Tuesday, August 31, 2004



Former Muscogee County Sheriff's Deputy David Glisson finally spoke out Monday about -- uh, about -- well, we hoped he'd talk about the shooting of Kenneth Walker. But after reading the Ledger-Enquirer interview, I was left with the feeling
Glisson wants to run for sheriff somewhere.

Attorney Richard Hagler would NOT allow the Ledger-Enquirer's Richard Hyatt to ask David Glisson any questions about the shooting of Kenneth Walker last December. Isn't this a bit like telling a reporter you can't ask President Bush any questions about Iraq?

(Come to think of it, I guess that explains the newspaper's headline for the interview: "Living with Restraint.")

The article on David Glisson reminded me of too many interviews on morning TV news shows. A newsmaker can't appear without his or her spouse. The newsmaker only has a couple of meaningful things to say. And if you try to pry something else out of them, they repeat those couple of things like they're programmed.

(Oh, by the way -- if Kenneth Walker is "Kenny" in the newspaper, shouldn't David Glisson be "Dave?")

The interview revealed David Glisson followed his uncle and three cousins into law enforcement. To quote the newspaper article: "we were all born and raised here and we all love Columbus." The reporter apparently failed to ask why Glisson now lives in Salem....

David Glisson was one of the founding members of the Metro Narcotics Task Force in 1989. He admits having long hair back then, but only wearing a fake earring. Now hold on - was this group looking for drugs, or cheap dates on Victory

Ralph Johnson was one of David Glisson's supervisors when the Metro Squad began. That same Sheriff Johnson fired Glisson in February, in the wake of Kenneth Walker's shooting. Maybe this now explains why the Sheriff didn't name Glisson for weeks.-- Glisson was undercover so long, Johnson wasn't sure who he was.

As much as he's been portrayed as a cold-blooded gun handler, David Glisson says he never kept a weapon in his home. For one thing, Glisson brought up four children there. For another thing, some guys simply know how to leave their work at
the office.

If David Glisson has found a new job since his February firing, the Ledger-Enquirer article didn't reveal it. Instead, Richard Hyatt writes Glisson is accepting the fact he'll never be a law officer again. So that missing "person of interest" in Smiths Station is asked to drive to Glisson's house and surrender on his own.

Attorney Richard Hagler had the last word in the newspaper article, saying David Glisson is waiting on the sidelines for the Kenneth Walker investigation to play itself out. Hagler adds Glisson is "talked about as if he is an object rather than a human being." Is Hagler really surprised by that? If we can't see his face, he might not have one.

As it happened, one of the lead attorneys for Kenneth Walker's family was indicted Monday. Bill Campbell is accused of corruption and bribe-taking during his years as Atlanta Mayor. Oh no - do you think Campbell learned how to do this by
watching Olympic judges in 1996?

Bill Campbell told reporters the federal grand jury indictment against him was full of "lies from beginning to end." That's probably true of at least one national political convention, too - but we're trying to figure out which one....

Bill Campbell says a top F.B.I. polygraph expert recently gave him a lie detector test, and he passed it. How many losing candidates in Atlanta wish they'd demanded this of him years ago?

Now to make a quick end of things....

+ The Republican National Convention began in New York, with Muscogee County Chair Rob Doll serving as an alternate delegate. Do you count as half a minority group member if you sell Nissans for a living?

+ The Muscogee County School Board began public forums on a new "five-year plan." I can hear home-schoolers grumbling now - about how this board is just like the Communists under Josef Stalin.

+ A Columbus fire truck was called to Benning Park, after children apparently started a grass fire near the tennis courts. I happened to watch this scene -- and as usual, no one was ON the tennis courts. So it couldn't have been sparked by a wild serve.

+ Instant Message to Evangel Temple First Born Church: You emphasize clean living, right? So why does your big church bus have such dirty black fumes coming from the back?

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, August 30, 2004



"You're a genius," a co-worker told me one day last week. Oh no, I'm not. If I was a genius, this blog would have a paid sponsorship and a movie deal worth six figures by now....

I was reminded again Sunday both of why some people consider me a genius, and why I know I'm not one. It all began with a trip to the laundromat. I prepared for this Saturday night, by stocking up on one-dollar bills while on a couple of errands. At least my wallet felt fuller this way.

Problem #1: This laundromat's change machine often has trouble on weekends - and the attached dry cleaning business isn't open then. I checked at the front door, and noticed nothing unusual. But when I carried by hamper full of clothes
inside, the "out of service" light was on. Did I breathe on it too hard?

The hamper was hustled back into the car, and I drove to a nearby supermarket for quarters. I know from experience the small shops near this laundromat don't keep enough quarters stocked up - and they're a bit annoyed at this laundromat's
change machine having problems. Hey, at least it brings in extra customers....

I didn't want to offend the folks at the supermarket, so I bought a couple of bags of corn chips and asked for change as I bought them. Now I had a pocketful of quarters - and I felt like a former boss of mine, who used to boast about how he reported on news stories this way years ago. Yes, there was life BEFORE cell phones.

Back to the laundromat I drove, and a woman outside warned me about the change machine. "Yes, I know," I said, explaining where I'd just been. Too bad this place doesn't have a sign to flip on the front window for this.

The laundry work went well - at least until I was sorting out which clothes were dry and which needed extra time. Problem #2: my stack of wet stuff wanted to fall off the top of the dryer onto the floor. And it wasn't really wet enough to just sit there and make the laundromat even more humid.

Problem #3 came as I hustled some clothes on hangers to the car. A pair of slacks fell on the asphalt - then a shirt or two wanted to fall off my car hook into the back seat. Well, the "fall season" IS almost here.

Once the laundry finally finished, I drove toward home on Victory Drive - and noticed a clear stroke of lightning in the west. Before you ask: no, it appeared far north of South Seale Road....

I concluded rain was coming, so I needed to hustle the clean clothes into my home as soon as possible. There was more errands to run. The "alleged genius" side of me figured the rain would fall as I drove to my other stops - totally forgetting
lightning could strike my metal-framed car.

I grabbed items for the other stops and drove north. Problem #4: the wind from the approaching storm blew a huge piece of clear plastic across Veterans Parkway - and I drove right over it, then looked in my rear-view mirror and saw nothing. Either it stuck to my grill, or something new is catching leaking water.

Much as I expected, rain began falling as I drove north on I-185 toward Troup County. Problem #5: I suddenly realized I had no windshield wiper on the driver's side of the car. I guess it fell off somewhere in the last few days - or then again, a beggar could have been desperate for something to swap for dinner.

How many days had I driven without a windshield wiper? Some genius I am - because I honestly have no idea. It's wanted to come loose from time to time for months, and I couldn't figure out how to make it stay on properly. Well, short of getting out a tube of Krazy Glue....

The passenger's side windshield wiper still was on, so I used it to keep moving up I-185 - but as I did, the stub where the other wiper should be slowly cut a groove into my windshield. Sadly, it wasn't cold enough for the rain to turn to ice and work on that groove like a Zamboni.

The showers thankfully were spotty, so I made it to LaGrange without much windshield damage. Driving around town, I discovered Jimmy Swaggart has his own FM radio station there -- and as long as I listened, I was amazed that he never broke down and cried once.

After attending to personal business, I went searching for an open auto parts store to replace my missing wiper. That's when I discovered LaGrange is NOT like Columbus - because several big-name parts stores there are closed on Sundays. It only acts like a bigger city, with all that Internet access....

A woman at a Summit station near LaGrange Mall gave me detailed directions to an open AutoZone store - and to her credit, she was exactly right in what she said. But she kept trying to give me back the money I paid her, for a large soda.

(By the way, if you haven't been to LaGrange in awhile - it's NOT called "West Georgia Commons" Mall anymore. Apparently the stores are too common at ALL malls anymore.)

I found the right windshield wiper for my car at AutoZone - but then came Problem #6: the instruction sheet for installing the wiper had a series of drawings, which I couldn't figure out. Why can't these companies simply print directions in five or six different languages? We actually might learn new words from this....

Humbled, frustrated, and knowing I'd fouled things up before, I walked back inside AutoZone and persuaded an attendant to come outside and put the wiper on my car. See, I told you I'm NOT a genius. Geniuses drive pickup trucks full of "junk," so they have replacements ready at all times.

