Wednesday, May 31, 2006


We're taking this title a couple of ways today - and you already may be taking this title a couple of ways, depending on your age. Younger readers may be thinking of the TV-movie "High School Musical." Older ones with bigger bellies may be thinking of an old jingle for Falstaff beer.

We start with the news approach to that title - which developed Tuesday at Columbus Council. City employees filled the chambers, after hearing rumors public safety might get a bigger pay raise than other departments. Don't these other departments know how to send scattershot e-mails all over town?

The spokesman for Columbus "public service" workers was Danny Cargill from the building inspections department. Leave it to him to examine city budget proposals, and find a loose brick somewhere....

Danny Cargill told reporters he doesn't mind public safety workers getting a raise. But he says the pay increases should be the same for all city employees. Oh really?! How much in fines did the building inspectors bring in last year, compared to the police?

Muscogee County Sheriff Ralph Johnson agreed with Danny Cargill. He told Columbus Council: "Fair is fair." Hmmm - maybe the Sheriff really is reaching out to civil rights groups now.

Apparently a rumor spread through the Government Center that at least one Columbus Councilor wanted to reduce raises for some city departments, so public safety workers could have more. This is clearly a case of the squeaky badges getting the grease....

WRBL reported it was Police Chief Rick/y/ Boren who submitted a plan to the City Manager for extra public safety pay. It suggested accomplishing this through signing bonuses and an incentive program. Uh oh -- incentives?! Is this the new way of saying "ticket quota?"

But the presentation by public service workers could put Columbus Council in a bit of a bind. Approve even raises for everyone, and police will complain it's not enough. Give public safety more than other departments - and police will smile a bit wider, but still probably it's not enough.

We know from a previous Big Blog Question that readers want Columbus public safety kept exempt from city budget cuts. Tuesday's big turnout by public service workers may cause some to reconsider their thinking - because without the fleet service department, police officers would ride a lot more bicycles.

BLOG SPECIAL EVENT: Today is post number 1,000 for this blog. We've made 1,000 entries here in 41 months - and before rumors start: not one of those entries was written while we were on steroids.

But wouldn't you know it: the 1,000 post hit the Internet 17 hours later than planned! Our blog service showed an "error" when we tried to post at midnight, blaming problems with a "fix" it made Tuesday. Whew -- I thought it was a message we should give away more prizes or something.

Someone suggested I say thank you 1,000 times to mark this milestone. This seemed like a lot of work and effort - and only too late did I realize it was as simple as hitting CTL-V 999 times.

But the person who made the suggestion has a good point - because without readers, there's no real reason to post a blog. Unless, of course, you're like some Hollywood stars who keep blogs to honor themselves....

You may have noticed we added a hit counter to the blog a few months ago, to see how many readers we really have. So what are the totals? Let's put it this way - if we put all our readers in a week inside Golden Park, there still would be plenty of room for the Columbus Catfish fans.

So let me say thanks to all of you who check this blog regularly, and offer your input occasionally. Our hit counter indicates we receive visits from some surprising places:

+ On some days, we have more readers from Atlanta than from Columbus. Those candidates for Governor must be more nervous than we thought.

+ Youngstown, Florida visitors show up almost every day. That town isn't even on my detailed road atlas - but if the Internet addresses say "Media General" on them, it could be where WRBL's lawyers live.

+ Visits occasionally come from other countries - including one the other day from Vietnam. When did they drop laptops in the jungle, hoping missing pilots would find them?

I'd keep the 1,000 party going, but I have to get to other projects - so let's quickly check other news items from Tuesday:

+ Actress Loretta Long gave presentations on preschool education at the Columbus Public Library. Long plays Susan the nurse on "Sesame Street" -- and someone should tell her Cookie Monster hasn't lost any weight since moving to that more balanced diet.

+ WRBL showed Phenix City's summer day camp at the Roy Martin Recreation Center. Among other things, children are playing billiards - leaving me to hope the staff isn't serving root beer.

+ Columbus High School demolished Dunwoody 16-1 to advance to the Georgia AAA baseball finals. Columbus will host Blessed Trinity for the title this weekend -- and with a Catholic high school playing the Blue Devils, people like me who grew up Protestant don't know who to support.

(Meanwhile, I was happy to read my old alma mater Kansas made the NCAA baseball playoffs. This happens for Kansas about as often as.... well, about as often as it qualifies for a football bowl game.)

+ Instant Message to Georgia Secretary of State Cathy Cox: What do you mean, education is your top issue as you campaign for Governor? Did you forget that OTHER Cox is state school superintendent -- the one who spells Kathy with a K?

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Tuesday, May 30, 2006


It was early in the morning, and the man on the phone had big news to share. "I think I just killed the biggest wild hog in the history of Alabama." Don't worry, PETA members - I don't think this occurred on U.S. 431, so you don't have to put up a cross.

The man called from Fort Mitchell, where he indicated wild hogs are among "what we have to deal with out here." I wonder what else he has to endure - besides buglers in the distance, playing "Taps" over and over.

The man estimated the wild hog that he killed weighed about 400 pounds. But he couldn't figure out where to get an accurate measurement. "Maybe a junkyard?" he asked. Yeah -- a junkyard hog. You almost could make a song out of that.

"Or a deer processing plant," I suggested. Imagine how many barbecue sandwiches an Alabamian could get out of a 400-pound wild hog. The closest McDonald's might be pushed to the brink of closing....

So where was this man going with his huge hog? "I'm going to be at River Road Elementary School," he told me. Now there's a surefire way to shut everybody up during show and tell.

This man called before the school year ended, and he was heading for his grandson's awards ceremony at River Road School. Would he dare invite the students outside, to show off his dead 400-pound wild hog? Would the River Road parents be too urban-minded to care?

I obviously wanted to know more about this man, his hog, and his trip to a Columbus grade school with it. But I'm sad to report my calls to this man have NOT been returned for more than a week. I hope the hog didn't come back to life, and swallow his cell phone.

Perhaps this man in Fort Mitchell found out he really didn't have a record-sized wild hog. Perhaps he was scolded by the faculty at River Road School, for taking it there. I really don't know what happened. If another wild hog crossed his path, and decided to get revenge....

E-MAIL UPDATE: We mentioned "IsOurCitySafe" in passing last week [25 May]. Now Brent Rollins has passed some of our jokes about Allstate's safe driving study on to his vast mailing list -- and added this:

Well, Richard you have me on this one. Columbus was rated as a safe city to drive in as far as accidents, but according to local news it's not safe to ride around in your car despite not having an accident....

My rant for the day has nothing to do with driving except that I want to drive all of the councilors out of a job.

I want to see term limits for Council members. Councilor Rodgers was on council for almost 25 yrs. Do you think this is good for the citizens to have bumps sitting on the council log for so long? I don't.

Councilor Rodgers said he looks forward to spending more time traveling with his wife, Barbara, and playing more golf.

I suggested Mayor Bob use this excuse, I guess Mr. Rodgers has chosen to use it first.

Lets see who jumps ship next.

...and just so you know, there will be no more personal attacks against Mayor Bob or the councilors. I promised the Chief of Police during our recent meeting about my emails.

Brent Rollins

Brent Rollins attached a couple of recent news stories about Columbus residents shooting up cars. And strangely, the cars were NOT being treated like lame horses along the roadside.

I know of some cities with term limits for council members. They serve two terms, then they leave. But voters can do the very same thing without a law -- and history shows they have with Columbus mayors. That gray hair on Jack Rodgers must make older voters swoon.

So why did Brent Rollins have a meeting with the Columbus Police Chief about his e-mails? Does this mean Rick(y) Boren is going to call me next, to request an (ahem) appointment?

(Lest Brent Rollins or any critics of the mayor get bright ideas - I give credit on this blog to everyone who submits joke material.)

Now a follow-up to our Saturday night on the party circuit:

Hi Richard-

Hope you had fun at the party! Just an FYI---the game you're referring to in your blog entry is actually called "Flip Cup." Beer pong is played by bouncing a ping-pong ball into cups of beer. We would have played that last night, but didn't have any ping-pong balls!


P.S. The brownies were delicious! Tell your church people they need to eat them!

