Saturday, April 30, 2005


A strange bit of history is just across the Dillingham Street Bridge in Phenix City - an old two-story brick building at Dillingham and Broad. It's a former bank, currently sitting on the corner all alone and empty. If you didn't better, you might think the Historic Columbus Foundation uses it as a beachhead.

The building at the northeast corner of Dillingham and Broad is next door to the modern-looking Mead WestVaco office. Downtown Columbus has something similar at 14th and Broadway, where the TSYS headquarters was built to protect an old home. Columbus calls it history - but Phenix City calls it an eyesore blocking progress.

The latest "Phenix Citizen-News" has an update on the old Citizens Bank building at Dillingham and Broad. The city wants it removed, while the owners are appealing in court to keep it there. After all, the owners might argue, the Mead WestVaco bricks will look just as rundown in about 100 years.

I didn't realize who owned the old building on the corner until I read the newspaper article. One of the owners is former Russell County Commissioner Tillman Pugh. There were all sorts of signs on U.S. 80 endorsing his reelection last fall - but come to think of it, I didn't see any on Broad Street.

Phenix City officials reportedly gave Tillman Pugh and his partner a deadline months ago to tear down the former Citizens Bank - but still it stands, pending appeals in court. Maybe Pugh is trying to negotiate a visit from the "Trading Spaces" crew.

A big sign facing Dillingham Street says the Citizens Bank building is for sale. And whose name should be listed as the agent but former Phenix City Mayor Sonny Coulter! And you wondered why the building didn't come down over the last three years....

(I'd say Sonny Coulter is helping in the redevelopment of downtown Phenix City. But this building is a few blocks south of downtown -- and the phone number on the realty sign has the Columbus 706 area code.)

While haggling continues over whether the Citizens Bank building can be saved, can't something be done with it in the meantime? For instance:

+ It used to be a game room - so make older people play dominoes there, when they get too rowdy at the Central Activities Center.

+ It used to be a pet shop - so cover the floor with sand, and make it an emergency rest stop.

+ It has a prime location near downtown, the Dillingham Street Bridge and U.S. 431- so c'mon, Don Siegelman, rent the building and make your campaign for Governor official.

+ And if all else fails, can't the House of Renovation use a little extra floor space for homeless people with inflatable mats?

We'll keep you posted on this building battle - and now let's check other notes from the weekend:

+ Attorneys on all sides in the Kenneth Walker lawsuits held a pre-trial conference in federal court. Judge Clay Land says the suit may go to trial early next year - giving civil rights groups time to announce and call off three more boycotts.

+ Results from an area-wide "community assessment" survey found race relations only the fourth biggest concern in metro Columbus. Crime issues were third, while poverty was first. Hmmm -- if police officers don't get a big raise soon, they'll be able to relate to the low-income criminals better.

+ Hidden cameras in the TV news "Honesty Test" caught a man in Auburn picking up a credit card on the ground, swiping it at a gas pump twice -- then denying he did it. Yet his face was blurred -- so I'm assuming he's an attorney, threatening a big lawsuit.

+ Businesses in the 1000 block of Broadway held an "Oysterfest" to support the Georgia coastal reef. Where would couples start with this? The men want to visit the restaurants serving oysters - while the women prefer the jewelry stores selling pearls.

+ Which competing local blog called WRCG "TalkLine" co-host Robbie Watson an "audio blogger with an audio comment section on quaint technology?" Some of us are old enough to remember when this was called radio....

Your PayPal donations can keep this blog ad-free and independent-minded. To make a donation, offer a story tip 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.

© 2003-05 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Friday, April 29, 2005


"This is a refill cup," I told the man behind the counter the other day, looking for a discount on my diet cola.

"That'll be six dollars," he answered. The man was trying to be funny - but at a Spectrum store selling gas for $2.11 a gallon, it didn't seem that far-fetched.

"Don't they have a sense of humor in Atlanta?" the attendant continued. I was wearing one of the Peachtree Road Race T-shirts I earned years ago -- back when running six miles was an accomplishment, and before driving six miles became something to think twice about.

"I was trying to make you smile," the attendant finally explained. I guess he considers that part of his job. I wonder if he also tells lottery players they're already losers.

After the attendant's explanation, I took a moment to collect my thoughts - then responded: "I moved to Columbus from Atlanta April 29, 1997. People DO have a sense of humor there, given the fact that Atlanta has a couple of comedy clubs while Columbus only has one night a week at The Loft.

"I have a web site, , where I post comedy items six days a week." I stopped there, figuring I'd covered all the issues the attendant brought up. Well, except for comparing the price of gasoline and diet cola -- and the diet cola might have more additives than premium unleaded.

"Anything else?" I asked the attendant after replying. He had nothing more. "Thank you" - and then I smiled. Convenience stores may control my wallet, but I refuse to let them control my face.

The timing of this encounter was interesting, because today marks eight years since a moving company packed up my stuff and moved me two hours down the interstate from metro Atlanta to Columbus. I haven't missed the "Big A" nearly as much as I thought I would - and I certainly don't miss the miles of traffic jams driving to work.

A lot has changed in Columbus in the last eight years. In 1997, there was a Mrs. Winner's chicken shop downtown on Veterans Parkway and a small library on 12th Street. Now they're both gone -- and people still debate whether the big new library is a winner or not.

Not only that, you could hear Don Imus on morning radio in Columbus eight years ago. Now he's been kicked off TWO local radio stations - and I really doubt "Hallelujah 1460 AM" is interested in putting him on the air.

A lot has changed in my own life over eight years as well. Who would have guessed in 1997 I'd be sharing thoughts with you online? Back then, a "blog" was what a new immigrant from Eastern Europe would say belonged on a "blonfire."

But some things in my life remained unchanged from April 1997. When I told co-workers I was leaving a temporary job in Atlanta to move to Columbus, one woman asked if I might find "Mrs. Burkard" here. Since I'm the only Burkard listed in the
phone book, I guess the answer is no....

As it happened, I took an online survey this week which asked lots of questions about dating and relationships. The focus seemed to be on developing better Internet dating services -- even though I noted I've never used one. How can you take a woman out to dinner when she's 2,000 miles away, and might really be an undercover detective?

One question asked me to rate on a 1-5 scale whether I doubt I'll ever be married. I leaned toward "yes" in my answer - but now that we know Tom Cruise is dating 16-year-younger Katie Holmes, I might reconsider this....

While people in Columbus haven't really tried to match me with someone, strangers in other cities actually are. This week the postal service brought me a letter from Ohio, promising to reveal secrets to "win any lover in any situation." Yeah, but what if almost all my friends and co-workers are married already?

SHHHHH -- the letter writer asked me to keep this confidential. But I've been invited to join a "secret society" which includes famous actors, intellectuals, "millionaires, professional gamblers, Casanovas, statesmen." OK, so Bill Clinton is a member....

I could learn the mysterious secrets to love, moneymaking, losing weight, controlling people AND winning at poker -- all in a FREE 80-page book! What could all these things have in common? Oh, I know what it is - but I tend to be skeptical about hypnotism.

To gain all these secrets, all I have to do is mail or fax an "invitation form" to New Jersey by the end of today. So all these amazing secrets are in New Jersey?! Then why are the Nets playing so poorly against Miami in the N.B.A. playoffs?

The "Nouveau Tech Society" letter claims I was sent this top-secret exclusive invitation because I have "several rare traits." It doesn't say what these traits are - but maybe one of them is that I'm a sucker for flattery.

Some unnamed experts who reviewed a "profile" of me determined I'm entering "cycle two" of the "seven fundamental cycles of life." This was stunning to me - because as we all know from commercials, dogs only have four cycles.

This cycle two which I'm supposedly entering is "the cycle of breaking bondage." Yet the letter emphasizes "Casanovas" and winning lovers a lot -- so I guess I'm not supposed to marry these women....

The people at the top-secret Nouveau Tech Society may have forgotten something, though -- something called the Internet. When I "Googled" this group, I found one web site where dozens of recipients of the invitation dismissed it as a scam by a cult. But then, I have friends who say the Roman Catholic Church is the same thing.

You may be disappointed to learn I am NOT returning the invitation to get the Nouveau Tech Society's book. But look on the bright side. If I ever find that right woman, she'll have an even chance at beating me at poker.

As I prepare for my Columbus anniversary jog downtown this evening, let's check what made news on Thursday:

+ Leslie Robertson of the Academic Success Center was named Muscogee County's Teacher of the Year. She receives $1,000 and free use of a car for a year - but wait a minute! If she's never received a "Golden Apple Award," is she entitled to this other stuff?

+ The latest TV news "Honesty Test" checked whether people would steal a credit card left at a Columbus gas station. But out of five people shown, no one used it to fill their tanks. That should prove it once and for all -- Columbus residents are so decent and civilized, we don't need all those police officers.

+ But then again, Columbus Police reported an officer happened upon two masked men behind a Spectrum station on Fort Benning Road. Police arrested the men, alleging they were about to rob the store. Defense attorneys will argue they were heading for a "halfway to Halloween party."

+ Russell County volunteer firefighters expressed concern a proposed five-cent increase in tobacco taxes will leave them with less money, because fewer people will smoke. These crews actually must think fewer people are driving, since gas prices topped two dollars a gallon.

(The Russell County Commission rejected a five-cent tobacco tax increase this week, because the money would renovate Fort Mitchell's visitors center instead of help emergency personnel. I guess this makes it a "pro-life" commission - with ambulances ahead of veterans' cemeteries.)

