Thursday, October 31, 2019

Trump at Game 5: Live by the theatrical gesture, die by the theatrical gesture.

Reminiscent of John 3:16?

I'll remember the World Series as the first time in a long while that I rooted for a National League team. New York Yankees appearances are an exception, and in cases of a Dodgers-Yankees series, I wouldn't watch at all.

I've nothing whatever against the players, but I couldn't abide the Houston front office's tone-deaf response to assistant general manager Brandon Taubman's outbursts aimed at female reporters, which took place following the league championship series.

Seems Taubman outed himself as a douche bag -- albeit it explainable behavior for him given a former career on Wall Street -- and his superiors arrogantly flailed for days before belatedly mouthing platitudes absent sincerity about their comprehension of a changing world.

Around the game, shots of schadenfreude have been chased by I-told-you-so's. Contempt for the Astros runs deep -- and has well before this incident. Jealousy breeds some of it. The organization's arrogance accounts for the rest. The Astros painted themselves as a disrupter and reveled in the commotion. They lived with the perception that they didn't understand people. They fed their process, followed it with fealty, doubled down. They believed in it, and they never had much of a reason not to, not until a week ago, when the assistant GM high on the feeling of winning the pennant opened his mouth, and two days later, when Luhnow and the Astros forgot to abide by that essential principle that has guided them for so long: Bad information leads to bad decisions.

Spare the tears for Taubman. Before we know it he'll be back at an investment firm, screwing taxpayers.

 And the Trump scene at Game 5? Spew feces for a living, and you'd best expect to get feces spewed back at you.

I'm happy the Washington Nationals won; again, nothing against the Astros as players. Even apart from the Houston front office fiasco, witnessing a seven-game pro sports series in which the visiting team won all the games is something we're not likely to see repeated.

Take me out of this ball game at The Economist

Donald Trump’s embarrassing reception at the World Series was a defining moment of his presidency

As a rule of thumb, the more an American president is loved, the more baseball stories there are about him.

Although not Donald Trump.

He had not been to watch the Washington Nationals (the Senators’ successors) before this week. And though he was persuaded to go because the “Nats” were appearing in their first World Series, he was not invited to throw the first pitch. On what he might have expected to be his best day as commander-in-chief (he revealed the killing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi hours earlier), he was hidden away in an executive suite. The Lerner family that owns the Nats did not want him sitting with them. And the one time he flashed up on the big screen the jeering of the crowd was thunderous. A chant of “Lock him up!” rippled round the stadium long after Mr Trump’s image was replaced by footage of smiling servicemen. “Veterans for impeachment” read a banner behind home plate.

The usual battle lines were drawn.

Mr Trump’s Republican defenders dismissed this indignity as mere swamp gurgling. “You can either be loved in dc and hated in America. Or you can be loved in America and hated in dc,” tweeted Congressman Jody Hice. But it signified much worse for the president and his party than a few thousand hostile bureaucrats.

The newspaper concludes ...

He is not the first president to be booed at a sporting event. Bill Clinton was jeered by a nascar crowd, George W. Bush and Barack Obama at baseball games. But veterans of those occasions (and there were several watching the Nats that night) considered the hatefulness of the response to Mr Trump qualitatively different. This should make conservatives even more worried. For years they have exaggerated the vindictiveness and radicalism of the left to mask the contradictions in their own camp. Yet Mr Trump’s divisiveness has turned this into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Charged with partisan grievance, many on the left want to scrap the electoral college, pack the courts—do whatever it takes to never again be tyrannised by an antediluvian minority. Conservatives may soon have more than the odd gay wedding cake to contend with.

And it already seems certain that the one baseball event Mr Trump will be associated with occurred at Nationals Park this week. Sport lifts people with a feeling of vicarious striving for perfection even when their team loses. And when it wins, as the Nationals ultimately did, bringing Washington its first World Series in almost a century, the memory never fades. This is why sport is so much more loved than politics. Immortalised in baseball history, Mr Trump’s humiliation this week will be remembered long after most of his administration’s scandals have faded into oblivion.

Amadeo Lázaro and 50 kilos of snails on Sunday: “There are no bartenders like me any more, I’m a museum piece.”

Photo credit: EL PAÍS

This article was suggested by Jeff and Karen, who recently spent time in Spain. I find myself deeply moved. A long-term commitment to one's craft seems such an anachronism, and yet it should be the norm.

This guy gets it, snails and all. 

“There are no bartenders like me any more, I’m a museum piece”, by Julia F. Cadenas; English version by Alicia Kember (EL PAÍS)

EL PAÍS speaks to Amadeo Lázaro, the 90-year-old owner of the iconic tavern Casa Amadeo, about success, preparing snails and why he has no plans to retire

When Amadeo Lázaro is asked if he is the boss, he replies that he’s just the errand boy. “We’re here to serve you, to welcome you with a positive attitude,” he says. Lázaro first began working at a bar when he was 11. Now, at age 90, he has been running Madrid’s iconic Casa Amadeo “Los Caracoles,” in the La Latina neighborhood, for nearly half a century.

Question. You’ve been here a few years…
Answer. A few years less than Cascorro square [where the bar is located].

Q. The square is going to be renamed.
A. After all I’ve done, the square should be renamed after me.

Q. What have you learned in this time?
A. I’m still learning! Because there is so much to learn. I have learned that it is a virtue to be friendly, warm, and humble when accepting people‘s money. You have to know how to hope and how to love ...

ON THE AVENUES: In which Team Gahan's looming appointment with unemployment is examined.


Many readers have been asking me what I think about the municipal election, which will conclude around 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 5. You're entitled to my opinion, so here goes.

Previously I issued my endorsements:


As for who I think will win the 2019 New Albany municipal election, first consider the results of the last 12 elections.

1971: Democratic challenger Warren Nash defeats Republican incumbent Garnett Inman, 9,097 to 6,180.
Total votes: 15,277
Percentage: 60 - 40

1975: Republican challenger Robert Real defeats Nash, 9,264 to 4,763.
Total votes: 14,027
Percentage: 66 - 34

1979: Real defeats Democratic challenger John Stein, 6,637 to 3,801.
Total votes: 10,438
Percentage: 64 -36

1983: Democratic challenger Charles Hunter defeats Real, 6,148 to 5,888.
Total votes: 12,036
Percentage: 51 - 49

1987: Real defeats Hunter, 6,005 to 5,467.
Total votes: 11,472
Percentage: 52 - 48

1991: Democrat Doug England (4,785) defeats Independent Phyllis Garmon (4,154) and Republican Kenny Keilman (2,344).
Total votes: 11,283
Percentage: 42 – 37 - 21

1995: England defeats Real, 6,573 to 5,628.
Total votes: 12,201
Percentage: 54 - 46

