Saturday, July 02, 2005

The Perils of Triumphalism

tri·umph·al·ism ( P ) Pronunciation Key (tr-mf-lzm)
n. - The attitude or belief that a particular doctrine, especially a religion or political theory, is superior to all others.

n. - The belief that a single victory or a single defeat marks the end of a struggle.
----------------------------------Volunteer Hoosier
The week ahead is one that I believe most New Albanians will look back at as a watershed moment. The decisions being made over the next 10 days will affect our collective future for generations.
Quite obviously, I believe the Scribner Place development is a critical piece of infrastructure that will announce that New Albany "gets it" when it comes to what its residents want. More important, it will broadcast far and wide that a new day has arrived for Floyd County. As investors and potential homeowners consider New Albany as a future home, the decisions made by City Council on July 7 and by County Council on July 12 will weigh heavily.
Whether each council makes the decisions I consider "right" or "wrong," there is no call for triumphalism or despair. We have far too much to do to make New Albany the jewel we wish for it to be. Making New Albany a more livable and attractive city is the work ahead of us.
There will be no reason to celebrate "victory" nor mourn "defeat."
A stated consensus exists for New Albany to build a vigorous codes enforcement regime. The next six months will reveal whether that "stated" consensus is a reality.
For those who may consider themselves winners after these Scribner Place decisions are made, I point you to the definition of hubris: Overbearing pride or presumption; arrogance.
Preening and gloating will be inappropriate. So will wailing and gnashing of the teeth.
There's work ahead.
Coming: A Talking Points Memo

Friday, July 01, 2005

The Only Prudent Choice

Even casual observers of New Albany's city government must be scratching their heads in wonderment this Independence Day weekend.

The city's leaders just tiptoed through a minefield of state-mandated budget cuts and came out the other side with city operations intact. After sometimes rancorous debate and no small degree of negotiations, the mayor and council found a way to adjust the budget without cutting city services.

That should have been a lesson for all concerned. But now, as the city council weighs its options for financing the first phase of Scribner Place, some are advocating a course that will unnecessarily cost the city at least $105,000 a year in additional interest costs.

Mayor Garner has declined to declare a preference among the three options he presented to the council. We have no idea why that is so, but we urge the mayor to bring his considerable skills to the task of persuading council to approve Option 1.

Some say it would take political courage to pledge the city's entire taxing authority as an additional credit enhancement. Perhaps so, but it will take much more than courage to defend the alternatives. City officials appear resigned to the fact that they don't have the votes to approve Option 1, but can garner at least five votes for a cobbled-together Option 3.

Option 3 is a Scribner Place financing package that encumbers future economic development income taxes. Without those future revenues, the city is much more likely to be forced to resort to property tax increases in the coming decade. At least $1.3 million will also have to be found to create a reserve fund under this plan. No one has adequately explained why the city should lose the use of this money for 15 years, much less where that money will come from. Even at 3% interest, that adds an additional $39,000 a year to the cost of Option 3.

More critically, settling for the third option puts at risk the county's willingness to participate in the financing package. Recognizing that the project brings benefits all of Floyd County, county commissioners and county council stand ready to contribute to the construction costs.

However, some members of the county council are deeply concerned about Option 3. They reason that if the city can afford to "waste" $144,000 just to pander to a minority of citizens who have failed to understand the nature of bond financing, why should the county bother making its contribution?

As it stands now, less than one week before the city council takes its first-reading vote on Scribner Place financing, it appears that the county will enthusiastically join a financing plan like Option 1. But if the city council approves Option 3, county council will rightly reason that the city does not need a hand from the taxpayers in greater Floyd County.

Randy Smith,

Who Says Steve Price is a Toady?

3rd District City Council member Stephen Price has been accused of surrendering his will to the Wizard of West End, 1st District CM Dan Coffey. Here's proof that nothing could be further from the truth.

