Friday, February 29, 2008


Hey, look at that - it's "leap day," which only happens once every four years. Does this mean it's OK to tell your enemies to take a flying leap?

The rare leap day isn't the issue in several area schools - Thursday the 28th was. An estimated 300 students stayed away from Shaw High School, due to rumors of possible violence. The rumors turned out to be false - proving again that you should only trust what the Shaw in-school newscasters say.

The larger concern Thursday involved Northside High School. District officials say someone spray-painted a threat inside a restroom. Graffiti with ink pens apparently is too downscale these days....

Muscogee County School spokesperson Valerie Fuller says the threat left inside Northside High School referred to Virginia Tech - but did NOT mention a shooting. If someone made a comparison to Kansas's Orange Bowl win over Virginia Tech in January, I hereby disavow any knowledge of it.

Muscogee County Schools announced a day in advance that extra security would be in place at Northside High School. They should have mentioned something else about Northside, which might have deterred criminals - it's the school with champion marksmanship teams.

As it happens, a similar threat involving the 28th and Virginia Tech was discovered in a restroom at Harris County Carver Middle School earlier in the month. Authorities announced an arrest in that case - yet about 16 percent of Carver's student body still stayed away from school Thursday. Getting a math lesson by watching "The Price is Right" isn't quite the same.

(I didn't realize until Thursday that the student accused of leaving the Harris County threat is female. If this proves anything, it shows not all middle school students want tickets to Hannah Montana concerts.)

You're left to wonder if the threat inside Northside High School was inspired by what happened in Harris County. It probably wasn't done by one of the school's brightest students - since the ones struggling with their grades are more likely to cheat, and copy other people's work.

If all of this sounds familiar, it should. Rumored threats of trouble at Muscogee County schools seem to surface every spring - but usually not until April. Has February been THAT cold and rainy, leaving students with little to do?

(And of course, there was the speculation of criminal trouble near Brookstone High School last August. Nothing came of those rumors, either - so maybe it's time some parents limited their teenagers' access to the game "Grand Theft Auto.")

In fact, the only real trouble around area schools this week had nothing to do with students at all. Hardaway High School, Richards Middle School and Clubview Elementary were put on lockdown Tuesday, while Columbus Police searched for several burglary suspects. The suspects were arrested before they could start struggling with locker combinations in a hallway.

One mother told the evening news Thursday Shaw High School should be closed today as a precaution - but Muscogee County plans to have all schools open as usual. To borrow a phrase, isn't this a case where closing the school means the "terrorists win?" And don't many teenagers have to learn sooner or later that much to their surprise, they are NOT immortal?

The only area high school which is closing today is Eufaula - and the reason has nothing to do with violence. The girls' basketball team is playing for an Alabama state title in Birmingham. Do you see how education is eroding in this country? When I was young, you only received a day off AFTER they won the state championship.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Here's a response to the exclusive story we broke Wednesday-Thursday, about an arrest involving a Pioneer Little League board member. We're again editing out some details, until we can confirm them separately:

Hey Richard. I wanted you to be aware of the fact that no mention of this was made to any parents. Quite possibly it will be under wraps until he is convicted. The sad part of the story is that this man is allowed to run a business geared at children.... and is allowed to be at Pioneer since he kids play there. My child played with his son while playing under Coach Miley last spring season and I never would have thought it. Now I am disgusted.

I fear my children being around anyone that even thinks of doing things like that, much less actually does it! An indictment tells me that the charges are valid enough of proof. What can the league do to protect my children? Send them to the bathroom in pairs is not enough. And for the board to say that they didn't know? I wonder if that is true. What is the world coming to when you can't go to a ballfield and feel safe around your friends and team members?

Rick has been a horrible president of this league. It is true that the answer to any parents complaint is to go to another league. He told many of the Pirate's parents, including me, last season to go to Northern and offered directions!

He does make the coaches purchase uniforms from DCR. Last year the uniforms were horrible for the $75.00 each that we paid. The pants and hat of the uniform were the wrong size and color and I had to have his pictures done with it that way. And it's not like I could say I didn't want it since it wasn't what I ordered. The man had my money and my son had to wear a uniform to play. I think this time I will pay after I get the uniform and it is right just to protect myself.

