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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