Sunday, July 30, 2006


The talk at work turned to home computers some time back, and a man asked me if I could burn. I told him yes, I could - so that's why I use plenty of sunscreen outside.

As web-smart as I may seem, I didn't really know much about "ripping" and "burning" with computers until recently. I'd be burning inside when web pages came up too slowly - and ripping only seemed to happen when I went jogging too fast downtown.

But the approach of Power Frisbee of Georgia has changed all this. We want the atmosphere at our matches to be fun, so we're looking for appropriate music to play between quarters and games. And because most of the matches are on Sundays, we're not sure if any high school marching bands will be available.

Yet the search for fitting music is like they say during that Time-Life offer on Saturday nights after the 11:00 p.m. news - there's one good song on one CD, and another good one on another CD. And as much as I like that "Soul Ballads" infomercial week after week, I haven't ordered the collection yet.

Since my new more-powerful computer can hold a lot more music, I'm officially prepared to join the 21st Century and download songs online. In fact, I practiced for this last weekend -- by submitting a song off my CD for possible performance at an upcoming church convention. It was my first time "ripping" music. Some of us can remember when you simply broke vinyl records over your knee.

But it took me two tries to rip the song I wanted to submit - because the first time, the computer saved it as a .wma file. That's a file only Windows Media Players can comprehend. At moments like this, I start to understand why the Justice Department and European Union sued Microsoft.

After a good bit of searching in help directories, I adjusted the software so it would rip an .mp3 file for e-mailing. Yet I still feel a bit lost when it comes to online music - because whatever happened to the MP-1 and MP-2?

So now I'm "rippin' good," but what about burning music onto a CD? Well, first you have to save one onto your computer. For months I've held a card from a package of cookies offering me a free download. With the crumbs all licked off the wrapper, it was time to use it....

"REDEEM YOUR FREE MUSIC DOWNLOAD," the card from Wal-Mart promised - "Expires 7/31/06." So this past week I went to its music web site and typed in the special code. Imagine my surprise when the site declared the code was "no longer valid!" This was a "fast forward" which was quite unexpected.

If Wal-Mart is going to do this to me, I said, maybe I should look for music elsewhere. The top contender was "Yahoo Music Unlimited," which promises all the music you want for ONLY five dollars a month. But there are several catches to that package - starting with the drop-dead gorgeous photo of Shakira, which I was unable to save to "My Pictures."

Yahoo Music Unlimited costs five dollars a month IF you buy a full year of it. Otherwise, it costs about seven dollars a month - and a check of the fine print shows it only works with its special "music engine" software, which will NOT let you burn anything onto a CD. I suppose it's nice to find an engine that's burn-proof, but....

A check of Apple's "iTunes" appeared more promising - but much of its web site seems to be built around the iPod, more than the songs. Those devices can be expensive, you know. And unlike the Walkman, you can't tune in a radio to check the weather forecast when you see clouds outside.

Despite the code confusion, it appears I'll use Wal-Mart for music downloads for the time being. Its price is the least expensive, at 88 cents a song -- well, at least without me getting tagged by Internet police and risking arrest....

P.S. Believe it or not, a woman in my church congregation actually burned a copy of my CD to give to another congregation member. I found this out from the woman's husband, who came to me admitting it and paying for an original album. I should pray harder for this woman -- since we keep the commandments, and she tends to watch "American Idol" a lot.


We'll have NO blog entry Monday, because we'll be in Augusta promoting Power Frisbee of Georgia. Pre-season stops in Columbus and LaGrange are coming August 13. Learn about the new game people are calling "exciting" and "interesting" at the official Power Frisbee web site; then offer your comments about it at the P.F.G. blog.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Speaking of computers, the big local crime story of the weekend brought this one-line comment:

Makes you think...wonder how many Columbus will eventually catch.

Attached to that line was a story from Saturday's Ledger-Enquirer about the arrest of 20 suspected child predators in Harris County. It was one of those sting operations "Dateline NBC" often shows -- which makes you wonder if anyone told that program WLTZ NBC-38 doesn't have a news department.

Dateline NBC rented a vacant house in Harris County, and used it as a bogus meeting place for adults to meet teenagers they encountered online. These men simply can't do this the old-fashioned way, can they? You know - cornering teens at the mall or the football stadium.

The predator sting was suggested by Harris County Sheriff Mike Jolley, who worked with a web site called "Perverted Justice." And all this time, you thought that phrase applied to U.S. Supreme Court rulings....

Officers say one suspected predator tried to run from the Harris County house, and was stopped with a Taser. Some of us wonder if the proper punishment for these men shouldn't be a second round with the Taser - aimed (ahem) somewhere below the belt.

Some of the suspected predators traveled to Harris County from southeast Georgia - so Muscogee County Sheriff Ralph Johnson hinted he may set up a similar sting in the future. Indeed, who knows how many could be caught in Columbus? But at least they could help our economy first, by staying overnight in a nice local motel.

We have one other message, from a Lee County contributor:

If you or I made 5 to 6 billion in 2nd quarter profits, there would be millions lined up the next day to do the same thing I was doing.

So why cannot more americans go into the Oil business?????

The same reason why Outsider's are allowed to enter the U S illegally and walk our streets without being arrested !!!!

Am i in the wrong business,,looks that way

Smiths Station Council agreed to allow lot sizes to go smaller again..why in the world in having zoning when all they do is allow what whomever what's to do...cheeezzz

The Smiths couple that was in Israel when the noise started is back,,glad the media kept that one quite......I do not think Smiths Station residents could have gone over their on the own to do a rescue...we would have to have flipped them a burgger or two...

No where in the area can you find the roads being made bigger to handle the over flow of traffic coming to Smiths station are they going to move around...maybe canoe's from the overflow of sewage??? follow the green turd road...follow the green turd road...

I'm not sure if you can get into the oil business in Lee County or not. What are the rules about having slurry pits in your backyard?

During the years I lived in Enid, Oklahoma, the city commission actually approved an ordinance allowing people to drill for oil inside the city limits. But I don't think anyone ever found any. At least, I don't recall driving by any homes dripping with black paint.

What's so bad about Smiths Station having different sizes for lots? After all, some people have Hyundais to park in their driveway while other people have Hummers. Assuming, of course, they're actually being parked IN the driveways....

I never heard about any local effort to go to Lebanon, and pull out the Lee County couple which was stuck there. In fact, I keep waiting for a Columbus synagogue to announce a local recruitment program for the Israeli Defense Force.

And about that "green turd road" - if Weird Al Yankovic turns a Brooks and Dunn song into a parody with that title, you really should sue for damages....

Now let's clear the highway of other leftover weekend items:

+ Columbus had rain on Saturday evening for the third week in a row. If this keeps up, some band at a club on Broadway will start singing, "Saturday night's all right for flooding."

+ My pastor at church preached against 60-month car loans, citing a neighbor's advice to a child. "Do you know how many days that is?" the pastor quoted the neighbor as saying. But hey, look at it another way -- it's almost one month for every book of the Bible.

+ The Columbus Chamber of Commerce announced we're now in an "entrepreneur friendly city," one of 22 in Georgia. In fact, Mayor Bob Poydasheff promises to hug every entrepreneur personally between now and Election Day.

+ The Port Columbus museum hosted an etiquette class for young people, teaching the "social graces." As if Confederate sailors thought about proper dance steps, as they were fighting the Union attackers....

+ Instant Message to WRBL: Huh?!?!? I turn you on for news at 11:00 Saturday night - and instead, you're showing a rerun of "Who's the Boss?" May I assume the boss is not anchor Heather Jensen?

BURKARD'S BEST BETS: Gas for $2.85 a gallon at Reese's Marathon on Warm Springs Road.... FREE open house Sunday afternoon at the new Summit Hospital in Phenix City.... but who put egg nog in the Wal-Mart SuperCenter skim milk? It sure tastes strange....

COMING THIS WEEK: Why an e-mailer wants me to get out of bed at 3:00 in the morning....

People across metro Columbus and around the world read this blog every day. To advertise to them, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

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Friday, July 28, 2006


The candidates for Columbus Mayor had their first campaign showdown Thursday. Bob Poydasheff and Jim Wetherington came together at 7:30 a.m. - and let's face it: both men are so up in years, they might consider WXTX "News at Ten" past their bedtimes.

The "Jim-Bob" joint appearance occurred during a Columbus Chamber of Commerce "Eye-Opener Breakfast" at the Trade Center. I wasn't able to go, so can anyone tell me if appropriate drinks were served? Did pro-Wetherington Democrats demand some "Red Bull" be displayed?

Mayor Bob Poydasheff told the audience he's running for reelection on his record of "positive effective leadership." I fear some public safety employees would rephrase that a bit - to start with "positively," then a different sort of word with "ef."

Challenger Jim Wetherington told the audience he's prepared to offer "genuine leadership skills" as mayor. I'm not sure how that would make him so different. Perhaps Wetherington will promise to stay inside the U.S. on his summer vacations.