How embarrassing - I got my drinking games mixed up, and I didn't drink anything stronger than diet cola. Unless someone spiked my cup....

Didn't they used to do something like beer pong on children's television? You dropped a ball into six buckets, to win prizes from Bozo the Clown on WGN in Chicago. I know, because I watched this during summer vacations -- from college.

(On the other hand, I may have seen my last "Flip Cup" for a while. The way the Detroit Pistons played basketball Monday night, coach Flip Saunders won't win a championship cup this season.)

Now let's get caught up on some Memorial Day weekend leftovers:

+ Which repair shop in central Columbus was caught opening the hood of a customer's car - when all the customer wanted was a fixed tire? Does the staff REALLY think something fell out of the engine, to make the tire rip?

+ Columbus gas stations surprised countless customers, and did NOT raise prices for the Memorial Day weekend. It apparently pays for all of us to complain early in the spring.

+ Kinder's Furniture marked the holiday by displaying a World War II-era jeep outside the store, while cutting some prices in half. So you could call this the Soldiers' and Sellers' Memorial....

+ The former head of the Phenix City Firefighters Association indicated he'll sue the city to challenge his firing. He claims he was dismissed for an off-duty meeting with Mayor Jeff Hardin, which violated the chain of command. That's one unusual way to ensure a separation of powers.

+ Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman suggested prosecutors are slowing his corruption trial on purpose, so he loses in the primary. Excuse me - but didn't Siegelman WANT this trial to occur before primary day? [22 Jan] Or is he trying to show he's not a conspirator, by being stunned that prosecutors can plot as well?

+ Atlanta talk show host Clark Howard was nominated for the Radio Hall of Fame. This should make Doug Kellett of WRCG feel big - since he replaced Howard two weeks ago.

+ Columbus High School split a state baseball semifinal doubleheader, setting up a decisive third game today against Dunwoody. The big question now is: are they Dun - or Woody go on?

+ Instant Message to Wikipedia: What gives? My blog isn't mentioned in the Columbus, Georgia entry anymore. Which city official reported me as inaccurate?

SCHEDULED WEDNESDAY: Post number 1,000.... what shall we do????....

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Sunday, May 28, 2006


We wish you a safe and happy Memorial Day! And we celebrate with a feast of spam - as we offer comments on some REAL e-mail message titles we've received over the last few months:


Less so Sunday - 95 degrees already?!


For instance, whitewater rafting on the Chattahoochee River.


Anymore, I'd rather take the airport food aboard the flight with me.


Probably describes any computer science major who's over 40.


....just outside restaurants on Broadway.


Until they open an emergency room which only offers herbal supplements, maybe not.


Who could have known Darren Stack's career started at an ice cream shop?


So vote Republican this fall, or else.


Anyone in the South allergic to pine pollen.


Not in Russell County schools, you don't - you'll get suspended.


No TV series about a sex crime unit would dare have this title.


Yet I still have people warning me against drinking diet soda.


Sponsored by Buck Ice, I suppose.


What will happen if Eve Tidwell decides to return to the restaurant business.


If your radiator does one this holiday weekend, your engine may do the other.


Oh no - I wouldn't want Columbus State women's team to do that.


The sad challenge faced by many female TV newscasters.


Have you noticed no Chinese restaurant in the area dares to use that island in its name?


....will never win you a Golden Apple Award.


Any more medicine than that at the Medical Center, and your insurance probably kicks in.


Why? Clay Aiken's done much better since "American Idol" than Ruben Studdard has.


Why I only play miniature golf.


Does a new college graduate move back in with Mom and Dad or not?


The Columbus Civic Center really is planning a couple - once with Pretty Ricky, another with R. Kelly.


During the school year, the principal calls it a paddle.


I actually received this one March 30 - so apparently off-season rates apply.


That was then. The Dixie Chicks tour is now.


Browner summer? At least my neighborhood had some rain Sunday night....


....So Senator Jeff Sessions wants you deported immediately.


The ones being honored at Fort Benning and Fort Mitchell today are anything but.

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It's been months since this blog was out on the party circuit. In fact, this election year already has us feeling like we're only on the political party circuit....

But Saturday night we were invited to a special event - a going-away party for TV reporter Ashley Nix. She's moving to WBRC-TV, "Fox 6" in her home area of Birmingham. So you'll find Ashley Nix on channel six - and has she moved away from the sticks?

We walked in the door at Ashley Nix's party - and who did we find inside but Mayor Bob Poydasheff! Either he's strenuously searching for every vote he can find in an election year, or he was offering Nix a property tax break on her house.

(Someone told us Mayor Poydasheff gave a going-away speech for Ashley Nix before we arrived. Perhaps that was a joke - or perhaps it was a comfortable place to practice a farewell address of his own.)

We brought a plate of home-baked brownies to the farewell party - and we're delighted to report they were devoured quickly. This easily beats our track record with brownies at church dinners. But we should note at this party, people drank a lot of beer....

In fact, we learned a new game at the Ashley Nix farewell party. "Does anyone NOT know how to play this game?" said a man setting up a table for "beer pong." No, we did NOT know the rules for this - but we don't watch Spike TV, where this probably appears every week.

For those who don't know, beer pong is a bit like a relay race. Each player on a team downs a cup of beer, then has to flip the cup so it lands on the table bottoms-up. Somehow, I suspect people would be kicked out of the Valley Rescue Mission for playing this -- but not Locos Amigos.

A local law officer happened to be at the party, watching teams of four competing in this race. We suggested beer pong could be adjusted to soda, for the Georgia Police and Fire Games. To which the officer answered: "They'd probably prefer the beer."

Once people found out a blogger was at the party, an amazing thing began happening. People kept saying, "Don't put that in your blog!" over and over. As if we go around listing all the women about to turn 30?!?

But you can get all sorts of interesting little tidbits at a party like this. For instance, Saturday night we learned....

+ Some people are calling Columbus Police with non-emergency reports, only to wait 24 hours for a response. But it could be worse - they could be told to wait until public safety employees get a raise.

+ The new Ben & Jerry's ice cream shop is a big early success, with lines of customers extending "out the door." Of course, Bruster's ice cream could make the same claim -- since it has no inside seating.

+ Ledger-Enquirer reporter Erin Simpson was married during the day at a church in Salem. Her reception was held at "The Log Cabin" in Phenix City - which it seems to me could apply to at least a half-dozen barbecue restaurants there.

We wish Ashley Nix well, as she joins a growing list of former Columbus TV reporters in Birmingham. Jason Dennis and Jon Paepcke already are there. So did Tracy Flanagan and Patty Pan take wrong turns, to wind up in Atlanta?

BLOG UPDATE: We now have an explanation about Linda Parker's conversion to the Republican Party in 2002 - or better put, why her husband was upset about it being mentioned on the evening news last week. It turns out she followed the example of school board colleague Mary Sue Polleys, and went back on her word....

Linda Parker's husband says the former and perhaps future school board member changed her mind, shortly after announcing in November 2002 she was becoming a Republican. Simply standing around Governor-Elect Sonny Perdue apparently created an enormous amount of peer pressure.

So Linda Parker is at least independent, as she runs for the Muscogee County School Board -- and may even be a Democrat again. Now some people are wondering about another local candidate. Reginald Pugh is a Democrat, yet I'm told he's hanging around plenty of Republicans -- and every stray vote can count.

Now other notes from a steamy holiday weekend:

+ The air conditioner in my house was turned on for the first time this season, after a Friday evening run. When it's 93 degrees F. in the living room, and the living room is in the shade, it's time....

+ A federal appeals court ruled Russell County Administrator LeeAnn Horne-Jordan can proceed with her harassment suit against former Commissioner Tillman Pugh. Pugh is an insurance agent by trade - but I'm starting to wonder if he was smart enough to take out a liability policy on himself.

+ Outgoing Third Infantry Division Commander William Webster told a farewell luncheon at least one brigade will have to return to Iraq by Christmas. So if Peachtree Mall puts up an evergreen tree in mid-September, you'll know who to blame....

+ A public smoking ban took effect in Opelika. I keep waiting for Sean Combs to take advantage of rules like this - and open a chain of cigar bars called "Puff Daddy's."

