Thursday, January 31, 2019

SHANE'S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS: This train wreck is iconic. That one is not. Let's examine the difference.

I predict the next word to be rendered moot by overuse will be "iconic." Some might say it already has.

Either way, you have been warned, so let the groans commence.

Let's start at the beginning, with the icon.



1. a painting of Jesus Christ or another holy figure, typically in a traditional style on wood, venerated and used as an aid to devotion in the Byzantine and other Eastern Churches.

synonyms: image, idol, portrait, likeness, representation, symbol, figure, statue, model

"an icon of the Madonna hangs on the wall"

2. a person or thing regarded as a representative symbol or as worthy of veneration.

"this iron-jawed icon of American manhood"

Defining "iconic" and summarizing my annoyance:

The original meaning of iconic was essentially "resembling an icon", but today it more often seems to mean "so admired that it could be the subject of an icon". And with that meaning, iconic has become part of the language of advertising and publicity; today companies and magazines and TV hosts are constantly encouraging us to think of some consumer item or pop star or show as first-rate or immortal or flawless—absolutely "iconic" — when he or she or it is actually nothing of the kind.

On Facebook, a friend wrote: "Pilsner Urquell and Guinness are iconic. Fight me."

No way I'm fighting. Both these examples of usage are correct, as they're well-established and noted for excellence. In fact, they're venerable -- and I venerate them.

However, just the other day the local chain newspaper used the word "iconic" to describe the proposed new park in Clarksville. But this park does not yet exist; therefore, it cannot be iconic.

Then one of Team Gahan's taxpayer-compensated propagandists referred to Rally's/Checkers as "iconic." I almost threw up. While this cookie-cutter atrocity is well-established, it is NOT noted for its excellence -- in terms of iconic, it is nothing of the kind.

Ironic? That's more like it. Let's summarize. This historic photograph is iconic -- after all, Wikipedia says so.

This crappy fast food joint isn't.


Belated R.I.P. Kenny Stewart, who revealed the trick to escape a straitjacket.

We finished dinner tonight and were talking about people who collect things. For the first time in a while I thought about Kenny Stewart, and wondered about him. Alas, he died just three months ago, on November 10, 2018.

He was hale and seemingly hearty on that evening in November of 2013 when the documentary film about him premiered at the Carnegie Center. 

What a long, strange trip it's been ... for all of us. Here's NAC's coverage from 2 November 2013. The links are active; enjoy.


The world premiere of The Trick to Escape a Straitjacket was Wednesday evening at the Carnegie Center, and it was well attended, with perhaps 70 people filling all the folding metal chairs and requiring staff to bring more. The documentary profiles lifelong New Albanian resident Kenny Stewart, whose eclectic worldview defies description.

The Trick to Escape a Straitjacket - Official Trailer

An eccentric old man from a small town in Indiana recounts his passion for show business and the enchantingly bizarre stories of his life as he attempts to perform the one secret trick he’s always wanted to pull off: escaping from a straitjacket.

A feature length documentary film by Rosie Nakamura.

Note that if you watch the film, be aware that it took eight years to make, causing some references to dates and events to seem skewed. They're not. In fact, Kenny Stewart is alive and well and pushing 87 years of age.

Official web site

A Tax Increment Financing (TIF) primer, noting TIF's chumminess with insider corruption, and certain grassroots alternatives to big ticket glitz.

Tax Increment Financing (TIF) came up a lot when I ran for mayor in 2015, so much so that the Bookseller created a paper for consultation by our team.


A Baylor Paper on Tax Increment Financing

HISTORY: Tax Increment Financing, commonly known as T.I.F., is a method created by the legislature that allows a city to invest borrowed money in the hopes that the investment will increase property values in a specific geographic area. To the extent that property values do increase, the city may use those new tax dollars to retire its debt on that investment.

TIF areas have expiration dates. Other taxing entities are barred from collecting taxes on the increased value, if any, until the expiration of the TIF area.

PREMISE: Cities are severely limited in how rapidly they can grow their revenues, which are based largely on the assessed value of properties within the city limits. Cities have no control over assessments and their revenues are capped by annual growth limits. Thus, tax increment financing is one way to make ambitious, if speculative, investments in the future without waiting for growth.

But TIF-ability is an asset that must be carefully used and its benefits must be calculable. The Gahan administration has been irresponsible in that respect and has used the T.I.F. function more like a piggy bank or a blue-sky wish list. Current officials won’t be around when the bills have to be paid.

PROPOSAL: I’ll conduct an immediate audit of our T.I.F. programs and will publicly report to the citizens of New Albany the whos, whats, whens, whys, and wheres regarding them.


I haven't asked Democratic mayoral candidate David White yet, but I strongly suspect his view of TIF programs and the abusive tendencies of their local application corresponds with the preceding. However, I can state with certainty that White fully understands the challenge to future municipal solvency posed by serial TIF misuse. He'd rather face up to it than kick the can further down the high-maintenance-cost road.

As an aside, I cannot recall a time when 3rd district councilman Greg Phipps girded up to disagree with current Anchor Office occupant Jeff Gahan's addiction to TIF areas as de facto credit cards intended to be pumped dry so as to enable bright shiny "piggy bank" and "blue sky" wish lists, while leaving the burden of debt management to be left for our grandchildren.

Yesterday I spoke of the no-gimmicks Strong Towns platform as a "third way" for New Albany.

+ Stop valuing efficiency and start valuing resilience;
+ Stop betting our futures on huge, irreversible projects, and taking small, incremental steps and iterating based on what we learn;
+ Stop fearing change and start embracing a process of continuous adaptation;
+ Stop building our world based on abstract theories, and start building it based on how our places actually work and what our neighbors actually need today;
+ Stop obsessing about future growth and start obsessing about our current finances.

For more about TIF's positives and negatives, read this article from the Strong Towns Knowledge Base. It's also worth contemplating this: How much of Gahan's pay-to-play campaign finance enhancement would be possible without the gravy generated by TIF projects? He may be corrupt, but he's no fool when it comes to undercover math.

Your Questions Answered: Is TIF Always Bad? by Jacob Moses

 ... This week’s question: Is TIF always bad?

Tax increment financing (TIF) is a financing method used by local governments, often to redevelop blighted or disinvested areas where market-rate development is seen as unprofitable without assistance. Under a TIF agreement, a local government incentivizes a developer to work in a designated geographic area (called a TIF district) by subsidizing a portion of the development costs. The subsidy may help pay the up-front cost of either private development or associated public infrastructure. The city raises the money by selling bonds to investors, and the bonds are gradually paid back out of increased property taxes over the next 20 or 30 years.

As redevelopment causes the value of the property to increase, more property taxes can be collected from within the TIF district. Rather than adding these to the city’s general budget, any additional tax revenues above the amount paid at the time the TIF was established are set aside in a special fund. That fund is reserved for gradually paying back the initial TIF bonds. Once the TIF is paid off, local governments can use the future property taxes for anything—road maintenance, schools, etc.

