Sunday, May 31, 2015

Campaign Diary, Chapter 1: Municipal governance is about every day, not every now and then.

There were so many City Hall stalwarts at the farmers market yesterday that I thought a plaque to one of them was about to be dedicated.

Soon we'll probably need to demolish an historical structure to build a pole barn to house them all -- the plaques, not the stalwarts.

But it's good to know that I'm already having a positive effect on the mayor's race. Jeff Gahan was politicking at the farmers market, and he was not wearing a three-piece suit. Kevin Zurschmiede was shopping, too, and rocking the casual attire. Surely a sartorial revolution is underway ... sans culottes.

At least we now can understand the urgency with which Team Gahan pushed through New Albany's farmers market build-out at 11:59 p.m. on December 31.

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

It's all about keeping up with the Moores, because Jeffersonville has a nice, shiny new structure to house the farmer market there -- and as we've seen, Team Gahan's prime (only) re-election strategy in 2015 is to constantly point toward nice, shiny new objects, while taking great care to peel off the price tags first.

Our temporary seasonal events, primarily benefiting agriculturalists who live elsewhere, shall take a back seat to no one's! Damn the sticker shock -- full subsidy ahead!

Consequently, it's important to make a point, and to keep making it.

Municipal governance is about every day, not every now and then. 

New Albany is a city, and must function as a city to be efficient. We've learned that while all areas of the city matter, our overall health is weakened when there's a hole downtown, in the place where urban density can truly be an economic engine.

New Albany's independent business community has spearheaded the revitalization of downtown, and done so almost entirely without the usual economic development subsidies and incentives, warded the usual suspects. This is positive news, but there is much more to be done.

The city's basic infrastructure must promote economic development and quality of life, not work against them.

Walkability, as enhanced by two-way "complete" and calmed streets, and as exhaustively outlined in Jeff Speck's downtown street network study, would constitute a quantum leap forward for the entirety of the downtown business community to reach the next level, and on a day-in, day-out basis.

This precisely is the value of the Big Four Bridge in Jeffersonville. It works for its intended purpose every single day. The same would be true of Speck's street reform plan, when (if ever) implemented in New Albany.

The Speck plan is our Big Four Bridge. Do it now, not later.

Meanwhile, the farmers market, while a valued component, is seasonal and occasional, as are special events like the Bicentennial Park concerts and others requiring street closings, which can both help and hurt downtown independent local businesses.

Team Gahan remains enamored of itself as an all-purpose special events coordinator, and City Hall emphasizes these one-off, temporary events. They make for wonderful plaque erection, but ignore the single most obvious way to help downtown: Walkability, bicycle friendliness ... the Speck plan ... infrastructure that works every hour of every day, not a few hours here and there.

Municipal governance is about every day, not every now and then. 

The idea is to maintain the infrastructure suited to an active and evolving urban core, keep the economic playing field level, and watch as local independent businesses and creative entities act as their own special events coordinators, from the grassroots, without control from the top. Speck's principles are designed (that word again) to restore the historic business district as a vibrant and movable feast, on a nightly basis.

Of course, local small-pond politicians don't like grassroots empowerment of the sort I'm describing here, because it doesn't allow them to claim credit. Jeff Gahan says we cannot even think about Speck-styled streets for a year and a half.

Gahan's foot is on the wrong brake.

In delaying, prevaricating and insisting on secretive control, Gahan is damaging the very revival he so enjoys crediting himself for achieving. City Hall shouldn't be picking winners for political reasons. It should be acting as the grounds crew for infrastructure, and the referee when the match is under way.

Jeff Gahan is supposed to be helping matters, not retarding their progress. There can be only one conclusion.

Inside Indiana Business says Jeffersonville begins in New Washington, ends in Corydon, and News and Tribune obsequiously wags its tail.

In this 12:30 p.m. update, Ian Hall reports: "They are filming at The Exchange on Monday afternoon during lunch, and I will be part of the interview at Flat 12. I'll do my best to represent the Big NA!"


Inside Indiana Business always has been a shameless cheerleader for the usual "chamber of commerce" economic development suspects, so naturally we'd expect One Southern Indiana and River Ridge to be the prime targets for the program's field trip to our region.

Which prompts a logical question: How to define "our" region?

Don't ask the News and Tribune to answer this question. The newspaper is far too busy positioning itself as the regional player it really isn't.

As an example of the Indy-centric tone deafness of Inside Indiana Business, consider that when choosing a place to anchor the proceedings, it's an Indianapolis brewery's satellite location (where actual brewing has yet to commence), and not a long-term and truly local business. Naturally, I'm no enemy of Flat12, and I'm speaking not as a director on the Brewers of Indiana Guild, but as a New Albany resident who knows what the word "symbolism" implies.

Also, consider the manner by which the News and Tribune (sickeningly scrambling to insert itself as an "insider") ) frames this: "Southern Indiana" and "Southeastern Indiana." And yet, according to the article itself, everything about the visit will pertain to Jeffersonville (and Clark County) alone.

Apparently no one at the newspaper would think to ask: "But Gerry Dick, if it's about the region as a whole, why is the exclusive focus on one part of the region to the exclusion of the rest?"

Jeeebus -- the usual Koch empowerment suspects, crowding the trough, with the servile News and Tribune filching scraps. That's our daily reality. The only way to change it is from the grassroots up.

Getting down to business in Southern Indiana, by Danielle Grady

SOUTHERN INDIANA — The 17-year-old program Inside Indiana Business has never traveled to Southeastern Indiana for one of its “on the road” specials, but it was the first idea that host Gerry Dick and the show’s staff latched onto this year.

“[Southeastern Indiana’s] a part of the state that has tremendous potential,” said Dick.

Three or four times a year, Inside Indiana Business leaves its Indianapolis studio and abandons the regular format to comprehensively highlight areas of the state for a half-hour show. This year’s schedule includes visits to Northwest Indiana, Fort Wayne and two other unplanned areas, but on Monday, Dick will be heading to Jeffersonville and setting up at Flat 12 Bierwerks.
It was a “no-brainer,” he said.

“When you look at areas that are going to be the next great area ... It might just be Southeast Indiana,” he said.

Inside Indiana Business has already ran stories on the region, but it’s the things happening with the Ohio River Bridges Project, River Ridge Commerce Center and the Port of Indiana-Jeffersonville that have spurred the program to take a prolonged peek.

Dick plans on showcasing several Indiana businesses and areas of economic interest during his trip, including Schimpff’s Confectionery, Weber Group, America Place Business Park, Adrienne and Co. and the aforementioned projects and businesses.

He will interview Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer to focus on the combined economic efforts of the cities.

Dick also plans an “insider’s panel” featuring representatives from One Southern Indiana, Jeffersonville government and the News and Tribune.

The Economist: Blue collar (and badly educated) men in rich countries are not adapting well.

I highly recommend these two articles. The leader offers a broad summery, with the essay going into greater detail. As you're reading, bear in mind that New Albany's traditional response to social and economic change has been to eagerly shift downmarket. 


The weaker sex: Blue-collar men in rich countries are in trouble. They must learn to adapt

... One group in particular is suffering (see article). Poorly educated men in rich countries have had difficulty coping with the enormous changes in the labour market and the home over the past half-century. As technology and trade have devalued brawn, less-educated men have struggled to find a role in the workplace. Women, on the other hand, are surging into expanding sectors such as health care and education, helped by their superior skills. As education has become more important, boys have also fallen behind girls in school (except at the very top). Men who lose jobs in manufacturing often never work again. And men without work find it hard to attract a permanent mate. The result, for low-skilled men, is a poisonous combination of no job, no family and no prospects ...


The point is expanded and corroborated here, in longer form.


Men adrift: Badly educated men in rich countries have not adapted well to trade, technology or feminism

KIMBERLEY, a receptionist in Tallulah, thinks the local men are lazy. “They don’t do nothin’,” she complains. This is not strictly true. Until recently, some of them organised dog fights in a disused school building.

