Fact-checking Deaf Gahan: He hasn’t spent one penny of his own money to welcome another business to New Albany. Taxpayer-financed subsidies? Those are another matter entirely.


It’s an election year, so take note of the lead sentence in the propaganda commissariat’s latest blurb:

I’m sure he’s sufficiently welcoming. After all, Gahan’s not the one who paid for the sewer tap-in waivers he graciously awarded Flaherty and Collins in his capacity as sewer board president (that’s a paid position, by the way) during the opening stages of the Breakwater development.

From January of 2017:

Flaherty and Collins apparently is offering to lease this (restaurant) space at the low bargain rate and provide something like $50,000 in cash for the build-out (the Green Mouse was told by the restaurateur that it wasn’t enough of an enticement to interest him), but the dollars-per-square-foot price fairly skyrockets if the building’s owner must finish the space.

Always be aware that as City Hall touts the many restaurants and bars downtown, as though it had anything whatever to do with their founding and operation — and you can ask virtually any eatery owner to explain where the bulk of the start-up capital originates, this being with them, and not a magical bunkerside ATM — the fact that the city subsidized the entirety of the Break Wind development means that the city also is subsidizing the eatery or bar that eventually comes to rest in the rough unfinished space. The city might as well be the one writing the check for $50K, right?

I’m not making this point owing to my antipathy for the current occupant, which is real, but rather because it’s absolutely true. With Break Wind, the city’s been picking winners with your money — and is picking winners with your money the sort of thing you want Jeff Gahan doing?

Two years and an insurance fire have passed; Breakwater has residents, and now the restaurant space is to be filled. It’s all good, or at least as good as it can be, because the same question awaits Gahan’s attention — and the next attempt he makes to answer it will be his first.

To what extent (if any) should City Hall subsidize private, for-profit development with an array of sewer tap-in waivers, tax abatements and other incentives — enticements generally unavailable to smaller business entities, who must sink or swim by their own merits?

That’s because it is perfectly legitimate to continue to ask questions about the applicability of taxpayer subsidies, the precedent of sewer tap-in waivers, the quality of construction techniques, the use of union versus non-union labor, the applicability of giveaways in the cause of “economic development” — to name only a few issues.

The problem is Gahan is deaf.

8:39 p.m. update:

Given the money the City borrowed to help subsidize Breakwater and the 20-year TIF plan to pay it back, the development being two years old means only 18 more years to go before it contributes a single dime in property taxes to schools and the city general fund — Jeff Gillenwater