Friday, June 30, 2006


Will some of you stop the rumors already?! Don't run our new indoor football team out of Columbus just yet. I mean, at least wait until the league has its championship game next Monday....

BLOG EXCLUSIVE: The President of the American Indoor Football League dismissed print reports Friday that the Chattahoochee Valley Vipers are in financial trouble. Andrew Haines told your blog the team is working on a schedule for 2007. If we can only persuade the Jehovah's Witnesses to delay their convention until after the playoffs....

The rumor of financial trouble came from the weekly bilingual paper "The Courier." Its "Street Committee" suggested some of the Vipers' players and coaches might not have been paid this past season. The paper did not say which concerned member of the Atlanta Falcons caravan started this rumor.

The question about the Vipers might have been heightened by the fact that the team web site is down - replaced by one of those pages with plenty of miscellaneous links. Who would have guessed the team stays in shape by taking hoodia pills?

In a phone interview from league headquarters in Ohio, league President Andrew Haines rejected the Street Committee's rumors. He said if Viper players and coaches had not been paid, "I would have heard about it by now." Then again, maybe the Street Committee can't afford to make a long-distance call.

Andrew Haines added the Valley Vipers are in the process of acquiring sponsors for next season. It will begin after the November election -- so Jim Wetherington cannot be the team's Official Mayoral Candidate.

Andrew Haines also explained why links to the Vipers' web site are not working right. He suggested there's some sort of problem over the domain name "". A minor league hockey team apparently wants it - and if worse comes to worst, I'd lean toward football players over hockey players in a fight.

Andrew Haines seems quite open and honest when it comes to the American Indoor Football League. The league president told the blog attendance this season was "OK. It could have been better." He must have noticed some empty seats at the Columbus Civic Center, too....

Andrew Haines believes attendance in the A.I.F.L. wasn't as strong as it could have been because there was a short "ramp-up time" for this season. I think sports executives started using this phrase, after seeing a few Evel Knievel crashes.

The American Indoor Football League will have its championship game Monday night. Canton, Ohio will play at Rome, Georgia. We'll see if Canton is close enough to Cleveland that it follows that city's tradition, and fails to win the title.

I don't know why The Courier's "Street Committee" failed to call the American Indoor Football League office, to learn the truth about its Vipers rumor. But I can understand why it failed to call the Vipers' office - because the league president had trouble tracking down that phone number for me, too.

COMING SUNDAY: Why the talk of a public safety revolt hasn't quite panned out....

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Thursday's news brought two examples of the fine art of political spinning. In one case, a man declared himself a winner even though he completely lost. In the other, a man tried to sound politically alive -- even though about 20 percent of the darts thrown at him hit their target.

First up: Instant Message to Don Siegelman: I never met the late John Gotti. John Gotti was not a friend of mine. But the mob boss was dubbed by New York tabloids the "Teflon Don" - and sir, you're no John Gotti. You're more the "Velcro Don" right now.

A federal jury convicted former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman Thursday on seven of 34 corruption counts. The convictions included bribery, conspiracy, mail fraud and obstruction of justice - but apparently it was OK for him to call a witness a "jerk" outside court.

The federal jury in Montgomery reported twice it was deadlocked, then came out with a partial conviction after 11 days of deliberations. They might have spent more days in deliberations than Don Siegelman spent as a serious Democratic challenger for Lucy Baxley.

Outside the courthouse, Don Siegelman told reporters he was "absolutely shocked" by the verdict. He'd called the prosecution's accusations lies, and clearly thought the federal jury would agree with him. But then again, the longer deliberations lasted, the more Siegelman might have thought only one juror agreed with him....

Don Siegelman's attorney did NOT blame the jurors for the seven convictions. Instead, Vince Kilborn said the instructions of the federal judge were "flawed." Huh?! After 11 days of haggling, what part of "beyond a reasonable doubt" did they not understand?

Vince Kilborn led the spin on the jury's verdict, saying the 22 acquittals for Don Siegelman means he "defeated the bulk of the government's case." Well, I suppose 27 out of 34 IS better than the Atlanta bullpen's percentage in holding leads.

Someone asked Don Siegelman if the ten convictions meant his political career is over. He answered they have "certainly not enhanced it." But maybe Lucy Baxley will become Governor, and nominate him for the board of pardons and paroles.

Earlier in the week, Don Siegelman estimated he'd spent more than one million dollars on legal fees in the corruption case. No wonder he ran for Governor again this year - he needed more bribes to pay off the attorneys.

Don Siegelman joins a list of Alabama governors who have been convicted in court. The last one was Guy Hunt in the early 1990's, only Hunt was in office at the time. Does this mean Republican prosecutors are slower than Democrats - or Democrats hide their schemes better?

Remember what we wrote when Don Siegelman's attorneys refused to call any defense witnesses -- "once an overconfident politician, always an overconfident politician"?! That was true with his lottery proposal in 1999. That's now true in federal court in 2006. The last time Siegelman showed some public humility may have been that 2002 concession speech.

The federal jury also convicted former HealthSouth chief executive Richard Scrushy, on all six corruption counts he faced. The PBS "Nightly Business Report" noted he was cleared by a Birmingham jury a year and a day before, in a corporate corruption case. That'll teach Scrushy not to move his religious TV show from Birmingham to Montgomery.

Richard Scrushy was convicted, even though he added famed Tuskegee civil rights attorney Fred Gray to his defense team. Prosecutors suggested that was a stunt to play on the emotions of some jurors -- but this was apparently one time when it wasn't "gray matter," but Gray doesn't.

Two other defendants in the corruption trial were acquitted. Montgomery TV reporter and WRBL alumnus Mark Bullock said this meant in the eyes of the jury, Don Siegelman and Richard Scrushy were "in cahoots." I think Cahoots, Alabama is located somewhere near Huntsville....

I didn't realize until Thursday that a majority of Russell County Democrats voted for Don Siegelman in the gubernatorial primary this year. County Chairman J.W. Brannen said had Siegelman won, the convictions would have hurt the party in November. Yet I suspect we'll still see Siegelman this fall - in Republican attack ads.

But lest you think all politicians behave badly, consider Thursday's Georgia Ethics Commission meeting. It dismissed a complaint listing violations against Columbus Mayor Bob Poydasheff, Mayor Pro Tem Jack Rodgers and former City Manager Carmen Cavezza. The last time they were all dismissed together was in one of those "IsOurCitySafe" e-mails.

Columbus government wonk and WRCG "TalkLine" grumbler Paul Olson took the city officials before the Georgia Ethics Commission. He says they violated ethics rules in the one-cent sales tax campaign two years ago. The tax question failed at the polls - yet some city critics never seem to be satisfied....

Paul Olson argued Mayor Poydasheff went too far by allowing city employees to appear in promotional videos for the "Yes Columbus" campaign. It's no wonder Olson is upset about this. How are Springer Opera House actors supposed to make a living, between plays?

Then Paul Olson accused Carmen Cavezza and Jack Rodgers of breaking rules, by introducing a "Yes Columbus" video at informational "town hall" meetings. So why didn't someone submit a video for the anti-sales tax side? All you needed was the radio ad with Nathan Suber, and photos of frowning people.

After a three-hour preliminary hearing, the Georgia Ethics Commission dismissed the complaint. Yet Paul Olson told WRBL he still was victorious, by showing the sales tax question wasn't handled properly. Olson should sell his flower shop, and buy a spinning mill.

How many people would dare claim victory, after their complaint against city officials was dismissed in a preliminary hearing? Paul Olson did Thursday, but I don't think I would. For one thing, it costs some money these days to drive back and forth to Atlanta for a hearing like this....

But after thinking it over, maybe Paul Olson will have reason to crow should he call TalkLine today. He took three city officials before the Georgia Ethics Commission. Carmen Cavezza now has left office, Jack Rodgers is retiring from Columbus Council - and did one of Jim Wetherington's supporters sit behind Mayor Poydasheff and take notes?

E-MAIL UPDATE: Speaking of city government, that attached letter from "Brother Love" which we did not post here last Sunday showed up elsewhere Thursday - and it led to this message:

Thurs June 29 Letter to the Editor..Immunity would not be justice..

Paragraph #5

"if civil immunity is granted in this case,(Kenny Walker family v Columbus Civil Law Suit) our citizens will rightfully question whether we should feel safe,secure and protected in Columbus." "Can we afford all the negative repercussions if immunity is granted?We think not".... Signed Brother Love

.Is this a threat to our community..I don't appreciate it..I'm not taking sides,but I don't think a public announcement of negative repercussions is good for either side of this coin...

Hmmm -- so are you suggesting "civil immunity" for the city could lead to not-so-civil insanity IN the city?!

Perhaps the city of Columbus can "afford the negative repercussions" of a court ruling for immunity from this big lawsuit. But the attorney for Kenneth Walker's family probably cannot. For one thing, he's commuting to Columbus from Florida for all the preliminary hearings.

Or perhaps this letter (which was endorsed by NAACP officials) is hinting at an economic boycott of Columbus. Scoffers might say those boycotts don't work. But if they don't, why hasn't former deputy David Glisson FOUND work in two-and-a-half years?

