Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Five days later, Gahan murmurs softly about RFRA -- but he must be asked his opinion first.

Here it is, as posted on the city's propaganda feed at around 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 31, to the acclaim of everyone who already holds a Democratic Party sinecure -- or wants one.

Mayor Jeff Gahan had these remarks when asked about the RFRA and what it means for the City of New Albany:

"Southern Indiana values are not reflected in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and it needs to be changed. Elected officials have a duty to create an environment that welcomes everyone and discriminates against no one. The current RFRA law does neither of these."

That's right. He had to be asked. Perhaps no one knew the security code to City Hall's down-low bunker.

No, it's not to be confused with MLK's dream, but actually it's slightly better than Wendy Dant Chesser's classic bureaucratic waffling on behalf of One Southern Indiana (bold emphasis ours):

One Southern Indiana President Responds to Religious Freedom Restoration Act
 ... No business asked 1si to take a position on S.B. 101 before it passed. However, now that it has passed, 1si is listening to the concerns of its members and investors and will watch with great interest what effect the law actually has. Most importantly, though, 1si will let businesses interested in moving to or growing in Southern Indiana know that ours is a welcoming and business-friendly community committed to meeting their workforce needs.
The 1si advocacy guidelines are clear. The role of 1si in promoting a fiscally-stable, business-friendly environment transcends local, regional, state and national issues. In January of 2015, the board of directors of 1si approved the 2015 Advocacy Agenda, which includes positions on career-ready workforce and educational initiatives; infrastructure and transportation, business-friendly tax and fiscal initiatives; regional initiatives; and engagement with policy makers. 
The RFRA issue is not germane to any of these categories, and so the organization did not take a position on the bill.

She's playing the part of that chief custodian I told you about: "It's not my area."

Except it is, for all of us.

Liveable Street Design Guidelines in Hagerstown. More Padgett cranes in New Albany.

In case you're wondering, the cities of Hagerstown, Maryland and New Albany, Indiana are very similar in size. They're both just shy of 40,000 residents, and they're both components of larger metropolitan area (although Louisville is far more populous than Hagerstown/Martinsburg's 270,000).

No matter, because the point remains:  Like the Bill of Rights, the "Liveable Street Design Guidelines" come first. It's something we've offered from time to time, as here:

Mission Pedestrian and the Declaration of Pedestrian Rights.

It's why a city's own laws matter. It's why the mayor of Indianapolis is able to point to the city's human rights ordinances, and trump the governor. It's how we might set the tone for the walkable city, over and above reconverting one-way streets and fighting 1950s culture wars with heavy equipment operators and dull retrogrades ike Irv Stumler.

But it takes guts, resolve and will.

Politically, New Albany doesn't have any of those qualities, and if you've gone and planted a Gahan for Mayor sign in your yard in the expectation that they'll magically materialize, also toss some gravel in a spittoon filled with dirt.

Maybe some pricey Galaxy hops will grow like the weeds in a Main Street median.

When I'm mayor, we'll codify, enforce and implement the Speck plan. Complete and liveable streets are a fundamental component of quality of life, and we'll treat them as such. 

Hagerstown City Council to consider 'liveable' street designs, by Dave McMillion (Herald-Mail)

As people embrace alternative forms of transportation, communities across the nation have developed guidelines to ensure that bicyclists, pedestrians and others are comfortable using public streets, according to a Hagerstown official.

City Engineer Rodney A. Tissue said that the city is now looking to adopt such guidelines.

The Hagerstown City Council Tuesday night is expected to consider implementing "Liveable Street Design Guidelines."

"Liveable" or complete streets are designed to ensure safe access for all users, Tissue said.

"It's not just for vehicles as roads have been done in the past, which I guess would be an incomplete street," Tissue said in an interview Monday.

NASH: "Are we the state of discrimination?"

Thanks to Matt for writing this. I'm skipping ahead to the conclusion for my pull, but read it all. Quite a few of us are asking these questions, but the real question is whether anyone is listening, amid what has become a one-party state.

NASH: Are we the state of discrimination?

... I have worked for a major corporate chain and a now I work for a mom and pop type shop with six employees. I cannot understand what would possess any business from turning down any type of business. I believe that ignorance and intolerance are the only basis for this legislation. Our state’s leaders are using religion as cover to shield them from laws that forbid discrimination. Is this how we want to be viewed by the rest of the world?

To the outside world Indiana may have the reputation of being a backwoods state. Outsiders might think of a “Hoosier” as someone that is culturally unsophisticated. I believe that legislation like the type that passed this week only solidifies this reputation. Indiana should be trying harder to shake the stigma of being a state the condones intolerance and should start standing up against bigotry.

What they're saying: Adam Keeler on young people and voting.

As the weeks go past in route to May's primary election, I'm providing periodic candidate statements of substance, mostly unretouched, as lifted from social media and news reports. Familiar gems such as "yard signs win elections, not people" and "donate to my campaign first, and maybe I'll have something of merit to say much, much later" will be omitted. That's because it is my aim to determine whether our declared candidates have anything to say at all, and I'll quote all candidates, from any and all parties, whether or not they're in a contested race. Just promising change and new ideas without divulging them won't cut the mustard, aspirants.

This edition of "What they're saying" belongs entirely to Adam Keeler, candidate for city council at-large as a Democrat, writing at his Facebook campaign page.


Primary elections are now less than a month away and, if we maintain our current attrition, we will only see 21.5% of young people under the age of 30 vote. This is roughly 13% of the total voter amount, which is is proof that young people simply are not showing up to the polls. This is a major issue in the United States. We are going to inherit this country, and we need to make sure our voice is both heard and taken seriously. Today's youth is more informed than ever thanks to the social media and news aggregation sites like Reddit and Digg. We pay closer attention to new technology so we know how to utilize the capabilities of photovoltaics, emerging Artificial Intelligence, and robotic automation. With self driving cars, renewable energy, and 3D printing all poised to become staples in everyday American homes we must be prepared and understand the capabilities of these tools. These will save money, lives, and resources by allowing a lower cost of living and improved access to goods.

We cannot afford to sit idly by and allow our voices to be quelled. May 5th is approaching and we need EVERYONE to cast a ballot. If you have any questions about voting or how to file early, please send me a message and I'll do my best to make it convenient for you. Stop letting people you don't support represent you, speak up and let your voices be heard!

Gads! Nash furious as Al Knable is spotted with Democrats ... well, his yard sign, at least.

In yet another lamentable outbreak of inexplicably shoddy Democratic Party pre-election discipline, Al Knable's yard sign now joins a row of "other" party candidates, just two doors down from the 1117 East Spring Neighborhood Association.

