Speak Out Loud NA

Monday, October 31, 2005

Wednesday Night's "Special Meeting"

We have confirmed that the Special Council meeting the Mayor has called for Wednesday, Nov. 3rd, at 6:00PM will be for the 2nd & 3rd reading of the proposed Stormwater fee's that are unfair and inequitable for the taxpayers and small business owners of New Albany.
Under the proposed resolution, as it applies to the general population, only homeowners will be paying this fee, while vacant property owners will pay no fee. The "INTERIM" fee will be $3.00 per month for a specific number of months, then the fee will increase.
For businesses, the fee is $15.oo per month. Small businesses, such as hair salons, will pay the same fee as a business as large as Wal-Mart. Does that sound fair?
We have also learned, as I surmised in an earlier comment, they will NOT allow comments from the public, although it IS a public meeting. Why?
At the last Council meeting this resolution was defeated due to discrepencies such as these, and more.
Furthermore, the Mayor is attempting to raise $800,000 when the actual dollars needed by May of 2006 is $200,000. Why do they want so much money?
This proposed resolution will also form a new 3 member board to manage the Stormwater, with the Mayor presiding and thus earning a third salary from the City.
Folks, there is more wrong here than I have time to explain. The bottom line is this... it is wrong, and it is unfair, and there is another way to get this done. The Stormwater Advisory Committe has a plan that will put us in compliance with the Federal mandates, without draining huge amounts of money from the citizenry.
Everyone who wants to see this thing done right should call CM's Larry Kochert, Donnie Bleavins, and Jack Messer and voice your opposition.
Any council members who would vote to accept this resolution are not working in the best interest of the constituancy that got them elected.
Let them know you are watching, and listening.
More later, have to go to work.
Kochert: 945-7652
Blevins: 944-4856 after 3:00PM
Seabrook: 949-9638 or 727-6809


§ 30.23 CONDUCTING BUSINESS IN COMMON COUNCIL.
(3) Any motion or resolution which in effect contemplates a violation of law or is in conflict with any ordinance, shall be out of order.

Friday, October 28, 2005

a href=" title="external link"> S.O.S. Save Our Sanitation!!!

Everyone should take a looky-loo at Maury's blog (click on link on front page) to better understand why the Sanitation Department is in the shape it's in. He has done a good job of explaining how those enormous numbers come to exist.
As we've surmised, the numbers include the costs of trucks and cans, and it should not. That's not the way the Council set it up.
Just an example of what other administrations have done when there was no citizens group to watch them.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

ILLEGAL MEETING!!!

OK Folks -
Here's the skinny on tomorrow's 3:00 "SPECIAL" meeting. It is ILLEGAL on many fronts. The meeting was called for inappropriately according to Indiana Code 30.15 and the Mayor is circumventing approved protocal for the umpteenth time.

ALERT, ALERT, ALERT, ALERT,...........
TOMORROWS MEETING HAS BEEN CALLED OFF DUE TO CONFIRMATION OF THE ILLEGAL PROCESSES.

Another victory for the "little people". We really CAN make a difference in our City.
This blog, as a previous commentor stated, is becoming the tool that citizens can use to insist that proper procedures are followed.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

ALERT! ALERT! ALERT!

The Mayor has called for a special meeting for this Friday at 3:00PM regarding the Stormwater Drainage plan that was rejected by Council at last Thursday's meeting.
WE MUST APPEAR AT THIS MEETING TO VOICE OUR OBJECTION TO BRINGING THIS RESOLUTION BACK BY CM DONNIE BLEVINS FOR A NEW VOTE DUE TO HIS INTENTION TO CHANGE HIS VOTE!!!
EVERYONE CALL YOUR COUNCIL REPRESENTATIVE AND ASK THEM TO VOTE DOWN THIS RIDICULOUS REQUEST FOR $800,000 AND A THIRD SALARY FOR MAYOR GARNER. IT CAN BE DONE WITHOUT THE FEES BEING PLACED ON HOMEOWNERS, AS THE COUNTY HAS DONE, FOR THE INTERIM PERIOD.