Price and Coffey, according to a brief in the Courier-Journal today, are sponsoring a holiday weekend East vs. West softball game on Saturday. Presumably, Coffey will captain the West team and Price the East.

The competition between the two groups begins at 2 p.m. at Joe Kraft Park, just across from Coffey's house. Live music, hot dogs and cold beverages will be served.

The article says you can call Mr. Coffey for more information at 949-1262 or 797-8347.


Several months ago, I recall, a dispute erupted in city council. New Albany's fire chief Toran presented to council a revised method for selecting firefighter candidates. It seems that the supervisory staff of the fire department felt that the current plan gave too much weight to written test scores and wanted more flexibility in ranking candidates.

During the course of the discussion, which in the end yielded no change to the process, CM Larry Kochert opined that fighting fires was a far less dangerous occupation than it once was. Frankly, I forget which side Mr. Kochert was taking, although I remember he felt that we needed more EMT-qualified firefighters.

I remember feeling a quiver of disquiet as Mr. Kochert pointed out that firefighting is far less dangerous today, considering that building codes were more stringent and that fewer homes used open fires, wood-burning stoves, etc.

Something about his statement seemed to me to be wrong, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it.

Last evening, I ran across an article in Wired magazine that points out the following:

Over the last three decades, building materials have changed dramatically. Plumbing, flooring, siding, roofing - most are now made from synthetics. The same goes for the stuff inside the building, like foam rubber seat cushions, plastic computer cases, and nylon carpet fibers. As a result, today's blazes produce two to three times as much energy as a typical fire did in 1980, and most of that energy emerges as flammable gases. Those gases don't escape from newer buildings, which are well insulated and tightly sealed. Fires now project their energy much farther from their cores, making them more dangerous and more difficult to extinguish. (emphasis added)

Much after the fact, this is at least some evidence that supports that uneasy feeling I had this winter when CM Kochert offered his expert opinion.

Chief Toran, have you read this article in the June issue of Wired, "The Fire Rebels?"

It pretty much leads off with this zinger from Gresham, Ore. fire battalion chief Ed Hartin: "The fire service in the United States is a 200-year-old institution unimpeded by progress."

But the information it conveys might well turn out to be the most important news the chief could absorb as he leads our city's firefighting efforts. Please check out the article here.

A Long Post From the Past

There seems to be an assumption on the part of some folks that Volunteer Hoosier sprang full blown into existence with an agenda to attack. You have to remember that a year ago, I couldn't have identified a single member of New Albany's City Council by sight.

My impressions of what ails this city come from experience and observation. For your consideration, I've chosen a posting from Tuesday, February 08, 2005, shortly after a city council meeting, to let you discern some of the observations I've made.

No need for dissection

Good evening, class. On reflection, City Council member Dan Coffey's fascist comments from the public communications portion of Monday's council meeting don't require dissection or rebuttal. He can't possibly mean what he said.

In summary from the post below, here was his civics lesson:

Point 1: He contended the "we" are the ones who know what can be done, what's legal, and what money is available. Presumably, he meant the council, but I can't be sure.

Point 2: He said he doesn't read blogs and that he "figures anyone can hide behind a keyboard."

Point 3: By Coffey's lights, if you want to criticize, question, or otherwise participate in the public discussion of civic affairs, you must run for office (and presumably win). Otherwise, shut the hell up.

Point 4: In all fairness, Danny C. claimed to have held six town halls during his current term, but undermined his claim by then disinviting anyone who doesn't live in his district.

Tonight, I'll only quibble with Point 2. Who, may I ask, is hiding? My identity is not hidden. Neither is Roger's. Neither of us have erected barriers to free comment or password protected our blogs. Nobody here is hiding. My name, my e-mail, and my business are clearly discernible by clicking on my name and my profile. Furthermore, both Roger and I appeared before the council Monday evening. That doesn't constitute hiding, in my book.

