You've asked why not deal with New Albany's problems and issues rather than focusing on the health care reform effort. I'll answer that question, but I fully understand it is merely subtext for the real questions which are suggested by last night's Council meeting and some of which were asked directly by Jeff in a comment in a previous post (...Day 20).
First, the health care issue. I believe there is not a more important issue today. It has effects at the local level and the failure to pass meaningful reform, I believe, dooms Obama's presidency. I am putting these articles on my blog as a small, perhaps insignificant, contribution to what I hope becomes a current of support for reform. Aside from your knock, Jeff, I hope someone reads them as something beyond "making fun of town howls". Meaningful health reform has the potential to transform this nation in a positive way to a greater extent than anything else currently on the horizon.
My recollection of the chronology leading to your expulsion last night...
As I sat through Ms. Denhart's comments I actually thought someone had brought a baby to the meeting and it had just awoken to cry. That was my first reaction to the unusual noise. I still don't know who made the noises but I know now it wasn't a baby. If my memory is correct, the next thing I heard was Steve Price saying something about respect for the speaker. You called something out to Steve and you were gavelled down. You said something else and the cop walked over to escort you out. On the way past Ms. Denhart, you leaned in and called her a "lying bitch". Others inferred a modifier in the phrase but that's all I heard.
You are entitled to your opinions. Ms. Denhart is, likewise, entitled to hers. I recognize that your opinion of me and the other Council members as constituting possibly "The Worst Council in the History of the World" leaves little chance that you will heed any of my words here.
I believe you hold an important place in this community. I believe you know that. I believe that your new business is a valuable addition to the city and it is one major piece of an encouraging future for New Albany. If you recall, I wrote comments on your blog attempting to deflect some brickbats thrown your way, perhaps even by Ms. Denhart. In that comment, if I can recall it, I think I said that New Albany will gain much more from the money spent on the sidewalk improvements in front of your business than what was spent on it. Regardless of your current opinion of me, I stand by that comment. Ms. Denhart was wrong to throw an insult your way regarding the sidewalk and, mistakenly, the patio. But that in no way can excuse your behavior.
Early this year Jeff Gillenwater, bluegill, was verbally accosted by Dan Coffey. I spoke in the Council chamber to denounce the Council president's behavior. It was wrong then and it is wrong now. I would speak up again in that circumstance. I don't mention that to get a pat on the back, but to help you recall that the Council has addressed such an issue when warranted.
I fully understand that you and your friends do not think New Albany is on the right path to a better future. You've stated often that you believe the Council is an impediment to that better day. I also understand that your greatest ire is probably not directed at me but at Dan Coffey and Steve Price. Both of these Council Members are veterans and have built up a sufficient degree of loyalty to be returned to the Council. I would guess your first reaction to that comment is to think that the results are illegitimate because of the current district apportionment. I continue to believe that issue will be addressed.
As I said, you are in my opinion, a valuable contributor to this city's current revitalization and its future prospects. Anyone who steps up to address the problems of this city is valuable to the effort of correcting those problems and opening up opportunities. It takes a certain amount of courage and concern to stand before a group of strangers and speak your mind. Citizens who come to the Council chamber, or any other venue, addressing issues of concern to them, or the public at large are owed nothing less than respect.
Last night's meeting was a disgrace. Regardless of whether Steve Price was out of line addressing the gallery, or if Dan Coffey exercised the prerogatives of the chair in a manner you saw as unfair, your response directed at Ms. Denhart was indefensible. A racial epithet directed at a black man or a derogatory term directed at a homosexual would have been equally indefensible.
You have built up a store of the un-elected version of political capital, and a sizable amount in my view. You have the intellectual tools to further your aims, and as I said earlier, I believe your aims, as demonstrated by your actions, are beneficial to New Albany's future. Continued actions such as you displayed last night jeopardize your ability to contribute to that future because those actions squander the so-called "political capital". As one who believes in your realized and unrealized contributions to our city, I think it would be a shame to lose that opportunity.
I am not writing this with some prescription of atonement. I believe that you voted for me and that if I run again, you probably won't. I can't help that. I'll not make any excuses for my success or failure as a councilman. I will continue to try in my imperfect way to make this a better place to live and if my efforts don't please the citizens, I am plainly aware of the outcome.
Finally, bluegill characterized the Council's action as sitting on our hands as a melee erupted. Part of the reason I laid out the chronology above was to show that events happened in a rapid and confusing sequence. By the time I, or perhaps anyone, would have had a chance to react, Ms. Denhart had been insulted. At that point, your feet had left the diving board. Whatever contribution you could have made to that meeting was lost. It was your choice. And, it was wrong.
Believe it or not, this is offered in a spirit of peace, with hope that similar incidents will not happen.