Questions to ask, and alternatives to be considered.

The intention behind TIF is not always bad—but here is a list of questions you can ask yourself or your elected officials to discover if TIF is best for your city’s or town’s financial health.

Have you considered incremental development?
Incremental development means making small bets on many small projects over a broad area over a long period of time. Because local governments don’t have the ability to guarantee the future success of a project, they should consider growing incrementally.

Instead of constructing a rail line, you start with a shuttle bus; instead of building an apartment complex, you start with a duplex.

This same philosophy applies to TIF districts, which are often used to jump-start large scale redevelopment projects, and justified on the basis that no such mega-project would have been viable without TIF. But should the city first consider a smaller investment to develop the area? Could they invest in helping the existing local grocery meet its needs? Could they practice economic gardening and seek to help hardworking, entrepreneurial residents of the area start and grow companies? Could they make sidewalk and traffic-calming improvements that improve street safety and make a business district more walkable and lively?

What would it take to gradually bring up the value of existing properties instead of doing full-scale redevelopment?

We know these alternative solutions aren’t as shiny and new as the proposed, TIF-funded megaproject. However, because they are small bets, local governments can preserve their resilience if they don’t succeed.

Is the public losing anything?
Before local government can approve a project for TIF, they must ensure the project passes the “but for” test: but for the TIF subsidy, the development wouldn’t happen.

If that’s true, then the TIF is jumpstarting development but the public isn’t losing anything, because the money to pay off the initial TIF subsidy is coming from property taxes that otherwise wouldn’t have been collected at all.

The problem, however, is that it’s challenging to actually assess that “but for” test in practice, meaning lots of projects that get TIF money probably don’t pass it. That means TIF can end up starving the local government’s general fund—which pays for most city services—because the property taxes are going to the TIF district instead.

Before approving projects for TIF, it’s essential that local governments—to the best of their ability—ensure that the TIF money is going to truly necessary, value-creating projects that can’t happen any other way, and not to subsidize development that could have been achieved by another means.

A trio of shameless mob bosses attended yesterday's ribbon-cutting, because the Balkans have nothing on New Albany.

I'm so old I can remember all the way back to January of 2017, when Bob Caesar and Pat McLaughlin merrily conspired with Mayor Jeff Gahan to produce then-council counsel Matt Lorch's head on a platter for the approbation of swing voter Dan Coffey.

It's perfectly clear that the wheels are coming off what remains of the Floyd County Democratic Party. If we were to send a drone aloft to gaze at the respective checking accounts of local Democrats and Gahan's political action committee, we'd find a huge disparity. The mayor is hugely flush, and Dickey's oxcart tapped dry (ethically as well as financially).

Gahan surely is dictating Lorch decapitation terms. Dickey has no choice, and no backbone even if he did. Coffey gets back on the train, and Phipps isn't even bothered to rehearse his increasingly trite Hamlet routine. Caesar and McLaughlin both want to be mayor. Blair continues to be cast out by both parties, and a Republican likely will win the next mayoral contest in any event.

Do you have an alternative scenario? Let me know. The entertainment won't last forever, and it helps take our minds off the next Democratic central committee meeting:

Most folks who value a semblance of basic human decency would like to believe that Caesar's, McLaughlin's and Gahan's glad-handing appearance yesterday at the ribbon cutting for Lorch's law office had something to do with penance for their lingering guilt over the way they humiliated Lorch two years ago.

But that's not it. Rather, an election season is upon us, and Develop New Albany remains eager as ever to (a) claim responsibility for matters touching the arm-of-city-organization not one jot, and (b) to provide as many photo-ops as possible for the big fish inhabiting our small local pond, thus enabling yesterday's ludicrous scene.

On second thought, now I'm the one feeling guilty -- about comparing New Albany to the Balkans. That's plainly an insult to the Balkans, and I apologize profusely.

Pass the Scissors: Balkan Ribbon-Cutting, the Silly and Absurd, by Martin Dimitrov, Mladen Lakic, Anja Vladisavljevic, Die Morina, Filip Rudic (Balkan Insight)

From a shiny new elevator to a border-crossing toilet, Balkan politicians rarely pass up the chance to cut a red ribbon

In the Balkans, good news can sometimes be hard to find.

So why wouldn’t a deputy prime minister cut the ribbon at the unveiling of a toilet, or a cabinet minister christen an elevator?

They did, and they are not alone. The past few years have seen politicians in the Balkans plumb new depths in their search for a decent photo-op and a chance to take credit for the state’s largesse ...

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Says Rutger Bregman, the hero of Davos: "No, wealth isn’t created at the top. It is merely devoured there."

And he's absolutely right.

Rutger Bregman at was a sensation at Davos, but the Dutch historian was repeating something we all should know: from the end of WWII through the advent of Ronald Ray-gun's presidency, the American economic system worked pretty damn well with a marginal tax rate higher than 70%. When Ray-gun instituted tax cuts under the banner of trickle-down economics, wealth instead flooded upward -- and these days, poultry workers chopping up chickens wear diapers because they're not allowed a bathroom break.

Bregman wrote the following for The Guardian in 2017. It's a long read but essential.

No, wealth isn’t created at the top. It is merely devoured there

Bankers, pharmaceutical giants, Google, Facebook ... a new breed of rentiers are at the very top of the pyramid and they’re sucking the rest of us dry

This piece is about one of the biggest taboos of our times. About a truth that is seldom acknowledged, and yet – on reflection – cannot be denied. The truth that we are living in an inverse welfare state.

These days, politicians from the left to the right assume that most wealth is created at the top. By the visionaries, by the job creators, and by the people who have “made it”. By the go-getters oozing talent and entrepreneurialism that are helping to advance the whole world.

Now, we may disagree about the extent to which success deserves to be rewarded – the philosophy of the left is that the strongest shoulders should bear the heaviest burden, while the right fears high taxes will blunt enterprise – but across the spectrum virtually all agree that wealth is created primarily at the top.

So entrenched is this assumption that it’s even embedded in our language. When economists talk about “productivity”, what they really mean is the size of your paycheck. And when we use terms like “welfare state”, “redistribution” and “solidarity”, we’re implicitly subscribing to the view that there are two strata: the makers and the takers, the producers and the couch potatoes, the hardworking citizens – and everybody else.

In reality, it is precisely the other way around. In reality, it is the waste collectors, the nurses, and the cleaners whose shoulders are supporting the apex of the pyramid. They are the true mechanism of social solidarity. Meanwhile, a growing share of those we hail as “successful” and “innovative” are earning their wealth at the expense of others. The people getting the biggest handouts are not down around the bottom, but at the very top. Yet their perilous dependence on others goes unseen. Almost no one talks about it. Even for politicians on the left, it’s a non-issue.

To understand why, we need to recognise that there are two ways of making money. The first is what most of us do: work. That means tapping into our knowledge and know-how (our “human capital” in economic terms) to create something new, whether that’s a takeout app, a wedding cake, a stylish updo, or a perfectly poured pint. To work is to create. Ergo, to work is to create new wealth.

