Tuesday, July 31, 2007


The Monday news seemed to be filled with stories about money. Columbus agencies are asking for a lot of it, from a number of different places. Yet none of them seem to be following the lead of the late Russell County School Superintendent Jack Russell - by going to Biloxi to gamble.

The city of Columbus is looking to the federal government, to help pay for cleanup from the March 1 storms. Emergency Management Deputy Director Riley Land told WRBL the city's cost is about $770,000 - so I suppose he's seeking a Land grant.

The federal government recently provided about $500,000 to the city, to cover part of the storm cleanup cost. If Washington doesn't come up with the rest of the money, I'm not sure what the city will do. Perhaps the prison inmates who help with trash disposal will have to drop down to two meals a day for a while.

Meanwhile, Congressman Sanford Bishop is promoting the benefits Columbus will receive from a House appropriations bill. If it's approved, tens of thousands of dollars would be provided for an after-school program at the Liberty Theatre. If you're turned down for the leading role, you go help train future understudies.

The House spending bill also includes money for the Muscogee County Junior Marshals program. The Marshal's Department explains this helps young people see the positive side of law enforcement. How many lollipops does this agency have to buy?

The evening news suggested the Junior Marshals program can keep young people away from crime during summer, especially after the recent surge of murder cases in Columbus. But did I miss something here? I thought the prime suspect in the Cross Creek killings was 24 years old....

Then there's Alabama Governor Bob Riley, who bragged Monday about his state's fire departments have obtained $2.4 million in federal Homeland Security grants. You have to admit the money's been effective - because we have yet to hear a single report of a terrorist attacking rural Chambers County.

Governor Bob Riley reports Alabama is second only to Pennsylvania, in the amount of federal Homeland Security money for fire departments. Is this really something to brag about? Couldn't it really mean some Alabama fire crews are risking fiery eruptions inside their own trucks?

For all this praising and wishing about federal money, I have to ask a potentially silly question. Why not give that cash directly to the local governments and agencies? Why send the money via Washington - especially since some mutual funds in this area might offer a higher rate of return?

Awhile back, one Congress-watching group declared federal money for the Junior Marshals Program an example of wasteful "pork-barrel" spending. Supporters said that wasn't really true - but I didn't hear any of them announce a fund-raising "buy a badge" drive. Maybe they're still waiting for backers of former Marshal Ken Suddeth to turn their badges in.

It seems many governments and agencies are so tight on money, they're looking to Washington to bail them out. ABC News likes to say of such projects, "It's your money." But maybe not - because the "national debt" and borrowing limit is ridiculously high.

If these agencies asked the community for the money they're seeking from Washington, generous local residents might see the need for their projects and provide the financial support. But then, that support could have some strings attached -- and before you know it, we'll have the "Striffler-Hamby Mortuary Liberty Theatre."

On the other hand, the agencies might get a big surprise - and one they don't want to see. The community might choose NOT to fund their projects, considering them not worth the effort. Even Circle K has had to deal with that - so we're down to about 80 stores in Columbus, instead of 85.

My point of all this is to suggest we do what Geico Insurance claims it's done - eliminate the middleman. Keep the tax money at home for needy projects, instead of sending it to Washington and waiting for Congress to send it back. Just because the project is "OUR pork" doesn't mean it's any better - and it certainly doesn't mean it's become Lean Cuisine chicken.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Sorry, there's nothing here about restaurants today....

Please take a moment to view a news video of "The Search For a Soldier, parts 1 and 2 at www.wtvm.com As you will see, this Foundation is striving to become a headquarters for family members who have found themselves in similar situations the Davises faced upon the disappearance of Richard. Please feel free to forward this information to anyone you feel may be interested in protecting the well being of our military families.


The Richard T. Davis Foundation for Peace

**Information regarding a forthcoming Benefit for the Foundation is being compiled at this writing.

The special report on TV last week focused on a Fort Benning soldier who vanished in 2005. The Army considers him a deserter. The family fears he's been harmed in some way. And thankfully, some terrorist group hasn't posted a tape of him on YouTube.

But as you consider this soldier, keep in mind what happened to a minister's wife from Baldwin County, Alabama. She went to a women's religious conference in Louisiana, disappeared after stepping away for something to eat - and months later, police announced Monday the woman had pawned her wedding ring and moved to New York. I don't think the Lord moves in ways quite THAT mysterious....

Now a quick check of other Monday headlines:

+ The Lee County School Board named two "short-term interim" superintendents. Before you say the words "short-term" and "interim" are redundant, remember one thing - Ed Richardson.

+ The evening news climbed aboard the rolling CharBroil grill, attending the restaurant's grand opening in Phenix City. The manager said his goal is to use as many local vendors as possible. So somebody apparently learned a lesson, from all those plant layoffs....

+ Georgia NAACP President Ed DuBose called a news conference in Atlanta, urging people NOT to presume Michael Vick is guilty before he stands trial. That's true, of course - and don't we remember how well DuBose applied that standard to David Glisson?!

+ Wire service reports indicated Atlanta's baseball team will trade young catcher Brian Saltalamacchia to Texas, for first baseman Mark Teixeira. This seems like an even trade - as both players have names which are practically impossible to spell.

(You can tell the Texas Rangers are a desperate team when they trade away a player which all the fans can call "Tex.')

+ Instant Message to "Mr. Opportunity": I already own a Honda. So please knock a little gentler on my TV screen, OK? It's more than ten years old - and I might have to buy a new set before I buy a new car.

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: 2177 (+ 63, 3.0%)

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, July 29, 2007


"Trust but verify," my Pastor said at church over the weekend. He was talking about rearing children, and quoting President Reagan's favorite Russian proverb (I didn't ask if he knew that last part). But one local group is showing it doesn't even trust local government - well, unless the officer wields a gavel and wears a robe.

The Education Park Coalition has filed suit, over the big agreement finalized earlier this month on land around the Columbus Public Library. It's a 75-page lawsuit -- so all those pages could be shredded into very nice mulch, for whatever "green" item winds up on that land.

It appeared the city of Columbus had a firm agreement with the Muscogee County School District and the Library Board for those 23 acres or so around the main library. But the Education Park Coalition's lawsuit wants the "memorandum of understanding" toughened, to have certain things guaranteed. Come to think of it, the cans of chili I just threw out had no guarantees on the labels. [True!]

The Education Park Coalition wants a court to guarantee those disputed 23 acres will be turned into landscaped greenspace. Leader Josh McKoon fears the memorandum of understanding has a loophole, allowing the Muscogee County Schools to sell their part of the land. As if businesses are clamoring to open along that part of Macon Road now?!

(In fact, if Josh McKoon needs any help with his lawsuit - why doesn't the city of Columbus put its midtown "Service Center" in Cross Country Plaza, instead of near the library? After all these years, I really don't think Service Merchandise is going to make a comeback.)

When the library land deal was approved two weeks ago, Muscogee County School Board President James Walker suggested there was no thought of selling the district's part of the property right now. But the Education Park Coalition clearly is skeptical about that. Why, it could change its mind faster than John Wells can run from a charging bull.

(At least one thing seems certain about the school district's share of the library land deal. I think it's pretty hard to build a Wal-Mart SuperCenter on seven or eight acres.)

City and school district officials warn the Education Park Coalition's lawsuit threatens to hold up other planned improvements around the central library. For instance, a new natatorium could be delayed - and imagine how all the overflowing pool water could help the nearby meadows grow.

As I thought about this lawsuit over the weekend, I wondered if it might have been filed too soon. Wouldn't the right time to make a court challenge be after library land actually is sold? After all, the Michael Vick picket signs didn't start appearing until after he was indicted.

A man told me the other day the Education Park Coalition should be careful about what it's wishing for. He said a park around the main library could become a hangout for gangs and criminals. Of course, the library has security guards - so maybe their uniforms should change to "landscape green," for doing undercover work.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Now we KNOW we have a first - as we're getting replies to a restaurant critique, and the restaurant still hasn't officially opened! This one reached us first:

If my weak memory serves me correctly the CharBroil restaurant was started by two company employees who lost their jobs when CharBroil moved out of the country..Thanks for the review,I'll have to give it a go...An interesting idea ..Get restaurants to give you a meal in return for an honest review on the blog...You could have us readers review them,but then you never know when the restaurant owner is actually the reviewer..

Let's answer the question of journalistic ethics first. Sunday's e-mail came from someone who reads this blog, and writes us often. As far as we know, that person doesn't own the CharBroil restaurant. Given the praise of Ritz crackers, maybe that person owns Nabisco stock.

