Making a life in New Albany has been a most peculiar experience. In most respects, I have found my new life in this city to be filled with delights. More importantly, I've discovered a community that includes a reserve
of engaged and informed citizens. Most long-time residents of New Albany still have hope for its future and the newcomers practically assume that New Albany has the will to make that future.
I agree. But it's time to call out that reserve force. The future of this city compels those of its citizens who have averted their gaze from the messiness of government to re-engage their elected officials and convey to them their conviction that business as usual will no longer suffice.
Since my arrival here, I have tried to educate myself about the city, its workings, and its personalities. Thanks to the generosity of many of you, I have been able to break through the shell of how government here is supposed to work and begin to divine how it really works in Indiana, Floyd County, and New Albany.
Some of those who have managed to attain elected office are venal, brutish, hidebound, or frightened. Those who show even a glimmer of vision must do battle with them to accomplish even the simplest things to lead this city toward a brighter future.
It is time for those who want to see New Albany thrive to make their voices heard, and loudly. We're more than two years from the next election, but the progressive faction in this town must speak up now, on Scribner Place next month, on vigorous code enforcement in the coming months, and on each and every issue that arises during the next two years. Do not yield your city to the know-nothings, the luddites, the "no progress at any price" faction.
Which brings us to Exhibit A: William Schmidt, member of council and a key to the unity of the do-nothings on the New Albany City Council.
After watching this man over the last six months and after seeking the counsel of dozens of New Albanians, I have come to the conclusion that the Hon. Mr. Schmidt is one of the irredeemable members of that council.
I don't know who Bill Schmidt listens to, but it's clearly not his constituents. I'd wager I've talked to more of his constituents in the last six months than he has, and most of them are extremely disappointed in his opposition to Scribner Place and any measure designed to improve the effectiveness of public investment and spending.
Just because he is a long-time incumbent, that doesn't give him the right to run roughshod over the rules of responsive representation and established procedure. He is wrong to think his constituents endorse his retrograde resistance to progress.
His constituents are among the most progressive in the city. Reelection was due, no doubt, to the disengagement of his constituents, who had no idea just how damaging that reelection could be. In the next election, if he chooses to run, the damage he has done to this city will be the issue. There will be no free passes next time for Mr. Schmidt. For that matter, there will be no free passes for any of his comrades-in-defeatism.
Schmidt abides by William's Rules of Order as it suits him. Or perhaps not. Perhaps it is Anna's Rules of Order. Whatever good or ill Anna Schmidt contributes, she clearly is not the presiding officer of the New Albany City Council.
After the last city council meeting, where he was permitted to turn a second and third reading into an impromptu public hearing, he can be charged with knowingly violating procedure simply because he wanted to and because he opposed the PUD.
Counsel for the developers, John Kraft, rightly objected to the violation, by taking to the podium and once again explaining to council that rejection would result in what even the developers know would be a more severe impact on the area. Council, by law, could not stop the development. They could only control it by approving a lower-impact development.
Ironically, I'm no fan of sprawl, either, but the law only gave council one chance to limit its negative impact. The four who voted to reject the PUD did so in full knowledge that it was a play to ignorance. Had they succeeded in stopping the planned development, things would have been even worse for the residents along Kenzig Road and its environs. And for the city.
I think it's time Mr. Schmidt's "friends" urge him to either play by the rules or step down before he diminishes his reputation any further. There is no doubt Mr. Schmidt no longer gives adequate representation to his progressive constituency.NEXT TIME: Coffey Brake, or, If I Could Save Time in a Bottle---------------------------------------Randy Smith, firstname.lastname@example.org