31 JUL 08: WAY OVER THE LINE
"Hot Tip" declared the title of an e-mail we received Wednesday. So? It's the end of July. Lots of things are hot, if they're not left in the shade....
But no, this Hot Tip was political in nature:
Richard, Someone called me yesterday to tell me that the Probate Judge of Lee Cty, AL (Bill English) has ruled that the Democratic candidate for Commissioner of District 3 (the Smiths Station area) does not live in District 3 and is therefore disqualified. According to the info provided me, this candidate has voted in District 3 for the last 18 years and was not told when he qualified to run for office that his address was not in District 3. He qualified for this position several months ago and has been campaigning. I was told that the Probate Judge will allow someone else to take his place on the ballot if they come forth by Aug lst. Otherwise I suppose the Republican candidate automatically wins. You may want to check this out even though my sources are generally quite reliable.
I wonder why this did not come up earlier. Did the Republican candidate request an investigation or did the Probate Judge just decide to investigate? Why was it not noticed when he gave his address on the day he qualified? Has he been voting in the wrong district for 18 years? And if so, how many others are also voting in the wrong districts? Or maybe it doesn't matter until you decide to run for elected office.
This Hot Tip reached us before 12:00 noon, and we tried to confirm it as best we could. We called the Lee County Probate Judge's office -- but after reaching the assistant to ask for Bill English, his phone simply rang and rang. You'd think one of Alabama's fastest-growing counties would have purchased some answering machines by now.
A verbal message left for the Probate Judge never was returned Wednesday afternoon, so we tried another approach. With no candidate's name to go on, we called the Lee County Democratic Chair -- but at our post time, she also had not returned our message. The Barack Obama campaign puts out political fires much faster than this....
A man answered the home phone of Lee County Democratic Chair Patsy Boyd Parker. When we mentioned the Hot Tip, he told us: "That's going to be a newspaper story...." OK - so why can't you tell a blogger? Is the Opelika-Auburn News buying the silence of politicians?
We also called the Lee County Board of Registrars about this issue. But the staff knew nothing about the fuss, and referred us to the Probate Judge. This board apparently sticks to.... well, to registraring....
With three main doors closed for information, we had to wait on the newspaper to explain what really happened. A story posted Wednesday night confirmed John Johnson of Salem has withdrawn from the Lee County District 3 Commissioner race, because he's actually in District 5. It's yet another example of what can happen when men refuse to look at maps.
(Hurtsboro Constable Robert Schweiger seemed to suspect the same thing about his opponents for Russell County Commission in June. But then again, he only told me that after he decided against endorsing either of them in the runoff.)
John Johnson filed for Lee County Commissioner in April. He says he did everything right - until Probate Judge Bill English called him and said county officials had made a mistake. We don't know if Johnson offered a little (ahem) choice English of his own, in response....
John Johnson says he's knocked on a lot of doors in Lee County District 3. Now he's concerned other candidates will get the surprise phone call he received, unless something is done. Trouble is, Alabama's Attorney General usually intervenes only after people vote - and Johnson was an unopposed Democrat in the primary.
The Opelika-Auburn News story does not answer some of the questions in our Hot Tip. For instance, we don't know who alerted the Probate Judge to the boundary question. I'm guessing it's a recent Auburn University graduate, who had to find some way to justify a geography degree.
It's also not clear if Lee County Democrats will be allowed to find a backup candidate, to run against Republican Gary Long in District 3. If the deadline really is the end of the week, voters in this district could have a true choice in November - the Long or the short of it.
We'll see if anyone bothers calling us back about this mess. Remember, Columbus Council candidate Bert Coker didn't return our call for a week -- and the more officials learn about our blog, the more challenged they are to develop an official statement that's joke-proof.
So while the Hot Tip cools down, we'll see what else grabbed our attention Wednesday:
+ Our "Burkard Bulk Mail Index" went above the 1,000 mark for the first time since late February. Either the U.S. economy is starting to turn around, or spammers finally have figured out a tricky new foreclosure scam.
+ Columbus Police announced several arrests, for theft from a Dolly Madison warehouse on Andrews Avenue. Among other things, the suspects are accused of stealing numerous cupcake pans. If you're going to try to sell counterfeit Twinkies, I think you need a lot more than this.
(Police say stolen cupcake pans and "sweet roll screens" were worth several million dollars. The people who did this deserve to go to prison - to cool off on their own personal wire racks.)
+ The Phenix City Police training facility was named after City Manager Bubba Roberts. He certainly deserves this honor - considering how many Russell County officers he's chased away from the grounds in recent years.
(WRBL showed a sign at the facility, which says: "TRAIN OR DIE." At this time of year, countless football players are doubting whether there's really a choice between the two.)
+ Georgia state officials announced some highway construction will be suspended for the next four days - because of the sales tax holiday. Aw, c'mon! Are that many Fort Benning soldiers really planning to drive to Peachtree Mall?
(WXTX "News at Ten" found a woman who drove from Barbour County to Columbus a day early, to "scout out the stores" for the sales tax holiday. I assume she needs that big savings to pay for the gasoline she burned making two round-trips.)
+ A dead body was found inside the restroom of a Delta Air Lines flight, after it landed in Atlanta. That's shocking and sad - but it could have been much worse. If a second dead body had been found, Delta would have imposed a 50-dollar surcharge.
In the first half of 2008, our number of unique visitors jumped 23 percent from last year. To advertise to our readers, 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: 1030 (+ 42, 4.3%)
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.
© 2003-08 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.