GOP chair critical of political attacks
I believe it's necessary to tell the whole story when responding to the Gahan campaign's claims that the city is in good financial shape.
Mark Seabrook's campaign used the state of Indiana's website for government financial information and State Board of Accounts audits to discuss the city's financial condition. For example, Seabrook has highlighted the fact that under Jeff Gahan, New Albany only had $8,661 in its General Fund at the end of last year. That's what the State Board of Accounts report said. The city's general fund was essentially broke.
Gahan claimed during an address to the Kiwanis Club recently that the city had $39 million in reserves. Again, that is wrong and misleading. The number Gahan referenced included the city 's TIF account, utilities and proceeds from bonds that are committed to future projects. Truth be known, the city began the year with over $55 million, $14 million of which was in sewer accounts and a big chunk in tax incremental financing accounts (TIFs). The city's General Fund, which pays for fire, police, parks, public works and administrative services, has gone from a $1,703,460 balance in January of 2014 to $8,661 on Dec. 31, 2018. This spend-down of the city's cash is dangerous and cannot continue. In fact, Seabrook's claim that Gahan has spent down 97 percent of the General Fund is wrong. It's 99 percent.
Commenting on Gahan's attacks on county finances, Floyd County ended 2018 with $409,874 in its General Fund out of a total budget of $16,200,000. Compare this to the city of New Albany's $8,661 General Fund cash with an annual budget of $25,900,000 and the case for Gahan's mismanagement of city funds is clear.
Finally, the Gahan campaign's complaints about Seabrook's fact-based campaign, coupled with personal attacks in mailers and TV ads on one of the finest individuals this city has ever known, will not fool voters.
— SHAWN CARRUTHERS
Floyd County Republican Chair
Biased candidates? You be the judge
I have considerable respect for our Clarksville town employees. We are fortunate to have a group of professional and talented Department Heads. They each lead a group of dedicated and competent town employees who meet and/or exceed the expectations of their departments.
We should support our town employees’ individual right to campaign for the Town Council officials of their choosing. But we should seriously question the practice of any group (police, fire, etc.) of town employees endorsing and promoting individual candidates. If this practice existed in the past, I missed it, but the practice is very obvious this year.
Think about it. Our elected Town Council members should remain at arm’s length with our town employees. There should be no feeling of dependence or influence between the elected official and any group of town employees. The candidates who accepted these endorsements will likely tell you that they will not be influenced. Perhaps, but subconsciously, which way will these candidates lean in a vote that directly impacts the employee group that gave them support? And if they honestly believe it doesn’t bias their vote, the perception alone is something the candidates should have avoided when accepting the employee group’s campaign support.
Our Town Council has a duty to do what is best for our town and its constituents. Sometimes that may not be in alignment with what a specific group of town employees desire. When a vote is required of the council, we should all want them to vote in the way they feel best serves our town, not how it best serves the group of town employees that supported their campaign.
There are many things to consider when you decide which candidate deserves your vote. One of the things to consider is — Can a candidate, having accepted the campaign support of a group of town employees, be fully objective to make the best decision on issues that directly impact that group? I don’t know about you, but I prefer candidates who showed the wisdom to remain at arm’s length and avoid the appearance of such a conflict.
My hope is this letter will give pause to these employee groups and to the candidates who accepted their support, to take time to think carefully about how other citizens may view this support.
— JIM KENNEY
Mayor Hall has failed the tests
Any public officeholder’s job performance should be the key measure of whether or not he or she deserves re-election. Charlestown Mayor Bob Hall’s performance has been horrible in three important areas.
Pleasant Ridge: There is painful evidence of Mr. Hall’s reckless decisions about redevelopment of that neighborhood. His uncaring treatment of people living there subjected the city to five years of embarrassing media coverage. He dragged the city into a quagmire of legal battles, with attorneys’ fees exceeding $1,000,000. After all that, he has nothing to show for his “vision.” He must be held accountable for the displacement of hundreds of low-income families and the virtual destruction of a once-vibrant neighborhood.
City water: Mayor Hall made four indefensible mistakes in dealing with the city’s dirty water. #1: Refused to accept an offer from the Dept. of Natural Resources to sell the city clean, filtered water. #2: Refused to accept $1 million in federal and state grants for construction of a water-filtration system. #3: Wasted over $100,000 to add Clearitas to the water, a chemical that Indiana American Water labeled “snake oil.” #4: Failed to provide adequate maintenance on the infrastructure, to the point that public safety was endangered by inoperable fire hydrants.
Recreation: Mr. Hall has consistently failed to deliver on his past campaign promises. In 2007, he promised us an aquatic park. Instead, he demolished the city’s swimming pool as soon as he took office in 2008. In 2003, he promised to renovate the Civic Center. Instead, he allowed it to fall into an unusable state of disrepair. Since 2007, he has been promising to build a youth sports complex, and here we go again on that promise.
I hope voters recognize Bob Hall’s unfulfilled promises and mismanagement, and elect Treva Hodges to lead us in a new direction.