But there is also a second way to make money. That’s the rentier way: by leveraging control over something that already exists, such as land, knowledge, or money, to increase your wealth. You produce nothing, yet profit nonetheless. By definition, the rentier makes his living at others’ expense, using his power to claim economic benefit.

For those who know their history, the term “rentier” conjures associations with heirs to estates, such as the 19th century’s large class of useless rentiers, well-described by the French economist Thomas Piketty. These days, that class is making a comeback. (Ironically, however, conservative politicians adamantly defend the rentier’s right to lounge around, deeming inheritance tax to be the height of unfairness.) But there are also other ways of rent-seeking. From Wall Street to Silicon Valley, from big pharma to the lobby machines in Washington and Westminster, zoom in and you’ll see rentiers everywhere ...

The Strong Towns no-gimmicks approach truly is a "third way" for the city of New Albany because it crosses political boundaries.

Tony Beard drew this.

"Out there is someone who maybe disagrees with you on politics, but that person has a shared vision with you on making our cities, towns, and neighborhoods stronger. We need each other."

Lots of what I've been writing in this space since 2015 reflects what the movement's founder Charles Marohn calls the Strong Towns approach.

The Strong Towns approach is a radically new way of thinking about the way we build our world. We believe that in order to truly thrive, our cities and towns must:

+ Stop valuing efficiency and start valuing resilience;
+ Stop betting our futures on huge, irreversible projects, and taking small, incremental steps and iterating based on what we learn;
+ Stop fearing change and start embracing a process of continuous adaptation;
+ Stop building our world based on abstract theories, and start building it based on how our places actually work and what our neighbors actually need today;
+ Stop obsessing about future growth and start obsessing about our current finances.

But most importantly, we believe that Strong Citizens from all walks of life can and must participate in a Strong Towns approach—from citizens to leaders, professionals to neighbors, and everyone in between. And that means we need you.

Marohn is honest about the challenges of broadening his organization's appeal among women and minorities, but he also identifies an area of unequivocal success. When I say there is a third-way policy position in communities like ours, this is precisely what I'm referring to.

Living with the Other, by Charles Marohn (Strong Towns)

 ... There is one place, however, where Strong Towns has a level of diversity that is as rare as it is powerful among American organizations in 2019: ideological diversity. We have people who enthusiastically identify as politically left-of-center, and we have people who enthusiastically identify as right-of-center. When Strong Towns supporters get together, it is this crazy mix of people we don’t see in other places. We don’t occupy the center—this is not a movement of moderates. It’s something different.

I’m convinced that is the key to our rapid growth and long-term success. You can be passionate about fiscal responsibility and small business and love Strong Towns. You can be passionate about equitable transportation and environmental stewardship and love Strong Towns. And that love can be authentic because we can meet those shared goals with a Strong Towns approach. It’s not a gimmick, and the people coming here understand that.

We’re entering into what I anticipate will be the craziest, nastiest, most media-manipulated, dysfunctional campaign season any of us will hopefully ever be subjected to. Regardless of your political point of view, you are going to be pummeled with messages designed to fill you with outrage at the other. Some of it might be true, and your outrage might be justified, but much of it will be half-truths designed to mobilize you to action. There will be less and less room for context and nuance.

I’m not asking you to change your opinions. I’m not asking you to moderate your point of view. I’m not even asking you to equivocate and accept any opposing viewpoint as equally valid. All I’m asking you to do is to recognize that the greatest strength of our movement is our unique ideological diversity: that out there is someone who maybe disagrees with you on politics, but that person has a shared vision with you on making our cities, towns, and neighborhoods stronger. We need each other.

In our discourse, Strong Towns advocates must try to be the peacemakers. The ones who turn down the volume. We can disagree without the hate. We may even extend an assumption of good intentions, and hope for the same in return. We might be pleasantly surprised.

Psychologist Jonathan Haidt shared a New Years Resolution for our age. I think it is the standard all Strong Towns advocates should strive to follow:

I will give less offense (i.e., be more polite)

I will take less offense (i.e., give others the benefit of the doubt)

I will pass on less offense (i.e., not be the sort of retweeter Russian trolls want me to be)

I have not always met this standard. It’s difficult, and I’m all too human. Today let’s promise each other that we will strive to do so, and then let’s hold each other accountable.

As an addendum: For those readers puzzled by the fact that Roger the Flagrant Social Democrat finds it easier to chat substantively with local Republicans than many (though not all) Democrats, consider the possibility that local Democrats most enamored of the imperial Gahan approach to top-down patronage-disguised-as-infrastructure-improvement -- which itself is a refutation of the Strong Towns approach -- are rejecting my message because of this dissonance, and not any significant difference when it comes to left/liberal social justice and human rights issues.

That's because there are no differences between us when it comes to social justice and human rights issues. But too many local Democrats are unwilling to give due, detailed diligence to the Gahan personality cult's claims of brilliant fiscal management, which plainly is an illiberal and ruinous bait 'n' switch. Republicans see THAT part quite clearly.

As Marohn observes, the Strong Towns approach bridges a gap. It's an approach suitable for the city as a whole, especially the historic core, and if you're a voting resident of the 3rd district, you'll be hearing a lot more about this as the months pass.

David White speaks with the News and TomMayBune about the Harvest Homecoming Festival Foundation.

The Harvest Homecoming Festival Foundation strikes me as good stewardship, especially since the fest doesn't have its own TIF areas to suck dry.

My own love-hate relationship with Harvest Homecoming is a matter of public record and I'd be a fool to disavow it, but at the same time considerable progress has been made during recent years toward the shared objective of adapting the festival to the emergence of business concentration and residency downtown.

I feel better about it now, and that's what communication is all about. There's been far more of it recently from Harvest Homecoming, although the same cannot be said about Jeff Gahan's forever hermetic City Hall.

Change out the mayor and just think of the possibilities. Voting for David White in the Democratic primary is an excellent place to begin the cleansing. It also bears noting that Harvest Homecoming's physical "booth days" footprint lies entirely within the 3rd council district.

Just imagine a council person in the 3rd who actually knows what indie business ownership involves. Indies don't get tenure, you know.

Foundation ensures Harvest Homecoming for decades to come, by Chris Morris (Unlimited Tom May Only $9.99)

For 51 years the Harvest Homecoming Festival has grown to one of the most popular, and largest in the state. There is nothing like it and each October, thousands come to enjoy the festivities.

Over the span of two weeks people are entertained by a host of activities from a parade to kick off the festival, to the popular booth days which attract hundreds of thousands of visitors to downtown New Albany.

But the festival is only as good as the weather because almost all the activities are outside. A few years of bad weather can not only disappoint the thousands of visitors, but also put a squeeze on the festival's operating budget.

That is why the Harvest Homecoming Festival Foundation was established.