But enough about my troubles. Let's check what else happened Sunday:

+ The Ledger-Enquirer began a special report on "The Night Kenny Walker Was Shot." Kenny?!?! Have we come to know him THAT well since last December?

+ Ritmo Latino Radio stunned me by playing a "Spanish rap" tune in which a man said the "N-word" several times. No, I don't mean Nicaragua - or even what one group keeps calling "Looney-Toony Noriega...."

+ On the "Higher Power Outreach Church" radio broadcast, Pastor Johnny Robinson revealed his House of Restoration shelter in Phenix City gained at least $140,000 by splitting from the Columbus Homeless Task Force. Keep that in mind if he comes to your group this fall seeking urgent donations.

+ A check on Second Avenue and Warm Springs Road found Coastal gas stations are changing their names to Marathon. In a way, I can understand this - because I've never really considered the Riverwalk the west coast of Georgia.

COMING THIS WEEK: David Glisson talks at last.... the Marshal in a mess.... and local backers of President Bush....

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, August 29, 2004



The "Celebrate Phenix City" 50 years summer celebration concluded Saturday night, with a fireworks show over the Chattahoochee. If you missed that well-planned show, head to South Seale Road tonight and you might see an improvised

Some residents along South Seale Road say Sunday and Thursday nights are dangerous times. They claim long lines of cars go by, and some people fire guns into the air. Don't these folks know East Alabama Motor Speedway is WEST of Phenix City?

(If people in south Phenix City actually are doing this for fun, Shooters ought to consider opening a second location....)

One South Seale Road resident showed off two big handguns he's bought, to protect himself from late-night troublemakers. Hopefully Mayor-Elect Jeff Hardin did all his "door-to-door campaigning" during broad daylight.

Some South Seale Road residents say they took a signed petition to the Phenix City Council two years ago, seeking better policing of the neighborhood - but they claim nothing was done. Perhaps Council members were too busy trying to find a
dealership to sell new cars on 14th Street, instead of used ones.

South Seale Road has received a lot of attention in the last couple of days, after a man was shot and killed in the parking lot of the Davis Lounge. The owner admits he's concerned about what happens inside his business, more than what happens outside. So he takes this "lounge" stuff seriously....

Apparently after watching Friday evening's news, Phenix City Public Safety Director Preston Robinson announced he was shutting down the Davis Lounge that very night. He had to move quickly, of course - while the rest of town was distracted by the Shaw-Central football game.

None of the TV newscasts went down South Seale Road Saturday night, so I assume the shutdown of the Davis Lounge went peaceably. But how about that Phenix City Police Department -- making Fort Benning and Columbus police look like wimps, for merely banning soldiers from businesses?

So how can Phenix City police shut down businesses like Davis Lounge on the spot, while Columbus can't? Certainly police couldn't have been scared away from the Boom Boom Room by that big Bobby Peters sign outside it....

It happens that the Davis Lounge crackdown occurred on the weekend of a big semi-annual gun show at the Columbus Trade Center. I'm pleased to report when I jogged underneath the Trade Center Saturday night, there were NO tables set up on the Riverwalk -- and no one was showing off what they'd just bought.

To come full circle: that Riverwalk run gave me a good view of the big "Celebrate 50 Years" event - and I never have seen the Phenix City Amphitheater more filled with people than it was Saturday night. Of course, since it was a country music concert, a good number of them likely were "filled" with alcohol as well....

Grand Ole Opry star John Conlee was the headline act at the Phenix City Amphitheater - but he should have tailored his act to his audience. Conlee sang "I'm on the back side of 30" as I jogged by - but I might have changed it to, "You're on the back side of 50."

Some co-workers challenged me Friday to name a John Conlee song - and on the spur of the moment, I couldn't. You're showing your age if you can remember when Conlee was a big country star. And you're REALLY showing your age if you can't remember why.

I also passed a couple of Columbus Police cars at the south end of Bay Avenue, near the Dillingham Street bridge. Presumably they were looking for concert fans on the "FRONT side of 30" - as in miles per hour....

For the record, the Saturday night run was my personal best in a year -- at a fraction above two miles non-stop. I've mentioned here my improving distances [22 Aug], but I think there was a subconscious explanation for this effort. I knew
fireworks were coming - and after Golden Park three weeks ago [8 Aug], I didn't want to be anywhere close.

Now a quick look at other interesting items for a late-summer weekend:

+ The Trade Center hosted not only a gun show, but a "Reptile Show." Wow - what IS new in reptiles for Fall 2004? Are the alligator handbags going to be tie-dyed this season? Are rectangular shells in for tortoises, instead of round ones?

+ Country's Barbecue staged its annual charity "Midnight Run" in Midtown. I think they chose the wrong course for this race. It should circle the new library and the old Sears Building - and be called the "Columbus Square Memorial."

+ The Capital City Bombers blew out the Catfish 13-5 -- and things got so out of hand that infielder Jimmy Rohan was called on to pitch, for at least the second time this season. Rohan actually struck out a batter -- and I think in cases like that, it should count for two outs.

+ A couple of guys at church were talking about how badly the U.S. men's basketball team played at the Olympics - so I asked them if they did what I did [25 Aug], and tried NOT to watch the games all week. "No," they said abruptly. And here
I thought my congregation was full of right-wing conservatives....

BURKARD'S BEST BETS: Gas for $1.69 a gallon at Snack Attack on Buena Vista Road.... 20-ounce sodas for 50 cents at Walgreens.... but a "Gator Stick" for $2.99 at Skipper's on Buena Vista? Bill Purvis can have that one....

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, August 27, 2004



Thursday was so busy for me that I only have time for brief notes on a variety of things:

+ Which director of a big Columbus charity just resigned - days after a "radiothon" apparently fell far short of its goal? The final total on the fundraiser still hasn't been announced. So if you see announcers on street corners with hats in their hands, that's why.

+ Green Island Country Club hosted a fund-raising dinner for the "National Alliance for the Mentally Ill." Before you ask - no, this is NOT otherwise known as the Eric Buffong Defense Fund.

+ Today's Ledger-Enquirer reveals a name for the new Columbus public library. Let's see - the Jerry Laquire Library? Naaaah. The Doug Kellett Library? Probably not....

+ Plans were announced for the third annual "God Bless Fort Benning" celebration. This year it will be on the Saturday of S.O.A. Watch weekend - so protesters can love it on Saturday, loathe it on Sunday and leave it on Monday.

(The organizers of God Bless Fort Benning displayed a nice sign at their Civic Center news conference, complete with a web site address. Hopefully someone will find time in the next few weeks to advance that web site beyond last November.)

+ Fort Benning's Commanding General held a surprise award ceremony for Columbus Mayor Bob Poydasheff and his wife. I'm not sure what brought this on. I'm not even sure about what Mrs. Poydasheff does all week - but if she can get a medal for it, more mothers should have one.

+ B.F. Goodrich employees ratified a new two-year contract. It guarantees the Opelika plant will remain open - and means workers will be able to handle a couple of "belts" on the job.

+ Continental Carbon promised to appeal the $20.7 million judgment against it for spreading carbon black over South Columbus. A plant manager noted 70 employees "live and work in this area." Of course, he didn't say if they lived upwind or downwind from the plant....

+ A settlement was announced in the Tri-State Crematory civil lawsuit. The owners will pay $80 million. Well, since the crematory was insured, Georgia Farm Bureau Insurance actually will - which may give area farmers even more reason to
pray for rain.

+ Capital City beat the Columbus Catfish 12-11, one night after the Catfish won 14-12. What is the South Atlantic League doing -- using Olympic "rally scoring?"

(After two high-scoring games like these, maybe the Catfish should request to play the rest of the season under "coach pitch" rules.)

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, August 26, 2004



A federal jury ruled Wednesday Continental Carbon must pay $20.7 million in damages, for pollution from a Phenix City plant. So have you figured out our title? All that "carbon black" will give this company red ink.

Eight jurors in Opelika decided Continental Carbon and its parent company in Taiwan are liable for pollution damage in parts of Columbus. I may never buy chocolate chip ice cream south of Macon Road again....

The city of Columbus was one of the plaintiffs against Continental Carbon. Mayor Bob Poydasheff issued a statement praising the city for taking on the company. Of course, the damages will be passed on properly -- to residents filing liability suits against the city.

