Thursday, June 30, 2016

ON THE AVENUES: Irv Stumler screams, "We don't deserve two-way streets!"

ON THE AVENUES: Irv Stumler screams, "We don't deserve two-way streets!"

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

I'll apologize in advance, because it's going to take a while to come to the point. This is necessary, because I don't believe New Albany deserves to be hectored, degraded and held hostage by superannuated fools.

Let's jump straight into the deep end.

Irv Stumler exists to quote entities like Thoreau Institute, and the Thoreau Institute exists to provide the likes of Stumler, Bob Caesar and Padgett Inc. with shiny pseudo-scientific nuggets for convenient extraction for deployment in a street fight they’ve already lost.

Just as a personage known as Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkle Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs plays the role of Great and Terrible Oz in Frank L. Baum’s most famous book, Randal O'Toole comprises the entirety of the Thoreau Institute, as well as several other shells of similar ilk.

Sadly, we’ve been down this vapid one-way, open air arterial sewer before, as on February 26, 2015.

ON THE AVENUES: As Admiral Gahan steers his Speck study into the Bermuda Triangle, crewmen Padgett, Stumler and Caesar grimly toss all the rum overboard.

 ... The American Dream Coalition is a predictably vapid yawner from a Potemkin think tank, deploying the same cooked data once solemnly cited by a caterwauling Caesar at a forgettable city council meeting, as lifted at the time from something outlandishly called the Thoreau Institute. The tired screeds are anonymous because there is a common shill to these oligarchy front groups, a fellow named Randal O'Toole.

O’Toole, a libertarian and Cato Institute acolyte, is one of a shrinking handful of professional go-to, camera-ready sprawl advocates, as opposed to the corporate lobbyists who work behind the scenes dispensing largess.

If there were more like O'Toole, they’d also be invited to attend Senate hearings, too.

Two things were clear at this morning's hearing of the Senate Banking Committee concerning green investments in public transportation. First, transportation experts and leading legislators are very much in agreement on how transportation spending should change. And second, Randal O'Toole's days as anything other than an anachronism are numbered …

… O'Toole was without friends in a room of leaders that finally seemed to grasp how planning had gone wrong in the last half century. At this moment -- with vehicle miles traveled falling, with central city population growth rates increasing as suburban growth rates fall, and with central city housing prices showing resilience as exurban neighborhoods continue to experience rapid decline -- Cato's myth of sprawl as the American dream seems more hollow than ever.

Even infrequent readers of NA Confidential know that this blog has been among the foremost advocates of street grid reform in New Albany, by which we mean the reasoned, forward-looking implementation of traffic calming, completed streets and two-way traffic, among other changes by design, so as to facilitate walkability, bicycling, and to a achieve cherished goal for our city:

"New Albany is a place to go to, not a place to drive through."

During this decade-long course of advocacy, we’ve bolstered our viewpoint by means of reference to numerous sources – dozens of activists, engineers, academics, planners, teachers, thinkers, doers and just plain folks.

Some primary sources of information appear here more often than others: Streetsblog, Smart Growth America, City Lab, Strong Towns, National Complete Streets Coalition, and National Main Street, to name just a few.

Accordingly, certain names appear again and again: John Gilderbloom, William Riggs, Charles Marohn, Janette Sadik-Khan and of course, Jeff Speck, who authored the New Albany Downtown Street Network Proposal for our municipal officials.

As will be discussed ahead, two-way traffic is superior to one-way traffic for both safety and city vitality, and a conversion of many streets back to two-way traffic will be recommended.

Of course, opposition to street grid reform certainly exists, and Stumler aside, some of it can be coherent. What might be termed the Argument from Engineering goes something like this:

Joseph Dumas, a professor at the University of Tennessee (said) that "the primary purpose of roads is to move traffic efficiently and safely, not to encourage or discourage business or rebuild parts of town . . . . Streets are tools for traffic engineering."

Interestingly, both Speck and Marohn argue vigorously against the notion of a priestly street engineering caste, but one-way supporters persist in citing sacred transportation rule books seldom rewritten since the Eisenhower era, as wielded by bureaucratic departments of transportation at local, state and federal levels.

They’re occasionally joined by everyday citizens ready to defend the cruel irony of one-way, high-speed interstates running through populated neighborhoods, though not their own suburban cul-de-sacs. Usually the basis for these objections to urban street grid reform is their intensely personalized view of commuting convenience, and little else.

Demand begets supply, hence, the critical need for someone like O’Toole, who functions as the handy academician-on-call, equipped with requisite suburban dog whistle, his pockets stuffed with pay stubs from subsidiaries of the Koch brothers.

As for O’Toole’s overall credibility, Marohn once debated him on the topic of city planning.

 ... When I called O'Toole on it, I saw him show a little bit of panic and then he resorted to his flaming rhetoric. The opportunity passed. That is the moment when I realized that we weren’t going to do anything in this conversation to help the people of Lafayette reach a better understanding of their situation … he essentially advocated for nullification of state and federal law. It was absurd and I felt like we were wasting air at that point.

A more detailed refutation of O’Toole’s propaganda, in this instance pertaining to public transit, can be found here (underlining is mine).

The Small-Minded Anti-Streetcar Conspiracy

By Glen D. Bottoms, Rick Gustafson, Eric Hovee and William S. Lind

The libertarians’ anti-transit study mill continues to grind out new products, which regrettably contain more chaff than grain. We say “new” cum grano salis, because they offer the same arguments over and over. To ideologues, facts don’t count. The first thing written is the conclusion.

A recent example of the genre is The Great Streetcar Conspiracy by Randal O’Toole, published June 14, 2012 by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think-tank. As usual, it is a child’s garden of errors, false “facts,” distortions and unwarranted conclusions. This study may set a record, even for the anti-transit troubadours: in a mere 16 pages it manages to make at least 52 false or misleading statements.

We don’t know how they will top that, perhaps by claiming in their next study that streetcars are bad because of all those moving cables that run beneath the streets. Fifty-two is a lot of errors to correct; let’s get started.

It requires 29 factual pages, and yes, all 52 errors are addressed. Then there’s a similar rejoinder, this one from Canada.

