Tuesday, June 29, 2004

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for 30 JUN 04: BENNING'S BANNING



Fort Benning's commanders laid down the law Tuesday, releasing a list of eight Columbus businesses where soldiers cannot go. But this raises a lot of questions. If the Platinum Club is good enough for the generals, why isn't it for Baptist preachers?



The "Big Eight" businesses named by Fort Benning commanders include one that's no surprise at all - the Boom Boom Room, where a soldier was shot and killed in the parking lot last month. A name like this should have been taken by a Benning shooting range in the first place....



(These generals are getting so tough, Boomer 95.3 FM might need a name change.)



The Big Eight banned businesses include the Traffic Light Inn, Cellar's Lounge and the Ponderosa Motel - all of them either on or along Victory Drive. That's why we hesitate to call this the "Elite Eight."



But a couple of banned businesses for Fort Benning soldiers did raise eyebrows. The Memory Lane nightclub near Macon Road is out. Where else in town are WHINSEC students going to teach us how to salsa dance on Wednesday nights?



Another verboten nightspot for Fort Benning soldiers is the Coach's Corner sports bar on Gentian Boulevard. That'll teach this place not to put Army football games on their TV screens....



Why put Coach's Corner on the no-go list? I did some research, and found out why. That sports bar was the last place where Zach Wages was seen alive two years ago. Albert Woolfolk left there last July, and later was found stabbed to death at his home. And if that's not enough, the cooks seem to go home early on Saturday nights when I want dinner.



Fort Benning commanders say the Big Eight will be off-limits to soldiers until these establishments take steps to clean up their crime and civility problems. For instance, the Ponderosa Motel could install cameras in every room - and then the managers would be arrested for being peeping toms.



As you might guess, businesses on the Fort Banning - er, Benning list are unhappy. Memory Lane club owner Billy McClendon told WXTX News at Ten he has occasional bar fights, but nothing more. But think ahead six months - and that club will be only walking distance away from the weirdos visiting that new library.



The owner of Cellar's Lounge offered her own explanation to Fox-54, saying the real problem is that Fort Benning has "some bad soldiers." Let's do something about this! Find those young men and women - and send them back to Iraq, to behead some terrorists.



(The Cellar's Lounge owner maintains her Victory Drive business has no problems with crime or drugs. Uhhhhh - was that the reason for the ban? Or does it have something to do with the silhouette of a good-looking woman on its sign?)



The manager of the Traffic Light Inn also protested appearing on Fort Benning's Big Eight list. He argued soldiers pick up prostitutes on the street - and his staff merely rents rooms for the night. Hopefully all the bedding is thoroughly disinfected next morning....



The Big Eight list actually might mean layoffs at Coach's Corner - because an employee told WRBL the sports bar has soldiers on its staff. So if you don't see Meals Ready-to-Eat on the menu anymore, that's why.



One Fort Benning private also said on TV Tuesday evening the ban on certain businesses is unfair. He explained the Army has too many rules already. If only the generals listened to this man -- and let troops in basic training wear tanktops during summer, to be more comfortable.



One obvious question you may have is how Fort Benning will enforce this ban on the Big Eight. Officers plan to ride along with Columbus Police and MP's on post. And if that doesn't work, taxi drivers are always looking for extra tip money.



Meanwhile, the private company which oversees dining facilities at Fort Benning received an award Tuesday night from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. I'm not sure exactly why - bt knowing the Rumsfeld reputation, it may be for refusing to feed news reporters.



E-MAIL UPDATE: "Pleeeease" wrote a letter writer Tuesday, asking me to post one more free message supporting Bobby Peters for Judge. But as I wrote Tuesday, until Roxann Daniel supporters send three messages to balance things out, pro-Peters e-mails must include a donation to the blog. Maybe Daniel backers already are in final deliberations?!



Meanwhile, the Alabama primary runoff took place Tuesday. And it was very well named, because most registered voters ran off and did other things....



Gary Waldrup won a Democratic runoff race for a Russell County Commission seat, beating Harry McElwee with 54 percent of the vote. How I wish the TV stations had shown the vote counts! If the margin was less than 200, those stolen McElwee signs might have made a difference.



Mervin Dudley won another Russell County Commission runoff, over Arthur "Buster" Sanders. Hopefully Sanders won't feel too depressed - and he'll toast his second-place finish at Dairy Queen, with a Peanut "Buster" Parfait.



Now some other things that seemed more interesting than the Alabama runoff:


+ The Phenix City Housing Authority fired longtime executive director Chuck Roberts. A competing local blog actually predicted this change 12 days ago - suspecting there's a plot to make gobs of money off downtown renovation. That's GOBS as in Good Ol' Boys, you know....



(Chuck Roberts served in Phenix City 38 years. This may not be a good sign for another Chuck Roberts I know - the 20-year anchor at CNN Headline News in Atlanta.)



+ WRBL's Mara Kelly attempted to check the facts in a "Herman Cain for Senate" commercial - but the bills he cited were in such small type, she couldn't even read them with a magnifying glass! Either Cain needs to endorse a prescription eyeglass benefit in Medicare, or "News 3" needs to buy a big-screen TV.



+ Troy University Public Radio announced it's bringing back a Saturday night hour of big band music, because "you asked for it." How will Mayor Poydasheff explain to voters he's listening to a network based in Alabama?



+ Columbus native Sam Mitchell was named the new head coach of basketball's Toronto Raptors. But why did a news anchor at 5:30 p.m. say basketball tickets suddenly would be easier to get here? The Riverdragons seem to have thousands of empty seats at every home game.



(Sam Mitchell moves to Toronto after serving as assistant coach of the expansion Charlotte Bobcats - for ONE MONTH, before even an exhibition game was played. Yeow, even Rasheed Wallace stayed in Atlanta long enough to play a game for the Hawks.)



+ Tom Slater was named Auburn University's new head baseball coach. Slater used to coach at Virginia Military Institute - where the batters were known for standing up straight, and never crouching at the plate.



+ Macon police reported a mother became so angry at Chuck E. Cheese, she threw a slice of pizza at the restaurant's mouse mascot. Who should be more embarrassed here? The mom who became outraged? Or the mascot, who would have to claim "assault by pepperoni and mushrooms?"



+ Instant Message to 352 Bogging in Box Springs: When I first heard about your business, I was a little worried. But then I double-checked - and thankfully, it's not "Blogging."



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.


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29 JUN 04: GUNS 'N' MOSES



So, you may be asking, how was that church picnic I mentioned the other day? I'd sum it up in one word: memorable. Any picnic that includes people firing handguns certainly is memorable -- especially when they're not starting a sack race.



The church I attend once again held its annual picnic at the spacious home of an elder in rural Chambers County. It's so nice that he has a pool - but he's humble enough that it's not heated.



Scattered showers posed problems with our church picnic this year. Rain fell as chicken was grilling around 11:00 a.m. CT, then it poured just after everyone loaded their plates for lunch. So it was a Biblical day - we had the "early and the latter rain."



(A friend of mine noted it couldn't possibly rain a third time. "Rain fell on the just and the unjust," he said, "so who's left?")



After the second downpour, the clouds cleared enough for me to put on swim trunks and step into the pool. It was my first water adventure of this kind since -- well, since the water heater broke in the apartment last September.



But the clouds also cleared enough that one church member got out a pistol and started aiming at a pie-plate target across the host's yard. He had a National Rifle Association on the back of his pickup truck - and of course, he HAD to play country music and put down the tailgate. Keeping up appearances, you know....



You need to understand the church I attend is very pro-hunting and very pro-guns. In fact, my Pastor seems to talk about the second amendment to the Constitution more than the first one - which mentions freedom of religion.



"He brought his pistol and 100 rounds," the shooter's wife told us. And this man was ready to fire them all at the picnic. By comparison, I never touched the apple pie I brought for the dessert table....



This gunman - oops, gun enthusiast - actually was willing to share his abundance. He let other church members fire shots at the pie-plate target, including a woman who's preparing to undergo kidney dialysis. May those doctors in Birmingham handle that woman VERY carefully.



(Not everyone had perfect aim with this pistol. The stacks of firewood behind the target certainly are dead now....)



A couple of folks had earplugs ready for the target practice - but my Pastor sitting on a porch about 50 yards away did not. He covered his ears, obviously unprepared for this. "I'm glad we're out in the country where you can fire weapons, but a lot of people are going to go home with headaches tonight."



(By the way, I did NOT cover my ears during the gunfire - even though I stood only a few yards behind the gun enthusiast at one point. Since I listened to rock music during the 1970's, I had some built-up immunity.)



The uniqueness of this noisy moment was obvious to me. As I pointed out to a group on the porch: "Well, this sure is different from playing horseshoes at a church picnic."



Minutes later another church member brought out his bow rifle, for shooting deer archery-style. This was much quieter, a good bit safer - and everyone was much less likely to cough up their dinner in fright.



What's that you're saying - you've never had anyone bring a gun to your church picnic, much less fire one? Well, what are you going to do next time someone forgets to bring a bottle or can opener?



(No, I'm not used to people bringing guns to church picnics, either. But at least we knew the chicken would stay inside the grill.)



An amazing P.S. to this story occurred Monday evening at the Benning Park racquetball courts. A little boy came up to me, obviously seeing a racquetball and racquet for the first time. I let him knock the ball around for a few minutes - and as he chased down a ball which flew over the fence, he asked a strange question.


