Wednesday, March 31, 2004



The Columbus Council rejected a proposal Tuesday to build low-income apartments across the street from Flat Rock Park. It's easy to see why the vote went this way. We need to keep title pawn shops as far south of Macon Road as we can.

Councilor Evelyn Turner Pugh told WRBL why she opposed the proposed apartment development: "Where you have a lot of residents, it should stay residential." What does THAT mean? If people who live in apartments aren't residing in them, what are they doing?

(Well, OK - maybe they ARE using those apartments for Metro Squad drug stings....)

Councilor Gary Allen said many of his colleagues were concerned about the size of the apartment development. It would have 128 units merely in "Phase 1." If other phases match it, before long Flat Rock Park will be Columbus's answer to Atlanta's Piedmont Park - walled in by skyscrapers.

Even with the Council vote against the apartment development, zoning near Flat Rock Park still allows for construction to begin. Developer Gary Hall simply wanted city backing for his plan. The Council hasn't "got his back" - but Hall's turning
it to them anyway.

Tuesday's Council vote followed a testy meeting about the proposed apartments Monday night at Blanchard Middle School. One opponent of the project said while she's for one Columbus, "I don't want their South coming to my North." So
why don't you move your North to their South, and try to improve the property values there?

Developer Gary Hall took offense to the complaints of homeowners, who fear "low-income apartments" will ruin their neighborhood. Maybe he has a point. After all, the Peabody Apartments made Three Arts Theatre look so attractive for

Someone pointed out Tuesday the proposed "low-income apartments" near Flat Rock Park are affordable for the income range of Columbus police officers and firefighters. Either this was a cynical comment by the Fraternal Order of Police - or the design plans should be adjusted to build a precinct inside that complex, just like Baker Village.

The core issue in this debate is whether low-income housing should be located in all sections of Columbus - even in areas considered well-to-do. We could flip the coin and suggest high-end housing be built in low-income neighborhoods. But enough people winning lottery jackpots ought to take care of that....

BLOG UPDATE: Columbus law officers began three-day classes in "servant leadership" Tuesday at Columbus State University. I'm still not sure about this idea - because police may decide to serve more arrest warrants and speeding tickets.

COMING THURSDAY: Free hockey at the Civic Center at 11:00 a.m.?! We may have to change our plans....

© 2003-04 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Monday, March 29, 2004



Boo-hoo. Look at what the Sunday e-mail brought:

Here's a little something for your blog spot!



Georgia Tech polishes off Kansas with an 8-OH run in OT! Did you hear that ? Yeah BaBeeeeeeee! Have a nice offseason!



For some sports fans, March truly goes out like a lion and not a lamb....

Georgia Tech is heading for the college basketball men's Final Four, after pulling out an overtime win over my dear old Kansas. But for a while there Sunday, it appeared the biggest "Ramblin' Wreck" of the weekend was B.J. Elder's aching

Jarrett Jack jumped in to fill the gap caused by B.J. Elder's injury, leading Georgia Tech in scoring with 29 points. And for most of the season, I thought Jarrett Jack should have been the name of pro wrestler Jeff Jarrett's tag-team partner.

It's been 14 years since Georgia Tech played in the men's Final Four. That was with the team fans in Atlanta called "Lethal Weapon 3." Considering Tech's record in recent seasons, maybe this team will become known as "Dawn of the Dead."

Kansas battled from behind much of the day against Georgia Tech, but I was a bit surprised that the game wound up in overtime. Jayhawk guard Aaron Miles forced up some shots in the last two minutes that made me wish he'd transfer to Arkansas -- because he was "hogging" the ball so much.

When the final horn sounded in St. Louis, I called my brother and sister-in-law back home in Kansas City. My sister-in-law accused me of sounding too much like a Chicago Cubs fan, by already talking about next year.

My brother comforted me, however, with the news that Kansas only loses center Jeff Graves to graduation this spring - and has three good recruits coming in next fall. Of course, the skeptic in me wonders how good these freshmen really will be. After all, none of them are going directly into the N.B.A. draft.

To be honest, when the college basketball season started I had Georgia Tech's Paul Hewitt on my "coaches most likely to be fired" list. Now he's heading to the Final Four - and Bobby Cremins still is somewhere in South Carolina, waiting for the
phone to ring to invite him back.

BIG PREDICTION: When Georgia Tech takes on Oklahoma State Saturday night at the Final Four, there STILL will be no Columbus radio station broadcasting the game. I was on Interstate 185 Sunday, and was stunned to find even the big sports-talk station in LaGrange didn't carry the G.T.-K.U. game. C'mon, guys - the baseball games in Florida don't count.

And lest I forget, congratulations are in order to Auburn University. The men's and women's swimming teams BOTH have won national titles! What made these athletes swim so fast this month? Were they afraid Ed Richardson might fire the coaches?

COMING THIS WEEK: A contest I hope a church friend of mine does NOT win...

To offer a story tip, make a donation or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post a reply.

If you quote from this in public somewhere, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003-04 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, March 28, 2004


28 MAR 04: A.F. x 2

Instant Message to "Team Down Under": We're glad to have you Australian football players in Columbus for the weekend - but did you happen to bring "Waltzing Matilda" with you? I've heard so much about her, but I've never been quite sure who she is....

Team Down Under is a group of football players from Australia, which take on the Columbus Wardogs in a preseason game today. Coach John Fourcade says he's treating it like the regular season opener - the same way Florida's football team tries to open the season with a pushover like Bethune-Cookman.

The Team Down Under-Wardogs game is billed on the Civic Center marquee as "Freedom Bowl II." So did I miss Freedom Bowl I last year? Was it one of those Pacelli High School games at Doughboy Stadium or something?

The visitors from the Southern Hemisphere have been billed as an Australian national team. While the players technically are from there, the title is a bit misleading -- because an online check I did found NO trace of an Australian arena football league. I'm not sure they even play the electric version.

The Australians have some budding outdoor teams and leagues, but they do NOT call our game "American football." They call it "gridiron" for short - which shows they're still about 30 years behind U.S. sports reporters.

The only arena football event I could find online involving Australia was an exhibition awhile back in Sydney. In fact, a "Team Down Under" which took on AF-2's Quad Cities team last March never had played the indoor version of football before. So don't be surprised if there's as much "yellow" on the field as on the unwashed cars in the parking lot.

(By the way, last year's Quad Cities game did NOT have a score kept. So if you're looking for a 100-point game today, watch Dallas play Orlando on the NBA telecast before going to see the Wardogs.)

There IS a New Zealand American Football Association, which has provided players for Team Down Under. They include a 335-pound lineman who has the nickname "Twinkle Toes." [True!] Give a U.S. lineman a nickname like this, and his agent might file a "defamation of character" lawsuit.

So what do the Aussies call "football?" Not soccer or even rugby - but a wonderfully wild game called "Australian Rules Football." I became hooked on this during college, when ESPN showed an hour of highlights every weekend. This was before arena football was invented, so it gave football junkies something between May and August besides NFL Films clips.

This happens to be the opening weekend of THEIR A.F.L. season in Australia - and the issue is whether the Brisbane Lions can win their fourth championship in a row. Compare that with the N.F.L., where the Detroit Lions might not win one in our lifetimes.

By the way, Team Down Under is not the only international "gridiron" squad visiting AF-2 franchises. A Japanese all-star team played in Louisville last weekend -- thus providing struggling sumo wrestlers an extra chance to make some money.

BLOG UPDATE: You'll be relieved to know there's a new back door on my apartment - with no window, but a much tighter fit. It even has a metal strip along the bottom, to make sure nothing undesirable gets in. So of course, two big cockroaches perched themselves on the kitchen wall Thursday night to taunt me, anyway.

And how about those Kansas Jayhawks - racking up 100 points on Alabama-Birmingham in the regional semifinals? My old alma mater takes on Georgia Tech for the St. Louis Regional title today. If the Jayhawks win, I'll be able to annoy people on both sides of the state line all spring.

BLOGGER'S NOTE: Don't expect many updates for the next week or so, because our SERIOUS spring cleaning is in its final stages....

To offer a story tip, make a donation or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post a reply.

If you quote from this in public somewhere, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003-04 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Friday, March 26, 2004



Did you see me sing selections from my debut album Thursday night, during the Valley Rescue Mission telethon? In a way, my prayers were answered - because TV-16 probably picked up a few extra viewers from the early basketball games being so boring.

Thursday night marked my first visit to WCGT TV-16 on Hamilton Road - and I was amazed at how small the station is. In fact, it's SO SMALL that the managers probably enter drawings to win double-wide mobile homes.

I arrived at TV-16 about an hour before my scheduled singing time, and found a few Valley Rescue Mission residents outside near a tent. They'd promised me a telethon in a studio, and for a minute it looked like I'd walked into a camp meeting.

