Friday, March 30, 2007


The next step came Thursday in the fight for control of Phenix City government. But no, Eve Tidwell is NOT organizing a "God Bless City Managers" rally....

Phenix City Councilman Ray Bush told WRBL he's started a petition drive to have the city's form of government changed. The City Manager style would be eliminated, with a "strong Mayor" style replacing it - since we've come to see Jeff Hardin isn't strong enough to get City Manager Bubba Roberts to resign on his own.

Ray Bush says a strong-Mayor form of government would be better for improving Phenix City's economy. He explains City Managers aren't well known for bringing new businesses to a city. Maybe not - but they know how to delegate such things to The Valley Partnership.

But isn't Ray Bush forgetting something here? The two big job announcements in Phenix City this month have occurred with Bubba Roberts serving as City Manager. Mayor Jeff Hardin still hasn't been able to fulfill that campaign promise to bring a movie theater back to town....

Close watchers of local government probably suspect what Ray Bush is doing has little to do with job growth. Bush is Mayor Jeff Hardin's closest ally on the Phenix City Council - and since they don't have the votes to fire City Manager Bubba Roberts, he's going in a different direction. It's almost like Bush is borrowing from the weather forecasts for a "backdoor cold front."

Ray Bush and the "Concerned Citizens for a Better Phenix City" have about 300 names on petitions so far. If they can get ten percent of the voters in the last city election to sign their names, the question about keeping a City Manager will go on the ballot. Then former Muscogee County Marshal Ken Suddeth can resurface, as a special adviser to help Bubba Roberts keep his job.

Phenix City Councilman John Storey responded to the petition drive by saying there's no need to change the city's form of government right now. If he decides to run for mayor next year and wins, then he might talk about it....

Mayor Jeff Hardin declined to comment on the petition drive, even though he stands to gain the most power from it. Some of us are waiting for a letter to surface, in which the mayor asks Ray Bush to form that "Concerned Citizens" group.

Meanwhile, Jim Wetherington is about to mark three months as Columbus Mayor - and if you'll notice, he's done nothing to remove City Manager Isaiah Hugley. So those rumors from last year's campaign appear to have been bogus. Unless, of course, the mayor tries to follow up that "land swap" with an across-the-river "manager swap."

E-MAIL UPDATE: I have no way to verify this report, so I'll simply post it and comment:

A lady near CSU paid a pet detective from Augusta to search for her lost cat..He arrived with search and rescue dogs..He walked the neighborhood trailing the cat..Never found him..charged her $900 for a 24 hr search...I think I'm in the wrong business..

Maybe the problem was with this detective's method. You bring in search dogs, to look for a cat?! That's a bit like thinking committed Christians can lure Usama bin-Laden out of hiding....

I wondered why a woman would go all the way to Augusta to hire a pet detective. But when I looked in the Columbus Yellow Pages, none of the detectives and "private investigators" mentioned anything about finding animals. Maybe there's a deal in Columbus, so psychics get the first crack at them.

But the fee for cat-searching doesn't surprise me all that much. Some people are so absorbed in their animals that they'll pay hundreds of dollars to track them down. In fact, you wonder why this woman didn't spend some money to put a GPS tracking system around the cat's neck.

(And I'm sorry, but I simply can't resist asking - did this pet detective from Augusta happen to go by the first name of Ace?)

Now for other confirmed discoveries from Thursday's news:

+ The high temperature in Columbus again tied an all-time high for March, at 89 degrees F. I honestly didn't notice it as much this time - so maybe all the pine pollen is providing me with insulation.

+ New Muscogee County Republican Chair Josh McKoon was the guest host of WRCG's "TalkLine." He warned there's pressure on the Library Board to allow residences on land behind the main library. As long as one of them has a giant outdoor swimming pool to match that enclosed natatorium, what's the problem?

+ The United Negro College Fund held its annual "Night of Excellence" at the Trade Center. Please do not confuse this with a typical evening shift at a Waffle House - which is a night of averageness.

+ Jacksonville surprised the Columbus Cottonmouths in the Southern League playoff opener, winning 2-1 in double overtime. Those of you who left the Civic Center before the overtime period began - well, this is why the Pittsburgh Penguins considered moving to Las Vegas, and not here.

(You could tell the playoffs were underway and things were serious, simply by listening to the radio broadcast on WEAM-AM. Mike Vee broke down during the first overtime, and used the "H-word" twice.)

+ Columbus Lions head coach Jason Gibson announced he's changing starting quarterbacks, even though the team is 2-1 and in first place. If this man was in charge of WRBL, everyone on the staff might have been a news anchor by now.

+ Instant Message to WHAL-AM: Congratulations on marking one year as "Viva 1460" this weekend. From what I can tell, you've succeeded so far in blocking all takeovers by the Minuteman Project.

SCHEDULED THIS WEEKEND: A special Sunday edition of "Hurtsboro Monday," thanks to someone named Russell....

This blog has thousands of visitors each month, from people in Columbus and around the world. 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: 3694 (+ 85, 2.4%)

If you mention this blog in public, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003-07 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

site stats

Thursday, March 29, 2007


It sounded hard to believe, and almost a bit absurd. The Muscogee County Prison is full - yet Columbus soon could have a shortage of inmate labor?! Isn't this a bit like Iran recently deciding to ration gasoline among its residents? [True!]

Yet Columbus Public Services Director Rufus Riggs said Wednesday it's true: the city is at capacity for inmate labor, and soon could have a shortage. You don't think it's because the Army relaxed those enlistment rules....

On an average day, about 300 prison inmates are put to work by the city of Columbus. They ride in the garbage trucks, picking up trash. They clean up Government Center offices late at night. And in a worst-case scenario, I suppose the strongest inmate could be signed by the Cottonmouths for a playoff game or two.

As of Wednesday, the Muscogee County Prison held close to 600 inmates. It's considered "full," so a few suspects actually have been kept in Harris County. I suppose there's more room there - not to mention more money in the budget, to buy top-quality pinto beans for dinner.

Apparently only half the inmates in the Muscogee County prison are considered eligible for city work. Merely guessing here, I suppose some could be disqualified for health reasons. Perhaps some are considered high-risk candidates for escaping. And some don't pick up city garbage because, well, inmates have standards to uphold.

But city officials are concerned that the coming influx at Fort Benning will mean too much work for the available amount of prison labor. For instance, there will be more streets of trash to handle - as if prisoners belong to municipal employees' unions, and are guaranteed no more than an eight-hour work day.

City officials have all sorts of ideas for preventing a shortage of workers for Columbus city tasks. One proposal would expand the county prison, so more potential workers could be locked up. You thought it was about fighting crime - not fighting the city budget for employee pay....

The city of Columbus even is considering hiring day laborers, to handle tasks such as landscaping. At least this would satisfy the construction workers -- who would happily let the city get in trouble for using illegal immigrants.

But all of this seems to miss the core issue. Maybe Columbus is facing a shortage of prison labor because people simply aren't committing crimes like they once did. The new mayor is filling those open police positions - but didn't warn us he'd be scaring other potential employees into different lines of work.

If only we had more prisoners, we'd have more prison labor for garbage routes and cutting grass. Trouble is, the "Jail and Bail" fundraiser for Crimestoppers was a couple of weeks ago - so we missed a great chance to make the arrests more lifelike than ever....

Maybe the city should hire a public relations firm, to promote the work opportunities available if you come to Columbus and get arrested. There's plenty of sunshine for outdoor exercise. You can have a great view of the Chattahoochee, while mowing the Riverwalk lawn. Not to mention all the old-style Southern beans and cornbread you can handle....

E-MAIL UPDATE: Now to the debate over the dead body, which simply will not die....

To clarify the remains storage issue, as of March 15, 2007 Richard Davis' remains were in a small cardboard box in the DA's office when his parents viewed them. According to all information received by the Davis family, Richard's remains were turned over to that office by the GBI when the trials were over. The skeletal remains have been kept in the DA's office since that time. What type of closet is unclear. One would imagine that it's a place where evidence etc., is kept. We don't think the DA hangs his coat and hat in there as well. But who knows, maybe spending years in that office causes people to be in a terminal state of apathy.

If they are not there now, then they have only recently been moved.

As disturbing as that scenario is, the most disturbing fact is that he is being withheld from his grieving parents.