We're open to your comments about local restaurants, whether good or bad. So if you go to today's grand opening of the CharBroil restaurant and find the steaks aren't sufficiently blackened, please let us know.

I don't know who's actually operating the new CharBroil restaurant - but if former employees are doing it, I would think they'd have to pay W.C. Bradley for the use of the CharBroil name. You wouldn't want to anger a company which is skilled in making gas-fired products.

And speaking of restaurant reviews....

Richard, I was glad to read the review about the new CharBroil restaurant. Unfortunately, however, their prices will probably exclude some. The newspaper reported that the cheapest item on the menu would be hamburger at $9.95. Phenix City definitely needs some new good eateries!

And speaking of an area that needs new eating establishments - I was in South Columbus recently and decided to try the new Al's Schnitzel Gasthaus on Victory Dr. If you like good German good - don't bother to stop there. To begin with there is a strong odor in the place. It smells musty - like perhaps the roof has been leaking. (It is a very old building) When you pay your bill, the cash register is right in front of the kitchen. There is no wall and you get to look at the old equipment. The one employee takes your money, does the cooking, cleaning, etc. The place is very small and needs painting. And the food was not very good either. I have eaten at Al's on Warm Springs Rd several times in the past and it was not bad. This is sad news for those who live, work or visit the South Columbus/Victory Dr. area.

A musty odor and a leaky roof, eh?! Maybe this new German restaurant is seeking an authentic post-World War II atmosphere.

This may seem strange considering my last name, but I've never been a big fan of German cuisine. I wasn't thrilled by sauerkraut when I was a boy. And the weight-watching side of me tends to walk past German chocolate cake, for something without coconut in the icing -- as if coconuts grow in Germany, anyway.

. At least there's one bit of good news for diners along Victory Drive. Have you noticed that new state-of-the-art Burger King is about to open, near Fort Benning Road?

The person who originally wrote us about CharBroil on Sunday offered this P.S., based on our comments:

CharBroil grills of course and some of the employees as well....

So the new Phenix City restaurant will be authentic, in that way. But that $9.95 hamburger - will that start a price war with Applebee's down the highway, or only drive prices higher?

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: 2114 (- 112, 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


The Saturday night run began at 8:55 p.m. ET - about 15 minutes after sunset. I wait until the Sabbath is over to even begin stretching for my jogs. So don't even bother checking my medicine cabinet for illegal steroids.

I prayed for safety before my Saturday night activities. That's not really unusual, but four homicides in Columbus in a seven-day span certainly will put it on a praying person's mind. Besides, carrying a gun in my pocket while I'm running would weigh me down - and leave me concerned about it falling out and discharging toward someone fishing along the river.

Given the recent "surge in crime," as Mayor Jim Wetherington is calling it, I could have stayed indoors Saturday night. But I chose to run, as I normally do. After all, even a slow jogger becomes a moving target - and a bit harder to shoot.

But I took steps to make Saturday night's run a bit different. Whenever I passed someone on the Riverwalk or they approached me, I put up my empty hands. That way, I showed I was no harm to anyone. In five weeks, I'll do this again - when a college football team scores a touchdown on my radio headphones.

Other people were out along the Riverwalk Saturday night as well. A large family was wrapping up some fishing along the Chattahoochee, and a man rode a bicycle with blinking red lights in front. For a moment, I thought that man might be pulling a wheelbarrow behind him - to use as a makeshift ambulance.

The Saturday night course took me around South Commons and past Port Columbus. Between the softball fields and the naval museum, the Riverwalk has a wooden bridge which only seems to be lit at night when there's a full moon. I ran across it before complete darkness fell - and you have to start feeling the air ahead of you like a blinded man.

The course went beyond Rotary Park, toward RoadAmerica - and I approached a couple slowly walking in the same direction I was running. They were embracing, and seemingly loving a Saturday night stroll. I never like to scare people, so I clapped my hands a few times to make them aware of me. If they wanted to join in, I might actually try singing.

After the hand claps, my hands went up - and I told the couple as I jogged by them: "Too many shootings in this town the last two weeks."

That's when the strangest event of the night happened for me. The man in the couple started laughing. It wasn't like I was wearing a "humor blogger" T-shirt, either.

"I'm glad you can laugh at people dying, sir. But I can't." The man laughed some more, as I jogged away. Thankfully, he didn't pull out something and attack me from behind.

I turned the course around at RoadAmerica, running less than two miles non-stop on a steamy night. The couple vanished as I jogged toward home - so maybe they thought about what I said, concluded I could be dangerous and bailed out.

A side path off the Riverwalk led up an incline to Port Columbus, and from there to the South Commons softball fields. A couple of fields were busy with teams in the ASA softball classic. I even heard fans chanting and cheering - something you'd only hear at Golden Park on military appreciation nights.

Two men in bright blue outfits crossed in front of me on the sidewalk at the South Commons softball fields. I was all set to ask one of them if there had been any arrests - but then one said: "Did you have a scouting report on 'em?" Nope, they weren't bicycle police officers after all.

The softball players showed no fear of the surge in crime, even though their fields were practically across the highway from the Booker T. Washington Apartments. And to make matters worse, they were playing slow-pitch - not with 90-mile-per-hour fastballs which could hit criminals in the head.

The rest of the route was quiet, except for a couple of men who walked in front of me as I returned to my car. They also were out on a Saturday night, as if nothing has happened in the last week or so. That's really how it ought to be - even though in a city of more than 180,000 people, you're more likely to be the next murder victim than a Mega Millions winner.

After the run, I drove to pick up dinner - and noticed one other slightly concerning thing. The McDonald's drive-through area on Macon Road had a Muscogee County Sheriff's Deputy inside, talking with a cashier. Had someone named this place as a target? Was someone THAT upset with the new iced coffee?

While I handled my night with care, Columbus Police were busy with the opening night of "Project Safe Streets." WRBL identified several police cars as stopping at a "Cusseta Road laundry." Those washers must be really effective, at removing blood stains....

The new "Project Safe Streets" followed a 7:30 a.m. Friday meeting between Mayor Wetherington and Police Chief Ricky Boren. It's either get up extra-early to attack the crime problem, or stay up extra-late to clean up the damage.

Chief Ricky Boren told reporters Friday afternoon that the crime rate fluctuates up and down. He admitted right now it's going up. May it go down as quickly as the stock market did, over the last few days.

BLOG EXCLUSIVE: From our e-mail comes what could be a first - a restaurant review, before a restaurant officially opens:

Well.....got to eat at the "Friends and Family" practice session for Charbroil Restuarant.......FANTASTIC!!!

The Carribean Shrimp is the best I have ever had!!! Worth the try is Mrs. Turner's recipe for an appetizer....Ritz Crackers/homemade pimento spread, and Smoked Sausages which is wonderful dipped in the special sauce!!.

My better half had the prime rib of which he is extremely picky about and it "melts" in your mouth.!!

Before I go any further and you start making comments....no there is no chinese on the menu. I think the restaurant will be a hit and the menu items don't taste like every other restaurant in the Columbus /Phenix City area.Prices are great as well........check it out..grand opening ribbon cutting is Monday and business to the public starts at lunch immediately following!!

Great Job Charbroil!!! Finally a unique restaurant that can be claimed for this area that is not bar-b-que(which in truth is more famous for it's Friday Turkey and Dressing Day anyway)

Thank you for defusing the most obvious punch line in this review. But one question remains unanswered - were all those items actually cooked on Charbroil grills?

It will be interesting to see how forgiving local diners are, when the Charbroil Restaurant opens on U.S. 280 in Phenix City. I've read some comments from people who don't exactly use the word "boycott," but still plan to stay away. I somehow doubt those people will go to Chinese buffets as an alternative.

Let's see what else is cooking, on this hot and humid weekend:

+ The Liberty Theatre hosted a "Hip-Hop Summit," attempting to emphasize a less criminal approach to the music. Maybe entertainment business owner Jay Hud is learning to do the same thing - because he was called "Jay" on one TV newscast and "Jihad" on another.

+ The Fairfax neighborhood of Valley lost power for eight hours. Alabama Power scheduled a planned night of service improvements for a Saturday night - on perhaps the muggiest night of the summer. Do customers get to run their air conditioners all day today, for half-price?

+ Fox News Channel reported one of Michael Vick's co-defendants is expected to enter a plea-bargained guilty plea Monday. You'll know things are getting bad when Atlanta Falcon wide receivers start denying they dropped any passes from Vick last season.

