Thursday, June 30, 2005


This weekend will mark six months since the Columbus Public Library opened. You have to admit people are talking about it. Sometimes they're muttering under their breath, sometimes they're trying to avoid expletives, but at least they're talking....

For all the fuss about a proposed three-story statue outside the library, have you seen what's new INSIDE it? I encountered it the other night, and it was hard to avoid - a giant black sign on the wall of the rotunda. Thankfully, it is NOT the menu for the Library Café.

This black sign is a plaque noting everyone involved in building the Columbus Public Library, and it stands about five feet high. It's almost as if the planners decided most of the visitors would check out large-print books.

The giant plaque names the architect who designed the Columbus Public Library. It names the construction company which built the building. But curiously, it does NOT name any members of the Columbus Council or Muscogee County School Board. You don't think that's to protect the incumbents in the next election....?!

There's one line on the plaque mentioning the Columbus Council, and one mentioning the School Board. But no one is named individually, and there's absolutely no mention of the Library Board on it. Maybe I shouldn't have mentioned that - because the conspiracy theorists will get fired up again.

Compare that plaque with the one at the entrance to the Northside Branch Library on Armour Road. That marker is about the size of a standard sheet of paper, and lists all the Columbus city officials at the time of its opening. But then again, the only artwork outside that building is a couple of book drop bins.

You can learn surprising things by looking at library plaques. Several years ago I stopped at the East Point Library south of Atlanta, and was amazed to find a member of the Fulton County Library Board was radio talk show host Neal Boortz. To hear him talk, I'd more likely expect him on an airport authority.

Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that a library planned to have a 25-foot-high statue outside it would have a five-foot-high commemorative plaque inside it. Officials obviously "thought big," when it came to this building. If they'd thought any bigger, this library probably would be in Texas.

(Hmmm - come to think of it, maybe there's a spot for that "Transformation" statue after all. The middle of the rotunda appears tall enough to put it inside. And if it doesn't cover up that plaque, at least it will look much smaller.)

I'm not sure why the names of city officials were left off this five-foot-tall library plaque. Perhaps the Library Board has something else in mind for them. The sides of the floors around the rotunda could become "rings of honor," like football stadiums have -- although I'm not sure Red McDaniel would want his name to go up first.

BLOG BAFFLER: Ed Joyce is the winner of our first baffler! He knew our Wednesday blog title "Woe, Fat" was the name of a villain on the old TV crime drama "Hawaii Five-O." Wo-Fat would be quite out of place on television today - because for starters, he'd have to know at least one martial arts move.

Now a quick check at other Wednesday wonders:

+ Fort Benning officials invited everyone to its Independence Day celebration. It's this evening - not on July 4, but June 30. If you're going to celebrate this early, why not call it "Canada Day Eve" and invade Ontario?

+ A meeting was held on renovating the area around the Liberty Theater, near downtown. The first step is coming soon, with a "streetscape" along Sixth Avenue. So at least police officers will have something nice to see, as they head to more trouble at the Booker T. Washington apartments.

+ Phenix City police showed off their new night-vision lens. This will help in tracking down burglars after dark - and I'm predicting it will increase the number of officers volunteering to do undercover work at Cadillac Jack's.

+ The Swedish home furnishing chain Ikea opened its first Southeast store in midtown Atlanta. A co-worker asked me why it was such a big deal - and I told him: "In other words, you're saying I-don't-kea."

+ Garrison Keillor apologized on his "Prairie Home Companion" web site for last weekend's show at Chastain Park in Atlanta. He wrote a group of "loud drunks" near the stage kept interrupting him - people sitting at top-dollar corporate tables. In Columbus, of course, the buttoned-down executives actually would use these tickets....

(I didn't realize until I visited the Prairie Home Companion web site at post time that one of the songs during the Atlanta broadcast was "Columbus Stockade Blues." One of these days, Mayor Bob Poydasheff will propose making that the official city anthem.)

+ The Albany Herald reported on speculation Donnie Davis was named coach of arena football's South Georgia Wildcats because his father-in-law runs a major local bank. Why didn't anyone think of this before? Let's find someone in Jim Blanchard's
family to manage the Columbus Catfish.

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.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

29 JUN 05: WOE, FAT

As of Tuesday night, these were the approximate vital statistics: five-foot-nine, 194 pounds, size 38 waist. Those are MY approximate vital statistics - and the waist size is approximate, because I had to use a steel tape measure.

(I should take this moment to thank all the Columbus convenience stores with special markings around the front door. They allow me to monitor my height on a regular basis -- though I think they're there for some other reason.)

I bring all these numbers to you in the wake of our most recent Big Blog Question, about whether I am a "fat, lazy, bitter blogger." Before I get to the results, I feel a need to focus on fat - since many critics think I stare at it constantly while I'm preparing these entries.

You'll recall A.R. sent an e-mail [21 Jun] declaring me a "fat, lazy American." To my knowledge, I'd never met A.R. before - so was HE the original "blogger stalker," driving by to check my waistline?

There are times when I think A.R. has a point -- because I feel fat, and think I look that way. So if you're wondering where the "live blog webcam" link is, there's the explanation....

But I don't tend to take my concern about weight as far as some people. I have a cyber-friend in California who takes it so seriously, she sometimes declares herself a pig on bad days! Since she likes the Atkins Diet, sometimes she has a "carbohydrate complex."

I've come home from restaurant-heavy church conventions as high as 205 pounds over the years. But I've been able to stay in the 190's for awhile through a variety of things, including occasional 24-hour fasts. Believe it or not, your body does NOT shrivel up like a raisin when you skip a couple of meals.

Regular exercise also is important, so I try to run several times a week. I consider myself quite spoiled to live very close to the Riverwalk, where I can jog without any traffic concerns -- unless, of course, the prison truck rolls up with inmates to cut the grass.

Summer historically is my toughest season of the year for running. Once the humidity turns up, it can be like learning to jog all over again -- in part because your wristband's weight tends to double from all the sweat on it.

Yet this June, a wonderful thing has happened. The last two Saturday nights, my nonstop runs have lasted 2.8 and 3.05 miles! Could a "fat, lazy blogger" really do that? And there weren't even any water tables set up along the courses to help me out....

Tuesday morning's jog went 1.7 miles nonstop. In recent years, I've tended to run farther after dark -- as it's a bit cooler, I'm not concerned about sunlight, and perhaps I have a deep-down fear someone will jump out from behind a tree and demand all my money.

I've also noted here my occasional trips to Benning Park to knock around a racquetball. After watching Wimbledon tennis this week, I realized I'm forgetting a key ingredient in this workout - grunting or moaning loudly every time I strike the ball.

To see if A.R.'s assessment about me was correct, I asked several people at random on the Riverwalk in the last few days if they thought I was fat:

+ A man riding bicycles, presumably with his son: "You're not that bad." Welllll -- maybe he was afraid I was going to slug him for the wrong answer.

+ Three older women walking in tandem: "No! You're all right!" But none of them decided to jog with me. So much for romance....

+ A young couple walking near Port Columbus: "You're A-O-K!" said the young woman. The man said nothing - perhaps fearful of some competition.

THE BIG BLOG QUESTION closed Tuesday, and it ended with me feeling much better than I did a week ago. Two-thirds of you disagreed with A.R., and voted "absolutely not" on whether I'm a "fat, lazy, bitter blogger." It's so tempting to celebrate this by going to Golden Donuts, and buying a dozen glazed....

Only 22 percent of the voters in the last week decided I was a "fat, lazy, bitter blogger." As for the lazy part - at least I post something here almost every day. Some bloggers take weeks off at a time, and don't even offer an explanation.

Several of you left comments, offering me varying degrees of assistance:

+ From Cory: "It's obvious what your political stance is - a Satirist." Trouble is, there's no Satire Party in this country. And for you Democrats - I don't think the Republican Party counts.

+ From Ed: "I fear you are far worse than your loyal reader AR describes. You may be a journalist." Uh-oh - that IS my background. The use of big words such as "approximate" may have given me away.

+ From Clark Kent: "You're obsessed with WRBL." This point is well taken. Why should I be - especially when the latest ratings show most Columbus TV viewers aren't?

+ Clark Kent adds: "You forgot to add in your poll that you're just mean, too." Huh?! It's not like I took away your phone booths around town....

E-MAIL UPDATE: Enough about me - let's get to the important issues of Columbus. You know, like Tuesday's entry about a cow being the most popular display of public art:

Well there's your answer right there. The US Supremes have taken care of the 'art' problem at the Columbus Library with their ruling on eminent domain. All is needed is for the City of Columbus to 'seize' Kadie the Cow under the Eminenet Domain Ruling. It is obvious, by local e-voting, that Kadie the Cow would have more 'public value' if she were placed in front of the Library instead of in front of Best Buy.

Bring in the cranes and let the paperwork be served!


You may have a point, Bubba. Best Buy hasn't really taken advantage of its inherited mascot on Manchester Expressway. For instance, why isn't there an iPod hanging around her neck?

But I've lived in Columbus long enough to remember the debate several years ago about moving Kadie the Cow downtown. That change could have been so much fun - for instance, pointing her on Broadway so the Cannon Brew Pub cannon was pointed at her tail.

Now let's put this cow out to pasture, with some actual Tuesday news items:

+ An Auburn University survey found more than 70 percent of Alabama adults support public schools providing "neutral information about homosexuality." How many people misunderstood this question, and thought it meant "NEUTER information?"

+ Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller called for a citywide task force against crime. He says 14 out of 16 Opelika homicides in the last three years have involved African-American people killing each other. So which civil rights leader will find a way to blame gun makers, for not making the weapons white?