With the weekly Bored of Works meeting less than an hour from convening, the Green Mouse reports apoplexy on the part of Warren Nash, the venerable political hack who guards the mayor against responsiveness.

How's that for a non-sequitur?

Nash, who regards "New Age" thinking in rigid political machines s heresy, is said to be (finally) reading the city ordinances, so as to find the one prohibiting co-habitation of political party signage on the acreage of seated council persons' yards.

Wait, there it is ... "signage cannot substantially burden the free exercise of a superannuated Democratic politician's exercise of cliquishness."

We can hear it now:

"CCE, we command you to excavate this yard."

The cover art? Indisputably cool. The contents? Well ...

The most rational explanation for "Rodger" Baylor recently being added to the subscriber list at National Review is my renewal of The Economist. I suppose many of these print publications are linked, and complimentary (albeit brief) trial subscriptions are activated from one to the next. Every now and then, Rolling Stone starts coming again, and I've no idea why. Then it stops again.

If it's a gag, then thanks for the freebie, although it isn't the first time I've read National Review. During my Reagan-era tenure at UMI Data Courier, I often abstracted it. Today's tone seems less erudite than the Wm. F. Buckley glory years. The man was often mistaken, but he sure could write.

My only complaint: You spelled my name incorrectly. Buckley wouldn't ever have done that.

Indy Star, Ballard speaking clearly: "Gov. Pence, fix 'religious freedom' law now."

Amid principled calls for the NCAA's Final Four to be moved from Indianapolis in protest of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the city's Republican mayor is not mincing words.

Mayor Ballard: RFRA will not define Indianapolis (WISH TV)

Ballard said he is signing an executive order that will require anyone doing business with the city to abide by Indianapolis’ human rights ordinance.

Ballard also said the passing of RFRA will not define Indianapolis.

Perhaps New Albany's mayor will say something, at some point, perhaps after Mr. Disney says it's okay.

Meanwhile, the Indy Star -- not exactly a liberal bastion -- urges immediate passage of "a state law to prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, education and public accommodations on the basis of a person's sexual orientation or gender identity."

In short: You Republicans who broke it, now go and fix it.

Editorial: Gov. Pence, fix 'religious freedom' law now

We are at a critical moment in Indiana's history.

And much is at stake.

Our image. Our reputation as a state that embraces people of diverse backgrounds and makes them feel welcome. And our efforts over many years to retool our economy, to attract talented workers and thriving businesses, and to improve the quality of life for millions of Hoosiers.

All of this is at risk because of a new law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, that no matter its original intent already has done enormous harm to our state and potentially our economic future.

The consequences will only get worse if our state leaders delay in fixing the deep mess created.

Half steps will not be enough. Half steps will not undo the damage.

Only bold action — action that sends an unmistakable message to the world that our state will not tolerate discrimination against any of its citizens — will be enough to reverse the damage.

Gov. Mike Pence and the General Assembly need to enact a state law to prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, education and public accommodations on the basis of a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.

New Albany's new slogan: "Truck Through City" ... Part 83: No karaoke for Warren Naps & the Bored of Works until the DemoDisneyDixiecratic Party approves.

It's an election year, and bright new green street signs with a spanking new city logo (approved by whom?) are as ubiquitous as fast food litter, but more on that another time.

Many old signs remain where they've always been, like this one -- rather hard to see while traveling westbound on Spring where the one-way traffic begins.

Close up courtesy of K.

Of course, the question has been asked many times before: What is meant by heavy trucks?

Yet, throughout the decades, and especially during the present time of our revolution of as yet unheeded rising two-way expectations, the Bored of Works remains unable or unwilling to answer it.

So, is this truck preparing to turn onto Spring Street to be classified as "heavy"?

Is there an ordinance governing heaviness, or not? Is shaking houses enough?

Does the state have rules about it, or not?

If there are rules in effect, why aren't we enforcing them?

To what extent has the horribly botched Main Street project, acclaimed by Mayor Gahan as a cornfed Avenue des Champs-Élysées, played into these questions being purposefully ignored?

Over the weekend, Warren Nash broke his silence and conceded that he's under no obligation to be social to folks who aren't a member of his political party.

"Not answering a question or even acknowledging it on social media from a political candidate is not being deceitful."

Evidently I've substantially burdened the practice of his political conscience -- and I plan to continue doing so. He's a gatekeeper functionary and a party hack ... looks like the feeling is mutual.

Following is the 500th "truck through city" photo in this series. It's what residents and visitors alike want our city to be about -- right, Warren, Jeff, Adam and gang? Because if it wasn't, you'd actually do something, wouldn't you?

No, Mayor Gahan, Indatus is not one of the "indie" bands playing at Bicentennial Park this summer.

Contributed by a friend, who is absolutely on target.

On Thursday, President Obama will visit a business that should could have stayed in New Albany if New Albany had a plan to install fiber optic and infrastructure support for tech savvy companies.

Indatus added 100 new jobs to their staff when they moved from New Albany - good paying jobs.

We'll get a pool not yet paid for, (although) it may be paid for with higher taxes levied on a shrinking population in a decade or two ...

In the mean time, Obama will visit, inspect and praise a high tech business in Louisville that could have easily stayed in New Albany if there had been a proactive plan to retain, attract and support the kinds of jobs that build a city up.

Our city's plan? Maintain a decaying, declining status quo.

What they're saying: On RFRA, 8 council and 1 mayoral candidate with viewpoints.

April 1: Mayor Jeff Gahan released a statement opposing RFRA.

April 3 correction: Make it 9 ... Shirley Baird expressed opposition to the bill.

April 5: Noah McCourt clarifies his RFRA stance.

As the weeks go past in route to May's primary election, I'm providing periodic candidate statements of substance, mostly unretouched, as lifted from social media and news reports. Familiar gems such as "yard signs win elections, not people" and "donate to my campaign first, and maybe I'll have something of merit to say much, much later" will be omitted. That's because it is my aim to determine whether our declared candidates have anything to say at all, and I'll quote all candidates, from any and all parties, whether or not they're in a contested race. Just promising change and new ideas without divulging them won't cut the mustard, aspirants.


As of this writing, I'm the only mayoral candidate to make a statement for attribution. File me firmly "against." I've asked Jeff Gahan, David White and Kevin Zurschmiede, but received no reply.

Council candidates openly opposing the RFRA include incumbent 3rd district councilman Greg Phipps (he has posted frequently on the topic at his personal Fb page, though not his campaign page) and at-large councilman John Gonder, also at his personal site:

Quoted from the Indianapolis Star/ Associated Press, via Huffington Post ..."Pence disputes the law allows state-sanctioned anti-gay discrimination, as some Indiana businesses, convention organizers and others have argued. He says he didn't anticipate "the hostility that's been directed at our state." That is, HE SAYS HE DIDN'T ANTICIPATE "THE HOSTILITY THAT'S BEEN DIRECTED AT OUR STATE." My advice to the governor...next time you feel the urge to demagogue, take two aspirins, lie down and remember you're not in Mississippi.