+ Instant Message to Hank Aaron: Keep one thing in mind - some people wanted to put an asterisk on YOUR home run record 33 years ago. You rode planes, not trains. You played plenty of games at night. And have you noticed the "Babe Ruth Baseball" program never has changed its name?

COMING MONDAY: The land fight which refuses to go away....

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: 2226 (- 181, 7.5%)

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

© 2003-07 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

site stats

Friday, July 27, 2007

27 JUL 07: I.D. OUR VICK

To borrow some police detective slang, Michael Vick was easy to identify Thursday. He was the one wearing a nice suit to federal court in Richmond, Virginia - but without his usual hair braids. And for some odd reason, Vick was NOT wearing the Nike shoes he usually endorses.

(The lack of braids probably shouldn't be a surprise - because without Vick, the chances of the Atlanta Falcons making a long playoff run will go way down.)

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick pleaded NOT guilty to federal dogfighting charges. He's free without bond, and his trial was scheduled for the Monday after Thanksgiving - giving him time to make amends to animal rights groups, by organizing a benefit turkey shoot.

Michael Vick's big salary means he can afford big-name attorneys, and a couple were with him in court Thursday. One of them was Billy Martin, who once was a lawyer for Monica Lewinsky. How ironic -- this is another case where stains on the clothing could be critical evidence.

Billy Martin pointed out to reporters that none of the accusations against Michael Vick have been proven in court yet. Of course, he'd probably say the same thing after a ruling by a federal appeals court....

The federal court hearing attracted a big crowd Animal rights groups declared Michael Vick "sick." Supporters said he should be given a chance. And journalists wondered if some other famous Atlantans would show up as character witnesses - such as Bobby Brown or Whitney Houston.

As if the scene outside the courthouse wasn't strange enough, a Richmond radio station handed out dog treats to the spectators. I don't think some of the animal rights protesters will be satisfied until they can chew personally on Michael Vick.

Michael Vick's arraignment happened to occur on the day the Atlanta Falcons opened training camp. Supporters and opponents of Vick were outside that complex as well - but you'll understand if some of the opponents happened to wear New Orleans Saints jerseys.

ESPN football insider Chris Mortensen said Thursday he expects Michael Vick to miss the entire N.F.L. season. If he's acquitted of the charges, he could return next year - and claim the biggest "Vick-tory" he's ever had.

Chris Mortensen also says the Atlanta Falcons have ruled out signing free agent quarterback Dante Culpepper, to replace Michael Vick. If you're familiar with Culpepper, you know he would force the team management's thinking to change a bit. Instead of watching dog kennels, they'd be keeping Culpepper away from West Point Lake.

Have you noticed how some sports announcers have slipped up with their cliches, while talking about the Michael Vick case? I heard one ESPN Radio host describe a similar case in the courts, and actually say: "I'm not going near that puppy."

(At least Michael Vick's attorneys aren't promising to fight the federal charges with "dogged determination....")

Amidst all this, another football team opened training camp Thursday - Glenwood School in Phenix City. It's already time to prepare for the Alabama high school season. Only at Glenwood, the main concern involving dogs is keeping them from (ahem) piddling on the field.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Here's a thank-you note (of sorts) based on Thursday's topic:

Hi Richard,

Glad you could join us at my going away dinner. It was really fun. I was so happy to see so many co-workers. . .made me smile.

I just read your blog. . .you really remembered 98% of our conversation, I am impressed. But I have one minor correction. . .I'm actually going to be volunteering with an Amsterdam mission organization, not YWAM. When I mentioned YWAM, I was just saying that they too do a separate outreach in the red light district....

Take care,

Your favorite redheaded jew-ta-rican

Admittedly, I did NOT take a notepad to write down the words of Deborah Singer at her farewell dinner. For one thing, the tables at Chili's can get so filled with food that there's no room for even a napkin.

OVERHEARD OVER HERE: It's poker night in one corner of Columbus - and when it's time to turn three cards over for "the flop," three aces show up.

The dealer who turned over the cards turns to the woman on his right. "You cut those cards pretty well, didn't you?"

As you might have guessed by now, not much Columbus news inspired us Thursday - but here's what we noticed:

+ An afternoon thunderstorm dropped more than an inch of rain on the Columbus Airport - while the downtown area barely had a drop. It's time the candidates for President addressed this inequality! Someone should propose a "no neighborhood left behind" program.

+ Columbus Police officially named Michael Registe as a suspect in last Friday night's Cross Creek killings. If Registe wants an apology from Chief Ricky Boren at this point, he's going to have to surrender first.

+ WRBL reported the Georgia Ethics Commission voted unanimously to investigate State Senator Ed Harbison. He's accused of improperly reporting campaign donations - and if all five members found cause to hold a hearing, they may have found something "stinky-Pugh" here.

(It's been about a year since a woman challenged Ed Harbison's campaign ethics, based on a check of his credit card records. It now appears that listing a donor's name as simply "Master Card" isn't good enough.)

+ WXTX "News at Ten" reported Muscogee County schools are three choral teachers short. Thinking back to my high school choir director, this seems like an easy job. Simply wave your arms to the beat all day - and if one section can't get in tune in an hour, throw the baton at them and complain.

+ A new children's park was constructed on the grounds of the Salvation Army center on Warm Springs Road. It was made possible by a nonprofit organization called "Kaboom!" With a name like that, you'd think the park would be built at Fort Benning....

+ An annual competition in aerial robotics began at Fort Benning. WRBL showed scale-model helicopters being flown around by remote control - which is going to make "R-C cars" look like a really ordinary gift come December.

+ Instant Message to Tyler's Restaurant in downtown Phenix City: I saw your sign - "AC EGG CHEESE COM 3.19." Personally, I prefer to keep my eggs and cheese refrigerated and not air-conditioned.

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: 2407 (+ 73, 3.1%)

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, July 26, 2007


When Roszell Gadson left WXTX "News at Ten," he received a farewell dinner at Olive Garden. When co-anchor Deborah Singer left, she was honored at Chili's. So if you stand somewhere around the Staples store, you still can envision Gadson sitting on the left and Singer on the right.

Deborah Singer received a going-away dinner Wednesday night - and the first place she's going is quite surprising. She'll leave soon on a one-month Christian mission trip to Amsterdam. So much for the people who argue all TV news anchors are left-wing atheistic liberals....

Deborah Singer told me she'll help run a Christian-owned youth hostel during the mission trip. Even in the largest city in the Netherlands, you can run into a hostel environment.

Deborah Singer's work will be part of an overall campaign to minister to prostitutes, in the notorious "red light district" of Amsterdam. This raised an obvious question for me. Why travel all the way to the Netherlands to do this, when Victory Drive is less than 30 minutes away?

Deborah Singer explained the Netherlands has been on her heart, since she attended a Christian youth camp there 11 years ago. She's wanted to go back, and this mission trip is a perfect opportunity. Here's hoping she doesn't get run over by all the bicyclists which dominate that city....

I've been to the Netherlands twice, and seen the red light district of Amsterdam. In fact, a bus line takes you past it - a street with women sitting in open basement windows with actual red lights, barely wearing anything. If my pastor is reading this blog: don't worry, I stayed on the bus all the way to the end.

Deborah Singer told me many of the prostitutes in the red light district are brought to Amsterdam from Latin America. They might as well be sex slaves, because Singer says they're not educated in skills and can't speak Dutch or English. But at least one Dutch word should be familiar - as "voetbal" looks and sounds a lot like football.

(Don't ask me why, but the Dutch word for baseball is "honkbal." Someday Jesse Jackson will find that out, and make a smart remark about the small number of African-American players for Atlanta.)

The ministry Deborah Singer will assist is designed to teach Amsterdam prostitutes usable skills, and possibly lead them to salvation. She'll be part of "Youth With a Mission" - which Family Radio calls "Y-WAM" for short. To which I'd add: why NOT Wam, even without George Michael?

This mission trip will only add to an amazing life story for Deborah Singer. She's a cancer survivor and devoted Christian, whose father is a Russian Jew and whose mother is half-Puerto Rican. Singer jokes about how she sometimes describes herself as a "Judi-Rican."

Once the work in Amsterdam is finished, Deborah Singer will search for new work in television news. She came to WXTX from Charlotte, and might be looking to return there - but maybe she'd have more success in the "Pennsylvania Dutch" country.

