a sense of hope or contentment from downtown New Albany's burgeoning concentration of restaurants, it helps to understand that these considerable investments so very crucial to revitalization probably could not have been leveraged without the "tool" of specially designated, off-quota, $1,000 three-way (beer, wine, spirits) alcohol permits.

In turn, these have been made possible by the city's establishment of a riverfront development district, the mechanism described in Daniel Suddeath's piece below. As a more specialized brewery-restaurant, Bank Street Brewhouse certainly could have made do with a two-way (beer and wine) permit, but for other eatery start-ups, a riverfront three-way might easily be the deciding factor in whether to invest or invest downtown -- and the city need not spend $12-18 million in encouragement.

The city council is being asked by the city to expand the size of the development district, extending it into the west end. All along, the Green Mouse has said that the prime reason for the proposal was to enable an inexpensive three-way for the Holiday Inn Express, which Dan Coffey (among others) has been wary of facilitating, but now it appears that the hotel has its own means of exemption from the quota. As it stands, the district's widening could lead to greater start-up possibilities in an area that needs them.

Now, the case in opposition is being made by Jack Messer, outgoing council member and mayoral hopeful. Frankly I find Messer's position, as stated here, to be confusing (at best) and caterwauling (at worst). For starters, in a legislative sense, exactly how do we distinguish between "just pub food" and the presumably superior grade of food served at a "real" restaurant? Yes, I surely believe in varying grades of culinary attainment, but gazing upon the faces inhabiting the current council, is it a judgment any of them are qualified to make?

Furthermore, it seems we've already covered this ground: Believe it or not, the state of Indiana already has considered the issue of permittee cuisine, and one cannot possess a "by the drink" alcohol permit of any sort without agreeing to have foodstuffs on site, ready to prepare and serve. As you can see, the state's definition of food is poetically minimalist:

The Commission will, hereafter, require that the retail permittee be prepared to serve a food menu to consist of not less than the following:

Hot soups.
Hot sandwiches.
Coffee and milk.
Soft drinks.

Hereafter, retail permittees will be equipped and prepared to serve the foregoing foods or more in a sanitary manner as required by law.

Given these considerations, what is Messer trying to say? For the purposes of any potential permittee seeking his or her license according to the stipulations of the riverfront development district, what is the difference insofar as policing ramifications between the beverage alcohol served at La Bocca and Hugh E. Bir's?

And, if there is a difference, hasn't the state already ruled in detail as to the legal requirements of a permittee? What does this have to do with policing? Obviously, the state clearly has made this determination, and accordingly, isn't it Messer's responsibility to explain what further safeguards he personally requires in order to vote in favor of the district's expansion, and not City Hall's job to somehow "prove" to him that it's a good idea?

Jack, if you're reading, can you explain? Thank you.

Do you lose with more booze? ... Messer, Coffey wary of impact of more liquor licenses

A proposal to extend the city’s riverfront development district to allow more liquor licenses to be sold will likely be weighed in committee at least one more time before the New Albany City Council takes final votes on the measure ...

... In September, the proposal passed the first of three votes by an 8-1 count before it was tabled for committee review. Messer voted against the ordinance, as he said some assurances need to be made to ensure a slew of bars don’t open.

Quality restaurants can benefit a community, but allowing multiple bars to open downtown under the guise of selling pub food can be detrimental to public safety and create a “nightmare” for police, said Messer who is a New Albany policeman.

“I’m not open to expanding what we’ve got until we find out what benefit it’s going to produce,” Messer said last week.

Maher: "They’re not the counterculture. They’re the culture."

I wonder what Councilman CeeSaw thinks. The audio is out of sync, but it doesn't matter, so just listen and enjoy.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Safran Foer: "It’s an extraordinarily inefficient way to produce food."

Max Miller of Big Think interviewed author Jonathan Safran Foer about the supposed necessity of factory farms.

A transcript is here.

On the size of my (employee benefits) package.

It strikes me that throughout history, multinational corporate monoliths have touted themselves as the most preferable choice for consumers precisely because they can lay claim to being big, predictable and omnipresent.

This has changed somewhat in recent years, which is to say the multinationals tell blatant lies even more often than before – for example, the Anheuser-Busch/Inbev beermaking colossus’ insistence that its American breweries are “local” by geographical virtue of being located in a dozen different places, and selected beers they mass-produce are to be regarded as “craft” even though the process is large-scale, and the proceeds migrate far, far away.

On the other side of all this are independent small business owners like me, who do not have the logistical economies of scale as do chains, big boxes and far-flung multinationals. What we do in response to the argument that merit lies in being biggest and baddest is to offer the principled converse: Not only is there quality in being distinctive and local, but more of the money stays at home, right here in the community, the very act of which verifiably helps the community actually function as a community.

