Sunday, December 30, 2007


If that headline is good enough for the Sunday Ledger-Enquirer, it's good enough for me. It's time for our second annual list of 25 things I didn't know a year ago, adapted from a BBC tradition. We do this to prove your blogger is NOT a know-it-all. For instance, two years ago I declared Dell McGee the new head coach of Kendrick High School.

So what have I learned -- things you also may want to know? Let's see....

1. DSL Internet service can be cheaper than dial-up. It's even cheaper than diesel fuel.

I've discovered this over the last six weeks, as I finally switched away from sloooooooow dial-up. AT&T offered a $19.95 "limited time" offer - and offered it so many limited times that I finally was able to order it.

AT&T sent me most of the ingredients I needed for DSL service. But there was one big problem - my telephone jack is on the opposite side of the room from my computer. My furniture in the computer room hasn't moved since I arrived in Columbus. And moving the computer closer really wouldn't work - because a computer on a sofa cushion simply looks weird.

AT&T provided connection cords for the DSL modem which were much too short, so I hurried to Radio Shack to get a longer one. In fact, I took no chances and bought the longest cord they had. It's working well, but I've nearly tripped over it at least three times.

The AT&T offer saved me two dollars a month from the Internet service I had before. And because I'm not dialing a phone number to go online, my local monthly call count is way down - saving me more than ten extra dollars. So I have 12 extra dollars a month, to spend on the rising price of gasoline.

I chose the "slowest" form of DSL service, which is fast enough for me. No longer do I have five-second waits for web pages to show up. And I can watch YouTube videos, without them stopping and starting every second or two. Football coaches probably prefer that other version.

There's one small negative to AT&T DSL service - something you might consider an advantage. Phone line splitters you attach can allow your phone to ring while you're online. How many telemarketers made this a requirement?

2. Cockroaches tend to like dark red colors more than dark blue or dark green - even though dark blue would seem to hide them better.

I'm almost ashamed to admit this, but this discovery slowly developed in my kitchen drawer this past year. Roaches love to hide there, and they'll eat whatever they can find - even cotton dish cloths. I suppose that's because they're high in fiber.

I rotate three dish cloths into kitchen duty, and a review of them shows big holes in the dark red one. Dark green has one small hole, while dark blue has hardly any bites at all. Is this a sign for "big blue" Kansas beating Virginia Tech's maroon in the Orange Bowl this week?

3. Related to this: cockroaches are more likely to drown in black containers of water. So I've found Banquet frozen dinner trays can have multiple uses....

Cockroaches can be tough creatures to kill -- but they're terrible swimmers. Get them in a pool of water, and the antennae extending from their heads often get in the way of using their legs to extricate themselves. They struggle desperately until they tire and die. Yes, I get some cheap thrills in my kitchen at times.

The roaches seem more drawn to black containers than clear or light-colored ones. So put a little water in one, and you'll have the best nature study this side of Oxbow Meadows.

4. Reporting on church picnics [19 Aug] can get you a personal lecture from the church pastor. I know, because it happened to me last summer. When I chose to take a break from that congregation in October, the pastor didn't seem very surprised.

The pastor told me I should present the church congregation to the public in the "most positive light possible." In other words, be a public relations guy and make things appear perfect -- even though the Bible seems to be filled with "holy people" making all sorts of blunders.

5. Just because we've had a drought does NOT mean you should buy a used car without windshield wipers.

Ask a driver in front of me on Brown Avenue Sunday afternoon. He limped an older car along in the rain at about 15 miles per hour. If I didn't know better, I would have thought it was a farm tractor.

6. Adult nightclubs in Columbus do NOT last forever. At least, not if they don't keep hiring new employees....

There's proof of this point on Victory Drive, where the Lucky 7 Lounge was bulldozed this past week. It never reopened after a 2006 fire - and suddenly the fire-damaged Victory Pawn Shop next door looks a lot more respectable.

7. The "too fast when flashing" lights over Interstate 185 near St. Mary's Road never stop flashing. I learned this on the Sunday of the Toys for Tots motorcycle run, driving behind the bikers. Even 30 miles per hour wasn't slow enough for them.

On the other hand, the similar flashing lights on Victory Drive near Port Columbus DO shut off from time to time. They were off this weekend, in fact - although for drivers who faced a giant construction-fed rain puddle near McClung Memorial Stadium, they came about a quarter-mile too late.

Feeling smarter already? Now we'll simply run down the remaining things I learned this past year....

8. Columbus television newscasts can be presented from Iowa. You simply pretend the anchors live in Columbus, and moved to town only a few weeks ago.

9. Any rumors about Summit Hospital being turned into a shopping mall are NOT true - at least for now.

10. Starting a "Bible as Literature" class in public schools does NOT mean a mass revival immediately will break out.

11. If you're heading to a sentencing hearing in court, dress for the occasion - as in going to prison immediately, as Don Siegelman did.

12. If any pro football player denies breaking the law, remember one thing - those players also tend to deny committing fouls on the field during games.

13. Be very careful where you place your bags of kitty litter. One of them put a former mayor of Columbus in the hospital.

14. If you hold enough grand openings for the same historic Columbus buildings, people eventually might start showing up.

15. If Phenix City Manager Bubba Roberts ever starts a Myspace page, he may have trouble recruiting friends from the Russell County Sheriff's Office.

16. Some people are scared to fly to the Columbus Airport - even though there's only been one hit-and-run driver in that area all year.

17. Bakeries need to make runs to the city landfill - perhaps to provide fat and grease to make all the other garbage stick together.

18. The Georgia Dome gets cold in December. Did you notice the referee in Sunday's Seattle-Atlanta game wore a long-sleeve shirt, while Seattle coach Mike Holmgren had a jacket on?

19. In a small town such as Hurtsboro, everybody seems to know everybody else - and sometimes that's not a good thing.

20. Landscaping can include "softscape" and "hardscape." If it's approved by a government official, it's also likely to have a scapegoat.

21. Columbus has something called "The Big Eddy Club." If it existed in Phenix City, the police chief probably would shut it down.

22. Fountains which promise a "perennial flow" can be stopped by a state's occasional no.

23. A six-month subscription to the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer costs 96 dollars - and some people prefer spending 15 dollars online, to simply subscribe to the comic strips.

24. The most popular sports in Columbus are, in order: 1) Little League baseball; 2) Small-college football; 3) Cottonmouths hockey; 4) high school football - and the Catfish rank just below professional wrestling matches.

25. Everyone on Earth cares about Britney Spears. I mean, look at all the photographers who surround her.

SCHEDULED TUESDAY: Another turn-of-the-year tradition around here.... is this the year YOU win?....

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© 2003-07 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Here's something to debate over Sunday brunch: If cigarette packs and wine bottles have warning labels on them, why not fattening foods? I wouldn't be surprised to hear people start suggesting it before long - but wouldn't people pay the same small amount of attention to them?

I raise this question because of some signs that are posted at a favorite snack stop for many people in Columbus. Yellow signs went up outside Golden Donuts the other day - but thankfully, they are NOT diamond shaped and warning of hazardous materials inside.

The yellow signs warn Golden Donuts will increase its prices Tuesday for "wholesale orders." This is defined as any order of ten dozen or more - something Homer Simpson could get, if he didn't blow the other half of his salary on beer.

As of Tuesday, the wholesale prices for Golden Donuts will go up. I don't know what they cost now, but they will cost $2.50 per dozen for 10-49 dozen regular glazed donuts, and two dollars a dozen for "50 dozen or more." Fifty dozen donuts?! Which high school wrestling team eats this many, before a meet?

Golden Donuts blames the increase in wholesale prices on "unprecedented increases in production costs." I assume this refers to the cost of flour, because I haven't heard of any countries forming a glaze cartel -- such as OGLE: the Organization of Glaze and Lard Exporters.

NBC News noted this past week how much U.S. wheat prices have jumped this year. The closing price for March wheat in my home area Friday was $9.14 a bushel. I can remember when Oklahoma wheat farmers struggled with wheat at three dollars - but then, I'm also old enough to remember 25-cent a gallon gasoline....

Higher wheat prices have affected the price of bread this year as well. You can't find whole wheat bread for less than a dollar at bakery discount stores anymore. I haven't bought "white bread" in decades - because I remember what a church pastor once said about Wonder Bread. With so little wheat in it, "the wonder is that it's bread."

In fact, 2007 may go down as the year inflation officially made a comeback in the U.S. It's not only wheat and bread prices which have jumped this year. Gasoline prices jumped about 15 cents across Columbus Friday, and will end the year up nearly 50 percent from January. Yet Mayor Wetherington has yet to appoint a task force to bring THAT surge under control.

Any grocery shopper can tell you how much other items have jumped. Eggs are now near two dollars a dozen. Milk drops below four dollars a gallon only when there's a sale. And I pity those of you who have become addicted to fancy six-dollar cups of coffee....

But back to that warning sign, if you and your family or office staff simply cannot eat ten dozen Golden Donuts at a time, a different discount will apply. At least the two-dozen rule is continuing - with the second dozen at half-price. That still almost matches the price for one dozen at Dunkin Donuts or Krispy Kreme, where I think you partly pay for corporate stock.