+ The Miss America pageant announced its telecast is moving to Country Music Television. This could be tough for our new Miss Georgia, Monica Pang - because now people will expect her hairstyle to be a lot bigger.

(And besides, didn't Monica Pang play a piano piece by Chopin for the talent portion of Miss Georgia? Maybe she should start working on something by Jerry Lee Lewis....)

+ Instant Message to the Atlanta Hawks: Let me see if I have this straight. A basketball player does NOT start for North Carolina - yet you take him second in the N.B.A. draft, ahead of starters?! Do you guys also pick Jimmy Spencer to win NASCAR races?

BLOG BAFFLER: The title of today's entry is based on a character in WHAT old TV show? First person to e-mail the blog with the correct answer wins a prize!

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, June 28, 2005


Perhaps we shouldn't have been surprised - but an online poll by the Ledger-Enquirer has found the favorite piece of "public art" in Columbus is the statue of Kadie the cow. So how many people voted at a special computer set up inside Best Buy?

Voters were given a choice of eight public artistic landmarks in Columbus, and Kadie the cow led with 24 percent of the vote. We hope the Chamber of Commerce takes advantage of this. If Marietta, Georgia has the "Big Chicken," Columbus can have everyone turn at the "Colossal Cow."

(Kadie is the mascot of a dairy which no longer exists on Manchester Expressway. Perhaps Mr. Schuster should play "adopt-a-cow" and claim her for Burger King, before Chick-Fil-A recruits her for commercials.)

If this was a political race and we had a runoff for favorite public artwork, Kadie would face - a fountain. The one at Wynnton and Buena Vista Roads came in second in the survey, at 17 percent. Put the two side-by-side, and we wouldn't have to be worried about Kadie dehydrating in the heat.

Third place in the public art popularity contest with 16 percent went to "Iron Mike." For you newcomers to the area, this is the infantry statue at Fort Benning. Mike Ditka never played in Columbus, and no one could pay him enough to coach here.

Other artistic landmarks in Columbus didn't fare so well in the poll. The "Four Images of Man" showing Christopher Columbus on the Riverwalk received only six percent of the vote -- and most of those probably were skateboarders, who use it regularly to practice jumps.

A statue of a police officer and a child did a bit better in the poll - the one located inside the second floor of the Public Safety Center. But there's something strange about that work of art. To get a good close-up look at it, don't you have to be under arrest?

One candidate in the Ledger-Enquirer's online poll admittedly surprised me -- the giant "T-Rex" atop an antique mall at River Road and Veterans Parkway. Is it really fair to call this "public art?" It probably wouldn't be there, if owner Allen Woodall wasn't trying to distract shoppers into coming inside.

Then there's the four percent of the voters who say they like NO public artworks in Columbus. If only we could trace how many of them sit on the Muscogee County Library Board....

Of course, the Ledger-Enquirer did this online survey because of the controversy over a proposed Columbus Public Library statue. After checking the results, I wonder if many people oppose "Transformation" because it's rather abstract - and they don't want a statue they have to think about to understand.

By the way, why did Phenix City have no contenders in this public artwork contest? Would it be willing to take "Transformation" - maybe to put in the middle of the lake at Idle Hour Park, to become a taller fountain than that thing in front of the RiverCenter?

Public "artwork" can pop up overnight these days. I was surprised over the weekend by a giant balloon shaped like a human, fluttering in the wind outside Everything Musical on Veterans Parkway. I guess that thing was supposed to be gyrating like Elvis Presley....

If that wasn't enough, a giant "space alien" balloon had been blown up above the shopping center where Everything Musical is located. This store already has a piano on its roof - so why can't the staff teach the alien to play it?

If you think about it, several other things synonymous with Columbus don't have monuments - but maybe they should:

+ A statue for the Miss Georgia pageant. But of course, that would devolve into a "swimsuit versus evening gown" debate.

+ A statue for the people who cleaned up Phenix City 50 years ago - or is still unsafe to name most of them publicly?

+ The Riverwalk has a bust of AFLAC executive John Amos, but none of his wife Elena. Artists could keep the Cuban flag on it small, to avoid controversy....

COMING WEDNESDAY: Results from one of our busiest Big Blog Questions ever.... and a focus on one of its areas....

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.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

26 JUN 05: FROM HERE TO....

Congratulations to Monica Pang, who was crowned Miss Georgia 2005 at the RiverCenter Saturday night. Your blog's BIG PREDICTION of the winner, Amanda Kozak, was first runner-up - and now I guess she'll have to commute from Valdosta State University to be "Miss Warner Robins" on her own money.

(Oh well, picking the second-place woman out of 53 contestants isn't too bad. So when does Yahoo plan to start a "fantasy pageant league?")

Monica Pang was first runner-up at Miss Georgia last year, and this year she won it all. So what gave her that extra edge? It's not like she was endorsed by the incumbent....

By the way, the last name of your new Miss Georgia is pronounced like "ping-pong." It is NOT pronounced like "hunger pangs" - so you single guys can put those set-up lines away.

A sign on Milgen Road Saturday reminded me that New Life Tanning is the OFFICIAL tanning center of Miss Georgia. The managers must have slept very well Saturday night-- considering the last Miss Georgia was African-American.

For the first time in almost a decade, the Miss Georgia pageant was televised. But if you drove by the RiverCenter, you may have noticed the production truck was from WALB in Albany. Surely Al Fleming at NBC-38 can't be saying this pageant exploits women.

While Miss Georgia had a TV deal this year, Miss America still does not -- and that was the cloud over the pageant I never heard anyone discuss. Isn't any television network interested in showing good-looking, bright young women in a competition? C'mon, Spike TV, you sound like the perfect fit....

I read online last weekend that there's still no date for this year's Miss America pageant in Atlantic City. That apparently depends on working out a TV agreement - and late September is difficult for ESPN, with so many baseball and college football games.

(Hey, why not ESPN for the Miss America pageant? If this "sports channel" can show the National Spelling Bee....)

The online article noted more than two-thirds the scholarship money awarded at last year's Miss America pageant came from ABC. Then ABC dropped the pageant - and amazingly, the Southern Baptists just ended their long boycott of the network.

If that's not enough, the Miss America organization still has not filed a 2004 tax return! It took a four-month extension back in April - so there had better not be any controversy at this year's pageant about women wearing hair extensions.

All the uncertainty must cause some concern for the organizers of Miss Georgia. They don't know when the pageant in Atlantic City will be, so they can't plan a schedule. And how long can Monica Pang stay on a diet, to fit into that swimsuit?

By the way, Club Antifreeze on Buena Vista Road held a "Foxie After Party" Saturday night. Was this for "after" the Miss Georgia pageant? Forget about that crown and gown - hit the floor and let's get down....

E-MAIL UPDATE: Some flaming messages have been tossed around here lately, and it's now Justin's turn to fire at A.R. - but his title is "A Much Nicer Response":

Wow! I think I got under his skin. I'm so happy.

But I'm positive I about not making any racist comments during my e-mail. But hey if you are a yankee aren't all Southerners racist?

And for the record, where you are born is where you are from. If you are born in Calcutta and move to Georgia on the 3rd day of your life, you still aren't from Georgia. Being Southern is much more than the "War Between the States" and rednecks, it's the land of Cavaliers. Here in this home, gallantry takes its last bow. Look for it only in books, for it is no more than a dream remembered, a Civilization all but lost.

Something that is wholly lost on the those who think they know, but truly are miles from any understanding.

Shame on me - I thought "the land of Cavaliers" was Cleveland, where the basketball team is....

(Oh yes, the University of Virginia has "Cavaliers" - but many people there seem to prefer the nickname "Wahoos" now. And a graduate with a big student loan could be called an "Owe-Wahoo.")

I didn't consider Justin's first e-mail [22 Jun] racist - unless the U.S. Northerner is considered a "race" of people. Maybe it's the inbreeding of all those northern folks which keeps them from enjoying sweet tea....

And that part about "gallantry takes its last bow" - has Justin been watching too many Ken Burns documentaries on PBS lately?

But all in all, we thank Justin for not pouring too much gasoline on this fire. At two bucks a gallon, that's an expensive thing to do right now....

And now for something completely different - a reader who wants to "rant" about the changing Columbus phone numbers:


As someone who lived in Atlanta for a few years and grew accustomed to ten-digit dialing, I can see its utility, at least in the Atlanta market. Previous to the assignment of 678 as an overlay code, 770 was given to areas outside the Perimeter, and 404 was given to areas inside the Perimeter, in the normal, geographically defined type of assignment. However, the entirety of the 770/404 region comprises a toll-free calling zone, and accordingly, the population frequently had to use 10-digit dialing to reach the other area code. In this case, assigning an overlay area code made sense.

The 706 region has the distinction of being geographically discontiguous (one of four in the North American plan), and would therefore adapt well to a geographic split. Augusta is relatively far away from Columbus, and certainly there is no toll-free calling between the two cities. LaGrange isn't even a free call to Columbus, which is why Diverse Power (f/k/a Troup EMC) customers in Columbus North are given a toll-free number for customer service. Adding more numbering capacity to the 706 region would be easy--just spin off the southwestern area or split it along Local Access Transport Area (LATA) boundaries in Georgia North.

Sure, half of the area would have to update stationery and address books, but local calling would not be affected. But with the PSC's decision, everyone in the current 706 will now be burdened with ten-digit dialing forever. There was a three-way geographic split of the former 912 area in Georgia South a few years ago, so avoiding overlays certainly is possible.