I respect the function and dignity of the City Council and don't think it is a place for ad hominen attacks. I do think Mr. Coffey misspoke Monday night, so rather than dissect his comments, I'd rather invite him to retract and clarify them.

Mr. Coffey: Do you stand by your comments? Have I misstated what you actually said Monday night? If the summary above is accurate, would you like to clarify or restate your position vis-a-vis bloggers, citizen comment and petition, etc. Clearly you desire to serve your community. I simply can't believe you wish to stand by the statements that came out of your mouth in a public meeting.

So here's your chance. Drop us a note. Since you don't read blogs, have a friend print this out for you. If you don't have e-mail, write me a letter and I will meticulously transcribe it onto the Web for public view.

Further, we invite you to join us any of the next three Monday nights at Destinations Booksellers, where you can share with us your new vision for downtown New Albany. Our symposium is not designed for you to present, but we have absolutely no objection to hearing your views on how downtown can be preserved and rejuvenated. Just let us know which night and we'll turn over the program to hear your presentation. That way, you'll actually be the first presenter. Even if you can't make it, we've invited everyone with an interest to submit questions and ideas for the symposium and we'll be sure to treat yours with respect.

As an aside, the reason we excluded elected officials was to insulate them from the attack-oriented ambushers. We want a debate on ideas, not a forum to blame elected officials or make personal attacks.

posted by All4Word at 11:59 PM

Northside vs. Downtown

Reasonable minds may differ on the question. This reasonable mind is intrigued by County Council member Randy Stumler's concept for a new city-county office complex alongside Scribner Place. More august personages object and believe an abandoned church building can be successfully converted to meet the needs.Which one would benefit the county more? Which one would be more cost-effective?

The County Council will decide (again) tonight.

posted by All4Word at 9:00 PM


Good morning, class. Welcome to our online seminar in applied civics. We are waiving the normal fee, but all participants are required to stay until the end of today's lesson. Potential candidates for New Albany's City Council are invited to audit the class. Take notes. Pay attention. You will be tested.


City Council met in executive session one hour before the scheduled public meeting, presumably to discuss the city's current litigation/settlement options in relation to the pending lawsuit in Federal District Court pitting the city against the First, Fourth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth amendments, otherwise known as City of New Albany vs. New Albany DVD.

It can be surmised that public business was also discussed (in violation of Indiana's open government statutes) as the council president, after calling the night's public meeting to order, announced that the council had decided to defer approval of the minutes of each of the last two meetings. Unless they are telepathic, they must have agreed to do that before the public session.


At 7:15, the council opened a public hearing on four matters, in accordance with legal requirements. Public comment was invited on three appropriations and a zoning matter. Greg Roberts, representing the East Spring Street Neighborhood Association, urged the council to approve an appropriation to purchase 2 garbage packers. One council member questioned Greg, asking if the choice came down to funding the packers (an agenda item) or funding the code enforcement/paralegal (not an agenda item), which would he prefer. Greg replied, without hesitation, "code enforcement."


After a perfunctory and less-than-reverent recitation of the Lord's prayer and pledge to the flag, CM Jeff Gahan announced the curious agreement to defer approval of the minutes and proceeded directly to the public communications portion of the evening.

Mass Communications 101

Valla Ann Bolovschak, beleaguered watchdog and confidant/patronage nominee of at least one CM, took to the lectern first to scold CM Gahan for meeting with the management of WNAS, the broadcast outlet for Valla Ann's videotaped presentations of council meetings. This observer admits to being somewhat confused by a discussion of the technical issues that befell the most recent cablecasts. For a moment, I thought we were going to hear about a Watergate-style covert operation to fuzz the tape. Alas, it all appears to have been an innocent technical glitch.

At the conclusion of Ms. Bolovschak's comments, she invited questions and CM Larry Kochert obliged, questioning why CM Gahan would be meeting with WNAS, the New Albany High School television station. Valla Ann then took up the interrogation of the council president, apparently receiving the answers she desired.