(It's tempting to stop here and declare something is wrong with your family or office staff, if it cannot devour ten dozen Golden Donuts at a time. But I realize there can be mitigating circumstances. You might have eaten a bowl of oatmeal first, and felt full.)

Golden Donuts still cares about its customers in other ways, too. It follows the "baker's dozen" tradition, of giving you a 13th donut on the side. And on the day I took the picture of the warning sign, the staff threw an extra doughnut in my bag because it somehow didn't look right. As if we care if chocolate glazed doughnuts look round, square -- or even shaped like stop signs.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Now a follow-up to a Phenix City house we were double-dog dared urged to visit several days ago....

City Manager Bubba Roberts must read this blog or maybe someone told him about your entries from 12/17 & 12/20. He visited his property at 2014 2nd Avenue on Sunday 12/23/07 for about 5 whole minutes. Guess thats what he means about living there "Some of the time". He spent the 5 minutes there turning off those excess outdoor & indoor lights he had left on (and was mentioned in the blog). Thats all he did. There is still one outdoor and one indoor light on ... and you can see well inside at night no furniture at all completely empty ... as you would expect ANY rental property to be.

Just thought I would pass along the update. If he wasnt tipped off by a blog reader perhaps Alabama power sent him a thank you note.



Truly Robert Frost put it well: "Good fences make good neighbors." For one thing, they can prevent neighbors from spying on each other.

Now let's see what else people are watching, besides the rain on a wet weekend....

+ Which mother told a local "children's church" group about young people receiving gifts of "an MP3 player - whatever that is"?! How much of the young audience immediately concluded they knew more than the teacher did?

+ A Saturday afternoon stroll in the Historic District found the Chattahoochee River looking strange. The Phenix City half of the river was brown, while the Columbus side seemed normal. Was there some kind of sewage leak north of downtown? Or did a mudslide shove some of the Riverview Apartments into the river?

+ Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue announced West Point Lake will get a "mega-ramp" for boats, as part of a new bass fishing trail. I hope we keep getting rain to end the drought - because otherwise that ramp might only be good for fashion shows.

+ Columbus Police told WRBL 1t least four Muscogee County schools have been vandalized over winter break. When young people say they want year-round schooling, they mean year-round schooling.

+ A Kwanzaa celebration at the Liberty Theater included an announcement by Project Rebound that it's creating a 1,000-member "Peacemaker Coalition." This sounds like a good idea - but I wonder how many gun owners are going to misunderstand this and apply to join.

+ The South beat the North 28-6 in a Georgia high school football All-Star game at McClung Memorial Stadium. Carver's Jarvon Fortson caught a touchdown pass for the South - and now he may be the only football player in the country who can match the New England Patriots at 16-0.

(Jarvon Fortson played for the South football team during the afternoon, then played high school basketball for Carver hours later at the Shaw Tournament finals. I know he can't endorse energy drinks as an amateur athlete, but some of us want to know....)

+ Instant Message to Wane Hailes of The Courier: I will quote from your latest column - "The next time you need to make a purchase.... take a look at the 'man in the mirror' and seek out someone who looks like you first." What would you be saying if a white person had written that?

2007 IN REVIEW, CONTINUED: Concern about water continued around our area during November. Three state governors held urgent talks in Washington. People in Columbus prayed outside the Government Center for rain. And it's a wonder people didn't race down to Oxbow Meadows with buckets, and empty that controversial pond.

November began with two big-name TV ministers appearing in Columbus, to benefit the Rod Hood Foundation. Eddie Long and Paula White should send the tape of those meetings to Washington, and prove to the U.S. Senate that every penny they earned for the Rod Hood Foundation was worth it.

Local law officers made news in November. Muscogee County Sheriff Ralph Johnson appeared on TV, asking for help in finding sex offenders. It's too bad an Opelika police dog thought one of them was playing football, when Auburn beat Alabama....

Mayor Jim Wetherington received an award in November from the Georgia Department of Corrections. Then came the Zachary Allen "Revelation" in the newspaper - and one or two correction commissioners probably wanted to come back to Columbus, and take it back.

Columbus voters rejected a proposal for tax allocation districts in November. Some people blamed the city for including the word "tax" in the proposal - as if hiding the word actually would have improved trust in city government.

Several people were able to claim major victories in November. Columbus High School's volleyball team won a state title. Phenix City Councilor Ray Bush was cleared in a trial. And Fort Benning supporters probably celebrated, when SOA Watch didn't have enough arrests to bother with a Monday march to federal court.

The Ma Rainey house-turned-museum held a "grand opening" in November -- which turned out to be its second in 15 months. Just wait until the museum store begins offering Chester's Bar-B-Q platters....

Several celebrities appeared in Columbus during November. Dr. Laura Schlessinger spoke at God Bless Fort Benning, only days after R. Kelly performed at the Civic Center. If these had been scheduled at the same time, Schlessinger might have helped all the acts on R. Kelly's tour get along.

A media story we first broke in August became reality in November, as WLTZ began daily newscasts. Is it only a coincidence that people no longer say it "just feels great to be on NBC-38"?!

Football season in our area began to wind down in November. Georgia Tech fired head coach Chan Gailey - and looking back now, it's a wonder Bobby Petrino didn't quit the Atlanta Falcons then and there.

Then we reached December - the month of spectacular football comebacks by Carver High School. The Columbus Fire Chief can only hope to duplicate that with his career, once the Zachary Allen investigation is over....

The crime blotter so far in December has been highlighted by Columbus police officer Larry Lightning pleading guilty to crack cocaine charges, Michael Vick being sentenced to prison -- and a confidential police informant changing his story so many times, I won't be surprised to discover he's actually Michael Vick.

The Muscogee County School District administration building gained attention in December, when State Senator Seth Harp suggested it was excessive. Did he know at the time about the preliminary blueprint, with a private restroom for the superintendent? Or is he really hoping next year's Georgia Legislature approves money to renovate state office buildings?

The demolition of tornado-damaged Sumter Regional Hospital in Americus began in December. This didn't really have to happen - but then again, that was about the only hospital that no one Columbus wanted to buy out.

The RiverCenter may have had a record sellout in December, when thousands of tickets were sold for a Jerry Seinfeld show. I never realize Columbus had so many New York transplants....

(So did Sugarland sell out the Columbus Civic Center for its December concert? The show went on, after all - which is more than the legendary Bertie Higgins could say a year or two ago.)

BURKARD'S BEST BETS: Gas for $2.93 a gallon at Marathon on Second Avenue.... 69-cent Sunday hamburger special at Checkers on Victory Drive.... and "Watch Night" services Monday night to award absolutely no watches at all....

COMING MONDAY: Not necessarily my favorite things, but a list of things....

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.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-07 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Friday, December 28, 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.)

Instant Message to everyone who kept Christmas: Have you calmed down now? Is the shopping deadline pressure off - not to mention the pressure of attending parties and pageants, sending all sorts of cards, and smiling at relatives you might not care for very much.

I've noticed over the years that December is a time which tries many people. It struck me twice this year, beginning at an unlikely place -- the line to pay electric bills. Something told me the man in front of me was antsy about waiting, and he was going to talk to me about it. To borrow from an old rock song: if you can't vent to the one you love, vent with the one you're with.

"I can't believe this," the man said to prove me right. Two people were at teller windows, and one seemed to be going back and forth to the drive-through windows. Other windows were unstaffed - so maybe Georgia Power really has cut out all the excess it can.

It was early afternoon, so I suggested some tellers were taking late lunch breaks after serving through the noon hour. "I never used to get a lunch break," the man in front of me said. I've had jobs the same way - and in fact, I've known bosses who ordered me to take one. Do all the work, but don't you dare work overtime to do it.

A woman sat down at one of the unused teller windows, but started working at a computer instead of opening for customers. "She's not doing anything," the man in front of me complained.

"Maybe she has to log on to the computer first," I suggested. We proved earlier this year that Georgia Power business customers can leave bills for anyone to take [17 Sep] - so I'd rather not have any old staff members taking my check.

"I would have been fired, if I had treated customers like this," the other man grumbled again. It was time for me to attempt to teach a lesson - to be semi-preachy, without becoming downright fundamentalist and calling this customer a sinner.

"Isn't it interesting how spoiled we are?" I said. "We can get electricity at the flip of a switch, so we expect everything else to be the same way."

The man only half-agreed with me, but didn't quite get my point. He was sounding and acting impatient - and perhaps he really had other things to do, on a busy schedule. But venting to a total stranger wasn't going to move things along any faster. Especially since he wasn't miked so the second-floor executives could hear him.

At last the man was able to go to the window and pay his electric bill, as did I. But as I left, that man was running his mouth again - this time with a small group of people to the side of the windows. I heard him say something about "moving so far outside Muscogee County...." Maybe he went to Georgia Power after renewing his license tags.

To be fair: I went inside to pay my electric bill because the line of cars in the drive-through lanes was long. So yes, I also wanted to save time - but also money, by not burning gasoline while waiting on other drivers. Time is money, and now time is also green.

The waiting tables were turned on me several days later, in the grocery checkout line. I pushed my cart behind a woman who was being helped - but then things started happening.

"I've got to get another meal," she said - and she left the line with all her groceries to head toward the back of the store. And since this was a Wal-Mart, "another meal" could have meant picking up ingredients on several aisles.