At-large candidate Hannegan Roseberry's thoughts on RFRA (solidly against) already have appeared at NAC.

Democratic at-large candidates Brad Bell and Adam Keeler, and 5th district hopeful Dustin Collins have registered anti-RFRA viewpoints at Fb, which follow.

Brad Bell:

Why did Gov. Pence choose to sign this behind closed doors? Why is he costing our state millions of dollars in tax revenue? Conventions are pulling away, technology corporations have stopped sending reps to Indiana and the NCAA has even spoken out against it. How much more can our state afford to lose because of the "religious freedom" bill?

I'm so glad that New Albany is an open and welcoming community to ALL lifestyles, and in no way want to deny people their right to worship their own religion, but there must be a way to get to that goal without discriminating against others.

My other question is this. How is this not a DIRECT violation of church and state?

Adam Keeler:

Please contact Governor Mike Pence's office at 317-232-4567 and let them know your feelings regarding Senate Bill 568, the Religious Freedom restoration act bill. Discrimination is not okay and we should not support any actions that will promote it!

Dustin Collins:

The RFRA bill signed into law by the Governor has already started the domino effect. With Salesforce, Disciples of Christ, the NCAA, and countless others already threatening to pull activities resulting in 100's of millions in lost economic impact in Indiana and permanent damage caused to New Albany's non-discrimination ordinance as well as others around the state we have set ourselves up for failure with regards to recruiting and retaining the next generation of talent.

As a candidate for City Council, I recognize that the only way we will compete with other cities in a world wide economic marketplace is by being inclusive and tolerant of those of all backgrounds. The next generation is ready to step up and I will fight every day to ensure their prosperity is New Albany's prosperity, through inclusion, forward-thinking initiatives, and an eye always set on something greater.

On the Republican side, at-large candidate Al Knable opposes RFRA.

As a candidate for public office, I feel it's my responsibility to go on record with my opinion of the recently passed and signed "RFRA", aka SB/HB 101.

The matter has rightfully generated much discussion and I could go on at length but allow me to be succinct:

It's bad legislation and I'm against it.

I know that many have argued that "it doesn't really change anything", "other states have similar laws" or that it's "limited in scope". To me these points are not persuasive.

Our Government owes its citizens equal protection under the law. All of its citizens.

Any act that erodes this primary function in reality or even by perception should be extinguished as soon as recognized.

I hope this can be remedied before too much damage is done to some of our friends and neighbors as well as to our State's reputation and economy.

While the 6th district Republican candidate Noah McCourt does not directly address RFRA, his support of Ron Grooms in the context of "principles and values" and the posting date strongly suggests his support for the bill. If this is not the case, please let me know and I'll make a correction.

I'd like to say thank you to senator Ron Grooms for taking time to meet with me today and for his willingness to stand up for the principles and values of Floyd county residents. I hope to do the same for the city of New Albany. Thank you senator

Monday, March 30, 2015

Olbermann: "Sports (and its consumer -- you) are unavoidably, inescapably and permanently political."

Olbermann's not alone. On Saturday, Dave Zirin published his version of the same argument.

Why the NCAA Should Move the Final Four Out of Indiana, by Dave Zirin (The Nation)

... If (NCAA President Mark) Emmert really wanted to make a statement, he’d move next week’s Final Four out of Indianapolis. Emmert could announce that they were moving the basketball semifinals and finals to Cincinnati, less than 100 miles from the locale, so anyone who had their plane tickets or driving plans set wouldn’t be egregiously inconvenienced. Play it at the University of Cincinnati—hell, play it at a Cincy YMCA—but just get it out of the clutches of Mike Pence.

As noted here, I view it as unlikely. But the reasoning is strong.

Marohn on transportation funding: "Facing the Unknown with Courage."

My guess is that Irv Stumler disagrees, although it might just be a case for mood stabilizers. When presumed "pillars" view city streets as through highways, the case for sedation is even stronger, as are the required dosages.

Facing the Unknown with Courage, by Charles Marohn (Strong Towns)

... We accept that there is a big difference between the pace of change in technology and infrastructure. Yet, while we are accustomed to rapid change in technology – no thoughtful person would commit today to purchasing a new iPhone every other year for the next two decades – we also seem to accept no change – ZERO – when it comes to infrastructure. When considering roads and bridges, sidewalks and transit systems, there is a general consensus among policymakers and advocates that the only responsible approach is one that commits today to massive investments decades from now ...

... We’re locked into a transportation system that requires us to lie to ourselves about what we can know about the future and then spend huge amounts to support that lie. When we underestimate our needs, it confirms our bias for building more. When we overestimate, we can explain it away – if we are ever asked to, which we hardly ever are – by citing factors beyond our control (oil price, recession, fickle humans, etc…). This is a dumb system.

And it’s not just Minnesota. In fact, we’re not even close to dysfunctional when compared to the insane asylum that is America’s state DOTs ...

... Committing to spending billions on our current approach to transportation is not courageous; it is cowardly. It will take far more courage to stand up, admit that we don’t know what we’re doing – that we’ve actually had it wrong for some time – and chart a new course, one that uses real data and feedback (not politics) to discern spending priorities.

What they're saying: Roseberry, Knable, Staten and Rutherford.

As the weeks go past in route to May's primary election, I'm providing periodic candidate statements of substance, mostly unretouched, as lifted from social media and news reports. Familiar gems such as "yard signs win elections, not people" and "donate to my campaign first, and maybe I'll have something of merit to say much, much later" will be omitted. That's because it is my aim to determine whether our declared candidates have anything to say at all, and I'll quote all candidates, from any and all parties, whether or not they're in a contested race. Just promising change and new ideas without divulging them won't cut the mustard, aspirants.


Hannegan Roseberry (D, at-large council) and Al Knable (R, at-large council) continue to buck the close-lipped traditions of their respective parties by speaking and writing openly about the real world. Hannegan leads off with two postings at her Facebook campaign page.

First, on the topic of standing up for what you believe:

I feel we have a real problem on our hands when our elected officials refuse to give simple yes or no answers to questions. When you are an elected official and you refuse to give your thoughts on a subject, then I politely suggest that you hang up your hat. Whether it be something as obvious as Two-Way Streets in a city like New Albany, or something as colossal (and sinister) as RFRA, you have an obligation to be transparent on your stance. You were elected by the people (granted, a very small amount of the people of Indiana, see my earlier posts about voter apathy in the Hoosier state), and you owe them transparency. This doesn't mean that your opinions can, or even should, please everyone at all times. I think that is another tricky corner that too many elected officials get themselves into, trying to please everyone at all times by committing to nothing and towing every line "just in case." Be bold, be educated, and stand strongly for the things you believe in.

