31 JUL 07: THE BUCK STOPS SOMEWHERE
The Monday news seemed to be filled with stories about money. Columbus agencies are asking for a lot of it, from a number of different places. Yet none of them seem to be following the lead of the late Russell County School Superintendent Jack Russell - by going to Biloxi to gamble.
The city of Columbus is looking to the federal government, to help pay for cleanup from the March 1 storms. Emergency Management Deputy Director Riley Land told WRBL the city's cost is about $770,000 - so I suppose he's seeking a Land grant.
The federal government recently provided about $500,000 to the city, to cover part of the storm cleanup cost. If Washington doesn't come up with the rest of the money, I'm not sure what the city will do. Perhaps the prison inmates who help with trash disposal will have to drop down to two meals a day for a while.
Meanwhile, Congressman Sanford Bishop is promoting the benefits Columbus will receive from a House appropriations bill. If it's approved, tens of thousands of dollars would be provided for an after-school program at the Liberty Theatre. If you're turned down for the leading role, you go help train future understudies.
The House spending bill also includes money for the Muscogee County Junior Marshals program. The Marshal's Department explains this helps young people see the positive side of law enforcement. How many lollipops does this agency have to buy?
The evening news suggested the Junior Marshals program can keep young people away from crime during summer, especially after the recent surge of murder cases in Columbus. But did I miss something here? I thought the prime suspect in the Cross Creek killings was 24 years old....
Then there's Alabama Governor Bob Riley, who bragged Monday about his state's fire departments have obtained $2.4 million in federal Homeland Security grants. You have to admit the money's been effective - because we have yet to hear a single report of a terrorist attacking rural Chambers County.
Governor Bob Riley reports Alabama is second only to Pennsylvania, in the amount of federal Homeland Security money for fire departments. Is this really something to brag about? Couldn't it really mean some Alabama fire crews are risking fiery eruptions inside their own trucks?
For all this praising and wishing about federal money, I have to ask a potentially silly question. Why not give that cash directly to the local governments and agencies? Why send the money via Washington - especially since some mutual funds in this area might offer a higher rate of return?
Awhile back, one Congress-watching group declared federal money for the Junior Marshals Program an example of wasteful "pork-barrel" spending. Supporters said that wasn't really true - but I didn't hear any of them announce a fund-raising "buy a badge" drive. Maybe they're still waiting for backers of former Marshal Ken Suddeth to turn their badges in.
It seems many governments and agencies are so tight on money, they're looking to Washington to bail them out. ABC News likes to say of such projects, "It's your money." But maybe not - because the "national debt" and borrowing limit is ridiculously high.
If these agencies asked the community for the money they're seeking from Washington, generous local residents might see the need for their projects and provide the financial support. But then, that support could have some strings attached -- and before you know it, we'll have the "Striffler-Hamby Mortuary Liberty Theatre."
On the other hand, the agencies might get a big surprise - and one they don't want to see. The community might choose NOT to fund their projects, considering them not worth the effort. Even Circle K has had to deal with that - so we're down to about 80 stores in Columbus, instead of 85.
My point of all this is to suggest we do what Geico Insurance claims it's done - eliminate the middleman. Keep the tax money at home for needy projects, instead of sending it to Washington and waiting for Congress to send it back. Just because the project is "OUR pork" doesn't mean it's any better - and it certainly doesn't mean it's become Lean Cuisine chicken.
E-MAIL UPDATE: Sorry, there's nothing here about restaurants today....
Please take a moment to view a news video of "The Search For a Soldier, parts 1 and 2 at www.wtvm.com As you will see, this Foundation is striving to become a headquarters for family members who have found themselves in similar situations the Davises faced upon the disappearance of Richard. Please feel free to forward this information to anyone you feel may be interested in protecting the well being of our military families.
The Richard T. Davis Foundation for Peace
**Information regarding a forthcoming Benefit for the Foundation is being compiled at this writing.
The special report on TV last week focused on a Fort Benning soldier who vanished in 2005. The Army considers him a deserter. The family fears he's been harmed in some way. And thankfully, some terrorist group hasn't posted a tape of him on YouTube.
But as you consider this soldier, keep in mind what happened to a minister's wife from Baldwin County, Alabama. She went to a women's religious conference in Louisiana, disappeared after stepping away for something to eat - and months later, police announced Monday the woman had pawned her wedding ring and moved to New York. I don't think the Lord moves in ways quite THAT mysterious....
Now a quick check of other Monday headlines:
+ The Lee County School Board named two "short-term interim" superintendents. Before you say the words "short-term" and "interim" are redundant, remember one thing - Ed Richardson.
+ The evening news climbed aboard the rolling CharBroil grill, attending the restaurant's grand opening in Phenix City. The manager said his goal is to use as many local vendors as possible. So somebody apparently learned a lesson, from all those plant layoffs....
+ Georgia NAACP President Ed DuBose called a news conference in Atlanta, urging people NOT to presume Michael Vick is guilty before he stands trial. That's true, of course - and don't we remember how well DuBose applied that standard to David Glisson?!
+ Wire service reports indicated Atlanta's baseball team will trade young catcher Brian Saltalamacchia to Texas, for first baseman Mark Teixeira. This seems like an even trade - as both players have names which are practically impossible to spell.
(You can tell the Texas Rangers are a desperate team when they trade away a player which all the fans can call "Tex.')
+ Instant Message to "Mr. Opportunity": I already own a Honda. So please knock a little gentler on my TV screen, OK? It's more than ten years old - and I might have to buy a new set before I buy a new car.
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