Evaluating Criticism of Smart Growth
Victoria Transport Policy Institute

(Page 79) Randal O’Toole has written various reports which claim that Smart Growth is wasteful and harmful. His criticism is based on the assumption that nearly everybody wants to live in automobile-dependent suburbs, so Smart Growth strategies fail, and if successful they harm residents. He extrapolates past trends that increased per capita vehicle use, and ignores changing demographic, economic and market factors that are likely to increase demand for Smart Growth communities (Litman, 2005b). He highlights any negative trends in Smart Growth communities while ignoring all positive effects.

This brings me to the point of today’s ON THE AVENUES.

Yesterday the Green Mouse forwarded to me an informant’s e-mail, in which we learn that Irv Stumler has lapsed into another fit of choleric dyspepsia (in other words, he’s as hot as one of those July 4 firecrackers), this time about about Hannegan Roseberry’s recent guest column in the paper.

An example of her eloquence:

 ... Since no one asked, I would like to now take a moment and speak for the residents who live on these main thoroughfares through our city. It is with zero hesitation that I ask that two-way streets be implemented downtown. These streets are neighborhoods filled with families and pedestrians of all sorts who deserve safe, walkable streets to live on. We would like to have our voices heard and I am disappointed that the opinions of the citizens who live on these streets weren’t considered for this article.

Not only that, but Irv -- like Caesar, a resident of two-way Silver Hills -- is reaching yet again for his O'pen Carry O’Toole. Hence, today's lengthy rebuttal.

Stumler's leaked e-mail was addressed to the mayor, city council members, the board of public works, Padgett Inc., Padgett’s attorney, and Chris "News and Tribune" Morris, the latter an unapologetic two-way street opponent. My guess is the letter will appear in the paper.

I’ll beat them to it, because Stumler’s complete, untouched text concludes this column. Therein, he bizarrely references Speck, O’Toole and a 1958 (!) traffic engineering study. Truly, it speaks for itself.

Also attached was a .pdf of The New York City Pedestrian Safety Study & Action Plan, New York City Department of Transportation (August 2010), which apparently had been quoted by Jimmy Padgett in a previous e-mail to the effect that one tiny sentence in a vast technical document indicates the inherent safety to pedestrians of one-way streets.

At times I wonder why I bother. These past four hours might have been spent ... nah, never mind.

Take it away, Irv.


Subject: We don't deserve two-way streets!


The article published in the News and Tribune dated 6/21/16 reminded me of information I had previously read about the subject of safety as it relates to two-way streets.

Miss Hannegan Beardsley Roseberry, guest columnist, stressed the idea that one-way streets are less safe than two-way. I think this whole idea should hinge on safety.

So, let's take a look at the safety factor in what Mr. Jeff Speck has proposed.

Mr. Speck, in his report dated 12/15/14 made the following statement on page five, "This Proposal is a planning document and not an engineering document". He then says, "Finally, this report does not try to address traffic safety comprehensively". Page two of the document contains his disclaimer: "The report that follows is a planning document, not an engineering document. While many street layouts are suggested herein, all are schematic, and none are adequate for design or construction. Before being implemented, any design must be considered and redrawn by a licensed engineer who will bear all responsibility for its efficacy and safety". Mr. Speck is very clear that he is not an engineer.

The Independence Institute published an article by Michlel Cunneen and Randal O'Toole entitled "No Two Ways About It: One-Way Streets Are Better Than Two-Way". On page 6 of this report the subject of Engineering vs. Planning is discussed.

"Converting one-way streets to two-way is one of the latest fads of urban panning. Such conversions will increase congestion, pollution, and traffic accidents, but planners ignore these problems and talk about how they will lead to more "vibrant" streets, whatever that means. The debate over on-way streets in Austin, Columbus, Denver and many other cities calls attention to recent urban transportation trends as planners have gained power at the expense of traffic engineers".

"A few decades ago, engineers made most urban transportation plans and decisions, Their first priority was safety and their second priority was efficient movement of traffic. The engineers carefully studied the effects of any changes or improvements they made to see if they were good or bad, and they published their results for other engineers to see".

"Practical Traffic Engineering for Small Communities, published in 1958 by Pennsylvania State University, offers numerous examples of the engineers' method. The guide presents hundreds of case studies asking such questions as:

a. Will traffic signals reduce pedestrian accidents?
b. Is parallel parking less prone to accident than angle parking?
c. Will putting grooves in pavement reduce accidents?

"Notice the heavy emphasis on reducing accidents, in keeping with engineers' first priority of safety. Improving traffic flows and reducing congestion are important, of course, but only if they can be done without reducing(and preferably by increasing) safety".

" Pedestrians particularly benefit from one-way streets. Two-way streets produced 163 percent more pedestrian accidents in Sacramento, and 100 percent more pedestrian accidents in Portland, Hollywood FL and Raleigh NC. One study called one-way streets "the most effective urban counter-measure" to pedestrian accidents".

I urge each of you to resist the false hope that two-way streets could make New Albany a more "livable" city. We may not all "live" through it.

Irv Stumler


June 23: ON THE AVENUES: There's no business like no business -- and it's none of your business.

June 16: ON THE AVENUES: When the engineer uttered that scandalous word aloud, it was like Christmas in June.

June 9: ON THE AVENUES: High atop Summit Springs with friends (and relatives) in low places.

June 2: ON THE AVENUES: A few beers at Vladimir’s local in Ostrava in June, 1989.

May 26: ON THE AVENUES: On the crass exploitation and politicization of tragedy.

CounterPunch: "The Neoliberal Prison: Brexit Hysteria and the Liberal Mind."

Thanks to Bluegill for the prompt.

CounterPunch is a monthly magazine published in the United States that covers politics in a manner its editors describe as "muckraking with a radical attitude". It has been described as left-wing by both supporters and detractors.

This alone: "The Brexit vote is a huge challenge to the left to face facts."

The Neoliberal Prison: Brexit Hysteria and the Liberal Mind, by Jonathan Cook (CounterPunch)

The enraged liberal reaction to the Brexit vote is in full flood. The anger is pathological – and helps to shed light on why a majority of Britons voted for leaving the European Union, just as earlier a majority of Labour party members voted for Jeremy Corbyn as leader.

A few years ago the American writer Chris Hedges wrote a book he titled the Death of the Liberal Class. His argument was not so much that liberals had disappeared, but that they had become so coopted by the right wing and its goals – from the subversion of progressive economic and social ideals by neoliberalism, to the enthusiastic embrace of neoconservative doctrine in prosecuting aggressive and expansionist wars overseas in the guise of “humanitarian intervention” – that liberalism had been hollowed out of all substance.