And, on women in local politics.

Wonder Women - Where Are You?

Where are the women candidates? In our upcoming city primary elections, there are a mere five female candidates out of 28, and only two of those women are challengers (myself included). Last time I checked, one out of every two human beings are female - why are we not stepping up to the plate to lead at that same level?

Al enthusiastically riffs on an idea previously discussed by Hannegan.

I won't pretend that encouraging a civic theater in New Albany is my idea. Hannegan Roseberry discussed it on her page a few days ago. Randy Smith proposed the Baptist Tabernacle site as a possible location with me several weeks ago. The thought's been kicked around for years. In fact, I remember Jim Anderson's wife, Mary, advocating this 40 years ago. But heck, I can recognize a great idea!

A civic theater would be yet one more draw to downtown and everyone knows when the show lets out people love to eat or hit their favorite night spot.

The old Tabernacle building might prove multi-functional. When not in use for shows it could easily serve as a site for other public forums.

As NA doesn't have unlimited funds, and as there are numerous pressing needs, I see this as a project facilitated rather than fully funded by the city. Even so, this is definitely a cause I'd support, allowing others (Mrs. R?) to champion.

(OMG -- candidates from opposite parties, agreeing on social media as to the virtues of an idea? I don't know about Al's arbiters, but Hannegan can expect an unannounced visit from Warren "I used to be mayor, pal" Nash's "purity of absolute silence" department)

Over in the 6th district, Democratic council hopeful Dr. Cliff Staten sensibly asks, "What will New Albany do to attract and keep younger generations here?"

Working Today to Build Tomorrow

Elections are about the future. Think about New Albany 5 years from now… now picture it 10 years from now… how about 20? How do you picture New Albany in the future? How would you like to picture New Albany in the future?

To me, the future starts with our young people; it starts with our children and our grandchildren. How do we picture their New Albany?

Meanwhile in the 5th district, Tonye Rutherford is back with a Facebook campaign page. He has an opponent in the Republican primary (Danita Burks), as does the incumbent Diane Benedetti (Dustin Collins).

Tonye Rutherford for New Albany City Council District 5

This is Tonye Rutherford, I am running for City Council in the 5th District. After narrowly losing by 21 votes in 2011, I have been busy ... I have since been appointed to the New Albany Floyd County Library board where I serve as the president, I was appointed to the New Albany Human Rights Commission and serve as the Chairman, I was appointed to the Floyd County Corrections board and elected to the Emmaus board.

Have you spotted substance omitted here? Let me know. The primary's only five weeks away.

Jeff Gahan's quarter-million dollar farmers market fluff job commences this week.

And yet, Bank remains a one-way street, just like our politics.

Yes, every City Hall argument deployed in favoring the Coyle site development simultaneously argues AGAINST the farmers market build-out.

The build-out begins this week.

By the way, it’s an election year.

From December, 2014, after the city did what is said it wouldn't ...

Farmers Market expenditure: Nash, Board of Works rubber stamp flat Duggins "wait" lie.

 ... here are ...

10 reasons why Jeff Gahan's quarter-million dollar farmers market fluff job is wrong for New Albany.

It squanders irreplaceable infill residential potential on what might be a signature downtown corner – at a time when City Hall insists that such infill is a priority.

As such, it offers yet another example of disjointed, congratulatory-plaque-ready “thinking” that does not adhere to a coherent, self-reinforcing master plan.

It blatantly contradicts City Hall’s publicly stated intent to wait for the Speck street study before making a decision.

It blatantly contradicts the city council’s publicly stated position in favor of waiting for the Speck street study.

It reinforces Jeff Gahan’s enduring (and increasing disturbing) contempt for pluralism and public discussion.

It provides yet another example of Jeff Gahan’s enduring (and increasingly disturbing) penchant for edicts as rubber-stamped through clandestine activity with appointed boards, as opposed to public votes taken by elected officials.

It plainly rewards the wrong merchants, given that any money given to farmers (and to most vendors) does not remain in the city.

It just as plainly reminds us that as yet, there is no coherent downtown economic development plan to reward the right merchants, namely the ones who have invested in downtown, rather than loaded a truck with tomatoes from Orange County.

It may not even reward Develop New Albany, which for its many terminal faults has managed to steward the farmers market successfully, but likely now will see the market come under the control of the city parks department.

As such, City Hall’s latest exculpatory explanation that $250,000 will buy a facility suitable for use not only as a farmers market, but also as a likely parks department-controlled venue for other events (a) once again points to the unsuitability of Bicentennial Park as a venue; (b) once again points to the ongoing neglect of the Riverfront Amphitheater; (c) once again is an inefficient use of city property better saved for infill; and (d) once again testifies to City Hall’s proclivity for scattershot political appeasement rather than coherent, interlinked progress.

Now, ten links.

Farmers Market expenditure: Nash, Board of Works rubber stamp flat Duggins "wait" lie.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

At least one mayoral candidate opposes RFRA.

Originally published at Facebook. See also here. For those just tuning in, I'm running for mayor of New Albany as an independent candidate. Because the upcoming primary is party-centric, you won't see my name then. But you will in November.

Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration diktat?

It's what occurs in one-party states. It is bad law, a regrettable over-reach, a human rights disaster, and a body blow to the state's business climate -- all of these negative aspects, and yet the saddest part of it might be the grubby, small-minded pettiness of the politics involved, and how, with a stroke of his gilded crayon, Mike Pence deposits this bundle of divisive bile at all our front doors, to foul our communities.

For the record, as a prospective candidate for mayor of this city, running as an independent, I oppose RFRA (SB/HB 101).

I'd like to hear from all the candidates irrespective of party affiliation. Some already have, among them Al Knable, Hannegan Roseberry, Gregg Phipps, Brad Bell, Dustin Collins and Adam Keeler -- all against RFRA -- and Noah McCourt, in favor. Am I missing anyone? Apologies if I have, and please provide corrections in the comment section.

Burn Baby Burn: Pence "scorched" by the RFRA firestorm, as we provide legal opinions.

And the best Silent Ron Grooms belatedly can manage is, "But all the other fascists states do it, too."

