REWIND (May, 2005): The Coffey/Price dumbumvirate’s rear-guard action against progress.


May 9, 2005

A City Council faction has developed, led by the forever erratic and increasingly malevolent Dan Coffey (1st District), pneumatically seconded by the pliant Coffey sycophant Steve Price (3rd District), and frequently but not always abetted by at least two veteran councilmen who apparently have yet to grasp the mean-spirited medievalism that courses through Coffey’s veins like incendiary fuel through a flamethrower that is aimed squarely at a village soon to be destroyed in order to be “saved.”

The Coffey/Price dumbumvirate is taking the city to the edge of the abyss, not just to discredit the current occupant of the mayor’s chair, which is a given, but also to wage what plainly amounts to crass cultural warfare against those citizens of New Albany who are best placed to assist in boosting the city’s hopes of getting smarter to get better, even as state, national and world economies show no signs of waiting for us to rub two sticks together, make a fire, and begin barbecuing our council Wizard’s bologna.

The dumbumvirate’s alternative plan is to unilaterally suspend the city’s project of constructing infrastructure for the Scribner Place downtown development, and to divert money from Scribner Place as a means of balancing the budget.

It remains unclear whether the money in question can indeed be diverted, but this vital consideration should not detract from a clear understanding of what our Siamese councilmen are most interested in achieving, which is a rear-guard action against progress in any and all forms, a crusade borne of obvious spite, simple envy, and the type of sneer you’d expect to see on the face of a playground bully, not an elected official.

However, this is New Albany.

In the end, progress will be measured by the creative and productive people who ultimately will benefit from the presence of a downtown YMCA (among other quality of life projects), and whose very presence downtown will at the very least help to restore that most neglected part of New Albany to some semblance of usefulness and production, and these creative and productive people are the sort who will have neither the time nor the patience to tolerate penny-ante, ward-heeling politicians who wear their contempt for the possibilities of the human mind visibly on their sleeves.

And so, eyes on the clock, Coffey and Price have shifted into full-tilt, unalloyed, cynical, four-corner demagoguery to paralyze the political process in a city on the brink, seizing upon any available opportunity to incite the prejudices of the city’s distempered gaggle of “no progress at any price” malcontents, most of whom share the Siamese councilmen’s morose disdain for a changing world they barely understand, and who can express their perceptions of the rapidly changing scene around them with only a few stock phrases: “We can’t,” or “we’re broke,” or “it’ll never work,” or “we’re a third-rate city and we need to stay that way.”

It isn’t easy to look at today’s outraged opponents of progress and to visualize their ancestors diligently building the city of New Albany, with parks, architecturally significant public buildings, an opera house, a streetcar system, breweries, bakeries, churches, schools … the list of accomplishments by these founders goes on and on, but now, in 2005, we sit in rapt attention as Steve “Hot Wheels” Price proposes to hold Scribner Place, the city’s best current hope of stimulating downtown revitalization, hostage by insisting that 15th Street ranks higher in importance than establishing Scribner Place, building the YMCA, and using them as a starting point for downtown wealth creation.

It is sad that Steve Price so readily confuses 15th Street with the Champs Elysees, but at the same time, he tragically lacks the perception to read a precinct map and notice that a significant proportion of the city’s progressive-minded voters inhabit his district – and accordingly, they are becoming progressively angrier as Price shows little or no interest in representing them, preferring instead to permit Coffey to dictate policy from his 1st District Wolf’s Lair.

It’s bad enough that residents of the 3rd District are forced to endure the Wizard of Westside’s theatrics when it comes to something as unspeakably mundane as the keys to a public toilet, but for Price to hand the keys of his own district to Coffey is unconscionable … and it must not go unanswered.

Scribner Place must be permitted to advance, and those of our politicos who are without a doubt using downtown revitalization as a wedge issue to rouse the yokels and take advantage of fiscal crisis for political gain must be reminded that the future of New Albany is far too important to be left in semi-literate hands.

NA Confidential resides in Steve Price’s 3rd District, and so as a first step toward combating the New Albany’s disease of prideful underachievement, we propose to address the dumbumvirate’s weakest link, otherwise known as our own councilman, Price himself.