Wednesday, August 23, 2006


No, the Northern All-Stars haven't won the Little League World Series quite yet. In fact, they didn't win their game Tuesday night - which I think explains why it wasn't the top story on the late newscasts.

Whether Northern wins the championship or not, the Columbus area already is filled with titles. But before you get ahead of me, we are NOT writing about too many nice-sounding positions in city government....

"CASH LOANS FOR CAR TITLES" reads the big sign on the corner of U.S. 80 and U.S. 280 in Phenix City. I noticed it Tuesday night, and did a double-take. This title loan shop has opened where "Express Lube" used to be. How fitting - as interest rates can be jacked up, instead of cars.

(That title loan location seems fitting for another reason - since that intersection has two pharmacies on it, filling expensive prescriptions.)

This discovery came one day after I passed the former Atkins Home Entertainment Center at North Lumpkin Road and Victory Drive. It's suddenly turned into a new, rather ugly-looking "Titlebucks" shop - with window signs still saying "rent to own." Hertz Rent-a-Car usually doesn't work this way....

Why is it that Columbus seems to be filled with so many title pawn shops? Not simply pawn shops, but places seeking the title on your vehicle. Old electric guitars and engagement rings simply don't seem to be good enough anymore.

Look up "Pawnbrokers" in the BellSouth Yellow Pages, and you'll find more than three pages of listings. By comparison, a ten-year-old Atlanta Yellow Pages I still have has about 12 pages of listings. Atlanta has a lot more people, of course - but I think Columbus has more sets of three balls per three people.

One Columbus Yellow Pages ad actually offers you a loan to "payoff other title pawns." So in other words, your loan will take care of the other loans - but I fear it's probably like a game of bridge or poker, with the higher interest rate trumping the others.

Some would say Columbus has a higher concentration of title pawn shops because we're next to Fort Benning. So what explains the sudden increase in new shops? Is this the front edge of base realignment, which no one told us about?

In fact, our check of the phone book found something interesting - as not one of the listed title pawn shops is located north of Manchester Expressway. Don't people on the north side need to pawn their car titles? Or do they put their big-screen and high-definition TV sets in hock instead?


The Premiere Weekend of Power Frisbee of Georgia is almost here! Opening night is Thursday in Augusta, with matches coming to Columbus this fall. Check the schedule and learn more about our new game at the official Power Frisbee web site; then offer your comments at the P.F.G. blog.

BLOG UPDATE: The Columbus trip to the Little League World Series took a bizarre turn Tuesday night. Not only did Northern lose to Lemont, Illinois 2-0, a woman from Phoenix went onto the field and accused Columbus of throwing the game. From what I saw, the Northern team was NOT wearing black socks.

The loss to Lemont eliminated Phoenix from the Little League World Series -- and the woman from Phoenix apparently thought something was fishy about it. Northern Head Coach Randy Morris says the woman asked if he was a Christian man. Did that woman ask the teams from Saudi Arabia and Japan the same question?

The woman from Phoenix reportedly was arrested for ranting on the field against not only the Northern All-Stars, but the Columbus fans in the stands. Aw c'mon - at least Columbus baseball fans showed up in Williamsport. If the Catfish had been there, the stands might have been almost empty.

Randy Morris told reporters after the game he doesn't know how to throw a baseball game. But he also said he could have put his "number-11 pitcher" on the mound against Lemont - so where did he get that idea, anyway?

If that's not enough, a couple of coaches in Northern's Little League pool are upset with Kyle Carter. They say he's disrespecting the game, by wearing his cap slightly off-center. This may explain why you haven't heard about any rap stars showing up in Williamsport.

There already had been one shock at the Little League World Series, as ESPN aired a pitcher using profanity when he was replaced. Wow, a 12-year-old using profanity in sports! People stunned by this never were in my junior high school locker room, before physical education class.

E-MAIL UPDATE: The person whose vent led to Sunday's topic has more to say, based on what we wrote:

> Mary Mardis told me a recent Home Builders Association newsletter had two full pages of "questions and answers" on the issue of hiring immigrants. I assume if the answers explained how to hire illegal ones, someone would have sent it directly to federal agents.