+ Alabama Republicans revealed Vice President Cheney will speak at Auburn University's commencement in two weeks. Plans are already underway for possible trouble. The "secure undisclosed location" for the Vice President will be behind the Auburn football team's offensive line.

+ WRBL's "Restaurant Report Card" found the Valley Rescue Mission's kitchen received a perfect 100 score from the health inspector. That led me to wonder -- does this mission's kitchen ever prepare devil's food cake? Or is it only angel food?

+ Instant Message to the Columbus State University women's softball team: After seeing you on the news Thursday night, your title-winning season inspired a new tongue-twister: "Tiffany Tootle's team trumpeted a total turnaround."

BLOG CORRECTION: Contrary to what we posted several weeks ago, Auburn CityFest actually is THIS weekend. It's on a different weekend from the Columbus Riverfest - and it's also different, because we haven't heard anybody threaten to boycott it.

Your PayPal donations can keep this blog ad-free and independent-minded. To make a donation, offer a story tip 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.

© 2003-05 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, April 28, 2005


It's with some disappointment that I post to the blog today. I'd been looking ahead and thinking about this day for weeks - the start of four "days of abstinence" called by Columbus civil rights leaders. But then last week, everything suddenly was called off. So on this question, apparently more people voted no than "abstain."

The days of abstinence were a protest of the handling of the Kenneth Walker case -- with civil rights leaders asking you NOT to spend money in Columbus for four days. They apparently figured less income would make business leaders so concerned that they'd demand action. But they forgot something -- many people leave Columbus if they want more income now.

Believe it or not, I was planning to join in the "days of abstinence." Of course, I'd come to the days with an advantage over most other Columbus residents. I'm a single guy who doesn't smoke - so I abstain in two key areas already.

(Regular blog readers would have noticed I was keeping the days of abstinence right away, and probably celebrated - because you wouldn't have seen that message about my CD at the top of the screen.)

The cancellation of the days of abstinence is disappointing, because your blog had four days of special coverage planned:

+ Day 1: We set up shop at the Piggly Wiggly store just across the 13th Street Bridge in Phenix City. We'd ask drivers of cars with Georgia tags if they're keeping the days of abstinence - and most probably would say, "I don't want any today, thank you" as they pass us and walk inside.

+ Day 2: It's my scheduled laundry day, so I'd haul my hamper to one of Phenix City's fine laundromats. I'd tell other people I'm keeping the days of abstinence - then count how many people ask what the word "abstinence" means.

Friday evening brings the blues concert with B.B. King and Bobby "Blue" Bland at the Columbus Civic Center. I'd be waiting outside the front door, asking people to prove they bought their tickets two days before the show.

+ Day 3: It's a special Sabbath day at church, with everyone expected to give an annual offering. I'd go ahead and put a check in the basket - since all the money goes to the denomination's home office in Ohio, and it might not come back here for weeks. So our group works like federal grant programs....

If anyone invited me out to dinner after the church service, I'd tell them I have to eat outside the Columbus city limits. The congregation is finishing a week of eating unleavened bread, so some people probably wouldn't mind if I add even more rules.

+ Day 4: The final day of abstinence is a Sunday, so I'd visit Pastor Wayne Baker's Spirit-Filled Ministries church. If he asks for the usual weekly offering, I'd be there to convict him on the spot as a hypocrite.

(Sunday afternoon would be hard to figure, though. Many Columbus residents already go to east Alabama on that day, to buy beer....)

BLOG UPDATE: More details emerged Wednesday about how Mayor Bob Poydasheff's proposed budget would affect Columbus city services. Public Service Director Rufus Riggs said there would be no more Saturday funerals at city cemeteries -- so please make arrangements for your loved ones to die on weekends, to fit this new schedule.

City department heads also revealed the mayor's proposed budget will mean one less animal control officer in Columbus. But if a mean dog is chasing you down the street, I'd go ahead and call that department anyway - since the police department is losing 15 more positions.

(I was surprised to learn Columbus animal control officers picked up 8,000 stray animals last year. That's one for about every 25 residents - so it sounds like some of you homeowners need to stop opening your neighbors' backyard fences.)

Columbus law officers were busy Wednesday holding their quarterly practice session at the police shooting range. After learning about the proposed budget, you can excuse them if they pretended the targets had Mayor Bob Poydasheff's face on them....

THE BIG BLOG QUESTION wants to know if you agree with Fraternal Order of Police President Randy Robertson. He says any cut in public safety is "unacceptable" - so should that area be exempt from city budget cuts? Or should people wearing badges and information technology guys wearing pocket protectors be treated equally?

(By the way, let the record show we received NO e-mails about public safety Wednesday. Perhaps "IsOurCitySafe" was in shock, over how the mayor seemed to ignore all his appeals.)

Now let's check other highlights from a wonderful Wednesday (with apologies to the Columbus Museum):

+ Numerous area florists were busy, selling bouquets for "Administrative Professionals Day." Some people still call it Secretaries' Day - and I personally consider Condoleezza Rice my favorite secretary.

+ News reports revealed notorious segregation supporter J.B. Stoner died at a Lafayette, Georgia nursing home last Saturday. So if you see 1956-style Georgia flags flying at half-staff in Webster County for a few days, that's why.

+ The Muscogee County Humane Society was honored for a recent animal adoption campaign, by receiving a $5,000 "Excellence in Execution Grant." Now hold on a minute! I thought this place was trying to become a NO-kill shelter....

+ Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller announced Gambro Renal Products will open an office in the Fox Run business park. I'm glad they're bringing in 150 jobs -- but is that really the sort of business the Chamber of Commerce will give big mention in its brochures?

(I can hear the slogan for this company now: "Gambro - we know beans about kidneys.")

+ The Brookstone ladies' tennis team won its Georgia regional title - for the 35th year in a row! This seems to prove the George Steinbrenner theory of baseball, that money can buy championships.

+ The Columbus Catfish dropped a doubleheader to Greenville, 6-2 and 8-0. The Catfish changed jerseys between games - which means either they thought they had lucky shirts, or they know they have a nit-picky clothing contract.

+ "Access Hollywood" showed a new AFLAC commercial, in which a mad scientist switches the duck's voice with that of Donald Trump's wife. Let's all be thankful that madman didn't try to swap their brains....

(Melania Trump told Access Hollywood her commercial co-star from AFLAC is "a very professional duck." If there's one thing I can't stand, it's an amateur duck - so you creatures waddling on the Riverwalk had better get your acts together.)

+ Instant message to AFLAC's Dan Amos: Did you mean to say what the Ledger-Enquirer quoted you as saying -- Melania Trump is "the bride of the year"?! What did your new wife of three months say when she read that?

COMING SOON: A Columbus park where seemingly no one goes for a walk....

Your PayPal donations can keep this blog ad-free and independent-minded. To make a donation, offer a story tip 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.

© 2003-05 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


Riddle me this: Q: What do thousands of Columbus Civic Center concert-goers have in common with the Fraternal Order of Police?

A: What they saw Tuesday gave them nothing less than Widespread Panic!

Columbus Mayor Bob Poydasheff unveiled his long-awaited budget proposal Tuesday. It offers all public safety workers a one-time $200 bonus - although for many, it may remind them of the Monopoly game: collect $200 as you pass GO.

Mayor Poydasheff proposes a $200 check for everyone working in public safety. But the total number of public safety positions would drop by 16 under his budget plan. If those positions are unfilled now, the Mayor hopes this will be "sweet 16 and never be missed."

Mayor Poydasheff described his proposed $200 check for public safety workers as "hazardous duty pay." If all upset police officers attend hearings on this proposed budget, the Columbus Council might demand the same thing.

Mayor Poydasheff dips into city reserve funds to provide the $200 supplement, as well as a one-time five-percent bonus for all Columbus city employees. Those workers are encouraged to rebuild that reduced reserve -- perhaps starting tonight, by trying to win the Lotto South jackpot.

Mayor Bob Poydasheff admitted Tuesday Columbus Council could revise his budget - and turn his proposed five-percent one-time bonus into a permanent employee raise. But the question then would be where to get that money in upcoming years. This is when it pays to have Councilor Evelyn Turner Pugh working at a bank....

The mayor's proposed budget cuts funding for public safety three percent - but other city departments could be cut 30 percent. Where IS the outcry of support from voters, to spare the Election Board? Or from computer geeks, to save money for Information Technology?

WRBL noted Tuesday night the budget plan would eliminate city money for seven "before-school" programs at local schools. If your children are affected by this, I have a suggestion. Drop them off at Jim Rhodes's house at 6:30 a.m., since he offered this idea first.

The proposed Columbus budget reduces ten police officer positions, six for police civilians and more than a dozen slots for fire and EMS workers. So if there's a fiery crash, the lawyers would be more likely than ever to reach the scene first.

The mayor's proposed budget tries to do city employees a favor, as city money would absorb a $250 increase in health care costs. That way, they won't have to pay more for being sick to their stomach from a lack of raises.

The proposed Columbus city budget for fiscal 2006 totals about $185 million. This computes to about $1,000 for every resident. I was planning to reduce my share of that - but civil rights leaders called off those "days of abstinence."

As we somehow expected, Fraternal Order of Police President Randy Robertson was NOT happy with the mayor's budget proposal. He said any cut in the public safety budget would be unacceptable. Now hold on a minute -- don't police get annoyed when suspects claim THEY should be exceptions to the rules?