Tallulah, in the Mississippi Delta, is picturesque but not prosperous. Many of the jobs it used to have are gone. Two prisons and a county jail provide work for a few guards but the men behind bars, obviously, do not have jobs. Nor do many of the young men who hang around on street corners, shooting dice and shooting the breeze. In Madison Parish, the local county, only 47% of men of prime working age (25-54) are working.

The men in Tallulah are typically not well educated: the local high school’s results are poor even by Louisiana’s standards. That would have mattered less, in the old days. A man without much book-learning could find steady work at the mill or in the fields. But the lumber mill has closed, and on nearby farms “jobs that used to take 100 men now take ten,” observes Jason McGuffie, a pastor. A strong pair of hands is no longer enough ...

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Imagine a city with overt future vision and walkability goals, but not in Jeff Gahan's New Albany.

Time and again, we've been told that Mayor Jeff Gahan favors the street network reform proposals proffered by consultant Jeff Speck.

We're told he solicited them, he understands them, and that City Hall "gets them."

Of course, these reassurances come by underground carrier pigeon from anonymous backroom sources in the dead of night during a blind drunk, because heaven forbid the mayor might openly lead on such a project. We must wait ... and wait ... and wait, as ground is steadily lost.

As such, we're compelled to draw obvious conclusions: If Jeff Gahan can't or won't speak openly with force and passion, doing what a political leader is supposed to do by advocating a position to advance the city's prospects, shaping consensus, and leading (that word again) the debate, then he cannot possibly be "for" complete streets. This is why I've used the word cowardice, and will continue using it.

Cowardice is the correct word, as it applies to a political hologram commonly seen exhibiting it.

Consider the epochal contrast with the hitherto unknown city of Tigard, Oregon (population 48,035). Like New Albany, Tigard is bringing Jeff Speck and his walkability ideas to town, and unlike Jeff Gahan, the city of Tigard begins with a specific vision and a willingness to advocate it openly, because it aims to become "the most walkable community in the Pacific Northwest where people of all ages and abilities enjoy healthy and interconnected lives."

Back here in New Albany, Speck's downtown street network proposals are designed to propel our city into a position of being the most walkable city in the Louisville metro area, and perhaps regionally.

Consequently, we're operating strictly on the down-low, with no stated vision and no public objective, and with a mayor cowering in his command bunker as minions rush to reward the usual suspects at the expense of the city.

Tigard in the vanguard, New Albany in thrall to the Democratic monetization machine. Time for a change, folks.

  • Jeff Speck

 Monday, June 15 @ 6:15 p.m. 

 Broadway Rose Theatre
 12850 SW Grant Avenue, Tigard

This is a free event and open to the public.

The presentation is a timely complement to Tigard's long-term vision to become: "The most walkable community in the Pacific Northwest where people of all ages and abilities enjoy healthy and interconnected lives."

Is (your city name here) a city designed for women?

This may be the first essay I've seen that explicitly applies Jeff Speck's walkability pillars and other urban design theories to the needs of the female population.

Opinion: Is Brisbane designed for women?, by Kathleen Noonan (The Courier-Mail)

... Is Brisbane a city designed for women? What makes a great city for women – and, therefore, everyone else? Because when you make a great city for women, you improve the fabric and experience of human life.

No matter where you are in Queensland this morning, it’s a valid question: is this town a great place for women and children? Because let’s not forget, women and children are the majority.

Is your town a safe welcoming place for elderly women, migrant women, women with disabilities, young female students, for all women? Most women need “porous’’ and connected cities because their lives often meld their two shifts – their work/career and their work/family.

Have you ever sat in a children’s playground or park thinking it was designed by someone who had never met a child? How do we get it so wrong so often?

Don’t worry. It is not just Brisbane or Australia. All over the world, cities have been in the throes of reinventing themselves with fewer cars and more feet. Some of the fixes are so very easy and not expensive.

Women should experience their city exactly as men do. Their city should be utterly, entirely fair.

Friday, May 29, 2015

One Southern Indiana is giddy over the Regional Cities Initiative, meaning it's time to be very scared.

The reporter and I had a long and enjoyable conversation on the topic of the Indiana Regional Cities Initiative, during which I did not back away from my original assessment of the initiative as something aimed at distracting and intoxicating the usual planning and cheerleading suspects (read: One Southern Indiana) rather than helping better the vicinity.

Seriously: You want 1Si determining "quality of life" for revitalizing urban areas?

The reason I say this: Even if accepted at face value, it's a lottery scheme (a) not every area can win, and (b) a potential "win" that assumes much additional funding beyond what the state will provide, thus (c) favoring grandiose future planning (floating volleyball courts, convention centers) rather than the nuts and bolts of small neighborhood projects added together to achieve sustainable critical mass.

In short, the state constantly rigs the game to deny funding for everyday projects, instead offering a coin-flip panacea seemingly designed to inspire local politicians to begin commissioning plaques.

Accordingly, I was at the merchant meeting when Jeff Gahan attended for the sole purpose of touting the regional initiative to shopkeepers whose daily prospects are damaged by one-way arterial streets, even as Gahan plotted to delay the Speck curative another 1 - 2 - 3 years, or until doomsday -- whichever comes first.

But if big thinking is what you want, then there's only one choice. Ultimately, lateral east-west transit connections between Jeffersonville and New Albany, as an alternative to our current state of automotive connections, makes the most sense when speaking about millions of dollars. Ideally a north-south transit link with Louisville would some day come about, and then we'd be getting somewhere.

Conversely, we might stretch the Speck downtown street network plan throughout the Falls Cities area, linking it with various north-south "rails to trails" and hire mercenaries to seize the K & I Bridge so it can be returned to use.

I'm not joking.

SUNDAY EDITION | Southern Indiana leaders look to boost economic development, by Chris Otts (WDRB)

The Regional Cities Initiative, a program championed by Gov. Mike Pence and recently approved by state lawmakers, seeks to help regions like Southern Indiana develop “national brands” as places with superior quality of life – which, in turn, is meant to boost population growth in Indiana.

Finance, design, suburbs and "The Growth Ponzi Scheme."

It doesn't get much clearer than this. In fact, the Strong Towns website in large measure constitutes a shovel-ready campaign platform for any candidate interested in the future of a city like New Albany.

(That's okay, Dan. you're exempt. Permanent recess for you! Yay!)

The conclusion first:

"We need to end our investments in the suburban pattern of development, along with the multitude of direct and indirect subsidies that make it all possible. Further, we need to intentionally return to our traditional pattern of development, one based on creating neighborhoods of value, scaled to actual people. When we do this, we will inevitably rediscover our traditional values of prudence and thrift as well as the value of community and place."

Now, let's read.


(This article originally appeared in Grist)

We often forget that the American pattern of suburban development is an experiment, one that has never been tried anywhere before. We assume it is the natural order because it is what we see all around us. But our own history — let alone a tour of other parts of the world — reveals a different reality. Across cultures, over thousands of years, people have traditionally built places scaled to the individual. It is only the last two generations that we have scaled places to the automobile.

How is our experiment working?

At Strong Towns, the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization I cofounded in 2009, we are most interested in understanding the intersection between local finance and land use. How does the design of our places impact their financial success or failure?

What we have found is that the underlying financing mechanisms of the suburban era — our post-World War II pattern of development — operates like a classic Ponzi scheme, with ever-increasing rates of growth necessary to sustain long-term liabilities.

Coffey's prayer offensive last week documented at the newspaper yesterday.

As the news pours out of Clark County, here -- for the record -- is the mind-bending account of how 1st district councilman Dan "Wizard of Westside" Coffey became a leading legal and theological and scholar.

Every picture tells a story, don't it?