It only figured that public safety would come up at the candidates' forum, since.... oh yeah, that reminds me. Why does the Chamber of Commerce have "forums" instead of debates? Are we simply too courteous and gentle-minded in Columbus to have a debate about something? If Chamber leaders think so, they must not listen to "TalkLine" or read the letters to the newspaper.

But anyway: when it comes to public safety, Mayor Bob Poydasheff says Police Chief R. Boren has received "the extra ammunition he needs" in recent months. That's funny - I thought the budget issue was personnel, not bullets....

Jim Wetherington is unimpressed by the adjustments in the new city budget to benefit public safety. "He had four years," Wetherington told the breakfast. And Mayor Poydasheff may be thankful about that - because in Phenix City he would only have three.

But incumbent Bob Poydasheff dismissed suggestions that businesses are avoiding Columbus because of crime or police problems. He said if the city really was poor, businesses would not be locating here. Simply drive north for proof -- since Krispy Kreme never opened a freestanding doughnut shop for Jim Wetherington's police force.

(By the way: didn't Mayor Poydasheff promise to open his campaign headquarters on 13th Street by August? Only four days are left in July - so maybe he needs to break away from reprogramming the city paycheck computers for one night....)

Randy Robertson of the Fraternal Order of Police attended the Chamber of Commerce forum, and told one reporter it proved public safety affects all aspects of Columbus. Well, yes - but so do city road crews, and I don't hear any of them lobbying for extra money to fix potholes.

More than 14 weeks remain before Election Day, so we're likely to see "Jim-Bob" come together again. Some people who attended Thursday's breakfast openly wished the candidates would be more specific with their plans. About the only part of city government where you're liable to get such specifics is the lunch menu of a senior center.


Power Frisbee heads to Augusta this Sunday, for an open tryout to find who will represent that city on opening night! And pre-season stops in Columbus and LaGrange are coming August 13. Find out where and learn all about our new game at the official Power Frisbee web site; then offer your comments about it at the P.F.G. blog.

Now a quick check of other thrilling Thursday subjects:

+ The federal department of Housing and Urban Development presented a grant check for about three million dollars to the Columbus Housing Authority. It occurred at the old Peabody Apartments site, which is being renovated into the new "Ashley Station." How Ashley Nix arranged for this to be named after her before she left town, I have no idea....

+ Glenwood High School became the first team in the area to begin football practice. Well, at least that's what the evening news said. So many high school teams have "passing camps" during the summer now that I wonder if running backs should sue for discrimination.

+ Instant Message to Reginald Pugh: Oh dear - I didn't realize. After reading what the Street Committee reported in "The Courier" Thursday, you really didn't have to leave that meeting of African-American leaders to talk to me. I'm a single guy - so I'm used to waiting a long time for the phone to ring.

BURKARD'S BEST BETS: Gas for $2.87 a gallon at Dolly Madison on Victory Drive.... FREE "Summerfest" from 1:00 - 5:00 p.m. at the Liberty Theater.... Tim Hudson bobblehead doll night Saturday at the Catfish game, fittingly sponsored by Hughston Orthopedic Hospital....

People across metro Columbus and around the world read this blog every day. To advertise to them, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 7298 (+ 233, 3.3%)

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© 2003-06 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Thursday, July 27, 2006


For some parents in Columbus, the countdown today stands at seven. It's seven more weekdays before a new school year opens - and before some teenage babysitters lose a good bit of extra income.

But for some school districts south of Columbus, the summer break already is over. Stewart-Quitman and Chattahoochee County schools opened for a new term this week. The old teen love song "See You in September" sounds more ancient every day - because we've jumped over August and into July.

The evening news visited Stewart-Quitman High School Wednesday, and found quite a change from a few years ago. I recall when some parents protested the school year starting in July. Now they don't - so maybe they all found daytime jobs.

But administrators at Stewart-Quitman High admit some students don't show up for class until the second week, under this early schedule. I guess even in small towns such as Lumpkin and Georgetown, there's such a thing as "fashionably late."

Several Stewart-Quitman High School students admitted they don't mind starting a new school year in July. One actually claimed by starting early, he'll get out faster. I don't know who sold him on that logic -- because the district calendar has him in session through Memorial Day weekend.

The Stewart County schools have spread out the calendar so much that it might as well be on year-round classes. The term lasts almost ten months, instead of the old-style nine. Isn't it amazing what NASCAR racing has inspired in our society?

(The calendar includes a one-week fall break in October, at the time of the Biblical Feast of Tabernacles. That's good to see. But a TWO-WEEK spring break in late March and early April? How many of these students are taking trips to Aruba?)

Other Stewart-Quitman High School students said they were ready for class to start after only a few weeks of summer break. That may sound strange, but keep one thing in mind -- in Stewart and Quitman Counties, there's not much to do even when class is in session.

Administrators will tell you they start the school year earlier nowadays so the first semester ends before winter break. So someone should explain to me why the National Football League has gone in the opposite direction - with regular-season games last season on January 1.

But consider what students south of Columbus are missing, by starting a new school year in July. They're in class more than a week before the Georgia sales tax holiday begins next Thursday. Their parents either have to pay full-price for clothes and supplies -- or the students have to find a clever way to make last year's stuff look new for eight or nine days.

(And this early start occurs in a lower-income area of Georgia, where paying the extra sales tax could be a bit of a burden on families. Hopefully there are Family Dollar stores in these counties to make sure everything evens out -- even though that doesn't sound as impressive as Parisian.)

On top of that, the Chattahoochee Valley Regional Library System's summer reading program only ended a few days ago. How could youngsters go to the "Library Ball" in Marion County Wednesday, when they might be full from eating meatballs in the cafeteria for lunch?

I thought about asking a Big Blog Question about the earlier start of the school year -- but then I remembered we did this last year, and many voters disapproved of it [15 Aug 05]. Some maybe we'll ask it again at an appropriate time next year. Maybe on Independence Day....


Power Frisbee holds an open tryout in Augusta this weekend, to see who will represent that city on opening night! And pre-season stops in Columbus and LaGrange are coming August 13. Find out where and learn all about our new game at the official Power Frisbee web site; then offer your comments about it at the P.F.G. blog.

Now other short subjects from a nearly-comfortable Wednesday:

+ AFLAC stock dropped to a 52-week low, one day after the company announced its quarterly net income was up 21 percent from a year ago. Who can explain this one? Did someone find out all the people buying insurance are in hospice care?

+ The Ledger-Enquirer reported former Russell County School Superintendent Rebecca Lee is becoming an assistant professor at Troy University. Once again, Russell County is a stepping stone to a nicer job - and I can't wait for Tony Rasmus to become manager of the Columbus Catfish next season.

+ A demolition crew at the old Swift Mills complex caused a natural gas leak, which closed traffic on Second Avenue for a time. But because it happened during mid-afternoon, men couldn't get there in time to fill their propane cans for grilling.

+ Instant Message to former N'Sync singer Lance Bass: No way. I mean, YOU - a homosexual?! I may never listen to the song "Bi Bi Bi" the same way again....

People across metro Columbus and around the world read this blog every day. To advertise to them, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 7065 (+ 179, 2.6%)

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© 2003-06 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

for 26 JUL 06: FOUR, TWO, ZERO

When the Columbus Public Library opened 19 months ago, it moved to a more convenient location for many people. But for others, I suspect it was quite a loss. And it goes beyond the hikers who could practice for the Appalachian Trail, by climbing the hill from the old main library to the Columbus Museum.

BLOGGER BEGGAR #5: The woman stood outside the old Bradley Library after Monday night's school board meeting, waiting for someone. The group of three women who left the school board meeting together were NOT it. I was it -- and no, she was not selling band candy.

"Sir, can you help me?" I'd helped this woman before -- in fact, a couple of times in recent years. I knew this woman from her limp and her artificial leg. Yet she's not so helpless that she can't walk across Wynnton Road to beg -- sometimes even blocking the exit lane to get your attention.

I was trying to walk away from the woman toward my car, but her question called for an answer. "It must be harder for you to beg these days," I said, "since they moved the library." Of course, she could ask for help from the school district personnel now using that building -- but we all know how underpaid teachers are.

But the woman didn't want to discuss the impact of economic changes in her neighborhood. "I'm trying to get some food," she told me. I drove her up Wynn Hill to Wendy's and bought her lunch a couple of years ago - and amazingly, the crew there seemed to recognize her.

Yet on this evening, supper at Wendy's was not the beggar's need. "Can you give me five dollars, so I can buy food at Lewis Jones?" Then the woman looked at a crumpled bill in her left hand. "Four dollars." So I guess I was eligible for a rebate.

"Come on," I told the woman. "I'll take you to Lewis Jones, and buy you four dollars worth of food." I started to walk toward the car, so certain she'd take advantage of this offer that....

"Sir!" The woman called to me, not even budging from her spot in front of the building. An old Wayne Newton song came to mind for a moment -- "Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast."

"I have a car parked over there," the woman said when I walked back to her spot. Then she tried to explain a bit of her background - that she's taken college courses, and was let go from some sort of job involving computers. But her voice was a bit weak and dialect-filled, so she might really have been talking about a long-lost daughter.

