Speak Out Loud NA

Friday, January 27, 2006

Problem Solved - Here's the Real Deal

To read the contents of the letter, see the article below, and follow the discussion link that is going with that posting.
This Posting is simply to satisfy Inquiring minds who want "proof" or "documentation" of the reported developments.

Yup, It's All True

We are mysteriously experiencing technical difficulties with adding an image to our posting. This is the first time we have been unable to load an image, and we suspect we have been tampered with.
We wanted to offer here, a scanned image of the original advertisement, but we will have to suffice with providing a re-typing of the item that was referred to in our last posting. Bad grammer and all, so you all could have a gander at what 'ol Donnie has had up his sleeve.

They are calling themselves:
Sanitation Department

New name same Great Service in town,as you well know the New
Albany Sanitation Dept has been privatized. We Work Hard to improve the quality of
life by keeping our community clean. We take pride in our work; we wish to continue to
give good service to this community. This is why we stepped out on Faith to start our
own Sanitation Dept, we would like to provide service for the city and county.
We know with your help this new Department will be a Big Success!
This is the way some of the other private company's got their start.
We will continue to pickup Garbage and Recycling. We will continue to pickup
Trash,Large items and yard waste etc. We are a locally owned company located in New
We have had an over Whelming response from this community a long with other
communities in support of our Sanitation Department.
We will continue to take the garbage can back up to the house or garage for the
elderly person or the physically challenged person who needs help. We care about this
community, this is our home.
You will recieve Down Home Service from your Home Town Crew (N.A. City
Boys Sanitation Department).
We plan on starting Garbage and Recycling pickup in your neighborhood by
March 6,2006. Between now and the end of February we're trying to have as many
Residents signed up as possible to begin service. Please don't hesitate to give us a call.
Should you have any further questions, concerns or would like to sign up for
service please feel free to give us a call and we will be more than happy to assist you.

Thank You,
Donald Blevins (812) 944-4856
Cell # (502) 727-0516

Seems this guy knows only one business... garbage hauling.
I'm guessing maybe he's been saddled with so much political garbage, he might just be shaking it all off and going about his own business.
Or, perhaps this was all a done deal when the other Contract got signed. You know, the one that awarded a $1.9 million annual revenue service over to a (then) non-existant company.
A figment of someone's imagination was the winning bid for New Albany's sanitation services. How about that? Now, the real question, the one that most likely holds all the "details", is in the revealing of the partners.
What's that I hear? Open record laws? Yeah, it's gonna all come out.

We will have our technical problems resolved, and new protections installed, and we will post the copy of the original as soon as possible.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Another "New Business Enterprise" -

Apparently there is another new business enterprise taking shape with some familiar faces, and familiar names, right at the helm of the new undertaking.
Sort of like the new business enterprise that was formed specifically to service the City of New Albany's Sanitation services. In a "privatization" deal that took bids from, at that time, a non-existent company... (aren't there guidelines about who can submit bids for City contracts), a fictional, or more accurately an 'imaginary', company was awarded the $1.9 million annual City contract for the next 5 years.

Also, if I'm not mistaken, and I don't believe I am here, there is a built-in option for an extension of said contract for another 3 years, as well as guaranteed annual rate increases. hmmmmmm

Now, and here's the real kicker folks: The gentleman that submitted the winning sanitation bid, and conceived of the new enterprise with a proposal for a new start-up operation, refuses to name his new business partners. Uh-huh.
I'm pretty sure that a contract entered into by the City on behalf of its Citizens is subject to a few disclosure laws. Taxpayers are entitled to know who these people are, and which Council members may have a vested interest in same.

Here's where things start getting real interesting...
We don't know if formal adoption papers have been filed, but Mayor Garner is said to have taken a real interest in the successes of one young new Council Member, and always makes sure his 'boy' is taken care of.
About 4-6 weeks before all this contracting was done, At-Large Council Member, and former Sanitation worker/supervisor/worker, Donnie Blevins, was questionably transferred from sanitation to the Street Department, seemingly 'out-of-harms-way' from the anticipated fall-out resulting from privatization.
Ah, but contraire my friends.