"Do you own a gun?" No, I don't. "I like to play with guns."


"You should have been at my church picnic yesterday."


"You had a gun there?!" Yes - and I shared a little of this story.


"I wish I had been there!"


"Why?" The little boy explained as he threw the ball back to me and ran away:


"I'd want to shoot the b**ch."



Come to think of it, we never pulled out a Bible at that church picnic....



BLOG UPDATE: Former Mayor Bobby Peters gained the Fraternal Order of Police endorsement Monday, in the race for Superior Court Judge. We now predict the F.O.P. will sue the city of Columbus for a pay hike within 48 hours of the July 20 election.



(OK, so who will receive the F.O.P. endorsement for Muscogee County Sheriff? Considering no officer ever arrested David Glisson, I think I can guess that one....)



F.O.P. leader Randy Robertson says his group is backing Bobby Peters based on his years with the Columbus police force, including time spent as a detective. Maybe Peters has passed on those detective skills to others - based on the rumors
floating around about opponent Roxann Daniel.



At first the incumbent judge said she had no comment on Monday's endorsement. Then Roxann Daniel changed her mind, and said the F.O.P. does NOT speak for all local law enforcement. Hmmmm - which law officers do NOT want a raise?



Judge Roxann Daniel maintains she has the support of police in Columbus - and that appears to be true. At least, no officers have attempted a coup so far....



Have you seen Judge Roxann Daniel's latest TV commercial? It says you have a clear choice July 20 - and one option is "a politician, who will do things because they're popular." So?! It sounds to me like some conservatives WANT that kind of judge in this part of the country - pro-Ten Commandments, for instance.



(This could make the race for Judge almost an economic question. I can see the ads now: "Vote for Roxann Daniel - put ten poll-takers out of work.")



So I'm not supposed to vote a politician into the Superior Court Judge's seat?! Then why did Roxann Daniel's last campaign ad have a couple of well-known local politicians endorsing her?



There's one big question left unanswered by the new Roxann Daniel commercial. Where did she get that fancy gavel they show on TV, with her name engraved in the middle of it? Does "Names and Frames" do that sort of thing -- and with her dollars, or tax money?



E-MAIL UPDATE: This race for Judge remains the hottest topic in our In-Box - well, this side of cut-rate college diplomas:



Mr. Burkard:


Before we get sidelined with speculation about other people's marriages, let's get back to the real criteria for choosing a candidate.



I want Bobby Peters to be our next Superior Court Judge because he has spent most of his adult life demonstrating his dedication to the citizens of Columbus. Bobby Peters has given up a lucrative
private law career and probably a significant amount of his personal time to address the wants and needs of our citizens. He has made tough choices, he has negotiated compromises, and he has stood up to political pressures to do what he felt was better for all instead of the privileged few.



Have you ever seen this man try to eat in a local restaurant? Bobby Peters knows all of Columbus on a first name basis, from the highest levels of government down to the guy who buses his table. He treats all with equal regard. I am tired of listening to politicians talk about what they will do. This man delivers the goods and has exhibited the wisdom and humanity that earn him the title "Your Honor".



Patty Chappel



Thank you, Patty, for helping us focus back on what really matters in this race for Superior Court Judge -- how many people you can name at a restaurant.



Anyone who's served in public office as long as Bobby Peters certainly has "negotiated compromises." So what will be his minimum plea bargain for a murder suspect?



Our updated score now is free Peters plugs 3, free Daniel plugs 0 -- so let's try to make this fair. Until Roxann Daniel backers send me three e-mails of support, Bobby Peters backers must make a donation to the blog to have their messages posted. I accept PayPal -- and if TV and radio stations can get rich off paid political advertising, so can I.



Now some other items which crossed our path on Monday:


+ U.S. Senate candidate Johnny Isakson visited Country's Barbecue at Main Street Village, during his "Cut the Pork Tour." If he recommends eating barbecue beef in this part of the country, he risks losing a lot of votes.



(Johnny Isakson explained he missed Sunday's debate in Columbus because of a church commitment in Roswell. He noted the Republicans have 16 debates scheduled before the primary - so it's no wonder Mac Collins seemed to have answers written on cards the other night.)



+ The Muscogee County School Board approved a $221 million budget. OK, I'll root now for a school board member to hit the Mega Millions jackpot tonight - so THAT budget can double, and Reading Recovery can be funded for another ten years.



+ Former Columbus TV reporter Kimberley Kennedy told ABC News about how her husband-to-be dumped her at their wedding rehearsal in Atlanta. She says she saw Lewis Dickey for the first time in years recently at a restaurant, and she felt
nothing. After all these years, Kennedy and Dickey finally have similar hearts.



(Kennedy's sister Kathleen is a friend from my CNN years -- but I'd never heard her side of the wedding rehearsal disaster. Kathleen revealed she was angry, and "said some things I probably shouldn't have." There are times when TV news anchors should stick to scripts.)



+ Former Columbus Cottonmouths coach Bruce Garber was a guest on D.J. Jones's WRCG sports talk show. From what I saw on WCGT, Garber could claim to be Mike Vee and many viewers might not notice the difference.



(So what's Bruce Garber doing these days? He's selling sports collectibles, such as a University of Georgia desk lamp. Given Garber's temper, we assume the lamps are unbreakable when thrown across a room.)



COMING WEDNESDAY: The Alabama primary runoff - assuming anyone shows up to vote....



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, June 27, 2004

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for 28 JUN 04: CAIN IS ABLE?



Two top Republican candidates for U.S. Senate in Georgia debated each other at the RiverCenter Sunday night. Johnny Isakson was NOT among them - as he apparently has bought enough TV time to explain all his positions already.



Senate candidate Herman Cain began the debate, introducing himself by saying: "I'm not a politician. I am a problem solver." Oh no! How much did WRBL pay him to make that statement on another station?



Herman Cain says he believes in each person's desire to achieve their dreams "the old-fashioned way.... by working for it." So a vote for him may be a vote to do away with signing bonuses for pro athletes.



Herman Cain warned some people want to "redefine our moral foundation" in the U.S. Perhaps that's why this debate wasn't held at the Civic Center. The Victory Drive nightclubs simply were too close.



Rep. Mac Collins told the debate audience his top priority is national security and defense. For one thing, he wants "more bases like Fort Benning" - so smoke clouds from controlled burns may spread from coast to coast.



Mac Collins said during his years on the House Ways and Means Committee, he's helped to improve agreements on the textile industry. Just think - the Pillowtex employees in Phenix City might have been laid off even sooner.



The most contentious moment of the Senate debate involved a proposed "fair tax." Neither candidate went into great detail about what that means - but I haven't been to the fair at South Commons in a few years, so that's not really my issue.



Herman Cain's idea of a "fair tax" is a national tax on consumption, doing away with the income tax code. He says the income tax system provides a "disincentive to earn money." For instance, Karl Malone and Gary Payton took pay cuts to play with the Lakers this past season....



(C'mon now - if the income tax system really discourages people from making money, why will there be long lines at lottery windows today for that $210 million jackpot?)



Herman Cain wants an overhaul in the tax system, instead of what he calls a "band-aid on the tax code." In fact, he spoke against Band-Aids so many times I get the feeling he attends a Christian Science church.



Mac Collins responded to this talk by saying Herman Cain never contacted him in the U.S. House about backing a fair tax. Perhaps Cain thought a public opinion poll was sufficient - but Republicans claim they NEVER govern based on polls.



The funniest moment at the Senate debate occurred when the candidates discussed the opponent who wasn't there. Herman Cain asked what sort of "distinguished leadership" Johnny Isakson had shown in the House - and after a moment Mac Collins said, "Final answer!" Maybe if Isakson had taught Sunday School inside the Capitol....



The Republican candidates agreed on several issues - such as the question of same-sex marriage. Mac Collins says he hopes to vote within 60 days on a constitutional amendment defining marriage. The major holdup to this now is: Webster's or American Heritage?



Herman Cain told the audience when it came to marriage being between men and women, "God knew what He was doing." Apparently he needs to convince other Republicans of this - such as Newt Gingrich in Georgia, and Jack Ryan in Illinois.



From what I saw of the debate, Mac Collins seemed to read "canned answers" to questions several times. If he fails to win the U.S. Senate race, he has a great future holding State Department news conferences.



If you were scoring the debate on stage presence and speaking style, Herman Cain had to win by a wide margin. And given his background, he's much more likely to throw pizza parties for his Senate staff.



I couldn't help noticing there were empty seats inside the RiverCenter's Legacy Hall at the Senate debate. Maybe Rob Doll should have offered to apply the three-dollar ticket charge to the down payment on a new car.



To be fair: Johnny Isakson is scheduled to make a campaign stop in Columbus today. But is this really a good thing for a Senate candidate in 2004 - to appear 24 hours behind the times?



Lest we forget: today marks the start of a one-week filing period for independent candidates in Columbus. Sheriff Ralph Johnson is expected to submit his name for re-election. And we'll know by Friday whether David Glisson quietly moved across the state line, to provide some REAL opposition.



THE BIG BLOG QUESTION resurfaced Sunday night, in the wake of the Senate debate. You can vote for four big-name candidates, or write in one of your own - and before you ask, Candace Cook is NOT running.



