Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Five years ago: "For heaven's sake, give 'em some candy ... and maybe they'll leave us alone."

It's pre-council meeting artwork from Oct. 24, 2007. The era of the Gang of Four mercifully was coming to an end. Kochert (left) retired to his polling place, and Schmidt (right) had already been ousted in the primary. The ventriloquist's Price survived to lose in the primary in 2011, while Coffey remains in office to this day; he's made a great deal more sense lately.

"A two-term Obama Administration will leave an enduringly positive imprint on political life."

As good a case for the re-election of Barack Obama as I've read.

COMMENT: THE CHOICE, by the editors of The New Yorker

... 2012 offers nothing like the ecstasy of taking part in a historical advance: the reëlection of the first African-American President does not inspire the same level of communal pride. But the reëlection of a President who has been progressive, competent, rational, decent, and, at times, visionary is a serious matter. The President has achieved a run of ambitious legislative, social, and foreign-policy successes that relieved a large measure of the human suffering and national shame inflicted by the Bush Administration. Obama has renewed the honor of the office he holds ...

 ... The choice is clear. The Romney-Ryan ticket represents a constricted and backward-looking vision of America: the privatization of the public good. In contrast, the sort of public investment championed by Obama—and exemplified by both the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Affordable Care Act—takes to heart the old civil-rights motto “Lifting as we climb.” That effort cannot, by itself, reverse the rise of inequality that has been under way for at least three decades. But we’ve already seen the future that Romney represents, and it doesn’t work.

The reëlection of Barack Obama is a matter of great urgency. Not only are we in broad agreement with his policy directions; we also see in him what is absent in Mitt Romney—a first-rate political temperament and a deep sense of fairness and integrity.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

"The presidential candidates decided not to speak about climate change, but climate change has decided to speak to them."

How is it again that faith-based initiatives play into climate change? If they do, I hope we have plenty of strong drugs. Alcohol might not be enough.

We Are All from New Orleans Now: Climate Change, Hurricanes and the Fate of America's Coastal Cities, by Mike Tidwell (The Nation)

The presidential candidates decided not to speak about climate change, but climate change has decided to speak to them. And what is a thousand-mile-wide storm pushing 11 feet of water toward our country’s biggest population center saying just days before the election? It is this: we are all from New Orleans now. Climate change—through the measurable rise of sea levels and a documented increase in the intensity of Atlantic storms—has made 100 million Americans virtually as vulnerable to catastrophe as the victims of Hurricane Katrina were seven years ago ...

... What can we do? Three major options: 1) abandon our coastal cities and retreat inland, 2) stay put and try to adapt to the menacing new conditions or 3) stop burning planet-warming fossil fuels as fast as possible.

Five years ago: Bistro New Albany closes.

I've never forgotten when Bistro New Albany closed, or how rotten I felt, although I had forgotten that it came just after Harvest Homecoming.

October 17, 2007: R.I.P.: Bistro New Albany.

It's remarkably easy for people who can do no better than "start up" the occasional rag picker's business or do contracting work without permits to understand how difficult a genuine paradigm shift is to achieve. All of downtown New Albany currently is engaged in that paradigm shift, and it's a work in progress that unfortunately will have its ups and downs. Bistro New Albany's demise is a downer, but within it are seeds of positive developments.

The Windsor was next in the space vacated by Bistro New Albany, to be followed by Habana Blues (in 2010). During the same period of time, there have been at least five occupants of the Bergman Building's retail space (Louis le Francais is the most recent). Connor's Place (at two locations), Studio's, Steinert's and Speakeasy have come and gone. As I've often suggested, combining the restaurant business with downtown revitalization is a wartime scenario, and we have an attrition rate to prove it. But the waves to follow have showed staying power.

And none of them, not one, has anything on David Clancy and what he achieved, facing tremendous obstacles, with bNA from early 2006 through late 2007. He was a pioneer. Thank him when you see him.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Trust and transparency from the commissars -- I mean, commissioners.

On today's newspaper, Floyd County's secretive board of commissioners emerges from its knobby bunker to reply to a minor sliver of implied criticism in a recent (and exceedingly droll) editorial. To no one's surprise at all, the Bush/Freiberger/Seabrook troika would very much like to throw the city under the bus, thank you -- but it isn't about politics at all, of course

Commissioners respond to newspaper’s editorial

... Among the items in this plan is the future operation of Sam Peden Community Park. The editorial board raised the question of trust with the question: “How much do you trust the county to maintain the city’s most sizable park?” ...

... Regarding this issue of trust which the editorial board raised about the county’s commitment to Sam Peden Community Park, it is interesting to hear that the city administration was already working on the plan dissolving the joint park system while members of the respective elected bodies of the city, county and members of the parks board were working toward finalizing and voting on a new agreement.

Meanwhile, the city council is going to approve a budget, build a new clock tower and grease the wobbly financial wheels of CM CeeSaw's coffee-table, white-bread Bicentennial celebration.

New Albany budget vote tonight: $20M budget up about $1.2M from last year

 ... Caesar said the commission will send out letters to local businesses asking them to purchase the book or carry editions to sell. He expects the business community will respond and there won’t be a problem selling the books.

Can't wait to be asked, Bob.

An economy based on endless growth is unsustainable, according to Muse.

It's never, ever, simple, but if you trace a line from Queen and a half-dozen "prog" rockers through middle period U2 and Radiohead, you might have a vague notion about what Muse is. I was slow coming around to Muse ... but the music is hitting me hard right about now. The trailer (above) provides a better idea of where Muse has been, but "Madness" just might be a clue to where the group is going -- or not. They skip around a bit, and although the band is British, The 2nd Law is my personal election soundtrack for 2012.

"Why a Romney win would be bad for America."

The plutocrats beg to differ. Perhaps that's the best reason of all to vote for Barack Obama.
Why a Romney win would be bad for America ... It's not necessarily about ideology; It's about the destructive opposition party behavior his victory would reward, by Steve Kornackim (Salon)

... The basic problem has to do with the behavior of Romney’s party over the past four years – reflexive opposition and obstruction rooted in electoral strategy, not ideology – and the lesson that politicians from both parties would draw if it results in a one-term Obama presidency.

"Why Are States So Red and Blue?"

I'm not sure what this theory says about Indiana, 2008 notwithstanding, although it's easy to explain New Albany as an extension of the antebellum South. Perhaps we have insufficient Great Lakes coastline.

Why Are States So Red and Blue?, by Steven Pinker (New York Times)

Regardless of who wins the presidential election, we already know now how most of the electoral map will be colored, which will be close to the way it has been colored for decades. Broadly speaking, the Southern and Western desert and mountain states will vote for the candidate who endorses an aggressive military, a role for religion in public life, laissez-faire economic policies, private ownership of guns and relaxed conditions for using them, less regulation and taxation, and a valorization of the traditional family.

Northeastern and most coastal states will vote for the candidate who is more closely aligned with international cooperation and engagement, secularism and science, gun control, individual freedom in culture and sexuality, and a greater role for the government in protecting the environment and ensuring economic equality.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Broadsheets we have known: "The Floyd County Review."

Interesting stuff. Especially who paid for it. Does this mean I'm finally in agreement with C Faux A? Gads. The world turned upside down, indeed. Here is the text.


Floyd County Gets the Chance for Better Leadership

This November, Floyd County has a chance to elect one of our county’s finest citizens to the county Board of Commissioners. With the encouragement of many residents, Dennis Roudenbush is a candidate for the 3rd District seat. Although the county is composed of 3 districts, each commissioner actually represents the entire county. Roudenbush already represents the residents of Georgetown and Georgetown Township as their elected Township Trustee, and he has expressed much excitement about the prospect of helping even more county residents as their Commissioner. Dennis is a lifelong county resident and longtime manager of the Floyd Central Thriftway, and he says he shares the growing frustration of Floyd’s citizens with recent developments in the community. As a concerned taxpayer, Roudenbush strongly objects to the recently reported waste and misuse of tax money by certain officials, and he believes that he must act to instill more integrity and accountability into the county’s government affairs. Like most residents, he is especially frustrated at the significant sums consumed by the murder trial of former police officer David Camm and the subsequent media circus surrounding the county prosecutor’s apparent misconduct.