So what's happened to Deborah Singer's original co-anchor on WXTX "News at Ten?" I'm told Roszell Gadson had another commitment Wednesday night - and that he recently turned down a TV news job in Mississippi. Perhaps he wants to work in a place where the audience will be as smart as he is.

BLOG UPDATE: After we posted Wednesday's edition, the Ledger-Enquirer splashed a suspect in the Cross Creek Apartments killings across the front page. WDAK Radio mentioned his name and described him, but the TV stations did not. C'mon now - his last name can't be THAT hard to pronounce.

The TV newscasts indicated the Ledger-Enquirer released the suspect's name and picture before Columbus Police were ready. Running a red light is a misdemeanor - so the reporter who did it could have to appear in Traffic Court.

Police Chief Ricky Boren told WRBL detectives are waiting to release the murder suspect's name until they develop a timeline of what happened. Authorities think they know what happened before the double homicide last Friday night, but NOT what happened after the shootings. By the time detectives find the "smoking gun," it might become simply a cold case.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Sometimes it's our job to stop rumors before they start....

Have you noticed in the real estate sales that a frequent buyer is "American Lebanese Syrian Association"..in fact they just purchased the St. Jude home ....page 27 Northland Neighbors.....

I have searched tax records to no avail so I am not sure what is up but I have seen this LLC on occasion as the purchaser of property......hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Uhhhh - have you done a Google search for this association? I did Wednesday, and discovered its main office is on "St. Jude Place" in Memphis. So this group appears ready to launch a hostile takeover of the Children's Hospital at any time....

But check the St. Jude web site, and you'll discover the American Lebanese Syrian Association is the fund-raising arm of the hospital. So there's probably no need to worry here. Besides, the "Dream Homes" are located on the other side of town from Fort Benning.

I haven't checked the real estate listings in Northland Neighbors - but if the American Lebanese Syrian Association actually is purchasing a St. Jude Dream Home, it makes me wonder if a prior winner was unable to pay the taxes on it. It also makes me wonder if the house will be given away again, as a "fixed-upped."

Now let's track down other odds and ends from Wednesday:

+ Which person was the client inside a black stretch limousine, which was parked at the front door of the Columbus Public Library? Is this REALLY how Claudya Muller would go shopping for landscaping supplies?

+ A Columbus Health Department official told WRBL it's guarding against West Nile Virus in a new way this year. It's using a "mosquito surveillance program." So if you see the Geico gecko wearing sunglasses and carrying a walkie-talkie, he could be doing undercover work.

+ Sumter County Schools held a "welcome back" event for teachers - and the program included the Superintendent wearing a tie-dyed outfit, and pretending to be a rock star. So much for this school district adopting a dress code for the new term....

+ Instant Message to Cody Road Trophies and Jewelry: Congratulations on marking your 22nd anniversary. Do you plan to celebrate it by finally changing your name to University Avenue?

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: 2334 (+ 64, 2.8%)

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, July 25, 2007

25 JUL 07: WE'RE NUMBER 101?!

A blog reader pointed us Tuesday to a business magazine column:

AFLAC and Columbus get a mention in this online article (it may also be in Fortune Magazine). It quotes AFLAC executive/former WTVM reporter Sharon Douglas. Thought you might find it interesting, even though the mention is brief.

I called up the "Ask Annie" commentary by Anne Fisher, and had a problem with it right away. She refers to "little Columbus, Ga." Little?! As of 2000, Columbus was the 106th biggest U.S. city. Maybe she's been writing in a Manhattan skyscraper too long.

The Ask Annie article focuses on famous companies based outside major cities. It notes Aflac has hired about 2,000 new employees in the last five years, and plans to hire and train 2,000 more in the next five. I can see it coming now - an attempt by the staff to do the world's largest simultaneous duck quack.

I wasn't familiar with Sharon Douglas's name - and I certainly wasn't familiar with her title. Ask Annie reveals she's the "Chief People Officer" at Aflac. Maybe her assignment is to remove as many account numbers from insurance policies as possible.

Sharon Douglas admits to Fortune there's not much night life in Columbus - except for "something called Uptown Columbus on Saturday nights." There, you see? The overseers were wrong to schedule those outdoor concerts on Friday nights, since no one would show up.

According to Sharon Douglas, restaurants in Uptown Columbus like "giving out free samples" on Saturday nights. The last time I dined downtown on a Saturday night, the Cannon Brew Pub made me pay full-price - but maybe Douglas is talking about the chips and salsa at Locos Amigos.

There were links embedded with this commentary which I found even more revealing. Money magazine has published a new list of the "100 Best Places to Live" - and even with the nice mention, Columbus didn't make that list. Maybe if a couple more bars opened in Midtown, near Memory Lane....

Three Georgia cities may the "100 Best Places to Live" list - Suwanee, Peachtree City and Martinez. Martinez?!?! Two-thirds of the people who drive past that city aren't sure whether to emphasize the "mar" or the "ti."

By clicking on a "snapshot" page, you can find plenty of revealing statistics about Columbus. For instance, the median family income in our city is $47,915 per year. Let's do some math here, and be thankful. Tuesday's minimum wage increase should finally bring that above $50,000.

City officials talk so much about how base realignment will bring new jobs to Columbus. But the Money magazine snapshot shows "job growth" in this decade is a NEGATIVE 3.59 percent. So maybe all those mill workers are coming back to town, after enlisting in the Army.

The "Air Quality Index" for Columbus shows we have "good air" 71.3 percent of the time. But that could be changing, as WRBL reported Tuesday the area is not meeting the federal air quality standard. The online report does NOT show how many people already are breathing through masks.

(It might not help that Planning Director Rick Jones's computer shows a chart with "partculate" levels. The city may be getting downgraded for being unable to spell.)

The Columbus snapshot is filled with other data - but here are a few things which caught my eye:

+ Restaurants within 15 miles: 611. Of course, 411 of those are around Columbus Park Crossing.

+ Average amount spent on vacations per household: $6,521. Those silly burglars -- trying to break in while you're gone, instead of coming early while you're loading the car in the driveway.

+ Percentage married: 45.1. The "Best Places to Live" have a percentage above 60 - so now I feel guilty for holding back Columbus progress.

+ Percentage divorced: 11.8. The "Best Places to Live" are down around eight percent - so the fights over which church to attend must be worse than I thought.

Other nearby cities scored very well on the Money magazine report. Auburn is 16th among all U.S. cities, in the percentage of single people. If you're not sure where they are, forget about Toomer's Corner on weekend nights. Look for Auburn sweatshirts at Kroger, late on a Friday afternoon.

And of all places, the cleanest air of any U.S. city can be found in Troy, Alabama. Do all the college students park their cars when they arrive for the semester, then start them up again after finals?

E-MAIL UPDATE: The latest double homicide in Columbus brought this question Tuesday:

I wonder if the Cols Police Dept is not releasing the name and picture of the person on the warrant for questioning in the weekend murder because they are afraid if he is not guilty he will demand money...Seems to me if we knew who it was we could keep our eyes open and call in tips.

Well, you raise a very good point here. I'm not naming any murder suspects - because I don't want to get sued, either.

On the other hand, police may be keeping the suspect's name quiet because they're waiting for that person to make a slip, and give himself away. Some criminals are so dumb that they can't wait to share their stories on Myspace.

Mayor Jim Wetherington was tracked down Tuesday for a comment on the city's rising crime numbers. He assured viewers the city is doing all it can to bring things under control. I can cite one example of this - as an officer was positioned at the front door of that University of Phoenix career fair last week.

Now we continue the "Summit talks" -- as in the Phenix City hospital:

Richard, Please ask your reader, Lon Gammage, to explain to us Alabama residents how we can get that "free medical care" paid for by the Georgia taxpayers at the Columbus Medical Center. It is my understanding that the only individuals who can get that "free medical care" are those who can prove that they are GA residents.

I'm told that Alabama residents with no insurance now have to drive to Opelika to the East Alabama Medical Center.

The Medical Center does have a great clinic for GA residents with no insurance or low incomes.

We also have to remember that "nothing is free". Someone pays.

Otherwise, I agree with most of what Lon Gammage says about the old Cobb Hospital and Summit Hospital.

If all the individuals with good insurance or money to pay their bills continue to use the Columbus hospitals I don't see how Summit Hospital in Phenix City will survive. But remember, most patients go to the hospital that their doctor recommends! So if Columbus doctors don't do surgeries or see patients at Summit Hospital how will Summit get enough patients. There are not enough Phenix City doctors to keep the hospital full.