Liberal pundits sensitively agonise over, but invariably end up backing, policies designed to benefit the bankers and arms manufacturers, and ones that wreak havoc domestically and abroad. They are the “useful idiots” of modern western societies ...

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is

RECAP: Jeffersonville Pride Festival and Parade, 2016.

From Hannegan Roseberry, Vice-President of Southern Indiana Equality


Thanks to all of you who were able to attend last weekend's inaugural Jeffersonville Pride Festival and Parade! It was a pleasure to see many familiar faces and to meet so many new folks! We want your involvement and support as we move forward with the goal of making love louder than hate. Stay tuned as we finalize details for our upcoming quarterly meeting - I'll send info soon!

In the meantime, here are some ways to be involved:

Check out some of the coverage on the festival:

Courier Journal

​News and Tribune

Visit us on Facebook and like our page, and while you're at it, invite others to like the page! You can also visit our website for more information and to make a donation.

One last thank you to all who volunteered to help run the booths and/or walk in the parade with SIE last weekend. Your involvement helps us to grow stronger!

Thanks again,

Hannegan Roseberry

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

SHANE'S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS: Detritus, with a nod toward the charnel house.

Welcome to another installment of SHANE'S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS, a regular Wednesday feature at NA Confidential.

But why all these new words?

Why not the old, familiar, comforting words, like the ones you're sure to hear being murmured inside the Bunker of Down-Low Governance just before its salaried inhabitants are beamed up to the Amphitheater for the annual July 3 fireworks and $10,000 Crashers show?

In case you were wondering how much it costs for the city to hire quality bands ...

It's because a healthy vocabulary isn't about intimidation through erudition. Rather, it's about selecting the right word and using it correctly, whatever one's pay grade or station in life.

Even beak-wetting, bond-engorged municipal corporate attorneys can benefit from this enlightening expansion of personal horizons, and really, as we contemplate what they knew and when they knew it, all we have left is plenty of time -- and the opportunity to learn something, if we're so inclined.

Today's word is detritus. Pay close attention to the pronunciation, which in the first instance I've adjusted from's rendering.


[dih-try-tuh s]
[dih-trahy-tuh s]


1. rock in small particles or other material worn or broken away from a mass, as by the action of water or glacial ice.

2. any disintegrated material; debris.

Derived forms: detrital (adjective)

Origin of detritus: 1785-1795; < French détritus < Latin: a rubbing away, equivalent to dētrī-, variant stem of dēterere to wear down, rub off ( de- de- + terere to rub) + -tus suffix of v. action

The sample sentence was overheard while scanning YouTube for documentaries about architecture.

“Our world, like a charnel-house, is strewn with the detritus of dead epochs.”
― Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture

This begs a question, so let's answer it:

A charnel house is a vault or building where human skeletal remains are stored. They are often built near churches for depositing bones that are unearthed while digging graves. The term can also be used more generally as a description of a place filled with death and destruction.

Irv wows at BOW with a dose of their own medicine.

Over at the Hanson Ad Aggregator, a stiff upper lip is maintained as Papa drily reports the provocative conclusion of College Girls Gone Wild: Lynn Road Remix.

The parking issue was brought to the city's attention last fall after two homeowners said the house at 609 Lynn Road was full of college-aged girls who were holding parties and that cars were parking along the road blocking access to their properties.

Who says the paper can't muster occasional humor? After all, "action" is to be taken with a grain of salt the size of the Breakwind Lofts at Duggins Flats.

In other action Tuesday:

Irv Stumler, president of Keep New Albany Clean & Green Inc., handed the board a Notice of Violation concerning weeds and grass in the Main Street median, between E. 5th and Vincennes streets. He said the weeds "obstruct a driver's view" and need to be cut.

A citation? To the overlords?

The Green Mouse has learned that Stumler actually handed the bored one of its own ordinance violation citations, with liquid paper judiciously applied and text rewritten. That's funny, even if Stumler's perennially ill-informed two-way streets allergy isn't.

In truth, sight lines have become very unsafe in the area of the Main Street Beautification and Property Value Enhancement Project.

The problem is that while east-west speeds have remained high (the median creates two unimpeded chutes, unnecessarily buffering the slowing effect of two-way, head-on traffic), users approaching from side streets -- including drivers, walkers and bicyclists -- can't see to cross Main or turn onto it.

More than a few city employees and sycophants live on Main Street, among them Scott Wood and John Rosenbarger. Surely they noticed -- or are blinders standard issue when it comes to junta maintenance?

Freiberger waxes defiant, Seabrook wheezes offended and Gahan daintily skips critical hospital sale meeting to raise funds for State Senate quest.

Going, going ... gone.

Between Floyd Memorial's board, the county council and county commissioners -- nineteen public stewards in all -- only Chuck Freiberger's "no" vote broke the placid spell of our collective payday.

Jerod Clapp provides solid coverage, and the C-J's Lexy Gross excels with this glimpse of the hilarity.

"We should've been told about the sale and the process before any of this took place," said commissioner Chuck Freiberger, who had the lone "no" vote. "... Are we really getting a good deal for the hospital?"

Later, commissioner Mark Seabrook addressed Freiberger's concern in a heated argument about the transparency of the deal. "It offends me that someone would question my integrity," Seabrook said.

New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan had similar concerns days ago, when he released a statement online explaining his disapproval of the deal and asked residents to email public officials with concerns before Tuesday's crucial vote.

Gahan was not at Tuesday's meeting.

Let the harvest of county government "must have" post-it notes begin.

"How a failed attempt to get porn off the internet protects Airbnb from the law."

The crux of the Airbnb matter?

It's Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, "a much-maligned law that was decried by free speech advocates, dismissed as a 'departing Senator’s half-baked notions' by the New York Times editorial board, and swiftly struck down by the Supreme Court."

How a failed attempt to get porn off the internet protects Airbnb from the law, by Julia Carrie Wong (The Guardian)

Airbnb, like pornography, is a business based on selling a fantasy. Porn offers the simulacrum of a sexual encounter; Airbnb, that of being “a local” in a city not one’s own. There’s less fuss, less muss, and a much reduced chance of STDs and irritated neighbors.

At least, there’s less fuss for the visitors. Cities around the world, however, are waking up to the headache of hosting transient populations in previously residential neighborhoods, and attempting to crack down.

But while local politicians in Reykjavík, Berlin, and Barcelona are taking a stand against Airbnb, their counterparts in the United States have struggled to come up with regulations that have teeth.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Make that 102 years.