Soon enough, we got to the heart of the matter. Ms. B (or Viola, as CM Dan Coffey calls her) is tired of carrying the financial burden of hiring a professional videographer to tape all the council meetings and wants the financially strapped city to underwrite those expenses.

A small contretemps erupted when CM Beverly Crump objected to the implication that non-taped meetings lacked integrity, but peace was quickly restored.

Public Relations 100

This blogger, who has previously contended that the council is under no obligation to entertain oral presentations, submitted a petition to the council president that invited all members of the council to attend the March 2 Public Affairs Symposium, "New Visions for Downtown New Albany." City Clerk Marcey Wisman read the invitation into the meeting record.

Logic 201

Recognizing the time pressures faced by members of the council, fellow blogger The New Albanian shared with council a summary of the discussions on NA Confidential over the past few weeks.

Among the highlights was his report that the consensus on the site supported the city abandoning its costly efforts to stop the opening of New Albany DVD.

The New Albanian has repeatedly called for the mayor and council to institute some forum for communication between citizens and their elected representatives* and reiterated that call during the public communications portion of Tuesday's City Council meeting.

*(NOTE: Henceforth, the default description will be representatives, not leaders; the faculty committee on semantics will continue to debate the legitimacy of the new terminology and will release its interim report shortly on whether to retain the term representatives or to downgrade the title to officeholder or occupants of office.)

Apparently, CM Coffey confused The New Albanian's grayish ballcap for my own pale forehead and began to berate our favorite pubmeister for the format of the 7 p.m. public affairs symposium being held at Destinations Booksellers on March 2.

Announcing that he "doesn't read (Roger's) blog" and wielding a thick envelope for effect (who knows what was in it?), Coffey asserted that he previously had every intention of attending the symposium until he discovered that he would not be allowed to speak. Gosh, the only place we've announced it is in the store and on a BLOG!

For the record, Mr. Baylor's involvement with the March 2 forum is expected to be limited to muscling a few bookshelves and pointing attendees to the necessary room in the event of emergencies. This symposium was in the works before I ever met The New Albanian. That he and his online Web log are helping to publicize it and supporting its objective of creating a community conversation about saving downtown does not make him responsible for its format.

Then it really got interesting. Among other things, this was the civics lesson of the night, courtesy of CM Coffey:

Point 1: He contended the "we" are the ones who know what can be done, what's legal, and what money is available. Presumably, he meant the council, but I can't be sure.

Point 2: He said he doesn't read blogs and that he "figures anyone can hide behind a keyboard."

Point 3: By Coffey's lights, if you want to criticize, question, or otherwise participate in the public discussion of civic affairs, you must run for office (and presumably win). Otherwise, shut the hell up.

Point 4: In all fairness, Danny C. claimed to have held six town halls during his current term, but undermined his claim by then disinviting anyone who doesn't live in his district.The New Albanian, after a procedural question directed to the council president, simply smiled genuinely and said of his blog, "I think you should read it." As Roger returned to his seat, Coffey couldn't resist calling out, while patting his thick envelope of mystery documents, "I don't read," at least in the hearing of one observer.

Government 333

We refer you to The Tribune and City Editor Amany Ali's coverage of a fairly calm business meeting where routine matters were approved and a skittish council, in light of the unsettled cash balance calculations roiling the city, tabled all matters requiring new appropriations. The formerly ailing CM Bill Schmidt provided half a loaf in documenting all the borrowings approved by the council over the past 20 months or so. No information on repayments was provided while the state auditors comb the city's financial activities during the tenures of four controllers. Suffice it to say that the cops get no cars, the sanitation department gets no trucks, and the joint 911 dispatch office must wait another week-and-a-half for the authority to pay its bills.

Class recess

Until tomorrow...same time, same site, when we will address the fallacies inherent in Mr. Coffey's ridiculous comments.

