Speak Out Loud NA

Friday, September 30, 2005

IT's TIME!!!

More information will come later tonight, but everyone who's been asking where and when... meet at the corner of Vincennes and Silver for Saturday's parade.
There will be an impressive number of people to show the concerns we have about the decisions Mayor Garner is making.
The new Stormwater Drainage fee they are talking of adding, as part of an $800K+ fund, is avoidable. The county residents do not, and will not, have to pay this fee, as it is being covered with EDIT funds and Riverboat proceeds.
Furthermore, CM Blevins was demoted today, and the cause is still under discussion. The sanitation workers are outraged.
More to Come.....

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

a href=" title="external link"> Ann Hits the Nail on the Head Again.

Everyone should visit the Diggin in the Dirt blogsite www.diggindirt.blogspot.com , and the read the link that Ann has referenced.
The people deserve answers as to Garner's own promise to get answers before spending money. How is it just coincidence that as Scribner Place unfolds with approvals, other City services can no longer function, and a new fee is going into effect?
The public deserves to see the roots of the deal, and how this was put together, because it is having a direct effect on all the "little people" in their "little town".

Monday, September 26, 2005

Stormwater Drainage Fees: Important Information

Thanks to Mr. Maurice King, another concerned citizen, for his vigilance in protecting the public. I have recieved interesting information regarding the new Stormwater fee that will soon be assessed to our water bills, and there are many people who have questions and concerns about this new cost, and the Committee meetings that will take place to discuss the details.
Therefore, I am posting some very important facts.
No matter what you may think of this blog, it is in your best interest to read the following:

I am on the storm water drainage committee, which is a dog and pony show. They want to ram the interim fee structure through which would equate to appox. $504K a year for Residential, $311,040K Commercial, $22,320K Industrial, $48,240K Institutional for a total of $885,600.00 appox. income for the first year, and hypothetical expenses of $676,950.00 for the same year, all for Management Related Expenses.
This leaves appox. $233,650K to go to actual drainage projects!!!! This is unacceptable. Also, how are they going to guarantee this fee will be paid by all and not only a few without consequence. We need to take action!
This additional fee to all residents in the City will be next to impossible to stop, because of the Federal Mandate, but we must be sure what is put in place will be fair to all, and will be paid by all (emphasis added).

Upon further questioning about this Stormwater Drainage program, Mr. King sent the following, which I found quite interesting:

It is a federal, as well as a state, program. I will quote a small section of one of the handouts we received, quote: "The City is required, by way of the federal program known as 'Phase II' and the state program known as 'Rule 13', to develop, document and implement a Storm Water Quality Management Plan (SWQMP)".
I verified this by calling both the EPA and IDEM, but I also found that the deadline is May 2006 before any possible action can be taken by the State.
At the first meeting I also found out this Committee first started meeting last year, and had their last meeting in Oct. 2004. Now they want to ram it through and I have a problem with that. Supposedly, this is mandated for all cities and counties in our state and other states as well.
My primary concern is that the Administration, from the Mayor on down, be better stewards of our money and pursue those among us that do not pay their way, (ex. delinquent sewer, garbage, etc), aggressively.
The hearing notification is another good example of this administrations lack of concern and/or desire for citizen involvement in a decision which will affect them for a possible lifetime!!! Oh sure, they have met their legal requirement by placing the add, but how many people read the Legals, and especially on Sunday in the Tribune. Why was't it on the front page of the Tribune and in the Indiana section of the Courier? I'm waiting to see if it is in the Monday's edition of the Courier to inform those that do not take the Sunday Tribune.

So, here is the information about the meetings:
The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, Sept.26th at 6:15 pm in the Assembly Room on 3rd floor City County Bldg. I feel it is imperative more residents get involved in this process.
As the notice states, " interested public stakeholders are welcome". The $3.00 per residence is just a starting point. Who knows where this final fee base number will stop!!
If just a couple of representatives from each neighborhood association would attend we would all hear the same thing and could relay this to our fellow taxpayers.
Again, Monday night at 6:15PM, in the assembly room on the 3rd floor of the City County Bldg., a storm water advisory meeting will be held, and you are invited to attend and offer your ideas.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The People's Voices