Let's call a recess from all the court hearings now, for other items from Thursday:

+ WRBL presented a special report on "Crime in Your Zip Code" - except it broke down the Columbus crime count by police beats, not zip codes. As if the Postal Service is going to suspend deliveries?! You'd think letter carriers are more likely to be mugged by vicious dogs....

+ Later that same newscast, WRBL showed an overflow crowd, at a meeting on filing a new lawsuit against Continental Carbon. It sounded to me like their complaints were similar to the earlier case - which, of course, would make this a Carbon copy.

+ The Columbus Museum reopened, after being closed almost a week due to air conditioning failure. I'm not sure why this closure was necessary. Wouldn't a little sweat on some sculptures give them character?

+ Auburn University announced plans to build a new outdoor swimming pool on campus, and move the courts for the tennis team off-campus. Can you guess which program has been winning more national championships?

(The curious thing is that Auburn's new outdoor pool will be for training the Tiger swim teams - and will NOT be open to the public. Those fraternity-house pranksters will have to find a fountain, for dumping the biggest loser on poker night.)

+ Tom Hanks was named an honorary member of Fort Benning's Ranger Hall of Fame. But Hanks did NOT attend the ceremony - perhaps concerned some Bible Belt preachers would show up, and try to make him repent for "The DaVinci Code."

BURKARD'S BEST BETS: FREE ice cream from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. today at Ben & Jerry's.... FREE early Independence Day celebration at Fort Benning's York Field (open to the public).... FREE admission to the Jehovah's Witnesses' convention at the Civic Center (keep cool, but you probably shouldn't wear a T-shirt sand shorts)....

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Thursday, June 29, 2006


A strange court case stemming from last November's Alabama-Auburn football game was declared a mistrial Wednesday. It all started when three people stood outside an Auburn University fraternity and yelled, "Roll Tide!" For some odd reason that some of us can't quite understand, this led to a fight....

Joey Barrett of Mobile was accused of starting the trouble outside an Auburn frat house on the night before the Iron Bowl, then stabbing five people. How many cynical Alabama fans wish he had played for the Crimson Tide, in the game Auburn won the following day?

Joey Barrett was brought to Lee County Court for trial this week - and his attorney made a surprising claim during opening statements. The attorney said someone else would take the witness stand, and take the blame for the stabbings last November. I'm not sure Perry Mason or Matlock ever dared to make a promise like that.

The prosecution presented several witnesses over two days, who claimed Joey Barrett was part of the brawl outside the Auburn fraternity house. This fight happened after midnight on a Friday night - so it's amazing some so many witnesses could remember him, after downing a few beers.

But when the defense attorney's turn came Wednesday, things went wrong. The witness who was supposed to admit he stabbed several people in Auburn did NOT "'fess up." Instead, the defense revealed that man planned to invoke his fifth amendment right against self-incrimination. Maybe attorneys should take an oath at trials about "telling the whole truth," too.

The supposed real stabber took the stand with jurors outside the courtroom, and a judge determined the man was "educatable mentally retarded." But the man lacked an attorney - so this may prove you really can learn a lot by watching Court TV.

(Yes, I'm using the phrase "mentally retarded." I have a younger brother who is that way, and that's the phrase our family always has used to describe his situation. Sad to say, his condition is so severe that he can't even say the words "politically correct" to tell us off.)

A prosecutor admitted outside court that one of the alleged stabbing victims had never seen this surprise witness before. So does that mean a mentally retarded man was selected by the defense to take the blame? Or do the street lights go out too soon on Auburn's fraternity row?

A defense attorney was disappointed when a prosecution motion for a mistrial was granted. He said the jury was about to bring a verdict of NOT guilty for Joey Barrett. Of course, Don Siegelman's attorneys have been trying to say the same thing for two weeks....

The Joey Barrett case will go back to trial in the fall - and this time, prosecutors say other people may be charged with assault as well. If the Lee County Court has any brains, it will schedule this case before mid-November. Otherwise, a lot of other people may yell "Roll Tide" - inside the courtroom.

E-MAIL UPDATE: People still are talking about the little child who drowned in an East Alabama pool last weekend:

I listened to both local stations coverage of the drowning. One station said it happened in Phenix City with the Russell County Sheriff's Dept responding. The other station said it happened in Lee County with the Lee County Sheriff's Dept responding. So, which was it? Will I have to tune into WSFA out of Montgomery to get the correct information? This is one example of why you can't depend on the local news media to get it right.

Also, one station reported that GA law requires you to have a fence around swimming pools but that AL law does not. It also stated that both Columbus and Phenix City have local ordinances requiring pools to be fenced in. What it didn't mention is that most insurance companies issueing homeowner's policies require fences around pools. I suspect that this incident will result in a large lawsuit. And if the homeowners (as reported) had no fence around their pool, the insurance company will probably try to be released from liability. If the homeowners then have to bear all the liability they could then lose their home and everything else they own. So...before installing a pool you might want to check with your insurance company first or at least read your policy. Smiths Station viewer

Thanks for writing, Smiths - and I think this is why newspapers still exist in 2006. When there are two sides to a story, they break the ties.

As I recall, the Lee County Coroner was sent to the drowning scene. But since Phenix City is located in two different counties, I suppose both Sheriff's Departments might have been called. Whoever shows up second would have to bring refreshments to the next Metro Narcotics Task Force meeting.

I don't know the rules on pools, when it comes to insurance coverage. At my apartment complex, we've never had an outdoor pool until a few weeks ago. But then again, we never had young children for playing in one of those inflatable pools, either.

SPAM-A-RAMA: Thursday's InBox included a spam message with the title: "ABC'S INFAMOUS." This week, we believe that honor is shared between Star Jones Reynolds and Barbara Walters.

Now for a little more joy (as opposed to Joy Behar) from the Wednesday news:

+ Columbus Airport Commission Chairman Don Cook revealed talks are planned in July with American Airlines. Maybe the commissioners can offer American a combination package - for not only air service, but yet another sports arena with the airline's name on it.

+ Hughston Orthopedic Hospital installed a new magnetic resonance imaging device. WRBL reported this is an "open MRI" - and at Hughston, they might pay for it by staging a golf tournament called the MRI Open.

+ The "Falcon Caravan" visited Columbus, with several Atlanta football players. One of the stops was Rivertown Ford - where I hope the Falcon mascot didn't feel upstaged by that turkey from the Ford infomercials.

+ The Atlanta Hawks used the fifth pick in the National Basketball Association draft to select Duke's Shelden Williams. Huh -- not J.J. Redick?! All the Hawks had to do was hire him a driver, so he wouldn't face any more drunk driving charges.

+ Instant Message to the four-by-four driver I saw with a ribbon magnet saying, "Some a***ole stole my tribute magnet": Maybe in Auburn you could get away with that. I'm not sure you can in Columbus.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006


The fight for Columbus Mayor became official Tuesday, when Jim Wetherington filed his qualifying papers. Incumbent Bob Poydasheff beat Wetherington to the Election Board by a day - but then, Wetherington made sure his trip was shown on the evening news.

The "Jim-Bob" battle was the top story on the 6:00 p.m. news, and both mayoral candidates made clear what they plan to emphasize. Bob Poydasheff plans to point out all the new money he's brought to Columbus. Jim Wetherington plans to point out there's a shortage of police officers, so all that money could be stolen.

Incumbent Bob Poydasheff has a long list of community advancements, which he's ready to recite to anyone who will listen. For instance, he says the Trade Center will be "debt-free at the end of this year." May we see the hands of all the laid-off Parks Department employees who can make the same statement?

Bob Poydasheff also takes credit for AFLAC's plans to expand in a Columbus industrial park, adding thousands of jobs. But if a second AFLAC tower isn't going up, it simply doesn't look that impressive to visitors from out of town.

Bob Poydasheff says he's also striving to improve the south side of town, through "Columbus South Inc." Let's check the four-year scoreboard on that. Denny's on Victory Drive out, Sonic on Victory Drive in -- I guess that's a gain.

The incumbent also notes his work on the planned new National Infantry Museum on South Lumpkin Road. So when do the organizers plan to name a street after Bob Poydasheff there -- to give him two?

But Bob Poydasheff may be stretching the rubber band of credibility a bit too far when he takes credit for the planned Kia plant. For one thing, the site is in West Point - and I don't think that many Columbus residents commuted there for work, when it was a mill town.

On the other hand, challenger Jim Wetherington says he'll make public safety a priority if he becomes mayor. Given is background as a former police chief, that's not really surprising. If he's elected, count on the government access channel showing "Law and Order" at least once a day.

Jim Wetherington isn't bringing up any other issues right now. He plans to outline his positions on issue when he opens his campaign headquarters on Wynnton Road -- a building already so well marked, you might never notice that new Video Warehouse across the street.

WRBL unearthed a couple of battleground issues between the candidates for mayor. Bob Poydasheff said, "We've always had police shortages." Jim Wetherington said, "There's never been a shortage this bad." So is a squad car sitting idle half-full, or half-empty?