+ The annual Masters Water Skiing competition began at Callaway Gardens. It's not quite like the Masters golf tournament in Augusta. For one thing, the contestants don't wear green life preserver vests....

+ Instant Message to Temple Baptist Church on Second Avenue: Can you do that - legally? I mean, that big Jim Wetherington for Mayor sign IS in your parking lot. Isn't there a tax exemption rule about that?

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Saturday, May 27, 2006


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

As the Alabama Primary nears, this past week made one thing very clear - the state has some very interesting candidates. If Larry Darby and Roy Moore ran for the same office and met in a debate, they might have to stand at opposite ends - not of a stage, but of town.

Larry Darby is the atheist running for Attorney General. Roy Moore is the unapologetic Christian running for Governor. Yet strangely, both are not afraid to name the names "Jesus" and "Christ " Of course, Moore is a bit more likely to say them in positive tones....

Both Larry Darby and Roy Moore might say the name of Jesus loudly. But Moore would do it for emphasis, to make a point about morality. Darby would do it.... well, he might argue he does the same thing. He considers some reporters biased, and Alabama's Democratic Party morally challenged.

When wee exchanged e-mails with Larry Darby this past week [23 May], he ended one message with the shorthand "JFC." I've been around enough cursors to figure out what that abbreviation means - and by "cursors," I don't mean Internet chat rooms....

But think for a second about that abbreviation. It has a Jesus and a Christ - yet I seriously doubt atheist Larry Darby would say he believes Jesus IS the Christ. Given some of the other things he wrote, he'd probably shudder even more at the Bible's indication that Jesus was a Jew.

Putting those two names together really does matter. Lots of people believe Jesus existed, from Louis Farrakhan with the Nation of Islam to some present-day Jews. But the real issue is whether you believe Jesus is Christ - a word meaning "Messiah." It's a bit like believing Michael Vick can win the Atlanta Falcons a Super Bowl....

Where do YOU stand in this name game? Is "JFC" a throwaway line for you, said when you're upset or frustrated? Or have you changed that middle letter a bit - to declare this unusual sin-free person "Jesus the Faultless Christ?"

BURKARD'S BEST BETS: Music of ska/reggae pioneer Desmond Decker, who died Thursday.... "The Israelites" and "Honor Your Father" were "CCM" songs long before anyone came up with those initials....

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Friday, May 26, 2006


Two former Muscogee County School Board candidates announced Thursday they're running for the board again. On FM radio, I think they'd call this an "old school jam...."

The most showy announcement was made at the Government Center, as former school board member Linda Parker declared she's running again this year. A good crowd showed up to support her -- or was lunch served after the ceremony, and it wasn't shown on TV?

Linda Parker is running for Muscogee County School Board District 4, the seat she used to hold. She edged Naomi Buckner for that seat in 1998, then lost narrowly to Buckner in 2002. Should we call a possible rematch this year "the brawl to settle it all" ?!

Linda Parker says one of her campaign issues is the need for new schools in South and Southeast Columbus. Aren't officials already planning for that, with all the additional soldiers heading for Fort Benning? These are G.I.'s, after all - so they can't all afford to live near Maple Ridge golf course.

Your blog was able to glimpse Linda Parker's campaign "media package" - and it included her picture on a laminated bookmark. Well, I suppose it beats putting her face on a money clip....

The Muscogee County School Board races are nonpartisan. Yet I'm told Linda Parker's husband became upset, after the evening news mentioned her 2002 announcement that she was becoming a Republican. Parker's husband says it never happened -- so maybe everyone at the airport rally that day was dreaming.

The other school board announcement Thursday came from Cathy Vaughn Williams, who told WRBL she'll try again for the at-large seat. She ran for that seat in 2002 as Cathy Vaughn -- so maybe she added a third name to sound as cool as Mary Sue Polleys.

Remember how strange the at-large school board race was four years ago? Mary Sue Polleys announced her retirement. Cathy Vaughn announced she wanted the seat -- then Polleys changed her mind at the filing deadline and won re-election. Start watching to see if Polleys is wearing flip-flops....

(Cathy Vaughn lost in 2002 despite gaining the endorsement of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, over School Board President Mary Sue Polleys. When DOES the new owner plan to shake up the editorial board?)

Cathy Vaughn Williams has been busy for a few years promoting affordable housing in Columbus. She heads the "NeighborWorks Columbus" program -- which is really misleading, because compared with Habitat for Humanity, your neighbors don't work to build the house for you.

(She may support affordable housing - but this campaign apparently shows Cathy Vaughn Williams is NOT a fan of home schooling.)

What's striking about Thursday's announcements is how old names in school board races are coming back around again. Maybe we should color Columbus politics blue -- as in the city recycling bins.

Filing week in Columbus doesn't occur for another month, so there's still plenty of time for new school board candidates to surface. Where are the young parents, concerned about our schools? Are they all waiting for a foundation to propose buying out Superintendent John Phillips' contract?

There's more election stuff, in our quick review of other Thursday news:

+ The Columbus Chamber of Commerce hosted a forum with State Senate candidates Ed Harbison and Reginald Pugh. Pugh told the audience at one point the race "is not a popularity contest." Uhhhhh - it's not?! When did Columbus create an electoral college?

(Reginald Pugh said afterward it bothers him that incumbent Ed Harbison has done nothing as a State Senator for "ordinary people." Is this why Democrat Pugh has been seen at plenty of Republican events in recent weeks?)

+ Roy Moore brought his campaign for Alabama Governor to Opelika. Moore said his campaign is starting to move into high gear - and with only 11 days remaining before the primary, some would say it's a little past time.

(Aides to Roy Moore's campaign say he's been endorsed by former Governor Fob James. This stunned many people - because they'd completely forgotten about Fob James, since he left office in 1999.)

+ Elsewhere, ground was broken at Fort Benning for a new $28 million shopping complex. It will have a Post Exchange, a food court seating 700 people - but for some odd reason, NO Old Navy store.

+ The hottest day of the year so far in Columbus saw the temperature reach 93 degrees F. It was SO HOT that even the "C-Town Hotties" in "The Edge Magazine" were complaining....

+ The American Red Cross showed great timing, choosing a 93-degree day to hold a blood drive at Bruster's on Whittlesey. Blood donors received a free pint of ice cream - but somehow, I doubt many donors asked for a cherry-red flavor.

+ Regions Bank announced plans to merge with AmSouth of Birmingham. The combined bank will rank among the ten biggest in the country - moving ahead of the bank on "Deal or No Deal."

+ Instant Message to Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling of Enron: OK, you "smartest guys in the room" - did you listen to the prosecutor after you were convicted? You shouldn't hide behind accountants and analysts. Do what Richard Scrushy of HealthSouth did - hide behind the Bible and civil rights attorneys.

COMING NEXT WEEK: A holiday special which will move quickly.... and what should we do for post #1,000?....

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Thursday, May 25, 2006


Well, well - a nationwide study released Wednesday indicates in one way, Columbus IS a relatively safe city after all. And no, Brent Rollins, I don't think the Bob Poydasheff re-election committee paid for this one....

This study examined how safe you are while driving. Allstate Insurance compared close to 200 U.S. cities -- and Columbus finished better than all but one Georgia city. Maybe the J.R. Allen Parkway has the right number of lanes after all.

Columbus scored 70th out of almost 200 U.S. cities, in terms of driving safety. Savannah and Atlanta ranked well below #100 - showing that it pays for our city NOT to have a St. Patrick's Day parade.

The Allstate study ranked cities as driver-safe based on their populations, and the average time between crashes for drivers. If these are the criteria, cities like Atlanta with NASCAR races ought to be well down the list.

The report shows the typical Columbus driver goes 9.8 years between car wrecks. It's admittedly tempting at times to wish the crazy drivers behind me stood at 9.79 years and counting....

Take this recent example: Last weekend near the Columbus Home Depot, I slowed to turn onto the short street west of Sam's Club. But two cars behind me, a metallic orange car cut the corner and hurried away ahead of me! The car had only a paper tag, too - so perhaps the driver just picked it up, maybe from a total stranger.

I tend to let the wild drivers go, with a shake of my head in disbelief more than a shake of the fist in anger. Besides, I drive a 12-year-old Honda which is much too old for chasing down speeders.