Mayor Poydasheff and City Manager Carmen Cavezza testified air pollution from Continental Carbon covered the roof of the Civic Center. Defense attorneys were skeptical about this. Why wasn't any soot found on the Columbus Catfish batting

South Columbus homeowner Owen Ditchfield was also a plaintiff in the "soot suit." He told WRBL this was a win for "the little guy." If Ditchfield had called himself a little guy a few weeks ago, he might not have lost the School Board

The big winner in terms of damages seems to be Action Marine on Victory Drive. The company claimed carbon black from Continental Carbon's plant covered its boats, and made them impossible to sell. Don't you wonder now about those gold speckles in the fiberglass shells of some boats -- and where they came from?

(The strange thing is that Carl Gregory Dodge is also on Victory Drive - and it did NOT take part in this pollution case. Maybe the managers decided they would be hypocrites, in light of their gas-guzzling SUV's.)

Continental Carbon officials said in videotaped depositions they knew the Phenix City plant had pollution problems for years -- but the bosses in Taiwan rejected their requests for improvements. Don't they have a lot of nerve? Let's see if Fort Benning comes to THEIR rescue, if mainland China invades.

The attorneys for Continental Carbon tried to argue the carbon black findings were based on flawed samples. For instance, what if the soot was collected after a thunderstorm? Well, the rain probably would drop it onto the boat that much harder....

One Continental Carbon lawyer told WRBL the $20.7 million damage award was excessive. Oh really?! In some west Alabama counties, the jury might have left out that decimal point.

A federal judge did NOT allow the Continental Carbon case to be a class-action lawsuit - so residents of South Columbus have to sue the company on their own. There are exceptions to this, of course. The managers of Port Columbus merely have to point their cannon toward the Phenix City plant and fire.

. Regular blog readers will recall a lot of black soot has collected on my humble Honda in recent years [22 Feb]. Based on this case, I suppose I could sue Continental Carbon now for big money. But I think I'd be more satisfied if the managers came to my home, and spent all weekend hand-washing my car -- no hoses allowed.

Now let's wash our hands of this whole thing, and check other items from Wednesday:

+ The main Columbus library has posted a sign saying it will not accept any "used books" after September 6, as it prepares for the move to a new building. Talk about emptying the shelves! Doesn't any book checked out more than once qualify as used?

+ Dr. Carole Rutland revealed to the Ledger-Enquirer she's leaving the Space Science Center, to take a job promoting Chattahoochee Valley tourism. This could be quite a tough adjustment. After all those years of stargazing, she'll have to focus on man-made landmarks now.

+ Jimmy Wetzel threw in the towel, and conceded a Phenix City Council runoff race to Ray Bush. Wetzel was the man with the Bobby Peters look-alike campaign signs - so apparently enough voters were literate enough to notice the difference.

+ The Walgreen's store on Wynnton Road had a sale on bags of Uncle Ray's potato chips - bags with the Ten Commandments printed on the back! I'll assume Ray is the uncle of Roy Moore....

+ The Columbus Catfish climbed out of an 11-3 hole, and beat Augusta 14-12. For swimming upstream this well, they should be called the Salmon for the rest of the season.

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, August 25, 2004



Phenix City voters chose Jeff Hardin as their new Mayor Tuesday night. It wasn't close, as he beat J.W. Brannen by a three-to-one margin - and given one of his big issues, people at Carmike Cinemas may be running scared today.

Jeff Hardin is a former Phenix City Council member, who portrayed himself as NOT being a "good ol' boy." Compared with J.W. Brannen, voters obviously wanted a Mayor who's a good YOUNGER boy.

Jeff Hardin told WXTX "News at Ten" his success was a victory for old-fashioned, "door-to-door campaigning." How can it work for him, when it doesn't seem to work for guys selling cable TV contracts?

Jeff Hardin says one of his goals as Phenix City's Mayor will be "mending relationships" - such as between the city and Russell County. This might not be that difficult. All he might have to do is hire away Administrator LeeAnn Horne-Jordan.

J.W. Brannen seemed to have the most money of the three candidates for Phenix City Mayor. After all, he made a TV commercial - but maybe he was too good a "good ol' boy," and needed an attack ad.

Phenix City's number-one blog claimed the other day there's "not a dime's worth of difference" between any of the three candidates for Mayor. I beg to differ with that. Ted Brazell gained only 49 votes, didn't return any TV station phone calls - and for all we know, he might have operated gambling parlors 50 years ago under another name.

Phenix City Council member John Storey kept his seat, beating Jo Ann Wade by a two-thirds majority. Storey won even though he faces a state ethics investigation. Maybe he'll make some new signs for that Columbus complainer, saying "Get Lost!"

As for other results, the Eufaula Mayor's race may be heading for a recount. Incumbent Jay Jaxon leads Randall Greene by only nine votes. That'll teach the Mayor to propose adding a "Lake" to the city name.

In nearby Clayton, Alabama, Piggly Wiggly grocery employee Terri Shepard tried to run for Mayor - and she finished last out of five candidates. The lesson here is obvious: don't take the movie "Win a Date with Tad Hamilton" seriously.

Opelika will have a new mayor, as Gary Fuller defeated incumbent Barbara Patton. What did Patton do wrong? She started Sunday liquor sales in stores, and she brought the Tiger Town shopping center to town.... no wait. That's the problem right there. Opelika's the Bulldogs -- Auburn is the Tigers.

(Barbara Patton doesn't have to disappear completely from public service in Opelika. All she has to do is get Mike Patton to change the name of one of his car lots.)

Meanwhile, Barry Moody is in a runoff for Mayor of LaFayette. James Moody won a city council seat in Smiths Station. And so many incumbents did well that voters didn't seem very moody at all.

E-MAIL UPDATE: We now know we have at least one reader in Columbus city government. This came to us from a ColumbusGA.org address:

Dear Richard,

I enjoy reading your blog. You are extremely funny and really have some interesting things to say.

The reason I am writing is to ask you about something you said in the blog on Sunday. You made the comment that based on Dr. Buffong's mugshot property values in Green Island will be going up. I am sure that you didnt mean for that to sound as racist as it did, right?

I am not going to comment on whether or not Dr. Buffong is guilty or not but I will tell you that he is a brillant Doctor and has helped a lot of women ( myself included ) with nothing other than complete professionalism. My probelm with your comment stems from the fact that you speak like you are a christian ,and I believe you to be, but the statement came across as very racist and unchristian.

I look forward to reading more of the blogspot .



Thanks for your kind words, Suzanne - and after reviewing what I wrote, I can see why you reached the conclusion you did. Please forgive me, and allow me to clarify.

I suspect some people in Green Island quietly would be happy to see Dr. Eric Buffong go. He doesn't have the "country club look" some of those residents probably prefer. It's sort of like a local version of the TV series "Method and Red."

(And it's the hair in that mug shot which caught my attention more than anything - not quite matching the Green Island "Stepford Wives" image.)

Before e-mail comes in the other direction, a true confession: in seven-plus years in Columbus, I never have driven into Green Island Hills. I fear someone would see my ten-year-old soot-covered Honda, and call police on the theory I'm a
burglary suspect.

People who have spent any time in Columbus know they have to fight racially-charged thinking. It comes at them from all sides - radio talk show hosts pulling in one direction, civil rights groups pulling in another direction. Maybe I should go back to my old "neutral" stand, and play salsa music tapes in my car.

(BLOG-BLAH-BLAH: How would you rewrite my Eric Buffong joke? Since I fouled it up, I'll give you a chance. Write me with your version - but remember, Suzanne may read it....)

On a very different note, another e-mail came to us with the title: "Did you know the S. GA Waves are still around?"

The sign at Linwood blvd and 10th suggests it to be true...

Do you think the Catfish see them as being rivals? Before you say something about it I know they are the previous team and that they just never removed/replaced the sign, yet I find it amusing that after all this time, it is still there.

Keep on posting!

Hmmmm - maybe this is one intersection the few Catfish fans don't drive by.

I can top that one, though. The Columbus Civic Center sign along 4th Street has displayed an old Columbus RedStixx logo for several weeks. Maybe this is the Catfish management's alternative to "turn back the clock" day.