CM Blevins has launched another new enterprise (probably appropriately) named the City's Sanitation Boy's (bad grammar included), and is drumming up business out in the County. The notice Sellersburg residents received stated they would be handling City and County trash pickup. Some Council members are aware this is happening, but were under the impression it was to strictly be for the County. Some Council members state it was on the table BEFORE the privatization contract went down, but thought it was nixed.

We believe that any City Council action, which required a vote, taken in regards to Sanitation Department, should be re-addressed with the abstaining vote of CM Donnie Blevins taken into account.
There are obvious conflicts of interest, then and now, and for the future.

Finally, and who are Donnie Blevins' partners? Who financed his new "start-up" business? Who's equipment is he using, or how is he buying his own? Last time I heard, saitation workers don't make that much money, That's what R&R had to say... Oh yeah (paraphrasing of course), 'sanitation work is nothing to aspire to become. You people are ranting to save jobs that are at the bottom of the economic scale.' Oh, but we fought back saying a city job has certain "advantages".

Still, we never knew advantages like financing an expensive start-up business would be one of them, and I'm sure the rest of the guys who signed on at $12 something an hour would love to come back and get the deal Donnie got.

Donnie, how many times can you throw your scruples under the bus? But, it sure explains a lot. That's why you don't have any anymore.
It's a shame people have to be so "bought & sold" in this town. A real shame. But, like we keep saying, the devil's in the details, and we intend to take a close look at the details on this one.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Interesting Information

There is some very interesting information posted on the FREEDOM OF SPEECH blog today. Seems as if they've caught another one with their hand in the cookie jar.
If you haven't already read it, you may want to take a look.
For those who like to refer to us as "paranoid", and to those who believe we are just here to bad-mouth the City, let us take a moment of your time to explain a couple of things.
We are not operating this forum just because we have nothing else to do. We are not devoting many late nights and long hours of our time just because we want to 'slam' New Albany. We love New Albany. We live here, some work here, others are concerned about our plight here. But, the basic foundation of this blog is the concern we have for New Albany. The desire to see it succeed and thrive.
Yes, great things could happen to our little town. The possibilities are endless. Some have been preaching for years about living spaces in the upper floors of Downtown and "support/service" small businesses start-ups that would be generated by such. We all want the quality of life to improve through success by New Albany.
It - success - measured as an 'improved quality of life for the majority'- would be possible if the best interests of the majority of the population were being served by the "Community Power Structure" that controls it.
However, if we don't root out the infection of "specialized" politics (for lack of a better term) that keeps our community sickly and pale by comparison to cities around us, then we will continue to falter and always wind up trying to nurse small scatter-shot ventures into success. [For an interesting read, take a look at Larry Lyon's "The Community in Urban Society"]
"Any successful attempt to improve the local quality of life must be cognizant of the unequal distribution of community power. In fact, the first systematic study of community power began with an attempt to improve the local quality of life."
How many times have we attempted to talk about the "quality of life" issues on this blog? How many discussions have we had about that being the same end result we are ALL striving for? A better New Albany for everyone.
What some of us are trying to make happen, is an honest-to-God (to all our Atheist 'friends', excuse the objectional referance) better quality of life for EVERYONE in EVERY segment of the population. Wouldn't that be the most desired end result? "EVERYBODY does what is best for the MAJORITY of the inhabitants of the community" (Aristotle, Politics)... more or less -
We cannot continue to allow things to get "swept under the rug" (we were warned), and obvious favortism pervade our local government and adversly affect the quality of life issues for the majority of the community inhabitants.
We are trying to make New Albany a better community, only we want it better all the way through. However, what New Albany has, is a "Community Power Structure" that is elitist in nature, elitist being a select few with socio-economic priviledges. and; "Although these elite leaders held no political office,...they managed to effectively control the local government." (Lyon).
We have more to say on this subject, but we want to stop here and give folks time to think about this a little bit. Just give some thought to the idea that when community power leaders gain control of the local political processes, the predicted possibilities for long term successes for that community in terms of actual improvement in quality of life for the majority of the citizenry, are grim.
"City governments that include nonpartisan elections, a city manager, and at-large representation are more likely to have dimensions of elitism (Clark, 1971; Grimes et al. 1976). ...the reform movement that transformed many cities of the ...midwest...into more "businesslike" governments also insulated them from the demands of the public they represented. This lessening of the public accountability appears to have increased the possibility for elitist power structures."
'nuf said for now.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

