Monday, December 31, 2007


How efficient is our New Albany City Government?

What do we do when we have a problem?

We hire engineers and pay for a study...$$$$$

We set up a new department.................$$$$$

We set up and pay a new board.............$$$$$

We hire more staff................................$$$$$

We give large salary increases...............$$$$$

How many citizens in New Albany received a 17% or 20% salary increase for the New Year?


* Sewer's still not fixed

* Delinquent sewer bills are not collected or liens filed

* Streets are full of potholes tearing up our cars

* Homes and yards are flooded from stormwater

* Unsafe Buildings are not demolished

* Junk cars are not towed away

* Some houses are STILL NOT connected to our sewer system

* Only part of the garbage and trash is being picked up

Sorry folks --- We are out of $$$$$...

But we are BUILDING a new YMCA!


And now...we have "Mayor - Deputy Doug" back.

"God help ~ New Albany!"

Sunday, December 30, 2007


2007 State of Indiana Municipalities Report

Top 8 Increases between FY 2006 and FY 2007

* 92.08% Fuel costs
* 87.76% Employee wages and salaries
* 79.89% Cost of employee health benefits
* 79.41% Cost of living
* 78.77% Cost of liability coverage
* 72.99% Infrastructure needs
* 58.90% Public safety needs
* 50.80% Federal environmental mandates

Source: Department of Local Government Finance

Items having the most Negative Impact on the FY 2007 budget:

* 37.10% Cost of employee health benefits
* 27.96% Fuel costs
* 18.82% Infrastructure needs
* 16.13% Value of city/town tax base
* 16.13% Amount of cash reserves (operating balances)
* 15.05% Tax limiting measures imposed by State
* 15.05% Employee wages and salaries
* 14.52% State distributions (LRS, MVH, FIT, cigarette and tobacco tax, alchol * galonage tax, gaming revenue sharing)
* 10.22% Public safety needs
* 9.68% Cost of liability coverage

Source: Department of Local Government Finance

Employee wages and salaries also increased in 88% of municipalities, and 79% noted an increase in the cost of living and cost of liability coverage. Other cost pressures noted by over 50% of municipalities include infrastructure needs, public safety needs, and federal environmental mandates.

Due to these significant cost pressures, municipal budgets are being strained. To deal with the increasing cost of local government, 60% of municipalities reported a decrease in their cash reserves (operating balances) between FY 2006 and FY 2007, most likely being used to fund these uncontrollable costs.

Freedom of Speech feels that once you add in the additional factors of mismanagement and wasteful spending, the Garner administration has dug a debt hole for the taxpayers of New Albany.


The king of incompetence - flushes taxpayers down the commode!

The taxpayers of the City of New Albany believe fiscal discipline is the key to responsible local government. Our Sewer Board members should use sound fiscal management practices and assuring accountability in the use of taxpayers dollars.

Much of this accountability should not come about because of both the existence of incentives and personal agendas, especially party leadership pressures and re-election concerns.

Sewer Board passes EMC deal

"We know EMC understands the complexity of our system. By moving somewhere else, your taking a risk," stated Councilman Kevin Zurschmiede at the July 2nd Council Meeting.

Councilman Price questioned sewer board member Zurschmiede if he had even read the information handed to him about Aqua Utility Services LLC. and Zurschmiede said NO.

Freedom of Speech feels that Councilman Zurschmiede should have not only read the information but he should of done his homework and done some extra research.

Listen to Experience:

April 17, 2007 - Engineer Bob Ledford came before the Sewer Board and stated that he was on the sewer board in 2000 and 2001 and feels that when they were planning the sewer project he made a mistake and he feels that they may be making that same mistake and he would like to give them some advice. He explained how EMC was pushed on the (the sewer board) He recommended that they needed to get proposals from other management companies so that we can really know how much it should really cost to manage the plant. He said that he had felt bad that he voted for EMC in the past, not because of the company itself but he would feel that way about any company in the same situation and he thinks it is time to get proposals for this job.

Source: Sewer Board minutes April 17, 2007

Councilman Zurschmiede why didn't you listen to what Engineer Ledford had to say? Could it had been the fact Bob had more knowledge & experience than you and was trying to tell you something?

EMC History:

March 30, 2001 when Mayor Overton signed the consent decree. She obtained the services of EMC. Clark-Dietz & EMC were supposed to have fixed our sewers. But...they weren't fixed. Even after borrowing $45 million dollars to finally resolve our sewer problems.

Now we have a 2nd amended consent decree that the City will have to follow once it is signed by the mayor.

So Councilman Zurschmiede if EMC & Clark- Dietz did not fix the sewers after the city borrowing $45 million under Mayor Overton. Why renew the contract this time?

How many renewed or amended contracts has the City of New Albany had with EMC?

Freedom of Speech would like to know the real reason our sewer board did not accept or review any other bids?

Councilman Zurschmiede have you even read the new second amended consent decree yet?

If the sewer board took in hand the offer from Aqua Utility Service LLC. shouldn't they have offered to look at other proposals and accept bids from other companies besides EMC?

Wasn't Councilman Steve Price correct when he told our sewer board members : "If you bid it out, you'll get a better deal!"

Freedom of Speech would also like to ask Councilman Zurschmiede if you did not read this proposal how do you know what IS BEST for the taxpayers of New Albany?

Councilman Zurschmiede are you aware of what us taxpayers call the "New Albany shell game" now what this is Kevin - it's moving money and borrowing monies from one city fund to another.

And not paying it all back...

Example: Borrowing $5 million dollars from sewer fund for sanitation fund and not paying it all back!

Sewer Board Members should the citizens in the city pay for expansion of sewer lines to go to the county?

Example: Lafollette Wastewater Lift Station

Even democratic candidate Doug England stated: "If I had my druthers I'd say, "Well why don't you get some other quotes?"

Source: New Albany Tribune July 4, 2007

But the sad fact taxpayers, Mayoral Candidate England forgot to tell the Sewer Board and The Tribune Newspaper that his current employer "The Hughes Group" is the owners of "Aqua Utility Services, LLC."

Was candidate England at the sewer board meeting to pressure the sewer board to accept the bid from Aqua Utilities Services, LLC?