E-MAIL UPDATE: Messages keep coming about another contest on the Columbus primary ballot:


In response to your recent postings about Bobby Peters and Judge Daniel. I have to state that Bobby Peters is the most honest and qualified candidate for the position. He has an excellent character and Columbus will be better off with him sitting on the bench than with Judge Daniel. I know both candidates and Daniels is a bit underhanded. You seem to also be making an issue of his ex-wife being involved in his campaign. Which I guess would seem odd to someone who didn't know them. She is a good business woman. They discovered they were better suited to friendship with each other than romance and were lucky enough to divorce and remain friends. Bobby wanted to maintain a quality atmosphere for the sake of his daughter, and nothing else. That is something in Bobby's favor, usually an ex-wife wants a lifetime of revenge!



I know for certain that they each have separate romantic interests.



I love your Blog, it is a lot more interesting than the L/E!



Concerned Citizen.



Updated score: free Peters plugs 2, free Daniel plugs 0. This is getting to be like the count of campaign signs....



So, Mr./Ms. Citizen, Roxann Daniel is "a bit underhanded"?! Since when did softball pitching become an issue in the Superior Court Judge race?



You're right to point out ex-wives usually would want revenge, while Bobby Peters's wife apparently does not. But I'd also point out that a steady job as a judge is more likely to mean regular alimony checks.



(I'd also make an issue of Roxann Daniel's marriage - but for some reason, her supporters have yet to write the blog. Perhaps they're afraid of what I might say about it....)



Hmmmm - who is this "separate romantic interest" of Bobby Peters? And does she really swoon for him, or that classic T-Bird he drives?



Wow - this blog is more interesting than the Ledger-Enquirer? Imagine if I hired away Kaffie Sledge....



COMING TUESDAY: What was all that gunfire in Chambers County? We'll have reports from several witnesses....



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.


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27 JUN 04: JACKED TAX?



The woman on the other end of the phone was upset. "They're charging a 12 percent sales tax," she complained of the new Publix store in Phenix City. What's going on here -- a Publix store selling gasoline?



This woman went to the grand opening of Publix at "Phenix Crossing" last Wednesday, and she said she couldn't believe the total. "They're charging 12 dollars on every $100 of groceries, and people don't even realize it until they check their bill," she declared. Now there's an interesting idea. Post tax rates on business doors, and it might start an uprising.



"They tried to tell me it's ten cents," the caller's tax complaint against Publix continued. "But just a couple of miles down the road at Spectrum, it's eight cents." Maybe so - but I know from experience the price of big bags of chips at Spectrum probably makes up the difference.



Apparently several people have complained about the tax rate at the new Publix. So to get to the bottom of this, I stopped by Phenix Crossing right before closing time Saturday night -- and as empty as the parking lot was, maybe that woman called a lot of other people.



I thought the Phenix City store was the first Publix in Alabama -- but a co-worker corrected me on that this past week. He says the Tuscaloosa area has three of them -- and still Alabama can't attract the top football players from Florida and Georgia.



A giant grocery bag is set up at the entryway to the Publix parking lot. Yes, it IS a grand opening -- but the extra-large package of salt and vinegar chips in that bag is simply going to encourage more obesity.



Publix is a stand-alone store for the time being -- but signs attached to Phenix Crossing promise it'll soon have a Blimpie sandwich shop and a "nail and day spa." Why someone's nails need a spa, I have no idea....



I only needed a few items from Publix for a church picnic today. The church supplies grilled chicken. Members like me supply everything else - including, I suppose, the Bibles in case a debate over doctrine breaks out.



My few items at Publix came to $5.43 - and the sales tax computed to TEN percent, not 12. The caller admitted the Publix staff on Wednesday talked of a ten-percent rate. Maybe this woman bought the wrong bottle of wine.



I asked the closing-time staff at Publix about the 12-cent sales tax, and they knew nothing about it. They explained the ten-cent stems from having a store inside the Phenix City limits, yet also in Lee County. And since it's near from Glenwood School, parents can afford something that pricy.



The caller noted there's quite a difference in tax rates between Publix stores in Columbus and Phenix City. Sure enough,
my last Publix receipt from Columbus reflects only a three-cent sales tax - for which we can thank former Governor Zell Miller for removing the sales tax on groceries. You see, even then he was leaning Republican.



The caller's point either was to demand Public lower its sales taxes, or to tell everybody to shop in Columbus instead of Phenix City. Given the differing prices in recent years, it's a wonder any gas station is open in Phenix City at all.



By the way, that reminds me - I filled my gas tank at the Crown station on 14th Street in Phenix City Friday evening for only $1.73 a gallon. The attendant refused to tell me how their price is lower than most stations in Columbus. Do you think this place is owned by a Saudi immigrant?!



But anyway: after I left Publix, I drove down Summerville Drive to KFC for dinner - and was greeted by a big "NO SHARING" sign above what looked like a buffet counter. The staff seemed puzzled when I told them, "Barney the Dinosaur would be upset with you."



BLOG UPDATE: It's now been a week, and Pastor Joseph Roberson still hasn't called me to "schedule an interview" about his school board campaign. Maybe he's suddenly decided to prepare a month's worth of sermons in advance....



Columbus's biggest debate of the campaign season so far occurs tonight at the RiverCenter, as Republican candidates for U.S. Senate meet. You can attend in person for three dollars - which is surprising, because I figured the wealthy G.O.P. folks would charge at least 15.



(If you're coming to Columbus from out of town for this debate, the RiverCenter will be easy to find. Bobby Peters probably will park his pickup truck with campaign signs right outside it.)



Only two of the "big three" Republican Senate candidates are coming to Columbus for this debate. Herman Cain and Mac Collins will be here. Johnny Isakson will not - as presumably he's teaching Sunday School all day long.



Johnny Isakson's latest TV ad takes a tougher tone than the previous ones. "Are you tired of all the false negative campaigning?" it asks. Why, yes I am - let's have some TRUE negative campaigning for a change.



The stern new ad from Johnny Isakson appears to respond to the first TV commercial from Herman Cain. Cain criticizes Isakson for getting support and contributions from trial lawyers. If this is a sin, the Superior Court Judge seat in Columbus should remain vacant for the next four years.



(Herman Cain's ad does NOT explain how he plans to get tough on trial lawyers. Maybe he'll force them all to move to north Phenix City, and charge sales tax....)



Somebody's gotta ask it - where are the Senate campaign commercials for Mac Collins? I haven't seen any on television. For someone whose TV ads for reelection to the House claimed he "gets things done," this is quite the opposite.



Your blog was NOT invited to be on the panel of questioners for this debate - but here are some questions we'd like to ask the Senate candidates:


+ Do you plan to buy your next car at Rob Doll Nissan? After all, he's the Republican Party chairman in Muscogee County.



+ Should Fort Benning be renamed Fort Reagan? I'm not sure anyone around here knows who "Benning" is, anyway.



+ Do you plan to seek Zell Miller's endorsement, just to rub it in to those Democrats?



+ Should the U.S. military do what Rush Limbaugh suggested awhile back - and bomb Saudi Arabia, just to keep them in line?



+ Will you invite Vice President Cheney to the Senate floor, to utter more four-letter curse words? Do you plan to say any, as a show of support - and will you try to get Howard Stern thrown off radio, if he keeps saying them?



+ Can you name any of your Democratic opponents? Most voters around here probably can't right now.



+ Should the government establish a mandatory six-month waiting period on all future romances by Jennifer Lopez and Britney Spears?



Now other short stacks from a wonderful weekend in June:


+ Someone robbed the SouthTrust Bank at Veterans Parkway and Whitesville Road. Wow, the merger with Wachovia isn't even final yet -- and already the SouthTrust bank envelopes are collectors' items?!



+ Danica Tisdale was crowned Miss Georgia as the RiverCenter. I consider this an upset, because the good-looking Monica Pang won preliminary events three nights in a row. Maybe her group was like the Atlantic Coast Conference usually is in football....



(As I suspected, "Miss Mall of Georgia" did NOT win the Miss Georgia title. If you're not a corporate sponsor of the pageant, forget about it.)



+ The Columbus Wardogs beat Oklahoma City 62-56, and suddenly are in playoff contention at 6-and-6. I'd say the Wardogs are making a late rush - but this is arena football, and they hardly have any rushing.



(After hearing the Wardog announcers on Boomer 95.3 mention two late "onside kicks," I suddenly realized something. Isn't EVERY kickoff in football an onside kick - unless the kicker whiffs, and the ball only goes five yards?)



COMING THIS WEEK: Runoff time in Alabama.... and a look back to the summer I snuck into a church....



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, June 25, 2004

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25 JUN 04: LIFE IN THE "HOOD"



Once again WRBL's 6:00 p.m. news had a major exclusive "top story" Thursday night - an apartment building people say is trashy and filled with insects. Just wait until the "Problem Solvers" get calls from every housing project in Columbus and Phenix City.



(Do you think the Problem Solvers get calls from children on school nights - asking for help with their algebra homework?)



The Problem Solvers checked a building on Hood Street, because a mother claimed she had to take her child to the emergency room on a Saturday due to insect bites. It's a good thing I'm not the Problem Solver - because I might have given that mom a bottle of Bactine and a can of bug spray.



Neighbors complained the apartment building on Hood Street doesn't have its trash dumpster emptied for weeks at a time -- and a couch sat outside unremoved for months. So why didn't someone take the public service approach -- and move that couch to a METRA bus stop?



The Problem Solvers finally tracked down the landlord of the Hood Street apartment building - and amazingly, the dumpster was cleared and the couch removed in only two hours. Was the landlord afraid of being embarrassed on TV? Or was it that big "Sandman" sign on the dumpster, which happens to be a WRBL advertiser?