Also, I've been told that the money that subsidizes "free care" at Public (vs "Private") hospitals comes from federal tax dollars and not state taxes.

I'll let your message serve as the question to Lon. But the Columbus city budget provides a certain amount of money for the Medical Center every year. And I haven't priced the Medical Center's café, to see how much they mark up the prices.

Now a few comments at no extra charge about the Tuesday news:

+ The Russell County Commission discussed buying the MeadWestvaco building on Broad Street, and making it a new county courthouse. This sounds like an interesting idea, if they add one condition. Make that old abandoned building at Dillingham and Broad a holding cell for suspected criminals.

+ Russell County Emergency Management Director Chance Corbett told WRBL he's receiving a $6,400 grant to build a steel-reinforced "safe room." When a natural disaster strikes, it will be a perfect place for officials to hide from the news media if things go wrong.

+ Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank admitted he was ready to suspend Michael Vick for four games, but the National Football League advised against it. Wow - are THAT many people ready to demand a refund on their season tickets?

+ Instant Message to Atlanta baseball announcer Pete Van Wieren: Did I hear you right Tuesday night - you called a man along the foul line the "old ball dude?" I know you were in San Francisco, but the city couldn't affect you THAT much.

SCHEDULED THURSDAY: A last night with an "original," before a very original trip....

Today's topic was the result of a blog reader's tip. To offer a story tip, make a PayPal donation, advertise 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: 2270 (+ 86, 3.9%)

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

© 2003-07 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

site stats

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


No, our title's not a mistake. Yes, I know the "Summer of Love" tour of old rock bands performed at the Columbus Civic Center the other night -- though skeptics would look at the number of sexually transmitted diseases, and say the price of "free love" is not free.

Our title is based on new numbers revealed during the Monday evening news. They confirm violent crime is up substantially in Columbus so far this year -- even though police pay is up, public safety job openings are down and a former police chief is now mayor. It's as if all the criminals are trying to become Iraqi insurgents.

From January to June, Columbus Police handed 11 murder cases. That's four more than the first half of last year -- and that doesn't count the two homicides at the Cross Creek Apartments over the weekend. Sad to say, one of those victims should make all baseball announcers think twice before using the phrase "twin killing."

But the police numbers go beyond a rise in the murder count. Robberies in Columbus are up 20 percent from the first half of last year, and aggravated assaults are up more than 37 percent. So if you don't carry any money with you to avoid getting robbed, you're even more likely to be mugged.

What's the reason for this surge in the crime rate? Columbus Police officers tried to blame some of it on an increase in gang activity. If you see a spray-painted pitchfork on a building, it's probably NOT from an illegal immigrant seeking a farming job.

But other people in Columbus are putting the blame elsewhere - and starting at the top. I've actually read one e-mail calling on Mayor Jim Wetherington to resign. It's as if they expect him to patrol dangerous street corners late at night - or at least the family members he showed in campaign pictures.

It's as if some voters were naive enough to think electing a former police chief would automatically bring a big crackdown on crime, or scare all the criminals to the surrounding counties. After all, most Presidents don't start claiming victory for their agendas until at least their year in office.

I'd like to think the Columbus Police Department is investigating crimes as hard as ever. WRBL showed a C.S.I. unit at work Monday night - and the only disappointment for me was that none of the local scientists were as gorgeous as Emily Procter.

The real issue in all of this appears to be crime prevention. The community events calendar in The Courier's latest issue shows Columbus Police have scheduled "Crime Prevention Day" for the last Saturday in October. Can we reschedule some officers' vacations, to move that up a little bit?

BLOG UPDATE: Meanwhile, the Columbus NAACP is busy handling what it considers a crime from four years ago. Officials announced Monday they're still working for justice in the killing of Kenneth Walker. I hope they enjoy their upcoming trip to the World Court in the Netherlands.

Columbus NAACP President Bill Madison tried to move beyond the shots fired by David Glisson in 2003 - saying a grand jury should have indicted not only him, but the entire Muscogee County Sheriff's Department. So deputies on duty at the jail are to blame for a traffic stop on Interstate 185?! The patrol cars can't hurry down Macon Road to the interstate quite that fast....

Bill Madison also called for an investigation of the Metro Narcotics Task Force. David Glisson's attorney suggested the NAACP was again trying to make race an issue - but hold on a minute. Kenneth Walker was killed long before police officer Byron Hickey started hearing insults and slurs.

In the eyes of Bill Madison, the Kenneth Walker case is simple. The NAACP President told WRBL: "A man is dead, without due process of law." Perhaps this retired member of the military will demand lawsuits against Iraqi insurgents next.

These topics admittedly have been rather heavy, so let's see if Monday's other news brought anything lighter:

+ Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones was zapped with an electric shock device for five seconds. Area civil rights leaders were stunned by this news, in a different way - because some of them wanted an invitation to pull the trigger.

(Sheriff Jay Jones says he took the Taser for a five count to show the device is safe for law officers to use. OK, if you say so - but I won't be absolutely sure until I see that "Does It Work" reporter on TV try it.)

+ The Associated Press reported the swimming pool at the Alabama Governor's Mansion is being renovated. I didn't realize until I read this story that the pool is shaped like the state of Alabama. Hopefully no politicians have bellies so big that they've become stuck in Mobile....

+ The National Football League ordered Michael Vick NOT to report to the Atlanta Falcons training camp, because of the dogfighting charges against him. Somewhere Terrell Owens is wondering why the league didn't give him that treatment, when he wanted a new contract.

(Dozens of animal rights supporters protested outside the Atlanta Falcons' headquarters Monday. Their main goal was for the team to release Michael Vick - although I think a few also want the team logo changed, to show an old Ford Falcon car.)

+ Media blogs in New York reported the "Weekly World News" is going out of business. This is the tabloid that declared Georgia's Sam Nunn a "space alien," when he was a U.S. Senator. [True!] Time has proven that was NOT accurate - he was simply a conservative Democrat, well ahead of his time.

(It was Weekly World News columnist Ed Anger who responded to the fuss over Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore by urging everyone to display the Ten Commandments on their front lawns. Sad to say, people in some parts of Columbus would have overlooked the stealing commandment....)

+ Instant Message to all our loyal readers: The U.S. minimum wage goes up 70 cents today, to $5.85 an hour. If each of you sent only ONE hour's pay to this blog each week.... well, I wouldn't be nearly as tempted to drive to Biloxi and try playing poker in a casino.

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: 2184 (+ 66, 3.1%)

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, July 22, 2007

for 23 JUL 07: CHECK MIXED

The weekend "snail mail" brought a letter from the city of Columbus. But don't worry - it was NOT a proposal for me to stop blogging, if I become a paid speech writer for City Manager Isaiah Hugley....

The envelope contained a refund check from the city - and to be honest, it was about time that check arrived. I filed the paperwork for the refund in February or March, and the check didn't reach me until mid-July. I realized the new city finance director was watching money carefully, but this seems like a bit much.

But I should start at the beginning: When I tried to start a sports league last year, I had to pay a city occupation tax. It was based on my estimated income from the business. I thought I had written down a "lowball" amount - but the actual total income wound up being on the level of sewer pipes under Broadway.

Even with all my personal business ventures lumped together, from Power Frisbee to CD sales to this blog, my official computed occupation tax was less than 60 dollars. And if you think that's bad, check the city occupation tax return - because 50 dollars of that is an "administrative fee."

My prepayment last year on the occupation tax was well over 100 dollars, so I had a nice refund coming. When I went to the Government Center during the winter and turned in the paperwork, a woman told me she couldn't provide the refund money on the spot. Those little shops a few blocks away on Veterans Parkway could have done it....

I presumed the occupation tax refund check would come in the mail, and didn't think much about it. But then the federal income tax refund check showed up, followed by the state income tax refund check. Both arrived before my city refund check?! Did I have to wait on Mayor Wetherington to submit a budget that provided for it?

It must have been early June when I decided enough was enough. I called the city Finance Department, gave them my account number - and after some searching by the staff, my occupation tax return was found. It somehow was filed in an "unclaimed" area. And if I hadn't called sooner or later, that would have been true....

A woman at the Finance Department promised to resurrect my occupation tax return, and asked me to call her back in a week. But of course, I became busy and forgetful. It was several weeks before I called the department again. Since the tax check still hadn't come, perhaps the staff was just like me.

After a little "phone tag" with the woman who promised to handle my occupation tax return, she asked me to leave my account number on her voice mail. I did, and she left a message on my machine last week promising the check would come within two weeks. Could it be true? Was my money about to be liberated from "occupied territory?"

