30 JUN 08: SLEDGE HAMMERED
" I fear the local newspaper is becoming an anachronism," a woman told me over the weekend. If the woman is using a big word like "anachronism," I doubt she's someone who would leave a comment in the "Sound Off" section.
BLOG EXCLUSIVE: Your blog has been told one of the best-known names at the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer will leave the newspaper's staff this week. Kaffie Sledge's last day apparently will be Friday -- so please, can we all get along at Thunder on the Hooch?
Perhaps without even trying, Kaffie Sledge has become one of the most divisive people in Columbus. Some people agree with her columns in the Ledger-Enquirer. Other people can't stand them, and by extension can't stand her. I'm not sure anyone has arranged peace talks between Sledge and Doug Kellett yet.
Yet also perhaps without trying, Kaffie Sledge has become one of the most public voices for the African-American community in Columbus. Even though the Columbus Times is free, that doesn't mean a lot of Euro-American people drive south of Airport Thruway to pick one up.
Kaffie Sledge also has upset some people by taking liberal views on issues. A good number of Ledger-Enquirer readers want everyone on the paper to be just like them - and they somehow think Tim Chitwood and Brad Barnes actually are.
But before the Columbus right-wingers organize a victory dance, be advised - we're also told Kaffie Sledge is being offered a "retirement package" similar to what Richard Hyatt received. That means Sledge may keep writing occasional columns for the Ledger-Enquirer. Or she could go into complete obscurity, and take the open Editor position at The Courier.
We're also told the same sort of retirement package is being offered to veteran Ledger-Enquirer reporter Mick Walsh. This is apparently his last week on the staff as well. Put all these retired reporters together, and the Gallops Senior Center might have the best newsletter in town.
The retirement packages are part of a company-wide belt-tightening by McClatchy newspapers. Yet on my May vacation, I reviewed two McClatchy papers in Missouri and saw no sign of the serious cuts being made in Columbus. Why, the Kansas City Star still could afford color pictures on the front page....
The departure of these veteran reporters has some Ledger-Enquirer readers concerned. The woman who said "anachronism" over the weekend also expressed concern the Columbus daily newspaper might go out of business someday. Is this really possible? And without the paper, could WLTZ still be the "most powerful news source in the Chattahoochee Valley?"
(Some companies might not mind if the Ledger-Enquirer went out of business. Paper towel sales would soar, for lining the bottoms of bird cages.)
Here's hoping the Ledger-Enquirer doesn't go out of business completely. For one thing, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution bailed out of Columbus a couple of years ago. For another thing, Boy Scout paper drives will lose a lot of money.
>> Our latest blog deals with Columbus poker, and the interesting things that happen there. Try the all-new "On the Flop!" <<
THE BIG BLOG QUESTION about Columbus Council meetings ended Sunday - and 10 out of 12 voters oppose the proposal to limit how often members of the public can speak. So if you watch CCG-TV on a regular basis, it's up to you to press the mute button.
Councilor Red McDaniel's proposal would limit public speakers at Columbus Council meetings to one appearance per month. One e-mailer prior to our poll suggested the speaking time limit be cut from five minutes to two. This would be roughly the same as a trim from "Open Mic Night" at The Loft to an American Idol audition.
Several people commented during our poll that it's all about Columbus Council hearing from the people they're supposed to serve. Of course, there are other ways for the public to express their views. But for some reason, the Fraternal Order of Police removed those billboards with Councilors' phone numbers.
One commenter actually accused Columbus Council of desiring "to dictate, rule and control the population, money and future of Columbus." Now that seems a bit harsh. We could have Zimbabwe's government running the city - then everyone would have been chased down with chainsaws, and forced to attend the Aflac Outdoor Games.
Another voter called Columbus Councilors "very rude" during public speaking time -- adding: "They stop listening AND caring after five minutes." Perhaps all the candidates in this election should be tested for attention deficit disorder.
Then there was the voter who admitted some public speakers "talk about the same stuff over and over again" - but added: "A lot of information has come from people going before council.... that I wouldn't have known about otherwise." For instance, countless law school students have been helped with their homework by Paul Olson citing state statute numbers.
We don't often have three Big Blog Questions in a row - but right now we do. The current commercial on TV compels me to do it. The Fourth of July feud at Fireworks Outlet (check the bottom ad at our link) simply must be resolved. You know, before it gets too explosive....
Now let's check a small stack of weekend news headlines....
+ The Aflac Outdoor Games concluded at South Commons. Yet for some reason, the event's web site has not posted any results. Do we really have to watch ESPN in October, to find out who cooks the best barbecue plates in Columbus?
(Stihl saws were a big sponsor of the Aflac Outdoor Games - so big that a small plane flew the company's logo around South Commons for hours. Maybe by next June, "Mike and Mike in the Morning" finally will have their own blimp.)
+ Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue issued a statement of mourning on the death of UGA VI - the University of Georgia real-life bulldog mascot. All the tributes for this dog leave me asking a question. Did the Georgia baseball coach know UGA VI was sick? And if so, why didn't he mention it in a motivational speech to help win the College World Series?
(UGA VI is being buried today at Sanford Stadium in Athens -- which strikes me as fascinating, because I have yet to hear anyone suggest burying Vince Dooley or Larry Munson there.)
+ Instant Message to the Piggly Wiggly store on River Road: Have you changed your photocopied ads at the entrance yet? I mean, Kinko's is NOT that far away -- and I'm probably not the only one who was disappointed this weekend to find a gallon of milk cost $1.10 more than expected.
SCHEDULED TUESDAY: Yet another local media departure.... someone making quite a career change....
To offer a story tip, make a PayPal donation, advertise to our readers 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: 784 (- 32. 3.9%)
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.
© 2003-08 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.