Sunday, April 30, 2006


Saturday marked an anniversary for me -- nine years since I moved to Columbus from south metro Atlanta. I drove away from airport noise. But I moved into a home so close to U.S. 280 that noisy motorcycles sometimes can be even worse when I'm sleeping.

The moving van beat my car to Columbus nine years ago, as I didn't know my way around town very well yet. I moved into an apartment with no lights, so I spent my first night at the old "Heart of Columbus Motel" downtown -- now the EconoLodge on Veterans Parkway. Wow, 25 dollars for a room went a long way then....

This day in 1997 was spent unpacking, organizing, and buying curtains for windows which didn't even have pull-down shades. It felt nice having a Wal-Mart store only a few miles away on the 280 Bypass -- until it fled up the bypass a few miles more, as if South Columbus was too much of a bother.

Georgia Power insisted my electricity was on, yet the lights wouldn't come on for the first couple of days. I felt like a true single guy -- eating at a different fast-food restaurant every night for awhile....

(The answer to the electricity problem came on the third night -- when I discovered a fuse panel in the kitchen, hiding plainly on the wall next to the air conditioner. Like the commercial says, one touch DOES change everything.)

When I moved to Columbus in April 1997, I honestly wasn't sure how long I would stay here. Some of my friends in metro Atlanta actually wondered if I would commute from there, to work in Columbus. The strange thing is that they still live there - and now drive HERE to attend church from time to time.

I suspected I would miss my old home area when I moved to Columbus - but it turns out I haven't traveled back to metro Atlanta much at all. And I certainly don't miss metro Atlanta traffic much on Friday afternoons, around 4:00 p.m....

But then again, in the last nine years some parts of the area have become late-afternoon bottlenecks for drivers. There's U.S. 280 in Phenix City, between Wal-Mart and Kmart. There's 4th Street around the Civic Center. And you should have seen Broadway Saturday night, with all the extra Riverfest traffic.

One tradition I have is an "anniversary run," recalling my first jog in Columbus April 29, 1997. It has to be downtown on the streets, as that run was. For all I knew back then, the Riverwalk might have been solely for members of the River Club.

That first run downtown was around 1.5 miles. Some anniversary runs since then have been downright lousy. In 2002, I waddled up Broadway and only made it half-a-mile nonstop -- not even getting out of the Historic District to reach true "downtown." I'm convinced sometimes guys can feel as bloated as women....

But regular blog readers know my running has made a remarkable turnaround in the last couple of years. I'm happy to report Saturday night's anniversary run went a record three miles nonstop! And even better, I avoided the Riverfest area - so this could not be called a Pig Jog.

Running downtown anywhere can be an adventure. There's no set course, as I honor all traffic lights - and I'm pleased to report some Fort Benning soldiers and their spouses actually did it as well at 13th Street.

Of course, construction in downtown Columbus these days can complicate "urban joggers" like me. My biggest hazard Saturday night was construction materials on Front Avenue near a new city parking garage. And what was that rented device doing in a disabled parking spot on Broadway?

The sidewalk traffic wasn't too bad for a Saturday night downtown, and not even for Riverfest weekend. But when I ran north of 12th Street on Broadway, there was a lot more room. Even joggers can be like stock cars - and work better in clean air.

Saturday's ninth anniversary ended late in the evening, with fireworks over the Chattahoochee River. If the Riverfest organizers will please tell the crew to fire higher next April - so the explosions clear the treetops blocking my view from the apartment window....

BLOG UPDATE: That's a nice long empty railroad track on the cover of Mayor Bob Poydasheff's proposed fiscal 2007 budget. So where's the campaign promise to bring Amtrak service to Columbus?

The mayor submitted his proposed budget to a special Columbus Council meeting Friday. Supporters of Jim Witherington's mayoral campaign had to be disappointed, when none of the Councilors snickered after reading it.

Mayor Bob Poydasheff says the proposed fiscal 2007 budget of $191 million is about "making do with less" - and he adds: "Some people will walk...." Now I'm wondering if he had something to do with the recent jump in gas prices.....

TV reports were confusing about how many Columbus city workers could lose their jobs under the proposed budget. One report said 45, another said 66 -- and a few cynics wish they could leave a couple of Columbus Council seats unfilled in this
year's election.

Mayor Poydasheff promises NO job cuts will be made in public safety. But the Columbus Parks Department could lose 32 positions, and might have to cut back from two soccer seasons to one. That's no big deal, though - as white folks will learn from Hispanic players, and simply occupy a field on weekends for games.

The proposed city budget sets aside about $600,000 to prepare for new soldiers at Fort Benning. I'm not sure what the preparations involve. Are there economic development grants, for new tattoo parlors?

E-MAIL UPDATE: It appears "IsOurCitySafe" has made his endorsement for mayor - and it's no real surprise:

Hmmmm lets see...who would you choose? A well respected, honest, non-lawyer, with long family ties to the city or a greasy lawyer who speaks out of both sides of his mouth depending on who is listening?

I also found it amazing, along with many other people, that the city has miraculously found money to give city employees a raise. Where was this money before? Why was it not located until Weatherington decided to run for Mayor? What kind of city manager loses millions of dollars? I imagine if the manager of McDonalds lost even a few hundreds of dollars, he or she would be looking for a new job. Maybe our city manager needs to find a new job if he loses that much money. Maybe he was saving it for braces?


Brent Rollins

I'm starting to think Brent needs his own blog - but he'd be such a good competitor for one-liners that I'd better not recommend that.

At the risk of stepping on some toes: is Brent suggesting police officers are always honest, and never "speak out of both sides" of their mouths? I'm not sure undercover drug detectives work that way....

It may not be fair to say millions of dollars were "miraculously found" to give city workers a raise. The bigger miracle might be keeping young baseball players in Columbus, after their parks department seasons are cut from two to one. Tony Rasmus in Russell County may be recruiting some already.

Brent Rollins has sent another wide-ranging e-mail, which we're not posting here until some details can be confirmed. But Friday's news verified one part - the arrest of a Double Churches Middle School student, for threatening to blow up the Columbus Police Department. He's even worse than Bob Poydasheff is accused of being.

Brent Rollins wonders why the F.B.I. had to find and arrest the Double Church Middle School student, and suggests it reflects a short-staffed Columbus Police Department. Maybe he doesn't realize how huge cyberspace is -- although the
"address book" of some 100 addresses in his e-mails indicates he's trying to match it.

It turns out someone online in Utah stumbled upon the alleged threat by a Double Churches Middle School student, which was posted at My own searching there has found it's hard to track down web pages of Columbus residents. For instance, these teens might not be able to spell Columbus in the first place.

Columbus Police historically has had at least one officer assigned to online investigations. Suppose more officers worked at their desks, checking for trouble on computers. Wouldn't "IsOurCitySafe" be wondering why they're not out on patrols late at night?

Updated score: one blog e-mail for Jim Wetherington, none for Bob Poydasheff. We'll be keeping score, trying to keep things balanced - and wondering if the rumors about former judge Roxann Daniel somehow will start again.

Now for something I'm not sure was around nine years ago - some Instant Messages....

+ To Chick-fil-A on Wynnton Road: Your door says you're open until 10:00 p.m. It was locked when I came by at 9:15 p.m. Was the police officer inside citing you for misleading advertising?

+ To the Chattahoochee Valley Regional Library System: Your public access computers are "high speed Internet," right? When I see women reading books in front of one while waiting for their e-mail to update, it's time for at least a virus scan....

+ To WHAL "Viva 1460": Did I hear it right - you didn't know about that Spanish-language national anthem, until a TV station called to ask you about it? Haven't you hired any news reporters to check on these things yet?

+ To returning WRCG talk show host Doug Kellett: Wow - you're getting married this summer? There's hope for a single guy like me yet! Now if Judge Bobby Peters will call me, to make double-date plans....

(Since Doug Kellett IS a talk show host, his wedding ceremony might be unusual. When the preacher asks if he takes the bride, he might give a three-minute answer.)

+ To the Opelika school board: Ohhhh - so now you need state money to build a new high school? It looks like the Kia jitters finally are starting to show a bit....

+ To the Worth County High School girls' soccer team: Ouch - losing 16-0 to Columbus had to hurt. But your defenders who looked as wide and hefty as Shaquille O'Neal belong in that OTHER kind of "football."

+ To the Atlanta Falcons: I'm sorry, but I don't recognize any of the players you drafted Saturday. If the first one is from Virginia Tech, does that mean Michael Vick chose him?

BLOG GAWKING: Former WRBL sportscaster Jack Rodgers spotted at Country's downtown.... and if you spot a local celebrity out and about, let us know....

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Friday, April 28, 2006


Isn't that a nice Southern name, Jim-Bob? It's so nice, we can name the race for Columbus Mayor that way....