As for the insects in the apartment building: the landlord promised to have an exterminator come out more often. Hey, maybe then I should call the Problem Solvers! All my landlord did about insects was give me a little bag of white powder a few years ago.



Presuming that little bag of white powder was insecticide, I spread it over cracks in my kitchen shelves - and the cockroaches walked right over and around it, going about their business. Maybe I should leave some on my dirty dishes instead....



I've dealt with enough cockroaches to know they're rather smart creatures. They instinctively know how to land on their feet and run for a hiding place, even when they drop several feet. You may compare them with the scandal-plagued politician of your choice.



So how do you kill a swarm of cockroaches? The best approach I've had is drowning them. Roach antennae make it next to impossible for them to climb out of bowls of water - and they struggle and struggle until they conk out and die. That mother could have staged an in-home nature study for her child....



There's one suggestion WRBL did NOT offer for resolving problems with messy apartments and homes - one another TV station was mentioning at the very same time. You can call the Columbus Environmental Court to report somebody. But if the Environmental Court judge doesn't wear a green robe, can this really be effective?



E-MAIL UPDATE: It's two-for-one day in the InBox. The first message almost makes me want to blush:



Mr. Burkard:



Thank you for your blog. You are a much better news source than the L-E and your grammar and punctuation are superior to theirs also.



In answer to the call for scrutiny into the two SCJ candidates, please check out www.bobbypeters.com . He is an extraordinary public servant who will do more to help the Columbus criminal justice process. I have worked in the Columbus legal community and in government there and know that both candidates are excellent. However, Mr. Peters will bring more to the bench and will also restore the confidence of some segments of the community who feel their voices are not being heard.



Sarah Clymer



Before I respond, please take note of the score: Bobby Peters e-mail plugs 1, Roxann Daniel plugs 0.



Thank you for the kind words, Sarah. But c'mon now - I'M a better news source than the Ledger-Enquirer?! Why, I haven't posted a five-day weather forecast here in months.



Part of the credit for nice grammar on this blog should go to the "Grammatik" tool provided with WordPerfect systems. But this software comes from Canada - so if you ever see color spelled with a "u," that's why.



Oh yes, the Superior Court Judge race: I actually reported on the Bobby Peters web site here eight months ago [26 Oct 03]. At the time, I noted the most interesting thing to me was NOT the candidate's qualifications or record - it was the picture of his two good-looking daughters.



I checked the Bobby Peters web site again at post time -- and a few lines have been added promoting his campaign for judge. My only question is: if "Bobby has always been fair.... compassionate and honest" as it says, why doesn't his campaign treasurer take him back and remarry him?



(We also found this line on the web site: "BOBBY KNOW THE LAW AND HE KNOWS OUR JUDICIAL CIRCUIT." He obviously wants to represent the ebonics speakers.)



So which segments of our community are not being heard in the court system? Hmmmm -- maybe they're the lawyers who have pro-Peters signs outside their offices.



While that e-mail may start an online blitz, our second message fuels one already in progress. Justin Cazana responds again to a Robbie Watson comment, which we posted Thursday:



Typical Robbie avoiding my questions with smart*ss responses. Where were you the morning the 507th left? Certainly a newsgathering operation like Archway's would be there? Surely that is one of your beats? Getting a little to cozy with the wire there aren't we? I remember the beat you had a WTVM because I was the one that had to cover it 95% of the time.



I feel a disclaimer is in order at this point - both these e-mail writers actually ARE adults. In fact, they're both parents.



Thankfully there's a new place in Columbus to settle feuds like this. The "Georgia Championship Wrestling Sports Arena" is open on Burnham Boulevard, near Cooper Creek Park. If they can agree on a night, I'll bring my camera.



SPAM-A-RAMA: The spam message I received this week was nothing memorable, but the title of it was: "PORK CHOP 57 CREAM PUFFS." Or as some pro football linemen would call it - lunch.



Now for some lower-calorie offerings from Thursday's news:


+ The Census Bureau reported Auburn is one of the ten fastest-growing cities in Alabama. Take that, you critics! Auburn University interim President Ed Richardson isn't firing people fast enough.



+ The same Ed Richardson officially announced Auburn University's Police Department will be merged into the Auburn City Police next week, to save money. Business majors will take advantage of this - by getting tickets on campus in the next few days, then selling them on eBay as collectors' items.



(Some A.U. officers reportedly are upset about this merger, especially the fact that it's occurring so suddenly. Their thinking right now may match one of my Pastor's favorite lines - "If the devil can't kill it, he'll try to corrupt it.")



+ The Mega Millions jackpot tonight is $177 million. It may sound strange, but I hope a Columbus Councilor wins all that money - so the city budget can double, and police officers finally can have that pay raise.



+ Dwight Howard of Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy was the first pick in the National Basketball Association draft. We hope this Christian athlete starts a rivalry right away - and challenges the authority of LeBron "King James."



(Dwight Howard is SO Christian, he's been quoted as saying he dreams of adding a cross to the N.B.A. logo. Sad to say, too many players only dream of seeing a date's cross-my-heart bra.)



+ The Atlanta Hawks' top choice in that same N.B.A. draft was Josh Childress of Stanford. The Hawks have selected future stars from Stanford before - and we all know how famous Adam Keefe became, don't we?



(The Hawks used one of their second-round picks to select Texas star Royal Ivey. He has a great future in Atlanta - even if it's only doing commercials for Pike Nurseries.)



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, June 24, 2004

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24 JUN 04: DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY



It's late June. It's Columbus. And it's a refreshing change. The last two evenings, I've come home from work and NOT needed to turn on my air conditioner. I'd like to thank each of you who sweated outside during the day, and created cooling afternoon rainstorms.



I'm doing my part for those storms -- because my schedule has allowed me to run outside in the morning, shortly after sunrise. The distance was up Wednesday morning, compared with Tuesday. I think this is because my body wasn't asking what on earth it was doing outside so early.



Other people who have been outside during the morning and midday hours tell me it's been quite muggy at that time of day. That make it sound like it's stickier than a Post-It note factory....



Did you see the videotape from Japan, of the world's first air-conditioned shirt? Some former executive at Sony created a shirt which has something like a little fan sewn in, to cool off your skin! I challenge Buck Ice to top this - by making T-shirts which slowly melt.



The lack of a whirring air conditioner won't please Georgia Power. And it may not please Columbus gas stations to learn several Phenix City stations have a lower price for unleaded these days. Now this is the RIGHT way to fight a way against Middle Eastern terror - with a price war.



I've spotted two Phenix City gas stations this week with regular unleaded at $1.76 a gallon, while the lowest price on the Columbus side seems to be $1.79. One of the discounters is the Crown station on 13th Street - so perhaps it's part of a deal to keep the prices down at nearby used car lots.



Wednesday's "Albany Herald" reported gas prices in the Albany-Columbus area are among the highest in Georgia right now. Macon's average price is about a dime cheaper. Hmmmm - are local gas stations expecting THAT many visitors for the Miss Georgia pageant?



E-MAIL UPDATE: Several people have been asking about it, so here it is - the latest shot in a flaming e-mail exchange which has us feeling a bit like Kofi Annan at the United Nations. This is an excerpt from a longer message:



And oh by the way, tell producer boy, that [17 Jun] is one of the saddest rebuttals I've ever seen! REALLY! Tell Justine to work on a better product and stop trying to attack the messenger! I can't tell you how many times I've bit my tongue Richard. I remember when I did sports, each reporter had a beat and we had all the bases covered....



Robbie



All the bases were covered Wednesday night, in fact - at Golden Park, because the Catfish game was rained out.



(This e-mail went a bit farther in its reply - but I see no reason to bring an innocent, formerly kidnapped two-year-old boy into this discussion....)



I'm yawning as I'm typing, so let's put this blog to bed with a few nightcaps:


+ Columbus police officer James Itturalde appeared in Recorder's Court, charged with climbing over a wall and peeping through a window at Aloha Tan on Milgen Road. Apparently this man is new on the force. If he passes the exam to join the Vice Squad, he'll see things like that all the time



+ Columbus Police reported someone broke into a Spectrum store on Fort Benning Road through the roof - all to steal 12 cell phones and some lottery tickets. Apparently someone is VERY anxious to tell the world he's won $500.



+ The Georgia Lottery announced it will drop the "Change Game" next week, because few people are playing it. Does this mean it was a change for the worse?



(But then again, maybe this proves the Mega Millions jackpots are getting too big. People are spending so much money on that game, there's no spare change left for a Change Game.)



+ Auburn University interim President Ed Richardson confirmed to WRBL the campus police force will merge with Auburn City Police next week. I somehow have the feeling the number of students parking in faculty lots is about to increase.



+ Ed Richardson also announced Auburn University's chief lobbyist will be dismissed at the end of the year. If this keeps up, A.U. eventually will be down to one campus building - which Richardson will name after himself.



+ Georgia's baseball team was eliminated at the College World Series. But I was irked about something else - an online report that the CWS might be moved, to end in the middle of July. What's the point of this? To increase summer school enrollment at universities?



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, June 23, 2004

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23 JUN 04: ON THE DEFENDANT'S SIDE?



Today marks the start of depositions in a Columbus federal sex discrimination case which hasn't received much attention. It's against the company which owns WRBL -- so apparently this is one the "Problem Solvers" couldn't resolve.