It just refuses to end.

"Sophie, Sophie, don't die! Stay alive for the children."

Hospital sale: Gahanic hypocrisy aside, that's some nice party unity ya got there, boy wonder.

Surrealism simply doesn't play as entertainingly in the complete absence of ironic sensibility.

Nonetheless, in the service of stubborn persistence, I've underlined passages of interest to anyone who has ever tried to pry information from Jeff Gahan's City Hall.

More details emerge on proposed sale of Floyd Memorial Hospital; Answers on Little League donation, other questions given, by Jerod Clapp (Hanson Bible Tracts)

... Gahan said he's not aware of any invitations to him or other city officials to be involved in the process of the sale, but he's concerned about the county denying access to information.

"I don’t know what (Matt Oakley's) referring to," Gahan said. "Maybe he can elaborate and explain to the public exactly what the offers are, where the appraisals are and other information he can fully disclose. Tomorrow’s the vote," he said Monday, "and all I’m asking of him is to make those details public."

Gahan said the city needs that information to make sure its citizens are informed and he doesn't agree that the hospital sale has been a transparent process.

"I think we’re doing our job in encouraging the county council and the commissioners in making these documents public," he said. "I’ve been told I don’t have a say in it, it’s not a city issue, but when people call the office and they’re asking questions, it’s our responsibility to make sure we’re doing what we can to respond to that."

As the county council's scant two Democrats prepare to back Commissioner Chuck Freiberger's "no" campaign to the hilt ... they ... um, wait.

That's right. They aren't.

Gahan is disgruntled that his monopoly on secrecy is being challenged by county-borne upstarts -- including those in his own party.

  • “Because of the nature of this business, it doesn't fall under the traditional model of appraising a piece of property,” (Brad) Striegel, who is in favor of the deal, said.
  • I am very excited about it,” said Councilman Tom Pickett. “For me it’s good to go.”

We might spend the next hundred years analyzing this, but the gist is easy to grasp.

County government, including both Republicans and Heavrin Democrats, long ago removed any consideration of revenue enhancement (including taxation rates) from the table. It's okay to discuss the potential intervention of space aliens, just not taxes. Now, the parties as ever combined in purpose, they're selling an asset to provide funding they couldn't/wouldn't acquire by other means.

Noting that the nominally democratic Gahan didn't actually oppose the sale, only parse the issue of transparency -- for which in his own fiefdom, there's no score lower than F -- it leaves the imperfect Democrat Freiberger as virtually the only one making a coherent opposition case.

Is this the best you can do, Adam?

Truth is stranger than fact: A whole day before the vote, Jeff Gahan publicly urges greater transparency in the hospital sale.

"The Reaction to Brexit Is the Reason Brexit Happened."

A writer for the New York Times visits Sunderland.

 ... when the decision to pull out of the European Union sent markets into a tailspin, Ken Walker, a retired construction worker, was unfazed.

“I don’t have any money in the stock market,” Mr. Walker, 59, said as he drank a pint of beer in a pub. “So what’s it to me?”

The pub, called the Speculation, still had “Vote Leave” posters on its walls, and a fellow drinker exclaimed “Aye!” and banged the counter in agreement.

There's a novel idea. Leave be the social wedge issues, and concentrate on chipping away at the stock portfolios of your "betters." Hit 'em in their wallets. Make 'em squeal. Are you hurting yourself by doing so? Maybe, but you were hurting already.

The Reaction to Brexit Is the Reason Brexit Happened, by Matt Taibbi (Rolling Stone)

If you believe there's such a thing as "too much democracy," you probably don't believe in democracy at all

... Because the vote was viewed as having been driven by the same racist passions that are fueling the campaign of Donald Trump, a wide swath of commentators suggested that democracy erred, and the vote should perhaps be canceled, for the Britons' own good.

Social media was filled with such calls ...

... You have to be a snob of the first order, completely high on your own gas, to try to apply these arguments to present-day politics, imagining yourself as an analog to Plato's philosopher-kings.

And you have to have a cast-iron head to not grasp that saying stuff like this out loud is part of what inspires populations to movements like Brexit or the Trump campaign in the first place.

ASK THE BORED: It'll have to wait another week, sorry.

Once again, I have another engagement booked for Tuesday morning. Until next week, let's unite in hoping that the delayed repair work at 5th and Elm results in a newly invigorated street, ripe for calming into much needed two-way traffic.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Uh oh. Looks like Phipps's balsa renaissance housing perimeter is about to advance.

On Oak, I believe. Somewhere CCE is greasing its wrecking balls.

Truth is stranger than fact: A whole day before the vote, Jeff Gahan publicly urges greater transparency in the hospital sale.

"Remember when the City of New Albany withheld financial documents from the County for the Animal Shelter? Talk about hypocrisy."

Well, symbolic gestures are nice, too. Not that the same precepts of openness and transparency would apply to Gahan's own regime in our lifetime, but yes, definitely; whomever wrote the mayor's words for him is quite correct that full disclosure is needed before we hand over assets to the Baptists.

It's also good advance planning for Gahan's 2018 State Senate race. He'll be able to say he told us so, albeit it fewer than 24 hours before the fait accompli, and of course by 2018, his tardiness will be forgotten.

Mayor Gahan Encourages Full Disclosure of Public Documents Before Final Vote of Hospital Sale (City Hall)

... It is essential for the people of New Albany and Floyd County to understand the true value of Floyd Memorial Hospital before its sale on Tuesday, June 28, 2016. Rough estimates for the value of the hospital range from $150M to $450M.

This is only possible if hospital and county officials supply the public with any and all appraisals as required by state statute and any other business valuations. The City has requested that Floyd County officials reveal the other options and bids that they received and considered in private. In addition, any potential conflicts involving voting officials or others should be immediately disclosed to the public. These actions will ease fears and unrest regarding this unprecedented sale of a public asset in Floyd County.

County officials need to be open about the process that has led to their decision to choose Baptist Health over other proposals. Clarification after the vote is too late and it will not give us the confidence of due process we deserve. This citizen friendly action will help us to move forward without suspicion and worry. Further, full disclosure could reduce the probability of any future litigation or concerns regarding the sale of the hospital.

David Graeber, Two: "Despair Fatigue: How hopelessness grew boring."

From The Baffler.

Looking for American parallels in Brexit?