New Posting On Its Way!

We are working on the new posting, and will have it on-line by this evening.
We have been very busy doing some research, and gathering information on matters that are of significant concern.
We will share this data at a later date.
Meanwhile, we would like to know what positive things you folks see happening in New Albany. What do you think Mayor Garner has done to make New Albany a better community for EVERYONE to live in, and what do you anticipate for the remainder of his tenure?

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Not Better, Not Worse, Just Different

I have often commented, and remarked, about what the Speak Out Loud NA blog is for, and why it is that way, but I have never approached the issue to address why this blog is Different from the other blogs. Apparently, it’s time to do just that, as the attacks from the “others” are getting quite nasty and brutish.
Anyone who has read this blog for more than a couple of months, maybe less, knows the bashing and the constant harassing that we get from Volunteer Hoosier, aka Randy Smith, and New Albany Confidential, aka Roger Baylor (from this point forward to be known as R&R).
We have repeatedly requested that they refrain from visiting the SOLNA blog if they found it to be so objectionable to them. We suggested many times that if they do not agree with our purpose, or our mission, that they should simply keep to their own blogging practices, and just leave us alone. We really saw no point in continuing to argue, or to constantly defend our rights to free speech and the choice we made to allow anonymous comments.
As an interesting note, it is in fact the “Baylorites” (name we use for the folks who agree with R&R) that over-use the anonymous blanket to toss out very ugly comments. I will go back and retrieve some of those for you folks to look at, but most of you already know the tactics they use to try to intimidate and speak down to us. Here’s a few just from the last posting:

Anonymous said... you guys are losing it man, time to check into solna's nut house 1:14 PM, January 08, 2006

Anonymous said... tonight you little people will be so humiliated, you are toast 3:48 PM, January 09, 2006

Anonymous said... cry me a river losers 4:16 PM, January 09, 2006

Anonymous said... so go and sue the council then big mouth 8:49 PM, January 10, 2006