Former WRBL news producer Melissa Schultz Miller is suing Media General, claiming she faced a "pattern of harassment, discrimination and retaliation" while at "News 3." Some of us are old enough to remember when women "facing a pattern" simply meant sewing your own pantsuit.



Melissa Schultz Miller actually filed suit against Media General last November, but the case apparently has been hiding in the federal courthouse stacks for months. It can't be because the security checks there are tougher than the Government Center -- such as that wand which can scare away ticklish people.



Your blog has examined papers filed by both sides in this sex discrimination suit. Melissa Schultz Miller's initial filing against Media General did NOT specify an amount of damages. But her attorneys probably won't mind if the jury is allowed to read the "Wall Street Journal" during the trial, for some ideas.



Melissa Schultz Miller was hired by WRBL in July 2001. The following April, she told her boss she was pregnant -- and in her view, that's when the trouble started. Well, this WAS before News 3 started showing "Connecting With Kids" reports.



The lawsuit claims former WRBL News Director Mark Wildman barred Melissa Schultz Miller from reporting on-camera during her pregnancy. I'm not sure why this rule was imposed - since no sheriff's office had taser guns back then, to try out on reporters.



I vaguely recall Roslyn Giles remaining on the air on WRBL, during her last pregnancy a few years ago. I certainly recall her having the baby -- which for some reason was the top story in a Sunday night newscast. [True!]



There are other news outlets which have a "no on-camera" rule for pregnant reporters. The most obvious one recently has been "Inside Edition." It kicked Diane McInerney off the air when New York gossip columns reported she was expecting -- on top of me kicking her off my "gorgeous women to meet" list.



It's easy to ask why WRBL wouldn't want a pregnant reporter appearing on-camera. After all, "Will and Grace" was able to shoot around Debra Messing's baby this past season....



Melissa Schultz Miller says she complained to Media General management about all this. But in August 2002, WRBL's Mark Wildman allegedly responded by telling her: "You have to work Sunday night or you will be fired." I've known women over the years who would have chosen that moment for their relatives to get sick.



After taking maternity leave (the suit doesn't say exactly when), Melissa Schultz Miller claims she was "demoted" by WRBL and Media General to "morning show producer." Isn't this a matter of perspective? I've been reading morning newscasts sometimes get better ratings now than the 6:00 p.m. news does.



Melissa Schultz Miller says WRBL promised twice to let her be an on-air reporter, then refused to give her the job. So is this really discrimination? Or did Jessica Clark have someone throw a dart, and it hit another person's resume?



(The lawsuit claims Melissa Schultz Miller was scheduled "to work unfavorable hours." But then again, an all-night shift meant she wouldn't be awakened at 4:00 a.m. by that crying baby.)



Melissa Schultz Miller says she was as qualified to report as other people at WRBL, if not more so. But it may be hard to call that "sex discrimination" - since you can count the number of male TV reporters in Columbus on one hand.



The Media General response to this lawsuit is filled with one word - "denies." In fact, if this company was based in California, it might have a case of West Denial Virus....



The key point for the defense in this lawsuit seems to be whether Melissa Schultz Miller was even promised a reporting position. Media General claims she was hired as a "Producer" - period. Well, at least she lived up to that job. She produced a baby after about a year.



Media General even appears to deny WRBL managers demoted Melissa Schultz Miller to producing the 6:00 a.m. news. That argument might open an even more embarrassing line of questioning - which one of their newscasts actually has the most viewers.



A main character in this sex discrimination lawsuit doesn't work for WRBL anymore. You may recall News Director Mark Wildman was fired last fall [19 Nov 03] -- in fact, within a week after the suit was filed. So was Wildman let go because of this case? Why isn't he specifically named as a defendant? And how many "Wild-man" jokes has he had to face?



Admittedly, time has not permitted us to contact the attorneys handling this suit over the last couple of days. The latest action in the case came last week, when a Virginia lawyer for Media General was removed because he's leaving corporate law. We'll see if "private practice" really means no public-attention lawsuits.



We learned about today's topic by an e-mail tip. 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, June 22, 2004

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22 JUN 04: OUT WITH THE OLD



"The only thing constant in life is change." So said a French sage long ago. These days I would add a modern corollary to that - the only thing constantly in people's pockets is loose change.



Two developments on Monday reminded me of changes in my life, as well as in Columbus. Big Change #1 was the news that Wachovia Bank is buying SouthTrust, where I've had a checking account for more than 15 years. If I really wanted to
move my money to that other bank, I would have done it years ago.



SouthTrust is the second-biggest banking company in Alabama. Wachovia has a big presence in Atlanta. They have almost the same number of branches here - so look at it this way: Columbus is being pulled away from Alabama's clutches, in spite of itself.



Wachovia Bank of Charlotte has gained a reputation as a "mega-bank " It merged with First Union a couple of years ago. Now it's merging with SouthTrust. If I was a manager at CB&T, I'd make sure that hand-crafted conference table is bolted to the floor.



I found a "presentation for investors" on the Wachovia web site, which indicates the merger with SouthTrust will mean the closing of at least 130 branches across the south. With downtown offices practically across 13th Street from each other, I propose settling this with a tug of war during rush-hour.



But to be honest, the takeover of SouthTrust by Wachovia may have some advantages for me....


+ Maybe now I'll have a bank which can read the handwriting on my checks properly -- and quit siphoning off a nickel here and a dollar there.



+ Maybe now there won't be a two-dollar charge every month, to send me my cancelled checks. If I don't write many checks, the postage can't be that much more.



+ Maybe now I'll have a bank which doesn't charge you a monthly "check card" fee, even if it sits in your desk unused.



Big change #2 actually caught my attention nine days ago, but was confirmed only Monday afternoon. WRCG Radio has dropped "The Swingin' Years," a Sunday morning program of big band music. I would remind the managers of one of those
classic songs - "it don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that swing."



The last two Sunday mornings have found Fox Sports Radio on WRCG instead of big band music - along with an infomercial for some kind of product which (AHEM, as politely as I can put this) improves your stools. Now there's the perfect program to run before the St. Luke United Methodist Church service....



Your blog is hearing one person in particular is unhappy with the cancellation of "The Swingin' Years" - Mayor Bob Poydasheff. Huh?! You mean the Mayor isn't listening to the "Walt 'Baby' Love Gospel Countdown" show?



(And besides, "The Swingin' Years" was cancelled just as those classic cars in "The Great Race" came through Columbus Sunday. An old roadster with a home repair talk show on the radio simply doesn't seem right.)



The end of "The Swingin' Years" is the latest clear break by Archway Broadcasting from Chuck McClure's old ownership of WRCG. If they suddenly switch to Tampa Bay Devil Ray baseball games because of their winning streak, that will be the last straw.



First Clear Channel changed "The Unforgettable AM-1270" away from musical standards. That music then surfaced on FM-100.7, only to have Davis Broadcasting buy it out. With "The Swingin' Years" gone, what are big band music fans to do? Most turntables have been hijacked by hip-hop performers....



BLOG UPDATE: Uh-oh - we're hearing Monday's entry on Pastor Joseph Roberson has gained the attention of his higher-ups in the United Methodist Church. But please don't get the wrong idea. My source informs me this review has NOT reached the heaven level yet.



The Joseph Roberson for School Board campaign called me Monday, to "see about scheduling an interview." The call came from campaign treasurer/Associate Pastor Denise Walton, who asked for "the name of your organization." If I had
more of an organization, this blog would have paid advertising and make money.



Joseph Roberson was busy Monday night, appealing to the Muscogee County School Board from the audience. He asked for money to be restored for the "Reading Recovery" program. It's either that, or his church will need more Sunday School teachers for "Bible Recovery."



By the way, about that Joseph Roberson campaign sign on my apartment complex lawn - I called my landlord Monday, and he asked me to "take that sign down and trash it." He says he's not endorsing anyone for the school board! So apparently this is a case of sin first, then seek forgiveness later.



(Hmmmm - maybe I can broker a deal here, and arrange for Russell County's Harry McElwee to get some of HIS missing campaign signs back. You know, sort of like baseball trading cards....)



Now some other selected short subjects from Monday:


+ Superior Court Judge candidates Roxann Daniel and Bobby Peters appeared together on NBC-38's "Rise and Shine." I did NOT see this debate, so I can't comment about it - but that was clever scheduling. Get the candidates together at 6:00 on a Monday morning, when they're most likely to be cranky.



+ Beacon College and Graduate School unveiled a sign officially changing its name to "Beacon University." We wondered about that awkward name more than a year ago [22 Apr 03] -- and now we're wondering when the lighthouse in their logo is going atop its main building.



+ Miss Georgia contestants began interviews, as part of this year's pageant at the RiverCenter. If this contest was in Atlanta, several of them might have gone inside the Fulton County Jail to dance in a rap video....



(Can you believe that one? Rapper T-I got sexy dancers onto his floor at the Fulton County Jail, to help him shoot a rap video while he's serving a sentence! My only response is the name of that other rap star - Ludacris.)



+ Instant Message to Phenix-Girard Bank: Do you really think anyone believes your temperature sign in downtown Phenix City? Especially when it says 102 degrees at 1:20 p.m.? Don't you have enough assets to fix that thing?



SONG OF THE DAY: I first started working on this banking tune about ten years ago - borrowing from the classic hit of
Nancy Sinatra:



They keep making cash in North Carolina.


They keep buying bankers large and small - HA!


Now they're reaching deep inside Alabama, yeah....