The woman claimed the Department of Family and Children's Services handles her monthly payments for rent and other necessities, but she has to beg total strangers for groceries. "Can you give me two dollars, so I can go buy some food?" Now the demand had been cut in half. If only this woman was selling me her car.

"Like I said: get in the car with me, and I'll take you to Lewis Jones - and now buy you TWO dollars' worth of food, since your need just dropped."

(Of course, the longer this negotiation process went on, the more likely we'd arrive at Lewis Jones on 13th Street and find it closed for the night -- leaving the beggar to choose off the menu at Loco's across the street.)

At this point the haggling took a strange turn. "I need money for the bus," the woman claimed. "About two dollars and 50 cents. I can give you my dollar for change." She may not have been a housewife, but she clearly was growing desperate.

"But you just told me you have a car over there," I said pointing in the same general direction the beggar did seconds before. "Why do you need bus fare?"

"It's a long way - across town," the beggar said. For what, I wasn't exactly sure. Perhaps for the job application she said she was making the next day - or perhaps to get as far away from me as possible before crowds came out.

"It has a hand rail," the beggar continued in her bus fare explanation. Yet she'd limped all the way to the front of the old Bradley Library, with no sign of a brace or walker anywhere.

"I'm sorry," I answered, "but you asked for food - and I can't let you change your demand in the middle of the negotiation process." Can beggars be prosecuted for bait-and-switch techniques?

I offered again to drive the limping beggar to Lewis Jones to buy her two dollars' worth of food, marked down from four. "Never mind," she answered. If she suspected I might really give her a ride down the hill to police headquarters for panhandling, she was wrong. The headquarters closes at 7:00 p.m. now, and I don't know where you take people for citizens' arrests after that.

"Keep in mind," I told the woman in a wrap-up reminder, "that if you wind up starving, I offered to take you to Lewis Jones and buy you food." She seemed to begrudgingly admit that as I left. But at least she still had a one-dollar bill in her hand, several more school board meeting attendees to meet - and that Wendy's up the hill still has a 99-cent value menu.


Power Frisbee holds an open tryout in Augusta this weekend, to see who will represent that city on opening night! And pre-season stops in Columbus and LaGrange are coming August 13. Find out where and learn all about our new game at the official Power Frisbee web site; then offer your comments about it at the P.F.G. blog.

Maybe the beggar wasn't driving because of some of the top items in our Tuesday news summary....

+ Gas prices jumped by about 12 cents across Columbus, to a low of $2.89 a gallon in South Commons. Has someone bothered to tell the managers the latest hurricane watch is for Hawaii, not Biloxi?

+ Columbus traffic managers warned backups could occur when school begins in two weeks, as the new Northside Elementary opens. For one thing, left turns no longer will be allowed from Veterans Parkway onto American Way. You can tell the mayor is a Republican when a left turn onto the American Way is illegal.

(To make room for more traffic, Veterans Parkway is being widened from Moon Road to Cooper Creek Road. Maybe someday a bigger project will begin - to extend Cooper Creek Road all the way to Cooper Creek Park.)

+ A police dive team pulled an empty car out of the Chattahoochee River. Someone apparently stole Robert Greathouse's 2003 Malibu from a Victory Drive repair shop, even though Greathouse said he couldn't get it to start. Maybe the thief should have left a calling card, so Greathouse can get the job done right next time.

+ A federal judge in Birmingham refused to order extra water to flow down the Chattahoochee, to protect endangered species in the Florida panhandle. So maybe the state of Florida has flexed its mussels for the last time....

+ Columbus Police shut down Timp's Auto Shine Center on Macon Road. Officers told WRBL they found more than 2,500 counterfeit videos and CD's on sale. Detectives may have become suspicious when they found a rock album spelled "Lincoln Park."

(If an "auto shine center" is selling counterfeit videos, can you really trust anything else this business does? Is the car shampoo nothing more than Head and Shoulders?)

+ Ground was broken for a new four-acre Russell County Recreation Center in Seale. But public contributions are needed to pay for the construction - as apparently not enough convicted teachers are on the list for "hard labor" duty.

+ The evening news reported six-year-old Allison Pierce of Columbus won the "tiny tot" championship of in-line skating. Now she needs to get some friends to join her, so Columbus can become the roller derby capital of the South.

+ Instant Message to OfficeMax: Aw c'mon - 99 cents for a regular-sized Snickers bar?!?! Are you trying to make convenience stores actually look inexpensive?

(BLOGGER'S NOTE: Again this week, our Thursday and Friday post times will be around 8:00 a.m. ET.)

People across metro Columbus and around the world read this blog every day. To advertise to them, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 6886 (+ 243, 3.7%)

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It all started with a short item in Sunday's Ledger-Enquirer, and led to me visiting the Muscogee County School Board meeting Monday night. In between there was this e-mail:

Sound off said MCSD hired an assistant to new AD Charlie Flowers..and didn't advertise..I guess some coach some where had his feathers ruffled..Who is the new Ass AD? Why hire one at all if the new AD position is only a year old??

First of all, should we be calling athletic directors names like this? Just because the coaches sometimes tell athletes to get theirs in gear....

And second of all, should we trust what people write to the "Sound Off" section of the newspaper? From what I've read there the last few days, the writers can't even agree on whether God supports the separation of religion and state.

There was an overflow crowd at the Muscogee County School Board Monday night, but it had nothing to do with athletics. The group Midtown, Inc. presented the results of several recent forums, on how to develop land around the Columbus Public Library. Some of you will be sad to learn the group did NOT recommend any Albert Paley sculptures go up.

Teresa Tomlinson of Midtown, Inc. said based on four community forums, people want a "hybrid" approach taken to the area around the main library. That means a mix of parkland and residential development. That does NOT mean Jay Toyota should sell hybrid cars there.

Given three options for development the land around the main library, almost 40 percent of the people at the forums preferred the hybrid approach. Commercial development was the second choice, while making the entire area a park came in a weak third. So apparently you skateboarders should stay on the Riverwalk, where you belong....

Teresa Tomlinson told reporters after her school board presentation she was surprised by the response in the forums to making the entire area around the library a park. It had the most negative reaction of any option - which should prove Trees Columbus did NOT pack the meetings with its own members.

If you think it would be cheaper to make the entire library area into a park, consider this: a consultant told Midtown, Inc. developing a park with nothing but green space would cost $200,000 PER ACRE - and it's a 62-acre area. This grass would be more expensive than marijuana after a Metro Narcotics Task Force bust.

Teresa Tomlinson explained to the school board one interesting problem in turning the library area into "all park." She says many people think recreation, when they hear the word "park." Some people want an Olympic-sized swimming pool. Some want an indoor skating rink. Some even want an amphitheater - forgetting there are two on either side of the Chattahoochee River already.

In contrast, the hybrid approach to the library area would have two smaller parks. One would measure about 18 acres behind the library, while another park of about six acres would be in front along Macon Road -- which sounds to me like the green space there now could be named after Mary Sue Polleys.

The hybrid plan would have NO commercial development around the main library - but instead allow for at least 250 residences. That means houses, townhomes and condominiums priced as low as the $100,000 range. And as an added bonus, all the new Fort Benning soldiers living there would keep the library from becoming a terror target.

If you're not aware, the site of the old Columbus Square 8 theatres already is spoken for. A new YMCA is planned there - which makes you wonder why some people want an Olympic-sized swimming pool in a nearby park, since they come standard at most YMCA's.

Teresa Tomlinson also reported on a smaller survey conducted by the Lindsey Creek Neighborhood Association. Most of the residents polled support the idea of a new school administration building being built near the library. But the current one is so well hidden, to guard against upset parents....

When Teresa Tomlinson's presentation was finished, I followed the TV reporters outside the meeting room for follow-up questions. With a note pad and pen in hand, she understandably thought I worked for the Ledger-Enquirer -- and she later explained to someone nearby a blog was "an Internet newspaper." I'll take that as a compliment, although some officials probably would compare it to Mad Magazine.

So what else happened at Monday night's school board meeting? Members approved all sorts of interesting little things, such as:

+ The spending of $280,000 for a new "fire lane and bus loop" outside Johnson Elementary School. The fire department apparently required the fire lane. Short-track bicycle racers may thank the board later for that bus loop.

+ The purchase of several "interactive white boards." I'm not sure what makes them interactive - if they're like Tickle Me Elmo, and they giggle when you write on them.

+ The naming of "Old Guard Road" for a street near a school under construction on the north side of Columbus. Once again, Guy Sims is left ignored....

+ An agenda with items from letters A to Z and AA -- which at times was so dull that I discovered the Muscogee County School Board seal has only 17 of the 26 letters of the alphabet.

The quote of the night from the Muscogee County School Board occurred during a discussion about buying trucks. Member "Fife for Five" Whiteside complained the staff should buy several trucks at one time - because "the school district takes a haircut when we don't." You'd think in a conservative community like Columbus, he'd be in favor of haircuts.