Is it true that someone would have $90,000 in their pocket if the sewer board accepted the bid from Aqua Utility Services, LLC?

If the EMC Contract did not have to be renewed until Dec. 2007, why was it so urgent for Mayor Garner to get it signed in July 2007?

So who made the $$$ on the EMC Contract?

Freedom of Speech feels the taxpayers deserve some honest answers about the EMC Contract. Our sources tell us that Aqua Utility Services LLC. bid was over $ 600,000.00 less than EMC Bid.

So Kevin based on our real information did you really get a good contract for us taxpayers?

Welcome the good ole boys club!

Is it true King Jimmy that you awarded a no-bid contract because of Doug England's connection to The Hughes Group?

Freedom of Speech suggest you research the above information:

Sewer Board minutes March, 2001

Sewer Board minutes April 17, 2007

Sewer Board minutes: May 1, 2007

Saturday, December 29, 2007


New Albany Firefighters Speak out...

Dear Freedom of Speech,

Please consider for posting and keep up the great work!
~A public servant.

To the citizens of New Albany,

This truly is a sad day for you and for this once great fire department on which I currently serve. I want everyone to understand that the views expressed by the fire chief and our city leadership are not the views of a majority of the firefighters. We are outraged!

Over the past several month's, city officials (i.e. the "Commander") and our union leadership were working together to try to improve and strengthen requirements to be hired onto the fire department, not to cast them out the window.

This recent move is a slap in the face to the fire fighters and to you as citizens and taxpayers.

We used to have a process in place that included agility and aptitude testing, an interview, and once established on an eligibility list, the city leadership and fire officials would choose new hires from the top 25 of that list, all in accordance with city ordinances. These procedures are not unlike ones currently being used all across this country.

I guess New Albany is on the cutting edge!!

The problem with the current system is that it does not CATER to specific needs of the SPECIFIC VOTERS that the MAYOR wants to have.

It lessens the quality of new hires and puts not only citizen's lives in danger, but fire fighters as well.

I want all of you to rest assured that be it a fire, medical emergency, or any other problem that you may encounter, we are still going to respond and take care of the problem to the best of our abilities.

Please keep this once great city, and fire department, in your prayers and in your minds come May 8th.

Let's all send a message to Mayor Garner and ALL politicians on all levels in our city that New Albany deserves much better.

God bless this country and God bless
Freedom of Speech Blog for defending
the New Albany Fire Department Employees.
~A concerned public servent

Freedom of Speech would like to "thank you" for having the courage to come forward.

Keep all those NAFD emails coming!

God bless the men and women of the New Albany Fire Department!

Friday, December 28, 2007


Freedom of Speech went "diggin" to see why the city is in the mess we're in.

Sewers seems to be one of taxpayers number 1# concerns, after spending about $ 65,000,000 + on our city sewers from 1992 to 2006.

We have been researching and following the paper trail and money trail on the former Mayor Douglas England's Adminstration from 1992-1999.

We believe in supplying the taxpayers with the FACTS in DOLLARS.

The bottom line is: The numbers don't lie!

Wastewater Utility City of New Albany
Mayor Doug England
1992-1999 Summary

Operating Revenues - Wastewater Utility


Operating Expenses - Wastewater Utility


Operating Income-(loss) Wastewater Utility
1992 -$176,615
1993 -$178,615
1994 -$2,725,067
1995 -$2,579,559
1996 -$1,552,513
1997 -$190,021
1998 -$954,984
1999 -$6,915,437

Net Income-(Loss) Wastewater Utility
1992 -$46,695
1993 -$1,517,376
1994 -$2,569,533
1995 -$438,281
1996 -$699,447
1997 -$889,658
1998 -$1,878,233
1999 -$8,132,429

Number of Customers - Wastewater Utility

Is this called "cooking the books"?

Long-Term Debt - Wastewater Utility

1993 Sewage Improvement Revenue Bonds
Interest Rate-5.2% to 5.375%
Bond Amount-$11,973,882

1997 Sewage Refunding Revenue Bonds
Interest Rate-4.5% to 5.3%
Bond Amount-$5,144,992

1998 Sewage Repair and Maintenance Revenue
Interest Rates-4.125% to 4.625%
Bond Amount-$3,675,000

1999 Sewage Repair and Maintenance Revenue Bonds
Interest Rates-4.3% to 5.15%
Bond Amount-$6,400,000

Total Sewer Bonds under Former Mayor Douglas England:

Total-Sewer Bonds $27,193,874

Action to Enforce the Federal Consent Decree

On June 3, 1997, the United States filed a motion with the U.S. District Court to enforce the Consent Decree and to collect stipulated civil penalities and civil contempt sanctions for alleged violations of the Consent Decree. The United States alleges that it is entitled to collect $16,543,500 in stipulated civil penalties in addition to the issuance of an order requiring remedial actions by the City which would require millions more in expenditures.

A complete formal response to the United State's motion was filed on behalf of the City on July 20, 1998. The City is engaged in extensive settlement negotiations with the U.S. Attorney and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and has complied with many of the settlement demands made by the EPA. It is not possible to predict with any reasonable degree of accuracy the probable outcome and amount of "LOSS" which may result; however, the EPA has indicated that they will seek stipulated penalities or fines in some amount not to exceed $210,000. The City continues to aggressively seek a result most favorable to it's position.

Freedom of Speech would like to ask former Mayor England this:

At the end of your first year in office 1992 you had a Net Income Loss in the Wastewater Utility of -$46, 695 , then in 1993 you borrowed $11,973,882 with an additional Wastewater Utility Net Income Loss of -$1,517,376.

Then in 1999 you had a loss of the Wastewater Utility Operating Income Fund of -$6,915,427 and a loss of the Wastewater Utility Net Income of -$8,132,429 and borrowed $6,400,000 ~ these figures are according to the State Board Accounts Audit of 1999.

What the taxpayer's would like to know is why you did not fix our sewer problems then and why could you not find a solution to the Wastewater Utility Net Income Loss.

Based on the State Board of Accounts Audits of 1992-1999 you showed a loss the entire 8 years as Mayor and continued to borrow monies.