This customer was buying a lot of items, so the attendant went ahead and started handling the rest of them. As I stood and waited, I quietly considered how the rules for this had changed. Once upon a time, people who had to leave the checkout line went all the way out - but now they keep those spots like they're parking spaces next to the door.

After what seemed to be three or four minutes, the woman returned with a package of corn meal. She talked with the attendant about what happened, but not really with me. She was taking care of business -- but then again, she wasn't minding mine.

Almost all the items were scanned for this woman -- but then she remembered something else. "I'll be right back," she said as she walked away again. This was starting to seem familiar -- but I didn't start looking around for the Candid Camera.

This time the attendant was waiting with me. But neither of us said anything about the wait. I even resisted one sure sign of impatience at a supermarket checkout -- by taking a tabloid out of the rack and reading it.

After about three more minutes, the woman in front of me returned. This time she had what appeared to be a bag of dog chews. The attendant was closing her checkout lane after me - or otherwise that woman might have wanted to pass the chews around to other waiting shoppers, to calm their anger.

After that woman went on her way, the Wal-Mart attendant starting handling my groceries. "Thank you for being so patient," she said to me. "You'd think she would have apologized to you."

To which I answered: "That's the way of the world, I've found." A world expecting others to be patient toward them, but often in too much of a hurry to check whether they're testing the patience of others.

So how patient have YOU been over the past few weeks? The apostle Paul wrote in the Bible that God is "a God of patience" - and he goes on to tell believers in I Thessalonians 5 they need to "be patient with everyone." This applies everywhere from the grocery store to the highway. Even doctors sometimes have to show patience with their patients.

If you're not patient enough yet, be thankful God is. After all, He used to strike people dead on the spot for violating His rules. He's giving you a bit more time - and in this case it's an even swap. Use your time well now, and God offers a lot more - an eternity where time doesn't matter, much less money.

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.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-07 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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What do you know? Columbus has an AIDS case on its hands. And of all things, it involves the Kenneth Walker case -- or did you put together the initials in our title today?

Another round of confusion was added to the Kenneth Walker case Thursday. Federal Judge Clay Land ruled two law officers had a "reasonable suspicion" to stop Walker's car four years ago - but he also said the informant who tipped off the officers is "no longer worthy of belief." This is a bit like buying your parents an anniversary gift, after they insist they want nothing.

For those who came in late: an informant told undercover drug officers to follow Kenneth Walker and three other man out of an apartment complex in December 2003. Their vehicle was pulled over on Interstate 185, a sheriff's deputy shot and killed Walker, but then no drugs were found. Well, a trace of cocaine was found in Walker's body - but how do we know drug reports weren't adjusted back then, too?

The confidential informant (whose name we still don't know) was questioned recently by the Walker family for a civil suit - and civil rights leaders soon leaked the news that the informant had admitted giving false information to the undercover officers. If Bill Madison is ever removed as NAACP President, he should do undercover work himself - as an investigative reporter.

(Isn't it interesting that the name of the deputy who shot Kenneth Walker was kept secret for two months - but this informant is still a mystery after four years? Ten years from now, we all may be amazed to discover Willie Dozier still is running the Columbus Police Department from his home.)

But when the informant was brought before Federal Judge Clay Land last Friday, he/she sang a different tune. The court was told he/she signed an affidavit without reading through it, and some of the details were incorrect. You're left to wonder if the informant also has a sub-prime mortgage....

The issue in all of this was whether Columbus Police officers Jim Price and Rick Stinson could be declared immune from the Walker family civil suit. Judge Clay Land said Thursday they can have "qualified immunity." Former deputy David Glisson does NOT have this, because he fired the qualifying rounds.

Clay Land's ruling says there was "other information available" to officers Price and Stinson, which justified stopping Kenneth Walker's vehicle. For one thing, someone else who left the apartment complex that night was found with cocaine. I've never heard that name, either - so when this suit finally comes to trial, we may have more new characters than the coming season of "Law and Order."

The confusion over the two police officers doesn't end there. Details of the Walker family's civil suit are pending in federal appeals court. If the case is returned to Judge Clay Land, the qualified immunity could take effect - but the Ledger-Enquirer reports that could be appealed as well. There are college basketball teams with less motion than this....

And on top of that, all the pre-trial wrangling over appeals and immunity could hurt the Walker family's lawsuit against David Glisson. That's because I'm hearing Glisson is in failing health. Why, he hasn't even been hired by a church to watch over a pastor during worship services.

Someone told me Thursday not many people care about the Kenneth Walker case anymore. But considering the turnout at the memorial service two weeks ago, I don't think that's true. I'd say most African-American people in Columbus still care, while most white people don't. Those white people tend to move on quicker - and they're on the Zachary Allen cocaine crash already.

Now for other headlines from Holiday Bowl Day 2007:

+ WLTZ reported Columbus Police officer J.D. Hawk is on administrative leave. I'm not sure if it's because of that 103 mile-per-hour speeding ticket from October [23 Dec], or the report that Hawk phoned the state trooper who gave him a ticket and left an answering machine message. How much DID that trooper pledge to the Fraternal Order of Police?

+ Phenix City officials and Rep. Leslie Vance met with Alabama Governor Bob Riley. They want state help in obtaining two million dollars, to buy land along the riverfront. Imagine what would happen if the governor proposed a local sales tax on coffee sales....

+ The President of Wild Animal Safari in Pine Mountain told the evening news his complex has video cameras - but for watching customers and guests, not the animals. So please don't walk up to the tiger cage, and accuse the animals of not being as good as the Carver Tigers.

(GPB's "Georgia Traveler" also happened to visit Wild Animal Safari, and noted some of the animals are yaks. If only Columbus radio had a talk show to put there, for regular interviews....)

+ A panel of psychics told the Atlanta newspapers Georgia's capital could face a serious crisis in early March. Hmmmm - I thought the PeachCare funding was safe until the end of that month.

+ Atlanta Falcons running back Warrick Dunn ruled out retirement, saying he doesn't want to go out at the end of such a disastrous year. So we can cross his name off the list of potential head coaches....

+ Instant Message to Charter Cable of Columbus: You had some terrible timing Thursday morning. CNN was showing the breaking news about Benazir Bhutto and a human bomb - and every half-hour you kept showing the "boom-boom" and "bang-bang" ladies from Fireworks Outlet.

2007 IN REVIEW, CONTINUED: October began with this blog on vacation for a few days, and so - hey, you know what? We never told you about our vacation at Panama City Beach. Someone told me the condominium market there is five years overbuilt, because of the troubled housing market. Would any transferring Fort Knox soldiers might a four-hour commute to Fort Benning?

We returned from vacation to the e-mail firestorm over Cascade Hills Church, and a change in its bylaws. It led to perhaps the only interview Pastor Bill Purvis gave a local journalist all year. What followed may have been the biggest change of mind by a minister since Martin Luther posted his complaints on a church door.

Columbus Police had an unusual October Saturday, when a man robbed a bank dressed in women's clothing. It was the closest thing Columbus has had yet to a "gay pride weekend."

The Metro Narcotics Task Force acquired a new helicopter in October. I think it's already proving beneficial - or at least, I'm assuming officers are seeding the clouds to bring those rainstorms.

Talbot County had another embarrassing moment in October, when the mayor of Woodland was arrested for impaired driving and speeding. Put him together with the troubled mayor of Talbotton and the dismissed chief county investigator, and it's a wonder State Representative Debbie Buckner hasn't been put in charge of everything.

If that wasn't enough, a Russell County pastor was arrested at his own church in October on disorderly conduct charges. Well, at least the criminals have moved out of the school system....

And one of our regular blog e-mailers had legal trouble in October. Hurtsboro Constable R.J. Schweiger was found in contempt to court, and given a suspended sentence of "five days' hard labor."

The long-lasting drought forced the "Fountain City" to turn off all its fountains in October, to conserve water. Things were SO DRY that the usual year-end Xmas tree never went up at Heritage Park downtown. I thought that tree was artificial....

The drought lingered so long that Rep. Richard Smith called at the end of October for a one-cent sales tax to fund a water management plan. So that's one cent for water, one cent for public safety, one cent for education - and Columbus only has two cents left for taxing soft drink sales.

Local car dealer Rob Doll made a surprising statement in October, declaring some people are "scared" to fly to the Columbus Airport. Which was strange, because I don't think a murder has been committed there all year....

The Muscogee County School Board approved the destruction of the old Sears building on Macon Road in October. Yet the department store chain refused to change its slogan to, "Sears -- where it ends."

October was a big month for nature lovers, as Interstate 185 was declared a "scenic byway." In fact, there now are signs along the highway saying that - so there's one thing to stop and watch right there.

A TV star came to Columbus in October, as Erik Estrada helped install children's car seats. It's a wonder he didn't also appear at Peachtree Mall, promoting his secret to shiny white teeth.

But another entertainer's planned visit to Columbus was suddenly canceled in October. Rapper T.I. was arrested - and if he's eventually convicted, those initials will stand for The Inmate.

A Columbus restaurant won a national contest in October, when the "Steve Harvey Show" on radio named Chester's Bar-B-Q the best in the country. Loyal customers of Country's and Mike and Ed's Barbecue probably felt like someone was pulling their pork.

COMING THIS WEEKEND: Warning signs.... outside a doughnut shop?!