Former Columbus Police Chief Jim Wetherington stopped the (alleged) rumors Thursday, by announcing he'll challenge Mayor Bob Poydasheff. Hundreds of people cheered him on outside the Government Center -- so I guess the Wetherington was nice and sunny.

Former Georgia Corrections Commissioner Jim Wetherington says he only decided to run for mayor in the last 30 days. He technically doesn't have to file his campaign papers until June 30 - so does this mean his campaign is on probation now?

Jim Wetherington promises he will not be a "one-dimensional" candidate, but show concern for "all aspects" of the city beyond public safety. So there will be more police officers patrolling parks, more officers watching prisoners pick up trash - and maybe even a police show on the government TV channel.

The challenger for mayor admits he doesn't have a campaign platform yet, but he hopes to have one in a few weeks. Jim Wetherington may have summed it up with the words: "I'll be different." If he proposes holding Council meetings in Spanish, look out....

Jim Wetherington says he plans to run a "positive campaign, on the issues." That sounds familiar. So who's in charge of the group "Veterans for Truth About Poydasheff?"

Yet when Jim Wetherington was asked about the proposed city budget giving public safety workers a nice raise, he said it's "a little bit strange that this came about all of a sudden." That's a nice down-home way of saying, "election year payoffs."

Jim Wetherington says he'll spend the weeks ahead knocking on doors, and talking with prospective voters. Hopefully he'll understand if some residents demand the former police chief get a search warrant first.

Campaign finance reports will reveal who's backing Jim Wetherington in his campaign for mayor. But I'm told one of his backers is former Muscogee County Democratic Chair Frank Myers. The way this election year is going, this could mean Andrew Young will appear in Wetherington's commercials.

In response to Thursday's announcement, Current Champion Mayor Bob Poydasheff said he'll run on his "transparent record." That's transparent as in tape - as in what will hold up vital city projects, if you don't approve his sales tax plan.

Mayor Poydasheff promises he'll not run against the record of Jim Wetherington. As he told WRBL: "I run on me." I do that sometimes, too - when I stumble over a curb while jogging and trip.

As for the possible big issue in the city election, Bob Poydasheff declared no mayor and council have cared more about public safety than the current one. He can prove that today, when he announces the proposed city budget - by having Police Chief Boren alongside, and giving him a big hug.

The evening news noted only one Columbus mayor has won re-election since consolidation - and in that case, Bobby Peters was unopposed in 1998. Maybe if Bob Poydasheff changed his hair color a bit....

By the way, did you notice Mayor Poydasheff's wife was honored Thursday night? She was named a "woman of achievement" by the local Girl Scout council, only three days after the mayor had a street named after him. I won't be surprised if they wind up buying naming rights to the Civic Center.

BLOG UPDATE: Doug Kellett answered our questions Thursday, about his pending return to WRCG radio. He informed us via e-mail he'll do his new afternoon show from Columbus "on occasion." Anything to avoid encountering upset city officials, I guess....

Doug Kellett explained he'll do his new afternoon talk show from his "home studio near Atlanta." So he'll be like another WRCG talk show host -- a Neal Boortz, only without a pilot's license.

Doug Kellett tells your blog he's excited about returning to the air on WRCG. He says he still has a lot of friends in Columbus, and a bond with listeners "seems to still be strong." Is that really surprising? When was the last time a local Republican switched to the Democrats?

In fact, Doug Kellett hopes to host talk shows on radio stations in several cities from his home studio - but have "local" themes to all of them. So he could be on WRCG for three hours, then be on Dallas radio for three hours and Denver radio for two more. Wow - this man truly CANNOT shut up, can he?

Doug Kellett also reminded us that during his tenure on "TalkLine" years ago, he scored two victories against potential local tax increases. One would have ended the Columbus property tax freeze, while the other was a proposed school property tax increase. Those happened before B.C.E. - the Burkard Columbus Era.

Someone dared to claim Thursday Doug Kellett is this blogger's "buddy." Well, not really. I don't think we've ever met face-to-face. But I recall Kellett and Bobby Peters forming the Columbus version of a singles "rat pack" years ago - so
maybe I'm a wanna-be.

(But come to think of it, if Kellett is going to do two or three radio talk shows every day from his home, maybe he STILL doesn't have much of a love life.)

E-MAIL UPDATE: Readers want to talk about all sorts of topics today. We start with the police shortage -- the East Alabama one:

Lee County may say they are short 2 Officers, but, you cannot tell that to the people that live in the true county parts..

When your neighbor comes to ya shaking their head after having a conversation with a County Deputy , ya wonder what is wrong - the neighbor lets me in on what is wrong with a reply "I asked the off icier about some patrolling in our neighborhood" and the response back was "Well, I guess we can start some patrols their,,-- the neighbor asked the Officer "why did you stop" and the reply was just a shrug on the shoulders and the Officer says "I have to run"

This county is popping at the seams with 4 wheelers every where and no way of tracking them,,unbelievable amount of vehicles with car lot tags on them...and by no means of having enough Law enforcement needed for the area...I figure someone is going to use the new law on defending themselves a little more than needed and usually hurting the ones that are only taking matters into their owns hands..

Thanks for the warning! If I see a four-wheel-drive vehicle in Lee County with a paper tag, I plan to stay at least 100 feet away from it.

Next up: a Columbus murder trial which ended Wednesday. Bosnia-Herzegovina immigrant Ekrem Jakupovic was found guilty of murdering a co-worker, during the construction of the hhGregg store at Columbus Park Crossing:

In no way do I condone murder and what the families are going through is awful. Nobody has the right to kill, at the same time nobody has the right to beat someone with boards which could kill as well. I have to admit from the news reports I've heard, it was proven that the man from Bosnia was surrounded by the victim and his coworkers and beaten with boards. That sounds like a self defense situation to me. The Bosnian brought the gun but are we allowed to possess guns in this country for our own protection only if we don't use them? (By the way I support Gun Control.)

It is very common for contractors to carry a handgun to job sites to protect themselves from robbery and this type of situation. If he hadn't carried the gun he may have been beaten to death. Judge Peters chastised the convicted man and said he should have just moved the lumber to start with and none of this would have happened. "Going to lunch and leaving the materials on the roof launched a deadly sequence," Peters said.

Maybe the mexican crew launched this event by destroying his property and hitting him with 8 foot boards. Maybe those people should bear responsibility for their actions too. If any of those jurors or the judge had been faced with a half dozen men hitting them with boards, I wonder what they would have done? Set their gun down and try to outrun ALL of them? This verdict sends the wrong message.

Admittedly, I didn't follow this case much -- but several thoughts come to mind. For one thing, this killing happened on September 11, 2004. You'd think these immigrants would have enough respect not to launch their own September 11

(Imagine if that young man in the hhGregg commercials had been on the scene that day. The angry workers might have turned on him, because of all those lame jokes he tells.)

By the way: I didn't realize contractors felt endangered enough at construction sites to carry their own weapons with them. Don't these muscle-bound guys realize their fists probably are enough?

(And as for the work crew, no matter what its ethnic background is -- one death and one injury indicated some people were punished for their actions. In pro hockey, boarding usually gets you only two minutes in a penalty box.)

Keep something in mind about Judge Bobby Peters: He was the Columbus mayor who was invited to Washington for promoting a gun buyback program. His view seemed to be that fewer weapons on the streets are better for everyone -- but sometimes, even angry criminal minds can be creative.

Our last message today is from WRBL meteorologist Darren Stack, who was mentioned briefly here Thursday:

While I appreciate the "Shout Out" on your blog, your facts are incorrect so let me do my best to clear things up.

First and most important with rain well off to our west and nothing close to our area I NEVER mentioned that it would rain by 9 am. I DID say that it was only 7:45 and that there was a chance for a few showers and thunderstorms for the late morning and a better chance in the afternoon. Wow! How about that! My forecast verified! I suggest both Robby Watson and Antonio Carter actually listen to my forecast instead of waiting for their turn to talk, then writing you an e-mail with false information. I would figure that both of them would understand that when I do my forecast it is not just for Columbus, Antonio Carter, or Robbie Watson. There are over 20 counties between Georgia and Alabama that we forecast for.

I'd also like to correct you on your most unprofessional "short" stack comment. I am well aware that you work at WTVM and if you take a few minutes to observe those around you, you will notice that most of the men on the news staff are around 5'9" to 5'10". You are therefore calling everyone that is in this range short as well, which I am sure Chuck, Sean, Andrew, and Jon would truly appreciate. I am 5'9" and even on national standards I am considered of average height.

Uhhhh, welllll - I really DO appreciate a meteorologist who tries to "clear things up." Especially so the weekend is sunny....

The claim that Columbus would have rain Wednesday by 9:00 a.m. actually came during the first ten minutes of "News 3 This Morning" at 6:00 a.m. These days, my clock radio awakens me to the WRBL news on WRCG - while minutes later, another TV station's news seems to be on WDAK.

