Thursday, October 31, 2013

ON THE AVENUES: Where future is a dirty word.

ON THE AVENUES: Where future is a dirty word.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

I’ve been a Civil War buff since childhood, but even so, the genre of battlefield reenactments always has puzzled me.

In his entertaining book, Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War, the author Tony Horwitz considers the Civil War’s numerous legacies, including the meticulous and obsessional efforts at authenticity on the part of those engaged in bringing 19th-century military campaigns back to life.

Horwitz describes one of the participants:

"One hardcore took this method acting to a bizarre extreme. His name was Robert Lee Hodge and the soldiers pointed him out as he ambled toward us. Hodge looked as though he'd stepped from a Civil War tintype: tall, rail thin, with a long pointed beard and a butternut uniform so frayed and filthy that it clung to his lank frame like rages to a scarecrow."

When I was much younger, I had the good fortune to visit more than a few of the Civil War battlefields – Shiloh, Chickamauga, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, among others – and these occasions always seemed appropriate for reflection as to the violent events of times long since passed. You’d think that the vivid color of a battlefield reenactment would complete the scene, except that it never scratched the itch with me.

The very thought of reenactments staged to observe every detail of conflict sans the indescribable pain and death borne of extreme human violence seems a sophomoric intrusion of sorts, something conflicting quite jarringly with any notions of sacrificial hallowed ground – assuming even these thoughts have any genuine merit.

Men and their machines come and go, but ideas live on, and perhaps it is because this fundamental point about the power of ideas is being missed that I fail to grasp the reenactment genre. It’s the future that matters, as approached with accumulated experience gleaned from the past’s examples. The future is why any of us bother getting out of bed in the morning. The past is gone, and the present is a figment of conceptual imagination, one entirely ephemeral.

Currently, the precise details of how a 150-year-old cotton tunic was sewed together have their place, as do pageantry and spectacle, but re-animated hardtack and nighttime spooning (look it up) pale in comparison to the sad fact that in the year 2013, roughly half the American populace, generally the paler-hued ones, seems to have forgotten what the Civil War was all about – hence the word “unfinished” in the title of Horwitz’s book.

Convincing these people that certain foundational issues were resolved long before the advent of the internal combustion engine probably ranks as more important for the sake of our future as a nation, assuming there is a future immune to secession, than reenacting battles.

Acting out uniformed history?


Knowing what history is trying to tell us?



Such is the critical error committed repeatedly during the past year by the cadre of well-intentioned, history-loving New Albanians who were brought together to contribute planning for this year’s Bicentennial celebration – an event that shouldn’t be occurring until 2017, anyway, since that’s when the city was incorporated … sorry, I digress.

The customary guiding lights have hoarded the process and tried to imbue the celebration with symbolism of their choosing, and yet the enduring difficulty with symbolism is the variability of the symbols themselves. They mutate incessantly, depending on one’s perspective and general vantage point.

Do you remember the centerpiece of the grand American bicentennial in 1976, when the old, tall, “masts from the past” sailing ships came into the harbor at New York?

It was a wonderful and epochal party, redolent with symbolism – flags, patriotism and Americana. The newspaper accounts agreed, but the late Randy Shilts, author of And the Band Played On, saw something else. The occasion of July 4, 1976, may well have been the point when Patient Zero kicked off the worldwide AIDS epidemic.

Wooden ships were on the water, and the future was pounding on the door. It is quite possible that owing to Ronald Reagan’s backward-looking obsession, we took far too long reacting to the scary reaper out on the stoop.

And so it is that from the very start, New Albany’s bicentennial program template was locked into a pattern so utterly predictable that Year Zero itself has been a massive yawner of an anti-climax.

Opposing ideas have not only been dismissed; they’ve been actively resisted, and it’s both sad and infuriating to contemplate the extent of an opportunity wasted. Apart from the solitary tangible gain of an over-priced, generically designed public area, variously known as Somnolent Estates, Rent Boy Park and Caesar’s Folly (the “official” designation is Bicentennial Park), we’ve been given a carpetbagger writer’s coffee table book to remember our rare old times and what seems like 4,762 occasions to watch as the selected don period costumes, dance the minuet, and recite the enumerated hagiography of the historic preservation code -- cookie-cutter events priced primarily to recoup the book’s lamentable costs.

It’s all safe, white-bread and oh-so-conservative, and fully appropriate for the buck-a-day extras at yet another Lewis & Clark expedition commemorative film, but it remains that the problem with making our bicentennial entirely about the city’s past, and not in any discernible way at all about our future, is that the situation begs a rather embarrassing question.

Why were our urban forefathers adept at city building for the times to come, but their modern-day ancestors are able to muster little more in terms of achievement than decay management?

You're thinking: Haven’t we come a long way during the past few years?

(We have. But what about the three decades before that?)

Downtown is revitalizing, isn’t it?

(If eating and drinking’s your thing, yes it is. If retail gains, residential enhancement, community engagement and two-way, calmed and completed streets interest you, then welcome to our default condition of perpetually self-flagellating stasis)

But Roger, don’t I look marvy dressed up as a Scribner?

(You needn’t ask me. I’ll be sober in the morning, but we’ll collectively experience this bicentennial hangover for the rest of our lives. You might direct your inquiry to that child slouching over there, assuming he’ll relinquish his iPhone)

And so, the safe and genteel rewriting wrought by the Coup d’Geriatrique winds its way toward the inevitable reenactment of New Year’s Eve, 1893, when a slew of white folks gathered somewhere amid Benedictine sandwiches and non-alcoholic cider, and chatted amiably about keeping the lower classes firmly in their place.

In the vacant lot where daughters once were paired and insider trading schemes consummated, the future is now. An empty liquor bottle meets pavement, drivers ignore pedestrians, and Farmers Market expansion plans are recycled by the same-way-every-single-time design suspects as Big Gulp cups flutter to the pavement.

Somewhere in the city, a dog barks.

"The top 10 creepiest spots in Europe" -- Halloween edition (only).

(photo courtesy of the article below)

The scope of this brief survey veers little beyond the Halloween perimeter, although it is hard to limit one's field of view to a collection of skulls and mummies. From Inquisition through Holocaust, and including wars too numerous to mention, there has been sufficiently creepy carnage in Europe, enough to go around.

A Halloween holiday? The top 10 creepiest spots in Europe, by Mark Pickering (Guardian)

Forget pumpkins and scary theme-park rides, it you want to really spook yourself this Halloween, take a look at these creepy ancient sites across Europe, from churches adorned with skeletons to a village of tombs.

Cybertek: On the right side of New Albany street grid history.


My two-way street project and how you can help.

Board of Works 10/28/13: The Farmers Market expansion plan is baaack ... but at what price?