And before long, you'll have just one bank to call.



This bank is named Wachovia.


And you should see them soon.


One of these days this bank


Is gonna Wach-o-vi-a you!



COMING WEDNESDAY: If the suit doesn't fit, why aren't you hearing complaints about it?....



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, June 21, 2004

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21 JUN 04: JOSEPH'S DREAM



Another new sign popped up outside my apartment over the weekend. This one doesn't name the complex [9 Jun] - it urges you to elect Joseph Roberson to the Muscogee County School Board. If only they had polled the apartment residents for their approval first....



Whoever planted the Joseph Roberson sign on the apartment complex lawn also left fliers on every door, inviting you to attend a rally for his campaign next Saturday. Considering he's running for school board, it would have helped him if the flier had spelled it "Rigdon Park" and not "Ridgon."



I can't attend the Joseph Roberson rally next Saturday - but I know where to meet him. He's the Pastor of South Columbus United Methodist Church on Benning Drive. I wasn't afraid about visiting this part of town -- since the church is
safely across the street from Baker Village, and the parking lot is quite deep.



To get personal answers to my questions, I decided to attend Joseph Roberson's church service Sunday. The Yellow Pages ad describes it as "a multiracial church for all people." I guess all the other races attend the 8:15 a.m. service, because I was one of only three white folks in the sanctuary at 11:00 a.m.



No, there is NOT a yard sign for Joseph Roberson in front of South Columbus United Methodist Church. But a car in the parking lot had a big sign promoting his campaign. If anyone wants to organize a parade in the next 30 days, he's ready.



Sunday was Father's Day, of course - and at South Columbus United Methodist, it was also "Men's Day." Awards were presented to the Father of the Year, and two "Men of the Year." Does this send a mixed message - that somehow it takes two men to be one father?



A check of the announcement bulletin revealed Joseph Roberson's Associate Pastor is Denise Walton - the woman who happens to be the treasurer of his school board campaign. Apparently this Pastor is different from Bobby Peters. He has no
ex-wife to handle the money.



It took awhile to figure out, but I finally identified Pastor Joseph Roberson. He wore a white corsage for his deceased father, and a bright-red bow tie on his black suit. If you didn't know better, you'd mistake the Pastor for a Nation of Islam security guard.



The Father's Day service had a guest speaker - but first there was a special guest in the audience: "Sheriff-Elect Robert Taylor is here," Pastor Roberson declared as he let Ralph Johnson's opponent stand and give a short speech. Come back in November and see if this Pastor has the gift of prophecy.



"I'm behind this man," Pastor Joseph Roberson told his congregation about sheriff candidate Robert Taylor. Trouble is, churches which endorse candidates in political races risk losing their tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service. If this pastor opposes deputies interrupting services, wait until I.R.S. agents show up.



Robert Taylor openly asked for votes from South Columbus United Methodist worshipers during the service - and even handed out fliers in the lobby as people left. This means the door is open for Sheriff Ralph Johnson can do this. But let's face it: most white churches are too dignified and proper to allow this sort of thing.



I grew up as a United Methodist, but this church service was different from any other I'd seen. Candidates give speeches for their campaigns. All the fathers received small plastic tool boxes (even me, and I'm NOT a dad). And the service stretched two-and-a-half hours -- where most Methodists get annoyed at anything past one.



More than one hour into the service, Pastor Joseph Roberson introduced the Men's Day guest speaker - State Senator Ed Harbison. "He's BAD!" the Pastor said. My Pastor would accuse him of promoting congregational confusion -- but my Pastor's quite pro-Republican, so he might have agreed with it.



Ed Harbison spent a great deal of his message encouraging people to vote. This afternoon is the deadline to register for the July 20 Georgia Primary. Joseph Roberson's opponent Owen Ditchfield needs to find a Monday morning revival meeting fast.



Ed Harbison DID speak a bit about fatherhood on Father's Day. He declared at one point, "All of our men are in jail...." So I guess the "Men in Black" choir which performed was put back on the bus after the service was over.



Ed Harbison gave Joseph Roberson one piece of advice, should he win election to the Muscogee County School Board. The Senator said there should be NO "three strikes" policy to kick out schoolchildren who misbehave. Maybe you should wait until the fourth student is stabbed....



Ed Harbison went on to say taxpaying parents should receive respect from the school board. "The Kenneth Walker case was about respect," he explained. And that's been the debate for six months, hasn't it? It's respecting the law officer, versus respecting a $100 million lawsuit.



As the South Columbus United Methodist service ended, Pastor Joseph Roberson urged people to attend his Saturday afternoon rally - but he worded the appeal very carefully. After all, God struck down some people in the Bible who tried to put themselves in charge of things....



There was so much I wanted to ask Pastor Joseph Roberson after the service - about his campaign, his endorsing candidates in a church service, and public schools in general. But he declined to be interviewed, explaining he doesn't do that on Sundays. The Pastor might bring in others to campaign for him, but he won't do it himself.



(BLOGGER'S NOTE: We left a card with Pastor Roberson - so if he calls us during the week, we'll ask those questions and post his responses.)



LAUGHLINE FLASHBACK:The "Goose" grabbed the gold Sunday, as Rutief Goosen won his second U.S. Open golf title in four years. Here's how we covered his first triumph in LaughLine during 2001:



18 JUN 01: The U.S. Open wound up tied, so an 18-hole playoff is planned today between Mark Brooks and Rutief Goosen. We'd never heard of Goosen - and thought it was a dish served at a French restaurant.



(SpellChuckle of the day: Our computer "SpellCheck" says Rutief Goosen's first name is incorrect - and should be "writeoff" instead! If he misses more of those nine-foot putts today, we'll assume the computer is correct.)



19 JUN 01: An unknown South African won the U.S. Open golf title Monday. Rutief Goosen beat Mark Brooks in an 18-hole playoff. Then Goosen went to the Tulsa airport, where dozens of people asked if he got Tiger Woods's autograph while he was in town.



Rutief Goosen missed two short putts on the 18th green Sunday to fall into a playoff. Then Monday, he led by five shots after 16 holes - yet only won by two! If the payoff had gone a few more holes, the headline would have been: "GOOSEN LAYS AN EGG."



Rutief Goosen is a mystery to many because he plays on the European Tour, and was only 35th in money-winning there. Apparently his homeland of South Africa doesn't have that many golf courses. In that country, "shooting under par" means the bullets didn't hit anybody.



By winning the U.S. Open, Rutief Goosen receives 900,000 dollars - and he has a "five-year exemption" from qualifying for PGA Tour tournaments. By comparison, Tiger Woods has so many wins that tournaments have to qualify to get him to show 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.



© 2001-04 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.



Sunday, June 20, 2004

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20 JUN 04: UP THE EXPRESSWAY



You knew she'd leave town sooner or later. You just didn't know when, or where she'd go next. So it was no big surprise to learn Saturday night that Ashley Powell has resigned as Columbus High School girls' basketball coach.
Disappointing for ogling single guys, but not surprising....



But where Ashley Powell is going IS quite surprising. She's been hired as ladies' basketball coach at Manchester High School. Huh?! This doesn't make sense - but then, a former Alabama head football coach shouldn't have moved to a high school in Dothan, either.



(To make things more puzzling, Powell's assistant coach at Columbus High is moving to Manchester with her. What's going on here? Do the Muscogee County Democrats want EVERY incumbent in the school system to leave?)



Ashley Powell's piled up a good winning record at Columbus High, and took the team to the AAAA finals in March. So why move to a smaller, rural high school? Couldn't Ketia Swanier convince Connecticut to hire Powell as an assistant?



I honestly expected Ashley Powell's next coaching job would be at the college level -- either as an assistant coach at a big-name university, or a head coach at Division II or III. Either Manchester High is paying Powell a fortune, or she needs to fire her agent.



You may not realize Ashley Powell did NOT teach at Columbus High School. She was on the staff at Eddy Middle School, where she also served as a track coach. That had to be a challenge - considering the school "track" often is a mix of overgrown weeds and mud.



At least Ashley Powell isn't moving far away, by heading for Manchester High School. In fact, things may be easier for her there - since there probably are only a couple of singles bars, for men to approach her.



True confession: I've driven countless times on Manchester Expressway in Columbus - but I've never taken it all the way to Manchester. I've also never driven down Macon Road all the way to Macon. But I've noticed for some reason, Cusseta Road stops far short of Cusseta.



Now let's collect some other loose change from the weekend:


+ The National Action Network staged a protest march in Harris County. The civil rights group wants Sheriff Mike Jolley removed, for mishandling the disappearance of a man two years ago. Somewhere Ralph Johnson saw this, and grinned with satisfaction.



+ An estimated 20,000 people attended "Family Day in the Park" at Cooper Creek Park. But I never heard -- what was the big musical surprise? Did a band full of white musicians show up?



+ Instant Message to Cascade Hills Church Pastor Bill Purvis: Did I hear you right Saturday night on "Real Time" - that the movie "Troy" is "largely accurate?" Hasn't anyone told you the Trojan War was a legend, not a fact?



COMING THIS WEEK: A federal sex discrimination case you haven't heard much about.... but we'll change that....



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.


Saturday, June 19, 2004

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19 JUN 04: STIFFED STUFF



She said she'd meet me at 7:00 p.m. on Wynnton Road. I even gave her clear directions to the spot. But the woman who wanted to meet me the other night never showed up -- leaving me again to wonder if I should give in and get a botox treatment.



