Friday, October 07, 2005

The Truth is Out There

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Yeah, He's a Progressive, Too

Of the Internet, Al Gore says: "We must ensure by all means possible that this medium of democracy's future develops in the mold of the open and free marketplace of ideas that our Founders knew was essential to the health and survival of freedom."

For more progressive thinking, read the text of the media conference speech by the man America elected to the presidency in 2000.

Progressive Primer, Session Two

Another of those things that progressives find relevant (nay, necessary) for discussion:

Wednesday's Courier-Journal reported that an Indianapolis Republican legislator planned to introduce a comprehensive ban on "assisted reproduction" physician care for prospective single parents and homosexual couples.

Sen. Patricia Miller, R-Indianapolis, said the state does not have regulations on assisted reproduction.

She said the requirements should be similar to those for adoption, but acknowledged that the legislation would be "enormously controversial."

"Our statutes are nearly silent on all this. You can think of guidelines, but when you put it on paper it becomes different," she told The Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne.

Miller is chairwoman of the Health Finance Commission, a panel of lawmakers that will vote Oct. 20 on whether to recommend the legislation to the full General Assembly.

The bill defines assisted reproduction as causing pregnancy by means other than sexual intercourse, including intrauterine insemination, donation of an egg, donation of an embryo, in vitro fertilization and transfer of an embryo, and sperm injection.

It requires "intended parents" to be married and states that an unmarried person may not be an intended parent.

A doctor cannot begin an assisted reproduction technology procedure that may result in a child being born until the intended parents have undergone an assessment and met the bill's requirements.

Read this story (limited shelf-life on C-J stories)
Reproduction bill targets gays, singles: Married couples could use science

In case you were wondering...that is NOT a progressive idea.

And just so you'll know, the state's constituency for progress killed this one in its crib, as related in Thursday's C-J.

Things are changing. Like it or not.

Tell It, David

Let this serve as a little primer on what progressives are concerned with:

At the Very Top, a Surge in Income in '03

by David Cay Johnston
The New York Times

After falling for two years, the share of income going to the richest slice of Americans - the top tenth of 1 percent - grew significantly in 2003 while the share going to 99 percent of Americans fell, tax data released yesterday showed.

At the same time, the effective income tax rates paid by the top tenth of 1 percent fell sharply, declining at more than 10 times the rate reduction for middle-class taxpayers, the new report, by the Internal Revenue Service, showed...


...The I.R.S. data tend to understate incomes for those at the very top because of different rules for reporting wages and capital gains, meaning the actual disparity was larger than the official data show.

Other data show that among major world economies, the United States in recent years has had the third-greatest disparity in incomes between the very top and everyone else. Only Mexico and Russia, among major economies, have greater disparity.

Read the whole story online at

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Before the Next Storm

Let me first say I applaud the individuals who volunteered to work with the city and its professional contractors to develop a stormwater management plan. If you ever wondered what their duties and responsibilities are, read this:

From the public notice:

The public stakeholder committee will discuss a number of issues including:

Long-term financing without raising taxes through user fees

State mandated services the City must provide

Drainage and flood control services the City should provide

An acceptable balance of new costs and new fees

State mandated revised construction site runoff control ordinance

State mandated new illicit discharge elimination ordinance

State mandated new post-construction site runoff control ordinance

The committee will make a series of recommendations to the City of New Albany based on these discussions.

From the invitation letter:

The SWAC, composed of public stakeholders, staff and elected officials, will discuss goals, visions, needs and financial priorities for the City to address problems associated with flooding, new development, water quality and federal regulations. The SWAC will consider the public discussion and incorporate the comments into recommendations that will be given to the New Albany Sewer Board and elected officials for consideration and adoption.

Committee members will serve as representatives from groups interested in stormwater management, including homeowners, developers, business leaders, environmentalists, and related industry. New Albany has gone through great lengths to create this mix of membership to provide the technical basis for unbiased and sound recommendations from the community that will be communicated to the Sewer Board for action.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Government in Abstentia, etc.

News briefs from Monday night's New Albany City Council meeting:

Hope Bill Schmidt is feeling better. Anna didn't bring an excuse slip, but the council member from the 2nd District sure knows how to pick which meetings to miss. Once again, Schmidt found a way to leave no trace on the public record on a critical vote. Schmidt's re-election slogan? "Don't blame me! I wasn't even there!"

A shout out to Floyd County Democratic Chairman Randy Stumler: Better get your fellow party members a new songbook. When the lone Republican on NA's City Council is heard to say "We need to be progressive enough to get this process started," the call for a Fusion Party of forward-thinking citizens just gets louder and louder. Do we really want the Democratic Party to be the anti-progressive party?

