The case for Eddie Hancock’s qualifications


If any semblance of change is to come to the somnolent riverside community of New Albany, it is crucial that a dialogue be encouraged. Since the city does not have a newspaper willing or able to undertake this, we are here.

The major controversy of Mayor Garner’s first year in office has been the ongoing progress (or regress) of building inspections in New Albany.

In the beginning, the Mayor appointed Eddie Hancock to the post of chief of inspector, and chaos ensued within the department, resulting in regulatory eggs on the face of New Albany. This farce may have been the fault of the appointee, or it may have been the result of a mutiny within the department.

The aspect of this controversy that has been of most interest to me is the rather audacious conclusion drawn from it by a semantics-challenged Mayor, who wrote to the Louisville Courier-Journal to advance his theory that media scrutiny of his office is improper.

As I’m reminded by a friendly contributor, lost in all this is the question of the Mayor’s original motives in appointing Hancock (who was transferred to a different position before retiring from government service) and whether Hancock was qualified to perform the job.

Was Hancock, an older gentleman with nothing to lose, intended to be the Rumsfeldesque tool of reform within a hidebound department that had careened out of governmental control?

Or, was he a political patronage appointee entirely out of his element, overtaken by events?

With respect to Hancock’s qualifications, here’s more food for thought from the downtowner quoted yesterday:

“For the past 18 years, Eddie Hancock, as a licensed contractor in the city of New Albany, has met all of the requirements of the code … maybe not first time out, but ultimately. In performing such work, isn’t it likely that Mr. Hancock became qualified to know what’s required? Becoming a licensed contractor in New Albany is, in fact, a little harder than passing the test to become an inspector. That test is an open book test that you or I could go take tomorrow and probably pass.

“Who do you trust? Someone who works successfully under the stern gaze of an inspector for 18 years and more, or an inspector who can’t have legally done any outside work for the last 18 years? Granted, the inspectors get together once a month and trade war stories and anecdotes about crazy contractors, but I can assure you the contractors have just as many stories about crazy and or corrupt inspectors who don’t know a nail from a hammer.

“Query: How many developers and contractors would ever bother to take the test to become an inspector, since the jobs are filled with lifers? A few have done so to supplement their incomes as contract inspectors, but there’s really nothing magic about becoming an inspector. I expect most of them have never even considered it. Being a building inspector, or commissioner, ain’t brain surgery. I, for one, don’t buy the line that Mr. Hancock’s failure to become an inspector put the public in danger for one minute.”

I’m sure there’ll be more to this thread in the weeks to come.