Another disagreement involves crime in Columbus overall. Bob Poydasheff says it's down a bit. Jim Wetherington says it's up. Why do I have the feeling Wetherington talked to police officers to make his statement, while Poydasheff talked to the Chamber of Commerce to make his?

This "Jim-Bob" battle for mayor has 19 weeks to go. Jim Wetherington has talked about knocking on doors, to hear from voters. Bob Poydasheff says he's returned every call from Columbus residents who have left a phone number. You can tell these candidates are up in years, because neither one mentioned answering e-mails.

E-MAIL UPDATE: All right, you mayoral candidates - here's problem #1. How would you handle this complaint, which was sent to the blog?

This week I went down to the gov't center to change over a car tag from old car to new car.I had everything I needed to do a speedy transaction..It took 40min for a 10 min job..I went during the early afternoon hoping that the line would be short..Much to my surprise I was #3..When I stepped up to the window my agonizing started..People who were there to do the same as I was were coming and going on both side of me...I wonder if that lady behind the glass who left me standing there 3 times for a total of 26 going to get some of the city budget pay increase?

Believe it or not, this may be an example of GOOD customer service in Columbus. I've called one local office several times in recent weeks, and my messages scarcely have been returned. C'mon folks - Power Frisbee is the real name of a real new sport....

There could be many reasons why "that lady behind the glass" left our e-mailer waiting for 25 minutes. If it was early afternoon, maybe the sandwich she bought for lunch wasn't toasted enough.

I was going to say the mayoral candidates can pass on this next message, because it's from Alabama. But then again....

We have to haul our trash, we have trash all along the side of our roads, we have Mt Salem (the landfill) being built with everyone's trash, no we are going have Georgia's special trash.

Did someone change the state logo with out telling everyone to "Alabama - the south's finest dumping spot" - "ya'll come on in now, ya hear"

Now, now - look on the bright side. When all those landfills get full, the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail will have even more to promote.

Let's unload the Tuesday news truck a little more now....

+ Our condolences to the family of Judge J. Robert Elliot, who died at age 96. He received a special tribute from the Columbus Kiwanis Club last August, only two weeks before I was the guest speaker. As I told the club at the time: sometimes you have famous-name history-making guests - and sometimes you have me.

+ The Muscogee County School District announced Jordan High School will open almost two weeks late in August, because of yet another summer of construction. Apparently the appeal to "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" was turned down.

(Jordan High School now will open on August 19. That's a Saturday, and several make-up Saturdays are planned. It's not like the football team will miss those practice sessions....)

+ Gas prices across Columbus and Phenix City jumped about 12 cents a gallon. Some drivers may never refer to the upcoming holiday as Independence Day again.

+ WXTX "News at Ten" returned to the Streetscape construction work near 10th and Broadway, and found several hanging plants on the tall fence outside restaurants. I hope the plants remain after the improvements are finished - to absorb all the cigarette smoke from those sidewalk diners.

+ The jury reported it was still deadlocked, in former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman's corruption trial. In fact, there are reports some jurors are being "lackadaisical." I'm assuming they're the ones on Siegelman's side - since his attorneys never bothered presenting a defense.

+ The Southern Professional Hockey League held its annual summer meeting in Columbus. Cottonmouths head coach Jerome Bechard attended - and amazingly, he never overturned the meeting table once.

+ Instant Message to whomever oversees the Columbus Riverwalk: Why do some spots downtown look like we had a flood last week? Are you taking the federal judge's order to release more water down the Chattahoochee THAT seriously?

COMING THURSDAY: E-mail about rules for pools....

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006


Today marks three weeks to go before the Georgia Primary - and is it just me, or has Governor Sonny Perdue stopped running TV commercials in the last week or so? Maybe he's simply sitting back, and taking notes on the Democrats sniping at each other.

From the "attack ads" of recent days, it is now abundantly clear that the Democratic Primary for Georgia Governor could hinge on one key issue, one I never realized was so important in this state. Do voters hate large trucking companies, or not?

That's the accusation which strikes me as the strangest in the governor's race so far - a Cathy Cox commercial declaring Mark Taylor "an executive of a large trucking company." Maybe it's really the "executive" part, because it makes Taylor sound Republican.

Cathy Cox suggests Mark Taylor used has clout as Lieutenant Governor to get free prison labor for a project involving the large trucking company. But doesn't this connection only make sense - the "Big Guy" with the "Big House?"

Mark Taylor's newest campaign ad responds to Cathy Cox's finger-pointing. It proclaims: "Mark Taylor never owned a company that got prison labor." OK, but that's not what Cox said. You can be an "executive" without owning the place. Ask any head coach of the Atlanta Hawks.

To be fair, I started this drama in the middle of the fight scene. It was Mark Taylor who put the first attack ad on the air, claiming Cathy Cox voted against the lottery for HOPE scholarships years ago. I'm not sure what's more appalling for Georgians -- that vote, or the fact that it was reported in a newspaper called the "Liberal."

Cathy Cox replied to the first attack ad by saying she's always supported HOPE scholarships -- and claiming the Miller County Liberal article cited by Mark Taylor is a "fabrication" which is "grasping at straws." Which raises a good point: why aren't these candidates talking about what they'll do for Georgia farmers?

Mark Taylor even has set up a web site for you to examine Cathy Cox's record. The trouble is that neither Taylor nor Cox has been a state lawmaker for years -- and in 2006, neither Democrat dares to say they accomplished things for Governor Zell Miller.

Then came a Mark Taylor ad quoting Cathy Cox as saying she's seen no evidence Georgians are starving, because there was a sales tax on food purchases. Taylor may be right about this one - because since the sales tax went away, the obesity percentages have gone up.

The latest attack ad from Mark Taylor declares Cathy Cox voted against mandatory sentences for child molesters and rapists -- and concludes from that vote Cox doesn't think they belong in prison. Well, hold on here. What if she wants to give judges the option of lethal injection, to kill them all?

The latest slingshot we've noticed came from Cathy Cox in Sunday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She claimed Mark Taylor doesn't want to debate her. Well, he really does - as long as he picks the topic and spends the money to present it.

All of this is the stuff which disgusts some voters about modern-day politics. It makes you wish both candidates sat down with someone in a room and settled these differences - someone like Dr. Phil McGraw, who would call both of them childish.

By the way: Governor Sonny Perdue DOES have opposition in the Georgia Republican Primary. It's from a man whose main issue seems to be the design of the state flag. I keep waiting for him to call a news conference outside that Hilton Avenue strip mall which still flies the 1956 version -- just to see who dares to show up to support him.

E-MAIL UPDATE: A Smiths Station correspondent writes one of his occasional summaries:

Finally --some rain-

a little 2 yr old wondered away and the outcome was not good.

Reports have lee rd 2107 in Phenix City

I do not know who or whom has the right to make up Post Office lines like they seems that it favors Phenix City.

How can Auburn rd be called Phenix City all the way out to the 4 way stop.. it is not - but - the Post Office in Phenix City says that it is thier's and no other comment will be given.

Come on now - Do Phenix City fire respond out there,,No

Does Phenix City Police go out there,, NO

where does this lead too...Phenix City claiming glory to anything that happens..

You has to be called something -right - then call the area's outside the City's what they are known for - Use the same extra zip
codes that are already used.

this is nothing but stolen Identity

Starting from the top: I'm happy to see the rain as well. I was especially surprised when Monday's 10:00 p.m. news predicted a line of storms in northern Harris County would die before reaching Columbus - only to hear rain outside my window at 11:15.

I don't usually travel down Auburn Road, so I don't not an expert on where the Phenix City limits are. But isn't this a case where the post office uses the closest town for the third line of an address? You don't hear Nebraska corn farmers on "R.F.D." routes claiming to be confused about this.

Now the plot thickens in the WRBL mysrery. Could Mitzi Oxford really be the "meteorologist" (alleged) of their affection?

The Columbus L-E reported recently that she is no longer with the Columbus Chapter of the American Red Cross. The article stated she is now employed at Leisure Lifestyles.

As I recall several of the most popular weather casters in Columbus television history did not have degrees in meteorology!

Hmmmm - Leisure Lifestyles, eh? Oxford could do the forecast while lounging in a spa. Now that's a way to improve the ratings....

Your point is well taken about weathercasters with no degrees in meteorology. The late Doug Wallace probably wouldn't have even won any contests for throwing chalk in the air.

But I still have my doubts that WRBL would rehire a weathercaster which it dropped a few years ago. The station tried to go "retro" around 2000, right down to a chalkboard on the wall for the forecast. Why, for awhile the managers even made Phil Scoggins deliver the sports along with the news.

As it happens, Media General announced Monday it's buying the Eufaula Tribune. This adds to the company owning WRBL and the Opelika-Auburn News - and thanks to Lake Eufaula, the "Powerhouse Team" now will be hydroelectric powered.

The Eufaula Tribune publishes a newspaper only two or three times a week. Does this purchase mean it's about to become a daily paper? Will bass fishing tournaments go off the charts, if fishermen can check the moon more often?