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.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-07 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007


I feel a song coming on today: "Down in the valley, the valley so low.... keep looking up, where cliff jumpers might go...."

This song came to mind after watching the news Wednesday night, and hearing the story of the Liebendorfer family. Their home is on Charter Oaks Circle in Columbus, east of Moon Road at the bottom of a hill - and 11 days ago, a car flew down that hill and smashed into their home. You wondered where that 21st-century flying car was, didn't you?

A driver somehow went out of control on Ritch Haven Road, went through a chain-link fence at a "dead end" and went downhill into the Liebendorfer home. Amazingly, no one was hurt - so if the sign on this street actually says "dead end," it needs to be changed to "no outlet."

The car which went over a hill went through a wall of the Liebendorfer house, and stopped at the foot of a boy's bed. For that young man, it must have been every "Grand Theft Auto" game come to life....

Sonya Liebendorfer says the car left such a gash in the side of her home that she had to cover it, so animals along a nearby creek wouldn't wander inside. The last thing you need is an Aflac duck entering the bedroom, to remind you of the close call you had and the need for extra insurance.

After the 16 December wreck, Columbus city workers put up three red diamond-shaped reflectors at the end of Ritch Haven Road. Sonya Liebendorfer says that won't prevent future crashes down the hill and into her house. Besides, Ritch Haven Road residents probably don't want reflectors which tempt their children to gamble on poker.

Sonya Liebendorfer says she plans to go before Columbus Council in January, and ask for a guard rail to be installed at the end of Ritch Haven Road. That way, there won't be talk about having to buy "no-fault" or "comprehensive and collision" insurance for her home.

But Columbus city engineers say a guard rail at the end of Ritch Haven Road is the wrong approach. They explain wild drivers might wind up rolling over as their cars head down the hill, because the metal rail is NOT able to absorb head-on crashes. If you REALLY want heavy metal around here, visit Fort Benning or "Rock 103" FM.

Perhaps the right answer to this problem is another kind of material. Concrete barriers were added in front of the Columbus Civic Center after the September 11 attacks. They're on other "dead end" roads which might lead onto Fort Benning. But if some smart aleck spray-paints it green, it might blend in too well.

There's also the approach used in car and motorcycle races - putting up hay bales to slow the cars down. But that probably wouldn't work, either -- as the nearby animals either would eat the hay for dinner, or move it to the creek and flood the Liebendorfers' house when it rains.

THE BIG BLOG QUESTION closed Wednesday, and the vote was overwhelming: 71 percent of you would vote against a one-cent sales tax for public safety (10-4). So when Mayor Wetherington talks about presenting the idea to Columbus Council "early next year," remember one thing -- anything before June 30 can qualify as early.

One person in our poll wrote Mayor Wetherington should stick to public safety officers in a sales tax vote, and NOT commit money to new precincts and a jail expansion. That person wrote: "Why increase the budget so that we can afford more officers when there aren't any to afford?" So does this mean we should pay the current police more, so we can have less of them?!

The main complaint from commenters in our non-scientific poll involved corruption in city government. One person accused Police Chief Ricky Boren of doing nothing, concerning Zachary Allen's positive drug test after an EMS crash last year. But if the information wasn't on an EMS incident report, what could he do? I think the voters would consider a staff psychic a waste of tax money, too.

One person argued public safety workers recently received a raise "when other city workers got none." But another wrote a city "compensation time" plan actually is costing police officers thousands of dollars in overtime. So it would seem police are with their families more, and enjoying it a bit less....

The comments section also turned to the Columbus Fire Department. One person claimed firefighters rejected a new scheduling plan with a pay raise, because they prefer to work at second jobs such as remodeling. As long as they're installing fireproof shingles and paneling, aren't they still doing their main jobs?

We thank you all for voting and commenting. Now let's check other Wednesday headlines:

+ Port Columbus opened an exhibit it described as its "most shocking ever," showing electrolysis equipment. I'm sorry, but I disagree with this hype. Showing fake-bloody operations on live, awake patients - now THAT'S shocking.

+ The manager of the Columbus Salvation Army store told WXTX "News at Ten" her staff is making daily trips to the landfill, because people are dropping off worthless junky items. Please don't get confused, friends - it's the Goodwill staff which repairs broken items. But sometimes even they struggle with ketchup stains on ties.

+ Bill Heard Cadillac announced an unusual new incentive. If you buy a Cadillac, they'll give you a membership to Maple Ridge Golf Club. But they do NOT throw in an electric golf cart to get around the course -- because then no one would need to buy the Cadillac.

+ WRBL reported James West took over the title of Eufaula Police Chief. Longtime Chief Kenneth Walker has retired - but he's probably still likely to bring stares, every time he states his name in the Columbus area.

+ National Public Radio reported the cocaine trade has dried up in the Atlanta area in recent months. Based on F.B.I. numbers, there seems to be an obvious explanation for this - drug users have become addicted to robbing banks instead.

+ Columbus beat Atlanta in hockey 2-0. When the Cottonmouths can shut out an N.H.L. team, this is quite an accomplishment for Coach Jerome.... oh wait. There's ANOTHER Columbus where they play hockey - only that city doesn't win as often.

(WRCG radio is carrying Atlanta Thrashers games - but it has an annoying habit of interrupting the game for commercials, even in play is in progress. Someone at Archway Broadcasting must be walking down the hallway with static electricity, and touching off the computer.)

+ Instant Message to WGSY-FM "Sunny 100": So you've put the Xmas music away for another ten months or so. When do you plan to make up for the last few weeks - and play a tribute to the late Dan Fogelberg?

2007 IN REVIEW, CONTINUED: September began in a strange way in Columbus - as rumors of a gang attack caused Brookstone School to shut down early for Labor Day weekend. I keep waiting for police to raid Glenwood School, to get to the bottom of this....

Columbus Council approved 50 new stun guns for the police department in September. Yet Sheriff Tommy Boswell recently wrote the "Redneckin" blog of Russell County to say he has NO plans to buy any for awhile. For one thing, they'd defeat the purpose of that nice new firing range.

Columbus gained a new sister city in September: Taichung City, Taiwan. Was this really a good decision - considering Kia's headquarters is in South Korea?

September officially marked the end of Riverfest, in the downtown area. It's now been merged into an "Uptown Coalition," which hopes to have big events downtown every weekend. OK - how about a parade this weekend for the Columbus Catfish, which won a championship in September and received nothing?

A major movie with Columbus roots opened in September - "In the Valley of Elah," based on the murder of Fort Benning soldier Richard Davis. Judging from its weak ticket sales and lack of award nominations, the door is open for Eve Tidwell to make her own version of the story.

Phenix City Councilor Ray Bush was arrested in September, after a city employee accused him of harassment. Bush was acquitted at trial - yet no one has taken a survey, to see if he's more popular than that other Bush in elected office.

Old-time musical groups stopped by our area during September. The Grass Roots performed in Phenix City. The Four Tops appeared at the RiverCenter. Yet no one realized it was the 80th anniversary of "Columbus Stockade Blues" until the newspaper mentioned it last Sunday.

Two Columbus radio stations swapped spots on the FM dial in September. I guess we could say "Da Beat" hip-hopped down to 98.3 - but was that other station guilty of "black Magic"?!

The college football season began in September, with Auburn losing two consecutive games at home. For a few days, many people actually would have been happy to see Tommy Tuberville move to Arkansas....

Fort Benning marked a few major events during September. The U.S. Army Infantry marked its 100th anniversary. Then Benning became the first location in the military with a "self-service dog washing facility." Remember, the Infantry fought long and hard for your pets to smell nice.

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: 1905 (+ 24, 1.3%)

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-07 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007


A one-day sale? That's nothing unusual at this time of year. But a one-day sale on 25 December? Now that's downright different. And in Columbus, it might even bring protests - from people complaining about holding a sale on Christmas, after spending hundreds of dollars on gifts leading up to it.

My neighbors turned their radios up loud Tuesday morning, or I never would have known about this sale. Chatman Communications on North Lumpkin Road put cell phones on sale, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon -- a last way out for people who didn't buy a gift for someone, and felt convicted by all the mushy songs up and down the dial.

There had to be more to this three-hour sale, so we took a drive down Victory Drive to find out. Sure enough, Chatman Communications was the only business open in a little strip mall. The business with its "open" light on really wasn't. Is that someone's cheap alternative to an alarm system?

"Are you here to buy a phone?" John Chatman asked from behind the counter as I walked inside around 11:30.

"I'm just here to ask some questions" - and I deferred to the two customers Chatman was helping. It appeared to be a father and teenage daughter. The cell phone was for the daughter, of course - because isn't punching text messages on a Blackberry with your thumbs a more manly thing to do?

The man didn't really care what color the woman's phone would be. "As long as you can dial the number and can hear it ring and talk to somebody at the other end, that's all that matters to me." I should have asked for that man's phone number, and offered to sell him my 13-year-old car.

That family turned out to be John Chatman's fourth sale of the morning. In fact, he told me he's been open on Xmas for eight years. This year was the first time he's advertised it on radio - and considering he advertised on WKZJ-FM, he probably was stunned to see a white guy like me walk in.