Verily, the state of Indiana's Holiday Inn Express hotels have been inundated with overnighters since Governor Mike Pence signed SB/HB 101 earlier this week and established the reign of error known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Before moving to a few legal opinions, let's look back on the past week's unpleasantness in our one-party Hoosier paradise:

March 24: Religious freedom: How about freedom from embarrassment?, by David Hoppe (NUVO)

KRAVITZ BLOG: Religious freedom bill may hurt Indy's sports, convention business, by Bob Kravitz (WTHR)

March 25: Tully: Statehouse Republicans embarrass Indiana. Again, by Matthew Tully (Indy Star)

March 27: Local religious leaders, others fire back at Religious Freedom act’s passage, by Jerod Clapp (News and Tribune)

March 28: Seattle, San Francisco mayors join in boycott of Indiana over RFRA, by Madeline Buckley (Indy Star)

And George Takei, and Keith Olbermann, and dozens of other humiliations, great and small. Even Pence's own feelings now have been hurt, along with his presidential prospects, and so damage control is operating full tilt:

Gov. Mike Pence to push for clarification of ‘religious freedom’ law, by Tim Swarens (Indy Star)

Gov. Mike Pence, scorched by a fast-spreading political firestorm, told The Star on Saturday that he will support the introduction of legislation to “clarify” that Indiana’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act does not promote discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Pence breaks into karaoke: "There must be some misunderstanding ... There must be some kind of mistake." The band is Genesis, which seems fitting. 

Following are three explications of RFRA from the legal community. The authors may or may not have stayed in a Holiday In Express, or even someone's airbnb spare bedroom, but at least they're trained, rested and ready.

Opinion: Democracy key in fighting Indiana and Kentucky ‘religious freedom’ laws, by Joe Dunman (Insider Louisville)

So how can opponents of discrimination defeat “religious freedom” laws? There is no easy answer, unfortunately. Laws like RFRA already have been upheld as generally constitutional. They codify a right already present in the First Amendment and don’t single out any classifications of people in their text or application. And limiting the classifications protected by civil rights laws is generally within the discretion of a legislature to do, since civil rights laws themselves are products of the legislative branch.

The Indiana and Kentucky civil rights acts currently omit sexual orientation from protection and there’s no constitutional compulsion to change that. Adding protected classifications is subject to the whim of the voters and those they elect to represent them.

Democracy is the key. Unlike discriminatory marriage bans, “religious freedom” laws like those in Indiana and Kentucky are best defeated at the ballot box. For this reason and many others, state elections matter. Individuals, businesses, and lobbying groups must pressure legislators not to pass and governors not to sign such laws, and vote them out of office when they do.


The Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act – An Analysis of Its Controversy, by Matt Anderson (IN Advance)

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of this law to its opponents is that it comes right after Indiana’s very public and very unsuccesful bid to ban gay marriage. Our own attorney general went state to state submitting amicus briefs in support of laws that would prevent state-sanctioned gay marriage. The state’s arguments at the 7th Circuit were nearly laughed out of the courtroom and were called out for what they were: discrimination based on personal views. The proponents of the IRFRA seem to gloss over this aspect even though the proponents of this bill were the same who had tried to ban gay marriage through Indiana’s Constitution. The exasperation could probably summed up as: “Look, if you hate the LGBT community, so be it . . . but don’t act like this law has nothing to do with it.”


Letter from the legal scholars

We write you as legal scholars with expertise in matters of religious freedom, civil rights, and the interaction between those fields, to offer our expert opinion on the scope and meaning of the proposed Religious Freedom Restoration Acts pending before both houses of the Indiana legislature. The thirty signatories to this letter, many who are Indiana University law professors, agree with the Indiana Supreme Court “that the Indiana Constitution’s religious liberty clauses did not intend to afford only narrow protection for a person’s internal thoughts and private practices of religion and conscience.” We share the view that a commitment to religious liberty is fundamental to a uniquely American notion of pluralism whereby religiously motivated practices should be accommodated in contexts where such accommodation would not result in meaningful harm to the rights of identifiable third parties.

That said, we have several concerns with the language of the proposed Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRA).

Today at NABC's Bank Street Brewhouse: Session Head 2015, with brunch from Earth Friends Cafe.

Just because I'm on a leave of absence doesn't mean I can't disseminate information. Session Head is today.

NABC’s 4th annual Session Head begins Sunday, March 29 at Bank Street Brewhouse

For the fourth “small” year, NABC is delighted to help raise session beer consciousness with Session Head. While April 7 remains the actual nationwide date for observation of Session Beer Day, NABC will mark the occasion on Sunday, March 29 at Bank Street Brewhouse so that a very special guest can join us for the fun.

It’s close friend and former NABC employee Richard Atnip, who will be in attendance on the 29th along with four session-strength beers brewed by his current employer, New Holland Brewing Company of Holland, Michigan.

Earth Friends Cafe is rounding into its full daily program with weekend brunch, beginning at 10:00 a.m. All told, BSB now is open longer hours, meaning more chances to drink Beers of Proven Merit with excellent food.

From the BSB Fb feed:

Brunch is now being served on Saturday and Sunday. Full cocktail menu will be available next week, but there is plenty of beer (of, course) - and we are now serving lattes and cappuccinos.

More details are here: Earth Friends Cafe now open at Bank Street Brewhouse, hours and menu here

And finally, this is Stephen:

Saturday, March 28, 2015

What they're saying: Knable on the HIV outbreak, and a slew of GOP candidate links at Facebook.

As the weeks go past in route to May's primary election, I'm providing periodic candidate statements of substance, mostly unretouched, as lifted from social media and news reports. Familiar gems such as "yard signs win elections, not people" and "donate to my campaign first, and maybe I'll have something of merit to say much, much later" will be omitted. That's because it is my aim to determine whether our declared candidates have anything to say at all, and I'll quote all candidates, from any and all parties, whether or not they're in a contested race. Just promising change and new ideas without divulging them won't cut the mustard, aspirants.


Several Republican candidates have hoisted Facebook campaign pages during the past few weeks.

Dale Bagshaw for City Council District 3 ... with a much appreciated photo of the candidate shoveling snow from his sidewalk.

Ross Heinz for City Council (4th district) ... "As a candidate, Ross stands for responsible spending, local business, and community initiative." He should have added: "And making my opponent familiar with the Interwebz."

Danita Burks. City Council New Albany District 5 ... it's polls, not poles, and I wouldn't point this out had Mrs. Burks not previously sought a school board seat (and lost).

Larry Belcher for 6th District City Council Seat ... with a slogan: "What matters to New Albany, matters to me and my neighbors."

Nick Vaughn (6th district Republican) provides his platform at his web site, with sub sections on renter/landlord registrations, a better business climate and communications: Nick Vaughn's Vision Outline for New Albany.

As citizens we should always be looking to the long term improvement of our city which is why renter/landlord registration is the first step toward transitioning more renters into homeowners; by putting down roots people have a stake in our shared success.