The Council voted down the Resolution after much discussion from the Stormwater Advisory Committee which informed them that the proposed rate structure was unfair and the seperate paid 3 member board, headed by Mayor Garner thus allowing him a 3rd salary from the taxpayers of New Albany was unnecessary.
(Read the comments under the "TIF Education" posting for more information)
The vote was 4 against, 3 for, and 2 abstentions (Crump & Blevins).
We found it strange at the time, that the Mayor, nor the City attorney, nor the controller Kay Gerry, who is required by law to attend all Council meetings, were not present.

The time of this meeting called for on Friday will make it difficult for most people to attend due to work obligations, so we need everyone who can get there to be there.
Our friends at the Elks Lodge... we are asking for your help as well. Please come down to the meeting at 3:00 Friday afternoon, third floor, and help us reject this new fee. The Administration is asking for $800K for this project, when it only requires less than $200K be available by May of 2006.
If we do not show up in a force of numbers, they will pass this unnecessary cost on to the taxpayers of New Albany. Can you afford ANOTHER fee?

COUNCIL MEMBERS PHONE NUMBERS ARE LISTED ON THE CITY WEB PAGE.
CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS
COFFEY 949-1262 OR 797-8347
SCHMIDT 945-7386
PRICE 941-9032
KOCHERT 945-7652
CRUMP 948-2603
GAHAN 949-9314 OR 987-3262
BLEVINS 944-4856
MESSER 949-9638 OR 727-6809
SEABROOK 944-9644 OR 439-2201

Friday, October 21, 2005

TIF EDUCATION:

Here is the solution, down and dirty, that Council came up with for funding the stormwater issue. It involves TIF areas. Most towns have only 1 or 2; we (of course) have 7 or 8.TIF stands for Tax Incremental Financing, which allows ALL property taxes in those areas to remain in those areas for capital improvement projects. Take the City of New Albany map, place 8 quarters on it, draw circles around them. This shows the amount of monies now NOT going into the General Fund. That is one big reason the General Fund is having so many problems; that and tax abatements. The County has issued only one tax abatement and that is to SHOTS in Georgetown. This City has about 17 pages worth of them; you can obtain a copy of same by going to the County Auditor's office and asking for a report of tax abatements broken by townships. Tax Advocates tried to warn Council members of this the impact to the General Fund, if you can step out of the box and look at the big picture. So when Council says there is no money in the General Fund, please remind them of their TIFS and ALL those tax abatements.The SWAC has until May, 2006 to start collecting monies for this project, without collecting the $25,000 fines you have read in your local Tribune today. You would think the SWAC can accomplish what they need to do in that timeframe, seeing they understand the process and some know things about the finances of this city.The bond monies owed are available in these TIF areas, alongwith millions more. The State St TIF doesn't have a bond anymore, just monies.The County has finished their Stormwater Ordinances and have started implementing them. They flow through the County Planning Commission. The hope would be that is the way this project will go, through the City's Planning Commission. This City really does not need another layer of government by forming a new 3 member Sanitary Board, chaired by the Mayor (what an additional expense).The ordinances created by a consulting firm for the county are now in the public domain and taxpayers own them outright. You would hope the SWAC simply duplicates them; with pertinent changes that would be applicable. The Council helped simplify things by coming up with the TIF monies being used, because now there are no problems with collections; just start writing the checks as needed. The Drainage and Stormwater projects are capital improvements and that is what the TIFs were designed for. If this City has to have them, let them use them to improve those areas without using more fees. Sidewalks and paving shouldn't cost millions, but maybe in this City they do.You can't be too sure with people saying the fight is still on, fun is just beginning, etc.. After the information you have read about how the financing and flow would work, do you find their remarks as irresponsible as, say, I may? TIF knowledge and understanding a major solution was found for all home and business owners was totally lost on some audience members; and maybe some Council members, who don't have the knowledge or history, either.Council, you can repeal some of those TIFS if your General Fund is in that bad of shape. And, Stormwater Funding can be used out of the TIFS. That's the moolah on that one. But let me stretch and say, "that's my opinion".