Anonymous said... you suck 12:47 AM, January 11, 2006

Anonymous said... because dan coffey is an idiot 3:48 PM, January 11, 2006

Anonymous said... eat shit potty patrol 9:13 PM, January 12, 2006

Now, I ask you, what is the point of being so obnoxiously rude and ugly? If they don’t agree with, or don’t like the way we do things on SOLNA, they could just avoid coming to this site. Only, they won’t do that. Despite our requests to stop interfering with the SOLNA blog, as well as our outright banning of them multiple times, they just keep coming back and taking swings at us.
Why? Because evidently we are perceived, by them, as a threat to Mayor Garner’s credibility and the way the current City administration is being run.
A threat because we are demanding answers and accountability.
This blog is for the people and by the people. People who want answers, and people who want to know just what is, and what is not, happening with our money. People who are upset with the deterioration of the City they have witnessed from the homes they have lived in for decades. People who have watched as neighbor after neighbor leaves town for better surroundings, and renters move in. Neighborhoods deteriorate, property values plummet, and drug sales escalate. People who want to know how their City is being managed. After all, they are being asked to withstand rate hikes, new fees, and the use of their property taxes to back bonds for a project they didn’t even get to vote on.
Speak Out Loud NA did not start the discontent of people of the inner-city feel. We simply gave it an avenue of release. SOLNA is an electronic means of civic activism. Plain and simple, we want to know what’s going on.
We are not the ‘blog press’ that Volunteer Hoosier claims to be by reporting news and information regarding the City’s activities. We don’t have a pipeline to the Mayor’s office as Randy Smith apparently does.
In fact, Randy tipped his hand in his latest posting by giving information about a budget that hasn’t yet been officially received by the City. A budget that no Council Member has seen, and yet Randy knows there is a separate fund in the budget that the salaries in question are being paid from. He accuses me of lying, in so far as we questioned the preservation of these jobs after the first of the year due to the fact that their salaries were mandated by Council resolution to be paid from Stormwater revenues, and not out of the sewer fund.
Since no Stormwater fees have been assessed or collected, we naturally assumed there would be no money in this new pot to pay these folks.
I don’t care if there is a separate fund their salaries are being “charged to”, we want to know what fund is being raided to pay them until the Stormwater fee indeed gets ramped up and begins collecting funds. Answers PLEASE!
This has been a major rub with the public. The misappropriations of funds, the borrowing and shuffling, has all led to a very fuzzy fiscal picture, and absolutely no idea what shape some departments are in financially. That is unacceptable.
Returning to the main issue at hand here, we are simply a different kind of blog than “Volunteer Hoosier”, who claims to be a news reporting electronic press. We find that one rather hard to swallow, but if that’s what he wants to call it, then have at it. In any instance, we do not deserve to be assailed, insulted, or slandered for seeking answers that we do not have.
We are also very different than “New Albany Confidential”, which covers many other topics such as beer, pubs, European vacations, and street spam, in between “satires” of the SOLNA blog and the egotistical manner by which Roger Baylor berates the intelligence of the readers and participants of SOLNA.
Notice that we do not go over to their blogs and wreak havoc on their opinions and attempt to wrangle their integrity with obnoxious statements of a personal nature. We most often ignore, and dismiss their assaults, but they have now crossed a line that is just going way too far. Calling me a liar is an outright attempt to shut me up and diminish my character. It is highly objectionable, and it is a false allegation.
We are a forum for civic activism, and we will be the watchdog group that will hound this Mayor about every bad decision he makes. Not because we don't like the man, or because we don't like his politics, but because we love New Albany, and we don't want to see it sink further into disrepair and go under financially. For any of the acclaimed economic development to occur, we MUST fix the inner-city sewers. This is also something we are under a Federal mandate to get done. Where's the money?
We will continue to push on with our mission of getting answers to the myriad of questions that remain unanswered, and our demands of accountability from the administration. Like it or not, that is our right as citizens, and we have no intentions of doing things any differently than we have been thus far.
Every blog out there has its place and its purpose. We are only one of many, but the involvement of the community speaks to the need and the appreciation of our blog.
Don't worry folks, we will continue to fight the good fight.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Let the Mayhem Begin....