As threatened, I attended Tuesday's weekly (10:00 a.m.) Board of Public Works and Safety meeting. During public communications time, I discussed two-way streets and the Harvest Homecoming hangover downtown. It was a good experience, and I think my presentation was solid.

Here are a few observations, which might be summarized: We're planning to spend money on lots of stuff, none of which has to do with changing the street grid or facing up to the 800 lb orange-clad gorilla. But hey -- those agendas already were written.

There is a proposal to demolish the medical office building on the corner of State and Green Valley, and replace it with a (drum roll, please) CVS Pharmacy. Whether the building design itself is the typical cinder block, windowless, annoying and anti-urban-design monstrosity scattered throughout America was not discussed; these are matters for the Board of Zoning Appeals. Rather, the Public Works portal has to do with street access and (to a lesser extent) parking.

There was no discussion of walking or biking in this context or in any other during the meeting. 

Appointments were made to a new Public Arts Right-of-Way committee, which is to advise the Board of Public Works when questions arise.

There'll be a contract awarded to same usual design suspects for determining the historic value (if any) of buildings in the path of the next Greenway phase, which I assume to mean the boat club. '

There's another contract to be awarded to the same usual design suspects for a dog park, which might be located at the old city dump, but might not. It is to include dog aquatics, seeing as $9 million for a human waterpark did not include such a feature (okay, it wasn't stated in exactly those terms).

Permission for the man who sells Christmas trees annually at the old Farmers Market likely will be renewed.

Then there's the newer Farmers Market, and the long dormant planned expansion. CM Baird was on hand to join David Duggins in noting that the city council has approved $275K on its 2014 budget to move this forward, and the city and same usual design suspects agree, but there was no explanation as to whether the price has come down since last this surfaced, or if there'll be another source of funds ... and I refer to this only because We Have All Been Here Before.

Here is Jeff's post from May 13, 2011. What's changed since then?

It's extremely difficult to believe it would cost anywhere near $374,000 to build the proposed Farmers' Market improvements shown in the above rendering, a good portion of which already exists. For that price, one could purchase a large downtown commercial building or a4,800 square feet, two-story brick home with five bedrooms, five bathrooms, a full basement, high quality finishes, and the land on which they sit.

Yet, in conjunction with Develop New Albany, the mayor's office has asked the City Council to approve spending up to $400,000 for the proposed project. Have other imagined uses for leftover funds rocketed the estimate into unrealistic space? What justifications have been provided for such a bloated number? In general, what gives? If being asked to pay for it, the Council and the public deserve more objectivity and respect than they've yet been shown.

Despite being subjected to the usual "slap our name on it" fight for credit, the Farmers' Market has indeed been successful and does serve important economic and social functions in the community. The importance of those functions, however, is precisely the reason the market should not be used as the centerpiece of some politicized, unexplained financial scheme.

The mayor's office should get real, itemized estimates from multiple local contractors via a public process before moving forward. Until then, the Council and the public should treat the proposal with the same level of care and seriousness as has been afforded them, which is to say very little.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Mariposa Consignments: On the right side of New Albany street grid history.

Mariposa Consignments

My two-way street project and how you can help.

"Atomic Platters: Cold War Music from the Golden Age of Homeland Security."

And I've only listened to the first disc of this fantastic compilation from 2005. It's the aural version of the seminal documentary from the eighties, The Atomic Cafe.

Remember Bert the Turtle?

Thanks, Ben.

Atomic Platters: Cold War Music from the Golden Age of Homeland Security.

DP Updogs said to be dog gone.

The Green Mouse hears that DP UpDogs is closing for good after the coming weekend, or may have gone already. It isn't clear, but sadly, it isn't a surprise. Apparently the owners both work full time elsewhere, and it just wasn't working out in terms of hired help. The hot dog stand's hours were quite limited, and the social media presence minimal.

Anyone have a concept? Ever since Little Chef ceased to exist, downtown is a place where kitchens close at about the same time each evening, and the White Castle on Vincennes is just about the only choice. If your idea includes food (my vote goes for a martini bar), then it may be worth considering the graveyard shift. Increased competition demands sustained effort, and establishments benefits from differentiation. The late night market is under-served; the dinner-time market probably saturated at present.

Is it time for all-night Doner Kebab?


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Just the facts: The One-Way versus Two-Way comparison is clear.

Bluegill found the graphic above; I know not where. The bookseller contributed the one below. When there's time this week, I'll photocopy these back to back. Sheets will be useful for door to door campaigning. Go here for links.

JR's Pub: On the right side of New Albany street grid history.

JR's Pub

My two-way street project and how you can help.

Attention, sniveling bigots: Indiana University publicly rejects HJR-6 as Mike Pence squirms some more.

From Megan Robertson, as deposited to my inbox. Perhaps never has it been so thoroughly amusing to money-first GOP functionaries in the Hoosier state being forced to confront their self-defining social prejudices. It makes me laugh out loud. Really.

Big news! Today, Indiana University became the latest member of Freedom Indiana, our growing, statewide coalition to defeat HJR-6.

In the announcement, IU President Michael A. McRobbie said:

"As a major employer in the state, IU competes with universities and companies around the world for the very best talent, and HJR6 would needlessly complicate our efforts to attract employees to our campuses around the state."

Indiana University's support sends a strong message that we want our state to be an inviting place to study, work and live, and it's the latest example of the incredible momentum we're building to defeat HJR-6.

We're incredibly excited to add Indiana University to our growing list of coalition partners.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Urban planning as "Light, Quick And Cheap"? Not in New Albany.

Kindly note the source of the rampant subversion to follow: Neither The Nation nor Mother Jones, but Forbes.

For those of a New Albanian bent -- or if like me, you've been bent by New Albany -- take special interest in the novel concept of making more on less. We've all been here before, as when municipal government concluded, seemingly overnight, that $9 million for an aquatics center must be prioritized.

Aquatics: More on less.

We've argued (in vain) that rather than concentrating money and resources on parks in the traditional sense, perhaps scattering spigots and green spaces throughout the neighborhoods would make more sense. As it stands, with no plan or infrastructure in place to support enhanced walkability and ease of bicycling, and without useful public transit, we're demanding that people drive their cars to recreate.

Lighter, quicker and cheaper. Need it apply only to low-calorie beer?
Light, Quick And Cheap: The Big Shift In Urban Planning, by Micheline Maynard (Forbes)

Now, as cities across the United States try to rejuvenate themselves, there is a new mantra: lighter, quicker, cheaper.

It’s at the heart of an overlooked kind of urban development called place making, focused not so much on architecture or public works, as making sure spaces actually work for city residents. (Grammar note: practitioners call it “placemaking” without a space) ...

 ... The idea of less money to make big changes is actually providing a variety of new opportunities, built on making smaller changes, and involving residents and community groups, and to creativity ...  “you move away from design to what you can do in it ... you try to build a whole destination” ...