Randy Robertson railed on the proposed Columbus city budget, calling it "politics as usual." Of course, there's a way to change this - so when does Ken Suddeth plan to announce he's running for mayor?

Randy Robertson calls the $200 bonus for public safety employees a nice start. But then he declared the employees would "have to pay taxes" on that $200, so it actually is like being "spit in the face." Maybe Suze Orman should come to Columbus, and talk to a Fraternal Order of Police meeting about tax-free Roth IRA's.

At least common ground was found Tuesday on another Columbus city issue. Officials announced you still can take trash to the curb in containers bigger than 32 gallons - BUT the trash must be in bags. Please note, all husbands: it does NOT say trash must be taken out by your "old bags."

OVERHEARD OVER HERE: Two women talked Tuesday about the stars of "The Simple Life."

"I heard Paris and Nicole aren't together anymore."

"Yeah, I heard that on the news...."

These women happened to be Amy Giuliano and Roslyn Giles, as they co-anchored WRBL's "News 3 at Noon." And I thought all this time they WERE the news.

Let's see what other things were newsworthy, on a rainy Tuesday:

+ The Russell County Commission decided to increase security at the courthouse, adding security cameras and X-ray machines at the front entrance. Alabamians who delight in shotgun weddings will have to go elsewhere.

(Russell County Commissioner Peggy Martin said increased security steps are needed to be "proactive, and not reactive." Ms. Martin owes the most recent Muscogee County Grand Jury some money, for stealing words from its report on Columbus Police.)

+ Rigdon Road Elementary School faculty members revealed students have to go to the restrooms on a schedule, because there's only one for boys and one for girls. How pathetic is this?! Every redneck workplace joke from the 1970's is becoming reality in Columbus....

(But that's not all - Rigdon Road's principal says the school is in its 14th year of using "temporary" portable classrooms. The faculty members should have been suspicious, when the classrooms showed up without wheels on them.)

+ The CBS Evening News traveled to Montgomery, to report on an Alabama legislature proposal to ban school library books written by homosexual authors. If I was a librarian, I'd go ahead and remove the Elton John and Melissa Etheridge CD's now.

+ Instant Message to WSFA-TV in Montgomery: I was able to watch your 10:00 p.m. news on my home TV Tuesday night - but what was that "Beyond Alabama" segment? Were those the news stories too complex for many of your viewers to understand?

BURKARD'S BEST BETS: Gas for $2.05 a gallon at the Phillips on Wynnton Road (as of Tuesday afternoon).... milk for $1.49 a half-gallon at Walgreens.... but two doughnuts for $1.70 at Veri Best? Try Veri HIGHEST....

COMING THURSDAY: The special blog coverage that MIGHT have been.... but plans changed....

Your PayPal donations can keep this blog ad-free and independent-minded. To make a donation, offer a story tip 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.

© 2003-05 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


A long, long wait suddenly ended for me Monday morning with a knock at the door. Before you get your hopes up - no, I did NOT have a date....

The man at the door was a plumber, making another check of my leaky bathtub faucet. Well, make that the first check in a couple of years. He'd talked back then about coming back to rip out tiles and install a brand-new faucet -- but promises like that tend to go down the drain.

I've had a chronic problem with a dripping bathtub almost since the day I moved to Columbus -- but in recent months the leak of hot water grew worse, and so did my bills. When the natural gas bill tops $100 a month and you never turn up the heat during winter, it's just about time to call for help.

I'd tried turning off the hot water spigot with so much force, the handle fell with a loud clang on the bathtub floor - yet the leak continued. It was almost as if my apartment was assigned to represent the nickname "Fountain City."

I alerted my landlord to the bathtub dilemma again in early March. But apparently the landlord's official plumber was so busy, it took almost two months for him to visit. Does Columbus have that many "Desperate Housewives?"

The landlord's office called me at home last week, assuring me it was trying to get the plumber out to see me -- and that he'd have a key to get inside. For the journalist in me, this all sounded a bit familiar. But then, Watergate was more than 30 years ago.

Thankfully, my serious spring cleaning was complete Monday -- so the bathroom was by and large presentable when the plumber showed up. But I DID have to take a moment and explain why my potted plant was in the bathtub. The forecast called for possible frost, after all....

The last visit by the plumber was long, frustrating for him and inconclusive. So imagine my surprise Monday when he picked himself up to leave in about 15 minutes. Did he finally surrender, and cover my bathtub faucet with bubble gum?

It turned out all I needed was a new washer on the faucet to stop the latest leak. If I'd known that, I would have gone to a hardware store and bought one myself -- but for years, I couldn't stop the bathtub leak with a giant wrench which seems a better fit for swimming pools.

As he left, the plumber admitted the new washer might not solve the bathtub drip completely. He plans to ask my landlord if we should go ahead and tear out tiles for a new faucet, which was done for one of my neighbors. If they do, I plan to have a can of insecticide ready - because I suspect we'll wake up a lot of roaches.

As I write this Monday night, the bathtub is NOT leaking and the gas water heater is quiet. But to be honest, I haven't turned on the bathtub faucet since the plumber left. I'm almost tempted to go out and buy a giant box of "Wet Ones," to keep my utility budget in line....

E-MAIL UPDATE: After a period of quiet, "IsOurCitySafe" is speaking up again about Columbus public safety:

Lets say you and a fellow employee began working at Company X at the same time with the same education level and at the same starting salary. During the first few years of your employment, you receive excellent yearly evaluations, you don't have any disciplinary actions taken against you, and you have not wrecked any company vehicles. Your fellow employee receives unacceptable yearly evaluations, has been suspended several times for various company policy violations, and has wrecked more than one company vehicle. You and your fellow employee receive the same pay raises...none. One of two things is going to occur when you realize that your dedication to Company X has absolutely no reward whatsoever. You are going to leave Company X for a company that compensates its employees accordingly or you are going to become a sorry employee just like your fellow employee. Would you continue to work for a company like Company X?

This is just one of the reasons the Columbus Police Department cannot retain qualified, hard-working, dedicated Police Officers.

Would you work for a department that has no pay scale? Would you work at a job where your life expectancy is twenty years shorter than the average citizen? Would you work at a job where you spend 35yrs of your life and then retire at 45% of your final salary when other places are offering 25yr retirement at 75-80% retirement? That is just a few examples of what the City of Columbus is asking people to do. Would you do it?

There is no pay scale for a new employee to look at and know that if they do a good job, receive excellent evaluations, and receive no disciplinary actions, they will be making a certain salary. I think that the starting salaries at the Columbus Police Department are close to where they need to be due to the fact that the cost of living in Columbus is not as high as some larger cities. The problem exists when officers who do a good job stay here for a few years, then realize there is no benefit to staying at a department that does not give raises based on a job well done.

Why not implement a pay scale where dedicated employees are encouraged not to become sorry employees or offer some sort of longevity pay like other departments?

By "bumping up" the starting salary for new employees, our fine leaders just add to the problem of pay compression...but thats a whole different subject.

I have been preaching that Columbus has a serious problem with Police Officer shortages and finally citizens are taking notice. Don't just sit there and complain that it takes an hour for an officer to come to your house on an urgent something! Continue to complain to the city government who apparently does not care. When the citizens start coming down on our "leaders", something will be done.

Wade Sheridan

The way Wade started this message, I thought he'd finally changed his subject - away from police pay, and to major league baseball....

So the Columbus Police Department has "no pay scale" at all? Do police chiefs simply make up raises as they go along? If that's the way it works, maybe former Chief Willie Dozier should move to California and help run an Internet company.

At least we should at the bright side of the retirement pay issue. If police officers retire at "45 percent of final salary," at least they have a percentage of it. Some employees retire with nothing more than a nice pocket watch and a ten-percent discount on Wednesdays at Winn-Dixie.

If Wade really thinks the answer to police pay lies in continuing to complain to the city government, he hasn't been paying attention to the news lately. Civil rights leaders have tried this approach for 16 months, and they still can't get David Glisson put behind bars.

The "IsOurCitySafe" e-mails go to a wide range of famous names in Columbus (and yes, even to this blog) - but this recent e-mail apparently entered one workplace InBox too many. We know because of this wide-ranging reply:

Dear Wade Sheridan

Thank you for your comments it is appreciated but I would really appreciate if you would not email at this address. This is not a city email address and I can get in trouble for receiving email not related to my job. If you wish to email me please email at at any time. I am asking
you to please not affect my family income by emailing me at this address. Thank you and have a nice day.

Always Mimi

We wouldn't want Columbus Councilor Mimi Woodson to get in trouble at her job. But how many of those college students with web-cams have heeded her request?

Is someone monitoring Mimi Woodson's e-mail at her job? Her reply leaves that impression. Maybe the employee with the most spam every week has to buy lunch for the entire office.

Some e-mail accounts allow you to divide messages into separate files. I'm not sure why Mimi Woodson can't move city-related e-mails to an "after-hours file," forward them to her Columbus Council InBox - or bring her own paper to work for printing out, to avoid a conflict of interest.

We're not the only ones concerned about Mimi Woodson, as one more e-mail from "IsOurCitySafe" makes clear:

The following is a letter sent to one of our fine city leaders by a citizen.

Ms. Woodson

I live in the eastern part of Columbus. The response time for a police call in my neighborhood is over an hour. That's just not fair. I pay taxes and participate in local elections. There is a police officer living across the street from me and a Sheriff's deputy living behind me but they are assigned to other parts of the city.