Now other items from a Monday which might have nice for a day on the lake:

+ Mayor Bob Poydasheff filed qualifying papers to seek reelection. The incumbent told WRBL he's running on his record of the last four years, and his "vision for the future." You know - the vision filled with stacks of pennies from another sales tax.

+ The Challenger Space Science Center began a weeklong "Space-O-Rama" camp for first and second-graders. They're taught how to make rockets from wood, paper and soda bottles - so I hope all these six and seven-year-olds were checked against a terrorism watch list.

+ Our exclusive BBMI (Burkard Bulk Mail Index) recovered a bit, after dropping below 10,000 spam messages for the first time in weeks. Maybe there IS a connection with the stock market here - as all those penny stock offers aren't exploding on Mondays after all.

+ Instant Message to Warren Buffett: I don't get it. You're giving away something like 40 billion dollars -- and I'm not getting a penny of it?! Is it because Bill Gates plays bridge with you, and I'm more into poker right now?

COMING WEDNESDAY: A trip to the tag office makes someone upset....

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Sunday, June 25, 2006

for 26 JUN 06: TWO OUTS

The first hint of trouble came around 4:30 p.m. Sunday. I began to hear a bit of static during the Netherlands-Portugal World Cup soccer game -- and I was listening to "Viva 1460 AM," not one of those ham radios being operated near the airport.

The sky was growing dark to the north as well, so I walked to the car and made sure the windows were rolled up. You know that old saying - leave an open crack, drive with a wet back.

The signs of a storm turned into reality around 5:00 p.m., as a major downpour began in my neighborhood. It included some fierce lightning - including one stroke so close it set off a neighbor's newly installed alarm system. The burglars are going to have to be VERY fast to get around that thing....

As a large-scale waterfall fell on my complex, I turned on the television. Not really to check for storm watches and warnings - but to watch the new "Intercontinental Poker Championship" on CBS. Yes sir, it's become known as the "Tiffany Network" for a reason.

No storm watches or warnings were on any TV station's screens - but at about 5:10 p.m., my power went out. I joined about 4,800 Columbus customers in the dark. And it was the second outage for me in four days due to a thunderstorm. About the only thing failing more often these days is the Atlanta baseball bullpen.

It's at times like these when I realize how dependant I've become on my computer -- and remember, I didn't buy a laptop two weeks ago. So I couldn't blog. I couldn't go online to check for storm warnings. But at least I couldn't get an electric shock, and have my obituary say, "He died holding a mouse."

But there were other "offline" things available to do, so I started working on them. The first step was to put leftovers in the natural gas oven and heat them for dinner - yes, in a home with no air conditioning. I opened the front door for fresh air from the storm. And thankfully, it usually doesn't rain hot water.

The power outage allowed me to sort through a stack of junk mail. Yes, I said "sort through" it. It's called white paper recycling....

At 5:30 p.m., Columbus Emergency Management sounded a warning alarm - 30 minutes after the storm began. I briefly considered kneeling under the desk, a bit like we were taught to do during grade school. But I decided to wait for another noise. You know, the "freight train" sound people talk about just before the tornado hits.

The leftover rice with hamburger meat was heated and ready a bit after 6:00 p.m. With still no working electricity, I suppose I could have enjoyed a candlelight dinner. But I didn't think of that - and there was enough light coming through the kitchen window that I didn't have to prop a flashlight on my plate.

"ALL! CLEAR!" announced the warning siren from South Commons around 6:15 p.m. The rain was almost completely stopped by now - and I was surprised to learn later the total rainfall was only about one inch. It seemed strong enough to refill West Point Lake, and satisfy Governor Perdue.

The power still was out with dinner eaten - but with the all clear signal and no more thunder, it seemed safe to make a couple of phone calls. The first one went to Georgia Power, where all its customer service representatives were busy. On this Sunday evening, the two of them might have gone to a fast-food restaurant for dinner.

Following the phone pad instructions from the computer operator, I learned the power would be back on by 7:30 p.m. This was earlier than Thursday night, and the repair crews beat that deadline by more than 90 minutes. All that practice with Hurricane Katrina must make things easier around here.

After placing another call to reserve a motel room for a fall vacation, I sat at my desk and worked on one of those "consumer panel" mail surveys. It wanted to know about all the car advertising I had heard or seen in the last three months. As much television news as I watch, it's really become a blur....

In the middle of that survey, the lights came back on. It was 6:45 p.m., but my two clock radios showed the time as around 6:55. I don't know how they gain time when the power is out. Maybe it's a preprogrammed thing, to make sure people aren't late for work.

Apparently no one was hurt by the Sunday thunderstorm, and everything seemed to settle down once the power was back on. But don't these storms show Georgia is wrong to ban outdoor watering during the middle of the day? After all, how else could we produce those pop-up showers?

THE BIG BLOG QUESTION was closed blindly before Sunday afternoon's storm -- and it wound up in a tie: 50 percent for keeping our rotating colors, 50 percent against it (6-6). So we'll act like Don Siegelman, and declare this hung jury a personal victory and repudiation.

Two years ago the vote was strongly in favor of keeping the colors. Now it's a 50-50 split - and to be honest, I'm wondering if the timing of the poll to match "Atlanta Gay Pride Weekend" made a difference.

One supporter of the colors noted the changes keep his web browser from displaying "done" in the lower left corner of the screen. "Isn't this a metaphor for how your blog is never 'done'?" he asked. That's an interesting thought - or maybe it's a subtle hint that I need to post more than once a day.

But a critic of the changing colors called them "EXTREMELY annoying and almost as bad as having a horrible midi embedded into your site." Hmmmm -- what song do you suggest? Maybe "Columbus Stockade Blues?"

This opponent brought up a good idea, which I'll examine when time permits -- syndicating the blog, through a tool such as RSS. But when I was young, I learned to be very careful to avoid syndicates. Robert Stack kept breaking them up on "The Untouchables."

Now let's pound out some Instant Messages, without any annoying smiley faces which could upset people as well....

+ To the Columbus Times: Thanks for pointing out Peachtree Mall has NO fire code attendance limit, and only the individual stores do. Now I'm pretty sure Macy's did NOT close first after Family Day in the Park -- since it sells Sean John clothes.

+ To people living on Clearwater Court: The man flying his U.S. flag upside down tells me it's because he was racially harassed at a Spectrum station Saturday, and Columbus Police don't seem interested in doing anything about it. But if I understood him correctly, he also called 911 recently about an e-mail scam.

+ To the Columbus Parks Department: Thank you! The Benning Park racquetball courts look much better, with the weeds trimmed and new paint covering the chipped parts of the walls. But did you have to use that leftover green paint to cover up the park entrance sign?

+ To TBS sportscaster Don Sutton: no, Atlanta pitcher Chuck James did NOT attend "Chattahoochee Valley JUNIOR College." It's a COMMUNITY College! Way to make Phenix City feel second-class, guy....

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Not one, but three regional pageant titles have been decided in our area this weekend. I'd call all the winners "beauties" -- but that's a bit politically incorrect in 2006. In fact, I'm surprised there hasn't been a move to rename the "Black Beauty" children's stories.

The main event of the weekend was Saturday night's crowning of Miss Georgia at the Columbus RiverCenter. The organizers would tell you it's a "scholarship" pageant, not a beauty pageant. Maybe so - but the only Miss America contestant I've ever seen who wasn't fit and trim years later was Delta Burke.

Congratulations to "Miss Valdosta" Amanda Kozak, who was named Miss Georgia 2006 Saturday night. Kozak was first runner-up last year - so what made the difference? Did she grow her hair an inch longer?

Amanda Kozak has a tough act to follow - because Miss Georgia 2005 Monica Pang went on to be first runner-up at the Miss America pageant. But Kozak has one advantage over the last two state winners. She actually can appear in commercials for pageant sponsor New Life Tanning Centers.

BIG PREDICTION UPDATE: Do I ever feel guilty -- because I picked Amanda Kozak to win Miss Georgia LAST year! This year I switched to Miss Macon, and she didn't even win a preliminary round. That'll teach me to change.... well, I'd better not say "horses," because outside Kentucky that would be taken the wrong way....

A Miss Georgia contestant who was crowned in Columbus must have been disappointed Saturday night. "Miss Southern Rivers" Lauren Ledbetter won three preliminary categories during the week, but finished out of the top three at the end. This drought is REALLY bad when even the contestants with "rivers" in their titles are left high and dry.

The crowning of champions in Columbus actually began Friday afternoon, with "Miss Georgia's Outstanding Teen." She was named at the St. Luke Ministry Center downtown - so it was a bit surprising when the audience was NOT asked to sing the hymn "Crown Her With Many Crowns."

This year's Outstanding Teen for Georgia is Lauren Edmunds, "Miss Heart of Georgia." This local title beats the candidate from Vidalia, who is "Miss Onion Capital." For one thing, that contestant is expected to cry every time she wins.

But there was another pageant in the area Saturday night which you may have overlooked. The State Theater in Albany hosted a regional competition for Hooters restaurant employees. [true/Albany Herald] For some odd reason, this contest actually included an evening gown division....

