Sunday, November 30, 2008


Well, what do you know - my weekend college football predictions were two-thirds right. And I'm so happy by the one I had wrong, I still feel like all's right with the world....

BIG PREDICTION UPDATE: My big hunch proved right Saturday, when Georgia Tech topped Georgia 45-42. Maybe it's simply a sign I'm getting older - because a polling firm actually did a survey on the game, and found people are more likely to support the Yellowjackets as they age.

Georgia Tech trailed 28-12 at the half, but rallied to win by rushing for a total of 409 yards. If you think about it, this only makes sense - since people aren't normally "ramblin'" when they're traveling by air.

Georgia Tech's defense held Georgia's Knowshon Moreno to 97 yards in rushing. He could have been in the running for the Heisman Trophy - but he needed to run for more.

Both Georgia and Georgia Tech wind up with 9-3 records, but they're being viewed in very different ways. Some call Georgia Tech the top team in the Atlantic Coast Conference, while the Sin City Inquisition and Bar-B-Q blog in East Alabama calls this Georgia's worst season since Mark Richt became coach. And you thought rivalry games don't matter?!

It appears Georgia will play in Orlando 1 January in the "Capital One Bowl" - possibly against Ohio State. This could open the door for a Columbus vs. Columbus bet on the game. But Mayor Jim Wetherington may have given up all betting, when he became headmaster at Calvary Christian School.

WRBL reported Senator Saxby Chambliss was at the Georgia-Georgia Tech game. The UGA grad reportedly wore garb from both schools -- which makes him look even more desperate than Sheriff Ralph Johnson with that public forum.

(If Jim Martin was at the game, the Saturday night news reports didn't mention it. Maybe he made a sneaky trip to Chicago, and submitted a resume to the Obama transition team.)

On the other side of the state line, Alabama annihilated Auburn 36-0. This started as the Iron Bowl, but wound up more like the Iron Fist Bowl....

Nick Saban coached the most lopsided Iron Bowl win since 1962. But perhaps more noteworthy, it was Alabama's first shutout win in the Iron Bowl since the national title season of 1992 -- in which Alabama beat Florida to win the Southeastern Conference championship. Is there still time to move next week's game to Legion Field?

With Larry Munson's retirement, Alabama's Eli Gold has become the most colorful college sportscaster in the Southeastern Conference. At one point Saturday he noted the Tide was up "22-nil - which means 22 to nothing, for those of you who don't follow soccer." I'm not sure even the Auburn youth soccer league uses that word....

(Then there the surprising revelation from Eli Gold that he saw Alabama native Taylor Hicks performing in "Grease" on Broadway. Eli Gold, on Broadway?! Well, he WAS born in Brooklyn - and his body does seem built for a Broader Way.)

Over in the Auburn broadcast booth, Stan White described a fourth-quarter march by Alabama as a "hobnail boot" drive. Nice try, Stan - but you need a gruffer voice to copy Larry Munson's phrases.

Auburn winds up with a 5-7 record, and no post-season game for the first time in nine years. The Tigers needed the Iron Bowl to advance to a bowl - but if you can't win the bowl for making a bowl, your season is little more than bowl-oney.

Somebody's gotta say it - Auburn was 4-2 with Tony Franklin as offensive coordinator, and 1-5 after Tommy Tuberville fired him. If Franklin winds up as the new head coach of Mississippi State, we'll know who to give partial credit for it....

(And another thing: if this was baseball, wouldn't we already declare Auburn under the DeRon Furr curse?)

But Alabama's red elephant was the only one to smile this weekend. The Gainesville High School Red Elephants lost to Carver 28-14, in the AAA playoffs. So much for that childhood joke -- how do you stop a red elephant? Take away his book collection....

Carver won a coin toss Saturday, and will host Cairo in the AAA semifinals next Friday. Let's be polite now, football fans. Just because the Syrupmakers are coming, you should NOT throw french toast sticks at them.

Oh yes, I almost forgot - my alma mater Kansas proved one of my predictions wrong, by upsetting Missouri 40-37. After checking the schedule, I'm hoping this might put the Jayhawks in the Independence Bowl. I could adjust work commitments to travel to that game - although it admittedly sounds weird to long for a trip to Shreveport, Louisiana.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Our Friday "Spam-a-Rama" special moved a candidate to comment....


I'm surprised you didn't included some of the local politItitians in your assessment of spam messages with political themes. The Ledger Enquirer Editorial Board did, they declared Sheriff Ralph Johnson as earlier winner of the Sheriffs Race, "I appears they were wrong about that too". VOTE! MARK LAJOYE MUSCOGEE COUNTY SHERIFF 2012.

But I didn't receive any spam messages about local candidates -- at least nothing mentioning their names in the title. I did find this one in the archives, though....


Having no opposition for re-election makes it easy, Mr. Countryman.

OVERHEARD OVER HERE: A group of men is talking about our country's financial mess. One is pondering where to invest his money.

"Put it in a loan office?! No wait, they depend on credit...."

While you ponder that deep discovery, we'll check other notes from the holiday weekend:

+ More than two-and-a-half inches of rain fell on Columbus. The timing was absolutely perfect for me. I took a Friday evening nap around 8:00 -- and it wound up lasting ten hours, with one short break to turn off the lights.

+ A gas fight seemed to erupt in Ladonia, as three stations along U.S. 80 lowered their prices to $1.60 a gallon. Several places in Opelika have the lowest price in Alabama, at $1.57. This is what happens when they play the Iron Bowl in Tuscaloosa.

+ Columbus fire crews were called at least twice to Golden Park, because emergency alarms mysteriously sounded. C'mon now - I wasn't jogging THAT fast when I went by it Thursday.

+ Several reports indicated the Columbus Chamber of Commerce wants Susan Andrews named Muscogee County School Superintendent. This is a little surprising to me - since she's currently in Harris County, and the other finalists would mean a lot more money for local moving companies.

+ The Springer Opera House premiered its year-end production of "Peter Pan." WLTZ attended a rehearsal, and showed some of the actors really do fly -- which makes you wonder why it's not sponsored by the Columbus Airport.

+ The Auburn men's basketball team lost to Northern Iowa 67-61. This may sound bad, but remember -- Northern Iowa plays in the Missouri Valley Conference. Auburn's team simply is down, as in a valley.

+ Instant Message to WRBL: Now wait a minute here! It's one year since the Manchester plant explosion - yet it's a "developing story"?! What's developed about it since last December? Or does that phrase mean you shot the video with a film camera?

SCHEDULED THIS WEEK: Can a disabled man become a police chief? We're told someone in our area did....

The number of unique visitors to our blog is up 32 percent from last year. To advertise to them, offer a story tip, make a PayPal donation 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: 1,004 (- 80, 7.4%)

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.

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Friday, November 28, 2008


Did I miss it - or did Barack Obama NOT hold a news conference Thursday? I saw his taped Thanksgiving message. But I almost expected the President-elect to be on live TV again - to keep showing conservatives he's not lazy and shiftless.

SPAM-A-RAMA: In this election year, we've received all sorts of spam messages with political themes. Today we salute the victor - with TRUE titles of e-mails about Barack Obama, and how we reacted to them....


There's still three weeks left to persuade those Electoral College delegates.


Well, he IS a Democrat - and John McCain practically declared him a Socialist.


Aw, c'mon - I do NOT think Oprah Winfrey is competing to be First Lady.


Really? When did he call God "Allah?"


If Mrs. Clinton could be a U.S. Senator, why not the President's wife?


At least he has more experience in winning Presidential primaries.


This must have reached us before Election Day -- because Sarah Palin has received much more coverage since then.


Imagine if one of them had been named White House Press Secretary. Now THAT would a briefing worth watching.


In the summer, this would have been a funny joke.


Well, he had to get off the plane in Iraq somehow.


I didn't know they played basketball together in the Capitol gym.


Now hold on - I thought I read the President-elect's daughters were going to do chores at the White House.


Then why didn't he do it when the race was close, to prove he's the superior candidate?


So all you Democrats should remain in mourning until Tuesday night, then vote on Wednesday.


He really should wear a T-shirt, when he's body-surfing in Hawaii.

BIG PREDICTIONS: Georgia Tech surprises Georgia this weekend. Alabama beats Auburn in the Iron Bowl. And sadly, Missouri will beat Kansas - so the K.U. Orange Bowl T-shirt from my brother will no longer be worn simply merely for special events.

The number of unique visitors to our blog is up 32 percent from last year. To advertise to them, offer a story tip, make a PayPal donation 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: 1,084 (+ 42, 4.0%)

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.