The school board meeting ended with an executive session on discipline cases - but still my original issue had not come up. What about this hiring of an Assistant Athletic Director? Board member Patricia Hugley Green stepped outside during a short break, and told me she knew nothing about it. And no, she assured me she has NOT missed any meetings....

Patricia Hugley Green directed me to a school official who ought to have the answer - and I stopped him in the parking lot before he drove away. Chief Human Resources Officer Don Cooper had NOT seen Sunday's "Sound Off" section, nor had Hugley Green. I should have asked if they even saw the front-page story on "Brother Love" and "Gator Dave."

Don Cooper told me an Assistant Athletic Director has NOT been hired in Muscogee County. But he said someone is on an "extended-days contract," working the equivalent of overtime to appear at some school functions. Who could have guessed Charles Flowers had an early bedtime?

Since there's no official Assistant Athletic Director in Muscogee County schools, there's been no need to advertise for the position. So there you have it - someone spreading misleading information in the "Sound Off" column. These Reginald Pugh supporters don't know when to stop....

In fact, a Google News search we did found the Ledger-Enquirer never even ran a story on the hiring of an Assistant Athletic Director. So this is a bit scary - the newspaper's editorial staff may not be reading "Sound Off," to see if it's accurate.

By the way: Monday night marked my first trip to the old Bradley Library building since the books were removed 20 months ago. It's received a security upgrade, and you can't go inside the building during the day without entering a security code and looking into a camera. As if gangs with knives are going to enter a building with no students, and only office workers?!

But some traces of the old Bradley Library still remain. For instance, a promotional sign outside the school board meeting room mentions "farewell storytimes" for children which took place two years ago. It seems much longer ago than that -- especially when you realize AFLAC didn't sponsor the story hours then.


Power Frisbee holds an open tryout in Augusta this weekend, to see who will represent that city on opening night! And pre-season stops in Columbus and LaGrange are coming August 13. Find out where and learn all about our new game at the official Power Frisbee web site; then offer your comments about it at the P.F.G. blog.

Now let's dry the misty water-colored memories from our eyes, and check other Monday news:

+ WRBL reported Columbus had 42 reported car thefts in May, and 60 in June. But thankfully, that public safety pay raise is coming to reverse that trend....

+ Columbus Technical College announced it will offer a new program to train chefs in the "culinary arts." This sounds good to me -- but I have this feeling the students are going to develop weird new versions of catfish.

(But then again, this IS Columbus - so some students may hear "culinary arts" and think they'll be cooking barbecue all semester.)

+ Vice President Cheney appeared at a Republican Party fund-raiser in Dothan. Tickets to the private dinner cost $5,000 a couple - which led me to ask how many couples in Dothan possibly have that much money to spend on a dinner.

+ Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin asked for a federal disaster to be declared, because of drought. I wonder if I can apply for aid - because some of my humor has felt awfully dry lately.

+ Instant Message to WYBU TV-16: OK, I apparently wrote a little too soon. You still have a few more weeks of "Elimidate" to show [11 Jul] - and your Christian viewers certainly wouldn't want to have missed "Geek Week" last week.

SCHEDULED WEDNESDAY: A familiar face who's still standing outside the old library after hours....

Today's entry was in part the result of a blog reader's tip. To offer a story tip, advertise here or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

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Monday, July 24, 2006


"These gas prices are getting too d**n ridiculous," said the man on the other side of the pump from me Sunday. In recent years, of course, this sentence has become about as creative a conversation-starter as, "It sure is hot out here."

Yet we stood on opposite sides of one of the least expensive gas pumps in south Georgia. The Raceway station on Highway 520 in Tifton was selling regular unleaded for $2.78 a gallon, only three cents above the lowest price in Columbus. The price in Albany was several cents higher - which should teach Rep. Sanford Bishop to lobby harder for the extension of Interstate 185.

The price of gas at this Raceway certainly had jumped from my last trip through Tifton, to promote Power Frisbee of Georgia in Valdosta. On a Friday in late February, regular unleaded cost $2.01. So don't complain now -- because we're on a pace to hit four dollars a gallon next April.

So what did I say in response to the other driver's complaint? Something I'd noted here recently [17 Jul]: "At least the stations showed some resolve the last few days, and didn't raise prices much when world oil prices went above 76 dollars a barrel." At this point, the complainer may have wondered if I worked for ExxonMobil.

The other driver said nothing, but actually seemed to begrudgingly agree with what I said. But then I tried to soften things. "Maybe you can talk to the President of Iran, and convince him to stop causing so much trouble. Maybe he'll listen to you, because he's not listening to anybody else."

"He only wants everybody to hear him," the man replied -- and on that we agreed. Have I mentioned here that I tend to pronounce the Iranian President's last name "A-madman-jihad?"

(No, I do NOT plan to declare war on Iran the way I did on North Korea three years ago. That's because I'm concerned the Iranian President might take me seriously, and move Salman Rushdie's bounty over to me.)

Even though prices have jumped since February, the Raceway station near Interstate 75 in Tifton has no shortage of customers. Practically every pump was occupied when I pulled in shortly before noon Sunday. Perhaps when Valdosta adds an international airport for "Wild Adventure" visitors, that will change.

At times like these, I feel very wise about the car I bought 12 years ago. In the tank of gas that ended in Tifton, my humble Honda made it about 36 miles per gallon. While most of that was on the highway, NONE of it was on interstates - so the fewer traffic lights they put up in Cusseta and Richland, the better.

So what else did we find on the first Sunday of our Power Frisbee pre-season tour? For one thing, a good bit of rain. A thunderstorm poured down for several minutes over the place where we were scheduled to appear in Albany - and with plenty of lightning, I didn't bother checking whether the frisbee I brought had any traces of metal on it.

We handed out Power Frisbee business cards outside Billy Grant Field, the Valdosta State University baseball stadium. A woman told me there was a summer "wooden bat" league underway for college players. Wait until T-ball parents hear about this - so they can add a little "incentive" for children who don't want to run the bases.

For some reason, the most curious discoveries of Sunday's road trip seemed to be centered in Terrell County:

+ The county has a Wilbur Gamble Road - but the signs pointing to it along Highway 520 are misspelled "WLBUR" in BOTH directions. C'mon, Governor Perdue - don't we have a state budget surplus?

+ Not far from there, Highway 520 intersects with a "Chain Gang Road." If Brooks and Dunn can sing a hit song called "Red Dirt Road," some rap group can do a song about this....

(Really now - would YOU want to live on Chain Gang Road? Would you want to be in need of hired help there?)

+ A Subway restaurant combined with a gas station was NOT selling the new bourbon chicken sandwich. No, the sign outside offered simply "chicken bourbon." Those little globs of fat floating on top must make it more nutritious - or is that barbecue sauce?

(I've heard of drinks "on the rocks," but never bourbon on the bone....)

Now let's pull into the driveway, for some quick local notes from Sunday:

+ The Columbus Museum held a "family art" day, which emphasized quilting. Who knows how many children today see their first quilt, and think of those cartoon women putting toilet paper together....

+ The Spirit-Filled Ministries broadcast on WRBL featured Pastor Wayne Baker offering a book on how you can "pull yourself up by your bootstraps." My Pastor maintains that approach simply doesn't work. For one thing, what if the viewer always wears sneakers?

+ Columbus golfer Larry Mize finished sixth at the B.C. Open golf tournament in New York state. The fact that Mize wasn't at the British Open may tell you how much he needed some big money from a top-ten finish.

+ Instant Message to WLTZ NBC-38: Now that's some smart programming - following Sunday night's Miss Universe pageant with a beauty contest for twins. Most of the politically-minded men who expected to see "Meet the Press" at 11:00 p.m. probably didn't mind a bit.

SCHEDULED TUESDAY: E-mail about a "Sound Off".... but should that Sound Off be trusted?....

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Sunday, July 23, 2006


Today we begin the next big step toward the launch of Power Frisbee of Georgia. It's the first "Free Frisbee Sunday," showing off our new game in cities around the state. Hopefully people won't misunderstand, and think we're serving free sundaes ON a frisbee.

The Free Frisbee Sunday tour will mean a lot of driving - but at least I had a warmup for it last weekend. I went to our church congregation's annual picnic in Chambers County, about five miles northwest of LaFayette. It was a typical Sunday morning in the South, with few cars on the road because many people were in church -- so I knew where to pull over if trouble developed.

Our Columbus congregation has its annual picnic in Chambers County because a Local Elder has a nice home there, complete with a below-ground swimming pool. So we save money on renting a pavilion in a park - choosing instead to spend it instead on gasoline, driving 75 minutes one-way into the countryside.

Someone asked the Local Elder at our picnic this year how much land he owned - and I think he said nine acres. If he said 90, he's hiding the acreage well - with so many trees he probably could hide the sins of two congregations, along with ours.

Work commitments prevented me from attending the church picnic last year -- but longtime blog readers may recall our last trip two years ago [29 Jun 04]. Some members pulled out guns after lunch and engaged in target shooting in the Local Elder's backyard. I'm still wondering if National Rifle Association chapters do this at their picnics and cookouts....