Dig a bit deeper, and keep Bernie Sanders in mind as you read this long but rewarding essay.

Thanks again to Bluegill for this and the previous post.

Despair Fatigue: How hopelessness grew boring, by David Graeber (The Baffler)

Is it possible to become bored with hopelessness?

There is reason to believe something like that is beginning to happen in Great Britain. Call it despair fatigue.

For nearly half a century, British culture, particularly on the left, has made an art out of despair. This is the land where “No Future for You” became the motto of a generation, and then another generation, and then another. From the crumbling of its empire, to the crumbling of its industrial cities, to the current crumbling of its welfare state, the country seemed to be exploring every possible permutation of despair: despair as rage, despair as resignation, despair as humor, despair as pride or secret pleasure. It’s almost as if it’s finally run out.

On the surface, and from a distance, Britain looks like it’s experiencing one of the stranger paroxysms of masochistic self-destruction in world history. Since the Conservative victory of 2010, first in coalition with the Liberal Democrats and now on its own, the British government has set out to systematically unravel much of what makes life good and decent in the country. Conservative leaders started by trashing the United Kingdom’s once proud university system, while eyeing the greatest source of national pride and dignity, the universal health guarantees of the National Health Service. All of this is being done in the name of an economic doctrine—austerity, the imperative need for fiscal discipline—that no one genuinely believes in and whose results pretty much everyone deplores (including prime minister David Cameron, who in private has denounced the decline of his local public services), in response to an existential crisis that does not exist.

How did this happen? It appears that the entire political class has become trapped in the bizarrely successful narrative that swept the Tories into power after the crash of 2008 and still sustains them long after its consequences have run beyond any sort of humanity or common sense.

David Graeber, One: "On the phenomenon of bullshit jobs."

Brexit is a tough act to follow, so let's begin the working week (that's an inside joke in my household) by asking a question:

Why are we spending our working lives performing tasks we secretly believe do not really need to be performed?

As always, thanks to Bluegill for this and the second Graeber article to follow.

On the phenomenon of bullshit jobs, by David Graeber (Strike!)

 ... It’s as if someone were out there making up pointless jobs just for the sake of keeping us all working. And here, precisely, lies the mystery. In capitalism, this is exactly what is not supposed to happen. Sure, in the old inefficient socialist states like the Soviet Union, where employment was considered both a right and a sacred duty, the system made up as many jobs as they had to (this is why in Soviet department stores it took three clerks to sell a piece of meat). But, of course, this is the very sort of problem market competition is supposed to fix. According to economic theory, at least, the last thing a profit-seeking firm is going to do is shell out money to workers they don’t really need to employ. Still, somehow, it happens.

While corporations may engage in ruthless downsizing, the layoffs and speed-ups invariably fall on that class of people who are actually making, moving, fixing and maintaining things; through some strange alchemy no one can quite explain, the number of salaried paper-pushers ultimately seems to expand, and more and more employees find themselves, not unlike Soviet workers actually, working 40 or even 50 hour weeks on paper, but effectively working 15 hours just as Keynes predicted, since the rest of their time is spent organising or attending motivational seminars, updating their facebook profiles or downloading TV box-sets.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Brexit, final -- for now: "We will leave the EU but remain within the neoliberal system."

A brief breakdown of the referendum, from City Lab.

The divide is more than geographical, however. As this exit poll makes clear, younger people voted Remain while older people voted Leave, thus swinging the vote away from the people who will experience Brexit most keenly and for the longest. This statistic itself is fueling anger among the young, but there’s no denying a basic truth: this was a referendum with a high turnout, in which the Leave camp won.

Two days later, the question has become this: Who will dare to pull the trigger on article 50?

The EU seems united at this early juncture:

They spoke with one voice, in essence: "There’s the door. Please don’t let it slam on your way out."

Gary Younge captured the Friday morning mood.

After this vote the UK is diminished, our politics poisoned, by Gary Younge (The Guardian)

... Britain is no more sovereign today than it was yesterday. We will leave the EU but remain within the neoliberal system. Left to the mercy of the markets we are arguably now less capable of directing our affairs than we were. We are not independent. We are simply isolated.

We are also diminished. Our politics are poisoned, our discourse is fragile, our leaders are discredited. Facts ceased to matter, knowledge ceased to be valued, compassion appeared to evaporate. As large majorities for one side or the other racked up in various parts of the country it became clear that for many of us, beyond our families, we didn’t just disagree with the other side. We literally didn’t know them. Britain is not greater for this decision and this campaign but smaller, weaker and more vulnerable.

Coming full circle, from the Berlin Wall to Brexit.

Al Jourgensen was there at the very inception of the New World Order. It goes to show that we all should listen to more Ministry.

Above all else, Brexit to me is a symbol of my life of the mind, coming full circle. It has been an exhausting few days, and I'm not even British.

Since the early 1980s, I've rightly or wrongly accused the drunken stork of depositing me on the wrong continent. Even when stretched thin and utterly distracted by life, I've tried to stay abreast all all things European.

On Friday, after the referendum vote was announced, it dawned on me that I was feeling extremes of depression and exhilaration, and the last time these conflicting emotions were so strong was 1989, when the Berlin Wall came down.

Back then, I was not unlike many others. We thought that with the Cold War ending, there'd be the opportunity for progressive solutions to world problems. I struggled with the notion of pulling stakes and trying to be a part of this, on the ground, somewhere on the continent, but after much thought, my choice was to go into business, be an American Europhile in exile, and take a stab at indie capitalism.

Now, 25 years later, I'm finished with that chapter -- and Britain says it's done with Europe. I've learned quite a lot, and am no longer interested in binaries, whether Leave or Remain, or Democrat or Republican. During my quarter century of NABC, I was too busy pouring myself into grassroots this-or-that, right here at the local level, to fully grasp the implications of neoliberalism.

It's all gone sour, folks. The facts changed, and I changed my mind. I regret that it took so long. Incrementalism probably isn't going to cut it.

Brexit has been immensely emotional for me, but the one sure thing is that cramming these events through the familiar American-centric shape shifter isn't tremendously useful. There's more to it than Yanks bitching about their 401Ks, or trying to create memes with strained Trump/Clinton analogies.

In many respects, Timothy Garton Ash guided me through the fall of Communism in Europe and its aftermath. I own several of his books, and I feel his pain. His final sentence in the passage quoted below is especially relevant.