© 2003-08 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008


A happy and joyous Thanksgiving Day to you! And thanks to us, you don't have to wait until Friday to enjoy leftover goodies. Today we follow up on several items we mentioned here recently - so think of it as your big plate of leftovers, one day earlier.

1. Working on the LIFO inventory method, let's start with items we mentioned Wednesday. The wide-open Wachovia window was boarded up, when we drove by the bank on 13th Street Wednesday night. We'll see if either Senate candidate takes advantage of that board, to blame his opponent for it.

2. A blog reader's tip led us to Indy's - and sure enough, the restaurant on Whitesville Road was closed during the dinner hour Wednesday. The "thank you" sign outside reminded me of what was posted outside Tyler's in Phenix City after it caught fire. And if that wasn't enough of a clue, the sign wasn't even lit.

True confession: I drove by Indy's restaurant many times, but never stopped to eat there. So I accept part of the blame for its closing after 32 years - as I was simply too Indy-pendent.

Radio ads for Indy's boasted of the restaurant having favorites from "The Varsity." But the menu didn't sound anything like The Varsity I remember from midtown Atlanta. For instance, Indy's boasted of hamburger steak - which sounded like a sneaky way to save money on buns, while jacking up the price.

3. Speaking of restaurants, add El Vaquero on Northlake Parkway to the business employing off-duty police officers. I noticed one in the lobby Wednesday night - when he could have been outside handling overflow traffic in the parking lot.

(Is El Vaquero concerned about being robbed on a Wednesday night? There would be plenty of witnesses to the crime. Or is there another reason for the off-duty officers - stemming from all those discounted margaritas?)

4. Senator Saxby Chambliss may be a nice guy after all. Have you seen his Thanksgiving campaign ad with his family, in which he says he's praying for President-elect Obama? But then again, Chambliss could be praying Mr. Obama stays away from Georgia until next Wednesday -- one day after the runoff.

Lo and behold - Zell Miller emerged from hiding Wednesday, and endorsed Sen. Saxby Chambliss in the Georgia runoff. The former Governor and Senator said if Democrat Jim Martin wins next week, it could lead to a "far-left agenda" in Washington. "Zig-Zag Zell" ought to know, because he was over there at one point in his career.

(There's one place in Columbus which could settle this debate about who's the best candidate in the runoff. But for some odd reason, not one politician has bought commercial time on "103.7 The Truth.")

Advance voting for the Georgia runoff ended Wednesday afternoon. No, the Government Center will NOT be open for voting today - so you can only choose turkeys from open grocery stores.

5. The InTown Columbus web site has a provocative question open for discussion right now: "Do you read The Blog of Columbus?" We'd urge you to go there and say yes - but someone might start a rumor that we're plotting to run for mayor in 2010.

We're thankful on this Thanksgiving Day for the nice comments people have left about our blog at InTown Columbus. One of them came from the owner of a "junk store" on Buena Vista Road. Isn't it nice to know junk has moved beyond the days of yards?

We're thankful for many other things this year - and we close our holiday edition by listing only a few of them:

+ For gas prices dropping as low as $1.74 a gallon in Columbus. May gallons of milk soon do the same thing -- and they actually seem to be on the way.

+ For HDTV, which allows me to check two local weather channels anytime I wish. Now if WRBL's "24/7 Weather" channel would quit playing the same jazz music over and over....

+ For the St. Luke Ministry Center downtown, and its gym which has allowed me to run on cold or rainy days. I say "has allowed," because its new two-dollar fee is giving me second thoughts.

+ For AT&T high-speed Internet, which allows me to listen to live streaming audio of sports events. But five years later, Kansas still can't beat Syracuse in college basketball.

+ For mega-stores such as Wal-Mart - where you can buy a package of underwear along with a package of cookies, and the checkout workers won't ask any silly questions.

+ For the ridiculously long political season finally being.... oh wait. It still has five more long days to go.

+ For the "My Coke Rewards" promotion, which allows you to collect bottle caps to earn free 20-ounce bottles of soda. And you'd better hurry, because those cheaters at Coca-Cola are trying to reduce all those bottles to 16 ounces.

+ For my next-door neighbor, who watches over my plant and mail when I'm on road trips - even if he isn't offering to share that "Thanksgiving chicken" he told me he's cooking.

+ For the female store and restaurant workers who are calling me "Sweetie." If the roles were reversed, I probably would be scolded by my boss at least once a month.

+ And last but not least - thanks to YOU, the blog reader. Our count of "unique visitors" has jumped more than 30 percent this year. And some of your e-mails reveal exactly how unique you are - but no, I don't dare name any names.

BURKARD'S BEST BETS: FREE Thanksgiving dinner at 12:00 noon ET at Lamb Baptist Church in Smiths Station.... Chips Ahoy cookies for $1.68 at Wal-Mart SuperCenters.... and at least one holiday fight at the Cottonmouths game....

SCHEDULED FRIDAY: A tribute to our President-elect.... sort of....

The number of unique visitors to our blog is up 32 percent from last year. To advertise to them, offer a story tip, make a PayPal donation 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: 1,042 (+ 44, 4.4%)

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.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008


The wind was strong in Columbus Tuesday - but not THAT strong. Not gusty enough to cause windows of downtown buildings to shatter. Although sometimes I wonder how those old buildings on Broadway don't lose a few bricks when loud rock bands play....

Whoever fired shots toward the Aflac Tower two weeks ago may have struck again this week. An office window of the downtown Wachovia Bank was wide-open Tuesday, with shattered glass all around it -- reportedly for a second day. Local robbers apparently have been too busy focusing on convenience stores to notice.

The wide-open window was on the 13th Street side of Wachovia Bank, only two windows from the entrance. At first I wondered why the staff hadn't covered the open window with some kind of board. But then I realized people would get the wrong impression, and think another big bank had failed.

Not only was the Wachovia window smashed and wide-open, but small pieces of glass still covered the sidewalk on 13th Street. If this break occurred Monday as I was told, shouldn't someone have swept it up before I saw it Tuesday afternoon? Or do the Business Improvement District vacuum cleaners only come by once a week?

"They're supposed to come out and fix that," a teller inside the bank told me. But at first, she wasn't exactly sure how the window was broken. I didn't dare suggest a customer became angry, because of a home foreclosure.

Instead I borrowed from the Monopoly game, and attempted to offer a bank error in Wachovia's favor. "Maybe a customer was overjoyed about the interest rate on his C.D." The teller was not fooled by this logic for a second -- as if she has a checking account like I do, paying pennies a month in interest.

Then the teller started talking about the Carmike Cinemas building, on the other side of First Avenue. "They have glass that's double-pained...." I'm not sure how she knew that -- unless all these workers start their day down the street at The Coffee Beanery, by talking about architecture and engineering.

At last the teller revealed what apparently happened to the Wachovia office window - that someone shot it out with a pellet gun. From what she said, I wonder if the Carmine Cinemas office was a target as well. Is someone waiting for Carmike's display of flying reindeer to come out?

The teller openly hoped the office window would be repaired quickly. Otherwise, "we may have bums in the bank." I suddenly felt much better about the two checks I was depositing.

What happened to Wachovia may be a repeat of the series of random gunshots around Columbus two weeks ago. Or perhaps a deeper message is being sent here - that our area needs more turkey shoots every November.

Others might sense a sinister plot behind the Wachovia window shooting. When I worked in radio news years ago, I attended a news conference by the local Socialist Workers Party. Someone shot a hole in their office window, and members were sure it was a targeted conspiracy. My suggestion that it was random was rejected. But since you never hear about that party today, maybe I was wrong.

The downtown Wachovia Bank never seems to have much in the way of security guards. This week's window shooting could change that - unless, of course, they're already cutting costs before the merger with Wells Fargo.

Other delicious dish from downtown tops the Tuesday news in review:

+ Columbus Council considered a proposal to change its meeting schedule. Regular sessions would occur on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month, while the first Tuesday would be reserved for proclamations. Yippee - a monthly Proclamation Day! We may show up, to see if anyone else declares us "Idiot of the Week."

+ WLTZ continued its focus on Mayor Jim Wetherington, by showing grade-school children visiting his Government Center office. He has a regular program for invited youngsters called "Mayor for a Minute." I can understand why the age limit is fairly young - certainly younger than Bert Coker or Paul Olson....