There was real news Monday night. The council approved on final reading the lease (bond rental payments), bond issuance, and pledge of EDIT funds to put the Scribner Place redevelopment project on the road to reality. CM's Coffey and Price voted no on the final reading, but not without a weird abstention by Coffey on the second reading. By the time the City Clerk called the roll for the third reading, CM Price had forgotten the question and began discussing the next item on the agenda. Way to pay attention, L'il Stevie.


What is it about this council? Contrary to all the rules of procedure, President Gahan continues to permit each vote to become one last speech. When discussion is ended and the question is called, CM's are supposed to vote, not filibuster.

On the Scribner Place vote, Larry Kochert, as he has throughout 2005, tried to have it both ways - he abstained. Which is a no vote, of course. Kochert remains tortured by this project, lamenting that he wouldn't want to see it fail, but couldn't vote aye.


Picked up our photos from the Harvest Homecoming Parade from Saturday, and they reveal that Sgt. Oates and her anonymous troop found yet another way to offend the sensibilities of decent folk. What kind of spiteful specimen of humanity thinks it's right to use that occasion to extend (and I do mean extend) the middle finger to a city official while he rides slowly by in an open car accompanied by his wife and small children? Daddy, what's that man doing?


Volunteer Yvonne Kersey, she of the constitutional confusion, is letting her tenure on the Stormwater Advisory Committee go to her head. She informed the council (and they apparently believed her) that she was on the Steering Committee on Drainage Issues. A more self-aggrandizing performance I've never seen. Far overstepping her charge, at least as a committee member, she told the council that the committee could not recommend a yes vote on the interim stormwater management user fee.


The conspiracy theory continued when Maurice King rose to second Ms. Kersey's sentiments. Mr. King's presentation was far more cogent and less rambling, calling for "more time" for the committee to evaluate the interim plan. He admitted that the committee can't keep up with the required schedule, prompting President Gahan to ask, plaintively, "How much time do you neeeeeed?"

Professionalism reared its welcome head when paid consultant Chad McCormick(sp?) clarified the record. The Kersey/King objection to serial drafts of the ordinance was set aside with dispatch when McCormick explained that each draft reflected the consensus views generated after each committee meeeting.


King responded that McCormick was lying, adding that "they" don't want the public to know about this unfunded federal mandate, despite the fact that two public meetings were held in the last week. Low turnout, in King's estimation, is ipso facto evidence of a conspiracy to suppress the facts.

By the way, the canard that Floyd County has already managed to deal with the issue of stormwater drainage, and at far lower cost, conveniently overlooks the fact that the county simply hasn't begun the process. Non-city Floyd Countians will also have to come up with the money to address these concerns. They're just further behind the curve than New Albany.

But even King and Kersey acknowledge that the money has to come from some pocket. They have some legitimate points to make about how to make the user fees equitable. But besides overreaching their assigned task, the delay they suggest endangers the city. NOW is the time to act on the interim plan. Any delay means the drainage department disappears, by order of the Sewer Board. And unless the program is viable by May 1, the city is subject to daily fines at a massive level.

The SAC (Stormwater Advisory Committee) is, by the way, charged with working over the next several years to help the professional staff come up with the permanent plan. The interim plan isn't even in their bailiwick.
CM Kochert reminded all that the Sewer Board voted that any transfers of funds after Aug. 2, 2005 for functions not directly related to the sanitary sewer system (including storm sewers and ISM engineering fees) would be considered to be loans, and only loans. He did not, however, make a motion to have the City Council approve that. Hmmmmm. Having it both ways again, Larry.
Does Mrs. 4th District Council Member go nuts in the morning trying to serve Larry his eggs both sunny-side up and scrambled? At least on Saturdays, she can rest. That's the day that Democratic Precinct Official Kochert breakfasts with the GOP at Mickey D's.
October will be the month that the whole city agreed about sanitation. No, not that. We're getting new garbage cans, this time suited for more than a month's use without breaking.
Why does Steve Price continue to vote against everything the consituents of the 3rd District want? Given the opportunity to renew the Urban Enterprise Zone that essentially defines his district, Mr. Price voted "no." What's the plan, Steve? Scare off a few more neighbors and convert their homes to flophouses? Importing new registered voters may be your only hope for getting a respectable 26% in the Democratic Primary.
The UEA/UEZ resolution, by the way, passed. But the Gang of Four abstained (well, Bill absented himself). This government by abstention is getting tedious. Besides being cowardly, it's a betrayal of the public trust.
Jack Messer provided another moment that will go down in New Albany's Profiles in Courage when he scolded the Gang for continuing to "drag their feet" on matters of important city business. Mr. Coffey objected to the characterization, saying, "wanting a good ordinance is not dragging your feet." No, but abstaining and failing repeatedly to offer ANY alternatives sure is. Just another bullet in the Gang's "Blame it on Garner" strategy.
City towing is due for a change, as the city has lost its former impound lot. The city fine will rise to $35 per incident after a 7-1 council vote. According to one courthouse wag, Larry Kochert instinctively voted "no" when he saw the word "police" in the ordinance setting the fee.
A portable air cooler made the less-than-packed assembly room eminently more comfortable. Monday's turnout was as low as I've seen at any meeting this year.
The Constituency Against Progress mounted an unsanctioned demonstration Monday night that left a lasting impression on all observers. It showed the true power of the Gang of Four to motivate their supporters when all eyes are watching.