Before the clock runs out on me, some quick notes from the last couple of days:

+ After months of speculation, Mara Kelly seems to have left WRBL at last. The challenge will be to avoid replacing a "Kelly" with someone who's simply green.

+ Major Mike Anti returned home to Fort Benning, after winning a silver medal in Olympic shooting. His wreath should be a perfect addition to his backyard or basement target.

(I've tried to avoid the Olympic games for a few days -- because believe it or not, my Pastor preached AGAINST them last weekend! He explained they were set up long ago to honor Greek gods, not the true one. So all those Athens residents who
fled for a summer vacation might be right after all.)

+ The University of Georgia fired its cheerleading coach, amid accusations she was insensitive to a Jewish cheerleader. Talk about trying to outdo Ed Richardson at Auburn....

(Did you know UGA has a Jewish cheerleader on the squad this season? Considering the Bulldogs play so many Saturday afternoon football games, this is truly un-Orthodox.)

+ Instant Message to Synovus: Thanks for the big new company logo you put on your building, facing the two Riverwalks. Next time I'm out walking or jogging and suddenly have the urge to apply for a home loan, I'll know where to go.

COMING SOON: A Marshal under fire.... but why?

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, August 24, 2004



From Eufaula to Phenix City to Lanett, new mayors and city council members will be selected across Alabama today. It may be noteworthy that not one candidate has claimed to have served aboard a "swift boat" in Vietnam - or even a slow one.

I've never quite understood why Alabama holds city elections every three years, instead of every four. Are the city politicians 25 percent more corrupt than the state ones?

SPAM-A-RAMA: Why vote for ANY local leader when you can become one yourself? I recently received e-mail with the title, "Be a Mayor and Save." That's easy for THEM to say. They don't have to raise money for a campaign.

The spam offer urged me to "be the first on my block" to become a mayor or steward of my neighborhood. Well, what if I'm second on my block? Can I go to my neighbors and attempt to stage a coup?

The e-mail spam promised all sorts of perks, if I became a mayor or steward of my neighborhood. For instance, I could get discounts on air fare -- a lot like Mayor Poydasheff, I suppose, since the city budget pays for the trips he takes.

So what's going on here? Click on the link in this offer, and you're taken to the National Union of American Families. Founder and President Jesse Epps Sr.'s home-page message says we've all become "victims" of this society, in various ways. So when is he going on "Montel" to talk more about it?

The National Union of American Families says its goal is "building a better nation." To do this, it plans to set up a "local family union in every state legislative district" across the country. I've never traveled there, but I think this is how the Latter-day Saints took control of everything in Utah.

But wait, there's more! In each state legislative district, the N.U.A.F. will have 42 sections -- and each section will have its own chairperson. I get the feeling if you're on the "ground floor" of this group, gerrymandering will be not only expected, but encouraged.

And the set-up of this group doesn't stop there. Each section within the legislative district has a "neighborhood steward.... assigned to advocate for every 20 families." Hey, now this DOES sound familiar! The Communists already have this in Beijing....

I hunted for awhile around the N.U.A.F. web site, and could NOT find anything about becoming a "neighborhood mayor." But you can be a charter member of this union for only $120 per year. Come to think of it, the flow chart for the local
unions IS shaped a bit like a pyramid.

Some parts of the National Union for American Families web site are a bit puzzling. There's a button for "Henderson's Itinerary" - yet whoever Pastor Henderson is, he apparently hasn't traveled at all since March. Maybe some of the 20
families in his neighborhood felt it was time for some power-sharing....

Then there's the "Benefits" option on the N.U.A.F. home page. You're given a list of benefits, including "3.9 cents per minute long distance" and "free unlimited long distance." Perhaps this is the math quiz, to see if you qualify for local

A news release on this web site urges voters to stage "a march on Washington by way of the polls" in November. Well, it beats the approach a number of groups are taking right now - marching by way of the TV and radio station sales

After mulling it over, this offer didn't quite seem right for me. It's not that I don't dream of becoming Mayor of my block or neighborhood. It's just that Georgia is such a non-Union state....

Now some quick Instant Messages as we close:

+ To Sonny's Bar-B-Q: I personally liked your food - but someone told me you closed your Bradley Park Drive location. In this town full of "Country's," city slicker barbecue apparently is held in suspicion.

+ To the Peppercorn and Rye restaurant on Whittlesey Road: About your sign promising a "home-cooked meal" - why should I have to leave my home to enjoy that?

+ To Mustard Seed Christian Store: I appreciate you selling my CD. But when I saw the coasters you're selling with the words, "make up the rules as you go along" - well, is this how God did it with the Ten Commandments?

+ To Big Lots stores: Halloween items on sale - ALREADY?! You make me long for the school year to start after Labor Day again....

(BLOGGER'S NOTE: We ran out of time to address Monday e-mail, but we'll get to it in days to come....)

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, August 23, 2004



Something seemed different this weekend as I drove up Weems Road to Moon Road. The sign on the United Methodist church had something new - and it was still too scared to mention the Seventh-Day Adventist Church which has been renting the building on Saturdays.

For some reason, St. John United Methodist Church was out, and St. PETER United Methodist was in. What was going on here? Do the members want to distance themselves from John Kerry this far?

Something was up here, and I simply HAD to know what it was. So around noon Sunday, I drove into the parking lot at St. Peter United Methodist Church. Since the service began at 11:00 a.m., this was perfect timing - since other than South Columbus, these United Methodist Churches tend to watch the clock as they worship.

I asked a woman heading out of the sanctuary about the name change, and she explained what was going on. Sunday was merger day for St. Andrew and St. John United Methodist Churches. So much for the theory that St. Peter's College of
New Jersey bought the church out.

Sure enough, a road sign pointing people to St. John United Methodist was sitting on the ground, leaning against the sanctuary wall. I imagine there are plenty of others with that name, who will help this church make its budget....

Other members of the congregation confirmed this was a church merger - as St. Andrew United Methodist Church along River Road combined with St. John on Moon Road. The congregations voted to make "St. Peter" the new name. Big businesses might have come up with something like Accenture.

(Since most United Methodists believe these saints are in heaven - would Andrew and John be offended by this vote? Would one say to the other, "Jesus DID always like him best"? Would the other say, "Knock it off -- you've got a famous
golf club in Scotland named after you"??)

Seemingly everyone attending the 11:00 a.m. service was wearing name tags. This made it easier for the combined congregations to get to know each other. This also would make it easier for Muscogee County Deputies to show up and make arrests.

Every worshipper I met seemed to like the merger. One woman named Hazel told me she was "almost moved to tears" by the combined service. Well, it WAS sort of like a wedding....

(In fact, the worship bulletin shows the combined congregations read a "covenant with each other" and with Christ. Instead of exchanging rings, I suppose they could swap hymnals.)

Pastor John Stephens offered me some details on the church merger. He says the United Methodist Church came to both congregations in April about possibly combining, but the final decision was up to them. In some denominations, the groups would have been forced to merge - because there was only enough money to pay for one Pastor.

Pastor John Stephens says St. Andrew United Methodist was the larger of the two churches, but lacked room to grow. St. John United Methodist was smaller, but had that room. I'd have to agree with that - since even on this historic Sunday, it
was easy to find a parking space.

The Pastor of St. Peter United Methodist says this was a unique church merger - but he can foresee other situations where churches might merge, for economic or other reasons. Maybe he'll head downtown, and suggest Hal Brady merge St. Luke
United Methodist into Trinity Episcopal.

As I left the newly-merged church, several thoughts sprang to mind about it:

+ Shouldn't this congregation get busy marketing itself - as the "NEW, IMPROVED" St. Peter United Methodist?

+ What about the big portrait in the lobby outside the sanctuary - which claims to show St. John? I suppose that can be fixed easily, by ordering a new nameplate.

+ I went through a church merger in metro Atlanta about ten years ago - and while it started well, trouble soon developed. When leaders of both congregations form a committee to develop a common approach to worship, and you never hear from
them again....

The Methodist merger happened to occur on the weekend that another United Methodist Church in Columbus marked its 30th anniversary. You don't think St. Mark United Methodist on Whitesville Road will rub it in, do you - with lines like, "30 years with the same saint"?

