Sunday, July 02, 2006


"Quint 3" was on display in downtown Phenix City Sunday afternoon. Before you get the wrong idea - Quint 3 is NOT the middle child of five, promoting her debut pop album.

"Quint 3" was on the side of a Phenix City Fire/Rescue truck, which filled the fire lane outside a downtown grocery store. I'd mention the name of this store - but then again, there's really only one grocery store in downtown Phenix City now, isn't there?

Four members of the Quint 3 company were standing at the grocery store exit, when I walked inside to buy a couple of items. One seemed to ask another if he wanted a boy or a girl - and no, they were NOT discussing which child to rescue.

The Quint 3 company was at the Phenix City grocery store taking donations, to fight muscular dystrophy. But isn't it two months before the Labor Day weekend telethon? Did we sleep through all of July and August? The way Atlanta's playing baseball, it might be possible....

But more to the point: is it appropriate for fire trucks to be in fire lanes, for assignments which are NOT emergencies? Is it an abuse of the fire lane privilege? Shouldn't they be required to park with the rest of us - even if a big truck takes about four parking spaces in the process?

Someone complained to me a few weeks ago about this fire lane issue. He told me big Columbus fire trucks park at supermarket doors near Columbus Park Crossing merely for grocery shopping. The man considered it an abuse of privilege -- but just imagine if someone brought in Cheetos which were too "flaming hot."

Are Columbus firefighters buying so many groceries at one time that they have to drive big fire trucks to the supermarket and park in fire lanes? Are there smaller vehicles available for errands like that? You know, maybe the size of ambulances....

Admittedly, I don't know the background of this complaint. Perhaps the man wanted to park near the supermarket door himself, in violation of the fire lane rule. We had a name for this years ago in Atlanta: "Deion Sanders parking rules" - because police cited him for that late one night.

People with disabilities already should have spaces set aside for them, near the front doors of supermarkets. In fact, a few stores also have reserved spots for mothers of babies. So when are shopping carts going to conform with state laws, and offer rear-facing or booster seats?

THE BIG BLOG QUESTION parks this debate right in front of you. Should big fire trucks stop blocking fire lanes, when they're being used for non-emergencies? Or do we need them there, to remind people of how underpaid the firefighters are?

BLOG UPDATE: Perhaps we should have seen this coming - an "attack ad" in the Georgia Governor's race challenging Cathy Cox's messages on investment fraud. Using the logic of the commercials in this race, this could mean Mark Taylor is in favor of scam artists ripping off older women.

In a new ad which we saw for the first time Sunday night, candidate Mark Taylor accuses opponent Cathy Cox of spending four million dollars with those announcements last year about the "Investor Protection Trust." The ad claims Cox used trust fund announcements "on her campaign." As if Taylor's campaign didn't benefit from him appearing on "Lawmakers," presiding over the Georgia Senate.

Mark Taylor snaps the trap by including an interview with Cathy Cox, in which she denies ever saying her name in the Investor Protection Trust ads. Then two clips from the ads are shown - and she does! Cox certainly named herself in the radio messages, perhaps to explain why she doesn't sound as professional and polished as Robbie Watson.

The Mark Taylor ad claims the Securities and Exchange Commission looked into the Investor Protection Trust messages, and concluded they crossed a legal line. Yet the messages still were playing on Columbus radio stations early this year - but then again, I think they were on WKZJ-FM during "Love, Lust and Lies."

Regular blog readers will recall we asked here two years ago [20 Oct 04] if the Investors Protection Trust ads were a "test drive" for a Cathy Cox campaign for Governor. Now Mark Taylor is saying yes, they were - and Taylor is smart enough NOT to quote our blog as a source.

Yet when Cathy Cox was asked about the investment fraud messages last year, she indicated they were due to some kind of legal settlement. If she runs a commercial saying it was a settlement with a large trucking company....

By the way -- uhhhh, well -- you know how Cathy Cox says she's "not the Big Guy?" I think I found a woman Sunday who could match Mark Taylor for "Big Guy" status. You can see her on TV today -- as Pat Hurst is in a playoff for the U.S. Women's Open golf title.

Now let's sort out other items from a steamy Sunday:

+ The high temperature in Columbus was 98 degrees F. for the second day in a row. With the main public library closed for the holiday weekend, the crowd of people standing in the aisles at Books-A-Million probably set a record high.

(The atomic clock in my apartment showed the temperature at 96.8 degrees, when I turned on the air conditioner in the late afternoon. Maybe it was a "dry heat," but I still was sticking to one of my lounge chairs.)

+ Georgia state officials announced the state gasoline tax will be reset 2.6 cents higher. How many local stations do you think will round this up to ten?

+ Instant Message to the Street Committee at "The Courier": OK, I'll give you credit - you're probably right with your statement that some people are unhappy with "a Black man as City Manager and making $100,000." This is the deep South, after all. Some people probably would be upset if Isaiah Hugley made only $100.

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