As you alluded to, now Columbus residents will be forced to distinguish Phenix City numbers with the 334 area code. Technically, it would be possible to implement an overlay with prefixes distinct from the local prefixes within 706, akin to how the 334/706 sharing is currently configured, but the announcement states that 10-digit dialing will become mandatory.

Happy dialing,


Be careful with your language, Thomas. Say "overlay" around the wrong people in Columbus, and they'll report you to police as a suspect in a prostitution ring.

Thomas's point seems to be that the "North American Numbering Plan Administrator" blew it - and should have changed one part of the 706 area code completely to a new area code. It's an interesting idea. And if this mysterious administrator happens to be a Northern "yankee," there could be another uprising.

The Georgia Public Service Commission DID have a public hearing on the changing area codes, one week before last Thursday's vote. So the people had a chance to state their opinions - although it would have been only fair to have a toll-free phone number for people to call them in.

By the way, did you hear what the new area code in Columbus will be? It's 762 - which will be perfect for those of you who want to support Fort Benning. Check your phone pad, and "762" can be "S-O-A."

(But then again, some businesses probably will want to avoid the new area code - since 762 also spells out "R-O-B.")

Since Thomas brought it up: isn't it a curiosity that "long distance" LaGrange phone numbers are in the BellSouth Columbus directory - but numbers for Talbotton and Smiths Station aren't? Do these cities have the wrong Internet service provider or something?

Today's last e-mail takes us all the way back to 6 May, when we visited Dick McMichael's book signing downtown:

Was browsing at the book store and thought I would read the Dick Mc..what's his name's book displayed.Al Fleming's name was not spelled correctly.Flemming all the way through it.I am sure Al got a laugh...Maybe he should change his name like Miriam a/k/a Eve did to "Al Flem"..nice red-necky name,eh? and.... Speaking of killing two birds at the same time....AFLAC Duck is spared from
consumption by a mere feather ..check out sign above Aflac right above the Chik-Fil_A sign below it! ... Yours,BAM

BAM, all I can say to you is - KAPOW!

A busy schedule has kept me from finishing Dick McMichael's memoir "The Newsman" - but I checked it after this message arrived, and indeed he spelled Al Fleming's name with an extra M. No wonder BAM's message had the title "Al Who?"

(Given some of his commentaries on local TV in recent years, I wonder if a better name might be "Al Flaming.")

I think the reference to AFLAC and Chick-Fil-A refers to a billboard at the top of the hill on Wynnton Road at Buena Vista. Those cows may think they're something big up there -- but looking east, that big duck atop the AFLAC tower could lay an egg on them anytime.

Wow, we've touched on a wide range of topics here - so let's wrap up with a few more:

+ Which Columbus church pastor accused Senate Democratic Whip Richard Durbin of "not knowing history" - then in the same speech claimed the "four corners" area of the U.S. includes Wyoming? I know that's geography, but still....

(Before some of you e-mail me: just because Wyoming appears to have four corners on a U.S. map does NOT mean it's in the "four corners" region of the country.)

+ The Russell County School District showed a new promotional ad on WRBL, in which Superintendent Rebecca Lee says: "Russell County Schools IS a great place...." If the top educator can't make her subject and verb agree, maybe it's not that great for learning after all.

+ Former Columbus City Manager Carmen Cavezza appeared on the "Real Time" telecast from Cascade Hills Church. He advised graduates that one key trait of a leader is "selecting other leaders." So should we blame him for Isaiah Hugley making that request for a raise awhile back?

+ Columbus-area blues singer Precious Bryant appeared on public radio's "Prairie Home Companion." The show was live at Atlanta's Chastain Park. I think the closest thing Columbus would have to a "prairie" right now is the field at McClung Memorial Stadium.

+ Instant Message to "La Cantina" on Hamilton Road in LaGrange: So you're a "Latino" sports bar and grill? Does that mean I should scratch you off the list of places to watch next year's Winter Olympics? Will you be showing nothing but Mexican soccer matches?

BURKARD'S BEST BETS: Gas for $2.04 a gallon at EZ Pay, Buena Vista and Steam Mill.... chicken vienna sausages for 40 cents a can at Winn-Dixie.... and used Miss Georgia gowns should be going on sale somewhere....

(BLOGGER'S NOTE: Personal commitments will prevent us from blogging Monday. Shall we see you Tuesday?)

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.

Saturday, June 25, 2005


(BLOGGER'S NOTE: You may find this humorous, serious, or a little of both - but from time to time, we'll offer things to reflect upon as we keep the seventh-day Sabbath.)

"I could chew on a nail," another area blogger wrote about a U.S. Supreme Court decision this past week. When a court produces a "nail-biter" even after its opinions come out, that's probably not be a good thing....

Many bloggers (and probably others) are up in arms about a 5-4 Supreme Court decision on "eminent domain." The court ruled local governments can take over your property not only for public projects, but private development which will benefit local tax rolls. We're pleased to note NO mass evictions of Columbus residents were reported Friday.

The fifth amendment to the U.S. Constitution says private property cannot "be taken for public use without just compensation." Critics say the Supreme Court expanded governmental powers too far, by allowing land takeovers for things such as Wal-Mart stores -- and if it's Wal-Mart, you know the compensation will be at a low price.

The Mayor of Indianapolis appeared on PBS Friday evening, saying eminent domain is a helpful tool for developing cities. But he noted it's used only rarely, "because it's unpopular." I think he meant that tool - although some would say that of government in general....

(Keep in mind, things could be worse. Other people might try to take over your property, regardless of the government. Today, we know that approach as Zimbabwe.)

After pondering the Supreme Court's decision and the online reaction, several thoughts come to mind. The blogger I mentioned above called the ruling "the final nail in the coffin for the concept of private property." But hold on - who said your property was "private" to begin with? It really wasn't, even before satellite cameras started mapping your block.

I own some land in the North Georgia mountains, and might build on it someday. The land was paid off years ago - yet the "property owners association" in that development now wants me to pay $500 a year in dues. If I don't pay, it can put a lien on my land - hurting any chance I have for a major federal appointment.

So in that development, my "private property" really isn't my own. And ultimately, whatever the U.S. Supreme Court says, no one's property is. For instance, imagine trying to put a three-bedroom house in a casket....

Rush Limbaugh likes to say he has "talent on loan from God." In fact, every human being does. And for that matter, everything we possess comes from God. So are you doing anything with that stuff for HIM -- I mean, beyond a few bills in an offering envelope?

The Bible talks of promised future mansions - but if you're going to be resurrected as a spirit being and no longer be flesh, how badly will you need one? I doubt you'll need a car to get around. So at least you'll have more garage space, if you really have to have one.

To paraphrase a story I heard recently: the resurrection day came, and one man rose into the heavens much slower than the rest. He explained to an angel: "I invested in gold bars all my life, and I wanted to bring them into God's kingdom with me." The angel recalled the promise of a street if gold and replied: "You brought pavement?!?!"

My point of all this is you shouldn't fear what human governments can do to your land. Fear what an even "higher Authority" might want you to do with it. You might be surprised to learn He agrees with that 1980's rock song by .38 Special - "Hold On Loosely."

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, June 24, 2005


A major change which will affect all of Columbus became official Thursday. The Georgia Public Service Commission voted to add a new area code, and require everyone to make phone calls with ten digits. Thankfully, I have ten digits on my hands to match.

Starting in September, new phone numbers issued in the "706 area" will have a new area code. We don't know yet what those numbers will be - so Cash 3 lottery players are asked to have some patience....

The Public Service Commission web site has a page explaining the extra area code. It says the three-digit code will be issued by "the North American Numbering Plan Administrator." Talk about big government! There's someone in charge of every number in the U.S. and Canada?! Did he give Joe Nemechek NASCAR number 01, too?

It was that mysterious North American Numbering Plan Administrator who decided it was time for Columbus to have a second area code. If we find out this person makes tall sculptures as a sideline....

That ol' North American Numbering Plan Administrator actually called for a new area code in Columbus four years ago - but Georgia state officials found ways to avoid that. And you thought local mills were closing because of Chinese competition....

The Georgia P.S.C. web site actually calls what's about to happen with our phones "area code relief." Yeah, right. These commissioners must have phones with no speed-dial numbers to change.

Columbus isn't really the main reason for this new area code. Population growth is very high in other parts of the 706 area code - such as Dawson County north of Atlanta. I didn't know that many people wanted to keep seeing Bill Elliot, after he retired from stock car racing.

The ten-digit dialing will be phased in. Starting in September, you'll be able to dial local numbers with either seven or ten digits - what the Public Service Commission calls "permissive dialing." I thought that happened when a parent bought children their first wireless phone.

The drop-dead dialing date for everyone in Columbus to use ten digits is April 3, 2006. Why not two days earlier - so many people feel like they're enduring a frustrating April fool's joke?

(For that matter, why not even one day earlier? That's Sunday, April 2 - and when people switch to daylight time, they can grumble about two big changes at the same time.)

The P.S.C. web site doesn't explain this, but I'm assuming the change to ten-digit dialing means you'll also have to dial "334" to reach Phenix City. But will people there only have to dial SEVEN digits to contact Columbus? And won't this give Phenix City residents an unfair edge in winning radio station contests?

If you think about it, the addition of a second area code in Columbus will offer some advantages....

+ It will be easier than ever to spot the newcomers to town - the ones old-timers need to work on.

+ If singers from Columbus ever become finalists on "American Idol," they'll be able to sell twice as much clothing as Ruben Studdard did.