The foundation, administered by the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana, will ensure yearly interest income so bad weather or lost sponsorships won't threaten the festival.

"The festival success is dependent on weather," said David White, who served as Harvest Homecoming's chairman of the board in 2017 and 2018. "Harvest Homecoming has been blessed with good weather and leadership and has been able to put on a quality family event. But all it takes is a few bad years and we would have to maybe cut a few events if our revenue drops ... "

BEER WITH A SOCIALIST: Citizen journalist Michael Moeller uncovers a craft beer con man named Stephen Foster.

Local beer scribe Michael Moeller smashed a home run earlier this week with this piece about an infamous namesake.

The (Other) Stephen Foster Story: Kentucky’s Craft Beer Con Man, by Michael Moeller (Kentucky Sports Radio)

This is the story of a craft beer con man who traveled across the United States and abroad – a man who knew how to exploit the shared weakness of most small businesses – talk a big enough game and a background check won’t be required. Talk an even bigger game and even fool business partners and investors.

In the beginning there were exploding bottles, infected batches, and angry customers from across the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The longer the brewery stayed open, the more rumors and complaints piled up within the beer community.

Despite the many issues, St. Arnulf Alery, a new brewery in Cadiz, Kentucky, announced on social media that a beer garden was under construction in late September 2018.

And then nothing.

Without explanation or warning, the beer stopped flowing. Distribution stopped. Contact ceased.

With somewhere around 7,000 breweries in America, apparently there are numerous opportunities to fleece unsuspecting sheep. It's an incredible tale.

Based on conversations with former colleagues of Foster’s, in addition to what Foster told others, here’s a timeline:

  • Pre- 2007: Foster is allegedly receiving brewing education in Germany and later employed in beverage jobs in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic
  • 2007- 2008: Bowling Green Brewing Co. (KY)
  • Pre-2011: Boston Breweries + Unnamed brewery (Cape Town, South Africa)
  • 2011: Nimbus Brewing (AZ)
  • 2011 – 2013: Four Horsemen Brewing Co. (IN)
  • 2014 – 2015: Knoxville Saw Works / South College (TN)
  • 2015: Sevier Ale House project (Gatlinburg, TN)
  • 2015: Wyndridge Farm (PA)
  • 2016: 81Bay Brewing (FL)
  • 2017-2018: St. Arnulf Alery

Since researching this story, I have learned that Foster occasionally goes by his first name of ‘Scott’ and sometimes takes the last name of ‘Sala.’ As of January 2019, colleagues of Foster believe he is residing with his family in Illinois.

The takeaway for small business owners, of breweries or otherwise – take the time to interview and check references. Know who you’re allowing to become an ambassador for your brand and your name, and especially those who you might be entrusting with investment dollars.

Paste's Jim Vorel picked up Moeller's story and did some musing of his own. How has Foster avoided fraud or embezzlement charges, and "why would a guy like this travel the country, uprooting his family once a year on average, in order to attempt to pass himself off as an experienced brewmaster?"

Perhaps it's because in the overall scheme of things amid corporate America's daily shakedowns and shysterings, Foster's cons are small beer, and mostly off the media radar. He's defrauding family-owned indie businesses, which (a) suffer a degree of self-effacing embarrassment after being ripped off, and (b) figure they don't have the resources to mount a pursuit.

Then again ... can Foster actually be charged with anything substantive?

How many handshakes were involved, as opposed to formal contracts? It's not any less scandalous, but it isn't clear to me whether Foster has done anything explicitly illegal. The lawyers can weigh in on this, and I'm sure they will.

As a supporter of citizen journalism, lots of kudos to Moeller for writing. It seems to me this is something the Brewers Association would pick up -- that is, whenever the BA is finished canonizing Charlie Papazian.

The Unbelievable Story of Stephen Foster, Craft Beer Con Man, by Jim Vorel (Paste)

I’ve heard some strange stories about brewery employees over the years, but it’s 100 percent accurate to say that I’ve never heard a story like this one before. Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione once described the craft beer industry as 99 percent asshole-free, but if the years since have taught us anything, it’s that he was being very generous in his estimation. Especially in a world where the likes of Stephen Foster continue to exist, trailing brewery closures in their wake.

We should note: Information regarding this story is still pretty scarce. Most of what we know comes from a Kentucky Sports Radio story first published yesterday, wherein the tale of Stephen Foster is brought to light, but there are some supporting anecdotes to be found around the web. Some of this stuff may have to be taken with a grain of salt, but there are enough corroborating breweries to say this with some degree of certainty: A man named Stephen Foster has been conning American craft breweries for more than a decade, at the very least. It’s like the beer world’s equivalent of Frank Abagnale in Catch Me If You Can, except much less sophisticated.

Credit where credit is due: Writer Michael Moeller did a bang-up job of diving into the seedy history of this craft beer bogeyman in his KSR story, and you should really go read it in its entirety.

Today's brutal cringe vid: "I'm David Duggins and I'm here to help."

As ever devoted to surface sheen rather than internal competence, Team Gahan's newest innovation for the New Albany Housing Authority calls for the "executive" director -- appointed to his position by Mayor Gahan following the latter's hostile takeover of NAHA -- to conduct conflagrationside video chats each Monday.

Are you feeling the love? By the way, here's the bottom line for a functionary who came to his new job without qualifications.

Deaf Gahan takes care of his own, doesn't he? Others aren't always so fortunate.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

ON THE AVENUES: How has the 3rd district councilman fared since this question from 2015: "Et tu, Greg Phipps?"

ON THE AVENUES: How has the 3rd district councilman fared since this question from 2015: "Et tu, Greg Phipps?"

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

It's coming around again, isn't it?

Since the column reprinted today first was published on April 27, 2015 councilman Greg Phipps (D-3rd) has blithely cast Jeff Speck to the dire pleasantries of HWC Engineering, in the process supporting and defending a long delayed and thoroughly botched Gahanian two-way street reversion so hideously disfigured that random speedway band-aids still are being applied ... by HWC Engineering.

That's no plus. More importantly, given Phipps' previous stated interest in transparency, analytical analysis and political integrity, these theoretical priorities have long since been subordinated to the fix-is-in needs of Jeff Gahan's pay-to-play political patronage machine.

Has Phipps held a single public forum during the past seven years?

Then there's this, from 2011: “I have no desire to become a career politician.” Except now Phipps wants four more years, which would total 12. Matt Nash, Bob Caesar and Pat McLaughlin also want extra time: respectively, 2nd, 4th and 4th terms.

Extra time? I can't agree. All their terms combined have totaled previous little in terms of genuine achievement, although Mayor Gahan surely appreciates their assistance in feathering his own nest.

It's time for a change, isn't it? 



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

I’ve been thinking about 2011, when Greg Phipps defeated Steve Price in the primary, and then won the 3rd district city council seat against Jameson Bledsoe in November. For one shining moment, there was dancing in the streets; then we met the new boss, but I won't look back in anger.