(And no, the "TalkLine" hosts did NOT e-mail me with false information - unless Robbie Watson was incorrect about Jim Wetherington moving to the Wynnbrook church school. No newscast mentioned that Thursday. So some anonymous church member could be mailing weird stories about that soon.)

A "most unprofessional" comment? Here?! This assumes I'm a "professional" blogger - and at least in sports, you aren't a professional unless you're paid money to do it....

I'm (ahem) led to believe Darren Stack was not pleased with the nickname "Short." But he's the breakfast time meteorologist, isn't he? Don't they serve short stacks of pancakes at Ruth Ann's Restaurant?

(He apparently hasn't seen some of the other breakfast nicknames we've used here - such as Fourth Street Baptist Church Pastor J.H. "Frosted" Flakes.)

I'll confess, I have NOT measured the height of TV journalists in Columbus. But some people DO notice these things. I actually took a call shortly after moving here from a woman who claimed every news anchor at a station was left-handed. She still may not realize it's the right hand, when you look from the opposite direction.

Confession #2: MY height is about five-foot-nine. Again I thank the convenience stores which have put measurement scales by the front doors, so I can check for signs for osteoporosis.

Being five-foot-nine does make me short, compared to a wide range of other people. One of my first crushes in high school was for a girl who was six-foot-one. My last dream of serious romance was with a TV reporter who stood about six
feet tall. Sadly, sometimes little things DO mean a lot....

So I hereby apologize, if Darren Stack was steamed by one of Thursday's jokes. Since a source close to Stack has confirmed to the blog he IS five-foot-nine, we will no longer use the nickname "Short." We might switch it instead to "Smoke."

Is today's entry long enough for you? If it's not, read on -- because we haven't finished our Thursday news summary:

+ The Russell County School Board finally issued a written response to those complaining parents. If it took two days, was this made some class's writing project?

(The statement from the school board says last week's arrests of five educators showed members the need to "reexamine our policies and procedures." The spelling word here is S-U-S-P-E-N-S-I-O-N.)

+ A search committee was formed, to find a new Auburn University President. Your office pool probably can start now, for whether the new one will last longer than the current "interim" one.

+ Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller visited Columbus, to examine homes built under the "NeighborWorks" program. I somehow suspect he's visited Columbus before - using one of those paper tags Lee County has in such abundance....

+ Ground was broken in Smiths Station for the city's first subdivision with complete sewer lines. So which is it -- Lafaye Dellinger Avenue, Court or Drive?

+ An evening jog through the "Riverfest zone" found plenty of preparations underway for this weekend's big bash. I counted 11 port-a-johns lined up outside the Space Science Center. Hmmm - 11?! Is there some weird contest planned, involving high school football teams?

(Early-birds touring Riverfest may have found a building at 100 Seventh Street, with signs promoting a "Fine Arts Exhibition." If the fine arts are there, what is everyone else at Riverfest going to sell -- cheap trash?)

+ The owner of the Montgomery Maulers indoor football franchise released every player on the team -- yes, he fired the team! Those Chattahoochee Valley Vipers had better not miss any more appearances at grade schools....

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Thursday, April 27, 2006


Just in time for a feisty election year, the man who may be Columbus's most legendary radio talk show host is returning to the local dial. It's about time someone threatened to knock Mike Gaymon off his Chamber of Commerce pedestal....

Archway Broadcasting announced Wednesday it's bringing Doug Kellett back to WRCG-AM. He'll have his own afternoon talk show, starting May 15. This was surprising for several reasons. For one thing, I thought Kellett would be a good choice for White House Press Secretary.

While Doug Kellett will be on WRCG from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., "TalkLine" will remain on the air in the morning. Antonio Carter was added to TalkLine last year, to give balance to Robbie Watson. So far there's no "balance" for Kellett - so Bill Madison of the NAACP will have to call in often.

Some talk radio listeners say WRCG's "TalkLine" hasn't been as good a show since Doug Kellett left Columbus five years ago. Please note I said "talk radio listeners." I haven't heard that from any local elected officials.

The WRCG news release on Doug Kellett notes he spent years in Columbus "leading the charge against higher taxes." It neglects to mention Columbus voters didn't turn down a tax increase until after he left town.

Doug Kellett went from Columbus to a "Super-Talk" station in Nashville in 2001 - and from checking his web site, apparently he's bounced around a few large radio stations since then. For instance, he was a guest host on KLIF in Dallas. But I guess he's now over the KLIF....

The Archway Broadcasting statement quotes Doug Kellett as saying he'll be "focusing full-time on WRCG," while still working with other radio stations. Maybe Columbus will be the launching pad for another big radio network - though it's strange to compare Kellett with Duke and the Doctor.

Yet the Archway statement and the Doug Kellett web site don't come out and say Kellett will do his daily show FROM Columbus. He apparently has his own private studio somewhere. That was always the strange thing about Kellett hosting "TalkLine." He jabbed at Columbus city government, while living in Phenix City. [True!]

Doug Kellett says in the Archway statement he tries NOT to be rude, as a talk show host. In fact, he suspects talk show hosts "take ourselves way too seriously." It certainly led to a fancy new job for Tony Snow....

Doug Kellett will face a tough task, on his new WRCG show. Two of his three hours every day will pit him against Rush Limbaugh on WDAK. Maybe Kellett will bill himself as the clean and sober talk show host.

Your blog submitted several questions to Doug Kellett Wednesday - and he replied via e-mail he'd be ready "to get you some answers in a few days." A few days?!?! Does he still consider Columbus a sleepy Southern town? Or is he learning public relations ideas from the Russell County School Board?

The return of Doug Kellett apparently means Clark Howard will lose his afternoon show on WRCG. That's just as well - because he hasn't been able to find me gas for less than two dollars a gallon in a long time.

Assuming Doug Kellett will talk about local Columbus topics, he's picking a great time to come back. In only one hour of TalkLine on WRCG Wednesday, I heard....

+ A caller accusing Mayor Bob Poydasheff of turning off the Government Center's eternal flame. Yet I drove by it before 8:00 a.m. and it was lit - so maybe it's keeping First Avenue residents awake at night.

+ Another caller claiming potential challenger Jim Wetherington has operated a business on Earline Avenue without a city license. It makes me wonder when this caller has time to operate his OWN business.

+ The hosts of TalkLine quarrel with WRBL meteorologist Darren "Short" Stack. Stack's forecast called for rain by 9:00 a.m. Nothing reached the Columbus area on radar until after 10:00. Was there a traffic jam on Interstate 85?

E-MAIL UPDATE: As it happened, one of the TalkLine hosts e-mailed us Wednesday:

Hi, Richard! Do you know something I don't? Well, I guess it wouldn't be the first time. I thought Jim Weatherington served only one year as headmaster at Calvary. I recall when he left the church(Calvary) for Wynnbrook after a short stint. Robbie

That may be true, Robbie. I only remember the news coverage Wetherington received when he started at Calvary Christian School in 2003. Maybe after all his years in police work and corrections, the students there were simply too nice.

By the way, the web site we were first to mention Wednesday now confirms Jim Wetherington will announce today he's running for Mayor. Didn't he keep secrets better than this, when he was police chief?

We also heard again from "IsOurCitySafe" - as he commented on a news story, even before it reached the evening news:

I find it ironic that the recruiter for the Columbus Police Department has been recruited by someone else and will be leaving soon.

Chief Rick (Ricardo in Spanish) Boren noted the same sort of thing on TV - saying a new recruiter will have to be found from within the ranks. But to be honest, I never knew the Columbus Police Department HAD a recruiter. With more than 40 openings on the force, this departure might be worthwhile.

(The police recruiter is leaving law enforcement, to take a job with Geico Insurance. He probably won't be saving a big wad of money by switching to Geico - he'll be making it.)

Let's see what other news candidates passed our way Wednesday:

+ A South Korean newspaper reported the President of Kia Motors will be arrested, in a slush fund scandal. So much for opening a slushie stand near the new plant in West Point....

+ The Lee County Sheriff's Office unveiled a new web site, which will post the pictures of people arrested on drunk driving charges. In some cases, the mug shot camera might not even be necessary - because Auburn University students may have pictures posted already on

+ Congressman Sanford Bishop received a challenge for reelection, as Republican Bradley Hughes filed for office. Hughes is a minister whose web site claims, "We are paying higher taxes than ever." Apparently he was too busy street-preaching to notice all the recent Republican tax cuts.

+ The Wikipedia web site confirmed a biography of Mark Taylor was adjusted by someone inside the campaign of Georgia gubernatorial opponent Cathy Cox. As if people go to Wikipedia to choose a candidate for Governor, anyway?! Many people don't even believe the campaign commercials....

+ The Georgia AAA high school golf regionals were held at Bull Creek Golf Course. The ladies' medalist was Columbus High's Carol So. Asked what made the difference, teammates said it was her "So cool."