A review of official documents obtained from the county auditor and the commissioners’ office shows that the county’s elected prosecutor, Keith Henderson, has spent at least $27,539.00 of taxpayer funds to conduct his own personal legal affairs defending an ethics grievance filed against him, presumably for improperly negotiating a book-publishing deal during the trial. His conduct is specifically prohibited by Rule 1.8(d) of the Indiana attorneys’ Rules of Professional Conduct. Mr. Henderson’s alleged misappropriation of trial funds is the subject of an anticipated investigation by several state agencies, including the State Board of Accounts and the Indian Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Commission. When the matter was brought to their attention at their February 21, 2012 meeting, Commissioners Mark Seabrook (R) and Steve Bush (R) refused to support the efforts of Commissioner Chuck Freiberger (D) to recover the tax funds, essentially voting to let their fellow Republican Henderson keep all of the money. Considering that the sum of tax money is more than 8 months of the average Floyd County wage earner’s income of $39,788.00, many residents are upset at what appears to be an abuse of their trust and the political donation of their hard-earned money. Floyd’s taxpayers are also frustrated and concerned that Mr. Henderson’s handling of the murder trial will necessitate yet a third trial with an estimated price tag of an additional $ 1 million dollars. Indiana’s Court of Appeals and Supreme Court both recently ordered Henderson removed from the case because of his self-inflicted conflict of interest, with his efforts to fight his removal helping to delay the third trial for approximately two more years.

The Board of Commissioners were given more opportunities to demand the return of Floyd taxpayers’ money during their meetings of October 2 and 16, 2012 when resident Joseph Moore presented them with a comprehensive summary of events leading to the alleged diversion of funds, supported by official vouchers and invoices as well as the commissioners’ own minutes of their February 21 meeting. Court documents and the Attorney General’s Office both confirm that Henderson’s personal attorney did not represent him in any of the Camm proceedings, indicating that he had obtained county funds under false pretenses. Despite acknowledging that they had not approved funds for Henderson’s ethics defense, Commissioners Bush and Seabrook again refused any effort to recover the money or even to investigate the matter. Rick Fox, attorney for the commissioners and brother-in-law of Keith Henderson, admitted that no one on behalf of the Board has looked into the matter since it was discussed at their February meeting and, ironically, said their failure to investigate precluded them from taking any action. Following Moore to the podium was local civic watchdog, George Mouser, who admonished the board that a private citizen was the only person to investigate a scandal that the commissioners had known about for at least 8 months.

Mr. Roudenbush, who attended the commissioners meetings, stated that, if elected, one of his first efforts will be to launch an investigation and recover any funds wrongly obtained by Mr. Henderson. “Our residents work too hard to have their money just given away to highly-paid elected officials,” Roudenbush said, “especially for an ethics problem caused by their attempt to profit from a private book deal that conflicted with their official duties. We weren’t going to receive a penny from that book deal but now we’re expected to pay his private lawyer $375.00 per hour? I don’t think that’s right.”

Positions on the issues:

1. Merger with New Albany on services and resources:
Roudenbush believes that our emergency services providers should be consulted; the cost-savings should be analyzed; and commissioners should not be afraid to relinquish some control to the city if fairness and the facts warrant it. Egos should not prevent common sense solutions.

Bush has repeatedly claimed that he favors consolidation to “streamline services” and save money, but several joint city-county efforts have been thwarted or even reversed during his term. He has refused to discuss equitable cost-sharing and insists upon maintaining full control over any merged departments, even where the city clearly shoulders most of the work or cost, e.g., the aborted fire-dispatch merger and the anticipated split of the county parks system.

2. Keith Henderson scandal:
Roudenbush insists upon a full investigation and a demand for the return of any misappropriated tax money.

Bush, while acknowledging that the money appears to have been misspent, has nonetheless stated that he “supports our prosecutor,” and has refused every effort to recover the funds or even to request an official investigation.

3. Open and transparent government:
Roudenbush has proposed a number of changes to encourage public participation in the commissioners meetings and decision-making process, including holding meetings around the county, publishing detailed agendas before meetings, and allowing public comment before voting on any issue. He also favors the use of resident surveys or referendums whenever practical before a vote is taken by the commissioners, to better assess public sentiment on the issues.

Bush, despite campaigning every time on promises of “openness and transparency,” has refused to support the advance publication of meeting agendas and, as president of the commissioners, discourages public comment until the end of each meeting, long after the commissioners have already voted on the issues.

4. Fiscal accountability:
Roudenbush is a proven fiscal conservative who has the know-how and many years experience managing budgets, payrolls, insurance plans, vendors and contractors, and personnel. He believes that commissioners have a duty to scrutinize every request for money rather than merely rubber-stamping all claims submitted by the auditor’s office or other county departments.

Bush is a career police office with no real fiscal training or experience. His lack of knowledge on financial matters causes him to rely entirely on the advice of other county employees, resulting in confusion, overspending, and problems such as the Henderson scandal and the growing costs of the Camm trials.

Bush also has an ongoing conflict of interest because, as a police officer, he votes for every (or almost every) funding request from his law enforcement colleagues without questioning their necessity or merits. His close working relationship with the county prosecutor is also one of the factors believed to be behind his refusal to support an investigation of Keith Henderson’s alleged misappropriations.

5. Economic growth:
Roudenbush believes that Floyd County is best served by reasonable planning and growth, including the expansion of business in common-sense locations such as those nearest to our major highways. By enticing employers first, we can better pay for any future growth of residential areas. This fits in with his belief in reasonable and limited growth that will not drastically alter or destroy the rural character of our county that we all cherish.

Bush has shown no appreciable efforts or results in drawing new businesses and employers to the county, instead relying on residential developments to provide new sources of tax money. However, residential growth arguably consumes more in tax revenue than it generates when taking into account the substantially increased need for roads, sewers, emergency services, and schools required for homes as compared to businesses. This problem is compounded when new residences are built for people who work in Louisville or other places outside of Floyd County.

Are you a “pro-conception-to-birth, indifferent-to-life conservative?”

Back in the 1980's, I enjoyed Friedman's Middle East analyses. If you want to know precisely why Bashar al-Assad is such an asshole, Friedman's "From Beirut to Jerusalem" is a good place to start.

As an evolving advocate of localism, I've found much of Friedman's Pied Piper globalism hard to stomach. But in this op-ed, he nails the obvious hypocrisy of “pro-conception-to-birth, indifferent-to-life" conservatism.

Why I Am Pro-Life, by Thomas L. Friedman (New York Times)

... If you can name an issue, you can own the issue. And we must stop letting Republicans name themselves “pro-life” and Democrats as “pro-choice.” It is a huge distortion.

In my world, you don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and be against common-sense gun control — like banning public access to the kind of semiautomatic assault rifle, designed for warfare, that was used recently in a Colorado theater. You don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and want to shut down the Environmental Protection Agency, which ensures clean air and clean water, prevents childhood asthma, preserves biodiversity and combats climate change that could disrupt every life on the planet. You don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and oppose programs like Head Start that provide basic education, health and nutrition for the most disadvantaged children. You can call yourself a “pro-conception-to-birth, indifferent-to-life conservative.” I will never refer to someone who pickets Planned Parenthood but lobbies against common-sense gun laws as “pro-life.”

2004-2012: I forgot to celebrate our eighth anniversary.

I failed to note the eighth anniversary of this blog: October 22, 2004, although postings didn't appear in earnest until the 31st of that year.

In short, it was an election year, and a grim one; "W" had been re-elected, and I was sufficiently disgruntled with "national" affairs to consider the unprecedented step of returning to the grassroots and seeing how things worked (or didn't) on my own block. And so it went ... and went ...

It's eternally odd how life is cyclical. It took a while, but getting immersed in the life and times of my own city of residence eventually caused me to rethink most of my precepts with regard to beer and business. It's caused me to rethink quite a lot, actually, a process that remains under way.