1999: Republican challenger Regina Overton defeats England, 5,512 to 4,205.
Total votes: 9,717
Percentage: 57 - 43

2003: Democratic challenger James Garner defeats Overton, 5,971 to 3,893; 196 votes cast for Melanie Hughes (Libertarian).
Total votes: 10,600
Percentage: 59 – 39 – 2

2007: England defeats Randy Hubbard (Republican), 4,017 to 3,741.
Total votes: 7,758
Percentage: 52 - 48

2011: Democrat Jeff Gahan (4,506) defeats Republican Dale “DM” Bagshaw (1,389), Independent Jack Messer (1,024) and Libertarian Thomas Keister (88).
Total votes: 7,007
Percentage: 64 – 20 – 15 – 1

2015: Democrat Jeff Gahan (3,527) defeats Republican Kevin Zurschmiede (2,695) and Independent Roger A. Baylor (462).
Total votes: 6,684
Percentage: 53 - 40 - 7

The first and most noticeable trend is declining voter participation. In 2015 there were 4,000 fewer voters than in 2003. That’s a precipitous and stunning drop-off. Even if turnout modestly increases in 2019 (in spite of there being little reason to anticipate this), the long-term reality suggests an inexorable decline, with a few hundred more opting out this year.

These vaporized voters may or may not be a bad thing. Ask the 25% of eligible voters who took part in the 2015 election about persistent low turnout and they’d probably cite a civic duty to vote, expressing personal annoyance with low turnout. Then again, half the drivers on Spring Street as I walked to work in a pea soup fog on Monday morning didn’t think it was necessary to activate their car’s head lights.

Probably the only way the decline could be substantively reversed is holding municipal elections in the same years as presidential elections and mid-term congressional elections, which bring out bigger crowds, although this doesn’t appear likely.

Moving along, the historical math is clear.

Mayors in New Albany who run for a third term receive fewer votes than they scored the first two times. There hasn’t been a successful candidacy for a third term in City Hall since C. Pralle Erni, the FDR of New Albany politics, who won four consecutive terms from 1948 through 1963.

It’s unclear why third-term mayoral seekers do badly even as council representatives remain in office for multiple terms. Bob Real barely lost to Charles Hunter in 1983, while Regina Overton hammered Doug England in 1999. Both Real and England were popular enough, and both won second terms decisively (both also were elected mayor a third time, albeit non-consecutively).

Perhaps in a two-party duopoly like ours, eight years is plenty of time for the losing political party to siphon support, work back channels and mount a winning bid the third time out. Fatigue sets in after eight years as voters tire of the incumbent; as such, a new face (any new face) from the opposition is attractive.

This year in Jeffersonville might prove an exception; Mike Moore is seeking a third term and looks strong, but then again the face chosen by Democrats to challenge Moore is Tom Galligan, himself a former mayor and longtime wheeler-dealer, and hardly a breath of fresh air by any definition.

Against this backdrop we see that Gahan dropped 1,000 votes between 2011 and 2015, then hemorrhaged another 300 in the 2019 primary. Some of these departing voters succumbed to low-turnout indifference. Others sided with David White during his two Democratic Party primary insurgencies and did not return in the fall. Some died; some moved.

Some may have found a different religion. Others want to know when they can vote for Trump again. Conversely, perhaps getting to know Gahan better isn't a tremendously positive experience.

Using the 2015 numbers as a yardstick, the decline in Gahan’s support might find him with as few as 3,200 reliable votes for the general election in 2019; recall that around 1,400 Democratic voters opted for White in 2019, as they did in 2015, and it’s a safe assumption that these voters have strong feelings against Gahan and will not return to the party line in November.

(By the way, NA Confidential approves of this thought process.) 

It’s also a safe assumption that few of my 2015 supporters (492) aim to support Gahan in 2019. Combine them with Kevin Zurschmiede’s 2,695 tally in 2015, factor Gahan’s primary drop-off in the primary this year, and the race is a dead heat at around 3,100 votes each for Gahan and Seabrook.

Concurrently, while it would be overly-simplistic to suggest that all of my 2015 general election voters and all of White’s 2019 primary voters will swing to the Republicans, joining Zurschmiede’s supporters to produce an epic beat-down against Gahan, the scenario need be only half accurate for it to be a very bad omen for the incumbent.

New Albany political history in my own lifetime reveals that it is entirely possible for a New Albany mayor to be viciously humiliated in a re-election bid. Witness one Warren Nash, Gahan’s cadaverous and enduringly vacuous mentor, who won 60% of the vote in a winning bid in 1971 but then just 34% in 1975 while suffering a cataclysmic landslide loss.

In short, the electoral math has been favorable for Seabrook from the beginning, which explains (a) Gahan’s crazed drunken sailor's expenditure of $200,000 so far this year, and (b) the Democratic Party’s hair-trigger willingness to lose their minds and go appallingly negative in the campaign’s final days.

Paranoia, the destroyer.

This is the Alamo insofar as the Democratic Party’s privileged upper echelons are concerned, and who better to inspire them to near insanity than Seabrook, their arch enemy. The top dogs grasp fully that Gahan’s complete, unquestioned control of the party brings with it certain negatives, namely that if the mayor suddenly becomes the ex-mayor, their gravy train goes flying from the tracks.

Thus the rabid flailing of Tricky Dickey’s sycophantic stalwarts is understandable; obviously those with the most to lose have turned into yes-men and yes-women of the most odious obsequiousness, and yet just as obviously not every voter leaning Democratic shares this view, or else there wouldn’t have been 1,400 votes cast for David White in the primary.

In effect, these are the swing votes, and Seabrook is uniquely well-positioned to swing them.

Seabrook is the highest-profile Republican candidate for mayor since Regina Overton ran for re-election (and lost) in 2003. He possesses two potent wild cards unavailable to the Democrats, both realities of which are incapable of being gauged (and gouged) by campaign finance alone.

First, Seabrook’s unimpeachable career as a funeral home owner and director is an asset of incalculable value to his reputation, quite apart from his parallel experience in politics. Being helpful to people at their hour of greatest emotional need has a lasting effect far outweighing Gahan’s career in veneer sales or my lifetime spent pushing beer across a bar. What’s more, Seabrook’s legacy in this sense is felt most keenly by older voters – i.e., those most likely to vote.

Second, Seabrook’s campaign has benefited mightily from the grassroots energy generated by the Republican Party's well-chosen roster of city council and city clerk candidates, of whom there’ll be more to say in a moment. While Gahan saturation-bombs with San Francisco-inspired mailers from the skies via his bountiful special interest cash air force, Republican candidates erode shoe leather with enthusiastic and broadly smiling faces in a meticulous ground game led by incumbent at-large councilman Al Knable.