The Richard T. Davis Foundation For Peace

Are you kidding me?! Well, no I guess you're not. You're saying Gray Conger actually has the body of a murdered Fort Benning soldier in his office! Now I'm wondering if he's planning to rent that office to the Jaycees next October, for a haunted house.

(A soldier's remains in the District Attorney's office?! This is a strange episode of "Monk" just waiting to happen....)

Hoping that didn't ruin your breakfast or lunch, let's move on to a message about Tuesday's main topic:


Not sure if you were here back then but just prior to the last two (re & de) regulations of the cable industry. If memory serves, Phenix Cable was quite active in advertising on their own system against it.

What happened though was this…

"In adopting the 1992 Cable Act, Congress stated that it wanted to promote the availability of diverse views and information, to rely on the marketplace to the maximum extent possible to achieve that availability, to ensure cable operators continue to expand their capacity and program offerings, to ensure cable operators do not have undue market power, and to ensure consumer interests are protected in the receipt of cable service. The Commission has adopted regulations to implement these goals."

"In adopting the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Congress noted that it wanted to provide a pro-competitive, de-regulatory national policy framework designed to accelerate rapidly private sector deployment of advanced telecommunications and information technologies and services to all Americans by opening all telecommunications markets to competition. The Commission has adopted regulations to implement the requirements of the 1996 Act and the intent of Congress."

As usual, when you mix matter and antimatter… you get a real mess. You will have also no doubt noted that both 1992 and 1996 were general election years too.

Columbus has a fair bit of diversity but nary an overlap in coverage areas between operators… that I am aware of.

In Phenix City… we have Phenix Cable… err, make that 'Cable TV (or nothing) of East Alabama' and maybe two or three Satellite Services… the latter requiring 100 year contracts that demand bodily fluid samples before you finally get a box of electronics dumped on your doorstep with installation instructions tucked neatly into fortune cookies and written in Mandarin Chinese.

Of course, you could spring for the cost of a featured 'professional installation'. This is where two guys in yellowed undershirts (wife beaters) come in a 1973 F-100 and drill holes in your home for mud dawbers to nest and leave strange stains on your patio furniture… but only after duct taping the dish to your mailbox post.


One of those Phenix City Bloggers

I missed the discussion in this area several years ago about cable regulation. But it's clear that in one area, competition made no noticeable difference at all. Neither Columbus nor Phenix City has real "public access channels," for ordinary citizens to have their own programs. But TV-16 is starting to look that way a little bit again -- apparently needing the money from people paying for the time.

Thanks for your comments - and now let's add a few of our own from Wednesday:

+ Judge Bobby Peters issued an injunction, blocking the destruction of any trees along Interstate 185 for billboards. The city of Columbus asked for this temporary restraining order, because it wants I-185 between Columbus and LaGrange declared a "scenic byway." But of course, some of us consider a creative "See Rock City" sign quite scenic....

+ WRBL showed the Phenix City Police trying out three new Dodge Charger squad cars. They're being tested on the streets, before a decision is made on purchasing them - so if you'd like to help, please call the police dispatcher to schedule a high-speed chase down Summerville Road.

+ WXTX "News at Ten" showed a preview of the first play at the Columbus State University Riverpark campus theater. It's presenting "A Midsummer Night's Dream" this weekend - which seems to indicate this cast considers global warming a real threat.

(Did I see correctly - the C.S.U. theater faculty includes a man named Tim McGraw? If he couldn't get Faith Hill to come to town for an inaugural concert, that's not a good sign.)

+ GPB reported the Georgia Senate has approved the creation of a "don't honor me" list. Residents can file paperwork requesting buildings or memorials NOT be named after them. This could turn into the most complete database of Jehovah's Witnesses in the state.

(This idea could backfire, you know. The Pastoral Institute might buy a list of the "don't honor me" names, and offer discounted courses to improve your self-esteem.)

+ Columbus State's baseball team stomped Valdosta State 13-3 on "Little League Night" at Ragsdale Field. The coaches of the world champion Northern All-Stars were honored before the game. Which reminds me - has anybody heard whether the Columbus Catfish plan to play some games this spring?

This blog has thousands of visitors each month, from people in Columbus and around the world. 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: 3609 (+ 88, 2.5%)

If you mention this blog in public, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003-07 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

site stats

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


It's one thing to convert "rails to trails." It's another thing to attempt a combination of the two. Columbus Council decided Tuesday to put the trail first, when it comes to connecting downtown with Columbus State University. For now, a planned trolley on that route is with Mister Rogers' trolley - in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.

When Columbus voters approved a one-cent sales tax for city projects years ago, part of the money was set aside for a trolley line. It would look old-fashioned, while getting the interest of tourists. All we'd need was a Rice-a-Roni stand, and it would have really felt like San Francisco.

The SPLOST issue included $11 million for a trolley, running roughly from TSYS headquarters to the "train station" Burger King near Peachtree Mall. But city officials disclosed Tuesday the actual cost of such a service would be at least four times that much. It looks like we can start on the sequel to "An Inconvenient Truth...."

City Planning Director Rick Jones told WRBL a trolley line would cost between 40 and 50 million dollars, simply to build. For that much money, the line ought to run much closer to the main library.

On top of that, Rick Jones said the city would have to pay for staff members to operate the trolley. That would mean a couple of drivers, of course. But I'd think students could be recruited at the minimum wage during summer, to ride treadmills and provide the electric power.

Rick Jones hinted he's not really sure a trolley line across Columbus would attract that many tourists. He said most of the riders probably would be Columbus State University students. Serious mall shoppers would have trouble hauling all their bags across Manchester Expressway to the trolley stop, anyway.

Rick Jones insisted the idea of a trolley line through Columbus is not dead yet. It's just that the trail for it will be developed first, with the trolley possibly being added later -- for instance, if Columbus State attracts an exchange student from Amsterdam who brings a used trolley with him.

Perhaps Columbus Council could pay for full trolley service with help from another decision made Tuesday. It voted to hire a Birmingham debt collection company, to handle unpaid landfill fees. This should make for an interesting spring -- seeing guys in long trench coats walking up to tree removal crews....

(Why a Birmingham company for debt collections? It's obviously because Columbus wants a firm that's tough. If you've kept track of Birmingham's murder count the last couple of years, you know how tough people have to be to live there.)

But at least for now, there are "faux trolleys" you can ride around the Columbus area. Phenix City's bus system has a few vehicles which look like old-style trolley cars. METRA has one, which rolls through the Historic District. And about the closest thing to a trolley bell you can ring is on the wall at Long John Silver restaurants.

BLOG UPDATE: A reader complained here Sunday that the PAWS organization doesn't care about the lives of stray kittens. Her complaint has made a Talbot County message board, because that's where she lives -- only she's accused of forgetting the county has an animal control officer for such cases. Maybe she decided you can't be "pro-control" and "pro-life" at the same time?!

But someone else at the Talbot County message board says the county's animal control officer is too busy "planting grass state wide." So he's at least making sure the cats have something to eat. Most of the cats I've owned would have been too smart to touch that poisoned moist stuff.

E-MAIL UPDATE: But the woman who e-mailed us about PAWS has moved on to another issue today....

Dear Mr. District Atty;

You have my very utmost respect as you have been an excellent DA. Your father saved my grandmother's life which increases my regard for you. I am sure you must know that fact makes me most especially proud to have you as our District Atty.

Please help me with this most difficult problem, the following petition.

Sir, I cannot begin to question your integrity, and I remind you that you have my highest respect, but because of my inability to resolve this seemingly incredible assertion, I ask you to help me understand this seemingly bizarre issue, that you would have bodily remains in the DA's office closet? Sir, you are the legal expert, if it is true, I can only ask if it is even legal, or if it is a desecration of the body?

Sir, please tell me that we are all in error. We are all still in shock at the child molestation sentencing of the public defender, and now this unbelievable assertion about you with a skeleton in your closet.

Please tell me that the petition is wrong . Please tell me that you do not now house the skeletal remains of SPC Richard T. Davis in the District Attorney's office closet. If it is true, I don't even want to know why at this point. It is so ludicrous I cannot speak it without cringing, and I beg you to tell me that it is not true.

I ask you to provide me the courtesy of a reply, and hopefully a denial, so that I may tell others that it is untrue, that you do not house the skeletal remains of an Iraqi War vet in your office closet. If it is true, it is perhaps, and hopefully, unprecedented.

Thank you.