"Do you like your hot dog crispy or not-so-crispy?" asked a man cooking franks on a grill. The man admitted he's been cooking in the dark for more than an hour - so I was thankful he didn't put a charcoal briquet on my bun.

One man admitted at about 8:15 p.m. the telethon's hot dogs and buns were "enough food to feed an army." Or maybe one night's attendance at the Valley Rescue Mission in mid-January....

Three groups of people answered phones during the Valley Rescue Mission telethon. During the time I was in the office building with phones - well, I'd rather not say it was slow. Let's just say TV and radio newsrooms get more calls on mornings when the forecast merely CALLS for snow.

I showed up early to volunteer my services as needed - and I filled in at a phone for one man who took a break. This was during the hour when the telethon was taking bids on a computer, and I took a call from someone asking if it was new.
Nope, it was a refurbished P.C. - since this is Valley Rescue Mission, not Best Buy.

After a couple of minutes with only one call taken, the man came back from his break. "Sir - you're fired," he told me.

"Thank you, Mister Trump," I answered.

I've learned the habit of warming up my voice before I sing - and as I went up and down scales outside the studio, a young woman asked me if I knew the "What are you going to sing today?' scale. I misunderstood her and answered, "Yes, I do know what I'm going to sing."

(She also said I could do a "do-re-mi" scale if I wished. Well, of course I could - and probably I should have. Doing jazzy scat singing up and down the scale might have offended some of these religious people.)

"You can get a parting gift," the woman added as she showed me a folding table on the lawn outside the studio.

"Well, hold on a minute. I'm not parting yet. I still have to sing." Was she trying to distract me out of being on live TV?

WMLF Radio's Jim Foster was the emcee of the Valley Rescue Mission telethon. But I'm sad to report he was NOT quite on the level of Jerry Lewis or Ed McMahon. For one thing, during the afternoon he asked when Leap Year is - apparently unaware February 29th occurred less than a month ago.

The Valley Rescue Mission telethon had a goal of $50,000 in pledges. But sadly, the donations came in slowly. After one hour, the tote board showed only $1,987 -- and then Jim Foster had to start competing with Elizabeth White wearing a St. Jude Dream Home T-shirt.

When I walked into the tiny TV-16 studio, the tote board still was below $4,000. I wondered if there was some "reality show" twist going on - and at the last minute, someone would rush in and tape a zero next to the right number.

"We haven't raised anywhere near what I wanted," Jim Foster admitted to Mission Director Gary Hartman at 10:35 p.m. Maybe the reason was on the schedule clipboard. I hardly saw any African-American people on the air - and I can't imagine the mission sends all those needy people to the House of Mercy.

The unofficial final pledge total to the Valley Rescue Mission was $5,437. Jim Foster promised he'd get a live on-air buzz-cut if the total reached $50,000 -- so perhaps most viewers decided they prefer his hair the way it is.

Some well-known names on TV-16 DID make donations during the telethon. Jim Foster announced $100 pledges during the evening from Mike Gaymon of the Chamber of Commerce and talk show host Jerry Laquire. But as far as I know, Miriam Tidwell didn't even donate any appetizers.

Maybe apathy is busting out all over Columbus. A Rainbow/PUSH Coalition rally Thursday night for the recall of Sheriff Ralph Johnson attracted only about 20 people. Was the rerun of "The Parkers" on Fox-54 THAT good an episode?

By the way, the "parting gifts" I picked up after singing my two songs were a Valley Rescue Mission pen, tote bag and large coffee mug. But some of my friends will be disappointed to learn there was NO music box playing the Mission's TV jingle.

BLOG UPDATE:Go ahead, hate me - when Alabama-Birmingham meets Kansas tonight in the NCAA men's basketball tournament, I'll be hoping Kansas wins. But I will NOT watch the game - since as your dictionary clearly shows, God comes before hoops.

I've seen my old alma mater K.U. play U.A.B. once before - not in basketball, but football. On a whim, I decided a few years ago to drive to Legion Field on a Saturday evening to see the teams play. I knew it would be a slow three-hour ride, with no interstate - but when Sylacauga feels like a big city, you know it's a boring trip.

I carried only a vague map of Birmingham, so I easily got lost downtown trying to find Legion Field. For one thing, the stadium isn't really downtown at all - so it was hidden by all the bank skyscrapers.

When I finally found Legion Field, I parked on grass a long way from the stadium - but I parked for free. This shows UAB is smaller than Auburn University - because on game days, I think the closest free parking spot to Jordan-Hare Stadium is near Loachapoka.

Because I started late and became so mixed-up trying to find Legion Field, I heard the first half of the Kansas-UAB game on WERC radio. For some reason, the Blazers didn't have a "radio network" - as if Columbus stations would broadcast their games. After all, no Columbus station carried Alabama-Syracuse Thursday night.

(By the way, how about what Dick Enberg called the "Bama Boys!" They bounced defending champion and Kansas-conquering Syracuse out of the tournament 80-71 in Arizona. It looks like for a couple of days, Alabama has TWO Phenix Cities - one of them with an "o.")

Having never been to Legion Field before, I walked all the way around the station trying to find the ticket window - and when I did, halftime was over and the window was closed. What was I going to do now? My Birmingham map didn't even
list any nightclubs....

But then a strange thing happened. I was motioned to a gate of Legion Field - and they let me in without a ticket, for FREE! The thing is, I wasn't even dressed like an N.F.L. scout.

Even though I missed the first half, the KU-UAB game wound up going to four overtime periods -- and on that night, the Jayhawks finally made a defensive stop and won the game. So you see, Kansas has momentum heading into tonight's
showdown in St. Louis. It's the speed of a melting glacier, but it's something....

COMING THIS WEEKEND: Do they really play arena football in Australia? We're going to check.... and oh yes, an update on my back door....

To offer a story tip, make a donation or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post a reply.

If you quote from this in public somewhere, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003-04 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, March 25, 2004



I returned home from work Wednesday afternoon to find a surprising note taped to my front door: "RICHARD - WILL BE PUTTING YOU A NEW BACK DOOR ON TOMORROW." Some people write exactly as they talk, even if the words are jumbled a bit.

The note about a new back door astonished me - because believe it or not, I had a dream Tuesday night along these lines. I dreamed the back door of my apartment was off its hinges, and I couldn't put it back on. Of course, I was a realist in this dream - and was more concerned about people walking right in and stealing my computer.

The landlord of my apartment complex is putting on a new back door as he does an all-around painting job. It's about time this happened, because the brown paint on the back door is peeling badly. One more good slam, and I feared only the wood base would be left.

The good news is I'll have a new back door, which hopefully will seal better than the current one. When a thunderstorm came from the south right after I moved in, I actually had to mop up rain which dribbled over the threshold and into the kitchen. A hurricane might have left me with the cleanest floor in town.

I suspect that gap at the bottom of the back door is also how countless cockroaches have wandered into the apartment over the years. I've tried to push them out that same gap with my feet and brooms - but for some odd reason, they're too lazy to go find a home of their own.

The bad news about the new back door came Wednesday afternoon, when a painter stopped by to make sure I received his note. The new door will NOT have windows, as my current one does - because he said that would cost too much. Maybe if I had given the landlord a tip, on top of my rent....

The three-paned windows on the old back door let in plenty of sunlight. It's been great for breakfast on chilly winter mornings, and adds a nice touch as I prepare dinner on Friday evenings. And when storm clouds gather south of Golden
Park, it's a safe way to chase tornadoes.

The window on the back door also allowed me a look at Golden Park's post-game fireworks shows during baseball seasons. Of course, those happened when the RedStixx were in town. Now we have the Catfish -- and they may settle for depth charges in the Chattahoochee.

With a last "10-4, back door," we check other quick things from Wednesday:

+ A group in a romantic feud on "The Jerry Springer Show" announced they were from Georgia - whereupon the entire audience stood up, and started square dancing all over the studio! And all this time, I thought only the guests were given
alcohol before the show....

+ Two Columbus Cottonmouth hockey players bought tickets in the St. Jude Dream Home drawing. For $100, it's a good investment for these guys. If they win, the team wouldn't dare cut them next season.

+ Instant Message to WRBL: Did I read the screen right Wednesday - that this weekend at a hockey game, the Cottonmouths are giving away "1,500 free U.S. Army PUNKS" ?! If Fort Benning drill sergeants can't break these guys, why do they think the fans can?

COMING FRIDAY: Full coverage of my trip to a telethon.... and a trip a few years ago to Birmingham....

To offer a story tip, make a donation or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post a reply.

If you quote from this in public somewhere, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003-04 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004



Columbus Mayor Bob Poydasheff revealed Tuesday he's setting up a "public safety advisory commission." He did this on the advice of the Council's Public Safety Committee - which in a way makes you wonder why the Committee didn't give themselves the job.

The Public Safety Advisory Commission will include the Columbus Police Chief and Fire Chief, the Muscogee County Marshal and Sheriff, as well as the Mayor and City Manager. With all these officeholders involved, they might as well hold meetings at the Government Center's café.