— DOUGLAS R. COOMBS
Hall record full of dubious firsts
Charlestown Mayor Bob Hall’s campaign features a photo of him holding up his index finger. I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean, but it reminded me of a lot of his “firsts.” He probably doesn’t want the voters to remember that he was the:
• First Charlestown mayor to be a defendant in a federal lawsuit, standing accused of racketeering and violations of landlords’ civil rights. Jury trial is to be held in September 2020.
• First Charlestown mayor to sue citizens, because they publicly criticized the quality of city water.
• First Charlestown mayor to use taxpayer dollars — $500,000 — to construct a road on privately owned property (Coomer Way, on developer John Neace’s subdivision land).
• First Charlestown mayor to reject $1,000,000 in federal and state grants — for the construction of a water-filtration plant.
• First Charlestown mayor to have the city’s swimming pool demolished. He had no authorization from the Common Council to do that.
• First Charlestown mayor to close city recreational facilities on Sunday.
• First Charlestown mayor to be cited by the State Board of Accounts for using public funds “to pay for personal items or for expenses which do not relate to the functions and purposes of the governmental unit.” (Source: 2008-2009 audit report.)
Bob Hall’s horrible list of “firsts” is reason enough for voters to make his current term his LAST. Vote for responsible government. Vote for Treva Hodges.
— GRETCHEN PEDRO
Gahan deserves credit, re-election
Sometimes you just don't know what to believe at election time. Do you believe the mailers you receive, the TV commercials, newspaper ads, friends or letters to the editor? Maybe the best thing to do is to believe what you, yourself, see.
You can see the major revitalization of New Albany that has taken place in the past few years by driving down Main Street. The street is now a beautiful asset to the historic homes that line that corridor. If you turn off Main onto Market in historic downtown New Albany, you see a thriving river town, designed in a beautiful setting, with shops, great restaurants, a new bank and lots of people. Be aware that it might be difficult to find a parking space.
Going up Market, cut over to Spring and you see a new complex of apartments right downtown — The Breakwater. Travel on Spring to State and see all the developments in the area, including the Fairfield Inn. Turning right onto Daisy Lane brings you to the new swimming pool, River Run. What an asset for our city! Daisy Lane takes you to Grant Line Road, which is presently under construction and soon to offer a safer journey for all. Off of Grant Line you can see our new park complex, Silver Street Park, major improvements on McDonald Lane and Mount Tabor Road. It took awhile, was inconvenient for a while and maybe a little uncomfortable, but what great improvements.
The roads are safer for everyone, more attractive and greatly improved those neighborhoods and our city.
Make your way to Vincennes Street and notice the improvements to Shelby Place, marking another improvement in a historic neighborhood. Along Vincennes you can see where old, dilapidated buildings have been torn down, cleaned up and ready for new developments. That "uptown" area is on the move. If you haven't been to the riverfront lately, please make sure and go. The Greenway is complete to Clarksville's Ashland Park and is absolutely gorgeous.
All of these improvements work for all of us, not just a few. These projects work for the common good. A mayor's job is not just about landscaping your front yard because your creek overflows or fixing your mailbox because someone knocked it over. It's about you and me and everyone else that lives here. It's about making all our lives better and doing it in a fiscally responsible manner. It's about doing as many things as possible that serves the common good. The above projects demonstrate that thinking.
Speaking of fiscal responsibility, what are we to believe about our fiscal state of affairs in New Albany? We decided not to believe Democrats or Republicans. We believe an independent agency that is free from politics — the Indiana State Board of Accounts. This board says we have had a balanced budget seven straight years and have received an A+ rating. Along with the ISBA, another independent organization, the Chamber of Commerce, acknowledged New Albany has created 850 new jobs.
So, who are we to believe? We are suggesting you trust yourself and believe what you see. We suggest you believe independent, non-political groups to give you accurate information you can be sure of. We believe if you take those two suggestions, you will come to the conclusion that Jeff Gahan deserves your vote. Thanks for your consideration.
— Jane Willman
All from New Albany
Stop political 'killing'
"Fellow citizens, Clouds and darkness are round about Him. His pavilion is dark waters and thick clouds of the skies. Justice and judgement are the establishment of His throne. Mercy and truth shall go before His face. Fellow citizens! God reigns, and the government at Washington still lives!" — James A. Garfield, April 1865.
[Recently] I sent this famous quote from James Garfield to President Trump with no expiation, because I thought he may equate history with what's happening to himself via the Democrats.
Today, this President via the Democrats is political assassination of a sitting President ... the ruination of one's honor, duty to flag and nation.
I urge Congress to push forward with this claim of an attempt to politically assassinate President Trump. This calling out of the Democrats will set them on their heels. Political assassination via fake news and witch hunts, this madness needs to end. I have given Congress a means with which to challenge the Democrats. James Garfield has given the battle cry; "God reigns and the government of Washington still lives."
The future of the nation rest in your hands and on your shoulders.
— LEROY HEIL