Speak Out Loud NA

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Q & A's About the Budget

Now is the time for all good boys and girls of New Albany to ask for their fondest wishes. Because now is the time to get answers to questions about the budget for our fair city.
This is the time to speak with your Council representative, and all three At-Large Council Members, and find out what they know about the budget and the issues that matter most to you. Ask what Jimmy is planning to do about the things that are foremost on the minds of our Neighborhoods and property owners. Ask anything you want, but...ASK QUESTIONS!!!
This is the time of year that our officials should regularly hold "Town Hall" meetings, with the specific intent of addressing the city's financial condition, and to talk with citizens about budget decisions. After all, it is OUR money.
Truth be known...if our elected officials gave any real consideration to the overwhelming public sentiment that there is a serious lack of accountability from the city administration, 'Town Hall' meetings would be happening already.
So, while we won't be holding our collective breath's waiting for that to happen, we will continue to advocate for better, more accessable, avenues for communication between Council Representatives and their respective constituency.
As for these most recent Budget Hearings, the main points that have been brought to the forefront seem to concern the rising costs of our Police and Fire protection, the question of purchasing 5 or 6 new Police cars, and the Controller's and Council's jobs of cutting the total budget back to $16 million.
Then there's Jimmy...one hand out for a salary increase, the other behind his back to hide his crossed fingers as he tells stories regarding the need for more sewer rate increases. With one foot out the door already, one has to wonder just how he's holding up! LITERALLY!!!
Especially when you consider that he doesn't have a leg to stand on when it comes to blaming private citizens for the amount of money that it will take to comply with the EPA Agreed Order and the amended, amended Consent Decree. Does he really think private citizens can control what is required to comply with the Federal Clean Water Act that New albany is in violation of?
Anyway, it's time we got some straight answers to some straight questions about the financial condition of our City.
Get your questions together and get your Council phone numbers (city website) and call them up! Bring your stories here and share them, and let folks know what you learned. Perhaps between all of us, we can get a pretty good picture of what's going on with our money.
Finally, the poll totals:
Q.) Would you vote for Garner again?
1. Yes = 9 = 19%
2. No = 34 = 71%
3. Maybe = 0 = 0%
4. Never = 5 = 10%

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Tonight's Budget talks are promising to be full of information concerning the annual budgetary allowances for each department, and all staff, within the City.
With all the questions concerning how many departments are costing substantially more than their budgeted amounts (street dept. -$700K), following these talks is one of the most important things we can do as citizens to educate ourselves about the spending habits and requests of each department.
I'm also looking forward to hearing Jimmy's pitch on why he should deserve a raise after his dismal performance, and the public's poor perception of his abilities. Who else will he ask to give raises to?
The talks will go on for a couple of days, so prepare yourself to sit through a lot of hours of rather boring details, but you'll be glad you were there. Actually, the best thing to do is to partner up with folks and take shifts. It gets to the point of sheer torture after a few hours.
We have other issues for a later posting, but we wanted to remind everyone about the meeting tonight.
Remember, there is no public speaking allowed. This is a sit and listen session only.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Shame On You Donnie Blevins!