Just a bit of information to help put this blog into perspective when it comes to how many people are concerned about what is happening in New Albany.
In this month alone, September 2005, there have been 372 comments posted here. Now, that's only the people who have actually taken the time to sit down and write about what they think.That doesn't include everyone who only reads it and doesn't comment. And September isn't even over yet. I expect that our numbers will continue to grow.
I think that number goes a long way in describing how serious the people are about tackling the issues facing our city. So, anybody who wants to try to trash this display of citizen involvement can just stew on that number for a while. It goes to show that New Albany citizens are hungry for information, and want a forum where their opinions can be heard and responded to.
Here's another number to ponder... since I began this blog in May, only 5 months ago, the total number of written comments is well over 2,000. That's an average of more than 400 comments per month. So, keep bringing it on folks, and know you are not alone. We are making a difference, and we do have their attention.
We are here to press for a better New Albany with more fiscally sound decision making.
There has been too much money spent on unnecessary "perks" ($4,700 for one month of city paid cell phones), and too much shuffling of funds between departments to cover shortfalls.
Thus, in 2005, the State mandated a $2.8 million budget cut. Cuts that were ordered by, "State financial officials [who] are making New Albany account for...repayment, along with other overspending in recent years".
This comes from an article in the Courier Journal dated April 29th, 2005, where City controller Kay Garry, "...said she doesn't expect the city to be able to give employee raises next year".
They are now telling us that in 2006 they intend to give 2.5% raises to City employees, as well as 1.5% raises to the Police, who are already the highest paid Police in the entire state.
Believe me, I respect the Police and the job they do, but at this crucial time in New Albany's existence, we must all sacrifice a little, and we must all tighten our collective belts. Especially if it means saving jobs and maintaining important city services.
It is this, and other important issues that drives the need for a citizens forum, where EVERYONE may SPEAK OUT LOUD with their viewpoints without being TOLD what they are supposed to think, CRITICIZED for imperfect grammar, or ASSAULTED for disagreeing with the administration's decisions. Let alone threatened with the possible loss of jobs.
So, even though we have scared some, and angered others, who like to suggest there are really only about 10 of us posting all these comments, and who keep trying to bash us with words of disrespect, I do think the numbers speak for themselves.
This is the people's blog, and it's not going away. We have arrived, we refuse to be intimidated, and we will stay the course. Concerned Citizens for Democracy is a force to be reckoned with.

Friday, September 23, 2005

The Real Story


West End Drainage Project
I am writing this article (to the Tribune) in order to clarify statements made in another local newspaper by their reporter. It is sad that their reporter chose not to report all of the pertinent facts that I gave to him on the West End Drainage Project.

Work to begin correcting this flood problem is on City Property, not on private property as was hinted in the paper. The work is on a vacated street called Boiling Springs Road. This can be verified on page 7720 in the Plat map room. The entire ditch and repairs are on Boiling Springs Road city property.

The West End residents in the West Ninth Street and Cedar Street area have suffered flood damage and loss of property for several years.

Flooding from Silver Hills down toward Cedar Street has multiplied over the last few years. Three ditches from Silver Hills flow rampantly down to a small shallow ditch at the end of Cedar Street. In addition, gushing water flows down Cherry Street Hill and crosses over Cherry Street to this shallow ditch.

The reconstruction of Scribner School and additional blacktop caused the flow of additional water across Cherry Street to this shallow ditch overflowing down Cedar Street into homes on West Ninth Street.

In 2003, residents in the area suffered excessive flood damage. A senior invalid lady was trapped in her living room in her chair with 5 or 6 inches of water in her home. Her caretaker son managed to call out to neighbors for help, and they called the fire department to pump out the water and to rescue her.

Neighbors had flooded homes and garages. They lost personal and collector items in the flood. This was a flood emergency:


This has been a long and discouraging time as we have tried to get help for the residents suffering from the flood damages.


To New Albany Redevelopment Commission…….February 2003 – No funds allotted
To New Albany Board of Works…………………........June 2003 - No work done
To New Albany Sewer Board………………………......June 2003 - No work done
To New Albany Flood Control Board……………......June 2003 - No work done
New Albany Board of Works discussion…………...February 2004 – No work done

In 2004, the City Council formed a Drainage Committee to allow each Council member to begin to correct drainage problems in their districts. Silver Hills is in Bill Schmidt’s District 2, and the 9th and Cedar area is in Dan Coffey’s District 1. Coffey and Schmidt discussed this and agreed to work together to solve this drainage problem. It seemed suitable as the flood waters from Silver Hills in District 2 were pouring down on District 1.

The request for drainage repairs was discussed with the full nine member City Council Drainage Committee. They all agreed to allow Brian Dixon, P.E., to review the project, make recommendations and solicit bids. When Councilman Schmidt received those bids from Brian Dixon, he presented copies to each Council member. After council discussion, all agreed to proceed with the contractor who was the lowest bidder.

