Speak Out Loud NA

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Could They Do Any Less, And Ask For Any More???

Hello again folks.
Please excuse my extended absense as I had some matters to tend to and some meetings to attend in order to make some assessments, some decisions, and some setting of priorities. Life requires a bit of maintenance at times.
In other words, I've been very busy.
So has everyone else who stands behind SOLNA and the changes we advocate for in our community. We have had productive meetings, and a lot of good advise and action plans have resulted from them. Everyone has done their fair share of research and records chasing, to which we owe our greatest thanks.
So, you may be asking, what now?
Up till now, I have been the only Post writer, and the only Administrator for Speak Out Loud NA. However, I have now extended those privledges to a select few others who will be assisting in the day to day operations and occassionally, writing Posts of their own.
Anyone else who wishes to submit a Posting for possible publication on the blog may do so, and the matter of confidentiality will be handled on a case by case scenario.
SOLNA was created to be the Blog where anyone and everyone has an opportunity to Speak Out Loud about what they think about the community, how it's run, and what they think may be right or wrong about it.
We are re-establishing that original mission.
We have created another blog site that will handle ONLY Sewer Utility related documents and contracts, and we will let you know as soon as it contains info.
Yes, we're still here.
No, we haven't quit.
What have we been doing? Planning
Why have we been doing it? To achieve our purpose.
What happens next? A little Thunder of our own.
Let us know what you think!

My Question of the Day (may also be submitted for use):
Considering the tussle that's going on over the question of a full-time City Attorney, or another swing at a City Court in order to enforce Codes and Ordinances that are already on the books, has just set us to doing a lot of thinking, and asking a lot of questions.
Just what is it that a Mayor and the Elected Officials of a City are SUPPOSED to be doing?
Let's start with something just that simple. What is the Oath they take?
Don't they swear to uphold the Laws of the City when they take office???
Why do they always come back at us with: "How are you going to pay for it?"
Don't we have some inherent assurred protection when it comes to enforcement as a DUTY by certain officials as written in Indiana State Law?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Sewer Fund Six Month Finaincial

Since we've been talking about this notion of possible upcoming increases in sewage fees, we did some searching and came across something we thought was interesting.
First, we'd like to share this with you, as fellow citizens of New Albany and rate payers of New Albany City Services.
We received a bill this month for $70 from Indiana-American Cities Water Corporation.
Wondering how in the world a 2 person hoousehold could have a $70 water/sewage bill, I called the company and spoke with a service representative. You know what she told me when I asked her how much were the water charges only? She told me it was $20 out of the seventy owed.
That means the City is already getting a pretty huge chunk of money out of us every month, even if our water usage is low. It's troubling to think they may still be considering adding even more to it.
We turned back to the information we found while doing our research, and we are providing it here because we feel it's vital that every citizen is aware of the financial condition of the sewer fund without the sanitation services being taken out of the numbers.
You will note that Drainage is still included in this report from last year, and it was promised, by the Mayor, that Drainage employees salaries would not be coming out of sewers after the beginning of this year.
To our knowledge, the Drainage employees are indeed still being paid from sewage, but it is being considered another "loan".
We have no idea if, or when, this money will ever be returned to the sewer funds, as other monies have been used out of the sewers as if it were a "slush fund" to cover any extrodinary circumstances or expenses.
This is a six (6) month financial statement, and as you can see, the net income every six months is almost $1 million according to last years numbers.
The new agreement with the EPA would require the City to adhere to the $500K per year repairs to the inner city lines, and extend the EPA oversight to 3 years.
We firmly believe, and rumor has it that it's been admitted, the Georgetown deal was squandered away on purpose as it was an extra load on the lines and wasn't really turning a profit for the City.
However, the folks in Lanesville have hired an attorney, and vow to fight against the notion that Georgetown will build its own sewage treatment plant in their area.
We are also very concerned with the possible conflicts of interest inherent in our sewer utility attorney also representing developers out in the County who have been waiting to hook up to our lines.
Our inquiries and interests will follow up on this portion of the deals as we track down the trails of paperwork that will lead to the truth of what game they are playing now.
Meanwhile, give us your thoughts on the subject, and we'll keep you updated on our discoveries.
Take Care New Ablany....

Monday, April 17, 2006

Was it RUMPKYGATE After All?

