Thursday, February 15, 2018

ON THE AVENUES REWOUND: No more fear, Jeff (2015).

ON THE AVENUES REWOUND: No more fear, Jeff (2015).

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

I'm on vacation, and this is a rerun from 10/01/2015. At the time, I was in the midst of an unsuccessful run for mayor as an independent candidate. 

The column is about intimidation; 28 months later, give or take a public housing putsch, Team Gahan was at it again when interim bulldozer mechanic David Duggins threatened a public housing resident with being tasered

The reason why the same old suspects persist with intimidation? It parallels your dog's decision to lick his nuts: because he can, there are no consequences, and it feels so good. 

Fortunately, there is a cure called the "ballot box": #Fire Gahan2019 


“I talked to a downtown business owner. He’d put a Zurschmiede sign in his window, and (a city employee) came in and said it was frowned on. He didn’t know what that meant, so he took it down”

“I was sitting there minding my own business, and here comes (a mayor-appointed board member). He looked at me and said, ‘Jeff Gahan is the best mayor we’ve ever had.’ What was I supposed to say?”

“(The council member) ran inside and started yelling at my employees about my Baylor yard sign. He said he was a city employee, but we wouldn’t identify himself.”

“So I called down there (city offices) to see if they planned on doing anything about the trash piling up in the alley behind my neighbor’s slum, and they patched me to (high-ranking official). The first thing he said to me was where do I get off asking for favors with a Zurschmiede sign on my property?”


There was a novel feature of the Leadership Southern Indiana debate on Tuesday, which should have been a threesome, but was missing a sitting mayor.

Each of us was asked to provide a question to be asked of the others. With Jeff Gahan absent, this meant Kevin Zurschmiede and I questioned each other. He asked me about my depth of feeling about two-way streets, and I explained in detail.

I asked him whether he’d support local ordinances against human trafficking, and he fielded the question positively and flawlessly, indicating that he grasps important contemporary issues.

Leadership Southern Indiana might not have allowed the question I’d have asked to Gahan, had he bothered attending.

Jeff, why are so many ordinary people in our community afraid to differ openly with you?

I can almost hear the answer.

That’s a cheap shot, because every single person I’ve talked to in this city supports the water park – and if you’re not one of them, expect an angry phone call very late at night.

Yes, this is the state of New Albany’s ongoing degeneration.


Seeing as it’s my lot in life to say aloud what others are thinking, here it is.

During the time I’ve been paying attention to the local scene, there simply has not been any point of comparison with the atmosphere today in terms of retribution, intimidation and implied vengeance.

For those in support of the opposition, the consistent message is there’ll be hell to pay if the incumbent loses his bid for re-election.

My calls for UN election monitors and assistance from the Jimmy Carter Center are only partly in jest, because the situation is getting increasingly tense as voting draws near.

Consider the experience of Indie Fest. Last Sunday’s fourth edition was a success, with over 2,000 attendees, but it almost didn’t happen.

Earlier this year, city officials approached Indie Fest organizer Marcey Wisman-Bennett and asked her to consider shifting Indie Fest to Labor Day weekend, so as to provide a September bookend (with Boomtown Ball in May) to the summer concert series at Bicentennial Park. She also was asked to move the event to the Riverfront Amphitheater. She agreed.

Shortly thereafter, I announced my intent to gather signatures for mayoral ballot access as an independent, and Marcey agreed to be my committee chairwoman. On the day the papers were filed, she and I decided to have a coffee at Quills, and by the time we walked there from the county clerk’s office, she’d already been texted by a city higher-up expressing disdain for my candidacy, and her involvement with it.

You have three guesses as to what happened after that – and the first two don’t count.

A City Hall once nominally supportive of independent local businesses completely disappeared from view. The mayor’s handpicked Board of Works fiddled and dithered with non-information about the amphitheater’s availability, before finally denying the Labor Day weekend date previously requested by City Hall itself … because someone already had booked it.

Marcey was left to dangle for weeks, and finally gave up trying. She turned briefly to the county, which characteristically was of no help. Almost at the last possible moment, the Carter brothers, developers of Underground Station, stepped forward and took it upon themselves to approach the city and tie Indie Fest to their own plans for a grand opening weekend.

Presumably the city, having done almost nothing to assist the Carters with their project, was in a giving mood.

The many delays and obfuscations crippled Marcey’s fundraising efforts, and several former donors hinted that behind-the-scenes pressure was being exerted on them to not be seen supporting Indie Fest this year.

The story I’m telling is no secret, and it isn’t supposed to be.

Politically motivated strong-arming is a public function, not a private one, because the object is for others to see it taking place, and to learn the "proper" lesson that their own independence will be greeted in similar, heavy-handed fashion.

It’s abhorrent, and yet it’s happening. Worse yet, more than a few Democratic Party stalwarts are abetting the ugliness by refusing to face it head on.

Somehow this reminds me that the first annual meeting of Southern Indiana Equality is tonight. In the context of this meeting, human rights and Team Gahan’s incessant bullying, here’s a quote of significance from the Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.

“Free expression is the base of human rights, the root of human nature and the mother of truth. To kill free speech is to insult human rights, to stifle human nature and to suppress truth.”