Here's a little teaser...who says a symposium on "New Visions for Downtown New Albany" would address government action, anyway? If an elected representative wishes to unequivocally announce his opposition to citizens gathering to discuss matters of concern and interest to them, let him speak now.

Feel free to discuss among yourselves.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Guest Column: Liberate Locust Street

I've not taken a position on the issue of the reopening of Locust Street, but a correspondent offers this opinion on the matter. It's certainly well stated and persuasive. Welcome J.R. Steuerwald, who lives on DePauw Avenue. - RS

During the past few years since Locust Street has been closed due to construction at Hazelwood Middle School residents residing around Locust Street have seen traffic on our residential streets escalate. Locust Street was designed by city planners to handle traffic wishing to travel between Vincennes and Silver Streets. Locust Street consists of two schools, two parking areas, tennis courts and the football stadium, none of which are occupied continually throughout the day.

Residents living around Locust Street live and use their properties 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They should be able to have safe access to their homes and be able to allow their children to play on their property without having to be concerned about increased traffic flow and excessive speeds from drivers using their streets in the attempt to connect between Vincennes and Silver Streets.

Representatives of the school system at the June 29th Board of Public Works and Safety meeting for the City of New Albany, would have you believe that their insistence on closing Locust Street is for the “sake of the children” and their safety. I personally couldn’t agree more, but whose children are we talking about anyway? Many of these kids they claim to be interested in protecting come from the very streets whose residents (131 of which signed a petition) to have Locust Street re-opened.

The issue of whether or not Locust Street should be re-opened is more complex than our school children’s safety. No one on either side wants anybody whether they reside on Locust Street or any other street in the area put in an unsafe position. No! This issue is bigger than that. Both the school system and the surrounding neighborhoods can peacefully co-exist if the traffic is managed during peak school hours.

I’ve lived in larger cities that change the traffic flow of major streets daily depending on the traffic needs. Locust Street doesn’t need to be closed to city residents who pay taxes to support New Albany schools, just because our city “leaders” can’t find a reasonable solution to this problem—manage the traffic during peak school hours and open the street to city residents!

I wait with anticipation to see how the Board of Public Works and Safety decides on July 12.

J.R. Steuerwald, New Albany

How do you feel about this? We invite you to write us with your thoughts.
Randy Smith,

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Blog Entries You'd Like to Steal

Funding the Gap

I wasn't there, but by all accounts, CM Coffey's last-minute fireworks display got rained out during Tuesday's City Council work session. No pop, all fizzle.

He was quoted as saying it would be cheaper to "fund the gap" than for the city to undertake a commitment to Scribner Place. But that's what the issue has been all along. Municipal government bonds are the most attractive to the market. By guaranteeing the Scribner Place, Phase I bond issue, the city is able to bring it to completion at the lowest cost. As far as funding, the city will in fact be "funding the gap."

The gap is that amount that will not be provided by private sources, in this case, the Caesars Foundation of Floyd County.

City Council will take up the issue on first reading on July 7. Did Dan Coffey endorse the city "funding the gap" in his comments last evening?

Now the question turns to how big that gap will be. To my amazement, the council seems prepared to enlarge that gap by borrowing at the highest interest rate, and paying the largest annual sum over the life of the bonds. In addition, the city will be required to maintain a reserve fund that is approximately $1.3 million dollars.

Why? Why is council prepared to accept the most costly and riskiest of the three options presented to them? Why is Mayor Garner being so timid about explaining Option 1?

A last-ditch attempt by opponents to derail the Scribner Place locomotive induced the city attorney and bond advisor to include the ridiculously expensive Option 3. Click here to see the comparison between each of the three options on the table.

Who among the council wants to defend Option 3? Who wants to face the voters and explain why $105,000 in EDIT funds was unnecessarily devoted to Scribner Place bonds when it could have been avoided by simply promising to use city taxes as a last-resort guarantee? And who wants to defend requiring the city to put $1,375,000 in escrow for the next 16 years? Where are we going to come up with that?

