Explaining the mayor’s Rally’s/Checkers photo-op in the context of Pay to Play, the Suburban Experiment, and Strong Towns.


This embarrassment owes to boondoggle splashback. I’m happy to explain.

The City of New Albany subsidized the Summit Springs hilltop development by means of using the roadway to the top as pretext to redevelop the Daisy Lane intersection at State Street.

At the time, this intervention was artfully justified by then-redevelopment honcho David Duggins’ assertion that by working with private profit-seekers, the city could be sure the ensuing development would be done correctly.

Duggins subsequently was packed off to ruin human lives at the housing authority, but this lies outside the scope of today’s Rally’s indigestion.

From Team Gahan’s standpoint, the “right” results from its Summit Springs TIF One Card deferred costs were immediately evident, and to avoid clutter, we’ll spotlight just one.

In fact the overall verdict remains very clear.

The city’s participation in Summit Springs under the scarcely examined rubric of “economic development” inevitably meant that business winners and losers were being chosen by local government, as in the instance of the laughably termed “iconic” Rally’s/Checker chain restaurant grand opening; just note that by virtue of the public subsidies showered upon the private profiteers of Summit Springs, this restaurant itself benefited from municipal subsidies, as these same benefits were unavailable to a true indie small business opening elsewhere.

The city’s propaganda team desperately needs a dose of localism, and also might learn from the example of Strong Towns, because in addition to the preceding, the infrastructure being TIFFed into creation on and near Summit Springs will bear maintenance costs in the future, and these are not being factored into the costs at present. While Summit Springs is within a short distance of the dense urban core, its rationale and required expenditures are firmly within the boundaries of the short-term “Suburban Experiment” described below by Charles Marohn … of Strong Towns.

Read up, pay-to-play Gahanites.

Ha ha. I make myself laugh out loud at times.

What do you do when you need to change everything? by Charles Marohn

Our cities are struggling financially. But culturally, we lack a common understanding to explain why this is, let alone decide what to do about it.

Many people want to believe we’re simply not paying enough taxes. Others believe that our tax rates are too high. We might have too little regulation, or not enough. Some say we need an active government, and some, more of a free market… But at Strong Towns, we don’t see things in such binary ways.

Plenty of Americans wish we would listen to the experts and hand things over to the people who claim they know what needs to be done. Others believe we have too many experts, and that they know a lot less than they think they do…

We’re more nuanced here at Strong Towns; a little expertise combined with a lot of humility can be a powerful force for good.

A Cultural Consensus That Lacks Real Understanding

One area where we have something approaching an American cultural consensus is our need to spend more money on infrastructure. Left, right, center… it seems most people can agree on this. But Strong Towns advocates think differently.

What we at Strong Towns have seen so clearly is that our cities struggle not from the lack of a cultural consensus, but because of one.

We’ve structured our economy around the principles of the Suburban Experiment, an approach to growth that provides lots of short-term rewards at the expense of our long-term strength and resiliency. Our cultural consensus on infrastructure spending is built on false statistics and short-term planning, but it lacks a common understanding about the root causes of financial failure and financial success.

Strong Cities, Towns and Neighborhoods

If America is going to be a strong country, it must first have strong cities, towns and neighborhoods.

We can’t manufacture prosperity with infrastructure spending or federal dollars; it has to be built from the bottom up.

We understand that cities become strong and resilient when they grow incrementally, when they shun the easy path of simplistic solutions and instead do the hard work of making modest investments over a broad area over a long period of time.

We know that local governments must focus on their financial productivity and that doing this math is not optional if we want to create prosperous places.

And at Strong Towns, we know that the cities that obsess about the struggles of their own residents — cities that make a commitment to observe where people struggle day-to-day within the community, and then focus on continuously doing the next smallest thing to reduce that struggle — these cities are not only going to help people; they are going to be making the highest returning investments they can possibly make. They are going to become Strong Towns.

These are radical insights. They run counter to our current consensus about growth, development and infrastructure. Yet, when we share these radical notions with others — when we have a chance to expose people to the Strong Towns message and our vision of the future — something amazing happens.

A Powerful, Radical Message That we can All Agree on

People who don’t agree — who can’t even productively talk to each other today — find something they agree on in Strong Towns. Something challenging. Something radical. Something that, if spread to enough people, can form that basis of a new cultural consensus.

A strong America made up of strong cities, towns and neighborhoods. That’s the vision.

We have a powerful message and we have built our organization around a movement to spread it. We’re attacking the complex problem of struggling cities by changing the current cultural consensus. We do this in three simple ways:

We create content.
We distribute that content as broadly as possible.
We nudge people to take action.

And it’s working. Don’t miss out. Be part of what we’re building together. Memberships start at just $5 per month. Join the movement.