On October 26, 2011, Daniel Suddeath previewed the contest in the News and Tribune.

Phipps was unable to be reached for additional comment, but stated in his election questionnaire submitted to the News and Tribune that some council members have been more interested in “playing politics than finding solutions to our city’s problems.”

“Integrity needs to be restored to the city council,” said Phipps, who is a 50-year-old senior lecturer and coordinator of sociology in the Indiana University Southeast School of Social Sciences.

It is Phipps’ first campaign for elected office, but he’s the president of the New Albany Board of Zoning Appeals and was president of the East Spring Street Neighborhood Association in 2007.

He said better transparency is needed in local government, and said he would hold semi-annual public forums, if elected.

“I honestly believe I can provide new and progressive leadership for the residents of the third district and the city as a whole,” he said.

The calendar reads 2015, and Phipps is running for re-election. He is unopposed in the May 5 primary, and has little reason to be substantive, but last week, on April 21, he offered a genuine bolt-from-the-sky, out-of-the-blue revelation, posting a Facebook assessment of Mayor Jeff Gahan's position on street grid reform in New Albany, which centers on Jeff Speck’s downtown street network proposals, whether they’ll ever come to fruition, and if so, when.

Note that like Phipps, Gahan seeks re-election.

Mayor Gahan is committed to making our downtown streets more friendly to drivers and walkers. Three concepts are being developed to address this issue. What makes it great is that the federal government is going to cover 80% of the cost. Soon we will have options to improve the way we move, which will include more 2-way streets, better signage, and safer crossings. I’m sure downtown residents and businesses will be pleased with the results. Two additional items must be considered before moving forward: 1) the cost of the project. 2) There must be a plan to allow trucks in and out of downtown.

Why is this noteworthy?

To date, Gahan has made no verifiable or attributable public statement suggesting a positive position on the topic, openly and for the record. The mayor has made numerous private comments, most of which have come with “not to be repeated” warnings appended.

Love or hate Jeff Gahan, this much is beyond dispute: He has maintained a rigorous, non-committal public neutrality on street grid reform. At least on this one topic, he has been transparently non-transparent.

Consequently, for Phipps to suggest mere days prior to the primary that Gahan now advocates street grid reform, albeit as a bizarre milquetoast on the down-low, whimpering in a watered-down variety of bureaucratically-worded pablum, constitutes real news.

As such, given months of mayoral silence, we must ask for proof.

Exactly when did Gahan say this, and to whom?

Where can I read it in his words?

Can you show me?

How do we know it’s really true?

More than once since last Tuesday, I've asked the Phipps camp to verify the source of this statement with something (anything) attributable to Gahan himself.

I've received no answer, and yet as a university instructor and sociologist, surely Phipps understands that the validity of any affirmative claim is suspect if it cannot be verified and attributed in precisely the same fashion as my requests for proof of mayoral street grid intent, on the record, in the open, for all to see.

Without such standards of evidence, academic research would be rendered moot. They’re also questions any reputable journalist would ask, aren’t they?

Obviously, politics constitutes a different set of rules, most of them dubious, and yet during his first run for office, it was Phipps himself who raised the bar and said he'd approach such issues “analytically,” adding that “I have no desire to become a career politician.”

And yet four years later, certain shoes seem to have shifted feet -- and it's getting ugly.

Some might say that by asking reasonable questions, I’m unfairly stalking or bullying Phipps. It isn't true. My satiric references to yard sign sizes aside, what I’m doing is requesting intellectual accountability from a university professor who has chosen to be a public official, and who has previously indicated with explicitness that he accepts precisely such scrutiny.

Except when they're my questions,

Moreover, I’m asking for accountability from Phipps as it pertains to his specific role as public official. After all, I remain a constituent. If Phipps wishes to explain which questions from constituents are deemed proper for his response and which are not, it’s an explanation of potential interest to all voters in his district, and not just me.

He should offer this parsing of  constituent service now … verifiably, openly, and for attribution. That’s what greater transparency in local government is all about, right?

In my insistence on making these points, is there negativity, cynicism or anger?

Not much, if any. It may resemble the act of trying to assemble a jigsaw puzzle in a pea soup fog while wearing mittens, but I’m not angry about it. Providentially, my colleague Jeff G. has helped me understand this “oversimplification” of anger with an excerpt from an interview with the late comedian, George Carlin.

April 3, 2004: Dirty old man: George Carlin on obscenity in the age of Ashcroft, by Charles Taylor (Salon)

... When people say, “What are you so angry about?” Well, that’s a terrible oversimplification because I don’t live an angry life as people who know me for five minutes or five years will say. They rarely see me in an angry mood. I get irritated like anyone else, in traffic or in a long line that’s not moving. But I don’t carry anger around. What I feel is a sense of betrayal by my species and by my culture — that they lost their way and misled me, too, to a degree.

I’m a disappointed idealist. I think of myself as a skeptic, a realist. I think the cynics are the people who left the gas tank on the Ford Pinto, companies that kill people and just cross them out because they can’t afford to retool. That’s a cynical position. But the saying goes, if you scratch a cynic, you find a disappointed idealist, and that’s what’s going on with me. Down deep and underneath, the flame still flickers. I wish for an idealist, utopic world but the realist in me says it’s never gonna happen because of the way they’ve structured power and money and control and the hierarchies they’ve established.

I'm not angry.

But I'm quite capable of voting my disappointment.*


* If I were to rewrite this sentence in 2019, it would go like this: "But I'm quite capable of filing my disappointment."


Recent columns:

January 22: ON THE AVENUES: Democrats should judge city council incumbents in districts 2, 3, 4 and 5 by their regressive deeds, not their progressive words.

January 15: ON THE AVENUES REWOUND: Jeff Gahan and Adam Dickey are Trumping the Donald when it comes to breathtaking moral turpitude. Have they no shame?

January 8: ON THE AVENUES: In the 3rd district, that "stepping aside" time finally has arrived.

January 1: ON THE AVENUES: As a new year dawns, I’m existentially yours.

Seattle's Alaskan Way Viaduct, and why "predicted gridlock almost never happens and what this teaches us about travel demand."

Not that I'd expect Warren Nash or the Bored with Works to read this, but you should.

Why Carmaggedon never comes (Seattle edition), by Joe Cortright (City Observatory)

Why predicted gridlock almost never happens and what this teaches us about travel demand

Seattle has finally closed its aging Alaskan Way viaduct, a six-lane double-decker freeway that since the 1940s has been a concrete scar separating Seattle’s downtown from Elliott Bay. In a few weeks, much of this capacity will be replaced by a new 3 billion dollar highway tunnel under downtown Seattle, but until then, the city will have to simply do without a big chunk of the highway system that circulates cars around downtown Seattle.