As a lifelong English European, this is the biggest defeat of my political life (The Guardian)

Yet the origins of this debacle are as much European as British. As so often, the seeds of disaster were sown in the moment of triumph; of nemesis in prior hubris. It would be an exaggeration to say that a wall will be going up at Dover because a wall came down in Berlin, but there is a connection nonetheless. In fact, there are three connections. As their price for supporting German unification, France and Italy pinned Germany down to a timetable for an overhasty, ill-designed and overextended European monetary union. As a result of their liberation from Soviet communist control, many poorer countries in eastern Europe were set on a path to EU membership, including its core freedom of movement. And 1989 opened the door to globalisation, with spectacular winners and numerous losers."

Brexit and neoliberalism.

The Brexit talk will continue, but there are a few personal points I'd like to make.

First and foremost, while the referendum may represent a push-back against neoliberalism, it's going to take more than just this.

You say you want a revolution?

It's the wrong classic rock song. Try this one instead: Meet the new boss; same as the old boss.

That's because whether Leave or Remain, Trump or Clinton -- and any or even all of these "choices" -- outside, it's still neoliberal globalism, and still predictable alliances of purported political opposites combining to defend the monopolistic interests of a tiny minority of economic elites.

It's deceptively simple to blame Brexit on racism. Surely racism is involved, but it's an opportunistic infection, one clearly diagnosed by the largely ignored progressive argument for the UK leaving the EU.

There is, however, an obvious reason why immigration has proved an effective weapon for the leave side. Life is tougher for millions of Britons on modest incomes than it was a decade ago.

Further corroboration can be found here: Political Elites’ Program of Austerity Set the Stage for Brexit (Foster; The Nation).

... Outside of London, jobs have been lost, wages depressed and public services cut massively. Since 2010, the Conservatives’ austerity measures have slashed funding for the NHS, welfare spending and budgets for social and public services: the keener the deprivation in an area, the higher the cuts, proportionally. So the poorest have borne the brunt of austerity, and had little left to lose.

At a forum in May, the philosopher Slavoj Žižek described the unfortunate binary "choice" for Europeans (underlining is mine).

 ... But Europe’s current predicament, Žižek argued, is that its most potent political forces – the technocratic power base in Brussels on one hand and rightwing nationalist parties such as Pegida and Front National on the other – represent the greatest danger to the universalist values on which the European Union, or any form of transnational government, ought to be predicated.

In this formulation, the European central government is reduced, perhaps not unfairly, to little more than an instrument of global capital; in touch only with the managerial class and unable to provide a unified response to any of the manifold problems assailing Europe in 2016. The deadening effect on public and political life of a Brussels beholden to its banks thus finds its perverse echo in the considerable number of voters now throwing their weight behind Europe’s new far-right. The task of the left, according to Žižek, is nothing less than to save Europe from itself.

In America, we have Clinton versus Trump. Encouraging, eh? I posted the following a few months ago, and am repeating it by virtue of relevance.


Must read: "Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems."

Think of it as a concise explanation of how both "major" American political parties are playing the very same hand, operating from the very same fundamental economic assumptions.

Yes, in a few quantifiable ways, Democrats and Republicans differ on social issues, which have been elevated into culture wars, which in turn keep the 99% at each other's throats while the fundamental assumptions remain unchanged.

Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems, by George Monbiot (The Guardian)

Financial meltdown, environmental disaster and even the rise of Donald Trump – neoliberalism has played its part in them all. Why has the left failed to come up with an alternative?

Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that “the market” delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning.

Attempts to limit competition are treated as inimical to liberty. Tax and regulation should be minimised, public services should be privatised. The organisation of labour and collective bargaining by trade unions are portrayed as market distortions that impede the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Inequality is recast as virtuous: a reward for utility and a generator of wealth, which trickles down to enrich everyone. Efforts to create a more equal society are both counterproductive and morally corrosive. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve.

We internalise and reproduce its creeds. The rich persuade themselves that they acquired their wealth through merit, ignoring the advantages – such as education, inheritance and class – that may have helped to secure it. The poor begin to blame themselves for their failures, even when they can do little to change their circumstances.

Never mind structural unemployment: if you don’t have a job it’s because you are unenterprising. Never mind the impossible costs of housing: if your credit card is maxed out, you’re feckless and improvident. Never mind that your children no longer have a school playing field: if they get fat, it’s your fault. In a world governed by competition, those who fall behind become defined and self-defined as losers.

Why hasn't Gary Humphrey thought of this for the River City Winery?

Good News of the Day: Army of 1,000 Ducks Used as Brilliant Pesticide Alternative (booooooom)

We're headed to the pawn shop with the hospital stuffed in a gym bag, but why this sale, and why now?

Three days later ...

And with a donation and naming rights to the little league park's ball fields, finally the Floyd hospital deal makes sense.

 ... the "local" paper catches up with the C-J's story. However, items of interest are revealed therein, so let's take a look.

Floyd Memorial sale vote coming Tuesday; Some questions still in the air, by Jerod Clapp (Claysburg Chronicle)

The last vote is just three days away, but some the details regarding Floyd Memorial Hospital's sale to Baptist Health have raised concerns among local officials.

We see the city of New Albany's corporate legal puppeteer Shane Gibson searching for loopholes.

Shane Gibson, city attorney, said in an email that the city continually examines things like TIF districts since they have an effect. But he also said the city requested the three appraisals he said are required by state law. Greg Fifer with Fifer Applegate and Pullium was hired to file the request. In a statement, Fifer said that information was denied.

Gibson's a Democrat. So is Brad Striegel, but he's down with the sale, and has been from the start.

(Striegel) said he's satisfied with the final agreement and is confident it'll go through.

“I am pleased with the process and have no concerns with the final draft,” Striegel said. “I believe it is the best thing for Floyd County, the community and the hospital that they will see for decades to come. History will judge us by this decision. I think it will have a positive impact for the community. It will set the county up financially for decades if the money is used properly.”

It's not a Brexit-scale split, although all Democrats aren't on the same page with the sale. Has there been any Republican dissent with the decision to sell the hospital? If so, I'm unaware of it.

Meanwhile, the most totemic of county Democrats, Chuck Freiberger, has continued to be the primary public voice of dissent with the deal -- in large measure, he's been the only such voice.

Has New Albany's mayor gone on record with an opinion?

Chuck Freiberger, county commissioner, said he's still unsure of the deal and doesn't know that he can vote in favor of it.