+ Calls from 706 to the new area code still will be considered local calls. How I wish the people who move here from Atlanta with "404" cell phones would do us a favor, change their numbers and save us money.

BIG PREDICTION UPDATE: Well, well! "Miss Warner Robins" Amanda Kozak won a SECOND Miss Georgia preliminary event at the RiverCenter Thursday night. But then again, the judges on "Dancing With the Stars" loved Rachel Hunter - and she's gone now.

For the first time in almost a decade, the crowning of Miss Georgia this weekend will be televised across the state. This certainly beats a few years ago - when the late Suzanne Lawrence introduced the winner on the Saturday night news, from what looked like the Three Arts Theatre's fire escape.

A less publicized part of the Miss Georgia pageant wraps up today, with the crowning of "Georgia's Outstanding Teen." They're holding this event at Saint Luke United Methodist Church - so why don't any of the contestants make Bible reading their platform?

E-MAIL UPDATE: The man whose e-mail inspired our current BIG BLOG QUESTION three days ago apparently hasn't quit reading our blog completely - because we've heard from him again:

First, let me say to you Richard, thank you for coming to my defense (somewhat) when that member of the KKK Justin said I obviously wasn't a Southerner. That's the kind of crap I and other SOUTHERN CITIZENS such as myself have had to deal with since moving to this great region of the country. I may not be a born, inbred redneck like that guy, but at least I love my state and the place I live, even though the weather is hotter than hell....and some of the people obviously still can't stand it that their....hmmm, lemme figure this out cos is has been over 130 years.....great, great, great, great grandparents lost the Civil War. TS....and I don't mean Elliot. I may not have been born in the CSA, but damnit, I do see myself as a Southerner after living here since I was 9 years old. This is where I grew up pally. Deal with it. Then again, if expressing your opinions is not a Southern thing to do, then hand me a carpet-bag right now. F***ing racist.

It's that YANKEE GO HOME attitude that has given the South a bad name for the past 130 years. Why do Y'ALL think that the only airtime the South can get on TV is The Blue Collar Comedy Tour and Jerry Springer? Why is it that network execs in NYC only see fit to let the inbred, redneck stereotype of the South on television? Think real hard on that one. Face it chump (not you Richard, you I at least respect), that veil of secrecy that covered the South for 130 years is coming down. By 2030, 142,000,000 + of the country's population will be living in the South, namely cities such as Atlanta and Charlotte. That's a lot of yankees.

And to further hammer in my point: I'm a guy that holds the door open for people when entering a building (I may have held one open for you at one time). It's something my parents taught me. But hardly has any "southerner" held the door open for my wife (who was born in Lilburn) or I,.....ever. When I visited New York for the first time in 2002, I found "yankees" holding the door open for me and smiling at me and chatting with me. Where's your "southern hospitality"? It's a myth these days as far as I'm concerned. And if it ever was present, it was only a guise. A way for people like you to choke back the
bile in your throats when just SEEING a "yankee" such as myself. What a mix, southern hospitality and lynching. That's a joke. I found more friendly people in the North than I EVER have in the South. Your response is proof positive. Put that in your corncob pipe and smoke it!

Secondly, AR is not my real name, and that's only because in my profession I'm not allowed to express my opinion without consent from my bosses. Ask anyone who works for the media (hint,hint). It's for my protection. I don't consider it cowardice. I was let go from a very big media giant for expressing my opinions in public before and I won't let it happen again. Mistakes of youth.

And as to judging people.......I think you've demonstrated that very well.......yankee go home.......jesus, that's southern hospitality for you. hahahahahahahaha.

In closing, to "M" who can't work a I don't think you're dimwitted. My old man has had a PC for about 3 years now and still asks me how to turn it on. Like it or not, I am a nice person. I just call em like I see em. Can I be sued for that? If so, get me a ticket to Canada, cos free speech is dead in my country.


Yes sirree - THIS is the sort of happy, friendly blog we want all Columbus newcomers to read....

But A.R., I must come to Justin's defense here - because I've known this man for a few years, and he's never revealed himself to be a member of the Klan. The only time he might show a "KKK" sign would be if a baseball pitcher struck out the side.

I'm going to steer clear of most of A.R.'s insults - but you know, he DOES have a point about which side won the Civil War. If you think General Sherman's "march to the sea" was a fluke, then you might as well agree with Saddam Hussein that he's still the President of Iraq.

As for "redneck stereotypes of the South" on network television - well, why hasn't anyone proposed an "In the Heat of the Night" reunion show?

I try to hold doors open for women, just as A.R. does - and when my hands are full, both men and women tend to hold doors open for me. That's only courteous. But I had a confusing moment as a teen in the turbulent 1970's, when I held a door open for a nice-looking girl at high school -- and she walked out the opposite door without a blink.

Then there's that debate about "judging people." My Pastor never brings up the "judge not" Bible verse without also mentioning another verse which says, "judge righteous judgment." Please note it does not say you're to have it SELF-righteously....

Can A.R. be sued for "calling 'em like he sees 'em?" In some cases, the answer is yes. The editors of the National Enquirer probably could offer you some examples....

Let's try to put out the fire from that e-mail with another one, which has quite a different tone. His title mentioned the "deep fried, countryfied north":

Hi there,

Recently came across your blog looking for LOCO's (Cause I heard something bout a poker tourney on the radio & I am hooked..but anyways)....I loved it.

You are quite humorous and unforgiving with your snappy wit & opinions but I really appreciate that bold honesty. Its quite refreshing and hiliarious at the same time. I might not agree with everything you say...but a lot of it ... if I agreed with everything I would probably be a

I am glad to see you're a churchgoer (though I am not really)...its also good to see people not ashamed to love the lord. My sister is the same way and I just cant see how she does it. She is also a VERY talented gospel singer but I am afraid she has let that take a back seat lately. I hate that....her voice is so pretty.

Anyways...keep up the good blog and I will try to tune in often now that I have found your site.

Oh yeah...the from the deep fried countryfied NORTH part....... I lived in Columbus for most of my adult life (or at least the area ... originally from Seale, Al...OH GOD AN ALABAMIAN) ... 2 and ½ yrs ago my wife & I moved with our lil bundle of joy to be near her family in Michigan...... and 2 weeks ago we moved back with almost nothing as a result of a disagreement with her family .... but ... air mattress and all...we are happy to be back....



Now THAT'S more like it! Thank you for the nice words, Glenn - but is LOCO an abbreviation for something? Or are you really looking for crazy people in Columbus?

We certainly would discourage Glenn from becoming a "blogger stalker." Try that place several blocks north of my home - and stare through the RiverCenter window at the Miss Georgia contestants.

Glenn must have had quite a jolt, moving from Seale to Michigan a couple of years ago. For one thing, people that far north do NOT cook outside on the grill after Labor Day - because that's the official start of marshmallow and wiener roast season.

Remember, Glenn, you do NOT have to sleep on an air mattress at this time of year. I've gone jogging several mornings this week, and seen plenty of people sleeping outside on Riverwalk benches.

Now let's wrap up the week with some quick items from the last couple of days:

+ Which Columbus weathercaster just took a job in Raleigh, North Carolina - and no, it's NOT the one who went to college there? This must not be a TV station with one of those catchy "live, local" slogans....

+ A potential new radio show called "Front Porch of the South" had its debut at the Bradley Theater. They couldn't have it on the "front porch" of the theater, of course - because construction noise on Broadway or the Uptown concert series might have drowned it out.

+ Basketball legend Julius Erving visited a summer camp at Columbus State University. Could you imagine "Dr. J" trying to play Thursday night, in Game 7 of the N.B.A. finals? He would have been hacked at least twice, before even lifting his hand to dunk the ball.

+ Auburn freshman basketball player Toney Douglas withdrew his name from next week's N.B.A. draft. I'm glad he finally realized if most Auburn fans haven't heard of him, most pro scouts probably haven't either.

+ Instant Message to a local broadcast personalty who shall remain nameless: No, I will NOT post your letter with that rumor about the Catwalk lounge. If city officials want to go there to prepare for the 2006 Georgia Conference on Tourism, that's their business.

COMING SATURDAY: A view of the Supreme Court's "eminent domain" decision you may have overlooked....

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.

Thursday, June 23, 2005


What a stunning sight it was, as I drove toward the Columbus Public Library Wednesday evening. Something so eye-catching, so unexpected, so - now stop thinking like that! They did NOT sneak in that new three-story statue....

The surprising sight was a new electronic message board with glowing red lights. It was surprising because of its location -- outside the Dinglewood Pharmacy on Wynnton Road. If this is one of those "local pharmacies" on the brink of financial ruin, how can they afford this?

But beyond that, isn't Dinglewood Pharmacy supposed to be Columbus's top example of an "old school" drugstore? It's been around 87 years, after all -- which is longer than even most serial Viagra customers have been alive....

It simply didn't look right to me for Dinglewood Pharmacy to install a fancy message board like this. It's almost like offering several new flavors of the soda fountain's famous scrambled dogs, and calling them "Cool Cajun" or something.

I asked several co-workers Wednesday night what they thought of the fancy new sign outside Dinglewood, and most of them didn't know about it. But one longtime Columbus resident reacted in rather blunt fashion: "What do they need a fancy sign for? It's only Dinglewood's."

I speculated to the man that Dinglewood Pharmacy may be trying to keep up with the two Walgreens stores down the road. They've had even bigger electronic signs ever since they opened -- but at least they offer specials which change every week.
Dinglewood might change the shake flavors every few years....

