More of the same: Thank you, Bill, may I have another?


To the uninitiated, the city of New Albany’s twice-monthly city council sessions may seem like repeated exercises in a particularly virulent form of self-defeating masochism, as though what tends to transpire at the third-floor meeting room constitutes the perfect answer to the question, “what if Councilman Marquis de Sade were added to the cast of the film ‘Groundhog Day?’”

Appropriately, the council’s congenitally anti-intellectual and purely obstructionist Gang of Four takes to the parquet again tonight, and this time, it’s 2nd district councilman Bill Schmidt’s turn to don the leathers, brandish the studded whip and viciously flog the city’s earnest hopes for economic and social regeneration downtown, all the while smiling through the scarred goalie mask and cooing, “daddy’s only destroying the village in order to save it – right, General Westmoreland?”

Schmidt’s “new and improved” omnibus resolution to butcher Scribner Place by blatantly and shamelessly reneging on the council’s previous financial commitments to the project – in short, to maliciously harm the prospects for bond sales by announcing publicly that the council, and in turn the city, can’t be trusted to honor its own word, can be read in its capitulatory entirety here:

Coming this Monday: RESOLUTION NO. R-06-20 (remove property tax back-up for the Scribner Place Bonds).

You’ve already read NAC’s take:

There may not have been a more brazenly shameless and fatuously disingenuous lie told by an American politician since Dick Nixon said, “I am not a crook.”

And yet the Big Lie reposes in majestic malevolence, awaiting its turn in the spotlight on Monday night even as it grows like Pinnochio’s elongated nose, right there within the opening stanzas of the latest in a series of absurdly reneging “kill Scribner Place and keep New Albany backward” city council resolutions that will continue to be issued like Rally’s belchburger coupons so long as the Gang of Four has a faint electoral pulse – this new one offered by councilman Bill Schmidt, but almost guaranteed to have been written by CM Schmidt’s longtime household numerologist, and one that at any rate is as brutally cynical as any scratch pad memo ever composed by Karl Rove …

From: All aboard! Schmidt, Gang of Four going off the rails on a crazy train! (Friday, June 30 in NA Confidential).

Finally, here’s the Tribune’s news article:

Schmidt: Separate Scribner, property taxes; Councilman’s bill threatens bond sale, mayor says, by Eric Scott Campbell (June 30, 2006, News and Tribune).

Depending on who you ask, the new City Council bill to change Scribner Place funding is either a sensible compromise or the downtown project’s death knell.

Longtime Councilman Bill Schmidt is proposing the city remove the possibility of using property taxes as backup funding for the aquatic center’s construction. He also wants a lower limit — $137,500 instead of $262,000 — on the annual contribution from economic development income taxes. Administration officials already plan to spend $137,500 a year over 16 years.

The council will address the resolution by Schmidt, who could not be reached for comment Thursday, at its meeting Monday night. Mayor James Garner said passage “would kill the project” by raising the cost of bonds the city is selling within weeks.

“It means going back to the banks; they’re watching every move of the council,” Garner said.

The city is talking to banks anyway, vouching for the YMCA of Southern Indiana, which is having trouble rounding up its share of the project’s cost.

Though the city will not pay beyond its commitment, Garner said, “we’re helping them with their financial deal as best we can.”
Councilman Dan Coffey withdrew his bill to rescind city funding entirely when he learned of Schmidt’s proposal.

“That’s what I was hoping for in the beginning,” Coffey said, adding that sometimes it’s necessary to propose a drastic measure to achieve a more modest goal.

Asked if he thought the new bill would jeopardize Scribner Place bonds, Coffey replied, “No, I think [accounting firm H.J.] Umbaugh and the administration hadn’t figured on certain things.”
Council President Jeff Gahan does think the sale of bonds will be disrupted.

“I’m surprised this discussion is continuing,” Gahan said of Coffey’s and Schmidt’s bills.

Schmidt cited increasing sewer, stormwater, sanitation and property tax bills as reasons to put less of New Albany residents’ money in play.

Let’s go back to one sentence in the reporter Campbell’s article:

“It means going back to the banks; they’re watching every move of the council,” Garner said.

Not just the banks, but a surprising number of people in the metropolitan Louisville area are watching every move of New Albany’s city council, especially the rogue “Year Zero” bloc commanded by councilmen Coffey and Price, and the pathetic spectacle they’re witnessing long since has proceeded past the point of gallows humor.

As always, we at NAC express the hope that calmer and saner minds on the council will prevail tonight. The case for Scribner Place and against the backstabbing malevolence of its council opponents has been made perfectly clear on dozens of occasions, both here and elsewhere in the media. Support for the project and for the council’s own 2005 funding mechanism is broad, deep, and embraces every meaningful reality-based segment of the public.

However, if fear and defeatism somehow prevail, we remain confident that contrary to the sincere and oft-repeated wishes of the Gang of Four, the world will continue to rotate on its axis, and clocks will continue to measure time. Try as they might, there is absolutely no credibility in turning our backs on the possibilities afforded us by the future and relying instead on the failed “thought” processes of the past. In fact, it’s a source of great hope to progressives that truly, tomorrow will be another day.

Another day, that is, for us to work toward ensuring that come 2007, the council’s lesser lights can blessedly return to private life, and the city can continue to do the work necessary to achieve its considerable potential – without the current and indecent rearguard actions undertaken by those whose politics of spitefulness are on the way out.