But I really should start this story where it began -- with a phone call last Monday evening. "I'm with the National Association for the Self-Employed," the female on the line said. Now hold on. Should I trust a group with this name? Anyone who works for this group probably is NOT self-employed.



The woman named Raquita was in metro Atlanta, and wanted to sign me up for health insurance. Yes, I'm one of the 37 million or so U.S. residents who does NOT have any. A "you might be a redneck" calendar said it before John Kerry did - my health insurance plan is that I don't get sick.



(BLOGGER'S NOTE: You can help us buy health insurance by donating to the blog. If you enjoy this, write us for details.)



I was unprepared and hesitant to talk about health insurance, but Raquita was not. "What does your schedule look like this week?" It looked open on a couple of afternoons - but my impulsive next-door neighbor can close it with one guilt cloud inducing "I need a ride...."



Raquita explained she had to meet with me face-to-face to make sure I didn't have some sort of hidden health problem. This seemed fair - but left me wondering if I should dress up for our meeting prepared to exercise.



Raquita understood my situation, but still pressed for a meeting with me. "How about Thursday?.... How does 7:00 p.m. sound?" I was a bit taken back by the insurance agent's aggressiveness - but then again, a woman hadn't been this interested in me in quite some time.



Only one problem remained to this health insurance meeting - where to hold it. I confessed to Raquita I wouldn't have time to clean my apartment before Thursday evening at 7:00. How messy is it right now? Welllll.... little cockroaches are starting to make a home in my shower curtain.



Raquita told me she'd probably call Wednesday to reconfirm our meeting. But in what turned out to be a troublesome sign, she never called. I figured she was a compassionate telemarketer, and didn't want to irritate me more than necessary.



So now you know what led to the rendezvous on Wynnton Road last Thursday night - or at least it should have been. I arrived at the appointed place at 6:50 p.m. At 7:30, I was still waiting. Perhaps I should have suggested meeting at a
restaurant or bar, and not a TV station?!



As I write this on Saturday night, Raquita still has not called back - not to apologize, explain, reschedule or anything. I don't know what I said to deserve this. After all, I use a leading antiperspirant....



Now some other short sprigs from the final weekend of spring:


+ A crowd of gawkers gathered around 6:30 tonight on Warm Springs Road, staring down at Interstate 185. I'm told as I post this the crowd was watching a burning car. When WILL this area get its own NASCAR race?



+ Port Columbus Director Bruce Smith announced visits to the Civil War Naval Museum are up ten percent this year. It looks like those threats to turn the cannons toward downtown are working.



+ The Olympic torch was run through Atlanta, on its way to the Athens Games - but never came anywhere close to Columbus. I blame NBC Sports for this, because they ignored the female softball players in 1996 as well.



(The 2002 torch run to Salt Lake City missed Columbus as well. So why hasn't the Columbus Sports Council complained about this -- or at least organized something with Tiki torches, starting at the eternal flame downtown?)



+ The Columbus Wardogs beat Macon in arena football 46-45 - thanks to penalties allowing TWO free plays with no time left on the clock. The team had so many "last chances" that Al Fleming probably will oppose this in a commentary next
week.



+ Instant Message to Publix stores: You MUST be kidding! I mean, your new boxes of aluminum foil -- showing a picture of a foil tortoise?! Does this mean you're moving the foil next to the pens and crayons?



COMING SUNDAY: A woman moving out of town.... in the wrong direction, I say....



© 2003-04 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.



Thursday, June 17, 2004

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for 18 JUN 04: LOST AND FOUND



Were your prayers answered Thursday afternoon? Mine sure were -- as little Tellious Brown was found safe and sound. Well, perhaps that was really the second answered prayer. The first was having money for three wonderful Subway chocolate chip cookies....



But I digress: two-year-old Tellious Brown was recovered at the Super C store on Buena Vista Road near Brewer Elementary School. First came the relief, at knowing the toddler was safe. Then came new concern - because that boy could have wandered into all those weird intersections, or onto railroad tracks.



(That Super C store is located in an area Columbus police call the "spider web." If Carmike Cinemas has any smarts, they'll give Brown and his family souvenir tickets to see "Spider Man 2.")



A young woman says she first found Tellious Brown in an alleyway on Illges Road, crying for his mother. You can't blame him, really -- since he's probably too young to know Sunday is Father's Day.



A Columbus police officer brought Tellious Brown back together with his family, and give him a white teddy bear during the ride. [True/A.P.] Please, Edward DuBose - PLEASE don't look for a deep, hidden agenda in this.



The kidnappers of Tellious Brown reportedly demanded a $100,000 ransom from his parents. If the kidnappers knew his mother works at a nail salon, they must have ridiculous ideas of how much her customers tip.



Before Tellious Brown was found, an F.B.I. Special Agent suggested to reporters the kidnapping and carjacking on Staunton Avenue was NOT a random act. I'm not sure what he means by this - but maybe that Sean John shirt the boy wore made the criminals think his parents were wealthy.



At that news conference, Tellious Brown's mother made a tearful plea for his release. Authorities believe that moved the kidnappers to give up the boy - either that, or the F.B.I. only placing the reward at $5,000 instead of $100,000.



The 2:00 p.m. news conference at the Public Safety Center brought in some reporters Columbus hadn't seen in years. Tracy Flanagan came here from WAGA in Atlanta. And I thought I heard Terry Mann from WSB-TV - who used to work in Columbus, before he took an assumed name.



One leftover question of the Tellious Brown case is why it took more than 12 hours after the kidnapping for a "Levi's Call" alert to be issued across Georgia. You don't think Columbus police were looking for someone named Levi, to make this call?!?!



The curious quote of the day award goes to F.B.I. Special Agent Jeff Holmes, who was asked about the Levi's Call delay at a news conference. He said Columbus police handling of the Tellious Brown case was "extremely adequate." Extremely
adequate?! This sounds like how I'd describe a good counter worker at Krystal.



The Levi's Call alert made the search for Tellious Brown national news. It was one of the top stories when I logged onto AOL Instant Messenger Thursday afternoon - right next to whether Cheerios give women a bigger bust line. [True!]



The parents of Tellious Brown say they give him the nickname "T-Man." We suggest the neighborhood throw a big welcome-home party, and call it a "T-Ball."



Let's all breathe a sigh of relief (aaaaaaaaaaaaah!), and send out a few Instant Messages:


+ To the Phillips station on Wynnton Road: What did your sign mean - "The Hooch Turns 43"? What divided Columbus and Phenix City before 1961, a barbed wire fence?



+ To American Town Marketing: I practically live on Victory Drive. So why didn't my envelope full of coupons have the one for "Grits n' Sweet Tea" you mention in your radio ad? Did someone tell you I prefer unsweetened tea?



+ To the driver who parked a car with the Alabama license plate "C LOVE" on Fifth Street: You can't fool me, Courtney! I'll turn you in to the Los Angeles police next time.



+ To Sundays Day Spa on Armour Road: Let me make sure I have this straight. You're open from Tuesday through Saturday, you're closed on Sundays - so where did you get that name?



COMING THIS WEEKEND: We had a date, and she stood me 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.



^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^



17 JUN 04: WIDE-OPEN SPACES



I received a pleasant surprise this week about the Yahoo! account where you can write the blog. My mailbox size suddenly jumped from six megabytes - to 100! Is this another hint that I need to lose weight?



Before Tuesday, a free Yahoo! E-mail account had a "six-meg" limit. This compares with my offline "one-meg" limit - as in one Meg Ryan movie at a time.



You had to pay a monthly fee to get an extra-large Yahoo! mailbox - until Tuesday. Then suddenly, in a news story almost everybody missed, a 100-megabyte box became free. It was as if the late Ronald Reagan went to Silicon Valley and said, "Mr. Yahoo, tear down this firewall!"



But that's not all. My Yahoo! account now will let me send messages which are ten megabytes big. This sounds like the start of something new, once Yahoo! merges with Napster.



I wondered why Yahoo! suddenly was being so generous with its server space - but then a read a wire story explaining it. Yahoo! is trying to keep up with Google's new "G-mail" service. If these companies really want my attention, then give me the "free dinner" gift cards without making me sort through 40 offers for life insurance.



My main e-mail account is with Yahoo!, because it's the first one I set up outside work in 1996. But no, I'm not sentimental enough to still have my very first spam message....



I've been with Yahoo! long enough to remember when there was only one section to the mailbox, without a "Bulk Mail" compartment for spam. It seems so long ago now -- way back before people invented Viagra, body part growth pills and plots to smuggle millions of dollars out of Nigeria.



E-MAIL UPDATE: In keeping with our topic, here's an e-mail answer to some e-mail questions - Robbie Watson's comments about D-Day TV news coverage [7 Jun]:


First of all, after all these years Robbie should know "those who live in glass houses should not throw stones". Not that Robbie has ever noticed she has more windows in her house than anybody else.



Let's not even mention that a) Robbie works for a news gathering operation, and yet wasn't there either, b) Robbie's facts in her statement were wrong (surprise, surprise). Because if the "ORIGINAL" members of the 507th were jumping in to Normandy because they would be 80 years old.



It's easy to stand on the outside and look in, especially when you know nothing of the situation.



Justin Cazana



Ooh boy -- it looks like the unity and bipartisanship of the Ronald Reagan funeral faded in a hurry....



(Is this going to have to be my next big investigative project - going to the homes of e-mail writers, and counting how many windows they have?)



