Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Good Ole "Nawlbany Culture"

There is in our community a prevailing mind set that those who have had to deal with it for the past few decades have dubbed the New Albany Culture.

Like all cultures it has many facets but there are a couple that appear to be dominant in our particular case. So much so in fact that they have created a log jam against forward flow that a train car load of dynamite can’t seem to dislodge.

One scenario goes something like this. A pile of rubbish had accumulated on a vacant lot across the street from where I live. I’d tried to contact the owner but as luck would have it he'd moved Tahiti and couldn’t be reached. I then resorted to calling the appropriate city departments & officials on numerous occasions over a period of months with no results. Finally out of sheer frustration I began rallying my neighbors and we collectively decided to ascend on city hall as a group to voice our displeasure. Lo and behold the rubbish at long last got transported elsewhere.

A few months went by and a similar situation reared its ugly head in a neighborhood adjacent to ours. The aggrieved in that location heard about our success and wanted to follow suite. However in his case instead of having next door neighbors as we had, he was surrounded by empty lots & vacant houses.

Quite by chance he ran into myself and a couple of other folks from our section of turf and asked for our attendance to back him up at city hall. With much nodding in agreement & proclamations of unity we agreed that we’d be there.

Oddly enough, on the day of the event, we failed to follow thru. We later express our regrets to him with such excuses as “I completely forgot the date & time!”, “My daughter had a soccer game and I didn’t dare miss another one!” or “ I was expecting an email to verify but never received it!”, etc, etc….

Afterwards sitting on OUR front porch, drinking OUR beer, inside the borders of OUR neighborhood the conversation went something like this: “Well we Really didn’t know that guy anyway!” or “Hell, that’s five blocks from here and it really isn’t any concern of ours!” or “Old Mrs. Smith across the street from us said that guy’s daddy purposely destroyed her newly planted rose garden back thirty some odd years ago. Therefore with the age old tradition of heaping the sins of the father onto the son, he probably deserved what he got!”

The second example takes place in the hallowed halls of city government. In a city our size there are two constants that seem to have a life of their own.

The one is that when an elected (and in many cases an appointed) public official is ever unseated is a half decade after Alzheimer’s sets in.

The other is the nearly impossible chance of finding anyone who is willing to serve in local public office that is not currently or has been in the recent past, employed by, married to, divorced from, related to, indebted to, or has been in some fashion, directly or indirectly, put upon by one or more of his/her fellow public officials or their forbearers.

Therefore, still waters run deep, elephants never forget, and the Hatfield’s & McCoy’s are alive and well right here on the sunny side of Louisville.

As a result most any issue that comes before either the Common Council or the Administration is dealt with not on its merits as it may or may not benefit the city as a whole, but rather on from whom it originated. Gridlock perfected anyone??

All of this is a long boring way of saying that both the served and those serving need to grow up and act like reasonably intelligent, informed adults as opposed self centered, uneducated spoiled brats.

The alternative is to continue down this well trodden path until even Mansion Row and the Charlestown Road “burbs” look like the alleyways of Elm Street, Oak Street and the West End (to name a few)!

Take the personality differences out behind the bowling alley and settle them and let the light of day shine on bringing our city back to a place we are proud to call home.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

For Your Weekend Perusal

Over the past couple of years there have been a series of Congressionl/US Senate hearings concerning the use of steroids in Major League Baseball. Part of the results of which were one or more players being charged with perjury for "lying under oath!"

About a month ago I caught a clip of a high ranking US Senator proclaiming with the upmost zeal his disgust of rumors of drug use in the National Football League. He went on to say he was going to schedule hearings on the matter within the next fews months and get to the bottom of this issue.

Then I got home from our City Council Meeting last evening to find CNN broadcasting our very own Baron Hill chairing committee hearings on the care & feeding of animals in the horse racing industry.

Is it just me or does this make about as much sense as a heart surgeon leaving the operating room halfway through the procedure to discuss which variety of tulips to plant in his grandmothers flower bed two years hence.

As an unemployed individual paying $4+ for gasoline and a father & uncle of two young men who are serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan I would much prefer my tax dollars and our representativs education, expertise, and experience attending to the more pertinent issues affecting our futures.

The professional athletes are adults after all and even as kids when we found one of our playmates cheating we were told to settle in amoung ourselves.

As for the race horses, where is PETA when you need 'um?