+ Harris County School Superintendent Susan Andrews was on display at a public forum, as the third finalist for the Muscogee County position. Andrews explained one of her goals will be to restore "the trust of the people in public education." For starters, that top-floor restroom in the new administration building could be open to everyone.

+ Richard Hyatt's web site reported Indy's restaurant on Whitesville Road will close soon. With costs going higher and higher, the managers can't count simply on an "Indy 500" in receipts anymore.

+ The Saxby Chambliss Senate campaign confirmed Alaska Governor Sarah Palin will visit Georgia next Monday in his behalf. How will the Jim Martin campaign respond to this - by bringing in Tina Fey?

+ Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville talked with WRBL about the online rumors concerning his future. Tuberville declared the Internet is "wonderful for our sport, and for our country." It sounds like he's auditioning for another job - not at Clemson, but with the Obama administration.

+ Instant Message to the curators of the Little White House in Warm Springs: Aw, c'mon - all you've added to the display is an old-fashioned manual typewriter. Is that really worth a story in the LaGrange Daily News? Tell me where you find working ribbons for them, and that WILL be news.

The number of unique visitors to our blog is up 32 percent from last year. To advertise to them, offer a story tip, make a PayPal donation 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: 998 (+ 23, 2.4%)

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.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008


So we had a nice Thanksgiving "potluck" dinner at church last weekend - but as I entered the buffet line, it suddenly struck me. The napkins, the table centerpieces and a wall decoration all showed the same thing. And how disrespectful -- because almost everyone was there, eating it.

Here a turkey, there a turkey, everywhere there lurked a turkey - they were on display all over the hall that afternoon. If someone from the opposite side of the world had walked in the door and heard it was a church Thanksgiving dinner, he might have concluded our "god" was a gobbler.

Yet let's face it - turkeys tend to dominate the discussion at this time of year. We're told how to shop for them. We're given tips on preparing them. President Bush even goes against his Texas reputation every year, by pardoning one.

Several people in Columbus have been busy in recent days collecting turkeys. Monday's news included a couple of examples. WFXE-FM "Foxie 105" personality J Styles arranged a giveaway of 20 turkey dinners. Since the low-income recipients didn't have to pay for them, these were free-Styles....

(If that name isn't familiar, J Styles is the Sunday midday announcer on Foxie 105. His name doesn't show up anywhere else on the Foxie-105 schedule - which means he isn't even a DJ Chip off the old block.)

J Styles arranged the turkey giveaway through something which was new to me - the "Urban Café." Based on its Myspace page, I guess it's a local talent night at a club on Broadway. But I'm a little puzzled, because I didn't see Keith Urban's picture anywhere....

A similar giveaway occurred Monday from a very different source. WRBL showed how Captain D's restaurants collected turkeys for the Valley Rescue Mission. Well, what else is a seafood restaurant supposed to do with turkeys - teach them to swim?

It appeared Captain D's presented a dozen whole turkeys to the Valley Rescue Mission. If this chain really cared, it would have borrowed from its own TV commercial - and put the turkey through that industrial-strength shredder to pre-slice it.

The Valley Rescue Mission holds a big Thanksgiving dinner for needy people every year. As of Monday, it needed donations of 12 more turkeys and ten more hams. If someone hands over 11 "turkey hams," will that satisfy everybody?

We'll probably hear about a few more turkey turnovers charity giveaways like this between now and Thursday. But I hope in all of this, we don't forget something - that thing I noticed at the church dinner. Thursday is NOT Turkey-giving Day. After all, the government of Turkey doesn't seem to give our country a gift on that day....

I wish all of you a happy early Thanksgiving Day. And as Jack Buck used to say during Memorial Day baseball games, I hope you'll take a little time to think about what the day really means. For instance, there should be time between the Smiths Station High School band's appearance on TV and the first football game.

-> How is our poker playing going? Check the math we did at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <--

E-MAIL UPDATE: Can you spot what makes this message different from others we've had recently?

Many thanks to Columbus Fire dept. who came to our house to put out a chimney fire. They were QUICK, KIND, PROFESSIONAL and everything else you would want them to be............THANK YOU THANK YOU

OK, what's REALLY going on here? This e-mail is, well, simply too nice -- and I now know better about how to handle these things. Maybe it's time to call the mayor's office, and demand to know what the Fire Chief did wrong this time.

But seriously: I've been fascinated to take weekend drives in the east Alabama countryside and see where houses used to stand. Tall brick chimneys still remain, but there's nothing else to mark the homes. Some of them look like amusement park sites waiting to happen -- since the climbing wall already is in place.

Now let's check other good and bad things from the Monday news:

+ Business Improvement District officials told WRBL three downtown businesses plan to close. But the newscast didn't name the businesses - so we suggest you park on First Avenue around 11th Street, for the most centralized free location to track down the half-off sales.

+ A report from Florida Atlantic University ranked Columbus with the 34th highest crime rate, out of 338 metropolitan areas nationwide. That's one spot below Birmingham, higher than Houston - but for some reason, Atlanta was not ranked. Please don't tell me Columbus is higher than Atlanta, and the rappers there wanted to protect their "street cred...."

+ Columbus Police arrested a man, on charges of attacking an officer at Shogun's restaurant. The suspect reportedly tried to choke the officer with a "leg scissors" around the throat. If he didn't break the choke hold by a four-count, the suspect faces an additional charge for being disqualified under professional wrestling rules.

+ Circle K stores announced they'll hire off-duty police officers, in the wake of a series of robberies. This could do much more than reduce crime - such as moving the beggars around the doors to Summit and Money Back.

+ The second finalist for Muscogee County School Superintendent held his public forum. Faron Hollinger from Baldwin County, Alabama said the job of superintendent is a "divine calling." Did someone tell him Pacelli and Calvary Christian are NOT part of the school system?

(Muscogee County School Board member Philip Schley told the Mobile Press-Register the finalists for superintendent are meeting with PTA Presidents. If anyone asks too many questions about book fairs, make a note of it....)

+ WLTZ followed Mayor Jim Wetherington and his wife to lunch. Mrs. Wetherington marked her birthday by dining at Chuck E. Cheese's -- while I assume her husband policed the children's games, and arrested anyone engaging in horseplay.

+ Instant Message to Daryl Moor: I hope you find work quickly. It was sad to hear the Columbus Cottonmouths waived you, after four years on the team. But when Coach Jerome Bechard says no Moor, he means it....

The number of unique visitors to our blog is up 32 percent from last year. To advertise to them, offer a story tip, make a PayPal donation 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: 975 (+ 50, 5.4%)

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.

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Monday, November 24, 2008


Instant Message to Ruth Ann's Restaurant downtown: Did I read the sign correctly - you had "special holiday hours" this past weekend? The weekend BEFORE Thanksgiving? When did SOA Watch weekend become a holiday?

The big SOA Watch protest apparently went into overtime Sunday afternoon. The event's web site reports hundreds of people marched beyond the protest zone near the Fort Benning main gate, "into the streets of Columbus, Georgia." On Torch Hill Road, this would be no big deal on a Sunday. On Victory Drive, marching up the hill toward Spencer High School might wear some people out.

SOA Watch counts only six arrests of protesters this year - down from 11 in 2007. What's going on here? Are marchers more concerned these days about oppressed Latin American residents, or keeping their own jobs?

SOA Watch reports the six protesters were NOT arrested for "crossing the line" at the Fort Benning main gate. They marched a half-mile onto post at the Interstate 185 entrance, which was kept open for the weekend. So give these suspects a little credit -- they followed the strategy used in liberating Kuwait.

But Columbus Police told the evening news they've had "very few incidents" involving the SOA Watch protesters. After all, almost all the marchers could afford to travel to Fort Benning - so they're not the ones robbing convenience stores over and over.

The Ledger-Enquirer's photo gallery of Sunday's events includes a picture of a U.S. Army dress uniform, which was left at the Fort Benning fence. I don't know the story behind that outfit. But wouldn't this have been a nice gift to offer someone at God Bless Fort Benning -- or have we concluded peace between these groups never will happen?

A few protesters lingered in Columbus Sunday afternoon, after the big vigil on Fort Benning Road. I passed a few during an afternoon jog on the Riverwalk. You could spot them by the "peace" messages they wore - but no, they did NOT plant a secondary set of backup crosses around the Trade Center.

One of the protesters spotted by WRBL was the Kentucky woman who was ordained as a priest in August -- the woman who has put SOA Watch founder Roy Bourgeois at the brink of excommunication. So far there's no sign that they plan to borrow from Britain in the 1930's. You know, the king who gave up his throne for the woman he loved....