Meanwhile, nationally, Barack Obama's election in 2008 elicited a moment or two of wonderment before the predictable conservative backlash put the brakes to progress. While I continue to believe that Obama will be re-elected this year, Indiana's unexpected dalliance with the color blue was brief, and so we must continue to be sensitive to the many creative ways that Republicans can poison the local atmosphere quite apart from whichever party enjoys White House residency.

It's gotten better around here. We've quite a ways to go. What happens next?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Back by popular demand: The Linoleum Lizards ...

 ... performing atop your pitted kitchen table, daily.

"Ladies, Don't Fall for Moderate Mitt!"

Until Mitt Romney came along, I thought being religious precluded outright lying. And to think I wasted all those potentially devout years. Meanwhile, Romney has unveiled a new slogan: "Change We Can Deceive With."

I hear it is polling well with white male amnesiacs. That's bad enough, but let's hope women don't fall for it.

Ladies, Don't Fall for Moderate Mitt!, by Katha Pollitt (The Nation)

Dear Undecided Women Voters of America: It’s been fun watching you force the candidates to pay attention to the stuff men really don’t like to think about—equal pay and abortion and “legitimate rape” and all that. I love you, women! as Ann Romney likes to say. But we’re getting down to the wire now, and it’s time for you to make up your minds. Because face it, expecting to figure it out in the voting booth is not very considerate toward all the people who will have been waiting in line for hours to cast their ballot. Fortunately, despite Mitt Romney’s multiple, changing and contradictory statements, there are major differences between him and President Obama on all these issues.

Now, if you believe that the only issue that matters is the economy, and you believe that giving tax breaks to the wealthiest people and firing public sector workers is the way to fix it, you can stop reading right now.

"Not for some people, but for all people."

It's a video worth viewing and a story worth reading, if only to see the city council digs in Springfield, Missouri. We're talking plush.

But seriously ... the parameters of discrimination as justified by Christianity, this one with a twist.

After More Than 1.5 Million Views, Pastor Speaks Out About Viral Video

Following attention this video has received more than two months after he gave the speech in Springfield, Missouri, Rev. Dr. Phil Snider of Brentwood Christian Church added some context to the speech on Saturday.

Friday, October 26, 2012

One lovely fall afternoon in downtown New Albany.

I had beer sales-related stops to make in downtown New Albany yesterday, and decided on a coffee before lunch. Quills obliged with its newest creation, Thai No. 5. It's espresso with a twist, and you can read about it here.

Once seemingly cavernous, space at the future Exchange pub + kitchen gradually is being molded into an eatery showcase. The perimeter is being extended westward down Main Street, including the adjacent Feast BBQ, where I had lunch, and JR's Pub a few blocks away.

Speaking of JR's, something you should know: There'll be a benefit held at JR's for Ric Geoghegan on Sunday, November 11, from 12:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. I'm told that Ric, who so many people in New Albany know from his long tenure at Steinert's, is suffering from liver failure. I know we'll all be plotting ways to contribute.

Please join us in gathering Ric & Jojo's family and friends together to raise money to support them during Ric's illness and to support his recovery. We look forward to seeing you there!

Walking back home from JR's, I thought to duck into Billow for porch cigars, which led to a late afternoon interlude with English tea, and a chance meeting with our roving building commissioner, David Brewer, who's doing a fine job indeed.

Think about it: Downtown New Albany's options truly have proliferated in recent years, and perhaps it's too easy at times to focus on what still is needed (a lot) rather than to simply appreciate what we have on a lovely Indian Summer's day.

Barry Bonds: "Is steroids cheating? You want to define cheating in America?"

Lance Armstrong is next in line for non-acknowledgement, isn't he?

His colossal success and unprecedented seven straight Tour de France titles took place in a sports culture where he was the most famous, but far from the only, perpetrator of fraud. In Major League Baseball, we know that the real single-season home run champion is still Roger Maris (not Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa or Barry Bonds) and the true, all-time home run king remains Hank Aaron (not Bonds). Unlike baseball, cycling hasn't aired all its dirty linen yet, but that doesn't excuse Lance.
-- Jordan Schultz in Huffington Post

But the exiled slugger has a point, doesn't he? Corporate America cheats all the time, and politicians like Mitt Romney lie the way I drink beer. Americana is Americana. Why must Bonds bear the brunt of the opprobrium?

'It's Bonds. Barry Bonds': The Return of Baseball's Invisible Man, by Dave Zirin (The Nation)

 ... There is a delight that the baseball cognoscenti takes in making Barry Bonds their “invisible man.” It’s a way to marginalize him without confronting what he represents. He’s a home-run king in exile. He’s the end product of an era where owners made billions selling a steroid-enhanced product. He’s the person who can no longer tell the press to go to hell, because they won’t acknowledge his voice. The press corps once asked Bonds if he thought steroids was cheating. Bonds responded, “Is steroids cheating? You want to define cheating in America? When they make a shirt in Korea for a $1.50 and sell it here for 500 bucks. And you ask me what cheating means?” Now they don’t have to care what he thinks. Now they can humiliate him forever by denying his existence.

I don't suppose it could be a green building?

In other words, elect this group of respectably conservative socio-economic development wizards, and the landowner in question just might consider building something on his eyesore of a vacant lot, just like the sign says he was supposed to do about ten years ago.

Got it?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Mom, apple pie, Chevrolet ... and NA-FC Parks Department?

I've never harbored any doubt that Roger Jeffers, the parks department superintendent, does a good job. I've heard nothing but praise for him. For all I know, he quite possibly is the finest local administrator of them all.

So, given the tenor of his comments ever since the mayor's parks secession project was announced, pardon my insouciance in asking: Was Roger Jeffers ever elected to anything?

And: Do residents of Floyd County (of which, at last glance, New Albany remained a part) answer to Jeffers, or does he answer to us?

Look, of course it's tough. You take a job, and then things change without warning. It's also called life, and sometimes politics, and it's something that happens to working people all the time. When it does, they adapt ... or get swept away.

But when Jeffers switches from hired hand mode to aspirant Gallup pollster, it's rather embarrassing: "The citizens are not happy," opines the super, and yes, the ones bothering to call him probably are. Me? I'm perfectly happy. Need I phone the Rajah to provide the other side of the story?

It might be easier for him to dismount the high horse and realize that Generalizations typically are Hell. It might also be the case that if citizens genuinely are unhappy -- as oh so many city residents have been during county's government's merrily irresponsible period of chronic parks underfunding -- this discontent will indeed be manifested at the polls when voting time comes.

To repeat: Parks are damned important, and for numerous reasons, but there are as many different ways to have, use and operate them as there are governmental entities. The NA-FC parks board's current theme of "Just the Way We Are" is one such strategy. It is neither the only way, nor a religious commandment set in balsa. Can someone representing the parks-business-as-always side of the aisle please conjure a persuasive argument? My eyelids are drooping, already.

They cannot plausibly deny that there are other organizational models. As for the "duplication of financing" arguments, we already have a profound example of non-duplication: The county's decade-long decision to not pay its share. No duplication there. All we seemingly have left is the argument from gloom and doom: If we cannot continue doing something the way we always have, there will be floods, pestilence and cross-dressers descending upon us.

As Nero Wolfe once observed, "Pfui."

Bluegill provides the closer:
Jeffers: "That makes me not want to work for either side to tell you the truth." Me: "OK."
In the newspaper (remember to lower the volume so you don't have to listen to the automatically generated sales dentist): Floyd County moving ahead with parks plan; Jeffers doubtful city can handle transition in two months, by Daniel Suddeath.

ON THE AVENUES: Back alley white male power abortions.

ON THE AVENUES: Back alley white male power abortions.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

It's rather difficult to properly denigrate Richard Mourdock's ridiculous conception-via-rape comments when his congregation thinks he was directly quoting a Commandment, which is to say, one more time with feeling: GOP stalwarts like Mourdock don’t have a platform problem. Rather, they have a supporter problem.