We have preliminary information that the Sanitation Company, specially created to take on the New Albany service has been shut down by the EPA due to multiple violations.
We are in the process of verifying this information and will bring you more details as they occur. For now, this is a troublesome rumor, but it comes from reliable, multiple sources.
If our sources are indeed correct it is questionable what will occur in terms of garbage pick-ups this week.
We have questioned the contract again and again, and have attempted to secure a copy of the "final" version since the "rough draft" was published on Randy Smith's blog, Volunteer Hoosier, where it was vehemently defended.
This was a contentious occurrence when the bid was awarded to a then non-existent company, and we have questioned its validity ever since.
There have been many, many issues surrounding the privatization of Sanitation services, including the question of who was partnered in the new company and why they were using City property and equipment without any type of compensation going to the City in return.
Stay tuned for more information, and verification of these events.

Sunday, April 16, 2006


We wanted to extend our wishes that everyone had a safe and enjoyable Sunday with their families, whatever your particular persuasion of Religiosity may be.
It's too bad we didn't have a sunny day for the kids, but at least it didn't rain.
At least not in our neighborhoods.
We'll check in other parts of the neighborhood to make sure nobody had to pay a "Stormwater User Fee" for today, or this month, or any month.
I think I'll ask the guy that owns the rental property that's vacant right now, while he "renovates" (5 years running) the leaning tower of crap.
Anyway, I bet he hasn't had any "Stormwater usage" to pay.
Evidently it NEVER storms on his property when it obviously storms on mine, because I've been paying a "Stormwater User Fee" for 3 months now, and so are my neighbors, but he's not had to pay a dime.
Hmmmmmm. Another break for the slumlords.
Oh well, at least it's been nice and quiet, and we're feeling very relaxed, as all the vandals and hoodlums have scurried under their rocks since the inception of registered use for commentors.
We are sooooooo loving this!
The phone's not ringing constantly, and we don't have to waste our time scooping up "pro-progressive" computer droppings.
Even had time to get in some enjoyable antiquing.
We're happy to have our blog space back so we can continue to put information and issues out to the public.
Thanks to everyone for the positive words, we're glad you approve.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Way Back

Dear Readers,
Due to the propensity for angry outbursts to occur, despite repeated requests that exchanges of viewpoints and dialogue remain focused on the issues, we are forthwith allowing only registered users to utilize this blog.
I can't begin to tell you folks how disappointed I am with the nasty mud slinging that has gone on in the previous postings, and I am disappointed in myself that I have given in to exchanges that degenerate qwickly into name calling and comments that have nothing to do with the issue(s) at hand, resulting in words that escalate to the point of "crossing the line".
I would have never guessed that the citizens of New Albany, a small, close knit town, would stoop to the levels of personal assaults and ugly language that we've been seeing. It has been a rude awakening to the worst of our personalities that
we all have been guilty of, myself included, when we go too far in our impassioned defensive stance of our personal beliefs.
I originally allowed anonymity so that anyone and everyone could give their input in regards to the condition of our City and the decisions of our leadership without fear of reprisals. I felt these issues could be discussed, even from differing viewpoints, with some modicum of responsible behavior. I've always said that everyone is entitled to their opinions. Just try to put them across with some intelligence and some degree of a reasonable exchange of ideas, and STICK TO THE ISSUES.
However, due to the inability of some to refrain from malicious insults and a general lack of respect for the viewpoints of other citizens, we are instituting a new rule of only Registed Users having access to comments on this blog.
Because there are folks who disagree, but are unable to disagree in an adult manner with intelligent discussions and interpretation of facts, we invite you now to do so "face-to-face" by putting your name to it. Registered Users Only, is the policy on this blog from this point forward.
To those who use foul language, who assail private citizens' integrity, and who continually digress into insults, prodding folks into arguments and defensive rebuttals, you can now come out from under the shadows of that oh so 'awful anonymity' you've been abusing.
We will now know the identity of every commentor, but you may still use a screen-name, but we are going to regain control of the direction and nature of our blog. Participate in discussions about issues, but leave the attitude and personal remarks out of it.
This blog's original intent, to provide a forum for citizens to air their concerns and beliefs about the issues that affect our community, is going to be restored. We are all capable of civil discussions. You will recieve one warning of inappropriate discourse, after which a subsequent incident will result in either suspension, exposure and/or banishment, at our discretion.
Now, back to the business of SOLNA and citizens' advocacy.
The blog will guide you through the steps of Registration.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Let's Start at the Beginning...