The Public Safety Advisory Commission also will include "other community representatives." It's not yet clear what this will mean -- but given who else is serving, Calvin Smyre and Seth Harp soon may have new titles.

It appears Mayor Poydasheff will appoint the "other community representatives" to the Public Safety Advisory Commission. He sounds like he wants ordinary citizens involved - which may be hard, because most ordinary citizens don't even bother to vote in city elections.

Columbus Police Chief Willie Dozier called the formation of a Public Safety Advisory Commission "a positive," and said he has nothing to hide. Muscogee County Sheriff Ralph Johnson had no comment on camera - again implying he DOES.

But Columbus Councilor Red McDaniel opposes the formation of even an advisory commission. He served on a citizen board in the 1960's, and he says it was "too political." Wow - you mean Muscogee County actually had two political parties back then?!

The news about an advisory commission came during a Columbus Council work session on public safety pay. TV reports indicated one big issue is a "60-percent pension plan." They don't get it, do they? People want 100 percent of a plan, or

Now other notes from a yellow-tinted, pollen-filled Tuesday:

+ The John B. Amos Cancer Center held a "Colon Cancer Awareness Dinner" at the Trade Center. If you're in remission for this illness, do you have semi-colon cancer?!

+ Sumter County School Superintendent Dr. Franklin Perry defended a recent pay raise to $144,000, saying: "If anything, I feel underpaid." If he ever loses that job, he has a great future as an agent for major league baseball players.

+ The Georgia Lottery unveiled a new "Fast Cash" game, with pictures of NASCAR drivers on scratch-off cards. They do NOT include Jimmy Spencer's picture - because some drivers might be tempted to scratch his face out instead.

+ The Auburn women's basketball team was knocked out of the NCAA tournament by Connecticut. My fourth-grade teacher taught me you pronounce this state CONNECT-i-cut, saying all the C's as in Antarctica. But then again, her name was Mrs. Ducret - with a silent T.

+ Instant Message to WRBL: About that new web poll question you showed on the news Tuesday, "Could 9/11 been stopped?" - is that only for high school dropouts?

To offer a story tip, make a donation or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post a reply.

If you quote from this in public somewhere, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003-04 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004


23 MAR 04: HUNGRY?

Did you hear about the disgusting scene at "Flea Market City" on Victory Drive? Police say Ivan Bradley killed a cat there Sunday - then skinned it, so he could EAT it! [True/WTVM] Obviously this man is into the Atkins Diet, because he DID remove the skin....

(I've heard for years there's "more than one way to skin a cat," but this is the first time I've ever heard of anyone staging a demonstration.)

Ivan Bradley could go to prison for animal cruelty, after his arrest on charges of killing and skinning a cat. To do this sort of thing truly fits the definition of a cat-astrophe....

(What puzzles me about this case is that Flea Market City isn't too far down Victory Drive from restaurants such as Wendy's, Taco Bell and Krystal. If this man is stooping to eating cats, what's really in THEIR food?)

And another thing: the phone book lists the location of this alleged cat-skinning as "Flea Market City and SNACK BAR." It looks like it's time to upgrade the menu from candy bars....

Speaking of strange foods: I've mentioned in Blogger's Notes that I'm doing spring cleaning right now. The good news is things are going well. But the strangest development so far occurred Sunday afternoon -- a box of chewed-up crayons in a
drawer. Before you ask: no, I stop at chewing pencils and pens.

I have a little box of eight Crayola crayons, which I picked up with a free coupon from Kroger years ago. I use them for markers once in awhile -- but I don't go as far as the Olive Branch restaurant, and put them on the kitchen table for visitors.

Of the eight Crayola crayons, black was torn almost in half -- and maybe I broke that one awhile back. But an inch of the blue crayon was devoured about halfway in, paper and all. I'm guessing the roaches in my house consider the darker colors to be more full-bodied in flavor.

On the other hand, the green and yellow crayons in the box seemed untouched by the hungry bugs. Hmmmm.... maybe roaches avoid eating vegetables like many of the rest of us.

But then again, the red and orange crayons had well-chewed paper wrappers - with NO damage to the crayons themselves. So maybe all these roaches want is fiber in their diets.

I've become convinced over the years that roaches are attracted to certain items by their smells. If they're near a drawer, they smell the distinct odor of crayons and give them a try. And from the dead bugs I've found in open glasses, a few drops
of orange juice makes them drunk.

To offer a story tip, make a donation or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post a reply.

If you quote from this in public somewhere, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003-04 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Monday, March 22, 2004


22 MAR 04: MO, MO, MO!

Instant Message to all the residents of LaFayette: Thank you for calling WRBL Sunday afternoon. That HAD to be the reason we finally saw your hometown star playing for Alabama-Birmingham in the second half of its playoff game against Kentucky. In the first half, the Alabama border might as well have been drawn around Sylacauga.

LaFayette High grad Mo Finley hit the game-winning jumper in the final seconds, as UAB upset top-seeded Kentucky in the second round of the men's basketball playoffs. Probably no one in Alabama knows enough about Broadway shows to have the headline: "MO BETTERS BLUE."

CBS's Dick Enberg said early in the second half "the whole town" of LaFayette was watching Mo Finley play for UAB. Well, they probably didn't in the first half - because WRBL showed Pittsburgh-Wisconsin instead. Be thankful NCAA Sports offers live streaming video on the Internet....

Admittedly Pittsburgh-Wisconsin was a better matchup, but WRBL not showing UAB for a half made me realize something. Just like some say there are "two Georgias," there also can be "two Alabamas" - well, make that three. There's Birmingham, for one. And sometimes I think Mobile and Pensacola should form a state with Biloxi and New Orleans.

The UAB KO of KY (translated "knockout of Kentucky") means the Blazers get to face dear old Kansas in the regional semifinals next Friday. With Georgia Tech playing Nevada in the other game - well, the cloud of worry over my head seems
to have disappeared with that cold front.

(BLOGGER'S NOTE: I happened to see a UAB-Kansas battle in person several years ago -- for free. More on that later this week....)

Georgia Tech advanced to the round of 16 with a hard-fought win over Boston College. It was one of those rare times when a Southern college could tell B.C. to "take a powder...."

We shouldn't overlook Alabama, which upset top-seeded Stanford on Saturday in Seattle. With two colleges from Alabama in the round of 16, fired Auburn coach Cliff Ellis looks more like a slacker than ever.

Since we're talking sports here, did you see the implosion of Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium Sunday? That could never happen in Columbus. Jim Rhodes would strap himself to a pillar, to protect anything with "veteran" in its name....

BLOG UPDATE: The Rainbow/PUSH Coalition begins a 45-day drive to recall Muscogee County Sheriff Ralph Johnson today. The coalition needs to get about 30,000 names on petitions - so don't be surprised to find petition sheets covering the pizzas delivered to your door.

In an interview shown on TV Sunday night, Dr. William Howell of Rainbow/PUSH said he'll take a broad-based approach to the recall drive. "We're going to reach out to the Hispanics, we're going to reach out to the Koreans, we're going to appeal to members of the clergy.... to fraternities and sororities...." He named about every group except the Caucasians.

COMING TUESDAY: A spring cleaning report.... or what roaches eat when they're desperate for dinner....

© 2003-04 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, March 21, 2004



I didn't have my camera for these snapshots from the last few days -- so please use your imagination to picture them.

SCENE 1: "Man!" said the man sitting next to me at a library as I used an Internet computer. "Is that a Spalding watch?"

Yes, it was a Spalding on my wrist. No, I hadn't come to the library to sell it.

"Yes," I said - then felt compelled to add details, to satisfy this man's curiosity. "I bought it for $19.95, at a Kmart in Panama City Beach."

I remembered this well because on my vacation last fall, I lost my old digital watch somewhere between Columbus and Panama City Beach. Either I left it in a field at Eufaula's Admiral Moorer Middle School where I exercised, at a Hardee's in Dothan where I stopped for dinner - or it flew out the car window somewhere along U.S. 431.

"Are you a basketball official or something?" For some reason, the man was unsatisfied with my answer. I hadn't realized Spalding had become the new Rolex.

"No," I repeated. "I bought it at a Kmart store in Panama City Beach for $19.95." I needed a watch during vacation because I was at a church convention, and morning choir rehearsals began at 8:00 a.m. Looking back, I guess I was expected to sleep on the beach during late afternoons.

I should note the Spalding watch I bought at Kmart has a silver band, with a blue face. There's no gold of any sort. So why was this stranger so interested in it? Was he planning to impress somebody at a sports banquet over the weekend?

(I'll resist the urge to describe the color of the watchband as "Spalding Gray....")

After I explained the point of purchase for a second time, the man sitting next to me didn't say anything else. Perhaps he went to Kmart and bought one of his own. Or perhaps he was disappointed that I wasn't a scout or an agent, ready to offer him a contract.