At-large council candidate and physician Al Knable (R) continues to openly make sense, and to articulate, in writing, for attribution. Taking into consideration the whole of New Albany's stunted political history, this continues to amaze ... and please.

On the regional HIV outbreak:

If you knew your neighbor was cooking meth and you saw his house on fire would you call for help or let it burn?

Most of us would call 911, even if not to save the neighbor then to protect our own property from being next.

As a physician running for public office, I feel compelled to speak out on the subject of the recent HIV outbreak occurring in Indiana.

I'm old enough to have practiced medicine during the initial HIV/AIDS epidemic.

During residency, we had weekly AIDS clinic at IU. Not HIV clinic, AIDS clinic-because we had no effective treatment. Perhaps as a society the anti-viral meds we have today make it easy to forget how horrible this disease was and can be. I can't forget because I witnessed too many suffer horrendously. I saw too many people die. Not just drug users, people from all walks of life, gay and straight alike.

Yes, people too often make choices that put them at risk. But as a physician it is not my job to judge but rather to diagnosis and treat when necessary, prevent when I can.

We have an HIV outbreak in our state. Too close for comfort. Let's contain it before it spreads!

I support targeted, short-term needle exchange programs as an effective way of curtailing such crises. Studies by the AMA and the WHO back this policy up.

We're not all going to agree on the moral reasoning but I think we can find common pragmatic ground. Clean needles are cheap, anti-viral medications to treat HIV are very expensive. The more positive cases of HIV there are in a community, the faster and wider it will spread. The healthier a user is, the more likely they are to seek long term drug cessation programs.

Let's put the fire out first! We can educate people about not playing with matches later.

Weekend reading: "How to get a city cycling."

Thanks to W for the link. In New Albany, we know quite well how NOT to get a city cycling: Let John Rosenbarger design streets on behalf of the DemoDisneyDixiecratic Party.

Following are ways to promote cycling through infrastructure and design, so as to encourage the alteration of habit.

How to get a city cycling, by Katia Moskvitch (BBC)

It all started with dead horses, during 1816 – the “year without a summer”. Temperatures had plummeted around the world, because of the eruption a year earlier of Indonesia’s Mount Tambora. It was among the most violent eruptions on Earth in recorded history, and the fallout of dust and sulphur caused crop failures across Europe. As horses died of starvation, the German inventor Karl von Drais came up with an idea to replace horses: a contraption with two wheels but without pedals. It was the predecessor of today’s bicycle.

Back then, it had a different name: draisine – or velocipede in French. Pedals came in due course, and soon the two-wheeled mode of getting around became popular.

Today, it’s known as the most efficient method of self-powered transportation by far.

What they're saying: Hannegan Roseberry on creativity, streets, SB-101 and demographics.

Damned spell check.
As the weeks go past in route to May's primary election, I'll try to provide periodic unedited candidate statements of approximate substance, as lifted from social media and news reports, and as opposed to familiar gems (although they certainly have their place) like "yard signs win elections, not people" or "donate to my campaign first, and maybe I'll have something of merit to say much, much later."

That's because it is my aim to determine whether our declared candidates have anything to say at all, and I'll quote all candidates, whether or not they're in a contested race. Just promising change and new ideas without divulging them won't cut the mustard, aspirants.

At-large city council candidate Hannegan Beardsley Roseberry (D) is taking the time to write, so let's take a look. These comments are collected from her Fb campaign page.

On what we want to be as a city:

I enjoyed seeing some New Albany natives tonight - the incredible Houndmouth. It is terrific to see a group from New Albany find such huge success; they are a reminder of everything we should strive to be as a city: eclectic, intelligent, innovative, creative and spunky. New Albany, we need to follow suit and claim our place in the region. Who do we want to be and how are we going to get there? As a city council member, these are the questions I will be pursuing.

On Speck's downtown street network proposals:

Matt Nash made some terrific points in his op-Ed piece in yesterday's Trib about the ongoing fiasco surrounding the street grid. If we are wanting to continue to attract people to live in our city, we have to appeal to their needs for a walkable, engaging environment.

Matt observes: "How often do “wide load” trucks need to actually use these roads? Is there enough traffic like this that we should force the entire city to kowtow to its needs? How do trucks manage to get from place to place in other towns who don’t have wide one-way streets?

You need not look any further than the city of Jeffersonville to see a city that’s downtown has thrived even with narrower two-way streets. They also have a couple of large manufacturers downtown that are able to ship goods without the need for a 40-foot-wide, one-way street. How has material arrived for the downtown bridge project without wide one-way streets?"

On the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act:

I have written a lot about this debacle on my personal page today, and will now share this here on my campaign page, as well. One of my goals is to help New Albany to claim its place in the region as a leader in culture, commerce, and community. New Albany needs to be a place where people are going to want to live, work, spend their money, and raise their families. Indiana's legislature just made our job this much harder - I stand for a New Albany that is welcoming to all people, and I disagree wholeheartedly with the notion that this is the way our founding fathers intended our governing bodies to be used. New Albany - we've got our work cut out for us if we are to counteract this sort of damning national publicity. We've got to be forward-thinking and welcoming to all - yes ALL - residents. We don't pick and choose our neighbors, but we do pick our elected officials. Make your voice heard and let our legislators know that this is not the Indiana that we want. In New Albany, we can do better than this.

On theater and why millennials matter:

New Albany Civic Theatre - now doesn't that have a nice ring to it? Millennials (ages 18-36) are currently 77 million strong, or 24% of the population, which is roughly the same size as the baby boomer generation. What does this mean? For cities like New Albany, we have to figure out what we're going to do to hang on to and attract these vibrant, creative young people. Studies show that millennials are flocking to more urban, mixed-use communities that are socially conscious and creative. Right now, New Albany is being outpaced by the surrounding communities as far as cultural offerings. As a city, we need to understand that a thriving cultural center results in economic benefit. New Albany is long overdue for a New Albany Civic Theatre, with additional space for art studios/classes/displays. This sort of creative venture is exactly the type of thing New Albany needs.

I'm trying to be dispassionate in these surveys, but Hannegan's doing a great job so far in articulating substance.

Erika makes an investigative funny.

Perhaps the strain of three posts in ten days is getting to New Albany's infamous faux academic.



But her post isn't even about sports.


... Maybe it's time for Chris Morris of the News & Tribune to investigate what is going on here with the recent cutting of Officer Schook's pay and benefits...

Friday, March 27, 2015

Pence probably didn't pay these performers union scale.

Who are these people? Pence won't say.

"Why couch everything on religion? Let's just make an 'asshole freedom' law that allows you to ignore laws whenever you want to be a dick." -- Joe Dunman

On the trail of the Phantom of the Ethics Commission.