So how many protesters showed up at the main gate Sunday? Columbus Police told WRBL there were more than 8,500 people. SOA Watch claims there were "20,000 voices" - and I doubt all those puppetistas were also ventriloquists or impressionists.

That final number from SOA Watch matters to some extent, because God Bless Fort Benning estimated its crowd this year at 10,000. Some people want to know if the pro-military group outnumbered the "pro-peace" group -- which is a bit strange, when you consider the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation claims to be on both of them.

SOA Watch organizers didn't drop any hints about how their weekend balloting turned out, on moving the vigil from Columbus to Washington in 2010. A meeting in February reportedly will decide that. It may come down to the Convention and Visitors Bureau -- and whether it wants more motels to open, or several to shut down.

-> How is our poker playing going? Check the math we did at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <--

E-MAIL UPDATE: We officially stopped Hurtsboro Mondays long ago, but we've been meaning to get to this latest message....

"Sir" Richard:

Your "Tickler" about Monday mornings BLOG piqued my interest! Only you and your readers can surmise whether things are better or worse in "Hurt'sboro." But rather than rely on your ability to read between the lines; I'm attatching my latest correspondence with his honor. Perhaps we can interest him in a bit of blogging with you. He doesn't seem to be as reclusive as the "Mare" was during her tenure.

Constable R.J. Schweiger

The outgoing constable attached a letter in which he disagrees with Mayor Rayford Tapley selecting a new police chief, before hiring officers. Robert Schweiger wants the officers hired before the chief -- or even better, he wants the police eliminated completely, along with the Municipal Court. If you can't abolish Hurtsboro at once, eliminate it one step at a time....

But Robert Schweiger actually compliments the Hurtsboro Mayor, for calling for an audit of city records. And he says Rayford Tapley is "wise" for having an attorney present at upcoming City Council meetings. Of course, that means any outbursts from frustrated citizens could lead to the immediate filing of criminal charges.

Since this IS The Blog of Columbus and not Hurtsboro, our work to verify various Columbus stories (along with other tasks) has taken top priority in recent days. We finally left another message at the Town Hall Friday to talk with Mayor Tapley, but it was not returned as of Sunday night. Don't worry, Mr. Mayor - we do NOT plan another surprise trip to town for Thanksgiving this year.

But in an interesting twist, the young woman who talked with us at Hurtsboro's Town Hall asked for our blog e-mail address. City officials seem interested in sending their own items to us. We'll be happy to receive them -- because while e-mail throwing may be as ugly as mud-throwing, at least local workers don't have to clean up the damage.

Let's see what else popped into our mind Sunday:

+ Georgia School Superintendent Kathy Cox announced she and her husband have filed for bankruptcy protection. In a related note, the CRCT exams for mathematics may need some adjustments next year....

(Kathy Cox and her husband could have added much more to their assets column. But she donated the million dollars she won on "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader" to Georgia schools. Would any recent Georgia Lottery winners like to return the favor?)

+ The Smiths Station High School marching band left for Philadelphia, to march in a parade on Thanksgiving Day. Band members reportedly had to go through some training, because the parade route is two miles long. Teenagers who aren't on the track team simply don't walk that far non-stop these days.

+ The Atlanta Falcons crushed Carolina 45-28. But Atlanta's Harry Douglas received a penalty for taunting the punter, as he returned a kick for a touchdown. If he's not careful, someone will call Athens and recommend him for the Big Harry Dawg-House.

+ The Columbus Crew won the Major League Soccer championship, with a 3-1 win over New York. We congratulate the.... what?! Oh, I know - it's that OTHER Columbus. But our city has won three minor league sports titles in the last 12 years to their none, so Ohio needs some encouragement.

The number of unique visitors to our blog is up 32 percent from last year. To advertise to them, offer a story tip, make a PayPal donation 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: 925 (- 38, 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.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008


Aha! Now it is official. Now we know the accuser of Phyllis Jones. And now the rumor-spreaders are so thrilled, they've put our blog on their dartboard.

But let's start at the beginning. Saturday's Ledger-Enquirer finally confirmed who filed the ethics complaint against former Rigdon Road School principal Phyllis Jones. It was indeed the Muscogee County School District -- which probably wanted things settled quietly. But Jones never was quiet about those good CRCT results....

The Ledger-Enquirer apparently went to the director of the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, to confirm the school district had filed the complaint. When we were sent to a lead investigator this past week, we were told the commission could NOT release that information. Hmmmm -- I follow the "no means no" standard when it comes to dating....

The Ledger-Enquirer had to file an Open Records Request to get to the bottom of the complaint against Phyllis Jones. It involves two checks written in September - one from Jones for "restitution," one from the school district for "improperly classified" book purchases. Since Jones's check is more than $1,200 bigger, we may know which party has less of a budget problem.

The newspaper notes Phyllis Jones announced her retirement in September, three days after writing the restitution check. That followed an audit of book fair money at Rigdon Road School, which apparently stretched back to 2003. And to think Books-A-Million was practically around the corner all this time....

The book fair math can be complicated, but it appears Rigdon Road School tried to pay for book fairs with Title I money. That's federal money provided to selected schools for instructional materials. It could be that books such as "Clifford the Big Red Dog" belong somewhere down around Title VIII.

So the Muscogee County School District reimbursed Title I in late September, through the Georgia Department of Education. That apparently settled the financial questions - and remember, it could be worse. The state could have punished Rigdon Road School, by ordering the principal's position to stay vacant.

The newspaper reports it left calls to Phyllis Jones seeking comment, but they were NOT returned. Maybe the reporter should go searching for her at more unusual places - such as Cottonmouths hockey games or RiverCenter concerts.

So the state investigation officially is underway, and all the cards appear to be out in the open. Is everybody happy? Our InBox knows better than that....

Its is a good thing you are not an investigative reporter, or any other type of reporter, because you suck at it. I hardly consider the Ledger a great news source; but if you look at their web page, you will find all the information you need detailing the events mentioned to you weeks ago. A copy of the restitution check and formal audit report are available as pdf files on the Ledger-Enquirer site. You jest and suggest the rumor mongers won't let things die from 1993. However, the events you speak of from 1993 are an entirely differnt matter, but serve as another example of the educator's dishonesty and lack of character. She was suspended and required to make restitution the first time in 1993; however, after her second offense, she was allowed to retire and required to make restitution. I hope you are better at your day job...if you have one. Maybe next time you run into Dr. Phyllis G. Jones she will be more forthcoming...but I doubt it.



This e-mail came from the person who first brought the Phyllis Jones rumors to our attention in mid-September [17 Sep] -- even before the school district wrote its Title I check to the state. If this person also tipped off the Ledger-Enquirer, I hope he/she buys a subscription to help pay for all those hours of research.

I could engage in self-promotion and self-justification about our handling of the Phyllis Jones case, but I won't. I'll simply apologize to this upset reader, and point to the Big Blog Question the September e-mail inspired about the direction this blog should take. If the reader has another tip and is at a loss for options to expose the truth - well, Playgrounds Magazine still comes out every month.

We noted in September that governmental probes are NOT what we intended this blog to be. If voters in our poll had wanted us to focus on investigations, we would have had more time to track down these details. Instead, I face different nightly challenges - such as how to be funny about shoplifters.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Speaking of which, we turn to the woman who has even more tipsters talking. Another reader dishes even more alleged dirt, on the mother of the teenager allegedly shot by Frank Lumpkin III:

Ms. Mathews and her lovely parenting skills.

Ms. Mathews took her 12 year old daughter to Dillard's on a shopping spree. When they were caught by the Loss Prevention Officers, Ms. Mathews ran out of the store and got into a car and sped away......................leaving her 12 year old daughter behind in the store holding the bag, literally and figuratively.

Ms. Mathews, aka Ms. Thomas had apparently trained her 12 year old daughter not to talk to the police when asked who the mother was.

This happened 02/17/08.

The Muscogee County District Attorney's office confirmed most of these details for us Friday. And we didn't even have to file any annoying paperwork at the Government Center to get it, either....

Assistant District Attorney Brad Bickerstaff told me Demetria Matthews is charged with stealing three shirts from Dillard's, with a value of more than $300. Some people simply can't wait for that "30 Days, 30 Ways to Save" series on TV.

Brad Bickerstaff could not provide details beyond the indictment papers, but he told me the 12-year-old daughter of Demetria Matthews is accused of "aiding and abetting" in a shoplifting crime. This sort of behavior won Tatum O'Neal an Oscar years ago -- so rentals of "Paper Moon" should be suspended at once.