Sunday, October 02, 2005


I did a little reading this weekend. I recommend it.

Reading stirs creativity. It challenges belief systems. It often is the incubator for new ideas. And it always leaves the reader mentally more fit.

One commentator this weekend tried to define the duties of the social contract between government (and its officials) and the people.

In light of the ongoing attempts by the Gang of Four and their automatic chorus of paid and unpaid supporters to halt progress in New Albany by polluting the air with lies and confusion, the concept of the social contract suggests itself as a noble topic for this blogger.

We’ll make this a work in process, and we invite your comments and suggestions for what ought to be part of the municipal obligations of elected officials. I envision it as a series of dos and don’ts, and can imagine it being the type of public pledge that a few incumbents would make while some others would decline to make it. Of course, there would then be those who abstain.

Help me out. We might just make this formal.

1. When evaluating, funding, and operating essential public services, I will always be a good steward of public monies. I will not use my power to protect any person or group of persons at the expense of the public good. I will not use my power to enrich any person or group of persons at the expense of the public good.

2. As part of my stewardship, I will always seek to provide essential public services in the most economical fashion, subject to public safety and health. When considering the options, I will not seek to protect long-entrenched interests at the expense of the public purse. If I believe that the service can be provided most economically by one method, I will not choose to support a more costly alternative in order to protect or enrich any person or group of persons at the expense of the public. I acknowledge that “we’ve always done it this way” is no legitimate reason for retaining a costly method of delivering services. Public money is too scarce and dear to be used as a patronage tool.

3. Effectiveness will be my guideline. As public goals are set and delineated, I will always seek the most effective means of achieving those goals.

Let’s stop there, for now. This ought to be a collaborative effort. Send me your suggestions by e-mail and we’ll try to figure out what other things should be added to this pledge. Incumbents and prospective candidates are particularly invited to contribute to this public discussion.

Process Matters, Redux

Boorishness is not usually the norm for Harvest Homecoming in Floyd County. At least that’s what folks tell me. You see, this was my first Harvest Homecoming parade, and I found it inspiring.

Perhaps as the years pass I’ll become jaded about such things, but I cherish this first exposure to our community coming together for this one day, putting aside our differences to celebrate our common dreams.

Even though I’ve only been a New Albanian for a while, I found myself waving to friends in most of the marching groups and floats. It gave me a great feeling to see so many people having a great time. The kids in our group seemed thrilled to join with the grownups in such unalloyed fun.

For the most part, the brutishness and thuggery that has so marred the prospects for progress in Floyd County’s seat were set aside, if only for a day.

Yet, reports continue to filter in that some city residents, conditioned to the generation of random objections, saw in this unifying event an opportunity to pollute the atmosphere with personal animosity toward those with whom they purport to disagree.

Mayor James Garner and his lovely family rode near the head of the parade, beaming and smiling and waving at all the folks gathered along the route. The hate-filled few apparently thought this would be an appropriate time to curse and yell epithets of abuse, and to lift on high their objections to Garner’s attempts to clean up New Albany and to clean up city government.

Some have raised the point that these actions were unlawful. Far worse, they were boorish and rude. Fortunately, the only ones whose enjoyment of the event was damaged were the boors themselves.

While I would argue that it was stupendously inappropriate to inject personal animosity into such and event, political dissent has a long tradition in America. But these mannerless, cave-dwelling troglodytes forget the overarching principle of civil disobedience.

It’s true that an assembly on public property, particularly a political demonstration, requires a permit from the relevant government agency. There is no doubt, despite the paucity of numbers, that this was not spontaneous, and less doubt that it was politically motivated. Therefore, a permit should have been sought.

The principles of civil disobedience dictate that those who wish to defy governmental authority must be willing (nay, eager) to pay the consequences. That is, they must be prepared to go to jail.

Get the permit or not. But if you do not, be prepared to go to jail.

Yes, those are legalisms. And for Saturday’s events, a resort to legalisms is not the right path. Yes, it was unlawful. But mostly, it was inexcusably rude.

But then, isn't that the hallmark of all those who hide in the bushes and launch anonymous diatribes, of all those who refuse to be accountable themselves? Why would they make any efforts to be accountable to their fellow citizens?