Speak Out Loud NA

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Making This Work...

For those who would like to be able to post, rather than just comment, I am going to try something new. I believe I have created a way for postings to be made, and still retain your anonymity. Now, I'm sure we are going to really catch some %$*#! for this move, but I understand the frustration of only being able to comment. Still working on this, and I will provide more information at a future date.
I also endorse, and suggest, that everyone visit http://www.cleanupnewalbany.com/ site for another forum that allows dialogues on various topics (I have a sign in my yard, and more are available). It is a very welcomed effort, and has an important mission. The messages they are sending are vital to the future of our city.
Also, I want to make it clear to everyone that I am not getting paid anything to host this blog. This is something I am doing out of concern for what is happening within our City.
To Mr. Deatrick, we appreciate your contributions. Please don't be put off by cheap shots taken by others. I was appalled that the Economic Development position went to a 24 (?) year old. Although I admit I haven't had the pleasure of meeting this young man, I have my concerns. How much experience can he possibly have? Why didn't he attend the Downtown symposium and talk with the merchants who are trying to reinvigorate a business district? Does anyone know anything about what he's been doing thus far?
For Bluegill, I have some remarks for you, but I will have to save that for later when I have more time, as your comments were especially vicious. But, just for starters, I don't believe it's necessary to re-write a complete newspaper article to draw attention to a specific portion that causes alarm or begs for clarification. Also, who are these private developers who are going to spend $40K to "study" what type of business they may (or may not) bring to New Albany? Could it be that they are (gasp!) ANONYMOUS??? Cowards!

Friday, May 27, 2005

Open Forum

Just a quickie post here to allow folks to place comments on a non-issue related posting.
I am appreciative of the supportive comments that tells me most people just want (and need) a place to ask questions, and voice concerns.
So, have at! Hopefully, some answers will come thruough for us.
Thanks Everyone

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Roger and Laura Continue Debate

From Roger: Laura
The floodgates of reasoned discourse certainly opened when you enabled anonymity on your blog.
I'm not sure whether it is sociology or psychology, but perhaps you can enlighten me as to the dynamic of the mob. I seem to recall that this is the theory of individuals being restrained by custom and upbringing, but when part of a group, and yes, anonymous in the crowd, they find it much easier to do things they would never consider while alone.
Just curious.
One more thing. Will you follow through and add me to the list of contributors, or do you intend to throw some red meat out to the mob and silence me? They'd certainly appreciate it. Already one - didn't catch the name - has suggested I go home to my rag. I'm really quite hurt by such anonymous sentiments, but whatever; I also understand perfectly well that you could be quite the hero to these people by doing a bit of muzzling of your own.
Food for thought, as it were.

From Laura: Roger,

I apologize for the tardy response, but I have had more pressing matters at hand as of late. But, I will now attempt to address your curiousness.
Yep, it's open season for hunting down the facts of an administration gone awry. The only way to get the facts presented to the public is to allow anonymous comments from the folks that have these facts, but until now have had no opportunity, or avenue by which to make ALL the information public knowledge. Since I, and many others, feel it imperative to have all the facts before a true conclusion can be drawn on any matter, I stand by my decision.
I have repeatedly read that the budget "fix" was supported, at least in part, because it was the only "fix" being presented, and nobody else had presented another alternative.
Indeed! How might one go about such a task when the information is not available to the general public?
I personally sat through hours of budgetary hearings last year, when no public comments or questions were allowed, but it was an open public meeting. There were precious few of us there, and although we've never met, I do not believe, by description, that you attended these hearings, where every department head made their plea for a larger cut of the pie.
At the time, I did ask Kay Garry for a copy of the budget proposal that the council was pondering, and was promptly told "no". No member of the public was allowed to see the budget proposal until after it was to be submitted and returned from State officials.
Now I ask you, how might anyone outside of City government have the information necessary to accurately debate if there might be a better alternative or not?
As we heard at the last council meeting, there is still $65K sitting in the Building Commissioners budget for employees that no longer exist (example).
As to your "mob mentality theory", yes this is a sociological dynamic, but I contend that you are misguided in its use. You see, people lose their inhibitions and act out in unacceptable social manners when they are actually IN a mob (physically) that has escalated into a frenzy of actions and emotions. This stimulus has a psychological impact that reduces or eliminates the perceived notion of personal responsibility of ACTIONS.
I don't believe this theory is applicable to someone sitting alone at their computer simply reading other peoples opinions, and knowing that they will suffer no repercussions by offering up what opinion or information they may have to this discourse.
As to your hurt feelings, well I suggest you reconsider some of the name calling you threw around (cowardly), and the presumptions you made regarding anonymity (tantamount to vandalism?!), as well as your predetermination that all forthcoming comments would be nothing more than "gibberish" and "anti-social blathering". Do you think hurling such comments are less hurtful than one who suggested you "return to your rag".
However, if you have read my postings carefully, you will find that I have warned of inappropriate comments or slander and that I do retain editorial control and will not allow this opportunity to be abused or misused by ANYONE, anonymous or not.
Finally, I applaud your venture into the realm of civic activism, and look forward to more thoughtful exchanges with you. I believe such activism (on everyone's part) is long overdue in New Albany. But, I certainly do not endorse any of the hurtful comments (from either side), and hope that you will continue to contribute to these lively, healthy, and informational, debates with appropriate respect. You are welcomed on the Speak Out Loud NA blog as always.
After all, as you stated, this is too much fun to stop now.
I wish you continued success.
Laura Oates

