City Council Wednesday: All that bile, but not a single motion to pull Scribner Place funding. Yet.


So you switched on the tube Tuesday morning, surveyed the numbers, listened to the talking heads earn their pay, and felt profound relief.

Finally, it was over. No more anger, negativity and attacks. The voters had spoken, and we could return to a semblance of normalcy.

In reality, the lull was insanely brief, and the politics of next year must be to blame.

At last evening’s first of two November city council meetings, the 2007 political campaign season was officially inaugurated amid a cornucopia of latent animosities newly unleashed, textbook examples of remarkably unsubtle posturing, cutting words harshly uttered, and alliances seemingly shifting before our very eyes.

Having won his race for County Commissioner, CM Mark Seabrook at least knows that he’ll soon be punching a ticket out of the council’s romper room, and yet his bi-monthly obligation to correct CM Dan Coffey’s and CM Steve Price’s frequent and egregious inanities meant that CM Seabrook was unable to enjoy any peace and was reduced to shaking his head in amazement – as usual.

However, of particular note was the brooding and quirky performance of CM Bill Schmidt, whose ability to spring from a catatonic state into dark malevolence and back again is reminiscent of Kurt Cobain’s violent musical (and highly amplified) modulations with Nirvana, whose classic “Territorial Pissings” might serve as the council’s unofficial anthem.

CM Schmidt’s first November outburst came during a discussion of a new packer truck for the street department, as he turned back the clock without warning to complain (“we made a damn mess of it”) about the year-old privatization of sanitation.

Moments later, CM Schmidt seized a no-look lob pass from an aggressively grandstanding CM Coffey and again attacked Mayor James Garner over funding for emergency repairs that have been declared necessary by the storm water board, repeating three times in a steadily escalating and confrontational voice that “they can’t spend a dime until they come back to us.”

It was all rather Biblical in a “you’ll be smitten” sort of way, and yet a short time after these snarls, he was laughing and joking during a brief recess.


By the way, have any readers glanced at the precinct-by-precinct vote totals from yesterday’s election?

As already noted, soon the city council will be without CM Seabrook, its lone Republican (and quite often, its lone voice of reason), who convincingly defeated Democratic Party Chairman Randy Stumler for County Commissioner.

Seabrook’s victory already has been hailed by at least one pseudonymous blogger (at Dork ‘n’ Mindy) as proof that Stumler has been punished by his party’s conservative troglodyte wing for yielding the faintest whiff of progressive inclinations, which of course is doubly ironic given that New Albany’s declared progressives also criticized him — for not being, well, sufficiently progressive.

At any rate, Stumler’s progressive “sins” are readily tied by the drooling Luddite faction to Mayor Garner’s alleged failings, and no single group of Democrats has been as consistently uncooperative with a mayor from its own party ranks as the city council’s Gang of Four, of which a charter member is none other than CM Schmidt – whose palpable malevolence toward the mayor surely must derive from something deeply personal that goes beyond appropriations and simple politics.

Yesterday, during the course of a county-wide 54-46 defeat, Stumler won 19 of the 32 precincts that together comprise the six city council districts.

Stumler won all the precincts in CM Coffey’s 1st and in flat-earther CM Price’s 3rd, but he lost all six precincts in the 6th (CM Jeff Gahan) and dropped 4 out of 5 in the 5th (CM Bev Crump). In the 4th, where Larry Kochert, practicing master of Vitalis politics, holds supreme, Stumler won three and lost two, for a slim net advantage in total votes.

Of council districts 1 through 4, the heart of the city’s urban center, the numbers in CM Schmidt’s 2nd that are the most interesting.

There Stumler won four of six precincts, but with a net vote advantage of only seven (7) total votes. By point of comparison, albeit imperfect, Stumler’s fellow Democrat Connie Sipes carried all six precincts in the 2nd for a net advantage of 964 total votes over her opponent, Ryan Bergman.

Looking randomly at precincts throughout the city, the proportion of Stumler-to-Seabrook and Sipes-to-Bergman vote totals didn’t usually vary by more than 15% to 20% in Sipes’s favor, which makes sense given that she lives in the city and Stumler lives in the county, but in the 2nd as a whole, the ratio was completely skewed against Stumler, to the tune of several hundred percent – far more than can be fathomed by a Humanities major.

It’s all conjecture on my part, and I freely admit that the numbers are not entirely scientific and my samplings random, and it’s probably just a coincidence, but there’s one thing I know to be true: Both nationally and locally, the election yesterday was far less a referendum on Republican leadership than it was a referendum on the future, if any, of the Democratic Party.

The local party’s non-adaptable Neanderthal faction, which includes the council’s Gang of Four, perhaps was rewarded and is briefly tumescent with the results, and it may even be possible that a message was sent in the fashion suggested by Dork, but if so, it isn’t the message that the Gang and its allies thinks it is hearing, and the gratification derived stands to be short-term at best.

In Floyd County, there is a demographic long march underway, and it is absolutely no secret as to the direction it is taking the county — and unless the Democratic Party is reinvented, and reinvented very soon, certain inexorable laws of nature are going to be very cruel to the prospects of those currently gloating over Stumler’s loss.

Local Democrats who persist in believing that their party stands for ward heeling and job-related patronage, and functions best as a refuge for ancient tribal affiliations sans reality-based brainpower, probably will be witnessing a steady erosion of their privileges.

Me? I’m not a Democrat, and yet the Democrats are my best form of protection against the return of Sodrelism. At least Stumler’s good showing in the 3rd District provides hope that CM Price’s Reign of Error will soon be mercifully concluded.


But, back to the council meeting last night.

Longevity pay for non-union city employees was defeated, prompting a post-meeting shouting match between a newly nuanced CM Jack Messer and the perpetually clueless CM Price, who continues to embarrass his 3rd District with statements like this: “I never hear a solution to the big picture problem.”

Somewhere grass grew as CM Coffey chewed the scenery over the issue of ambulance service, which led to corresponding arguments over hiring and pay scales, which led in turn more theatrics and finger-pointing, and you’ll have to turn to the Thursday edition of the Tribune to get the full story by the coolly impartial Eric Scott Campbell.

The meeting’s most memorable line came near the end, as a purely procedural vote flared into another rancorous reprise of the earlier ambulance scrum, and after CM Crump briefly left the room.

CM Gahan asked, “Where’d she go?”

CM Messer responded, “She just got sick.”

And Donnie Blevins added, “She remembered she had a council meeting.”