You Sir, Mayor England did not try to fix our sewers nor find a solution to our problems!

Kay Garry was the Controller during both of England's two terms 1992-1999. And Mrs. Garry also sat on the Sewer Board from 1992-1999, and is currently the Controller for the Garner Administration.

You have to ask yourself : Should the Controller not be aware of such a serious problem, and not be on top of the spending?

Or is the Controller covering up the misspending of taxpayer's money?

Freedom of Speech would like to also ask:

Where is the money?
Has the Debt been paid?
How much do we owe?
Will our sewer's ever be fixed?

Again we ask, is this called "cooking the books"?

You would think after spending over $65,000,000+ why didn't our sewers work in 2006?

We still can't flush our toilets!

The information in this article can be purchased through the State Board Of Accounts, 302 West Washington Street, 4th Floor, Room E148, Indianapolis, Indiana 46204-2738. Audit results for the years:

Thursday, December 27, 2007


The "real truth" about New Albany's Fire Department ...

Freedom of Speech received this letter via e-mail. Per the authors request we are posting it here, as it is about time for the "real truth" to be revealed to the citizens and taxpayers of the City of New Albany.

Dear Freedom of Speech,

I served on the New Albany Fire Department for seventeen years. From June 2, 1989 to June 6, 2006. I spent many of those years involved in the New Albany Professional Fire Fighters Union, IAFF, Local 410.

I have been a Trustee, Recording Secretary, Secretary Treasurer as well as President (twice).

I had to leave the department much earlier than what I really had planned due to a non-duty related shoulder injury.

What you are about to read is NOT from Local 410.

I say this only because if anything remotely close to this were to come from the Local or the Executive Board then there would be some serious HELL to pay afterwards.

I even question what the price will be for me as a retiree. I will take that chance.

What you are about to read is something that no one on the department now would dare write, not to mention even have printed publicly. They know how this management team works and they fear retaliation.

And trust me, it would happen. It has happened in the recent past.

The fire department is very well stocked with some very valuable people. Some very talented people. Some very smart people. All of whom really do want to come to work and provide the absolute best that they can for the community. And many do.

But other than the twice monthly incentive which is put into their checking accounts, what morale-boosting incentive do these men and women have to do the work? Nothing.

In fact, it’s working quite the opposite way. They instead are greeted with petty complaints from management, nitpicking and what is perceived as extra efforts to make the work of the members more difficult and frustrating.

At one time it was actually considered by these guys and gals “fun” to GET to come to work.

What happened? Many would allege gross mismanagement. Strong words, yes. A fact? Perhaps. More than likely agreed upon by a vast majority of the members of the fire department? Yes. Publicly? No, as they fear retribution and continued what is now alleged as harassment.

Fire department members have gone through Republican and through Democratic administrations and were faced with the same obstacles. It seems that the fire department leaders just did not want to make any progress. It’s just not logical.

I believe that it would be fair to say that most everyone involved in the City of New Albany government operations knows that there are huge problems in not just the fire department but the entire city with this “alleged” gross mismanagement.

It’s gone on for years and years.

If the operation of this city was treated the same as corporate America, these people would have been fired a long time ago.

The job of a fire fighter is much more than being able to drag someone out of a burning building. Yes, that is a part of it. But, one must first be able to have the knowledge regarding the techniques to do so.

They must also be able to recognize the signs of when it is not safe to even attempt the rescue.

They must be able to recognize differences in building construction and put an approximate date as to the era in which the building was built to provide with certain safety tips. They must have knowledge of codes and infractions.

They must have good math skills to be able to pump a fire engine at a fire scene and be able to calculate friction loss in four 3 inch lines being pumped that Y off into six 1 ¾” hand lines and be able to figure how many gallons of water per minute is being pumped versus the capacity of the engine they are using.

Do you get where I am headed here? It’s not just about being strong and physically fit.

A fire Captain must possess writing skills well enough to write a report which becomes a legal document as to the findings and initial investigation of the incident(s). Fire department members must also possess communication skills as they are faced with members of the public every day.

Fire department members are sent out to schools to speak to young and very impressionable kids about fire safety. What if they don’t understand it themselves? How are they going to relay that information? Some say, “I’m just not a good speaker in front of people.” Well, I’m sorry but you are in the wrong line of work.

It is the job of that fire fighter to educate the public about fire safety to prevent tragic events like fatal house fires.

Fire fighters are looked up to by most everyone and they should exceed public expectations.

The decisions a fire fighter makes will affect the outcome of the fire to a greater or lesser degree. In some cases, lives will hang in the balance – those of civilians, fellow firefighters and their own.

The firefighter making these decisions must be fully aware of the consequences of his or her reaction, must base it upon sound information, and use a proper decision-making process. This process should be founded in sound understanding and appreciation of a number of principles or concepts of fire fighting.

Many departments REQUIRE that you have EMS certifications in place BEFORE you can even apply. It would certainly save time and money for the department. It also assures that you are going to get applicants who would more than likely be able to make it through a testing procedure for promotions within the department (which by the way do not exist in the NAFD).

Promotions to the rank of Sergeant / Operator, Captain / Company Commander and Major / Assistant Chief are made through a very relaxed method of the Chief asking the rest of the staff who they believe would be best for the job. Then, the Chief picks who he believes is best. It very well may be the same person that the rest of the staff chose. It could be someone totally different.

The Chief has the last say. There are no minimum qualifications for ANY rank. There is not a testing procedure, written or practical skills testing, for ANY rank. If you want the promotion, you put in a letter to the Chief saying so. The staff meets and they decide. That’s it.

Very rarely are there even interviews for these promotions.

I spent about a year on a committee with five other fire fighters working on a promotional procedure for the department. One that the Chief stated would never make it past his desk.

It’s funny because the Mayor told us to bring what we had designed directly to him. It’s great when management works together, isn’t it? At least the Mayor recognizes that the fire department promotional system needs help.

In addition, I would like to think that the administration would be jumping up and down wanting to hire the most qualified people for the future of the department.

But that apparently is not the case.

The recent battle over the hiring ordinance is absolutely ridiculous.