And so the usual talking point screaming lines are drawn, and I am struck, though not surprised, that as “traditional” white bread America inexorably diminishes in demographic terms, marginalizing the rural areas that are its last bastions, the need for its cohorts to define themselves according to increasingly narrow ideological parameters and to aggressively inflict these cultural boundary markers on the rest of us becomes ever more pronounced – and expressed through a dialect of sheer intolerance that seems to date from antebellum times.

Thus, when it comes to my own support for enlightened self-determination in the area of reproductive choice, it isn’t any longer the case that I’m merely a dastardly secular humanist, or a garden-variety, wicked atheist, or even a dreaded Obama-ite. These days, I’m also certifiably, indisputably un-American.

Unfortunately for them, this is badge of honor territory for me.

It’s also the perfect example of the tactics of fanatics unable to successfully foist their personalized God on a nation presumably founded (albeit seldom consistently administered) according to religious diversity in a secular framework. Instead, they seek to exalt the secular American framework alongside their own specific religious worldview, fuse them into a theocratic duality, and ceremoniously drum those like me straight out of it, too.

I used to advocate that they take their zillionaires’ financial backing and use it to buy me out. Hell, it’d be a good deal for them; for the money required to buy an evening’s worth of GOP-cum-Nurnberg television ads, they could have the Confidentials flying to exile amid Europe’s civilized glories.

However, lately I’m finding merit in the pleasurable idea of waiting them out, because the irony of the white fundamentalist’s lament is that apart from Mormonism, there are too few of them, birthing far too seldom, to reverse demography’s future verdict. It couldn’t be that Republican women have abortions, too?

Back in July of 2009, one of my newspaper columns was taken up by Romanian film reviews: “The Way I Spent the End of the World,” “12:08 East of Bucharest,” “The Death of Mr. Lazarescu,” “Four Months, Three Weeks and Two Days,” the latter a gritty, harrowing and compelling account of a Romanian university student’s illegal abortion in 1987. This is what I had to say about it.


Romania became Communist shortly after the conclusion of World War II, and during these years of postwar economic and political dislocation, reliable contraceptives generally were unobtainable. However, owing perhaps to the custom followed by Romania’s overlord, the USSR, abortions were readily available and absurdly cheap, and it is suggested that there were four abortions for every live birth by 1966.

Around this time (Nicolae) Ceausescu, who dubbed himself the "Genius of the Carpathians" in spite (or perhaps because) of his background as a semi-literate, peasant cobbler, came to power and commenced grafting the personality cult of North Korea’s Kim Il Sung onto the pathetically grandiose public theatrics of Benito Mussolini’s fascist Italy, creating a stunted and strangulated fiefdom in one of the continent’s least equipped socio-economic milieus. The result was a tragic quarter century.

In 1967, concluding that his impoverished country needed more citizens, Ceausescu decreed abortion illegal overnight, bringing the full powers of Romania’s police state to bear in enforcing the ban. The immediate effect of the decree was an abrupt doubling of the birth rate. This bulge was followed by a fast and steady decline in births, and by 1987, the country’s population had ceased to grow at all, but Ceausescu had already moved on to other, equally catastrophic projects, including the systematic bulldozing of countryside villages and the transfer of their inhabitants to virtual enslavement within “agro-industrial” complexes.

Significantly, one Romanian population statistic steadily increased during the years following the abortion ban: The maternal mortality rate tripled. Demographers have since learned that in terms of statistics, the deaths of women succumbing to botched illegal abortions in Romania were included with those of women dying during childbirth.

At the time documented by “Four Months, Three Weeks and Two Days,” all parties involved in transacting an illegal abortion faced lengthy jail terms if caught. In addition to the threat of maiming and even death, and in the continuing enforced absence of legal contraceptives (a ubiquitous black market notwithstanding), a Romanian woman who sought to terminate a pregnancy could be arrested, convicted, imprisoned and her career left in ruins.

Taking all these dire factors into consideration, the film serves as a chilling case study of what happens when a government bureaucracy denies women control over their bodies, their destinies and their very lives. In Romania, the interference stemmed from a psychotic dictator’s whim, and his motivations were purely secular. Far more often in places like America, they are religious in nature.

Reproductive decision-making in many locales tends to reflect the patriarchal concerns of men rather than those of women, even as females remain responsible for bearing the children. It is a regrettable state of affairs that cuts across religious and secular concerns.

Oddly, when I heard the news of Dr. George Tiller’s (2009) murder by a terrorist during a church service in Wichita, it made me think of gray, desperate, soot-stained blocks of flats in Bucharest, along with legalities, illegalities, ideologies and the universality of human suffering.

Children First? Well, of course ...

 ... followed by the main entree, and then dessert. After that, a glass of Port is nice.

For more on the school board race: Floyd school board candidates blast superintendent raise, worry over tight budgets, by Grace Schneider (C-J)

Oddly, Schneider reports that Don Sakel "declined to give his age." In his 'Bune on-line candidate survey back in 2010 (when he lost a bid for the school board), Sakel reported his age at 77. Readers can do the math.

Vote Lee Cotner, folks.

Shelli Yoder and Todd Young "spar" in debate.

In which there is a reference to craft beer, natch.

Indiana’s 9th District hopefuls spar, Jobs, health care central issues for Young, Yoder exchange, by Ryan Trares (Daily Journal of Johnson County)

... Young said the way to foster business and make new jobs is to scale back regulations and let the free market work.

“This campaign can be summed up in one word — trust. Are we going to trust our large, interventionist government to get our economy running? Or are we going to trust the American people,” he said.

Yoder agreed that the power to spark jobs lies with the people. She advocated more support for entrepreneurs and small businesses as opposed to big corporations. Public-private partnerships could be used to foster innovative new businesses in green energy and biotechnology. Where government could help would be to invest in infrastructure, including improving bridges, ensuring airports are sound, and helping get broadband technology to all people.

“It’s become a social justice issue that people have been cut out of the 21st century because of where they live,” she said.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Amid universal nods of resignation, the 'Bune editorial board botches parks secession opinion.

Apart from Keith Olbermann and Charles P. Pierce, it's generally a bad idea to entrust political commentary to career sportwriters. That said, let's lower ourselves into the abyss of the newspaper editorial board's opinion on the evolving NA-FC parks split. Their text appears in normal formatting, and my replies as quotes.


OUR OPINION: Plenty of problems to share for parks split

New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan’s justification for wanting to form a separate New Albany parks system is legitimate.

Over an eight year period, Floyd County shortchanged the New Albany-Floyd County Parks Department by about $4 million. This summer, the Floyd County Commissioners declined to vote on forming a cumulative capital fund to aid in expenses with the park, though city taxpayers have been footing the additional levy for years.

The reasons for not living up to their end of the bargain have changed numerous times for Floyd County officials. We’ve been told the money had to be used for murder trials, the county didn’t realize the taxes weren’t going to the parks department and even that the state cut the levy rate.

Those aren’t exactly the practices of an entity most would consider partnering with for any matter that has financial implications.

No, they’re not, are they? The ‘Bune’s editorial board clearly understands the magnitude of the county’s serial “deadbeat dad” approach to governance. But you just know it can't last …

However, the parks situation is much larger than a simple yes or no vote. Jobs, property and future collaboration with the county must be considered by the city before moving ahead with the divide of the parks system. The New Albany council voted 6-3 to do just that Thursday night, but finalizing the move will require one more vote.

Ah, I see. It is “much larger.” What does this mean, and why is it true? Yes, jobs, properties and “future collaborations” (Really? You wanna go out with that guy again after he dined and dashed before the check came due and made you go Dutch Treat?) are considerations, to be sure; as I noted last week, these also were presumed factors in seeking to avid the split of an entire Central European country, and Czechs and Slovaks somehow managed to work them out.

Frankly, Gahan hasn’t been forthcoming with the NA-FC Parks Board about his intentions, at least not in an official capacity. Gahan was one of the few city or county officials who skipped at least one of the joint meetings hosted by the parks board to try to mediate past woes between the entities. Also, no one from the Gahan administration addressed the parks board about the split prior to the measures being placed on the New Albany City Council’s agenda Thursday.