Demetria Matthews was transferred from Muscogee County to the Cobb County Jail almost two weeks ago. Brad Bickerstaff admits he's not sure which shoplifting case will go to trial first. Based on the traffic our blog has received about this case, a Muscogee County trial might want to be moved to the RiverCenter - with an admission charge.

-> How did our poker night go Thursday? If you simply MUST know (sigh), check our other blog -- "On the Flop!" <--

BLOG UPDATE: We didn't realize until Friday that God Bless Fort Benning actually DOES plan to change its date. Next year's bash on Broadway will be held in October -- probably sometime between the Tuskegee-Morehouse Classic and the Fountain City Classic. So there finally will be a fall party in Columbus where white people won't feel out of place.

Former Mayor Bob Poydasheff explained God Bless Fort Benning is being moved away from SOA Watch weekend to show it is NOT a counter-demonstration. It may not be now, but we shouldn't forget it began somewhat that way [24 Nov 03]. The difference is that nowadays, buses of Fort Benning soldiers actually come to the event's rescue.

It must have been challenging for the God Bless Fort Benning "Freedom Run" Saturday morning. Columbus had a record low of 24 degrees F. - and it was SO COLD that some people had to go buy thermal running shorts.

Meanwhile, SOA Watch began its weekend of protests outside the Fort Benning gate. Founder Roy Bourgeois said the money allocated to the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation should be turned over to Muscogee County schools. Maybe then we'll finally have that park around the central library....

Let's see if any other topics get people's blood boiling on a cold weekend:

+ The new "Paws Humane" animal shelter had its grand opening on Milgen Road. Paws Columbus has merged with the Muscogee County Humane Society -- which surprised me, since the two boards were feuding a couple of years ago. You don't think the Michael Vick case persuaded them to stop the dog-fighting....?!

+ Auburn native Robert Gibbs was named White House Press Secretary for the incoming administration. Now all President-Elect Obama has to do is put Margaret Tutwiler back at the State Department, and this will be the most Southern-sounding government since Jimmy Carter.

+ The annual "Peanut Bowl" at McClung Memorial Stadium ended the Columbus Youth Football season. By my count, Edgewood and Eastway each won two titles. Phenix City and South Columbus each captured one. And Northern Little League must have rested its players, for another World Series run next summer.

+ LaGrange College lost its first-ever Division III football playoff game. The Panthers were pummeled 51-26 in Mississippi by the Millsaps.... uh, er.... what are they, the Ronnies?

+ Troy clinched a tie for the Sun Belt Conference title with a 48-3 laugher over Louisiana-Lafayette. I didn't turn on the WDAK radio broadcast until I saw Troy was up 31-3 - because after last weekend, I figured that's when the action would start.

+ Despite all these sports events and others in Columbus, WRBL decided NOT to have a sports report in its 11:00 p.m. newscast. WLTZ's Jeremy Moss would have shown something. It might have been a mixed martial arts contest from North Dakota, but he would have shown something.

+ Instant Message to Nicholas Schaaf: I realize you're innocent until proven guilty. But c'mon - getting arrested for robbery on Milgen Road because your legs are tied with Saran Wrap?! That stuff must have more cling than I imagined....

SCHEDULED MONDAY: We've tried to talk to an area mayor.... we really have....

The number of unique visitors to our blog is up 32 percent from last year. To advertise to them, offer a story tip, make a PayPal donation 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: 963 (+ 42, 4.6%)

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.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008


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

"Good morning, Mr. Nahley," I said to a man in a Columbus grocery store Friday. I won't say which store, because this former TV celebrity might not want the paparazzi tracking him down.

"How're you doing?" was the answer from Don Nahley, as he moved his shopping cart along. Yes, the 78-year-old former Rozell co-host was out buying groceries - even with the temperature at about 40 degrees F. Since he's a native of New England, he only needed a sweater. Some Columbus natives act like an Arctic parka is mandatory.

It's good to see someone 78 years old getting out and around on a chilly day - but I've found a man who beats even that. During a run the other afternoon on the Phenix City Riverwalk, I passed an older man walking the other way. "I used to do that, many moons ago," he told me. Older people measure time by moons. Younger ones tend to think waiting "forever" is five seconds at a traffic light.

After a turnaround several minutes later, I came upon the man again and wanted to hear more. He's an 88-year-old retired METRA driver, and used to walk "double-time" for exercise when he was between routes. I used to do the same thing in high school and college - not really for exercise, but to avoid being late for class.

"I've thought about trying to start doing that again," the man said - dreaming of running simply a couple of blocks at age 88. Any criminal who tried to mug him on the sidewalk probably would surrender at the sight of that, simply due to shock.

This 88-year-old man was walking well when I passed him, but I suggested he check with a doctor before trying any jogging. While I'm no expert, I know bones and joints can break easily when you're up in years. I'm surprised someone hasn't invented Select Comfort floor mats around the beds, in case an older person falls out of one.

My own exercise has been inspiring in recent weeks. Monday night I surprised myself, by running 4.7 miles non-stop - the longest such run I've had in more than two years. Now that I'm 50, I cherish runs like that more than ever. After all, I'm supposed to be "senior" in some things. The AARP keeps sending me mock membership cards to remind me.

Just because someone is 50-plus doesn't mean you have to become sedentary and stop exercising. The people I've described here are good examples of that -- and I know where my strength for the workout begins. Philippians 4:13 says, "I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me." Be thankful for His strength - and be willing to let Him push you forward when you're tired. "Second winds" can be first-rate.

BLOG UPDATE: We told you last fall about a massive yard sale in Troup County, to help a woman pay for a kidney transplant [22 Oct 07]. We're thrilled to report Shirley Smallwood finally had the transplant operation Thursday, and the first reports are positive. Don't you dare challenge that woman to a patience test - because she has years of experience at that.

E-MAIL UPDATE: If you're concerned about how to feed your family in a tight economy, a reader passes along this suggestion....

Following is a link to Angel Food Ministries where anyone can order groceries at a very reasonable rate. Looks like a blessing to me. I am gonna do it. I understand there are no requirements involved. There are quite a number of places in Columbus that participate in this program. No one has asked me to promote this, I just felt compelled to pass this on as I know many are struggling financially and don't qualify for any help. Groceries are a major expense and this appears to be a big blessing. Check it out and pass it on. I am sending this to everyone in my email because there are distribution sites all over the U.S.

Angel Food sounds good to me. I baked a chocolate cake for a church Thanksgiving dinner Friday -- but I made sure NOT to get a box that said "Devil's Food" on it. Don't want to offend, you know....

The number of unique visitors to our blog is up 32 percent from last year. To advertise to them, offer a story tip, make a PayPal donation 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: 921 (- 21, 2.2%)

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.

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Friday, November 21, 2008


Before we begin - a warm welcome to all new readers. Wednesday was our busiest day for visitors since we started keeping records. I never realized an arrest for shoplifting could draw such a big crowd of people....

Are you ready for the biggest showdown in our area? It officially begins today, should bring out thousands of people, and.... what?! You're saying the college football games aren't until NEXT weekend? That's not the showdown I'm talking about. It's the Columbus Classic - Army soldiers vs. Christian soldiers.

The annual SOA Watch weekend begins today at the Columbus Trade Center. In the middle of the weekend, God Bless Fort Benning will be held downtown on Broadway. Someone ought to put up signs between Ninth and 11th Streets, labeling it the Demilitarized Zone.

Some of the SOA Watch protesters come to Columbus several days early to prepare. One of the TV newscasts showed a group of "puppetistas" a few days ago -- which sounds like something former CNN anchor Bobbie Battista could take with her in a road show.

SOA Watch is bringing its usual familiar message - that Fort Benning's Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation should close. Ironically, the big crowds coming to Columbus this year actually might help some motels stay open....

But the SOA Watch schedule has this eye-opening item near the top: "Write down your feelings about if SOAW should move its 2010 vigil to Washington, DC." Have the protesters finally realized many people in Columbus don't like them? Is the protest growing too big for Columbus to handle? Or are we finally getting the Georgia-Auburn game again?

The schedule at the SOA Watch web site has all sorts of meetings and seminars - and some of them seem to have nothing to do with WHINSEC. Consider these titles....

+ "Respect Democracy: How Your Tax Dollars buy Latin Am Elections." This sounds like a session even a fiscally conservative Republican could like.

+ "Ballot Initiatives on Homosexual Marriage and Parental Notification Before Abortion." If WHINSEC graduates are promoting the wrong one of these two, that's certainly grounds for a protest.