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

To all lurkers, elected officials or not.

With the recent exchanges on this blog pertaining to comments by anonymous bloggers, let us all bare in mind that the reason for a blog such as this is purely a sounding board. Hopefully, those that would like to express views would like to show who they are and that they are in fact residents of the City of New Albany or Floyd County. The lurking population of the internet is increasing by the minute and we that are honest and open with who we are, would hope that all lurkers from our community would share who they are with the rest of us. To just play a game and hide behind the mask of "anonymous" even if you are an elected official, is somewhat cowardly. Be brave and open enough to tag your name and contact Laura to be a guest contributor and write your own articles. That is healthy for all of us. Only a handful of citizens make it to any of the scheduled meetings for the city and county, why not share and explain to the rest of us your views, we should be so lucky to have that chance.
Thank you.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

And We're Off and Running!

Well, well... what interesting reading.
For those of you who are taking this opportunity seriously, I appreciate your comments and encourage you not to be discouraged by those who refer to your opinions as "complete gibberish". I know that many of you have very valid points to make, information to share, and constructive dialouge CAN occur without putting people's jobs in jeapordy.
For those who are "playing", please respect that this privilege has been extended in good faith, and for a good reason.
Any future obvious pranks (Mayor Garner) will be promptly deleted.
I expect this forum to be respectable and productive.
On that note:
Sorry Roger, that you feel as if you're in a room of ricocheting bullets, but perhaps you can now imagine what it must have felt like for those who have had to endure your self proclaimed "truth" without being able to respond. All I am trying to accomplish is for every New Albany citizen to be able to have their say. Why do you find that so disconcerting?
It's just plain rude to pronounce anonymous comments as "anti-social blathering". Now, that's the last I have to say regarding your views of the anonymous issue.
As to the other comments...Bluegill, I would love to respond to your questions, and you raise some good ones, but, another time will have to do.
Finally, no is the answer to the question "were the other members polled...". The decision to allow everyone to comment was mine alone, as I am the editor of this blog. Thus, no one should be a-feared that their credibility or reputation will be tarnished. Your assumption that this decision will relegate this forum into nothing more than a "slander-blog" is unfounded.
How about just giving this a chance folks? Why all the nasty remarks from the "Constituency", I presume (please correct me if I am wrong or if you do not wish to be auto-included), if you guys are truly interested in the democratic process of including the citizenry?
Remember this: "Minds are like umbrellas...they only work when they are open."

CJ Article by B.Z. Hershberg

Nice coverage of the picket line in the CJ today. The man hiding behind the picket sign looks very familiar. All jokes a side, good coverage for a good cause. And let us not forget a great plug for our local bookseller as well.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Freedom to Speak

After witnessing the debacle of Thursday night's City Council meeting, and attending the dedication ceremony of the historic Division Street School, I have arrived at the conclusion that this Blog site will now allow anonymous comments.
With the events that preceded the last council meeting (by weeks, days, or hours), and the affect these events had on the meeting, there should have been no surprise at the debacle that unfolded. Still, the frustration that churns within, knowing that so many are unable to speak, for fear of retaliation or retribution, is overwhelming.
Then, Saturday, as I stood and listened to the history of an oppressed population, the freedoms they were denied, and the societal processes they were omitted from, my outrage against bigotry was renewed.
Obviously, there is no equating the struggles of African Americans in history with the current state of politics in our city, but there was something tugging at my mind.
There are basic freedoms and rights that many have struggled and fought for, yet we can still be encumbered by circumstances. And, with the struggles that face our city today, freedom of speech must not be compromised.
Therefore, I am removing the demand for identities to be revealed in an attempt to offer a forum for ALL who wish to share ideas, concerns, information, and comments. Every voice will be heard, and every opportunity will be extended in order to ensure that this basic right is available for everyone.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Wake Up and Smell the Stench