Respectfully Yours,

Deborah Owens

Hmmmm -- I figured the most likely elected official in Columbus to have a "skeleton in the closet" would be Councilor Jerry "Pops" Barnes. He's a practicing nurse, after all....

Check Monday's blog entry for a link to the petition drive Ms. Owens is mentioning. I would imagine in reality, Richard Davis's remains are still kept at the Columbus morgue -- where this case has given a very new meaning to "The Big Chill."

Tuesday's letter about Cascade Hills Church and its board brought a follow-up message:

Mr Burkard,

Thanks for your answer to my email. I think this part of your answer might have been somewhat tounge in cheek. However, if you use the argument contained in the response below that would mean Jim Bakker was really doing something right.... "Do you think Mrs. Purvis would look good in overdone mascara?"

"However Cascade Hills operates its organization, it must be doing something right. The latest "Columbus Community News" shows it has 7,500 members. Saint Anne Catholic Church is second in size in Columbus, at 4,655 -- and it serves free bread and wine to members all the time."



Tongue-in-cheek -- me?!?! Since we always seem to have new readers pass our way, please review the box in the top right corner. We tend to be humorous in what we write here. And after watching "Real Time" the last few weekends, I've concluded Debbie Purvis needs no mascara whatsoever - just hugs and kisses from her husband every day.

Now a quick check of other Tuesday topics:

+ The Russell County Commission endorsed a five-cent per-bottle beverage tax, to pay for various projects. Some of the money could be used to pave dirt roads - with people littering plastic soda bottles all along the roadsides, to remind you how the work was funded.

+ Russell County Commissioners also backed an $11,000 raise for Sheriff Tommy Boswell. If the state legislature approves, he'll earn $80,000 a year - which I think finally would entitle him to advance from Wal-Mart shopping to Publix.

+ Columbus State Rep. Calvin Smyre showed up at the House floor wearing a giant neck brace. It's apparently the result of recent surgery - not from House Republican leaders being that big a pain in the neck.

+ Lanett and Valley announced a compromise, in a recent land feud along Interstate 85. So which city gets custody of King Ford on even-numbered days?

+ Instant Message to Carmike Cinemas: Have you read about this other company's proposal to build a new eight-screen theater in Eufaula? [True/Eufaula Tribune] When do you plan to buy out that company, and shut the idea down?

This blog has thousands of visitors each month, from people in Columbus and around the world. 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: 3521 (+ 81, 2.4%)

If you mention this blog in public, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003-07 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

site stats

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Today is an important day in the Georgia General Assembly. Bills have to pass at least one house by today's 30th day of the 40-day session, or they're dead for the year. It's known as "crossover day" - or if your favorite bill fails, it's "crossed-off day."

State Senator Seth Harp may not be a happy lawmaker on this crossover day. His proposal for a local-option vote on Sunday alcohol sales is stuck in the Senate Rules Committee, and the chair won't let it out for a vote. I never realized the Georgia Capitol had its own version of a "drunk tank."

But there's another bill in the legislature which has been promoted much more. It's the one referred to in commercials, which claim Georgians have NO "real choice" in cable television service. It's for those of you who are still a part of the Bruce Springsteen "57 channels and nothing's on" generation.

The commercials direct you to a web site for "TV choice," promising details on a proposal to save you money on cable TV bills. It turns out to be the work of a political group called "TV4US," which is based outside Washington. So it wants choice in Georgia, while it chooses to have its headquarters hundreds of miles away....

TV4US explains on its web site the goal is threefold: "new choices, better service and lower costs." But this may sound odd to people in Columbus, where three cable companies compete against each other already. If there was a "March madness" discount sale, I admittedly missed it.

The call for "video competition" seems aimed more at smaller Georgia towns, which have only one cable provider. Of course, they also might have only one grocery store - so do we need a state law requiring Piggly Wiggly to expand?

If you smell something fishy in what TV4US is doing, the list of "coalition members" may provide a clue. It has several minority organizations - and one big business named AT&T. First it gobbled up BellSouth. Now it may want to knock Ned the Knology Guy right out of his basket....

A legislature-watcher from told GPB's "Lawmakers" last week AT&T is the driving force behind the "cable TV choice" bill. It apparently wants to offer cable service all over Georgia, and may want to go around local governments to do it. I wouldn't expect its "new choices" to include live coverage of city council meetings.

But this proposal to let AT&T offer statewide cable television raises plenty of questions in my mind....

+ Isn't the switch to digital television in a couple of years requiring cable companies to offer new choices, anyway? I mean, who heard of "The Tube" until a couple of years ago?

+ Don't people in cities with one cable provider already have TV choice? It's called the Dish Network....

+ Won't the growth of broadband Internet service and video streaming provide a different kind of alternative to cable TV? Who needs someone else's channel when you can build a cartoon collection from YouTube.

+ Would statewide cable TV service risk putting community-owned cable franchises in small towns out of business? I can hear the ads for it - "Cingular is now the new AT&T. And AT&T is becoming the new Wal-Mart."

E-MAIL UPDATE: Let's move on to a Columbus church which is on national cable TV every week....

Mr. Burkard,

I don't know much about the church business but if I understand correctly you are a church going man. Maybe you can shed some light on this for me. I am wondering why a church would have two wealthy men as the officers of the " Not For Profit" organization. I would have assumed that if a church had a CEO it would be the pastor. However, according to the Secretary of State for Georgia's web sight.... Mike Patrick is the CEO (Carmike Theaters) and Spud Warr (Warr Grading) is both the treasurer and secretary of Cascade Hills Baptist Church Incorporated. Interestingly enough when I attended Cascade Hills Church back in January, Mr Warr was invited to tell of the benefits he had experienced since he began to tithe to Cascade Hills. It almost seemed that the message was "if you tithe like I do then you can be rich as well". However, at the time I had no idea that Mr Warr was tithing to his own corporation. I must say I really don't understand the church business can you help me understand?


Mark Hall

Yes, I am a churchgoing man - and I've gone to Cascade Hills a few times in recent years. In fact, Spud Warr led a Saturday afternoon Bible study group I attended. Now I feel guilty about not leaving a dollar bill in that envelope, at the front of the room.

But I never realized until this e-mail arrived that Mike Patrick is the Chief Executive of Cascade Hills Church. That would explain why the sanctuary feels so much like a state-of-the-art theater, right down to the comfortable seats....

Some churches divide the executive duties, with a church board running the week-by-week operations and hiring a Pastor. It frees the Pastor to focus on being a minister - and the more time Bill Purvis has to find funny stories, the better he sounds on "Real Time."

I can see why a church would want people with business experience overseeing the finances. They're more likely to know if someone isn't dividing by ten properly, in tithing....

The church I regularly attend teaches what Cascade Hills does, when it comes to tithing. If you tithe, God will bless you. Note I didn't say you'll be rich. Go back to what I went through with a sports business last year, and you'll find it doesn't always work that way.

I don't know the arrangement at Cascade Hills, but members of many church boards don't receive any salary from the tithes. They're volunteers who hold "board meetings" once a month or so, to review how things are going. If they're not going well, there could be changes - such as the always-controversial move of bringing in a drum set.

However Cascade Hills operates its organization, it must be doing something right. The latest "Columbus Community News" shows it has 7,500 members. Saint Anne Catholic Church is second in size in Columbus, at 4,655 -- and it serves free bread and wine to members all the time.

We hope that helps settle some things -- and another church pastor tops our look at Monday headlines:

+ Phenix City minister Johnnie Robinson was sworn in as a new Russell County Commissioner. Governor Bob Riley selected him to fill the seat of Ronnie Reed -- so the Governor may think Russell County needs intervention from someplace higher than Montgomery.

(Ronnie Reed declared he was "disappointed" that Governor Riley did not reappoint him to the commission seat he lost in a court challenge. Reed should be familiar with this concept from way back when he burglarized that Columbus business. It's called probation....)

+ Georgia state measurements showed Columbus had the most polluted air in the state - even worse than Atlanta. Next time, I guess I'll have to keep the doors closed while I clean dust from the kitchen.

+ Fort Benning reported two wildfires on post - yet continued with its "prescribed burning" program in other areas. Critics of the Bush administration would find parallels with the current Iraq strategy....