Stormwater Monster Falls to "Little People" Knowledge

The Thursday night City Council meeting was a real hoot this time around. Thanks for the laughs, if we hadn't, I'm sure that tears would have flowed.
In a rare occurrance, the CM's apparently were listening when members of the Advisory Committee voiced their major concerns of the proposed resolution that they felt needed further modifications. Thus, we have avoided the "tax then tweak" method that is so commonly used with actions that get hurried through Council approval.
The young folks that were there to apparently try to learn something about the City's Government were absolutely shocked at the confusion and lack of professionalism that prevails over decorum and adequate knowledge of the issues by a majority of the Council Members.
There were too many "I don't know's" and angry outbursts, and they were coming from the left side of the room. It was the "gang of four" that saved the evening, with special thanks going out to CM Schmidt for working on alternatives.
Using TIF dollars to fund this mandate is a very reasonable and intelligent plan. If we had let the Mayor's version of this Stormwater management mandate go thru, there's no telling what they would be dipping into that money for.
Thanks to all who voted not to allow last night's version of the stormwater plan to be approved. It did not reflect all the work that the Steering Committee has done.
Finally, a note to CM President Gahan for selectively allowing speakers who were not signed up on the sheet, and denying me the right to address the council. Big mistake.
Still, it felt great to finally come out of there knowing that the right thing was accomplished. There is absolutely no need, and no justification for creating a new 3 member board just to deal with stormwater drainage. It should be put under the Planning Commission. The Mayor does not need another salary.
Furthermore, we will NOT be in jepordy of ever paying a $25,000 per day penalty. That would only happen if we don't submit a PLAN by May of 2006. We have a plan, and we have had a plan for some time, it's called the County Plan with a few adjustments.
The mandated plan will only cost $182K, yet the Mayor's plan called for $800K. An amount that is totally without merit.
We, the little people of New Albany, have won a battle in the war against mis-management. Don't sell us short, we're just getting started.
Let me take this opportunity to remind folks of other issues still unsolved:
Take Home Police Car Policy
Sanitation Privatization
EPA Inspection Results
Scribner Place - Pools/EPA Approval
Bringing Sewer Billing In-House
State Audit Results

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Downtown Business Opportunities!!!

Finally, a much welcomed, and needed, event will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. A guided tour with informational leaders on how to obtain a business location downtown with special incentives to help with costs.

Jane Alcorn of Develop New Albany has announced an opportunity for folks to visit a few historic buildings downtown that are viable for new business ventures.If you are interested in taking advantage of this, contact Jane at 812-941-0018 to reserve a spot in the tour.
This is a long awaited start in attracting small business start-ups downtown by making the prospect an more affordable option.
Tax Credits and other Incentives for Locating in the New Albany Downtown National Register Historic District will be discussed.
Three historic buildings will be toured and information about ways that National Register properties can earn you tax credits through rehabilitation will be explained.
Those who will lead this adventure include:
David Duvall, a historic architect with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Historic Preservation and Archeology, and a specialist in tax credits for the State of Indiana.
Paul Wheatley, New Albany's Economic Development Director will discuss other incentives, including tax abatements and the Urban Enterprise Zone.
Everyone will meet at the White House Center, 222 Pearl St. to start the day.
Buildings that will be included in the tour include:
Shrader Stable (c. 1875), The Reisz Building (c. 1850) on Main Street, and the Baptist Tabernacle (c. 1879) on East Fourth Street.

Lunch from Ermin’s French Bakery and Café will be $6.00.

This event is sponsored by:
Develop New Albany, an Indiana Main Street program
Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana, Southern Regional Office
City of New Albany Historic Preservation Commission

You should return a registration request to Develop New Albany, 222 Pearl St.
New Albany, IN 47150 by Oct. 24th if you want to attend.

This is a terrific opportunity, and I would like to thank Mr. Cordallilo and Jane Alcorn for their work in making this event happen.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Life & Times of New Albany