The Albany pageant consisted of 15 women - five "Hooters girls" from restaurants in Auburn, Albany and Valdosta. So do the Columbus employees have to take on contestants in Atlanta? Or is our local wait staff in dire need of a diet?

(And by the way: are there any "Hooters WOMEN?" Are the older ones assigned to visit nursing homes, and pep up the male residents?)

The winner of the Albany pageant (unavailable at post time) goes on to an international Hooters swimsuit contest in July. The competition will be more intense - and I suppose the wings will be that much hotter.

But someone made a good point to me about this pageant. How can Hooters have employee swimsuit contests, while denying an Auburn lawsuit which claims managers encouraged women to sell their bodies? Is there a talent division -- where contestants have to balance as many plates of food as possible?

We already had selected this topic before we read Saturday's sad news of the death of Patsy Ramsey. She was the mother of JonBenet Ramsey, the late "Little Miss Colorado." So which tabloid do you think will have the "deathbed confession" first?

For about ten years, former Georgia resident Patsy Ramsey fought tabloid rumors that she was the real killer of daughter JonBenet. Remember when John and Patsy wrote a book about the case? It didn't sell well - and I presumed it was because shoppers were looking for it in the fiction section.

E-MAIL UPDATE: It's been quite a while since someone brought up the Kenneth Walker case - but a weekend e-mailer does:

This letter was delivered to CCG on 19 June. Mayor and Council are yet to respond.

Apparently, to add further insult to injury, they have launched a campaign of silence regarding the issue of Immunity in the Walker case.

City and state elected officials have been forwared this email....

The letter comes from "Brother Love, Concerned Citizen Activist, OAAU." The only Brother Love I know used to be a loudmouth preacher in the World Wrestling Federation - but then, people DO change careers.

If no response to a letter in five days is a "campaign of silence," I'm feeling guilty again. Sometimes I wait eight to ten days after my phone bill comes in the mail, before I pay it....

But really now - do you expect the Mayor and Columbus Council to comment in detail on a pending civil suit such as the one filed by Kenneth Walker's family? As they say on TV police shows, anything they say could be used against them. And in the mayor's case, it could be used by Jim Wetherington's campaign.

The e-mail included a link to a May Ledger-Enquirer article, noting the city wants immunity from prosecution in the civil suit filed by Kenneth Walker's family. An attachment from Brother Love sums it up well:









I'm not sure you have to call Columbus city government to get the phone number of your district's Councilor. Surely there's a Fraternal Order of Police billboard somewhere in town, which lists them all.

Considering the city filed this motion, wouldn't the better number to call to "fight immunity" be the attorneys for the Walker family? Or does the only phone number they have on that side of the case belong to Bill Campbell?

I suppose the point of calling the Government Center is to get Columbus Council to withdraw the motion for immunity. But keep something in mind - should the Walker family win $100 million in its lawsuit, that extra move involving lawyers and paperwork will leave the city even more bankrupt.

Brother Love sent another attachment -- a letter to the Mayor and Council. That letter spreads an admitted "rumor" that former Deputy David Glisson might now work for the Russell County Sheriff's Department. But Glisson's attorney says he knows nothing about that - and wouldn't he want to praise Sheriff Tommy Boswell for being forgiving and nonjudgmental?

The letter from Brother Love is "endorsed" by local and state NAACP leaders, and claims the Walker family "would not receive a dime in.... damages" if the city and Muscogee County Sheriff's Department are granted immunity from lawsuit. But what about David Glisson, who shot Walker? Apparently they've decided he's broke, or might move to Mexico.

The letter adds, "scores of citizens have made it clear there should be a second grand jury" reviewing the Kenneth Walker case. Yet hundreds of people seem satisfied by the first grand jury's conclusions -- and I assume the authors realize a score is less than a hundred.

I've asked before and I'll ask again: why have civil rights leaders been unable to convince Georgia's African-American Attorney General to intervene? Thurbert Baker seems to have done nothing. Maybe he's included in one line of Brother Love's letter -- the one about "calculating, clever politicians worried
about saving their seats in the next election."

And while we're at it - remember Rainbow/PUSH leader William Howell's news conference a few months ago? He announced he'd requested a meeting with U.S. Senator Arlen Specter about the Kenneth Walker case. I'm assuming Specter turned him down -- because Howell has vanished from sight again, instead of showing glossy photos of the meeting around town.

Now for other things which caught our eye on the first weekend of summer:

+ Someone held up the Peachtree 8 Cinemas on Manchester Expressway as it opened for business. How this criminal was able to hide near Peachtree Mall for a week after "Family Day in the Park," I have no idea.

+ WRBL reported Russell County officials shut down the Center City Motel on Opelika Road. An inspector declared it "unfit for human habitation." And then people get upset about immigrants working as maids and housekeepers....

(You may recall our Blog Exclusive several months ago, when we revealed the Center City Motel was recommended by the Federal Emergency Management Agency on its web site. What are FEMA employees visiting Phenix City going to do now - try to sleep inside the empty FoodMax and Winn-Dixie stores?)

+ The Columbus Museum closed its doors and canceled all events through Wednesday, because the air conditioning broke down. This would never happen at trendy museums in New York. Performance artists would go in, and do strange things with melting scoops of ice cream.

+ Instant Message to the carhop who served me dinner at the Sonic on Wynnton Road: The two burgers cost $3.83. I gave you $3.88. What did you think the other nickel was, a tip?

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Friday, June 23, 2006

23 JUN 06: H.D. R.I.P.

It should work like a coffee-maker. When you press the on button first thing in the morning, the computer ought to start. But then again, I don't drink coffee - as the right amount of bitter pulp in a glass of orange juice can wake me up just as well.

Yet one morning last week, my home computer refused to start. Well, I mean the inside of it whirred when I pressed the on button - but Microsoft Windows wouldn't fire up. Since I'm not a computer expert, I didn't know how to start it the old-fashioned way. When it comes to MS-DOS, I don't even know uno.

My seven-year-old "eMachines" computer sometimes staged rebellions like this -- especially on Saturdays, when I think it was jealous of me and really wanted to sleep in....

In the past, the second or third try usually worked in getting Windows to activate. I simply pressed the on button a little longer, or turned my finger a different way. It works just like bowling, right?

But on this morning, Windows refused to appear despite repeated efforts. When I tried again in the afternoon, it still refused to work. After all the rumors of a city employee "sickout," the only protest came from the computer recording it all.

Not knowing what else to do, I unplugged the computer in late afternoon and took it to a shop. In fact, the top of the computer still had the bills attached from the LAST repair job in July 2005. Do these machines need a summer vacation or something?

Alas, my computer needed something more than that. Today marks one week since the computer shop informed me my hard drive had crashed. The disc, I was told, could not be recovered. In 2006, I'm still not sure if faith healers can save this sort of thing....

My old eMachines computer had hung in there since I bought it at Office Depot on Friday, April 30, 1999. The original mouse died. The first keyboard wore out. The electric cord needed changing a couple of times. It had so many modifications, I should have named it Michael Jackson.

But to be honest, the hard drive was getting a bit low on free space -- and when I dialed up the Internet over the last year, the computer froze when I disconnected one-third of the time. Every freeze meant about ten minutes delayed, for a computer restart and system check. So my problem wasn't "sloooow dial-up" - it was the slower hang-up.

I never knew my hard drive was about to die - and because I've been so busy with a variety of projects, I had not backed up my data. Unless the old hard drive can be salvaged by an expert, I stand to lose 11 months' worth of information and pictures. Why, I might forget what the former Amy Giuliano looked like.

But I could not mourn too long over my dead computer, because all those projects required me to get a replacement. For instance, I can't call you personally and read the daily blog entry - because hardly any of you have sent me a phone number, which I can turn around and sell to a telemarketer. No wait....

A quick online check at my workplace indicated Best Buy had the best price, for both desktop and laptop computers. I'd been thinking about getting a laptop, to let me update the Power Frisbee web site on the road. It sure beats going to a losing player's house, and writing up all his faults.

So I followed Kadie the cow and drove to Best Buy -- located strategically on a hill above Peachtree Mall, so drunken partiers from Cooper Creek Park can't climb it and cause an uproar.

But when I examined the shelves of computers at Best Buy, I stumbled upon something amazing. A weekend special offered me a new desktop computer, flat-screen monitor and color photo printer - for practically the price of the computer alone! And I didn't even have to prove I was buying it for my Dad, as a Father's Day gift.

"I feel like I'm stealing from you," I told the salesperson at Best Buy. The monitor was no big deal, but the printer was -- since my old Xerox printer had problems from day one. When you buy it off the showroom floor, then have to ship the entire thing back to the factory because it doesn't print at all, that's a clue....

(That's also why I turned down an offer from the computer shop to buy a refurbished machine for about $200. I feared it was like buying a used car -- and who knows if some hidden folder had child pornography lurking on it.)

The combination deal from Best Buy wound up costing a bit above $400. Add the $40 fine I paid the computer shop for trying to save my hard drive, and I think I spent less on this Friday trip than I had in April 1999. It was like that new commercial had come true -- and the "ink fairy" had saved the day.

