A Candidate’s Progress (3): The paint’s almost dry.


Verily, platform planks are easier dreamt than nailed, and not every candidate is willing to play the platform game.

Some hopefuls write meticulous and lengthy manifestos, while others spout a familiar platitude or three, and call it a day. Virtually all prospective office holders display chintzy airbrushed views of their families, smile too often, and avoid the slightest hint of a viewpoint. Presumably, they aim to convince us that their lives are as miserable as ours – and far too often, they succeed.

My problem is different: Eight years and 4,000+ blog posts, 111 newspaper columns and countless discussions. If the trick in constructing a platform is to provide an overall view of what one believes, espouses and advocates without squandering precious voter attention spans on “boring” wonky details, I have a bit of editing to do.

At any rate, voters are busy staring at yard signs, remember?

At least this is what I’m now perpetually reminded by people who apparently spend long hours comparing the design elements of yard signs, and apparently believe that my unprecedented eagerness to avoid polluting the landscape with disposable detritus somehow translates into penury, or worse yet, an unwillingness to be “serious” about my political campaign.

Sorry, but I’m very serious.

I’ve spent the morning trying to bring order to these hundreds of ideas and discussions entertained at this blog since 2004, and the first draft has been sent to my committee of helpers for consideration. It is my aim to publish this platform on Tuesday. In the meantime, permit me to explain to the uninitiated exactly why I’m serious about running, even if I opt out of the methodology of the “campaigning as usual” crowd.

What have they achieved, anyway? The city as it is, today. Don’t believe them. Rather, believe your own eyes.

It starts in 2004. Since then, voluntarily and of my own volition, neither as an obligatory class assignment nor lasting punishment for a heinous misdeed in a previous life, I’ve attended somewhere on the order of half, perhaps as many as two-thirds, of the twice-monthly New Albany city council meetings held. I’ve criticized them, analyzed them, blogged about them, written newspaper columns about them, and constructed work and social schedules around them.


Why have I chosen council watching as pastime, as opposed to bird watching, or perhaps a more “uplifting” voyeurism addressing erotic attainment that lies somewhat beyond the drudgery of mere ordinances and resolutions?

It’s because learning about the council’s business seemed a logical first step to making a difference. After many years submerged in the beer and food business, making life better for lovers of real beer and great pizza at NABC and our locally based spin-offs, I was ready (and able) to get involved with the community.

Following George W. Bush’s unfortunate re-election, I concluded that instead of incessantly complaining about national and international matters over which I had no hope of input or control, I’d finally open the envelope, read the memo, and apply myself to the grassroots, in the neighborhoods, where I’ve lived, worked and played my entire life.

In short: The city of New Albany.

Indeed, it finally dawned on me that one can continue to think globally while acting locally. Somehow, I’d passed the point of wanting to run away, something I’d pretended to do many times before, but couldn’t quite succeed in achieving. In fact, I always returned to this area, and somewhere during the process of maturing, the depth of my roots became too obvious to ignore. Perhaps bizarrely, or not, I became hooked on this weird, unique and distinctive place, and began grasping the vast potential therein.

Now, at the age of 50, everything my family has, which isn’t much compared with the average regional oligarch, is invested right here in New Albany – not Louisville, not Indianapolis, not Munich or Copenhagen or Paris. We will sink, or we will swim, with the city’s fortunes. New Albany is where we’ve chosen to invest our money, our time and our lives, and running away simply is not an option. It never was.

Eight years ago, I knew a lot about my own business, and not very much about urbanism, storm water or EDIT funds. I know more now, and hope to keep absorbing all such information, which might be useful in helping fix what’s broken – and by extension, understanding when to leave alone what isn’t.

Taken separately, none of these random biographical facts guarantee that I’d be a great council member. Howevr, viewed together, they testify to commitment and a willingness to learn. My life experiences are varied, and through trial, error and teamwork, the New Albanian Brewing Company has earned a modicum of success in our chosen field. All I’ve ever sought to do is to take what I’ve learned, whether in business, in school or on the road, apply it this community, and see if and how it might work.

For the last eight years, after we chose to live (and more recently, work) in the historic heart of the urban core, I’ve tried to catch up with trends and experiences I’ve missed, to learn what it means to revitalize a city, to push, to shove, to listen and to serve the community’s best interests, hence the aforementioned attendance at council meetings, as well as periods of service on the boards of Develop New Albany and the Urban Enterprise Association.

Here’s a preview of tomorrow’s platform items.

Publican, not Re-Publican. I’m a Democrat, and intend to articulate coherent opposition to the Republican ascendency.

Human dignity has no price tag.

The very least a member of council can do is think, and be open to the transformative power of ideas.

Forward progress for a city like New Albany can best be understood as willingness to look back to the future.

As examples: Localization of the economy; keeping money in the community; economic development to empower local business and local job creation; and enhanced and improved cooperation between existing economic development entities.

Environmental restoration and sustainability are non-negotiable priorities.

Initiatives to encourage urban living as it originally was intended will be sought.

Neighborhood restoration: Cities are for people, not cars. We must design neighborhoods to facilitate lawfulness, not encourage lawlessness.

Recognition of inter-relatedness, because proper design leads both to proper use and positive ripples.

I oppose all bridge tolls and advocate a vastly rescaled Ohio River Bridges Project.

Local determination: If we make the pie bigger, the bigger pie stays here.

The essence of fiscal rectitude is to think more, not just spend less.

There’ll be more flesh to these bones tomorrow. In the meantime, please let me know what you’re thinking.