+ Instant Message to the Louisiana State women's basketball announcers: Congratulations on making the Final Four Monday night. But go ahead, say it - Ketia Swanier of Connecticut is from Columbus, GEORGIA. You didn't have to stop with "Columbus." [True/WWL-AM] I don't think the state of Connecticut even has a Columbus.

This blog has thousands of visitors each month, from people in Columbus and around the world. 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: 3440 (+ 75, 2.2%)

If you mention this blog in public, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003-07 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

site stats

Monday, March 26, 2007


"How you doin', Richard?" said the caller at 10:38 a.m. Sunday.

"Recovering from the flu," I said. My morning temperature had dropped to 99.8 degrees F. - and if the trend continued, the air temperature in Columbus might cross paths with mine by the end of the day.

"Recovering from the flu?" the caller said. "Did you take extra vitamin C?" Well, I drank orange juice for breakfast - but I do that just about every morning. I don't know if the apple filling in the sweet rolls counts for extra or not.

But my health and welfare was NOT why this man was calling. In fact, it never is. This was a man who by his own admission has been barred from four Columbus banks, assorted other businesses, and even the Government Center. And before you get ahead of me - no, his last name is not Arab-sounding in any way.

I've referred to this caller in years gone by with pseudonyms such as Mr. Z. (since he woke me up at 7:15 one Saturday morning with a complaint) Today I'm going to name him, because he's seeking intervention for his problems from both the NAACP and the F.B.I. If he can get those groups to work together before 2009, that will be amazing.

Drive down Warm Springs Road between Flat Rock Park and Manchester Expressway, and you might notice a corner house with the U.S. flag flying upside-down. The man who lives there is named Michael, and the flag is flying that way as a "political protest" - as he says everyone from homosexuals to "rednecks" have ruined his life. That's one broad-based coalition....

Michael has spelled out a long list of his personal trials, in a series of calls to me over the last two years. It all started after I did him a favor, and removed his name from this blog after it was spread all over town through an internal police memo e-mailed by "IsOurCitySafe." That e-mailer has been so quiet lately, I'm wondering if he's joined the Metro Narcotics Task Force.

But anyway: Michael was so happy that I removed his name two years ago that he called to thank me - three times in 36 hours. I suppose he considered me one of his new best friends. I looked on it more like an easy way to avoid a libel suit.

Since that incident, Michael's kept calling me -- sometimes for several days in a row, sometimes once in a while. Sunday's call was the first since last October, when he told me about his mother's home catching fire. Michael said he called 911 to find out his mother's condition, and was NOT treated well. Maybe if he called a more proper place -- like a hospital....

Michael's mom is fine, but Michael is the one with problems now. He told me Sunday he's about to have all his utilities cut off because he's behind in his payments. He's somehow built up a natural gas bill of almost $1,000, "and it hasn't even been cold." But from the way he talked, about half that amount goes back to last Thanksgiving -- so the interest rate may be what's really hot.

Put the natural gas, water and electric bills together, and Michael owes about $1,400. But about 45 minutes into his phone call, I made it clear that I can't afford to loan him that much money. After all, people I knew during my Atlanta years still owe me about $2,500 - and I went to church with them, in person.

Michael said he wasn't looking for my help in paying his utility bills. He apparently needed to "vent" to someone on a Sunday morning, and I was home to answer the phone. And since Michael admits he's been "institutionalized" over the years and has a paranoia disability, I save him the cost of a therapy session.

Michael says he's a "disabled veteran" who has been mistreated in numerous ways - far too many to list here. He's taken his complaints to the F.B.I. Civil Rights Division, the Georgia NAACP, Congressman Lynn Westmoreland, and even the Federal Reserve about banks barring him. When four banks don't seem to compete, you don't win.

. Michael describes himself as a "Christian conservative." But he misstated the location of one Bible verse during Sunday's phone call - and he also quoted to me from the pledge of allegiance: "One republic under God...."


"Whatever...." You probably can guess which political party he backs.

Michael hit a nerve with me by mentioning a "spirit of discernment" several times. As he seemed to wind down his one-sided conversation after 60 minutes, I advised him to pray for a REAL spirit of discernment - because he lacked it. Apparently no one's taught Michael that you don't do a recovering sick person any good by yakking at length about your own problems, and barely asking about theirs.

Michael finally got off the line after 80 minutes. He's vented to me for as long as 95 - and done it so often that I'll have to put him under a "ten-minute time limit" the next time he calls. I've done this before, and it sometimes annoyed him. But that's five times longer than a TV reporter gets during the 6:00 p.m. news.

Oh yes - my temperature dropped to 99.2 degrees after Michael's phone call, so it seems I'm finally over the weekend bug. I'm actually a little surprised it didn't go up....

BLOG UPDATE: The Russell County District Attorney's office told us at midweek Constable R.J, Schweiger would go on trial Friday. But a judge apparently had other ideas - and the Hurtsboro Constable will face a "bench trial" at a later date, without a jury. They might have to bus in a judge from Huntsville, to find one Schweiger might consider unbiased.

R.J. Schweiger has pleaded "hardship" in his contempt of court trial. So court records show Phenix City's April Logan has been appointed as his attorney. You can't call Logan a "high-powered lawyer" - because she doesn't even have a quarter-page ad in the Yellow Pages.

E-MAIL UPDATE: The discussion continues about the supposedly-settled murder of a Fort Benning soldier....


Lanny and Remy Davis have started a petition to urge the DA of Columbus GA to do the right thing and release their sons remains for a proper burial. Please visit the following link and sign your support. Lanny and Remy Davis made another attempt on March 15, 2007 to have Richards remains returned but after 4 years, District Attorney, Gray Conger of Columbus GA still refuses to release Richard.

Also, the Official Website for The Richard T. Davis Foundation For Peace is in construction and online for viewing. A wonderful and generous student at Columbus State University named Martha Garcia has donated her time and talent as Webmaster. We would like to ask all students with CSU to put their powerful voices behind this important cause. In fact, it would be ideal if the Peace Memorial for Iraqi Vets could be put at the Milgen Road site where the new CSU Dorms are being built....

Tell everyone you know, especially people in the military:


Thanks for your support!!


The Richard T. Davis Foundation For Peace

Wouldn't it be strange if the District Attorney became a "political casualty of war," when he had nothing to do with even one Fort Benning soldier going to Iraq? As another blog has noted, it's like firing the Secretary of the Army over a poorly-kept hospital in Washington.

We've heard from a couple of readers about what happened to the "memorial in the woods" set up by Spec. Richard Davis's parents, after land on Milgen Road was cleared for dormitories....

The construction team on Milgen Road packed up the little memorial the Davis' had in place and mailed it to their home in MO before the land was leveled months ago. It was quite a touching surprise.

It certainly had to be a surprise. Some Columbus pranksters might have tried to track down that location for a bizarre gang initiation.

A Sunday letter about calico cats brought this comment:

It sounds like that PAWS has a lot in common with that Peta group. Kill them all ! Don't do what is right for the animal just what they think is right. Shame on PAWS.

Huh?!?! I thought "People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals" was against the killing of most animals. It promotes vegetarianism, after all - with lines such as "soybeans, the other white meat."

But I have to admit there's one part of the PETA program I don't quite understand. What is this group doing to ensure animals are treated ethically - by other animals? Where is the effort to spend weekends in the woods, teaching coyotes to change their ways? Let's nip this "food chain" business in the bud, so to speak....

We'll save one more e-mail for another day - and move on to other notes from Sunday:

+ Columbus tied its highest-ever temperature for March, at 89 degrees. If you think this proves there's global warming, you didn't watch the NASCAR race at Bristol, Tennessee - where the announcers recalled one year ago, qualifying runs were canceled due to snow.

+ Russell County was added to the list of Alabama counties on a fire alert. This will put the pressure on some drivers - because they'll actually have to use the ashtrays in the cars for their cigarettes.

+ Columbus Police reported someone stole four new Pathfinders from Rob Doll Nissan. Three of them were recovered at the Booker T. Washington Apartments - proving after all these years, some people still don't understand how a "test drive" works.

+ The annual "Riverblast" celebration concluded at the Port Columbus Naval Museum. It was SO HOT a few visitors actually hoped the staff would fire water cannons.

+ The first "Georgia Marathon" was held in Atlanta. For years, the Atlanta Track Club staged a marathon on Thanksgiving Day. Don't people feel obligated to earn their turkey dinners anymore?