The shooting session at the 2004 picnic led to this famous quote from a co-worker: "You attend a redneck church, don't you?" I tended to agree with him - but last year, church members told me last year the Pastor told gun-lovers to tone things down. In other words, keep the fire for the large rented grill.

Since I don't own a gun, I didn't pack one for this year's picnic. I carried two-liter bottles of soda and a disc for showing off Power Frisbee. But around the LaFayette city limits, I realized I'd forgotten ear plugs for the shooting. Maybe bottle caps from the soda would cover me a little....

But amazingly, I never saw anyone bring out a gun during about five hours I spent at this year's church picnic. Perhaps they were dissuaded by the fact that the Local Elder allowed big weeds to grow on a large open area where people had fired shots in the past -- but then again, that shouldn't stop real hunters, should it?

Instead, this year's big drama at the church picnic came during the cooking of lunch. A lot of smoke and flames developed on the grill at one point - making me thankful that the cooking team consisted of married men, so I wouldn't be blamed for any of it.

And of course, the "chicken flambee" was prepared on one of the hottest days of the summer. I was prepared to quote the Stevie Wonder album title, "Hotter Than July" - except of course, it WAS July....

After the quick grease fire, the grilled chicken seemed to cook normally - and the two pieces I ate didn't turn out all that black. I should note here our congregation is NOT one of those racially-separated groups. We eat both white and dark meat.

A surprise appearance was made at the church picnic by a member from Troup County who's on kidney dialysis. She's on what doctors say is a five-year waiting list for a kidney transplant - which to me takes the Biblical phrase "patience is a virtue" to quite an extreme.

(But this woman's biggest problem at the picnic was her left arm, which was quite swollen from medical needles. Why the doctors somehow think her kidney area is there, I have no idea....)

As I mentioned, the church picnic occurred on one of the hottest days of the summer. Several men chose to stay against a wall in the shade as much as they could - which was surprising, because we never danced once.

(The hosts prepared for the heat, by purchasing a couple of strips for making watery mists. Yet for some reason, they didn't serve Sierra Mist drinks with it.)

All in all, this year's church picnic was worth the drive. We ate well. We had fun. And the frisbee I brought wound up being tossed around (and into) the swimming pool. That's not really how Power Frisbee works - but given today's rainy forecast for South Georgia, maybe I should reconsider that....

E-MAIL UPDATE: I had not noticed this news, but a blog reader did....

Spencer High's new principal jumped in feet first with his shuffle of coaches..Might be some more shuffling coming soon..He means to put Spencer back on the map and make all teachers,administrators and students accountable..

I'm sorry, but I'm not as impressed by this change. The Spencer baseball team hasn't made "adequate yearly progress" for a long time.

Now from the Green Wave to a lack of waves, as we check headlines from the weekend:

+ Chattahoochee River Keeper George Williams warned against swimming in the river for now, because low levels mean higher levels of bacteria. Swim in it?! Before Saturday night's rain, there were spots in the downtown area where I think you could walk across it without getting wet.

+ A drive downtown found the Burger King on Veterans Parkway has not merely been closed in the last week - it's been bulldozed. Did the thunderstorms cause that much damage? Or do they need a bigger downtown restaurant to handle that king mascot with the big head?

(First the downtown Krystal closed. Now Burger King is "closed for rebuild," as its sign says. If I didn't know better, I'd guess the Mafia was thinking Arby's.)

+ Columbus planning officials confessed it may take four years to widen Whittlesey Boulevard, between Veterans Parkway and Whitesville Road. For one thing, it'll take a long time to remove all the lines of traffic so construction can begin....

(Columbus city officials admit they've been surprised by how popular Columbus Park Crossing has been. Isn't it amazing - that people still like eating at The Olive Garden?)

+ Russell County authorities announced the discovery of a large methamphetamine lab in Hatchechubbee. A suspect reportedly was making meth by buying cold medicine by the case - and when you're doing that in the South during a heat wave with temperatures around 100 degrees F., that's a little bit suspicious.

+ A small plane crashed at the Rome, Georgia airport, as the pilot tried to show a woman a marriage proposal banner from her boyfriend. Thankfully, the couple survived - but I'd suggest keeping the candle-lighting at the wedding to a minimum.

+ The final weekend of "Midnight Basketball" was played at Shirley Winston Park, with the championship game starting at 9:00 p.m. I think I've finally figured this out - the organizers teach the players world geography, by playing games at midnight Central European Time.

+ Auburn University Interim President Ed Richardson promised new rules concerning "Directed Reading" courses. Among other things, they'll become more "academically rigorous." Of course, that could mean football players read two books a semester instead of one.

+ Instant Message to the Georgia Department of Revenue: I don't get it. How can the "Auburn Club" have a Georgia specialty license plate, while Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus does not? Is this the result of a lost Auburn-Georgia football bet or something?

COMING SOON: A downtown repair job which I hope the Streetscape crews aren't overlooking....

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Friday, July 21, 2006


Mark your calendar: Thursday at 1:45 p.m. If you need to renew your car tag in Columbus, this is the perfect time to do it. I know, because that's when I did it Thursday - with hardly any waiting in line. Maybe the staff quietly wants Mayor Bob Poydasheff to win reelection.

Several errands were on my Thursday afternoon schedule, with the top two occurring at the Government Center. First was my annual car tag renewal - and again this year, I was given a sticker instead of a brand new plate. Do I have to wait until my humble Honda qualifies as an antique?

The security team at the East Wing of the Government Center was quick and polite while checking me. When I told them I was trying to keep cool, one man said, "You can't do it." I can't?! He should be thankful I didn't have a small gun hidden in my case....

After retrieving my case and metal items, I was so stunned by what I saw that I did a double-take. The car tag "waiting area" in the East Wing had NO people waiting. What could have caused this? Did someone spread sugar on the floor, which led to a fearful evacuation?

A woman entered the car tag area with me, and I let her go first. "What did we do to deserve this?" I asked her as we hurried through the barriers to the front of the line - acting a bit like teenagers trying to ride the roller coaster as many times as they can before closing time.

The woman was able to go to a counter almost right away - and I only had to stand for about a minute, watching United Nations Ambassador John Bolton give live comments to reporters on CNN. The wait was so short, the words on the screen never even told me what the developing story was.

By renewing my car tag at the Government Center, I saved the one dollar "mail fee." Years ago in suburban Atlanta, I waited nearly an hour for a car tag sticker - but I kept trying to impress people around me in line by saying, "I'm saving a dollar doing this."

With my new red sticker secured, we walked around the underground parking area to the West Wing of the Government Center. It was time to pay a city occupation tax for Power Frisbee of Georgia - which begins its introductory "Free Frisbee Sundays" this weekend in Albany and Valdosta. But under Columbus city rules, there are NO free home businesses....

The wait to pay the occupation tax wasn't that long, either - only a minute or two, while the cashier took care of a METRA employee. He walked away with what appeared to be a small bag full of money. I didn't think METRA bus drivers were able to make change for riders -- but then again, maybe those are his personal tokens for getting to work next week.

"That was too easy," I told myself as I finished my two tasks at the Government Center. But there was one more thing I wanted to check - so I exited through the tower entrance, looking around the security station from a distance. A man had told me there are pictures on the wall of everyone who's been barred from the building -- but I didn't even see Usama bin-Laden's picture anywhere.

Next stop: Cross Country Plaza - and this also was a doubleheader trip. I needed to make a few copies of a Power Frisbee sign-up sheet at OfficeMax. At the checkout, the woman asked me: "Did you find everything you wanted?"

"Oh yes," I answered. "The copying machines were right where I expected them."

Task two: go to Publix to buy postage stamps. Yes, I know you can buy them at any post office -- but how many post offices offer free samples of nacho chips and donut holes in the lobby?

But the big question at a store such as Publix is what to buy WITH the postage stamps. On this Thursday, the top contender was a bakery box of three dozen chocolate chip cookies on sale for $3.49. These tend to be "special event" cookies for me - but having no waiting line at the tag office didn't seem to qualify.

Yet the other snack candidates at Publix seemed too expensive. Even the packaged store-brand chocolate chip cookies in the aisle with Oreos had gone up to $2.19. These are NOT special event cookies, because -- uhhhh, welllll -- because they weren't on sale like the higher-priced ones were.

Using that inexplicably sound logic, I carried the bakery box of cookies to the fast lane of Publix and asked for stamps at the checkout with them. But then came trouble -- as the fancy new checkout computer screen showed the box costing $4.39. I didn't think my eyesight was failing that badly.

"I thought I saw a sign, showing that for $3.49," I said matter-of-factly. The checkout woman had someone, well, check out the bakery section -- and when that second woman came back singing "Everything's Coming Up Roses," I didn't know if I was right or she was newly engaged.

Both women stared at the electronic cash register keyboard, in what turned out to be my longest wait of the day. I finally half-whispered to one of them: "Does this mean I was right?" She nodded yes -- which was about as far as Publix went admitting a mistake.