+ Instant Message to the Boy Scout troop which stopped on the Riverwalk to chat with a good-looking woman walking a big dog: Thank you for letting me jog by -- and I can understand why you were distracted for a few seconds.

(Yet I can't help wondering something - were the woman and her dog REALLY what the Boy Scouts were searching for, on their field trip?)

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006



The official proposal will come out Friday, but Columbus city leaders dropped notable hints Tuesday about the fiscal 2007 budget. For one thing, every city employee would get a raise -- and those who are the most upbeat about it might get their own streets.

City Manager Isaiah Hugley revealed the proposed budget would provide $7.2 million in pay raises for city workers. The percentage would depend on "longevity" - and hopefully the tallest employees will not feel like this gives them an advantage.

New Columbus city employees would receive a 2.5 percent raise. Those with more longevity in city government would receive five percent more. So City Manager Isaiah Hugley may finally get that big raise he wanted last year - by tying a bungee cord to the entire staff.

But what about the group of city workers which always seems to come up first in these discussions? City Manager Isaiah Hugley said under the proposed budget, entry-level police officers and firefighters would be paid exactly $28,528. We'll find out Friday if they have to drive their own cars to emergencies.

Fraternal Order of Police President Randy Robertson didn't have an immediate response to the City Manager's number-dropping. He promised to study the proposal closely. Do you think he'll be ready to give an answer Thursday afternoon - standing alongside Jim Wetherington?

The speculation around Columbus is that the proposed city budget will have fewer city layoffs than some feared months ago. And that's a good thing, since some of the Kia jobs in West Point may go instead to corporate attorneys in South Korea.

WRCG Radio revealed Mayor Bob Poydasheff's unveiling of the city budget proposal will be made LIVE Friday morning, on the Columbus City Government cable channel. How long the presentation remains live may depend on how much money is allocated for that channel....

BLOG EXCLUSIVE: At our deadline, your blog learned a web site with Jim Wetherington's name was reserved on the Internet Tuesday. The site says only that it's "owned by Columbus Web products." If that turns out to be a member of Bob Poydasheff's family, would that qualify as a dirty trick?

E-MAIL UPDATE: It didn't take long for "IsOurCitySafe" to respond to the speculation about one mayoral candidate, and a street naming for another. We combine two messages here:

Mayor Bob is going to get his butt kicked in the election by a man who can get this city back on track where it needs to be.

Wetherington mulls bid for mayor....

Congratulations are in order for Mayor Bob Poydasheff. He recently had a court named after him.

Poydasheff Court. How fitting. A dead end street for a man who is driving this city into a dead end.


Brent Rollins

Now hold on a minute! Jim Wetherington's currently the headmaster at Calvary Christian School. Would he kick Mayor Poydasheff - or wait until the mayor slaps him on both cheeks first?

(Come to think of it, that could be one of Bob Poydasheff's debating points - that Jim Wetherington cares more about private education than Muscogee County's public schools. But then again, Mayor Poydasheff wasn't happy when the school board approved that split sales tax idea first.)

Brent Rollins attached to the first message an article from last Saturday's Ledger-Enquirer, where Jim Wetherington first dropped his hint about POSSIBLY running for mayor. But what if he decides NOT to run? Thursday's trip to the Government Center steps might be merely to promote outdoor exercise.

As for getting the city "back on track," I wonder if Brent saw the Tuesday evening news. It reported Auburn currently has a shortage of four police officers. Opelika has six openings, the Lee County Sheriff's Department two - and have those roaming gangs conquered the Hurtsboro police yet?

The news report pointed out most U.S. cities have police staffing problems these days. Yet the crime rate nationwide hasn't really jumped in recent years -- so this is one time when a government cover-up of statistics actually might be a good thing.

I haven't driven down Forrest Road to that new subdivision lately, but will Poydasheff Court really be a dead end road? Or will it be a cul-de-sac -- which could still remind you of city government, by making you go around and around in circles?

We've also heard from "Wunderdog," whose new blog was our focus on Monday:


Nice mention

Read about being absent for a while,, well, hands have had a hard work out for about a week,,, yard work and a long, long wooden privacy fence has the hands in a heelin' mode

Thanks again

Thank YOU for the explanation. It's hard to believe someone living around Smiths Station would need a privacy fence. And new soldiers transferring to our area might jump it for combat training, anyway.

There might be a way to keep blogging even while your hands are healing. Have you seen the "you talk, it types" software in stores? I've often wondered how accurately it works - and whether it would show me living in a "column bus."

BLOG UPDATE: A big crowd gathered in Russell County Tuesday night to raise a fuss, and demand something big be accomplished quickly. And after the high school baseball team won its playoff game, the crowd showed up late for the school board meeting....

Several parents asked the Russell County School Board why nothing had been done about the four teachers and one principal arrested last week. Board members seemed to avoid the obvious answer - that at least their school district didn't have any wild rumors last week about gang fights.

Russell County School Board members had no comment on the parents's complaints. Instead, they had a two-hour closed-door "executive session" -- but the parents stuck around, so the board couldn't come out to an empty room and give
the suspects a vote of confidence.

Russell County Superintendent Rebecca Lee said the concerns of the parents would be addressed - through a news release from the school district's attorney. So when did former FEMA Director Michael Brown start advising this board?

And to make matters worse, attorney Sydney Smith didn't have the news release ready yet. It might be released today, we're told -- and hopefully that typist will be treated well, on this Administrative Professionals' Day.

Sydney Smith explained to WRBL that while Russell County School Board members are concerned about last week's five arrests, even the suspected educators have rights. That argument doesn't seem to work for middle school students, when the drug dogs show up....

As for the baseball game: Russell County shut out Oxford 8-0 in the first round of the Alabama high school playoffs. And earlier in the day, Cory Rasmus and his dad/coach were named to play in an all-American game in June. Will all teachers please stay off their hands, until this happens?

Now a quick check of other business from an active Tuesday:

+ Russell County Commissioner Cattie Epps told WRBL someone has been doing criminal background checks on commissioners, using a national database. County Attorney Kenneth Funderburk seemed to confirm it - but who tipped Epps off to it? Does she have friends on Cynthia McKinney's staff or something?

+ Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue appeared on GPB's "Georgia Weekly" and declared: "Campaigns are about facts. They're about trusting me as their governor...." That's your problem, Governor. Old-line south Georgians trusted you to have a vote on the old state flag - and the fact is, you didn't.

+ The CB&T branch on Forrest Road was robbed, and a bank surveillance camera indicated a woman did it. Once again, we see why the Equal Rights Amendment never was necessary....

+ METRA Assistant Director Saundra Hunter told WXTX "News at Ten" ridership has NOT increased much, as gas prices have gone up. I wonder if it's because most people don't know the bus routes - and they're afraid they might wind up at a public housing complex.

+ A meeting at the Fort Mitchell Community Center organized Christians to mark the first "Ten Commandments Day." It'll be Saturday, May 6 - a day I suspect was chosen so believers won't be tempted to follow those gamblers at the Kentucky Derby.

+ Instant Message to the driver who passed me on Veterans Parkway with a "KEEP ALL TEN COMMANDMENTS" bumper sticker on his car: What sort of Christian example do you think you're.... oh wait, I forgot. Speeding isn't one of the commandments.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Take that, Jim Wetherington! You may have a long record as Columbus Police Chief and Georgia Corrections Commissioner. But now Mayor Bob Poydasheff has a street named after him - so can this re-election steamroller be stopped?

A new subdivision off Forrest Road will have a street named "Poydasheff Court," after Columbus Mayor Bob Poydasheff. The announcement was made Monday, apparently without the mayor's knowledge. If only the Washington press corps could believe U.S. Presidents work this way....

Mayor Poydasheff was invited to the new Forrest Creek subdivision because a street there was being named after his late best friend - "Col. Dick McKee Drive." Why do I have a strange feeling adults will call this street by one name, while teenagers call it by another?

But when the mayor arrived at Forrest Creek, he admits he was "sort of stunned" to find a second banner hanging - to dedicate Poydasheff Court. As much as he wants to get traffic lights in sync, he might have preferred his own expressway.

Mayor Poydasheff admitted it was already an emotional day, to honor the former Columbus Public Services Director. But to have a street of his own - as the mayor told one journalist: "Can you ask for anything more?" Well, he IS still one YMCA shy of matching A.J. McClung.

We're going to assume Mayor Poydasheff never knew a street would be named after him - although we're also going to assume Jim Wetherington's supporters are conducting their own private investigation of that....

So if Mayor Poydasheff never knew about this street name, who gave it to him? The answer appears to be John Grot of Midland, who's the developer of the Forrest Creek subdivision. If that name is unfamiliar, we think you'll find it on upcoming Poydasheff campaign reports.