POEM OF THE DAY: Florida beat Oregon Sunday to advance to the NCAA men's basketball Final Four in Atlanta. The matchup inspired some "Seuss-ical" thinking....

Flor. and Ore. - Ore. and Flor.

Which team will be shown the door?

One team must win - which is Ore.,

Unless Flor. has the higher score.

Only one can play some more,

Going to the Final Four.

Which side really wants it more?

Fighting Flor. -- or either Ore.?

SCHEDULED TUESDAY: We try to make sense of some puzzling commercials....

This blog has thousands of visitors each month, from people in Columbus and around the world. 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: 3365 (- 161, 4.6%)

If you mention this blog in public, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003-07 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

site stats

Sunday, March 25, 2007

25 MAR 07: ROCKED - 103

WARNING: Today's entry comes to you from a blogger who is officially "under the weather." You might want to disinfect your mouse and keyboard after you're through here - or go ahead and step away for a moment, to put on plastic gloves and a face mask.

I'm no doctor, and don't even play one on TV. But I fear I caught the flu over the last couple of days. My temperature soared to 103 degrees F. Friday evening, and stayed in that neighborhood all day Saturday. Sad to say, I was hotter than the Kansas basketball team's shooting against UCLA....

It wasn't really clear to me if anything was wrong until I took my temperature late Friday. I'd developed a bad hacking cough for a couple of days, but thought it was due to all the pine pollen. If we don't get some rain soon, so many things will be coated in yellow that visitors will think Columbus is filled with Georgia Tech graduates.

On top of that, my workplace is one of those offices where people constantly wrestle with the thermostat. When someone turned the setting down Friday morning, I felt seriously chilled. It's as if people don't realize there are settings between 64 and 80.

As I left the office to run Friday afternoon errands, my body thawed out in a car with the windows rolled up. I needed warmth - and I think it was so warm that a little of the "new car smell" actually redeveloped.

At this point I want to apologize to the customers at the Wal-Mart SuperCenter at Columbus Park Crossing. Hopefully I didn't spread my bug all over the store, as I went grocery shopping. But you can take comfort in one thing -- I didn't go anywhere near the pet food.

After taking home the groceries and putting them away, I still didn't do a temperature check of my body. Instead, I went out and had a racquetball workout - in the 80-degree heat. Baking in the car was one thing, but nearly boiling over while driving home is something else.

But I had one other commitment to fulfill after that. It was a potluck weekend at church, so I prepared a pan of my somewhat-infamous brownies. If I was sick now, I know God could heal me by Saturday afternoon. As long as I didn't "anoint" the brownies by coughing all over them....

But my temperature stayed in the 102-103 degree range Saturday morning, so I stayed home from church. When a single guy misses a potluck dinner, you KNOW it's serious.

Between Friday evening and Saturday evening, I probably spent 16 hours in bed. I listened to a couple of religious programs on radio to "make up" for missing church -- but as sluggish and groggy as I was, the minister might as well have knocked me in the head with a Bible.

The good news is that after doing a bit of cleaning in the kitchen Saturday night, my temperature was down to 100.5. So there's hope on my part that the flu is flying away -- and maybe today I'll be down to a "Sunny 100."

E-MAIL UPDATE: While your blogger is ill, your messages get to drive the discussion. We start on Milgen Road:

CSU must be looking to start a cross country track team..Can't believe they built the new dorms miles away..I hope they run a shuttle several times per day..Oh wait,CSU has been charging $40 a semester to park in the parking garage that is still not used..I guess by building so far away they are forcing students to have cars so they fill the garage.

Now hold on here! I went to college on a campus which was quite spread out. Some dormitory residents had a 15-minute walk to the center of campus - and this was decades before people worried about teenage obesity and carbon emissions.

I believe a METRA line runs along Milgen Road, so that can take Columbus State students from the new dorms to the main campus. In fact, METRA should have some fun with this - like serving discount-priced cans of Red Bull early in the morning.

Now from "Cougars" to other creatures....

Animal Rightists VS Animal Welfare

Five exotic, pregnant cats- loudly colored calicos, and Japanese bob tails appeared here in the woods. Their kittens will be born in the next few days! I will not be here and wondered if I might be able to place them in a caring home. If they are left outside, here, the kittens will be subjected to coyotes and cold nights.


The lady said they do not care for cats and that I should spay them.

I said "They can be spayed AFTER delivery."

Director Donna REX, who was listening to the call, said "You should spay--- NOW. "

I said, " I cannot spay and kill VIABLE kittens. "

She insisted I should SPAY and kill the kittens because the kittens will be subjected to having 7000 cats each in a period of 7 years. She went on and on with justifications of relinquishing their good lives to the 'good death' she thought necessary.

I told her I knew about the exponential birth rates of un-neutered animals, but the litters are viable- I CANNOT KILL them now a day before they are to be born.

She insisted on spay, TOMORROW- because "The kittens will be subjected to a life of misery and pain if they are allowed to live."

"Misery and pain are not the only alternatives, and they can all be spay/neutered, later." I said.

I called a vet and was told that when spay is done just before delivery the uterus is removed from the mother and the kittens are allowed to suffocate and suffer.

I have witnessed thousands of farm animal births. Animals ARE born with the ability to feel pain. Furthermore, they feel pain prior to birth. Some start suckling when only their head has emerged from their mother's body. They move, cry, and suckle well before the cord is even visible.


If, and only IF they adopt a less animal rightist- and more pro-life domestic animal position I will consider aiding them.

Deborah Owens

First of all, I didn't realize PAWS was this biased an organization. It cares for dogs, but NOT cats? Why, that's almost like refusing to drink Coca-Cola as long as one bottle of RC remains on sale.

I also didn't realize coyotes were roaming the woods around Columbus. The only time I tend to see them is when they're chasing Road Runners on TV....

Perhaps Ms. Owens should have called the Muscogee County Humane Society about her dilemma. It actually accepts cats, and is a "no-kill" shelter - which is different from the "no-care" shelter she seems to be describing.

Our next e-mail came with the headline, "Talbot County in the news again:"


Did you catch the story about our Sheriffs Dept's investigator Andy K in the Columbus Ledger today, it was about wrecking his car, he hit the pole so hard it caused the power in the city of Talbotton to go out for hours, Is Andy K trying to match up to Sheriff Mr. Bill Johnson's record.

Yes, I knew about the wreck in Talbotton. In fact, the day it happened someone told me the damaged car already had been moved. "You ought to investigate this," a caller urged me. Maybe it's more commonplace in Talbotton to wait 48 hours for a wrecker to show up....

I've heard speculation about Talbot County and its patrol cars, but haven't done any digging to get to the bottom of it. But someone claimed to me the other day that Talbotton's mayor had gone out and bought three new police cars on his own - so maybe it's all a conspiracy, and he knew this wreck was coming.

Let's take one more call - uh, I mean e-mail....

I am a regular listener to talk line, and still do not know the circumstances surrounding Antonio Carter's departure. Can you fill me in? I don't agree with his views but he did make the show interesting.

I enjoy reading your blog, keep up the good work!


WRCG dropped both Antonio Carter and Doug Kellett late last year, because the ratings weren't very strong. But that's what happens when your signal isn't very strong....

But I heard Antonio Carter back on "TalkLine" one recent morning. Robbie Watson called Carter a "friend." So she didn't shove him out the door at WRCG - else he would have called a news conference to condemn her show by now.

We thank all of you who write, and now let's check weekend news before I go back to bed:

+ The Federal Emergency Management Agency declared Dougherty County is eligible for individual disaster assistance from the tornadoes. Yet Muscogee County still isn't?! Just because a longtime Democrat won the mayor's race....

+ The Benning Park Recreation Center was renamed after the late Columbus Councilor Frank Chester. I'm glad they didn't name the softball diamonds after him too - because "Chester Fields" would have sparked questions about a tobacco industry payoff.

(The sign outside the recreation center was covered for several weeks, before the new name was unveiled. I honestly thought a gang had spray-painted it, the way it had a racquetball court. As nice as the Chester Recreation Center's sign looks, maybe the "taggers" thought the same thing.)

+ A federal jury ruled Continental Carbon must pay $20 million for violating pollution standards. Maybe Al Gore knows what he's talking about, when he speaks of "carbon shifting." Can we shift that plant about 50 miles away?

+ Columbus State University hosted a "nerd-a-thon" - an event featuring comic book collections, computer games and professional wrestlers. I'm a bit surprised this event wasn't sponsored by Direct Optical Center.