Life in New Albany is becoming a crash course in Political Power structures, and how easily people can be morally corrupted if the Deal is right. It is not only ugly, it's downright scary. What a better time of the year than Halloween to take a closer look at the ghouls that inhabit the Politics at practice in this little town.
First, there's the ghosts of Political favoritism that hides among "Appointments" to City offices. Is Garner only following suit? Or, is it just the hauntings of past administrations? When we look back at the messes he made with people like E. Hancock, D. White, C. Earl, are we supposed to believe he was doing "what is in the best interest of the City of New Albany"?
When we question other positions like Building Commissioner, Economic Development, Redevelopment, "Director of City Operations" (isn't that a new one?), City Attorney, and others, are we supposed to think the "Devil Made Him Do It"?
Then let's think about the PAID Board appointments. Oh, my, my, surely something evil lurks when the same names keep popping up over and over again.
Show me any sane person out there who truly believes this administration is not a train wreck, and I'll show you a person with a vested interest.
I don't think I need name names, because this group of characters has pretty much identified themselves already. They have even made their "evil plan" explicitly clear.
Of course, I'm the obligatory Witch in all this. Yes, "I'll get you my pretty", and you can put a B on the front of that if you want, because I won't deny, I can be a Bitch on Wheels!
Let this be known as well, I am the most stubborn person you will ever meet. Just ask around of people who know me. But, don't dare assume you know me. I will NOT stand still for this, and I will NOT go away.
Is it just "Bats in the belfry" that are to blame for decisions like dismantling our Drug Task Force and leaving just ONE guy? What's one guy gonna do? Oh, the ghost of favoritism rares its ugly head again. Bet the fishin' is great in Washington County. Glad we're paying for the gas, can you at least bring back some fish?
And what kind of "Tricks" is Jimmy playing when he stalls an OEO position for two years, then completely ignores the adopted legal process. Bless you Pam Badger, this is not about you. My point is, all the rental owners who contribute quite generously to Political campaigns got a two year "heads up" from their buddy. If the process was so simple to accomplish, why wasn't it accomplished sooner?
So, who's got their head buried in the sand when it comes to what is best for New Albany? If we could ever get a Mayor who truly had that vision, we just might save this place be fore it's too late. Meanwhile, all it is, is what's best for the Powers That Be, and everyone else be damned.
Go ahead and hook your carts to the wrong horse boys, where will you be then?

Friday, October 07, 2005

Sewer Fund Under Poor Management

Let's take a closer look at some of the other "business" decisions made by Mayor Garner as Director of the Sewer Board. The $39,000 bill for Christian Academy is just a minor issue, although it does deserve to have some light shed on the reasoning behind the non payment.
But, let's consider a bill of $2 million that was due to New Albany from Georgetown on September 1st of this year. WOW!
In a Courier Journal article dated the same day, Ben Hershberg wrote that the City had given Georgetown an extension of time to pay this debt, which is their part of the $40 million sewer expansion. The article suggests that Georgetown will be instituting a rate hike to help cover this cost.
My question is, how did they know that they were not really going to have to pay the debt on its due date? What kind of deal was made?
Furthermore, all we've been hearing for the last few months is how much money the Sewer fund doesn't have, thus its inability to continue the previous practice of shoring up other departments, such as Sanitation.
Consider this, if Georgetown had paid the $2 million on time, the sewer fund would have a lot more money, and perhaps Garner's arguments for killing the Sanitation Department would have no merit. He specifically said the Sewer fund did not have the money to continue funding Sanitation. Hmmmmmmm.
In another interesting twist to this very twisted tale of bumbling management, the City is being sued for $750,000 by three lawyers who claim they worked out the settlement with Georgetown (Courier Journal, Sept. 13, 2005). Boy, what a mess. Or does Garner just enjoy getting sued? Could he be thinking he's got the home court advantage, so-to-speak? We'll see.
Finally, make note of the number that the City is being sued for ($750K) and compare it to what Garner is saying we need for this "Stormwater Drainage" fund ($800K).
If this administration was doing a good job, the $2 million should have gone into the Sewage Fund on time, making the Sewer fund solvent enough to keep Sanitation from crashing, and avoiding $750K in legal fees, which is enough to finance the Stormwater mandate.
However, if it was done that way, then Mr. Mayor would not have the argument he is using to make all these changes; "The Sewer Fund doesn't have any money "

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Welcome... A New View of Things!