It appears developers in Columbus can choose any street names they wish for their subdivisions. This may explain a neighborhood near St. Mary's Road with a Vivian Lane, Matilda Lane and an Ida Drive. Perhaps they were the developer's relatives - or perhaps they were Victory Drive dancers years ago.

Before African-American leaders call this naming of Poydasheff Court unfair, I'd point them to a neighborhood near Fort Benning Road. It has a Harbison Court AND Drive, a Calvin Avenue (as in Smyre?) - and hey, a Carter Court! How did Antonio work that one out?

(Then there's the plan to name a boulevard in West Point after Kia. I suppose if the South Korean corruption investigation leads to a change, the name could stay - and mean "Killed in Action.")

But isn't it a bit strange to name a street after a mayor who's still in office -- especially one who's up for re-election this year? Republicans in Washington had enough tact to wait until Ronald Reagan was a former President, before naming an airport after him.

The Charleston, South Carolina baseball stadium is named after the current mayor -- but Joseph Riley has been in office for decades. Mayor Bob Poydasheff is still in his first term. I'm not sure that's even earned him a dugout name at Golden Park.

Perhaps the best example of an early political honor in Georgia was the Zell Miller Parkway, in the mountains near Jasper. It received that name while he was Lieutenant Governor -- and I'm convinced the lack of a Johnny Isakson Parkway made the difference in the 1990 Governor's race.

And consider how few mayors in the history of Columbus have had roads named after them. There's the J.R. Allen Parkway, of course -- but where is the Bobby Peters Court? Oh yeah, I forgot. He was elected to the court....

The bottom line for me is this: honoring the late Col. Dick McKee with a street name is a very nice thing to do. But adding a Poydasheff Court to the ceremony took the focus away from McKee. It showed bad political timing. And it makes streets in Columbus look like stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

THE BIG BLOG QUESTION wants to know what you think of this. We're asking if Mayor Poydasheff deserves to have a street named after him. We made it a yes-or-no question -- but come to think of it, maybe the street should be awarded to the winner of the mayoral election.

We'd also like your comments and suggestions on other famous Columbus names, who might deserve their own streets. One that came to mind Monday was Randy Robertson Road, after the Fraternal Order of Police President. Of course, that road would have to lead people out of town....

While you weigh your vote carefully, let's check other Monday headlines:

+ Two members of the 75th Ranger Regiment were awarded their prizes for winning the Fort Benning "Best Ranger" competition. One of the winners has a father who fled to the U.S. in 1988 from the former Soviet Union -- way back when most people in this country actually welcomed immigrants.

+ "Qualifying Week" opened for Georgia state political offices. Rep. Cynthia McKinney filed for re-election, saying her voters appreciate how she "speaks the truth." Will any of those voters be called before that grand jury in Washington?

(Several other familiar names filed for office -- including Mac Collins, who's trying to return to the U.S. House. His occupation is listed on the Secretary of State's web site as "retired," not mentioning the voters retired him two years ago.)

+ The National Rifle Association endorsed Bob Riley for Alabama Governor, while the Gun Owners of America endorsed Roy Moore. I'm not sure what the difference is, between these groups - but I don't want to stand between them on a street after dark.

(Bob Riley received the National Rifle Association's backing at a "rally for the second amendment" in Tuskegee. So where are the rallies for the 18th amendment -- or do any church groups support prohibition anymore?)

+ Instant Message to Brian McClure: Thank you for four-and-a-half years of weather reports in Columbus. But before you move to Tampa, couldn't you give us a four-and-a-half year forecast -- instead of simply seven days?

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Sunday, April 23, 2006


Starting a blog can seem like a lot of fun. Keeping it going can be a challenge. It takes regular effort and time, and a little bit of thought. Of course, the Republican bloggers would argue they think a lot more than the Democratic ones....

This blog is on a pace to reach post number 1,000 in May -- and that's with usually only one post a day, and not that many reruns. Other bloggers in the area have started strongly in recent years, but don't post at all anymore. Old blogs really never die, you know -- they just sit there and vegetate.

I'm reminded of this after hearing awhile back of a new blog from the Smiths Station area. The blog writer named "Wunderdog" wrote to call our attention to it -- and leaving me to wonder if he's Underdog's German cousin.

Wunderdog's blog is called "In Thru the Outdoor." You'll have to ask him why it has that title. Maybe he drives to his Smiths Station home on a Lee County road, instead of U.S. 280.

The Wunderdog blog seemed to start well a couple of weeks ago. It had items about a death in the family of a Smiths Station council member, and helpful links about gas prices and an upcoming public hearing in Opelika. Of course, whether you can afford the gas to drive to Opelika is now in question....

But after three days of blogging, In Thru the Outdoor suddenly came to a halt - and nothing new has been posted in ten days. Maybe Wunderdog is away, trying to save humanity from an interplanetary attack.

Several other interesting blogs have been dormant for much longer, and now are dead for all intents and purposes:

+ "Bubba's Backporch" from Buena Vista. Bubba admitted last summer he became too busy to post, after the school year began. Now his web site displays no entries at all - but maybe his daughter quietly moved him onto

+ Blogs by TV reporters Amanda Iler and Chris Sweigart. If they were in Hollywood, this could have sparked rumors they were dating.

+ The "Hollywood Dirt" blog from WCGQ-FM announcer "Spikey Mike." Why keep that up, when so many convenience stores sell "white dirt" now?

+ The "Lakebottom" blog from former WRCG "TalkLine" co-host Matt Young. When he didn't cover the opening of a new Columbus Corner Bakery across from Lakebottom Park, that seemed to confirm it.

All these bloggers had their reasons for putting down the keyboard, and I don't mean this to gloat over their lack of entries. It only shows how blogging has to become a bit of a habit, if a blog is to have long-term success. Uh-oh - is there a 12-step program for people like me?

E-MAIL UPDATE: We heard again Sunday from the reader who wrote about problems with a bully in Muscogee County schools. In fact, the reader wrote us twice - so we'll put the two messages together:

You asked why the parent of the student who was bullied didn't call the police? Revenge is the key word in some schools in Columbus..THe race card was also played in this situation...The parent never brought up race ,the school principal did..Who by the way was the same race as the bully..Even the bully,when interviewed by school security,said the victim never called him the racial slur the principal said that he did...But all is solved now that the bully has moved on to a larger city..Maybe he has met his match.. I did mention Billy Kendall's name..Billy is the one who called school security in on the situation when he realized that the principal was not going to take charge.. If this had been my child I would have pressed charges against the kid and the school principal and the school district..BUt then I am a little hot headed...Oh,the school bus driver realized the serious situation and also talked to the principal and the parent of the victim..The principal said that the bully's parent was never contacted because it was not needed....

Today parents don't come face to face concerning problems between kids..The parents are often more violent than the kids..At a local high school this wk a daddy was called to come get his daughter for trying to start a fight..While at the school the girls got in to it again when the daddy told his daughter to slap the other girl...Thank goodness the principal of this school is a strict disciplinarian and took control..

Isn't it nice to see school principals are figuring out all these interpersonal issues? And I'm not sure they're allowed to use paddles to do it anymore....

This writer admits to being "a little hot headed," and notes many parents are more violent than their children. Maybe there's a new TV series waiting to happen here - an area Jerry Springer should have handled years ago.

I suppose this whole issue boils down to what sort values parents teach their children. If we teach them to stand up for themselves, that means we encourage them to slap. If we teach them to report trouble to the authorities -- well, we've heard a lot already about the lack of law enforcement in Columbus.

And that law enforcement issue starts our quick check of Sunday's headlines:

+ Former Columbus Police Chief Jim Wetherington revealed to WXTX "News at Ten" he's considering a campaign for Mayor. If he runs, local rumormongers won't know what to do. It'll be Mayor Poydasheff's old car wrecks, against Wetherington's son setting old high school fires.

(Jim Wetherington says he'll announce a decision about running for Mayor during the noon hour Thursday. He'll make that announcement on the Government Center steps. Really now - if he was NOT running, wouldn't he simply send out e-mails?)

+ The annual "Best Ranger" competition concluded at Fort Benning. There should be an extra event for all 15 teams which finished this three-day marathon - a contest to see who can eat a "Ranger Burger" the fastest at that restaurant in Cusseta.

+ Instant Message to whomever is advertising "Crepe Myrtle Condominiums at Lake Harding": Aw c'mon - multistory condos THERE?! Is all the waterfront space at Panama City Beach taken?

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The church congregation I attend is small, so visitors tend to be noticed. Last weekend a teenage boy showed up - then after the service put on a bow tie. When a teenager tries to outdress the pastor in this day and age, something unusual is going on....

But as I watched the scene unfold, the reason for this became clear. The boy in the bow tie was taking a young lady in our congregation to the Troup County High School prom that night. The couple posed for photos at the speaker's stand - but they covered the church logo, perhaps to avoid a first amendment lawsuit.