In many respects, Seabrook is wisely leveraging the coattails of his high-quality fellow Republican Party candidates, and his willingness to be part of a team effort like this speaks positively to the prospects for a deep, talented City Hall team once he becomes mayor, as opposed to the ludicrous cult of personality built by Gahan.

Still, there is another wild card in play this year: Dan Coffey, onetime Democrat turned independent, running as a “none of the above” brigand in 2019 just as I did in 2015.

Coffey has been the 1st district councilman for two decades, almost all of it identifying ostensibly as a Democrat, and his core of support lies in the city’s west end, especially at Riverview Towers, the high-rise public housing unit for the elderly currently being depopulated by Gahan for reasons as yet unclear.

As noted previously, I may be the only person in the city who takes Coffey at his word with respect to his motives for seeking the office of mayor. Coffey’s resourceful political arsenal may still be intact, but something has changed with him; health, age or religion, and it doesn’t matter which, except he’s not exactly the same copperhead he used to be.

Sticking to practical terms, will Coffey’s vote total next Tuesday help/hurt Gahan or Seabrook?

You might say that Coffey always has been an old-school conservative Democrat, implying that those choosing him as mayor would otherwise opt for Seabrook. There is some truth in this, although in a city where so few “Democrats” are left of center in any real sense, it’s a muddle defying easy categorization.

I think Coffey will get votes from right-leaning Democrats who have been disillusioned during recent cycles and stopped voting in local races, as with former councilman Steve Price’s core supporters in the 3rd district. Coffey will get a few hundred votes out of his own 1st district, and a handful elsewhere. He’ll surely top my independent tally from 2015, if for no other reason than name recognition (read: persistent notoriety).

However Coffey’s name on the ballot will not sway the mass of committed Democrats or Republicans. He’ll take some away from both, but I disagree with my esteemed colleague the Bookseller and believe Coffey’s candidacy stands to erase far more votes from Gahan’s ledger than Seabrook’s. This may be no more than a net loss of 200 to the Democrats, but in a race this close, that’s a lot, and it means the ultimate winner might not top 3,000 votes.

To summarize, I believe the dustbin of history awaits Team Gahan, and if we're lucky the show trials will begin by Christmas.

---

The at-large council race is quite interesting this year. Barring Russian vodka-bot intervention, incumbent Knable (R) is a lock both to keep his seat and to run for mayor in 2023. Knable is Seabrook’s ground game manager and revels in the exercise. He stands to receive the most votes of any candidate.

Of the remaining aspirants, incumbent David Barksdale (R) and challenger Jason Applegate (D) are in the strongest position to win for precisely the same reason, albeit reversed: Barksdale is a Democrat who pretends to be Republican, and Applegate a Republican now masquerading as a Democrat.

Some hardline Republican voters will punish Barksdale for his pro-Reisz Mahal sell-out, but most won’t; they sense a tsunami coming and will pragmatically vote to encourage it.

Whatever support Barksdale loses on the right will be compensated by quasi-pretend-progressives in and near the Spring and Main Kool Aid Corridors. Meanwhile, Applegate was a lifelong Republican until his ownership of Extol Magazine made a political brand change feasible in 2018.

However, a significant caveat: Democrats Christina Estill and Sam Charbonneau clearly are outworking Applegate on the campaign trail, as noted by Nick Vaughn in his election preview at The Aggregate News. One of them could easily sneak past Applegate, and if this occurs, I favor Estill.

I’d be content to see Republicans sweep the remaining races in a swirling display of rage against the Gahanite machine, but that’s too much to hope for. Remember, my picks reflect who I think will be the winning candidates, not necessarily the ones I support or chose at the polls.

1st Stephanie Griffith (R)
2nd Scott Stewart (R)
3rd Greg Phipps (D)
4th Pat McLaughlin (D)
5th Josh “JT” Turner (R)
6th Scott Blair (I)

This leaves the contest for city clerk, not necessarily a marquee job or a political race (city clerk should be an apolitical position), just an important one. Incumbent Vicki Glotzbach must be considered the favorite, although as the county election cycle in 2018 illustrated, high Republican voter participation could upset the apple cart as it did then in the county clerk's office.

I was undecided until the last minute, but challenger Kelly Feiock’s detailed answers in the special newspaper section displayed a vivid commitment to transparency in keeping with the gist of the entire GOP campaign to date, and I opted for her.

---

This is it: Gahan and the Democrats have built a political patronage system dependent on fat cat donors and padlocked file cabinets, and the Republicans are encouraging Mr. Dickey to tear down that stiflingly corrupt wall. In fact the 30th anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s collapse is coming in November, and I can think of no better analogy for what’s about to happen to local Democrats.

Not only will they be ceding power, but it’s going to be lost to them for a very long time.

Remember, this city belongs to us -- not HWC Engineering, Jorge Lanz or Clark Dietz.

Paybacks are hell, and I’m going to richly enjoy this one.

---

Recent columns:

October 3: ON THE AVENUES: The cold hard truth, or just plain Slick Jeffie-inflicted consequences.

September 26: ON THE AVENUES: Socialists for Seabrook, because we desperately need a new beginning in New Albany.

September 12: ON THE AVENUES: There's no business like no business, and it's none of your business (2016).

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Vienna, beating the odds: "A livable city is a city where people live because they want to, not because they have to."

May Day parade in Vienna, 1987.

In the early 1980s I commenced a love affair with Vienna, and my visits there always have been rewarding. History was an enticement back then, but the more time I spent in Vienna, the greater my fascination with the present day.

Seldom is an article printed in its entirety; I hope CityLab doesn't mind, as it is critical to view an example of how it doesn't have to be the way we do it here.

---

Secrets of the World’s Most Livable City, by David Dudley (CityLab)

Viennese lawmaker Maria Vassilakou explains why the Austrian capital ranks so high on quality-of-life rankings, despite its rapidly growing population.

If you’ve seen any “Most Livable City” ranking lists, you know Vienna: The Austrian capital is a perennial champion of these popular annual listings of places said to boast a notably enviable quality of life, based on factors like safety, health and education scores, access to transit and green space, cultural amenities, cost of living, and so forth. The real value of such rating exercises may be up for debate, but it’s hard to argue with Vienna’s utter dominance of the Municipal Livability Bowl.

“We must be doing something right,” said Maria Vassilakou, the city’s former deputy mayor. In her comments at this year’s CityLab DC conference, the Austrian Green Party lawmaker offered a crash course in assembling the good life, Viennese-style—beginning with how her city defines the L-word itself.

“A livable city is a city where people live because they want to, not because they have to,” Vassilakou said. That translates into an emphasis on children and families, and making sure that the city can accommodate their needs: “A city that is good for children is good for everybody.”