Thanks for your patience while this blogster sorted through new information and talked with new people, concerning the present sad condition of New Albany, and any hopes for the future that things could change.
I was renewed with hope, and I do believe things are going to change for the better around here. It has been very exciting to find out who is reading the blogs, and at the same time, it has been a relief. Help is on the way folks!
Even though the City Government didn't get off to a good start by any stretch of the imagination:
The last (I wish) City Council meeting, the first of the New Year, was preconceived to be a very interesting foretelling of what the rest of the 2006 year would be bringing. Boy, did we get painted an ugly picture.
There were no surprises as more strange voting occurred, but newly adopted admonishments for the public to just “Shut Up” (sound familiar?) were handed out immediately, and with fervor. Just makes us wonder what directions he recieved from Mayor Garner in attempts to "control" the public speaking portion of the meetings.
CM Gahan received the nod for the Presidency of the Council for the second year, in what we all thought would be, at least, a compromise for the sparring factions of the Council and public that pledged outright protests had Council “Appointee” Donnie Blevins actually been seated at the head of the table (Council “Member” infers working with the group).
However, we soon saw a very callous stripe of character in President CM Gahan that was outrageous, disheartening, and objectionable.
No citizen should ever be subjected to such brutal, obnoxious questioning as Mr. David Huckleberry was on that night. This man, and his family, have been harassed and ambushed by public officials, and the least the Council can do is to allow him his 5 minutes to talk about ANYTHING he wants that is concerning him. Mr. Gahan committed a despicable act, and he should be reprimanded for it.
What they are trying to accomplish, is to prevent the public from speaking about anything other than what’s on the agenda for the evening.
This would reduce the bi-monthly Council Sessions to nothing more than banter about agenda topics, which votes have most likely been decided prior to the actual meeting.
Such a move would also snatch away the opportunity for Citizens to address the Legislative body of our government with our concerns, and reduce the meetings to a stoic controlled atmosphere. This is exactly what they want.
There’s only one small problem for them. Indiana Code states the order of the agenda shall consist of the City Officials speaking BEFORE the public.
Thus, we can speak to any issue that is brought up, if the Council is going to comply with Indiana Code.
Although it is hard to find instances of any body of the administration that is actually playing by the rules, codes, ordinances, and in some cases even the law, in their feeble attempts to run this little town of ours.
There has been too much money misappropriated, so there is no money to do the repairs that we are under Federal orders to do. There can be no new economic development until we fix the inner-city sewer lines.
Example: A new Thornton's has been built in the West end, but cannot open for business because they are not being allowed to tap into the sewer lines.
There are problems with finding out just what our financial predicament is, because we still have not recieved the 2004 City Audit from the State, nor does the Council have a new budget in hand as they began operations for 2006. SOMETHING STINKS!
They are about to start billing for the Stormwater fee (watch your water bill), which is supposed to be paying the 8 salaries that are still being paid out of the sewer funds inappropriately. Council passed a resolution that this switch in payments would occur at the first of the new year. Who's paying those 8 salaries?
This fee has yet to be billed, and the people who's salaries were to come out of sewers, remain as a drain on the utility's resources. Also,this fee is going to be assessed inequitably, as I've explained before, because it will only be collected from property owners who are recieving a water bill.
It remains to be seen if the Mayors attempts to form an entirely new Stormwater board, that pays him another salary (that makes 3), will actually survive the objections.
There is much much more to talk about, but this posting is going up hurriedly, and we will continue discussions in the comments.
Please forgive the rambling style of thought, but there was no re-write on this one. I wanted to get it out there qwickly.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Let the Games Begin....