New Albany City Council moves forward with return of public prayer

News and Tribune, Thursday, May 28, 2015 7:45 am

NEW ALBANY — After a process that led to animated discussions and heated exchanges, the New Albany City Council moved to return its agenda to allow a minister to lead prayer at the onset of meetings.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Mayor Jeff Gahan Presents: The Bicentennial Park FIFA Series.

Surely we can bring in alcohol vendors from Qatar, though it looks like we'll have to close a lane or two of Spring Street for this one.

But that's okay. Just put it on Sepp Blatter's tab. Or better yet, have Redevelopment do it.

ON THE AVENUES: The last of the summer beer.

ON THE AVENUES: The last of the summer beer.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

Lately I’ve found myself enamored of the venerable British television series, “Last of the Summer Wine.” It’s hard to imagine a more unfashionable concept in the milieu of the smart phone and driverless car, and perhaps that’s why I’m so attracted to it.

For the uninitiated, the series ran from 1973 through 2010, a staggering 37 years, with almost 300 episodes aired. Virtually all emphasize a timeless sense of place, with much location filming amid the workmanlike stone buildings and rustic, gorgeous rolling hills of Holmfirth, Yorkshire.

There is a basic narrative premise remaining unchanged throughout the program’s run.

“A whimsical comedy with a penchant for light philosophy and full-on slapstick (following) the misadventures of three elderly friends tramping around the Yorkshire countryside.”

Reruns of “Last of the Summer Wine” have been showing on KET for as long as I can remember, and while the electronic media of today’s world might enable one the selective luxury of binge viewing on-line, the series itself decidedly isn’t about today’s world. As such, I prefer the old-fashioned manner of viewing: Pouring an adult libation and sitting motionless in front of the television at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, preferably with the missus.

On those occasions when life gets in the way, there remain hundreds more episodes to watch and watch again.

Early in 2014, KET’s chronological episode spool ran all the way back to “Last of the Summer Wine’s” pilot, filmed in 1972 and aired in 1973. Astoundingly, plot elements subsequently enjoying a shelf life of decades are found to be largely intact from the very start, although I’d argue that the word “elderly” isn’t really a valid descriptor of the primary male characters, at least in the beginning.

In fact, while the first trio (Cyril, Clegg and Compo) might accurately be described as redundant, pensioned or retired, the actors portraying them, as well as their fictional characters, were in their early- to mid-50s when the series debuted in 1973. Along with various successors, they certainly became certifiably elderly, but what are the odds of a television series lasting almost four decades, anyway?

“Last of the Summer Wine” kept going and going, and along the way, there were minor changes, tweaks and periodic major cast turnovers. The character of Cyril was replaced by Foggy Dewhurst, and then Seymour Utterthwaite; Foggy later returned, and was replaced a second time by Frank Thornton’s Herbert Truelove. Actor Bill Owen (Compo) died in 2000 – and so did his character. Peter Sallis’s Clegg aged the most; he appeared in all 295 episodes and is still alive in 2015, at 94 years of age.

However, in the very beginning – insert a shocked “gasp” here – they were my approximate age now (54), or only slightly older. This, dear readers, boggles my mind, and it speaks to the endlessly convoluted mind games of time and history.

As an example, consider Foggy, who constantly exaggerates his experiences in the Asian Theater during the Second World War. When Foggy came to town in 1976, it had been only three full decades since the end of the war, which as we know initiated a post-war baby boom … which in England produced the earliest fans of a group like the Rolling Stones … who in 2015 are in the fourth year of celebrating the band’s 50th anniversary.

On one of the last of the newer (1991) episodes aired on KET before the rotation began anew, Foggy encountered a man on the street in Holmfirth using an ATM. By contrast, the 1973 pilot episode might as well have been filmed in the 1920s. Modernity in Holmfirth was purely relative. One detects an absence of overall hurry, and few items appear to be made of plastic. Anglicanism isn’t dead, and there are more bicycles, buses and tractors on the street than automobiles.

Into this throwback tableau stepped Clegg, Compo and Cyril. Apart from wartime service, these former schoolmates never left their nowhere town. Once retired, with nothing to do, they wandered about hill, dale and high street, reminiscing and philosophizing, and indulging in harmless antics inspired by boredom, far more in keeping with children’s play than a senior community’s social scheduling.

A worthy ideal, indeed -- and at any age.

Where do I sign up?

The trio’s day invariably brought them to Sid’s Café for tea and sticky buns, and often included extended sessions in various Holmfirth pubs, including the White Horse Inn, Butcher’s Arms and Elephant and Castle. In these intimate bricks and mortar monuments to Real Ale when it really was real, they enjoy leisurely pints from the hand-pull while hatching the next scheme. Periodically there was disagreement over who was up to buy the next round, but three more pints generally materialized in front of them, to be deliciously drained.

Know that because the title character of the series “Inspector Morse” specifically addresses the virtues of traditional cask ale at regular intervals, he probably remains the foremost telly-centric exponent of traditional British ale-making virtues, albeit leaning a bit toward the geekier side of things.

“Last of the Summer Wine” also ranks highly, if for no other reason than its depiction of the pub experience in such affectionate fashion, as a daily component of the well-rounded ne’er-do-well’s life. Of course, this is the whole point of a pub, and I thank the series for making it.

Not only that, but I salivate and become all Pavlovian. I see the Holmfirth lads lifting their pints, and for the briefest of moments, the stress-ridden workaday routine disappears from view.

In a daydream, I join my pals Mark and Graham, shuffling through the streets of New Albany, solving the world’s problems, and repairing to a clean, well-lighted place for liquid sustenance. We hector politicians, recall the good old daze, and toss a water balloon at a passing tractor trailer.

It can’t ever be the same, although a boy – and even an older man – can dream.

Or, conversely, he can watch “Last of the Summer Wine” and envision the art of the possible.


First published in 2014 at my Potable Curmudgeon blog; revised for reprinting here.


Recent columns:

May 21: ON THE AVENUES REWOUND: "I Just Want to Know, Can I Park Here Somewhere?”

May 14: ON THE AVENUES: Take this cult of personality and shove it.

May 7: ON THE AVENUES: In Havel I trust.

April 30: ON THE AVENUES: Until philosophers become kings.

April 27: ON THE AVENUES MONDAY SPECIAL: Et tu, Greg Phipps? Or: Anger and the electoral variability of transparency.

April 23: ON THE AVENUES REWOUND: Anachronisms and intellectuals, here and there.

"Turn off the mainstream news and talk shows and search for alternative media. Read!"

The author is a tad excitable, though largely spot on. The problem locally is a paucity of independent candidates. On Sunday during Boomtown, two ranking Republicans asked me if I'd had any luck finding an independent candidate to run against Dan Coffey.

No, I said, but what about the GOP?

"A Republican can't beat him."

Perhaps the 1st can be dissolved, and the 2nd annex it.

Wait -- strike that ...

An English Lesson: ‘Never Give a Sucker …’, by Philip Farruggio (Nation of Change)

... This writer has made a determination to never support any candidate who runs as a Democrat. Of course, I never have or ever will support the wolves from the other side of the aisle. If it means leaving many blanks in my ballot, so be it. No, the time has come to vote for independent candidates who share our core values on key issues, not for the proverbial ‘ lesser of two evils ‘.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Who knew the Hooters in Clarksville is connected to New Albany sewers?

Shouldn't "buying local (lunch)" be itemized on our sewer bills?

Board of Works can't see the handicapped parking spaces for the Re-Elect Gahan yard signs.

A few weeks back, Marcey Wisman-Bennett went to the Board of Public Works and Safety to request a handicapped parking space at 156 E. Main, in front of Sew Fitting, which she manages.

Sew Fitting is part of the emerging, vibrant Underground Station complex of renovated retail and residential spaces, occupying formerly decrepit buildings on a generally neglected block adjacent to the perennially moribund Reisz Furniture Building.

(Full disclosure: Marcey is a friend and is helping me with my campaign for mayor)

Yesterday, Marcey posted comments and photos on Facebook.