I understand why the majority of the police officers on duty are assigned to areas of the city with higher crime rates. But this does not lessen the burden of city government to provide police coverage for all of the citizens. In talking with several police officers, I have learned that there are many sections of our city that do not have one officer on duty because of the shortage of officers. You as an elected city leader cannot continue to pass over this issue.

Lowering the standards for police officers does not make me feel any safer than if there continues to be a shortage of officers on the streets. I do not want someone coming to my aide who could not even pass a college entrance exam.

One final thought for you personally. If someone should vandalize your home or threaten your safety, with the lack of concern and support that you and other council members have demonstrated, do you really think the officers on duty will "rush" to help you?

My response:

Dear concerned citizen,

I am angry too about how the leaders of this city have let our safety concerns fall on deaf ears. The truth of the matter is that they just don't care. They will continue not to care until they are the victims of serious crimes or their precious seat at the semi-circle is threatened. I promise you the first time that one of the chosen group falls prey to a robbery or home invasion, the public safety problems will become their first priority. Lets all remember this when election time rolls around.

Wade Sheridan

If this is true, this truly is strange. Why can't Columbus police officers be assigned to the neighborhoods where they live? Besides, if they live in the high-crime neighborhoods, their cost of housing probably will go down.

But hold on: this writer doesn't want someone coming to his/her aide "who could not even pass a college entrance exam"?! I'd like to see this person ask for the diplomas of rescuers, if he or she ever is drowning at a lake.

It almost sounds like the advocates for better public safety pay want city officials to become crime victims. Remember, at least two Columbus Councilors and one local Sheriff have had children face the law in the last couple of years. If that hasn't helped them see law officers on the job, what else will?

I'm sure Wade Sheridan and his allies will pay close attention to today's Columbus Council meeting. Mayor Bob Poydasheff plans to unveil his proposed budget for the next fiscal year - and I predict the only way e-mail complaints will stop is if the mayor offers to make every police officer a millionaire.

Mayor Bob Poydasheff told WRBL Monday his proposed budget will have "unique, innovative proposals." He wouldn't say exactly what those are - but the budget numbers had better not be in Russian rubles.

Mayor Poydasheff hinted he might dip into city reserve money to help balance the budget. Right now Columbus has 31 million dollars in reserve -- which I think is about as much as the New York Yankees pay all of THEIR reserves.

One-cent sales tax critic, veteran advocate and serial hat-wearer Jim Rhodes declared Monday he doesn't think the city's budget-balancing problem is really that bad. He agrees Columbus doesn't need an 89-day reserve of money. So how about sharing it with some of the residents who DO need it?

Jim Rhodes was asked what he would do to cut Columbus city costs. One suggestion was to stop "baby-sitting" students in after-school programs. Now there's an intriguing idea - have the school bus drop children off at their parents' workplace. Then they can make their own miniature mill blankets or Pratt & Whitney engines.

So what else happened Monday? I'm glad you asked....

+ Alabama government offices were closed to mark Confederate Memorial Day. Yet for some reason, I didn't hear any white state official declare it "a day on, not a day off."

+ Muscogee County School Board member John Wells said the district needs a uniform dress code policy. Wells then had to explain to reporters he did NOT want all students wearing uniforms....

(John Wells said at some schools, it's no big deal if a shirt isn't tucked in. But at other schools, students can be suspended for three days -- and Wells suggested those suspensions go too far. After all, the shirt sticking out covers the gap to those low-riding jeans.)

+ Residents of the Spring Villa Park development in Beauregard reported giant sinkholes have developed on their property. They blame a nearby rock quarry -- which is surprising, because in other parts of Alabama they'd be watching for UFO's.

+ Two Fort Benning soldiers who won the "Best Ranger" competition were awarded their prizes, including new Colt-.45 pistols. All the other soldiers who finished the 60-hour marathon were happy simply to rest at their barracks, with Colt-45 malt liquor.

+ Instant Message to Clear Channel Radio: Was what I saw on a Front Avenue building Monday evening accurate? Is Columbus about to have the "Sunny 100 Space Science Center?" Won't it be harder to explore space when the sun's out?

COMING SOON: My invitation to join a group of "Casanovas...."

Your PayPal donations can keep this blog ad-free and independent-minded. To make a donation, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post a reply.

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© 2003-05 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Monday, April 25, 2005


"Hey, do you have a dollar I can borrow?" So asked the young man who approached me wearing a look-alike Miami Dolphins #34 uniform. What a shame that Ricky Williams has been reduced to this, since retiring from pro football....

But no, this wasn't even a lookalike Ricky Williams outside a Cross-Country Plaza store the other afternoon. For one thing, the man had red-orange hair - and not even Williams would do that with his dreadlocks.

"For what purpose?" I asked the man about his need for a dollar. Regular blog readers should know the drill by now. I don't give out money just because someone asks for it -- since I'm not a member of the Georgia General Assembly.

"I'm trying to get something to drink," #34 answered. Thankfully for him, he was outside a Publix supermarket. On a good day, you can actually buy two-liter bottles of soda for a dollar here -- simply don't expect any chips to go with it.

I was willing to buy a drink for this beggar, but first I had to do something else. At the end of serious spring cleaning, I had several plastic bags to recycle in the bins outside Publix -- but I forgot this store does NOT accept blue or black bags, and I had several mixed in. Some would call this discrimination on the basis of color.

After sorting out the plastic bags, I walked inside Publix and showed #34 the mini-cases with 20-ounce bottles of soda inside. Looking back now, I guess I should have bought him a two-liter bottle. He would get more for his money - well, make that MY money.

The young man selected a 20-ounce Coca-Cola, and we waited in the checkout line for about a minute. "Oh, man," he said as we waited. I wasn't sure if he was going to miss his METRA bus, or what....

"Could I get some candy, too?" #34 asked. There's nothing like a balanced lunch at about 2:00 in the afternoon.

"That's not what you asked for," I answered. A woman stood near both of us, but I'm not sure if she figured out what was happening. I'm also not sure if #34 was too polite to ask that woman for money -- or simply too ignorant.

"That'll be $1.12," said the woman at the Publix checkout. I pulled out my dollar -- and much to my surprise, #34 reached into his pocket and pulled out change for the 12 cents. How strange is this? A beggar actually was willing to lend ME a hand.

I went ahead and paid the entire $1.12 for the 20-ounce Coke. "Thank you," said the Publix employee.

"And thank YOU," I said to #34 as he took custody of his drink. If he said thank you back to me, I didn't hear it. Maybe he was stunned, and trying to figure out why I said thanks to him. If he's reading this now - it was a slip of the tongue, really....

With this good deed accomplished, I turned around and went back down the aisles at Publix to buy things I needed and wanted in the first place. I caught #34 out of the corner of my eye, heading out the door and down the sidewalk. A second chance for candy was only a short walk away - so did any of you see him outside CVS?

BLOG UPDATE: When the gates of Riverfest opened at 6:00 p.m. ET Friday, a thunderstorm was rattling the Historic District. I couldn't help wondering if Someone was trying to tell the civil rights leaders they were right all along....

The Friday evening thunderstorm was so strong that WRBL lost its broadcast audio at the start of the 6:00 p.m. news - and apparently didn't restore it until after noon Sunday. First Presbyterian Church should learn a lesson from this, and have someone give the Sunday sermon in sign language.

Since the WRBL broadcast signal had no audio, perhaps someone can tell me - what WAS that big object Jeff Donald held in his hand during a weather update at about 6:05 p.m. Friday? Did a part of the station's ceiling cave in? Or was it very odd-looking beach ball-sized hail?

Back at Riverfest, we're told a good crowd showed up on Broadway over the weekend. One block away on First Avenue, the Urban League kicked off its annual membership drive as the festival began. We hope to obtain counts today of how many people attended Riverfest -- and how many spat on the Urban League building.

Members of the congregation I attend had a nice, entertaining Saturday night dinner at Bludau's -- and it was surprising to find room to park on Broadway, between Golden Park and the Fifth Street entry gate. Perhaps this only proves what civil rights activists suspected. People from the south side of Columbus aren't expected to show up at Riverfest.

If fireworks went off at the end of Friday night's Riverfest activities, I slept through them. But I know they went off Saturday night -- because for a second, I thought they were part of the sound effects for Bill Purvis's "Real Time" sermon.

OVERHEARD OVER HERE: A group of men is standing around, talking about immigration. One of them stands about five-foot-five:

"I know I'm short, but I've seen some people who only come up to here. Are they Guatemalans, or what?"

"No," another says, "they're midgets."

Now other, well, short tidbits from a refreshing weekend:

+ Which downtown-area restaurant is stunning customers, by suddenly increasing its steak prices by four dollars? And even worse, the fact that "White-Out" was used on the menu to change the price doesn't look very classy at all....

+ A drive down Gentian Boulevard confirmed the Coach's Corner has closed. That sports bar was on Fort Benning's "hit list" for months, then taken off - but after further review, the original call stands.

(Meanwhile, I'm hearing the Texas Steakhouse on Sidney Simons Boulevard has closed as well. Diners apparently prefer the Texas ROADhouse near J.R. Allen Parkway - and the pieces of road they serve.)

+ Two Fort Benning military wives received home makeovers, in a program called "Flipping Quarters." For the majority of us, "flipping quarters" means checking to see if you have a new state for your collection.