(That 12-year-old Honda was bought after I was in TWO collisions in Atlanta. On the same day. After church. At practically opposite ends of the same entrance ramp to the Downtown Connector. Twice the wrecks mean twice the insurance confusion....)

But I confess there are times when I honk my horn at intersections - not because drivers in front of me don't notice the changing light, but because of drivers who speed past me well after the light turns red. If they're not going to alert crossing drivers, someone must....

Oh yes - which Georgia city ranks above Columbus for safe driving? It's Augusta in 59th place. Apparently the only time drivers are at risk there is when the Masters golf tournament shortens the fairways.

But the Allstate study indicates Alabama cities are safer than Georgia cities for driving. Huntsville was fourth in the country, and Birmingham was 15th. I think I can explain the lack of wrecks in Birmingham. Too many drivers are waiting in lines on U.S. 78, north of downtown.

Now for other interesting distractions along the Wednesday path:

+ The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation had its graduation day at Fort Benning. This year there are 49 graduates, and 29 of them U.S. residents. So is THIS where the U.S. government's finding all the guards at Guantanamo Bay -- the ones accused of being insensitive and unethical?

+ WRBL reported the proposed Columbus city budget would mean the end of METRA bus service to Green Island. Are you kidding me - city buses run to Green Island?! These must be for the country club servers and landscaping crew....

(So much for our two mayoral candidates setting a fuel-efficient example, and taking METRA from their Green Island homes to the Government Center. But then again, I thought that neighborhood had restrictive covenants for things such as buses.)

+ WDAK Radio's Scott Miller rejected suggestions by his "Morning Show" colleagues that he should run for Jack Rodgers's seat on Columbus Council. He'd actually make a good candidate this year - because during Columbus State sports events, he complains about officials all the time.

+ The Columbus Parks Department began offering free summer lunches to children. Remember, youngsters - every long loaf of bread which becomes hard and dry could be used as a baseball bat, to save money.

+ Etowah eliminated Hardaway from the state high school baseball playoffs 6-5. The winning run was scored in the bottom of the seventh, when an Etowah batter was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. It wasn't a "walk-off home run" - but a walkover to the home team's trainer.

(Columbus High School won its third-game showdown over Cartersville, but Harris County lost 6-5 to Blessed Trinity. Yeah, right - tell the Harris County players that other team is "blessed." They might say it's simply lucky.)

+ Taylor Hicks of Hoover, Alabama won "American Idol." He'll receive a big recording contract - and he probably can name his price for an endorsement deal with "Just for Men" hair coloring.

(This makes two champions of "American Idol" from Alabama, not to mention Bo Bice making the final round last year. All this talk about "Alabama Idols" must be driving Bible-believing Roy Moore crazy....)

+ Instant Message to Rivertown Church on Schomberg Road: Does your pastor go to bed early on Saturday nights? His series on "America's Idols" is almost exactly what Bill Purvis at Cascade Hills Church did a couple of years ago.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006


A seat on Columbus Council became open Tuesday, when Mayor Pro Tem Jack Rodgers announced he plans to retire. Do you think this is the real reason why his son left WRBL sports - to keep this seat in the family?

Jack Rodgers has been a Columbus Councilor 24 years. Now at age 63, he says he's ready to retire. He'll leave office in December -- which might be perfectly timed for the new Wal-Mart SuperCenter on Whittlesey Boulevard.

Jack Rodgers says he plans to stay in Columbus after leaving office. Doesn't it seem a bit silly to ask that sort of question to a 24-year Columbus Councilor? Well, no -- not if you remember Fire Chief Roy Waters....

Jack Rodgers says he's been so busy working and serving with Columbus Council that he only recently started traveling. Who knows how stunned he was to find Opelika has Spectrum stores, just as Columbus does.

At age 63, Jack Rodgers says he's even started playing golf a little in recent years. Maybe he started too late - because the PGA Champions Tour still hasn't come back to Green Island Country Club.

The retirement of Jack Rodgers actually creates two open positions - because he succeeded A.J. McClung as Mayor Pro Tem. Which Councilor is in line for that job? Red McDaniel, because he has the longest tenure? Or Evelyn Turner Pugh, to end the "good ol' boy" image?

But the more immediate question is who will fill Jack Rodgers's Columbus Council seat. District 5 is an area around Peachtree Mall and the airport - so a lot of fast-food managers could run, on a platform of providing quick customer service.

Meanwhile, Columbus Council had a spirited discussion Tuesday over where to put a "Goodwill Community Campus" development proposed by Goodwill Industries. Should it be put on Macon Road, as some suggest? Or is that too far away for Ben & Jerry's employees to walk, without their ice cream melting?

E-MAIL UPDATE: Our Monday item on Georgia's incarceration rate may have inspired this message -- but more likely an evening news item about Lee County's packed jail did:

The story about the jails overcrowded has come up again, and again, still - seems no solution is offered.

If memory is right,, same arguments from the sherriff last time elections came around..same problem exsist..does not seem that the State is listening..maybe a different plan is in order.

Wonder what the new cells will hold when finished - maybe....More state inmates...if there are enough cells built....we can just move the State system here...

Alabama's Corrections Commissioner actually has been threatened with jail time by a judge, because so many state inmates are in county jails. Perhaps the state candidates should go there, too - but Governor Bob Riley had a news conference Tuesday about the 2007 Bassmasters Classic.

(Hey, wait a minute. There IS one candidate in Alabama who could wind up behind bars - but it's a federal trial for Don Siegelman, so I guess federal prisons don't count.)

Let's see what else locked our attention, on a Tuesday when admittedly not much inspired us:

+ The Russell County School Board voted to move middle school principal Larry Screws to the elementary school. WRBL reported parents applauded the decision -- so I'll resist the cliched comparison to chairs on the Titanic.

+ A new mobile response center was dedicated for the Russell County Sheriff's Department. It has a bunk bed, a stove, a microwave - and who knows how many residents will see it and say, "Where did they get THAT double-wide?"

+ Georgia gubernatorial candidate Cathy Cox told GPB's "Georgia Weekly" if she's elected, she hopes to seek the "broad middle ground" of voters. I thought Sonny Perdue was trying to get rid of that - by having Georgians lose weight.

+ Columbus High School split a baseball quarterfinal series in Cartersville, forcing a decisive third game today. Cartersville's team is called the Purple Hurricanes. After what Hurricane Katrina, I thought they were colored green - as in big money.

+ Instant Message to the Ledger-Enquirer: About that front-page headline the other day: "BIBLE IDENTIFIES CRASH VICTIM" - you sure fooled me with that one. I thought you had found something not even "The DaVinci Code" had.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Oh dear - two weeks before the Alabama primary, I've made a candidate for statewide office upset. But at least it's not Roy Moore, so I'm not being threatened with the Biblical lake of fire....

Monday brought an interesting, unexpected exchange with Alabama Attorney General candidate Larry Darby. He was controversial years ago, for opposing the Ten Commandments monument in Montgomery. If he gets elected, he might bring down more religious items than the Taliban.

The exchange actually started with an Associated Press story from last Friday. Alabama's Democratic Party declared Larry Darby "offensive" and "bizarre" for raising questions about the Nazi holocaust of World War II. Why this is an issue in the Alabama primary, I'm not sure. Are any Nazis hiding in Smiths Station?

I posted an article for a local news web site about the "Democrats vs. Darby" issue -- and a short time later, Larry Darby personally e-mailed me demanding a retraction. If he's doing this 15 days before the Alabama Primary, maybe he's the candidate of small campaigns and less government.

(How did Larry Darby find out about the article so fast? I'm led to believe he has a "Google News alert" pegged to stories with his name. And you thought politicians were self-centered and egotistical....)

My bad #1: The article I posted said Larry Darby's Atheist Law Center had challenged the Ten Commandments monument inside the Alabama Judicial Building. Wrong, Darby replied. That'll teach me to trust my memory -- and I won't bother entering the next "Jeopardy" senior tournament.

To quote Larry Darby's reply: "The Atheist Law Center, Inc. was not a part of any legal action against Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore or his monument to Judaism...." To Judaism?! Perhaps if Moore had moved in a monument with the New Testament "beatitudes" on it, it could have been OK.