Thank you so much for looking into this. I know that this is a horrible revelation and I can understand if you never mention it again due to this. But please be remember that you help people be aware of things going on in this town that many of us would not know about without you writing it. You have done a great service to your readers by following up on this for everyone involved.

I think I speak for everyone by saying we appreciate your effort in all that you cover. I hope that everyone that started reading your blog due to the Pioneer problems last spring still continue to read this blog and know about this.



Be careful, Christi - Ron Harris is NOT indicted yet. A grand jury does the indicting, and the case has yet to reach that stage. And remember, David Glisson was never indicted for the Kenneth Walker shooting - so it's possible the bright-orange "pants and hat" for Harris won't quite fit, either.

All the Little League web sites in Columbus seem to have links to each other. So if you're looking for an alternative to Pioneer, its own site can help you find one. I'm going to step out on a limb, and assume Northern is north of the Pioneer fields.

We'll leave that issue there for now -- and now get caught up on news stories from the last couple of days:

+ Columbus State Rep. Calvin Smyre spoke at an Atlanta rally against a proposed state consumption tax. Smyre said it would impose taxes not only on groceries, but on trips to the barber shop and beauty salon. Why leave a tip for your stylist, when you can give one to Governor Perdue?

+ Kia executive Randy Jackson spoke to the Columbus Rotary Club, and said Georgians need to start buying Kia vehicles. Someone should tell that man the assembly line isn't finished yet - and some of us are trying to avoid the shipping costs for cars really built in South Korea.

(I realized long ago there's a fallacy in the phrase, "Buy an imported car and you put ten Americans out of work." If I buy a U.S.-made car, am I not putting ten people in other countries out of work? Maybe if I avoid buying ANY car, everyone will keep their jobs.)

+ Georgia Congressman John Lewis announced he's switching his support in the Presidential race from Hillary Rodham Clinton to Barack Obama. If that seems surprising, just watch what could happen if Cynthia McKinney becomes the Green Party candidate.

(Didya hear about the movie Democrats are preparing for this fall, about John McCain? It's called, "STILL No Country for Old Men.")

+ Cairo eliminated Carver High School's girls from the Georgia state basketball tournament. DeRon Furr is being missed in the Carver locker room already....

(Which reminds me: Why isn't the Carver High School state football sign posted yet at the 13th Street Bridge? The sign celebrating Northern Little League's World Series title two years ago went up much faster than that. Are we waiting for a shop class to make the sign without any misspellings?)

+ Auburn University athletic director Jay Jacobs told the evening news men's basketball coach Jeff Lebo is "laying a foundation" for years to come. Hmmmm -- you know, some other coach could be hired to build the actual building.

+ Instant Message to Signature Salon, at Armour and Warm Springs Roads: OK, I give up. I'm stumped. What is this "Massage O Gram" you're selling? Does someone pound a message on my back in morse code?

COMING SOON: Local fact and fiction about the presidential race.... and we hear from another Pioneer defender....

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Thursday, February 28, 2008


(BLOGGER'S NOTE: All jokes for today are suspended, due to the sensitive nature of our main topic. We hope to resume our usual format Friday.)

BLOG EXCLUSIVE: As we first posted around 11:00 a.m. Wednesday, your blog has now confirmed the charge against former Pioneer Little League Board member Ron Harris. It is a single criminal charge of "sexual exploitation of children."

Court records show Ron Harris was arrested last December 12. Robert Ford with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation told us late Wednesday his agency has handled the case. Ford says he's "almost positive" a summary of the G.B.I.'s findings has been submitted to the District Attorney's office. (He was outside his office when we talked with him.)

Earlier in the day, a Muscogee County prosecutor handling the Ron Harris case told the blog it is being "prepared for indictment" -- which means it will be presented to an upcoming grand jury. The prosecutor said no specific date has been set for that.

The prosecutor added Columbus Police are still investigating the Ron Harris case. We left a message with the police sex crimes unit Wednesday seeking more details, but there was no reply by our post time.

Robert Ford believes the Ron Harris case involves child pornography, which may have been found on Harris's computer. Ford was not aware of Harris's connection with Pioneer Little League, so he could not comment further along those lines.

