Street grids, public housing and Councilman Phipps’ morally indefensible selective engagement.


New Albany’s 3rd council district includes those segments of the street grid currently being reverted to two-way traffic.

New Albany’s 3rd council district also includes Riverside Terrace, a component of the New Albany Housing Authority.

Consequently, matters pertaining to either of these topics logically fall within the scope of a council person’s brief.

Probably most of us would agree that the condition of one’s district is the only relevant item for a person elected to represent it. Greg Phipps is the council person for New Albany’s 3rd council district.

Phipps has taken a public stand on two-way streets, indicating his preference for them. This is fitting and proper.

However, he has refused to publicly state his position on recent changes at the housing authority, changes that clearly affect people living in Phipps’ council district. His stated reason for doing so? The housing authority is the mayor’s business, not council’s.

And yet Phipps and his council colleagues have had no say in the implementation of two-way streets, either. In fact, every last iota of the Downtown Grid Modernization Program has proceeded from the mayor and a plethora of appointed, not elected, officials.

In short, Phipps has played no officially delineated role in street grid changes or at the housing authority. Logically, he cannot claim to have had any role in the decision-making process in either instance.

Just as logically, he cannot claim street grid credit when the council has had no say.

And yet Phipps is fond of saying that he staked his political career (a career he formerly insisted he didn’t ever want) on two-way streets — not because he or his council colleagues were involved in the slightest way, but because he stated his opinion aloud, for all to hear. He used the bully pulpit.

Because street grid reform impacted Phipp’s council district, he was right to take an interest and be a stakeholder. Interestingly, precisely because the council has had no involvement in the street grid, Phipps might just as easily do an about-face and deny his previous advocacy if doing so seemed politically expedient:

“You can’t blame me; after all, council had no control, and it was the mayor’s decision.”

You can’t pick and choose, councilman.

In short, in the case of your automobile’s health and well-being, Phipps has found it easy to argue on behalf of quality of life in the absence of council participation.

But when it comes to the destiny of his own constituents, real living people frightened of being cast out into the street owing to the non-transparent dictates of a hostile NAHA takeover, something that just might impact their quality of life, Phipps opts out, and has found it equally easy to say absolutely nothing at all.

Because doing so would anger Jeff Gahan and the DemoDisneyDixiecratic apparatus.

In my view, selective morality of this scope may or may not involve cowardice, but it certainly qualifies as hypocrisy. Refusing to become involved with the future of public housing in New Albany, whether or not one has any delineated, contractual, or mandated input, suggests that Phipps has less concern for the working poor than with political gestures needed to assuage a more posh breed of  supposed Democrats in his district.

Ignoring public housing because it’s not his job?

That’s not very progressive, is it?

Perhaps it’s time for the 3rd district to say “no” to the mayor’s “yes” man.

(Note: I’m happy to publish rebuttals from CM Phipps, or for that matter, anyone else.)