We thought folks might be interested in looking at the Financial Statement of the Sewage Utility Fund before Mayor Overton, or Mayor Garner, got their hands on it.
This is the Financial Statement of Sewage and Sanitation for 1994 and 1995.
The England Administration years.

If you click on the page, it will enlarge well enough to read that Sanitation Operations were included with the Sewage Operation Financials more than 10 years ago.

It shows that in 1994, Sewage and Sanitation together netted $2,569,533 in revenues.
In 1995, that number dropped a little, to $1,747,650 in revenues.

We invite you to examine this document closely, and we will be posting more information in the next few days.

We are also posting a one (1) month Income Statement for the Sewage Department from September of 2005.

Notice the costs associated with the Drainage committee, and the "New Drainage Fees" under the heading of REVENUES.
What New Drainage fees were collected last year?
Also note that in 2005, Sanitation was not included in the Sewage Financials.
Our question is, when did the changes occur, and under whose direction?
Would this be Council duties?
If so, could someone please provide the Resolution numbers and the dates?
I'm sure with all the knowledge out there, someone can easily answer our questions and provide the relevant information.

We also noted that "Contractual Services" are listed twice on this monthly statement. Once in the amount of $2,333, and another for $116,145, which totals $118,478 for one month.
What was happening in, September of last year?
How do we find out where these payments went? Should they be part of the month end Green-Bar reports of budgetary expenses?

However, the most interesting finding when we looked closely at the one month Financial from last year (2005), and compared it to the 1995 one year Financial.
In 1995, Sewage collections were $5,767,215 for the entire year.
That breaks down to about $480,600 per month .
In 2005, ten years later, the Sewage Fees are reported to be $928,925 for one month.
That means a full year of collected fees would likely come in around $11 million.
Hmmmmmm. Q. What's that increase work out to be? (A=90-95%)

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Decisions, Decisions...

I have been working on a new posting in which I want to cover two issues very carefully. Those issues are the Stormwater Compliance plans, and the EPA & IDEM compliance problems with the sewers, which has New Albany in a stranglehold right now.
In order to address either of these issues requires that I look closely at what has transpired so far, in terms of what decisions have already been made, what's on the table now, and what will be the end results of the final decisions, once they are made.
Most importantly, what are the choices we have concerning those decisions? Who is ultimately responsible? The Council for allowing it, and the citizens for continuing to pay for it.
Folks, I cannot stress how vitally important these upcoming decisions are to the citizens, businesses, and future of New Albany.
I have often lamented the inability of our Mayor to make good decisions.

Only, this time, I am also holding the Council Members responsible for the role they play in approving, or more like acquiescing, to the well-sold, plans of the Mayor, and the decisions such plans have ultimately led to.
(you know, this guy really should have been a salesman).
After all, Council is the City's "...legislative authority (IC 36-4-4-4) [and] makes the laws that govern the City and appropriates the city's monies."
Since "the gang of four" have taken it on the chin many, many times from other blog sites who like to blame them for everything from fiscal shortfalls to the sewage fiasco, to the decisions that were made decades before they ever entered the Political sphere in New Albany.
This time, let's take a look at the Council Members we refer to as "Garner's Goons". The ones that are just doing whatever they're told because they're not really paying that much attention anyway. They have other things to do, and they don't need this aggravation.
You know, the LEFT side of the table that chastizes the public for not showing more respect to our elected leader? After all, he IS the Mayor.
Their logic? We elected him, now we must deal with it, and show some respect... even if he hasn't earned any.
But, something always tugs at my conscience as I try to absorb their logic that the title alone denotes some measure of respect.
It's something my Dad taught me a long time ago, and it has always held true, no matter what the circumstances.
"Respect can't be demanded, it must be EARNED."
Thanks Dad. You've never let me down when it comes to good advise, or anything else for that matter.
Because of the consistency of good advise from my Dad, and the Mayor's utter lack of ability to earn any respect, I simply cannot afford any genuine respect to James Garner just because he holds the title of Mayor.

Show us some good decisions, and convince us we should put our trust in you and your 'plans' of how to work things out.
Make some effort to show us a true desire to pull New Albany out of the muck it is mired in, instead of standing there with that smirk on your face, saying, "I dunno". You act as if there is absolutely nothing to be concerned about, and you have it all under control.
Sometimes we get, "I'll have to get back to you on that". And I think we've heard a few instances of, "I'll have to check on that".
I must say, on the few occassions I've heard actual data, I find it strange that you appear to be in quite some distress when you're trying so hard to remember the data they told you to say when you are actually advocating for a particular vote.
Your head throws back, eyes are squinted, and suddenly, out comes...... yeah, your first guess is true, but what actually comes out is some idiot 'Plan' of how you've already got everything all figured out.