So, how does one file a complaint with the Ethics Commission?

Well, when the information cannot be found on the city's website, you send notes to both city attorneys, and when they don't reply promptly, you take to Facebook to ask your council representatives (3rd district and all three at-large), and when one of them (Kevin Zurschmiede) helpfully provides at least part of the answer, he routes it through a third party e-mail, after which the council person originally responsible for the idea of an ethics commission concedes its conceptual inadequacy.

This, my friends, is the essence of chronic malfunction hereabouts.

Step 1. File ethics complaint concerning city attorneys who won't answer questions about filing ethics complaints. LOL. Sometimes I look at the tragedy and comedy masks laying there together and I just don't know which one to choose. -- JeffG

Is there an Ethics Commission, or not?

As of 2013, the Ethics Commission apparently existed, because according to the newspaper, it declined to hear a complaint brought by Randy Smith, although it's unclear to me whether this information ever was conveyed to him apart from the newspaper's citation.

Zurschmiede's reply yesterday is much appreciated. It takes the form of an e-mail forwarded to council members by Matt Lorch, dated January 7, 2013. The Ethics Commission appointees are listed by point of origin (vitals omitted), followed by Lorch's explanation of how the ball would be set rolling.

City of New Albany Ethics Commission Appointees

Floyd County Bar Association: Claire Hagedorn, Attorney, LORCH & NAVILLE, LLC

Hope Foundation: Doug Grant, Pastor

NAACP: John Malone, Sr.

Rauch Incorporated: Ron McKulick, CEO - Southern Seven Workforce Initiative

United States Post Office – Postmaster: Stephen Kiger, Executive Director at The Salvation Army Southern Indiana

Further background comes from John Gonder.

Roger: I was the sponsor of the ordinance establishing the Ethics Commission. As one might expect the ordinance passed unanimously. The commission members worked earnestly and diligently to bring forth the ethics rules the commission would follow. This happened during the early days of the Human Rights Commission. While these two commissions are in no way connected, I mention it because I felt that the Ethics Commission was headed in the direction of a feel good empty gesture. Too many ordinances are drafted, enacted, and then ignored. Although I felt, and still feel the aims of an Ethics Commission are worth pursuing, I personally made the call to not pursue it because I've seen too many ordinances address a need, get peoples' hopes up, maybe even win a few votes, but then lay idle in the ordinance book. I didn't want to go down that path on such an important issue. Inappropriate porch furniture is one thing to ignore, but an ordinance aimed at enhancing the central workings of government can't be enacted then ignored, without breeding cynicism. While I am grateful these citizens took up the challenge to make government better by joining the commission, I, rightly or wrongly, didn't want to start another exercise in futility, so I stepped back.

And yet, futility or otherwise, Ordinance G-12-17 (passed 8-16-2012) remains on the books. After yesterday's fact-gathering, we at least have names and contact information.

If the Ethics Commission still exists, shouldn't it be easier for citizens to use it? It really shouldn't matter whether it's Spring Break week or the middle of August.

"Creative placemaking practitioners use artistic interventions to bring new perspectives (beyond just aesthetics) to communities."

Chattanooga Terrain Art Park; from the article below.

"Successful use of creative placemaking requires making the people part of the resilience equation work. To do this, cities have to treat creatives with the same gravity afforded other community development assets and colleagues."

Didn't I just have this conversation with a local artist, standing on the corner, facing Main Street, and lamenting that whenever New Albany's governmental functionaries (read: DemoDisneyDixecratic operatives) get involved with artistic expression, the inevitable results are different versions of the same "Dogs Playing Poker" motif?

That's what happens with agoraphobia. You must control every situation, lest the walls start closing in.

Putting the Arts to Work for City Resilience: Creative Placemaking, by Jason Schupbach (100 Resilient Cities)

I recently attended a major convening of community development and arts professionals where Ben Hecht from Living Cities said, and I’m paraphrasing here, "The science of how to do the technical parts of community development is well understood – how to build water infrastructure, housing units, transportation systems - but we as community development officials have forgotten about the ‘people’ part of the equation. How do we build places where people actually want to live their lives? How do we build strong social ties? The secret lies partly in the arts."

"Michael Moore for President."

Consider it the corrective to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Michael Moore for President, by Michael Moore (The Nation)

... I’d like to announce, in the pages of this historic issue of this magnificent magazine, the formation of a committee that will study the possibility of an exploratory committee to assess the potential of a Michael Moore candidacy for the presidency of the United States in 2016. In other words, I’m not officially declaring my intention to run. I’m just saying, should I decide to throw my ball cap into the ring, this is what I would propose to do if elected.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

ON THE AVENUES: If we're waiving sewer tap-ins, nothing less than gold faucets will do.

ON THE AVENUES: If we're waiving sewer tap-ins, nothing less than gold faucets will do.

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

At the March 19 meeting of New Albany’s city council, the legislative body that seldom legislates very much any longer was asked by City Hall to approve a TIF area extension to accommodate infrastructure improvements for the prospective Coyle site housing development, which in recent days has been upgraded from “upscale” to “luxury” in terms of hyperbolic descriptors for the apartment units soon to be built there.

Why the semantic escalation?

Probably the dreaded random adjective generator, although as the primary draws closer, expect frequent comparisons to Mobutu Sese Seko’s Kawale palace in Gbadolite, Congo – or in our local New Albanian dialect, “Versailles of the Bungle.”

As is its habit, the council supinely did exactly as it was told, but not before David Duggins, the city’s Standard TIF Area Statistical Incentivization Specialist (STASIS), who once was quoted to the effect that he couldn’t possibly explain the manifest benefits of Jeff Speck’s downtown street network proposals for fear of being proven mistaken in any way, shape or form even on the most minor of points, let slip that the board of New Albany’s sewer utility was “discussing” further enticements to the Coyle site developers to the tune of waiving 150+ sewer tap-in fees … or (according to the newspaper) $200,000.

Diane Benedetti immediately questioned this, reminding Duggins that in a city where affairs of the sanitary sewer are the surest ever proof of Sigmund Freud’s potty doctrines, ironclad historical precedent precludes granting waivers for any construction. As an example, not so long ago, waivers were denied to IU Southeast for its new dormitories. In short, no one gets a break.

I wasn’t there to see it, but Duggins surely rolled his eyes and muttered “yes, ma’am,” fingers tightly crossed behind this back, because he somehow neglected to inform the assembled council that not only had the sewer board “discussed” the waivers, it had touched all four and approved them, along with “what the hell, why not” waivers for both of Mayor Gahan’s signature parks-in-splendid-isolation, on March 12 -- a full week prior to the council meeting.