The concrete wall was placed at the location where the two major streams of rushing waters flood down from Silver Hills into the shallow ditch. The shallow ditch was dug out to about 5 feet deep to retain the flood water as it flowed toward the tile pipe along Cedar Street.

This is only the beginning of work needed to be done to correct the problem. Cleaning of the drain pipe is the next step. In the future, that pipe may need to be replaced with a larger pipe.

I wish that the Mayor, or someone from the City Administration had called me to discuss the West End Drainage project before they made accusations in that local paper. It is in the best interest of the citizens when all officials work together.

Bill Schmidt

Thursday, September 22, 2005

How Low Will He Go??????

Garner’s latest stunt is outright slanderous and borders on the absurd. This is the second time that he has attempted to throw the Schmidt’s “under the bus”, so to speak, and this ugly tactic should be thrown right back in his face. Shame on you James!
If Garner thinks for a minute that there are no instances of impropriety in his repertoire that couldn’t be exposed with the greatest of ease, he should think again.
As for Bill and Anna Schmidt, they are the best advocates for proper procedural Government in our City, and have consistently been the best stewards of the public welfare and champions of our rights to information and proper processes.
I wouldn’t believe for a minute that Bill Schmidt would ever be so self-serving as to spend funds allotted for specific projects on a “favor” to a niece.
In fact, I personally listened to Anna 2 years ago pleading with the Redevelopment Commission for answers to flooding problems in that area, and help for the home owners who were being repeatedly flooded.
This has been a long sought after repair to help multiple families, and the fact that their niece’s home is there is pure happenstance. HER HOME DOESN’T FLOOD BECAUSE IT’S ON A HIGHER ELEVATION!!!
So, now lets back up about 2 paces and take a good look at what is going on in New Albany right now, and the precarious situation the Mayor has gotten himself into.
First, we have a Mayor who is running roughshod over most of the decisions and procedures set forth by the City Council. It makes one wonder if the processes, and time spent, making such decisions is really necessary, or even enforceable. After all, Garner completely ignored the protocol set forth in the resolution approved by the Council for hiring a Code Enforcement Officer. Technically, Pam Badger is NOT the Code Enforcement Officer. She is a person from the Police Department who has been given the directive to cite certain Ordinance infractions.
Neighborhood associations have been begging for Ordinance Enforcement for years. If it was really that simple, what is Garners excuse for not doing it sooner? Why was the first Council resolution for an OEO given a “pocket veto” if it holds no real authority over the process? Why all the waiting? Or was it stalling? Either way, it makes no sense to me.
Then, how about the surprise announcement that he intends to privatize the sanitation department? Did he consult with the Council, or anybody else for that matter? A decision he made, and negotiated, based on faulty bookkeeping and no real knowledge of what the actual numbers are because even State auditors, “can’t make heads or tails of the books”.
Is it only coincidence that Bill Schmidt is the Council Member that has the anwers for saving sanitation? I don't think so.
Now Garner has announced the "contract" with ID has "fallen through".
How do you suppose the timing worked on that one?
All of this smells of something quite foul, and I for one am not buying the media's turn on it.
We all have seen this administration juggling one thing after another, and the circus act has got to stop.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Important Update

Everyone can rest assured that preparations are being undertaken to advance our opposition to the Administration's bad decisions, unfair political practices, and back door dealings that will certainly lead to the further, and future, demise of the City of New Albany and the quality of living conditions for the majority of its citizens. Everyone will have opportunities to participate if they wish to, or are able to.
The "Concerned Citizens for Democracy" movement is preparing to spring into action with a plan that will definitely bring positive changes for New Albany. Everyone who supports our mission and our causes, I believe, will be pleased with our efforts. The anticipated affect will be sweeping changes.
For those who think we have no PLAN, there is a plan, there is another way, and there is a better life to be had here. To be against the future survival of New Albany by supporting the Mayor's plans, is tantamount to opening the gates to the vault and calling all takers.
This administration is taking all they can get and running with it folks. Garner knows there is no chance at a re-election, so what makes you think he gives a crap about our collective future? From what I've seen, and what I know, I can pretty well assure you the concerns of most go only as far as their back pockets. The "gang of 4" are wearing the white hats in this town's showdown. We intend to support their efforts
In closing, let me say that there have been so many inappropiate actions revealed, that I simply can't sit back and allow this runaway train to derail the future of our once great city of New Albany.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

What We Are About...