But my amazement didn't end there. When I opened the boxes at home, I confirmed the new eMachines T3120 computer has a 100-gigabyte hard drive. The 1999 model had only four gigabytes -- but that was way back when "Napster" still referred to a toddler around midnight.

After installing my Internet access disc, another nice surprise came. Even though I still have dial-up, the computer's increased memory allows me to get around the Internet much faster. Back in 1999, the original eMachines strained to send simple text e-mails - which may explain I keep some of the jokes here so short.

Yet while the Internet is fun again for me, I must confess to a couple of disappointments with my new computer. I never noticed at Best Buy that the T3120 has no "A drive" for diskettes. I stored all my issues of the old "LaughLine" on little discs -- but in a way, today's computers are like their users. Larger is considered better, and small looks downright wimpy.

Then there's the eMachines "flat-screen monitor" which was essentially thrown into the Best Buy package. The front of it is flat, but the back of it is old-fashioned tubular. If a flat-screen TV were sold this way, I think a call to the Better Business Bureau might be in order....

But all in all, I'm quite happy with how my 2006 computer crisis turned out. I have a new computer which works faster, with a lot more storage space. And perhaps most importantly for someone like me, who's spent a lot of time in the last years at library computers which were somewhat faster on the Internet - I now can play Spider Solitaire in the comfort of my own home.

(P.S. The new computer passed its first key test Thursday night, when a thunderstorm knocked out power in my neighborhood for more than an hour. It came right back on when power was restored - and didn't seem to need any help from me to call up a screensaver again.)

Enough about me now - let's check the Thursday news around town:

+ The high temperature in Columbus again reached 100 degrees F. It was SO HOT that a standing-room-only crowd developed at Buck Ice.

+ Fort Benning's Third Brigade changed commanders, putting Colonel Wayne Grigsby. Columbus Mayor Bob Poydasheff told WRBL Grigsby was "not chosen because he looks pretty...." It looks like the attacks on Jim Wetherington may be about to start.

(Mayor Poydasheff also said of the change of Third Brigade commanders: "The Army is a continuum." How many Fort Benning soldiers will use that as a code word, for something a bit less attractive?)

+ Columbus Police hosted a party for the leaders of "neighborhood watch" groups. Or as some disgruntled officers are calling them under their breath: "The Columbus chapter of the Minuteman Project."

+ The federal jury in Don Siegelman's corruption trial reported it was deadlocked. I think the lottery-loving former Alabama Governor will accept that - since even getting three numbers out of six correct still makes you a little money.

+ The Women's Center of St. Francis held a combined program on two topics: car repair and menopause. Hmmmmm - I suppose they both have overdrive in common....

+ Instant Message to the basketball players who gather at LaFayette High School: Hopefully you've now learned something from the N.B.A. Finals. If someone commits a hard foul, you simply suspend them from the next game. And if someone gripes about it, fine them $250,000 -- assuming anyone in LaFayette has that much money.

COMING NEXT WEEK: The trucker vs. the little gal....

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Thursday, June 22, 2006


"This will be a brief recorded message," said the man who called me around 3:30 Wednesday afternoon. But hold it - if he went on to have a conversation with me, then he wasn't really a recording at all, was he?!

The man was calling to raise money for the "Columbus Fraternal Order of Police Post Number 9." Various law enforcement groups make phone calls like this - but in light of the last few weeks, it seems like a reminder that public safety officers still don't think they're paid enough.

But as the man introduced himself, he made a comment which surprised me. He was calling from a telemarketing firm in Miami. I suppose that beats a man calling in behalf of U.S. law enforcement from Venezuela or Somalia....

Am I the only one who sees a contradiction in this? The Fraternal Order of Police lobbies long and hard for pay raises to keep officers in Columbus - yet it hires a telemarketing firm for fund-raising from another state?! Aren't there enough retired veterans in town to make phone calls in mid-afternoon?

(I suppose this could be a national project - with telemarketers in Miami calling on behalf of F.O.P. chapters from coast to coast. But we shouldn't make a
federal case out of this....)

The Columbus Fraternal Order of Police web site notes it's the largest lodge in Georgia. I'm not sure if it's because fed-up officers come and go from this city so quickly, or something else....

I suppose such a big Fraternal Order of Police lodge can afford to hire telemarketers wherever it pleases. But the city of Columbus went to the University of Georgia to have a study made on public safety pay. The F.O.P. went outside the state - and not even using some of the prison labor which officers put behind bars all these years.

But let's be honest: Columbus has a tendency to look outside the city and state to get things done. For instance, the slogan "what progress has preserved" followed consulting work by a company based in Nashville -- and now "Streetscape" barely is preserving the renaissance of business on Broadway.

And how can we forget the Muscogee County Library Board pursuing that sculpture from a man in western New York? The space in front of the Columbus Public Library remains vacant today -- and they even moved the giant movie screen for outdoor movies downtown this summer.

By the way: did you hear about the debate over public safety pay in Atlanta? The police there are getting a 3.5-percent raise. Firefighters were going to get nothing, until the City Council changed the mayor's budget plan. Some Columbus officers should stop using police radios for grumbling, and show off their bigger raises at the Police and Fire Games.

E-MAIL UPDATE: The upcoming changes at WRBL which we mentioned Monday have brought no denials, but did bring this comment:


Being dedicated WRBL viewers, my family is disappointed to learn of the impending departures of Jeff Donald et al.

Perhaps the new meteorologist will be Mitzi Oxford, formerly of WRBL and (for many years) WTVM.

Looking forward to a reprise of the "Mitzi Was Right!" umbrella giveaways,


Oh yes - the woman who called herself a meteorologist, even though she didn't have a degree?! Imagine the attack ad WRBL's competition could have done against her several years ago.

Come to think of it, Jeff Donald is receiving the same treatment Mitzi Oxford did: not having a contract renewed by WRBL. Oxford has moved on to work for the Columbus chapter of the American Red Cross -- and you know, Donald might look really spiffy in a Salvation Army uniform.

Speaking of the weather, let's check items which made news on Wednesday:

+ The high temperature in Columbus hit 100 degrees F. It was the first 100-degree day in six years, the warmest June day in eight years - and who knows how many people sent angry e-mails to "Sunny 100 FM."

+ Because of the heat and a lack of rain, a Georgia state commission banned all outdoor watering between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. I've always wanted to see how they turn off the fountains around Columbus....

+ WRBL went to Lee County and interviewed a ham radio operator, as part of "amateur radio week." I'm a bit surprised they don't hold a convention in Auburn -- since after all, Bill Ham is the mayor.

+ The U.S. Senate rejected a proposal to increase the federal minimum wage. Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson argued an increase from $5.15 per hour could lead the economy into a recession. So why did the last increase in 1997 NOT bring one?! Were people too busy buying newspapers, following President Clinton's scandals?

+ The Rod Hood football camp opened at McClung Memorial Stadium. Last year, Carver High School graduate Hood brought in Philadelphia Eagles teammate Terrell Owens. Let's all be thankful the dropout rate in Columbus didn't dramatically increase since then.

+ Instant Message to former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman: Are you sleeping well at night these days? I mean, your lawyer didn't present a single witness in your corruption trial -- and yet the jury's going to a sixth day of deliberations. Either you're in a heap of trouble, or you'll owe one or two holdout jurors a very nice dinner.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006


The people at Continental Carbon pitched a tent Tuesday, and invited local civic leaders to sit under it for a discussion. The moment of truth came at the end, of course - when the plant's managers took the group outside the tent, and noted the top of it still was white.

WRBL reported Continental Carbon is holding several days of meetings with local movers and shakers. There was a Georgia State Senator on hand Tuesday, and I imagine a few sooty council members as well. No wait....

(So is there a different presentation every day, depending on the group - or are they "Carbon copies" of each other?)

The forums-by-invitation are apparently a public relations move by Continental Carbon, to show it's really a good corporate citizen. In recent years, the reputation of the Phenix City plant has been darkened.... well, darkened about as much as some of the porches in South Columbus.

The timing of these meetings is interesting, because Continental Carbon is appealing a 2004 judgment against it in federal appeals court. Some companies will go to any length to get a "friend of the court" brief filed for them - like offering a free picnic lunch.

Continental Carbon President Kim Pan says his company is "not trying to get away with anything," by appealing a $20 million judgment against it. Aw c'mon - isn't he trying to get away from paying anyone other corporate attorneys?

Kim Pan explains the appeal of the judgment is based on some things which were "not presented properly" during the 2004 trial in Opelika. Maybe if some of the scientific charts had been written in a more confusing fashion, to puzzle the jury....

One unanswered question is whether this Continental Carbon campaign was planned before the recent Columbus Chamber of Commerce trip to Asia. You may recall Mayor Bob Poydasheff wanted to meet with corporate officials in Taiwan - in the heart of the Carbon-nation.

(But then again, didn't Mayor Poydasheff testify against Continental Carbon in that "soot suit" two years ago? Maybe his real goal was to get a promise that the company wouldn't donate to the Jim Wetherington campaign.)