Indeed it was - and the occupation tax refund was dropped in my mailbox Saturday. But it was a shame that the Columbus Finance Department staff lost track of my return, and left it sitting idly for months. If you think your business has money coming from the city, give the Finance Department a call. It beats losing even more money on an Internet "unclaimed cash" service.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Now for how other city money is being handled....

I would like to know the number of crimes in the Hilton Hghts/Lakebottom area in the past 6 months.......I am hearing from the grapevine about robberies and holdups around the park area on all sides. There are many of these in North Columbus lately as well but seem to go less reported in the "newspaper" . Wasn't there a time when all police reports were published?

Mayor W........The police are no longer visible........check out the at Bradley Park parking lot lately near McDonalds and Steinmart.........and it isn't south Columbus or Macon Road........I AM WORRIED ABOUT THE CRIME IN OUR CITY....

From watching TV news reports, I believe Columbus Police keep track of crime by "beat areas." Hopefully walkers and joggers aren't robbing each other on the Lakebottom Park trail.

There may have been a time when the Ledger-Enquirer published all the police reports in Columbus. And the way it's handling the front pages these days, that time could come back. Why, the federal decision in the Kenneth Walker case didn't even make the top of page one Saturday.

But Columbus has about 185,000 people now. Consider how many police reports probably are handled each day - everything from homicides and holdups, to panhandlers knocking on people's doors. Then consider how many reports could be found false. Both the police and the newspaper would have to apologize for those.

Now a colorful follow-up to a message we posted Sunday about Summit Hospital:

I said RED elephant, as in red ink, a $ loser.

As you wish - a red elephant it is. That probably beats a pink elephant, which countless bar patrons on Broadway may have seen over the weekend.

Now for things WE saw on Sunday - none of them really pink:

+ Four cans of chili came down from my pantry, because they're included in the Castleberry's botulism recall from a plant in Augusta. Uh-oh -- now I only have enough cans stored to survive a category-four hurricane.

(The Castleberry's web site is making an important correction. The recall of "Great Value" chili sold at Wal-Mart stores applies only to cans sold in Canada. If the company recalled Canadian doughnut batter as well, that WOULD be a hardship.)

+ WRBL reported U.S. marshals in Indiana captured former Muscogee County Prison inmate Eddie Rias. Rias escaped from a work detail 37 years ago. And then some people say it's easy to find every illegal immigrant, and kick them out of the country....

+ The Trade Center hosted a "Wedding Extravaganza," complete with a horse and carriage on display outside. But so far, there's no talk of replacing the "InMotion X" bicycle races downtown with harness racing. Broadway is simply too restricted now.

+ The Ledger-Enquirer reported a Columbus woman is suing the creators of "Girls Gone Wild." Brittany Pitts admits exposing herself for a photographer while on vacation in Florida, but claims she never expected the picture to be released. Well, what did she THINK would happen to the picture -- that it would only be shown at somebody's bachelor party?

+ Instant Message to the young woman who called me the other day, promising to "save a spot on the beach here in San Diego": I didn't catch your name, and you gave me no address. Do you read this blog - or were you at the end of your shift selling timeshares?

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: 2118 (- 98, 4.4%)

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

© 2003-07 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

site stats


So now the U.S. Justice Department has come down on the side of David Glisson, in the killing of Kenneth Walker. Is it time for Sheriff Ralph Johnson to do the trendy thing in local government -- and bring Glisson in for a personal apology?

The Justice Department announced it's ending a criminal investigation into the death of Kenneth Walker in December 2003. It decided there's no cause to file federal charges. It's now up to Democrats in Congress to find evidence that someone in Columbus called Karl Rove or Dick Cheney, to bring about this conclusion.

The Justice Department decided there's NO evidence that then-deputy David Glisson willfully shot Kenneth Walker. That seems to support the theory that Glisson slipped or stumbled, on that fateful night along Interstate 185. Maybe now there will be a public campaign to buy Sheriff's officers better shoes.

Remember Rainbow/PUSH President William Howell's big announcement last year, that he'd requested a meeting with the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee about the Kenneth Walker case? That meeting still hasn't happened - and I wonder if anyone's told Howell the Democrats are in charge of the Senate now, so he might want to try again.

(Of course, the Senate Judiciary Committee has plenty to investigate already. Democrats may have to get Don Siegelman out of his prison cell first, before they put David Glisson in one.)

Local NAACP officials promise to keep up their fight, to bring what they consider "justice" in the Kenneth Walker case. In fact, people attending the next NAACP chapter meeting might watch for the group's tribute to Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker. Look for the Oreo cookies on the snack table....

For all the appeals to Washington and local prosecutors, the silence from Georgia's Attorney General in the Kenneth Walker case has been deafening. Yet civil rights groups really haven't taken Thurbert Baker to task, as they have his handling of the Genarlow Wilson case near Atlanta. But then again, Wilson's videotape admittedly is a lot steamier.

When WAS the last time Thurbert Baker visited Columbus, anyway? I couldn't tell you the last time Georgia's Attorney General came to town. If he has to bring election endorser Nick Giles in from Taylor County to guard him and speak for him, I could understand that....

There's someone else who has been silent for a long time about the Kenneth Walker case. While Walker's mother has been busy writing letters and appearing before Columbus Council, Walker's widow has not. She may be busy working, raising the children - or perhaps rehearsing her testimony with attorneys, for the civil trial.

A civil lawsuit stemming from the Kenneth Walker killing is still lingering in federal court. The next big hearing in that case is expected this fall - but at the pace it's going, it could challenge the 61 years it took to give Taylor County's Maceo Snipes a funeral.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Without even asking, your blog is now on the e-mailing list of a local state representative. We won't post everything he sends, but this first one seemed interesting:

Governor Perdue announced today that he has appointed attorney Bill Rumer to the Georgia Public Defenders Standards Council.

Congratulate (or give condolensces) Bill the next time you see him.

Richard Smith

Representative, District 131

A news release from the Georgia Governor confirmed this appointment - so it's not really a Rumer, it's a fact.

Now to the Phenix City "sickbay" - which may be sick in more ways than one:

Think about It!, Several years ago Cobb Hospital filed for bankruptcy and closed. Why did they do that. The hospital was old and inefficient. Most of the patients had no insurance or were covered by Alabama Medicaid which did not pay enough to even cover the costs of treatment. To simplify what caused the closure, expenses exceeded income.

Since Phenix City had no hospital all those people came to Columbus to our hospitals and received care paid for with Georgia and Columbus tax dollars

The Columbus Regional folks with all their infinite wisdom decide to buy Cobb. They figured that with all their expertise and experience they could profitably operate the hospital despite the lack of paying patients, low Alacaid payments, a large, old, inefficient building that was obsolete and poorly equipped.

It didn't take long for them to begin losing money in large quantities so they closed again. The reason, Expenses exceeded income. The Columbus Regional owned a red elephant with little or no value. I would really like to know how much Columbus Regional really lost on this "investment".

Then another group comes along that is even smarter than the last two owners and decide that if they build a new, modern hospital with many efficiencies they can be profitable and provide health care to the residents of Russell County. They spend millions of dollars in tax money and investor money.

Now they begin to cut services, reduce room numbers available, layoff help and anything else they can do to cut overhead. Expenses already exceed income.

How long will it be until they close and file for bankruptcy?. Probably within a year. Taxpayers and investors will lose their millions. Do you think the politicians of Russell county will approve a tax to support their hospital?

In the meantime Georgia and Columbus taxpayers will continue to pay for Alabama residents to receive free medical care in our hospitals.

Lon Gammage

Thanks for your economic analysis - but hold on a second. Don't they call a complex like the old Phenix Regional Hospital a "WHITE elephant?" Or is this an Auburn fan, taking a swipe at Alabama?

The operators of Summit Hospital may have received tax breaks to build it - but as I understand it, NO tax money is supporting it now. I think the Russell County Commission would approve a "hospital tax," if it came to that. That's only ten more cents a soda, after all.

Our last e-mail goes back to school:

I can't believe Dr Philips of MCSD got a $7000 raise ,but he can't find time to go to high school graduations...I wonder if the board has ridden by some of the schools that not only use old portable classrooms but worn out old 10'wide metal trailers that leak and stink of mildew.The board should tour these monsters on a rain soaked day so they will get wet as there is no shelter to the buildings and get muddy because they sit in puddles with no walks.