"I don't have any kids," John Chatman told me. So on Xmas he opens his North Lumpkin Road store (he has two others around the area), because he's doing what he enjoys. Wow - Warren Buffet enjoys making millions, but I think even he takes 25 December off.

John Chatman says his customers on 25 December are a mix of very last-minute shoppers, and people who "received Christmas money, and they want to spend it." Well, the stores today ARE likely to be a lot more crowded....

John Chatman keeps his store open on New Year's Day, Easter and Thanksgiving as well. He told me he's only been closed a couple of days in eight years, when he went out of town for a conference. With all the phones he sells, he couldn't arrange a teleconference?!

Another customer came in as I, uh, chatted with John Chatman. Someone's phone had been inactive for three months, and she wanted to know how much it would cost to restart it. Isn't it strange -- you have to pay extra to restart a phone, but magazines usually will take you back at a discount.

John Chatman is a Columbus South business owner, and he's optimistic about the future there. He says the next couple of years will bring big changes, especially once the new National Infantry Museum opens. If he has cell phones with designs looking like combat medals, he should do very well....

In fact, John Chatman told me Columbus South Inc. is in negotiations for Victory Drive to finally have a Waffle House. It would be located on the spot where Burger King stood, before it built a new restaurant down the street. And it probably will have one of the tallest signs in town, so drivers along Interstate 185 and U.S. 280 can find it.

So what do you think of John Chatman? Is he a lonely business owner with nothing better to do? Or is he on the front edge of a trend -- and soon stores across Columbus will stay open 25 December, not merely the convenience stores and 24-hour pharmacies? You can't start shopping for Super Bowl parties too early, you know....

Here's what else we noticed on Tuesday, while you may have been preoccupied:

+ A nice strong afternoon rain fell on Columbus. A bird outside my window perched itself on a telephone wire, and didn't even move for a while -- which apparently shows the drought has even affected them. Or can you fill outdoor bird baths with a cup of water, without breaking the rules?

+ CBS Sports showed a made-for-TV, it's-this-or-show-soap-operas golf tournament called the "Chick-fil-A Bowl Alma Mater" at Lake Oconee. Auburn Coach Tommy Tuberville played in it, and made a long putt on one hole - while wishing Brandon Cox could complete a couple of passes that long against Clemson next week.

(Tommy Tuberville revealed during the golf telecast he once ran a restaurant in Tennessee called "Tubby's Catfish." Let's all be thankful no one's put this label on the Auburn swimming teams.)

+ Instant Message to everyone who e-mailed us holiday greetings: Thank you - and we're planning something special for you in January, when this blog marks its fifth anniversary. Please let us know quickly how many of your e-mail addresses you want Cascade Hills Church to investigate.

2007 IN REVIEW, CONTINUED: August featured a big announcement from Columbus State University. President Frank Brown plans to retire next June. At least C.S.U. sportscaster Scott Miller hasn't told fans to sit on a "lucky spot" until a successor is named.

A local newspaper made a startling admission in August. The publisher of The Courier revealed no high school student entered his contest for college scholarships. Maybe next year, he'll learn from this - and open it up to middle-agers who can't afford a better degree.

The Columbus NAACP accused the Fire Department in August of not providing proper training to African-American EMT employees. Never mind that - have those employees received any training in filling out paperwork properly?

Columbus Police made hundreds of arrests during August, as a crackdown called "Operation Safe Streets" began. Many of those suspects are still waiting for Mayor Jim Wetherington to follow his example with Zachary Allen, and give them a Christmas pardon.

Former Columbus Mayor Bob Poydasheff needed replacement surgery in August, after tripping and breaking his hip. He seems to be fully recovered now, so we can all shout, "Hip! Hooray!"

Smiths Station was talking in August about plans to give the mayor a 150-percent raise after the next election. You'll notice no one on Columbus Council is talking that way right now - not even the City Manager.

A recall drive developed in August to kick the mayor of Talbotton out of office. Events of recent weeks show the voters should have left this job to the county sheriff....

Harris County Sheriff Mike Jolley was named President of the Georgia Association of Sheriffs during August. That must have scared some criminals away - because I haven't heard anyone complain about holiday lights being stolen from Callaway Gardens.

Large signs went up across Columbus in August, marking public housing complexes and city buildings. I'm surprised none of those signs have been tagged with spray paint yet - but many young people may have been waiting to receive that as a holiday gift.

Continental Carbon went on an advertising blitz in August, with employees explaining why the company is so good for the Columbus area. Maybe the staff should change its mission a bit - and develop carbon black that seeds passing clouds, so we have rain.

The price of gasoline actually dropped in Columbus during August, to $2.42 a gallon. But it didn't keep dropping during the fall, and now is above $2.80 - so all of you who drove oversized RV's to college football games ought to be ashamed of yourselves.

Do you recall the pre-season college football polls from August - which had Hawaii ranked, but not Alabama? The Associated Press writers now look downright brilliant. And Coach Nick Saban looks smart, for not following his predecessors and scheduling a road trip to Honolulu.

Michael Vick pleaded guilty to federal dogfighting charges in August. Weeks later, the Atlanta Falcons' season again - and fittingly went TO the dogs.

Presidential candidate John Edwards visited Georgia Southwestern State University at the end of August. So did that really help him? I'm not sure anyone's even bothered to take a Presidential poll in Georgia - because Iowa and New Hampshire may settle everything.

August ended with voters rejecting school sales tax questions across East Alabama. The outlook for 2008 doesn't look promising - especially since none of the schools won a state football title, to bring everyone together for a lecture from the principal.

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: 1881 (+ 88, 4.9%)

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-07 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007


True confession: I don't watch "The Office" - either the U.S. or British version. I've assumed all the great workplace jokes were taken by Dilbert in the comics years ago....

But today we're tempted to write some new ones, after obtaining three very large sheets of paper. Your blog has obtained preliminary schematic plans for the Muscogee County School District's new administration building. District officials probably don't want me to use that word "schematic" - because it sounds too much like they're scheming to do something.

We've been given drawings for all three floors - so we can get an idea of how your money is being used for the "Education Services Center." But can we settle one thing here and now, before construction begins? How tall should the sign outside be? I don't want a repeat of that silly library sign debate....

One thing I've learned from those other joke writers is that you always check to see who has the corner office. It's usually a sign of power - as if executives need to look out windows more, to decide what to do.

On the top floor of the Education Services Center, the Superintendent is in line for a corner office. The preliminary plans give him four windows, a private bathroom and -- huh?! A private bathroom?! For washing his hands of those news media interviews, I suppose.

The private bathroom has only one door, from the Superintendent's office. No other school district employee would have this privy - oops, privilege....

But we're not sure how much Superintendent John Phillips is going to like this plan - especially since the schematics from Hecht Burdeshaw misspell "Superintendent" four times. Well, that's why they majored in architecture instead of English.

A smaller corner office would go to the Muscogee County School District Treasurer. His part of the third floor includes rooms for two Executive Assistants, three Administrative Assistants, and a "Superintendent's Administrative Assistant." And then those critics say today's schools have too much bureaucracy.

The L-shaped nature of the Education Services Center actually allows for five corners on the third floor. The other offices are assigned to the Director of Accounting, the Research Director and the Director of the "21sr Century Program." So we may have this debate about an administrative building all over again, in about 90 years.

Large areas on the second and third floors are set aside for "growth." But they don't seem quite big enough to house that new Carver High School....

A round area at one corner of Education Services Center will allow for two conference rooms and a break room on each floor. In fact, I count a total of ten conference rooms in the building - not counting the auditorium where school board meetings would be held. How much business is the Trade Center at risk of losing?

While the top floor of the Education Services Center doesn't seem to have any cubicle, the bottom two floors do. But please don't assume from this that the third-floor workers have an unfair advantage. You can't stick push-pins in wood-grain walls very easily.

(Before district officials write me: the schematics do NOT really say anything about wood-grain walls on the third floor. They also do not indicate if any art work will be on walls, or in the lobby -- so there's hope for Albert Paley to make a comeback in Columbus.)

The only committed corner office on the second floor is set aside for aides to the Chief Human Resources Officer -- but not the actual officer. Those aides must need window space to ease their eyes from handling so many teacher health insurance forms.

The first floor of the Education Services Center has the School Board meeting room, officers for registration and the guidance department -- as well as ten separate offices for psychologists. I never realized working in public schools drove that many employees crazy....

Some of the proposed rooms in the administrative building are admittedly a bit surprising....

+ A kitchen for the school board on the first floor -- but it doesn't look big enough for cafeteria workers to prepare pizza.

+ Eight separate rooms on the second floor for "Benefits." Talk about specialization! One person for health insurance, one for retirement accounts -- and perhaps one for arranging copying discounts at Office Depot.

+ A "Check Writer Room" on the third floor - a short walk away from the "Vault." So if they handle cash and checks, where's the room for credit cards?

+ A small second-floor office marked "Parenting." Some people would argue that ought to be the biggest room of all.

E-MAIL UPDATE: So are you having sweet dreams on this national holiday? Here's what one reader is dreaming about....

i am working on a comic

it is

J Wetherington walking around his office (serving egg nog) in a black trench coat as he entertains some of his Victory Dr. friends---

And he has black socks attached to long garters that meet up with his pink teddy that has an

"I love Columbus' logo on it!