"The Board of Works president and the Street Commissioner claimed this morning that the city does not provide handicapped parking in the downtown business district, and yet on my walk back to the shop I saw 3 in a 3 block vicinity. Do they really know that little about the community they serve, or was it the best lie they could come up with on the spot?"

If ever a hearty LOL were appropriate, it is now.

After all, who are you going to believe, Warren Nash and Mickey Thompson, or your own two eyes?

Yes, there are handicapped parking places delineated throughout downtown New Albany. There also are numerous parking regulations on the city's books, almost none of which are enforced, this being the continuation under Jeff Gahan of a puzzling non-enforcement regimen decreed by former mayor Doug England.

As such: Are the handicapped spaces pictured here -- the ones Nash and Thompson deny exist -- among the parking ordinances we do not enforce?

There's this thing called the ADA ...

Or, do we enforce them, but not other ordinances? As such, how and when can we know which real and imagined ordinances are enforced, or not?

Is it a coin flip?

Given the proclivities of City Hall, can we even begin to know what is enforced, and what is not, without knowing the political party affiliation of the transgressor/hero, and their history of campaign contributions?

To have these and other questions ignored by the ruling cabal, I have a common sense suggestion for Marcey.

Can't you just go straight to the top and ask the guy in charge? I'm sure Adam Dickey can explain everything.

"The Link Between Walkable Neighborhoods and Race."

File under: Things no one wants to talk about in New Albany, either.

The Link Between Walkable Neighborhoods and Race, by Richard Florida (City Lab)

African Americans are far more likely to live in the San Francisco Bay Area’s least walkable neighborhoods. Why?

Walkability is not only good for you: It’s a highly desired characteristic of housing and neighborhoods. I’ve written before about the connection between walkable neighborhoods and higher housing values, reduced rates of violent crime, obesity, premature death and long-term memory loss, as well as higher levels of creativity and civic engagement. But a recent study from California Polytechnic State University’s William Riggs reminds us that not all urbanites have the same kind of access to walkable streets and neighborhoods. The study, which focuses on the San Francisco Bay Area, finds a considerable racial divide when it comes to access to walkability, with black residents much less likely to live in the area’s walkable neighborhoods.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

New Albany's new slogan: "Truck Through City" ... Part 90: When holograms cry.

Irony, Gahan-style.

On Sunday, just as Boomtown was beginning, Mayor Jeff Gahan sidled over to my Flea Off Market Row booth.

At least, I think it was Gahan. He seemed oddly nonplussed, but at any rate, we chatted briefly. I pointed to the books we were selling, and asked if he was familiar with any of them.

That one, he gestured. "It's a good one."

"Ah, yes indeed," I replied: "Too bad it's taking us far too long to do the right thing."

Gahan registered surprise: "Really? Do you think it's taking too long?"

"Absolutely. Spring Street's a mess, Jeff. It's dangerous for the neighborhood, designed only for pass-through speeding."

"Hmm. Do you think it's dangerous?"

"Yes," I said, "and since the Main Street project started, all the heavy trucks coming over to Spring Street are ruining our quality of life."

Gahan countered: "Really? Do you think they're actually diverting?"

#548 in an ongoing series.

I was beginning to notice a certain pattern in the mayor's responses, and considered making the statement that the moon is crafted from Limburger cheese, only so I could hear him ask me, "do you really think the moon's crafted from Limburger cheese?"

Unfortunately, that's where the conversation ended, because he spotted an old crony and hurriedly departed in mid-sentence. Later he waved back and said, "we'll talk."

Somehow I'm doubtful.

Here, there, everywhere: "Creating real transportation options" for all residents.

Specifically in this case, Denver, but the implications for Louisville metro are fairly clear.

Is the ORBP boondoggle finished yet?

Locantore: It's not about congestion; it's about freedom, by Jill Locantore (Denver Post)

... ultimately, congestion isn't the problem we should be trying to solve. The bigger problem is that many Denver residents don't have any options other than driving to their daily destinations. Automobiles have long symbolized freedom in the American imagination. Yet in our devotion to building communities oriented around driving, we've engineered the ability to walk, bike, or take transit out of many of our neighborhoods. Now here we are enslaved to our automobiles, obsessed with fueling them, parking them, and making sure they don't get too crowded on the roadways.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Who put the corporate in Boomtown?

Maybe next year the tail won't wag the dog, and shift will happen -- back to what's proper.

When a Grammy winner played the Public House.

2008 wasn't my finest year. In fact, it was one of my worst. Consequently, I cannot honestly remember the chain of events that led to Mike Farris playing the Public House, apart from the efforts of my then-colleague, John Campbell, to tie together WFPK's Live Lunch, NABC and Farris -- who in 2015 won a Grammy for Best Roots Gospel Album.

That's right: $12.50. Indeed, strange days have found us.

It was an unprecedented tariff, given that we've seldom had live music at all, and when we did, it almost never required a coverage charge. John pointed me to My Space (it was that long ago) and force me to listen. Yes, it seemed to be religious music of a sort, but not overt in terms of evangelism -- and that voice. It was otherworldly.

I agreed, and Farris performed. Or did he? I think he did. I'm not sure. We probably lost money. Beer may have been consumed. Like I said, it wasn't my finest year.

Mary Gauthier wrote "Mercy Now," the song embedded here, and she describes it accurately: "Real deal, rotgut gospel." It's not my thing, ordinarily. However, the categories melt away when the music is real, and Farris has an unconventional point of view as it pertains to his religious faith.

Mike Farris' Revival: How a Drug-Addicted Rocker Found God and Grammy, by Joseph Hudak (Rolling Stone)

 ... Like Gauthier says, "Mercy Now," and Shine for All the People as a whole, is able to captivate all music fans, even those who might have preconceived notions about spiritual music. Interestingly, Farris blames any stigma associated with gospel on organized religion. Although a Christian, he refuses to attend church. Instead, he worships onstage with fans, or at home with his wife and their 10 dogs.

"Church is when we're together sharing shit that we're going through on this Earth with each other. Sharing our triumphs as well," he says. "I'm totally against religion."

It's an interesting dichotomy: a gospel singer who doesn't go to Sunday service.

"Forget religion. We're talking about just washing each other's feet. Because that's what Jesus told us to do," Farris says, going on to explain his Grammy-winning album's title. "It's for all the people, not just some of the people. The Grammy is fine, but the big mission is helping somebody make a decision to become a better human being. That's why we do what we do."

Memorial Day.

To me, respecting the memory of American soldiers who died in the service of their country is a task best undertaken with a respect for history on the part of those still living. Speaking only for myself, I take history very seriously, and have done so for as long as I can remember.

This almost certainly springs from my WWII veteran father's fascination with the far-off events conspiring to transport a hick like him from bucolic Georgetown, Indiana, to the Pacific Theater of Operations ... and in his case, fortunately, back home again. Others weren't as lucky, and every year on Memorial Day, I pause to reflect on this.

Every year as a prelude to Memorial Day, there are scolding social media reminders to the effect that Americans fixated on holiday feasting, partying and recreation are somehow dishonoring the nation's military heritage. I understand this sentiment, and not only that, but I do my own share of ranting from time to time about similar instances of historical ignorance on the part of the general populace.

Yet, I don't think honor and bacchanalia are mutually exclusive. After all, the venerable institution of the wake combines them very effectively.

Like the vast majority of topics pertaining to human beings, the notion of dying for one's country is inordinately complex. John Gonder touched on it yesterday during a brief conversation, when he mentioned the escape clause during the American Civil War, wherein men drafted into the Union Army could buy their way out of service by paying $300 or providing a substitute.

During the Vietnam War, songwriter John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival noticed it, too: Exactly how is it determined which ones die for their country, and which ones profit from their death?

Perhaps Dick Cheney knows the answer.

Preferably, respecting the memory of American soldiers who died in the service of their country is a task best undertaken with a respect for history on the part of those still living, along with sadness and regret that human civilization seems not to have evolved to a point of no longer requiring violence to settle issues. War is a ridiculous concept, although humans seem enamored of it.