+ The C.S.U. Lumpkin Center hosted the first-ever "Bi-City All-Star Classic" for high school basketball players. For some reason, the event started one hour late - as if the players had to watch the Ohio State-Memphis game first, to learn some new moves.

+ Nick Saban ran his first spring practice as Alabama head football coach. Most of the players wore black shirts - sparking rumors Saban will leave Tuscaloosa after the 2007 season, to coach at Vanderbilt.

This blog has thousands of visitors each month, from people in Columbus and around the world. 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: 3526 (- 346, 8.9%)

If you mention this blog in public, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003-07 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

site stats

Friday, March 23, 2007


There's always something momentous about a graduation day - whether in the military or in school. But admittedly, when I was young I wondered why my grade school and junior high school didn't have graduation ceremonies. It was almost as if the teachers were happy to get us out the door.

Thursday was a basic training graduation day at Fort Benning - and one of the new soldiers had a story which was anything but basic. Specialist Jerry Jacob joined the Army, after working for about 20 years in television news. This will certainly be different - because the enemy usually doesn't stop every eight minutes or so for commercial breaks.

Jerry Jacob was a TV newscaster in Springfield, Missouri, but felt a need to change careers after the September 11 attacks. As he put it Thursday: "I'd been serving myself all my life, instead of serving my country." Some would take that to mean he dodged federal income taxes....

(Jacob worked for a station which years ago had the slogan: "KY-3 - as far as the eye can see." Perhaps he was looking so far, he never really looked in the mirror.)

Jerry Jacob couldn't join the military immediately after the September 11 attacks, because he was too old. But the rules changed last year, allowing people as old as 42 to enlist. Keep that in mind, the next time the Army brags about making recruiting goals - it's looking for people almost too old to play major league baseball.

(Hey, wait a minute here! If Jerry Jacob was an "anchorman," shouldn't he more logically have joined the Navy?)

So Jerry Jacob came to Fort Benning for basic training - and his drill sergeant admitted the former TV newsman was not quite in shape at first. There's a reason why you can't see below the waist at the anchor desk....

Yet Jerry Jacob kept working at it - and when graduation day came Thursday, he was the honor graduate of his Fort Benning platoon. I think that means he was awarded a ribbon at the ceremony. It certainly didn't look like his beret had an extra tassel on it.

One TV reporter said Thursday night Jerry Jacob had "traded his microphone for an M-16." Here's hoping he never gets the two confused, and points the weapon toward his mouth.

Jerry Jacob gets back to military business today, after Thursday's graduation. He travels to Fort Sam Houston, Texas, with the goal of becoming an Army combat medic. This seems strange to me. Jacob doesn't want to be a public affairs spokesman -- ducking behind podiums in Iraq, like the United Nations Secretary-General did?!

The idea of "specialists" from television news really isn't new. About 30 years ago, a TV station in my home town called all its reporters "specialists." There was one for education, one for health - and they didn't even wear channel number lapel pins, much less ribbons.

It's easy to admire what Jerry Jacob is doing. He's giving up "stardom" in the Missouri Ozarks, to show dedication for his country. Come to think of it, I haven't heard from Third Brigade blogger Chris Sweigart in a while - do you think he's trying to track down Usama bin-Laden?

But it was interesting to note Jerry Jacob is engaged to be married. In his early forties, he doesn't have a major family commitment as he serves in the Army. He'll be somewhat on his own - although he might still need to look to a meteorologist from time to time, to help him make plans.

A man who made local sports news Thursday stands in interesting contrast to Jerry Jacob. Craig Fitts resigned as Shaw High School's football coach, after making the Georgia state finals in his first year. He says he's doing it to spend more time with his four children. A team of four certainly should be easier to handle than 22.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Now to the great land swap, involving land on Macon Road....

The trees are gone..That is right..The huge pile of large expensive trees that were never planted and allowed to die has been removed from the library site on the side next to the old Sears..There had to be 15 to 20 trees with roots still wrapped in burlap in one big pile...Guess when the library was about to be first page media the decision was made to remove them..I wonder if they paid their landfill tipping fees?

Huh?! There were trees stored on Rigdon Road? I never saw this - but maybe they've been moved to the Brookstone neighborhood, and planted so future tornadoes blow them toward streets and not houses.

Here's one more item, with a political bent:

Hi Sir,

Could you notify your bloggers and conservatives in Columbus, that we have organized a new " Georgia Conservative Republican Voters Coalition" and would like to invite any conservative republican, who is a voter, to join our group. We are not a political party, we are only a Coalition of conservatives, who happen to be Republicans, that meet for the sole purpose of " Finding Conservative Republican Candidates - who would like to run for a political office, from City Council through US Congressional seats.

Anyone can contact me (Chuck) at (706)577-5544 or


Chuck Wells

OK, there's the invitation. If you prefer liberal Republicans - well, you're a little late. You missed Governor Sonny Perdue's appearance at Green Island Country Club Thursday night.

Now for other things you may have missed Thursday:

+ The Census Bureau reported Chattahoochee County had the largest population growth in the country last year, increasing 13.2 percent. The question now is whether two factors will lead to a decline this year - the Third Brigade's deployment to Iraq, or the elimination of the county police department.

+ The Auburn University Board of Trustees approved Dr. Jay Gogue as the campus's new President. His last name is pronounced "goozh" - so please don't ask him if he's related to Vincent Van.

+ Alabama Governor Bob Riley was presented two jugs full of fuel from the state's first biodiesel plant. I hope those jugs are clearly marked - because in some corners of Alabama, it would make even the most devout moonshine drinker sick.

+ Instant Message to WRBL: Bless you! For showing the Kansas win over Southern Illinois from start to finish - why, you ARE on my side! Or were you really answering some hard-nosed lobbying by Southern Illinois grad Dave Platta?

(And as for my beloved Jayhawks - you might as well have been a Thursday night "Survivor" episode. But somewhere the headline today will read: "KAN TOPS SOIL.")

This blog has thousands of visitors each month, from people in Columbus and around the world. 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: 3872 (+ 102, 2.7%)

If you mention this blog in public, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003-07 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

site stats

Thursday, March 22, 2007


So you thought Wednesday was the first full day of Sping Spring? Or maybe C.S.U. Day? I beg to differ with you. Wednesday was Groundhog Day at my house. As in the Andie McDowell movie. I guess someone else had top billing - but as a single guy, she had the bulk of my attention.

The 5:00 p.m. hour was one of the strangest I've had at home in a long time. It already was a repeat to one extent, as The Oprah Winfrey Show is showing reruns all week of her cross-country road trip with Gayle King. I can't believe this woman of such humble origins never played bingo in her life, and hadn't driven a car in more than 20 years.

But Wednesday's episode was one I hadn't seen before -- as "Oprah and Gayle" traveled through my home state of Kansas. They passed cattle ranches, and couldn't stand the odor. Come to think of it, they made sure the road trip went well around Amarillo, Texas....

But I digress: a few minutes in the hour, my phone rang. Charter Communications was calling with an alleged great rate for Internet, cable and phone service. There were only one thing wrong with this. Someone from Charter had called with the very same offer Monday evening. With no offers in between, maybe the TV ads are right -- I really don't have a choice for cable TV.

I told the telemarketer I'd heard this pitch before. In fact, I could summarize the "few questions" the man wanted to ask me. "I don't have cable, my local phone bill is $28.85, my long-distance bill is $1.82...." I've learned to keep my phone bills near the phone for these offers - but this made three times in three days.

The Charter man was offered a cable-phone-web combination package for $89.95 a month. I told him that was the same price I'd heard a few days before, and I still wasn't interested. Amazingly, the telemarketer gave up -- instead of being in a mood to start negotiations.

It's a rare day when I receive more than one telemarketing call. But Wednesday, I received a second one in the 5:00 p.m. hour. I was sorting out papers on the living room floor during spring cleaning, so I suppose the scrambling up to get the phone provided a little exercise.

The second call was from a woman with "American Handicapped and Disabled Workers" (I may be wrong about the Disabled) -- a group which sells all sorts of things over the phone to make money. How did I know this? Because someone from the same group had called me Tuesday night -- less than 24 hours before. It's as if the computers in every boiler room shut down overnight.

The man who called Tuesday night emphasized cool-burning, energy-efficient, argon gas ten-year light bulbs. They'd only cost me ten dollars - each. The pricing of hybrid cars seems to work in the other direction.