By the way, which "Saint" is the most popular in Columbus? A check of the phone book finds three congregations named after St. James and St. Mary - but St. Mary wins the tiebreaker, because she has a long road and a public school named after

(Of course, you could argue this in a number of ways. After all, St. Elmo has his own neighborhood in the heart of Columbus....)

Now let's let "all the saints who from their labors" rest, and check other items from Sunday:

+ A drive down Victory Drive confirmed "Grits 'n' Sweet Tea" has closed - the restaurant that replaced Denny's during the week of Riverfest in April. Maybe next time, they should make the grits with milk.

(Why can't South Columbus support restaurants such as this? The biscuits at Burger King can't be THAT addictive....)

+ Country's Barbecue at 14th and Broadway was evacuated, after a fire filled the dining room with smoke. Firefighters suspect there was too much grease and fat in a barbecue pit -and we don't even want to think about the customers' bodies.

+ CNN visited a "Single Focus" Bible study group -- which meets every week at a metro Atlanta Hooters restaurant! Hasn't this group ever heard of the verse about "lead us not into temptation?"

+ The "Bishop Bishop" religious broadcast on TV-66 showed the preacher proclaiming, "I bought a new truck, and I paid 12 payments at a time.... I didn't want to be aggravated this year." There's nothing like a tithe-paying congregation to improve the Pastor's credit score.

BURKARD'S BEST BETS: Gas for $1.73 a gallon at Coastal on Airport Thruway.... milk for $1.25 a half-gallon at Publix.... men's sport shirts for $6.99 at Goody's (though I heard someone talk about driving stuff to Goodwill)....

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, August 22, 2004



"How much weight have you lost?" a woman asked me out of the blue, as I walked into work the other day. Talk about taking a chance. Suppose I'd simply bought larger-sized clothing.

"About ten pounds," I told the woman - and that's accurate. I was pleased to discover this on my bathroom weight scale recently. Of course, it was the first time I'd stepped on the scale in months....

The woman obviously thought I'd lost more than ten pounds. "You look good," she said. Why is it always the married women who say these things to me?

It's a good feeling to know I've lost about ten pounds in recent months - but if you're wondering what my secret is, I'm not really sure there is one. I'm not doing that much differently from other summers. Well, except I'm working all DAY
right now as opposed to all NIGHT....

There are several steps doctors recommend you take to lose weight. For some years, I've taken a step they don't recommend - and avoided seeing doctors completely.

But anyway: doctors say exercise is important in losing weight. I've been doing that all along - and lately, my morning runs have been improving noticeably. Every one of them this past week was at least 1.1 miles. That felt good, until
someone told me National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice runs five.

I learned many years ago that in Georgia, you practically have to learn to run all over again once the late spring humidity kicks in. For several weeks, my distances drop dramatically. All that sweat weighs me down, you know....

The recent spell of cool, less humid weather has helped me do better jogging. The fact that I'm normally running at 7:05 a.m. helps as well I think it's because most of my body is too sleepy to know I'm working out.

Doctors also recommend you eat properly to lose weight. I guess this is where I've improved - as I'm not at home as much these days, nibbling on cookies from noon to midnight. Now I have to bunch it all together, from 7:00 p.m. on.

(Speaking of cookies - our snack table at church this weekend was FULL of cookies. It was so full, the package I brought never even came out of the kitchen! It's nice to see our thinking is becoming more united....)

Do I have three square meals a day? Nope - as I haven't normally eaten lunch for years. Journalists/bloggers like me don't make as much money as you might think.

So I take vitamins, you may be thinking. No, I tend to avoid those as well. I took them every day growing up - but then some TV station did a series asking, "Are you a pill popper?" and suddenly I felt very guilty.

If I could sum up this unplanned weight-loss strategy, here it is: eat lighter, and you'll become lighter - and you'll probably exercise longer. Now if someone kindly will turn down the humidity until the next line of thunderstorms moves through....

E-MAIL UPDATE: Friday's thoughts about the start of high school football season brought this message from someone who attended the Shaw-Columbus game at Kinnett Stadium:

It took over 45 minutes to clear traffic after the game. So I think the shoots the media took were bad angles. The place was heavily attended by parents of both teams.

Don Cook

Thanks for the information, Don - but if it took 45 minutes to clear the traffic, I have to wonder if the police officers at Kinnett Stadium all went home after the opening kickoff.

Don also tells me he was NOT subjected to a metal detector screening at the Shaw-Columbus game. School district officials say the checks will be "random" at all Kinnett and McClung Memorial Stadium games this season. It's a good thing
football helmets are almost completely plastic now....

By the way, I'm assuming the crowd at Friday's Carver-Spencer game was peaceful. If it wasn't, Saturday's TV newscasts would have said so - or civil rights leaders would have been complaining about violations.

Now a weekend drive around town, to see what else is going on:

+ Which local TV news reporter just became engaged - but the wedding isn't going to happen for 14 months? The new federal overtime rules starting Monday must be tougher than I thought....

+ Sunday's Ledger-Enquirer takes a closer look at plans to develop a new cemetery in Harris County. My only question is whether each body will be required to have a two-acre plot.

+ Columbus gynecologist Dr. Eric Buffong made his second trip to Recorder's Court this month on a sex crime charge.... [WITHHELD; see 25 Aug entry]

+ The Junior League held its 50th annual Attic Sale - and this year it was so big, it was moved to the Civic Center. From what I've been hearing, anything in the Civic Center's attic would be covered with carbon black.

(And another thing - shouldn't the Junior League drop the annual Attic Sale? It's much older than 35....)

+ The Columbus Catfish had a big crowd for "Military Appreciation Night." But the game went to extra innings, and all the Fort Benning troops got up and went back to their buses in the top of the tenth! It's just as well, I guess. The post-game fireworks show may have given some officers bad flashbacks.

+ Georgia football legend Herschel Walker was a special guest at the grand opening of "The Draft" sports bar. So why didn't anybody ask Walker if he's going to be an assistant to new Auburn Athletic Director Vince Dooley?

+ Instant Message to the Allendale Center on Moon Road: About your sign, "PICK UP CHICKEN WANTED HAIR STYLIST" - are these shops working together on this? Is this a strange new alternative to styling mousse?

COMING MONDAY: A tale of two saints and one church....

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© 2003-04 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Friday, August 20, 2004



The calendar says mid-August, yet the high school football season began in Columbus and LaGrange Thursday night. Who knows - if year-round school expands, maybe we'll have high school arena football during June.

Shaw shelled Columbus 50-7 in the earliest football opener ever at Kinnett Stadium. It IS still called Kinnett, isn't it? I mean, Best Buy hasn't taken that over, too??

Based on the highlights I saw, the bleachers at Kinnett Stadium were quite empty for the Columbus-Shaw game. In fact, for a second I mistakenly thought I was watching the Olympics....

Tonight's big high school game is the Carver-Spencer showdown at McClung Memorial Stadium. WRBL reported Thursday night security will be increased for this game, because of concerns about possible violence. They'd better do this for the Pacelli-Brookstone game, or the protest marches will start.

For the first time, Columbus Police will have metal detectors set up at the gate for the Carver-Spencer game. This will change the strategy for some fans - from sneaking in cans of soda, to sneaking in 20-ounce bottles.

The Georgia High School Association decided to move up the start of football season two weeks this season. It DOES reflect the earlier start of the school year in many districts. But shouldn't the GHSA be consistent about this - and move the
end of baseball season up to mid-May, like most other states?

Where I grew up in Kansas, the high school football season was rather compact. Games started in September, there was a nine-week regular season, and the state finals were held Thanksgiving weekend. Our idea of a "bye week" was when the
team took a 50-mile road trip.

So before you ask me that annoyingly-cliched Hank Williams Jr. question, "Are you ready for some football?" - no, I'm really not. For one thing, the Atlanta Falcons haven't even played two pre-season games yet.

(And can it really be football season when hardware stores aren't offering special prices on rakes yet?)

Doesn't it seem weird to you that high school football is underway in mid-August? After all, you know it's August in Columbus when....

+ You go for a morning jog outside - and 36 hours later your sweaty T-shirt still isn't dry.

+ Clothing stores hold summer clearance sales - and you giggle, because you know it stays warm around here for two more months.