“We have a big decision coming up,” Freiberger said. “I am still a little hesitant. I still have questions and doubts whether we should sell the hospital, and if we are getting a good deal. At this time I don't see me voting yes.”

Granted, public reaction to the hospital sale has been tepid. Few seem to care, and there seems to be an accepted premise: Well, better to dispose of an asset than risk higher taxes.

And yet, there is a recurring question, down at the foundation: Should we sell the hospital?

The common answer to date has been this: Yes, because we'll never get a better deal than right now.

This is an answer, but not to the original question. It presupposes the answer to the original question: Should we sell the hospital?

Who answered the original question? Who made this decision? Was it the two Republican commissioners? The Republican county council majority? Dr. Eichenberger alone? With or without the Democrats?

There are two major queries here, and they're separate. Should the hospital be sold? If "yes," then is the deal we're getting a good one?

Can someone -- anyone -- show us the chronology of the decision to sell the hospital?

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The story of Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here.

I make a conscious effort to ration my intake of "classic" rock, which is just another marketing term signifying music that was being created in the days of my youth.

Of course, youth is a relative term, and time passages are of great interest to me.

In my interior world, any new music makes an indelible impression the first time you really hear it. The Who's Quadrophenia was released in 1974, and although I listened to it then, I was too young. It wasn't really heard until 1979, at which point it became a soundtrack for a certain period in my life. Once done, so it remains. If I wish to relive that period, I listen to the album.

That's why it's important for me to continue listening to new music, new musical generations, and new musical ideas. Soundtracks must change, though I still have my preferences.

A new guitar-driven "heavy" band like Yak is reminiscent of earlier periods, but it's also the here and now. The band's Alas Salvation always will remind me of late spring, 2016, just the same as Nirvana's Nevermind takes me back to 1991.

As a non-musician in love with music, the creative process in music is eternally fascinating. It can be explained, and it cannot. I never tire of attempted explanations.

Last week for the first time in ages I listened to Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here, from 1975. While not a rabid Pink Floyd fan, I've always respected the musicality and intelligence of the band's work, and I've tended to prefer this album over its more famous predecessor, Dark Side of the Moon.

Accidentally, just after listening to the album, this documentary popped up during a YouTube search.

A review of the documentary is here.

... (The album) was also about the group’s fallen former leader and creative well, Syd Barrett, the man that the other Floyds had grown fond of until, by the end of the ‘60s, he’d become an acid casualty and unable––or unwilling––to deliver the kind of material that had brought the band much of its early acclaim ...

... It’s a strange record, short on actual songs and filled with tales of absence and longing for a return to something, anything that feels like home. Even David Gilmour’s guitar lines are more about what one doesn’t hear than what one does, and the echo-driven sound is filled with a longing and melancholy that haunts the listener.

That's it, I think. An elegiac consideration of absence. I'm a sucker for it.

5th Street's 2015 paving, 2016 unpaving, and future repaving.

It's holding up fairly well south of I-Spring Street. Northbound is a different matter entirely.

That's right. We paved this stretch in August, 2015.

5th & Elm paving: Who knew the ADA mandates warning ramps for bocce ball crossings?

The same 5th and Elm intersection in June, 2016:

The question remains: Why pave 5th Street in 2015, only to unpave 5th Street less than a year later owing to a known construction project?

The only conceivable answer is that especially in an election year, only Potemkin facades really matter.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Business publications, and why I should know better than to tangle with an Over 50 Marketing Thought Leader.

Yesterday my weekly column included a consideration of business-oriented publications.

Business porn is where good writing goes to die, condemned to sadistic asphyxiation in the service of coded buzz-speak and greasy greenback envy of the sort that only a One Southern Indiana oligarchy fetishist truly can appreciate when curled up in pajamas by the stock market ticker, with an ice-cold Bud Light Lime and a box of handy tissues – doused in aloe, of course.

I made reference to an Insider Louisville piece by Terry Brock, hastily assuming he was a local writer, but this is mistaken. He actually lives in Florida, and appears to be quite renowned.

I appreciate that Brock took the time to post a comment about my column, and of course I'd love to have a beer with him if he comes through town while on tour.

Terry Brock has left a new comment on your post:

ON THE AVENUES: There's no business like no business, and it's none of your business.

Brilliant piece, Roger! I love every word of it. Yes, I believe we need a separation of business and politics and businesses should focus on their business.

You raise some excellent points about local issues. That is important. For many of us, "local" is Planet Earth. We focus on issues that affect many and are tied together based more on values and aspirations than a defined piece of dirt where we happen to live currently.

Hey, I would *LOVE* to talk with you more about this. Sounds like these types of discussions would be best over some of that good craft beer you have up there in New Albany! For doing such an outstanding job on this piece, I owe you a nice beer, or other beverage of your choice!

Thanx for writing this. Simply brilliant, Roger! Keep up the good work!

Terry Brock -

Here's my most renowned contribution to business marketing. It's rather politicized, though only because I fully intended it to be that way.

Quills to have a new coffee roastery in Louisville.

Whither Quills' current New Albany space?

It stands to reason that if the roasting operation moves, there'll be room inside for an expansion of seating -- if this is desired.

Tech company, coffee roastery moving into historic NuLu firehouse, by Caitlin Bowling (Insider Louisville)

... Composable Systems will move into the top two floors of the three-story firehouse next month. Meanwhile, the first floor of the 123-year-old firehouse will be transformed into a coffee shop for Quills, and the building on Shelby Street will become Quills’ new roastery. It currently roasts its coffee in New Albany but is running out of space.

Painting and patio-building at Big Four Burgers NA.

When the patio's finished, I'll be back with a brief history of the building, which still is widely known as the place where South Side used to be.

New Albany: "New things where things used to be," or some such.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Nothing to see here. Just a city work crew filling potholes in a private parking lot.

Look closely. Now with two different city logos.

ON THE AVENUES: There's no business like no business, and it's none of your business.

ON THE AVENUES: There's no business like no business -- and it's none of your business.

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.


“I used to say I practiced clinical medicine, now I say I practice political medicine, because it’s the mother of all illnesses. And we have to fix this one if we’re going to fix the things that are literally killing us.”
-- Dr. Jill Stein (Green Party presidential candidate)

I’ll return to politics in a moment, because naturally business must come first.

Note that my contempt for the breathless contents of business-oriented publications is boundless.

It is eternal.