Many thoughts went through my mind as I watched that scene. The first thought was how the denomination I attend urges people to only "date within the church." Maybe the girl thought simply having her date in the church meeting hall counted....

But I also reflected on my own high school years. May will mark 30 years since my graduation - and I admittedly never went to a prom. For one thing, I didn't know how to dance. And I don't think "Dance Fever" with Denny Terrio was on TV yet.

It's not that I never tried to get a date for the prom. I was smitten for much of high school with a girl I'll call "Kadie" - and no, I'm not calling her that because she's as big as a cow....

I called Kadie often and we were friendly, but she was more interested in other guys. Then her family moved to a different school district for our junior year - and I decided to ask her to the prom, figuring no one in my school would guess whom I was bringing. Even before eBay, I knew the risks of getting outbid.

To my utter surprise, Kadie said yes to a prom date. This would be my FIRST date, like, EVER! My mother had to guide me through the next few important steps - such as learning what color her dress would be, so we wouldn't have a color clash. Enough guys in school had poked fun at my multicolored sneakers....

The tuxedo was reserved 13 days before the prom, and I had a nice Kansas City restaurant chosen for dinner. But then Kadie called me a week before the dance, and canceled - blaming a family death in southern Missouri. It was one time when Missouri did NOT love company.

Even back then, I played by the theory that asking a woman for a date less than seven days before an event was discourteous. It showed a lack of thought and respect, based on books I'd read. Those books never told me about some of the clubs on Broadway....

So I canceled the tuxedo reservation, and skipped the prom my junior year. I suppose I could have gone by myself, but I supposed that would have looked awkward -- and openly advertised to the world the "dating trouble" I already had.

When the spring of my senior year came, Kadie was back in my high school -- but she was dating the quarterback of that other high school. She actually promised in one of her "regrets calls" to go out with me during the summer. But to this day, she never has -- which may explain why she never shows up at class reunions.

Since I still had no girlfriend, I decided to take a different approach. I put an ad in the school newspaper, seeking a prom date. There was some cover for me, since my parents were divorcing and my mom had changed the home phone number. Not that Dad ever called, trying to make amends....

The small ad on page four of the school paper put a strict deadline on the offer: call before midnight that Friday night, if you wanted a male date for the prom. I don't think online dating services offer one-day specials like that - but maybe they should, say, with Jessica Simpson.

I hurried home from school to see if the phone would ring in response to the ad - and it did three times. As I recall, one caller was simply curious about who placed the ad. The other two girls said they seriously were interested, so I promised to consider them. And to make this even tougher, didn't exist back then.

So what did I do the following day, about the two prospective prom dates? I went to a library and checked on them, of course. After all, I was the high school newspaper editor, a member of the debate team -- and I never thought about hiring a private investigator.

I concluded the two candidates (who went to other schools, but were referred to my ad somehow) were bogus. So prom night came, and I stayed home again. There was even a P.A. announcement one day, saying no dates were required -- but I still felt uncomfortable about it. One wrong chat, and my tuxedo might have blood stains on it.

No, I am NOT writing all this in hopes of getting a sympathy invitation to a school prom somewhere. I made my decisions 30 years ago, and I accept the decisions I made. But the visitor at church reminded me of what might have been - and I'm finally reaching the point where I can watch "That 70's Show" without squirming a bit.

(P.S. The boy in the bow tie was NOT back at our church congregation this weekend. Perhaps he responded to my pastor's comment about too many ministers recommending psychotherapy - and decided the pastor needs some.)

E-MAIL UPDATE: Now back to what today's area schools seem to be all about - discipline, or a lack thereof:

I have a young relative who was the victim of a bully at --------- Middle School..( I don't want to give the name of the school because the victim is still there)His mom first talked to the guidance office,who ignored the situation which continued.THe victim was called in and the bully never was..All the kids knew why he was called in and he was scared even more..Now the bully knew he had told...Then his mom talked to the principal,who said ,"Oh,it is just boys."..She talked to a person from the school distict central office who misrepresented her position. The bully continued to pick on her son..Finally Billy Kendall had school security talk to the bully..The principal still said it was not happening..How would you feel if you were told,"I know how to kill with a baseball bat.".."I know where you live and I can get a gun.".."Don't raise your hand anymore in class or I'll cut it off".This went on for days everyday...Finally the problem was solved...the bully moved...!!.... So Russell County schools don't hold the trophy for being operated by jerks...

The name Billy Kendall tells me this happened in a Muscogee County school. If only one of them had a boxing magnet program....

The role of a "school guidance department" always has puzzled me a bit. The staff members used to be called "counselors" -- and in middle school they seem to act as sounding boards for students with concerns. Then in high school, they seem to become full-time college recruiters.

If the bully made the comments quoted in this message, I'm wondering why the parents didn't report him to police. These days, those statements could be considered "terroristic threats." But then again, the baseball bat line could be something Barry Bonds might say.

But there's something missing in this timeline - a step my parents took when I faced a bully in my teen years. My dad went to the home of the bully down the block, and talked with his parents. Things seemed to stop after that - but I never asked if my dad threatened to beat his dad up.

There's another, more modern way to stop bullying like this -- although I personally don't recommend it. Start a rumor of a Columbine-style attack....

The rumor mill of gang violence spread Friday from Phenix City to Salem. Students took a tense moment at breakfast Wednesday, and turned it into rumors of possible weapons at Wacoochee Junior High. Perhaps it's time Disney's "High School Musical" was made required viewing in all classrooms.

(One particular student supposedly was bringing a weapons to school - but a Lee County School spokesperson said that student turned out to have "a bar of soap in a sock." So if he beat you up, at least you'd smell nice.)

Back in Russell County, the school district had yet another faculty member arrested Friday. This time, Oliver Elementary School first-grade teacher Tanya Boring stands accused of standing on a student's hands. Maybe if she had danced a merengue, to make it educational....

But this case may be different from the others in Russell County. The mother of a child in Tanya Boring's class stood up for her on TV Saturday, openly doubting any mistreatment occurred. Perhaps there's a misunderstanding here - and she's simply a Boring teacher.

The final score from last week: four Russell County teachers arrested, one principal arrested, and a football coach reported by Saturday's Ledger-Enquirer as being suspended. But it gets worse from there - because the baseball team apparently isn't unbeaten this season.

Now for other items from Earth Day weekend - and we hope you didn't forget to hug a tree:

+ The Columbus Police Department held its annual auction of seized merchandise downtown - while Bill Heard Chevrolet continued its "seized vehicle" sale on Manchester Expressway. Please note one did NOT offer to give its proceeds to the other.

+ "Street TV" on WLGA showed a crowd of African-American young people outside, and indicated the group meets "every Sunday night at the Civic Center." It said nothing about police eventually showing up, to tell the crowd to leave....

+ The annual "Best Ranger" competition began at Fort Benning. Two-person teams engage in grueling activities for three days, with hardly any sleep. Some parents have their own phrase for this -- a Disney World vacation.

+ The National Infantry Museum announced Coca-Cola's name will sponsor the new museum's Imax Theatre. Those ten-ounce glass bottles certainly came in handy during wartime - crashing them over the heads of Nazis, when all else failed.

(What -- Mayor Bob Poydasheff's name isn't going to be on the Imax Theatre? His reelection campaign must have less money than I thought....)

+ The annual "Georgia Strawberry Festival" was held in the Taylor County town of Reynolds. Why do I have a feeling we'll never see Darryl Strawberry serve as the grand marshal of this event?

+ Instant Message to Phenix City Mayor Jeff Hardin: Are you serious -- you want Broad Street changed from six lanes of traffic to four? Are you going to change the name to "Narrower Street," while you're at it?

BURKARD'S BEST BETS: Gas for $2.72 a gallon at Spectrum on South Lumpkin Road.... honey buns for ten cents at the Flowers Bread store on Weems Road.... and no chance of anyone announcing a boycott of Riverfest this week....

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Friday, April 21, 2006


One of my co-workers marvels at how Columbus has four times the population of Russell County, yet Russell County sometimes dominates the headlines. Thursday was one of those days - almost as if the "Sin City" mentality of 50 years ago is passed on to new generations.

Thursday's Russell County stories occurred in three acts. Act I actually began Wednesday night, as some Phenix City Central High School students spread rumors a violent attack was looming. Did these teenagers really expect trouble? Or did they still have state-ordered exams to take?

One rumor claimed there was a "big racial fight" at Phenix City Central last week, so metal detectors would be used at the doors Thursday. But apparently that was false - and the only current racial fight seems to involve the county commission.

It turns out metal detectors are at the doors of Phenix City Central EVERY day. Nothing unusual was noted Thursday, such as someone bringing a gun to school -- or even someone with an old-style steel lunch box.

Phenix City Superintendent Larry DiChiara said rumors of trouble seem to surface every April 20, since that's the anniversary of the Columbine High School bloodbath in Colorado. Yet for some reason, no one spread rumors last weekend of someone coming out of a grave alive....