When we talked with Pioneer Little League Vice President Lamar Pruitt Tuesday night, he told us he did NOT know the specific charge against Ron Harris. But after the arrest in December, Harris left the Pioneer board.

We mentioned Wednesday that according to Lamar Pruitt, all members of the Pioneer Little League board go through an annual background check. We reviewed the Georgia Sex Offender Registry, and Ron Harris is NOT listed there - so for all we know, this is the first accusation against him.

You'll recall a former Pioneer Little League board member e-mailed us Tuesday. We sent a reply, asking if he knew anything about the Ron Harris case. As of Wednesday night, we had received no answer either way.

Those are the facts as we have them -- and there's much more that we'd like to know, but currently do not:

+ If child pornography truly is on that computer, whose pictures are there? Could this be a case similar to what happened with the Columbus Boys Choir?

+ The Ron Harris case apparently was at least a "rumor" inside local Little League circles. Were Pioneer parents ever told about this arrest?

+ When the first e-mails of complaint about Pioneer Little League reached us last summer, did anyone imagine it would lead to an arrest like this?

Now for our personal thoughts about all of this. It's sad that we have to break this sort of news - but as Lamar Pruitt noted when we called him, no local news outlet mentioned Ron Harris's arrest last December. It apparently went unreported for more than two months.

There's no good time of year to break a story like this - but the timing of this discovery admittedly is terrible for Pioneer Little League. The new season begins in about two weeks. I'm not in a position to tell any parent what to do, but I would understand if some of them had second thoughts about letting their children play this year.

It's possible this entire case is built around one person's accusation against Ron Harris - and we've chronicled the divisions among adults in Pioneer Little League since last June. But given what the prosecutor told us Wednesday, the G.B.I. apparently agrees there's enough evidence to take it to a grand jury. The sooner this case can be resolved, the better things are likely to be for all parties.

E-MAIL UPDATE: In light of this new information, the unedited e-mail which first accused Ron Harris was posted in the 27 Feb blog entry Wednesday. We also have a response to what a former Pioneer Little League board member wrote earlier this week:


The email from Mr. Olvera was fantastic fun reading, but really ends up demonstrating the problem at Pioneer versus shedding any light on it. Mr. Olvera is one of those Pioneer board members that always existed as a symptom of all the problems at Pioneer, certainly not one that would conduct all of the great investigating that he mentioned when parents mentioned or documented problems.

This is a great example of a typical Pioneer board member's attitude, and a response is indeed warranted.

No little league in Columbus, GA has ever mandated as a board that teams must buy uniforms from one vendor. Remember the pressure your blog brought on Pioneer last year, resulted in this year the board saying we highly recommend you buy uniforms from DCR sports ala Bo Weaver Pioneer Board Member. But the fact remains that on Mr. Olvera's watch, last year (2007) the board indeed did mandate as an entity that teams buy their uniforms from DCR Sports, or Bo Weaver. Mr. Olvera has really thrown some great PR spin moves by trying to equate Northern and Peach LL with similar actions. Bottom line, it never happened at Northern or Peach, which are leagues that NEVER indicates to team coaches and managers where to buy anything. Especially in an official board capacity. Also the whole spin that the decision was an attempt to save money for families is ludicrous. At least with a $100 uniform the kids got good uniforms. The money saved on $65 ones from DCR sports is no savings at all when the uniforms resemble threads by game 2.

As for resolving complaints by turning to the board, he must be kidding. You chronicled how Pioneer treated a volunteer coach of 20 plus years in Coach Miley. This is indicative of standard board conduct when problems are presented. Is Coach Miley happily coaching away at Northern LL now? Yes. Just ask him.

And the real kicker is Mr. Olvera's assertion that other leagues have this problem and other problems. Richard, what other email complaints have you received about other little leagues? What other little league in Columbus is so bad, that it motivates folks to pick up the keyboard and set their complaints down? I have been a long time reader of your blog. It appears none! Did I miss something?

Let me take you thru a standard complaint to a board at Pioneer over the years. For instance the president Rick Chadwick.

"Rick I was wondering why we can't maybe buy our uniforms from Team Sports?"

"You don't like it here", responds Rick Chadwick.

"No I like it here, just wondering on the uniforms, I think it sets a bad precedent to force and coerce folks to buy from one source."