Larry Darby wrote he has "no issue with Mr. Moore's message that the U.S. government had no authority to intervene." Atheists have no problem with the states' rights section of the Bill of Rights. That first amendment and freedom of religion might be a little different....

Larry Darby wrote the states' rights debate in the Ten Commandments monument controversy was drowned out by "the Jews from New York and New Jersey who commandeered the pro-Moore rallies and the Jewish-owned media for the masses...." What did Darby think when agnostic Ted Turner owned CNN?

Larry Darby went on to say in his Alabama Attorney General "stump speeches I plainly attack the Jewish supremacists who own and operate the Southern Poverty Law Center." Admittedly, I have NOT checked the center's list of board members - but I thought most of their issues involved African-American Christians.

Larry Darby ended the e-mail with this challenge: "Don't lie, and brush your teeth after meals." I certainly try to uphold the first half of that - but for a supporter of states rights, that second part certainly meddles in my individual liberties.

I replied to Larry Darby's complaint, promising to adjust the story I posted to include his comments. After I did so, Darby e-mailed again beginning with these words: "You can't help but distort the truth, can you?" Not even a salutation - just that first line. He and Donald Rumsfeld would make great drinking buddies....

My bad #2: In adjusting the original story, I wrote Larry Darby challenged the Ten Commandments monument on grounds of "church-state separation." Darby answered he never uses such a "politically correct" term. I'd never heard it called politically correct before - and all the networks run by synagogue-attending Jews seem to use it.

Larry Darby says he makes it "a purposeful habit to use the constitutionally correct phrase 'separation between religion and government.'" His point is well taken here, and I'd admittedly never thought of it before. This atheist was caring more about Jews in temples and Muslims in mosques than I was.

Larry Darby went on to write: "I know of no one who denies mass deaths of innocents during the WW2...." Perhaps someday he'll be introduced to the President of Iran.

As Larry Darby explains it: "we so-called deniers simply dispute the LIES of the Jews or the Holocaust Industry." Thank you for clarifying that - but I never considered the Holocaust an "industry" before. It must be working, because fewer states than ever execute inmates in gas chambers.

In his frustration with what I wrote, Larry Darby ended his last e-mail: "JFC!" Hmmmm - what could those initials mean from an ATHEIST candidate for Alabama Attorney General? Maybe "jurisprudence for the citizens...."

Larry Darby did NOT dispute one part of the original Associated Press story. He says Alabama's Democratic Party did not talk with him before calling his comments bizarre, and thus it is "morally challenged." I'm not sure how an atheist would define such morals - except that he probably wouldn't limit them to ten.

Just as I felt down in the dumps over disappointing Larry Darby, another e-mail came my way -- from one of those "Jewish supremacists" he can't stand, and one who's actually from New York. Yes, a message came from Al Sharpton....

An e-mail statement to journalists from Al Sharpton called for Larry Darby's name to be removed from the Alabama Primary ballot. But state Democratic Party officials say it's too late to do that. And let's face it - they didn't red-flag the Preakness Stakes for Barbaro.

Al Sharpton's statement claims Larry Darby is "running a close second" in the Alabama Democratic race for Attorney General, behind the Mobile County District Attorney. It seems the candidates don't want to debate each other, so one of them took on me instead....

Al Sharpton's statement spelled out why some Alabama Democrats are upset with Larry Darby -- he "claims that no more than 140,000 Jews were murdered during the Holocaust." Many historians put the number at six million. Maybe these two Democrats can agree on a team of Florida vote counters, to get this resolved.

Despite all this heat in the Attorney General's race, the Lee County Election Board predicted Monday the turnout in the Alabama Primary may not top 25 percent. In a Bible Belt state, it's easy to understand why - since this vote occurs on 6/6/06.

(But there are other reasons for low voter interest in Lee County. Maybe local candidates are running unopposed, including Sheriff Jay Jones. If only someone would take on those annoying guys with the bullhorn from Mix 96.7 FM.)

I'm a bit thankful today that this blog is not on the Google News list of media sources. I'm not even sure how to get on it. But if Larry Darby happens upon this entry - thank you for the correction. Thank you for stimulating my thinking. And thank you, Mr. Atheist, for challenging me to be a better Christian.

Hopefully I'll watch my words a bit better, as we check other items of interest from Monday:

+ State Senator Ed Harbison called a Government Center news conference to confirm he'll seek re-election and take on Reginald Pugh. So it appears Calvin Smyre and Sanford Bishop couldn't talk Harbison out of the race, either....

(There was a good reason why Ed Harbison called a news conference to announce his re-election plans. His show "Public Agenda" doesn't seem to be on TV-16 anymore, so he needs the practice.)

+ National cable television ads began, in a drive to have Congress censure former President Carter. Maybe Republicans will attach that to the amendment defining marriage - or some other tax cut extension.

+ Older people in Russell County received a special tour of the Phenix City Riverwalk by golf cart. Hopefully none of them stepped off on the river side of the walkway - because if that area is still off-limits to Fort Benning soldiers, imagine how dangerous it could be for them.

+ The evening news showed contestants preparing for the first "Miss Black Columbus" pageant at the Liberty Theater. The ladies say it's not a racial issue, but a way to expand their opportunities. So who wants to bring back the Kansas City Monarchs, and start a new "Negro League?"

+ The college football publication "Lindy's" ranked Auburn eighth in its preseason ratings. Now hold on here - they're releasing college football rankings before Memorial Day? Next thing you know, they'll play games before the College World Series is over. Of course, they'll be like pro football then....

+ Instant Message to Mayor Bob Poydasheff: Have you called New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin yet? Not only to congratulate him, but to get ideas on how to turn a campaign around.

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Monday, May 22, 2006


So how did you like the first weekend of summer? If you think that's a trick question, you're right - because some people would tell you it was really the third.

When does summer begin - really? The calendar and the meteorologists would tell you it's not for another month, falling on June 21. But for many of us, it actually begins weeks earlier -- which may prove Sunny 100 FM didn't really start this bad trend, by playing Xmas music in mid-November.

Most Muscogee County school children probably would tell you summer started Friday afternoon. They're now on an 11-week vacation - which means the competition for public access computers at libraries will increase about 30 percent.

But if you play high school baseball in our area, summer vacation really hasn't started yet. Several teams still could play three more rounds of state playoffs. Please forgive some of the players if they have stained uniforms - they had to hurry to the game after working at Bruster's Ice Cream.

For many drivers, summer will start this coming weekend. They'll take Memorial Day weekend trips. They'll take them more by car pool than in past years, but they'll still take trips....

But in other walks of life, summer actually began more than two weeks ago. "Mission Impossible III" was considered the first big movie of the "summer season" - and it came out May 5. I wonder if Carmike employees jumped around like Tom Cruise, when it did well at the box office.

A sportscaster over the weekend referred to the Triple Crown of horse racing as occurring "every summer." He apparently believed NBC's hype that the Kentucky Derby on May 6 was the "first big sporting event of the summer." I guess what happened to Barbaro made the Preakness the first cancellation....

For years, I defined the start of summer as the night the National Hockey League crowned a Stanley Cup champion. I'm old enough to remember when that happened on May 15 - as opposed to this year, when it could happen around June 15.

But last year the National Hockey League had a lockout which canceled the season - and that threw my schedule way off. After all, the Columbus Cottonmouths won their championship on the first weekend of April. You can't have summer while you're still doing spring cleaning....

So who's right in this debate about when summer begins? It appears in Columbus, the school children are right - because the temperature jumped in a hurry Friday, just in time for their last day of class. Hopefully all the low-income students are receiving bottles of sunscreen, to get by....

With high temperatures expected to hover around 90 F. all week, the test of wills is on. How long can I hold out with floor fans, before another sign of summer occurs - and I turn on the air conditioner for the first time? It's me versus Georgia Power, and we'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, let's check other thoughts from a very warm Sunday:

+ The tenth annual "Arts in the Park" event was held at Lakebottom Park. Organizers say they'd like to see Columbus parks become centers for artists on weekends. And while they're at it, maybe the artists can trim trees and bushes for the laid-off parks department employees.