SCENE 2: A different library branch on Friday afternoon. This time the notebook for signing in to use Internet computers is gone.

"Do you have your library card?" the woman at the desk asked. Sadly, I did not -- so the public access computers now are off limits to people without cards. These libraries are getting as bad as CVS stores....

I clean my clothes at a laundromat on South Lumpkin Road, practically across the street from the South Columbus Branch Library. I normally start the washers, walk over the bridge built for South Columbus Elementary students and have a fast
online session. Deleting spam is SO much easier with DSL lines.

But as of Friday, the rules for public access computers were different - and to be honest, I'd been warned this change was coming. Normally I carry a library card on these trips, so it would have been no big deal. But at this time of year, I'm too
concerned about squeezing all my spring-cleaning dust cloths in the hamper without any falling out.

SCENE 3: The Friday evening news on WRBL confirmed the city is installing new street signs with larger print. I'd seen these on Martin Luther King Drive - but I wondered why they aren't along 13th Street, where all the eye care centers are.

What struck me is that the federal government is requiring cities such as Columbus to make street signs larger and easier to read. Talk about a case of BIG government....

SCENE 4: On a quiet Saturday morning which officially began spring, I took a walk to admire the beauty of the historic district. Outside a house on 8th Street I found two poles with small breathing lizards on each side. You can guess what I thought right away - they're geckos, and the residents saved a bunch on their car insurance with Geico.

I think the two small lizards on the poles were salamanders, showing off their gills as they breathed. I didn't dare disturb them - because who knows how much noise they would have made, setting every dog in the neighborhood to barking.

SCENE 5: At church this weekend, my Pastor admitted he had a hard time focusing on his driving. After all, we meet in a hall that's almost in the "Thunder in the Valley" flight line - and more drivers were looking up than left or right.

My Pastor made another comment this weekend on "The Passion of the Christ," noting NO anti-Semitic acts have occurred since the movie came out. But he read a short item quoting star Jim Caviezel as calling the film "very Catholic" - so I get the feeling my Pastor considers it really anti-Protestant.

But the oddest part came late at night, as I went through my e-mail. One of those online surveys on "What America Eats" asked me a series of questions about my Saturday dining out - and that included the snack table at church! I can't believe I
had to answer three times the snacks cost me nothing.

Now some other quick scattered notes from the weekend:

+ Lake Eufaula hosted a big BASS professional fishing tournament. This makes for quite a varied weekend. You go to "Thunder in the Valley" Saturday for all the noise - then go to the lake Sunday so your ears can heal.

+ The blue team beat the white team 24-16 in the "A-Day" spring game at Auburn University. We expect the white team will be called into Ed Richardson's office Monday morning and be fired.

+ Well, whattaya know - my alma mater Kansas WON its first NCAA tournament game after all! The upset occurred just across the bracket, as the Jayhawks are playing #12 seed Pacific this afternoon. That'll teach me to learn how to worry from
Scott Miller....

+ Instant Message to Higher Power Outreach Ministries of Phenix City: Did we hear the woman on the radio right? Is Johnny Robinson really "the best pastor this side of heaven?" Then how come he isn't even the best-known pastor in Phenix City?

To offer a story tip, make a donation or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post a reply.

If you quote from this in public somewhere, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003-04 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Friday, March 19, 2004



Instant Message to Auburn University Interim President Ed Richardson: Are you watching "The Apprentice" too much? You seem to be firing one staff member every day....

Ed Richardson's latest firing came Thursday morning, as Auburn men's basketball coach Cliff Ellis was dismissed. The "Birmingham News" broke the news of a possible firing Wednesday night - but a morning meeting made the story a real

(Hopefully he'll leave some advice for his successor -- maybe in the form of Cliff Notes.)

One reporter went to Cliff Ellis's home for a comment about his firing by Auburn. She reportedly was greeted at the door by a crying neighbor. So it's just as the sportscasters say - a case of "the hoop and the harm."

Cliff Ellis also broke down later, during a short news conference. He walked out after praising journalists for being "fair" to him over the last ten years. When a sports coach likes the reporters more than the managers above him, it's a sure sign of job trouble.

Cliff Ellis coached Auburn to two "Sweet 16" appearances in the NCAA tournament. But this season the Tigers were 14-14, with NO post-season appearance. Who would have guessed the National Invitational Tournament would be so NIT-picky.

Yes, I'm aware only last week [12 Mar] I declared Cliff Ellis IN and not out as Auburn basketball coach. But keep in mind, I based that answer on Athletic Director David Housel not shooting himself in the foot again. I didn't expect Ed Richardson to pull out his own gun and take matters into his own hands.

Cliff Ellis's ouster came one day after Interim President Ed Richardson fired Auburn University's Vice President of Academic Affairs, Betty Dement. So if Mr. Richardson is being even-handed, he'll fire a student sometime today.

Former Auburn assistant and current Columbus State coach Herbert Greene said he will NOT apply for the head coaching job at A.U. This leaves an unanswered question - does Greene have an agent, who will apply for him?

Meanwhile, Alabama's basketball team had a narrow escape on Thursday's opening day of the NCAA tournament. The Tide edged Southern Illinois 65-64 -- so to borrow from CBS's score box, their season record is not SO IL'ed.

The CBS shorthand for college names has puzzled me at times. Southern Illinois was shortened to "SO IL" Thursday - and Texas Tech appeared in the corner of the screen as "TEX T." I think Cingular Wireless suggested that one, so people would send more TEX T messages.

WRBL continued a strange Columbus tradition again this year, by cancelling its late news after the tournament games. Apparently when basketball games last until after midnight, "on my side" means sleeping.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Speaking of roundball, we were quite surprised to get this message about Columbus State University's playoff appearance [15 Mar]:


Thanks for the mention. I've read your "Blog" for several months now and I always enjoy it. It's very entertaining.

By the way when I mentioned CSU was a team that couldn't get a break, I wasn't talking about officiating. I simply meant that this was a team that had to make it through the ordeal of Jed Bedford's death in December. Not only did they lose a good friend and team Captain, the practical effect of losing a player who led the nation in 3 pt. shooting was huge. Yet these guys fought back to win enough games to make it to the NCAA tournament. After winning the regional quarterfinal game in dramatic fashion on Saturday night, they "caught a bad break" for the Kennesaw game. Brown who made the winning shot and scored 31 points couldn't play and Deshawn Bowman, the best point guard in the league twisted his ankle in the game and wasn't close to being full speed. However, that's the way it goes in sports sometimes.

There's no question that I put a great deal of emotion into my broadcasts and yes I do worry about everything! I can convince you that CSU couldn't beat Midland Middle School on a good day!! Why do you think I have very little hair left? That's just my style. Hopefully some people have enjoyed it over the years.

Again, I enjoy your writings and thanks for listening to the games.

Scott Miller

Thanks for the nice comments, Scott. You're right, the Cougars DID fight back hard this season.-- and if necessary, you would have taken the floor and fought for them.

(Wow, Midland Middle School could challenge the C.S.U. basketball team?! This could change the planning of a lot of N.B.A. scouts....)

BLOG UPDATE: Theft charges against Columbus patrol officer Larry Lightning were dropped Thursday, two days after they were filed. The charges came and went with the speed of - well, Lightning.

A Recorder's Court judge threw out the theft charges against Larry Lightning after two former Spectrum store clerks testified they gave the officer items as a courtesy. OK, so when does that constitute bribe-taking?

(Giving a police officer bottled water as a "courtesy" is understandable. But Larry Lightning also was accused of taking beer from the Fort Benning Road convenience store. If more stores did this, the police officer shortage might end in a

Attorney Mark Shelnutt told WRBL it wasn't Officer Larry Lightning's fault if store workers let him have a "line of credit," which he repaid over time. We can't wait to be first in our block to have a Spectrum credit card, with a $100 limit.

It's surprising to hear Larry Lightning's theft charges were dropped, because someone is spreading rumors around Columbus that several police officers are involved in a shoplifting ring. I don't know if those rumors are true - but shouldn't
officers go about this differently? For instance, take the items "downtown for fingerprinting."

BLOGGER'S NOTE: Daily blogging may diminish over the next couple of weeks, due to our annual spring clean-up....

To offer a story tip, make a donation or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post a reply.

If you quote from this in public somewhere, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003-04 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, March 18, 2004



The 104th Transportation Company returned home to Fort Benning Wednesday, after about a year in Iraq. It's truly good to have all the soldiers home - but I sort of hoped they'd bring some barrels of oil back, to lower the gas price.

Will any of these GI's go back to Iraq? Not if they can help it. A junior officer at Fort Benning told me the other day large numbers of soldiers plan to get out of the army, instead of reenlisting. The dream of getting in the audience on an all-military "Price is Right" apparently isn't good enough....