Here's where the "getting folks to it" thinking comes into play (my italics).

(Project for Public Spaces founder Fred) Kent says that as a city assembles its network of public places, there’s less emphasis on using cars to reach them. “If there’s one thing, you’re going to drive to it,” he says. “If there are 10 of them, all of a sudden, you’re connecting them, and it’s a whole point of not needing your car.”

But of course, there's always a catch: Government interacting differently. Two ways, not one. Plans that aren't top secret. Sunshine and transparency and not fearing the outside world.

But for place making to flourish, Silberberg says municipal governments have to interact differently with developers and people in the community. In the white paper, the researchers discuss the new circle of interaction between city agencies and those creating projects, which is necessarily chaotic ... many urban renewal efforts in the late 20th century were about making cities look more orderly. Now, in the 21st century, “Those are the cities we don’t want to live in,” (Susan Silberberg) says.

Hence the perennial New Albanian dilemma: Thinking disorderly by design, not from unreconstructed habit and tribal politics.

I reckon that we'll keep pushing. Perhaps some day, they'll cease pushing back and begin listening.

Even this one-way street sign is on the right side of New Albany street grid history.

The Impact of One Way Streets, by Dom Nozzi (Dom's Plan B Blog)

My two-way street project and how you can help.

"Race is central to the fear and angst of the US right."

Of course it is. What's even funnier, or perhaps more chilling, are the hundreds of comments assuring Younge of his errors.

Race is central to the fear and angst of the US right ... The shrinking white base of the Republican party cannot accept the country in which it now lives – so it shut it down, by Gary Younge (The Guardian)

... Their inability to craft a credible strategic response to these insecurities only serves to reinforce them. "You don't like a particular policy or a particular president?" taunted Obama last week. "Go out there and win an election." The trouble is Republicans can't because their racially charged rhetoric alienates minorities, leaving them more electorally isolated, prompting defeat – which leaves them ever more divided. Meanwhile, their reckless obstruction in Congress, which nearly triggered a default, makes the nation's descent into chaos more likely. Unable to come to terms with the country in which they live, they are complicit in creating the very future they most fear

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Weekend Update: Freshly paraphrased newspaper highlights, including speeding (by design) on Elm Street and a Dutch Treat for the city.

Over yonder, behind Bill Hanson's graffiti-covered 'Bamabuilt paywall, there's an angry letter to the Jeffersonville-based editor from Grace Transue, who takes the New Albany Board of Public Works and Safety quite sternly to task for blithely ignoring persistent complaints about reckless driving and speeding on the city's one-way Elm Street racing corridor between the Interstate 64 ramp and Vincennes Street.

She makes pointed note of her perception of the board's cavalier attitude and dismissive body language, which actually serves to direct us to several fundamental truths in what SHOULD be a two-way discussion:

  • A street designed for speeding will (duh) duly produce speeders
  • The Board of Works apparently needs weekly exposure to informative weekly recitations highlighting bold new trends in urban modernity, ones mostly dating back to the city's founding
  • The Board need not await unnecessary traffic studies to just do something about one-way streets designed for reckless and unsafe driving -- as previous boards have been asked to do for ten years running, or longer
  • City Hall continues to gaze numbly upon this and other pressing aspects of the two-way street discussion with an expression resembling that of the proverbial wayward deer in the headlights of an Elm Street driver
  • The police department's thoughts on speeding enforcement are, shall we say, cursory

We turn to a more detailed, non-metered source on the police department's recent (and brief) Elm Street observations, as Randy "The Bookseller" Smith explains all at The NewAlbanist:

“Move Along, Nothing to See Here”

In response to a request by a resident of Elm Street (you know who you are), Maj. Keith Whitlow offered up a report to the Board of Public Works and Safety at their regular Tuesday meeting.

As most anyone can tell you, and as everyone who lives on Elm Street can tell you, speeding is a chronic problem there, especially on its one-way stretch from I-64 to Vincennes Street.

In what was reported as a “shift” by Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc. of Montgomery, Ala., a police officer observed the traffic flow on Elm Street, presumably to ascertain whether there was, indeed, a problem with speeding.

On a street where the speed limit is generally 30 mph, and is highly trafficked at all hours, Maj. Whitlow says his assigned officer observed … 45 cars. (read the rest of the story)

Thank you, Randy.


In other news, it has been revealed that amid a budget crisis of their own making, Floyd County's bumbling governmental officials haven't yet appropriated the county's annual share of the Scribner Place YMCA payment. In fact, the city of New Albany has paid both its $137K bill AND picked up the tab for the county's $137K balance due.

Remember back when the county approved the yearly Y expenditure even as the city council's Gang of Four still sought to railroad it? We sure do: County backs Scribner Place, Gang of Four scrambling for new excuses (September 14, 2005).

That's right. We've been doing this for a while, haven't we?

At this point, dwelling any further on our county government's breathtaking bankruptcy -- a nadir not so much about cash as a gaping chasm of intellect and leadership -- would merely constitute a tasteless piling-on, so instead, let's consider the unexamined component, namely that the city's annual $137K payment for the Y comprises pretty much the entire expanse of its economic development plan for downtown, apart for periodic dribs and drabs from what's left of the Urban Enterprise Association since it was Norwooded.

Ah, but I have a dream: The city of New Albany spends a few thousand to repair a sidewalk untouched since the Inman Administration BEFORE an entrepreneur agrees to drop a cool million into rehabbing the building sitting behind it, rather than after.

Pro-active? It's a forgotten concept here by sanity's edge.

The story of sriracha sauce.

It's an inspiring story. An immigrant loves hot sauce, makes it the right way, doesn't advertise yet has more demand than supply, and refuses to sell out. On a more personal note, I've been addicted to this product since the late 1990s. Long live Huy Fong.

The story of how one hot sauce, Huy Fong Sriracha, got so hot, produced by Nina Porzucki (PRI's The World)

You've probably seen it on the table at a Vietnamese restaurant. Maybe even put some in your pho soup. You might even have a some in your own fridge. It's that bottle full of bright red chili sauce with the green cap and the picture of the rooster. And it's called Huy Fong Foods, Inc. Sriracha.

Print + Ship: On the right side of New Albany street grid history.

My two-way street project and how you can help.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The $60,000 Question: If we submit an invoice, will they stiff us?

The bookseller's on a roll.

His new survey proposal set grime-encrusted wheels to spinning, and eventually a precedent was disgorged. We've all been here before. Sort of.

But first, the 2013 hiking idea. I endorse it, and I'll be there on the 10th.

I'll also submit an invoice.