There is a testing procedure used all over the state of Indiana that is currently in place.

Why is New Albany such a special case? Are New Albany’s problems so special and out of the ordinary that we can’t simply observe what other cities are doing and what procedures that they have intact and then build on those ideas?

Or, are special interests involved?

Are people wanting to change a system to accommodate for what is perceived as a self serving need? Could be.

If ANYONE wishes to be a fire fighter, then there is a procedure.

If they are able to get through that procedure, then they are able to be a fire fighter.

When it comes to race, sex, religion, political affiliation, orientation or any other “label”, I don’t care who you are as long as you can come to my house and know what you are doing when you are trying to put out my fire!

I don’t want “buddies” of the Chief, the Mayor’s relatives, City Council member’s friends, relatives of fire fighters or anyone else who is unable to perform.

Those who prove themselves through a proven system are the ones that I want helping me. If they just happen to be related to or friends of anyone listed above, then so be it. At least they would have proven themselves and earned the right to be where they are.

In just about any profession remotely similar to that of being a fire fighter there is a testing procedure. I would like to think that the people charged with the duty of selecting candidates for the fire department would realize and understand that.

We cannot hire people just because they want the job. It doesn’t work that way.

Prove that you are capable of doing this work, both physically and mentally, and candidates will be chosen based on where they rank in the scoring system.

It’s really very simple.

EMS training is required on the NAFD. The candidates must be able to not only pass the classes and exams to achieve the certifications required, but also be able to apply those skills and the knowledge on the streets.

It means lives are saved, or they are not.

I ask those who debate the system, which one would you want working on your family?

Skilled or not skilled? I thought so.

The argument of the test not being fair for minorities is unfounded. Prove it!

Either you have the skills to do this type of very special work or you don’t. It’s that simple.

You have requirements to work in most any job.

To be a fire fighter takes many special skills and a great amount of cognitive recall ability.

If a person rolls up on a fire and doesn’t know what to do because he/she did not comprehend in training what they were supposed to do then there is a very serious life threatening issue on hand.

The days of putting the wet stuff on the red stuff are over. Long gone.

Getting this through the heads of those who are making the important management decisions has been met with the equivalence of talking to a concrete block.

If the City Council wants to bow down to political pressure then they have to live with that.

Unfortunately, as a result, so do we.

If someone wants to state that a procedure is unfair then let the courts decide. They can file suit and prove it legally.

If ALL “minorities ” are truly being included in this argument then I simply state this:

If the demographics of the fire department should reflect, with consistency, the demographics of the community, then the department should be about 50% women, have more Hispanic members, Native Americans as well as Asian members.

Other demographic sectors have certainly met or are past their “quotas”.

Bottom line is this:

If someone, now or in the very near future, January of 2008 perhaps, could demand that this fire department hire qualified people who will be able to get through a promotion procedure to include written exams, practical skills testing and any other fitting method of “proving your worth” then it would surely be a big change from what is going on now.

Indiana Code provides that all hired police officers attend the State of Indiana Police Academy.

Is there such a thing for fire fighters? No. Is this a problem? Yes.

Fire departments are allowed to train (or not train) their members on their own. A state training academy would certainly allow for consistent and, more than likely, a higher quality education as it relates to the fire service.

Indiana Code also provides that the Mayor can appoint a Chief of the fire department as long as he/she has five years in the fire service. No other credentials are required. No degrees in management, no fire science degree, not even any personnel management skills. And for Deputy Chief, it’s two years.

How’s that for “qualified” leadership.

In the event that you didn’t pick up on the level of frustration during this “rant”, allow me to be more direct.

As I said, I worked in this department for 17 years. When I first came onto the
department I was excited about the possibilities. As time went by I saw a rapid decline in the skills and abilities of those leading the department.

I saw people who I believed where good people resign from positions because of what was believed to be harsh working conditions.

I’ve seen Mayors come and go.

I’ve been witness to and been involved in Union activity to fight for issues that usually good management would bring to the table.

Instead, the Union was coming to the City wanting more training and asking about other issues of safety which would require more of the members. The Union asked the City for the existing First Responder EMS training. The Union asked the City for a random drug and alcohol testing policy. The Union asked the City for better new recruit training.

All things which would provide a much better service for the community.

The Union went to the City for all of this. It’s as though the “workers” recognized better than “management” what the issues where and took the lead to resolve them.

These are issues that a good management team should realize are issues if they are doing a proper analysis of the department in an effort to recognize where the department’s weaknesses are and how they can be improved upon.

Half of solving a problem is identifying it. One must first possess the skills to recognize where the problem(s) are. Then, one must possess the management skills necessary to know what to do to resolve the problem(s). Even if he/she doesn’t know himself/herself how to fix it, then at least be able to recognize that and delegate that project to someone who does know how to fix it.

I realize that would require a relinquishment of some authority, however, it does seem to make sense, and it works.
Tony Wolfe

Retired NAFD
New Albany, IN

It is clear that the author of this letter has the knowledge and experience with the New Albany Fire Department to share these facts.

Freedom of Speech appreciates the courage it took to bring the truth out to the taxpayers of New Albany. So now...who do you believe?

Mayor Garner and Fire Chief Toran or the employees of the New Albany Fire Department?

My money is on the NAFD employees.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Transparency and Open Government

On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln traveled to a battlefield cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and urged his countrymen to dedicate themselves to the preservation of "government of the people, by the people and for the people."

It is to this same cause that we, Freedom of Speech, dedicate ourselves today.

Throughout the last several Administrations there has been an ongoing struggle to put personal interest ahead of the people's interest of the City of New Albany.

When Mayor Garner, Police Chief Harl, Board of Works, Sewer Board, Stormwater Board, Department heads and others bend local government to serve self interest, cronyism, nepotism, the public interest suffers and the urgent priorities of the taxpayers go unaddressed.

Let's discuss a few things going on in New Albany:

Is it true Chuck Simons, Street Dept. Supervisor, is not only running our Street Department but Sat through Tuesday he is busy working in Evansville, Indiana doing assessments? Is it also true he only works for New Albany Wed. through Friday and draws a full pay check? Is this why our street department can't get their work done? Is this fair to the taxpayers?