This junior officer says the turnover in soldiers is for a reason you might not have heard about: bad Army leadership. He claims senior officers who chickened out of fights in Iraq are receiving medals and promotions. Wait until the Democrats hear about this - since they think President Bush did this sort of thing years ago.

The junior officer cited one specific situation near Nasiriyah, Iraq, where a platoon got bogged down in a minefield. He says top officers who snuck out without leading the other troops were awarded Silver Stars. No one else received one -- so
I guess they had to go to a dollar store and buy a book of stickers.

The junior officer suggested morale is a problem in the Army, because officers lacking in leadership keep getting promoted. If there's anything the U.S. military doesn't need, of course, it's a dose of democracy.

(Maybe the winner of the Presidential election should name Donald Trump Secretary of Defense. Then he could fire one slacker every week.)

I can understand what this junior officer is saying, about morale problems and questionable leadership in the Army. But doesn't this sort of thing happen in other walks of life? These soldiers might have taken jobs at Enron, you know....

Now if you don't mind (or even if you do), we're going to send some Instant Messages:

+ To the Columbus office of Habitat for Humanity: If you find the bum who vandalized those nine newly-built homes on Brown Avenue, I have a suggestion. Make that person repair all the damage - by himself, without any help.

+ To the Perk Avenue coffee shop on Veterans Parkway: Am I misunderstanding your big sign - or is Coca-Cola sponsoring "The Passion of the Christ?" I thought Jesus was given vinegar to drink.

+ To the Three Brothers Taqueria: Your new restaurant on Veterans Parkway certainly stands out from the crowd. I can't think of any other Mexican restaurant with a name in English.

+ To Lil' Kim's Cove on 4th Street: OK, I give up. Why are you flying flags of the United Nations, South Korea and Alabama outside your club -- but NOT the Georgia flag? You're on the Columbus side of the bridge, after all....

COMING FRIDAY: Uh-oh, Scott Miller's reading my blog....

© 2003-04 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004



Several events in the news Tuesday got me thinking about withdrawing from places. The biggest one had nothing to do with U.S. forces departing Iraq -- but was about an Athletic Director departing Auburn.

David Housel announced he'll step down as Auburn University Athletic Director next January. But even this might not satisfy the Auburn trustees - who want him to take the blame for starting that recent fire in downtown Tuskegee.

David Housel says by setting a January 2005 departure date, he'll give Auburn plenty of time to find a replacement. So when does the bus leave for Louisville?

David Housel is an Auburn graduate, who's been on the Plains ever since he was a student. He says he should NOT be remembered for one mistake over a 34-year career. That seems fair -- so blame him for bungling Terry Bowden's departure,
as well as the Louisville trip.

I didn't realize until Tuesday that before becoming Athletic Director, David Housel spent eight years as a journalism professor at Auburn University. The question now becomes: when did Housel change his mind about "sunshine laws" and
full disclosure?

To be fair, David Housel has some good points from his ten years as Auburn Athletic Director. For instance, A.U. has won five national championships. Hmmmm.... when was the last time a swimming coach became a big-time Athletic Director?

As David Housel was making news in Auburn, the METRA bus service in Columbus was showing off its new historic exhibit - a 1950's-era bus called the "Freedom Express." With a name like that, you'd think TV news crews would have had the freedom to show the inside of it....

I'm told METRA Director Lisa Goodwin allowed the Ledger-Enquirer to take pictures inside the "Freedom Express" bus, but barred TV news crews from doing so. Considering a statue of Rosa Parks is aboard this civil rights museum piece, this is
amazing - a modern day case of being moved to the back of the bus.

Lisa Goodwin told one reporter if TV crews showed the inside of the "Freedom Express" bus, there would be no reason for visitors to come. This obviously explains why no one shows up at Georgia home football games anymore (ahem)....

And then there's the Columbus police officer who was put on leave Tuesday, after being arrested on five counts of "theft by taking." Don't you love that sort of legal language? When someone is arrested for "theft by giving," that WILL be news.

Veteran officer Larry Lightning is accused of stealing various items from a Spectrum store on Fort Benning Road since last December. As the store's commercial says, "You want it fast, fresh and friendly" - but it never says free.

Police records suggest Larry Lightning had help from three Spectrum employees in stealing gasoline, beer and bottled water. After mulling this combination over, I think the bottled water costs the most per gallon.

(C'mon now - stealing bottled water?!?! Couldn't some little child let this nice officer borrow a garden hose for a couple of minutes?)

Larry Lightning is on leave from the Columbus P.D., pending the misdemeanor theft counts. The timing of this couldn't be worse - as Officer Lightning could have been the talk of "Thunder in the Valley" this weekend.

I really hesitate to bring this up -- but since someone else probably will: there's a clear and obvious reason why Officer Larry Lightning's mug shot has appeared on TV, while former deputy David Glisson's picture has not. Glisson hasn't been arrested yet.

COMING THURSDAY: Soldiers return to Fort Benning.... and why some don't want to go on tour again....

To offer a story tip, make a donation or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post a reply.

If you quote from this in public somewhere, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003-04 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004



"Five minutes or less service," says the sticker on a door of the Downtown Post Office. Yeah, right. It took me close to half-an-hour to use the post office Monday afternoon - so maybe that sticker went up back in the days when Domino's Pizza
promised 30-minute deliveries.

It was a bit past the lunch hour when I rolled down 12th Street to the Downtown Post Office. It turned out I made the right call in picking a parking spot. The ones right in front of the door have a 15-minute time limit - while down the block they're two hours long. Why would anyone dare risk it?

(Besides, the short walk from the two-hour parking spot takes you past a row of newspaper boxes. Even "Investor's Business Daily" is there - which I guess makes sense, because downtown loft apartments aren't cheap.)

At around 1:15 p.m. Monday the waiting line at the Downtown Post Office stretched well out to the lobby of the federal courthouse. I had to double-check to make sure I hadn't overslept -- and it wasn't April 15 instead.

Only two people were working the Post Office counter downtown - along with someone who was walking around with a tape, measuring the counter itself. He checked how high it was, and how wide it stretched. Was this man a government
inspector, trying to make sure customers have a safe distance from crazed postal workers?

People from all walks of life can stand in line at the post office. My group included a woman who walked in carrying a box with an HSN logo on it. I'm going to assume this Home Shopping Network customer was NOT completely satisfied....

The young woman behind me in line was prepared for a long line like this. She pulled out a wireless phone and talked to somebody. Since I don't have a wireless phone, all I could do was stand there. Starting a chorus of "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" didn't seem quite appropriate.

A big event brought me to the Downtown Post Office. I mailed the first copy of my debut CD to Finland! Apparently there's one part of the world which hasn't heard of KaZaA yet....

How much would YOU pay to send a CD to Finland? The lowest available price was $3.20, arriving by air in seven to ten days. For some reason, there was no rate for shipping by dogsled.

To offer a story tip, make a donation or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post a reply.

If you quote from this in public somewhere, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003-04 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Monday, March 15, 2004

People in Finland are buying my CD! Shouldn't you? Look for One God, Many Moods on the "local artists" shelf at Mustard Seed in Columbus -- or click here for music samples and how to order online. Request full-length songs by calling Jim Foster at WMLF AM-1270 weekdays between 6:00-8:30 a.m. But while you're here, enjoy some humorous thoughts about my "home turf."


I searched on the Internet at the start of 2003, and found no one keeping a blog about events in Columbus, Georgia. So being the web-savvy guy that I am, I decided to start a blog of my own - chronicling happenings in the town I've called home for nearly seven years, as well as my experiences in it.

But.... I used to have a humor service called LaughLine.Com, so my views may be a bit amusing. And the views are my own; no one has paid me to present theirs. Pressured, yes - but paid, no.



Columbus State and Kennesaw State clashed in men's basketball Sunday night for the fourth time this season. The C.S.U. Cougars know the Owls so well they call the team "Kenny" for short.

It's always fun to listen to Scott Miller call Columbus State games on WDAK Radio. He's obviously a graduate of the Larry Munson school of sportscasting - because if there's something about the game to worry about, Miller will mention it over and over again until you can say it along with him.

Even before Sunday's tipoff, Scott Miller declared a "lucky spot is mandatory" for sitting by the radio to hear the C.S.U. game. That was because leading scorer Yandel Brown had a twisted back, and was barely able to play. The Cougars were so cold in the first half it was obviously a Brown-Out.

Even before the first media timeout, Scott Miller was finding fault with an official for talking with a member of a coaching staff. "He should be watching the game, not the bench," Miller declared. Aw, c'mon - if the announcer can watch what's happening at the bench, why can't the referee?

About eight minutes into the game, Miller was critical again. "He traveled! It was a clear travel, and they called a foul.... and they call it a shooting foul. The foul was on the floor.... That's a terrible call.... That's an awful call, on two accounts." Yes, it WAS a call against Columbus State - how did you guess?