The $60,000 Hike – Sunday, Nov. 10, by Randy Smith (The NewAlbanist)

Despite the fact that New Albany employs a full-time Streets Commissioner (and staff), a Neighborhoods Coordinator, an economic development director, and police and fire chiefs charged with guarding our safety …

… the bureaucrats have decreed that the quite simple task of reverting downtown streets to their original design for two-way traffic will first require a “study” costing $60,000 ...

... In the spirit of saving our city a substantial sum, I propose “The $60,000 Hike.”

Has it really been just shy of eight years ago since we last indulged in some mapping?


Taking a walk, by Randy Smith (Volunteer Hoosier)

Our intrepid band of surveyors launched today, and while allusions to Lewis & Clark would be inappropriate, the frigid temperatures lent an air of bicentennial authenticity.

Working as a team, we were able to piece together some of the raw data, architectural heritage, and unfiltered rumor about one segment of the downtown business district. We managed to do a fairly decent survey of the west bank of Pearl Street from Oak Street to Main Street.

Metered parking in Berkeley: "How the changes affect behavior."

We've experience metered paywalls recently, but what about the merits of parking meters?

It's hard to imagine a more controversial and counterintuitive topic -- no one wants to pay to park, right? But last week while in downtown Indianapolis, it was a breeze to find a streetside spot, swipe the credit card for dollar-an-hour parking, and go about our business on foot. We calculated how much time was needed for our objectives, and took up space only for these tasks.

If, as Jeff Speck proposes, parking revenues are put back into an infrastructure development pool for the benefit of the area around the meters, it sounds like a vast improvement on New Albany's frankly counterproductive method of suspending parking ordinances downtown, which has the effect of making parking value-less, while allowing indolent and unsupervised employees to park where shoppers should be parking, without penalty. Meanwhile, up the street and past an invisible line, the same ordinances are enforced. How does any of this make sense?

Maybe somewhere there's a secret plan.

Metered parking changes launch Tuesday in Berkeley, by Emilie Raguso (Berkeleyside)

... The goBerkeley model is based on the concept of “demand-responsive” pricing, so that prices reflect demand in several congested areas around town. The hope is to free up one or two spaces per block, by raising or adjusting the pricing in a way that will encourage some of the people currently filling spaces to move a bit farther away or use alternative modes of transportation. The city has been studying current parking demand, and plans to analyze how the changes affect behavior.

Irish Exit: On the right side of New Albany street grid history.

Irish Exit

My two-way street project and how you can help.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Another insular Bicentennial high point manages to exclude most of city.

We decided to visit the River City Winery on Thursday evening, and following the usual Camm Trial pleasantries and analysis, became aware that yet another self-congratulatory bicentennial gathering of usual suspects was in progress. This proved to be the official unveiling of a Barney Bright sculpture, as commandeered and donated by PNC bank. The sparse crowd's remnants are depicted in this cellular photo, one that frankly captures far more than I originally intended. The looming edifice of Mount Socialist Bloc on the horizon adds perspective to a scene in which the sculpture itself is quite tiny, and many of the personages surrounding it commensurately over-inflated. Let's hope the deftly chilled rotgut champagne and daintily stacked benedictine sandwiches were tasty. The winery's pizza sure was.


Join The Arts Council of Southern Indiana and the City of New Albany in celebrating the unveiling of "Landscape", the famous artwork by renowned Louisville sculptor Barney Bright. The piece was donated by PNC and will be placed in the New Bicentennial Park.

Champagne and desserts will be provided by the Horseshoe Foundation of Floyd County.

The Warehouse Hookah Bar & Cafe: On the right side of New Albany street grid history.

The Warehouse Hookah Bar & Cafe

My two-way street project and how you can help.

Design problems and "Why Public Spaces Fail."

How do New Albany's public spaces stack up? We do have some, right? Think about these concepts the next time you're at Bicentennial "Rent Boy" Park. Did we get it right?

Of these ideas, the one resonating with me is "paths that don’t go where people want to go." It's an anecdote I've told before: Those block-long gargantuan housing estates in Eastern Europe, and a bus stop invariably perfectly centered in front. The sidewalk would pass from right to left, then some distance away turn toward the building, then turn again to reach the entry doors facing the bus stop across an expanse of former grass, now worn to mud by people taking the shortest distance between two points.

Why Public Spaces Fail (Project for Public Spaces)

William H. Whyte once said, “It is difficult to design a space that will not attract people – what is remarkable is how often this has been accomplished.” Today, many public spaces seem to be intentionally designed to be looked at but not touched. They are neat, clean, and empty – as if to say, “no people, no problem!” But to us, when a public space is empty, vandalized, or used chiefly by undesirables, this is generally an indication that something is very wrong with its design, or its management, or both.

The following pairs of photographs illustrate some of the most common problems of public space ...

Thursday, October 24, 2013

'Bune savages Floyd County non-government: "You’ve used that line before."

Dear newspaper folks,

I didn't steal it. It wasn't me. And anyway, the Democrats stole it first. I just borrowed the text from them. That's not stealing. I'd append the damned link to the full site like I used to do, when I was steering traffic your way, but now I can't get through the door ... just like the last time I tried to crash a Bicentennial function. Jesus, folks around here just don't have a sense of humor. 

But you already knew that.

Yours in relative localitivity,


PS -- Pretty good editorial. Chris Morris couldn't have written it; he's far too deferential toward his elders, although now that Ted Heavrin's gone, there's one less bell to answer. Must have been Shea Van Hoy. Thumbs up. Just think if questions pertaining to these issues had been asked by reporters all along ... but hey, that's just stenography under the bridge. 



OUR OPINION: You’ve used that line before

The reasons many Floyd County elected officials used to explain how a $3.6 million shortfall came about are all too familiar.

It was the former auditor’s fault. Murder trials are expensive. It hit us out of the blue.

Yes, we’ve heard all of that before.

In fact, aside from the auditor scapegoat, those were some of the same reasons given by the county for short-changing the former New Albany-Floyd County Parks Department to the tune of about $4 million.
Maybe these situations really are unique. Perhaps the county has had to fund more than its fair share of murder trials. Maybe there was no proverbial “writing on the wall” for the county to see it was stacking up bills that it couldn’t pay. Maybe the auditor — who resigned earlier this year — was lousy at the job Floyd County residents elected him to do.

But maybe Floyd County has been failed again by its leadership.

Elected positions aren’t forced on people. But serving the public isn’t just about garnering the most ballots, it’s about making tough and informed, common sense decisions.

When the news came that the county had failed to live up to its funding obligations for the joint parks system, many officials said they were unaware the situation had gotten so out of hand.

Similar comments were made by multiple Floyd County Council members Thursday as they tried to explain to a roomful of angry employees why they were discussing county layoffs to bridge the funding gap.

Officials can only play the dumb card so long before people will assume that they’re just not qualified to lead.