Losing a major freeway that carries nearly hundred thousand vehicles a day through the heart of the city will certainly cause a major disruption to the traffic. The Seattle Times confidently told its readers in early January to prepare for a traffic cataclysm: “the region can’t absorb the viaduct’s 90,000 daily vehicle trips and 30,000 detoured bus riders without traffic jams that likely will ripple out as far as [distant suburbs] Woodinville or Auburn.” Our friends at CityLab echoed the ominous rhetoric with a story headlined “Viadoom: Time for the Seattle Squeeze Traffic Hell.”

That’s pretty scary stuff. But two days into Seattle’s brush with carmaggedon how are things looking?

Fairly good, actually.

It may seem like a stretch to suggest that closing the Alaskan Way viaduct actually made traffic conditions in Seattle better, but in some respects, thats likely to be the case. Worried about getting caught in a traffic jam, it’s likely that many travelers postponed or re-rerouted their trips. If closing the viaduct reduces the number of trips to downtown Seattle, it reduces traffic on other streets as well.

Consequently ...

What road closures teach us about travel demand

So what’s going on here? Arguably, our mental model of traffic is just wrong. We tend to think of traffic volumes, and trip-making generally as inexorable forces of nature. The diurnal flow of 100,000 vehicles a day on an urban freeway the Alaskan Way viaduct is just as regular and predictable as the tides. What this misses is that there’s a deep behavioral basis to travel. Human beings will shift their behavior in response to changing circumstances. If road capacity is impaired, many people can decide not to travel, change when they travel, change where they travel, or even change their mode of travel. The fact that Carmageddon almost never comes is powerful evidence of induced demand: people travel on roadways because the capacity is available for their trips, when when the capacity goes away, so does much of the trip making.

If we visualize travel demand as an fixed, irreducible quantity, it’s easy to imagine that there will be carmaggedon when a major link of the transportation system goes away. But in the face of changed transportation system, people change their behavior. And while we tend to believe that most people have no choice and when and where they travel, the truth is many people do, and that they respond quickly to changes in the transportation system. Its a corollary of induced demand: when we build new capacity in urban roadways, traffic grows quickly to fill it, resulting in more travel and continuing traffic jams. What we have here is “reduced demand”–when we cut the supply of urban road space, traffic volumes fall.

Monday, January 28, 2019

GREEN MOUSE SAYS: Just $400k in mechanics' liens involving Denton Floyd and the Mansion on Main. Whither the Reisz Mahal?

As noted in Louisville Business First, two Mansion on Main subcontractors have filed "mechanics' liens" against various of Denton Floyd's LLCs.

The Green Mouse first heard about this last December.

Lien this way, because it's a Mansion on Main pop quiz -- and we're leaning toward this autographed 12-pack of Bud Light Lime Mango-Rita as first prize.

To learn more about DF Development LLC, go here. There's even nice views of Mayor Jeff Gahan cutting the ribbon at Mansion on Main.

It's amazing Gahan can reach the ribbon with the scissors given all that cash in his pockets. To no one's surprise, one or the other arms of Denton Floyd have found it expedient to feather Gahan's re-election nest ever since then-redevelopment wheel-greaser David Duggins structured the pay-to-play.

Sonny and Cher provide the coda.

Always remember, and never forget: #FireGahan2019


ON THE AVENUES: Government Lives Matter, so it's $10,000,000 for Gahan's luxury city hall clique enhancement. Happy dumpster diving, peasants!

ON THE AVENUES: Could that be David Duggins paddling across Jeff Gahan's putrid cesspool? On second thought, I'll take the blindfold.

BEER WITH A SOCIALIST: Pilsner Urquell still tastes wonderful under Asahi, so I'm not worried about the future of Fuller's.

There's only so much a sodden socialist can do to make sense of a wayward planet that stubbornly refuses to listen to his rants.

As such, I admit there was a time when news like the Asahi acquisition of Fuller's would have upset me. However, I have adapted to modernity and embraced the reasoning of the Pour Fool, which I'll paraphrase.

As it pertains to the acquisition of one brewery by another (and larger) one, only when the larger one is AB-InBev need we be necessarily alarmed.

In other words, because AB-InBev remains The Great Satan, nothing good can come from its nefarious activities. Nothing. Ever.

On the other hand, a deal like Asahi's takeover of Fuller's, while annoying, does not necessarily doom the latter to irrelevance. The loss of independence is cause for lamentation, and yet the Japanese have a better track record than the Brazilians when it comes to preserving the essences.

Or something like that.

Fight me. 


The Japanese beer giant Asahi has made a massive vote of confidence in the future of the real ale sector in the UK with its £250m purchase of Fullers’ beer business.

And if that’s not the angle you took away from the story, you’re not thinking this through properly.

The crux of it is here.

Asahi clearly thinks there is profit to be had in the business of supplying beer to British pubs. With Fullers’ emphasis, still, on cask beer brands it obviously believes buying the rights to brew cask beer is worth a substantial wodge of corporate cash and there is a hearty future ahead. Meanwhile, on the “oh no the accountants will ruin London Pride” front, as part of the fall-out from the AB Inbev-SAB Miller merger, Asahi ended up with Pilsner Urquell and Meantime in London, among other Western beer brands. I’ve heard no moans from either of those two concerns about how the Japanese are treating them. If you pay a lot of money buying a product that sells on its premium image, you don’t mess about with that image.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Luna enters our world.

In 2018 we sadly said goodbye to our two oldest feline friends. Hugo and Nadia both departed the planet at the age of 16, and as noted previously, their absence impelled our feral adoptee Mila to opt for a degree of self-domestication.

Nearing middle age (circa 7 years old), she's generally sedate and perfectly content to kick back and survey the scene without undue motion.

Now for something completely different. This is Luna, and the 1117 East Spring Street Neighborhood Association welcomes her to the house.

Luna is around 8 months old, and recently was brought to Access Veterinary with a broken right rear leg by a family who couldn't care for her any longer. Our friends Dr. Smock and Dr. Rowland repaired the damage; Luna has a pin in her leg and is currently equipped with a plastic head guard to prevent her from tearing the sutures.

Hopefully she'll be as right as rain in three weeks, and we are delighted to give a kitty a home. It's a serendipitous reboot to our household cat program, and we're grateful to the docs and their excellent team at Access for letting us know Luna needed us.

For the first three or so weeks, Luna gets to camp in this nice tent. That's because she cannot wander the house unattended owing to the danger of jumping on tables and furniture, and possibly reinjuring her leg. Diana set up Luna's perimeter.

Luna isn't tremendously happy with being restricted to quarters.

Job one is to wait until the incision is healed so she can be relieved of her head gear. Then it's a matter of grinding out the weeks until she can be set free to roam.

Will Mila approve? Stay tuned. I'm already exhausted, but the house feels like a home again.

"Bands are known for drink, drugs and dust-ups. But beyond the debauchery lie four models for how to run a business."

For your approbation, owing primarily to the great opening story about Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts. It's a good read, on the glib side but instructive. I've seen similar models at work during my time in the brewing business. Maybe I'll tell those stories someday when I write my autobiography: "What I Remember."

