Caesar stars in “conflict of interest” night as council approves, but slashes, bucks to 1Si.


As only New Albany’s city council seems capable of doing to such an extreme degree of sad sack proficiency, the third reading of the “Money for Nothing” ordinance to provide taxpayer largesse to 1Si finally passed, although reduced, but only after an eternity of theatrical Duck Duck Goose that left onlookers exhausted and thirsty.

Admirably, Jeff Gahan and Pat McLaughlin had principled changes of heart, but Jack Messer and Dan Coffey also flipped — in opposite directions, even though Coffey viciously pilloried 1Si before meekly voting to accept the compromise reduction in the amount of protection money paid them, but mind you, only for “past” services, which have not been itemized in any way, shape of form. It didn’t matter to 1Si, which brought its heaviest, sub-Mendoza Line hitters into the fray to mechanically deny obvious political taints while flashing calculators to total the forthcoming amount of TG Missouri’s Japan-bound air conditioning subsidy.

Over three readings, Kevin Zurschmiede and Diane Benedetti remained consistently in favor of ignoring 1Si’s recent Frankenstein monster transformation into a political action committee; after all, KZ’s a Republican already and DB might as well be, not least when she’s wearing her nifty Savanarola outfit for Halloween and council conclaves.

And then there’s Bob Caesar, 1Si member, 1Si advocate, 1Si fan, and sometimes even playing at being a councilman in real life. After exercising the most blatant conflict of interest vote since Benedetti’s decision not to absent herself from her brother’s real estate zoning appearances, Caesar took advantage of a five minute recess (for the purpose of council members receiving their stipends?) to bound across the room, beaming, and land in Michael Dalby’s lap. The last time anyone saw giddiness like that, it was probably the high school prom. Unlike the aftermath of the prom, someone in this instance “got some.”

One sits, and watches, and shrugs, and asks: If Bob Caesar, a downtown small businessman, cannot grasp the existence of other economic development models — especially those pertaining to the place where he, himself, does business — what hope is there of altering the failed corporate subsidy paradigm?

Caesar and many others like him just want to be accepted as members of the big boy’s club, and the sad thing is that they never see the big boys openly snickering at them once their backs are turned. Imagine investing the money not as a corporate subsidy for billion dollar companies like TGI Missouri, but in helping to build the skill sets of our own people through education and training. Imagine the money actually reaching small businesses like Caesar’s and the many others in New Albany.

1Si succeeds at its shell game because small-timers want to be part of the insider club. They’d be better off refraining from subsidizing the subsidizers, and instead of cradling the bottled water at networking functions, emulating Hemingway and using the bottle as a means of sovereign action by throwing it.

Other media coverage:
New Albany council cuts funding for chamber of commerce group (C-J)
New Albany City Council reduces, approves 1si money (Tribune)