On one hand, county officials never came before the city to announce they wouldn’t be adequately funding the parks department. But the county’s mistake should be a lesson, not a reason to keep the parks board in the dark about what may transpire.

Two things here. First, what is it about the parks in general, and the parks board in particular, that cloaks them in a perpetual above-the-fray holiness, more so than other local administrative entities? Personally I believe parks are very important, but I can see numerous potential models of governance. Since when did this one become sacrosanct, unimpeachable and shielded from scrutiny? In addition, why does Mayor Gahan have a greater responsibility to be loquacious than county government? Gahan gets scalded for non-transparence, but the county’s years of similar mute funding behavior is merely a lesson. What of the parks board’s own non-transparence in conducting its affairs, as when it sought to engineer a state legislature-mandated tax hoarding without notifying the county or the city? Why wasn't that considered non-transparent?

The parks board oversees several employees, some of whom have served this community for 40 years. Gahan owed an explanation to those volunteer board members — whether they agreed with his choice or not — so they could, in turn, inform parks employees.

Subsequent news items suggest he has done so.

If he believes in the split, he should stand up for it and look parks board members in the eye. Not to mention it’s October, and if there’s going to be a city parks system in place by Jan. 1, there’s a tremendous amount of preparation and planning that will be needed.

Again, why is it that Gahan alone bears the solemn quasi-Old Testament obligation to look parks board members "in the eye"? Were these board members appointed by “god” herself? Why this disproportionate requirement of Gahan, while serial fiscal negligence on the part of county government gets little more than an affectionate butt slap -- hey, cool, you'll do better next eight year stretch, right?

What is the rush? Why not release a plan, get people on board and proceed in 2014. There seem to be too many questions that need answers before the split occurs.

Now I’m confused. The parks split is acceptable, and there are compelling reasons for it? If so, given that the editorial board can see that county government is culpable even if the board shrinks from learning its own lessons from the experience, why tolerate another year of county under-funding guesswork? Why not act swiftly? 

Here are some other questions to consider:

• What would such a divide really mean for the residents of New Albany? Sam Peden Community Park is the city’s largest and most frequented outdoor recreational facility. But the land is owned by the county, so if the split ultimately happens, it will solely be in charge of the park’s upkeep.

After what has taken place in the past, how much do you trust the county to maintain the city’s most sizable park? Floyd County Commissioners President Steve Bush said recently he would not be in favor of selling any of the park land for commercial use, but he’s only one vote.

What if the county decides one day to develop Community Park? New Albany would have very few options to stop the greenspace from being covered with asphalt and residential or commercial buildings if that were to transpire.

New Albanians are grateful the newspaper's editorial board seems to grasp that when it comes to the future of Community Park, county government can be trusted only as far as I can throw a keg filled with 12% beer. Naturally, the board cites this legitimate mistrust of county government’s ultimate aims as evidence that city residents should live in fear of the bully. Uh, right.

• Also, in a time where taxpayers are calling for condensed government, how will Floyd County and New Albany be affected when footing two parks departments?

New Albany taxpayers have already shouldered the biggest part of the parks funding load, but that won’t change when the split happens. Unless New Albany plans to secede from Floyd County, city taxpayers will still be paying for the bulk of parks operations. New Albany residents will be paying for city parks on their own, as well as taxes that will likely help foot a new and separate county recreation system.

The showdown over this issue has spilled over into other arenas as well. The city and county are now in the midst of a legal battle over planning control of the fringe area, and New Albany declined to merge its 911 dispatch operation with Floyd County. The county is the second-smallest county in the state in terms of land area, so shouldn’t we be coming together to cut out duplicated services and costs?

The Alabama-based N and T parent company eliminated duplication in 2011, didn't it, and look where THAT got us. But I digress. These bellicose taxpayers presumably are the very same ones who’d be among the first to demand that all parties involved pay their fair share into the parks just like the taxpayers themselves have been doing all along. Would taxpayers genuinely interested in fairness be willing to forgive and forget the county’s serial underpayment of parks monies? Or do we merely fluff taxpayers in a sort of ritualistic abnegation without exploring the nuances of what they're demanding this week? Sadly, nowadays, yes, but it’s also worth noting that if one is to follow this incredibly tired “duplicated services and costs” to its logical conclusion, we’d have only one government nationwide, obtaining the very best rates for bulk purchasing and distribution … wait, sorry; that’s the socialist bogeyman, isn’t it?

At some point, the city and the county are going to have to cooperate for the good of the residents.

When all is considered, New Albany may have a better chance of garnering a new outdoor pool and a Little League facility on its own. But such a big move as splitting a parks department shouldn’t be rushed into a special meeting with little notice.

Parks are one of the assets companies review before deciding to locate to a community. Just thinking about a warm sunny day in a park with family and friends stirs positive emotions in our minds and souls.

But this whole issue has been anything but warm and fuzzy. It shows incompetence by the county and lack of respect by the Gahan administration for the employees and board members who have served the parks system.

So, why isn't the editorial board asking the single most obvious question posed by this discussion: How do we compel county government to cooperate? To make this point again: If the newspaper is interested in clarity, mustn’t it explain why a simple, subjective and highly debatable “lack of respect” from Jeff Gahan is to be considered commensurate with a county government so objectively “incompetent” as to fail to honor its side of a money deal not merely for the brief tenure of Gahan’s term, but for a period of years? How are these failures equal, editorial board? And what on earth do warm fuzzies have to do with any of it?

— The News and Tribune editorial board is comprised of Publisher Bill Hanson, Editor Shea Van Hoy and Assistant Editors Chris Morris and Amy Huffman-Branham.

Perhaps it is, but since the managing editor freely acknowledges that 3/4 of this quartet rarely venture out of HQ in Jeffersonville, I believe we know who wrote it, don't we? And that explains a lot, doesn't it?

Mourdock's corn-fed theocratic fascism should not distract from genuine issues of reproductive choice.

The current GOP position on God, rape and pregnancy shows a tremendous debt to Greek mythology.
--Andy Borowitz

Welcome to L'America, where pervasive religious hooey renders political bedroom peekers like Richard Mourdock into drooling, patriarchal, small-time ayatollahs, reposing permanently on their knees (whether in supplication to the imaginary or expressing thankfulness for the endless pipeline of cash from the Koch Brothers). They follow by crediting religion for making them what they are. That's true enough, as long as they don't forget to count the money.

But it gets worse. As Bluegill noted on Twitter, Joe Donnelly rushed to provide testimony that his own "god" and that of other Hoosiers wouldn't approve of such extremism, providing Mourdock's backers with the perfect opportunity to cite Donnelly's presumed chumminess with Barack Obama as evidence that his "god" is a Muslim one, anyway, and as we wait to see if any candidate in the nation cares to discuss important matters like climate change, we're back to wondering what our Senate hopefuls feel about the deity's role in the Holocaust and child molestation (thanks, Rodney).

Unfortunately, as revolting as Mourdock's worldview remains, and equallty lamentable Donnelly's failure to eschew the fanatics, the rape/abortion equation continues to distract: Reproductive choice and women's rights are synonymous, and should be the rule, not the exception ... and leave your specific "god" out of it, okay?

Richard Mourdock On Abortion: Pregnancy From Rape Is 'Something God Intended', by Michael McAuliff (Huffington Post)

... All three said they were anti-abortion. But Mourdock went the further, putting himself in territory near Missouri GOP Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin, the anti-abortion congressman who infamously asserted that women don't get pregnant from "legitimate rape."

"The only exception I have to have an abortion is in the case of the life of the mother," said Mourdock, the Tea Party-backed state treasurer. "I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God. I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen."

NABC's Naughty Claus is coming to New Albany on Thanksgiving week.

The label and poster for NABC's Naughty Claus are finished. For the first time this year, we'll be releasing Naughty Claus in 22-oz bomber bottles. According to the strange strategy behind seasonal beer releases these days (pumpkin ales began appearing in early August), we're told by wholesalers that it's a rather late release. But to me, it fits the calendar and weather here in New Albany, and this is more important.

Consequently, NABC's Naughty Claus 2012 local release weekend will be November 21 – 24.

