With two council members absent, including the titular council head “Lame Duck Larry” Kochert, we were left with numbers insufficient for permanence on third readings of ordinances like the evening’s finale, Z-07-10, pertaining to fringe area expansion in the vicinity of Highway 111 and Two Mile Lane. There must be five votes on way or another on such matters.
By pure coincidence (suuurre), this fringe area debate offered the occasion for maximum grandstanding at minimum coherence by the council’s always luminous vice president, Dan “Wizard of Westside” Coffey, sitting in for the King and fondling the gavel with such affection that the Green Door might have opened at any moment and a geriatric Marilyn Chambers stepped into our midst.
You may visit this formerly great newspaper for by-the-numbers council meeting coverage: New Albany council votes against using ‘rainy day’ funds, by Dick Kaukas (Courier-Journal).
Later today, when the Tribune’s web site is updated, reporter Eric Scott Campbell’s coverage will be linked here.
Over the course of three council sessions, the saga of Z-07-10 has provided a perfect case in point as to the damage suffered by a city that is content to elect semi-literate ward heelers to positions of authority.
During the first reading on June 21, CM Coffey led the charge against Z-07-10 on the grounds of his own rambling interpretation of legalese before meekly “passing” in the midst of a unanimous favorable vote.
At the second reading on July 2, Coffey manned the ramparts a second time as it was explained in detail that passing Z-07-10 would provide city planners with a degree of control over future development in the area, and that the ordinance itself neither stipulates the dimension of these future plans nor precludes those adhering to expanded guidelines, which at any rate would still require council approval following the usual zoning process.
Coffey voted “aye” along with the rest.
Last night, with a third and final reading looming, the ever conniving Wizard came loaded for bear, with two members of the public in tow to testify as to the detrimental effects of future development on the fringe area and offering gloomy forecasts of the potential effects of flooding, autos and pavement on what currently remains farmland.
Certainly there is merit in such prognostications, but the council’s own rules for public speaking expressly forbid addressing those items not on the agenda – and Z-07-10 has nothing to do with the shape, dimension or existence of future development.
Accordingly, the council president should have deferred these comments until after the vote was taken, when non-agenda item public speaking is allowed, but the council’s acting president last night was none other than Coffey himself, who used the dire comments as a springboard to raise the anti-21st century pulses of congenital obstructionist Bill Schmidt, habitual fence sitter Donnie Blevins and the existential nay-sayer Steve Price, who worried aloud about the effects of future fringe development on local populations of pretty birds while reaching for the handiest of his Biblical water-borne doomsday scenarios.
The lamentable result of all this grandstanding is renewed defiance on the part of the council’s know-nothing bloc, nary a jot of legislative substance to actually prevent the future developments in the fringe that the know-nothings claim to fear the most, and an immediate return to the topic when the full complement of council members again assembles, something that hasn’t happened in a while.
For Coffey, doltish author of the chaos, there’s the recurring juvenile pride of knowing that once again he’s managed to score a hat trick, managing to be for, against and undecided on three readings of the same ordinance.
Now that’s incredible.