As most folks are, I am as well, immersed in changes for the new year. Some are wrapped around resolutions made for 2006, others are just life as it progresses, and more come from changes in my environment. Still, the common thread is, the 2006 year will be one of changes. I think that's a good thing. I certainly feel good about it.
We are way past time for changes to occur in New Albany and, I think, no matter where you stand in this melting pot of ISSUES that are consuming our community, then you gotta be feeling good about changes too.
Of course, there are many, many, different ideas about just what the particular changes in New Albany need to be, ought to be, should be, or could be. Nothing very different than the same questions we ask of ourselves, and our individual lives, every time we have a legitimate offer for a "re-do", or a "start over", which is exactly what every new year brings to us.
That's probably why everybody traditionally gets drunk. It can be difficult to deal with changes. Making decisions and using our 'choices in life' to commit ourselves for the coming 12 months, -the next year, the next 5 years, the next 20 years-, to taking the steps necessary to keep up with the all the changes. It takes a commitment, or a resolve, to take our best shot at our chances of a 're-do'. So, we spend the first few days of this opportunity every year, and live in a haze, a thoughtful mood, a reflective contemplation, a re-assessment, of where we are, vs. where we need to be (or a hangover, depending on your inclinations).
Now, notice I didn't say "want to be". I said "need to be". Let me be very clear on that point. Lot's of us "want" a lot of stuff. Materialistic, or conceptually, we all "want" everything. Yet, how much do we really "need"?
I think the bottom line of what any individual "needs", is to be able to face themselves in the mirror every day, and be able to like the person who's looking back at them. The one question we ask ourselves, all the time... "Am I doing the right thing?" Making decisions and choices every day, with every opportunity, we need to believe in our hearts that we did the right thing, we did it the best way we could, and we are satisfied with the person in the mirror.
We need to look at our community in the same ways. Do we like what we see reflected back at us? I don't think so. I don't care who you are, or who you 'believe', about the ISSUES at hand, you can't legitimately look at New Albany in its current state of shambles, and say that you like what you see. We have a MESS!!!
Thank you Mayor Garner. (by the way, loved the pie in the face)
I can't imagine what you think about the guy in the mirror. Look around you! How do you stand up and say you're PROUD of what you've done, and think you've done a good job? (see "The Forum" by Jeff Rodenbush, Vol.III, Issue 2.)
Perhaps if the State of the City "Speech" had reflected him taking a little bit of the responsibility for the problems we are experiencing, some folks might have thought that at least he does have some 'character'. Not only is he not a reflection of any sort of 'character' in his quest for the "wants" in his life, having it come at us in print from Randy Smith in the Tribune, and on the "regressive" blogs that it's Garner's "Character that impresses [them]", was all just way too much for us to take.
Folks, it's a new year, and the changes are coming. Changes that are necessary and desired in order to facilitate changes that need to occur in the larger Community. So, as you go about your New Year, with all your Resolutions still firmly implanted in your mind, resolve to do one more thing. Resolve to demand changes that are "needed" for New Albany. We cannot continue down this same path and think we are going to come out of it in tact. We have a new year ahead of us and a new start at turning this town around to the right direction for revitalization and re-growth. For our own quality of life issues as well as the quality of the whole community, and every socio-economic class of that makes up this City, may we all have a better place to call home.
You will soon watch this blog make a few changes to make the experience here more reflective of even larger ideas about what makes a good community. We would like to start off in that direction by providing a link to a very good article regarding Community Networks. As soon as we receive permission from the original author to provide a link, we will post it for you.
In the future, these links and search tools will be available from the front page.
Meanwhile, back at the daily grind of things, we need to turn our immediate attention to the upcoming Monday evening Council Meeting (1/9/06 - 7:30PM), which is the first of our "re-do" opportunities. There is very little business listed on the agenda, as it stands now, so this will be a good time for citizens to address the ISSUES that they feel are most pertinent for future positive changes to occur in New Albany.
Just jot down a few things between now and Monday evening, that you think need to change in order for New Albany to present a better reflection of a good community.
Just remember, change doesn't always mean something has to OCCUR, sometimes it means something must CEASE. Call your Council Member, and let them know what you expect from them as a reflection of your district.
I would like to take this opportunity to say that I think CM Steve Price is doing a great job in being responsive to his constituents, and for NOT being a member of the "goon" squad. He has taken a lot of beatings from the R&R boys, but we think he has tried hard and learned a lot. I suggest Mayor Garner sit down with CM Price and take a good long look at the financials. CM Price knows where the "fluff" is. We think Garner ought to know that information for future reference.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Let the Truth Be Known!

Now that really sums it all up!
New Albany Politics is C.R.A.P.



Especially our friends and neighbors of New Albany, who have endured a difficult 2005. We welcome 2006, and the chance to make positive changes.
Let's all resolve to make our community a better place to live, work, play, and most importantly...to raise our families and leave the future with a better way of life than we have known.

Just Remember....

"Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk"
--- Dalai Lama