Those needs are growing: Vienna, a city of about 2 million, is adding about 25,000 new residents annually, and adds about 13,000 new units of housing to accommodate them. “We have to build a small town each and every year,” Vassilakou told the audience. But unlike in many North American cities, population growth isn’t coming in the form of suburban-style sprawl and an unaffordable central city, thanks to strict land-use codes and serious government subsidies for housing. About half the city is reserved for green space, she said, and 62 percent of the population, including a broad middle class, lives in social housing.

This housing-as-a-human-right emphasis is a key element in the city’s vaunted livability. The Viennese social housing model is a century-old tradition that endures despite population pressure from immigrants and political turmoil from the rise of the far-right national Freedom Party; it’s often invoked by affordability advocates in other cities as the gold standard in public housing. Many subsidized units are owned directly by the government, and rent control assures that housing costs remain a relatively modest share of residents’ annual income, especially compared to costly capitals like London or Washington, D.C.

The housing part of Vienna’s livability story in complemented by another important factor—the ease and affordability of transportation. Residents are served by one of Europe’s more comprehensive public transit systems, a network of subway, buses, and trams that residents can access for a flat annual fee of €365. And most do. “Close your eyes and imagine that, for one euro a day, you could go anywhere you want, as often as you want to, using public transit,” said Vassilakou. More than 73 percent of the city’s daily mobility needs are covered by modes outside of private cars.

As in so many other European cities, Vienna is actively seeking to further expand car-free options, via a host of pedestrianization projects that render the tidy and already-storybook-like capital even more charming. Most prominently, Mariahilfer Strasse—the city’s longest shopping street—went car-free in 2015.

Similar efforts to keep cars at bay in Paris and London have not been universally welcomed by residents, however, and Vienna is no exception. To overcome opposition, Vassilakou counseled bringing residents into the decision-making process. In Vienna, one way that happens is with a community grant scheme that bestows hundreds of modest €4,000 grants for small neighborhood-level public-space improvement projects. “Once one of these initiatives gets implemented, it changes the perspective of the whole neighborhood,” Vassilakou said. “I think this works because this is not top-down. It’s the bottom-up kind of inspiration that can change the city.”

Vienna’s unique approach to urban problem-solving has not rendered it immune from economic segregation and social inequality, but it has certainly helped mitigate some of the usual ill effects of growth. Considering how often it serves as a model for its peer cities, perhaps Vienna’s proper superlative is “most teachable.”

Here you go, Slick Jeffie -- I fixed it for you.


Yep, it's another Seabrook-sliming mailer from the DemoDisneyDixiecrats, and I just took a few minutes to make it accurate, because while ploys like this play well on the Kool Aid Corridor, the rest of us know the truth. 

Don't forget it was Jeff Gahan who raised your sewer rates.


Speaking of remembering:

Election 2019: The buying and selling of a city, or our updated master list of 73 Gahan wheel-greasers, a veritable pornographic potpourri of pay-to-play.



These 30 free-spending special interest donors top Jeff Gahan's 2019 pay-to-play campaign finance windfall of $150,000 (so far).



CFA-4 Follies: OMG, just look at Gahan's huge pile of special interest donor cash flowing to out-of-towners.

Reader writes about River Run: "I was under the impression public records HAD to be made public."


Yesterday we examined yet another instance of City Hall foot-dragging over public records requests.

River Run Family Water Park: Why won't the city of New Albany comply with the law and grant Randy Smith's public records request to view the financials?


Once again the city's corporate attorney Shane Gibson oversees Team Gahan's activities in a manner indistinguishable from William Barr's, but let's move ahead to a comment by regular blog reader RW:

"I was under the impression public records had to be made public. Any newspaper can request these be given for we the people. Am I incorrect?"

You are correct in theory, but if governmental entities don't comply, there isn't a pathway to compel them short of a lawsuit. Hence the traditional "Fourth estate" role of the newspaper in making issues like this public, a task which our biased Jefferonsvile-centric News and Tribune typically refuses to exercise;  reporters show interest, but management likes Jeff Gahan's advertising income a bit too much.

And yes, there is the Indiana Public Access Counselor, who can make rulings pro or con, but enforcement mechanisms are lacking. Gahan's sycophantic city hall is a persistent violator, but again, short of hiring a lawyer and seeking a judge, little can be done to bring them to the table.

Obviously this needs to change. In Gahan's case, the handiest expedient is underway as we speak: Election 2019, and an opportunity to drain the swamp.


Tuesday, October 29, 2019

But shouldn't Bob Caesar's campaign finance report be itemized? That AND the lost Bicentennial Commission records?


I thought the whole point was to see where the money came from and where it went. Lump sums don't do that, do they?

The soon-to-be deposed 2nd district councilman just isn't much on transparency when it comes to "his" money ... is he?

Now it's been 1,340 days since Bob Caesar and the city of New Albany began stonewalling our legitimate request for Bicentennial Commission records. Can't someone just tell us about the unsold books?

River Run Family Water Park: Why won't the city of New Albany comply with the law and grant Randy Smith's public records request to view the financials?

Campaign finance implications, too.

Today we have two related topics.

Second, there's a question and answer session with a citizen who is being stonewalled by the city with respect to a public records request.

But first, some background on the subject of the request: River Run Family Water Park. In 2013, NAC's Jeff Gillenwater did what the newspaper refuses to do, then as now -- namely, research:

Water on the brains: Much less for far more will keep us swimming in it.

Unlike some voluntarily voiceless council members, I bothered with a smidgen of research into how comparable cities have handled comparable situations.

Six years later, with River Run in its fourth season of non-transparent operation, we spotted an example of selective municipal reasoning:

GREEN MOUSE SAYS: Why does City Hall demand financials from the county parks department when it eternally refuses to divulge its own River Run Gahan Water Dome numbers?

To the Green Mouse's knowledge, the city has steadfastly resisted releasing the financials of the water slide for four years, almost surely because they're not pretty, or contain buried land mines; for instance, how is the aquatic acreage connected with the new fire station's monthly disbursements?

Now for the facts of the city's public records request refusal, as revealed in the following interview conducted by NA Confidential with Randy Smith, New Albany resident, taxpayer and owner of Destinations Booksellers.

---

NA Confidential: Randy, when did you submit a records request? To whom was it directed?

Randy Smith: I hand-delivered the request (dated August 6) on August 7, 2019 to Linda Moeller, controller for the city of New Albany. I did not request copies of these records at that time – only access to them to inspect and record the information for further use.

NAC: Why did you make this records request?

RS: My purpose is to analyze the financials of River Run Family Waterpark (RR) and to share my findings with the public.

NAC: What did you request of the city toward your aim of analyzing River Run’s financials?

RS: I requested access to the following records dating from the June 2015 to the end of July 2019:

REVENUES
1. Monthly revenue from admissions to RR.
2. Monthly revenue from concessions sold at RR.
3. Any other revenues from any source resulting from the use of RR each month.
4. Monthly reports to the Indiana Department of Revenue for sales taxes collected, reported, and remitted with respect to the operation of RR.