What ever happen to: If you don't work~you don't get paid?

Freedom of Speech would like to know how Mayor Garner and City Operations manager Anthony Toran can continue to allow this to go on.

It's pretty damn sad street department employee's have to work underneath the fear of retaliation if they complain.Our Street Department use to pick up waste, repair streets and sidewalks. Now - the street department, has to do what the new sanitation contractor refuses to do.

* Secret investors of Sanitation contract:

Source: New Albany Tribune

Mayor Garner you have stated for over 3 1/2 years "We work for the people," and they're entitled to know what we're doing or how we're spending their tax dollars." Then why do you refuse to disclose the other investors? What "do you really have" to hide? You say your an honest mayor prove it, tell the taxpayers who the investors are!

Since we now have your attention Mayor Garner, is it also true prior to the may election you was all for the NAFD contract including a raise, fixing the ambulance problem, and fixing many of the other contractual issues that raised firefighters concerns, but after you was beat you refused to sign off on anything. Is it also true the NAFD has filed for Arbitration?

Which means you are going to have to waste valuable city tax dollars as well as union money in order to go to arbitration in order to get the situation resolved. So much for bargaining in good faith uh...Jimmy!

* Police Chief Harl allows police officers to use take home cars for part-time job.

Source: New Albany Tribune

Freedom of Speech would like to know why taxpayers should foot the bill for your officers to work a second job?

Is it true you will be collecting $105,252.12 upon your retirement 1-1-2008 through the Drop Program?

* Cost of setting up separate billing office for Stormwater. (Salaries, expensive computer equipment, software plus, printing and postage).

Source: New Albany Tribune

Freedom of Speech would like to know why we are paying both Indiana Water and New Albany Billing office?

Indiana Water reads the meters, prints the bills and collects the money.

* Stormwater Board agreed to a three-year EMC contract worth $507,000.00

Source: New Albany Tribune

What's that smell? Kickbacks and Abuse of Power...

* Fire Chief Toran by passed other more qualified and experience firefighters and promotes his own son.

Is this nepotism?

A strong right of access to local government information is the key component of an accountable government. In the simplest sense, accountability is being answerable for performance or results. Much of the public trust rests upon the mayor being openly accountable for his decisions, actions and mistakes. When elected officials operate in secret or refuse to disclose information to the public the trust is loss.

Instead of padding budgets and refusing to furnish council members with pertinent information. You play the shell game.

You're not fighting Freedom of Speech Mayor Garner. What you're fighting is "the public's right to know."

The principles of good government is transparency and accountability, fairness and equity, efficiency and effectiveness, respect for the rule of law, and high standards of ethical behavior.

And New Albany does not have it!

Our final thoughts: Garner stated: "Not everybody's going to agree with the work that you do, and that's the tough part of the job. There's a small group of angry individuals that are louder than the majority of the city of New Albany...

Source: New Albany Tribune

It makes no difference if we agree with you are not Mayor Garner. The bottom line is that we taxpayers can not afford to pay the cost of the way you are running our city. Were not angry, were broke!

Your right Jimmy...Freedom of Speech is the "majority" of the City of New Albany!

Council President Kochert said it so well "He has been the very worse mayor that New Albany has ever seen. He's made a disaster out of everything he's got a hold of."

Source: New Albany Tribune

Great wisdom is not obvious,
great merit is not advertised,
when you see the subtle,
it is easy to win!

Thursday, December 20, 2007


G-07-19, Common Council of the City of New Albany an Ordinance Dividing the City into Six Districts
to the provisions of I.C. 36-4-6-3

Thank you to the following seven council members who voted for G-07-19 [Redistricting Ordinance]

Council President Larry Kochert
Councilman Dan Coffey

Councilman Bill Schmidt
Councilman Steve Price
Councilman Jeff Gahan
Councilman Donnie Blevins
Council women Beverly Crump

* Special Redistricting meeting December 27 @ 4pm

Thanks for looking at the big picture...once again!

Saturday, December 15, 2007


First of all Freedom of Speech would like to thank the Kernan-Shepard Commission. The Commission reform establish "the buck stops here" attitude for local government.

We applaud Governor Daniels for establishing this bi-partisan group and encouraging them to be bold and look at the big picture of Indiana."

Our concerns are your concerns when it comes to property taxes!

We do agree with Governor Daniels on several issues and this just happens to be one of them.

Changes need to be made on our property taxes.

We also agree with several of the findings brought out in this report, and would like to share them with you our readers:

Recommendation #24:

Prohibit employees of a local government unit from serving as elected officials within the same local government unit. Allowing the employees of a unit of local government to serve as elected policymakers for that unit is an unacceptable practice for a number of reasons.

First, it is a clear conflict of interest for public employees to benefit from their actions as elected officials.

Second, it undermines the chain of command and procedures for discipline that are critical to effective public services, particularly public safety. And perhaps most important, it diminishes the faith that citizens must have that local governments act in the public interest.

Recommendation #4:

Retain a local government role for property tax assessment under a county assessor required to meet professional qualifications and appointed by the county executive.

Freedom of Speech would like to say:

First, of all the State cuts the Assessor's office budget every year, the state approved the assessments that everyone is upset over. But, the truth is the city and county assessors along with the assessment company crunch the numbers. Those numbers are then turned into the State of Indiana for them to calculate our property tax bill. If local assessments are wrong and properties are either over assessed or under assessed then that's where the problem begins.

State government can only approve property tax figures based on the information they receive from local assessor's from each of the 92 counties.

Second, the reason for the property tax increase was the STATE ORDERED trending reassessment, the severe tax rate increase and the elimination of the business inventory tax.

When new businesses are lured into New Albany by local government with promises of tax abatement's [which means they pay no property tax the first year] then the burden shifts to us homeowners.

It is a fact: every "tax abatement" OLD or NEW our council approves affects property taxes!

Source: Denny Stroud & Charlie Pride - State Board of Accounts

Third, almost all counties hire a vendor to conduct assessments, which is worked into their budget each year, because few township assessors actually do any assessing.