It's also a holiday weekend.

I suspect you are enjoying it.

Carry on.

Memorial Day (Snopes)

Claim: Former slaves reburied dead Union prisoners of war in May 1865, thus creating the modern observance of Memorial Day.


TRUE: In May 1865, free blacks in Charleston reburied dead Union prisoners of war and held a cemetery dedication ceremony.

UNDETERMINED: The event referenced above is the origin of the modern Memorial Day observance.

Wikipedia's article goes into greater detail.

"The secret world of liggers."

In another place and time ... in another life ... this would have been me.

The secret world of liggers: ‘Free booze is everywhere’, by Sam Bungey (The Guardian)

 ... Rigby’s hobby is attending events where there is free food and booze. Later tonight he’ll drop in at a nearby mixer for networkers, and then, if he fancies it, a talk at the University of the Arts London. He calls what he does “ligging” – which means gatecrashing with intent to snack. “The French would call me a pique-assiette,” Rigby says as we approach the bar. It translates roughly as “one who picks from others’ plates”. Others on the scene prefer “eventing”. Rigby estimates there are 50 regular liggers in London, mostly middle-aged single men. He’s on nodding terms with about six of them ...

... “Look to the sponsor,” he counsels, “free booze is ubiquitous. It’s good food that’s the challenge. The problem is that left-of-centre events rarely have free food. Say you go to an event for Palestine solidarity, you might get some dates. You won’t get anything special.”

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Baylor for Mayor web site up, fundraiser set for this Thursday.

I'll be selling good books at today's Boomtown Ball fest. If you're downtown, look for us amid the Flea Off booths. In other news ...

The Baylor for Mayor campaign web site is up and evolving.

In the weeks to come, we'll be expanding the web site to include more detailed platform planks.

For those inclined to support the campaign with their pocketbooks (more below), I'm grateful, and the web site includes a link where donations can be made.

Baylor for Mayor

This year, I’m asking you to do something you’ve probably never done before … support an independent candidate for mayor of New Albany. You can help me bring transformative, transparent, and innovative government to our city and together we can start anew in 2016.

We're also having a fundraiser on Thursday, May 28, and you're cordially invited.

Both major party candidates have vowed to raise tens of thousands of dollars to campaign for mayor in 2015. Much of this money will come to them from various PACs, most originating far outside the city limits.

But our campaign is about New Albany, from the grassroots up, and not the top down.

The simple truth is that for us to contest this race independently, and challenge the same old party machines, we're going to need operating capital in order to convey the message. I won't tell you that the fate of civilization rests on a certain donation level. I'd be fibbing, and you wouldn't believe me, anyway.

However, if you agree with me that New Albany can benefit from independent, transformative, transparent, and innovative government, then I'd appreciate your considering a donation to my campaign.

Stop by the gathering on the 28th, or visit the evolving campaign web site, where there is a link for donations. In the weeks to come, we'll be expanding the web site to include detailed platform planks:

Thanks for your attention and support.

“Hope will never be silent" -- except, of course, when Dan Coffey endlessly bloviates.

Ireland? It gets an Equality Minister.

New Albany? We get the Ayatollah Coffey.

The news wire is filled with gratifying reports from Ireland, as here: "Ireland becomes first country to legalise gay marriage by popular vote."

Meanwhile, I cannot find any local news coverage of last Thursday's city council meeting, when Coffey sought to ratify his new part-time job as invocation coordinator.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

An excellent movie about the life of the artist J. M. W. Turner.

"Fountain of Indolence by J. M. W. Turner" 

What, two references to movies in one day?

Amid the breathless ubiquity of film "culture" in America, I may be the only living citizen desperately attempting to suppress a yawn. Insofar as I took time to watch movies at all in 2014, The Grand Budapest Hotel stands out as particularly enjoyable. There may have been a half-dozen or so others, the names of which I cannot remember. Maybe I fell asleep.

Granted, I enjoy certain genres, primarily foreign films and documentaries, but that’s about it. To me, entertainment is a very selective concept, and usually, I'd rather listen to music.

Consequently, I'm shocked to have recently viewed two movies in three days, both of which were thoroughly enjoyable. One of them was The Way, described here.

The other was Mr. Turner, a Mike Leigh film about a 19th-century English painter with whom I'm otherwise entirely unfamiliar. You can view some of his works here.

It's a quality production in every way imaginable, and I highly recommend it.

The Painter Was a Piece of Work, Too: ‘Mr. Turner,’ About the Life of the Artist J. M. W. Turner, by A. O. Scott (New York Times)

“Cynicism has no place in the reviewing of art.”

Words to live by, for sure, and all the more so for being uttered by John Ruskin, one of the giants of 19th-century British art criticism. But nothing is quite so simple. In “Mr. Turner,” Mike Leigh’s revelatory new film, Ruskin (Joshua McGuire) appears as a pretentious carrot-topped nitwit with a voice like a posh Elmer Fudd. In one scene, he offers up “controversial” theories about landscapes and seascapes to a roomful of harrumphing artists. It’s all very well, one of them says, to opine and interpret, but unless you have braved the elements with brush in hand, you don’t really know what you’re talking about.

On the Way of St. James, and a film depicting it.

The Way of St. James (Camino de Santiago) is a major Christian pilgrimage route in Europe.

The Way of St. James was one of the most important Christian pilgrimages during the Middle Ages, together with Rome and Jerusalem, and a pilgrimage route on which a plenary indulgence could be earned; other major pilgrimage routes include the Via Francigena to Rome and the pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

Legend holds that St. James's remains were carried by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain where he was buried on what is now the city of Santiago de Compostela. (The name Santiago is the local Galician evolution of Vulgar Latin Sanctu Iacobu, "Saint James".)

The Way can take one of dozens of pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela. Traditionally, as with most pilgrimages, the Way of Saint James began at one's home and ended at the pilgrimage site. However a few of the routes are considered main ones. During the Middle Ages, the route was highly traveled. However, the Black Death, the Protestant Reformation and political unrest in 16th century Europe led to its decline. By the 1980s, only a few pilgrims per year arrived in Santiago. Later, the route attracted a growing number of modern-day pilgrims from around the globe. The route was declared the first European Cultural Route by the Council of Europe in October 1987; it was also named one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites.

My first experience of the Fiesta de San Fermin came in 1994. Pamplona is astride the "main" pilgrimage route, which historically began in Paris and crossed the Pyrenees into Spain near Roncesvalles.

Those (like me) traveling from France to Pamplona by train always at Irun, along the Bay of Biscay, this being an "alternate" pilgrimage route to the north, running nearer the ocean. During the course of that first visit to Pamplona, the older hands taught me many valuable lessons, among them the delightful existence of sloe-flavored patxaran liqueur, the Basque history of the world, and the significance of the Way of St, James.

Ever since then, I've wanted to follow the pilgrimage route some day. Although I've become somewhat of a walker, my original choice of transportation remains the bicycle; at 800 kilometers (500 miles) from the border to Santiago de Compostela, a leisurely month riding is easy to contemplate, allowing for noteworthy stops in between.

Now, finally, to the point: There is a movie about the Way of St. James, directed by Emilio Estevez and starring his father, Martin Sheen, and it's quite good. The Way was released four years ago, and we watched it last week. My resolve to make the journey at some point in my life has been strengthened, with niggling details concerning time and money yet to be resolved. 

A Trek From Loss and Grief to a Life Given Greater Meaning, by Neil Genzlinger (New York Times)

One thing you quickly realize when you sit down to watch “The Way”: Martin Sheen is a very compelling actor. Another thing you realize more slowly as the film goes along: His oldest son, Emilio Estevez, is a very sensitive director.

I'm down with "prom-munism" so long as they do it right.

Okay, okay -- a bit young for prom.