The longtime resident had an interesting response to my speculation. "Then Walgreens ought to start selling scrambled dogs." Now there's the true spirit of business and competition - everyone not only looking alike, but selling the exact same things.

"They can sell frozen scrambled dogs," the man continued. Now that would be a challenge. Heat a package in a 350-degree oven, and one of the ingredients is bound to come out wrong - such as a bun or cucumbers burned beyond recognition.

I suppose Dinglewood Pharmacy is trying to look current and modern by adding this electronic sign on Wynnton Road. But for such a historic business to do this in an officially "historic area" seems odd to me - unless, of course, a major drug company paid for it to advertise something better than Vioxx.

BIG PREDICTION UPDATE: So far, so good! Miss Warner Robins won the evening gown preliminary event at the Miss Georgia pageant Wednesday night. But what's going on at the Ledger-Enquirer? The paper's picture made her appear blonde, while the pageant web site shows she's brunette. Is she sponsored by Clairol?

E-MAIL UPDATE: A blogger down the road is pondering the "loose bricks" we mentioned here Wednesday:

Brother Burkard,

I read of the mystery of the disappearing bricks in your blog. I may have a theory. After watching enough episodes of CSI to qualify me as a jack-leg, easy-chair investigator I tend to look at mysteries such as this with a more thoughtful eye. (I can now stay a step ahead of Horatio Caine most of the time).

If you have access to the names on the missing bricks, as it appears you do, you might consider laying those names out on a table and working a word scramble on them. Maybe there is a message in there that if all the names are put together in the right order it reveals a secret. Who knows, it might even be an early, early preparation for putting together a ransom note for when someone steals that 30ft scarecrow that they are going to put in front of the Columbus Library. Could be that it's the same folks that stole Katie the Cow's calf.

Maybe I need to leave off those CSI marathons for a while.....


Be careful, Bubba -- I don't want you to get a heart attack analyzing Emily Procter of "CSI: Miami" too closely.

I really haven't been swept away by "CSI-Mania" - and that probably hurt me in preparing Wednesday's item on the missing South Commons bricks. I don't have that "ultraviolet flashlight" which comes with the CSI jigsaw puzzle, to search for clues.

No, I don't know all the names on the missing bricks. The directory book near the Olympic monument disappeared from its stand years ago. If someone ever organizes a reunion of all the brick purchasers, we could have the name hunt double as a carnival cake walk.

And leave it to Bubba to dare a comparison between the proposed library statue and Kadie the Cow on Manchester Expressway. How many visitors to Fort Benning have driven by that cow over the years, and decided Columbus is the dairy land of the South?

(So why don't we move Kadie and the calf to the front of the Columbus Public Library? There's all that pastureland to enjoy -- much better than the Best Buy parking lot.)

We have time for one more message - this one about the closing of some local supermarkets:

I can't believe you didn't insert some kind of joke about the grocery store chain closing it's PC store and the movie "Because of Winn-Dixie". You must be slipping.

Uh-oh -- that's not going to help me in the "lazy" part of our current Big Blog Question, will it?

But seriously: the recent movie "Because of Winn-Dixie" did cross my mind for Wednesday's blog - but I didn't want to steal a line my friend Lisa Napoli used on public radio's "Marketplace." When Winn-Dixie filed bankruptcy papers in February, she wrote it really was "Because of Wal-Mart."

COMING FRIDAY: Several more e-mails concerning our Big Blog Question.... Including a second one from "A.R." who started all the fuss....

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.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Instant Message to Holt Service Company: One of your bricks is missing. I hope no one's holding it for ransom - or threatening to throw it through your office window in an act of vengeance.

What I'm talking about is the ring of "Olympic bricks" outside Golden Park, which marked the 1996 Olympic softball site. In the last few days, four bricks with names on them mysteriously have disappeared -- including one in a series for Holt Service Company. Did some family member need it to pin down a picnic tablecloth?

The largest empty section is one where it appears three bricks were removed. The area seems big enough to hold two named bricks and a smaller "filler." This had better not be a publicity stunt, and replaced with some radio station's logo....

If you're wondering what's the big deal about these bricks, consider this. People paid $100 nine years ago to have their name or message put on one brick in South Commons. That's $100 for a brick measuring roughly six inches by two inches -- which still makes it more expensive per square foot than most Columbus houses.

Each brick was supposed to be a lasting memorial of the people who supported the 1996 Olympics. So if someone stole one of them, it's at least discourteous - and at worst, someone who jogs after dark like me could wind up with a face full of other bricks.

The idea of "brick fundraisers" quickly spread after the Atlanta/Columbus Olympics. You'll find named bricks outside the Phenix City Amphitheater, in a special section on the grounds of Hardaway High School - and if you hand Mike Gaymon a big enough check, your name can be in front of the Chamber of Commerce office.

So why do you think someone would steal these scattered bricks from around the Olympic monument....

+ Is this something new in scavenger hunts -- because the new city street signs are welded on too tightly?

+ Are local residents running out of unique and unusual things to sell on eBay?

+ Could Detroit Pistons fans be taking them, to wave "bricks" at their televisions when Tim Duncan of San Antonio shoots free throws?

+ We can't blame it on local Republicans - since the bricks for President Clinton and Vice President Gore are still there.

(Now now, you cynics -- I don't want to hear anyone claim the missing bricks will add a local feel to that statue outside the Columbus Public Library....)

(CLASSIC BLOG: Read more about the Olympic bricks in our entry of 18 Jul 04.)

E-MAIL UPDATE: Tuesday's flaming message from A.R. (the subject of our latest BIG BLOG QUESTION) brought several rapid-fire responses. We're standing aside for this one from Justin:


First a few quick observations about AR.....(if that is his real name)

1. Obviously not a Southerner!

2. I thought the Democrats were supposed to be the bitter ones.

3. To big a coward to use his name (or maybe you just did that to protect his identity, we don't want to get the blog mafia on him just yet)

4. Obviously has to much time on his hands since he can take an hour out of his day to write a letter telling you how worthless you are.

5. He's certainly a "Republican (who isn't about beating Bibles into peoples' heads)", that or he skipped the whole section of the Bible about judging people.

I find your blog amusing and informing about parts of Columbus (if you have moved away, like me, you can't get to much info from the Ledger or TV stations on the web). I'd give your blog higher marks if it wasn't for your misguided comments about Moe's.

Keep up the good work and let me leave AR with this.....


A.R. indeed are the writer's real initials - and since he signed his message that way, I let that stand. But I'm puzzled about something. How does Justin know A.R. isn't a Southerner? Is it because the word "y'all" never appeared in his e-mail once?

So there's a "blog mafia" out there? Is that the proper term for all the bloggers who went after Dan Rather last year? And here I actually thought those folks were Republicans....

Another blog reader leaped to our defense:

Dear Richie: I tried to post a comment on your big blog question about what a sweet and charming gentleman you are, but I couldn't figure out how to do it.  So I thought I would ask you to tell me what I'm doing wrong. Then I realized that, if your disgruntled reader realizes that I'm too---mmm---technologically challenged to figure out how to post a comment, he might think I'm a little too dimwitted for my opinion to really count. So, for what it's worth, I think you are a lovely person. Love & kisses, M

Awwwwww.... oh yes. I should point out to A.R. that this writer is a Columbus attorney. She may not know how to leave online comments, but I'd guess she knows something about "defamation of character" lawsuits.

Now some quick items before we pound the gavel and stand in recess:

+ Winn-Dixie announced it will sell or close one-third of its supermarkets nationwide, including the store on U.S. 280 in Phenix City. The corporate office at least could have warned us - by changing the name to "Loss-Dixie" or something.

(Phenix City lost a FoodMax store on the 280 Bypass four years ago. Now this Winn-Dixie closing could leave giant empty spaces for supermarkets on opposite sides of the highway -- or maybe Cadillac Jack's nightclub will get competition from a "Lexus Larry's.")

+ The mystery of who bought a nine million dollar Lotto South jackpot ticket in Americus continued for a third day. Maybe the winner still doesn't realize he's won - and Millard Fuller might not check his tickets until he finishes the Jimmy Carter Work Project in Michigan.

+ Danica Tisdale gave several farewell interviews, before giving up the Miss Georgia title this weekend. She'll go to Emory University this fall, to obtain a doctorate in "women's studies." Single guys who watch this week's pageant can claim the same thing -- only without the doctorate.

+ Former Kendrick High School football star Dell McGee was named the team's new head coach. How do you think the Kendrick principal announced this to the team? Did he say, "Dudes, you're getting a Dell" ?!

+ The Columbus Civic Center introduced the managers of the city's new Atlantic Indoor Football League team. Former Wardogs manager and broadcaster D.J. Jones said the team will need to be active in the community. The more players they can recruit at Baptist churches, the better.

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, June 21, 2005


A large crowd gathered at the Columbus Public Library auditorium Monday night, for an art debate. On this night, the issue was a sculpture. Maybe this will lead to a series - and next month we'll debate bluegrass music.

The crowd gathered to tell the Muscogee County Library Board what it thought of a proposed three-story-tall statue for the front of the main library. For all of you complaining the statue is too tall - maybe the board heard your complaints about the library sign along Macon Road being too small.

One woman told the Library Board Albert Paley's "Transformation" statue is not what "we in the South particularly like." I hope this woman takes the next step, and calls for tearing down that obelisk in the middle of Broadway - you know, the Confederate Soldiers' Memorial.

(So people in the South don't want pointy things outside buildings? Maybe we've made progress against the Ku Klux Klan after all....)