EXPENSES
1. Monthly expenditures/claims for utilities, including water, sewer, electric, gas, telephone, internet, or any other like expenditures related to RR and/or metered billing for each month for each category.
2. Monthly wages, salaries, and benefits for each person paid for work at RR, including professional, full-time, part-time, temporary, employee, paid contractor, or person paid, regardless of how that person’s position is designated.
3. Reports of allocations of payroll and benefits for administrative personnel whose duties include supervision or operation of RR for each month.
4. Reports of allocations of payroll and benefits for personnel from other city departments whose time has been spent in the operation or maintenance of RR, including public safety officials.
5. Expenses for maintenance conducted by contractors not employed by the city.
6. Expenses for consumables (other than utilities) necessary to the operation of RR.
7. Expenses for food and non-food items necessary to conduct concessions operations at RR.
8. Vehicle and equipment expenses that can reasonably be allocated proportionally to the operation and maintenance of RR.

NAC: Under the Indiana Access to Public Records Act, citizens are entitled to a response within 24 hours of receiving such a request. Were you contacted within 24 hours as stipulated?

RS: Yes, Moeller’s initial acknowledgement to my note came on August 7th when I handed it to her. She observed that the city has its own form, only slightly different from the official state form. She said my form complied.

On the 8th I followed up by e-mail, indicating that while it might take time to pull together all the information I’d requested, I am especially interested in the sales tax returns to the Department of Revenue, which would take almost no time to produce; I could even come down to the City County Building immediately and inspect them.

At this point (August 9) she replied.

Randy,

I was out of the office yesterday and was getting ready to respond to your public records request dated August 6, 2019. Within 10 days you will be provided with the materials requested or a status update.

Linda Moeller

NAC: To be clear, on August 9 you were told that within 10 days the request would be honored, or a “status update” given. Have you heard from Moeller since then?

RS: No, I have not.

NAC: That’s approximately 72 days late, isn’t it?

RS: Yes, it is. It’s important to understand that the stipulated 10-day wait is purely arbitrary. With respect to sales tax records, while it might take me a few minutes, my own business can provide copies of every single sales tax return for the past 15 years. The major limitation on that is the time it takes to change from page to page of my returns history.

I also can't understand the use of the term "available." Why would not these records be "available" almost immediately? Certainly the 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2015 FY records are immediately available, right? Obviously the June and July 2019 numbers wouldn’t have been compiled, but why wouldn’t these numbers for previous years be right at hand?

NAC: Is there any mechanism for redress in cases like this?

RS: In view of the city’s non-responsiveness, I have sought the assistance of the state’s Public Access Counselor.

NAC: As of this writing, you’re not the only citizen to have requested the River Run financials and been refused. The city council evidently has seen only limited numbers for the past four years. What’s the principle at stake here?

RS: I think we all have the right to know how much it’s costing us to operate this facility. State law says we have that right. In other states, laws like the APRA are called “Sunshine” laws, in the belief that sunshine, or transparency, is a guard against misfeasance and malfeasance. And a suspicion of corruption is not a requirement. How a city spends its money is a legitimate public question.

Since I’ve received no formal response from the Gahan administration, I literally can’t say why these records remain secret. I am left only to surmise.

NAC: Do you think River Run is losing money?

RS: That’s actually beside the point. The city’s water recreation facility probably loses money — a lot of money. That’s OK. Elected officials can choose to lose money to provide a wading pool, splash pads, waterslides, and a “lazy river.” Those of us who thought the “pool” was a poor use of borrowed money can but criticize it now.

But, we are entitled to see the numbers.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Yep: "The American System of Tipping Makes No Sense."

In Europe, the birthplace of Western aristocracy, countries have moved away from a practice that once denoted class differences. Today, servers across that continent are paid living wages and don’t rely on crowdfunded generosity.

The United States, founded as a rebuke to the old world, has allowed a de facto aristocracy to bloom in our country, where low taxes on the rich, combined with meager welfare for the poor, lead to income inequality reminiscent of a feudal state. Tips are a tiny part of that big picture. But they’re a perfect representation of the philosophy that underlies it: Tipping survives because of the notion that industriousness must be coaxed from individuals through constant threat of their immiseration.


Here's the link.

The American System of Tipping Makes No Sense, by Derek Thompson (The Atlantic)

If you want to understand how meritocracy acts as a cover for inequality, look no further than our broken understanding of gratuity.

Here’s a simple question. It’s Sunday. You order coffee and a simple breakfast—eggs, bacon, toast—at a local diner. The service is efficient, but not memorable. The bill comes, and it’s $10. What’s the tip?

$1.50, according to typical online guides for foreign travelers in America
$2.00 at least, according to The Washington Post
$3.00 for sure, according to The New York Times
Whatever the hell you want, according to some guys on Twitter

I have no confidence that anything I write here will persuade readers to increase or decrease their average tip. To me, the range of answers raises a larger question: Why are we still crowdfunding worker salaries when tippers so clearly do not know what the hell they’re doing?

SHANE'S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS: Oscar Wilde's famous chiasmus, "Work is the Curse of the Drinking Class."

This morning a friend expressed annoyance at being compelled to go to work, not just today, but in general.

To which I exclaimed, "right on, sister."

Immediately this exchange brought to mind the words of Oscar Wilde: "Work is the curse of the drinking class."

For those unaware of 19th-century socialist (and concurrently, temperance) history, the original phrase was "drink is the curse of the working class." Wilde's cleverness has a term.

Welcome to the symmetrical world of chiasmus. Chiasmus is defined by The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms as “a figure of speech by which the order of the terms in the first of two parallel clauses is reversed in the second. This may involve a repetition of the same words (“Pleasure’s a sin, and sometimes sin’s a pleasure”– Byron) or just a reversed parallel between two corresponding pairs of ideas.”

Chiasmus (pronounced kye-AZ-muss) is named after the Greek letter chi (x), indicating a “crisscross” arrangement of terms. One can literally mark many chiastic expressions with an X. Take Mae West’s contribution to this genre:

It’s not the men in my life
It’s the life in my men

Certain chiastic statements such as “all for one and one for all,” and the shortened Cicero quote “eat to live, not live to eat” are word palindromes. The rhetorical elements of chiasmus are always rendered in palindromic order, seen in the above Mae West quote. In Genesis 9:6, we have a longer structure: “whoever sheds the blood of man by man shall his blood be shed.”

Chiastic statements appear to reveal hidden truths and are thus popular in Biblical writing: Aside from the Genesis 9:6 quote, other examples include “there is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear” (1 John 4:18) and “many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first” (Matthew 19:30). According to The Literary Guide to the Bible edited by Robert Alter and Frank Kermode, chiastic structure is built into Biblical Hebrew.