(Do we really want to see artists filling Columbus parks on weekends? Can't we restrict them and their donation buckets to bus stops, between Monday and Friday?)

+ Several Columbus church services focused on "The DaVinci Code" movie - and to me, this seems strange. So many pastors urge worshipers to read their Bibles. So why didn't they focus on "The DaVinci Code" when the book came out? Do they doubt worshipers can read other things?

(After all this debate and fuss, I've made up my mind. I'm not looking at any more artwork by Leonardo DaVinci, until this movie is out of theatres....)

+ A new federal report showed Georgia has the second-highest incarceration rate of any state. More than one percent of Georgia's population is behind bars. [True/NPR] Maybe we're missing the point in Columbus - and we should hire more jail guards first, then the police officers.

(There's one sure way for Georgia to pass Louisiana, and lead the country in incarcerations - and if all the illegal immigrants would turn themselves in today, it would make things a lot easier.)

+ Alabama linebacker Juwan Simpson was arrested on several charges, including "receipt of stolen property." Please don't tell me they're punishing teams this way, for laterals after interceptions.

+ Instant Message to WLGA-TV 66: Please turn off the captioning! I didn't want to read what Halle Berry was saying to Byron Allen Sunday night. In fact, I don't care what she says to Byron Allen. This single guy just wants to see Halle Berry....

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Sunday, May 21, 2006


The murder of a soldier in Columbus was analyzed Saturday night on the CBS News program "48 Hours." But who told reporter Erin Moriarty that Fort Benning was "in Columbus?" It only looks that way when soldiers are at the mall, or out on Victory Drive....

When two Fort Benning soldiers were tried in January for killing Richard Davis, something looked different about the TV coverage. It became clear Saturday night that "48 Hours" was involved. For one thing, WRBL never would have had more than one camera in that courtroom -- and certainly none facing the spectators.

The CBS broadcast offered several new details about the death of Richard Davis. For the first time, a Columbus police interrogation videotape was shown of suspect Jacob Burgoyne being questioned. Take that, you critics of city budgets.
They actually use videotapes, not microcassettes.

The "48 Hours" report also revealed something I hadn't heard before - that the Richard Davis case was the subject of an article in Playboy magazine two years ago. You never heard about it, of course, because no one in Columbus dares to admit they read such trash.

But we really should start at the beginning. Richard Davis was killed in some woods off Milgen Road in July 2003, only days after returning from Iraq. According to "48 Hours," he was with a group of soldiers who drank beer for hours at Hooters. They were happy to be home - and around women wearing T-shirts and not shawls.

After quaffing at Hooters, the four soldiers went to the Platinum Club on Manchester Expressway. The CBS broadcast indicated they went there to play pool. This was shocking in and of itself - you mean strip clubs have billiard tables?!

Fellow soldiers say Richard Davis was "very drunk" while they were at the Platinum Club, so he was taken to a car for a while. Only hours later, Davis was murdered by an enraged soldier - which may prove friends with drunk friends simply should keep driving.

Jacob Burgoyne told "48 Hours" he was in an argument with Richard Davis at the Platinum Club, and beat him a few times in the car. But he says when they stopped along Milgen Road, a red-eyed Alberto Martinez pulled out a knife and "just stuck him" 33 times. If only Columbus had a 24-hour paintball club....

It turns out Jacob Burgoyne had beaten up Richard Davis months before, at another Columbus strip club. Before they went to Iraq, Davis apparently embarrassed a group of soldiers by throwing coins on stage. What IS the minimum bid at these clubs - one dollar or two?

Jacob Burgoyne admitted to "48 Hours" he tried to kill himself in Kuwait days before the death of Richard Davis, by overdosing on prescription drugs. Now he's serving a 20-year sentence for voluntary manslaughter - and only hears about prescription drugs when network newscasts are on TV.

Fort Benning received plenty of criticism in the "48 Hours" report. The father of Richard Davis says Benning listed his son as AWOL after he disappeared in July 2003, and didn't search for him for months. For all we knew, he could have been conducting controlled burns to feed an arson habit.

The CBS broadcast also noted Jacob Burgoyne was recommended for psychiatric care as he returned from Iraq in 2003 -- but after a chat with a doctor at Martin Army Hospital, he was allowed to walk out and return the next week. Those SOA Watch protesters had better be very careful, come November....

(Fort Benning had no direct comment on the criticism - but don't be surprised in a few days if CBS News is added to the "off-limits" list for soldiers.)

District Attorney Gray Conger admitted to "48 Hours" he lacked much evidence to convict Alberto Martinez in the killing of Richard Davis. Yet a jury found Martinez guilty after less than three hours - so maybe it was because the prosecutor in the case looked so much like Antonio Carter of the National Action Network....

The end of the CBS broadcast revealed Alberto Martinez is seeking a new trial. He wants to use post traumatic stress disorder as a defense. This must be the new form of "temporary insanity" -- and it sounds a lot more scientific than eating Twinkies.

Another "48 Hours" first was a look inside the sentencing hearing for Jacob Burgoyne. The father of Richard Davis was allowed to speak, and let him have it - saying: "There's not a man in this world who's man enough for you." Now hold on.
When did homosexuality come up in this?

Lanny Davis admits he'll never forgive the soldiers who killed his son. In fact, he and his wife keep a small memorial to Richard Davis in the woods off Milgen Road where he died. So much for that land ever being rezoned for military housing....

The CBS broadcast also dared to mention something no one in Columbus wants to say a lot about - that the Third Brigade already is planning for a third tour of duty in Iraq. I'm hearing a training exercise will take place in California next January. So if you have a used car to sell, the clock is ticking.

BLOG UPDATE: But now to the HUGE news of the weekend - that Candace Cook is leaving WRBL. The woman who won the vote of blog readers for the best hair in Columbus [20-28 May 04] is moving out of town! And we never even learned the name of her stylist....

I'm told Candace Cook and her husband are moving back to their home area of Philadelphia. Maybe they'll run into Maria LaRosa there - and they can swap stories about how primitive Columbus is, with only one or two restaurants selling cheese steaks.

E-MAIL UPDATE: He's baa-ack....

Bob thinks we are blind not to notice all this is taking place just before his defeat, I mean campaign against Jim Wetherington. I know Bob reads my emails that I send him because he gets very angry at me for telling the truth. Well here is one more truth Bob, you are outta here. You had your chance and you messed it up. Do you think that ANYONE that works in Public Safety is going to believe anything you have to say and vote for you? You are sadly mistaken. Like I said, the best thing for you to do is fake an illness or say you are not running in order to spend more time with your family. That way you can slide out of office with the very small bit of dignity you have left.

Registered voter and non-Bob supporter,

Brent Rollins

At least Mayor Poydasheff can save money on his campaign signs - by simply putting "Bob" on them. Apparently everyone knows who that means.

"IsOurCitySafe" Brent Rollins included with his taunt an article from Saturday's Ledger-Enquirer. Almost all the reporters covering Friday's Crimestoppers party apparently overlooked a comment by Sheriff Ralph Johnson, warning plenty of police officers could leave next year. And in the last three years, I only recall him firing one....

Mayor Bob Poydasheff responded to the Sheriff's warning by saying Columbus only has the money right now for 92 percent of the salaries recommended by an independent pay study. Where I come from, 92 percent is an A grade - but some people apparently only are happy with perfection.

The political mix continued Saturday at Lonnie Jackson's "pre-Memorial Day celebration" on Buena Vista Road. Some people were disappointed by the turnout - but Mr. Jackson should have told Muscogee County schools to hold a couple of commencement ceremonies on Sunday, to accommodate him.

Mayor Bob Poydasheff spoke at the pre-Memorial Day ceremony. Then someone spotted Jim Wetherington in the audience, and invited him to make a speech as well. And on top of that, Jerry Barnes used the event to announce he'll run against Nathan Suber for Columbus Council. It's nice to see we're putting our soldiers first....

Columbus NAACP President Bill Madison attended the pre-Memorial Day ceremony as well -- only he wasn't running for anything. Instead, he talked about how people forget veterans as war "becomes a distant past." Distant past?! I thought the Third Brigade returned home less than six months ago.

