The fruits of New Albany’s venerable slumlord protection program.


If it’s something we all agree is a problem, why is it so hard to get fixed?

Piles to go: Garbage in New Albany;Trash in alleys frustrates neighborhood groups, by Eric Scott Campbell (News and Tribune).

“If they don’t do something about absentee landlords, they’ll never get this cleaned up,” said Greg Roberts as he stared at a pile of tires, mattresses and rugs in the New Albany alley between Spring, Market, E. 9th and E. 10th streets.

As Greg correctly perceives, not everyone does agree that our fouled collective urban nest is a problem, and this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has ever attempted to fathom the woebegone precepts behind New Albany’s famously self-defeating refusal to enforce its own codes, and to concurrently accept a lowest-common-denominator “slumlord protection program” as the epitome of human aspiration.

A more comfortable habitat for absentee landlords is difficult to imagine … and yet if they’re absent, why is discernable political will on the topic of compliance harder to find than Steve Price’s nickel-and-dime laden, cement pond Eldorado?

On June 24, the Tribune ran an informative piece on neighborhood watch programs:

Not In My Backyard; Residents, police: Neighborhood watch programs can decrease crime, by Jennifer Rigg (News and Tribune).

Potential criminals in New Albany’s Silver Grove neighborhood may be more afraid of Varie Munford than they are of patrolling police officers.

As the coordinator for the Silver Grove Association’s neighborhood watch program, she and several others patrol the neighborhood at least twice a week either on bicycles, in cars or on foot looking for suspicious activity to report to police.

For fifty years, we’ve been intent on avidly pursuing the wrong target demographic, and in any case, shame as a reliable mechanism of self-enforcement has been bred out of the American gene pool for so long that living memories of it are confined to our most elderly citizenry, so we must concede that without active resident participation in the process of patrolling neighborhoods, little is going to be accomplished in the way of clean-up.

Of course, it doesn’t help that some would-be pillars of the community see fit to ignore certain community norms that clash with their preconceived notions, and by doing so, set a less than stellar example for those who’re actually paying attention.

I’m thinking here of the abject refusal of the city council to observe the law requiring periodic redistricting.

But as incurable optimists, we continue to look for the good, as in these two recent Tribune stories:

A legacy, renovated: New Albany’s Cardinal Ritter house.

Cold-beverage warehouse takes hot bath.