"Well if you don't' like the policies of this board and myself, please find your way to American LL", replies Rick.

This Sir Richard, to steal a phrase from the constable, is standard issue resolution policy at Pioneer when you approach a board member. Case in point? You documented it quite well with the Coach Miley situation.

And Mr. Olvera ends right on point by sneaking in to make sure you help raise money! Can you actually imagine Pioneer representing us in the Little League World Series? Well based on how the league is run you won't have to worry about that, as they are probably as usual never advance past city play, but to equate Pioneer board member actions, with the professionalism shown by Northern when they won the LLWS, is really an insult that league. In contrast to Pioneer, Northern raised tons of money and used it for the kids, which may be why when you go to Northern as I did the other day, you see brick dust based baseball fields, nice facilities and new practice fields. Wait, it can't be, Northern actually uses the money they raise for the kids Greg. Huh what a concept!


The matter of team uniforms pales in comparison to the case we're focusing on today. We'll do some fact-checking with other Little Leagues as time permits. And we tried to call Coach Philip Miley after receiving this e-mail, but the line was busy at his home.

Let the record show that Pioneer Little League actually had a Georgia state champion last summer. The nine-and-ten year-old girls' softball team took the title [20 Jul 07]. But NO e-mails reached us about that -- and if we hadn't paid attention to the late-night TV sportscast, we never would have known about it.

There's a part of me that wonders if this series of messages (especially several weeks before opening day) really is designed to pressure Pioneer Little League President Rick Chadwick to resign. The critics probably wouldn't object to that. But to me, this doesn't seem the proper way to go about bringing change. And if online politicking really worked, Ron Paul would be leading the Republican Presidential race right now -- challenging Howard Dean.

Today's main topic was the result of a blog reader's tip. To offer a story tip, make a PayPal donation, advertise or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008


"Where's our marina?" I can't tell you how many times I've heard Al Fleming rant about that in TV commentaries -- so many times that you'd think this former news anchor and nightclub owner would invest some money in riverfront property, and build his own.

As of Tuesday, Al Fleming apparently can add a new complaint -- where's our trolley? Columbus city leaders said a long-proposed line across town is NOT likely to happen. So it will be like that famous trolley on PBS - heading only to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.

The 1999 city sales tax issue promised money for a trolley line from downtown Columbus to the Peachtree Mall area. In fact, Burger King built a specially-themed "train station" restaurant on Gentian Boulevard for it. Now you can dine there, and feel railroaded in a couple of ways.

On top of that, METRA introduced a couple of buses in the Historic District which look like trolley cars. I've ridden them once or twice, and they were NOT filled with nostalgic passengers. Maybe if they added a bell to ring - or even souvenir plates of Rice-a-Roni.

Columbus Planning Director Rick Jones said Tuesday the trolley proposal has been knocked off the track (giggle) for two main reasons. The city isn't sure exactly how much it would cost, and isn't sure how many people would ride it. If the trolley ran in a great circle around Columbus Park Crossing, the ridership probably would be huge.

City Manager Isaiah Hugley added a trolley line across Columbus might cost 50 million dollars to build. Since the route would miss the central library and the new Muscogee County school administration building by a few miles, this big investment would look misplaced.

Maybe I'm wrong here, but wasn't one goal of the trolley line to attract tourists to Columbus? They could party on Broadway all evening, then take the trolley to Peachtree Mall and pretend it's "Family Day in the Park" all year round.

City officials recited a lengthy list in January, noting projects completed and promises kept from the 1999 sales tax. But will the lack of a trolley line hurt the city, as it tries to sell a new sales tax question in the coming months? Will the new "Common Cause Columbus" stage a publicity stunt, with people walking down an abandoned rail line to the Chattahoochee River to board kayaks?

The good news about rail lines Tuesday was that a "rails to trails" project is about to begin in Columbus. City Planning Director Rick Jones said an abandoned rail line soon will be converted to a paved trail. I'm not sure what delayed this so long -- or (ahem) if any individual is at as-fault.

The main "rails to trails" project will extend from the 14th Street pedestrian bridge to Psalmond Road. WRBL reported it will pass through Flat Rock Park - where bored bike riders can wake themselves up with some laps on the BMX course.