Wednesday, November 21
Naughty Claus draft and bomber release, both at the Pizzeria & Public House and Bank Street Brewhouse.

Plaid Friday, November 23
Saturnalia MMXII begins at the Pizzeria & Public House, with Naughty Claus and a full roster of festive seasonal beers. For those just tuning in, Each year NABC pays tribute to the ancient pagan origins of the holiday season with Saturnalia, a collection of themed seasonals on draft at the Pizzeria & Public House.

Saturday, November 24
It's the Jingle Walk in downtown New Albany. There'll be a Naughty Claus sample station (and bomber sales) at Keg Liquors on Pearl Street, and a special day’s program at Bank Street Brewhouse (TBA).

There's a dedicated Facebook page, too: Naughty Claus.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

FDR: "We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob."

The only thing exceptional about this is that enough people listened and, by virtue of doing so, built facilities, institutions, and bonds still productive today. Thanks to JH for the link.

"Romney sounded like he was taking history at one of those Jesus-on-a-dinosaur middle schools that 'Bobby' Jindal has opened in Louisiana."

Last evening I was watching the baseball game whilst idly perusing Twitter to observe reactions to the presidential debate. It occurred to me that while Barack Obama thoroughly trouncing Mitt Romney in a foreign policy exchange was the entirely expected outcome, numerous topics of genuine importance to the planet were being excluded from the discussion.

About the time in San Francisco that the propaganda exercise known as "let's forever sully the seventh inning stretch with nonsensical renditions of 'Nonexistent God Bless America' rather than Woody Guthrie's far more sensible 'This Land Is Your Land'" commenced, two thoughts surfaced.

1. When the Romney voters stop buying cheap Chinese crap at Wal-Mart, maybe I'll take them seriously.

2. American exceptionalism is bullshit. It always has been, and it always will be. A god that doesn't exist chose us to lead the world, and so now we're absolved of thinking about much of anything short of pounding on our chests and being boorish.

Here is more on Romney's debacle, courtesy of Charlie Pierce and John Nichols.

Nothing Is Foreign to the Liar Willard Romney Anymore: A Report from the Flippy-Floppy Final Debate of 2012, by Charles P. Pierce ("The Politics Blog" at Esquire)

... That is what history always has told us about the career of Willard Romney: sooner or later, he will sell your ass out to the highest bidder and walk away whistling in the general direction of anything to which he feels entitled. In this case, that would be the leadership of the Free World.

... Romney sounded like he was taking history at one of those Jesus-on-a-dinosaur middle schools that "Bobby" Jindal has opened in Louisiana. And yet, this abysmal ignorance may not come to matter a damn.

A discussion of foreign policy that did not mention climate change. (Four debates and nary a mention. Somebody else is going to have to tell the polar bears.) A discussion of foreign policy that mentioned teacher's unions exactly as many times — once — as it mentioned the Palestinians, and I am not making that statistic up. A discussion of foreign policy that did not mention hunger, or thirst, or epidemic disease, but spent better than ten minutes on The Fking Deficit. (Here Romney cited in defense of his position that noted political economist, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.) A discussion of foreign policy that was all about threats, real and imagined, and wars, real or speculative, and weapons, and how many of them we should build in order to feel safe in this dangerous world. (Romney actually argued that we should go back to the "two-war" strategy that we followed throughout the Cold War. Against whom in god's name does he think we'll be fighting the second war?)

At The Nation, Nichols echoes Pierce's annoyance as to what was omitted. The plan fact is that precious few Americans are sufficiently informed about the world, and do not possess the means to consider it even if there was a reality television show devoted to foreign policy.

Foreign Policy Really Is Foreign to Mitt Romney, by John Nichols (The Nation)

... Undecided voters surveyed by CBS agreed, indicating in a snap poll that Obama had won the commander-in-chief test by a staggering 53-23 margin. That was a wider margin than Romney got after the first debate that was broadly seen as his big win.

All of this was good news for Obama, if not necessarily for the national discourse. In too many senses, Monday night’s debate was a confirmation of the bipartisan consensus on foreign policy that so frustrates Americans who want a broader debate on fundamental questions of war and peace, globalization and human rights. And it was a reminder that alternative candidates, such as Green party presidential nominee Jill Stein and Libertarian Gary Johnson, should have been included in these debates.

"The end of the New World Order," and Ministry.

It's foreign affairs morning here at the blog, providing me with a bit more time to finish my point-by-point refutation of the 'Bune's most recent badly written editorial about the city's parks secession.

The end of the New World Order: The upheavals of the early 21st century have changed our world. Now, in the aftermath of failed wars and economic disasters, pressure for a social alternative can only grow, by Seumas Milne (The Guardian)

 ... In 1990, George Bush Senior had inaugurated a New World Order, based on uncontested US military supremacy and western economic dominance. This was to be a unipolar world without rivals. Regional powers would bend the knee to the new worldwide imperium. History itself, it was said, had come to an end.

But between the attack on the Twin Towers and the fall of Lehman Brothers, that global order had crumbled. Two factors were crucial. By the end of a decade of continuous warfare, the US had succeeded in exposing the limits, rather than the extent, of its military power. And the neoliberal capitalist model that had reigned supreme for a generation had crashed.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Big Ten Foot Sign, or something like that. Take it away, Mr. Jackson.

State Rep. Ed Clere contests Clarksville order to remove campaign sign (The Courier-Journal)

“There’s no contention that it’s interfering with public safety,” Clere said. “It’s purely political.”

Here is the sign prototype in question, this one soothingly beautifying the landscape in New Albany.

I don't always repost memes, but when I do ...

 ... I like it when they're accurate.

Courier-Journal and Publican back Shelli Yoder.

The most annoying part about owning a small business is keeping the restrooms clean.

A close second is the knowledge that we’ll generally be at a competitive disadvantage compared to the chains, our chief competition, both in terms of economies of scale in daily purchasing and providing employee “benefits” like health insurance.

My viewpoint hasn’t changed: Access to health care is among the most significant aspects of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It should be regarded as is a right, not a variable benefit dependent on a roll of the dice. If all of us share the costs rather than a few, isn’t this state of equality the very essence of a favorable economy of scale, one that “benefits” all of us, and not just a few?

It is delightful that the Courier-Journal, a bosom friend to the Southern Indiana oligarchs when it comes to shilling for unnecessary bridges, has endorsed the candidate for our 9th district congressional seat most inclined to enrage Southern Indiana oligarchs: Shelli Yoder. The newspaper’s endorsement focuses on contrasting views of “Obamacare” between Yoder and the incumbent, Todd Young.

We don’t know whether Mr. Young, 40, of Bloomington, is hearing similar stories. He declined an invitation to meet with The Courier-Journal editorial board.

But his record speaks for itself. In addition to seeking to repeal health care reform, Mr. Young, a member of the House budget committee, supports the budget plan of Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s running mate, which would drastically cut federal spending and reshape Medicare into a “voucher” plan for senior citizens.

I’m supporting Yoder, too, and for the same reasons. I genuinely enjoyed meeting Young and having a beer with him, and I’d happily do it again, but I profoundly disagree with his political platform. During the same span of time, I’ve run into Yoder at least four times, and the most substantive of our chats was about health care. I’ll tell you what I told her.

I personally resent the view so common among Southern Indiana’s oligarchs that small business owners must march in anti-social lock step by expressing stereotypical reactions toward taxation and regulation, to the extent of unthinkingly supporting whatever candidate fluffs their insecurities most effectively. Yes, it is true that taxes and regulations often grate, but the problem with pandering on this basis is that removing so-called burdens from my own business’s back so often places them on someone else’s, and buries problems without solving them.

We’ve had numerous employees over the years without insurance or any reasonable prospect of health care short of the emergency room and subsequent indigence claims. We’ve tried our best to provide insurance for some employees, but never have been able to come anywhere close to helping all of them. Perhaps we would come closer to the universal if the expenditure were for supplemental benefits, not primary insurance. At any rate, it is my belief that in America, the power of the collective easily can be harnessed to begin resolving the crisis, leaving individuals and businesses free to concentrate on their own lives, aims and goals.