The box of cookies was scanned a second time, to cancel the $4.39 price. The final total: $7.80 for stamps. "But I still want the cookies," I said.

"They're no charge. That's our policy." Wow -- catch Publix in a scanner error, and the item is FREE?! It was tempting to go to a second store and try it again.

"I'm shocked," I told the checkout pair. "And I didn't have to wait in line at the car tag office a while ago, either."

"This is your day!" encouraged a woman behind me in line. "Take advantage of it." Well, sorry -- I still don't play the lottery.

If all this was not enough, I got home from a 7:15 p.m. jog in time to beat the second thunderstorm of the evening by about ten minutes. I didn't get wet - well, except for stepping in puddles from the first thunderstorm, and sweating all over my T-shirt.

So all in all, I felt quite blessed Thursday. Events went much faster than planned. I wound up with a free box of expensive cookies. But I'm left wondering - should I have bought some roses for the Publix employee who was singing that song? Would my winning streak have stretched (ahem) into the weekend?

BLOG UPDATE: All the guesses about WRBL's next Chief Meteorologist apparently were wrong. Your blog has learned former Columbus weathercaster Bob Jeswald is returning to town, to replace Jeff Donald. Mitzi Oxford may have to plead with the Weather Channel, to get back on the air presenting forecasts.

Bob Jeswald currently is a weekend TV meteorologist in Phoenix. But he lists Columbus on his resume, from around 15 years ago. We'll see how long it takes Jeswald to learn how to spell it "Phenix" again.

The local weather made news Thursday, among other things....

+ A pair of afternoon thunderstorms left thousands of Columbus residents without power, and scattered debris downtown. I went running between the storms, and found large panels of what looked like insulation along the Riverwalk. Either the first storm was stronger than I thought, or the construction crew on Front Avenue is sliding down the embankment for fun like children do.

+ South Girard School in Phenix City held an annual "teen summit." WRBL reported one big issue was self-esteem. Why, of course - I found a church magazine article online saying young people have too much of it, and they really may be dumber than they think.

(Another topic at the teen summit was "dressing for success." Wear one of those Abercrombie and Fitch T-shirts with a sarcastic message to the job interview, and you probably will NOT be hired.)

+ The evening news showed how Eastway Christian School in Opelika is using "bio-fuel" for its buses, by processing vegetable oil. Take that, you nutritionists! Serving fatty foods at lunch can keep OPEC countries from overpowering us.

+ The Georgia Department of Revenue reported the state wound up the last fiscal year with a surplus of more than $500 million. Be thankful Sonny Perdue and Mark Taylor can't touch that money for campaign commercials -- because it might all be gone by November.

+ Instant Message to Lady Nana's Restaurant in Phenix City: The ad in the mail says you're open from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. The sign outside your front door says you're open from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. I'm glad I drove by when you locked the door at 9:00 p.m., to settle this - but has the sign maker driven by yet?

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Thursday, July 20, 2006


"Blog competition" warned the title of an e-mail I received the other day. Uh-oh - who could be taking me on now? Doesn't The Loft still change its Thursday night stand-up comics every week?

The advisory came from WRBL's new full-time webmaster - and directed me to quite a surprise. Longtime Columbus TV news anchor Dick McMichael is blogging now. But don't worry - he hasn't gone all the way over the edge, and put his profile on .

The web site Dick McMichael set up to promote his memoirs now doubles as his blog. Its perspective reflects his decades as "The Newsman" -- only when he offers commentary, you're expected to understand that without a label being posted.

Since he started his blog earlier this month, Dick McMichael has focused often on journalistic issues. For instance, Wednesday's entry compared the news coverage on BBC International with U.S. network morning shows. He noted the BBC had no cake-baking segments. OK, but does it show live outdoor concerts by former "American Idol" contestants?

Dick McMichael's blog isn't really a competitor for this one right now, because he takes more of a national and world view. For instance, for the last three days he's examined how the news media have covered events in Lebanon. I'm more inclined to quote a classic gag where someone called Atlanta radio host Gary McKee: "What about Beirut, Gary? Best baseball player ever was, Bei Rut."

But Dick McMichael has addressed some local topics -- and the other day, he took "the media" to task for not keeping close watch on local members of Congress. Maybe those lawmakers should get part of the blame. They're too scared to have offices in Columbus, where reporters at least could talk to the aides on Secretary's Day.

While other people might consider him over the hill, Dick McMichael keeps impressing me with how sharp his thinking is -- as well as how current he is online. If you think he's behind the blogging curve, consider this: Al Fleming doesn't seem to even have his own web site yet.

Now for another former TV anchor who's turned blogger. I didn't realize until the other day that State Senator (and still champion) Ed Harbison had a "legislative blog." He kept it during this year's legislative session. But apparently Harbison has been too busy campaigning to add that "wrap-up" entry he promised way back in March.

I also didn't realize until reading Wednesday's Ledger-Enquirer that Ed Harbison was a TV news anchor at NBC-38 years ago. That explains his interview show of recent years, "Public Agenda." If WYBU TV-16 still shows it, I don't know when it's on - and I don't know if it has the same warning label that "Extra" and "Elimidate" have.


Free Frisbee Sundays begin this weekend, introducing Power Frisbee in Valdosta and Albany! A Columbus pre-season stop is planned August 13. Find out where and learn all about our new game at the official Power Frisbee web site; then offer your comments about it at the P.F.G. blog.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Now for some growing pains in Lee County:

Word around has many wondering on where the people are going to go when Phenix City starts the River Clean out of Citizens and some Businesses.

With Phenix City taking over area's in Lee county and some area's that would normally be called Smiths Station,,what service's have been provided to the Citizens,

What has Phenix City Done to help those that have been Annexed Voluntary or Forced into the City by means of Signing up for the Sewage lines other than take their money???

Does the Phenix city fire Department respond to calls that have been annexed into the City???

State Farm Insurance goes by zip codes for Rating your Homeowners Insurance - by far, Phenix City Fire Rating is one of the lowest in the area

-Smiths Fire Department which is called Friendship Fire Ass. has one of the Highest Ratings in the County

- Friendship fire ass. covers the entire southeast area corner of Lee County (other than what Phenix City does not cover)

- Will Phenix City Leaders find ways to Dump the Citizens from the River Front housing in Smiths Station - that's the word going around

-Is there a Housing Project in the works to Dump the Citizens from the Phenix City remodeling effort on to Smiths Station or just outside the current City limits ???

It's so hot that the rest of this post has melted away

Oh, so many questions! First of all, I thought I heard somewhere that some of the people leaving the Riverview Apartments might move to Ladonia. Trouble is, that area needs a Dollar General store to go with its Fred's.

What is Phenix City doing about all these topics concerning southern Lee County? Well, Mayor Jeff Hardin told WRBL Wednesday he's invited two South Korean auto parts suppliers to visit the area. Those companies could pay for improved sewage and fire service - or then again, the "Kia payoff" could be going in the other direction.

So why would the Friendship Fire, ahem, DEPARTMENT rate higher with insurance companies than the Phenix City crew? Could the hidden answer lie in the name - since Phenix City firefighters haven't been all that friendly with each other at times in recent years?

(And oh yes, I thought fire departments had mascot dogs. If Friendship Fire has changed to a different animal, I don't quite understand why - unless perhaps donkeys carry fire ladders more easily.)

Now for other things which flared up Wednesday:

+ Which "Sky Watcher" told WRBL during an afternoon thunderstorm that the wind was "blowing every which way?" Is this person hurting his or her chances of becoming an official meteorologist?

+ That afternoon storm knocked out power for a moment at my home, and apparently shorted out the electric cord for my computer. Thankfully it was the cord from my OLD computer, which died last month. Now not only is my new computer's cord in place, I've discovered another offer from America Online for rejecting.

+ Not one political ad appeared on local television - and wow, did that feel strange! I kept waiting for someone else to run an attack ad. How about the Columbus Convention and Visitors' Bureau declaring: "Montgomery - too boring to waste your gas on."

+ The manager of the Opelika Sonic Drive-In was kidnapped at closing time, and forced to drive to Auburn. The fact that he's safe and well may be nothing more than the "Luck of the Straw."

+ A spokesperson for Summit Hospital told the evening news the new Phenix City medical center will open during the first week of August. Hopefully it will open in time to handle all the shoppers passing out from the savings, during the sales tax holiday.

(The new Summit Hospital will have 70 beds, but also will have room to grow as the need arises. Has Fort Benning already warned those new incoming soldiers to avoid fishing from the Phenix City side of the river?)

+ The Ringling Brothers/Barnum and Bailey Circus finished its two-day run at the Columbus Civic Center. If you're hungry early today, there could be plenty of leftover peanuts sitting around near the back doors.

+ Instant Message to the person who sent e-mail about possible corruption in a Lee County board: I'm told it happened years ago. The accused person is now dead. But if you want to dig up the grave and point a finger at it, that's up to you....