NOTE: I wrote the following as a comment on the previous posting.
As I wrote, I realized it is past time for "Concerned Citizens for Democracy" to make a clear statement about our objectives. The things we are advocating for are the same things that most other folks say they want for New Albany as well. We want a growing, prosperous, city where the quality of life is good for the majority of its citizens. Fairness, truthfulness, honesty, and integrity, are the traits we are expecting from the City administration. These are things we advocate FOR.
We are not going to waste our time and energy in senseless battles over differenences of opinions. Everyone has an opinion and everyone is entitled to theirs. We are not going to endorse or partake in any boycott's of businesses. Such negative behavior is adverse to our goal. If small business owners are making it in New Albany, ya gotta give them credit. That can't be an easy task in This city.
Read on with the knowledge that our purpose is to make things better, to work towards progress, to get our financial feet on the ground, and to ferret out corruption and inpropriety.

Let me state again what I feel our position is, or ought to be.
First, we are NOT against progress. We want progress in our city as much as anyone else.
We are not AGAINST anything but corruption.
What we are doing here is advcating FOR, accountability, truth, cutting unessential "perks" from the budget before we shut down city services, an accurate audit, a capable leadership, good decision making, and a political body that actually cares about what's best for the common citizen of New Albany.
I will not support any boycott's or otherwise bring hardship on any other citizens of New Albany. We are all having quite a time of it already.
In fact I think I will use this as the beginning of the next posting.The last thing we need is to polarize the populous of the City. I believe that the majority of folks all want the same thing in the end. A good City.
Surely no one wants wasteful spending ($700+ for car mats?), or more bad decisions (David White, Eddie Hancock, etc.), or fund shuffeling (sanitation & sewage), or back room deals (ID), and unanswered questions.
Concerned Citizens for Democracy is a group of people who want to protect the future progress of our city. We are not an adversarial group of political wanna-be's. Nothing could be further from the truth. But, we will insist that our political representatives be honorable, respectable, and trustworthy. And above all else, be true stewards for the public that elected them.
Progress and growth are indeed accessible for New Albany and its citizens.

Monday, September 12, 2005

A Call to Action!!!

I am working on pulling some things together before I publish the next posting. I'm double checking the facts as I understand them to be.
The Concerned Citizens for Democracy will be notified of a meeting via personal e-mail. So, if you're not on the list and want to be, be sure to e-mail me personally so I can include you.
I've been down at the City-County building all afternoon, so the upcoming post will be for this evening when I have time to gather my thoughts.
Just think about this for now...
We all want positive changes, so let's all think in positive terms.
Most adults who participate here should be capable of reasonable discourse.
For those who cannot do anything but attack others, and other viewpoints, and others writing skills, please refrain from even reading this blog. We have no time, or energy, to deal with bullshit angry outbursts or personal pot shots. Go argue someplace else.
Furthermore, let it be known that I hereby, on this date and time, declare that all written contents of this blog site are considered the private property of Blog Administrator Laura Oates, and I forbid any copying, reproduction, or transferring all or parts of this blogsite, to other blogsites, without my written consent.
We don't need to launch into attack mode, we need to shift into action mode. This means we need to be cognizant of our rights and responsibilities, and our purpose for existence. We must do these things in such a way as to benefit the integrity of our city and the citizens who reside here. There have been too many bad decisions made to simply sit back and expect new decisions to suddenly become good decisions. I, for one, have lost my faith in the "system".
Remember, it's all about concerns that we, as citizens, have about our opportunities for the future revitalization of the inner-city of New Albany.
We should at least be able to have confidence that the decisions being made now, that will follow us for the long term, are indeed in our best interests.
We have reason to believe this is not the case, and we intend to get answers for many questions that have arisen out of our discussions here.
Stay around and stay informed, and talk to your friends and family who have no idea what is going one, and tell them they ought to start paying attention.
It is indeed the time to step up and protect the best interests of the majority of people in New Albany, and not just a select few who are privileged cogs in the wheels of local government around here.
It is time we assemble a list of the perks that we taxpayers provide for some city employees, and get a yearly tally on those perks for 2000 VS. 2004.
We have been made aware (thank you CM Schmidt) that the picture painted of sanitation by our Mayor was a complete lie, or else somebody is really, really ignorant of financial management. It may well be ignorance, given the awareness of other business failings associated with some top City officials, but either way...it's not good.
Fact is, the sanitation Department has only been about $34K short, not the $900K that Mayor Garner has ben quoted as saying.
Everybody name a "perk" or 2, and we'll start a list of expenditures that may well have opportunities for cutbacks to create more efficient financial operations. We should object to the proposed raises, and ask for a list of the city employees who were to recieve the raises.
We should also petition for city vehicles to remain parked except when conducting city business. Nobody's ever paid for my gasoline when times get tight. Why should we pay for theirs now while times are tight. Gasoline is almost $3.00 per gallon.
C'mon, we have to use our common sense. Enough is enough.