Sticking to the "cheatin' refs" theme, Scott Miller reported during Kennesaw State's Saturday night quarterfinal win, "Catawba never got a call all night." Yet for some reason, the final score of that game was not 222-0.

"Kennesaw State coach Tony Engel spends more time on the court than some of his players," Miller accused at one point. "He was a step from the arc that time." The way Miller describes it, CSU Coach Herbert Greene sits in a chair and wears a seat belt throughout every game.

Another first-half Miller-ism: "We had no blue jerseys under the basket that time at all." So you see, there are times when he IS fair and balanced - perhaps along the Fox News Channel approach, but he is.

When the clock kept running after a shot-clock violation, Miller moaned, "They must do things backwards in Kennesaw.... I had to tell them to turn on the clock to count down to the tipoff last night." Backwards? Well, Kennesaw IS the city where you're required to have a gun in your home....

Columbus State took a brief lead in the second half, but then Kennesaw State rallied to put the game out of reach. Scott Miller seemed to sense the inevitable, saying at one point about a foul: "John [Thomas] DID push him in the back...." This
reminds me a bit of Democratic presidential candidates putting each other down for weeks, then coming together in unity.

As the outcome became obvious, Scott Miller said of the Cougars: "This team simply could not catch a break this year, could they?" How quickly Miller forgot the last-second shot Saturday night, to win the quarterfinal game against Virginia Union.

Yet even in the final minutes, Scott Miller's mutterings were not over. "It's about 125 degrees in this little rat-trap of a gym [in Kennesaw]-- where the NCAA tournament never should have been held." From what I've heard over the years, I
think Miller prepares these grudges at home and carries them with him on road trips.

But wait, there's more! Scott Miller moaned the Kennesaw State arena didn't meet the minimum playoff requirement of 1,000 seats. "They have 896, as I counted them personally Friday afternoon." That's what we like to hear - a sportscaster who's focused on the game.

The final score was 70-55 for Kennesaw State, leaving Scott Miller and all Cougar fans disappointed. The basketball season is over, but please don't be concerned -- Miller now can spend the next two months worrying and whining about the C.S.U. baseball team.

BLOG UPDATE: At the risk of saying I-told-you-so, Georgia was overlooked for the NCAA Division I men's tournament Sunday night. But then again, the Winthrop team which Bulldog announcers bragged about so much when it won in Athens didn't get chosen, either.

BIG PREDICTION: It pains me to do it, but I fear my alma mater Kansas is overrated as a #4 seed. Thus I predict the Jayhawks will lose their opening tournament game to Illinois-Chicago. It's U-I-C - or in this case, I'd rather not see.

To offer a story tip, make a donation or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post a reply.

If you quote from this in public somewhere, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003-04 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, March 14, 2004



"Excuse me, sir," a teenager said loudly to me outside a supermarket on South Lumpkin Road Friday afternoon. But my back was turned, and the teen was competing with the loud rock music inside a Coca-Cola truck behind him. There seems to be no soda for the classical music buff like me.

I needed the young man to repeat his request. "Would you like to make a donation to the Green Hornets?" asked the teen holding a plastic bucket. I figured either this was a new environmental club - or some people are desperate for comic books.

"What's that?" I asked the Green Hornets representative.

"A basketball team," the teen answered. Sure enough, he was wearing a bright green basketball jersey with the word "Hornets" on it. For all I knew, this could be a Spencer High School farm team.

"Who are the Green Hornets? I've never heard of them before," I asked further.

"AAU," the young man replied. That organization puts on amateur basketball leagues from coast to coast - but why should I give money to it? I hear stories of agents slipping top players money all the time.

What would YOU have done, facing an offer like this about a mysterious team? "Since I've never heard of your team, I'm going to pass," I said. I'd trust the players more if they had a table selling chocolate chip cookies.

After a Saturday of reflection, however, I had to repent of my decision. Christians like me are supposed to err on the side of mercy, when it comes to requests like these. In this moment, I was acting like critics of "The Passion of the Christ" - yes, like my pastor.

The request from the Green Hornets came just before I entered the supermarket. After I left and rolled my half-filled cart of groceries to the car, a man walked by my trunk. "Are you alright?" he asked. "Are you alright?"

"Physically, yes," I told the man. He kept walking away - as each of us probably wondered what the other was up to mentally.

BLOG UPDATE: The "Friends of David Glisson" held a fund-raising "Home Run Derby" Saturday at the Rose Hill softball field. Some people in this neighborhood probably asked why Glisson wasn't armed with a softball bat last December 10th -- because then Kenneth Walker might have lived.

TV coverage of the Home Run Derby did NOT show a big crowd of people on hand. And a petition to reinstate David Glisson to the Muscogee County Sheriff's Department didn't appear to have many names on it. Someone should arrange a
meeting between Glisson supporters and the Rainbow/PUSH coalition - and the side with fewer names has to shut up.

Organizers of the Home Run Derby assured reporters David Glisson is NOT a monster. I never expected I'd hear a former sheriff's deputy compared to Charlize Theron....

Now other notes from a splendid springlike weekend:

+ Muscogee County schools held their first-ever "Character Education Day." My personal favorite character is Bugs Bunny -- but apparently he never came up in the discussion.

(The "character education" in-service day actually dealt with ways to prevent bullying in schools. Of course, they couldn't bring up the religious factor in prevention -- such as telling pastors to stop using a "bully pulpit.")

+ College students from several campuses finished the Habitat for Humanity "Collegiate Challenge." In five days, they built nine new houses! It almost makes you wonder why the Trade Center expansion has taken more than a year.

+ The Port Columbus museum is marking its anniversary with a celebration called "RiverBlast." For some reason, Sonic drive-ins did not mark the occasion with a "River-Blast" slush or shake.

(WRBL's Katie Weitzner did a live report on RiverBlast from a Civil War-era boat, in the middle of the Chattahoochee River! Thankfully no other station knew about this -- because the battle could have left her hair a mess.)

+ Spring cleaning around the apartment reminded me that Target is marking five years in Columbus this month. Come to think of it, why IS this store on Bradley Park Drive? Shouldn't a Target be closer to Fort Benning?

+ Jason Kostal gave a concert at Fountain City Coffee downtown. He's a singer and guitarist, who's also an instructor at Fort Benning's sniper school -- so WRBL dubbed him the "singing sniper!" Somewhere, a budding hip-hop star wrote down
those words....

+ Instant Message to area Blimpie's sandwich shops: Why do you all seem to shut down after dark - even on a Saturday night at 7:30? Some of us DO want a sub outside banker's hours.

COMING THIS WEEK: Why some soldiers are bailing out of Benning, after serving in Iraq....

© 2003-04 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Friday, March 12, 2004


12 MAR 04: IN OR OUT?

Let's play a game today called "In or Out" - where we mention an item in our area, and you guess whether it's, well, in or out right now. Ready?

1. Yellow as a spring color. In or out?

Answer: OUT. Haven't you seen Jimmy Rain's Great Southern Wood ads? It's YELLA now.

(Remember one thing when you see the big billboards with Jimmy Rain pointing at the word "YELLA" - he's on the Auburn University Board of Trustees.)

2. Welfare in Columbus. In or out?

Answer: IN. It certainly was when I visited the DFCS office Thursday morning. And before you ask - no, I am NOT living on food stamps because you're not donating to this blog.

I was chauffeuring my elderly next-door neighbor, and our first stop was the Health and Human Services Center on Comer Avenue. At one point, the line of people to see a DFCS window attendant was five people long - which I think matched the longest line to buy South Georgia Waves baseball tickets last season.

In the "cubicle farm" beyond the DFCS waiting room, there's a big sign reading, "Get in gear.... start a career." Trouble is, my next-door neighbor is more than 70 years old. People her age are thankful simply to get out of bed, much less get anything in gear.

3. The Family Center's Dr. Julie Rose. In or out?

Answer: IN, for a comment she made on TV Thursday evening. She said parents should encourage sensitivity in boys, because when they grow up "hopefully they'll marry a girl." This doctor can run for any political office in Columbus she'd

4. Colonial Mall in Auburn. In or out?

Answer: OUT. Managers announced Thursday the name will change to "Colonial University Village." As if "mall" is the word which didn't fit here?! It's in Auburn, not Louisville or Richmond.

Colonial University Village will be the second name change for the Auburn mall since I moved to this area seven years ago. New college students will be amazed to learn these changes happened with NO competition from the new "Tiger Town."

I'm actually pleased by the name change the mall in Auburn. The corporate managers have put the name "Colonial Mall" on buildings in several other cities, including one I've visited in Brunswick, Georgia. How many Auburn alums have stopped there, and been disappointed by the lack of Tiger gear?

5. Mike Gaymon of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce. In or out?

Answer: IN. He's on the air so much these days that I'm waiting for him to announce he's running for President as an independent.

Mike Gaymon announced a new membership drive for the Chamber of Commerce Thursday. Is this really the right time? After all, the United Way hasn't finished begging for money yet....