People across metro Columbus and around the world read this blog every day. To advertise to them, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

19 JUL 06: ED IN

The Ringling Brothers/Barnum and Bailey Circus began a two-day stand at the Columbus Civic Center Tuesday. Yet somehow, the presence of all those elephants did NOT increase the Muscogee County turnout in the Georgia Republican Primary....

Columbus-area Democrats gave State Senator Ed Harbison an overwhelming win over Reginald Pugh, by a margin of more than two to one. Pugh must have been surprised to turn on WXTX "News at Ten," and see Harbison actually standing in Columbus to thank supporters.

"All negative" was how an aide to Ed Harbison described Reginald Pugh, when I tried to arrange an interview with the incumbent last week. Perhaps if Pugh had declared himself a "really, REALLY good man...."

Ed Harbison actually ran a campaign commercial in Spanish, on WHAL "Viva 1460." Well, someone else spoke in Spanish - then Harbison added a few words in English at the end. Next time, Mimi Woodson should give him some lessons.

Reginald Pugh took the loss to Ed Harbison rather hard. He told one reporter the incumbent will represent only a select group of voters. C'mon now - is that really fair? Big donor AFLAC seems to hire a wide range of people....

Reginald Pugh says he had a busy election day, visiting at least 16 polling places. Pugh's on a 30-day leave of absence from the Columbus Urban League -- so either that, or sit at home and watch soap operas all day.

The evening news climbed inside the Urban League's "ride to the polls" van - and what do you know? There were NO political statements or name-dropping by the driver. In fact, they didn't even put a glossy photo of Reginald Pugh on the dashboard as a hint.

The Ed Harbison win could be seen as another blow against Columbus civil rights groups. William Howell of Rainbow/PUSH may still be sitting outside Senator Arlen Specter's office in Washington, waiting for a meeting. But at least Bill Madison of the NAACP isn't talking about pretend bombings anymore.

At the top of the ticket, Mark Taylor held a firm lead at our deadline in the Democratic primary for Governor. Did anyone dare ask at Taylor's victory party whether the caterers were prison inmates?

Did you see the tape of Mark Taylor waving a campaign sign, along the side of an Albany street? Do that enough times in the summer heat, and he might not be "The Big Guy" much longer.

The apparent loss by Cathy Cox in the Democratic primary will disappoint some local lawmakers. Cox was backed by Rep. Debbie Buckner and Rep. Carolyn Hugley -- so if I was Hugley's husband (ahem), I'd send Mark Taylor a Columbus city government wish list in a hurry.

(How many journalists quitely are thrilled to see Cathy Cox lose -- so they won't confuse her with the Georgia School Superintendent anymore?)

Incumbent Sonny Perdue coasted to an easy win in the Republican primary for Governor, over Ray McBerry. McBerry tried to run on Perdue breaking his promise about the state flag - but when everyone pretends you don't exist, it's very hard.

Back at Burkard Awards time [1 Jan], I declared Sonny Perdue the incumbent LEAST likely to win re-election. Now I'm not so sure about that. He's been given more clues for beating the Democratic nominee than the detectives usually see on "Law and Order."

The Lieutenant Governor's race in Georgia may have received more national attention - and former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed lost the Republican primary to Casey Cagle. Maybe evangelical voters really want Reed to go on the revival circuit with Roy Moore.

Casey Cagle warned in one Republican debate that Ralph Reed's connections with lobbyist Jack Abramoff might get Reed indicted or arrested by November. At least Reed doesn't have anything else on his mind now....

(Of course, Cagle could be arrested by November as well. All it takes is one lead foot in the wrong small town.)

And how about the Republican runoff for Lieutenant Governor in Alabama? Luther Strange defeated George Wallace Jr. - but maybe that shouldn't be considered so, well, strange a result. After all, Wallace changed parties faster than his dad changed his mind about school integration.

Back at the local level, results from the Talbot County Commission races seemed to come in very slowly Tuesday night. That's what happens when you put some of the polls inside a locked-up recreation center....

Sher'Londa Walker knocked off Talbot County Commissioner Vernon Allen Jr. But Commissioner Robert Lanier won his primary race easily - so in his district, voters seemed to pooh-pooh the "poo-poo pots."

Other things happened on Georgia Primary Day as well. For instance....

+ The mother of Kenneth Walker went before Columbus Council, claiming she received no help from the Public Safety Advisory Commission. Emily Walker sounds like a desperate woman, who's knocking on any door she can seeking help. We'll know she's desperate if she asks the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition to try a second recall of the Sheriff.

+ WRBL showed plans for renovating the old Eagle & Phenix Mill along the Chattahoochee River. W.C. Bradley plans four floors of loft homes and two restaurants - which means one more restaurant will fail there, than did at Johnson Mill.

+ The Columbus Catfish lost to Augusta 7-4, in a special 11:00 a.m. "Youth Day" game at Golden Park. We're waiting to hear about many youngsters gave their parents away as cheaters, by showing up at the game wearing "I voted" stickers.

+ Instant Message to the owners of Hickory House Bar-B-Q at U.S. 80 and 280 in Phenix City: "Thanks for the memories," indeed. I didn't know you had shut down. Please don't tell me that intersection is going to have pharmacies on THREE corners now.

(BLOGGER'S NOTE: Our post time will change for the next couple of days, to around 8:00 a.m. ET. So you late-night blog readers really should get some rest....)

Free Frisbee Sundays begin this weekend, introducing Power Frisbee in Valdosta and Albany! A Columbus pre-season stop is planned August 13. Find out where and learn all about our new game at the official Power Frisbee web site; then offer your comments about it at the P.F.G. blog.

People across metro Columbus and around the world read this blog every day. To advertise to them, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comments and offer a reply.

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© 2003-06 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Monday, July 17, 2006

for 18 JUL 06: LEE OVER

The Russell County School Board accepted the resignation of Superintendent Rebecca Lee Monday. So based on recent East Alabama superintendents, where do you think Lee is going now - Glenwood School or Columbus State University?

Dr. Rebecca Lee was superintendent in Russell County a bit more than two years. It may say something noteworthy about her tenure that her two biggest accomplishments were keeping the school district off the state intervention list - and the high school baseball team winning a national title.

(But we'll remember Rebecca Lee for something else - the TV announcement in which she said, "Russell County Schools IS...." Maybe this is why John Phillips hasn't done something similar in Muscogee County.)

Dr. Rebecca Lee is leaving Russell County's school district quickly. In fact, Monday was her last day on the job. I don't even think Jim Wetherington supporters want Mayor Bob Poydasheff to leave office that fast.

But even though Rebecca Lee left the superintendent's office Monday, a severance agreement with Russell County Schools means she'll be paid through October. That should make for an interesting discussion, at the high school's next Future Business Leaders of America meeting....

So why did Rebecca Lee suddenly flee? Interim Superintendent Lillian Baker said there was "tension" between the former leader and the Russell County school board. We're left wondering if it was similar to the tension between some parents and the school board - only the superintendent left faster than the board could prepare a news release about it.

One Russell County school board member told WRBL the board refused to extend Superintendent Rebecca Lee's contract two extra years. So she apparently wanted leeway, and the response was more like "Lee-away."

There was a big cloud hanging over Monday's vote which no one really wanted to talk about - the recent convictions in court of four Russell County teachers. Did Superintendent Rebecca Lee hold the school board responsible for that? Did the board hold Lee responsible? And did they notify each other within seven days, like they're supposed to do under Alabama law?

(One Russell County parent dared to tell WXTX "News at Ten" an outsider may need to clean up the schools, similar to the "Sin City" era in Phenix City. It's as if all the notorious families of 50 years ago are hiding in Pittsview and Hurtsboro now.)

Yet school board members say Rebecca Lee picked an unusual time to resign as Russell County Superintendent. After all, the new school year starts in a few weeks. The principal's position at Russell County Middle School is still open. And someone has to help Tony Rasmus recruit more baseball players over from Muscogee County schools.

Rebecca Lee's departure means Russell County has lost four school superintendents in ten years to resignations. And Interim Superintendent Lillian Baker had plans to retire in September. So much for putting a whoopie cushion in the administrators' chairs -- they may already have ejection seats.

BLOG UPDATE: We made a trip to the Columbus Public Library Monday, primarily to check on the air-conditioning system. We never thought we'd have to make such a trip - but then again, a couple of years ago we didn't think we'd make special trips to the library for deluxe brownies.

We wanted to feel for ourselves whether Monday's e-mail about the air conditioning at the main library was accurate. Yes, the CD/DVD area at mid-morning was a bit warmer than the "great circle" walkway on the second floor. But maybe the library board is about to make a deal for Energy Savers to sponsor it.

All in all, the main library is a lot more comfortable than the place where I write this blog. I depend on a floor fan redirecting cool air from a window air conditioner two rooms away. Someday I'll have to reenact a web site from the "good old days" of the mid-nineties Internet - and have a web-cam record how fast my ice cream melts.

E-MAIL UPDATE: While we're talking about libraries, let's head back to the Mildred Terry....