+ The temperature still can hit 100 degrees F., but the TV stations have run out of "coping with the heat" news stories.

+ Drug stores have sales on chocolate bars - but you don't dare take advantage of them, because you know the bars will melt in the car before you get home.

+ If it wasn't for the Olympics, you'd HAVE to watch reality shows on television.

Of course, any time is a good time to send Instant Messages....

+ To Columbus Councilor Nathan Suber: I think I've waited long enough. When do you plan to make a statement about your daughter's arrest last month? Not even Sheriff Ralph Johnson waited this long, after his son was arrested.

+ To all Republicans in Georgia: Aren't you quietly a little nervous about the upcoming convention, now that Senator Zell Miller is the keynote speaker? He could be pulling the sneakiest political con job in years....

+ To the "Celebrate Phenix City" organizers: How many people showed up to watch the "Phenix City Story" movie Thursday night? And how many times did audience members laugh, when they weren't supposed to do it?

+ To Reggie Foster of Sunny 100 FM: Obviously this wasn't explained to you properly. The cycling event downtown this weekend is called "In MOTION X." The stationary bike you pedalled for charity Thursday probably isn't going to 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.

Thursday, August 19, 2004



Cross the 13th Street Bridge into Phenix City, and you're liable to notice it - a fire truck parked along the roadside, with a sign supporting a candidate for Mayor. I guess I saw this the other day, but I didn't think anything of it. For all I knew, the truck could have been promoting red-hot savings at Piggly Wiggly.

Several people apparently have seen this fire truck on 13th Street, and concluded the Phenix City Fire Department is endorsing a candidate for Mayor next week. After all, I remember how active some members were a few years ago in
campaigning for a new Fire Chief....

But I'm hearing the fire truck parked along 13th Street is NOT an official Phenix City fire truck. It's an old truck a former firefighter bought, which he's using to show support for Mayoral candidate Jeff Hardin. And let's face it -- how else can you use an old fire truck, other than driving it in parades?

Meanwhile, Mayoral candidate J.W. Brannen has a new TV commercial on the air. He talks about how construction is about to start on the 14th Street section of the Phenix City Riverwalk - or as I prefer to call it, the "River Phenix."

J.W. Brannen's commercial shows him at a different construction site, talking about how Fifth Avenue Extension will be one of his top priorities as Mayor. Please note he does NOT say the new hospital there will be a priority - and as stiffly as he stands in the ad, Brannen looks like he could use a back doctor.

It's interesting to compare what the candidates for Phenix City Mayor are saying. J.W. Brannen promises to work for a road to the new hospital. Jeff Hardin talks about bringing a movie theater to town. Which building do voters want more?
And which would they rather visit more often?

(Then again, why don't we combine these two? Put a theater in the new hospital - and it can show classic medical movies such as "MASH," "Patch Adams" and "Doc Hollywood.")

Have I missed it, or are famous Phenix City names not endorsing anyone in the Mayor's race? I haven't heard which man incumbent Sonny Coulter or former Mayor Peggy Martin prefers. And the 1999 Little League baseball champions might have enough clout to influence the outcome.

Now some other quick things from a slow Wednesday:

+ Columbus Metropolitan Airport announced it's receiving a federal grant to improve its security system. Before long, every passenger on an ASA flight will have his own bodyguard.

+ A SunTrust bank on Talbotton Road was robbed for the second time in 16 days. Is the Columbus Housing Authority SURE everyone's moved out of the Peabody Apartments?

(I have no idea who's robbing this bank branch - but if it's the same person, he obviously doesn't understand how the "Christmas Club" program works.)

+ Auburn University began its search for a new Athletic Director - by interviewing the head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation! [True/A.P.] Shame on all you skeptics, who say big-time college sports are only about money....

(Is interim President Ed Richardson confused here? In places such as Auburn, "S.E.C." does NOT stand for Securities and Exchange Commission.)

COMING SOON: You can become a mayor, too.... and we have some "weighty" matters to discuss....

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

© 2003-04 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004



Ruth Ann's restaurant was the last place where I planned to eat breakfast Tuesday. Most mornings, I eat breakfast at home -- a bowl of corn flakes, two slices of toast, orange juice and milk. No coffee for me, thank you. Orange juice that's sat awhile wakes me up easily.

But there I was downtown at Ruth Ann's, because of a challenge I received via e-mail from a blog reader:

Hi Richard,

Which bank in Columbus, GA was responsible for losing all the money in the dump?

Although the newspapers aren't reporting it, it must be all over town by now. Call the local diner…… "Madge" probably knows by now.

Since this is your back yard, it shouldn't be hard to find out.


Lisa McNear


A Radok Company

What Lisa doesn't realize is that here in Columbus, people are very good at keeping secrets. You may recall we didn't know for sure who shot Kenneth Walker for several weeks.

Since Lisa wanted an answer, I changed my morning routine Tuesday to find out. Ruth Ann's is one of the best-known breakfast spots in Columbus, and a few short blocks from several big-name banks. But then again, wouldn't a big-bucks banker be at a top-dollar coffee stand instead?

In reality, I was more likely to find an answer to the "dumpster dollars" question two blocks down 10th Street from Ruth Ann's. The Government Center hosted the "One Columbus Community Prayer Breakfast" Tuesday. Of course, it doesn't look good to go around asking about "money blessings" at a prayer breakfast....

(The One Columbus prayer breakfast focused on education and our children - which is ironic, since you usually can't pray aloud for your children INSIDE buildings of public education.)

But anyway: it turns out I didn't have to go to a diner to learn which bank left $46,000 in a landfill. WRCG's Robbie Watson revealed the answer at 7:03 a.m. -- First Union Bank, which now has become part of Wachovia. Oh well, $46,000 doesn't even amount to one bank executive's golden parachute.

So armed with this knowledge, should I eat breakfast at Ruth Ann's anyway? Since Lisa suggested it, I decided to be a blogger of my word and go. After all, a Phenix City mayoral candidate might walk inside to do some last-minute campaigning.

Ruth Ann's was rather busy Tuesday morning, although not packed. But I had my doubts about whether Lisa would consider this place worthy -- since at one point, three different customers had cell phones at their ears making calls. In 2004, does that really make it a "diner?"

I ordered french toast for breakfast - and began my test of Lisa's theory. "I can't afford a lot," I told the attendant. "They didn't give me that money from the landfill."

"I hear you!" she replied. Then she went on her way, too busy to talk more. I'm not always the best at "buttering up" attendants such as this one -- especially since margarine always was on the table.

The attendant turned out to be too rushed to answer questions about banks and dumpsters - so I listened around the restaurant to other conversations. No one seemed to be talking about the "landfill loot." In fact, they didn't say much at all
- and I wound up singing along with Sunny 100 on the restaurant radio.

There's a TV monitor in a corner of the main room at Ruth Ann's -- but it was NOT on Tuesday morning. Are THAT many people waiting for NBC's prime-time Olympics coverage, to learn the results?

My last chance to test Lisa's theory came at the cash register, where a different woman handled my money. "I would have spent more," I said teasingly again, "but they didn't give me that money from the landfill."

"Oh. They found money there?" I don't know if her name was "Madge," but it could have been Alicia - as in Silverstone, as in "Clueless."

Sorry, Lisa - your theory about a local diner knowing which bank dumped $46,000 didn't quite work here. And to make matters worse, the french toast was a bit on the dry side....

But to be honest, I heard a hunch last Friday that Wachovia Bank had something to do with all that money at the landfill. But from my experience, I've learned better than to trust my hunches. They haven't led to any marriages yet, at least.

Now let's leave a tip, step outside and find other interesting items from Tuesday:

+ Phenix City Councilman John Storey denied that ethics complaint filed in Montgomery. It claims he sold $2,000 worth of signs to the city after taking office in 2001. Storey says the deal was signed BEFORE he took office - which may prove
even local politicians can stage pre-emptive strikes.

+ Speaking of strikes: Alabama Power revealed it has NOT sent work crews to the devastation of Hurricane Charley because an electrical workers' union contract expired Sunday night. So? Send crews down to Florida, anyway - and see if they're selfish enough to set up picket lines around damaged homes and grieving residents.

+ Columbus police warned of a fund-raising scam, tied to Hurricane Charley. Someone's apparently going door-to-door, claiming to be collecting relief money on behalf of Cascade Hills Baptist Church. If the solicitor is wearing a tie, he's
obviously not from Cascade Hills....