To add insult to injury to taxpayers. A handful of township assessors stood outside the governor's office this week to argue their jobs should not be eliminated as part of property - tax relief packages that have been proposed before the General Assembly.

Source: C/J

We should not be pointing our fingers at State Government, Governor Daniel's, business inventory tax, or the Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform.

TAXPAYERS should be pointing our fingers at our LOCAL GOVERNMENT who mismanages and misappropriates our tax dollars. State Board of Accounts has NO legal power to enforce Indiana State Laws. Taxpayers should point our fingers also at our City and County Assessor's including the company doing our city and county assessments.

Sillings has stated several properties in New Albany have been under assessed for several years due to mistakes by the assessment company during re-assessment in 2003.

Source: Barbara Sillings Township Assessor

Freedom of Speech feels that each property should be assessed properly. If every home owner in New Albany actually paid their fair share of property taxes and if local government would tighten their belt, then New Albany might not be in the mess we are in.

There are too many cases of political favors being done.

Why do you think the assessor's office doesn't want to put property information on line for the public to see?

What most taxpayers don't know is that if your property has been "under assessed" the city and county assessors have the legal right to go back on the individual property owners and collect 3 years of back taxes. Penalties can also be assessed.

Source: Barbara Sillings Township Assessor

Our new mayor and council members will be sworn in Friday - December 28, 2007 at 4pm.

Mayor Elect England and City Council Members, remember the promises you are making to the taxpayers when you place your hand on the bible and take your oath of office.

Freedom of Speech feels it is time for the new administration and all council members to become "proactive" face our problems head on, hold down the spending and help lower our property tax bills.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Surely, it isn't true that England would put barriers across the road to block the Riverboat traffic on Highway 111.

Who is supporting Mayor Elect Doug England on this proposal?

Is the purpose of this idea being used to force the Riverboat to be moved up the river to New Albany Riverfront.

When did this idea surface?

It's my way or Highway 111...right?

Saturday, December 08, 2007


What is a Hail Mary pass?

A play in football where the quarterback throws a pass into a usually distant end zone without really aiming at any particular receiver. Usually the absolute last-ditch scoring option used at the end of a game, because everyone knows it's coming and the defense can simply bat the pass down. The name comes from the "canonical prayer" uttered by the quarterback before launching the football.

Source: Dallas Cowboy Quarterback Roger Staubach

The newspaper stated that Councilman Messer, Crump and Zurschmiede had signed a new Consent Decree Document along with Mayor James Garner.

Freedom of Speech would like to ask the following 5 questions:

1. Where did Councilman Messer obtain this new consent degree document?

2. Who prepared this new consent decree document?

3. Did City Council Attorney Jerry Ulrich prepare this new consent decree?

4. When and where did Councilman Messer meet with Crump, Zurschmiede and Mayor James Garner to REVIEW, DISCUSS and SIGN this new Consent Decree Document?

5. Have Councilman Messer, Crump, Zurshmiede and Mayor Garner read the court order/ agreement attached to R07-35A?

R07-35A states: IT IS SO ORDERED; Response: All discussions and deliberations on the issue of redistricting between members of the City Council shall take place only at regular or especially called meetings of the Council with notice to the public at least 48 hours in advance.

We offer you our readers the following documents. We think we have our answers ~ draw your own conclusions.

Document A - Taxpayer's Bill

Jerry L. Ulrich---Leslie E. Vidra
115 East Spring Street
Suite 100 Elsby Building
New Albany, Indiana 47150
Phone: (812) 945-2800
Fax: (812) 945-2818

Matter: Vogt v Common Council
Statement Date: 10/24/2007
Amount Due: $3,538.50


Fee Date -7/27/2007
Description: Prepare for settlement conf.; attend settlement conf.
Hours - 2.50
Amount: $375.00

Fee Date - 8/21/2007
Description: Executive session re: response to proposed consent decree
Hours -1.00
Amount : $150.00

Fee Date - 8/23/2007
Description: Review annexation statutes
Hours - 0.40
Amount: $60.00

Fee Date - 8/24/2007
Description: Settlement conference
Hours - 3.50
Amount: $525.00

Fee Date - 8/27/2007
Description: Tele. conf. w/Mr. Kochert re: special mtg., etc.; parameters of districts; tele. conf. w/Mr. Gahan
Hours - 0.50
Amount: $75.00

Fee Date - 8/28/2007
Description: Tele. conf. w/Mr. Kochert re: special mtg.; review/revise memorandum
Hours: 0.60
Amount: $90.00

Fee Date - 9/10/2007
Description: Conf. w/Ms. Moeller re: dividing precincts
Hours: 1.20
Amount: $180.00

Fee Date - 9/13/2007
Description: Attend public hearing
Hours: 1.00
Amount: $150.00

Fee Date - 10/2/2007
Description: Conf. w/Mr. Coffee re: mtg. w/Plaintiffs; conf. w/Mr. Messer; conf. w/Mr. Zurschmiede and Mr. Kochert; tele. conf. w/Mr. Gahan
Hours: 2.00
Amount: $300.00

Fee Date - 10/4/2007
Description: Tele. conf. w/Mr. Messer re: resolution; tele. conf. w/Mr. Kochert re: Ordinance; draft Resolutions approving Consent Decree Ordinance
Hours: 1.00
Amount: $150.00

Fee Date - 10/5/2007
Description: Conf. w/Mr. Messer re: amended Consent Decree; draft Amended Decree; revise original Decree; prepare Resolution; prepare Ordinance, forward to Mayor
Hours: 3.00
Amount: $450.00

Fee Date - 10/8/2007
Description: Conf. w/Mr. Schmidt re: new redist. plan; review cases/plans for mtg; re-draft redist. order
Hours: 1.50
Amount: $225.00

Fee Date - 10/9/2007
Description: Re-draft Resolution/Consent Decree; Conf. w/Mr. Messer; meetings (2)
Hours: 3.80
Amount $570.00

Fee Date - 10/18/2007
Description: Tele. conf. w/Mr. Gahan re: Consent Decree; Special Meeting
Hours: 1.50
Amount: $225.00

SUBTOTAL: 23.50 Hours - Amount: $3,525.00

Date: 8/29/2007
Description: Photocopies (54)
Amount: $13.50

SUBTOTAL: $13.50

Date - 9/25/2006
Description: Payment - Thank you!
Amount: $2,565.00
SUBTOTAL: $2,565.00

Bill Summary
Previous Balance: $2,565.00
Current Fees: $3,525.00
Current Expenses: $13.50
Current Other: $0.00
Current Payments: ($2,565.00)
Total Amount Due: $3,538.50

Source: Public document

* Which of the charges listed above by the City Council Attorney were for representing the City Council and which of these charges listed above were for the Plaintiffs?