If one, then the other, and you’d think that an argument in favor of micro-locality and distinctiveness has as much right to be heard as the opposite, and yet for quite some time, I’ve sensed a push-back coming.

An example was a recent discussion on Robin Garr’s Louisville Restaurants Forum, during which it was argued that locally-based, sustainable agriculture is not a good idea because it intentionally discriminates against the millions worldwide whose only chance of sustenance is factory farming.

Somehow I’m reminded of Andy Borowitz’s succinct summary of the current situation in Libya: “With Gaddafi gone, Libya's right to determine its future is now safely in the hands of multinational oil companies.” Similarly, the world’s undernourished masses look to Archer Daniels Midland, not themselves, for succor, which uncoincidentally enriches the multinational, robber baron class and keeps money and power where both already repose.

All of which is to say that for the investors to put their faith in Colonel Sanders is one thing, but for the chickens to blindly venerate him is something else entirely, and as I try to dissect the viewpoint of the push-back, there are instances when the source is quite surprising.

Not so long ago, during an e-mail discussion, I was verbally threatened by an employee of a humongous Internet-based retailing firm recording billions in sales worldwide, to the effect that if I didn’t stop unfairly criticizing her incredibly generous employer, she’d begin telling people how markedly inferior my small company’s employee benefits package is, compared to the one she receives.

In short, I’d be savagely exposed, utterly humiliated, and forced to cower pitifully in a corner when people finally learned that smaller-scale, locally-based profits do not enable the same remunerative largesse as internationally generated profits, such is the simplicity of capitalism’s core profit motive, and yet this fails to explain why we continue to have employees – long term employees at that – who know we cannot insure them all or provide stock options or enrich them beyond their wildest dreams.

As business owners, we try to be fair, and to do what we can for our employees. As employees, they agree to work accordingly. Are they exploited? It’s entirely possible, for there is a certain element of exploitation in every facet of human existence, including capitalism. It’s also possible that our employees are sufficiently self-aware to have drawn their own conclusions, based on their own needs and interests, and have found value in their own lives existing apart from money.

There is no intended moral to these ruminations, although reflecting on them, perhaps I’ve been mistaken all along. It always seemed to me that serendipity powered the planet, with instincts and allegiances usually finding their way to the struggle of the underdog.

Of late, the prevalence of cognitive dissonance suggests another explanation for behavioral quirks. It is sad when thoughtful, educated people come down on the side of the monoliths. Alas, it is not surprising. After all, the Yankees still have fans.

Thinking about Bunny Berigan.

Fox Lake, Wisconsin, lies north of Madison and Milwaukee, roughly equidistant between the state's capital and largest city. It's where the swing era trumpeter Bunny Berigan (1908-1942) grew up and is buried. Each May, the town hosts a Bunny Berigan Jazz Jubilee honoring the memory of its most renowned former resident, and although I'd love to make it to the jubilee some day, it's more realistic to imagine visiting during our annual August excursion to Madison for the Great Taste of the Midwest.

I intend to do this, maybe even next year.

As the years pass, the brief period of Berigan's pop music primacy recedes ever further from active memory. Could there be more than a handful of people still living who heard him play in person? And yet, as with all historical occurrences, there remains a stubborn human instinct, at least among some, to keep a living record of what's dead and gone. In the case of Berigan and other musicians of his time, we are fortunate that the record includes recordings like this.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Why wait for the election?

If Jack's already mayor, and the transition already is beginning, then there's really no sense in me voting, because victory in inevitable ... wait, I'm beginning to understand now ...


Jack Messer

... There is every reason to believe we will be victorious in the November 8th election, marking the first time in memory that a mayor has been elected without being nominated by one of the established parties. And that’s appropriate. In my experience, the people of New Albany are fed up with the past performance of both parties and are more interested in selecting the right person to lead this city responsibly and honestly.

... Our informal polling tells us we need to get started right now on planning the transition. There will be a lot of activity between election night and the first of January, when we expect to take up the mantle of service as your mayor.

Nash warns readers: "It’s election time again."

Every now and then, I must pinch myself and remember the sheer zeal and glory of it all: Steve Price lost, and we'll actually have representation in the 3rd district after eight years of empty-seat karaoke. Priceless.

NASH: It’s election time again, by Matt Nash (OSIN Pop-Up Generator)

FLOYD COUNTY — I looked at the calendar and it appears that it’s that time of year again. That spooky time of year that comes around each year when there begins to be a certain chill in the air.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Cessante ratione legis cessat ipsa lex.

As reported by Daniel Suddeath (OSIN).
Bringing the music back: England recognized for work on New Albany concert series, amphitheater

The Floyd County Democratic Party recently presented Shelle England with a plaque recognizing her contributions to establish a summer concert series at the New Albany Riverfront Amphitheater ...