+ Phil Roberto resigned as General Manager of the Columbus Cottonmouths. Jerome Bouchard will become both Coach and General Manager -- so he can make enough money to replace the teeth he lost in fights.

+ Auburn University swimmer Kirsty Coventry won a second medal at the Athens Olympics. She's from the capital of Zimbabwe - where her friends and relatives probably cheered, "Hip hip Harare!"

+ Instant Message to the man I saw wearing a Muscogee County School District badge, buying a package of grapes and a bottle of Wild Irish Rose wine at a grocery store: What sort of scientific experiments are you teaching?

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, August 17, 2004



A second week of testimony began Monday in a pollution lawsuit against Continental Carbon. If this case is successful, all of South Columbus will be able to sing: "Soot, soot sooty, goodbye...."

A federal lawsuit accuses Continental Carbon of spreading "carbon black" all over South Columbus, from its Phenix City plant. If that's not what the black stuff is on my car, someone needs to investigate how Columbus road crews seal asphalt.

Mayor Bob Poydasheff testified at the Continental Carbon trial late last week. He's convinced that plant is to blame for changing the color of the Columbus Civic Center's roof. In bigger cities, something else does that to an arena - expensive corporate sponsorships.

The city of Columbus is joined in the lawsuit against Continental Carbon by Action Marine on Victory Drive. The business claims soot from the Phenix City plant gets all over its boats. Of course, after people buy the boats, some spilled beer might get that soot right out....

Monday's testimony in the Continental Carbon trial was a bit scientific. Defense lawyers argued an expert who took soot samples from the Civic Center roof didn't check the weather conditions at the time. Uh-oh - Trent Aric might have to be
called back from Miami.

The prosecution witness said samples from the Civic Center roof looked odd, but from the naked eye were NOT obviously carbon black. Of course, for most of us "carbon black" looks like a letter-sized sheet of paper.

Continental Carbon apparently is going to argue the soot scattered across South Columbus is NOT carbon black, but something else. So what else could it be? Are birds around the Chattahoochee River not getting proper nourishment, for their droppings?

I'm just guessing here, but is Continental Carbon going to claim the soot in South Columbus is coming from the truck stop on U.S. 431? Then again, maybe Phenix City simply has too many barbecue restaurants....

(By the way, did you notice this lawsuit against Continental Carbon was moved to Opelika? The wind would have to change direction a bit, for any of the evidence to land there.)

Now some scattered tidbits from Monday:

+ I walked into the Phillips station on Wynnton Road, and found a woman behind the counter wearing a Puerto Rico T-shirt. "You had to wear that shirt today," I told her - and she just laughed. You see, women ARE Olympic basketball fans.

+ Auburn University swimmer Kirsty Coventry won an Olympic silver medal for - whoa, wait a minute here. She swam for Zimbabwe?! And President Robert Mugabe allowed this?! Did Coventry flee from some guerilla-occupied farm?

+ Former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell announced he's passed a polygraph test, as a grand jury indictment seems near. Campbell is a main attorney for Kenneth Walker's family - so it appears Muscogee County Sheriff's Deputies have one more item for their "to-do" list.

(Bill Campbell's hired his own attorney to defend him against possible corruption charges. So it's no wonder he wants Kenneth Walker's family to receive $100 million - his legal fees will go directly to somebody else.)

+ Instant Message to whoever is passing around a story of "serious ethics violations" by a Phenix City Council member: Didn't you learn anything from the Superior Court Judge race? We use blogs to spread rumors around here these days --
and I haven't seen this on any of them.

COMING WEDNESDAY: I've been challenged to visit a diner.... and you'll probably never guess why....

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, August 16, 2004



Is there a little head-scratching going on at Davis Broadcasting right now? The latest radio station ratings are out, and "Foxie-105" seems to have lost one-third of its audience from a year ago. Where did everyone go? Did that many people
flee town, in fear of Muscogee County Sheriff's Deputies?

WFXE-FM still is the top-rated radio station in Columbus. But the Arbitron numbers show a steep decline - from 19.7 in Spring 2003 to 12.8 this past spring. If this trend continues, Foxie-105 really WILL be in a jam.

So where are all the Foxie-105 listeners going? A close look at the numbers suggests about half of them may have moved to another Davis Broadcasting station, as WEAM-FM's ratings more than doubled. That spring revival at the Phenix City
Amphitheater really worked....

As for the other half of the lost Foxie-105 listeners - well, I'm not sure where they are. The other "urban" or gospel stations didn't gain much from spring of last year, or actually went down. Maybe the National Action Network needs to
expand that missing person's search in Harris County.

The race for second place overall in Columbus radio turned out to be a tie, between "Q107" and "Sunny 100." So you can tell these stations apart: only one of them has a "Totally 00's" weekend.

As for other radio ratings: "Kissin' 99" bounced back from a fall tumble to finish back above country rival "Rooster 106." I guess we can guess which station played Brad Cotter's record more often.

In the talk-radio race, WDAK keeps gaining listeners - and now has more than double the rating of WRCG. There, you see? I'm not the only one in town listening to Columbus Catfish games -- it only seems like I am.

(At least WRCG's rating stabilized in the spring, after slipping for a year - but it's now is getting a reputation around town for being a "liberal" station. Considering it never broadcast Chuck McClure's funeral....

But another Clear Channel station took a big hit in the spring. WHAL "Hallelujah 1460" lost more than half its audience from the fall. The station added future school board member Joseph Roberson's program "Getting on Top of Life" - so why isn't it on top of WEAM?

Public radio stations didn't show up in the Arbitron ratings I saw, but I've had a revelation about one of them. I think I've finally figured out the Troy Public Radio call letters. WTJB stands for "Where Troy Jumps the Border."

One other local radio note: WSHE-AM finally is abandoning the "WPNXRadio.com" name for its web site. That's a good start - now where's the Spanish section, for the music they play on weekends?

Now let's move from ears to eyes - and see what caught ours over the weekend:

+ The Voice Link call center on Third Avenue took hundreds of calls from survivors of Hurricane Charley in Florida. It's good to see local people offering help like this - and I hope other call centers do it. The fewer telemarketing calls I take, the better.

+ WRBL's Jack Rodgers showed Olympic highlights, and declared Athens, Georgia "the REAL Athens." I guess that Greek city's first 3,200 years of existence didn't count for anything.

+ Instant Message to the Atlanta Hawks: After what I saw on TV Sunday, I have a suggestion. Sign Puerto Rican players. Sign LOTS of Puerto Rican players....

(I happened to stroll by Millie's Corner and Brito's Market right after Puerto Rico beat the U.S. men's basketball team. No, there was NO big celebration underway. In fact, they seemed to ignore the Olympics almost as much as the Greek
sports fans are doing it.)

BURKARD'S BEST BETS: Gas for $1.65 a gallon at Dolly Madison on Victory Drive.... nice dress shirts for as low as $9.99 at Rich's..... Dryer #8 at the Oakland Park Shopping Center laundromat (a hot one, so you save quarters)....

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

© 2003-04 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, August 15, 2004



So I'm standing with some men before church this weekend when someone else joins the group - and the next thing I know, three men decide to go outside the building. Even though I'm a journalist, I just couldn't bring myself to join the rush outside. I can watch boxing and wrestling matches during the Olympics.

"Something about guns," one remaining member of our group guessed - and he was probably right. Remember the man who brought a gun and 100 rounds of ammunition to the church picnic? [29 Jun] If he has them in the parking lot outside the church building now, before long we may be shooting at effigies of the devil after singing hymns.

That man who speculated about guns set a personal limit for this interest. "As long as they don't set up a target...." Especially as long as the target doesn't face the back of the parking lot - right next to Manchester Expressway.

I can't think of any other church I've ever seen where someone left a document about gun ownership on the announcement table. But it's happened in the congregation I attend - where members sometimes talk more about David killing lions and bears than Jesus being the "Prince of peace."

After the men came back inside the hall, it was time for our church service to begin. The "sermonette" speaker told us his topic was "our Southern heritage...." As a Kansas native, I prepared to remind everyone after the service that the North won 140 years ago.

