Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Hide of a Rhino

Unless Ben Zion Hershberg is writing editorials now, the editors of The Courier-Journal are reading their own reporter's coverage to determine the state of affairs in New Albany. It might make good copy, but it shows an essential laziness on the part of the editors.

Let me say that I am pleased that James Garner doesn't place "getting along with others" as a higher priority than the needs of the city's residents. It is my observation that the political class has been "getting along" for far too long, and much to the detriment of this city.

When it takes a federal court order to get anything done in this city, you know the political class has become timid and moribund. And when that political class gets their feathers ruffled, you want to look and see who's doing the "ruffling" and get behind that man or woman.

The C-J uses the word "enemies" in an editorial today to describe the mayor's opponents. That's a word I've always avoided in politics, but there are those who resent and envy as a natural instinct. Perhaps they should be treated as enemies.

The big-game hunter is the enemy of the rhino, and doesn't care if he kills the beast or simply hacks off the horn to capture the beast's virility. Apparently, Hershberg and the C-J are more than willing to serve as "beaters" to assist those hunting their great white rhino.

Read this half-baked, thrown-off try at opinion. Below is my response.

To the Editor, The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.

When my wife and I decided to locate our business in New Albany, we had concerns about the city government’s willingness and ability to foster economic growth.

As we observed the dynamic between the city council and the administration, one thing became clear – Mayor James Garner is a leader dedicated to creating an environment where more entrepreneurs like ourselves would be willing to make an investment.

To read the coverage of New Albany city affairs as offered by the Courier-Journal is to gain a biased view. It seems that the beat reporter is less that than a transcriptionist for the mayor’s political opponents.

As you recommend in your editorial of Saturday, August 13, 2005, James Garner is “showing,” not telling people how hard he’s working for them. It is simply that the C-J refuses to cover it.

We have doubled our investment in New Albany, and so long as leaders like Garner continue to drive this city forward, we hope to do so again and again.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Come Out, Steve

Time to put up or shut up, Steve Price.

Don't pretend you never saw this. After 19 months of obstructionism without one positive accomplishment to show for it, you now make it known that YOU are a public finance and municipal services guru.

Where have you been, Steve.

You say you can cut $500,000 (what happened to the $600,000 figure from last week?) from the city budget without diminishing any city services. What? We're being over-delivered on city services? Is the city cleaner? Streets safer? Speeding down? Are we meeting DOJ guidelines on cops per resident? How's the Greenway project coming? How about sidewalks and bike paths? How about new business startups? How's your district doing, Steve? Is downtown thriving again and we just missed it?

Here's your chance. Let's see your plan, here and now. The "comments" button is just below.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Report: City Council Special Meeting

Although I was unable to stay to the end of Tuesday's special called city council meeting, I did sit through the first 25 minutes. Here is my report.

Granted, Mr. Dan Coffey, esteemed representative on council from the 1st District, was on his best behavior, but leading a charge based on confusion and an inability to read documents is no substitute for representation.

As a body, the city council, perhaps rightly, is bitter that they were left out of the decision to grant a contract for household waste collection. They were in fact, excluded from the decision. And they didn't like being informed at the same time the rest of us were.

In fact, this operational decision is an administrative one that they all know was in the proper purview of the city's board of works. Some, perhaps most, regret that the sanitation department as we know it is being restructured to the point of being unrecognizable. Like the mayor, they dearly wished that it wouldn't come to this point.

But, embarrassed that they did not have advance warning about the decision, they struck first and asked questions later. Council president Gahan objected to the mayor's characterization of the decision as routine, as no different from any other letting of a contract. And he's right. It is different. But when Mr. Gahan offered to put words in the mayor's mouth - "Let me get this straight, mayor. It's your position that this is none of the council's business, right?"

Garner responded, "It's not my position, it's what state statutes dictate. Contracting is an administrative function."

You'll read other takes on the final decision today. You'll hear rumors. But what happened last night is exactly what the mayor proposed Monday - the council's counsel will take a look at the request for proposals to see if it is in any way illegal. If he agrees with city attorney Shane Gibson, the matter is concluded. If not, another attorney may examine the particulars. Or not.

By a vote of 9-0, the council approved a conference among attorneys to determine if proper procedures were followed. Mayor Garner is firm in his insistence, on advice of counsel, that all the proper forms were followed. The council really hasn't a clue, but wants to have the AFSCME believe they "did all they could" to save the jobs of up to 20 workers.

So, the theatrical presentation by council ended not with a bang, but with a whimper. The ongoing and now nearly $1 million departmental deficit trumps political posturing.

One can hardly blame Mr. Coffey. As an ardent opponent of anything the mayor proposes, it must seem in his best interest to oppose it and to try to muddy the waters by charging criminal conduct. It's not like Dan and James are suddenly going to become buddies.

As for Mr. Gahan, I admit I'm baffled.

The resolution for an "investigation" was ineffective and amateurish. It alleged nothing, but called for an investigation. By whom? It didn't say. To what end? It didn't say.

Now, one source says Anna Schmidt was the drafter of the resolution. Mrs. Schmidt strenuously denies that. And City Clerk Marcey Wisman relates that she took down the resolution by telephone from Mr. Coffey and subsequently wrote down his editings and emendations. That still doesn't clarify its authorship, but whoever wrote it was writing only to create an impression of action. Whoever wrote it must have known that it had NO legal effect. Therefore, it can only be described as political pandering of the worst sort. And by worst, I mean that it purported to hold out hope to a group of men and women who believed that Mr. Coffey could and would do something to reverse the mayor's action. As written, the resolution was such a lukewarm bath that the workers would be fully justified in spewing out the author or authors as hypocrites.

Just because someone says he's your friend doesn't make it so.