It this makes me a socialist, so be it. It’s never been a pejorative to me, anyway.

If a work ethic means anything in politics, then Yoder is going to come very close to winning a race in a district so gerrymandered to preclude such an oligarch-unfriendly outcome. I wish her luck.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Whatever happened to the Potty Police, anyway?

Ever since we learned of the Gahan administration's decision to "end sewer privatization," something's been nagging me, and finally I've realized exactly what it is.

New Albany's vigilante Potty Police have released no crayon-encrusted communiques of potted pontification, that's what.

In fact, what has happened to the Potty Police? Our local sewage spotters haven't been mentioned here in more than a year. Perhaps they've taken to the depths and are crashing on the Phantom of the Dope-ra's mattresses.

The New Albanist's Dictionary (compiled by your friendly blog host) provides a helpful definition:

Potty police
Self-deputized sewer enforcement officials with a localized Freudian twist who await the arrival of the g-man in the sewer submarine, who’ll come up from below and require a full audit.

Just think about those long years; as the city coped with the EPA's ongoing mandates, the Potty Police were there, tossing nickels around like blown manhole covers. Now they're gone. Or are they? Could this be their best undercoverground operation yet? Only time will tell.

From November, 2005, this might be the first mention of the Potty Police at NAC:

New Albany's POTTY POLICE take the LOW road, but only because that's the one leading DOWN to the sewer.

Must read (coming soon): "Who I Am," by Pete Townshend.

Top Ten Things I’d Rather Do than Vote for Don Sakel for School Board.

Top Ten Things I’d Rather Do than Vote for Don Sakel for School Board

10 Receive a “free burger a day for a year” gift card from Rally’s

9 Drink Miller Lite straight from the bottle

8 Visit the Creation Museum

7 Drink Bud Light straight from the toilet bowl

6 Root for the New York Yankees

5 Drink Corona with extra lime slices

4 Have a good, old-fashioned, holly jolly Christmas

3 Drink Coors Light from cold-activated cans

2 Shop at Wal-Mart

1 Vote for Mitt Romney

Once upon a time when I was a substitute teacher in the NA-FC schools and Don Sakel was the principal at Floyd Central, he had the opportunity to right a wrong. He chose instead to permit me to remain lodged under a bus, and if you think I’m in a forgiving mood after 26 years, think again … and pass that tankard of ice-cold Pabst this way.

In the NA-FC at-large school board race, I believe you should vote for Lee Cotner. Jessica Knable and Sue Barlow are the other two candidates, and you can flip a coin there.

But Sakel?

Please. Anyone got some garlic cloves?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

President Obama in Fairfax, Virginia: "Romnesia."

Romnesia: "Obamacare covers pre-existing conditions."

Pro basketball: "Undefeated: The Roger Brown Story."

Basketball season almost is back, and until Louisville gets its act together on finding a professional tenant for the soon-to-be-bankrupt Tricon Center (read: probably never, because this IS Louisville, after all), our closest NBA team in geographical terms remains the Indiana Pacers.

As I've mentioned here many times in the past, those of a certain age cannot think about the Pacers without recalling the Kentucky Colonels and the American Basketball Association of old. Those were the days, my friends.

I follow the Indy Cornrows blog for coverage of the Pacers. There is a wonderful post there about the late, great Roger Brown, and a documentary being filmed about him.

Check out the trailer for "Undefeated: The Roger Brown Story" which will help explain why I'm so excited about this project.

I cannot embed the video here, so follow the link to view it. Anyone for a field trip to Indy for a Pacers game some time this winter?

More about how Ed Clere's and Kerry Stemler's tolling-without-representation will be determined.

Style note: Henceforth, "bridge tolls" to be referred to as "Clere's bridge tolls," especially in even-numbered years.

New bridge tolls could be decided next year, by Marcus Green (C-J)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Drivers won’t be able to cross the two new Ohio River bridges for about five years, but they may know how much the trips are likely to cost as early as next year.

Kentucky and Indiana officials Tuesday set July 2013 as the target for initial toll amounts, what discounts will be offered, how the money will be collected and other tolling policies.

Those decisions will be made by a six-member body that won’t necessarily include residents of Louisville and Southern Indiana, although officials in both states say they’ll seek local input.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The gentle embrace of a Velvet Divorce.

20 years ago next year, there was a Velvet Divorce.

Before that, there had been a Velvet Revolution. It occurred in 1989, and was a largely peaceful process wherein the central European nation of Czechoslovakia disengaged from Soviet hegemony. The world looked on in admiration as bloodshed was avoided … and then its attention was diverted to other matters.

Meanwhile, as communism was being deposited into history’s dustbin, subsequent events within Czechoslovakia illustrated that merely escaping the clutches of the Warsaw Pact would not be sufficient to resolve cultural and structural deficiencies inherent to the Czechoslovak state. A second discussion began.

Hence, the Velvet Divorce in 1993. The marriage had lasted more than seventy years, through very troubled times.

Czechoslovakia had come into existence only after World War I as one of the new countries created from the collapse of Austria-Hungary. To better make a case for independence, leaders from Bohemia and Moravia (the Czech lands) and Slovakia forged an alliance and pushed for one inclusive state, concluding that self-determination according to the ideals of Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points might occur among separate cultural entities so long as the parties agreed to the union.

In spite of a prevailing view of Czechoslovakia as a model interwar democracy, there proved to be numerous snags between Czechs and Slovaks. Both are Slavs, and they speak languages that are similar, though not entirely the same. They’re much alike, and also not. As indigenous populations within the Austro-Hungarian empire, Czechs and Slovaks might be said to have been raised quite differently. The Czech lands were administered by Austria’s ruling ethnic Germans, and the Slovaks by Hungary – and Hungarians are neither Slav nor German, and came late (late 1800’s) to the power-sharing game within the empire itself.

Bohemia and Moravia became industrialized early in the 19th-century, and were the empire’s manufacturing hub. Imperial rule was bureaucratic, and yet more relaxed there. Concurrently, Slovakia was rural and agricultural from the start, and the Hungarian administration considerably more restrictive.

Even after World War II, when Slovakia was belatedly industrialized, the Soviet-model factories built often were outmoded at birth, serving mostly to produce heavy armaments for East Bloc military use. The Slovaks were dealt some bad hands, and played some hands badly. The point is that formative experiences among the Slovak and Czech peoples were quite different.

In short, when the Wall came down, fissures in the Czech-Slovak marriage became visible and bubbled to the surface. Unity against a common enemy no longer sufficed to inculcate togetherness. Throughout the country, there were high emotions ranging from regret, sadness and disappointment to hostility, chest-thumping and bravado. The situation among these peoples in a formerly united country genuinely might have been said to resemble the atmosphere of a crumbling marriage.

There was a desperate need for cool heads, counseling and compromise, lest the split become final. There were dire predictions of disaster.

No one stepped forward. The Czech lands and Slovakia went their separate ways.

And almost nothing bad happened.

In fact, many good things happened.

The divorce?

It really was Velvet.

Two decades later, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are doing as well as most European countries, and better than several others. Of course, political, social and economic issues within these two nations are many and varied; Czech politics can be comically Italianesque, and Slovak relations with Hungary tend to be strained. Neither country does particularly well with its minority populations of Roma (i.e., gypsies). But significantly, these Czech and Slovak problems have next to nothing to do with each other.

At the time of the Velvet Divorce, it often was asked why Czechs and Slovaks would ignore the superior economies of scale afforded by national unity. Why would they duplicate governmental and economic functions when there were only 10 million people altogether living in Czechoslovakia?

Because: The overlay of unity was shown to have been artificial, and the combined functions of one state never adequately addressed the regional difference and needs of two. Czechoslovakia proved to have been a shotgun marriage all along. Now it is not, and since the divorce, the formerly married parties generally get along just fine.

Amazing, isn't it? It makes you think separation might actually work the same way in other places, too.

Next downtown Merchant Mixer is Monday, November 12, 5:30 p.m.

Submitted by Curt Peters. For the list of NAC's Harvest Homecoming questions, go here.