But no, the speaker threw me a curve. The item of "Southern heritage" he really discussed was hospitality. For instance, we have a snack table set up before and after church - but I sort of wish one woman would quit needling me for "taking all night" on the bag of corn chips I brought.

(Really now - is "hospitality" really just a Southern thing? I have a "Hospitaliano!" pin, but I picked that up at an Olive Garden restaurant....)

On the way home from church, I viewed a classic confrontation near Columbus State University. A driver in front of me wanted to turn right into a package store. Another driver was at the entryway, trying to leave. After a tense moment, the exiting driver backed up practically to the door! What's even more amazing is that BOTH drove four-by-fours.

My route home from church took me down the two-mile section of Warm Springs and Talbotton Roads where widening is planned. Wow -- four lanes and a "grassy median?" Since this section has so many doctors' offices, can't they afford to pay
for this themselves?

The section proposed for widening also includes the Peabody Apartments - well, what's left of them. Bulldozing is underway, to change this complex into modern housing. So exactly when is the crew from "Extreme Makeover Home Edition" showing up?

Don't worry, there ARE other things to discuss this weekend:

+ Columbus city officials announced it was a bank which lost $46,000 at a landfill in the last couple of years. But they refused to name the bank, to avoid embarrassing it. Aw, c'mon! We name all the big money-wasters who lose elections....

+ The "Phenix City 50 years" celebration continued with a street dance, featuring TWO bands! For one night, downtown Phenix City almost was as exciting as half-a-block of Broadway.

+ South Commons hosted the Jordan Invitational softball tournament. So many high schools competed that they were divided into "gold pool, silver pool and bronze pool." Shouldn't the Olympics have something like this - with the bronze pool for those men from Equatorial Guinea who can't swim very well?

+ Instant Message to NBC Sports: What's the deal here -- not showing the Fort Benning air rifle contestant during prime-time Olympic coverage? Are you showing anti-gun, left-wing liberal bias? Fox News Channel probably wouldn't do that....

COMING MONDAY: Where did all the listeners go?....

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© 2003-04 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Friday, August 13, 2004



"Name's Maureen. I'm 15," says the poetry-minded writer from Auburn, "and I'm not very intresting." This statement only proves in the summer of 2004, anyone can have a blog - whether they really want you to read it or not.

I stumbled across a new blog while online a few weeks ago - kept by a teenager who calls herself "Alabama's Crack Whore." If someone in Phenix City had a blog with this title, Fort Benning would have banned it immediately.

"Mo" is the official online name of this young Auburn blog-keeper. But why in the world would she call herself "Alabama's Crack Whore?" Shouldn't this title be reserved for someone living on the west side of Birmingham?

From what I've read of her blog, 15-year-old Mo does NOT seem to use crack, nor does she come across to me as a whore. Of course, she's been writing about "summer stuff" in recent weeks - and she never said exactly what that stuff

"Alabama's Crack Whore" seems interested in all the things you'd expect a 15-year-old to like. There are vacation pictures, animal photos, entries about shopping trips - so where are the statements expressing unconditional love for Nick

But Thursday's entry by Mo was a bit somber - because Thursday was the first day of a new school year in Auburn. She puts it quite well: "I love my summer. But my summer left me." Those of us keeping air conditioners off and saving on our
electric bills aren't missing summer much at all.

Mo admits she only slept three-and-a-half hours before the first day of her sophomore year at Auburn High. But she probably wasn't the only sleepless one in east Alabama. Take the superintendents knowing the "No Child Left Behind" reports were coming out Thursday....

(By the way, how about those education reports? Hundreds of Alabama schools did not meet their goals on aptitude tests. If the high school football teams were that unsuccessful, the coaching staffs would have been changed.)

The thing about an online blog is that you can be as open and opinionated as you dare. Mo did that Thursday, declaring two students in her English class "obnoxious...." well, I'd better stop there. The parents of those students might make it a class-action slander suit.

"I'm going to try and be a good kid this year," Mo vows on her blog. We sincerely hope she does that. She can bury and hide all those past sins for awhile - then reveal them all at a dramatic news conference, like New Jersey's Governor did.

I don't want to settle for three-and-a-half hours of sleep myself, so let's wrap up other things from Thursday:

+ More gas stations around South Commons dropped their price below $1.70 a gallon, as Citgo went down again to $1.68. Maybe at $1.50, I'll dare to fill my tank there - but only on a sunny day around noon.

+ A public hearing at Hannan Academy brought out people against the widening of Talbotton/Warm Springs Road. Some doctors fear they'll have to close or move offices on this road. And the repair shop of "Mac the Mechanic" probably will go
under, because fewer drivers will have wrecks right in front of him.

+ WRBL investigated leaking roofs at the Mission Square Shopping Center. A manager explained the special Spanish-style tiles for the roofs have been unavailable for almost a year. I didn't realize southern California wildfires had damaged that many homes.

+ Instant Message to WDAK Radio: It's just as well you lost your signal around 11:00 p.m. Thursday night. People still listening to the Atlanta Falcons' loss needed some extra prompting to give up and go to bed.

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

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© 2003-04 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, August 12, 2004



Hooray! A gas station in Columbus finally broke the $1.70 a gallon barrier. But it's a sign of how badly things have gone this year, when we're cheering $1.69.

The station I found which dropped a bit lower Wednesday night was Citgo at 5th and Veterans Parkway. But you'll probably want to hurry - because dealers are likely to go back up, to take advantage of all those Panama City people fleeing Tropical Storm Bonnie.

Then again, maybe I shouldn't say hooray for this particular price drop. The Citgo at 5th and Veterans Parkway is a very quirky place. For starters, it's across the street from the Booker T. Washington Apartments - so the "over-and-under" is 2.5 armed robberies per year.

True confession: I've stayed away from this Citgo for years on purpose. It goes back to a Thursday night in the late 1990s when a beggar came up to me in the parking lot, asking for something to eat. I offered him the 25-cent brownie I bought - but he insisted on telling a long, rambling story of money he couldn't touch since he came back from Vietnam.

(To make matters worse, several other men were sitting in the shade next to this Citgo - so if this guy didn't wear me down after 20 minutes, he might tag out for the next guy.)

But I digress: I'm not sure how the gas price can go down, when oil prices on the New York Mercantile Exchange keep hitting record highs. Some of us can remember when "$45 per barrel" meant the price of French wine.

Saudi Arabian officials announced Wednesday they could produce another 1.3 million barrels of oil per day. Oh really? And members of the U.S. military could head south from Iraq, to offer some "encouragement...."

Moving on to other automotive essentials: a strike by BF Goodrich workers in Opelika was postponed Wednesday night. You set a midnight deadline, then you put it off?! At a plant like this, this must truly grow TIRE-some.

I've never quite understood why tire makers at the BF Goodrich plant in Opelika are members of the United Steelworkers Union. Yes, many tires have steel belts - but why not the Rubber Workers Union? Certainly that can't be merely for (ahem) condom factories.

If BF Goodrich eventually has a strike, the impact might not be that noticeable. For one thing, other companies sell a lot more tires. And even more importantly for some of us, Goodrich doesn't provide any tires for NASCAR races.

Now some other notes from a calm, cool Wednesday:

+ Dylan Glenn told the Ledger-Enquirer after losing three races for Congress, "I have some growing up to do." Hmmmm - may we suggest some reserve duty in Iraq?

+ A temporary roof over several classrooms at Americus-Sumter County High School collapsed, after heavy rain. That'll teach the school board not to use workers from Habitat for Humanity.

+ Instant Message to the Columbus South Revitalization Task Force: Where is the outrage? Haven't you heard about the proposal to ship Chattahoochee County garbage to a landfill in Salem? Or do you expect the drivers to stop for gas and
dinner every day on Victory Drive?

SONG OF THE DAY: Since Tropical Storm Bonnie is NOT technically "over the ocean," we need to revise an old tune a little bit:

My Bonnie sits over the Gulf now.

My Bonnie makes plenty of rain.

If Bonnie comes over our county,

The flooding will be a big pain.

Stay out! Stay out!

Oh, keep that ol' Bonnie away from me!

Stay out! Stay out!

Head toward the Caribbean Sea!

COMING FRIDAY: Once and for all, how we found that "whore" in Auburn on the Internet....

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.