I asked if this handicapped workers' group has a web site for reviewing all the things it offers by phone. The telemarketing man said it doesn't. In 2007?! Do the eligible disabilities for employment include a phobia about hackers?

But the Tuesday night handicapped caller happened to mention during his pitch that he had a young daughter. Some of the beggars I meet on street corners probably have them, too - but they don't bring them up in conversations. Of course, they probably can't afford to pay child support for them....

"I told your people I wasn't interested Tuesday night," I told the woman who called Wednesday afternoon. "And nothing's changed since then." Not one light bulb burned out, to make me wonder if God was sending a message to make me feel guilty.

There was a third telemarketing call Wednesday -- only it came at 10:00 Wednesday night. From the accent of the caller, it probably was mid-morning in India or Pakistan....

Telemarketer #3 had called me a couple of weekends ago, offering a "one-time-only" special including a free cell phone. But he called on the Sabbath, so I told him I'd have to miss out. The caller promised to give me a second change a few days later, before I left for work in the morning. Given his call almost two weeks later at late evening, I should have been skeptical from the start.

Telemarketer #3 gave his pitch three different times - but didn't seem to understand me when I said "not interested." I certainly didn't understand, when he asked for my Social Security number to process the cell phone deal. If the calls are made as randomly as he claimed, the billing numbers ought to work the same way.

I've found I hardly ever need a cell phone, anyway. It might have come in handy a couple of times last year, when I was trying to launch a sports business. And it certainly wouldn't have helped a couple of weeks ago, when I locked myself out of my apartment. If I didn't bring any keys with me, I probably would have forgotten the cell phone as well.

E-MAIL UPDATE: There's plenty in the InBox today, starting at the Government Center:

This guy will be Judge Jordan's new law clerk this August....

I have been told this Judge depends heavily on his law clerks.

Not sure this is blogworthy...but thought you would like to know.

A call to Superior Court Judge Frank Jordan's office confirmed Mark P. Jones will join the staff of clerks later this year. And if three calls from telemarketers are "blogworthy" here, he probably is as well.

At first I thought the biography page of Mark P. Jones's web site showed him holding a small fish. But a closer look indicates it's more like a small crab. Jones notes he enjoys hunting - and he seems to do it well, because that critter shows no sign of a bullet hole at all.

But I wonder if the e-mailer was more interested in what Mark P. Jones writes in his online biography. He calls liberalism "the absence of values," and prefers a Singapore-style "authoritarian version of democracy." It's a wonder Judge Frank Jordan hired Jones, before Mayor Jim Wetherington did.

Mark P. Jones goes on to call sleep "a waste of time," and writes about supporting a bill "mandating an 18 hour workday." It sounds like he's perfect for a law clerk's job - and I hope he gets to know some of the prison inmates who will empty the trash cans at the Government Center during the evenings.

Mark P. Jones is unashamedly Christian, rejecting Islam because "the founder writes their central text in a cave." Does this mean we should take back the Martin Luther King holiday? After all, he wrote a famous letter from a Birmingham jail....

Let's look at one more message today - on a topic which has brought several comments lately:

Lanny and Remy Davis were recently in Columbus to ask the District Attorney to return their murdered sons remains for a proper burial. Richard Davis' birthday would have been March 14. His parents have made a trip to Columbus every year at this time. Although they left town with no confirmed date as to the return of Richard's remains; some very generous people assisted them in their pursuit. On behalf of the Davis family, I want to thank Priya Aujla of WTVM for reporting this story to Columbus, as well as Attorney Mark Shelnutt and Judge Bobby Peters for speaking out on their behalf. They took time from their busy schedules to meet with the Davis' and displayed sincere compassion that the family found very comforting at a time when they feel the justice system is victimizing them all over again.

I also want to point out something else that has touched the hearts of Lanny and Remy Davis, proving what great people really live in Columbus. Because Richard's actual grave is empty, the murder location on Milgen Road has served as a substitute because it's where Richard's body lay for so many months. Columbus State University is now building dorms for the students on this site. The Davis' have laid flowers at the location where he was killed and a few feet away, where he was burned. The construction workers present always paused and gave the family privacy. When the flowers left behind need to be moved out of their ay, the workers gently move them and then move them back again. I do not know their names, but they deserve thanks for being such truly decent, kind people.

As Judge Peters so eloquently worded it; justice must be tempered with compassion.

Cilla McCain

That indeed is a nice act of courtesy by the construction team on Milgen Road. But I'm left wondering how the death site was handled when the woods first were cleared away. If the workers didn't leave any trees standing, I'm wondering how many pictures might be buried three feet below the marker now.

If your e-mail isn't here today, it's solely because I'm out of time. They'll be here soon - but now we must close with quick items from Wednesday's news:

+ The lawsuit by former Phenix City Clerk Max Wilkes was moved to federal court in Montgomery. City officials say Wilkes was let go because of a tight budget. Now Wilkes plans to make them prove it - by having them car-pool to court hearings in a city van.

+ The LaGrange Daily News reported Pine Mountain Wild Animal Safari plans a major expansion, including a new hotel and an RV park. Big spenders can see a giraffe eye-to-eye - while the budget-conscious may have to share the dinner with roaming monkeys.

+ Columbus native and pro football defensive back Roderick Hood visited a Phenix City school. Hood said he plans to return to Auburn University after his pro football career ends, to finally get his degree. Now that should be interesting - especially since Hood won't be able to plead for Directed Studies courses.

+ Online reports indicated the Atlanta Falcons are trading backup quarterback Matt Schaub to Houston. OK, be honest now - after last season, how many of you think the wrong quarterback is being moved?

+ Instant Message to my old alma mater Kansas: Please don't let me down in the Sweet 16 tonight. Leave Southern Illinois looking.... well, downright

This blog has thousands of visitors each month, from people in Columbus and around the world. 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: 3770 (+ 92, 2.5%)

If you mention this blog in public, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003-07 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

site stats

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Wouldn't it be great to have a job where you could give yourself a raise anytime you wanted? I dreamed of something like that last year - only to be reminded that a majority of all new businesses fail within two years.

But the Alabama Legislature has no such worries. Lawmakers officially voted themselves a pay raise Tuesday - and a raise of 62 percent at that. Professional athletes usually need a hard-driving agent to do that well.

The salary of Alabama House and Senate members will jump from about $30,000 to almost $50,000. For the people who serve in Montgomery, that may not seem like much. But c'mon, this is Alabama - where new poultry processing plants are considered a major economic victory.

A Birmingham radio talk show host tried to organize a protest of the 62-percent raise. The "March on Montgomery" attracted about 200 people Tuesday -- proving civil rights leaders sometimes really do have more clout and supporters.

Tuesday's vote for the 62-percent raise actually was a replay, because the original vote was vetoed Tuesday by Governor Bob Riley. If the legislature had thought to include even a ten-percent raise for him, things might have been different....

Governor Bob Riley said the state legislature should have a raise, but such a big raise should occur over a period of several years. That way, it would work like some sports contracts - giving voters an option to pick up their "contracts" after the 2008 season.

Some Alabama lawmakers say it's time they received a 62-percent raise, because the legislature hasn't had one since 1991. You know, this pay increase could have been even worse - because haven't gas prices tripled since 1991?

The Alabama State Employees Association even thought the lawmakers were going too far. An executive director said to keep up with other state workers, the legislature's raise should be ONLY 41 percent. Obviously there aren't enough conservatives in Montgomery these days....

Some critics also are appalled by this big pay raise becomes it comes only two weeks into the regular legislative session. Maybe Governor Riley should share the blame after all. The lawmakers finished his special session in a week, and thought they could reward themselves.

This 62-percent raise did seem to occur in a big hurry. Alabama lawmakers first approve the increase one week into their session - while money to rebuild storm-damaged Enterprise schools is still under debate. It's almost as if the legislature is trying to show it's as fast as a tornado.

But to keep things in perspective, some people still make much more than the $50,000 part-time lawmakers will receive in Alabama. A shareholders' filing by Synovus Tuesday revealed Chairman Richard Anthony had total compensation of about four million dollars last year. So if Columbus Bank and Trust staff members say they can't afford to give you a loan, ask to see the bosses.

