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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