Proms surely rank among the most forgettable of youthful institutions, but if your high school prom theme is to be communism -- or more cleverly, Prom-munism -- then these youngsters best try to get it right.

Presumably, this communist-themed prom will ensure equal distribution of chips and punch, and abolish the idea of prom kings and queens.


Everyday Communism

The people of eastern Europe lived in communist states for four decades in the 20th century. This website explores their everyday lives from the communist takeovers in the late 1940s through the "golden age" of the 1960s to the end of communist rule in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Topics explored include work, consumption, family, entertainment, privacy, youth, and dissent. The communist countries covered are the eight that were sandwiched between the USSR and western Europe: East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Albania.

All of the work posted on this website was done by University of Kansas students enrolled in the course "Everyday Communism." Their work, and this website, is indebted to the growing body of research on everyday life under east European communism.

Friday, May 22, 2015

NARBA was excluded from Boomtown, so I'll be there selling good books.

On Sunday, the second Boomtown Ball takes place in downtown New Albany. Last year for the inaugural, and at the city's behest, a small group of local food and drink purveyors put together the vending plan for alcoholic beverages. The intent was to devote a portion of the take to setting up the New Albany Restaurant & Bar Association ... and we've followed through with it.

Our Mission Statement
The New Albany Restaurant & Bar Association (NARBA) is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit trade organization serving the independent restaurant, bar and on-premise food and drink industry in New Albany, Indiana. NARBA serves as the unified voice of its members on government and public relations issues. It also provides programs that offer educational and operational benefits for members. NARBA represents New Albany’s best known and most vibrant local independent business segment, and is dedicated to the advancement and preservation of New Albany as an urban community.

Charitable Initiatives
NARBA organizes and hosts annual fundraising events in order to give back to the community that has so generously supported its members.

NARBA is on Facebook, and still working through various legal details. If all goes as planned, there may be an event coming later in the year. It's fiendishly difficult getting insanely busy food and drink peeps together, but gradually, we're making progress.

Unfortunately, for reasons that never have been clearly explained to NARBA, the libations segment of this year's Boomtown was chartered without the association's participation. Either the city or Production Simple giveth, and also taketh away.

"Fundamentally" local?

Not Boomtown, which is Fundamentally Louisville, but what can a poor boy do, 'cept sing in a rock 'n' roll band ... and toss the occasional Molotov cocktail during intermission?

So, I've turned instead to Plan B. On Sunday, I've reserved space amid the Flea Off scrum, and will be selling books. That's right. Books. Here's what I'll be selling.

Come and see me.

Street safety? Since Jeff Gahan is supine and inert, here's "What to Do When You're Hit By a Car."

Every picture tells a story -- don't it?

Nice new yellow paint for the cars.

Diddly squat for the walkers.

Do crosswalks ever get any attention?

What to Do When You're Hit By a Car, by Laura Bliss (City Lab)

One Sunday morning in March, as I was walking through a crosswalk on the way to buy groceries, a car turned left into me. I screamed as it knocked my hip, hard, and thrust me to the pavement. The driver stopped short and leaped out of the vehicle, shouting what seemed like nonsensical apologies as I cried and swore on the ground: I’m so sorry, I just didn’t see you.

Luckily, my injuries weren’t life-threatening: just a nasty bruise that smeared my hip for about a month and some very real PTSD.

The aftermath disturbed me the most. I wasn’t prepared for the game I had to play in order to ensure justice for myself.

Here’s what I mean: In the event of a collision, there are crucial steps pedestrians and cyclists must take to protect themselves, medically, financially, and legally. I took some of these steps, and failed to take others because I didn’t know that I should. There were real consequences to not knowing the right strategy.

So, reader, if you are ever hit by a car as a pedestrian or cyclist—or if you witness an accident of this kind—here’s what you need to do.

Passion, Prem and Burqa Boxers.

Last week, my friends Jonathan and Leilah introduced me to Premlatha (Prem) Durham, who is conducting an ongoing Instagram survey of "passionate" people and their stories, as a prelude to a documentary she is producing called Burqa Boxers.

Burqa Boxers is a documentary about young Muslim women in Kolkata, India, who are "challenging stereotypes" by learning boxing from Razia Shabnam, one of the first Indian female boxing coaches.

My task for Instagram was to briefly explain how my passion for beer now has morphed into a campaign for mayor, and with it a different but fully complementary set of passions. The photo Prem chose dates to April, when Diana and I visited Lexington.

I hugely enjoyed meeting Prem and hearing about her work. When the time comes to view Burqa Boxers, we certainly will.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

ON THE AVENUES REWOUND: “I Just Want to Know, Can I Park Here Somewhere?”

ON THE AVENUES REWOUND: “I Just Want to Know, Can I Park Here Somewhere?”

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

There are at least two dated references in this column, which originally was published as "Can’t stuff ‘em in a burlap sack, either" on March 29, 2012.

In a rare admission of failure as it pertains to inside jokes, I've changed the title, primarily because after three years, I can't recall the nature of the inside joke being referenced at the time.

Specifically: The Riverview housing and parking garage giveaway died deservedly and ingloriously, and gasoline prices have fallen a tad in three years. Now, are we ready for that overdue discussion of parking meters?


My forthcoming documentary is going to be called, “I Just Want to Know, Can I Park Here Somewhere?”

It will be filmed on location in downtown New Albany, with a large cast to include prominent living and deceased examples of: Ducking-and-covering elected officials, their overburdened economic development appointees, shrugging policemen, knowledgeable but bureaucratic planners, thinly stretched street department workers, officious board of works members, eternally fractious business and property owners, neighborhood busybodies and thoroughly confused out-of-town visitors.

At the end of this three-hour movie, there’ll emerge no single instance of agreement among any two of the respective parties mentioned above, and nothing even distantly approximating a quantifiable answer to the question asked in the title, but just to give the ending a nice, down-home New Albanian zeitgeist type of feel, I’ll have Develop New Albany on hand to claim complete credit for an outcome that doesn’t even exist.

In fact, they can call it Drive By City if they like.

For those who are struggling to keep score, please open your “Principles of Banana Republic Management” textbooks to page 105 … or just load the app on your smart phone. It’s called “Is It Even Possible To Do a Worse Job of This?”


Once upon a time, in the golden age lasting approximately 25 minutes following curtain calls at the conclusion of World War II, New Albany made vague gestures at enforcing its own traffic ordinances by using policemen to issue tickets. However, because the cops were needed to control rampant episodes of social disarray stemming from the city’s refusal to enforce its buildings and housing codes (see: The Slumlord Empowerment Act), ticketing went somewhat out of fashion.

At any rate, monies collected mostly reverted to the state of Indiana, where they were used to finance measures aimed at thwarting home rule while allowing the simultaneously disingenuous promulgation of the opposite, and when it came to parking tickets downtown, no one bothered to collect the fines incurred.

When city officials did try, certain prominent local citizens – often those veritable doyens of tottering local political party structures – refused to pay, promptly threatened to sue anyone within pellet scattering range, and as a sign of genuine civic solidarity, doused themselves with lighter fluid with Bics close at hand.

After all, there was hardly any activity downtown, so what did it matter to anyone?


Then, something completely nutzoid occurred. During the Garner Administration, the city council unanimously approved the creation of a riverfront development area. This was the pretext for a delineated zone in which modified three-way alcoholic beverage permits could be issued apart from the state’s self-defeating quota, and this single, elegant and inexpensive act immediately leveraged numerous independent small business investments in food and drink establishments within the historic downtown commercial district. The first stirrings of a revival began, and overnight, utter chaos descended.

As it turns out, there was nothing whatever – statutory, administrative or experiential – that foresaw the possibility of progress, as opposed to regress. All the rules and practices, and most of the people in charge of them, were jigged only to manage decay, and decay alone.