+ "Women's Ordination Matters: Gender, The Gospel, and Global Justice." C'mon now - when did Latin American military commanders start selecting church pastors?

That last item on the schedule probably is there for another reason. Thursday was the deadline for SOA Watch founder Roy Bourgeois to decide if he'll renounce his opinion on ordaining female priests, to remain in the Roman Catholic Church. Give Bourgeois credit for one thing - he resists Vatican authorities every bit as much as the Columbus ones.

Roy Bourgeois says he'll appeal to the Vatican, in hopes of avoiding excommunication. He told the evening news God calls priests, and women can be called every bit as much as men can. So Bourgeois's next job could be on the ministerial staff of Bishop Ann Hardman.

But Roy Bourgeois probably wants the focus on the SOA Watch protest. The group has staged several other protests this fall, at locations from Miami to Arizona. So organizers have taken this act on tour - and they're smart enough to stay in the Sunbelt.

If any celebrities are coming to Columbus for SOA Watch weekend, they have not been announced. In a way, I wish they would - because extra money from being a tabloid photographer would come in handy right now....

The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation plans to hold an open house for visitors Saturday. Leaders even will take questions from the audience. But after this wild election year, a few protesters are going to insist on having their puppets ask questions.

WHINSEC promises the Saturday open house is even open to people who have been arrested in the past for trespassing at Fort Benning. Yeah, right - so why are two gates being closed for the weekend? The PX can't be marking down prices THAT much....

As for that other big event, God Bless Fort Benning plans to pack all of its activities into one day. That old stereotype is reinforced once again -- that conservatives are more efficient than liberals.

God Bless Fort Benning will begin shortly after sunrise Saturday, as soldiers are served pancakes for breakfast. As we all know, an Army celebration runs on its stomach....

Then comes a 5,000 and 10,000 meter run on both sides of the river downtown, called a "Freedom Run." Now hold on here - if the run really is about freedom, why do the runners have to follow the marked streets on the course?

God Bless Fort Benning will include comments by former Mayor Bob Poydasheff and current Mayor Jim Wetherington. This could provide a moment of great drama - if the former mayor finally comes out and says he voted for the one-percent sales tax last summer.

(Bob Poydasheff said during a Thursday newscast it's important to have "God" in the name of Saturday's event. That's to distinguish the event from a few years ago - when the Base Realignment commission REALLY blessed Fort Benning.)

A lot of local performers are scheduled to perform on Broadway during God Bless Fort Benning. Miss Georgia will sing. The Columbus Ballet will dance. But having a band called "Whiskey Bent" perform - well, do we really want to put ideas like that in the heads of soldiers?

But there's something puzzling about the God Bless Fort Benning schedule. Last year Dr. Laura Schlessinger came to Columbus as a special guest. This year fellow WDAK radio star Glenn Beck will be here on God Bless Fort Benning Day - but he's only making a one-hour stop at Barnes and Noble to sign his book. No wonder Beck is leaving the "Heroes" of CNN for Fox News Channel....

If SOA Watch moves its November vigil away from Columbus, would God Bless Fort Benning Day stop? I seriously doubt it. In fact, it probably would receive an upgrade - and be moved to mid-October, when the weather's nicer.

But then I think about the Tidwell family which created God Bless Fort Benning -- and I wonder if they might follow SOA Watch, and move part of the celebration to Washington in 2010. It certainly would save on air fare for Rep. Sanford Bishop....

BLOG UPDATE: We hit the proverbial wall Thursday, in terms of the ethics complaint filed against former Rigdon Road School principal Phyllis Jones. A Muscogee County School spokesperson said the district cannot comment on personnel matters. So we invite the mysterious person who filed the complaint to contact us. You can even wear a pro wrestling mask, if you wish.

But WXTX "News at Ten" reviewed Phyllis Jones's personnel record Thursday, and found a two-week suspension for violations with a year of probation. Trouble is, that happened back in 1993. Some of these rumormongers simply refuse to let things go....

WXTX reported it found nothing in Phyllis Jones's personnel record to indicate Muscogee County Schools want to have her teaching certificate revoked. So perhaps the person who filed the ethics complaint demanded it -- and perhaps that explains what Jones is doing these days. You know the phrase: those who can't teach, consult.

-> How did our poker night go Thursday? If you simply MUST know (sigh), check our other blog -- "On the Flop!" <--

E-MAIL UPDATE: Sunday's story on our sandwich shop with a one-dollar special apparently made one reader hungry for more....

Oh and I agree Jimmy Johns will never make it if that is what they are going to serve as a sandwich. I got the same thing, the roast beef. It made me thing of the Wendy's commercial from when I was a kid. WHERE IS THE BEEF. Granted what was there was good, and the bread was good. I fell like i got about a dollars worth.

Never make it? Jimmy John's has been around for 25 years since its premiere in Charleston, Illinois. But I admit I never heard of this chain until the grand opening in Columbus. It's not even located along interstate highways I've driven in southern Illinois. Maybe if Jimmy John's sold corn dogs....

The Jimmy John's menu shows you can have an "extra load of meat" on a sandwich. It costs you $1.50 -- but look on the bright side. Two scoops of tuna salad probably cost less than one scoop of big-name ice cream.

The conquest of Alabama's big-name basketball teams brought this reminder Thursday:

Mercer Bears host Georgia Tech 11/22/08 in Macon.

Uh-oh -- could Mercer make it a stunning trifecta this weekend? Or will the Bears be overconfident, because they're finally playing at home?

Georgia Tech's football team was impressive Thursday night, mauling Miami 41-23. The lesson of this season should now be clear: "whiteouts" work, "blackouts" don't.

We still have to make calls on a couple of other e-mails. So thanks for your patience with those -- and now it's on to other headlines from Smoke-out Thursday:

+ A demolition crew began tearing down the Riverview Apartments in Phenix City. Someone actually brought me two souvenir bricks from the complex a couple of years ago. So should I have them autographed by the current mayor, or the former one?

+ The first finalist for Muscogee County School Superintendent met Columbus residents. Felicia Mitchell of DeKalb County, Georgia asked what other community would bring in Superintendent candidates to meet the public, and answer their questions. Uhhhh - I think the answer is Russell County. Twice in two years.

+ Ground was broken at Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park for a Lonnie Jackson memorial. The family is talking like Jackson will receive a grander tribute than some former Columbus mayors. I mean, the city seems to have stopped at a Bob Poydasheff Court....

+ The late-night news followed Columbus garbage trucks, and found prison laborers rolling their own cigarettes while on duty. Supervisors say that's permitted - and besides, it puts old newspapers to a creative second use.

+ A team from the Air Force won an all-military rugby tournament at Fort Benning. This makes no sense at all to me -- since I thought rugby rules only allowed you to move the ball forward on the ground.

+ Carver High School confirmed star linebacker Jarvis Jones will miss the remainder of the playoffs, due to a broken thumb. Is that really enough to keep someone from playing linebacker? Jones seems able to knock down players, simply with a three-step running start.

SCHEDULED THIS WEEKEND: A way to save money on groceries which may be new to you....

The number of visitors to our blog is up 31 percent from last year. To advertise to them, offer a story tip, make a PayPal donation 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: 942 (- 1, 0.1%)

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.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

for 20 NOV 08: (final edition) PHYLLIS IN, PLEASE

We're only a week away from Thanksgiving, yet local tipsters don't seem to be in a merciful mood. Alabama Governor Bob Riley pardoned a turkey Wednesday - but the people writing us sound like they just bought one of those new electric fryers.

BLOG EXCLUSIVE: We begin with the rumors about a former principal which won't go away. Your blog confirmed Wednesday an ethics complaint has been filed in Atlanta against Phyllis Jones, and is currently under investigation. The woman who says she retired to watch pro wrestling matches may wind up fighting for retirement benefits.

Phyllis Jones responded to the rumors about her departure from Rigdon Road School last week [10 Nov]. That led to this e-mail:

Fact--Phyllis is not going to own up to anything. Most people wouldn't. If you wanna find the truth take a look at her personnel records, Channel 9 pulled her personnel records, but they pulled it to soon. The information was not in the file yet. This is public information, check it out. If you pull it now you will find that the district has requested that her teaching license be pulled. This is not a "normal part" of retirement. It will go before a state board now and they will decide if her actions warrant the pulling of her teaching certification for Georgia. If her cert is pulled she will not be allowed to teach in Georgia any longer. Check with the news leader nine team, they pulled her records, they just pulled them a little to soon.