Should the Plaintiffs pay their fair share of the work listed above?

Document B - Illegal Consent Decree


PETER A. VOGT, et al




WHEREAS, the statutory provisions of I.C. 36-4-6-3 (Statute) impose an affirmative duty on the Common Council for the City of New Albany, State of Indiana (Council) to draw the boundaries of the City's legislative districts in the second year after the decennial census; and

WHEREAS, the Statute requires the Council to draw six legislative districts that are contiguous and compact and that contain, as nearly as possible, equal population; and

WHEREAS, the Council has failed to comply with the provisions of the Statue since at least 1992, resulting in six existing legislative districts that are grossly unequal in population, as defined by the 2000 decennial census and which do not comply with the requirements of the Statute and which violate the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States and the equal protection clause of Section 23 of the Indiana Constitution; and

WHEREAS, the Common Council for the City of New Albany is a party to a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, New Albany Division, namely, Vogt, et al. v. City of New Albany, and desires to achieve a settlement with Plaintiffs of all issues prior to trial on that matter, and

WHEREAS, the parties desire that an ordinance of re-districting be adopted and carried into effect to the municipal elections of 2011; and

WHEREAS, the parties have conferred on these issues and have reached an agreement on same;


1. After January 1, 2008, the Council shall establish an Advisory Committee on Redistricting, to be composed of the three Council members elected at-large and three individuals from a list provided by the Plaintiffs to the lawsuit.

2. The Council shall reimburse Counsel for the Plaintiffs all fees not to exceed $5,000.00 for services rendered in behalf of the Plaintiffs and for costs not to exceed $400.00 expended in the prosecution of this action, as determined by the Court of jurisdiction.

3. The Court shall retain jurisdiction to enforce this Order and for all other appropriate purposes.


Peter A. Vogt, Plaintiff, Jeff Gillenwater, Plaintiff, Roger Baylor, Plaintiff, Randy Smith, Plaintiff, Lloyd Wimp, Plaintiff, and Stephen J. Beardsley, Counsel for Plaintiffs

Councilman Jack Messer, At-Large, Councilman Kevin Zurschmiede At-Large, Councilwomen Beverly Crump, Fifth District and James E. Garner, Sr., Mayor ~ City of New Albany.

Source: Public document

* If the majority of the Council did not sign this agreement, is it legal? When and where did Councilman Messer meet with Crump, Zurschmiede and Mayor James Garner to Review, Discuss and Sign this new Consent Decree Document?

Freedom of Speech would like to point out for the last several month's our City Council has been trying to resolve the redistricting problem. So we decided to uncover what has been going on regarding the "power play" with the redistricting lawsuit in New Albany. Of course certain people like Mayor Garner, Councilman Jack Messer, Councilwomen Beverly Crump, Councilman Kevin Zurschmiede, and some Plaintiffs do not want taxpayers to know about this bill and who drew up the consent decree agreement. This entire "power play" will cost New Albany taxpayers about $1,200.00.

Why didn't Counsel for the Plaintiff's Stephen J. Beardsley draw this agreement up?

We feel that when an elected official takes the oath of office they should be held liable and accountable for THEIR actions. This underhanded way of doing the PEOPLE'S business in New Albany is unacceptable.

For four years the citizens of New Albany have been "raped" by this administration and others. If it was either you or anyone of us violating the laws of Indiana, cutting deals, and unnecessarily costing taxpayers money for personal gain, or votes, they need to be exposed for what has been done and going on with the Redistricting Lawsuit of New Albany!

Freedom of Speech can only present to you our readers the FACTS of the redistricting matter.

Indiana laws have been broken, taxpayers are being billed for Plaintiff's Consent Decree, and illegal meetings and much more.

Citizens of New Albany, you should be outraged at our elected officials, Council members, attorneys and some of the Plaintiff's in order to get what they want at the expense of the taxpayers!

Our final thought...

Freedom of Speech predicts Council President Larry Kochert will step up and throw the famous "Hail Mary" pass for a win for the taxpayers over the Redistricting Lawsuit of New Albany.

Citizens need to step up and Support our Famous "GANG OF 4" last time!

Footnote: These documents are public record

Monday, December 03, 2007


In the Circuit Court of Floyd County State of Indiana

Common Council of the
City Of New Albany



James E. Garner, Sr., William
Utz, Larry Kochert and Kevin
Zurschmiede, as members of the
New Albany Sanitary Sewer Boards


James E. Garner, Sr., as Acting
President of the New Albany Storm
Water Utility Board



Comes the Plaintiff, by counsel, and for its Complaint seeking Declaratory Relief, states:

1. Plaintiff Common Council of the Civil City of New Albany (hereinafter referred to as the "Council") is the duty elected legislative body of the Civil City of New Albany;

2. The Civil City of New Albany owns, operates and maintains a utility for the purpose of collecting, pumping, treating and disposing of waste water;

3. The Council by duly enacted ordinance created a Sewer Board for the purpose of overseeing, managing and operating the waste water utility and its functions;

4. Defendants Garner, Utz, Kochert and Zurschmiede comprise the Sewer Board;

5. The Civil City of New Albany is charged with responsibility for the construction, operation, maintenance and control of a system for management of storm water run-off;

6. To meet its responsibility, the Council created by duly enacted ordinance a Storm Water Management Utility;

7. Defendant New Albany Storm Water Board, also known as the New Albany Storm Water Drainage Board, (hereinafter referred to as the "Storm Water Board") is an agency of the City of New Albany created by the Council pursuant to ordinance and charged with responsibility of overseeing, managing and operating the storm water run-off management program within the City of New Albany;

8. As of August 17, 2007, Defendant James Garner, Sr. was acting head of the Storm Water Board;

9. This action is brought in behalf of the Council pursuant to its Resolution No. R-07-30 duly adopted on or about August 10, 2007.