(There actually may have been a plot to kill people at a school Thursday -- but in little Riverton, Kansas. ABC News reported five people were arrested there, after one student reportedly mentioned the plans online. Once again, someone gets in trouble for blabbing too much at

Act II of Thursday's unusual events in Russell County also involved a school. Some parents were stunned to find Principal Larry Screws back on the job at Russell County Middle School, one day after his arrest. They seem to believe in this case, there should be no Screws loose.

Since Larry Screws and three Russell County Middle School teachers posted a $1,000 bond, they were able to return to class Thursday. Apparently the school board is NOT calling an emergency meeting, to talk about suspending them - proving again how the Alabama culture is a bit slower and relaxed.

A few parents say their children won't go back to Russell County Middle School until the principal is off the job. This raises an interesting question - why doesn't Glenwood School have a south campus near Seale? The students there actually might need it more....

Even if Principal Larry Screws and the three middle school teachers are found guilty of not reporting a claim of sex abuse, their maximum sentence would be only six months in jail and a fine. Yet I suppose that's only fair -- since New York Times reporters get about the same sentence for actually reporting something.

Act III of Thursday's Russell County drama (or is that comedy?) came from a courtroom. A judge ruled county commissioner Ronnie Reed must vacate his seat -- and he can't do it the way Peggy Martin is, by trying to run for State Senate.

A district judge ruled Ronnie Reed was elected illegally two years ago, because a Columbus felony from the 1970's was on his criminal record. Reed's attorneys noted the felony was expunged a few months ago -- but the judge decided that's like arguing you slowed down after the trooper pulled over your speeding car.

Defense attorney Jim McKoon told reporters the effort to unseat Russell County Commissioner Ronnie Reed was "all about politics." Well, of course it was - about gaining a political office by deceit and a lack of ethics....

You may recall Ronnie Reed's attorney wanted this case put before a jury, not a district judge. The reason for that should be obvious - Reed was more likely to find someone who doesn't care about facts and law. If that approach could work for David Glisson....

Commissioner Ronnie Reed plans to appeal the judge's ruling, so he'll stay in office for now. If the Alabama Supreme Court rules against him, he might run for commissioner again - and this time he'll be legal, with the felony conviction off his record. So when will Don Siegelman file a "friend of the court" brief?

It's tempting to add an epilogue to our three-act visit to Wonderland. As of Thursday night, the two big Phenix City bloggers had yet to comment at all on these incidents. They're focusing on bigger issues such as immigration these days -- on keeping cheaters out, instead of working on the ones we already have.

E-MAIL UPDATE: When someone puts "brothel" in the title of a message to me, I'm tempted to delete it as spam. But this one came from "IsOurCitySafe," so I didn't dare:

Mayor Bob Poydasheff said he could see why the city needs regulations: "The experiences that I've encountered with escort services, particularly in areas where you have large military installations, et cetera, is that they can degenerate... into more than just escort services, and that breeds crime, and quite candidly prostitution and things that are attendant to that," he said.

According to Bob, he has "encountered" more than one escort service in his life, at large military installations, and "et cetera." I wonder if he paid more than the $5000 city council is planning to charge for a escort business license?

That's a captivating question - but if "IsOurCitySafe" is going to watch things this carefully, I don't even plan to pay for a Ford Escort.

This e-mail makes me thankful I already have a business license for the opening season of Power Frisbee of Georgia. I didn't have to spend $5,000 for it - and besides, people with frisbees in their hands can "have a fling" without an escort.

As he likes to do, "IsOurCitySafe" actually sent two e-mails at a time - so maybe this is the "escort" to the prior message?!

The following reports are just a few of the violent crimes that happen everyday in a city that has a city government denying we have a public safety issue:

Thieves take teenager's cell phone, leave him with $1

Columbus teenager was walking home near midnight Sunday when two men in a passing car pulled their van to the curb near Linwood Boulevard and Dudley Avenue.

The 16-year-old told police a man wearing a white do-rag and a white sleeveless shirt jumped from the vehicle, pointed a rifle or shotgun at him and demanded to know "what he had."

The teen said he pulled his cell phone and a $1 bill from his pocket and held each up for the man to see. The thief took the cell phone -- valued at about $59 -- got back into the white van with blue stripes and the waiting driver sped into the night, leaving the teen-ager holding his $1 bill....

First of all, do you think these two men in the van made a wise choice? The teenager could find a pay phone and use his dollar bill to call police -- then officers could dial the cell phone number and track down the thieves. Take the dollar bill, and the teen probably wouldn't have bothered.

I've condensed this e-mail, because it goes on to mention several recent crime stories we've discussed here - the shooting and lawsuit involving The Fire House club, and the man who was carjacked when he stopped to ask for directions. Cases like these are keeping this from becoming The Blog of Russell County.

But I have to respond to this e-mail with a question - couldn't crimes such as these still occur, even if Columbus had a fully-staffed police force? I don't hear the "Law and Order" detectives grumbling about a lack of officers, and they've been working on crimes for 14 seasons.

(Well, OK, before you write me back - those ARE the same two or three detectives working on all those cases....)

We have one more message relating to the city's lawsuit against that club on Sidney Simons Boulevard:


Note that the co-owner of the Fire House, Faye Simmons, also is owner of the Meritage Café and Gallery (ex Miriam's). Perhaps that explains in part her public distancing away from the Fire House operation. The two establishments probably do not share the same clientele.


Thanks for pointing out something I hadn't realized before. Maybe I should visit that "gallery" on 13th Street and see if it's filled with wanted posters.

That's a curious combination of businesses Faye Simmons has - Meritage Café and The Fire House club. If she really wants to promote "One Columbus," she could replace those rap nights at The Fire House with a string quartet concert....

Now for other items from a Thursday which felt more like mid-June than mid-April:

+ Synovus Financial CEO Richard Anthony told the GPB program "Georgia's Business" his biggest lesson of the last couple of years is that "you can't communicate too much." I absolutely agree with this - and if any Columbus radio station needs a new talk show host, I'm ready.

+ The President of Kia Motors faced South Korean prosecutors, about possible slush funds to bribe government officials. The "Korea Times" newspaper claimed the investigation might delay construction of the new Kia plant in West Point. I didn't know the defense attorneys in Seoul were so expensive....

(Meanwhile, WRBL reported Phenix City officials have rescheduled their Kia "sales trip" to South Korea for mid-June. We hope Mayor Jeff Hardin doesn't mind visiting jail cells.)

+ The Ledger-Enquirer revealed Muscogee County students no longer are allowed to take gum-chewing breaks between CRCT exams. I think I can see the logic behind this. Four chomps plus three chomps could be a grade-school math question.

+ The annual spring "Uptown Concert" series began on Broadway. But WRBL noted it was moved off the lawn in the median, in part due to a lack of sponsors. Who could have imagined this -- Budweiser expecting a little grass with its beer?

+ The new Christian radio station WURY-FM played the Elvis Presley classic, "Crying in the Chapel." Now that's one sneaky way to attract a worldly audience....

+ Instant Message to the Krystal near Peachtree Mall: Thank you for bringing me a salad that's labeled with the day it was made. Too bad the salad you gave me was a day old....

COMING THIS WEEKEND: The "one night only" special, when I advertised for a date....

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Thursday, April 20, 2006


President Bush visited Tuskegee University Wednesday, four years after a trip to Auburn University. If he still hasn't visited Columbus while Albert Gore did once as Vice President, does this confirm Columbus State University's President is a Democrat?

The President traveled to Tuskegee to give a speech on whether our country can compete against the rest of the world. You have to admit the current signs are ominous - such as the U.S. team not even making the final four of the World Baseball Classic.

The focus of President Bush's trip was Tuskegee University's "Center for Advanced Materials." This place is so advanced, it probably had a copy of the President's speech two hours before anyone heard it....

The President said competition from emerging nations such as India is causing fuel prices to go up. So the next time you call a "help desk" and someone in New Delhi answers the phone, tell him to do everyone a favor and give up his car for a bicycle.

The President noted Tuskegee University has several doctoral candidates who specialize in nanotechnology. They are exceptions to many young adults in East Alabama - who focus on "Mork and Mindy" reruns to learn nanu-nanu-technology.

(Of course, some people in East Alabama can be rather proud about their lack of sophisticated knowledge. They prefer a life with NON-technology.)

President Bush noted Defense Department research spending at colleges such as Tuskegee led to the Internet. Can you believe this - it took the President five years to disprove Albert Gore's claim that HE invented it?

The President explained the Internet developed because "the Defense Department said, we need to figure out how better to communicate." To hear some retired generals talk lately, it hasn't worked at all.

President Bush called on Congress to double federal funding for "critical research programs in the physical sciences." Now there's a sophisticated opening line to use at a singles bar....