By the way: did you see Richard Hyatt's column in the Ledger-Enquirer on the mayor's race? He noted both "Jim-Bob" candidates live in Green Island Hills. The last time they really had to worry about public safety was when detectives visited Eric Buffong's house.

Before I get in any deeper trouble, let's quickly wrap up other weekend headlines:

+ A Kia official confirmed construction on the West Point plant is being delayed. A statement blamed it on legal problems involving Hyundai executives in South Korea. Aw c'mon - did that stop Martha Stewart from publishing a magazine?

+ The Columbus Public Library hosted a "Bike Safety Rodeo," in which youngsters were given free bicycle helmets. Now if someone please will tell them to ride on the street - so they don't mow down joggers like me on the sidewalk....

+ The first Ben & Jerry's ice cream shop in Columbus opened near (duh) Columbus Park Crossing. Republicans who want an ice cream stand of their own should ask Shooters firing range to expand a bit.

+ The "Real Time" telecast on NBC-38 found Bill Purvis discussing "The DaVinci Code" - and the upper deck at Cascade Hills Church looked almost empty. Do you think members expected Purvis to read from Dan Brown's book, and not the Bible?

+ Columbus State's baseball team was eliminated from the NCAA playoffs, in a game where the Cougars committed five errors. When they have more mistakes in a game than some radio talk shows have in a week, it's not a good sign.

+ Instant Message to Tiger Eye Martial Arts Academy on South Lumpkin Road: You mean TIGER Eye, right? So why does the banner on your window show not only your name, but an eagle?

BURKARD'S BEST BETS: Gas for $2.60 a gallon at Summit, 15th and Veterans Parkway.... FREE "Arts in the Park" today at Lakebottom Park.... and based on history, rain falling on Arts in the Park at some point....

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Friday, May 19, 2006


Commencement weekend in Muscogee County Schools begins this afternoon. The Columbus Civic Center will hold eight ceremonies in about 36 hours - and the school with the smallest turnout has to return to South Commons and watch a Catfish baseball game.

It's apparently the season not only for seniors to graduate, but for students to pull pranks. WRBL's top story Thursday night was the pouring of paint on doors and signs at Shaw High School. Wow -- when vandals spray-painted an insult on my old high school's wall, I'm not sure it even made the school newspaper.

Someone went to Shaw High School and poured white paint on several doors, as well as the sign pointing to the school from the J.R. Allen Parkway area. This seems like a very strange way to promote "Arts in the Park" at Lakebottom this weekend....

Shaw High School faculty members do NOT think any Shaw students spread the white paint. Hmmmm - which high school IS the art magnet, anyway?

But Shaw High School officials admit they're not sure who poured the paint in several places. So how did WRBL seem to know it was a "senior prank?" After all, vandalism like this is a sophomoric thing to do....

An assistant principal at Shaw High School says they actually expect "rolling" with toilet paper as the school year ends. Those future Auburn students consider it spring practice.

The strange thing about this prank is that Muscogee County Schools claimed to have increased security for the last days of the term, to guard against trouble. Maybe by next year, they'll heal the wounds with the city and hire some off-duty police officers.

Year-end school pranks apparently have been common in Columbus for some time. I recall a morning jog in the late 1990's, when I found soap suds filling a fountain near the Space Science Center. Of course, maybe this was NOT a prank - simply how the city cleaned water stains years ago.

For commencement weekend, of course, the concern is NOT about pranksters. It's about something even more potentially dangerous - the threat of someone applauding when they're not supposed to....

It hasn't received much attention this year, but I'm assuming the graduation rules remain unchanged for the audience - and interruptions of the ceremony will NOT be tolerated. Regis Philbin can walk onto the set of "Deal or No Deal" anytime he wishes, but in Columbus he could be arrested.

Muscogee County school officials explain graduation is a solemn occasion, and whoops and hollers for certain seniors only detract from the moment. I'm amazed school board member Joseph Roberson hasn't tried to change this - because he asks for "amen's" from his church congregation often.

So are any senior classes in our area planning a trip outside the country - especially after what happened to Natalee Holloway last May? Oops, I forgot. This is Columbus. The only big trip here might have Brookstone seniors going to The Cheesecake Factory in Atlanta.

BLOG UPDATE: The Reuters news service claimed Thursday Kia is postponing construction of the new plant in West Point. City leaders there said they'd heard nothing about it - but then again, you wonder how many of them had heard of South Korea six months ago.

West Point Mayor Billy Head said as far as he knows, Kia construction is still on schedule. If he says it, we probably should believe it - because after all, he's the Head guy.

A spokesman for Georgia's economic development office also dismissed the Reuters report about Kia. To the contrary, he said -- several Hyundai executives are in the state right now, with more coming next week. Jeff Foxworthy has plenty of land in Harris County, where they can hide....

The rumors about Kia are swirling because Hyundai's chairman was indicted in South Korea this week, and Asian reports suggest his son will be indicted soon. And to make things more amazing, I haven't heard Ralph Nader complain about Kia cars even once.

Three South Korean automotive groups announced a petition drive Thursday. They hope to gain a million signatures, to get the Hyundai Chairman free from jail until his embezzlement trial. If this approach was allowed in the U.S., Kenneth Starr could have had President Clinton arrested years ago.

Now let's sign off on other news from Thursday:

+ The late news showed the Columbus Fire Department's new exercise equipment, which was purchased mostly from a federal Homeland Security grant. This is money designed to protect us from terrorism - and it's being spent on treadmills?! Are public safety employees going to drop them on local sleeper cells?

+ A winning ticket in the Georgia Lottery's "Win for Life" game was sold in West Point. This makes four big lottery prizes in Troup County in six months - and no, I'm not counting the Kia plant in that number anymore.

(The strange thing about "Win for Life" is that the game promises $1,000 a week for life, but the money is paid quarterly. Isn't this asking a lot from some lottery players - to actually have a three-month budget?)

+ Spencer High School graduate Ed Hill finished second on the reality show "American Inventor." He does NOT win one million dollars for his "Word Ace" idea -- but he'll probably gain a lot of uncomfortably close friends, the next time he attends a Spencer reunion.

+ Pacelli advanced in the Georgia high school baseball tournament by pounding Portal 16-6. So you might say the Vikings disconnected Portal, and now it's shut down.

+ Our Burkard Bulk Mail Index (see below) closed above 12,000 for the first time, and now is several hundred points ahead of he Dow Jones Industrial Average. I say it's time to bail out of stocks, and invest in low-priced Cialis and Ephedra.

+ Held-over curious quote of the day: "What does [Taylor Hicks] do? Does he sing?" - Mayor Bob Poydasheff on WDAK radio's "Viewpoint" 7 March.

+ Instant Message to Lonnie Jackson: Yes, we know. We know your "pre-Memorial Day celebration" is Saturday morning. We know you want a big crowd there. But we also know how you create guilt clouds - and if we have other things to do, it does NOT mean we're slapping all veterans in the face.

COMING SOON: A big pig, without the jig....

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BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 12,256 (+ 420, 3.5%, record high)

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© 2003-06 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

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Thursday, May 18, 2006


Today marks a big day for drivers in east Alabama. U.S. 280 becomes a four-lane highway, all the way from Phenix City to Birmingham. Does this mean the Columbus area doesn't have the "world's longest cul-de-sac" anymore?

Governor Bob Riley will take part in a ceremony, celebrating a completely four-laned U.S. 280 in east Alabama. So?! Zell Miller would have had a north Georgia highway named after him by now....

The last section of U.S. 280 to be widened from two lanes to four was between Alexander City and the Waverly area. It includes a tiny corner of Chambers County -- where officials may be more concerned about making U.S. 431 so wide that no one ever wrecks there again.

It's taken decades to widen U.S. 280 all the way from Phenix City to Birmingham. That's partly because some landowners along the way in Lee County either didn't want the encroachment, or didn't want to leave their homes. But Roy Moore didn't surface in time to protect their traditions....

There are 141 miles between Phenix City and Birmingham, and regular drivers on U.S. 280 say a completely four-laned highway will save them about 20 minutes in travel time. If the speed limit doesn't change, how can this be? Unless, of course, these drivers are ignoring the speed limit....