That silence you hear?

It’s becoming deafening.


Free speech seems a particular irritant to Gahan and the Democratic Party, especially as it pertains to social media. In the marketplace of ideas, they’ve almost never replied to questions by facilitating dialogue, as this would constitute two-way communications, and as such, veer uncomfortably close to an admission of intent to listen.

Rather, their chosen mode of communication most often involves systematically blocking it. On social media, I've been unfriended by several Democrats, and blocked by two Democratic agitprop groups, as well as by the mayor's campaign, his personal page and his wife's.

Consequently, I close today by concurring with this important point made on Facebook by my friend Mark Cassidy.

I just want to let the Floyd County Democratic Party, Jeff Gahan, and anyone else for that matter, know that you are more than welcome to post on my timeline, respond to any comment that I may make, engage in a discussion, etc., all without fear of being blocked by me. I have no fear of the free exchange of thoughts, ideas, plans, needs, wants, desires ...

I’ve been to places where fear was a daily consideration, but New Albany isn’t East Germany, and we can do better than this.


Recent columns:

February 8: ON THE AVENUES: Golden oldie classic comfort beers at an old school pub? Sounds like Pints & Union to me.

February 1: ON THE AVENUES: Did you hear the one about Duggins' deep TASER regrets? I laughed until I cried -- and so did the folks in Keokuk.

January 25: ON THE AVENUES: David Duggins’ violent “jokes” will continue until the New Albany Housing Authority’s morale improves – or Duggins is fired. We advocate the latter.

January 18: ON THE AVENUES: During our State of the Gahanaissance Address for 2018, feel free to resort to hard liquor. I did, and will.


Unknown said...

I'm not a fan of the mayor but if it comes to Kevin Z attempting to become mayor, you'll see me and a group of others protesting at every single event he has.
IMO, Kevin is a lying SLUMLORD that doesn't give a damn about anyone that's not going to be greatly beneficial to him. He'd absolutely sit back and allow a single disabled tenants (with a young son) apartment flood with raw sewage and do nothing ... then kick them out even though they paid their rent on time for 17 months and had caused NO problems. He refused ANY KIND of help (motel room,etc) and did not care at all about what they lost in the flood of sewage or that they were now homeless (Remember, disabled single father with young son homeless because of KEVIN). He'd also allow a woman confined to a wheelchair to be stuck in her 3rd floor apartment because the elevator broke (And he's too cheap to fix it)for WEEKS and ONLY did something because the local news stations showed up to interview her about her problems.
Kevin's a LOSER and does NOT care about anyone in Floyd Co.

Did Kevin really push through a low (Or ZERO) interest loan (From taxpayers money) for businesses on Charlestown Road as part of a 'Beautification' program? NEWS FLASH: Those businesses that would get those 'loans' were HIS BUSINESSES. Can you say "Unethical", "Conflict of Interest", or how about "CORRUPT" !!


The New Albanian said...

Zurschmiede ran for mayor as a Republican in 2015, when this column originally was published. He gave up his city council seat and lost the election. It is my understanding that he has no intention of returning to the local political scene, and will not be seeking office again.

So, there probably are no worries in this regard. He won't be running any more.

As for the other charges, I'd recommend taking them to the newspaper, the building commissioner, the prosecutor, or all three. The city keeps saying it's serious about such matters. The city keeps doing nothing. If the usual channels reject you, then get hold of me and I'm happy to publish.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the information. Of course, I voted against him in the 2015 election and was hoping he'd never run again. It's good to hear that he doesn't intend to and I hope he doesn't change his mind. It WOULD get embarrassing for him once I got in front of the media about his character and past actions/inactions. No person like him should be in any public office!
Thanks for the offer of assistance but my case was heard by (His friend) Judge Burke Jr. who sat and talked about golf with Kevin DURING our trial. Kevin had to get a corporate attorney and it was still an embarrassing public 'beat down' for him as many sat and 'Oohed' and Awed' as they witnessed my testimony and over 35 pieces of evidence backing my case (That I still have). I asked for the maximum amount by law in small claims (6k) but the judge only awarded me half, claiming it was half my fault because I didn't have renters insurance to pay for my losses. (Still sounds ludicrous to me to suggest someone else pay for Kevin's multiple failures). I accepted the pay (And losses) since I didn't have much money then (On a fixed income) and needed to replace nearly EVERYTHING I had in that 'crappy' apartment (That was briefly condemned by the NA/Floyd CO Health Dept).
As long as he doesn't run for office again, Kevin won't hear from me again.
Sorry to hear about how the current mayor has treated some people too. I know some business owners in downtown that do not like him at all for many reasons. Some say he's crooked but fear retaliation from him if they were to go public and prove it but I have no additional information about that.
BTW, Kevin sure does act like a 'tough guy' over the phone and when he has armed police officers by his side but when he's alone in public, he's just a big baby with fear in his eyes... (Hands up in the air apologizing ... lol. Good riddance Kevin ZZZZ !!

The New Albanian said...

Thanks for posting these comments. They have been very instructive, and I'll retain them for future reference. Cheers!