The 2 pages in the Newsletter in Question :

Titled - "Important Information I-9"

( I have only listed 2 of the question/answer paragraphs of this newletter)

Q. What is a Form I-9

A: Federal Law places an affirmative duty on employers to verify the identity and work authorization of all persons who are hired. This is accomplished by the mandatory completion of employment eligibility Verification form I-9. Employers are required to keep a complteted form I-9 on file for each of their current employees who are hired after Nov.7,1986

*(This does not include the builder because he subs work to a Contractor, Subcontracting work out is phrased in a careful way.. a builder will never say his SUBContractor is his employee)

Q. Are Builder- employers responsible for their subcontractor employees.I-9 Compliance?

A. No. Under the law ,Builder- employers are not required to complete form I-9 for the employees of their sub contractors,or to monitor Their Subcontractors' form I-9 Compliance. However, builders should be aware that they are unlawfully circumventing the immigration laws if they know that any of their work site contractors are employing unauthorized aliens.

*( so you see this question and answer newsletter was really for those worried builders)

Mary Mardis:> But when it comes to "native area workers" being unable to work, Mary Mardis said there "should be plenty of work for everyone these days." That's because of the home construction for Fort Benning's incoming soldiers and families. Besides that, there's the upcoming overhaul of Baker Village Apartments -- where at the very least they'll need extra security guards.

There would be plenty of work if all was not given to the illegal/legal Immigrants.

Just to give you a small look into whats going on- Look at Garrett Pines Drive (Garrett Creek subdivision area) - Steele Creek Subdivision off County Line Rd., Moye Plantation Subdivision off Moye Rd. , Wrenwood Subdivision off Flatrock Rd. ., Grove summit Apartments off Blackmon rd. ..I can go on and on...but.. ask yourself.. where did everybody go (native workers) because they are sure not on these job sites anymore.. this has just started coming to head in our area in the last 8-10 months espicially!

Again What these contractors are doing is using Illegal aliens & Not reporting payroll to Work Comp. Thus driving down the wage & Of course.. The Builders Love it... & the Builders Know it!

Mad Maria

So if you're traveling down I-9, be careful. You might face blizzard conditions - as in a whiteout of paperwork.

The newsletter from the Greater Columbus Home Builders Association would seem to refute Maria's original claim that builders knowingly turn the other way, while contractors hire illegal immigrants. They're not supposed to do that - but then, how would you know a turned back isn't simply a focus on another project?

With Power Frisbee season so close, I don't have time to go to all these subdivisions and ask for immigration papers. For one thing, I may be asking for something else - and I don't want to test the new emergency room policy at Columbus Regional.

If it's any comfort, consider the repair work Tuesday at Golden Park. From what I saw on TV, the new chain-link fence was installed by.... well, wait a minute. What if the state prison inmates in the work crew are illegals?

Now for other scattered debris from Tuesday's news:

+ The chair of the Public Safety Advisory Commission asked Columbus Council to clarify exactly what the commission's job is. Harold Bryant told the evening news, "No one knows who we are." At least Kenneth Walker's mother knows - and that ought to keep the members busy enough.

+ Mayor Bob Poydasheff said Columbus has hired 12 new police officers in recent weeks, reducing the number of open positions to 33. It's nice to see those laid-off Parks Department workers can be retrained.

+ Bill Ham easily won another term as Mayor of Auburn. So for you newcomers to the South who wonder why they call it "country ham" - it's because the city Ham is already taken.

(I suspect the mayor had widespread support from the Auburn University students. They looked at the ballot, had a Homer Simpson moment and said, "Ummmm, Ham....")

+ The Phenix City School Board voted to offer Superintendent Larry DiChiara a new contract with a 13-percent raise. I'm a bit surprised DiChiara attended the meeting in person. He could have heard all the discussion about him from his home computer, on a secret webcam.

+ The Tavis Smiley Show returned to GPB Television, after it was unexpectedly replaced Monday night by Charlie Rose. Hmmmm - Rose interviewed former President Clinton during that show. Are Georgia Republicans demanding an investigation of this?

+ Columbus Cottonmouths assistant coach Ryan Aikia announced he's retiring, to go into business in North Carolina. He may be on to something here. If Atlanta can have an Ikea store....

+ Instant Message to the Marion County, Alabama District Attorney: Have you thought about putting John Mark Karr on trial, too? That mullet haircut from the home video should get him jailed for at least one year.

COMING THURSDAY: Our great adventure begins.... as if you haven't already figured that out....

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