+ The Callaway Gardens "Birds of Prey" show unveiled a new peregrine falcon named Sprint. Look, I know Sprint PCS is a sponsor now - but I expect falcons to fly, OK?!

+ The Sunday Ledger-Enquirer had a big front-page headline: "EMPLOYEES OVERWORKED, UNDERPAID." I'll bet that sold a lot of papers - because nearly every employee in Columbus believes that applies to their job.

+ Georgia's "Gym Dogs" won the NCAA women's gymnastics title at Auburn University. Oh yeah?! I'm waiting for the Eufaula Tribune and Valley Times-News to publish special editions, giving that title to Auburn as well -- even though it didn't compete.

+ Asheville beat the Columbus Riverdragons, and won the N.B.D.L. title for the second year in a row. This means the city of Columbus can go ahead and organize a victory parade for the Cottonmouths - and not have to persuade them to hold a combined parade to save city money.

COMING TUESDAY: The blog gets e-mail from Mimi Woodson.... well, sort of....

Your PayPal donations can keep this blog ad-free and independent-minded. To make a donation, offer a story tip 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.

© 2003-05 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Friday, April 22, 2005


With all due respect to that gambling joint in Macon County, today I'm declaring Columbus "Victoryland." We have several victories to report about. In fact, about the only people who might feel like losers today are the local civil rights leaders....

For starters, there's the big basketball game this weekend. If the Riverdragons gain victory over Asheville Saturday night, they win the N.B.D.L. title. If they don't - well, I hope they don't follow the example of that other orange-wearing basketball team, Illinois.

The Asheville Altitude is (are?!) the defending N.B.D.L. champion, and brings a couple of players from last year's team to Columbus for this year's finals. So they have some experience in big games - which I guess you could call long-itude.

Instant Message to countless Columbus businesses: Where are your "Go Riverdragons" signs? Several places which cheered on the Cottonmouths three weeks ago don't seem to be doing the same for the basketball team. What's the matter - don't these players get into enough fistfights?

(And before you Bible Belt righteous folks bring up the Dragons nickname - why haven't you worked to get Columbus High and Phenix City Central to drop their "Devils?")

It's tempting to call Columbus "Titletown" these days. Columbus High School won a state baseball title last June. Russell County's team is ranked tops in the country this spring. The Cottonmouths won a league hockey title - and now the Riverdragons could follow them. I'm not missing those Wardogs one bit....

If you're looking for more victories, there's the "Best Ranger" competition beginning today at Fort Benning. Army Rangers will compete in a 60-hour test of endurance - and if terrorists have any brains at all, they won't set foot on post after hour 12.

Fort Benning has seven soldiers entered in the Best Ranger competition. They'll run and climb, shoot and jump - and probably feel like they're in basic training all over again....

But for me, the biggest victory of all occurred Thursday afternoon. I finished five weeks of serious spring cleaning at my home. In this age of adult attention deficit disorder, anything which takes five weeks should show how serious it is.

I focused on one room at a time over five weeks, clearing away the stains and dust while getting things as organized as possible. You'll be thrilled to know all my America Online free trial discs are now in a single stack.

When spring cleaning comes at my home, literally nothing goes untouched. Dust and bread crumbs could be hiding behind the bathroom stool. I'm more likely to find dead roaches there, but it could be....

One major victory in this year's spring cleaning involved a couple of large uninflated water bed mattresses. They sat lifelessly on the computer room floor ever since I moved to Columbus. Now they're out of sight under a cabinet in that room - just waiting for water beds to come back in style, in about ten years.

The computer room also had a large stack of unsorted papers on the floor, collected at all sorts of places over the years. I had time this spring to sort out everything in that stack, and get almost all of it off the floor! Well, the file folders are on the floor now - but I'm getting to those....

The stacks of papers include a religious publication called "Earth's Final Warning," with a picture of the late Pope John Paul II on the cover. It called him one of three remaining players fighting "to influence and to even control the future of mankind." The fact that "Sin City" was the top movie on the weekend of his death tells me he lost.

Spring cleaning always seems to bring some surprising discoveries. This year, the pile on a living room chair hid a bag from a diabetes event - with a six-pack of lemon cream cookies inside. I guess the cookies sat there for months. And I can verify the preservatives in them worked exceptionally well.

Yes, I know this is Earth Day - and I try to recycle during spring cleaning as much as I can. That meant a couple of trips to All-American Recycling along Martin Luther King Drive, to drop off white paper and cardboard. There's a fierce dog leashed at the entrance, so perhaps it helps in the processing....

The last area to be cleaned was the kitchen, concluding Thursday afternoon with the inside of the refrigerator. Have you ever seen a flat, shriveled-up apple - other than an old McIntosh monitor?

It's always satisfying to take the last bag of trash to the curb, and the last bits of newspapers and plastic to the recycling bins. It's even more satisfying to know Phenix City still hasn't installed security cameras at its recycling center, to catch my Georgia license plate.

BLOG UPDATE: Now to Thursday's biggest victory in the area, for the Historic Columbus Foundation. Civil rights leaders called off their planned boycott and picket of Riverfest. Once again, the old folks taught those young whipper-snappers a thing or two....

Civil rights leaders claimed a Riverfest picket would be "minuscule," compared to the national strategy they're now planning in the Kenneth Walker case. We don't know yet what that strategy is - but it certainly would be minuscule compared to the crowds walking by them.

Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance leader Wayne Baker told reporters: "Riverfest is just a drop in the bucket.... it is not the main thing." Now hold on here! The NAACP's Bill Madison called Riverfest "the next big event" in Columbus [5 Apr] - and now it's just a drop in the bucket? Some strips of bacon don't shrink so much that quickly.

Attorney Joseph Wiley told WRBL he suggested civil rights leaders call off the Riverfest picket, to "avoid an ugly situation for our community." After all, if Vietnam veterans are spitting on Jane Fonda during her book tour....

(But wouldn't the "ugliness" work in the civil rights groups' favor? Fans of Sugarland and Smashmouth are far more likely than the picketers to resort to name-calling -- especially after dark, and after a couple of beers.)

Joseph Wiley says he's "aware of the energy" among civil rights groups after Wednesday's ruling in the Kenneth Walker case. But he says a "cooling-off" period is needed. Who could have guessed this African-American attorney would move to the other side of the tracks - the tracks on Ninth Street, to the Government Center side?

Civil rights groups backed down on much more than a Riverfest boycott. Next week's "days of abstinence" were canceled, along with the April 30 march which Bill Madison predicted would draw 30,000 people. These leaders fold up so well, they should work for Continental Cleaners.

(If you want a "national strategy" in the Kenneth Walker case, why cancel a march which you claim will bring 30,000 people together in Columbus? Were all the hotel rooms booked, so nationally-known leaders couldn't stay there?)

So many events were planned to keep Kenneth Walker's name in the spotlight - and now they're all gone?! This should show once and for all why civil rights groups need female leaders. All these guys simply can't commit to anything.

As we suggested with Wednesday's court hearing on the Kenneth Walker case, Columbus civil rights leaders again backed down at the brink of a big showdown. If I ever set up a "Columbus Hold 'Em Poker Championship," I know the perfect people to invite to my table....

But civil rights groups aren't giving up the fight against Kenneth Walker's killer completely. They want the Georgia Supreme Court to review whether David Glisson should have been required to testify under oath to a grand jury. And I still would like someone to ask Glisson to take off his sunglasses for a picture.

Antonio Carter of the National Action Network said of the Wednesday ruling denying a second grand jury in the Kenneth Walker case: "It's bad to be defeated, but even worse to surrender." He should tell that to businesses in downtown Phenix City. Surrendering on the days of abstinence will cost them some extra money.

The cancellation of all the civil rights protests leaves several unanswered questions in my mind:

+ Why did the leaders really back down, instead of going all the way with their convictions? Do they quietly realize they lack local support? Or do the NAACP and Urban League need extra money, charging for Riverfest parking on First Avenue?

+ Do civil rights leaders set a bad example to African-American youth, by not following through on their promises? Doesn't this simply reinforce the stereotype that Democrats have no backbone?

+ If visits by Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson haven't stirred national attention in the Kenneth Walker case, what sort of "national strategy" will? Does Walker's widow have to write a book, and get it mentioned by Oprah Winfrey?

+ Has Columbus found a dangerous new leader, who can challenge Mayor Bob Poydasheff for reelection? Or does Virginia Peebles of the Historic Columbus Foundation even want to run?

THE BIG BLOG QUESTION certainly settled where you stand on Riverfest. Over four days, an 82-percent majority told us you plan to go this weekend. So my church group's Saturday night dinner at Bludau's downtown just became a lot more complicated....

Only one voter out of 11 in our survey planned to stay away from Riverfest because of the promised boycott. But only one voter planned to attend BECAUSE of the boycott -- so these civil rights leaders need to think twice about going on a regional speaking tour.

One loyal blog reader posted 14 questions about possible Riverfest pickets. I didn't have time Thursday to track down answers -- but I can guess at a few of them:

+ Would minors be allowed to picket? If they're allowed to have a Riverfest Youth Art Show, it simply would be a different form of self-expression.

+ Would picketers be allowed food and drink? Shame on you - checking to see if African-American protesters brought bananas.

+ Would picketers be put through metal detectors? If they're outside the official Riverfest area, why would they be? It's not like a Republican or Democratic convention, where we're trying at all costs to protect politicians.