Think Again Folks…
The budget crisis that now faces New Albany has obviously stirred the pot of discontent that has our city under siege, and has left behind the pungent odor of refuse not unlike that which fills our streets and alleyways. Only this mess cannot be so easily dealt with as the “Clean Up New Albany” day was in alleviating a fraction of the rubbish that is overwhelming our senses.
Could it indeed be that our senses have been so assaulted that we can no longer recognize the stench that erupts from a load of crap?
I say the “Gerry (Garner) Plan” that purports to rescue our city services from shutdowns (or meltdowns), contains its own bit of rubbish if scrutinized closely.
Let’s examine a few facts and figures that may shed some light on my contention before you decide to chalk me up as one of the “no progress at any price” folks that are so vehemently blamed for New Albany’s continuing distress. I would suggest that we look a little further beyond this newly found faction to truly uncover the causes of our City’s fiscal and future demise.
However, first we must look backwards. Back to the days of the England administration, which was the real jumping off point (of no return?), of the situation we now find ourselves mired in.
It was on Mayor England’s watch that the EPA first discovered the sewage crisis and the order was issued to correct the failing, seriously flawed system. The City was allowed several years to make these corrections, which summarily amounted to stemming the flow of raw sewage into the Ohio River and into our city streets that accompanied every rain that fell.
When the EPA returned to inspect the progress, it was discovered that little to no changes or corrections had been made to the crumbling system despite the directive given years earlier. England had, in effect, thumbed his nose at the EPA. Still, New Albany was the recipient of undeserving leniency and given another 2 years to move forward on the sewer repairs. Only this directive came with an attachment of, “Or else…” in the tune of a $16 million dollar fine.
Suddenly, a flurry of activity and engineering studies commenced in an effort to meet the EPA demands and avoid the heavy fines. However, this effort came with a heavy price tag to the inhabitants of the city, as we were force fed 4 sewage rate increases within an 18 month span of time.
If you were unlucky enough to be a resident of this city at that time you will remember that the sewer department in the city-county building also fell victim to the circumstances as a cost saving measure, with a number of people losing their jobs as billing duties were handed over to Indiana American Water Co. which promptly double billed customers (at the X4 rate) to generate a substantial influx of revenue for the sewage utility.
Personally, I remember being so angry I was ready to rip the toilets from my home and fling them headlong (pun intended) into Doug England’s front windows as a symbolic gesture of my opinion of his leadership abilities.
After 2 terms, and on the heals of this sewage fiasco, New Albany elected its first Republican (and only
female) Mayor in years, Regina Overton. Not so much a win for the Republicans as it was a determination to not allow Doug England a third term in office.
Mayor Overton inherited the leftovers of the England administration with the major challenge being to find a solution to the sewer problems and attempt to avoid the EPA fine, or at least reduce it to something a bit more manageable for the City. With much contention and fiery differences of opinions a solution was agreed upon and repairs commenced with the dollars generated from a contentious period of bleeding the pockets of the unfortunate New Albany population.
Am I bringing back some memories that you had hoped to never recall? Good!
Now, let’s look again at the city’s habit of raiding the sewer fund to support general operations.
I, for one, am highly offended that my money is being tossed around as if it was a slush fund available for ½ million dollar loans that I will inevitably wind up paying back.
These “loans” that are said to save our city operations from shutdowns will wind up being repaid thru property tax increases.
For those who say the Scribner Place project should move forward without hesitation as there is no money there that can be redirected to the budget, you should be aware that there is $400K per year of EDIT funds dedicated to the Scribner Place that had been earmarked for inner-city improvements and repairs. That figure will jump to $700K within a few years. Money that could, and should, be brought back into the budget for the time being.
For those who were around when the new downtown parking garage was supposed to be the breakthrough that would bring New Albany back to life, you should know that we are still paying almost $700K per year on that bright idea. Has it done anything to improve retail survival or investment downtown? How many boarded up and empty buildings were counted recently? More than I really care to know about. But, I know $700K is nothing to sneeze at in this little town.
For those who saw Wednesday’s Courier article that revealed the State cannot make heads nor tails of the bookkeeping practices, and huge amounts of monies have been used, diverted, disappeared, and downright mis-appropriated, can you really put your confidence in another shuffling game of funds? For that matter, I haven’t seen one good decision come out of this administration yet, and therefore I can’t bring myself to endorse another decision that could potentially have disastrous consequences down the road. I CAN”T AFFORD IT!!!
If taking this stance, and writing these words puts my head on the chopping block…well, so be it. But I cannot, and will not, sit back and watch this city go belly up without going out kicking and screaming. I can’t.
I want to see our downtown revitalized as desperately as anyone out there. But I truly believe we keep putting the cart before the horse, and you’re just not going to get anywhere that way. My way of thinking says you get a population downtown first, then, all else will logically follow. New Albany has a huge amount of rentals. Why not entice that population into trendy, renovated loft apartments? This could increase home-ownership in the neighborhoods. Why not create some student housing for IUS (they just spent $65K on a study to determine that student housing is desired) and start a shuttle from downtown to Grant Line Road? (whoops, there’s one new business right there). With a population, comes the need for retail outlets (laundry, grocery, eateries, clothing, drugstore, etc.) and recreational activity.
Finally, there is one rule of thumb that we all are probably familiar with when it comes to managing our own budgets. When you can no longer afford to keep up with your expenses, when you are forced to live on less than you used to, you look first at your highest expenditures. You trim a little here and a little there, and you are more careful about every little dime that leaves your pocket. What you don’t do is start living off your credit cards with BORROWED money. You don’t create more debt in order to relieve your debt. Borrowing money and raiding your nest egg (rainy day fund) are not wise decisions. What if the car breaks down? What if the water heater goes out? What if you get sick and can’t work? There are way too many “what ifs”. And how are you going to pay the borrowed money back when the time comes?
What this city is experiencing now is the result of borrowing money and not paying it back. How on earth can we endorse doing the same thing all over again? There is only one ending to this scenario…bankruptcy. Perhaps that’s exactly what is needed. Perhaps a fresh start will be the real answer. And I’m not the only one out there with this theory. It’s just that I’m the only one who is able to SPEAK OUT LOUD!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Add your favorite rough street to this list