... As her husband has decided not to seek another term as mayor, opting instead to run for city council, England’s designation as head of the riverfront committee will end at the conclusion of 2011.

England said she would not rule out continuing as chairwoman of the committee depending on what the next administration desires.

Elector Day is coming.

We're printing a slew of these for duty in the days prior to the election, because it's always worth remembering: An Elector Makes Democracy Pointless. Note also that in conservative Indiana, the rules have been liberalized (read: rationalized), and we can serve beer while the polls are open.

“I think the bridge is doing me a favor."

I think so, too. One of the most revealing aspects of the bridge closure has been watching the media watching us, don't you think? As business people, we express optimism ... and too often, they just want something to attach -geddon to.

Restaurant owners hopeful ahead of New Albany openings, by Harold J. Adams (Courier-Journal)

Walking along East Market Street in New Albany you can’t miss the bright yellow and blue colors painted outside Louis Le Francais, the French restaurant adding the latest international touch to the city’s recent downtown restaurant renaissance.

“Louie the Frenchman” is directly across the street from La Bocca Italian restaurant which is only a few doors away from the Habana Blues Cuban restaurant around the corner from La Rosita Mexican establishment.

Owner Louis Retailleau says the bright hues are typical colors of his native southwest France. “They are happy color, the sun, the sky, the earth.”

This happy Frenchman has been preparing nonstop for a Friday night private preview opening at the restaurant at 133 East Market Street. It’s a party “to give an idea of what I’m creating here in New Albany...a French restaurant with a Frenchman at the helm,” Retailleau said during a brief pause Thursday.

The Armagnac native is trying to recreate a typical small French restaurant “with a lot of atmosphere, a lot of ambiance” at a reasonable price, he said.

The menu will include such staple dishes as duck l’orange, lamb with au jus and cassoulet. Thursday afternoon he lifted the lid on a giant kettle of simmering lamb stock that would be 18 hours in the making ahead of Friday night’s invitation-only party.

Louis Le Francais will open to the general public on a yet to be determined date in early November beginning with a dinner-only prix fixe menu for somewhere in the neighborhood of $25.

“That will be an appetizer, salad, the main course (and) dessert,” he said.

Retailleau said he’s not concerned that the closure of the nearby Sherman Minton Bridge might prevent some potential Louisville customers from crossing the Ohio River to sample his fare.

“I think the bridge is doing me a favor,” he said. “Because there is a flow of people from New Albany and the North that used to go to Louisville, and I hope they will come here, try it and love it and come back.”

There is similar optimism two doors away at Quills Coffee which is also slated to open sometime in November. The coffee shop is maintaining its original Baxter Avenue location in Louisville and adding another in U of L’s Cardinal Towne center but will centralize the operation in New Albany, wholesale account manager Philip Revell said.

“We’re going to roast all the coffee there and then distribute to the Baxter location and the U of L location, and to wholesale customer’s too,” Revell said. More than a few fellow New Albany merchants are hoping the confidence of Retailleau and Revell is well placed.

Upcoming New Albany events.

From Develop New Albany, a good compendium of forthcoming events, with a late addition from Mike Kopp following.


Fall is a great time to leave the car in park and get out and take a walk in the cool crisp autumn air. Walk the streets of Historic Downtown New Albany and you will see a variety of locally owned businesses and restaurants that take pride in offering unique menu choices and handcrafted and inspired works you won't find anywhere else. Develop New Albany is proud to help support the efforts of all of our downtown small businesses!

Provided below are some of our upcoming Downtown New Albany Events:

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Stand up comic with a hidden agenda.

In his letter to the editor, Floyd County Republican Party chairman Dave Matthews tactfully (?) refrains from mentioning names, but we imagine he’s peeved at Jack Messer, Scott Blair, or perhaps both. That’s because the two independent candidates (for mayor and 6th district council, respectively) probably will take far fewer votes away from the Democratic front-runners in their races than from Matthews’ own handpicked candidates -- and remember how few Republicans actually declared in advance of last spring's primaries?

The world’s smallest violin is playing a tasteful lullaby. Yawn.

Candidates should be who they are

Voters, watch out for imitators! I already know of two cases where our “independent” candidates would have you think of them as Republican candidates ... unless, of course, you happen to be a Democrat. Telling you that they are the Republican candidate is not the truth.

New Albany Firefighters endorsements.

New Albany Professional Firefighters Legislative Committee Endorsements (left to right): Ben Fee, Greg Phipps, Jeff Gahan, Tonye Rutherford, Samuel Heavrin.

(Cribbed from Facebook)

ON THE AVENUES: Bully pulpit electoral vistas.

ON THE AVENUES: Bully pulpit electoral vistas.
A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

The general election approaches. Just last spring, I harbored a middling desire to contest it. This notion was rendered moot in the primary, where I finished fifth in a field of six and failed to advance.

