Thursday, January 17, 2013

Before the meeting, let's think about differing qualities of life.

In today’s ‘Bama Ad Coagulator, Chris Morris considers the millions of dollars transferred from Horseshoe Casino (formerly Caesar’s) to Floyd County over a 13-year period.

Echoing recent words in the same forum by career politician and chronic board sitter Mark Seabrook, Chris placed the Horseshoe Foundation, dispensing agent of the gaming largesse, at the very pinnacle of local indispensability.

Honestly, I don’t know where we would be as a community without the grants handed out by the Horseshoe Foundation. Obviously, there would be no YMCA, no college scholarships and many organizations would have had to learn to do without a new furnace, a church steeple or funding for a baseball league for disabled children. The organization has made such a positive impact on this community, a community that not once, but twice said no, we don’t want you.

In a way it screams hypocrisy.


Is that what it’s called when pundits like Chris remain aloof from politics until it’s time to “scream” their blanket refusal to pay a penny more in higher taxes, and then, spinning on a thin dime, commend the casino for filling their own funding voids?

But I digress.

Chris’s purpose in writing is to note that Mayor Jeff Gahan has asked the Foundation for “major moves” monetary assistance in financing an aquatics center and/or a little league baseball complex.

I have no idea whether Mayor Gahan will have his wish granted. If he does, it would help New Albany move forward with building a new aquatic center or Little League park. That would be nice since Jeffersonville and Clarksville have state-of-the-art swimming facilities and Little League complexes. New Albany always seems to be a step behind when it comes to quality-of-life projects, with the YMCA a notable exception.

It took me a second reading before I realized why this paragraph is so annoying – and it isn’t restricted to Chris Morris's phrasing.

Rather, it’s this persistent, unquestioned notion on the part of self-assigned movers and shakers that the highest civic priority when it comes to “quality-of-life” issues is the same old kneejerk-as-usual pablum: The benign “niceness” of swimming and baseball, and the accompanying tendency of the powers that be to lapse into dazed stupor at the very suggestion that prioritizing basic everyday infrastructures of living, from transport to design to neighborhoods, addresses “quality-of-life” issues far more comprehensively than parks and recreation force-fed into a vacuum.

Me? My quality of life is reflected by whether I can bike or walk city streets that are just as much mine as yours, and do so without being struck by chaotic cars. Complete these streets, and my quality of life skyrockets, and at a fraction of the cost required to build and maintain aquatics centers and ball fields.

In this scenario, the quality of life improves for everyone who lives in our urban neighborhoods, not just those who do the backstroke or swat horsehide. Make the whole city a recreational area, and we’re getting somewhere, as well as attracting the like-minded to move here and be a part of it.

I’m constantly reminded of my irrelevance by people with the surname Anonymous, and so it may or may not matter to anyone that I’m opposed to these grandiose ideas of aquatics and baseball until the current administration takes the time to explain its plan (there is one, right?) for finishing the work we’ve begun downtown; for completing the streets and preparing for the toll evasion dullard onslaught to come; and for improving our neighborhoods.

Take your time. I’m not going anywhere.

And Horseshoe Foundation board members who may be reading: Some tough love, please.

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