Our next Merchant Mixer, Monday, Nov. 12, 5:30 PM, will be in the lobby between Colokial and Dress & Dwell on Spring St. It will include an evaluation of Harvest Homecoming and a chance to offer complaints, praise, suggestions, etc. Art Niemeier from the HH Committee will be present. If you want to bring a snack or beverage item to share, that would be great.

Now what?

I think it's another couple hundred thousand worth of bicentennial pocket park, as intended to symbolize the importance of cement blocks in the building of our fair city. And you?

Nash on the split: "For the past several years the leaders of Floyd County have not done the right thing."

New Albany's city council voted last night, and in spite of One Southern Indiana's last-minute interference ploy on behalf of itself, the result was approval for a resolution and two readings of an ordinance to secede from the combined city-county parks department. Bob Caesar voted against the resolution and for the ordinance, and the smart money has him executing the rarest of all council maneuvers, the King Larry Gambit, by abstaining when the third reading comes due next time.

Prior to the meeting, Matt Nash traced the sources of the city's discontent in another fine newspaper column.

NASH: How should we fund our parks?

... If any of the elected officials in Floyd County say that they were unaware of funding inadequacies in the parks department until this year, they are either lying or just don’t care. A simple search will find request dating back several years from park’s officials. Ms. Fendley has been a member of the county council for nearly six years serving from 2005-2008 and again from 2011 to the present and for part of that time she was vice president of that board. How have they been coming up with the amount that was budgeted over the last few years? Did they just pick an arbitrary number out of thin air?

Matt's conclusion, an eloquent condemnation of the prevailing McAllister/Heavrin mentality of non-governance in the county is required reading.

I am a resident of New Albany and Floyd County. I believe that a vibrant park system with great facilities adds to the lives of all citizens. It is time that the leaders of Floyd County began to understand this fact. For far too long the priorities of our elected officials have revolved around the murder trial of a single individual and the incarceration of criminals in our county. It is time that the taxpaying citizens of New Albany and Floyd County begin to reap the benefits from the tax dollars we pay.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Parks secession: In which One Southern Indiana blatantly interferes in local matters.

Thanks to S for sending this to me. Obviously, NAC is not on the mailing list.


Dear 1si Members,

In the spirit of keeping you informed of issues of concern to the business community, we wanted you to be aware that there has been a special City Council meeting called to vote on the breakup of the NAFC Parks Department. Unfortunately, this action would be counter to legislative positions taken by our organization in that it will likely result in less efficient local government.

Our 2013 Legislative Agenda includes the need to streamline current local government so that administrative efficiencies can be achieved by the expansion, standardization and coordination of collaborative purchasing. Vetted by the business members of our advocacy council and approved by our Board of Directors, this Legislative Agenda has been distributed to the 800+ business investors of our organization.

If you would like to attend the meeting or talk with City Council members to discourage the separation, the meeting takes place tonight, October 18, 2012 at 7:15 pm at the City County Building in downtown New Albany .


Wendy Dant Chesser
President and CEO

ON THE AVENUES: Old Albany and the New Albanians.

ON THE AVENUES: Old Albany and the New Albanians.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

There was a far-off time, very early during my 112-week tenure as a paid guest columnist at the ‘Bune, when I fixed my gaze on the dawning of our civic Age of Precarious: New Albany’s approaching bicentennial celebration.

It was the year 2009, and I traced the roots of the New Albany Syndrome all the way back to the era of the Open Air Museum's birth. The story went like this.


It’s time to throw a slab of barbecued bologna between two slices of clammy white bread, check the mountains on your blue-cold can of Coors Light, and crank up the Victrola with some red-hot Benny Goodman, because New Albany’s bicentennial is fast approaching, and assuming that Steve Price doesn’t lead the fight against celebrating it (too few nickels and dimes in grandma’s cookie jar), here are some bicentennial basics.

In 2013, it will be 200 years since the Scribner brothers washed ashore at the Falls of the Ohio, surveyed the wilderness and concluded that this riverbank would be a fine locale for commemorating their hometown back east … and the city of Albany in New York has never forgiven its wayward sons for the ensuing guilt by association.

The Scribners built the city’s first proper structure in 1814, and the Scribner House was soon followed by two cheaply built rental quadplexes up on the future East 15th, which Joel Scribner promptly flipped. Pocketing the proceeds, he skipped on his bar tab at Ye Olde Luddite Inn, thumbed his nose at the hapless code enforcement officer, and fled town for a redeye steamboat ride to New Harmony for the hottest craps tables this side of the Louisiana Purchase.


Who among us foresaw that with Price removed from the council's equation, Bob "CeeSaw" Caesar would be set free to spend $1.2 million (or more) on various birthday parties for the city?

In this column three years ago, my larger point was that while New Albany’s earliest settlers may or may not have been angels, they somehow succeeded at city building, something that as yet eludes a great number of present-day citizens as well as their chosen, underachieving political kingpins. Moreover, a full two centuries later, the urban foundations built by previous generations remain capable of serving as a blueprint for efficient, civilized living in a modern world beset with challenges, and the city as yet is ripe for adaptive reuse.

But what got me into trouble wasn’t sneering at penny-wise, pound foolish lowest common denominators. It was imagining that the Scribner Brothers came from Albany, New York. A week after my column was published, Anne F. Caudill, librarian of the Piankeshaw chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution, “correct(ed) Baylor’s history mistakes.”

I have had DAR nightmares ever since. Her comments follow, as does my own commitment to observe the bicentennial in a future tense. It's safer that way, with or without satire and jests.


Mr. Roger Baylor’s article, “Unrecognizable to a Scribner,” in The Tribune on June 23, 2009, points out the fast approaching bicentennial celebration of New Albany’s founding to be held in 2013.

The Daughters of the American Revolution Piankeshaw chapter has since 1917 maintained the home of Joel Scribner, one of the founding brothers, keeping it as a museum and “home place” for the town. The chapter appreciates this recognition of the vision and enthusiasm and hard work of the Scribner brothers as they risked their fortunes and their futures to establish the town. The many handsome homes and sturdy buildings from earlier years attest that they were right in their faith in the future of the new town.

However, as we celebrate the history of New Albany, let us get the history right. According to the written account of Dr. William Augustus Scribner, son of Joel Scribner, one of the founders, his father was born in South East, Duchess County, N.Y., in 1772, but soon after the war, his father, a Revolutionary War veteran, moved the family to Connecticut, where the family grew up.

Later, Joel in turn established his family in Connecticut, but in 1808 moved to New York City, where he operated a grocery and feed store. Then in 1811, when William Augustus was 11, the family began the journey west to go into business in the frontier town of Cincinnati, along with the family of Joel’s sister and her family, the Warings.

The family never lived in Albany, N.Y.

In 1812, Joel was joined by his younger brothers, Nathaniel and Abner, and they decided to go into the business of starting a new town of the northern side of the Ohio River, then the frontier. By early January 1813, they made a trip to find a suitable location and purchased the land below the Falls of the Ohio. Tradition has it that they made this trip by horseback. It was in May 1813 that they moved the two families down river from Cincinnati by flatboat to the new location.

That year, William Augustus was 13 and helped with the surveying and laying out of the town’s streets and lots. His memory and recounting of the family story and development of the town is to be credited. They named the town New Albany after the prospering capital of the state of New York, in the belief that it, too, would become the capital of a large new rich and prosperous state to be established from the Indiana Territory. Another brother, James Scribner, their mother, Phoebe, and a sister soon followed to the new town.

Let us not allow Mr. Baylor’s article to begin another misconception, even in satire and jest, that the Scribners were greedy developers who pocketed gains and fled town for gambling tables elsewhere. Joel Scribner was a founding member of the First Presbyterian Church, organized in the home of his mother, and was an elected elder of the church.

Other members of the family were founding members. From the beginning, the family established an educational fund, contributed as a portion of the sale of each lot of land. They gave land for public buildings, a log school house and the church. All the family worked in various ways to insure the future of New Albany. Unfortunately, all of the brothers had died by 1827, too soon to fully realize how their vision would be fulfilled.