Physicist Nils Bohr said: “There are trivial truths and great truths. The opposite of a trivial truth is plainly false. The opposite of a great truth is also true.” Rhetorical devices are useful in exhibiting Bohr’s point. Oxymoron is sometimes erroneously defined as a contradictory expression. A true oxymoron, such as Shakespeare’s “sweet sorrow,” or Milton’s “darkness visible” is a rhetorical device, where the seeming contradiction involves a point.

Chiastic transpositions can be similarly employed. Take the French proverb “love makes time pass, time makes love pass,” or Ernest Hemingway’s fondness for asking people which of these two statements they preferred: “Man can be destroyed but not defeated,” or “Man can be defeated but not destroyed.”

Chiasmus can also be employed as a form of wit. Humour that uses incongruity often uses chiasmus, especially with implied statements. Oscar Wilde was a master at this type of transposition. Some of his classics are: “work is the curse of the drinking class” (parodying “drink is the curse of the working class”) and “life imitates art far more than art imitates life,” and “the English have a miraculous power of turning wine into water.”

Other implied chiastic quips include Mae West’s “a hard man is good to find” and “a waist is a terrible thing to mind,” Groucho Marx’s “time wounds all heels,” and the amphibian philosopher Kermit the Frog’s observation that “time’s fun when you’re having flies.”

This type of transpositional humour can also be used in defining matters. A hangover has been described as “the wrath of grapes” and a critic who provides a harsh opening night review is said to have “stoned the first cast.”

But did Wilde coin the work/drink chiasmus? The evidence suggests he probably did, and there's a story. As for me, I took a shortcut and made drinking and work synonymous.


Work is the Curse of the Drinking Classes
 (Quote Investigator)

Dear Quote Investigator: The scintillating conversationalist Oscar Wilde enjoyed modifying dusty platitudes to construct comical alternatives. For example, he permuted an old complaint about the working class to yield:

Work is the curse of the drinking classes.

Oddly, I have not found a citation for this statement dated before the death of Wilde. Would you please examine the provenance of this saying?

Quote Investigator: Oscar Wilde died in November 1900. The earliest published instance of this quip located by QI occurred in the caption of a newspaper cartoon in 1902. The details are given further below.

Yet there is good evidence that Oscar Wilde did craft this statement. In 1916 the writer and outsized personality Frank Harris who was a friend of Wilde’s published a biography titled “Oscar Wilde: His Life and Confessions”. Harris described a party he threw during which Wilde delivered the remark.

A little later I gave a dinner at the Savoy and asked him to come. He was delightful, his vivacious gaiety as exhilarating as wine. But he was more like a Roman Emperor than ever: he had grown fat: he ate and drank too much; not that he was intoxicated, but he became flushed, and in spite of his gay and genial talk he affected me a little unpleasantly; he was gross and puffed up. But he gave one or two splendid snapshots of actors and their egregious vanity. It seemed to him a great pity that actors should be taught to read and write: they should learn their pieces from the lips of the poet.

“Just as work is the curse of the drinking classes of this country,” he said laughing, “so education is the curse of the acting classes.”

Yet even when making fun of the mummers there was a new tone in him of arrogance and disdain. He used always to be genial and kindly even to those he laughed at; now he was openly contemptuous.

The accuracy of the above ascription to Wilde depends on the veracity of Harris who was a direct witness ...

Particularly in Nawbany: "Why We Need to Dream Bigger Than Bike Lanes."

"We can’t let car companies again shape the vision for our future; if we don’t dream big now, we may never get the chance again. Let’s let’s elevate a different kind of transportation infrastructure that recognizes universal basic mobility as a human right and brings it to every man, woman, and child. If we don’t think of micromobility as the serious solution to a whole host of societal and environmental problems, then who will?"

I'll never forget, back when we were asking only that City Hall implement the entirety of Jeff Speck's street grid network proposals -- which in addition to calling for a reversion to two-way traffic prioritized a state-of-the-art downtown bicycle network -- these potentially transformative improvements were blithely characterized as outlandish by Greg Phipps (councilman) and Greg Roberts (ESNA). Modernity was cackled out of the room as going way too far for primeval New Gahanians, not just by these two, but by other "progressives" who seldom are.

By their unwillingness to do the homework, to try to understand exactly what Speck was aiming at, and to do battle ... with their abject eagerness to stroke Dear Leader's ego ... community "leaders" like these abetted Jeff Gahan's whopper of a bait 'n' switch on the street grid. Promises abandoned, Gahan commissioned HWC Engineering to gut a wonderful walkability and biking enhancement program, recasting it into yet another re-election omnibus paving project, retaining the basic two-way reversion but rendering it almost useless through timidity and incomprehension.

Then again, when's the last time you've seen Gahan or any of his sycophants walking or biking?

Yes, Dear Leader gifted us with two-way streets, and they've been mildly effective, albeit neutered by constraints into insensibility. Perhaps that's why the drivers are still treating downtown streets like race tracks.

But that's fine. Just push that button and the drivers from elsewhere will let you cross the street, just so long as it doesn't add seconds to their cross-town commute. 

Why We Need to Dream Bigger Than Bike Lanes, by Terenig Topjian (CityLab)

In the 1930s big auto dreamed up freeways and demanded massive car infrastructure. Micromobility needs its own Futurama—one where cars are marginalized.

There’s a quote that’s stuck with me for some time from Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom: “You know why people don't like liberals? Because they lose. If liberals are so f***ing smart, how come they lose so goddamn always?”

American urbanists and bike advocates are smart, or at least well informed. We know how important cycling is. We are educated about cycling cities in other parts of the world and how they are so much better for health, well-being, economics, traffic, pollution, climate, equity, personal freedom, and on and on.

But if we’re so smart how come we lose so goddamn always?

Why is the best we seem to be able to accomplish just a few miles of striped asphalt bike “lanes,” or if we’re lucky, a few blocks of plastic pylons—“protected” bike lanes?

Our current model is to beg for twigs
More often than not, bike infrastructure is created reactively. Typically in response to a collision or near collision with a car, an individual or advocacy group identifies a single route that needs better infrastructure. We gather community support and lobby local officials for the desired change, trying as hard as we can to ask for the cheapest, smallest changes so that our requests will be seen as realistic.

What’s the problem with this model?

It’s like imagining a bridge and asking for twigs—useless, unable to bear any meaningful weight, easily broken. And it’s treating bike infrastructure like a hopeless charity case.

This makes bike infrastructure seem like a small, special-interest demand that produces no real results in terms of shifting to sustainable transportation, and it makes those giving up road space and tax dollars feel as though they are supporting a hopeless charity.

But when roads, highways, and bridges are designed and built, they aren’t done one neighborhood at a time, one city-council approval at a time. We don’t build a few miles of track, or lay down some asphalt wherever there is “local support” and then leave 10-mile gaps in between.