Call to Action!

I wanted to make everyone aware that the posting I was working on for this weekend is still sitting in draft mode.
As I was writing, so many issues were in my mind that I couldn't seem to get all of them out at the same time. So, what I came up with was that it's time to determine what our mission is, and proceed with action.
The way I see it, the main reason we are doing this is because we are advocating for a fair democracy, and people have a right to know that that's not what's been happening. So, we are also for spreading the knowledge to everyone who has a right to know what is going on with their representatives, and tx dollars.
I will eventually put up the new post, and it will contain some new information. Hang in there folks!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Council Meeting

Well, what another fine evening of listening to our esteemed Mayor yell at the Council members. If it was any more hostile, Chief Harl wouldn't be the only guy in the room with a gun.
I am sad to say that my disappointment in Mayor Garner grows more every time I hear him speak. How does he justify building swimming pools and giving out raises while he dismantles the city's sanitation department? The YMCA could still happen, but not the pools if we can't maintain our sanitation department.
He talks in circles, insists on pushing things through before all information is known, and reacts like a spoiled child when questioned about alternatives to his plans.
I believe that anyone in such a position should be bit more professional about things, and should be able to keep a level head and controlled temper when confronted on the issues. There is no professionalism when it comes to Garners time at the podium.
To add insult to injury, as he passed the gentleman seated in front of me, he leaned over and made a smirking grunt, as if to imply "see, I got the best of them, and you will never win this one". I about fell out of my seat. I don't know who the gentleman was, but he was adult enough to ignore the cheap shot.
Anyway, I'm way too tired tonight to go into all that occured, and I had to leave before the thing was finished.
So, I will get the details on the remainder of the evening, and put them together with my thoughts about the first portion of the night, and will post again on Saturday.
Meanwhile, everyone feel free to comment about your thoughts on how this evening went.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Happy Holiday!

I hope everyone has enjoyed the extended weekend and has had time to decompress a little. We are about to embark on a very ardurous jorney, but the rewards will be dramatic. This is something that can no longer be tolerated in little towns all over the country.
The power-hungry elitist group will no longer hold the working class little people hostage. We have rights, and we have responsibilities.
I also want to encourage everyone, if you haven't already, please do what you can to help those lost souls in New Orleans and surrounding areas. I can't imagine what terror they must be feeling. It is a true tragedy, and our national government has not responded well to this internal upheavel. It leaves one scared and prayerfull that no such devestation will visit our shores again.
Keep them in your thoughts and be thankful for what you have. Even if it's not much, it's much more than many others, so count your blessings.
On Tuesday we will move forward with more information and interesting facts about the sanitation department. Even if they sign the contract, we will work to have it repealed.
Garner and his administrative decision making has done too much damage to New Albany already. We will resist further harm.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

a href=" title="external link"> Profound Thought Again From Ann

A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.
- H. L. Mencken
posted by New Alb Annie 9/01/2005 11:00:00 PM

Time for Action!

OK folks. We have talked and talked about all the problems that are facing our city and the possibilities of corruption. It is time to unite, stand together, and be heard.
We are forming a citizens group which is tentatively being called "Citizens for Democracy". If anyone would like to suggest a different name, we are welcoming suggestions.
Through this group we intend to let the administration know that we are aware of the insufficiencies and the improprieties that are occuring blatently in view of the public sector.
We know this is not the first administration to engage in such behavior, but Garner has gone well beyond mediocrity, and is putting this city in jeopardy for the next 17 years.
There must be an intervention, and we intend to make one.
I am in contact with the State Board of Accounts, and the Deprtment of Local Government Finance (tax Commissioners).
The 2004 audit is currently underway, which is the first year of Garner's administration. It should be very revealing.
There are many other issues we are looking at, and other avenues of objection we have open to us.
For those who wish to participate, continue to e-mail me personally. To those who already have, I thank you all for your committment to set this city straight, and refuse to stand by and watch as mistake after mistake is being made.
If Garner had any character, he would come out and say that he has made mistakes, learned from them, and will try to do better. Instead, all we hear is silence or excuses.
His time for making amends is past.