Mike Gaymon already hosted a weekly Chamber of Commerce talk show on WCGT TV-16. Now he also has a Tuesday morning talk show on WDAK radio -- where he joins the weekend home repair guy as the only announcers with no conservative ax to grind.

6. Heath Morton, WRBL weekend meteorologist. In or out?

Answer: OUT. He's heading for Huntsville, to take a TV job there. Now I have no one left to call "Heath Bar" when I'm watching TV.

Heath Morton reportedly had a deal to move to Huntsville several months ago - but the WRBL management at the time refused to let him leave. If Morton was that vital to whatever success they had, why didn't the managers put Jeff Donald on a bus to Huntsville instead?

Heath Morton didn't get much of a chance to say goodbye to WRBL. It came up last Friday on "News 3 at 6:00" - in the last ten seconds of the newscast. Maria LaRosa had a visit from former Mayor Bobby Peters.

7. Mara Kelly, WRBL weekend news anchor. In or out?

Answer: OUT - or so I'm hearing. One source tells me Kelly's leaving the air because she wants to start a family. So maybe THIS is WRBL's strategy for better ratings....

8. Southeastern Conference basketball, as a whole. In or out?

Answer: OUT. When Columbus TV stations would rather show an infomercial or a shopping channel than Thursday afternoon's Auburn-Georgia game, it MUST be out.

On the other hand, radio coverage of Southeastern Conference basketball must be IN. I went back and forth between WRCG and WHAL to listen to the Auburn-Georgia game, and heard the same commercials on both stations several times.

9. The University of Georgia men's basketball team, which annihilated Auburn Thursday in the Southeastern Conference tournament. In or out of the NCAA's?

Answer: OUT, I say - even if the Bulldogs beat Kentucky today for a third time this season. If they couldn't beat Winthrop in December, can you really trust this team to show up for the national playoffs?

10. Auburn men's basketball coach Cliff Ellis, whose Tigers were trampled by Georgia. In or out?

Answer: IN. His job is safe, because Athletic Director David Housel doesn't want to shoot himself in the foot twice in five months.

11. A day without any news about the Kenneth Walker case. In or out?

Answer: IN - and I hope more days are like Thursday. To me, it's a refreshing change.

BLOGGER'S NOTE: Daily blogging may diminish over the next few weeks, due to our annual spring clean-up....

To offer a story tip, make a donation or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post a reply.

If you quote from this in public somewhere, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003-04 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, March 11, 2004



So whatever happened to Taylor County High School - where over the years they've not only had "Dueling Banjos," but dueling prom DJ's?

The answer to that question came Wednesday. Taylor County school officials announced the district will sponsor a prom for all the high school students this spring. The school kept its hands off the prom for decades -- thus setting an example for students about proper dancing.

As you may know, Taylor County High School students divided at prom time on their own for 30 years. Some went to a "white prom." Some went to a "black prom." And who knows what would have happened if Marion County hadn't taken all the Hispanic immigrants.

Taylor County tried a unified prom for all students at the Columbus Trade Center two years ago - but the racially separate proms returned last year, and they became a national news story. So it's no wonder the school district took action. Officials don't want Bill O'Reilly organizing a protest march into town.

There's only one catch to The Official Taylor County High School Prom. It'll be held in the school gym, and some students aren't thrilled about that. Maybe this will inspire Red Roof Inn or Super 8 to open a motel in Butler....

(But what did these high school students expect? It's Taylor County - where I suspect there's barely enough money in the budget to buy a crown for the queen.)

One Taylor County High School openly called the gymnasium prom idea a "bunch of cr*p." Several others said it's simply not the same, compared with proms in Fort Valley or Columbus. For one thing, those cities actually have roads where you
can stick your head out of a limousine at more than a 35-mile-per-hour speed limit.

Taylor County Superintendent Wayne Smith admitted Wednesday he's heard some groups of students might not come to The Official High School Prom. He says the district will take no responsibility for what happens elsewhere - say, if some
teens actually get away from teacher chaperones and have fun.

The Taylor County Superintendent says it's time to put the "negative racial publicity" about proms behind. He's more than willing to let the Muscogee County Sheriff's Department deal with that instead.

BLOG UPDATE: Speaking of which, Wednesday's Ledger-Enquirer revealed the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition failed to even pass the first stage in a recall of Sheriff Ralph Johnson. Dozens of signatures to start a petition drive were rejected by the Muscogee County Election Board. Perhaps some people signed under assumed names, to guard against a raid.

All Dr. William Howell of Rainbow/PUSH needed were 100 signatures from registered voters to begin a recall drive. But out of 120 names turned in, only 89 of them were registered to vote four years ago. As close as the 2000 Presidential
election was, you'd think people would remember if they were registered or not.

William Howell picked up another application, and will start from scratch to recall the Muscogee County Sheriff. He says he'll take petitions to "barber shops, beauty shops...." the better to verify those names with DNA checks.

Now a whip-around of other Wednesday news:

+ Char-Broil announced a recall of three models of gas grills, because of problems with temperature gauges. Those gauges are especially important in this part of the country - because during the summer, you're likely to sweat before you even turn the heat on.

+ WLTZ confirmed to the Ledger-Enquirer it plans to keep showing "Martha Stewart Living" until its contract for the show expires in September. Please note the show appears at 12:00 noon - separated from Judge Mathis by a safe two hours.

+ Instant Message to the "Online Income Seminar:" You can come to town next Monday if you wish. But if you insist on spelling the name of this city COLOMBUS in your infomercials, why should I think your approach will make me successful?

COMING FRIDAY: What's in and out for spring.... or should we say "who" is....

© 2003-04 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004



Today is the second and final day of the annual "Jail and Bail" fund-raiser for the Crimestoppers program. At last Edward DuBose can put David Glisson where he thinks Glisson belongs....

But seriously: "Jail and Bail" helps the Crimestoppers reward fund collect thousands of dollars. You lock up your friends or neighbors, and make them raise money by bailing themselves out. I can think of some local sports teams who could learn from this idea.

Sergeant Warren Dunlap of the Columbus Police described the project this way Tuesday: "Nobody's safe today and tomorrow." That settles it - every time I step outside my apartment today, I'm wearing sunglasses as a disguise.

The Jail and Bail lockup site has moved this year, from Peachtree Mall to the Heritage Inn motel downtown. I don't know why this change was made. Maybe the Mall is starting something for its usual visitors, called "Teens Grounded" or

There are some restrictions on the "Jail and Bail" game. For one thing, people you want "arrested" must be at businesses -- NOT at residences. After all, we don't want to overwork the SWAT team.

Some businesses have "immunity" from arrests during "Jail and Bail," because they made a donation in advance to Crimestoppers. If it works for corporations during political campaigns, why not here?

Who would YOU like to see thrown in a mock jail for a while? We can think of some candidates....

+ Columbus Councilor Nathan Suber - so we can take pictures of him, and use them in attack ads during the next election.

+ Miriam Tidwell - because if she's not careful, she could develop the ego of a Martha Stewart.

+ Either Assistant City Manager - but we'd require them to pay the bail out of their big raises.

THE BIG BLOG QUESTION: Our one-week question on Sheriff Ralph Johnson ended Tuesday night, with 82 percent of you against a recall. (9-2) It already seemed like William Howell of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition had a mountain to climb. With these numbers, he might as well head for Mount McKinley and try it.

Meanwhile in Albany, District Attorney Ken Hodges told WRBL he will NOT release the "cop-cam" videotape of the shooting of Kenneth Walker last December. Hodges explained it might taint a jury, and hurt David Glisson's defense. If he's using language like that to describe the tape, the view of Glisson may not be obscured enough.

Dougherty County D.A. Ken Hodges also said he's spoken to the widow of Kenneth Walker, and plans to meet with her family before long. He'll probably wait until later to meet with David Glisson - when plea bargaining starts.

You need more Tuesday topics to talk about? OK:

+ The preliminary hearing for Fort Benning Chaplain James Yee was delayed for the SIXTH time. The military's definition of a "speedy trial" must be based on the Mars Rover spacecraft....

+ The Historic Chattahoochee Commission unveiled a sign in Columbus marking the "Colored Department of the City Hospital." [True/WRBL] It looks like supporters of the 1957 Georgia flag have a new gathering place.

+ Columbus State University announced it has changed its downtown campus plans, and will NOT build an arts and sciences center on the grassy oval at 10th and Bay Avenue. After all, future students will need someplace t play touch football besides the middle of Broadway.

+ The Columbus High School marching band staged a neighborhood parade, to get ready for a performance in Chicago on St. Patrick's Day. But hold on a minute - didn't this group forget something? Where was the Ketia Swanier float?

+ The Georgia House approved a bill regulating professional wrestling. Groups such as WWE would have to pay the state a $1,000 annual fee, plus $250 per match. At those rates, there won't be much money left to fix the matches.