Some people in the audience seemed to be local artists, who complained they never knew the Library Board was looking for artwork to put outside the main library. Perhaps they assumed what many of us assumed - that a strip mall was going there instead.

But "Transformation" had its supporters at the public hearing. One man said what Columbus Councilor Red McDaniel might consider "scrap" could be "meaningful to others." Just ask any couple with an old, junky-looking car in their garage....

Another man told the Library Board Albert Paley's sculptures are NOT mere scrap - because "every metal piece is cast, and either hand-forged or fabricated." To which some skeptics muttered under their breath, "Yeah, like counterfeit money."

One of the biggest complaints about "Transformation" is the cost - $250,000 in tax money. But Library Board minutes obtained by your blog show board members estimated last year an entrance statue would cost $300,000 or more. They saved the public 17 percent, and it's still not good enough....

The public hearing ended with the Library Board deciding to look at alternatives to the Transformation statue - and paying for it with private funds. You won't mind if there's a 25-foot-tall AFLAC duck staring at Macon Road drivers, will you?

One crusader against the statue has suggested in recent days the Muscogee County Library Board violated Georgia open meetings laws - for instance, by holding meetings in offices. But if advance notice is posted somewhere, what's the violation? If the agenda says they're meeting at a Waffle House, go have it "covered."

Perhaps lost in all this debate is the "Transformation" artist himself. We checked the web site of Albert Paley Monday, and learned his works are in all sorts of noteworthy places:

+ Gate work at the entrance to Florida State University. So this explains the opposition from Georgia Tech graduates....

+ The High Museum in Atlanta. For the critics, of course, "high" is the key word -- in more ways than one.

+ The Birmingham Museum of Art. Are Columbus residents suddenly too big to accept an artist who's liked in Alabama?

+ The White House. I don't know which President accepted Paley's work -- but remember, Republicans built our current budget deficit.

All this leads to an obvious question. Would the Columbus Museum take Albert Paley's statue, if the Library Board doesn't? Just put it amid the trees down the hill from the back door, and it could blend right in.

Perhaps the Columbus Public Library stumbled upon the answer to this entire debate over the weekend. More than 3,000 people attended the free "theater under the stars" movie - so simply leave the movie screen up outside the entrance, and play cartoons 24 hours a day.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Hold on tightly to your mouse for this one....

Dear Sir,

As a new Columbus resident, I was interested to see if anyone here has started a BLOG. To my disappointment, I was only able to find one. As a Republican (who isn't about beating Bibles into peoples' heads and going to war with any country who looks at us funny) I was disappointed at how you referred to the lot of us as "stupid".

Upon scrolling down and reading more of your entries, I came to a conclusion. You're a very bitter person. Probably because you can't find a living, breathing human female to go out with you. Hmmm, I wonder why? Could it be the bitterness? Maybe that's why you sit alone at your desk writing this BLOG. Perhaps as a child you were coddled too much by your over-bearing mother, or not loved enough by your father. I don't know, and I have better things to do than speculate about your apparent unhappy childhood.

My point is, it's a tragedy that your BLOG was the only one Google popped up when searching for Columbus BLOG sites, other than Sweigart's 3rd Brigade BLOG on, a worthy BLOG to communicate the daily happenings of our troops giving their lives for ours. It's even more tragic to think that if someone were new to this area and looking for insight into this growing city, they would find this BLOG. Now, I know the internet is here as yet another outlet for fat, lazy Americans such as yourself to complain about their indulgent, materialist lifestyles, but isn't there any room in cyberspace for some people to actually make a good contribution? I guess not.

And so it seems yet another cancer has developed on our democracy which serves only to destroy it as time passes. My hope is that you will post this email, as I'm sure you will (if only to chastise me in return), and someone will read this and say to themselves that there is way too much negativity in our city, country, and world to let someone like you go unchecked.

I look forward to that.


OK then, all together now: If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands (clap, clap)....

A.R. apparently is upset by one of our Sunday jokes concerning REPUBLICAN Herman Cain's new book, "They Think You're Stupid." That's his title, not mine. And if he suspects that's why most Johnny Isakson supporters voted the way they did last year, then A.R. should avoid buying any of Cain's "Godfather's Pizza."

If I heard Herman Cain correctly, he says BOTH main political parties consider certain loyal voters stupid - the Republicans and the Democrats. Just listen to the party leaders, if any members talk about voting for Ralph Nader or a Libertarian.

But I digress: perhaps A.R. is right with his analysis about why I "sit alone" writing this blog. But perhaps there's another reason - such as the "no pets" clause in my apartment lease.

Yes, there are other blogs in the Columbus area. I stumbled upon a couple of new discoveries online the other night, including one written by the wife of a Fort Benning officer. There's plenty of happy, positive stuff there - about family trips to Arizona and Europe, but it's happy and positive.

I could go farther in responding to A.R. - but I don't think I will for now. I thank him for his "constructive criticism." And I hope he enjoys his new job working either for the Columbus Chamber of Commerce, or the "Committee to Re-Elect Mayor Poydasheff."

Instead, THE BIG BLOG QUESTION is taking A.R.'s comments directly to you, the reader. Am I a fat, lazy, bitter blogger who's destroying our democracy? If it will help in determining your answer: I don't drink bitter lager....

(BLOGGER'S NOTE: We're planning a special entry on the "fat" part of this complaint. Watch for that in a few days.)

Now let's see what other cancer cells we can spread in the summer sunshine:

+ The Muscogee County School Board voted 5-4 to hire a district "Communications Specialist." I can see the need for this - because Superintendent John Phillips has had trouble communicating with the board from time to time.

(Some school board members said the district should be spending money to save the DARE anti-drug program, instead of hiring a Communications Specialist with a $66,000 salary. But if this specialist is such a great communicator, can't he or she tell the students to avoid drugs?)

+ The "Daughters of the U.S. Army" presented a $250,000 check to help build Fort Benning's National Infantry Museum. This group donated money it's been collecting since World War II. You'd think some of those old pennies might be valuable enough to double this gift....

+ Rehearsals began at the RiverCenter for this year's Miss Georgia pageant. WRBL reported the contestants are NOT allowed to use cell phones all week! What is this, "Survivor: Columbus" or something?

+ The Columbus Civic Center staff confirmed arena football will return next spring - with a team in the Atlantic Indoor Football League. In the lingo of the sport, this sounds like a swap from "A-F-2" down to about "A-F-4."

+ Instant Message to NBC-38: What happened to "Wake Up Columbus" at 5:30 a.m.? Does Reggie Richards need beauty sleep for her radio job?

BIG PREDICTION: I normally wouldn't call it this early, but I'm truly leaning toward "Miss Warner Robins" to win the Miss Georgia pageant. In fact, I wouldn't mind if she leaned on me for awhile....

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.

Sunday, June 19, 2005


When I turned on The 700 Club on NBC-38 Friday, they were talking about a book called, "They Think You're Stupid." What could this be - Pat Robertson's tell-all personal message to his donors?

But then they introduced the author, and the name rang a bell. "They Think You're Stupid" is a new book by Herman Cain, last year's U.S. Senate candidate from Georgia. So that title could have referred to most of the Republican voters....

Herman Cain is still a no-holds-barred speaker. He corrected the interviewer on The 700 Club, to say he finished an "IMPRESSIVE second" in last year's Republican primary for Senate. Cain apparently doesn't realize on this show, you're supposed to give glory to God and not yourself.

(In a way, Herman Cain DOES have a point. It was impressive that he beat Rep. Mac Collins last year -- especially since all sorts of Democrats were unable to do that for years.)

But about that book: Herman Cain says the two major political parties "think you're stupid" by assuming you'll be loyal to them, no matter what they do. So which party's political sin is worse - locking people up without charges for years in Cuba? Or committing adultery with a White House intern and lying about it?

Herman Cain contends large numbers of voters have lost all loyalty to the main parties. He calls those voters "politically homeless." Well, at least he doesn't call them tramps....

The "politically homeless" don't feel comfortable with the growing division of "red states" and "blue states." So maybe they round out the picturesque U.S. flag -- by being white with fear over both of them.

But Herman Cain is NOT politically homeless. He's still a Republican, and thinks the G.O.P. can gain "homeless" voters by emphasizing core issues such as health care and taxes. Apparently the pasting of Bill Clinton photos next to Democratic candidates doesn't work anymore.

The interviewer on The 700 Club said Herman Cain sounded like a man who wanted to run for office again. Cain's reply was, "to be determined." Hmmmm - can you imagine Cain running against Governor Sonny Perdue next year, and actually endorsing the 1956 state flag?

By the way, the foreward to Herman Cain's book is written by former Senator Zell Miller. Perhaps Cain will arrange that meeting so many political watchers want to see - a duel with pistols between Miller and Chris Matthews.

(Isn't this amazing -- a longtime Democrat, writing a foreward for a Republican candidate's book?! Zell Miller has zigzagged so much, they might take his name off north Georgia's "Zell Miller Highway" to discourage drunk driving.)

I guess all of this begs a question: do the political parties think I'M stupid? That really doesn't matter in the final analysis - because I already realize I'm stupid at some things. But you're probably tired of me writing about dating....

E-MAIL UPDATE: "TRAMPS?" was the title of a message in response to Friday's entry. But it goes farther:

Dear Richard,

It's appalling that the government still refers to people as tramps. I wonder how long ago that was written? Believe me, I definitely know the difference between a hustler and a needy person. There are "hustlers" in all walks of life! If that man had asked you for money to go into the package store that would have been different. I guess it was the woman at the Spectrum who treated that man like a stray dog who got to me the most. I also realize that not being able to read is a huge problem. I understand that being able to read is the basis for all other learning success in a classroom as well as in other areas of life. The point I was trying to make is that the last thing on a persons mind when they are hungry is finding a book to read. I guess the Mayor would suggest the book "Green Eggs and Ham"
to a person asking him for food.

