Vocalized or not, your mind screams "don't go there!" in a futile attempt to "save" the character from a gruesome death.
When the character is likable, the impulse is even stronger. What presents itself as obvious danger to you, the audience, is to the character the appropriate next step.
But that's fiction. Fiction demands that you suspend your disbelief, if only for a moment.
The situation New Albany finds itself in is not fiction. I refuse to suspend my disbelief.
Yet, the horror show proceeds apace. Faced with an ingenious solution provided by city controller Kay Garry, a majority of the council is preparing to thrust the city into peril.
The city is in this mess not because of contemporary mismanagement, not because of a recession and an attendant shortfall in tax collections. It is in this mess because previous mayors and councils blithely acted without lawful authority.
Now the council is within days of doing it again. Ignore for the moment the actual damage this city will suffer when building permits aren't issued, when stop-work orders on all construction are issued, when inspections grind to a halt. Ignore for a moment the safety and health hazards we'll face when garbage collections cease. When it happened due to the massive December snowfall, it was pretty bad. But it wasn't 80 degrees Fahrenheit then. Ignore the forced execution of the animals held in the shelter. Ignore the economic impact of a Planning office shutdown. Ignore the economic impact to the families of city employees.
This council is prepared to thumb its nose at the state-approved solution, prepared to avoid making the tough decisions needed to address the state-ordered budget restrictions. They want to saddle the city with an illegal loan - a loan that will trigger yet another state sanction against the city and hobble operations out into the future.
None of this is necessary. Council President Jeff Gahan is quoted in today's Courier-Journal as saying he will join with CM Seabrook to reject the Garry Plan. He is quoted as saying he will not approve giving a promissory note from the city in exchange for a cash transfer from the city-owned sewer utility.
The Garry Plan doesn't endanger the sewer utility. Their obligation is to maintain a reserve. A promissory note from the city is an asset, not a liability. That asset is sound, if without interest payments.
If Gahan is indeed casting his lot with this foolishness, I have misjudged him. But I make this proposition to Messrs. Gahan, Seabrook, and Kochert, as well as CM's Donnie Blevins and Beverly Crump and any other members of the council who are prepared to torpedo the Garry Plan: You are misjudging your constituents. You are listening to foolishness. You do a great disservice to the folks who voted for you to exercise good judgment in your appropriations duties.
There is a constituency in this city that supports the Garry Plan as presented. It is not partisan. It is not factional. It is not driven by support for any individual.
It is driven by sound policy. It recognizes the city's real problems and will rise up to support leaders who offer solutions and reject "leaders" who run scared. Boasting about ignorance is running scared. Deferring important decisions is running scared. Bowing to the perception that New Albanians are frightened fools without any vision for the future is the definition of running scared. Abdicating the duty to make the tough decisions and waiting for a court order to do what is required is, apparently, a tradition around here.
My wager is that once awakened to the foolishness emanating from a majority of the council, which now seems to include Mr. Gahan in that majority, this council will recognize that running scared not only disserves their constituents, it will put an end to any ambitions they might have had to serve the city in elected office in the future.
If you hold office only to "run scared," just step down now and save yourself the humiliation of rejection by this city's constituency for progress.
I have been cautioned that elected officials in this city close their ears when they are "insulted." That alone is reason to turn them out of office. If calling an action "foolishness" motivates more foolishness, doesn't that just prove the point?
I'm not asking council members out on a date. I'm not asking them to be my friend. I'm not asking them to share a beer or a plate of tamales with me. I'm asking them to do their jobs.
Are YOU prepared to ask the same?
Homework for readers of Volunteer Hoosier
Assignment: What position did your council member take on Scribner Place during the 2003 elections? What position is he or she taking now? Are they prepared to renege on the city's commitment to spend $400,000 from CEDIT funds to keep this development on track? Will the private YMCA development and capital campaign be threatened by the city's vacillation? Will any private investor ever again have confidence that the city will keep its word if they pull these funds? Will Caesar's feel free to walk away from their multi-million dollar commitment to Scribner Place?
Extra Credit: How long will it take before Dan Coffey steps in to answer a question posed to Steve Price at Tuesday's S. Ellen Jones Neighborhood Association meeting?