Thanks for the title, Phil.

A rocker’s guide to management (in 1843, sister magazine to The Economist)

Bands are known for drink, drugs and dust-ups. But beyond the debauchery lie four models for how to run a business

In his languidly titled autobiography, “Life”, Keith Richards tells a story that captures something about the workplace culture of the Rolling Stones and his decades as the band’s guitarist. It’s 1984 and the Stones are in Amsterdam for a meeting (yes, even Keith Richards attends meetings). That night, Richards and Mick Jagger go out for a drink and return to their hotel in the early hours, by which time Jagger is somewhat the worse for wear. “Give Mick a couple of glasses, he’s gone,” Richards writes, scornfully.

Jagger decides that he wants to see Charlie Watts, who has already gone to bed. He picks up the phone, calls Watts’s room and says, “Where’s my drummer?” There is no response from the other end of the line. Jagger and Richards have a few more drinks. Twenty minutes later, there’s a knock at the door. It is Watts, dressed in one of his Savile Row suits, freshly shaved and cologned. He seizes Jagger and shouts “Never call me your drummer again,” and delivers a sharp right hook to the singer’s chin.*

Rock stars sometimes seem to exist in a completely different world to our own. It is easy to forget that they, too, are subject to office politics. Watts was the drummer, and Jagger was the leader, or co-leader, of the band. It was Jagger who commanded stages around the world and took responsibility for the band’s major business decisions. But by calling Watts my drummer, Jagger had upset the delicate balance of deference and respect that sustains the relationships between co-workers in any workplace. Of course, there aren’t many offices in which the principals take industrial quantities of artificial stimulants and launch themselves into fistfights. (Imagine being the HR director for the Stones – the paperwork!) But the dynamics of an incident like this are familiar to anyone who has ever felt compelled to request that their boss get over themselves.

The notion that bands should make music for the love of it was always romantic and now seems positively quaint. Rock groups are mini-corporations (some of them not so mini). Bands such as Coldplay or Kings of Leon operate sophisticated corporate machines that are responsible for multiple revenue streams; at a recent conference, Metallica’s drummer spoke about the importance of using the right customer-engagement software. Yet the music machine ultimately depends on a small group of talented individuals working closely together to create something magical. Once members of a group decide that they can’t stand to be in the same room as each other, the magic stops and the money dries up.

If rock groups are businesses, businesses are getting more like rock bands. Workplaces are far more informal than they used to be, with less emphasis on protocol, rank and authority. Many firms try to cultivate the creativity that can come from close collaboration. Employers attempt to engineer personal chemistry, hiring coaches to fine-tune team dynamics and sending staff on team-building exercises. Employees are encouraged to share lunch, play table tennis and generally hang out. As the founder of Hubble, a London office-space company, put it, “We hope that our team will become friends first, and colleagues second” ...

* Wikipedia relays the tale a tad differently:

One anecdote relates that in the mid-1980s, an intoxicated Jagger phoned Watts' hotel room in the middle of the night asking "Where's my drummer?". Watts reportedly got up, shaved, dressed in a suit, put on a tie and freshly shined shoes, descended the stairs, and punched Jagger in the face, saying: "Don't ever call me your drummer again. You're my fucking singer!"

The Crusades, a video series about medieval holy warriors.

That dreaded word “journey” appears to have been banned: instead, we have proper, old-fashioned narrative history of the sort that TV has almost forgotten how to do, starting at the beginning and continuing until the end.
-- Robert Colvile


I vote in favor of old-fashioned narrative history, as with this series from a few years back.


Holy War 1/3: How the first crusaders marched 3,000 miles from Europe to recapture Jerusalem from Islam.

Clash of the Titans 2/3: Dr Thomas Asbridge examines the lives of Richard the Lionheart and Saladin.

Victory and Defeat 3/3: Dr Thomas Asbridge reveals how the outcome of the holy wars was decided in Egypt.

The official BBC Two site is The Crusades, with further background by Colvile:

The Crusades: holy warriors (The Telegraph)

Robert Colvile is inspired by a new BBC Two series telling the real history of the crusades.

A few years ago, I found myself standing on the ramparts of Krak des Chevaliers, Syria’s great crusader castle, just as a thunderstorm broke. As the wind howled through the slitted stone windows, I tried to imagine what would have gone through the heads of the knights who garrisoned this lonely fortress for more than a century, as medieval Christendom’s first line of defence against the Muslims to the east.

In BBC Two’s new three-part documentary series, The Crusades, Dr Thomas Asbridge of the University of London asks his viewers to make that same leap of imagination – to understand a world in which faith was so important that in 1095, Pope Urban II was able to convince anything up to 100,000 people to forsake their family lives and homes and answer his call to reclaim Jerusalem, even though the holy city had fallen to the Muslims centuries earlier. So alien is the devotion – the fanaticism – that was displayed that Asbridge has to spend almost a third of the opening episode easing us into the medieval mindset, making us understand how the Pope’s promise of salvation could outweigh any worldly good or blessing.

The resulting story, while gripping, is far from pleasant ...

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Newspaper lip syncs ZZ Top: "We Gotsa Get Paid" for sheriff's sales notices.

Seeing as I'm very nearly paralyzed with eagerness while waiting for Sunday's multiple religion columnists, let's turn it over to Mark and Jeff to dissemble the most recent of the local chain newspaper's ever rarer editorial utterances. First their replies, then the opinion piece, called "Public notices belong in the newspaper."

C'mon, management. A region turns its lonely eyes to Son of Cooking School, which surely must be on the horizon.

Does Tom May get to do THAT one, too? Is he a shareholder yet?


Mark Cassidy
So, you are saying that for me to get this public information, I have to buy your newspaper. Correct? Isn’t that what this all boils down to? You get paid to print it and then you get paid again when you sell the newspaper with the public information in it. Sounds pretty much like a subsidy to me.

Jeff Gillenwater
Indeed, Mark, there is nothing other than their own business plans keeping newspapers from reporting the issues mentioned without anyone purchasing an ad. Likewise, many low and fixed income people are eligible for Internet service at rates that are less than or comparable to the monthly print subscription fee. It’s often a question of who gets paid rather than how much.


Given the critical importance of getting the word out to the public about House Bill 1212, I hope management won't mind my publishing the editor's thoughts in their entirety. Don't forget to call your legislator and tell him or her that you'd like to see another Christian advocacy column on Sunday.

OUR OPINION: Public notices belong in the newspaper, by Susan Duncan (Where the Buffalo and Tom May Roam)

H.B. 1212 limits access to foreclosure information

THE ISSUE: Indiana House Bill 1212 would change the publication requirement for notice of sheriff's sales (mortgage foreclosures), eliminating newspaper publication in favor of posting the information on a website operated by the county or the sheriff.

OUR OPINION: Publication of sheriff's sales in the local newspaper maximizes community access while closing the door on potential misconduct.

Before Indiana legislators is H.B. 1212, which passed the House Committee on Financial Institutions on a 7-3 vote. A full vote by the House could come as early as midweek.

