I strolled into last evening’s council meeting just in time for the commencement of the public hearing on A-08-19, an ordinance to set salaries for elected officials.
Settling into the creaky metal chairs that we can’t afford to replace, I listened as Gonepostalman launched into pointed criticism of what sounded to me like an optional program of healthcare benefits available to local elected officials.
The decrepit sound system crackled.
In the speaker’s eyes, this option amounts to a 180% raise if exercised – something positively scandalous in a country where people like the Gonepostalman customarily resist the siren’s call of universal health care like that widely enjoyed in functional countries they loath for not being as American as we are.
Of all people, it was none other than Dan Coffey who effectively lanced the boil by asking the U.S. government’s taxpayer-sponsored snail mail delivery technician to describe the history of his own pay raises and benefits, but not before Steve Price served notice that if a shameless Checkers speech was good enough for Tricky Dicky, it’s good enough for the downtrodden constituents that CM Price drives (not walks) constantly on his own gasoline dime to visit, drink Folger’s, and assure that their prospects won’t be permitted to improve on his watch.
CM Price noted that alas, he was one of the council members who had signed up for the health care bonanza, not for himself, mind you, but after friends phoned him anonymously late at night and said that some doctorin’ now and then might be good for his daughter … and now that Gonepostalman had rightly pointed out the error of his ways, a contrite Price could see that thinking about his family was selfish.
“I put her before the common good of the city of New Albany, and that was wrong,” said Price.
Instinctively, I reached for my hankie … to wipe the shit off my shoes.
Put ’em to work breaking up rocks.
As C-J reporter Dick Kaukas informs us, the council approved a $25,000 tithe to Jeffersonville’s Haven House homeless shelter, primarily as a conscience-salving means of avoiding a comprehensive consideration of New Albany’s own problem with homelessness, and yet, as Price noted during an interminable, pre-schoolmasterly grilling of Haven House director Barb Anderson, it isn’t that most of those homeless people really want to work, anyway, something Price gleaned from his personal experience with a deadbeat rental property resident who stiffed the councilman and fled to the shelter at his first opportunity, presumably exhausted by daily mandatory Dave Ramsey recitations.
Remarkably, the primary rationale for Price’s hectoring of Anderson was revealed to be “red flags” raised by mysterious (different) callers phoning the councilman to complain about Haven House’s management, while refusing to come on down to the council chambers and put their comments on the record, with not even a Nixonian doctored transcript as proof of their existence.
The Haven House debate continued, with Coffey forcefully upholding the need to fund help for the homeless, and suddenly the gallery gasped as Price made another shocking revelation.
Who told you THAT?
Not only would there be no overtime for firefighters and a potential City-County Building rent snafu, but all of it had come to him “ACCORDING TO THE NEWSPAPER,” not via more obvious and conventional methods like his person being seated twice monthly on a council that deliberates on such matters in spite of never receiving information that isn’t passed on to them by cub reporters and red-flag-wielding chatters.
Don’t touch that rotary dial, folks … there’s more.
Outgunned, and with most of his ammo actually cheap Wal-Mart blanks, Price adeptly reversed field and decided to feign some measure of concern about the homeless, extemporaneously offering his venerable, three-minute old personal plan for the city to do something positive about the problem of people who refuse to work.
(a) House them in the Tabernacle building on 4th, presumably because its engaging patio-style rooflessness would simulate natural conditions out on the street, or …
(b) House them at the Rustic Frog/II Horseshoes, since to do so would be an improvement on the go-go dancers there now, and with an added benefit of the homeless being housed out of view by the floodplain, where they would be invisible to taxpaying citizens disturbed by their shiftlessness.
Perhaps the owners of the property will give it to the city.
Believe it or not, but it wasn’t over yet.
Having approved the Haven House funding resolution by a count of 8-1 (guess who), and with little further debate in the offing on the first reading of the salary ordinance, the increasingly apocalyptic (not to mention apoplectic) Price threw a final gem of observation into the recessionary gloom pervading the vicinity of Dewey Heights.
How bad is it, Steve?
Well, it’s so bad that the uncouncilman personally knows of people who’ve been forced to dispense with cable television to make ends meet.
The soiled hankie was of no further use, so I buried my head in my raggedy sweatshirt. The humanity … the humanity … hmm …
Wonder if they’ve got cable over at Haven House?