Regardless of the outcome of tonight’s city council meeting, with a third and final vote scheduled to endorse or reject the Reisz Elephant city hall relocation project, June of 2018 will be remembered as the month when Emperor Gahan’s personality cult paraded past and the voice of a child rang out:
“But he isn’t wearing anything at all!”
In future years, we’ll look back and see an uninterrupted arc of hypocrisy, beginning with Gahan’s hostile takeover of the New Albany Housing Authority in early 2017 alongside promises of rampant demolitions to come, and now culminating with tonight’s fix-is-in $10,000,000 to construct his own luxury office suite.
A pretend Democrat of the most abominable variety, Gahan’s reign of self-aggrandizement has now reached its orgasmic apogee, and these words of Kevin Baker in Harper’s, intended to describe the New York City he remembers, apply just as accurately to Nawbany — or as we refer to it, New Gahania.
“Back when the city endeavored to serve its people instead of just weed them out if they didn’t make enough money.”
Allow me to summarize the arguments in opposition to Gahan’s Reisz Elephant Luxury City Hall, as presented in these pages over the past three weeks, but as a preface, just a brief word about the nature of politics.
Several times recently, I’ve been scolded for having the unmitigated gall as a non-office-holder to so much as participate in the political process, by people who insist the Reisz Elephant is about historic preservation, and therefore not political at all.
These people simply are delusional.
The practice of politics is making decisions about power; what happens and doesn’t, and who benefits — and doesn’t.
The basic family unit is purely political in the sense of determining how its members are to proceed through life, by means of budgeting, shared responsibilities, delegated authority and numerous other decisions. The city is intended to work in like fashion — and periodically, it even does.
I’ve run for office, attended meetings and endeavored to “do my homework.” My household is located within city limits, pays taxes, and does its small part to make New Albany a better place.
We’re ordinary people, and ordinary people needn’t ever listen to the scoldings of self-appointed elites and governing cliques, which arguably are more virulent in a small town than a large one. We — YOU — have every right to participate in this process, rich or poor, big or little.
And make no mistake: at present, a remarkably small number of people are making all the decisions. Team Gahan is a clique by the classic definition, an insular sociopolitical group that thinks it knows better than you.
But you have every right to participate in politics with whatever legal tools are at your disposal (illegality is another topic, along with civil disobedience).
The “ins” always seek to define the propriety of the “outs,” and you have every right to protest their limitations with words, signs, your own physical presence and your voice.
They’re no better than you. They only think they’re wearing clothes.
With the advent of the Reisz Elephant, we find the few with their pricey luxury wants versus the many and their everyday basic needs.
At a time when citizens are suffering, basic human conscience seemingly dictates our working together in search of solutions, rather than building walls — as Jeff Gahan seems intent to do with regard to county government, hurting the downtown economy in the process.
Breaking down the Reisz bait ‘n’ switch, my ON THE AVENUES column of June 21 has become the year’s most read, and it offers an overview.
However, it’s not too late to reformat and democratize the project. Denton Floyd has done “pre-development” work, but a “no” vote by council will revert Reisz to the city and allow a do-over.
As for the vote itself, it shouldn’t be taken unless absentee Wile E. Gahan deigns to appear before the legislative branch and put some skin in his own game for once — and David Barksdale can restore his political integrity by recusing himself.
As it stands, Barksdale and the city’s contingent of historic preservationists are having their pockets picked by a mayor with absolutely no interest in old buildings, but who possesses epochal campaign finance avarice and a fetish for provocation that eerily echoes Donald Trump’s.
An example of how the city can accomplish more by spending less has been suggested by CM Scott Blair by encouraging the private sector to rehabilitate the Reisz, freeing the city to build a new city hall on land it already owns.
The best place to begin a community dialogue is the notoriously secretive Redevelopment Commission, which must be opened to public scrutiny. Redevelopment’s rigged and non-competitive deal with Denton Floyd is an act of surreptitious lubrication that must not be repeated, and it’s also time to expand the scope of public meetings and curb the power of non-elected boards and commissions.
As it stands on Monday morning, council is arrayed in two blocs, with five members in favor of the city hall relocation expenditure and four against.
The Reisz fix appears more solidly “in” than usual, but I persist in thinking that one of the four Democratic councilman presently insisting that luxury government office space somehow must be prioritized, even at the expense of their supposed core mission of defending those of our citizens who are most at risk, will examine his conscience and see that in addition to high monetary cost, there is a high opportunity cost to Gahan’s fancy.
If we’re to spend $10,000,000 on anything, it should be for as many people as possible, not one single government building. See you tonight. It’s going to be a long, hot, uncomfortable meeting, but your voice must be heard.
GUEST COLUMN: Councilmen on Reisz: “You have a duty to treat public money as the public’s money. You can’t just spend it on what you WANT.”