The bill's author, Rep. Wendy McNamara, R-Evansville, has said she wants to eliminate newspaper publication of public notices altogether. We believe that goes against the public good.

Should mortgage foreclosures be relegated to digital publication, only people with internet access and an enabling device, i.e. computer, tablet or smartphone, would be able to see them. The disadvantaged would be denied access, unless they had bus fare for a daily trip to the public library.

Public notice of foreclosures protects the elderly, disabled, uneducated and those out of the country – like members of the Armed Forces. It also helps the holder of the mortgage by enlarging the pool of bidders should a property actually go to foreclosure sale. Newspaper public notices alert an entire community of an event that serves the property rights of a member of the community.

Public notices in newspapers are in plain sight. CNHI Indiana newspapers also post the notices to their websites, to ensure the widest possible public exposure. Hiding them away on government websites as McNamara suggests increases the opportunity for self-dealing or collusion. It helps attorneys who handle the foreclosure process and predatory insiders interested in buying the properties at the lowest price possible, so they can turn a larger profit on the resale after the homeowner is evicted.

Under H.B. 1212, the county or sheriff's department — with more critical duties before them — would be responsible for uploading the information. They would have to reassign or hire staff to post the information in a timely fashion, ensure its accuracy, provide proofs of publication and maintain individual listings for three years. Who would pay for that? Already overburdened taxpayers.

The cost of newspaper publication, though, falls squarely on those who benefit from the sale. That's who should pay the fee for service. And while the money does go to help pay printing costs and journalists' salaries, it's hardly a subsidy, as McNamara has framed it.

Newspapers are at their core information aggregators. Three million Hoosiers read a printed newspaper during an average week, according to data provided by the Hoosier State Press Association. They pick up the paper for many reasons, not the least of which is to peruse the Classified Ads, where jobs are found, cars are sold, and public notices are printed, everything from the school superintendent's salary and the city's budget, to name changes and, yes, sheriff's sales.

Newspapers have the expertise to maximize accuracy, oversee the integrity of the process and disseminate the information to the most people. They serve a broad audience that is looking for news.

When a choice is to be made on access to information, we urge lawmakers to join us in protecting the public's right to know. They should side with the people they serve and reject H.B. 1212.

Explaining the mayor's Rally's/Checkers photo-op in the context of Pay to Play, the Suburban Experiment, and Strong Towns.

This embarrassment owes to boondoggle splashback. I'm happy to explain.

The City of New Albany subsidized the Summit Springs hilltop development by means of using the roadway to the top as pretext to redevelop the Daisy Lane intersection at State Street.

At the time, this intervention was artfully justified by then-redevelopment honcho David Duggins' assertion that by working with private profit-seekers, the city could be sure the ensuing development would be done correctly.

Duggins subsequently was packed off to ruin human lives at the housing authority, but this lies outside the scope of today's Rally's indigestion.

From Team Gahan's standpoint, the "right" results from its Summit Springs TIF One Card deferred costs were immediately evident, and to avoid clutter, we'll spotlight just one.

In fact the overall verdict remains very clear.

The city's participation in Summit Springs under the scarcely examined rubric of "economic development" inevitably meant that business winners and losers were being chosen by local government, as in the instance of the laughably termed "iconic" Rally's/Checker chain restaurant grand opening; just note that by virtue of the public subsidies showered upon the private profiteers of Summit Springs, this restaurant itself benefited from municipal subsidies, as these same benefits were unavailable to a true indie small business opening elsewhere.

The city's propaganda team desperately needs a dose of localism, and also might learn from the example of Strong Towns, because in addition to the preceding, the infrastructure being TIFFed into creation on and near Summit Springs will bear maintenance costs in the future, and these are not being factored into the costs at present. While Summit Springs is within a short distance of the dense urban core, its rationale and required expenditures are firmly within the boundaries of the short-term "Suburban Experiment" described below by Charles Marohn ... of Strong Towns.

Read up, pay-to-play Gahanites.

Ha ha. I make myself laugh out loud at times.


What do you do when you need to change everything? by Charles Marohn

Our cities are struggling financially. But culturally, we lack a common understanding to explain why this is, let alone decide what to do about it.

Many people want to believe we’re simply not paying enough taxes. Others believe that our tax rates are too high. We might have too little regulation, or not enough. Some say we need an active government, and some, more of a free market... But at Strong Towns, we don’t see things in such binary ways.

Plenty of Americans wish we would listen to the experts and hand things over to the people who claim they know what needs to be done. Others believe we have too many experts, and that they know a lot less than they think they do...

We’re more nuanced here at Strong Towns; a little expertise combined with a lot of humility can be a powerful force for good.

A Cultural Consensus That Lacks Real Understanding

One area where we have something approaching an American cultural consensus is our need to spend more money on infrastructure. Left, right, center... it seems most people can agree on this. But Strong Towns advocates think differently.

What we at Strong Towns have seen so clearly is that our cities struggle not from the lack of a cultural consensus, but because of one.

We’ve structured our economy around the principles of the Suburban Experiment, an approach to growth that provides lots of short-term rewards at the expense of our long-term strength and resiliency. Our cultural consensus on infrastructure spending is built on false statistics and short-term planning, but it lacks a common understanding about the root causes of financial failure and financial success.

Strong Cities, Towns and Neighborhoods

If America is going to be a strong country, it must first have strong cities, towns and neighborhoods.

We can't manufacture prosperity with infrastructure spending or federal dollars; it has to be built from the bottom up.

We understand that cities become strong and resilient when they grow incrementally, when they shun the easy path of simplistic solutions and instead do the hard work of making modest investments over a broad area over a long period of time.

We know that local governments must focus on their financial productivity and that doing this math is not optional if we want to create prosperous places.

And at Strong Towns, we know that the cities that obsess about the struggles of their own residents — cities that make a commitment to observe where people struggle day-to-day within the community, and then focus on continuously doing the next smallest thing to reduce that struggle — these cities are not only going to help people; they are going to be making the highest returning investments they can possibly make. They are going to become Strong Towns.

These are radical insights. They run counter to our current consensus about growth, development and infrastructure. Yet, when we share these radical notions with others — when we have a chance to expose people to the Strong Towns message and our vision of the future — something amazing happens.

A Powerful, Radical Message That we can All Agree on

People who don’t agree — who can’t even productively talk to each other today — find something they agree on in Strong Towns. Something challenging. Something radical. Something that, if spread to enough people, can form that basis of a new cultural consensus.

A strong America made up of strong cities, towns and neighborhoods. That’s the vision.

We have a powerful message and we have built our organization around a movement to spread it. We’re attacking the complex problem of struggling cities by changing the current cultural consensus. We do this in three simple ways:

We create content.
We distribute that content as broadly as possible.
We nudge people to take action.

And it’s working. Don't miss out. Be part of what we're building together. Memberships start at just $5 per month. Join the movement.