The questioner also asked if local law enforcement was ready to protect Riverfest. That answer is yes - as the Historic Columbus Foundation is hiring 30 off-duty Columbus police officers, and will have pairs of officers at every entrance. If bean bags aren't needed for guns, they could be used to stuff chairs.

With spring cleaning finished, I was able to walk down Broadway Thursday evening during the Riverfest tour of homes. I noticed a small number of people out strolling, as well as a well-marked Char-Broil trailer in the middle of Broadway. What do you know, there could be something there to protest after all - job outsourcing.

SONG OF THE DAY: We thank Columbus civil rights leaders for inspiring new words to the classic tune "Camptown Races:"

Riverfest's no longer sin - doo dah, doo dah!

Rainbow/PUSH says go on in - oh-de-doo-dah-day!

You can roast a pig!

You can watch a show!

Don't think about a killer cop -

It's now OK to go!

Now final thoughts from a day of various victories:

+ A missing Shaw High School cheerleader was found unharmed. It turned out she left home earlier in the week, to protest the loss of her cell phone privileges. Doesn't any neighbor on her block have a traditional land-line phone for calls?

+ Rick Ussery announced he'll retire as an executive with TSYS June 30. Instead of a gold watch, I suppose he'll be given a platinum card with a $100,000 line of credit.

+ The NCAA women's gymnastics championships began at Auburn University. If that old movie title was true and "white men can't jump," how do these women do it so well?

+ Columbus State University signed five men's basketball players for next season. One of them is a transfer from an Illinois community college named Justin Wilson. If he wants to avoid a lot of trouble in this part of the country, he'd better learn Cajun cooking recipes this summer....

(BLOGGER'S NOTE: Because we're keeping New Testament Passover weekend, our next scheduled post will be on Monday.)

Your PayPal donations can keep this blog ad-free and independent-minded. To make a donation, offer a story tip 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.

© 2003-05 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, April 21, 2005


A Muscogee County judge refused Wednesday to order a new grand jury review of the Kenneth Walker case. If civil rights leaders want a second chance, they'll have to go to the "second chance prom" in May at the Civic Center.

Judge Frank Jordan concluded a hearing by declaring he has "no authority" to rule on whether last November's grand jury probe was proper. This statement probably stunned many people - such as the ones who believe Tom DeLay, when he says courts are full of "activist judges."

Judge Frank Jordan apparently based his ruling in part on who filed the lawsuit. He said former Columbus NAACP President Ed DuBose is "not directly involved" in the Kenneth Walker case. This raises a question I've never heard anyone answer - were Walker's NAACP dues paid or not?

(Maybe the problem here is that Columbus has too many civil rights groups -- NAACP, National Action Network, Rainbow/PUSH and Urban League. If they divided the city into zones, like Berlin in 1945....)

Civil rights leaders refused to comment outside the courtroom - but they promise a response at a late-morning news conference. I suppose they could appeal Judge Frank Jordan's ruling to Atlanta. Or they could ask the attorney for Kenneth Walker's family to refile the case, BEFORE he gets that big payday in civil court.

If Walker family attorney Willie Gary was in court for Wednesday's hearing, no TV station mentioned him. Gary just made Ebony magazine's list of the most influential black people in the U.S. - so why was Joseph Wiley asked to influence this judge?

The only civil rights leader who offered a comment Wednesday evening was Reginald Pugh of the Urban League. He said the ruling by Judge Frank Jordan "concerned" him. When the Urban League says it's "concerned," the National Action Network is ready to sell punching bags with David Glisson's picture.

The attorney for former deputy David Glisson was his usual charitable self after the hearing. Richard Hagler told Columbus civil rights leaders to "let it go." Come to think of it, I can't recall ever seeing Hagler at a Martin Luther King, Junior Day service.

Richard Hagler again maintained the killing of Kenneth Walker is NOT a racial matter - but civil rights leaders are trying to make it one. He seems to have a point there. The Walker family's attorneys have yet to connect detective Mark Fuhrmann to Glisson at all....

By the way, everyone seems to be assuming the Riverfest boycott is still on after Wednesday's hearing. Today's news conference should settle that question - or maybe civil rights groups will announce their own competing "Walkerfest," reuniting Junior Walker and the All-Stars.

The group "One Columbus" issued a statement Wednesday saying it will NOT join in the Riverfest boycott, because a protest doesn't fit its "vision" for the city. You can have that same vision. Simply ask your optometrist for sunglasses with a rose tint.

Riverfest weekend actually begins tonight, with a tour of several homes in the Historic District. We'll see if the homeowners do anything special, out of respect for the Kenneth Walker case -- maybe a display of gun locks?!

BLOG UPDATE: Wednesday night's news revealed the findings of another recent Columbus grand jury. It declared the Columbus Police Department woefully lacking in personnel. I wondered where the "IsOurCitySafe" e-mails went - so he may have been sequestered for a few weeks....

The grand jury researched the Columbus police force, and concluded staff shortages have made it more reactive than proactive. I'm not sure that's completely true. Did a police officer show up before or after Wednesday's DUI reenactment started at the Civic Center?

The grand jury's findings were no surprise at all to Columbus Council members. They hope to get the results of a study on regional public safety pay by June. Of course, the Council could have saved money and sent spies to Fraternal Order of Police meetings for this information....

We've seen "Law and Order," so now let's channel-surf other Wednesday topics:

+ Essence magazine declared AFLAC one of the best three places for African-American women to work. In fact, 55 percent of all the new employees hired last year were African-American women. This finally explains why NBC-38 shows "Girlfriends" at 6:00 p.m. every night.

(So as many pastors would say, where are the MEN? Certainly these African-American women can't be selling insurance policies to jail inmates....)

+ Georgia Public Radio revealed actor Emmanuel Lewis recently bought a sport utility vehicle in Albany. The child star "Webster" driving an SUV?! How much did they have to modify that driver's seat, so his foot could reach the gas pedal?

+ The Columbus Catfish char-broiled Charleston 10-4. The Golden Park game was played at 11:00 a.m., to mark "Baseball in Education Day." After children returned to class, hopefully they weren't asked to spell steroids....

(Which Muscogee County bus driver was stopped on the 13th Street Viaduct after the Catfish game, chatting with Columbus police? Was that driver carrying his own "little slugger" - only with a fist?)

+ The Atlanta Hawks ended their season by losing to Philadelphia, and finishing with the worst record in pro basketball. Maybe the Riverdragons should give the Hawks free tickets to Saturday night's N.B.D.L. championship game, and show them the RIGHT way to play.

BURKARD'S BEST BETS: Milk for $2.79 a gallon at Walgreens.... gas for $2.02 a gallon at the Spectrum on Fourth Street.... but a little bottle of Aunt Jemima syrup at that Spectrum for $2.99?! Is the maple tree becoming extinct?

(BLOGGER'S NOTE: Our next entry will be posted once our annual serious spring cleaning is over. This might not occur until midday Friday.)

Your PayPal donations can keep this blog ad-free and independent-minded. To make a donation, offer a story tip 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.

© 2003-05 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


All I wanted was a refreshing cup of diet cola - but I was surprised when I visited the Spectrum store near South Commons Tuesday evening. There was NO line to buy Mega Millions lottery tickets, even though the jackpot was $168 million. Are high gas prices keeping all the Alabama drivers at home?

Georgia lottery money supports education programs - but not all of them. So two Muscogee County grade schools plan a different approach, by applying to become "charter schools." Neither one of them specializes in mathematics - so they won't become "chartier" schools.

Clubview and Wynnton Elementary Schools have applied to be designated charter schools. If Georgia's school board approves, they'll each receive $205,000 over three years - and then every other school principal in this area will line up in Atlanta to fill out paperwork.

Clubview Elementary wants to use charter money to expand a focus on international studies called the "I-B Program." The report I saw on TV Tuesday night didn't explain what I.B. stands for. Maybe "Increased Bucks...."

Wynnton Elementary would use charter school funds to expand arts programs. For instance, there could be dance classes after school -- turning private dance studio managers into unlikely Republicans, because of lost revenue.

If you've lived in Columbus for a while, you may recall the last time charter schools came up. A man applied to start one of his own several years ago, only the Muscogee County School Board turned him down. I wonder where this man is now - on the faculty of Calvary Christian or Brookstone.

Is this what officials had in mind when they came up with "charter schools" - a potential cash cow for existing schools to tap? Or was the goal really to try new and different ideas in education? Then again, maybe the local candidates for this gave up on this - and you can find them doing home schooling for much less now.

BLOG UPDATE: The Kenneth Walker case is scheduled to go back to court today. I say "scheduled" because the NAACP is involved - and officials with that group love to push elected officials to the brink of a courtroom, before settling for less than they demand. So they're a bit like North Korea....

Today's Government Center court hearing is about whether former deputy David Glisson should have been allowed to speak to a grand jury last November WITHOUT taking an oath. He wasn't sworn in then - and supporters of Kenneth Walker have sworn at the special prosecutor ever since.

A Georgia NAACP official hinted Tuesday today's court hearing could determine whether or not civil rights groups boycott Riverfest this weekend. Ed DuBose told WRBL a ruling for a second grand jury could make pickets unnecessary. Of course, Kenneth Walker's widow still might like a place to sign autographs....

Ed DuBose's comment was news to other civil rights leaders. They told WRBL the Riverfest boycott is on, no matter what happens in court today. They don't want all that money they've spent for picketing permits and protest signs to go down the drain.