Why are our city streets in such bad shape and not being repaired? With the purse strings getting even tighter at City Hall, one can only wonder how long it will take for our streets to be put back into shape after sewer repairs and the effects of the past hard winter freeze and thawing conditions. It might be cheaper for the city to make some needed repairs, rather than send out vouchers for front end alignment on the growing number of vehicles affected by hazardous driving conditions on most of the streets that were dug up for the sewer expansion over the last couple of years. Add your favorite rough street to this list. My selection is Cherry Street from the I-64 overpass to State Street

Friday, May 06, 2005

Member Posting

To all who have requested posting ability, could you let me know if you have tried to post and been unsuccessful? I'm still trying to figure out if there is something else I need to do, or if there are specific instructions for "member" postings.
I'm truly eager for everyone to be able to use this blog for their own topics of interests or concerns, but so far no one has posted. I need to know if the problem is on this end.
Thank You!

Monday, May 02, 2005

Posting Privileges (and more)

Anyone who would like to be able to "post" on this blog must send me a personal e-mail (my e-mail address is listed) with your e-mail address (which doesn't come thru on "comments") so I can list you as a member with posting ability.
I think I have it figured out, as I have 2 individuals I was able to invite by using their e-mail. We'll see how the process works. But, I assure you, it can be done, so we'll get it done. (something that hasn't quite clicked in the brains of our "leaders")
Anyway, there have been a lot of encouraging words, and I am sincerely grateful for the reception this blog is getting. I hope we all can use it wisely and to our advantage.
As for the Budd Road Soccer Complex I was asked about, I'm still working on my answer to that. Be patient with me as I try to get more information.
My gut response is, who are they trying to make happy here? Why did this project get to the top of the to-do list when so many other issues that would have a much greater impact on our community are left lying dormant? And where did the land come from???
I'll follow up on this at a later date.
I also want to thank NA Confidential for putting this blog up and advocating for the idea. This is called "teamwork", and I believe it's all coming together for us folks who really care about New Albany and its future.
The "Cleanupnewalbany" initiative is terrific! Tabitha, you and your husband have done a great job. Between your site and this one, I hope everyone who wants their voice and opinions heard will have an opportunity to do just that. This is PROGRESS!!!
I have only one regret. There are many people who have wonderful ideas and great opinions that are not going to be heard because they must stay out of the forums and avoid getting caught Speaking Out Loud because of their positions in the city. What a shame because we DO have allies out there.
It makes me consider allowing anonymous posts and/or comments. Everyone should be able to voice their opinions without fear of reprisal or repercussions. However, in New Albany, if you are within that "inner circle" you dare not stray outside the lines that have been drawn in the sand. The people of New Albany are on this side, and the leadership is on the other. God forbid the two shall communicate, or even have a civil "discussion" regarding the issues.
I hope our "elected" officials remember this when the time comes to once again ask for our vote and expect us to have confidence that they will be working in the interest of their constituents. They won't even talk to us, how can they be working on our concerns?
So, I am formally asking that one, any one, who is in a leadership position in this city to step up and speak up. Do you have any idea how loud your silence is?