With seven council members, three commissioners and several administrative workers in high-ranking positions, there’s no way this shortfall should have been kicked down the road to the point where the county’s back is to the wall.

One solution that has been proposed is raising taxes to generate about $2 million in additional revenue annually. That’s about $500,000 more than the county paid to purchase its Pineview Government Center from the New Albany-Floyd County School Corp.

To add fuel to the fire, it’s not really a center, as many county offices are still located in the City-County Building in downtown New Albany.

So basically the ideas that our elected leaders have proposed to rid the county of its ugly mess are employee layoffs, increasing taxes or asking the Horseshoe Foundation of Floyd County for a loan.
Two of those options are essentially bailouts for the council, as they would either be placing the burden of crawling out of the county’s fiscal hole on taxpayers or employees.

The third option — borrowing from the Horseshoe Foundation — seems highly unlikely, as it doesn’t appear the organization has interest in loaning money to an entity that over the past five years has failed to meet its obligation on joint parks and animal shelter agreements, and has a $3.6 million budget shortfall on its résumé.

If the typical $12.3 million budget for the county isn’t enough, during an average year, to foot services then yes, a tax hike might be a worthy discussion to have.

But a tax hike hard to justify when money has already spent on the Pine View center and land for a proposed Little League Park. The money spent there would have made a big dent in the deficit.
Taxes are for services for the people foremost. If there’s money left over and everything is in good standing, sure, upgrading a facility might be a feasible venture.

But to spend money on property and buildings while you have murder trials staring you in the face and you haven’t given most county employees a raise in eight years is bad fiscal management.

Maybe a fair offer would be for the county to figure out a way to address the current deficit without layoffs and then revisit a tax increase in 2015 when hopefully the holes inside the sinking ship have been patched.

Let this serve as another example to the public as well. Choose your leaders wisely. Just because someone is a nice person doesn’t mean he or she is qualified to oversee millions of dollars.

We hope the county has a better plan in place than trotting out the same tired excuses when the council meets Thursday night. We’ve elected them to lead and be responsible stewards of the public’s money.
Is that too much to ask?

— The News and Tribune editorial board is comprised of Publisher Bill Hanson, Editor Shea Van Hoy, Assistant Editor Chris Morris and Assistant Editor Jason Thomas. Responses can be sent to

ON THE AVENUES: 1Si, Kerry, ROCK and the gays.

ON THE AVENUES: 1Si, Kerry, ROCK and the gays.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

Remember back in 2007, when One Southern Indiana was tying itself in church/state/oligarchy enrichment knots by ineptly seeking to bind itself to the Reclaim Our Culture Kentuckiana cabal?

Boy, do WE remember it here at NA Confidential. Never, ever has it been any more fun ripping down statues of idols than when 1Si was thrashing in self-Stemler-inflicted Neanderthal agony over Theatair-X.

Great moments in silent film: Michael Dalby throws Kerry Stemler a lifeline.

Did anyone notice that in the end, when it came to clarifying the relationship of One Southern Indiana with Reclaim Our Culture Kentuckiana, Michael Dalby duly took responsibility for acknowledging the slippery slope that 1SI chairman of the board Kerry Stemler, not Dalby himself, originally commenced sliding down at the ROCK press conference?

Eminences seldom get grayer than Kerry Stemler, nor logic fuzzier than when refracted through the immaculately laundered linen of his privileged white Wonder Bread mind.

In 2007, Stemler was 1Si's Big Chief Tablet Chairman of the Board, and he had decided one morning over Pop-Tarts and Sanka that it would be a great idea to hop into bed with the meddling theocrats and scripture-quoters at ROCK, because doing so might end the vile threat to regional economic development posed by a solitary smut shop in Clarksville -- this being the same Stemler (and the same 1Si) who were conspiring at the very same time to toll those few precious Kentuckians choosing to cross bridges to come to Indiana and spend their money.

Go figure the economic development merits of THAT strategy ... but I digress. We asked:

What does ROCK's theocratic advocacy have to do with economic development, and why is Stemler giving 1SI's imprimatur to a very specific and exclusionary Christian advocacy group?

As soon became hilariously clear, Stemler's choice of churches had been made without the knowledge of 1Si's then-president, Michael Dalby, who in the end was compelled to take the responsibility hit and control the mayhem as Stemler retreated to the board room for another round of Champale and Chef Boyardee, a pairing of champions.

Now the topic is HJR-6, Indiana's lamentable attempt to fuse reactionary clergy with constitutional amendment, and thus stem the tide of rampant buggery and same sex marriage. The organization calling itself Freedom Indiana explains the basis of opposition to this sheer lunacy.

Freedom for all Hoosiers!

We are a statewide bipartisan coalition of businesses, faith leaders, civil rights and community organizations, and individuals united to defeat HJR-6.

This anti-freedom amendment duplicates existing law and would permanently ban all protections for same-sex couples and their families and remove existing protections for unmarried Hoosiers.

Stand with us, and sign the petition to defeat HJR-6!

As documented daily by reputable news organizations across the state, and others with metered paywalls, the momentum against HJR-6 is building quickly, and as the bookseller pointed out earlier in the week, the dominoes continue to fall against the amendment.


"Indiana's struggles to retain its college graduates are well documented and often acknowledged in the state legislature. Its necessity to ease this "brain drain" by attracting talent on a national scale would be inhibited by adopting an unnecessary, discriminatory amendment with fading support from younger generations.

"As the only potential marriage amendment up for consideration nationwide in 2014, it is important to be mindful of the conspicuous part HJR-6 would play in portraying Indiana as a state that welcomes some, but not all, talented workers."

Forever eager for clarification, I've gone to One Southern Indiana's Facebook page twice in recent weeks to ask whether the organization had yet lifted its quivering finger to the winds of modernity, and as yet, no reply has been forthcoming. It's no wonder, given that 1Si possesses the quaint view of social media wherein communications always are a top-down, one-way street. No doubt such an attitude was copped from the likes of Kerry Stemler himself.

It's an institutional thang, tantamount to a human stain. Nowadays Stemler seems to believe he is the chairman of the board of Southern Indiana as a geopolitical entity, and not just calling plays for 1Si. As such, will he be interfering in this great drama?

Indeed, what happens next?

Will 1Si do the right thing?

Will it do anything at all?

If 1Si actually decides to queue for once on history's correct side, will ROCK subsequently gather its members into a tight circle outside 1Si HQ, douse themselves with petrol -- and then both of them catch on fire?

Can we throw Stemler on that same fire and make it a threesome? Hasn't he done enough damage to the regional societal fabric (as opposed the profitability comforter) for one clueless lifetime?

Let's just say that while hopeful, I'm not holding my breath.

These 15 local independent businesses are on the right side of New Albany street grid history, with more to come.