Meanwhile, Virginia Peebles of the Historic Columbus Foundation told Columbus Council Tuesday Riverfest is important to the city. After all, how else are local people to learn other recipes for barbecue sauce?

Columbus NAACP President Bill Madison urged vendors to stay away from Riverfest. But WRBL reported Tuesday night the number of vendors is up this year -- from 135 to 144. I'd heard of "white flight," but what we have here may be white spite.

BIG PREDICTION UPDATE: We called it correctly here on Monday -- and the new Pope did NOT name himself George Ringo I. For our next trick, we predict Ed DuBose will NOT be elected Mayor of Columbus next year.

German Cardinal Josef Ratzinger was selected as the new Roman Catholic Pope. I can see the headline in anti-Catholic religious publications now: "THE RAT TAKES THE CHEESE."

(The new Pope Benedict XVI has a reputation for being quite conservative when it comes to doctrine - so perhaps some U.S. Catholics will refer to him under their breath as "Benny Hun.")

But I expect the new Pope will cause some changes in the Catholic world. For instance, don't be surprised if local restaurant owners add "Eggs Benedict XVI" to their menus.

Someone told me Tuesday she wasn't sure she'd want to be the 16th in anything, including Pope. But sometimes being #16 in line can be a good thing. In U.S. history, he turned out to be President Abraham Lincoln.

Did you notice it took only two days and four ballots to select a new Pope? That's what happens when none of the cardinals are from Florida....

Now some other things you might have missed Tuesday, while watching for smoke:

+ A group of business professionals from Russia began a three-week visit to Columbus, with a welcoming event at the Government Center. Some of the visitors are Russian dining executives. Uh oh - I'm not sure that many local restaurants serve Russian salad dressing.

+ The Korean company Maxforma Plastics announced it will open a plant in the Northeast Opelika Industrial Park. It will make plastics for the new Hyundai plant in Montgomery -- and all the workers can get together after hours to throw darts at pictures of North Korea's dictator.

+ The Columbus Parks Department announced due to budget cuts, as of mid-May recreation centers will be closed on Sundays. What a shame - now people actually will have to jog on sidewalks for exercise.

+ A property owner told WXTX "News at Ten" crime in the Peabody neighborhood has increased since the Peabody Apartments were closed and torn down. Huh - a housing project shuts down, and crime goes UP?! Are people living in crawl space, under homes?

+ Overnight repaving work began on the J.R. Allen Parkway. Lanes will be closed from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. for several months -- so please adjust your high-speed drag races accordingly.

+ The Phenix City Council approved a five-cent increase in tobacco taxes, to pay for a new visitors' center at Fort Mitchell. If this doesn't bring in more tourists, Mayor Jeff Hardin may get mad and actually annex Fort Mitchell into the city limits....

+ Georgia's Governor signed the "Slam Spam" bill into law. It will become illegal to use minors to send "spam" e-mails -- which will upset some business owners, who count on teenage children to know everything about the Internet for them.

(The "Slam Spam Law" also forbids people from sending more than 10,000 e-mail offers per day. I refuse to take any chances with a lawsuit - so I'll limit the mention of CD offers and PayPal donations today to two each.)

+ "Inside Edition" reported the Georgia State Patrol arrested actor Chris Tucker over the weekend, for driving 120 miles per hour on the highway. This man takes his "Rush Hour" movies a bit too literally....

(Chris Tucker reportedly told a Georgia trooper he drove 120 miles per hour because he was late for church. Who told him God sends down lightning bolts on worshipers who show up late?)

Your PayPal donations can keep this blog ad-free and independent-minded. To make a donation, offer a story tip 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.

© 2003-05 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


AFLAC announced Monday it's donating one million dollars to "Building Habitat" - the new charity Millard Fuller is organizing. Maybe he should change its name to "Building a Bankroll."

Millard Fuller says AFLAC's donation is in two parts. Half of the million dollars will go to Columbus "Building Habitat" programs - or as they're already calling this at the Columbus Home Depot, manager bonuses.

The other half of AFLAC's million-dollar donation will be given over five years, for housing projects around the world. Don't expect any of those projects to be in China - not after that new AFLAC commercial, where a delivery guy brings duck for dinner.

(Hey, wait a minute! This could be a perfect fit - a mallard helping a Millard....)

This million-dollar donation comes less than a week after AFLAC employees completed weeks of work on a Habitat for Humanity house in Columbus. Now the insurance company is helping a group which Habitat for Humanity is threatening to sue. Has anyone double-checked the nails on that new house?

(Perhaps AFLAC is making this donation in an effort to make peace between Building Habitat and Habitat for Humanity. It might be better off building a covered walkway between the groups' headquarters in Americus.)

Millard Fuller insisted in Monday interviews his new charity will NOT compete with Habitat for Humanity. He calls Building Habitat a "support group" for anyone who wants to provide low-income housing. Some women would argue Fuller needs a support group - to recover from sexual misconduct.

Did you hear one TV interview, where Millard Fuller started to call his new program "Habitat for Humanity?" It must be hard breaking that habit, after more than 30 years with that organization. It's apparently much easier to stop writing checks to Habitat, as some supporters have done....

By the way, Millard Fuller seems unconcerned about a possible lawsuit over the name "Building Habitat." He claims Habitat for Humanity got the idea for the Habitat name years ago from the United Nations. If Kofi Annan had been Secretary General back then, payoffs to his son might have been required.

This big donation makes two million-dollar gifts AFLAC has announced so far this year. In January it offered a million for a Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial in Washington. So how can I apply for the next million-dollar gift in July? I suggest opening a Blog Hall of Fame near the Riverwalk....

E-MAIL UPDATE: It was a busy Monday for our Inbox, starting with a visit it appears all Columbus news reporters missed:

Seems Vince Dooley was at the Government Center Tuesday afternoon,April 12th.He was visiting the Honorable Juvenile Court Judge Cohn.Do you know we only have one- and- a -half Juvenile Judges serving our area? I need to do some homework,but I think we are in need of at least a few.We really need to "Tackle", "pun intended Vince", this with our state Legislatures.Judge Cohn and the other half,Warner Kennon, have at least 400 to 500 Foster Care children to protect and place,along with the traffic cases of minors,and the detention cases,and more.We may be better served to ponder this issue at the front end....rather than picket for a sad ending of Judicial red tape. Two main Theories of Childrens rights under Juvenile Law: Protectionist-Minors are entitled to protection....Personhood-Children are entitled to be recognized as autonomous persons.With this could we not choose to see this thru to the"sorry" Signing out- BAM {not call letters for any organization,radio station,or T.V. station}

OK, BAM - you're not an organization or a broadcasting station. But are you connected with Emeril Lagasse's cooking shows?

It's easy to see why Vince Dooley would make a visit to Juvenile Court Judge Aaron Cohn. As Georgia's former head football coach, he knows the importance of good "protection" as well as anyone....

But what was the REAL reason for Vince Dooley to make this trip to Columbus? Was he checking the new Aaron Cohn Youth Development Center - in case University of Georgia athletes might need to spend some time there?

But to the point of this message: It's easy to find room for improvement in all parts of the criminal justice system. Some picketers this weekend will demand better judges. Other people want money to hire more judges. And then there are Republicans who want to combine the two -- starting with the impeachment of judges.

And if children should be recognized as "autonomous persons," then let's do it the right way. Have those children earn money to buy their own autos - so mothers don't have to drive them all over town anymore.

Moving on: we corrected the spelling of an award-winning Columbus Police Officer's name Monday, after she wrote your blog about it. She wrote us again, following up on our follow-up:

Mr. Burkard,

Instant Message: If someone doesn't wake up to the sad state of affairs re: Police salaries........I WILL BE THE SOLE REMAINING EMBER OF THE Columbus Police Department!!!!!

Rosalyn Hall

It's at least nice to see I-M-not in trouble with her any more....

If Officer Hall winds up being a one-woman police force, there could be some fringe benefits. She'd win the WXTX "Protect and Serve" award every month And the combined salaries of all police positions would be hers - assuming criminals didn't raid the Public Safety Center and steal the money from her.

Speaking of having one person in charge, we made a BIG PREDICTION here Monday that the next Pope would NOT follow two John Pauls with the name "George Ringo." That may have touched off a local "Name That Pope" contest:

If he takes the name Yoko Uno, I am blaming you, Richard!

Ed Joyce

Very good, sir - for turning the "Yoke-o" right back on me!

I heard someone on National Public Radio say last week the next Pope will NOT name himself Sixtus - because based on Catholic history, he would become Sixtus the sixth. Some readers of "Left Behind" books probably hope the Pope DOES take that name, to end the debate about the book of Revelation once and for all.

Thanks to all of you for writing - now let's finish MY writing about Monday activities:

+ "Partners in Education" week began in Muscogee County schools, with principals and corporate executives trading positions for a day. So how many Synovus employees were threatened with spankings?

+ Callaway Gardens designated part of its land as Georgia's first conservation easement. It's under the new Forest Legacy Program, or FLP. I can think of some private developers who don't care a FLiP for programs like this....

+ The Columbus Catfish beat Charleston, South Carolina 4-0, and marked Patriots Day by letting anyone wearing Boston Red Sox items in free. Excuse me for asking this -- but wouldn't New England Patriots clothing be more appropriate?