What a shame our elected board does not represent our children.

Now wait a minute here. Who said Superintendent John Phillips missed commencement weekend in May? Even I know that's a bad time of year to go hunting in the Rockies....

Didn't the Muscogee County School Board go on Saturday "walking tours" of schools a few years ago? Those trips may have accomplished something. After all, they're building a new Rigdon Road Elementary School before they build a new Administration Building a couple of blocks away.

Thanks to all who write us - and let's see if the weekend headlines will provoke you to write some more:

+ The Fourth Avenue Car Wash closed, for nearly two weeks of renovations. I can't wait to try out their new state-of-the-art water....

+ Jazz and soul singer Melba Moore performed at the Liberty Theatre. It's nice to know she's still performing after all these years - and her career hasn't turned to "Melba Toast."

+ Online reports claimed the Atlanta Falcons may ask Michael Vick to take a "leave of absence," while he handles the dogfighting charges against him. Hopefully he won't hire one of those old-fashioned Southern attorneys - the ones who talk about witnesses "having a dog in this fight."

(It could be worse for Michael Vick, you know. The federal grand jury could have indicted his phony hotel name "Ron Mexico" as well.)

+ Atlanta sank St. Louis 14-6 in baseball. Willie Harris tied an Atlanta franchise record, by batting six-for-six. Why, Bobby Cox hasn't even come close to that standard in ejections....

+ Instant Message to Fort Benning: I'm glad you've opened 74 new homes for soldiers in "McGraw Village." Do you plan the overall area after Mr. McGraw's wife - you know, Faith Hill?

BURKARD'S BEST BETS: Gas for $2.63 at Jeff's Petro on South Lumpkin Road.... 20-ounce Vanilla Cokes for 50 cents at the Phenix City Wal-Mart.... and with no football games or big NASCAR race, a perfect Sunday for family bonding....

SCHEDULED MONDAY: A tax refund check finally comes....

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: 2216 (+ 73, 3.4%)

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

© 2003-07 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

site stats

Saturday, July 21, 2007


(BLOGGER'S NOTE: You may find this item humorous, serious, or a little of both - but we offer these thoughts from time to time, as we keep a seventh-day Sabbath.)

It appears a sizeable number of people disagree with a decision by Columbus Council this past week. We received this e-mail about it:

Now that Mr Milner has been paid off by the city for being fasely arrested does this mean that everyone who is found innocent by a jury can take a bite out of the city budget also? The council is going to have to add a special category to the budget,pay off....I guess now those people will be running to that attorney to get their fair share..

You have to say one thing about this approach. The pressure's going to mount on the District Attorney's office to get convictions....

The matter of Markeith Milner mentioned here on Wednesday comes down to a core issue - admitting you're wrong. The mayor and police chief admitted that, in the arrest of Milner for a deadly home invasion in April. Perhaps it was so startling because you never see C.S.I. experts do that on TV, after they pursue false theories.

Some people are saying Police Chief Ricky Boren had no reason to apologize to Markeith Milner, because he was simply doing his job. They may also apply this logic to C.I.A. agents using waterboarding on possible terrorists, I.R.S. agents showing up at your door to collect back taxes - but didn't some Nazi guards use an excuse like that in the 1940s?

Yes, police should do their job. But if they do the wrong thing, why not come out and say so? It's called being humble -- and it's something elected officials often have problems doing. You'll notice Senator David Vitter of Louisiana only did it after his phone number showed up on a call girl's list.

For years I've remembered a statement NASCAR radio pit reporter Winston Kelly said, after he interviewed a driver involved in a crash. "It takes a pretty brave man to admit he made a mistake." It's something all of us actually have to do - unless, of course, you're a perfect person. And it's truly an honor to have you reading this blog, Ms. Winfrey....

Like it or not, we all should admit we're wrong. My source for that is the apostle Paul, who wrote: "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." That even includes me -- although you can probably count the bloggers admitting it online on one hand.

If you don't think you've sinned, or perhaps are unsure where, the Bible provides some helpful checklists. You may think of the Ten Commandments in the Old Testament. But don't overlook several verses in Galatians 5. They warn against hatred, jealousy, selfishness -- and oh yes, Harry Potter needs to read the verse against sorcery and witchcraft.

After you find areas where you're wrong, what should you do? Admit it to the people you've wronged, if that's possible - and confess it in prayer to God. The Bible says God always is in a mood to forgive you. And some of the people may be so stunned, they won't even think about hiring an attorney to sue you.

COMING SUNDAY: The latest big decision in the Kenneth Walker case.... and an e-mail prediction about Summit Hospital....

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: 2143 (- 184, 7.9%)

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, July 20, 2007


"In another six months, I'll lose my house, I'll lose my car, I'll lose my truck...." I overheard a man say this Thursday - but no, he was NOT begging on a Columbus street corner. Considering the blue suit he wore, it would have been much too hot and humid to do that....

The man in the blue suit was one of many people who were hunting for jobs in Columbus Thursday. The University of Phoenix held its second annual career fair, at its small strip-mall "campus" on Hamilton Road. I put campus in quotes, because the nearby Rivertown School of Beauty looks like it has more space.

So many people were expected for the career fair that Rivertown School of Beauty roped off special parking spaces for its customers. I'm not sure why the school didn't join in a partnership with the fair - offering to make women picture-perfect for their on-the-spot interviews.

It had been more than a decade since I visited a career fair. In fact, I think the last one I attended in Atlanta was called a "job fair." Maybe today's employers are offering hiring bonuses and four-year contracts....

Since the career fair at the University of Phoenix received so much attention, I decided to stop by and see what it's all about. To make sure I wouldn't attract attention, I wore a suit and tie - which of course meant I outdressed most of the men behind the booth tables.

The parking lot on Hamilton Road was so full, I had to join several other drivers in parking on the street. A few cars could have been ticketed for double-parking - but the Albany Police car at the shopping center apparently was only there for show.

Dozens of potential employers had booths set up at the career fair. I didn't write down all their names, but in most cases I didn't have to. You simply pick up the business cards - and collect enough ballpoint pens to last through the end of 2008.

Several colleges and universities had booths set up Thursday - but their purpose seemed more to recruit students than hire employees. And I didn't see anyone dressed casually enough to be majoring in "avoiding the real world."

(One notable exception was Beacon University - which is strange, because you'd think a career fair could double as a tool of evangelism.)

Several police departments also had booths at the career fair -- from Columbus and Phenix City to Albany and Atlanta. Mayor Jim Wetherington will want to know that unlike a few years ago, I didn't see any uniformed officers filling out applications.

The Phenix City Police booth lists its job requirements -- and since that's been an issue here recently, I gave it a close look. That department also emphasizes a record free of convictions, instead of simply charges. Phenix City even dares to post its starting salary - even though Columbus Police beats it by about $4,000.

Plenty of booths at the career fair focused on a search for nurses. Several hospitals were there - yet Summit Hospital in Phenix City was not. I suppose the reason for that is obvious....

Then there was the Columbus company we're keeping nameless, whose employees didn't realize until I mentioned it that their booth sign misspelled the word "satisfaction." No, I was NOT offered a proofreader job on the spot.

If I was handing out blue ribbons at Thursday's career fair the way they do at county fairs, some of the award-winners would be....

+ Most star power: Clear Channel Radio. Its booth had Scott Miller from WDAK and Chris Chaos from WVRK "Rock 103" - yet they were looking for salespeople, not talk show hosts.

+ Most unusual job opening: Fort Benning -- because one of its lists showed the Army is looking for a bartender.

+ Most curious division: Separate booths for Columbus Police and the Muscogee County Sheriff's Department. Does the department with fewer resumes have to buy doughnuts next week?

+ Best giveaway: Afni Services. The Opelika temporary employment firm had big baked cookies - which sure beats small breath mints.

BLOG UPDATE: One well-known man who might need upcoming career fairs is John Painter. The Lee County School Superintendent was effectively fired by the school board Thursday night, by being moved to a "special assistant" job until his contract runs out in 2010. If Painter worked for the New York Yankees, he could still come back as Superintendent at any moment.

The Lee County School Board was quite divided on brushing John Painter (pun) off to the side. Four members were in favor. One was against. One abstained. And one member was missing -- leaving reporters to wonder if someone else went with John Wells on that bull-running trip to Spain.

(At least John Painter wasn't completely fired. Then we could have borrowed a recent sports cliche, and say he was shoved under the school bus.)