Great Blog, keep it up!


A co-worker wondered the same thing, Eva, about how long ago the Columbus city code on "tramps" was written. I'm guessing it came from the era of Charlie Chaplin's "Little Tramp" - because Disney's "Lady and the Tramp" was a lot more positive.

I've met both "hustlers" and street people - and I think more of them have been hustlers. Take the man standing outside Villa Nova package store one weeknight a couple of weeks ago. He asked for money. I asked why. "I want a beer," he said. At least he was honest - much too honest.

But there ARE some street people who consider reading important. I picked up one in downtown Atlanta years ago, who started bragging to me in the car about reading Newt Gingrich's "Contract With America" at the library. He said this without any prodding from me - and no right-wing talk show host on the car radio.

But hold on - would Mayor Poydasheff really suggest "Green Eggs and Ham" to a needy people? If the beggar reads that, his brain will be fed for a day. Give him a Nigella Lawson cookbook, and he might eat for a lifetime -- if her steamy pictures don't distract him.

It happens that I was stopped by another, uh, person in need Saturday night. That makes two in five days - but this was in Phenix City, so I wasn't sure if I was allowed to make a citizen's arrest and drag the person to the police station.

It was Saturday night jogging time, and a middle-aged woman sitting on a bench along the Phenix City Riverwalk stopped me as I ran by. She mumbled something about needing "a couple of dollars to get back to Opelika." At that price, I assume it wasn't by taxi.

"I don't bring any money with me when I run," I told the woman as I jogged in place. My car was more than a mile away by foot -- and if I'd offered to take this woman to a bus station, she might have needed until sunrise to make the trip.

(Besides, a concert was in progress at the Phenix City Amphitheater not far away. Couldn't any of the hundreds of people there help her? Or was she left on this bench by a relative, because she considered the music simply too loud?)

We have one other e-mail, which takes issue with our Friday restaurant review:

If there is one thing that should get you kicked off this "blogsphere" it should be for criticizing a fine establishment like Moe's! While I have never been to the one in Columbus the restaurant in west Knoxville is a fine place.

Of course we look at it for different reasons. I take my family there because....

a. It is loud so the kids won't bother anyone else.

b. You can make huge mess with out many problems.

c. Kids eat free so when the wife and I split a burrito we get out the door for $12 (unless alcohol is involved).

Truly one of my new favorite places.

Hope things are well. Say hey to everyone in Columbus.


Ouch - please don't kick me off the blogosphere, Justin. I might punch a hole in its ozone layer....

Justin raises a good point, about looking at Moe's Southwest Grill through different perspectives. I didn't see any families with children there on the weekend night I visited. But I did see a middle-aged man with a braided ponytail reaching his waist - so is this place REALLY for children?

I didn't realize "kids eat free" at Moe's. The billboard on Veterans Parkway says the children's items "start from $2.99" - for dishes such as a taco called "Puff the Magic Dragon." You'd think a restaurant chain like this would cut a deal with "Dragon Tales" on PBS instead.

By the way, we need to correct what that billboard on Veterans Parkway said. After another drive-by Saturday, its mini-review called Moe's Southwest Grill "new concept of the year." Perhaps the "concept" was putting a donut name on a burrito....

Now a quick trip around a very busy weekend:

+ An estimated 15,000 people attended "Family Day in the Park" at Cooper Creek Park. But Columbus Police had to break up several fights - so maybe next year the Foxie-105 and WOKS listeners will have separate stages.

+ The Columbus Public Library staged a "movie under the stars" outside after dark. The turnout was so big that people had to park near the old Sears store on Macon Road - marking the first time that's happened in years, without people boarding a bus for Biloxi.

(But whose idea was it to have the movie screen face Macon Road? Talk about a distraction for drivers -- or is this simply getting us ready for that 30-foot-tall statue?)

+ The band "Wet Willie" headlined a concert at the Phenix City Amphitheater - and the crowd was much smaller than for John Conlee's show last year. Perhaps the group should have performed a few weeks ago, when the Amphitheater actually WAS wet from flooding.

+ Earlier in the day, ministers gathered at the "P.C. Amp" for prayer. It was timed for the 12:00 noon weekly storm siren test in Columbus - so I guess these Christian preachers won't object if the local Muslim mosque starts blaring prayer calls five times a day.

(The timing of this prayer is quite interesting, because the Bible speaks of sirens in several -- oh, wait a minute. Those are the Cyrenians....)

+ The "Real Time" telecast on NBC-38 featured Cascade Hills Church Pastor Bill Purvis giving a Mother's Day message. Yes, on Father's Day weekend. When will we hear about dads, around Thanksgiving?

(It could have been worse, I suppose. At the church I attend, the pastor didn't give a Father's Day message. He spoke instead on "The Spirit of Prophecy" - and mistakenly said Germany still uses the mark for money.)

+ Instant Message to Warm Springs Road Storage: Why would anyone need to store a road? Can you really keep heavy pavement on upper shelves?

BURKARD'S BEST BETS: Gas for $1.96 a gallon at the 15th and Veterans Parkway Summit (but hurry, the price jumped nearby).... 32-ounce drinks for 49 cents at RaceTrac on Victory Drive.... FREE sleeping over the Chattahoochee, on the 14th Street bridge (I saw someone doing it)....

(BLOGGER'S NOTE: Due to schedule commitments, we'll have to skip a Monday blog entry. We'll try again Tuesday.)

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, June 17, 2005


(BLOGGER'S NOTE: You may find this humorous, serious, or a little of both - but from time to time, we'll offer things to reflect upon as we keep the seventh-day Sabbath.)

We had a denomination-wide fast for church zeal a couple of weeks ago - so I decided to do what the Bible says and "stir one another up to good works." It happened unexpectedly, as I walked into church with a wet umbrella on a rainy day.

"That works much better if you open it," Mrs. S. told me as I walked by. In this denomination, zeal means being obedient. So I opened it - and stood in the middle of a church hall with an open golf umbrella. Thankfully, we don't believe in those "umbrella indoors" bad luck tales.

Trouble was, one section of the umbrella was a bit loose. "Let me fix that," Mrs. S. said. Aha, another chance to show my zeal.

"This is God's sacred Sabbath day, remember?!" I reminded her in a big voice like top preachers would use from a pulpit before thousands of people.


"We don't work on God's holy, sacred Sabbath day, remember?!?!" Now I sounded a bit louder and more urgent.

"Richard," Mrs. S. answered somewhat sternly, "shut up and put your umbrella away."

I've learned over the years what to do at moments like this - shut up and walk off. That way, there's no prolonged argument. And maybe the other person with the last word might wind up feeling a bit guilty about winning.

I put the umbrella and other things away where I sit at church, and decided to turn my zeal back to the obedient direction. Mrs. S. told me to shut up, so I wouldn't say anything until she said I could again. She's married, while I'm single - so I pulled rank in reverse.

Several people came up to me in the next couple of hours. There was a crisis with audio for a DVD presentation. Someone wanted a copy of a taped song. And I was asked to sing a solo for a special service the next day. I handled it all with gestures, trying not to say a word - but my gestures to explain who told me to shut up didn't work.

"Do you have a voice problem?" the presiding elder asked - but of course, I didn't. I had a zealousness problem. Attempting to speak up for right godly thinking, I did a "three and out" - three sentences, and disqualified from saying any more.

I hurriedly picked a song Saturday evening for a Sunday solo. But Sunday morning I realized there was a problem. Mrs. S. had told me to shut up the day before -- and the Bible says you shouldn't "bring a gift to the altar" until you settle disagreements with your neighbor. To make matters worse, I don't know sign language.

What if Mrs. S. didn't show up for church Sunday? That was a real possibility, as she's on a transplant waiting list and has several health problems. So I stashed a CD in my case as a backup plan - and to be really, really ethical, it wasn't mine.

I showed up for church with my song, the backup CD, and an open space for submitting the music announcement. About 15 minutes after I walked in, Mrs. S. walked in - and I walked up to her.

"How are you?" she asked.

"Convicted," I answered.

"Convicted?!" For all she knew, I might have been arrested Saturday night by the Marion County Sheriff.

The previous day, we'd heard a short message at church about "the law of kindness" -- and that message is what convicted me. In my effort to be zealous, I failed to be kind with my words. I explained this to Mrs. S., and asked for her forgiveness over the umbrella incident.

"What?!?!" she still seemed puzzled. "I totally forgot about that!" When I insisted, she forgave me and hugged me. "I was joking!" she explained -- what strikes some people as strange, in a denomination which takes the "false witness" commandment rather seriously.

In all, things ended well. Several people liked my Sunday solo in the special service, including Mrs. S. As I told her after the service when she complimented me, "Thank you for allowing me to sing it."

COMING SUNDAY:> A Georgia politician writes about.... being stupid?!....

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.


"Best new concept!" reads the glowing review on a Veterans Parkway billboard, near Hughston Orthopedic Hospital. Before you ask - no, I don't have the money to buy this sort of space to promote a blog....

This mini-review is posted for Moe's Southwest Grill, which recently joined the crowd of restaurants around Columbus Park Crossing. There's something for almost every taste around there now - and for you exceptions, I suggest writing T.G.I. Friday's personally.