Que sera, sera.

Given the unconventional nature of my campaign (not one red, white or blue cent was expended), it was highly encouraging to receive more than 1,300 votes, even if they were not enough to finish in the top three. An adage holds that the first time out, building name recognition is the goal, and so I’d say my first-ever run was a very cost-effective introduction to the electorate.

As for what it means in the future tense, fifty-one years have given me no firm idea of what I intend to do when I grow up. The only truly reliable deity is serendipity, and life is what continues to happen while we’re busy making other plans. Some variety of community service, politically speaking, may yet occur before I’m finished. Right now, I’d rather sell (and drink) lots of Progressive Pints.


While not entirely unexpected, perhaps the most revealing aspect of the primary campaign for me was attending Democratic Party events, and realizing in sadness and disgust that with only occasional exceptions, the higher placed the local Democratic Party power broker, the lesser chance he or she holds any beliefs remotely approximating the Democratic Party’s platform as it is now, as opposed to as it was back in pre-LBJ times.

As a leftist doomed to inhabit this benighted shard of riverside floodplain, it felt like a bad time travel film – Planet of the Dixiecrats, perhaps – wherein an entire supposed ruling caste stands stock still, refusing to read the memo, as decades tick past and the remainder of the world proceeds inevitably into the future.

Uninformed stasis makes perfect sense as a Republican worldview, as Dave Matthews’ career as GOP party chairman so tellingly attests, but the fact that the same reasoning girds the crumbling remnants of the Democratic Party’s ward-heeling machine, now reduced to a late-model station wagon suspended atop concrete blocks, tells us exactly why eight years of an 8-1 council “majority” has yielded almost nothing except missed opportunities.

And so, I might have sought an at-large seat as an independent, and might yet, but the reason I didn’t was the immensely entertaining opportunity to glide into Democratic strongholds and make statements like this:

Let’s begin by speaking aloud the unthinkable: I voted for Barack Obama in 2008, and I will again in 2012. Terms like left, liberal and progressive don’t offend me.

They describe me.

While campaigning for council, it’s my intention to fight for the relevant principles and values of the Democratic Party, and to apply them to our situation, right here in New Albany.

New Albany’s overarching need is to fight the good fight for greater local determination. The Indy-centric budgeting system we have now is inefficient and infected with malicious Republican ideology. Cutting essentials in education, public safety and social services is madness.

Accordingly, it’s my core belief that current Republican policies are the problem, not the solution, and I don’t much care if Ed Clere and Ron Grooms and Steve Stemler and Tony Bennett and Mitch Daniels don’t like it, because they’re Republicans – even Stemler – and we’re not.

It was worth it just to watch the unreconstructed party elders cringe like vampires at the garlic buffet.


On October 22, it will be seven years to the day of the very first NAC blog posting. In the course of almost 5,000 more posts since then, we’ve never stopped learning, and from this amazing, ongoing, always edifying discussion, my 2011 campaign planks largely were drawn:

Human dignity has no price tag; we must re-animate the Human Rights Commission.

“No” votes aren’t leadership. Council members must be open to new ideas, willing to learn, and able to adapt to changing realities.

We must pursue optimum localization of the economy for a more sustainable economic foundation, with more money staying in New Albany, and greater economic self-sufficiency.

Economic development funds are for economic development. They are not sewer rate subsidies, bribes for wealthy multi-national corporations, or meant for the oligarch protection society, i.e., One Southern Indiana.

Economic localization is bottom-up, not top-down. Enhanced cooperation between existing entities like New Albany First, Develop New Albany and the Urban Enterprise Association is welcomed insofar as their activities reflect grassroots needs.

Environmental restoration and sustainability are fundamental to resolving longstanding problems with storm water and the sewer system.

Sustainable green initiatives harmonize with the goal of remaking the city and its streets into a place primarily intended for the use of people, not their cars. We must maximize the advantages of urban living according to what these are, not how suburbanites think they should be.

Progressive, family-friendly neighborhood policies also come from the bottom up. Many current problems result from generations of bad remedies and design flaws. We must rethink these, plan, explore cause and effect, recognize inter-relatedness and repair them.

We must enforce ordinances. All proceeds from enforcement should be kept here to help fund further improvements, which include mandatory rental property inspections.

No tolls! The Ohio River Bridges Project is a multi-billion dollar transportation boondoggle disproportionately burdening Hoosier small businesses, Hoosier workers and Hoosier families.

Slowly, sometimes imperceptibly, the terms of our civic dialogue continue to change, and although I lost in May, these platform planks live on. To as great an extent as possible, and admittedly with imperfection, my candidate endorsements in the forthcoming general election were made with these positions in mind. Granted, not all the winners will embrace them, but for once, they’ll at least be aware of them.