And yet this is exactly how we “plan” bike infrastructure.

Bike lanes are intermittent at best in most North American cities, and since they are usually paint jobs that put cyclists between fast-moving traffic and parked cars with doors that capriciously swing open, only experienced riders brave them. The lanes are easily blocked anyway, by police, delivery trucks, and film crews, if not random cars banking on the low likelihood of being ticketed.

This kind of bike “infrastructure” doesn’t actually do very much to protect existing cyclists, let alone encourage and inspire the general population to start cycling.

Why are we settling for easily broken twigs? The total number of people on bikes and other micromobility modes like scooters and skateboards is large and growing. An enormous force has been divided and conquered, splintered among thousands of neighborhoods ...

Divided is the way we're kept by the country's Gahans. It is purposeful. If you intend to insist on being characterized as a "progressive," maybe a good place to start is to progress past the insipid lies and self-aggrandizing campaign finance schemes of the local C-minus students, and start standing up for grassroots solutions calculated to improve the place where you live.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Gahan can't even tell the truth about Warro the K-9 dog's tenure. Seems a desperate Slick Jeffie will say ANYTHING to get re-elected.

When you see the mailer, you're supposed to think that our tireless leader Deaf Gahan has just now hit the road, scoured the nation's kennels, and personally enticed Warro to New Albany to battle crime -- not that we have crime, mind you, but just in case a pre-election photo-op is needed.


But what we're really seeing is a bit of last-second desperation. To date in this year's mayoral race, Gahan has ducked and covered on neighborhood crime, but somehow, neighbors keep talking about it.

Consequently, it's time for Team Gahan to convert a few thousand more in Indy special interest campaign finance donations to doing the impossible and inventing a time machine to take us all the way back to April 7, 2016, and this feverish canine bromide at the City Hall propaganda commissariat's web site.


Gahan's handlers must think we're too stupid to do a Google search. Even Warro knows that dog won't hunt.

After all, inferior leadership isn't the K-9 officer's fault.

GREEN MOUSE SAYS: An October opioid settlement surprise -- and howzabout Dan Coffey as drug czar? Well, we're all on SOMETHING.


The Green Mouse has a crazed and wacky composite rumor to report, and at first glance it appears nutzoid, but then again we inhabit The Veneer Peddler's Republic of New Gahania, otherwise known as the Open Air Museum of Ignorance, Superstition and Backwardness.

As background, recall that Slick Jeffie Gahan couldn't ever bring himself to say the word "opioid" aloud for attribution until late August, when a typically self-serving press release trumpeted the city's participation in a class action lawsuit against opioid distributors, giving the Gahanite propaganda secretariat a nice pre-election trial balloon to loft in the general direction of those sub-human Republicans in Floyd County government: Mayor Gahan Shares Information About Opioid Crisis.

Note the header: Gee thanks, Dear Leader, as though the rest of humanity hadn't previously known about opioids, reminding us that campaign finance accumulation is why Team Gahan is here, not good writing. 

Here is the main passage, in which Gahan uses a revealing vocab word he'd just been taught by the band Fairmont Break Room (in the key of G, of course).

This is a county crisis and a national epidemic, brought on by reckless distribution of opioids which possess properties that bring addiction to some of our most vulnerable family members and friends. To help bring attention to this issue, our Board of Works has approved 2 awareness walks - one in September, and one in November.

That's right: vulnerable, like the residents of public housing Gahan has been targeting with eviction ever since 2017. Funny, he never made the connection between vulnerability and public housing. It must be a DemoDisneyDemocratic thing.

Thus, Rumor Mill Part One: the city's cut from this opioid class action lawsuit settlement will be Gahan's "October surprise" announcement later this week, to be followed by the revelation that 1/3 of the money paid to the city as a result of the settlement actually will be used for opioid treatment.

The other 2/3? It will be shifted into another honey pot to buy whatever other votes are necessary for the re-enthronement. 

As a corollary of the first rumor, Gahan would set out to appoint a symbolic drug czar to posture at press conferences and seek faith-based solutions to addiction.

The identity of this drug czar is Rumor Mill Number Two.

Gahan's choice for drug czar will be none other than Dan Coffey, who will suspend his mayoral campaign and ask his supporters to shift their allegiance to the Genius of the Flood Plain. 

Whoa, boy. This surely is the best composite rumor in recent memory, but is there any chance of it being true?

Granted, not much time remains in the fall campaign, and yet as an indicator that Gahan is flush with money and 100% paranoid, he's still lobbing half-pints of Kessler at Fairview Cemetery voters. Consider also that his groveling sycophants haven't stopped erecting billboard-sized yard signs in the heart of Kool Aid Country (i.e., the East Spring Street Neighborhood Association, which following the election is to be renamed the Rice Krispies Treats Neighborhood Association).

Would Coffey do such a thing?

In all seriousness, I don't think so.

I might be the only person in town who believes Coffey is being sincere in his run for mayor. At the same time, during 15 years of stunned observance, we've seen Coffey on every side of every issue at least once. He's the ultimate survivor, and the most adept player of political angles in the city's modern history.

I'd rate this rumor as highly unlikely -- and just as sadly possible. Such are the depths to which we've plunged with Deaf Gahan as mayor.

Oops, almost forgot the Indy lawyer's bizarre donation to Coffey's account. Who know how we can link $2,500 to the conspiracy theory?

Mayoral aspirant Dan Coffey says, "Hey, I can get $2,500 from an out-of-town lawyer, too."

Chronicles of New Gahania: Endeavor Morse, Joseph Brodsky and coping with the darkness of the Open Air Museum of Ignorance, Superstition and Backwardness.

Recently I made a reference to New Albany as the Open Air Museum of Ignorance, Superstition and Backwardness. Here's the explanation.

---

February 7, 2017


It took a few days for me to see it, but last night's council meeting provided the necessary epiphany.

Why have I reacted so strongly against the scrubbed and polished fantasy land depicted in New Albany's new Comprehensive Plan?

Because it's delusional lipstick on an unreconstructed pig. We're still the Open Air Museum of Ignorance, Superstition and Backwardness.

As last night's meeting amply attested, the same perennial prejudices, assumptions, idiocies and clannishness held by the same perennial ruling caste haven't gone anywhere at all in spite of the ballyhooed makeovers. Dan Coffey mouthed the mantra of the New Albanian dark ages, and a room filled with people who earnestly believe they're more intelligent than Coffey said and did nothing. From somewhere deep within his bunker, Jeff Gahan beamed proudly.

DC Endeavour Morse: How do you do it? Leave it at the front door?

DI Fred Thursday: 'Cause I have to. Case like this will tear a heart right out of a man. Find something worth defending.