(The Catfish continue this stunt tonight, because the Charleston River Dogs are a farm team of the New York Yankees. In fact, it's "Yankees Go Home Night" - which is dangerous, because Columbus Riverdragon Neil Yanke might leave the team right before the championship game.)

+ Georgia Public Broadcasting showed the "World Latin Dance Finals." When this event is held in Germany, two of the top three couples come from Denmark and the announcers sound incredibly British, I take it word of this contest never reached Brazil.

Your PayPal donations can keep this blog ad-free and independent-minded. To make a donation, offer a story tip 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.

© 2003-05 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Monday, April 18, 2005


Today let's play a game called "Am I dreaming, or what?" I'll describe a situation - and you make the choice of whether I was dreaming, or, well, WHAT?!?!

1. I'm in a restaurant waiting on the food to arrive, when suddenly I hear a voice. "It's your turn to win!" I look in the direction where I heard the voice, and no one is there. I haven't drunk anything harder than diet cola all day.

Then a moment later, the voice speaks again with enthusiasm: "There's no limit to what you can win!" Am I dreaming -- or what?

2. I'm in my car, driving up the hill on Wynnton Road from downtown. It's a sunny day, and I reach the top of the hill without any problems. Then suddenly, the road runs out and I have to drive through what seems to be a narrow doorway. My car loses traction on wet brown carpeting -- and WHAM! I hit the wall next to the doorway.

This happens a couple of times, in fact. Am I dreaming -- or what?

3. I'm at a nice store in Peachtree Mall, with coupons about to expire. This store happens to have a sale going on, and dress shirts are marked down 50 percent. I find a light blue one in my size, with a regular price of $27.50. I take it to the cash register and hand over one of my coupons.

"Your total will be eight dollars, 17 cents."

I can't hold back, and I giggle. Am I dreaming -- or what?

4. A short drive from what seems like the plains of western Oklahoma, I find myself at Gulf Coast University. This college has a fancy football stadium, but with a difference. Instead of bleachers in the upper deck, there are grassy hills for people to climb and sit.

Am I dreaming -- or what?

5. I'm cruising around Columbus minding my own business, when I pass a restaurant. The outdoor sign of this restaurant offers "Meatball Samiches."

Are my glasses deceiving me? I check again. But no, the sign actually says "samiches" on it. Am I dreaming - or what?

6. The big drawing occurs on live television, and they announce I'm the winner of a fancy dream house! I hurriedly drive to the TV station, where the lovely Elizabeth White hugs and kisses me endlessly in delight....

Am I dreaming -- or what?

Those are the questions. Now let's compare answers:

1. WHAT. I actually heard this voice the other night as I waited inside the Pizza Hut on Victory Drive. Wasn't it some other pizza chain which used to have live entertainment?

"That's the machine," said the man behind the counter. The "Prize Time" machine, he meant - trying to lure children over to grab for items such as stuffed animals. I imagine the workers wind up talking with that machine once in a while, on a slow day.

2. DREAMING. This nightmare came to me one day last week. Except it was after an overnight shift, while I slept at late morning - so are there day-mares?

My brain must have had serious flashbacks, to experience a dream like this. While I've driven up Wynnton Road countless times over the years, my carpet was last wet from a broken water heater 19 months ago [4 Sep 03] -- and I haven't watched THAT many NASCAR races on TV this season.

3. WHAT. Macy's was in the midst of its "anniversary sale" Sunday, and I had coupons for holding its new "red star" credit card. This department store should be thankful Russia's government is still weak - or it might be under investigation.

"Timing is everything," I said to the man behind the counter when he told me my $29.50 dress shirt cost only around eight dollars. It's also a matter of patience - since department stores such as Macy's can't possibly believe people will pay nearly 30 dollars for a short-sleeve shirt made in Nicaragua. It's called Wal-Mart, folks....

4. DREAMING. Don't ask me what brought on a dream about college football on the gulf coast in mid-April. I don't even understand why people show up or tune in to watch "A-Day" or "G-Day" spring games in Alabama or Georgia. Are people THAT addicted to football?

I think the "gulf coast" words popped into my dream because of a weekend Columbus Catfish series. Several players with visiting Rome were promoted from the "Gulf Coast League." If home plate is on the side of the Gulf of Mexico, sea breezes will help any home run hitter get promotions....

5. WHAT. You'll find a sign promoting "samiches" outside the Taste of the North restaurant on Manchester Expressway. So I guess the people up North are really the ones with the funny accents.

(Let's see - could "meatball samiches" be made for "Sam I Am," with green ham? I shudder at the thought of that....)

I spotted this sign Sunday, one day after passing a Columbus grade school's sign encouraging students to get plenty of rest for their upcoming CRCT exams. Isn't this a time of year to set a right example for our children -- and write complete words?

(Before you write to complain about this shop - the "La Nacional" store down the street DOES have its sign accurate. It's spelled the Spanish way, but it's accurate....)

6. DREAMING. If I wanted to gamble, I'd put one dollar on the Mega Millions jackpot. It costs less - and at $148 million, I could buy several homes.

The honor of hugging Elizabeth White (or maybe Dee Armstrong) Sunday actually went to Phenix City's Lee Cole - drawn as the winner of this year's St. Jude Dream Home. How many Garrett Creek subdivision residents saw this and said, "An Alabamian?! There goes the neighborhood...."

By the way, it was good to see radio announcer "Johnny Outlaw" during the St. Jude telethon Sunday. He was in a nasty-looking car wreck about ten days ago. Of course, now he might organize his own telethon for the Columbus Regional emergency room.

THE BIG BLOG QUESTION is all new as of Sunday afternoon. We're taking an unofficial Riverfest count - so we can know whether to set aside more land on Broadway for vendors and artists, or marchers with picket signs.

E-MAIL UPDATE: It's now been two weeks since your blog was mentioned in the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer [3 Apr] - and STILL no one at church has mentioned it. If I'm not on the front page of the "Faith and Spirit" section, I guess I'm a typical run-of-the-mill ordinary Christian.

An e-mail reached me, however - from another person mentioned in Allison Kennedy's article:

Hey Richard,

I randomly stumbled across your mention of the ledger article, and though I would take the time to give you the links you weren't able to find on the net.

My site can be located at Unfortunately I work full time and attend CSU in the evenings, so the post have been lacking lately....

Abbey actually runs a livejournal site that can be located here:....

I was disappointed as well that she didn't put any links to the blogs in the article. Seems like she would have, so others could check out what she was talking about. to you later!

Sandy Johnson

Thanks for leading me to them, Sandy. Considering the newspaper's web site ran a big poll last week on whether Phenix City should change its name, perhaps they're afraid all the car dealers will start advertising with US.

Sandy Johnson describes himself on his web site as a "twenty-something geek" who's addicted to Apple Computers products. So perhaps that explains why he challenged the Cascade Hills Church "iGod" series in March - he thought a church was doing something sacreligious.

Sandy Johnson's latest post is about receiving invitations through "Yahoo 360." He's certainly a hip guy. I haven't even received a personal invitation to watch "Anderson Cooper 360" on CNN.

Sandy Johnson referred to another local blogger who uses the name "AbbeyRhoade." Her latest entry in "Kate's Journal" on Friday declared she can't wait to leave town, and is "sick of Columbus in general." What's this college student's major - criminal justice?!?

Kate's Journal goes on to describe a "graduation present from daddy" in the form of an August cruise - and a "massive keg party the weekend before graduation because Dad will be out of town." I'm going to assume from this that Kate's father knows nothing about her blog....

We have one other e-mail, relating to a Sunday Instant Message:

Mr. Burkard,

I would appreciate it if you would spell my name correctly! Thanking you very kindly....


Oops! Please forgive me, Officer Hall - and please don't encourage other officers to install traffic cameras on my street.

(Shame on me for misspelling her first name. She doesn't even look like Roslyn Giles....)

And oh yes: congratulations, Officer ROSALYN Hall, on winning the "To Serve and Protect" award from WXTX AGAIN Sunday night. If this trend continues, some people are going to start thinking you're the sole remaining member of the Columbus Police Department.

There were plenty of other things to think about Sunday:

+ Members of the Columbus Public Safety Advisory Commission told WCGT's "Out of Order" South Columbus homeowners seem to want restrictions put on rental property. Like what, for instance? Should all renters be kept locked in their apartments after sunset?

+ The annual "Celebrity Challenge" competition for charity took place on the Columbus Riverwalk. No, I was NOT invited to be a part of this. As of April 2005, bloggers in Columbus are not yet considered celebrities.

+ The Columbus Catfish hosted a "family fun fest" outside Golden Park, complete with a touring "minor league baseball museum." You know it's minor league, when the whole thing can be housed on a mini-hauler.... [True!]

+ Columbus State's women's softball team won the Peach Belt Conference tournament, beating Kennesaw State in the finals 10-7. It's yet another C.S.U. win over a Kennesaw State team about to advance to NCAA Division I sports. Maybe Kennesaw should consider dropping to Division III instead.

+ Instant Message to King Ford in Valley: Some people never learn, do they? Why play "Dixie" in your new TV commercial?!? It's now been 140 years. The Confederacy lost. So deal with it....

BIG PREDICTION: The last two Popes have been named "John Paul." But I dare to predict as the big Catholic conclave begins today, the next Pope will NOT call himself "George Ringo."

Your PayPal donations can keep this blog ad-free and independent-minded. To make a donation, offer a story tip 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.

© 2003-05 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.