Now now -- I'm not sure Mayor Wetherington even drives down Victory Drive these days. But then again, I didn't follow him out of the Civic Center after Sunday's victory rally for Carver.

Now for other notes from a surprisingly active Monday in the news:

+ The evening news reported on last-minute crowds at Peachtree Mall - but the video looked to me like there was plenty of space for people to walk around, without bumping into each other. I mean, it was nowhere near as bad as the aisles at Piggly Wiggly....

+ Residents at the Springfield Crossing Apartments on North Lumpkin Road reported a water pipe burst over the weekend, leaving messy flooding. This complex was built within the last ten years - so did someone bring a curse over from Elizabeth Canty Homes?

+ The Alabama Governor's office announced Bob Riley will make an economic development trip early next year to Hawaii. Aw c'mon - swallow your pride, save the state some money, and meet Hawaiian state officials at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.

(Perhaps this meeting is in Hawaii because it relates to the planned Kia plant in West Point, or the Hyundai factory in Montgomery. But the Governor had better not come back with scuba-diving pictures....)

+ Instant Message to WLTZ commentator Al Fleming: So everyone should say "Merry Christmas" because our country was founded on God and the Bible?! Please show me where the phrase "Merry Christmas" is even IN the Bible -- and any copies personally autographed by Santa Claus don't count.

2007 IN REVIEW, CONTINUED: July was a month when things went up and down. The temperature went up. The prices of gas and food went up. And the Columbus murder rate went up. They DO say on the CSI shows that everything is connected, you know....

(To be fair: a couple of things actually went down in July - lake levels, and Michael Vick's career.)

The Columbus Airport board felt a bit better in July, when Atlantic Southeast Airways began jet service. The speeding drivers on Interstate 185 now feel more challenged than ever.

The Georgia state Consumer Affairs Office had enough with Bill Heard Chevrolet in July, accusing the car dealer of 16 years of unfair business practices. Some residents quietly called it: "Chevy - a Columbus revolution."

Meanwhile, FBI agents raided a physical therapy office on Armour Road in July. To this day, we haven't been told exactly why - but in a way, I'm waiting for Roger Clemens to issue a statement denying he ever went there.

Longtime Columbus Police officer Byron Hickey filed a lawsuit against the city in July, claiming a couple of years of discrimination. Hickey calls a news conference to announce this - and if the woman injured by Zachary Allen's city vehicle had done the same thing, a long cover-up might have been shortened substantially.

Muscogee County Coroner James Dunnivant resigned in July. If I'm hearing things correctly, one contender for the job in the 2008 election is a current employee of the Columbus RiverCenter -- where I suppose he analyzes whether or not the audience is dead.

A famous name came to town in July, when Iraq war protester Cindy Sheehan visited the Fort Benning gates. So why didn't she come back for the S.O.A. Watch protest in November? Dennis Kucinich and Cynthia McKinney needed all the presidential endorsements they could find....

The Harris County Commission approved a major new development project in July. It's called "The Grove" - and as long as that grove is located near the scenic byway, Keep Columbus Beautiful probably won't mind at all.

Talbotton was in turmoil during July, after word came out about the city bouncing checks worth tens of thousands of dollars. Is there still time to move that new Wal-Mart SuperCenter a little farther down U.S. 80, toward the county line?

The "Adequate Yearly Progress" report on Georgia schools came out in July, showing three Muscogee County high schools fell short. One of them was Carver High - so the principal should have told students at last Sunday's rally to read some books over winter break.

(Days later, the Muscogee County School Board gave Superintendent John Phillips a raise to more than $250,000. Now I'm wondering why the man with a state championship ring on his hand isn't helping the Tiger football team buy some himself.)

Lee County School Superintendent John Painter was effectively fired in July, as the school board moved him to a "Special Assistant" job. Well, at least he can still consider himself special....

Your blog broke some news in July, as we showed damage from a cave-in at Maranatha Baptist Church. I'll give this congregation credit for one thing - no one there is sending e-mails blaming it on the pastor or his board.

Summit Hospital announced more staff cuts in July - and an e-mail to our blog predicted it will either close or become bankrupt by next July. Instead, several Columbus doctors announced buyout plans last week. So is that prediction wrong? Or could a few malpractice suits against those doctors change everything?

Money magazine reported in July that Troy, Alabama has the cleanest air in the U.S. And as long as satellite college campuses keep opening across Phenix City, it should remain that way....

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: 1793 (+ 44, 2.5%)

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-07 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Sunday, December 23, 2007


"We thank you for making Carver High School a football powerhouse for years to come!" This statement Sunday was directed NOT at the Carver football coach - but to God, in a prayer of invocation at a "spirit rally." Perhaps Pastor Marlon Scott misunderstood this, as a HOLY Spirit rally.

The invocation fired up the crowd Sunday afternoon, at a half-filled Columbus Civic Center. They were on hand for a "citywide celebration" of Carver High School's AAA football title. Newcomers who stopped by might have concluded they were in 1970's South Africa - majority African-American, but with a lot of white leaders.

Since I attended the celebration, I can say this with authority - if we're developing "One Columbus," why was the crowd at Sunday's Carver celebration at least 98-percent African-American? Should we conclude the white people were too busy finishing their shopping? Or are they holding their enthusiasm, in case a Little League baseball team wins big next year?

To be fair: a "spirit card" distributed at the Civic Center had a Carver High School team picture - and every player on the team is African-American. At least there are three white assistant coaches. And at least they don't have to be bused in, for racial balance.

The focus Sunday was supposed to be on the Carver football team winning the state title - and for the most part, that happened. The only person to make things political was the most unlikely speaker. Carver Principal Chris Lindsey told the crowd: "We need this sort of turnout, voting for a SPLOST." There's that one-cent sales tax again - but how many more police officers does Carver need?

Wait, hold on: Chris Lindsey wants a one-cent sales tax for education, not public safety. In fact, he said he wants the money "to build a new Carver High School." Uhhhh - shouldn't Columbus High School be first in line, because it's older?

Carver's Principal was the eighth in a series of speakers at the spirit rally. Whoever organized this must not have read the reviews of the Northern Little League rally 16 months ago....

The principal was followed to the stage by Carver head football coach Dell McGee. He provided the most touching moment, when he broke down and couldn't continue his speech. Several players climbed up to surround McGee for moral support - since this was really the only time a Tiger had choked all season.

Dell McGee praised his Carver players for "destroying stereotypes of our school." I'll believe all the stereotypes are gone when Carver contends for the district baseball title.

It was also touching to see Dell McGee carry his young child into the Columbus Civic Center during the rally, and walk that child up to the stage once or twice. OK, you critics -- let's see the evidence that youngster was recruited.

The program at the spirit rally began with each of the Carver football coaches, team managers and players being introduced and walking into the arena. It seemed like the Tigers had three "team managers" for every class. But if the team has 100 players, that makes for a lot of dirty uniforms to wash.

The biggest roar from the crowd came for the last player to be introduced - and of course, that was Carver quarterback DeRon Furr. His family was very sneaky years ago - because little brother LeRon Furr is also on the team, and his introduction faked out some fans.

DeRon Furr never spoke at the spirit rally. In fact, none of the players did - while several politicians did, including the mayor and two members of the Muscogee County School Board. You may be a state champion, but you're not old enough to lecture grownups until commencement night.

Mayor Jim Wetherington spoke first, and held up the animal he offered in a bet with the mayor of Cairo about the AAA finals. Only he called it a "teddy bear," not a stuffed tiger -- once again inviting distrust with city government.

Jim Wetherington announced several "friends of the mayor" have agreed to buy billboard space around Columbus, saluting Carver's state title. Hmmmm - how much surplus money does he still have from last year's campaign?

Let the record show Superintendent John Phillips attended the spirit rally. In fact, he gave a speech - and showed off a state high school championship ring he won years ago. Imagine what he's doing for being named Georgia Superintendent of the Year....

Georgia Congressman Sanford Bishop had one of the funniest lines of the day, as he discussed attending the AAA finals. Both Carver and Cairo High School are in his district. "I have friends who root for Carver, and I have friends who root for Cairo" -- and he decided to root along with some of his friends.

State Rep. Calvin Smyre recalled how he was a substitute teacher at Carver High School in 1971, when the Tigers won a state basketball title. Aha! Take that, Jordan fans - that championship basketball team didn't get a sign at the city limits, either.

Calvin Smyre put on his work hat, and announced Synovus will help pay for championship rings for the Carver High School players. Now why should Synovus have to do this? Isn't Wild Bill's Jewelry right down Buena Vista Road from the school?

The speaker who most seemed to lose his audience was Columbus Councilor Jerry Barnes. He talked about the Carver team's "commonalities," had multiple points in his presentation - and this nurse sounded too much like he was selling health insurance.

The ceremony ended with the presentation of the AAA championship trophy. An official from the Georgia High School Association admitted they stopped handing out trophies at football games about five years ago, because it became "a madhouse." Not to mention players kicking mud all over them at midfield....

The tributes will continue for the Carver Tigers. A championship sign will go up at the city limits, near Shaw's sign for the 2000 football title. The team will be honored by the Georgia General Assembly in January. And the senior players may get free drinks at Skipper's Fish Market until graduation day in May.

