Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Tuesday night marked the annual "National Night Out" against crime. It was an evening to.... what's the matter?!?! Did you expect that title to be about something else? Simply because I'm still single after all these years? Shame on you....

But anyway: the National Night Out is designed to promote community togetherness in fighting crime. After all, the population of most neighborhoods ought to outnumber the gang members -- even if the gang members somehow have more money to spend on fancy getaway cars.

Columbus Police, Fort Benning Police and other officers spread throughout the city, attending neighborhood events to mark National Night Out. But I can't help wondering if the wrong person saw this on the 6:00 p.m. news - because WRBL reported the Eckerd store on Macon Road was robbed around sundown.

Several Columbus neighborhoods could use a National Night Out effort against crime. For instance, the Baker Village apartments had their second shooting in five days Tuesday. But then again, both shootings occurred in the early morning -- so maybe they need a National Koffee Klatch or something.

(Is it only a coincidence that the Baker Village shootings have occurred while Benning Road has been closed south of the apartments? Work on the sewers, and all sorts of rats seem to come out....)

As far as I know, my neighborhood did NOT have a National Night Out event. Several people in my apartment complex were outside, including one man taking out the trash with a couple of puppies. Should I call police, for his violation of the "no-pets" clause in the apartment lease?

Some people in my complex love to cook outside on the grill every chance they can - even in December, if it's warm enough. It's as if they're a tailgate party waiting for a football team bus to break down....

But in nine years at this complex, I'm disappointed to say the neighbors never have invited me over to their cookouts or a bite to eat. Not once. It's as if they fear I'll walk over with a big book of "nutrition facts" lists.

One of my neighbors offered me a beer once, when I walked past a big smoking grill. But I don't drink beer -- and in my complex, cans or cups of soda imply you're still not really a grownup.

Admittedly, I don't step outside on my porch and sit the way some of my neighbors do. They might chat. They might drink beer and simply stare into the distance. I tend to find things to do inside my apartment -- and I might do even more, if I can ever figure out how to win the top-level game of Spider Solitaire on my computer.

Yet on Tuesday night, I actually DID step outside during the National Night Out. I went running on the Riverwalk around 7:45 p.m., and found several small groups of people out walking. But again, I had other things to do -- and by simply waving as I jogged by, my sweat didn't get on their clothing.

I don't believe the groups of walkers were on the Riverwalk as part of National Night Out. At least, no police officers in mini-cars or bicyclists were along with them. But one young man held a stick about four feet long, which could work as a deterrent just as well.


"There's frisbee -- and then there's Power Frisbee." So said an Augusta TV newscaster during the Sunday 6:00 news! Power Frisbee of Georgia's pre-season tour reaches Columbus and LaGrange August 13. Learn about this new game at the official Power Frisbee web site; then offer your comments about it at the P.F.G. blog.

BLOG UPDATE: Not every law officer was outside during National Night Out. Fraternal Order of Police President Randy Robertson was before Columbus Council, asking for a law enforcement benefit to be extended one more year. I'm used to officers recommending extended periods of probation, but not quite like this....

Some Columbus Councilors want to remove the five-percent raise law officers receive for college degrees - and they want it to end next June. Randy Robertson argued that's not fair for officers who are midway through their studies. After all, they might have to investigate the online universities which offer those bogus diplomas.

Another public safety matter involved a police captain who has been advanced to major. He's hired attorney Frank Martin, who says a five-percent raise for the higher rank is being denied. We can understand why Martin would be concerned - because he's more likely to get that money in legal fees than his client.

Apparently the next Columbus public safety pay rules allow for officers to be "reassigned" without receiving a raise, even if their rank is higher. So under the rules, this captain really didn't get a promotion to step up - because some of the city escalators seem to be going only down.

Let's talk about law some more, as we check other Tuesday headlines:

+ Meriwether County Sheriff's Deputy Richard Jewell received an award from Georgia's Governor, for attempting to help survivors of the 1996 Olympic bombing. Isn't this amazing? Jewell was a "person of interest" all over again Tuesday, but this time he didn't seem to mind.

+ WRBL reported the Phenix City Commission approved a plan to expand its Riverwalk northward to 30th Street. But it won't quite reach to Idle Hour Park -- so bicyclists don't have to worry about falling in the lake while doing short-track laps.

+ Instant Message to Rep. Cynthia McKinney: Did I understand you correctly in that debate the other night -- it's wrong for candidates to accept donations from companies which promote landfills? How much stock do you own in incinerator companies?

LAUGHLINE FLASHBACK: Tuesday marked the 25th anniversary of MTV. We reflected on the channel when it turned 20, in the LaughLine issue of 1 Aug 01:

Do you remember the first video which appeared on MTV? It was "Video Killed the Radio Star." How prophetic that song turned out to be! Rush Limbaugh and Dr. Laura Schlessinger tried to have TV talk shows, and they failed.

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