Last nights Council meeting held yet more grandstanding and finger pointing than it did any actual City business. Lord knows we have major problems to deal with in several areas of City operations, but CM Blevins' tactics last night were shameful.
Yes, most folks agree that the money being poured into the "sewer system" has become ridiculous and way out of hand, but CM Blevins should be careful who he's calling "greedy".
That title is easily awarded to Mayor Garner since he's made no attempt to disguise the fact that he thinks he should be making more money, and he isn't a bit reluctant to ask for it!
But, I digress. Back to the original discussion...
After the now infamous mayoral phone call/meltdown that followed CM Blevins' vote for an investigation into the 2004 audit findings, we are somewhat surprised that Donnie has once again swallowed the hook that Garner has baited.
Not only has CM Blevins swallowed Garner's empty promises (AGAIN) hook, line and sinker, we are convinced that this councilman's votes are compromised due to his status as a city employee.
Even though Donnie has flip-flopped a few times, managing to piss off everyone at one time or another, he always comes swimming back to the mayor's boat where Garner has so many lines in the water that it would be impossible to ever untangle the whole mess of stories and promises. But, Donnie is convinced he must grab onto one of those lines if he plans to continue his career as a city employee.
The former sanitation worker, transfered to the Street Dept. just before privatization of the Sanitation Dept., has been easily 'handled' by Garner and his goons by simply dangling promises of jobs over his head. A situation that doesn't bode well for serving the City's best interests.
So again, we say: "Shame On You CM Blevins" for only being concerned with securing your own job rather than concern yourself with helping save the ratepayers from another huge rate increase for the sewers. And you PROMISED us Donnie. You PROMISED you would NOT vote for a rate increase.
And Shame on you for biting on Garner's line AGAIN! A line saying he will save the Street Department and thus your job, if only you will...
Shame on you Donnie.
You should be asking how in the hell the Street Department has suddenly lost an extra $300K per year, going from a $179K deficit in 2004, to a $463K deficit in 2005, and now a projected $700K deficit for 2006 (thanks FOS), since Garner took office before you are so ready to throw good money after bad. Do you realize that's a 291% increase in the deficit in just 2 years??? How does that happen?
How about asking to have this situation included in the audit investigation? How about asking to see some documentation of how the Street Dept. has suffered such staggering losses the last few years?
Shame on you Donnie for abandoning the best interest of the citizens for another empty promise that won't hold true in the long run. They show those kinds of losses so they have an impossible hole to climb out of, forcing the department into privatization because the city cannot afford to bail out such huge losses.
Shame on you Donnie, for not understanding the bigger picture.
So, we'll leave you with one last piece of advise that we can only hope and pray that you will heed: Be careful. It can get pretty difficult to catch your breath when you get yourself shoved so far up there. And you can bet you WON'T come out smelling like a rose.
Finally, one short mention about the current article on the New Albany Today blog.
Maury acknowledges the obvious political stance taken by the Tribune as illustrated with the example of interviewing the candidate for Sherriff rather than interviewing the current Sherriff as would be accepted practice for thoughts on current issues.
We also agree with the assertion that a sewer rate increase cannot, and should not, be presumed until a lot of questions get answers, and a lot of financial documents are examined.
Thanks Maury for carrying the torch on these issues.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Downtown Revitalization?

Well folks, I’m back from the ‘dead zone’ and ready to jump back into the troubling issues that face New Albany on a daily basis.
I want to first thank the folks that helped out in my absence, and I want to thank the folks who read the blog for keeping the ball rolling.
My illness has retreated, and I am now able to write new articles and participate in the discussions that ensue. Believe it or not, I have missed the banter that the blog instigates, and the opportunities to put forth my opinion on certain matters.
For now, I want to talk a bit about what New Albany is doing, or has done, to encourage Downtown revitalization.
What are they doing to entice businesses to locate in existing downtown buildings? Are there ways to be providing certain incentives, and/or possible funds to help with restoration efforts that will ultimately save our historic buildings?
Downtown IS a TIF District you know. All the taxes collected from that area are to be set aside for use ONLY in that area, in terms of funding for economic development projects and surrounding infrastructure improvements.
If they are obligating all the available EDIT funds, using a large portion to make Scribner Bond payments, then what about the TIF money that’s earmarked for Downtown? What kind of “projects” can be supported using those funds? Are there plans for utilizing these funds already?
More importantly, what, if anything, have they been doing with that money for the past 3 years to encourage or support Downtown Economic Development? Because, we’ve watched as major developments have taken footholds in the fringe areas of Charlestown Road, Grantline Road, State Street… and waiting in the wings are all the County developers who are chomping at the bit to build large quantities of high priced housing.
Why have there been no significant investments in the Downtown area until this YMCA/Natatorium idea? Are they really going to throw this much money at ONE project in an area that has been ‘dead’ for some 20+ years, and just HOPE that everything will change??? What a naïve way to go about things. Then again, we do have a child for an Economic Development Director, don’t we?
For New Albany, the fringe areas have been the ‘hot markets’, while Downtown has sat empty and neglected, save for the few brave souls who are eeaking out a living and keeping the doors open in a hostile environment that screams, “WE’RE CLOSED!” to anyone who dares to enter or ask after 6PM.
Meanwhile, surrounding Downtown neighborhoods have had to suck up the minor developments that turn neighborhoods into mixed, commercial/residential land use that lowers property values for homeowners, and negatively impacts the neighborhood in terms of traffic, crime, density, and aesthetic value.
Like the development at Ellen Court and Green Valley Road that completely disrupted the residential “feel”, and turned the area into a bustling business district.
Why couldn’t those who wished to open a medical facility use an existing building downtown? We’ve already built and paid for the parking garage!
What about the hell-bent plans to develop something on Daisy Lane despite the safety issues that have been presented and demonstrated?
Now, the East End, the entry to New Albany, is under siege as more and more green spaces are disappearing from the landscape, replaced with ugly modern shopping spaces that offer no hint of our historic treasures that sit silent and empty only a mile or so up the road.
I’ve watched, in utter disgust, as another concrete block building goes up on what was one of several open green spaces that dotted the entry into New Albany. What a shame it is to watch those treasures disappear.
First came the corner of Thomas and Spring. A monster office building that took up every possible square inch of developable land, coming dangerously close to a multi-unit housing structure during construction, and it still sits empty today.
This other building is going up at the corner of Spring & Best, which is right next door to the Dairy Queen. Word has it that this is going to be an auto parts store.
Just what we need!!! Especially since there is an Auto Zone and a Pep Boys store only 4 minutes from here, in Clarksville.
However, my quandary is not about how many auto parts stores the demographics of the area can support, it is about what it’s going to take to get businesses into those long neglected, very expensive, downtown buildings.
Still, can someone please explain to me how it can be less expensive to buy land, build a brand new building, and pay all the expenses associated with such, than it is to refurbish and utilize an existing Downtown building?
Why has Downtown NOT already been marketed as the place to do business? Yet it is this very objective that is being touted as the end goal and ultimately the saving grace of New Albany.
I find this situation very troubling, and somewhat curious, in so far as these buildings remain sitting empty, slowly deteriorating, until the Scribner Place development takes place.
I want to know why. I think we all deserve to know.