Before we depart this happy scene, here are some other notes from a celebratory Sunday:

+ A victory parade began the day, going down Broadway - and it even included the marching band from Carver's rival Spencer. The bands from other Muscogee County high schools obviously didn't want to tip their hands, before the Shaw Basketball Tournament begins this week.

+ At the end of the parade, two fire trucks were parked outside the Civic Center to welcome the team. I asked a firefighter if a celebratory water spray was planned, and he said: "That would make for some cold football players." Yes, it would -- not to mention a violation of state water restrictions.

+ A special DVD was played inside the Civic Center, combining game highlights with messages from local officials. Whoever prepared this needs to listen to the speakers' messages about the importance of education - because they misspelled Alonzo Whitaker's title as "Judge of Enviromental Court." [True!]

+ State Rep. Carolyn Hugley spoke at the spirit rally. School Board member Pat Hugley Green spoke as well. But City Manager Isaiah Hugley did not - as if the crowd would see him, and start calling for the firing of the fire chief.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Now for another Civic Center event, where the crowd probably is a lot whiter....

wanna see dead people come to life?

Be at a Cottonmouths game - it is as quite as a bad party - and when they score - arms start to move then, bodies start to stand up - some noise comes out of them,,, then,, then, they all go back to the way they were...interesting.

This seems to be true of pro hockey, on many levels. Several years ago, I decided the crowd at the old Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto was the quietest in all of sports. Fans only seemed to make noise when the Maple Leafs scored, or a big fight broke out. It's as if they were deprived of doughnuts at the concession stands.

Yet the last time I watched the Cottonmouths, the Civic Center was a noisy place. An ice problem required the third period of a night game to be played at 11:00 the next morning [1 Apr 04]. I was with a group of fans that chanted and clapped from start to finish. And in my case, I can't blame it on drinking too much coffee....

2007 IN REVIEW, CONTINUED: June began with stunning news, as Russell County School Superintendent Vivian Carter. Have you noticed the school board still hasn't finalized an agreement with a replacement? I'm starting to wonder if some board members plan to propose abolishing the job, to save money.

The F.B.I. issued a report in June, showing violent crime in Columbus jumped 20 percent in 2006. But really - we did NOT mean to encourage criminals to try for something bigger during the summer.

The big issue for Columbus Council in June was whether to approve a plan for land around the central library. It was the great debate over "greenspace" - and it was a bit surprising that Al Gore didn't come to town to speak in favor of it.

As the debate raged, Muscogee County school board member John Wells prepared to go on vacation in Spain - and join in Pamplona's "running of the bulls." For some reason, Wells did not invite Josh McKoon of the Education Park Coalition to help him practice.

A Columbus TV commercial caused controversy in June. It warned a proposal to allow live music outside on Broadway would bring immorality. That's funny -- no soldiers seemed to riot, when bands played at "God Bless Fort Benning."

Fort Benning warned soldiers in June against having financial dealings with a firm called "Three Hebrew Boys." It's already bad enough that the official Jewish service on post occurs on Sundays....

For some Alabamians, June's most memorable moment occurred when two state senators got into a fistfight. Why they haven't been invited to appear at a Columbus Cottonmouths game for a rematch, I have no idea....

It wasn't quite a fistfight, but this blog found itself in the middle of an ugly Little League spat during June. I haven't heard from anyone involved with Pioneer Little League in months - so either everyone settled their differences, or they're waiting for the bowl games to end before starting the argument all over again.

A different sort of feud occurred in June, when word leaked that the Phenix City Manager ordered a Russell County SWAT team member to leave a firing range. It's a wonder Bubba Roberts's house on Second Avenue didn't become a target instead.

Aflac announced in June it would become involved with NASCAR racing. That's certainly better than a partnership with the Atlanta Falcons - because at this point, the duck might be rumored as a candidate for head coach.

Flat Rock Park held a different kind of race in June - the Georgia championship of mountain bike racing. Residents of Pine Mountain are still kicking themselves, for not knowing this existed....

The end of June brought several milestones for famous people in the area. Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman was sentenced to prison. Frank Thomas hit his 500th major league home run. And Atlanta baseball manager Bobby Cox tied a record for walk-off.... well, uhhh.... for simply walking off, from ejections.

COMING THIS WEEK: Which Columbus man is in line for a very nice new bathroom....

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: 1749 (- 59, 3.3%)

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-07 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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"What the h**l is wrong with this piece of junk?" That's what a man said at my front door the other night. He was NOT talking about me - though he certainly could have. The man shouldn't have been there. I shouldn't have been there, outside with him. But I heard TV weather experts call for rain, took the warning too seriously -- and locked myself out, while racing to check the car window.

This story actually begins a couple of weeks ago. A man bumped into my car at church, and broke a taillight. I probably never would have noticed, but the man left me a note offering to pay for the damage. Wow - I've been in church groups where members still haven't paid ten-year-old debts.

Because of a busy schedule, I had to wait a few days before I could drive my car to a repair shop. This admittedly was risky, as a broken taillight is enough to get you a ticket under the Columbus Police Department's crime crackdown. Does a cracked light without really mean I'm hiding crack cocaine within?

The big-name car dealer on the north side of town didn't have one important part for the taillight, so it ordered one for me. I was told to come back in a few days to have the work finished. In the meantime, I could drive home -- and my car key was separated from my usual key ring. As if I could walk all the way across town while I was waiting, and go back inside my home to blog....

To save the trouble of putting the car key on my ring for a few days, then taking it off on the return trip, I decided to keep it separate. This was potentially dangerous, as I had to remember one extra thing on trips to work or weekend errands -- and I have trouble remembering which lanes are "turn-only" lanes downtown.

I should have seen trouble coming Wednesday afternoon, when I ran some errands with the separate car key. I only realized when I returned home that I'd left the regular key ring behind - the one with my house key on it. But thankfully, I keep a spare house key in my wallet. And thankfully, no beggar has ever told me they need one more key to finish a personal collection.

But then at 6:00 p.m. Wednesday, the TV weather experts told me rain was coming Thursday. I realized I left my car window cracked open about an inch, on a warm afternoon. So I grabbed that car key, figuring it would only take a minute to roll up that window - then locked the front door, not thinking it would take me 90 minutes to get back inside.

I immediately realized I'd locked the front door without a wallet or key ring - so I ran to the car to finish that deed, then ran to my neighbors standing outside for help. One of the them said "Oh-oh" as I approached, and they all became silent. But I really don't think they expected me to rob them.

"Does anyone have a phone and a phone book?" I asked. My next-door neighbor actually doesn't have a phone - not even a cell phone. He let me have his AT&T phone book when it landed on the porch in October. So if a Russell County grand jury wants my notes about Hurtsboro, that extra book is the one it may receive.

Regular blog readers will recall I've pulled this lockout stunt before. In fact, I think I've locked myself out of my apartment four times in the last four years. I was guarding against crime -- and probably wound up paying locksmiths more than a membership in a neighborhood association costs.

I couldn't remember which locksmith came to my rescue before. So I used a neighbor's cell phone to dial "A Affordable." Shame on me for giving business to a company with grammatical difficulties....

The locksmith came after about 30 minutes, which is par for the course. I waited outside on a chilly evening in a T-shirt and running shorts, but wore the wrong shoes for taking a jog around the neighborhood. It was just as well - as I was in more of a mood for kicking rocks, if not myself.

A man wearing an "Old Corp" hat eventually arrived, and came to the front door. At least I'd turned on a porch light for him, while I did my one-minute trip to the car. But he still needed one of those new fancy multi-beam flashlights in the dark - one that changes colors to the point where you'd think he bought it at a rock concert.

Trouble was, the locksmith couldn't get my lock open. He'd been opening locks all day since 8:00 a.m., he muttered under his breath, only to struggle now with mine. I didn't dare say a word of criticism about it - because how can you accuse someone of incompetence, when you've just shown you're guilty of the same thing?

The locksmith had to stop for a moment as he battled my lock. "The smoke gets in your eyes," he explained - smoke from the tipped cigarette he was smoking, as he worked against a solid door. Perhaps he's worked the rest of the day on screen doors, which filtered the smoke.

I told the locksmith on the other occasions when I blew it, repair people went to the back door. After about 15 minutes of frustration, he decided to go there - even though the only extra light he had there was a half-moon. If it has enough space in the cracks for cockroaches to crawl inside during summer....

As the locksmith fought at the back door, my next-door neighbor opened his. I explained the struggle the professional was having. "I wish you luck," the neighbor said as he closed his door. Luck?!?! As if the locksmith is spinning slots at Victoryland?

After nearly 30 minutes of unsuccessful work, the locksmith went back to his van for more tools, then returned to the front door and kept trying. "It usually doesn't take this long," he said under his breath.

"Yeah," I said quietly. I knew all too well, from experience.

It was getting chilly after an hour outside. My hands were in my shorts pockets, as the sweatered locksmith tried the "card in the door" trick without success. "One time," he pleaded at one point - making that thought about slot machines seem even more fitting.

A second time the locksmith went to his van, then battled on. "These Chinese locks are tough," he eventually explained to me. "Not impossible to open, but tough." Apparently China made these to frustrate U.S. residents, before turning to lead-based paint.

"That will be 50 dollars," the locksmith finally said as he stood up after close to an hour of work.

