ASK THE BORED: A bicentennial FOIA reanimates a tale of two city seals.


The series introduction is reprinted below. Unfortunately, today I have an unexpected obligation at 10:30, and I won’t be able to ask the bored.

However, let’s accomplish two tasks at once.

First, though not pertaining directly to BOW, there is an ongoing matter of housekeeping to resolve.

418 days later, it’s obvious that Bob Caesar doesn’t care for you to know how the Bicentennial money was spent.

It’s now 433 days, but yesterday the city’s corporate legal counsel confirmed receiving my Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking to rectify Caesar’s inability (nay, his mulish unwillingness) to share the record of his committee’s fiduciary conduct during the late, unlamented Bicentennial celebration.

I’ve overlaid the envelope, because there is an interesting contrast.

One design of a city seal on the envelope (in snazzy gold leaf), and another on the letterhead. One of them a steamboat, moving forward, and the other, an anchor sinking heavily into the Ohio River mud flats.

Next week, I’ll ask the bored if they can help us understand how the city’s new anchor design came into being, and now appears seemingly everywhere … except on this envelope.

They must have purchased a shitload of those steamboat envelopes in bulk — but surely we’re TIF enough to change them, too? It’s all about branding, or at the very least, Gahanding.

New Albany’s Board of Public Works and Safety exists because the State of Indiana says so.

IC 36-4-9-5

Board of public works and safety; establishment Sec. 5.

(a) A board of public works and safety is established in each city.
(b) Notwithstanding subsection (a), the legislative body of a second class city may by ordinance establish as separate boards: (1) a board of public works; and (2) a board of public safety; to perform the functions of the board of public works and safety.

As added by Acts 1980, P.L.212, SEC.3.

As for what the board is supposed to do each Tuesday at 10:00 a.m., you can visit the American Legal Publishing site, search “Board of Public Works and Safety,” and sift through various powers accorded the board over the decades by dint of ordinance.

Exactly how much power does our Board of Public Works and Safety possess?

If Jeff Gahan were to stray from the protection of his Down Low Bunker and comment, no doubt he would assert that the board has just the power it needs. He handpicked it, and he’s perfectly content to see his program implemented by non-elected boards, as opposed to elected officials.

According to Dan Coffey, the answer surely is “too much.” At the city council meeting of June 6, Coffey proposed that our council, as a body made up of elected members, should take back authority ceded to non-elected boards.


The Board of Public Works and Safety may be established by state, not city, and it may be appointed by mayor, not council, but the board’s powers appear to derive from the legislative body.

I mention all this as prelude to a new feature at NA Confidential: Ask the Bored.

It has long been NA Confidential’s position that given the board’s accumulated powers — justified or  otherwise — and its current function as arbiter of myriad conditions that impact the lives of citizens, for it to hold all its meetings at 10:00 a.m. on a Tuesday meeting is an affront (note that during the Garner Administration, a fledgling but doomed effort to democratize meeting times was made).

However, NAC can attend many, if not all, meetings. Public speaking time is allowed, and on occasion in the past, we’ve used it for the precise purpose of making comments, raising issues or asking questions, so that these are included in meeting minutes and become part of the public record. This way, it cannot be claimed later that “no one said anything.”

Readers, I know you have questions. Many of you cannot attend these meetings, and so when possible, NAC will ask them for you. Generalized questions probably are best, but give us the brief, and we’ll do what we can. Submit them at … and ask the bored.