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Few Notes from the 6-19-08 NA Council Meeting

A 6PM workshop update on New Albany's Greenway project was held prior to the regular council gathering last evening and there was good news to report. The bridge issues over both Silver Creek and the Ohio River seem to be closer to being resolved sensibly.

The current plan is to use the abandoned railroad bridge at the Loop Island trail to connect us to Clarksville and postpone the idea of a vehicular bridge over Silver Creek for now. It appears that common sense finally floated to the surface.

It was also reported that the K & I Bridge connection is getting ever closer to a reality as well. All of that is still a year plus into the future but at least the conversation is more in the "gonna happen " sphere. One can only hope it stays that way.

As for the regular Council Meeting there was a notable lack of Administration representation present. Neither the Mayor no deputy Mayor saw fit to attend. One has to wonder, are they giving up or stepping back to plan another approach??

As was reported elsewhere, the highlight of the evening was Councilman Messer stepping up to question some less than supportable information that was presented from the other side of the table. Yea Jack! Where have you been?

The other two events that caused me to be guardedly optimistic was firstly, the report from the redistricting committee that their work is done, a plan is on the table for the Council's consideration, and said committee has been disbanded.

I personally urge this Council to get this item on the agenda and deal with it post haste. Eight years of duty shirked is far beyond long enough!

The other item that gives me a modicum of hope is Council President Gahan's stated intention to form at least one and possibly more committees at their next meeting to begin research on New Albany's outdated Housing & Building Code, (it was passed in 1969) and to look into rental property control issues (or more to the point, the lack thereof) as well.

Dare we hope that New Albany as a city will migrate forward to the 21st century and recoginize the rental business as (God Forbid) a BUSINESS!!!

To do otherwise is to insure that future entraprenaurs will continue to look at our (choke) fair city with a jaundiced eye. In addition to things like infrastructure, workforce availabilty, schools, & tax structure, good businessmen also look to the availabilty of affordable clean safe housing for themselves and their future employees. What we currently have to offer is not only laughable but disgraceful as well!

Perhaps we have at long last got to the point where some in leadership are at least willing to recoginize it as a problem. The burning question is, will they dare proceed to solve it?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Politics versus Change

There is a phenomenon in our country that has taken on a life of its own with little or no resistance. That being on any given subject when a proposal comes forth that could lead to safer, more equitable, more productive/profitable, and/or efficient use of resources for the overall public good, the loudest bell heard pealing is the allegation of political gain.

“They’re playing politics!!!” floats to the top of the conversation quicker than a turd in a toilet bowl. To hell with the constitution & the rule of law. To hell with individual rights, quality of life, and hopes for future generations! To hell with trying to learn anything new!

Our fifteen minutes of fame, our seat in public office, our loathing & fear of anything/anyone we don’t understand must be preserved at all costs!!

I hold this to be true at all levels of government from city to state to Capitol Hill. I challenge anyone to watch the Congress/Senate sessions on CSPAN and tell me how they are different from our own City Council meetings.

I love analogies so I’m putting forth one here to illustrate my point. Much of this country west of the Rockies depends on the annual snowfall as their water source for the entire year. Let’s assume, just for giggles, that during one extreme event a select few buildings were destroyed as a result. Let’s further assume that the owners or their agents had the power to banish snowfall from ever occurring again.

The result would be short term gain for those select few as they could rest assured their little corner of the universe would never again be damaged by snowfall. However the long term effect for their prodigy as well as all in that vast expanse of real estate would be a desert unable to sustain any reasonable quality of life.

Oversimplified? Perhaps, but my view nonetheless of just how shallow and selfish it is for those whose responsibility is to look beyond their next election to the future life quality issues of the whole to focus instead on how a decision may or may not affect their personal goals or those of someone who is dangling short term benefit in front of them.

If following the rule of law and the Constitution of The United States means that some or all who now hold office will not be eligible to do so in the future so be it.

If modifying the traffic patterns in New Albany can result in more revenue for the community as a whole while I loose my favorite parking place, so be it.

If adding $7.00 a month to my utility bill will ensure that all the toilets in New Albany will continue to flush, so be it.

If the City Council has to draft and pass new legislation in order to guarantee that the monies generated by that increase are used only for and by that utility, so be it. Quit griping about it and do it!

I implore all elected officials to get over themselves and focus on the long-term good of the whole.

I further implore all citizens to do get involved. Your voice counts, but only if and when you choose to use it! Remaining silent and doing nothing is a choice but it still carries consequences.

Our children will one day either thank us or damn us for our actions/inactions!