Richard: King o' the 'Blog:

Reason I mentioned the library, not because of modest expansion plans, but because the expansion plans seem to have gotten out of hand--from 10,000 Square feet to 18,000 square feet.

In a Tuesday, November 29, 2005 story, on page C-1, Ledger reporter Pat Gillespie reported that Claudya Mueller, Library System Director, said the Muscogee County School Board is planning a 10,000 square foot library on the same site, more than twice the of the its current 4,200 square foot facility.

How does 10,000 square feet match up with 18,000 square feet which I believe was reported recently in the Ledger. Which is correct?

It would also be interesting to know, how much "estimates for increased population are factored into the planned library".


Oh, now you're making me blush. KING of the Blog? I'm more the Jack of all topics - and the master of none....

Could it be that the new improved Mildred Terry Library will have two floors? That could explain all the extra space. Or then again, maybe something happened that would come as a surprise to many people in Columbus. Maybe the Ledger-Enquirer typed in the wrong number.

Let's check some other numbers, as we look quickly at Monday's other news:

+ Columbus gas prices did some strange switching. Stations which held firm at $2.71 a gallon all weekend went up to around $2.77 - but the Citgo at Fifth and Veterans Parkway actually dropped to $2.70. Which place do you think has more trouble with its fax machine?

+ WRBL reported a feasibility study for Columbus South Inc. recommends the old Baker High School be turned into a fine arts academy. This sounds like a cost-cutting move to me - with students sculpting their own sheet-rock for the walls.

+ Mike Vee returned to Columbus radio, hosting a midday sports talk show on WEAM-AM. He's on the air from 10:00 to 1:00 - but it would sound a lot cooler if the show started earlier, to be a Vee-8.

+ The University of Alabama announced the home football opener against Hawaii is sold out. I honestly never realized so many native Hawaiians live around Birmingham and Tuscaloosa....

+ Instant Message to the Georgia Lottery: What kind of a "Cash 3 Double Drop" was that? There's only about a one-in-seven chance that the "peach ball" will come up, to have a second drawing. I'm more likely to drop a peach in the produce section of the supermarket.

COMING WEDNESDAY: The winners, losers and funny stuff from Georgia Primary day (and maybe the Alabama Primary runoff, too)....

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The Democratic candidates for Georgia Governor had their final debate before the primary Sunday night - and I'll confess, I did NOT tune in. I wondered what could be said which was new or different from last Wednesday's debate. Well, other than some new one-liners from Mac McCarley....

It's our custom here to NOT bring up politics on election days - and instead use election eve to quiz you on your knowledge of the races and contenders. Ready?

1. Which candidate calls himself "The Big Guy?" Does he get in trouble with children during December, for claiming this title?

2. Which candidate for Lieutenant Governor used to oversee the Christian Coalition? Why has he seemingly forgotten the Bible verse about turning the other cheek, based on his commercials?

3. Why have the candidates for Columbus Mayor been reluctant to endorse anyone in the State Senate race? Are they afraid the wrong endorsement might prevent future sales taxes from getting on the ballot?

4. Which candidate for Secretary of State came to Columbus and held a "Rally for the Receipts?" How many people misunderstood this, and showed up with receipts from the old Rally's restaurant?

5. Name the candidate challenging Sonny Perdue in the Republican primary for Governor. Is the real reason why he can't get a debate scheduled with Perdue based on the flag he wants to drape around his lectern?

6. Which candidate urged voters to sign his web site petition against high gas prices? Did he pass it on to the President of Iran, so the Middle East tension driving up world oil prices would stop?

7. Where do the candidates in the State Senate race really live? Should they have thrown housewarming parties for voters, to prove it?

8. Name all the candidates running for Georgia Agriculture Commissioner. Explain why some of them have posted campaign signs in the middle of Columbus, where there are no farms.

9. Why hasn't Cathy Cox simply called herself "The Little Gal?"

10. Which candidate for Lieutenant Governor sounds like he should be operating a poultry plant in Pine Mountain - except he apparently doesn't?

11. Which county commission candidate seems deeply worried about people seeing seven-month-old pictures of bathrooms?

12. If you have trouble getting a ride to the polls, should you call the old "Georgia RideShare" number?

13. Name the candidate for Governor who's charging admission to his Primary Night party -- even though he reportedly has millions of campaign dollars left to spend.

14. Which candidate is tugging at people's emotions, with his commercials describing a recovery from polio? Should his doctors be running for office instead?

15. Where has Dylan Glenn gone - and for that matter, where is he living now? Could it be that he rented his house to Ed Harbison?

16 Who is posting signs in Chambers County saying, "Chuck in November?" Don't they realize Chuck Leonard lives in Columbus?

17. Should politicians be punished for talking about "sins of your fathers and grandfathers" - especially if they aren't ministers?

18. How many candidates stood just outside the campaigning boundary line around the Columbus Public Library during advance voting and yelled, "Vote for me?"

19. Which local candidate is described in ads as "a really good man?" Does this mean his opponent is just fair, or excellent?

20. Which morning radio newscaster has said on the air Georgia School Superintendent Kathy Cox is running for Governor -- when she's not?

E-MAIL UPDATE: While you ponder those questions, some of our readers have other things to consider. Our first message is about two places in Columbus:

Q1. Have any muskrats been found, dead or alive, in the vicinity of Cherokee Ave?

Q2. Anyone been to the second floor of the Taj Mahal -I mean the library-in early evening? The temperature, at least in the CD/DVD/Talking Books Section, was many degrees HOTTER. Not Hot as Hell, you understand, but hotter than other parts of the library. $40 million should provide for a proper air conditioning system. Right?

Remember, if the excesses represented by the Taj are 51% the responsibility of the Library Committee and the School Board, they are 49% the responsibility of Mssrs Burdeshaw and company and his Architectural Mafiosi.

Speaking of the library, apparently one of the so called Friends of the Library (definitely not friends of the citizen or taxpayer) was quoted in the Ledger as saying we will need a library building in the next 10 years devoted to (I guess) changes in learning technology. Maybe she should go ahead and lobby to have Burdeshaw working on a retrofit inside the existing Taj Mahal, cause there's no way in H**l I will vote for more library space at this time.

You should know that our fancy schmancy library board is planning for a 18,000 square foot facility to replace the Terry Library on Veterans Parkway. Maybe they can generate some extra funds to pay for good air conditioning by leasing out part of the building to Backyard Burgers or Starbucks.


I must admit I'm puzzled by Question 1. If anything, I'd think the construction work on Cherokee Avenue would have found some dead fish in the canal.

I visited the Columbus Public Library last week, but did NOT go up the stairs. Maybe the CD section is set aside for women -- since they're more likely to turn up thermostats, while men turn them down.

And I never realized an "Architectural Mafiosi" built the main library. Every time I drove by the construction site, I don't recall seeing anyone wearing sunglasses and a trench coat.

Yes, I DID know about the plans for a new Mildred Terry Library on Veterans Parkway. All that extra space will beat the cramped conditions there now. The public access computers are so packed together that you can help the person next to you win at online poker.

It might be nice to have a Backyard Burgers at the new Mildred Terry Library. After all, the only one in the area right now is on Airport Thruway -- and it's blocks from anyone's backyard.

Our next letter has to be edited a bit, because we're still trying to verify part of it:

Regarding your Lee County correspondents comments about the Mayor and the Smiths Station Water Authority [14 Jul]: The mayor of Smiths Station is not a member of the Board of the Smiths Water and Sewage Authority. The SWSA does not come under the control of the mayor or the city of Smiths Station. The Board members are appointed by the Lee County Commission. The SWSA serves a very large area outside of the city of Smiths Station. The original incorporation documents of the SWSA state that the subscribers are the owners of the system. That's really odd since the subscribers (customers) do not get to elect their own Board. Lee County commisioners who live in Auburn, Opelika, etc. get to appoint the board members.... Smiths Station Resident

Thanks for clarifying that, Mr./Ms. Resident. Of course, the way Smiths Station is growing, it soon could conquer everything in the authority's territory - and then that missing "Station" in the name will have to be added.

Our review of Sunday news found people needed to use plenty of water because....

+ The high temperature in Columbus hit 100 degrees F. for the second day in a row. If it hits 101.3, I'm going to feel "Da Beat" - well, make that just plain beat.

+ Several Columbus gas stations showed surprising resolve, and kept their prices at around $2.71 a gallon. Maybe the managers think the reports of Iranian weapons hitting Israel are simply disinformation.

+ The Associated Press reported the state of Alabama will start issuing identification numbers to all public school students. To some people, this will sound like a George Orwell novel come to life. To some teachers, this will sound like a great math problem waiting to happen.

+ Instant Message to the Tiger Station convenience store on U.S. 431 between LaFayette and Opelika: You're kidding, right? I mean, that sign offering fried bologna sandwiches. Do you also sell funnel cakes covered with chocolate chips?

BURKARD'S BEST BETS: Half-gallons of ice cream for $1.99 at the Opelika Kroger.... for unbiased analysis of campaign attack ads.... and any walkway where trees offer shade....

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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