At this critical moment in the city’s history, Develop New Albany’s invisible cadres rushed in to take complete credit for the progress gained by entrepreneurial investments that had little if anything to do with DNA, and to contribute nothing to the resolution of problems stemming from improvements … rather like State Farm, but without the money to pay claims, which is where the Urban Enterprise Association comes in … but I digress.


During the epochal third England Administration, which ingloriously perished when the Democratic executive’s hand-picked Republican successor was crushed prior to his suffering a humiliating council race loss to a comparative non-entity, the mayor took precious time away from his lifelong hobby of dispensing politically-motivated favors with other people’s money to heroically sidestep any involvement with downtown parking issues.

Hizzonner simply decreed that downtown parking rules would not be enforced, so that revenue from fines in that particular locality of the city would be lost, but not in other localities, with there being no clear explanation to this very day of where one might park illegally and expect a ticket, or park illegally and not be ticketed, and if cited, whether there’d be any effort on the city’s part to collect the fine, other than a frayed, adapted Wheel of Fortune board game and a case-by-case heave-ho.

For a number of downtown merchants and their employees, non-enforcement has proven to be the best policy of all, seeing as it is their aim to park their vehicles as closely as possible to their own front doors. Other building owners zealously guard their surface parking lots lest someone dare make an offer to pay or use of the spaces. Still more surface lots are owned by the city, which spins the wheel yet another time so as to determine whether these spaces are to be free of charge or paid, and if paid, to guess aloud if the checks received will ever be endorsed.

And then there’s the proposed Riverview development, and a rare, once-in-a-lifetime chance for the city to pay $15 million for a parking garage and then give it away to private interests which may or may not let anyone else use it.


It doesn’t stop there. As I write my documentary prospectus for publishing over at Kickstarter, the price of gasoline has climbed above $4 per gallon, which means more of the city’s least thoughtful citizens will be riding their bicycles in all directions through streets and on sidewalks, without the slightest effort at internal control, or any degree of external regulation.

Automobile drivers impaired by their cell phones weave in and around these oblivious cyclists, as well as roaming packs of skateboarders, at ridiculous rates of speed, regarding all non-automotive presences as targets (if they ever see them in the first place).

Meanwhile, the sensible, oft-cited benefits of traffic calming, two-way street conversions, enforcement of bicycling rules, opportunities for pedestrians to walk safely and an overall elevation of a human-scaled city to primacy even if it means sacrificing a full two minutes of time traveled by car – well, these are routinely derided by those congenital obstructionists for whom New Albany remains a collection of distracting impediments to speeding through and exiting as quickly as possible out the other side.

And, no matter where one looks, the only clear presence on the local scene when it comes to resolving these many issues is a great big hole – not where the giveaway parking garage might go, but the obscure place where leadership is supposed to be, but never is.

Of course, if there was any such thing as public transportation in the Open Air Museum … no, never mind.

Hey, you – can I borrow your lighter? It’ll only take a minute.


Recent columns:

May 14: ON THE AVENUES: Take this cult of personality and shove it.

May 7: ON THE AVENUES: In Havel I trust.

April 30: ON THE AVENUES: Until philosophers become kings.

April 27: ON THE AVENUES MONDAY SPECIAL: Et tu, Greg Phipps? Or: Anger and the electoral variability of transparency.

April 23: ON THE AVENUES REWOUND: Anachronisms and intellectuals, here and there.

April 16: ON THE AVENUES: Say a prayer for NA Confidentialas it conducts this exclusive interview with Councilman Cappuccino.

"Protected bike lanes are now official federal policy."

Photo credit: People for Bikes

Recognize these "star-spangled" ideas?

They're integral to Jeff Speck's Downtown Street Network Proposal, which currently is consigned to oblivion or 2017, whichever comes (or mayor goes) first.

The feds jump on board: Protected bike lanes are now official federal policy, by Michael Andersen (People for Bikes)

Protected bike lanes are now officially star-spangled.

Eight years after New York City created a Netherlands-inspired bikeway on 9th Avenue by putting it on the curb side of a car parking lane, the physically separated designs once perceived as outlandish haven’t just become increasingly common from coast to coast—they’ve been detailed in a new design guide by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

The FHWA guidance released Tuesday is the result of two years of research into numerous modern protected bike lanes around the country, in consultation with a team of national experts.

“Separated bike lanes have great potential to fill needs in creating low-stress bicycle networks,” the FHWA document says, citing last year’s study by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities. “Many potential cyclists (including children and the elderly) may avoid on-street cycling if no physical separation from vehicular traffic is provided.”

This bicyclist seems mistrustful of the Main Street sharrows.

Walking to the merchant meeting at the Culbertson Mansion on Tuesday morning, I'd just crossed Main Street when I saw a person on a bicycle coming toward me, eastbound.

At first glance, seconds before I took the photo, he was riding in the otherwise empty parking lane with a couple of cars approaching behind him. The bump-out was just ahead of him, and he was going to be compelled to move out into the "sharrows" lane whether he liked it or not. There was some hesitancy, but he did.

The driver of the first car chose the opportunity afforded at the median-free 10th Street intersection to quickly pass the bicycle on the left. Maybe he didn't want to share the road, after all.

I thought to myself: "Just imagine what the Main Street design might have been under capable leadership, and with reality-based design."

Damn, that guy looks familiar.

Nah, couldn't be.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

PourGate 2013: It took two years, but this new law silences Dr. Tom Harris and the Floyd County Health Department.

As it began.

On June 14, 2013, the New Albanian Brewing Company was peaceably vending beer at Bicentennial Park, by means of a supplemental catering permit issued by the company's governing agency, the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission.

The Floyd County Health Department arrived and said that NABC also needed a temporary food serving permit.

I said no, that's incorrect.

They persisted, and a two-year-long struggle commenced.

An Indiana Public Access Request was filed, and the Dr. Tom Harris and the FCHD's attorney laughed it off. NABC filed an appeal, based on a previous Indiana appeals court ruling (Ft. Wayne v Kotsopoulus; thanks, Bob) and the FCHD's board slightly moderated the department's error, but did not correct it.

The FCHD then childishly slandered NABC with a web site photo equating Bank Street Brewhouse with e coli, and NABC filed a tort claim notice. An ultimately fruitless search for adults in county government began.

They blamed it on the webmaster.

By late 2013, the Indiana Attorney General's office had agreed with NABC's reference to the court ruling, and found the FCHD to have absolutely no basis for its claim that a temporary food service permit was needed to pour beer.

The FCHD overtly and publicly stated that it would ignore this directive.

Throughout 2014, NABC and other vendors adhered to the FCHD's improvised 2013 requirement, which although amended, remained utterly baseless and without statutory authority.

Now a new summer vending season is beginning in 2015, and there is a new development.

On July 1, 2015, when a "beer bill" authored by Rep. Ed Clere officially becomes state law, it will be demonstrated for a third (and we trust final) time that the FCHD and its head, Dr. Tom Harris, were mistaken all along.

The new law is clear and explicit, as based on the two preceding legal precedents, both hitherto ignored by the FCHD.

All thanks to Ed Clere.

His hard work in compelling local government functionaries to obey their own laws will not be forgotten, especially by me.

If we lived in a culture of accountability, Dr. Tom Harris would be cashiered on July 1, 2015, when the new law takes effect. For two years, Harris and his department have made a mockery of Indiana state law and the principle of due process.

For what purpose, Mark Seabrook?

Following is the text of the new law. After that, there is a (maybe) complete compendium of NAC links telling the story of PourGate.


“HOUSE ENROLLED ACT No. 1311, AN ACT to amend the Indiana Code concerning alcohol and tobacco.”


Sec. 30.

(a) As used in this section, "permit holder" means the holder of:

(1) a farm winery permit under IC 7.1-3-12-5; or
(2) a brewer's permit under IC 7.1-3-2-7(5).