I don't know what unit they were in, but a group of 80-something veterans actually trained to jump at the D-Day ceremonies in France. They were not allowed to do so - and for some reason, former President Bush asked Brit Hume of Fox News to parachute jump on his 80th birthday instead of them.



Now other things that dropped on Wednesday like sweat from a jogger's brow:


+ Russell County Commission candidate Harry McElwee complained as many as 200 of his campaign signs have been stolen since last Friday. I don't know if this will make him feel better - but if someone stole 200 of Bobby Peters's campaign signs, we probably wouldn't notice the difference.



+ Auburn University's Southeastern Raptor Center released two red-tailed hawks into the wild. I'm presuming interim President Ed Richardson found some reason to fire them....



(We DO hope those red-tailed hawks are heading for Atlanta - because the Atlanta Hawks need a lot of new bodies for next season.)



+ WHAL-AM "Hallelujah 1460" played a commercial with "Trojan-Man." Yes, as in condoms. Considering this station plays gospel music, Clear Channel must believe those surveys -- that most people talk about waiting until marriage, but they really don't.



+ Peachtree City, Georgia held a workshop on a proposal to "ban smoking within 25 feet of non-smoking areas." At least, that's how the Associated Press worded it. You'd think they could simply make the non-smoking area bigger -- but of course, that's not how politicians and lawyers think.



(What would you call this 25-foot area - the DMZ? De-Marlboro-ized Zone?)



+ Instant Message to my family: No, I have NOT traveled to Atlanta to see the visiting Kansas City Royals play, even though it's where I grew up. I didn't even know the Royals were coming until Tuesday evening -- but from watching TV, I can tell you all about the Little League tournaments here.



BLOG-BLAH-BLAH: Did you attend the "Lose Weight With Hypnosis" seminar on Manchester Expressway Wednesday? If you did, we'd like to hear from you about it. Please write us....



© 2003-04 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.



Wednesday, June 16, 2004

16 JUN 04: LUCKY YOU?



"Certified documents enclosed for addressee only," read the outside of the envelope from Marietta. If someone tampered of obstructed the delivery of this envelope to me, it warned, he could face a "$2000 fine or five years imprisonment." It's almost tempting to lave that envelope on the windshield of an enemy, then call police.



But this envelope had my name on it, so I opened it - and much as I suspected, it was a promotion for a car dealer. Why can't these places put their names on their envelopes? Do they pull this same sort of stunt when it comes to car payment bills?



I've grown familiar with gimmicks to get me into a car dealer's showroom. This one from Bill Heard Chevrolet came with a scratch-off card, with instructions NOT to scratch it off "until you are in the presence of an official representative." So it's like mixing the Georgia Lottery with the Patriot Act....



The offer notes one in 50,000 cards will win $10,000 cash. One will win $100 cash. The other 49,998 receive a "$1,000 Internet Shopping Spree." Yeah right, I said to myself. How many used CD-Roms of card games do I need?



I set Bill Heard's offer aside to pursue another day - but a short time later, my older next-door neighbor knocked on my door. She'd received the very same envelope, already scratched off the card -- and "I won a $1,000 shopping spree!" I wonder if she reads the fine print on Cash 3 tickets, too.



"I already called them, and they said I should bring it right over," my neighbor said with enthusiasm. Perhaps the Bill Heard staff has more patience on customers they perceive as suckers.



Of course, Bill Heard Chevrolet didn't realize who this potential customer was. This is the neighbor who needs me to give her rides all the time, so she has no car. And the financing would have to be really creative - since only hours before, I'd taken her to Valley Rescue Mission for free clothing and canned goods.



I tried to reason with my neighbor - noting if 49,998 out of 50,000 people get a $1,000 Internet shopping spree, she shouldn't get her hopes too high. Yet she was optimistic: "I told them I want to get some clothing." Well, she certainly
wasn't likely to lose her shirt.



Since I'd already driven my neighbor uptown earlier in the day, we scheduled the trip to Bill Heard Chevrolet for Tuesday afternoon. As we left, she wondered if I'd be afraid of the rain and the storm sirens. I'd be more afraid if I was Riley Land, starting the sirens without a weather warning.



My neighbor was a bit surprised at the distance to Bill Heard Chevrolet. Why, it's located east of Peachtree Mall - too far out for the METRA buses she refuses to ride, anyway.



(But let's face it: new car dealerships in downtown areas are a thing of the past. The car companies don't want them there. And we certainly know the Phenix City Council doesn't want them there anymore.)



Nice touch #1: Bill Heard Chevrolet has marked parking spaces for customers. I've always worried a little if I took my car to a dealer and parked in the wrong spot, a salesperson would sell it by the time I returned.



Luis the car salesman seemed a bit puzzled as we got out of my humble Honda and walked inside. I couldn't blame him, really. For one thing, who was the customer here? And for another thing, could that 75-year-old African-American woman possibly be my mother?



Nice touch #2: "It feels good in here!" my neighbor declared walking inside the showroom. She meant the air conditioning on a sticky June day. I was a bit surprised not to notice any "new car smell."



We sat down with Luis, and he pulled out the "gift certificate" for my neighbor's $1,000 Internet shopping spree. All she had to do was go on the Internet and pick gifts of all sorts. Of course, now all someone had to do was explain to this older woman what an Internet is.



Nice touch #3: In addition to the business cards on Luis's desk, he also had several for "Living Waters Fellowship." I have no idea where this group meets, because the phone book only has a zip code and phone number -- perhaps to guard against visits by those pesky Jehovah's Witnesses.



"Praise Jesus!" said my neighbor about what she considered a shopping spree blessing. "I'm 75 years old, I've been attending a white church...." Even when there's a mass mailing giveaway -- if it happens in Columbus, someone will boil it
down to a racial issue.



"My neighbor didn't want to give me a ride over here," the winner continued, "but this man here was willing to help me out." Welllll - this WAS promoted in Tuesday's blog entry as today's topic....



We left Bill Heard Chevrolet with no pitch at all from Luis to buy a car. He stared at my neighbor's words of praise and offered quiet agreement - acting like he could stare down Tim Duncan in that new American Express commercial.



As we started toward home on Manchester Expressway, I couldn't help noticing the gully in front of Peachtree Mall. The rain had created a very wide stream of water -- but apparently it developed too quickly for anyone to whitewater raft on it.



My next-door neighbor doesn't have a computer, so she asked me how she could claim her shopping spree.


"I can go on the Internet, go to the web site on your certificate, and type in the confirmation numbers."


"And you know how to do that?!"


"Yeah," I quietly replied as modestly as I could. Nine years of online experience hasn't brought me any dates, though.



When we got home, my neighbor gave me her gift certificate. I turned on the computer, called up the gift web site and entered the right numbers -- then went to my neighbor next door and said, "I've set it up in the apparel section."


"What?"


"The apparel section." That's a fancy northern word for clothing, you know.



My neighbor entered my apartment, became only the second person ever to sit in my Official Computer Chair -- and just stared at the screen. This 75-year-old woman is so computer illiterate, she might have run away if I'd said "mouse."



I scrolled down through the apparel section for my neighbor - and she seemed stunned by the listed "market price" and "you pay shipping and handling" lower price. This woman on a fixed income wasn't praising Jesus anymore. In fact, she
came across as a woman who didn't have many blessings to count.



I explained the fine print on the gift certificate which my neighbor hadn't noticed. The items on this "shopping spree" require you to pay the shipping and handling, PLUS a "five-dollar processing fee per order." Spree and fee only rhyme with "free."



Another dilemma: to order items online, my neighbor would need a credit card. She doesn't have any. In fact, it took me more than a year to stop her from making me a personal loan office.



But the good news for my neighbor is that there's a "snail mail" option in the gift certificate fine print. For only $2.95 she can send a request to Florida for a catalog - well, maybe I shouldn't say "only." She can't pay me seven bucks for gas until next month.



My disappointed neighbor left will think about finding that $2.95 -- but she told me as she left my apartment, "I didn't see anything there for women, anyway." Unisex leather jackets and ladies fringed vests apparently didn't count.



I probed around the gift web site after my neighbor left - and it DOES have a few potential bargains on it. But some of the others seem like a ripoff. For instance, a one-year subscription to GQ magazine costs $9.95, including "shipping and handling." Shipping a magazine?! Is Fed-Ex delivering it in brown bubble wrap?



At the risk of showing my age -- let's park this jalopy now, and send some Instant Messages:


+ To everyone in Chattahoochee County: Lock your cars! I'm told there's been a rash of auto thefts in recent days - including the stealing of a school bus. This is simply the wrong way to keep up with your neighbor's giant SUV.



+ To Columbus Councilor Julius Hunter: That was pretty bold of you to vote against the final city budget Tuesday. So when do you plan to announce you're running for Mayor in 2006?



+ To Golden Donuts: How do you plan to respond to that new challenger which opened Tuesday, with the initials K.K.? Could it be time to go platinum, after all these years?



+ To Marco Killingsworth: Why leave Auburn's basketball team with only one year of eligibility left? That sort of strategy didn't help Karl Malone and Gary Payton win an N.B.A. title.



+ To Columbus Catfish broadcaster Nathan Raynor: I think you made sports history Tuesday night. I've never heard any play-by-play announcer use the word "ruefully" during a game - in any sport, at any time.



COMING THURSDAY: E-mails which are pleasantly surprising.... and a bit shuddering....



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.