For those of you who are contentedly sitting out the advocacy campaign on this one, the hour grows late. Tell your representatives you will remember who it was who cost the city $1,480,000 when it wasn't required.

Stop this train. Option 3 is a disaster waiting to happen. It is an option that will hamstring the city for the next 16 years. And it's totally unnecessary.

Apparently, the Option 3 supporters are unable or unwilling to explain to their constituents how Option 1 will strengthen the city's ability to provide services and will help to limit property tax increases in the future. Option 3, instead of shielding us from property tax increases, will require the city to come up with an extra $105,000 each year while parking $1,375,000 in escrow every year for the next 16 years.

Advocate for Option 1. Be smart. Insist that you want proper financial stewardship from your council member. Call or write them now, before they approve the outrageous Option 3. Your city's future depends on it.

Randy Smith,

The Nature of Opinion Journalism

A recent subsidiary comment over at NA Confidential jarred loose a few thoughts about the nature of public affairs Web logs, their uses, and their limitations.


pol·i·tics ( P ) Pronunciation Key (pl-tks)n.
1. (used with a sing. verb)
a. The art or science of government or governing, especially the governing of a political entity, such as a nation, and the administration and control of its internal and external affairs.
b. Political science.
2. (used with a sing. or pl. verb)
a. The activities or affairs engaged in by a government, politician, or political party: “All politics is local” (Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr.). “Politics have appealed to me since I was at Oxford because they are exciting morning, noon, and night” (Jeffrey Archer).
b. The methods or tactics involved in managing a state or government: The politics of the former regime were rejected by the new government leadership. If the politics of the conservative government now borders on the repressive, what can be expected when the economy falters?
3. (used with a sing. or pl. verb) Political life: studied law with a view to going into politics; felt that politics was a worthwhile career.
4. (used with a sing. or pl. verb)
Intrigue or maneuvering within a political unit or group in order to gain control or power: Partisan politics is often an obstruction to good government. Office politics are often debilitating and counterproductive.
5. (used with a sing. or pl. verb) Political attitudes and positions: His politics on that issue is his own business. Your politics are clearly more liberal than mine.
6. (used with a sing. or pl. verb) The often internally conflicting interrelationships among people in a society.

Usage Note: Politics, although plural in form, takes a singular verb when used to refer to the art or science of governing or to political science: Politics has been a concern of philosophers since Plato. But in its other senses politics can take either a singular or plural verb. Many other nouns that end in -ics behave similarly, and the user is advised to consult specific entries for precise information.


Bloggers have it within their power to be completely unaccountable to anyone. They may establish standards as they like, answer to no one, and speculate at will. They may even remain anonymous if they wish, and their readership will wax or wane based on how reliable, informative, and/or entertaining their postings are. Maintaining a regular schedule with fresh material is also an important factor in the utility of any particular blog.

Death for a blog comes when it ceases to entertain or inform. To the extent that a blog misinforms, its value deteriorates. To the extent that a blog disinforms, it loses all credibility.

Our objective at Volunteer Hoosier is to stir debate and shine the spotlight on those issues and personalities who, by whatever means, add to or subtract from our lives. In recent weeks, our attention has been focused on issues in New Albany and Floyd County. In the past and in the future, we have and will address issues of wider concern.

Obviously, we seek to influence opinion. When it comes to public officials whose stances or performance we see as hindrances or threats, we treat them as opponents, not enemies. It's politics, folks.

We seek answers and offer our own insights, we question and we criticize, but always in the belief that our opponents are making rational choices. When we can see no rational reason for those choices, we don't assume stupidity (as a fellow blogger was recently accused of doing). We assume cupidity.