"Whenever?!" I asked. I thought he was ready to give up, to have me call another locksmith -- and he should have realized if I didn't carry my house key outside, I probably didn't carry a checkbook or wallet.

After asking that question, the locksmith quietly pushed open my front door. He made that statement because he was finally successful - not merely saying something to keep a conversation going.

I hurried inside to grab a checkbook to pay the locksmith 50 dollars. He told me to write the check in his name, after I asked him to remind me of his company. The better for avoiding bad recommendations that way, I suppose....

So why am I sharing this long frustrating evening? To make a point - that your blogger as nowhere near as smart as some readers sometimes take him to be. I can be downright stupid at times. And I don't need any e-mailer from Hurtsboro or the Government Center to tell me I am, because I already know.

In fact, I felt that all the way to the car repair shop the next day, when the repairs were finished and the car key returned to my ring. There's a deeper lesson here, one that "Nationalist Movement" in Mississippi could learn - sometimes integration can be a very good thing.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Readers have plenty of things on their minds this weekend - beginning with Friday's main topic....

Were you at the Chamber meeting? Or are you just reporting what some reporter said? If you had been there, you would know that the Mayor said he would take the question of a referendum to Council early next year -- not next month. He also said that the reason he was looking at expanding the jail is that there are now about 200 inmates sleeping on the floor, and the Justice Department will make us build additional cells. Without the sales tax, the jail will have to be built out of general fund money. The mayor also said that he is still working on "the plan" for using the money raised by a sales tax, and so I suggest we citizens give him the time to work it out and lay it out before us instead of dismissing it out of hand.

I thought I heard a TV reporter say "next month," and I also heard "next year." But hey, next month IS early next year - unless Mayor Jim Wetherington plans to follow the Chinese New Year, and wait until February.

Keep in mind our "law and order" mayor has had almost a year to think about how to improve public safety. So if a one-cent sales tax is the best way, why wait to present it to Columbus Council? What could possibly delay such a.... oh wait, I forgot. When is the report on the Zachary Allen case being delivered?

I didn't realize almost 200 people were sleeping on the floor at the Columbus city jail. If you're thinking about committing a crime, keep that in mind - as you're far more likely to get a cot right now at the Valley Rescue Mission.

Now to the other side of public safety - as someone sent us a short article from the Ledger-Enquirer:

See ? That's what I'm talking about... Why wasn't Capt. Hawk arrested for Rreckless Driving ? And I didn't mean writing reports was demeaning or degrading other than his fellow officers know about what happened. Also, he can't work ANY p/t jobs currently. That cost him approx. $400 per month.

The article revealed Columbus Police Captain J.D. Hawk was arrested in late October on Manchester Expressway, for driving 103 miles per hour in his personal car. He was stopped by a Georgia State Patrol officer in a 65 mile-per-hour zone. Perhaps it wasn't "reckless driving" because Mr. Hawk didn't change lanes.

It took almost two months for the Ledger-Enquirer to report on the speeding ticket for J.D. Hawk - and the newspaper had to file an "open records" request to get the details. If they're going "hyper-local," as some advisers to newspapers suggest, the Ledger-Enquirer has to improve on this. Let's see the divorce filings at least once a week, too.

But let's think more happily here. Isn't it wonderful that Carver won the state AAA football title, and is getting a big parade down Broadway today? Aren't we all thrilled that.... well, no....

Ten of the starters on Carver's team did not start out at Carver..I don't blame the kids, I blame the district who allows recruting and the parents who see nothing wrong with it..Why was Shaw not honored on the same level as Carver when they won the state football title and state baseball title in the same year?

From what I've heard over the years, "recruiting" of Muscogee County students may not be limited to athletics. Hardaway High School teachers have been jealous at times, because Columbus High's magnet program pulls in many potentially strong students. Maybe we need to have something like a sports draft, for all eighth-graders.

Why didn't Shaw High receive a parade seven years ago? That was a couple of mayors ago, so perhaps you should ask Judge Bobby Peters that question. The fact that he's a Hardaway graduate probably had absolutely nothing to do with it....

I'm guessing the difference in attention this year is because people have come to expect Shaw High School to have strong sports teams, but not Carver. For several years, the winner of the season-opening Carver-Spencer football game couldn't be sure it would win any others.

Our last e-mail is about a different sport - and we all agree this is a sport, right?

I notice you have noted several times lately about playing in local poker tournaments. Could you give me some info on where you play? I have been looking to get some more across the felt poker experience as lately I play only online. I used to belong to a poker club in Detroit, Michigan that held weekly events and was exclusive to their own members. It was never quote unquote cash games but the games did have a fee or buy in so to speak and the winner did "win something in the effect of credit at the club towards food/drink etc". I thought it was a pretty good system.

Not sure how the poker scene works here in the Columbus area. I have heard several bars & clubs say they have a holdem poker tournament but I never remember where ... when ... buy in??? Would love to give it a go at your poker spot if you don't mind sharing. If you do ... well thats fine too and I respect your right to poker privacy ;) .

Do you ever play online? I wont bore you with favorite poker rooms online but would say I do have a favorite poker forum online. Http:// just in case you get bored & want to look around. Not a huge site but lots of "friendly" goombas.

Thanks for writing your blog I love it.



When my schedule permits, I play in the 8:00 p.m. ET Thursday tournaments at Lil Kim's Cove, two blocks down from the Civic Center on Fourth Street. Head toward the bridge. You'll probably find a card game if you head two blocks in the other direction - but that's the Booker T. Washington Apartments, and I can't guarantee the players won't cheat.

Based on what I've been told, two other places in Columbus with weekly poker nights are the Sports Page on Veterans Parkway and the Memory Lane club in midtown. I suggest calling them for nights, times and rules. All you have to do at Lil Kim's Cove is buy one drink - and the server knows by now I drink Diet Coke, even though I could stagger one block to my home after a few beers.

The web site where I play online poker from time to time is one the big-time stars don't promote on TV - Yahoo Games. You have a pretend bank account, but there are limits on how much you can bet at one time. It's as if Yahoo heard those Georgia Lottery commercials which warn, "Play responsibly."

Thanks to all of you for writing - and now let's check some weekend headlines:

+ Federal Judge Clay Land questioned a confidential informant in the Kenneth Walker case. Talk about confusing - this man supposedly tipped off police to Kenneth Walker, then signed an affidavit claiming he gave false information to police, and now says he made that claim merely out of sympathy for Walker's widow?! There are soap operas on TV with simpler plots than this....

+ The Georgia Department of Transportation suspended all road construction until Wednesday morning. The official reason: the state is helping holiday traffic flow smoothly. The unofficial translation: Governor Perdue ordered cuts in holiday pay and overtime.

+ In a bizarre preview of the Sugar Bowl, the Georgia men's basketball team handled Hawaii 67-59. The way Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan runs the spread offense, sports books in Nevada might take bets on whether the football score is higher or lower.

+ Instant Message to the seven or eight people who crossed 11th Street in the middle of the block last Sunday in front of my car, heading for church: Did you repent of that once the service began? Or did you have angelic protection I didn't see?

2007 IN REVIEW, CONTINUED: May began with the Phenix City Council changing its mind, about giving a tax incentive for a furniture distribution center. I'm not sure if the withdrawal has affected economic development since - but I DID see a sofa-love seat sale the other day, at a deserted Columbus gas station. [True!]

The Columbus City Manager suggested in May a one-cent sales tax might be needed, to pay for city expenses involved with base realignment. So will this be on top of the proposed one-cent sales tax for public safety? City officials need to be like a glass of milk in the new year - and make their "two-cents plain."

A former executive with the Ledger-Enquirer found an unusual hobby in May. Billy Winn conducted a "tour of Columbus murders." Yet for some reason, no one's blamed him for the summer crime surge....

Only days later, Columbus Police announced a new crackdown on littering. For some of us, this was NOT good news. The chances of finding thrown-away winning lottery tickets on the sidewalk have gone way down.

The "Stocking Strangler" murder case received national attention in May, when author David Rose toured the country promoting his book "The Big Eddy Club." So far, no group at Eddy Middle School has dared to claim this name for itself.

Columbus State University granted a political science degree in May, to a 77-year-old man. Why, he's old enough to remember when the negative campaign commercials were only on radio.

ABC News sent a "Nightline" crew to Columbus in May, to interview Aflac executive Dan Amos. Amos even took a reporter fishing - and all that reminds me: has the Chattahoochee River been too dry this year to have that rubber duck race?

Speaking of which, the drought became serious across the Southeast during May. A wildfire hundreds of miles away spread smoke across Columbus. Debate raged over who was ignoring state water restrictions. But I'm still waiting for Joanne Cavis from the Extension Office to tell us how to cook pasta dinners with half the water.

We broke the news during May that the Spanish-language "Radio Continental" was making a comeback, on Columbus FM radio. Owners then told a TV station the return would occur in December. But I haven't heard it on the air yet - and I haven't even heard rappers on down the dial in Spanish, either.

The local baseball became serious in May, as Columbus State reached the national Division II finals. That followed Glenwood winning an Alabama high school baseball title. Let the record show that team hasn't received a parade through Phenix City, either - as if there would be room for one on Broad Street, during Streetscape construction.

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: 1808 (- 115, 6.0%)

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-07 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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