It is the stuff of inebriated, chortling legend.

Talk numbers to me, baby.

Business porn is where good writing goes to die, condemned to sadistic asphyxiation in the service of coded buzz-speak and greasy greenback envy of the sort that only a One Southern Indiana oligarchy fetishist truly can appreciate when curled up in pajamas by the stock market ticker, with an ice-cold Bud Light Lime and a box of handy tissues – doused in aloe, of course.

However, every now and then a stray provocation slips through my cordon sanitaire, as here:

How to survive political hostility when trying to run a business, by Terry Brock, Contributing Writer, Louisville Business First

Whoa! Have you sensed the level of political rivalry in this year’s election?

This seems to be much more intense this year. Notice the attacks on Trump supporters and the attacks by Trump supporters on opposition attendees at Trump rallies.

Yes, the American political scene has been known to be particularly venomous throughout history ...

… Yet, this election seems even more vicious, at least by 20th and 21st century standards. I’m wondering how it affects relationship marketing for small businesses and entrepreneurs like you and me.

Here are some ideas …

Venomous and vicious – which is to say, potentially important. This election may influence everyday business reality for generations to come. It may engender revolution, ignite reaction, or reinforce an uneasy status quo.

In short, the 2016 election truly matters for small business persons and entrepreneurs, and consequently, the consultant Brock’s bullet points counsel complete and utter detachment from the election (for their maddening details, kindly fluff Louisville Business First by visiting its web site).

  • Political sharing idea #1 — Politics shouldn’t mix with business
  • Political sharing idea #2 — You’ve got more important things to do — like focus on business!
  • Political sharing idea #3 — If you must share politics, do it in the right place
  • Political sharing idea #4 — You can lose customers
  • Political sharing idea #5 — Avoid politics in public

And who’s this guy again?

Terry Brock gives real-world, practical tips on how to generate revenue and increase productivity.

Not that 1Si's self-interested cadres care one jot, but my practical advice differs markedly.

I generally advise small business persons and entrepreneurs to make an earnest effort to understand politics and elections, particularly at the local level, where it impacts them the most, and to actively participate in these exercises.

Concurrently, is there any valid excuse for squandering potentially productive work time by reading business-oriented publications?

Business writing should not ever be mixed with actual business. Don’t these business people have more important things to do than read -- you know, like focusing on their businesses?


In mid-rant, I was reminded of a passage in Dylon Jones’ remarkable profile of The Independent (that’s me) in the June edition of Louisville Magazine. The profile is required reading for the likes of Terry Brock, Irv Stumler, Wendy Dant Chesser and Adam Dickey – but I digress all too readily.

Jones writes:

I have a conversation with someone at the (Bank Street Brewhouse) who threatens to hunt me down if I identify them. I could, but won’t. I don’t believe in “off the record,” especially not retroactively. But I do believe in letting certain wounds – whatever they may be – heal beyond public gaze.

“Did you get the part about how Roger destroyed his business?” they said. “No one from city hall comes here.”

Then: “Don’t quote me.”

“Well, who could I talk to about that?” I asked.

“Anyone on the street,” they said.

As Elton John once observed, it’s a sad, sad situation – and it’s getting more and more absurd. After all, if it’s true that city hall stopped coming to Bank Street Brewhouse, then I managed to achieve a cherished goal of Americans from coast to coast, for it means I personally GOT GOVERNMENT OUT OF OUR LIVES.

You’d think I’d be paid handsomely for this, not basely insulted. If only I could bottle this government-free formula, and hastily sell it to AB-InBev; that’d get my face on the cover of a business publication, for sure.


It’s an unspeakably dreary landscape.

There’s the professional business consulting class, recommending that entrepreneurs accustomed to taking fabulous risks – who’d never have gone into small business in the first place without standing tall for something – adopt generic, beige Pablum as a staple of their professional diets.

Then there’s the shrill claim that political extremism destroyed my own business, and that’s odd, because when I behaved exactly the same way for more than 15 years while standing atop a soap box situated behind the bar at Rich O’s, my behavior was edifying, entertaining and educational; probably an alcoholic Commie, though few seemed to mind.

Brock would be so proud of me: I helped generate revenue and increased productivity. We have medals for that, right?

And plaques?

However, there is a difference in scope between eras, and it is genuinely instructive. During the period of my nightly barside preaching at the Public House, subject matter typically pertained to national and international affairs.

There were opinions aplenty, but they were safe, in the sense that it’s a breeze to pontificate when lubricated, and there is no way to directly influence the outcome.

Because: Denouncing the Iranians from a barstool is easy. Repeating these words on a downtown Tehran street corner to their faces – well, that’s hard. Distance and liquidity enhance vehemence and courage.

And yet: If my university political science professor was right, and politics is all about the allocation of power … and if Tip O’Neill was right, and all politics is local … then for a local business, the allocation of local power is a critically important local variable, isn’t it?

Local political power structures play a huge role in determining business conditions and influencing business decisions, every day, throughout the year – don’t they?

And these local political power brokers live right here among us, right?

Theoretically, their proximity is as sweaty and direct as democracy gets. The grassroots can be no closer to you than the councilman residing two doors down. If a two-way street would lift your business, and yet it still runs in only one direction, then political power is being arrayed against you.

How does one hope to rectify the imbalance and fix the street without becoming part of the solution?

But no one from city hall comes here …

Perhaps their absence is a reflection on city hall, not the business or the proprietor, and their negligence an abuse of political power, not its proper exercise.

Perhaps my political involvement has been bottoms-up, in reply to their top-down, because contrary to American default assumptions, self-defense can exist apart from firearms.

Perhaps we can cure the mother of all illnesses right here at home, where it’s as close as it will ever be, but administering the needed medicine requires involvement and engagement, not cowering from a distance, head stuck in a business publication, pants around ankles.

1Si espouses unity on behalf of The Man, but I prefer unity in defiance of the Man. As citizen Franklin said, "We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately."

He was a good businessman, that Benny.


June 16: ON THE AVENUES: When the engineer uttered that scandalous word aloud, it was like Christmas in June.

June 9: ON THE AVENUES: High atop Summit Springs with friends (and relatives) in low places.

June 2: ON THE AVENUES: A few beers at Vladimir’s local in Ostrava in June, 1989.

May 26: ON THE AVENUES: On the crass exploitation and politicization of tragedy.

May 19: ON THE AVENUES: Requiem for the bored.