The vote totals from the first two weeks of our fall campaign have been tabulated.
My two-way street project and how you can help.

During the past few weeks, little by little and as time permits, I’ve been visiting downtown businesses and chatting with owners and managers about the advantages of a two-way street grid in the context of downtown New Albany’s ongoing revitalization.

Following are the first 15, and as of today (October 24) six other local indie businesses are queued to appear here in the coming days, taking us almost to the end of the month. Combined, how much has been invested into downtown New Albany by just these 15 businesses? Isn't it time for the city to put some infrastructure skin into the game by rationalizing the street grid?

Art Store
Bank Street Brewhouse
Billow Cigar Shop
Bread and Breakfast
Classic Furniture
Dandy Lion
Destinations Bookseller
Exchange pub + kitchen
Faith Ingle Smith
Feast BBQ
Keg Liquors
Quills Coffee
River City Winery
Sew Fitting
Wick’s Pizza

Wick's Pizza: On the right side of New Albany street grid history.

Wick's Pizza

My two-way street project and how you can help.

As of TODAY, the new location for Stylin' Irish Salon is 1440 Charlestown Rd.

Having been aware from the very start that it was difficult for Stylin' Irish to be the first tenant in a very long time to occupy space in the long-moribund Commercial Building (above) on the corner of Elm and Pearl, across from Bank Street Brewhouse ... my best guess is that Charlotte and crew will begin the day today chanting "free at last, free at last."

Up the revolution, and best of luck to Stylin' Irish in its new location.


So Excited About Our New Location

Hello everyone! We have been working very hard to get our new location up and ready to pamper you.

It has been a lot of work but we will finally be ready as of tomorrow Thursday October 24, 2013. We will still be doing some work on the salon but it won't affect your services. 

The new address is 1440 Charlestown Rd. This is where Charlestown Rd and Grant Line Rd meet and become 8th St. Our most known landmark would be the railroad bridge that runs over the road right next to our new building. It is very easy to find but if you have any questions, just give us a call. 

We have been waiting on utilities to be transferred, as the companies we use seem to be taking their sweet time. We haven't gotten the phones on yet but that should be today or tomorrow so in the mean time feel free to call Aisha's cell phone at 812-557-5905 and leave a message. She will call you back promptly to set you up for an appointment or answer any questions. If you leave a message at the salon's number we won't be able to access it until they complete our transfer request. 

The new location is very cute and cozy and we can't wait to show it off. Thank you all for your support and friendships. You all mean the world to us :)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Bread and Breakfast: On the right side of New Albany street grid history.

Bread and Breakfast (coming soon)

My two-way street project and how you can help.

Essay: "Two-Way Streets: Best Practices" at The NewAlbanist.

The bookseller summarizes the situation wonderfully. This might serve as the one-page printout that we'll be needing for those disinclined to use modern media. My takeaway from this essay:

"It makes no sense to wait one more day. Likewise, there’s no need for another study. A one-day walking tour – maybe just one afternoon – will identify the problems that need to be addressed."

Two-Way Streets: Best Practices, by Randy Smith at The NewAlbanist

Almost from the moment I arrived in New Albany I’ve advocated for a rational reversion of downtown streets to two-way traffic patterns.

To me, it was obviously the right thing to do. By words, if not action, Mayors Garner and England agreed with me and with the hundreds of New Albany residents and visitors I’ve talked to about this topic.

Now, the mere fact that it was obvious to me, multiplied by 2 sitting mayors acknowledging the rightness of the idea, can’t, unfortunately, be enough to move the ball.

That’s why I and many of my policy-minded neighbors have gathered and published studies showing that, by an overwhelming margin, smart cities are reverting back to traditional 2-way traffic patterns more

OMG: Prague artist beats me to the punch ... I mean, the finger.

Back on October 9, with Downtown Displacement Days approaching and a mounting sense of annoyance, I posted a Facebook update.

If I mounted a statue of a middle-finger salute the approximate size of the Colossus of Rhodes atop Bank Street Brewhouse, would that qualify as public art? Because it's sounding mighty appealing right about now.

There were some extremely witty replies. Now I learn that someone else already has done it, and in Prague, one of my favorite cities in the world.

Here is the whole sad story of how we missed our chance.

I want one, damn it. Come to think of it, I have one ... a photo will appear at an opportune time in the future. After all, a council meeting is never very far away.

Angry at Prague, Artist Ensures He’s Understood, by Dan Bilefsky (NYT)

PARIS — “The finger,” said the Czech sculptor David Cerny, “speaks for itself.” On that point, at least, everyone could agree.

Mr. Cerny is not known for understatement or diplomacy, from depicting Germany as a network of motorways resembling a swastika to displaying a caricature of a former Czech president inside an enormous fiberglass rear end.

But on Monday, Mr. Cerny, 45, took his political satire to new heights — or depths, depending on your perspective — when, on the eve of Czech general elections this weekend, he installed on the Vltava River a 30-foot-high, plastic, purple hand with a raised middle finger. It is a symbol, he said, that points directly at the Prague Castle, the seat of the current Czech president, Milos Zeman ...

 ... He said the sculpture, which he gave an unprintable title, was also aimed at the country’s Communist Party, which could gain a share of power in the coming elections for the first time since the revolution that overthrew communism more than two decades ago ...

 ... The sculpture is part of a Czech tradition of cultural rebellion dating to communist times, when artists, writers and musicians like the Plastic People of the Universe used subversive lyrics or gestures to revolt against authority.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

More on the two-way street project.

Yesterday I did the unthinkable and released the details of my campaign plan.

My two-way street project and how you can help.

During the past few weeks, little by little and as time permits, I’ve been visiting downtown businesses and chatting with owners and managers about the advantages of a two-way street grid in the context of downtown New Albany’s ongoing revitalization.

These advantages include slower traffic, less confusion for visitors, enhanced walkability, greater safety for all street users (both automotive and non-automotive), and overall, a better atmosphere for the new generation of shops, restaurants, bars and other attractions downtown.

That's right. I have a plan, and I'm eager to share it. Local politicians prone to secrecy are horrified, but that's okay. I'm not running for anything. I'd never get elected in this town, anyway, and wouldn't be able to stay sober long enough to serve even if I could.

The point to me is this.

While revealing the plan provides proponents of status quo with a one-way roadmap to obstruct sensibility in the street grid, it remains that without engagement -- without educating and explaining why two way streets are a better idea for independent small businesses and nearby neighborhoods -- there isn't much chance of the idea taking root.

Let's face it.

If City Hall weren't terrified of the political backlash, it wouldn't have tried to co-opt the council into sharing responsibility by funding a largely unnecessary, surely overpriced study. This phenomenon is neither good nor bad. It's just politics as we know it. The mayor hears every complaint from an inconvenienced driver as coming from a potentially hostile voter -- regrettably, from a hostile Democratic voter. That's because old fogies complain ... and old fogies vote.