We made calls at the local and state level Wednesday about this. Real people answered the phone at the state level - so maybe there are times when a bloated bureaucracy in education is a good thing.

Confirmation of the complaint against Phyllis Jones came from the Georgia Professional Standards Commission. Its web site shows the commission's Ethics Division has checked more than 7,000 complaints in the last five years. The reviews have led to sanctions about 36 percent of the time -- but if teachers gamble on this case, it might spark yet another complaint.

The Georgia Professional Standards Commission tells us Phyllis Jones is accused of violating two ethical standards. One is "Misrepresentation or Falsification." That can be everything from lying on a resume to errors in reporting absences. No, the teenager Frank Lumpkin III is accused of shooting was NOT supposed to be at Rigdon Road Elementary School.

The second standard Phyllis Jones is accused of violating involves "Public Funds and Property." You'll recall someone passed along rumors about missing money from a school book fair. This standard warns against "co-mingling public or school-related funds with personal funds...." And any co-mingling in a grade school could make some conservative church pastors angry....

But lead investigator John Grant reminded us Wednesday that the filing of a complaint does NOT mean a school principal is guilty. He noted anyone can file a complaint with the state against any educator. So if I was a grade school teacher, I suppose someone could file a complaint against me for refusing to include X in the alphabet.

So what are the details of this complaint against Phyllis Jones, and who filed it? We still don't know the answers, because the Georgia Professional Standards Commission is barred from releasing details while an investigation is underway. And we haven't found those "anonymous sources" who leak things, like Barack Obama's staff has.

Did the Muscogee County School District file the complaint against Phyllis Jones? A district spokesperson did not return our voice mail Wednesday afternoon, to provide an answer. And we did NOT give the reason why we were calling - so for all Valerie Fuller knows, we could be inviting her out for Thanksgiving dinner.

John Grant in Atlanta assures me the details of the complaint against Phyllis Jones will become public record, once the investigation is complete. So for now, we're left to guess about who's accusing and why. And you know, Paul Olson has been awfully quiet for the last few months....

-> Our poker blog is getting visits from around the world. Check what's happening at "On the Flop!" <--

E-MAIL UPDATE: On to the next case, which we first posted here at the noon hour Wednesday. No one is telling us where Frank Lumpkin III is hiding. But suddenly, everyone seems to be tracking that "distraught mama...."

Here let me help you with some of your information on Demetria Mathews.

She was not in jail yesterday in MUSCOGEE COUNTY. She was transfered to COBB County on November 11th, after her bondsman bailed her out on Theft by Shoplifting charges. So she is still in jail, but apparently her adventures take her outside the county line.

The theft by Shoplifting Charges are listed as felonies, she has had more than three convictions for prior shopliftings among other things.

Now thats home schooling!

We called metro Atlanta and confirmed much of this report Wednesday. A staff member at the Cobb County Jail told us the actual transfer of Demetria Matthews occurred on Wednesday the 12th. So in a way, even inmates can get a break for Veterans Day....

The Cobb County Jail staff informed us Demetria Matthews was held there Wednesday on a felony shoplifting charge. For some reason, her bond has been set at $5,713. Apparently they add sales tax to the amount of the items allegedly stolen.

Someone else wants to comment about the Matthews family:

Richard..Why is the mother of the young man Frank Lumpkin shot in jail? Could it be because her minor son has not been in school in three years? Did it take the minor being shot before MCSD missed him? I noticed a group of young teens hanging around outside the Columbus Public Library last week and wondered why they were not in school. Perhaps they can absorb some knowlege by just being around the front doors of the library..

At least those youngsters were around a library. They could have been putting their lives at risk in the middle of the day, by rolling around the South Commons skateboard park.

Let's take one more e-mail - this one about the arraignment of former Pioneer Little League Board member Ron Harris:

Hi Richard

Will Ron Harris be required to stay away from the ball field this coming up season? If NOT who do I need to call? Did you know he had the nerve to show up at our teams end of the year pool party? Some kids did not even get to go to the party because of him. I would not had went had I known he was going to be there.You might not can tell someone they have to stay away from public property but you can da*n sure tell someone not to come to your house. I watched him like a hawk....hoping to make him as uncomfortable as he makes me.


I suppose Ron Harris can go anywhere he wants, until the six counts against him are resolved. But I wonder who invited Ron Harris to show up at the pool party -- and whether anyone put secret surveillance cameras underwater.

We thank all of you for writing us -- and now we'll write for you about Wednesday's news:

+ Car dealer Carl Gregory told the evening news he opposes the proposed "bailout bill" for Detroit's three automakers. Maybe I'm wrong, but that sounds to me like he's selling more Hondas than Chryslers.

+ Fort Benning held a ceremony to mark "National Native American Heritage Month." Yes, this is marked during the month of Thanksgiving. It's a wonder Republicans didn't abolish this, when they controlled Congress....

+ Mary McWaters of Phenix City was presented a winner's check for $156,000 from the Georgia Lottery. McWaters told WRBL she "feels like a millionaire." I didn't realize car and gas prices had dropped quite that much....

+ WRBL reported a student was suspended from Allen Elementary School, for having a paper gun. I can understand the "zero tolerance" policy on weapons - but wouldn't a wadded-up ball of paper be more dangerous, if something heavy was hidden inside?

+ A new "learning trail" for preschool children opened at Shirley Winston Park. It's probably better for parents than taking youngsters to Peachtree Mall -- because they'd eventually have to explain what Victoria's Secret is.

+ Former President Clinton campaigned in Atlanta for Senate candidate Jim Martin. But ABC News reported President-Elect Obama is NOT likely to campaign in Georgia before the runoff. Of course, Mr. Obama has an easy alternative - starting a chain e-mail with his Blackberry.

+ A national survey revealed Auburn University President Jay Gogue is paid about $725,000 a year. That makes him the 12th highest-paid college president in the country. But before you get upset, consider this - Gogue probably has had a better fall semester than Tommy Tuberville.

+ Mercer edged Auburn in men's college basketball 78-74. Mercer completed an Alabama sweep, after winning in Tuscaloosa Sunday -- so college sports fans there are welcome to go into hibernation after Alabama's bowl game, and not wake up until March.

(As I listened to the Mercer-Auburn game on WSHE, I'm not sure which was more embarrassing. Either the Tigers losing - or the host with the halftime scores presuming IPFW stood for "Indiana-Purdue Fort WORTH.")

+ Columbus High School volleyball player Taylor Buckner signed a scholarship to attend college at Southeastern Louisiana. Buckner says she plans to major in political science - so in a few years, she may be lobbying Congress for still more Hurricane Katrina relief money.

(Shame on me - for a moment I thought Southeastern Louisiana was a religious college. After all, score boxes on TV can abbreviate it as "SE-LA.")

+ Instant Message to the top officials of al-Qaeda: About that Wednesday audio message -- didn't you get the e-mails I read? Don't you realize Barack Obama is still a Muslim? Don't you realize he's a friend of terrorists, just like you guys? Or do you recognize weird theories of radical extremists when you hear them?

Today's main topics were the result of blog readers' tips. 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: 943 (+ 27, 2.9%)

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.

UPDATE 1....

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We could have called Tuesday's Columbus Council meeting a "lame duck session." Except all the Councilors are coming back next year -- and I don't think Aflac CEO Dan Amos was in attendance.

The Columbus Council meeting had a tense moment or two. The worst may have come when Councilor Mimi Woodson had too much of Bert Coker. I might have guessed Skip Henderson would have been the one to crack - since he put up with Coker in all these campaign forums, before defeating him two weeks ago.

Councilor Mimi Woodson had spoken during the meeting about a program she supports in her district. Then Bert Coker accused Woodson of trying to help illegal immigrants -- as if he considers it the District of Colombia.

Mimi Woodson was not pleased by Bert Coker's accusation, and claimed she felt threatened by comments he'd made in the past. Imagine if Coker had won the at-large Council seat. Wayne Anthony might be calling Coker and Woodson to the Pastoral Institute, for weekly therapy.

I'm told security officers approached Bert Coker after Mimi Woodson stated her objections, but Coker then walked out of the meeting. On this day, the old cowboy was in no mood for a showdown at high noon....

How interesting that Bert Coker returned to Columbus Council, when he's already told us he plans to run for the Muscogee County School Board in 2010. Maybe it's because Columbus Council provides more TV exposure - since that old-fashioned school board only meets once a month.