10. On or about June __2007, the Sewer Board purported to enter into a contract with Environmental Management Corporation, Inc. (hereinafter referred to as "EMC") for the operation and maintenance of the waste water treatment facility and collection system owned by the City of New Albany, a copy of said purported contract is attached hereto and incorporated herein as Plaintiff's Exhibit "A";

11. The work and service contemplated by and encompassed within the terms of the contract is a "public work" as that term is defined by I.C. 36-1-12-2;

12. Under the terms of the applicable statutes including but not limited to I.C. 36-1-12-4, the Sewer Board was required to solicit competitive bids for the work and services contemplated by and encompassed within the contract;

13. The Sewer Board did not solicit competitive bids for such work and services and the contract is voidable and/or void pursuant to the provisions of I.C. 36-1-12-16.


14. On or about the June 20, 2007, the Storm Water Board purported to enter into a contract with EMC to operate and maintain a system for the collection and management of storm water run-off for the Civil City of New Albany; a copy of said contract is attached hereto and incorporated herein as Plaintiff's Exhibit "B";

15. The work and service contemplated by and encompassed within the terms of the contract is a "public work" as that term is defined by I.C. 36-1-12-2;

16. Under the terms of the applicable statutes including but not limited to I.C. 36-1-12-4, the Storm Water Board was required to solicit competitive bids for the work and services encompassed within the contract;

17. The Storm Water Board did not solicit competitive bids for the work and services encompassed within the contract and the contract is voidable and/or void pursuant to the provisions of I.C. 36-1-12-16;

18. The enabling ordinance creating the Storm Water Board required the Board to submit a budget to the Council for the approval of the Council by June 15 of each year;

19. The Storm Water Board has failed to submit such budget and/or no budget has been approved by the Council;

20. As a result of the Storm Water Board's failure to secure approval for its budget by the Council, the Storm Water Board under the contract has purported to obligate the City for payment of sums in excess of the amounts appropriated for such purposes in violation of I.C. 36-4-8-12 and in violation of City Ordinance 35.19 as a consequence of which, the contract is void;

21. The purported contract was not submitted to, approved or signed by the Mayor of the Civil City of New Albany as is required by I.C. 36-4-5-3 and said contract has, therefore, not been accepted by the City.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff moves the Court for entry of an Order determining that the purported contract between the Sewer Board and EMC is voidable and void and for further Order declaring that the purported contract between the Storm Water Board and EMC is voidable and void and for all other relief proper in the premises.

115 East Spring Street
Suite 100 Elsby Building
New Albany, Indiana 47150
(812) 945-2800
Indiana Superior Court #924-22
Council for Plaintiff

Source: New Albany Superior Court

Freedom of Speech would like to say this lawsuit adds to the many problems of our city.

Saturday, December 01, 2007



Whereas: There are concerns regarding the status of the current make up of the sewer board.
Whereas: The current sewer board is considered a "hybrid".
Whereas: The Council now desires to revise the make up of the Sewer Board.

NOW THEREFORE; Be it resolved:

1. Pursuant to IC 36-9-25-3, The City Council now establishes a Sanitation Department. A department of sanitation is established as an executive department of the municipality.

2. The department is under control of a board of sanitation commissioners, which is composed as follows:

a. All commissioners shall be appointed by the municipal executive.

b. Not more than (5) and not less than (3) commissioners are to be appointed.

c. Not more than three (3) commissioners may be of the same political party for a five (5) member board or two (2) for a three (3) member board.

d. Commissioners terms are as follows; One (1) at one (1) year. Two (2) at three ( 3) years, and two (2) at four years.

e. One (1) of the commissioners must be a licensed engineer appointed by the executive, with at least five (5) years experience in civil or sanitary engineering.

f. No commissioner may hold another public office.

3. Sanitation Board commissioners shall be subject to all other provisions of IC 36-9-25-5.

4. Within six (6) months after adoption of this ordinance, the board shall hold a meeting for the purpose of organization. The board shall choose one (1) member to be president and another to be vice president, who shall perform the usual duties of an office. The municipal officer shall perform the same duties with the funds and accounts of the board as with the funds and accounts of other executive departments of the municipality.

5. A majority of members of the board constitutes a quorum, and the concurrence of a majority is necessary for any action of the board. The board shall hold hearings at the time it fixes, and may call special meetings at the times and upon the notice that it fixes by rule or resolution. All meeting must be open to the public. The board may adopt the rules that it considers necessary to conduct its meetings and business to control and manage the property under its jurisdiction.

6. Board commissioners terms are to be appointed on the first of January following adoption of ordinance. Current Sewer Board members terms will expire December 31, 2007.

7. The Sanitation Board shall the full jurisdiction as provided in IC 36-9-25-5

8. Including the management and control of all sewage works. Shall collect and remove garbage, ashes, and other waste materials to prevent the pollution of watercourses within the district and to protect the public health. The Board may purchase, acquire, construct, reconstruct, operate, repair, and maintain all sewage works.

9. Bonds of the department may not be sold without prior approval of the legislative body. In addition, the legislative body must approve all budgets and tax levies of the department.




Source: G-07-17

Freedom of Speech believes just changing the board's structure will not solve our problems.

Why is Councilman Coffey pushing to change the Sewer Board all of a sudden? Why now? Why not 3 years ago?

Is Councilman Coffey pushing this Sewer Board change to give Mayor Elect England control over the sewer board?

Will the control over the sewer board help Mayor Elect England have the chance to repay his campaign donors?

In a previous Freedom of Speech article, it was verified that 64% of the England Election Campaign donations came from outside the City of New Albany!

Source: 2007 England Campaign Financial Report

Has anyone seen Councilman Coffey at the "England Election Headquarters lately?"

Attention Taxpayers...

Freedom of Speech would like to say these sewer board questions are the reason that property taxpayers should be AWARE of how their city government is being run and how our money is being spent.

It's going to be a long 4 years...