Like the child whose hands are smeared with cookie batter, did Duggins think no one would find out, or has City Hall’s level of yo-the-fix-is-in nonchalance now reached the point of default hubris?

The sewer board’s vote was 2-0, with the motion introduced by the city engineer Larry Summers in the absence of the board’s chair, who is none other than Mayor Jeff Gahan himself. Evidently the mayoral hologram was undergoing maintenance in a secluded Disney Store factory outlet, affording the very maximum in plausible deniability – and speaking of Uncle Walt, Summers’ motion came at the request of the Redevelopment Commission, which includes among its members Adam Dickey, the chairman of the Floyd County Democratic Party.

Eeeeewww … damn, it smells like sewer gas around here, doesn’t it?


Council president Pat McLaughlin, who doubles as co-chair (with Dan Coffey) of the Gahan Jockstrap Conveyance Patrol (no acronym), conceded to the News and Tribune’s Daniel Suddeath that yes, there was a mild “concern” over these new and unexplored precedents, but hey -- what can an elected lackey do, apart from popping the top on an ice-cold Bud Light at the Roadhouse?

Also according to Suddeath, City Hall’s legal team as yet is finding it difficult to unravel the impenetrable thicket of the city’s own ordinances.

Summers is expected to be replaced soon after questions arose as to whether he could serve on the Stormwater and Sewer boards as a paid city employee.

Say what?

We already knew that the convenient Summers’ placement on the Stormwater Board was a two-pronged mistake according to previlaing ordinance, which clearly prohibits a paid city employee from serving, and stipulates that it’s a council appointment in the first place, and not a forum for City Hall’s attorney to be enthusiastically brokering the mayor's fondest wishes.

(B) One member appointed by majority vote of the members of the Common Council, provided that the member shall be a registered professional engineer, and further provided that the member shall not otherwise be a paid or unpaid official or employee of the city.

We also knew that when the issue was raised by this blog, city attorney Shane Gibson promptly and honorably fell on his sword and took one for Team Gahan.

The Storm Water Board and the Sewer Board are both set up under the same Indiana authority. The former board member was on both the Sewer and the Storm Water Boards. When he stepped off the boards, I looked at the Sewer Board membership requirements in the City Ordinance. That Sewer ordinance states one member shall be the City engineer. I let our City engineer know this and his duties as required by the Ordinance. I didn't, however, review or the pull the Storm Water board requirements for members and assumed they were the same since the two boards were established under the same Indiana authority. As I mentioned above, this was an error on my part. We will be taking the necessary actions to remedy this matter.

Except that the Indiana state law establishing sewer board guidelines, which apparently dates from 1981, also prohibits a paid employee from serving.

(a) A sanitary board established under this chapter consists of:

(1) the municipal executive; and

(2) two (2) persons appointed by the municipal legislative body, one (1) of whom must be a registered professional engineer.

The legislative body may not appoint any paid or unpaid municipal officer or employee to the board.

Meanwhile, New Albany’s sewer board staffing ordinance, first enacted in the 1990s when the Federal government firmly pointed out to us that a city our size might wish to treat more than a fraction of its wastewater, appears to deliberately obfuscate the state’s intent … and no one has noticed until now?

(2) Two members, appointed by majority vote of the members of the Common Council, provided that one such member shall be the City Engineer or a registered professional engineer, and further provided that such non City Engineer person shall not be a paid or unpaid official or employee of the city.

I’m no legal bagel, but someone out there other than me surely is asking the same question: How many illegal votes actually have been taken the past 30-odd years on all these boards?

And: If Summers wasn’t supposed to be on the Sewer Board, what about the casual Gahan-less vote on March 12 to break with decades of precedent and waive sewer tap-ins?

Was it legal?

Finally, this: At some point, as one oddball screw-up piles atop another, doesn’t a hands-on mayor genuinely believing in his "fundamentally better" agitprop actually call the press, quote Harry Truman, point to his desk, and make the buck stop there?

Maybe the problem for Gahan is all those bucks, roughly $90,000 of the campaign variety at last count. Or, conversely, maybe taking responsibility voids the hologram’s warranty. In three-plus years, has Gahan yet to acknowledge an error?

Now, about those ivory toilet seats …

"It has nothing constructive to say and only leads to more misinformation and fear-mongering."

We'll probably never know why Doug England opted for self-defeating, narcissistic behavior -- apart from this being his perennial default setting -- but in 2011, a visibly wavering England (ostensibly a Democrat) hand-picked his successor, Irv "More GOP than Mitt" Stumler, who swept the area dry of cash and was utterly humiliated in the Democratic primary by Jeff Gahan, who later became a hologram capable of raising even more money than the former Republican.

England then tanked his tepid at-large council bid to Shirley Baird, a defeat so profoundly embittering that Hizzoner moved all the way to Florida, leaving us to cope with the debris: A forever pouting and conniving Stumler, who has plotted for vengeance ever since he swapped parties for personal gain (he has since swapped back).

Stumler's frequent and thinly veiled efforts to usurp power through the auspices of Clean & Green's streetside potting exercises have been rebutted so effortlessly by Gahan that Irv has been reduced to peddling assorted and sordid street grid lies door-to-door.

Irv Stumler peddles humongous whoppers, feels no shame at all, insults entire city.

A candidate for city council is walking the streets, spreading the manure, and saying whatever he thinks is necessary to scare someone into signing his piece of paper. This somehow strikes him as leadership. It strikes most of the rest of us a pretext for hospitalization and the administering of happy drugs.

Matt Nash has noticed, and he gets the gist of Stumler's plaudits-for-Padgett website: "It has nothing constructive to say and only leads to more misinformation and fear-mongering."

Yep, that nails it, but misinformation and fear-mongering are the only cards in the deck Irv has left to play. Take it away, Matt.

NASH: An important two-way conversation (N and T)

 ... Many of the people opposed to Speck’s plan pointed to the East Main Street redevelopment project as a reason to not implement the plan’s recommendations. They cite the median as dangerous and causing too narrow of a lane for vehicles to pass safely.

I don’t necessarily disagree with their point of view, but the Main Street plan has nothing to do with the new plan. Main Street was in process and completed as Mr. Speck was preparing and delivering his plan. The changes of Main Street have nothing to do with his plan.

Opposition to the Speck plan has spawned a website which claims to provide more information. I believe that it has nothing constructive to say and only leads to more misinformation and fear-mongering.

Recently, a picture of a car that wrecked into the Main Street project median was posted. It doesn’t point out that the driver was very drunk at the time of the accident. What’s that have to do with the other streets in New Albany?

Ask the homeowners along Elm and Market streets how often their property has been damaged by drunken drivers or just people driving too fast.