But make no mistake: U.S. 280 is NOT an interstate highway. Stop lights await at various towns along the way, between Phenix City and Birmingham. Linger at one of them in Alexander City or Sylacauga, and you might be tempted to admire an abandoned textile mill.

Parts of U.S. 280 in Alabama actually have more than four lanes, and that's a good thing. The Mountain Brook-Vestavia Hills section needs the extra space for all the suburban Birmingham traffic -- not to mention the fancy things people buy at those upscale shopping malls.

But there are other sections of U.S. 280 which could use widening beyond four lanes. I'm starting to think six lanes are needed in north Phenix City, between Wal-Mart and Kmart. The southbound lanes get packed in the late afternoon -- and with a new Bruster's going up along U.S. 280, a lot of ice cream is going to melt.

Next week will mark one year since my last drive on U.S. 280, from Birmingham to Phenix City [30 May 05]. I can't give you a fair estimate of how long the trip took -- since I made the mandatory stop at Kroger in Opelika, to buy low-priced groceries.

Now that we've fixed U.S. 280 all the way to Birmingham, the next project is making a straight four-lane highway to Montgomery. The proposed Interstate 14 would provide that -- and even let you travel all the way to Mississippi. But if you're not going to Biloxi to gamble or Tupelo to tour Elvis Presley history, why go?

E-MAIL UPDATE: Speaking of roads, this message reached us Wednesday:

New routes

The Lee County school system says they are changing the bus routes of the buses that go thru that intersection (HWY 169 and lee road 240) .

That is a good move, Now, asking for the interesection to be redone to make it available for school buses to make south turns onto HWY 169. this will be interesting to see if the D.O.T. responds to this before OR after maybe some law suits are filed by Parents or not.

This is referring to the place where more than a dozen students were hurt in a collision last week. I'm not familiar with this intersection -- but if lawsuits are pending, I suppose Ken Nugent or Micki Beth Stiller will know it before long.

Now let's pull into a parking lot, to review other items from Wednesday:

+ Columbus Technical College students began a clothing drive, for residents of the Open Door Community House. Remember: your old clothes actually may be newer that what those residents wear now - and I suspect they smell better, too.

+ Alabama State Senator Gerald Dial began his own television commercial, in response to Kim Benefield. Dial calls the Benefield accusations of recent days "untrue attacks funded by trial lawyers." You'd think lawyers would state untrue attacks themselves, instead of paying for others to do it for them.

+ Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue said he'll call the legislature into a special session, if the state Supreme Court doesn't review the constitutional amendment on marriage by August 7. It's nice to see he's waiting until the sales tax holiday is over - though I can't quite understand why.

(Supporters of same-sex marriage accuse Governor Perdue of planning to make the marriage amendment an election year issue. Huh?! If their side hadn't challenged the constitutionality of the amendment in court, this never would have happened.)

+ The U.S. Senate approved an amendment to the immigration reform bill offered by Alabama's Jeff Sessions. It would build a "triple-layered fence" along the U.S.-Mexican border. That was a stunning setback for Schick, which lobbied for a Quattro

(So why does Jeff Sessions want a triple-layered fence along the U.S.-Mexican border? From the news of several months ago, the Russell County Jail could use that first.)

+ Pacelli High School split a doubleheader in the state baseball playoffs with Portal, forcing a third game today. I hope Portal High School lives up to its name -- and offers not only e-mail, but real-time stock quotes and a chat room.

BURKARD'S BEST BETS: Gas for $2.66 a gallon at Dolly Madison on Victory Drive.... Oreo cookies 2-for-1 at Publix.... and someone selling duct tape outside the Civic Center, so no one interrupts this weekend's high school graduation ceremonies....

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BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 11,836 (+ 406, 3.6%, record high)

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© 2003-06 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Nope, at least not this year. Columbus Councilor Wayne Anthony announced Tuesday he will NOT run for Mayor. Perhaps this minister noticed how successful Roy Moore's campaign is going in Alabama....

Wayne Anthony announced his decision not to run for mayor during the Columbus Council meeting. Anthony revealed some people in his district had approached him about seeking the top job. How many of them do you think were police officers, wanting their own candidate in his current job?

Wayne Anthony gave several reasons why he isn't running for mayor. For one thing, he says two qualified candidates already are in the race. That's open to debate - and I'm sure the Chamber of Commerce will hold one sooner or later....

Wayne Anthony also noted a three-way race for mayor probably would result in a runoff, which would cost the city about $100,000. So if all the Parks Department employees hold a caucus meeting and determine their slate of candidates, there might be money to keep all their jobs.

Qualifying for Columbus city offices doesn't occur until the last week of June. So there's still time for rumors to percolate about someone else entering the mayor's race -- but I really can't imagine Bobby Peters giving up his judgeship.

So where are the rumors about possible African-American candidates for mayor? Does no one in that community want the job? Or does that community believe City Manager Isaiah Hugley gives them all the clout they need already?

Meanwhile, have you seen the first "attack ad" of the election year? It surfaced Tuesday from the Kim Benefield State Senate campaign. Well, she never said one of the values in "our part of Alabama" was being nice....

The attack ad accuses incumbent State Senator Gerald Dial of offering special favors to "payday loan" shops, which charge "455 percent interest." After hearing this, I might never grumble at a gas pump again.

If Gerald Dial is running his own commercials for re-election, I haven't seen them on Columbus television. But perhaps we shouldn't be surprised by this -- since we all know how slow "Dial-up" can be.

BLOG UPDATE: Russell County Middle School was back in the spotlight Tuesday. This time, a 13-year-old student caught with a razor was suspended for a year. By comparison, any teacher who noticed this and said nothing can return to class in one day, after posting bond.

Michael Whitehead was upset, after his daughter appeared before a Russell County school tribunal. He says his daughter cut a classmate by accident with a razor last week, and even the classmate agrees with that -- so he contends a one-year suspension is too harsh. But then, if the daughter had a gun, it could have been called manslaughter.

Michael Whitehead told one journalist the one-year suspension is unfair, because his daughter has had perfect attendance and grades of "straight B's and A's." Can someone have a "straight" in TWO grades? It doesn't work that way on that televised "Heads-Up Poker" tournament.

In response, Russell County school officials say they have a "zero tolerance" policy when it comes to weapons. The "three strikes" rule there only seems to apply to reporting abuse cases....

The Whitehead family plans to appeal to the Russell County Superintendent and school board, on behalf of their daughter. After what happened to the arrested teachers and middle school principal, the big challenge for the audience at the appeal hearing might be trying not to laugh out loud.

E-MAIL UPDATE: The discussion continues about last Wednesday's severe weather, and how television stations handled it. As we wrote Tuesday:

This writer may not realize how territorial some television viewers around here can be. When severe weather threatens Alabama, some viewers on the Georgia side can't stand having their favorite programs interrupted for updates. For them, "One Columbus" can't possibly include Phenix City or Lanett.

This sounds correct..........

Also..when notices are given out from power company's on power outages...some turn to portable TVs and have you tried to look at the screen of a small portable TV and try to see what that image is in the lower left's not a bug on the's that image of severe weather in the area...where's the magnifying glasses....

Maybe guys can't see that weather map in the corner of that small screen - but they're somehow able to see whether or not the official blew the big call at the game.

There's an alternative in severe weather cases such as this, which no one has mentioned. But then again, the only Columbus radio stations I've heard interrupt their programs for storm warnings are the noncommercial stations hardly anybody likes.

Now from last week to this week, and headlines from Tuesday:

+ Which local business leaders reportedly went on a hunting trip to Fort Benning? This week? I'm hearing it did NOT go well - mainly because they were NOT hunting for land to build new homes, if you know what I mean....

+ Columbus Council approved new rules, punishing bars and restaurants which overcharge alcohol taxes. Is THIS what really caused all that gunfire outside The Fire House?

+ Twelve former drug users graduated from the Muscogee County Drug Court. I doubt any of them will take graduation trips to Aruba. In fact, their parents might not even let them visit Alabama.

+ Atlanta outfielder Kelly Johnson spent a second night in Columbus, getting three hits again against the Catfish. This "rehab assignment" in Rome may be improving his health, but it's downright painful on the opposing pitchers.

Your PayPal donations can help 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.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 11,430 (+ 375, 3.4%)

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