E-MAIL UPDATE: On this first day of summer in Columbus, a blog reader turns up the heat a bit more on the new Spencer High School principal:


Thanks for publishing my rant about the City's raises [19 Jun]. The situation with the City administration is distinguishable from the outsize salaries paid to baseball superstars; the latter are not government officials. New lawyers, for example, routinely accept salaries of $35-50k in government positions over $50-$125k in private sector positions. There are many benefits to working for the government (quality of life, prestige, pension, etc.) that compensate for the salary disparity.

More about Argosy U: Argosy University isn't a diploma mill per se (it is accredited), but I have questions about the legitimacy of its program.

(1) It is a private, for-profit institution.

(2) Its branch campus in Sarasota (formerly University of Sarasota) did not maintain separate SACS accreditation after the Argosy merger.

(3) The Ed.D. in Educational Leadership is not listed as a distance learning program approved under the NCACS accreditation....

(4) According to Argosy's website, "This unique model integrates distance learning with short, on-site study scheduled during evenings and weekends over the course of three years...."

(5) The principal in question worked as an assistant principal for the MCSD during the years he would have attended Argosy/Sarasota. [3]

(6) Wow, in traveling to and from Sarasota for those evenings and weekends, he must have accrued a lot of frequent-flier miles. I wonder why he didn't just go to Auburn, which also has an Ed.D. program.

So long as school systems give substantial and automatic salary increases based on advanced degrees.... there will be a market pressure on for-profit schools to make it easier to earn such degrees. The result is a bloated budget and continued requests for renewal of the educational sales tax.



> [3] "Candidate considered for Spencer High post," Ledger-Enquirer, 6/5/2006.

Talk about wow! If I didn't know better, I'd think this school principal was running for mayor....

Thomas's letter actually came with four footnotes. (We created links for three of them.) If you're going to challenge the credibility of an educator, I guess it comes down to fancier footnotes and better bibliographies.

Should Argosy University be distrusted, because it's a profit-making college? That hasn't seemed to stop Mercer University, with its multitude of Georgia campuses. Some of them emphasize business degrees so much, you almost forget they're run by Baptists.

Someone asked me Tuesday if Spencer High principal Isaac Neal Jr. really attended night and weekend school for his doctorate, or if he earned the degree with summer classes. I don't know the answer to that. I still haven't tracked down Neal's credentials - but then, which one of his students would post that sort of thing on

Thomas seems to be arguing against incentive packages for educators - yet as I recall, they've been offered to Columbus Police in a similar way in the past. If educational success goes unrewarded.... well, isn't the high school dropout rate in Georgia high enough already?

Oh yes, before I forget -- there's "prestige" involved in working for the government? I'd like to hear Thomas say that to the city animal control officers....

Now other things to ponder from one of the hottest days of the year so far:

+ The Phenix City Council approved the development of a coffee shop on 13th Street, near the Riverwalk. It's the first step in riverside development - well, unless you count the Phenix Plaza sports bar which didn't stay open very long

+ The Opelika-Auburn News reported someone walked into the Opelika Best Buy store during the late afternoon and stole $7,000 worth of iPods. Talk about being technologically illiterate! That thief must not know you can reprogram one of them, and change the music.

+ Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue announced he's suing the Army Corps of Engineers for lowering the levels at state lakes too much. The Chattahoochee River didn't seem to be that low Tuesday night - since I still had to jog on the Riverwalk, not in the middle of the river.

+ Instant Message to Investools: Make up your mind, will you?! Either your Thursday seminar is at the Columbus Trade Center in Columbus, or the one in Atlanta. You showed both locations on the screen, so I'm confused....

COMING THURSDAY: Others join in the weather guessing game....

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006


A week-long celebration began Monday, marking ten years since Columbus hosted Olympic softball. Things truly are different now from 1996 - as there are no games, no advance notice of the event and hardly any crowd.

The softball celebration was timed to coincide with the "Higher Ground" softball clinic at South Commons. So I guess this clinic specializes in pitching....

The man in charge of the Higher Ground softball clinic says he's thrilled to be at the "venue" of the 1996 Olympics. Did anyone stop to tell him South Commons Softball Stadium was built AFTER those games - and the only softball in Golden Park nowadays occurs when AFLAC has a corporate outing?

Campers at the softball clinic came from far and wide. In fact, the ceremonial first pitch was made by a young woman from Italy. If she throws too low back home, some Italians might try to kick the ball downfield simply out of habit.

Current and former Columbus city officials said the softball competition in 1996 is still paying dividends for the city, because players still want to come here for clinics and events. If Fort Benning really wanted to cash in on this, they'd organize a tournament for S.O.A. Watch protesters on post in November. See if those peace-lovers will cross the line with softball bats....

The big softball events of the year at South Commons nowadays are the Georgia high school softball tournament every fall, and the Leadoff Classic for college teams every February. Lest you complain about the other ten months of the year, remember one thing - Atlanta Motor Speedway only has two NASCAR weekends a year, and people still seem to like it.

Despite the optimistic spin, the 1996 dream of making Columbus the "softball capital of the country" hasn't quite panned out. The Southeastern Conference softball tournament only showed up once. "Super-Ball" tournaments happened twice, but stopped. And I'm not sure the Georgia Pride professional team ever outdrew the basketball Riverdragons.

(And if all that's not enough, the International Olympic Committee has decided to drop softball as a sport! But that's OK - give Power Frisbee a few years, and we'll be ready to take its place....)

It's nice to remember the softball summer of 1996 - but a week-long celebration comes across to me more as a journey of nostalgia, than a springboard from present success toward the future. However, my opinion could change if a hot-looking star like Jennie Finch makes a guest appearance.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Now let's move the time machine into this decade -- as we have a surprising reply to a recent flashback about the 2002 mayor's race:

I was reading your blog the other day and found your "Laughline Flashback" [14 Jun] quite amusing.

I am the mother of the Poydasheff hit and run victim. So I would like to set the record straight. First, we did not send out any letters. I have no idea who did that. Second, no police officer called me. My daughter was well over 21 yrs old so there would not have been any reason for anyone to call me. Let me explain what happened. My daughter was parked near the River Club because she worked as a Manager of Computer Programmers at a large credit card processor located in that vicinity. She was gone to lunch when her car was hit. Several of her co-workers were looking out the window when they saw Mr. Poydasheff's car hit her car and leave the scene. They took his tag number and when she returned from lunch they gave it to her. She checked her car and it was damaged. She then called the police. They came, made a report and contacted Mr. Poydasheff. Sometime after that she was contacted by phone from a policewoman who was in Mr. Poydasheff's office. The policewoman asked her to withdraw her complaint. Mr. Poydasheff did pay for the damage to my daughter's car. I just wonder if the rest of us would have been treated the same way he was. I wonder if the rest of us would have escaped charges of "hit and run" if there were several witnesses. During my years of working for the Army there was an old _expression of "RHIP" (Rank Has It's Privileges). Is that what happened in this instance? Thanks for letting me set the record straight. Accident Victim's Mom

Thanks, Mom, for a message that's noteworthy for several reasons. For one thing, someone in the police department actually worked in Bob Poydasheff's behalf four years ago.

It's nice to see Bob Poydasheff paid for the damages to the - let me guess, TSYS?! - manager's car. Now if someone please will check, to see if the payment came from his campaign fund....

There obviously would have been a problem had Bob Poydasheff been arrested in 2002. Where would you keep him inside the Muscogee County Jail, until he posted bond? His stories about overseas trips could have irritated some inmates into doing something dangerous.

By the way, we need to follow up on an e-mail we posted about a week ago. Someone wrote us about Jim Wetherington appearing at a Columbus Council meeting - but a reporter who attends those meetings often tells me the mayoral challenger did NOT show up at all! Maybe someone waved a campaign poster back and forth before a CCG-TV camera, and confused people.

BLOG UPDATE: Back in the present, Peachtree Mall's management issued a statement Monday about the early Saturday night shutdown. It explained a mix of "Family Day in the Park" visitors and Father's Day shoppers made the mall too crowded. At last - an explanation for why some stores open at 6:00 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving.

Columbus Police now say they're not really sure if the food court fighting at Peachtree Mall was started by people who went there after Family Day in the Park. I never realized that many young people would be scrambling to buy Subway gift cards for their dads.

Meanwhile, I heard one person complain Monday that "Family Day in the Park" is a misnomer - because star acts like "Three Six Mafia" really don't provide family entertainment. That person may have a point. But in 2006, is Davis Broadcasting really going to attract a crowd of 22,000 people to hear Bill Cosby give a lecture?

Now let's all get some large soft drinks, sit down and send some Instant Messages....

+ To the couple I saw pushing each other on the north side of Ninth Street, between Broadway and Front Avenue: Yes, I was prepared to intervene if the woman asked me to do so. But neither of you fell down like Shaquille O'Neal, so it obviously wasn't very serious.

+ To outgoing Miss Georgia Monica Pang: Are you kidding - you're really moving in a couple of months to Malaysia?! I really don't think you have to go that far away, to win the Miss Universe pageant.