The President also wants Congress to provide money to train 70,000 high school teachers for "advanced placement" classes. Uh-oh - I can see the jealous e-mails against Columbus High School coming already.

(Mr. Bush didn't exactly come out and say it - but if we need to train advanced placement teachers, doesn't that suggest the current teachers aren't as smart as they should be?)

But wait, there's more! President Bush plans a White House conference on mathematics by next January, to determine the best ways to teach mathematics. If this is what he has to do to stop deficit spending, I guess I'm for it....

The math conference will lead to a new "Math Now" program, which will give eighth and ninth-graders extra help if they're struggling with math. You'll be able to spot them by their larger calculators.

President Bush noted two new federal grant programs, for college students who do well in tough course work or major in "critical foreign languages." I'll assume one of those languages is Iranian - since that country's President has been so critical of the U.S. lately.

The timing of the speech on competitiveness was interesting, as today the President welcomes Chinese President Hu Jintao to the White House. If only a former Secretary of the Interior was still alive - so we could have Hu on first, then James Watt on second....

But isn't it a bit curious to hear all this talk from President Bush about being competitive? After all, come 2009 he doesn't have to compete for public office anymore.

Several top Alabama Republicans joined President Bush on his tour of Tuskegee University. That prompted Republican Roy Moore to complain it was nothing but a trip to help Governor Bob Riley's reelection campaign. Maybe if the President visited Samford University's divinity school....

President Bush even had a few nice words to say about Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford, who's every bit a Democrat. The President called him "a good man," who can "fill the potholes." So why isn't the university working on THAT problem -- something that's much more practical?

If there were protests on the Tuskegee University campus during President Bush's visit, I didn't notice any on television. I thought William Howell from the Columbus Rainbow/PUSH office might show up - since he's never bothered to tell us if he was approved for that meeting with Senator Arlen Specter.

Now a quick check of other items, on what turned out to be a busy Wednesday:

+ The principal of Russell County Middle School was arrested, on charges of failing to report an allegation of sexual abuse. The principal's name is Larry Screws - but I'm sorry, we don't do THAT type of humor here....

(So let's see: the Russell County Middle School principal is arrested, weeks after the High School principal was shuffled off to an administrative job. If this keeps up, Tony Rasmus will wind up as both baseball coach and district superintendent.)

+ A lawsuit was filed by a former assistant manager of the Auburn Hooters, claiming a female executive encouraged the wait staff last year to sell their bodies as prostitutes. Maybe this is a stupid question - but does anyone really think they were selling chicken wings in the first place?

+ The Columbus Sheraton Hotel hosted two infomercial-advertised workshops on investing in the international exchange market. This is probably a lucrative business in some parts of town - where they swap dollars for pesos.

+ Shaw handled Harris County 2-1 in high school baseball. For some unexplained reason, Shaw's players wore red undershirts. I do hope the one-day sale at Macy's had nothing to do with this....

+ Columbus native Reggie Abercrombie hit his first major league home run for Florida - and it traveled 493 feet in Cincinnati. We expect the book about his steroid test will be published sometime in July.

+ Instant Message to the business on Warm Springs Road which promises on a sign: "WE FIX M/W OVENS": I'm glad to see you don't discriminate by gender.

COMING FRIDAY: E-mail about everything from The Fire House club to a brothel....

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006


The biggest week of the school year continues today, for some children in Muscogee County. For those of you who don't have students there -- no, the term does NOT end for the summer on Friday.

It's the biggest week of the year because CRCT testing is underway. Some critics of our schools believe those initials stand for, "Can't Read? Can the Teachers."

Third-grade students have to pass the CRCT exams to advance to the next grade. So for eight-year-olds, this is a bit like the Super Bowl - only these contestants only have security cameras for their celebratory dances.

Have you seen what some schools do to get children ready for the CRCT exams? Cusseta Road and Rigdon Road Elementary Schools actually had pre-test pep rallies last Friday! Why can't this last through high school - so the nerds can wind up dating cheerleaders?

There was even one school which brought in a star football player to provide a pre-test motivational speech. There was a good reason why baseball players were NOT invited. They teach you can be successful by getting a hit only 30 percent of the time.

Perhaps I'm a bit jealous by all the attention teachers are giving students about the CRCT exams. When I was young, the standardized test wasn't greeted with pep rallies and encouraging words. After perhaps one day's notice, you simply sat quietly and filled out the form. Advance hype might have scared some children into making mistakes.

In my youth, the standardized tests weren't that different from regular school tests - except you had to be absolutely quiet, and use their specially-provided pencil. And they didn't even encourage us to pass, by giving us number-ONE pencils....

My biggest annoyance about the standardized tests was that we never found out our individual scores. I wanted to outdo the smartest girl in the grade school, who's probably the smartest woman I've ever known. She's now a biology professor in Colorado - and smart enough not to be married to a blogger like me.

But I'm digressing: are all the hype and hoopla about passing CRCT exams a bit over the top? Wouldn't it be a bit more logical to have a party AFTER the tests are over, because you survived another set of them?

To be fair: I understand why schools make the CRCT such a big deal. The results determine whether students get promoted to the next grade - and by extension, whether some teachers get promoted to better salaries and classrooms....

And the bar is set higher this year for the reading portion of the CRCT. Third-graders have to score 22 out of 40 to advance to the next grade, instead of 17. So from now on, the official stance of Georgia is that glasses are half-empty, not half-full.

The pressure really isn't only from the teachers at exam time - it's from Washington. The CRCT scores are important, under President Bush's "No Child Left Behind" law. Which is why it's a little funny to see the President reject annual reviews of his Defense Secretary's performance....

Here's hoping the young people do well on their tests this week. And let's hoping rising students are ready for even more hype and attention -- like "post-game" interviews at the bus stop for the evening news.

Now for other things you may have missed from the last day or two:

+ Which area developer is burning trees for a new subdivision, despite the dry conditions - and doing it at midnight? One man tells me the flames are shooting 40 feet high. But he does NOT consider this the best way to have street lights for security.

+ Columbus police reported a man stopped his car on the south side of town at 3:00 a.m. to ask for directions - and the person he asked pulled out a gun and stole the car. If this doesn't convince guys to start reading maps, I don't know what will.

+ Phenix City Council voted to ban on-street parking near the Davis Restaurant on South Seale Road. This place apparently remains very busy, even though it lost its liquor license two years ago after a shooting. If signs go up calling itself "Fire House West...."

+ Columbus Civic Center Director Dale Hester tried to persuade Columbus Council to endorse a new ice skating rink in South Commons. But Red McDaniel said with the city laying off employees, it makes no sense "from a political standpoint." Well, hold on - have all those workers build the rink....

+ Georgia's first political ad of the year appeared in Columbus, backing Mark Taylor for Governor. Someone pointed out to me it borrowed pictures from four years ago, of a baby crawling through the state Capitol. If that child hasn't grown in four years, it's no wonder Taylor's big issue is health care.

(The Mark Taylor ad also repeats a nickname from 2002, as former United Nations ambassador Andrew Young calls him "The Big Guy." The question later this year will be whether Taylor should be the BIGGEST guy.)

+ Governor Bob Riley signed a bill making the peach the official Alabama "tree fruit." Sadly, the legislative session has just ended - so it's too late to nominate the supporters of this idea for official state nuts.

+ The Biloxi Sun-Herald newspaper shared a Pulitzer Prize for public service, in part because it used the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer to keep publishing after Hurricane Katrina. Of course, the Ledger-Enquirer's new owners could change things - and have Biloxi reporters cover Columbus, to cut costs.

+ Columbus High School tennis ace Brian Garber signed a letter of intent with Boston College. This could be quite an adjustment, since Boston doesn't bake lima beans.

(BLOGGER'S NOTE: The jokes for today have concluded, and we're posting them early because of Wednesday's seventh Day of Passover/Unleavened Bread. You're welcome to read on for a personal memorial tribute.)

BUT SERIOUSLY: Tuesday was a somber day for us, after learning of the death of Don Fitzpatrick. Unless you work in television news, you probably don't know that name - but he was a great help in making this blog what it is today.

This blog's roots were as in January 2000 - a topical joke service seeking subscribers around the world. Don Fitzpatrick had a television news web site called TV Spy, which featured several jokes a day. I submitted my daily issues to him, and he posted a couple nearly every day as a courtesy.

It was free advertising, which Don was gracious enough to provide. And it turned out some of his postings wound up on other web sites, large and small. While LaughLine eventually went out of business (you've noticed this blog is FREE, haven't you?), Don's promotional work in my behalf showed some people like what I do.

I'm thankful not only for Don Fitzpatrick's help with LaughLine - but that he was kind enough to send e-mail condolences, when the death of my dad forced me to miss a few days in 2001. As I wrote on one of the TV Spy message boards Tuesday: "I'm grateful, indebted -- and in mourning."

Your PayPal donations can build a better blog, and keep it 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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