School Board members wouldn't be specific about why Superintendent John Painter was hung out to dry (pun #2). But TV news reports hinted the big issue may have involved base realignment, and the need to build new schools in Smiths Station and Beulah. Skeptics won't believe there's a problem until portables are parked outside Lee-Scott Academy.

So what else happened Thursday? Plenty of things, actually....

+ Muscogee County Sheriff's Deputies broke up a drug deal at the McDonald's on Buena Vista Road. It ended with a red Mustang upside down in the restaurant parking lot. The late Ray Kroc would have jumped on this moment, borrowed from an old radio gimmick - and posted a sign saying, "I flipped for a Big Mac."

(Deputy Joe McCraa says officers arrested a man selling four ounces of marijuana for $325. Well, what better place to deal in quarter-pounders than at a McDonald's?)

+ WRBL reported on a Manchester Expressway Chevron station selling gasoline for $2.66 a gallon - and apparently overlooked the two Circle K stores down the street with a lower price of $2.62. Try to avoid driving to save money on gas, and you can miss REAL savings on gas.

+ Pioneer Little League won the Georgia nine-and-ten-year-old state softball title. Maybe this will end the recent war of words among parents. Maybe they'll follow the lead of the winning softball pitcher - and match her no-hitter with no errors.

(There's a lesson to be learned here, by sports fans of all ages. It doesn't take much to turn "winning" into "whining.")

+ Auburn University announced it's reported 13 violations of NCAA rules. They included three in football, and one in the equestrian program. Equestrian?!?! What did the coaching staff do - offer too much hay to a horse?

+ Nike announced it's suspending release of the new "Air Zoom Vick Five" shoe. This raises an important question - where's Michael Vick's brother Marcus right now? Is he too busy to take over the public relations tour?

(Maybe Nike smelled the indictment of Michael Vick coming -- because Vick wears number seven, not five.)

+ Instant Message to Dillard's at Peachtree Mall: You're kidding, right? You once had pairs of socks priced to sell for $39.50 - ONE pair of men's socks?! I mean, they weren't even autographed by Barry Bonds....

COMING THIS WEEKEND: Soul-searching and some e-mail about that apology by the mayor....

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: 2327 (+ 62, 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, July 19, 2007


The Wednesday news included a strange crime story from downtown Columbus. Police say a man was shot outside the downtown Country's Barbecue, after an argument over a glass of water. This is why the fountains on Broadway need to be operational 24 hours a day.

The Country's Barbecue on Broadway closed Tuesday night at 10:00. The shooting occurred between 11:30 and midnight. There may be a good reason why the Country's "Midnight Express Run" in midtown happens only once a year....

I had barbecue on my mind around midnight Tuesday night, but for a different reason. I wanted to check a local restaurant, which has been promoting a four-hour "Late-Night BBQ." For all I knew, Conan O'Brien could be coming to Columbus for a special show.

"Thornton's Late-Night BBQ" said the roadside sign along Cusseta Road when I drove by last weekend. The posted hours were 11:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. Reverse the p.m. and a.m., and you might have Minnie's Restaurant on Eighth Street - or any other business owner on Cusseta Road which knows the neighborhood's reputation.

Thornton's BBQ is a short walk down Cusseta Road from the club once known as the notorious Boom Boom Room. It's now the "VS" club, but the property is still on Fort Benning's list as being off-limits to soldiers. It's apparently better to have the Army vs. al-Qaeda in Iraq, than VS some Columbus drunk.

So right after Wednesday's blog entry was posted, I hopped in the car at 12:13 a.m. and drove to Thornton's BBQ. I admittedly was uncertain about what I'd find. Would customers be standing outside, trying to mooch a free meal from me? Would this barbecue really be selling something else in the middle of the night -- and the vice squad was about to raid it?

It was "Throw Back Night" at the VS Lounge, and people were outside chatting at about 12:20 a.m. After all the recent drive-by shootings, I'm not sure how wise that is. But then again, it's at a corner with a traffic light - so a shooter stuck on red would be less likely to escape.

Moments later we reached Thornton's BBQ - but the "late-night" was off the sign outside, and the restaurant was closed. So it's not open at midnight every night of the week. Maybe the manager waits for a night when clubs along Cusseta Road are more likely to be over the fire marshal's limit.

I turned around in the Thornton's parking lot and drove home, not stopping at VS or anywhere else for a "consolation prize." After all, the only real place where you COULD stop was a package store on Tenth Avenue - and I'm not sure if it even sells barbecue-flavored corn chips.

So what's really cooking at Thornton's BBQ? I drove back Wednesday afternoon to find out - and the attendant explained its late-night service is on weekends only. That makes sense, considering the closest weeknight "night shift" to the restaurant is probably dancing in Victory Drive clubs.

The late-night barbecue sales began about a month ago at Thornton's. The restaurant manager was gone on Wednesday, so I couldn't ask him how successful it is. And the attendant didn't know, because she only works the day shift -- when things at this barbecue stand probably are mild, instead of hot and fiery.

We'll have to watch and see if Thornton's has found a new dining idea, with late-night weekend barbecue. Cusseta Road is well north of Victory Drive, where several fast-food restaurants offer 24-hour drive-through service every night. And it's in a part of Columbus where people are more likely to be shot in the ribs at 1:00 a.m., than eat them.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Is another school shakeup looming?

Richard, The Lee County, AL Board of Education has scheduled a called meeting tomorrow evening (Thurs. 6 p.m.CT) to discuss placing the Superintendent, Mr. John Painter, in another position for the remainder of his contract. Obviously, they would then hire another Superintendent. Consequently we will be paying two Superintendent salaries! I've heard rumors for several years that some individuals were not happy with Mr. Painter however I've never seen anything official in the media about this matter. Several years ago Mr. Painter and the Board hired his wife for a position that required a college degree although she didn't have one. Then when the matter was made public the job description was changed so she could meet the qualifications. Then a couple of years ago a Special Ed teacher at Smiths Station Elementary School was promoted into the job of Public Relations/Media Director for the school system. According to some system employees this individual had no degrees or experience in this field and the job wasn't opened up for other system employees who might have been qualified to apply. This individual then ran for state representative against Leslie Vance. Then there is the rumor that the city of Smiths Station wants to take over most of the Lee County Schools and start their own school system. That move would remove the majority of students from the Lee County system.

Since the majority of Lee County students reside in the Smiths area it sure would be helpful if some of the local media would report on Lee County School Board Meetings. Area residents need to know what is going on with our School Board.

Richard, you usually stay on top of the news so can you tell us what's going on?

Sad to say, I know little more than you do about this one. Maybe Lee County officials noticed the Superintendent openings in Macon and Russell Counties, and decided it was time to join the fun.

The Wednesday night news actually mentioned the called meeting -- and the Opelika-Auburn News reported John Painter would become a "Special Assistant" in the Lee County schools. This role has had several titles over the years. I think Muscogee County schools used to call them para-professionals - and when I was young, they were Student Teachers.

The Lee County school web site offered no clue about a change Wednesday night. In fact, I couldn't even find a mention of tonight's special school board meeting. But "Institute Day" is coming up for teachers in early August - perhaps for kindergarten teachers who don't have to be institutionalized over the summer.

We'll have to ask around about those Smiths Station rumors. I'm not sure the city has enough money to take over several schools right now. But I know Long Buildings will want to be part of any expansion projects.

We'll see what happens at that meeting tonight - and now let's look back at what happened around the area Wednesday:

+ Ground was broken for a new 120-room Suburban Extended Stay Hotel on Victory Drive. Before you get too thrilled about this, consider the small motels on Victory Drive which are slowly fading away. They're locally owned, have lower prices and more intimate.... well, you probably have heard the stories about HOW intimate....

+ Phenix City officials said the Alatrade poultry plant under construction will have about 800 employees - more than 200 above the original estimate. I'm apparently not the only one who's noticed the high price of ground beef.

+ Atlanta's baseball team announced the signing of Julio Franco - the first baseman who turns 49 in August. I'm a bit surprised the San Francisco 49ers football team didn't sign him as a publicity stunt.

(It's a good thing Julio Franco wasn't in Atlanta Wednesday. The baseball game went 15 innings - and at his age, he might need to take a nap after 12.)

+ Instant Message to Michael Vick: I'm on the side of those who say you're innocent until proven guilty. But so you can plan possible lawsuits after the trial - Colin Cowherd of ESPN Radio was the first one I heard nickname you "Con."

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: 2265 (+ 75, 3.4%)

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

© 2003-07 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

site stats