+ To the Phenix City Central High School "problem solving" team: Congratulations on winning that world title in Colorado! Now maybe you can replace that other team of problem solvers. You know - WRBL's Jessica Clark, Mara Kelly and Dave Marshall.

+ To the Georgia baseball team: That had to be embarrassing Monday - getting kicked out of the College World Series by Oregon State. I thought they only played baseball in Oregon when the running track was being resurfaced.

(So Georgia and Georgia Tech went a combined 0-4 at the College World Series. They'll simply have to offer Columbus High School players more money to attend college.)

+ To the Atlanta Thrashers: What did you think about former teammate Frank Kaberle scoring a goal in Monday night's Stanley Cup win by Carolina? Do you agree with me, that someone in the Raleigh area will try to use the cup as a spittoon?

BIG PREDICTION: My choice was the first runner-up at Miss Georgia last year - and this year I'm choosing Miss Macon to win it all. And somehow, I predict you'll never see any of those contestants on "How to Get the Guy."

(And after looking over the contestants, I nominate Miss Altamaha for a special award -- winning the Cheryl Renee look-alike contest.)

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Sunday, June 18, 2006


With all due respect to State Senate candidate Reginald Pugh: this item is NOT about him. Our title is borrowed from his billboard's message - but change can merely come by using a ten-dollar bill to buy dinner.

BLOG EXCLUSIVE: The change we're talking about is about to happen at WRBL. An inside source tells your blog the TV station is about to lose THREE well-known on-air personalities - so I guess they won't be "three on their side" anymore.

I'm hearing WRBL will lose Chief Meteorologist Jeff Donald by the end of the summer. The story is that his contract will NOT be renewed -- although since he works in weather, I suppose there's a 20-percent chance he'll stay on.

Jeff Donald underwent surgery earlier this year, which kept him off WRBL for a while. Now he may be leaving for good - which means he won't be able to compare forecasts with his neighbor down the street. Perhaps you didn't know he lives near Kurt Schmitz's house.... [true!]

So will Darren "Stacker-3" Stack take Jeff Donald's place? Nope, because he's reportedly leaving as well. The inside source tells me he's moving to a TV station in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in a couple of weeks. Perhaps Columbus simply doesn't have enough pancake houses for him.

That would leave only newcomer Harmony Mendoza on the WRBL weather team - and if she's left all by herself, I guess she'll become the Melody instead....

But WRBL apparently has another plan. I'm told a former forecaster at WTVM is in talks to come back to Columbus, and serve as the new Chief Meteorologist. The name of this person has NOT been disclosed to me. But I can't imagine Maria LaRosa would leave Philadelphia, where she's gained a reputation as a hot-weather.... no, wait. Take out that "weather" part.

Based on speculation I've heard over several months, I'm guessing the former meteorologist WRBL is after is Jim Crowley. He was in Columbus for years, then moved to Wisconsin - and now he may be tired of predicting snow more often than severe thunderstorms.

There's one other big name leaving WRBL. Your blog is told Sports Director Dan Edward will depart in the next few weeks, to be closer to his family in Kentucky. The way he's criticized Atlanta's baseball bullpen the last couple of years, I thought he might try out as a pitcher.

At the top of the WRBL News staff, there's already been a change. It turns out News Director Cyle Mims left quietly in May, to take a job with TSYS. So instead of taking credit for the station's success, he now simply processes credit.

We already noted Sunday the shift by WRBL's Chris Sweigart from on-air reporting to being a web site coordinator. But based on all this other stuff we're hearing, Sweigart could be running the entire station before the year is over.

If all this isn't enough, the parent company of WRBL has imposed occasional hiring freezes in recent months. So it's hard to say when all the staff openings will be filled -- or whether Opelika-Auburn News reporters will wind up doing two jobs.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Now for what we thought might be Blog Exclusive #2 - but it turns out really isn't. It relates to the recent fuss of public safety pay and school budgets:


We all know that many city workers have been underpaid, but the upper-level managers are not among them. It would look much better if, in implementing a "92% plan," City employees making over, say, $60,000 a year would forego raises. But no, Hugley and others have turned this into a "money grab" for themselves. There is a certain income level at which families can live comfortably, and beyond it, there is diminishing utility from the increased income. In other words, police officers making $25,000 can make better use of a raise than City management.

Note that a few years ago, Hugley was angling for a raise for himself, which was aborted due to the public outcry. Remember how he offered to do the work of a city manager and an assistant for the increased salary? Well, ha, now he will have an increased salary anyway--as will his assistant!

What happened to the benevolent ideal behind public service? You know, where people are willing to work for a lower salary to serve the public rather than the dollar? At $117,000 a year, the city manager job is clearly fungible; i.e. if Hugley were to leave town because of his "below market" pay, I'd be willing to bet hundreds of qualified people would be willing to replace him. Of course, we could define "qualified" as "having managed a lightly used bus service for a few years," and that would restrict the number of people but would also be dishonest.

I do credit that the MCSD has a much worse problem with administrative pay. There, an "Ed.D. in Educational Leadership" from Argosy University in Sarasota, Fla., a online degree program that is not accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools despite being located in Fla., will bring with it an automatic pay raise. See recent appointment of Spencer High principal, who made over $100,000 last year.



I'll take your word for it, Thomas, when you say there's "a certain income level at which families can live comfortably." Maybe you've found it, but so many people I meet in Columbus still haven't....

If City Manager Isaiah Hugley is offered a raise by Columbus Council (and remember, it approved the entire pay plan from top to bottom), it's easy for us to say he should turn it down or give it to charity. But I don't hear people making that sort of complaint when Atlanta sports teams sign big-name stars. And by the way, where should the Russell County baseball players donate their signing bonuses?

Thomas sent me running to a dictionary when he declared the City Manager's job is "fungible." I'd never heard Isaiah Hugley compared to fungi before in my life....

But no: "fungible" means according to Webster's New World Dictionary: "designating goods, as grain, any unit or part of which can replace another unit, as in discharging a debt...." Councilor Nathan Suber tried to apply that definition to the Marshal's Department, and was voted down at the polls. At least Mayor Bob Poydasheff didn't try to become City Manager when Carmen Cavezza left.

The potential Blog Exclusive came from Thomas's last paragraph. I couldn't find the resume of new Spencer High School principal Isaac Neal Jr. online Sunday, to verify his doctorate. The Muscogee County School District's web site doesn't even have the minutes of its May meeting posted yet....

But is Argosy University a "diploma mill," as Thomas seems to be suggesting here? The Argosy web site indicates to me it's not. The accreditation comes from the "North Central Association," which is the Midwestern version of SACS - so let's keep our Southern elitism to football here.

BLOG UPDATE: More details surfaced Sunday about the closing of Peachtree Mall stores. It turns out mall security called for the closures, not Columbus Police. The security staff is also the reason why TV cameras have to point toward the mall from Burger King, across Manchester Expressway.

(Really now - the only time you MIGHT see TV reporters inside Peachtree Mall is on the Friday after Thanksgiving. If you didn't know better, you'd think Dillard's and Parisian were controlled by a strange religious cult.)

Columbus Police say a kiosk at Peachtree Mall was damaged in the food court fighting, before stores were closed. If the Swiss Colony stand was there 12 months a year, it could have turned into a sausage fight rivaling a Jerry Springer Show.

One witness claimed at least 13 Columbus police cars responded to the unrest at the Peachtree Mall food court. Obviously there was reason for concern - since the Taco Bell versus Chick-fil-A rivalry has been simmering for years.

For all the tumult in the Peachtree Mall food court, it turns out only two people were arrested for disorderly conduct. Next time, those people should be pointed in a different direction from "Family Day in the Park" - toward the Sports Arena where they hold pro wrestling matches.

So should Davis Broadcasting be blamed for the Peachtree Mall trouble? The staff there probably would say no, explaining they can't control what people do after Family Day in the Park ends. And let's face it - the mall is much farther away from Cooper Creek Park than the parking lot of The Fire House club was.

Now for final thoughts from Father's Day 2006:

+ A party at Lakebottom Park wished the Chattahoochee Valley Vipers well in their first playoff game tonight at Rome. The indoor football team had to be disappointed, because the crowd was much smaller than for Family Day in the Park - and the Three Six Mafia didn't do a rap tune in their honor.

+ Indiana University golfer Seth Brandon won the Southeastern Amateur tournament at the Country Club of Columbus. He's an amateur?! At least he shot under par - while those so-called pros at the U.S. Open had trouble breaking five-over.

+ Instant Message to the Georgia Lottery: I don't get it. You had several scratch-off tickets for Mother's Day, but nothing for Father's Day?! Aren't some dads more likely to buy those tickets -- perhaps to avoid paying child support?

BURKARD'S BEST BETS: Gas for $2.61 a gallon at Dolly Madison on Victory Drive.... skim milk for $1.43 a half-gallon at Piggly Wiggly.... World Cup matches in Spanish on "Viva 1460" AM, the way soccer is meant to be presented (and who cares who's playing, the announcers are wonderfully excited)....

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 your e-mail and offer a reply.

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