BLOG SPECIAL EVENT: Our search for a name for the Aflac duck ended Tuesday night - and the outcome admittedly amazed us. More people preferred NO name, than any of the four names we offered in our poll! This may explain why the Columbus Civic Center still doesn't have a corporate name on it.

Half the voters in our poll said the Aflac duck should remain nameless. The other half split their opinions between our idea of "Amos" (as in the corporate family) and "Dinkles" (as in the nickname some people have given TV meteorologist Derek Kinkade). Only one of those is likely to work, if the duck develops a love interest.

OVERHEARD OVER HERE: A group of men is talking about current movies, when someone joins the discussion

"I read that the Spartans really were an offshoot of Christians - in '300,' the movie...."

"Oh, is that what that movie is about?!"


"It's not about bowling?"

Now we roll along to other Tuesday news headlines:

+ Columbus Council gave the final approval to a big land swap between the city and the Muscogee County School District. Let's hope the two sides don't get mixed up in all this - and try to stock library books at the bottom of the natatorium pool.

(The big political winner in this land swap seems to be Mayor Jim Wetherington. It's the first big victory of his administration - and I can't wait to see him in swimming trunks, once the natatorium is finished.)

+ WRBL reported the Muscogee County Library Board is thinking about adding a children's area, at the back of the main library. Isn't there a children's area there already? Or are the stuffed animals at the entry going to be replaced by humans, doing background checks on the parents?

+ Phenix City's assistant police chief was honored by the City Council, for recent success in a sniper-shooting contest. We're pleased to report he did NOT have to use his skill during the council meeting, toward either the Mayor or City Manager.

+ The Georgia Senate voted 25-23 against a proposal to allow limousine drivers to sell alcohol. So much for SafetyCab drivers changing careers anytime soon....

(Can't you see the sales gimmicks limousine drivers would use, if this had become law? "Long cab, long ride, long-neck.")

+ The Columbus Cottonmouths edged Jacksonville 5-4 in overtime. With one win in the final two road games, the Snakes can clinch the Southern League regular-season title. Why do I get this deep-down feeling the Columbus Lions are going to pull for Richmond and Jacksonville this weekend?

+ Auburn University fans rolled Toomer's Corner, to celebrate the men's and women's swimming teams winning national championships. I'm assuming for this particular event, the toilet paper had to be super-absorbent....

+ Instant Message to whomever posted a sign on the Riverwalk at Tenth Street saying, "Announce intentions to other bikers": The last time I jogged by there, I did that. Is "I'm coming" good enough?

This blog has thousands of visitors each month, from people in Columbus and around the world. 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: 3678 (+ 88, 2.5%)

If you mention this blog in public, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003-07 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

site stats

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


It officially happens at 8:07 p.m. ET tonight, but the signs of it have been all around Columbus for a couple of weeks. As an e-mail offer told me Monday in no uncertain terms: "SPING IS HERE!"

SPAM-A-RAMA: Yes, the title of the message said "sping." It did NOT say "spring." And it wasn't a special announcement from the RiverCenter, about an upcoming concert by Sting.

The e-mail promotion from a Christian company actually said "Sping is here!" And since I'm in Georgia, that means I'm about to be GA-Sping. As if people with pine pollen allergies aren't already doing that....

This reminds me of how important one little letter can be, and how it can change how we look at things....

+ Instead of spring cleaning, we can have "sping leaning" - which sounds like what a drunk would do outside a bar.

+ College students who normally take spring break would go on "sping beak" -- where I guess you could sit at home and watch the birds arrive.

+ Schools would turn their annual spring dance into a "sping dane" - and maybe invite an exchange student from Copenhagen.

If the TV show you're watching is dull and boring, it's sometimes fun to press the captioning button - because the spelling there isn't always letter-perfect. For instance, Monday night's "Tavis Smiley Show" on PBS had an interview with a man who supposedly wrote the book "Outfocked." The actual title was "Outfoxed" - and let's be thankful the spelling mistake wasn't much worse.

CORRECTED: Then there are times when missed letters aren't the issue -- the order of them is. Take Monday, when Auburn University's Presidential Search Committee recommended Dr. Jay Gogue of Houston for the job. I first saw the name as "Gouge." Some students might look at that, and watch for hidden fees during enrollment.

During my LaughLine years, I often noted for subscribers the different options of my computer's "Spell Check." Here are some REAL examples of what that feature suggested over the last few days:

+ The name of the Columbus Mayor Pro-Tem should be Evelyn Turner UGH. But I don't really think she's that bad-looking.

+ The Phenix City Mayor should be Jeff HEARTEN. The City Manager could tell you that suggestion is wrong.

+ You can donate to this blog not through PayPal, but "Papal." As if he'd simply take a tithe off the top....

+ It doesn't even recognize the word "blogging" - and suggests instead I'm "slogging." When I'm stumped for jokes, that's more accurate than you might realize.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Here's one more item about the visit of a slain soldier's parents to Columbus....


In response to today's email discussing Richard Davis' rank; he was an Army Specialist which is not considered a low ranking soldier.

It is morally wrong for the D.A. to keep Richard's remains. If this can happen in what has been such a high-profile murder, how would the D.A. treat victim's families in cases which receive no attention? That's something I'm going to remember in the next election.


Oh dear - this is what happens when you have a blogger whose military knowledge prior to arriving in Columbus consisted of the game of Stratego.

If you've ever played Stratego, you know there are army ranks throughout the tiles - everything except a Specialist. There are Scouts, which can move like rooks in chess. And there's a Spy - which has to take the top-ranking Marshal, or he's as worthless as Valerie Plame will be until she signs a modeling contract.

Let's see if there was anything special, from a busy Monday in the news....

+ Georgia Public Broadcasting announced it will present the controversial RiverCenter concert by Frederica von Stade and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa April 9. Well, it IS considered "educational" radio - so maybe this will include Te Kanawa's lecture to the audience about babies and cell phone cameras.

+ The Columbus Civic Center billboard announced an April 28 concert featuring Kellie Pickler. First she falls short on "American Idol" -- and now she apparently didn't make the cut for "Prairie Home Companion."

(So that makes two big events in Columbus, on what would have been the Saturday night of Riverfest weekend. Suddenly the Historic Columbus Foundation must be feeling very small.)

+ The Muscogee County School Board voted to change the name of Eastway Elementary School to Lonnie Jackson Academy. Hopefully the board also approved the commissioning of a plaque, to add to the Jackson family's big collection.

+ Columbus city inspectors revealed they ordered three carnival rides closed at an Airport Thruway shopping center, and one still was down for repairs Monday night. I hope they're all fixed for Fiesta Columbus in May - because it would only be right to have chili con "carney."

+ State Senator George Hooks of Americus told fellow lawmakers about 250 state prison inmates are helping to clean up tornado damage. How bizarre is this? Prisoners are setting a good example, and looters of damaged property are ignoring it.

+ Char-Broil held a kickoff event in Columbus, to launch a nationwide tour promoting its grills. The fact that no TV newscast showed up for the event should teach this company a lesson. Bring the jobs back, and the reporters might come back.

+ The Georgia Supreme Court ruled unanimously that gift cards do NOT violate state law if they have expiration dates. So if you haven't done spring cleaning of your wallet or purse yet, you'd better hurry....

(The challenge to gift card expiration dates was made by former Governor Roy Barnes - which is ironic, because his reign in office expired far sooner than he expected.)

+ The Georgia High School Association decided to move all final-round football games to the Georgia Dome beginning in 2008. The semifinal games will go back to home fields. We can thank Carver and Shaw fans driving to Atlanta at 5:00 in the morning, for bringing state officials to their senses.

+ The Georgia women's basketball team advanced in the NCAA tournament, winning 76-56 over Iowa State. But the men were bombed out of the N.I.T. by Air Force 83-52. On this night, truly the Force was not with them....

(You may remember when the Atlanta Hawks called themselves "Atlanta's Air Force." Now there's the Georgia Force, only it plays arena football -- and the Hawks are more like a stealth pilot who risks flying too low under the radar.)

+ Instant Message to the House of Mercy: Do I understand this right - you wanted to publicize your application to be on "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" in the media? But you never notified the TV station which shows the program? This may explain why the Valley Rescue Mission is a bit better known around town than you.

This blog has thousands of visitors each month, from people in Columbus and around the world. 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: 3590 (+ 90, 2.6%)

If you mention this blog in public, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003-07 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

UPDATE 1.....

site stats