(b) A permit holder that sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages by the glass at a festival, fair, or other temporary location authorized by the permit holder's permit under IC 7.1, is not considered to be a food establishment and is exempt from the requirements of this title that apply to food establishments, if the following requirements are met:

(1) The holder of a farm winery permit furnishes only the following for consumption on the premises, regardless of whether there is a charge:

(A) Wine samples.
(B) Wine by the glass.

The holder may not serve or furnish any food, including any fruit, condiment, flavoring, or garnish added to the wine after the wine is poured from its original container.

(2) The holder of a brewer's permit furnishes only the following for consumption on the premises, regardless of whether there is a charge:

(A) Beer samples.
(B) Beer by the glass.

The holder may not serve or furnish any food, including any fruit, condiment, flavoring, or garnish added to the beer after the beer is poured from its original container.

(c) A local unit of government (as defined in IC 14-22-31.5-1) may not require any licensure, registration, or certification of a permit holder as a condition of providing alcoholic beverages at a festival, fair, or other temporary location authorized by the permit holder's permit under IC 7.1, if the permit holder meets the requirements of this section.


Following is as complete a compendium of links as could be mustered in an hour and a half without Roger losing his mind. I should be awarded a effing Pulitzer Prize for this. They appear in reverse chronological order.


October 9, 2014: Not only that, but I even washed my hands before pressing "send."

October 6, 2014: A message to Harvest Homecoming food vendors about temporary food (and beer) service fees.

June 2, 2014: Is Hot Water More Effective than Cold for Washing Tom Harris Right Out of My Hair?

May 27, 2014: A fresh round of bald-faced lies from the Floyd County Health Department's resident Red Shirts.

April 9, 2014: Rick Fox speaks the prettiest public access language I've ever heard. Is that Mark Seabrook I hear chortling?

February 28, 2014: The Floyd County Health Department admits to being mistaken ... in only one instance, but hey, it's a start.


December 28, 2013: In which the Floyd County Health Department ignores the Attorney General of the state of Indiana.

December 21, 2013: N and T: "State: Floyd County Health Department shouldn’t require permit."

December 11, 2013: Complete text: “Floyd County/ New Albany ordinance issue in violation of IC 7.1-3-9-2, 7.1-3-9-6″

December 10, 2013: Banner headline Tuesday, Part One: In the matter of PourGate, total and unequivocal defeat for the Floyd County Health Department.

November 16, 2013: Your PourGate update for Saturday, November 16: A waiting game.

September 7, 2013: Yo, Floyd County Health Department, your invoice is ready. Cash only, please. I'm not sure I trust your checks.

September 4, 2013: In which we learn percentages: "That minus is too low to see."

September 3, 2013: Your PourGate update for Tuesday, September 3, and a letter to the editor.


August 27, 2013: Your PourGate update for Tuesday, August 27.

August 24, 2013: My second favorite News and Tribune reader comment yet.

August 21, 2013: Any adults in county government surface yet?

August 20, 2013: Your PourGate update for Tuesday, August 20.

August 19, 2013: My favorite News and Tribune reader comment yet.

August 17, 2013: N and T: "JEERS ... to the Floyd County Health Department ... "

August 17, 2013: These machines kill fascists, pathogens and bureaucrats.

August 16, 2013: When pressed by Eater Louisville and N and T, FCHD unable to get its story straight.

August 15, 2013: ON THE AVENUES: When the whip comes down.

August 15, 2013: Solid News and Tribune story places spotlight on the Health Department's chronic disingenuousness.

August 14, 2013: Citizen to FCHD: "I will not stand for our public officials and public departments to promote ... public bullying.

August 14, 2013: Your Wednesday PourGate Update: Health department spins the web site wheel twice on Tuesday.

August 14, 2013: GAW News: "Pride of the Dipshits (UPDATE) Floyd County Health Department."

August 13, 2013: Now the Floyd County Health Department is working to keep food safe from Roger -- not E coli.

August 13, 2013: Floyd County Health Department adds photo of handsome devil to its web site, but retains actionable photo.

August 13, 2013: A cease and desist, a tort claim notice, and Dr. Tom at large.

August 13, 2013: NABC to Floyd County Commissioners, Health Department: "This malicious activity has caused, and continues to cause, financial harm to the claimants’ businesses and corresponding reputations."

August 13, 2013: NABC to Floyd County Commissioners, Health Department: "Cease and desist."

August 12, 2013: At Eater Louisville: "Floyd County Health Department Uses Bank Street Brewhouse to set 'Foodborne Diseases' Photo Shoot."

August 8, 2013: ON THE AVENUES: The fruitless search for adults in county government.

August 7, 2013: Midweek PourGate update: What's up with the Health Department these days?

August 3, 2013: Hegemony in action.

August 2, 2013: Local citizen journalist views health department's web site retaliation and expresses revulsion.

August 2, 2013: Equal protection from health department bureaucrats? Just give that wheel a heave.

August 1, 2013: ON THE AVENUES: "Kneel and Kiss My Ring, You Degraded Alcoholic."

JULY 2013

July 31, 2013: Got trench warfare if they want it.

July 30, 2013: Clear as mud: Floyd County Health Dept. Hearing Appeals Board has many feelings, but not very much law.

July 30, 2013: Dr. Tom plays his Goebbels card. Can Neidermeyer be far behind?

July 29, 2013: Guest column: "The Health Department's Pussy Riot."

July 28, 2013: In the search for Instigator Zero, expect papers to be shredded.

July 26, 2013: NABC before the FCHD Board 4: Late breaking news.

July 26, 2013: ON THE AVENUES: NABC before the FCHD Board 3.

July 26, 2013: NABC before the FCHD Board 2: NABC's case.

July 26, 2013: NABC before the FCHD Board 1: The health department’s case.

July 25, 2013: These magic moments: Health department board, 5:30 p.m., today.

July 24, 2013: Let's see if a formal complaint will do the trick.

July 24, 2013: The hearing is tomorrow, but the Floyd County Health Department is stonewalling about its public access obligations.

July 23, 2013: Dressing up for a date with the Health Department board.

July 18, 2013: ON THE AVENUES: Sunscreen, lube, and Dr. Tom's cabin.

July 1, 2013: Where bureaucrats are bureaucrats ... and yeast are scared.

July 1, 2013: Tuneless zombie bureaucrats? These and more pesky facts at Louisville Beer Dot Com.

JUNE 2013

June 29, 2013: Democrats address "controversy" over Health Department's actions.

June 29, 2013: BicenPk concert of Jun 28: Let's just Occupy the Health Department.

June 28, 2013: Concert tonight, but the PourGate saga continues as we prepare to vend Progressive Pints under protest.

June 28, 2013: I'm a voyeur. I was there to watch the show, not instigate it.

June 27, 2013: My note to the Indiana Public Access Counselor, informing the office of my request of the Floyd County Health Department.

June 26, 2013: Health Department refers public access request to same attorney who advises commissioners -- making a full circle.

June 26, 2013: "In an effort to facilitate seemingly scant communication," my e-mail to Dr. Harris.

June 25, 2013: Isn't this an indictment of our entire American society?

June 24, 2013: Updating the Floyd County Health Department's "Beer Pour War" of 2013.

June 22, 2013: Roger has issued a Indiana Public Access request to the Floyd County Health Department.

June 22, 2013: Bureaucrats, potato chips and the need for a city health department.

June 21, 2013: Jeeebus, what a week. Here's a review.

June 20, 2013: On the song and dance routine of Dr. Tom Harris.

June 20, 2013: ON THE AVENUES: The long train of usurpations adds a caboose.

June 20, 2013: Health Department's revenue enhancement + Develop New Albany's event calendar = ?

June 19, 2013: No parking lot for bicycles.

June 19, 2013: Preview: NABC's appeal to the Floyd County Health Department.

June 18, 2013: Sentenced to county septic inspections?

June 18, 2013: No Tricentennial for DNA in wartime, unfortunately.

June 17, 2013: Food handling, panhandling and regulatory free-basing.

June 16, 2013: Another day, another Floyd County Health Department power grab.