DC Endeavour Morse: I thought I had! Found something.

DI Fred Thursday: Music? I suppose music is as good as anything. Go home. Put your best record on. Loud as it'll play. And with every note, you remember: That's something the darkness couldn't take from you.

[Thursday walks away, Morse emotionally looks at the view of Oxford and then leaves the rooftop]

The poet Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996) is a far cry from a defeated Scott Wood's imaginary magnum opus or the Inspector Morse prequel, but the unifying theme is darkness -- and dissent.

From Brodsky's obituary in the New York Times.

However, he was something of a spiritual dissenter, even as a boy. "I began to despise Lenin, even when I was in the first grade, not so much because of his political philosophy or practice . . . but because of his omnipresent images," he recalled.

That's my life young Brodsky is referring to, and I accept it, though some days are harder than others. It wasn't aimed at you, Chief. It was aimed at all of us, me included. Thanks to my friend Jon for inadvertently salvaging my morning with this poem.

---

I Sit By The Window

By Joseph Brodsky

I said fate plays a game without a score,
and who needs fish if you've got caviar?
The triumph of the Gothic style would come to pass
and turn you on--no need for coke, or grass.
I sit by the window. Outside, an aspen.
When I loved, I loved deeply. It wasn't often.

I said the forest's only part of a tree.
Who needs the whole girl if you've got her knee?
Sick of the dust raised by the modern era,
the Russian eye would rest on an Estonian spire.
I sit by the window. The dishes are done.
I was happy here. But I won't be again.

I wrote: The bulb looks at the flower in fear,
and love, as an act, lacks a verb; the zer-
o Euclid thought the vanishing point became
wasn't math--it was the nothingness of Time.
I sit by the window. And while I sit
my youth comes back. Sometimes I'd smile. Or spit.

I said that the leaf may destroy the bud;
what's fertile falls in fallow soil--a dud;
that on the flat field, the unshadowed plain
nature spills the seeds of trees in vain.
I sit by the window. Hands lock my knees.
My heavy shadow's my squat company.

My song was out of tune, my voice was cracked,
but at least no chorus can ever sing it back.
That talk like this reaps no reward bewilders
no one--no one's legs rest on my shoulders.
I sit by the window in the dark. Like an express,
the waves behind the wavelike curtain crash.

A loyal subject of these second-rate years,
I proudly admit that my finest ideas
are second-rate, and may the future take them
as trophies of my struggle against suffocation.
I sit in the dark. And it would be hard to figure out
which is worse; the dark inside, or the darkness out.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Mayoral aspirant Dan Coffey says, "Hey, I can get $2,500 from an out-of-town lawyer, too."


The Aggregate News recently summarized campaign finance disclosures.
  • Incumbent Democratic Mayor Jeff Gahan raised the most money in the reporting period and possessed $276,472.87 before spending nearly $204,000 in the same time period. He currently has around $71,000 cash-on-hand.
  • Challenger Mark Seabrook (R) raised $139,504.08 and spent $128,224.37 during the reporting period.
  • Independent challenger Dan Coffey raised $5,100 in the reporting period and spent around $4,500.
We've explored Gahan's windfall report in detail; naturally Supreme Leader's totals dwarf Coffey's, but the Wizard of Westside hasn't lost the ability to surprise.

Witness this out-of-the-blue donation from Indianapolis from what appears to be a husband and wife legal team.




Yale AND Harvard?

Best Lawyers in America?

Toto, we're not in Birdseye any longer.

There aren't many hits in the Google search for convergences between Coffey and Pitman. However, there are a few links to Pitman, Coffey and New Albany Redevelopment Commission meetings.

Guess what happened when I clicked on them?


They're broken. In fact, all the links from 2011 - 2015 lead ... nowhere. I've informed the city clerk, and I'm sure she'll troubleshoot this in time.

Until then ... does anyone have the lowdown on this most unlikely of pairings, Coffey and Pitman? There is no chance of Coffey becoming mayor, but it's good to know who the power couples really are.

Bob Lane will serve as interim director of the South Bend Housing Authority, making Jeff Gahan's dismissal of Lane even more questionable.

Bob Lane, director of the New Albany Housing Authority for 16 years, didn't pass muster with the petulant Genius of the Floodplain, but he's plenty good enough to have a thriving consultancy, and now to help stabilize the mess in South Bend left behind by a director who appears to have been just as corrupt as Gahan.

And, by sheer coincidence, it's the city steered in absentia by Pete Buttigieg, centrist darling of the ideologically vacuous Gahanites.

There might be a compelling message there, somewhere, but the recurring stench of Gahan's incumbency keeps clogging the nostrils.

Housing authority hires interim director, but still won't say why former director was fired, by Caleb Bauer (South Bend Tribune)

SOUTH BEND — The South Bend Housing Authority board named a new interim director, a month after firing the former head under mysterious circumstances amid a pair of ongoing federal investigations.

Bob Lane, who was the director of the New Albany Housing Authority for 16 years and now runs a public housing consulting firm, will take over as interim director. The board approved a contract with him running through December as it plans to conduct a national search for a permanent executive director.

Previous Executive Director Tonya Robinson was fired last month after the FBI and other federal law enforcement informed the oversight board of “serious” misconduct allegations, the board previously said.

Earlier this year, the FBI raided the housing authority’s office and other properties in South Bend. The Department of Housing and Urban Development inspector general’s office is also investigating the public agency.

Lane’s hire comes with the recommendation of HUD Region V administrators, the division which oversees housing authorities in Indiana, said board President Virginia Calvin.

In 2017, Lane was fired after 16 years as head of the New Albany Housing Authority in southern Indiana. He said pending litigation prevented him from speaking specifically on his dismissal.

According to local media reports and Lane’s breach-of-contract lawsuit against the New Albany Housing Authority, Lane was fired after expressing skepticism of a plan to demolish more than 600 units of public housing in the city. A complaint filed by Lane in Marion Superior Court last year alleges board of commissioner members “apparently became disenchanted with him in the wake of Lane’s assessment of the City of New Albany’s 13-point plan with (the New Albany Housing Authority) to restructure its public housing.”

“Even though Lane had expressed concern with several of the points, he never subverted the Board’s authority nor stated he would not comply with the Board’s decision,” the legal document states.

Following his firing, reports noted residents were shocked at his firing and that the new director of the housing authority violated HUD regulations and orders relating to oversight of the authority’s finances.

According to public records, the New Albany Housing Authority was rated by HUD as a “high performer” in the years immediately prior to Lane’s firing. In an interview, he said the authority had never been scored as “troubled” during his 16 years there. South Bend Housing Authority was scored as “troubled” by HUD in four out of the five years from 2013 to 2017.

The South Bend authority has been plagued in the past by financial reporting problems, poor inspection results and sub-par living standards in public housing units ...