The second council meeting of 2009 was when the Democratic Party fix hit the fan, as Dan Coffey tactlessly shouted down a speaker during public input time … but the Wizard was just warming up for the main event to come at the now defunct Studio’s.
I missed it all. It was the time of intense build-out for Bank Street Brewhouse, which debuted in March, so Friday coverage of the Thursday evening meeting was provided by the late Lloyd “Highwayman” Wimp.
Lloyd had considerable potential as a writer; he wasn’t trained in any respect, but harbored excellent instincts when it came to a juicy story. Unlike so many purported reporters, there wasn’t a question Lloyd wouldn’t ask.
We miss him.
16 January 2009
Here it is, the middle of the week, the predicted coldest night in recent memory, there’s nothing of consequence on TV, and y’all still elected to be couch potatoes when you could have attended one of the most entertaining New Albany Common Council meetings to date.
It started out harmless enough. Our resident mail carrier took to the podium to say he felt the Council had better things to do with its time than deal with a Resolution in support of HR676 (a US House bill concerning universal health care).
After all, the city of New Albany has no influence on the Beltway Boys so why waste the time.
At this point a non-agenda item was raised in the form of a council committee report from the housing/code enforcement threesome. (make that a twosome as CM Price abstained from officially signing the recommendation.)
Steve’s reasoning was that he disagreed with a sentence that seems to hold rentals to a higher standard than us lowly homeowners as it pertained to enforcement.
As a side note, Pat Harrison & her entourage of landlords presented CM & Committee Chair John Gonder with a copy of said recommendation prior to the meeting. The mystery of that is according to Gonder himself, he had not presented said report to any Council Members prior to tonight’s meeting. Strange indeed!
Then in the Communications from City Officials slot an employee from the City Controllers office took a stand against A-09-01 which would give a raise in pay to two Non Bargaining Unit employees who work in the Utility Billing Department.
It seems they have inherited the billing duties from EMC as it pertains to Storm Water, Trash, & Sewer bills as those has now been brought back into the Cities venue.
She was followed by one of the two affected employees who pled their case for the increase after which the fun began in earnest.
Carl then stood in the absent Mayor’s stead and proceeded with a detailed explanation of England’s surgery, (good thing I didn’t eat before), recovery, therapy, and remorse for not being at tonight’s gathering.
He was going to elaborate even further but Council President Coffey took the floor and exclaimed that while the Council and the audience were concerned about the Mayor’s well being, it was not necessary to give a blow by blow report at each & every gathering.
He went on to request that if the Deputy Mayor had any further official city business to discuss to get on with it.
I went blank for a few seconds but as I recall Carl offered a report about the insurance monies received for the Tabernacle Building, the FEMA funds forthcoming from Ike, the city’s resolve to address code enforcement based in part on the committees recommendations, and his assurance that Mayor England would give his State of the City address at the next meeting.
With that we moved into “the meat of the meeting” per President Coffey.
Resolution (R-09-01) to support the aforementioned HR676 passed with a vote of 7 for & 1 abstention (CM Gahan).
Ordinance A-09-01 amending Salaries for Non Bargaining Unit employees garnered a 4 to 4 vote. At this point Pres. Dan conferred with Council Attorney Stan Robison (oh! Did I forget to mention we have a new attorney?) who ruled that a tie vote on first reading amounted to a failure to pass.
Next came Z-09-02 to amend the Zoning Classification in a portion of the West End of our fair city. Upon a recommendation from Zoning and Planning it passed with an 8-0 count on first reading.
There were two more ordinances on the agenda but one got tabled (again) and the other I blanked out on (again). Even more evidence that attending one of these events stone cold sober is hazardous to ones health!
Then came the first round of the Headliner of the evening ie; Non-Agenda Items! Our good friend and comrade-at arms Mark Cassidy took the podium to ask this council to consider the US Constitutionally mandated redistricting of New Albany’s voting districts.
If you’ll recall, the previous Council’s prime objection was that action had been initiated without having first requested that they (the Council) do their duty. Mr. Cassidy was merely attempting to abide by the Council’s wishes by bringing it forward again.
However President Coffey was going to have none of it. He cut Mark off in mid sentence explaining that in these dire times there were much more important issues facing New Albany.
He furthered that the previous Council had indeed passed a redistricting plan that met the State statute and that was the end of it.
Not one to be ignored, Mark respectfully asked if he could at least finish his remarks. Coffey nodded in the affirmative and Mr. Cassidy began again.
At this point the new Council Attorney began to dress down Mark about events concerning this subject that occurred back in 1999. Apparently Mr. Robison had been sitting in as a substitute for then Council Attorney Henderson on the evening that this subject was broached and afterwards had been berated in the media and elsewhere for his action/inactions during that event. So tonight opened up an old wound and he came out like a wounded pit bull.
To his credit he later in the evening apologized to Mark for his outburst and seemed genuinely remorseful for his actions.
President Coffey took over where Stan left off and began to look like the Dan we’ve all come to know over the years. Mark tried several times to finish his statement but in the end he was gaveled down and the meeting was adjourned.
We all took a deep breath of WHEW! Damned glad that’s over without bloodshed!
But is was not to be for Round Two was just over the horizon!
I hurriedly guided Mark out the door to the elevator and into the cold night air. We proceeded to Studio’s for our regularly scheduled Council Meeting Afterglow. We ordered a coupler of beers and were pleasantly surprised to see our very own Bluegill and his compatriot Roy stroll in.
We began to impart a report of the gathering to them and who walks in but Coffey, Gonder, Robison, & Carl Malysz!
Dan apparently hadn’t had enough and the discussion began anew with gusto!
It wasn’t long until Bluegill got involved and he & Coffey got nose to nose. The volume rose, the faces got red, threats got hurled and then slowly something close to a tone of reason began to return.
Almost all present exchanged their views on the subject and although no agreement was reached there was no broken glassware, no blood on the carpet, and no 911 calls.
Dan left, Stan again expressed his remorse to Mark, we ordered another round and collectively discussed the variety of still unresolved issues before us.
In the end it was a toss up somewhere between definite lines being drawn in the sand and a no harm/no foul street ball game.
Sure does make one wonder what the future holds though. So grab a season ticket and enjoy the festivities.
Hell they’re FREE!