Yeah, right.
That's how we got Privatized Sanitation*, a Mayor as Director of the Sewer Board* (violates Attorny General's dual lucrative office holding opinion), a 'interim' Building Commissioner*, more than a handful of Lawsuits/Grievances aginst the City* (at least 7 I know of), a "Bombed Out Downtown Ghetto"* (Tribune), with increasingly deteriorating, vacant, historical buildings (many thanks to the Historical Society and everyone who works so hard to protect our treasures) in desperate need of repair and sustainment, and 2 years to acquire a Code Enforcement Officer who now can't complete her duties*, an old woman fleeing her home of 30 years due to 'Selective Enforcement'*, and on and on and on and on, etc.
What IS Garner's 'Plan' that makes him think everthings OK ?
How can he expect us to buy his "everything's OK" bulls**t?
It should be:
We MUST meet the EPA mandates and earn Sewer Credits
We MUST meet the Federal mandates of Stormwater Rule 13
These are 2 things we Must do, no ifs, and's or buts about it!
Let's do whatever we must to get these things done, so New Albany can move forward without encumbrances to economic revitalization, and make real strides in bringing beauty & activity back to Downtown.

Just show us, Jimmy, show us you would do whatever was necessary to correct Governmental mistakes and non-compliance issues in good faith and with the greatest concern for the well-being and the economc opportunities of the people who live among it.
You know the drill: The greatest good for the greatest number of people.
Your administration has been offered help in various Departments, free of charge, from private citizens who are so concerned with New Albany and its future, that they will, and have, volunteer(ed) in the Clerks Office, the City Attorney's Office, the Building Commissioners Office, and a bunch of others that I can't even remember right now*.
Yet, if the Mayor, or one of the Political 'inner circle' people serve on a Board or Committee, you can bet it's a PAID position.
This City is in an Economic Revival Stranglehold, and we have people in charge, or people who know those in charge real well, who are getting 3, 4, 5 salaries/payments from the City coffers. We're buying their cars, furnishing their cell phones, paying for their gas (no IRS mandated Log-Books are being kept), buying furniture, buying the office party goodies for B-Days, engagements, etc., and even the spring water they drink.
Hear any of them offering up any of their time for free? See any of them stand up and say the citizens should't have to pay for our mistakes?
See any of them lay down their keys, their cell phone, their gas card, when they leave work in order to help get the money it's going to take to fix the sewers, and do only what we MUST do for the Stormwater mandate, and don't let it become a monster money eater.
We really have had enough!
Council, we are begging you to think about what is right for the people who elected you and gave you these opportunities in your life.
To serve the public good.
Please, do the work you signed on to do, and take a stand for the citizens.
Don't ask us for any more money to fix what they did wrong with what we already gave.
The money is spread out among 'special' projects, and paying for things out of the wrong funds. It's all there in the audit.
The number ONE, the first thing, on the agenda for us as Citizens is to insist that things be straight again, and we start right now. Any Council Member who has what it takes to take the lead on this will be highly appreciated. Either way, the buck stops here...on the Mayor's desk.
He is responsible for this mess, and he must be held responsible for fixing it. The ratepayers and taxpayers, the residents, owned or rented, of New Albany will NOT pay again for political screw-ups.
As a previous commentor mentioned, we've already lost Georgetown along with Greenville, so the Sewer situation is only getting worse.
See what happens when you ignore the nitty-gritty going for the bling-bling?
Reel in the EDIT dollars, and put them back where they go. Stop the TIF madness, and the tax abatements, and start collecting those delinquent bills Valla Ann, a private citizen, managed to get copies of (thanks for citizens with a sense of civic advocacy).
Start doing your jobs we payyou for. Protect the best interests of the Citizens you serve. Hold the Mayor to task for the decisions he's made, the promises he's made, and the plans he's made, and ask him why we are in our present condition.
We also think everyone should take a good long look over at another blog that is working diligently to provide documents and information that helps folks see all the dots that go into making our "Connect the Dot" game we promised not long ago.

*More information on these subjects will be forthcoming.