There's only one way to alter this sad, enduring paradigm. Those who are in favor of a rational street grid that includes completed, calmed and two-way streets must convey their viewpoint, one that is firmly grounded on evidence and experience throughout the nation. This must come with a commensurate promise: We'll vote for the ones helping with this much needed transformation.

Yes, my campaign may ultimately prove quixotic. It wouldn't be the first time. In recent years, there have been many opportunities for New Albany's emerging indie business community and the city's transitional neighborhoods to achieve progress through unity. We’ve fumbled most of them, and made do with crumbs.

Unity has been elusive. I might blame this on a number of factors, but perhaps the primary reason is that advocates of change haven't always considered it necessary to build grassroots consensus, which leads to bigger numbers, resulting in critical mass. That's why in the case of two way streets, amid fully anticipated governmental inertia, it just could be that the best way to go about it is to use each day as the chance to produce one convert. I choose to do it in the indie business community, not the neighborhoods. Someone else must do it there.

I'm asking business owners and key employees not to take my word for it. Rather, I'm asking them to read a bit and examine the evidence. It would be nice to have some help, but I understand we're all busy. I will continue to do what I can, as time permits. If you agree, please consider spreading the information and links placed in yesterday's piece. Remember, I'm just trying to make one sale a day. They'll add up in due time.

Human Rights Commission somehow gnaws through the leash and will hold an open house this Friday.

(Full disclosure: The missus is a member of the Human Rights Commission)

After a daring escape from a dusty shelf in the rear of the city's "be seen but not heard" garage, alongside the bin where economic development plans are stored, the Human Rights Commission is having an open house on Friday afternoon at the Carnegie Center (3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.).

As I wrote earlier this year:

No one's happier than me to see a freshly enabled HRC. This blog was advocating such a revival during the Garner administration. But I must admit it seems strange to have such a nice, shiny new car and keep it parked in the garage. For something that's been here for more than a year, there's already an aura of disuse. It seems almost as though the HRC was reconstituted for no other reason than to serve as laudatory sidebar on a metaphorical website.

The open house aims to introduce the HRC to the public, and familiarize residents with the mechanism for filing complaints.

We've already located on potential area of inquiry: Walkability as a civil rights issue.

It's unfortunate that the HRC has been corralled by city government's incremental, institutionalized, decades-long timidity, but perhaps this will change.

The HRC isn't the only example of "not to be touched" at the current time: After all, there's also this: Mike Ladd: 17 months to receive 2 weeks pay, and other shovel-ready Ethics Commission topics.

Here's one for Louis le Francais: "Paris Leads With Innovation in the Streets."

It now appears we need a little more Frenchness downtown; photo from the Louis le Francais Facebook page

Think of it as a corrective for those who insist that automotive rights come before quality of life. Livability in the whole city? What a concept.

Taking the Next Step: Paris Leads With Innovation in the Streets, by Stephane Kirkland (Project for Public Spaces)

In a 180-degree change from previous decades, during which public space was thought of mainly in terms of facilitating automobile circulation, the City of Paris has been implementing an ambitious strategy to rethink the role of the car in the city. The new approach, which puts the quality of the urban experience at the heart of urban policy, has led to a complete redefinition of Paris’s urban spaces ...

... The City administration feels that Paris’s current default speed limit of 50 kilometers per hour (31 mph) is simply not compatible with shared use of public spaces. So it has set its sights on a major milestone: the implementation of a 20 kilometer per hour (12 mph) speed limit within the entire city limits, except for a small number of designated major arteries. Already it has started an aggressive expansion of the existing 20 kilometer per hour zones.

The City has started implementing a new “shared space” concept. Several streets have been given this new status, in which vehicle traffic does not have the right of way and all users are expected to share the space equally.

Monday, October 21, 2013

River City Winery: On the right side of New Albany street grid history.

River City Winery

October 24 update: My two-way street project and how you can help.

My two-way street project and how you can help.

Updated with additional links on November 21

During the past few weeks, little by little and as time permits, I’ve been visiting downtown businesses and chatting with owners and managers about the advantages of a two-way street grid in the context of downtown New Albany’s ongoing revitalization.

These advantages include slower traffic, less confusion for visitors, enhanced walkability, greater safety for all street users (both automotive and non-automotive), and overall, a better atmosphere for the new generation of shops, restaurants, bars and other attractions downtown.

These two-way advantages apply equally to downtown neighborhoods near the historic business district. Verily, the era of higher-speed arterial streets catering to pass-through traffic to the detriment of neighborhood residents and small indie businesses alike is just about over.

All across the country, communities are taking control of their street grids – retrofitting two-way streets, calming traffic and completing streets for the greater good of all users, not merely automotive traffic. It is perhaps the ultimate quality of life issue for our time. One might say that it's a no-brainer.

In New Albany, the two-way effort is alive, but stalled. A measure to fund a traffic study failed to pass a third reading in council. Concurrently, many of us feel that a study is not necessary, and that we're already in possession of the information necessary to act (see the Speck link below). Now more than ever, local political leaders need to know that the emerging local indie business community supports two-way streets … and we also vote.

Hence, my project. Out of my own pocket, I’ve made photocopies of the two-way street sign pictured above. One at a time, I’ve been asking business owners to affix one to a street-side window, where it can be seen by customers and passers-by. Purposefully, I have place no wording on these. The idea is to arouse curiosity and stimulate conversation.

Once on display, I will snap a photo of the sign, and place it on my blog with a link to the business. The goal is one placement/posting per day. Once there are sufficient numbers (currently more than two dozen businesses are aboard), we’ll find a downtown window to display photocopies of them all, and add to the information gallery as signs are posted. The next big downtown event in terms of visiting throngs will be the Jingle Walk on Thanksgiving weekend. That's the 30th of November. Can we have some semblance of critical mass by then? If so, the educational benefits are obvious.

My position is clear. However, don’t just take my word for it. Below are links to various on-line articles helping to make a very strong case for two-way street conversions. In fact, apart from the largely discredited Thoreau Institute (a somewhat dated appendage financed primarily by Big Oil), there is precious little material to be found on-line in support of one-way streets.

Browse these articles, and decide for yourself. Then let me know, and I’ll bring an emblem and take a photo. So far, this project is being undertaken by me, and me alone. It’s been my money, and my time. Like so many of you, my life savings have been invested in downtown New Albany’s revitalization, and I feel strongly that two-way streets are the way to go so as to increase the pace of progress.

For the city to move decisively reclaim its streets would be the fairest and most equitable way for government to provide a major boost to small indie businesses and neighborhood residents alike by dictating the terms of infrastructure engagement when it comes to our streets, which after all add up to the largest piece of acreage controlled by the city.