The Columbus Council meeting also included comments on the Frank Lumpkin III case. They came from the NAACP President and Lumpkin's attorney - and as expected, they talked directly to the council and right past each other.

NAACP President Bill Madison tried to compare the Frank Lumpkin III case to the shooting of Kenneth Walker. But there's one big difference he's overlooking. Lumpkin called for 911 for backup, and it never came.

Frank Lumpkin III's attorney Frank Martin noted both alleged shooting victim Rodney Matthews and his mother are now in jail. He suggested the real lesson is that parents should bring up their children better. Well, maybe he was talking about that shooting. Or maybe he was talking the settlement Columbus Council approved, in the Zachary Allen case....

Remember Zachary Allen? The son of Councilor Gary Allen finally came up again Tuesday. WRBL reported Columbus Council approved a settlement with the woman whose car was hit by Zachary Allen's EMT vehicle two years ago. If this settlement had been approved one month earlier, Gary Allen's opponent in the election might have remembered to bring it up.

A busy schedule Tuesday prevented us from making calls on several e-mails. So we'll try again Wednesday, and quickly check other headlines now....

+ Several local web sites indicated Columbus had snow flurries at 9:00 p.m. ET. After a bright sunny day, this news was amazing. Does someone living near the airport have a winter display that's gone too far?

+ Phenix City Mayor Sonny Coulter announced the Streetscape project will be delayed three more months. He says part of the work on Broad Street will have to be redone, because the median is too wide for a four-lane road. The chances of this street being renamed Jeff Hardin Parkway are now about one in five million.

+ Major General Michael Barbero became the new commander of Fort Benning. How many naive new soldiers will see or hear that name, and ask who his jockey is?

+ WXTX "News at Ten" did an investigation of area school zones - and found on one street in Auburn, 11 school buses went faster than the speed limit. But I think this is explainable. Bus drivers are trying to get noisy children out of their minds as soon as possible.

+ The Georgia Department of Labor admitted thousands of unemployment checks are being delayed this week. So please - do NOT accuse Senator Saxby Chambliss of confiscating the checks, in exchange for winning the runoff election.

+ The Georgia Department of Natural Resources announced a deer hunter shot and killed a cougar at West Point Lake. Wow - just in time to inspire the Columbus State women's soccer team in the NCAA regionals.

+ Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville admitted to reporters he's keeping his players "out of the office as much as possible" during this off week. The better for hiding those moving boxes, I suppose....

(OK, I confess - I'm feel guilty when it comes to Tommy Tuberville. A few Auburn fans seem to be taking my jokes about a possible firing too seriously. But at least they're not writing Tennessee coach Philip Fulmer, and noting he wouldn't have to put his orange wardrobe on sale.)

+ Instant Message to Café 431 in Phenix City: Be thankful the City Council voted Tuesday to ban smoking in all restaurants. Now school teachers will come back - the ones staying away because your sign for the smoking area is misspelled "dinning room."

The number of unique visitors to this blog is up 31 percent from 2007. 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: 916 (+ 30, 3.4%)

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.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

18 NOV 08 (final edition): JUST LIKE MOM?

Just when you thought the Frank Lumpkin III case couldn't get more curious, we were tipped off to this....


I appreciate your effort to follow up on that completely biased news coverage of baby's mama cryin about her poor innocent child drivin' around in a stolen Navigator. Let me help you! Turns out distraught mama can't return your phone calls because she was promptly taken into custody on outstanding warrants after her 15 year old's preliminary hearing. She currently sits in the Muscogee County Jail for her own part in a shoplifting ring. The kid was home schooled alright! AS IF Mister Dowdell isn't privy to this information. Dowdell is just as disgusting as the skank who wants to be paid for raising a thief! It is my understanding that he sought these "people" out. Anticipating his own payday perhaps? Maybe the newsleader can secure the exclusive jailhouse interview now!


Not so fast here - "Distraught mama" Demetrius Matthews was NOT in the Muscogee County Jail Monday afternoon. We know, because we called and asked. So we did NOT have to take the extra step, of asking whether or not she currently was distraught.

But your blog did confirm Monday that Demetrius Matthews was arraigned 7 November on two shoplifting counts, along with one of "contributing to the delinquency of a minor." We don't know if that minor is her teenage son or someone else. Oh no -- are we going to have to check yet another passenger list?

(We stumbled upon the 7 November court docket during an online search, and found Demetria is her real first name - while the "Demetrius" name she used on TV is listed as an alias. That explains why the court clerk who checked her case kept calling her a "he." Or does a cross-dressing criminal explain that delinquency count?)

The arraignment of Demetria Matthews did follow that TV interview in late October. Sometimes people in grief can do themselves a big favor, by keeping their mouths shut....

But to be fair, that TV interview was followed the next day by another one - with the attorney for Frank Lumpkin III. If Lumpkin's mother or brothers want to talk about how nice HE was to go out with a gun to find his SUV, we'll be happy to hear it.

We must keep in mind that Demetria Matthews is innocent until proven guilty. But if she committed these crimes, this could be a Columbus first - proof of a somewhat organized "crime family."

These new charges only add to the theory one person told me Monday - that a grand jury never will indict Frank Lumpkin III. How quickly we forget. Only a few weeks ago, Sheriff Ralph Johnson said he was sure a grand jury would indict David Glisson - and he was probably sure he'd win re-election, too.

As for the actions of attorney Derrell Dowdell: how many attorneys over the years have NOT "sought people out?" Look at the commercials which dominate court shows such as "Judge Joe Brown" - shows where people ironically are encouraged to dump their attorneys, and have their cases settled on TV.

I'm hearing Derrell Dowdell is changing his tone a bit about the Frank Lumpkin III case. Now he supposedly wants to meet with incoming District Attorney Julia Slater about handling the case carefully. That would be different from Slater stepping aside for an out-of-town prosecutor [11 Nov]. You don't think a different haircut changed his strategy....?!

In another case which this blog broke in February, former Pioneer Little League Board member Ron Harris was arraigned last Friday on charges of sexual exploitation of a child. The Superior Court Clerk's office tells me Harris now faces six counts -- up from one last winter [28 Feb]. And as baseball fans know, six times up increases the chances of Harris striking out.

Our poker blog is getting visits from around the world. Check what's happening at "On the Flop!"

BLOG UPDATE: Confusion reigned for awhile Monday about the upcoming Georgia runoff. A well-known Columbus activist sent e-mails around town, claiming early voting would begin today at the Government Center. The Muscogee County Elections Board said no -- voting begins Friday. And when the Libertarian Party finds out about this, members will laugh every day in between.

The confusion stemmed from conflicting online information. The Georgia Secretary of State's web site claims Muscogee County has four days of early voting this week. But the Election Board web site shows there's only one day. At least the Republican Secretary of State didn't try to tell Democrats they had to wait until January.

As for the big runoff race, a new commercial shows a clip of Senator Saxby Chambliss talking in July. It suggested he does NOT know what a "recession" means. Did Mr. Chambliss help coach Sarah Palin before her TV interviews?

The Georgia Senate runoff is getting so serious that former President Clinton will come to the state Wednesday, campaigning for Democrat Jim Martin. If John McCain can have a post-election meeting with Barack Obama, maybe Bob Barr can show up at this event - and finally congratulate Mr. Clinton on escaping that impeachment trial.

Now let's step down from the political platform, and send some Instant Messages....

+ To Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama: Somebody has to ask it. Would you be against that big automotive bailout bill, if some money was included for Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai? You know, the companies with factories in your state?

+ To Roy Bourgeois: Now this is ridiculous! All the SOA Watch protests were OK - yet the Roman Catholic Church may defrock you for endorsing the ordination of a female priest?! Maybe that ordination in Kentucky needed some giant puppets.

+ To the people of Hurtsboro: Our check of Columbus court records meant all of you got a break from my phone calls Monday. Well, that along with the fact that Katie Couric is looking mighty fine in HDTV....

+ To the Columbus Civic Center staff: So that's all you're doing -- replacing lights in the scoreboard with LCD's?! I was hoping for a new Jumbotron. Well, in Columbus I'd be happy with simply a "Tron."

+ To the Georgia men's basketball team: Ouch -- losing 74-53 to Chicago Loyola?! A college which hadn't beaten a Southeastern Conference opponent since 1964?! Considering Alabama lost to Mercer one night before, the webcasts of Kansas games sound more appealing to me than ever.

Today's main item was the result of a blog reader's tip. 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: 886 (+ 30, 3.5%)

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.

© 2003-08 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

UPDATE 1....

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