The billboard persuaded me to visit Moe's Southwest Grill the other night for dinner -- but the restaurant wasn't quite what I expected. The first disappointment came when I drove by, and found Moe's sharing a building with Guthrie's. The Olive Garden and Carrabba's wouldn't stand for that - and, well, they've got connections.

The parking lot around Moe's Southwest Grill suggested it was a busy night - yet I was able to park right by the door. Only later did I realize people parked there to attend the Columbus Park Crossing theatres. It's nice to see people get some exercise after sitting for two hours munching on popcorn.

Only a couple of booths were occupied inside Moe's -- and in a way that was the second disappointment. I brought a magazine to read while waiting for dinner, and wound up going through a line which seemed suspiciously like it was borrowed from Subway.

You need to know the lingo at Moe's Southwest Grill before you go to the counter. Some of the items have names which left me baffled:

+ "Blabbermouth Soup" - the name of a lime margarita. Well, I suppose if you drink enough of them at a party....

+ "The Other Lewinsky" - a taco dish. For all I've heard about Monica Lewinsky, I never heard about her having a brother or sister in Texas.

+ "Joey Bag of Donuts" - the name for a burrito dish. This place doesn't serve real doughnuts, and the signs never tell you why Joey has a dish named after him while Moe doesn't.

A paper menu I picked up as I left Moe's explains the menu has "names that made Moe laugh." Was he grilling at the time -- or roasting some funny leaves?

That's the third disappointment about Moe's Southwest Grill. I didn't find anything grilling behind the counter. My order of chicken fajitas (oops, an "Alfredo Garcia") revealed diced chicken was in a plastic bag. They claim the ingredients are fresh, not frozen - but at least Blimpie cuts the meat after you order it.

For $6.99 I received enough tortillas, chicken and extra trimmings to build three stuffed chicken fajitas. At a Mexican restaurant such as El Vaquero, I probably would have received more for the same price - and not carried by me on a bland plastic tray.

With a large soft drink, my evening at Moe's cost about nine dollars - and at the end of the counter line, there was a tip jar. Either this is for serving the alcoholic beverages on the drink menu, or this "Southwest Grill" may employ real Mexican immigrants.

If Moe's Southwest Grill has a lookalike restaurant in Columbus, it's Que Pasa Burrito Company on Sidney Simons Boulevard. The food at both places left me full, but in different ways. Que Pasa keeps you waiting longer for a burrito, while Moe's keeps more money away from your wallet.

The Moe's menu suggests the owner doesn't take things too seriously - and perhaps that was my problem. I went expecting a sit-down, big-menu "Southwest Grill" with fancy Tex-Mex dishes. I wound up with a high-priced, inside-joke-filled Taco Bell.

By the way, I guessed an eclectic place such as Moe's might be based in Austin, Texas -- and I was wrong. Its headquarters is in Atlanta. And the only "southwest" locations it has in metro Atlanta are in Fayetteville and Newnan -- none around Greenbriar Mall.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Several items filled the InBox Thursday - and amazingly, none of them complained about Evander Holyfield being booted off that ballroom dancing show. First up:

I am still chuckling to myself as I write this note to you.

The demolition of the King MIlls happened last summer and only now it is noticed? Grown humans mourn the loss? If my parents cherished me as these do-gooders cherished the property in question, I would never have made it out of infancy.

Where were/are these people? They are tasked to preserve a near-sacred heritage and they can't be bothered to check on the very existence/condition of major artifacts? Is the Civic Center still standing? Just checking.

I also love the irony in the punishment for the destruction of sacred property in Muscogee County - $1,000. Man, back in the day, the penalties discussed in the "cow"napping of Kadie were far more serious. Last I heard, Columbus wasn't exactly a Hindu stronghold.

So, if the "art" is placed in front of the library, could a benefactor destroy it and pay a paltry $1,000? I would bet that a collection taken would more than cover the cost.

Ed Joyce

Valley Village, CA

You'll be pleased to know, Ed, the Columbus Civic Center still was in its proper spot as of Thursday night. But "Larry the Cable Guy" is performing there Sunday, so anything could still happen....

Ed's referring to a story in the Ledger-Enquirer this week about the demolition last year of a historic downtown mill on First Avenue. I guess preservationists raised a fuss about it - but I personally never heard any complaints. There's no e-mailer called "Is Our City Old" to promote such things.

No, Columbus isn't turning Hindu quite yet - but the mention of Kadie raises a thought. What if we put that cow in front of the Public Library, instead of the 30-foot-tall statue? Simply add a giant-sized book about Chick-Fil-A for Kadie to read, and we could settle everything.

Speaking of that proposed statue - here's our next message:

Columbus, Georgia will always be ruled by groups of a few people, such as Library boards, etc. The demographics there, due in part to Fort Benning, are too great to achieve a popular vote on any issue that can benefit the entire populous. The "Powers That Be In CSG", over the 37 years I lived there, always seemed to be trying to promote themselves as smarter than they are, or need to be - something I think has to do with the Civil War! Have you ever noticed the way some of the "higher ups" speak in an accent that seems to be a "SOUTHERNER TRYING TO TALK LIKE A NORTHERNER?" Where did they come from?

Hell, add another couple of pennies to the local sales tax, and see what these people can do, er uh, screw up! I'll leave you be for the time being, because I've got to see what the politicians here can do about building the Birmingham Dome! Seems the PTB are the same everywhere! Let's form a


Stuck in traffic in Birmingham!


I say they erect the proposed library "Statue-Ask" at Chef Lee'sand leave the new Library alone!

They've been talking about a domed stadium in Birmingham for years. They've talked so much, in fact, that the XFL went out of business -- and Alabama moved all its home games to Tuscaloosa.

Come to think of it, "Stuckey," I have noticed some people in Columbus who come across as "smarter than they are, or need to be." They seem to call WRCG's TalkLine every couple of days.

But what do you mean - Columbus leaders are "Southerners trying to talk like Northerners"?! If that's not a slap in Councilor Mimi Woodson's face, I don't know what is....

By the way, about that statue: the Muscogee County Library Board announced Monday it will hold a special public meeting Monday night about "art in the library." We encourage Chef Lee to come and offer his ideas - to help Columbus become a Taoism stronghold, instead of Hindu.

Our last e-mail came in response to Thursday's story about the man seeking help on Fourth Street:

Dear Richard,

I can't help but wonder if the beggar ever got anything to eat? I would have to say to the employee of the Spectrum "So what that he is a beggar?, he is also a human being in need!"

That poor man must have been so embarrassed. Actually I'd better correct the statement, that man is not "A beggar" he is a human being who has had to resort to begging in order to survive. Calling someone "a beggar" somehow removes them from the human equation. It's very easy to forget when you have money and a place to live how lucky you are to have those things. There are people in all communities that life has kicked down and won't let back up. And so many people are just a paycheck away from homelessness and hunger.

The Mayor is not unlike most community leaders who view these people as less than human (and he must if he doesn't see them). It reminds me of when The Democratic Convention was in Atlanta and the city leaders were concerned with how it would look to the world if they could see the homeless
people roaming around. So what did they do? They found places for them to stay until the convention was over with and then kicked them back out on the street!

The Mayor's "Read Every Book" program although sweet, is so outdated when compared to the real problems Columbus is facing.


Eva Lee

I appreciate your concern, Eva. But please note when I walked out of Spectrum with that man Tuesday night, he did NOT ask me to go back inside to buy a hot dog and drink for him. If he had, I would have done it. But I've met several "beggars" who wouldn't wait for me at the door - but run off like I was on Candid Camera.

Perhaps it isn't nice to call such people "beggars" - so it was interesting to learn Thursday that the Columbus city code has a section about the people who ask you for money. The code calls them "tramps" instead.

To quote the Columbus city code: "Any person who shall go about from door to door within the corporate limits of the city for the purpose of begging for his or her benefit.... with no fixed place of abode, shall be known and arrested as a tramp." Of course, the man I met Tuesday wasn't going "door to door." He stopped me on a sidewalk.

Based on this portion of Columbus city code, any homeless person who asks you for cigarettes or food can be arrested. So if someone asks you for help, first ask him to show his mortgage or apartment lease - and if he can't, try to drag him to the Public Safety Center. Suddenly you'll appear crazier than he might really be.

Hopefully Eva realizes there's a difference between the truly poor, downtrodden people of a city and the "street hustlers." It's often easy to spot the difference. Needy people will let you buy them food or accept a bed for the night. Street hustlers suddenly won't want that - and they only take cash, not checks.

But hold on here - isn't reading one of the "real problems" Columbus faces? Surveys have shown large numbers of adults are illiterate. If they could read the disclaimers and chances on lottery tickets, they'd save a lot of money not buying any.

We invite all of you who can read to consider final thoughts from Thursday:

+ The Georgia Public Service Commission held a hearing on changing phone service in the 706 area code. You'd have to dial ten digits, even to call a neighbor across the street. Shouldn't some of us receive an exemption, for not owning a fax machine?

+ Heckler and Koch revealed its Columbus "gun factory" is now going to be a distribution center, with only 40 jobs instead of the promised hundreds. How many jobs were lost on the Columbus Chamber of Commerce staff remains to be seen....

(The OneGeorgia Authority has approved a $300,000 grant to help secure the Heckler and Koch site in the Muscogee Technology Park. That comes to about $7,000 per employee - so I'm going to assume these workers belong to a union.)

+ Instant Message to that woman I recently called M.: Your silence since our visit is saying it all -- with no phone calls and no e-mails. Did I get my hopes too high for us? Or did I pick a bad letter of the alphabet?

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.