Friday, July 07, 2006

EastEnder Under The Weather...Few Topics For Discussion While She Is MIA -- GET WELL

While EastEnder is getting physically healthier, WE are posting this in her absence, under her name. We simply hope the issues can be held to a "debate" and not the "haranguing" of certain individuals.


Sewer Board Meeting this past Tuesday afternoon. These are only bits and pieces of information; there is an audio tape and there will be minute available informing the public of other activities.

First, Mr. Fifer stated he is on the "State Revolving Loan Fund Committee's Agenda" for August trying to get our bond rate lowered or refinance it. This will "save" us $660,000.00. Of course, if he refinance, he will get a percentage of the bonds. We have yet to see a lawyer not make any monies on any Bonds -- whatever they were/are.

The Controller put some things on record. For one month there was income of $177,090.00. Expenditures were $177,140. Balance in cash flow is -$50.00. She will have to borrow to continue operations.

There are seventeen (17) bank accounts for the Sewer Department. The Controller maintains they can not pull sanitation and drainage out of Sewers because this would give the City 19 Bank Accounts, which seemed to be illegal in some manner.

No claims again approved by the Sewer Board. Controller told Sewer Board she sends them a green bar report (which is simply a line item and could hold ghost companies the way it is now) and if she doesn't hear back from them within two days, she automatically pays all claims. The Sewer Board didn't like this time frame, and demanded more. They also told her they did not get a greenbar report, as she stated. The blame was placed at the City Clerk's office for not getting the financial greenbar reports out to the Sewer Board.

The Controller also wanted it known one of our past Controllers, Greg LeMar, did not have a "reserve fund" for our Bonds. He bought insurance.

It was brought up that Redevelopment had six (6) bank accounts, but they were non-interest bearing.

It was mentioned the Bond Covenants were 125%, thus Georgetown's monies are desperately needed.


The City Council President, Mr. Gahan, has scheduled BUDGET HEARINGS for Tuesday, 6:00 PM, at Floyd Memorial Hospital on the lower level. It was suggested to him it be held on a Saturday; the reasoning being so Council could talk to Department Heads.

We have not seen the legal for this. We are being told this may be closed to all but Council; legally they wouldn't be able to do this. We'll update you as well hear more from the press.

Get better, EastEnder. This "ain't" no fun! Have a good day, New Albany!