(Supporters of this bill say they're trying to end dangerous "backyard wrestling" cards youngsters stage for each other. Of course, this simply will start another trend -- "basement rec. room wrestling.")

Instant Message to Mike Vee: It's nice to hear the Columbus Cottonmouths had an "action-packed month" in February. But I heard you say this on WRCG Tuesday night - on March 9. What have you done for me lately?

SONG OF THE DAY: GPB-TV presented a "pledge month" special Tuesday night about the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary - and Peter Yarrow was in the studio, going to phones with his guitar and singing to callers! Here's one tune he should have tried:

If I had a pledge, I'd pledge it in the morning.

I'd pledge it in the evening - I'd pick up the phone.

I'd charge it on Visa!

I'd use Disco-ov-er!

I'd pick up a tote bag for my brother or my sister,

All for - public TV!

(Uh-oh - I just realized I've committed to sing during the Valley Rescue Mission telethon March 25. Please DON'T call until after I'm through with my songs. Otherwise, I might think you want me off the air.)

To offer a story tip, make a donation or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post a reply.

If you quote from this in public somewhere, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003-04 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.



The buck was passed again Monday in the Kenneth Walker investigation. Well, maybe we should say the political football....

Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker announced Dougherty County District Attorney Ken Hodges will oversee the Kenneth Walker case. We can already count two winners from this move - convenience stores in Parrott and Dawson, from lawyers stopping for gas along Highway 520.

Ken Hodges revealed he took possession of the six-volume state report on the Kenneth Walker case last week, and already has it in Albany. Uh-oh, Hodges may be in trouble already - because civil rights groups couldn't watch him open the Government Center vault.

Ken Hodges told one TV reporter his study of the Kenneth Walker case probably will be "not as fast as some would like." This probably came as a surprise to many people - because both supporters and opponents of David Glisson have made up their minds, without even seeing the state report.

Attorney General Thurbert Baker said in a statement he chose Ken Hodges for the Kenneth Walker investigation because Hodges is "willing to make tough calls." This apparently means some people are NOT willing to make tough calls. Take Sheriff Ralph Johnson on the night Walker was shot....

The Georgia Attorney General noted Ken Hodges even had the courage to prosecute an Assistant Police Chief in Dougherty County for bribery. Somewhere inside the Government Center, District Attorney Gray Conger must feel like he's chopped liver.

Speaking of the Government Center, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition President William Howell submitted a first set of petitions Monday to recall Sheriff Ralph Johnson. Howell needed 100 names, and he turned in 120. Maybe now African-American
children will see the importance of learning math skills.

William Howell says he's confident he can get 30,000 signatures from registered voters, to force Sheriff Ralph Johnson into a recall election. Talk about overconfidence! We couldn't get 30,000 total votes on the sales tax question last

Sheriff Ralph Johnson is up for re-election in November. William Howell says he has a candidate in mind to run against the Sheriff, but he will NOT name that person at this time. Hmmmmm.... is D.J. Jones really the right person for this job?

All these developments occurred after Monday's Ledger-Enquirer published a letter from David Glisson's parents. They say the former deputy is NOT racist, and grew up around African-American friends. That sounds good - but how often has he eaten collards?

Leroy and Katie Glisson revealed in their newspaper letter former Deputy David Glisson asked for an African-American judge to preside over his wedding two decades ago. Is that why he lives in Salem - because right-wing Columbusites ran
him out of town?

BIG PREDICTION UPDATE: Just as we figured, "Martha Stewart Living" remained on NBC-38 Monday, three days after her conviction on four stock fraud counts. Of course, this station doesn't have a local news department - so the managers might not know yet that she's guilty.

I didn't realize until this past weekend that NBC-38 had moved Martha Stewart's show to 12:00 noon. That means the end of "Coffee Break" - or at least it did. With Stewart's conviction, Don Nahley might be able to stay off the unemployment line after all.

(The ratings for "Coffee Break" never were very high - so NBC-38 must have decided it's better to have no coffee at all, than something that's really weak.)

WLTZ plans another schedule change next Monday. "Dr. Phil" will move from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., which means "NBC Nightly News" will be on at 6:30 with the other network newscasts. I'm pleased about this, because now I can focus all my attention on staring at the good-looking Victoria Recaño on "Inside Edition." No wait, WATCHING her....

But back to Martha Stewart: did you hear what local Kmart customers said Monday about the conviction? ALL of them said they'll keep buying items with the Martha Stewart name on them. Come to think of it, she's a big backer of Democrats - and they supported President Clinton, through all the sins HE committed.

(We'd like to nominate Joanne Cavis to replace Martha Stewart as "Domestic Diva." After all, Cavis used to co-host "The Answer Book" on TV-16, so she MUST know about as much.)

Now other quick thoughts from a very busy Monday:

+ More complaints surfaced about high school attendance lines, at a Muscogee County School Board work session. There may be only one fair, impartial way to settle this - have a first-grader draw them with an Etch-a-Sketch.

(One critic of the proposed attendance lines complained: "Northside got what they wanted." So what's wrong with that? All the other high schools have had their turn for decades....)

+ Alabama Governor Bob Riley named Troy King Attorney General, to finish the term of new federal appeals judge Bill Pryor. Somewhere Roy Moore must be wondering how Satan disrupted his plans....

+ Instant Message to the Columbus Square 8 theatres: Thank you for changing your sign, so only one movie title appears on a line. Seeing "Passion Twisted" the other day made me wonder if you were making a religious commentary.

To offer a story tip, make a donation or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post a reply.

If you quote from this in public somewhere, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003-04 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, March 07, 2004



From the weekend e-mail comes this revealing message:

Dear Blog,

I would like to make mention of how quiet it has gotten since the autopsy report came back on Kenneth Walker. I have also notice a swing in public opinion about this case, I believe that people are beginning to see the truth. To help the truth get out a little better I would like to invite you and your readers to visit and please keep an eye out for more of the truth on this site.

Thank you


Thank YOU, Tim, for alerting us to this web site which was set up this past week. An online argument is a bit easier for us to take than a panel of lawyers on a cable news show.

The home page of "Friends of David Glisson" sets a tone right away. It tells visitors NOT to post any discriminatory comments in the guestbook. So if you prefer classical music to country, you might not want to say so here....

An "events" section on the pro-Glisson web site mentions a "Home Run Derby" next weekend to benefit the former Deputy's Relief Fund. This in itself shows sensitivity and compassion - because they could have organized a turkey shoot.

The Friends of David Glisson web site is rather simple at this point, with only five main pages. One has the statement attorney Richard Hagler read for reporters about ten days ago - and another has the title "The Truth." Is that separation just
a coincidence?!

Part of "the truth" on the pro-Glisson web site is that Sheriff Ralph Johnson is a "Judas" for firing the Deputy. Of course, civil rights groups claim THEY have "the truth" in this case as well - so it's no wonder many residents feel a bit like Pontius

Hey Judas," the web site practically taunts Sheriff Ralph Johnson, "how does it feel to walk the halls of the Sheriffs Department and have to look your deputys in the eyes, or do you even leave your office? For that matter, can you even look at yourself in the mirror?" Well, at least the Sheriff lets us look at HIM. The web site doesn't even have Glisson's picture.

(Do you think David Glisson's "friends" actually might sign the Rainbow/PUSH coalition's petition to recall the Sheriff? I'd like to see the moment that happens - because it might rival some showdowns on the Jerry Springer Show.)

The page with "the truth" repeats some of the points about Kenneth Walker which have reached our InBox in recent weeks. "Kenneth Walker made some very bad choices that night," it says -- such as "cruising the streets with his friends and
drinking and doing cocaine." The message here is clear: just say no to car-pooling.

"David Glisson is many things," a separate page on the web site says, "but the racist monster the NAACP, and the local news media, and other political preditors have made him out to be, is not one of them." Of course, relatives say Kenneth Walker is NOT a cocaine-user, either. And then I wonder why people say I'm too hard on myself, when I admit mistakes.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Here's another message somewhat related to law enforcement, from Robert:

seems as if we have two comp plan issues in columbus at the very same time.the COMPREHENSIVE PLAN. which may becom known in the future as NOT the Comprehensive Plan but the REPREHENSIBLE PLAN !!!! remember folks, you heard it here first.....

a COMPENSATION PLAN , as in better pay for public safety employees.

These deserve MORE attention.

Robert probably already realizes many people in Columbus find the "comprehensive plan" hard to comprehend. After all, didn't it say something once about a new marina?

As for the public safety "compensation plan," police and fire groups talked with Columbus Council members about that this past week. So far there's no solution - but maybe the answer's right in front of all our noses. If the Girl Scouts can raise a fortune selling cookies, how about "Brownies for Badges?"

To offer a story tip, make a donation or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post a reply.

If you quote from this in public somewhere, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003-04 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.