That is, we assume our opponents have motives and motivations different from our own. These are the agendas we question. Absent any answers from our opponents, we speculate. Is it self-interest? Is it unawareness of the facts or the impact of a decision? Is it fear of someone? Is it the corruption of power or the corruption of money that is the hidden motivation?

We seek dialogue. We want our opponents to answer. But we also expect our opponents to subject themselves to challenge - the "but what about" question, the "the facts say otherwise" response.

If, for example, a council member believes we should do nothing to halt sprawl and its attendant pollution, he or she should say so clearly. And then answer why. If a council member says one thing and does another, that's hypocrisy and we'll point it out. If a council member takes a stance with which we disagree, and consistently defends that stance, we won't cease to try to persuade them of the rightness of our stance, but we will take them at their word. And we'll advocate their replacement at the next available opportunity.

That's politics. And that's the nature of opinion journalism, done right.

I encourage anyone to correspond, whether they agree or disagree with what they read here. If, from time to time, I neglect to offer my e-mail in the body of a comment, my e-mail is always just two clicks away under my Blogger profile. If I misunderstand you, tell me so. But if I simply disagree with you, know that, after all, that's the nature of politics.

Randy Smith,

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Did You Feel That?

Something's rumbling in the News-Tribune empire, and we can only hope its something good.

A careful perusal of the masthead of The Tribune today (the first issue of the week) reveals that Jim Nichols has been appointed as Executive Editor of the paper. Indications are that the news operations are going to be more integrated.

We're just reading tea leaves here, but absent an official statement from the new publisher, John Tucker, we'll just have to speculate.

I have had the pleasure of spending time with Jim and I have a lot of respect for his capabilities and his thinking. My guess is that he will be working on strategy for both papers and introducing increasingly more significant changes in the coverage, while Managing Editor Chris Morris will continue to make assignments and manage the work of the reporting staff. How this will affect the opinion pages remains to be seen.

What's on the horizon for our local papers? Will they expand coverage with longer, more in-depth stories? Or will they follow an industry trend toward more color and graphics accompanying shorter stories?

My hope is they find a way to do both. I'd love to see more investigative pieces that take a long view and explain the significance of ongoing stories that dominate the daily news. As currently constituted, the Tribune seems to be a deadline-driven product that reports the basics, but neglects explanations of why an event or action is of importance to the community.

Volunteer Hoosier extends its best wishes to Nichols as he takes on this added responsibility. Our expectations are high.

Monday, June 27, 2005


If you slept in (or just divorced yourself from the news) this weekend, you missed some fairly dramatic news, most of which is recapped in the posts below.

In celebration of Tony Stewart's masterful win Sunday in California, we're going to put the ol' opinion race car in the garage today and just point you to some good links.

First, you'll want to read the Courier-Journal's profile of the East Spring Street Neighborhood Association and its efforts to make a more livable city. The story, by correspondent Christopher Hall, is here. In a couple of weeks, the story will move to the paid archives, so check it out now.

The online edition is accompanied by a photo of association president Greg Roberts, who pulled double duty on this one, driving his public service race car and then switching to his opinion-maker race car.

In the print edition, you should note the left gutter includes a somewhat garbled notice that the New Albany City Council will be holding another work session on Scribner Place tomorrow night, starting at 6:30. The nature of such sessions is that there is no public comment period (unless Mr. Schmidt decides he'll just open one), but it will be a good time to see your council members in action and measure their seriousness. Who knows, you might even have the chance after the meeting to tell them what you think about the issues facing New Albany. The meeting should last no longer than an hour.

And don't forget that the Board of Public Works and Safety will convene in an extraordinary evening meeting on Wednesday. The Calumet Club on East Spring Street near Vincennes is the site, 6:30 is the time. All city department heads will be on hand, so if you have a problem that you think the city can resolve, this is your chance to raise it. The meeting is being hosted by the aforementioned ESSNA.

For great commentary on the wider world of national politics, may I recommend Josh Marshall's daily blog, Talking Points Memo at

Randy Smith,