Hello all. Thought I would update things a bit around here and do a little re-decorating. After all, every now and then there's just some clutter that needs to be thrown out.
As well, there comes times when one has to assert control over their environment.
In light of this idea, I found it time to give a new look to the blog. One that is more of a reflection of the collaborative cooperation and growing structural integrity of the systems that have come into operation in our intents to inform the public to the best of our abilities, and support efforts to protect the best interest of the taxpayers and their obligations to the City.
Obviously, the other side of that coin is, what are the City's obligations to the public?
More specifically, what are the paramiters that elected officials are expected to function within to properly represent and serve their constituency?
Where do we draw the line of accountability, and what is deemed as not acceptable, or a conflict of interests? Can Greg Fifer actually be the attorney representing everyone? How many City salaries is the Mayor allowed to collect? How many positions have been blatantly filled by purely political favoritism, and wound up biting the dust? How many are left?
How many lies are unacceptale? How many laws are allowed to be broken? How many times do they think they can tap into the low economics of the people of the inner-city?
This new look represents a new way of looking at things will bring many incidents to light.
Hope you all find it pleasent!
Have a happy... (fill in the blank)

Monday, October 03, 2005

THE NEXT TURN OF EVENTS.

THE TURNOUT FOR THE PARADE WAS EXCELLENT AND COVERED A LOT OF TERRITORY. WE NEED TO KEEP THE MOMENTUM GOING BY MAKING A STATEMENT AT MONDAY NIGHT’S CITY COUNCIL MEETING.

Bring your signs and bring your voice to the Council meeting Monday evening to object to the proposed resolution to assess additional fees to the public for “Stormwater Drainage”. ALSO, SHOW SUPPORT FOR OUR SANITATION WORKERS. no PRIVATIZATION!!!

Our illustrious Mayor Garner has once again demonstrated his inability to make an intelligent decision by fast talking his way past public scrutiny with the “new” Stormwater drainage fee that we’ve been hearing about.
The administration has neglected many opportunities to discuss this issue with the public, and the City Council, when enough time was still left to decipher the full ramifications of this proposal to meet EPA mandates.
They waited until time was short to execute the public meeting requirements, and now there is once again an “urgency” to pass the proposed resolutions.
The resolution(s) seem to bleed over into other areas of interest to the Mayor. For example, the salary he may be able to boost for himself as Chair of the new, New Albany “Stormwater Board”. Of course, there will be pay available for a couple of buddies too.
CM’s Seabrook, and Dan Coffey have apparently been tapped, as they were present at the recent meetings.
It is also common knowledge that Sewer Board Attorney Greg Fifer is advising this new proposed entity of “Stormwater Drainage” (present at public meeting in such capacity), and is the also the same Attorney that has represented many developers in the County who have had difficulties getting major developments approved due to problems with the current Sewage constraints (re: Tribune 12/13 & 12/17 of 2003).
Could this be a conflict of interest?
Now, here’s the straw that is breaking the backs of the citizens of New Albany…..
For now, let’s keep this real simple so the entire constituency might understand;

Garner and his boys are telling us this is a nonnegotiable mandate by the State, the EPA, and IDEM, and there is just no discussion needed. Still, they went to all the trouble of presenting a very nice PowerPoint presentation, and distributing a lot of nice pamphlets and paperwork. However, the most impressive things on those papers were the numbers.
The bottom number of all the papers and computer screens was a resounding $800,000 for the new Stormwater Drainage fund. Which, by the way, Garner said he wants to operate as its own stand alone entity of which he himself would be the Chair of, with another salary. Of course, a separate entity would require staff, and thus… salaries for that staff. When I questioned the Mayor as to how much of the $800K fund was for administrative costs, he answered “none”. The administrative costs haven’t been included in that outrageous number.
Now, and here’s the kicker…can anyone explain to me why and how the County is accomplishing the same mandated requirements for a mere $200K?
In the County, only Developers are paying any fees towards this Stormwater fund, while EDIT funds and Riverboat revenues are being utilized to cover the rest. No fees are being assessed to the general public.

This proposal needs a lot more questions answered, and a lot of research. More information will be forthcoming, as I acquire more documentation.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

CONCERNED CITIZEN'S RALLY

THE PLACE IS THE CORNER OF SPRING ST. & VINCENNES.
SIGNS AND STICKERS WILL BE THERE BUT FEEL FREE TO EXPRESS YOURSELF AND BRING YOUR OWN SIGN
.
FOR THOSE WHO CANNOT JOIN US THERE;
SILENT PROTEST ....
SIMPLY TURN YOUR BACK WHEN GARNER COMES DOWN THE ROAD

We need to let this administration know that we have no faith left in Garner's decision making capabilities.