Wake up, Bob: Two-way street conversions for 400K ... now get the hell out of the way, at NAC

Send the Antebellum Caesarite faction a strong message at DNA's web site, at NAC with link to Develop New Albany's two-way survey

More on the two-way street project -- a follow-up

Two-Way Streets: Best Practices, by Randy Smith (The NewAlbanist)

“Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time” Excerpt (Congress for the New Urbanism)

Converting One-way Streets to Two-way: Managing Traffic on Main Street, by John D. Edwards (National Main Street Center)

How One-Way Thinking is Hurting Historic Downtown Neighborhoods, by Matt Hanka, ABD and John Gilderbloom Ph.D.

Studies Refute DOT’s Claim That One-Way Avenues Are Safer, by Sarah Goodyear (

Two-Way Street Networks: More Efficient than Previously Thought?, by Vikash V. Gayah (

The Return of the Two-Way Street; Why the double-yellow stripe is making a comeback in downtowns, Alan Ehrenhalt (Governing)

The road to better neighborhoods goes two ways, by Erika D. Smith (Indy Star)

Two-way street discussion moving ahead, by Erin Blasko (South Bend Tribune)

Updating the two-way street discussion in South Bend: Conversions coming soon, at NAC

Redevelopment Commission on traffic studies, and why YOU NEED TO GET INVOLVED with this, at NAC

From industrial park coddling to New Economy Week.

According to the 'Bune and 'Bamagator newspaper, "Grant Line Industrial Park West is 'substantially complete' and the city is in the process of forming a marketing plan to attract businesses to the 40-acre site."

What follows is a lengthy explanation by the city's economic development director as to the eternal importance of fluffing the city-owned industrial parks through the usual abatements, inducements, enticements and smoky back room negotiations. This is good to know. If nothing else, it shows that the city concedes the usefulness of improving infrastructure when it comes to the sort of "good jobs" companies forming the basis of many decades of the same ol' economic development strategy.

By the way, has anyone seen a commensurate, detailed economic development plan to assist a revitalizing downtown? The sort embracing infrastructure improvements (i.e., the city-owned street grid) as a means of supporting the downtown revival?


In my world, this constitutes a major problem.

What about yours?

On Facebook, Bluegill pointed this way:

"Luckily, more and more people are taking it upon themselves to shift the paradigm and the 'leaders', their antiquated party system, and the old rearguard, anachronistic squad on the whole are slowly becoming less relevant. They're not dying pretty and no one expected them to."

Here's his link:

Nobel Prize? Meet the Economic Movement That Really Deserves Praise

This week, the Nobel Prize for economics may have gone to three academics, but the real work of fixing our local economies was happening on the ground—as part of New Economy Week.

by Laura Flanders in YES! Magazine (linked at Common Dreams)

The winners of the so-called Nobel Prize for economics were announced this week, and what a peculiar pick: The three who will share the award this year sit on two diametrically opposed sides of their field’s most critical debate ...

 ... The same week that the pseudo-Nobels were announced, we saw a nationwide celebration of regular people diving into economics. This week was New Economy Week.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

This Spring Street utility pole is on the right side of New Albany street grid history.

October 24 update: My two-way street project and how you can help.

Don't look at me. Well, maybe ... after all, we drank a fair amount of beer during Downtown Displacement Days, and who knows? But I don't remember doing it.

Reminder: "Of Place" at the Carnegie, through January 11, 2014.

We attended the exhibit opening on Friday, and to me, it's the most relevant Bicentennial-themed event of them all -- although The Artists of the Wonderland Way, also at the Carnegie earlier this year, was excellent as well. Really, really good stuff. Don't miss it.

October 18, 2013 – January 11, 2014
New Albany Bicentennial Exhibition: Of Place
Tiffany Carbonneau and David Modica

Two-way streets: New Albany is worth it, in the neighborhoods AND downtown.

In the excerpt below, we see yet again that while it's easy to blithely toss around phrases like "quality of life," applying such values across a wider spectrum not exclusively defined by typically well-heeled, upper-strata, white-bread preconceptions can lead to befuddlement on the part of those unfamiliar with diverse considerations.

I've chosen lately to focus my limited time to advocating for two way streets from a standpoint of economic development for downtown New Albany's small, independent businesses -- the ones (like my own) that have invested heavily and borne the primary weight of revitalization, with little more than token support by successive administrations.

Although when it comes to infrastructure like streets and sidewalks ... never mind.

The neighborhood revitalization argument against one-way arterial speedways and in favor of two-way streets and accompanying traffic calming measures might be even stronger. By choice, I leave this point to others, but it is a very important plank in the platform. As with downtown businesses, it is critical that the neighborhoods offer tangible evidence of residents in support of a reclaimed street grid, alongside the single most important necessity of all: Two-way street advocates in New Albany vote.

In New Albany, electoral timidity is driving governmental sloth, plain and simple. I'm doing what I can to provide an opposing viewpoint. Join me.

Erika D. Smith: The road to better neighborhoods goes two ways, at the Indy Star

Every morning for 15 years, Elease Womack and David Metzger watched commuters in imposing SUVs and sleek sedans speed past The Unleavened Bread Cafe with barely an upward glance.

That’s what happens when you have a business on a one-way street in a not-so-great neighborhood.

“People couldn’t wait for the stoplight to change and shoot on through to Downtown,” said Metzger, the cafe’s unofficial co-founder.

But that was then. This is now.

Earlier this year, Indianapolis converted one-way Central Avenue into a two-way street between Fall Creek Parkway and East 38th Street. The effect was immediate. Cars that used to fly by the cafe at the corner of Central and East 30th Street now merely cruise past. Nowadays, people look, stop and linger. The entire neighborhood has changed.

“The way in which people look over here — even at the stoplight — is different now than when it was one way,” Metzger said. “It’s more neighborly than it has ever been.”

It’s not just Central, though. Indianapolis has been slowly rethinking the one-way thoroughfare model ...

"Republican defeat, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that."

Smell that? You smell that?


Republican defeat, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that.


I love the smell of Republican defeat in the morning.

We already took a sideward at pretend-Democrat Caesar's disappointment and a much coveted national day of gloating. In the Sunday NYT, Thomas Friedman compares the Tea Party to Hezbollah. And then there's this.

Losing a Lot to Get Little, Jeremy W. Peters (New York Times)

WASHINGTON — For the Republicans who despise President Obama’s health care law, the last few weeks should have been a singular moment to turn its problem-plagued rollout into an argument against it. Instead, in a futile campaign to strip the law of federal money, the party focused harsh scrutiny on its own divisions, hurt its national standing and undermined its ability to win concessions from Democrats. Then they surrendered almost unconditionally.