E-MAIL UPDATE, REPOSTED MIDDAY 27 FEB: We've finally confirmed sufficient details of a message which makes some serious accusations. And of course, it's about Little League baseball....


Blog is great, but time to really break it down on Pioneer LL and lets just end it for what it really is.

Rick helping out with pictures? [22 Feb] What a joke. What about the uniforms he forces teams to buy from Bo Weaver, a Pioneer board member who owns DCR sports and is the sole source of uniforms for Pioneer per Rick and the board. What does Bo do for Pioneer? Not much, just makes a truck load of money off the cheap uniforms he sells them.

But hey Richard, here is the real story. Ask Rick about the recent person, Mr. Ron Harris, who Rick put on the Pioneer Little League board and was arrested for child porno? Wow, maybe that is why Rick wants bathroom trips on pairs, since he allows pedophiles to hang out on the Pioneer Little League Board.

Richard, we all appreciate your good humor and tracking of community issues, but if the Blog of Columbus gets nothing else out, it should be that Pioneer is a dangerous place for kids to play ball, and based on good old boy boards and votes, an expensive place too!

Keep up the good blogging!


The District Attorney's office confirmed Tuesday a case against Ron Harris is pending -- but we admittedly did NOT call Pioneer President Rick Chadwick about it. Remembering last summer, there might be a civil case against us....

(BLOGGER'S NOTE: We hope to confirm the exact charge Wednesday morning, so watch this space for an update on it.)

Pioneer Little League Vice-President Lamar Pruitt told your blog Ron Harris left the board late last year, after he was arrested. Harris was a board member about 18 months, and Pruitt says he was up for an "annual renewal." Of course, arrests don't stop other people from serving the public - like U.S. Senators.

Lamar Pruitt said the Pioneer Little League board members are subject to annual background checks. The last one on Ron Harris apparently occurred before his arrest -- an arrest other board members did NOT know about, until someone from American Little League called them and mentioned it. The inter-league competition around here must last year-round.

Lamar Pruitt denied the arrest of Ron Harris had anything to do with the new "bathroom buddies" policy in Pioneer Little League. Pruitt explained they want two children to use restrooms together, so there isn't a "follow the leader" situation of one player following another. So unlike football, "two to go" is better than one.

With all the recent e-mail griping about the board, I dared to ask Lamar Pruitt about something different - the upcoming Pioneer Little League season. It opens March 15, and Pruitt says it appears turnout will be up ten percent from last year. So the grumblers may have chased away a coach or two, but the young players seem as fearless as Roger Clemens on Capitol Hill.

Another e-mail moves from children's play time to study time:

I wonder if the new MCSD administration building can be designed to accomodate classrooms on the top two floors? I read the Ledger article that stated MCSD was having a hard time finding funding to build classroom space for the new military kids who will be coming..Does teaching on a stage or in a closet require different teacher certification? I guess all the sleepy head students will volunteer to go to the afternoon session of double sessions. I saw James Walker's property is still up for auction due to unpaid taxes. Maybe he took care of it and tax office has not notified the Ledger..

Funny you should ask that first question - because we were first to show you schematic drawings of the new administration building [25 Dec 07]. If there's room to attach a private bathroom to the Superintendent's office, I don't see why some classrooms aren't possible.

In fact, the preliminary drawings allow space for classrooms on the second and third floors. Both have large areas marked simply as "growth" - and I don't think that means they're for biology teachers.

The third-floor growth space is near the Construction Director's office. So it's perfect for a kindergarten class, which wants to work with Lego blocks.

The second-floor growth space is down the hall from the Human Resources Department. It would be great for "Future Business Leaders of America" meetings - unless the school employees suing over the retirement plans stage a non-stop sit-in there first.

Fort Benning Commandant Walter Wojdakowski told Columbus Council Tuesday about 7,100 military children are coming to this area, because of base realignment. Please make those youngsters feel welcome in a couple of years - and do NOT refer to them as BRAC brats.

By the way, I do NOT think teaching "in a closet" will require a different certification. But I think some Georgia Republicans would recommend that, if a teacher comes out of the closet.

Now let's check other headlines from a Tuesday with plenty of news....

+ Cott Beverage stock dropped 37 percent, after Wal-Mart announced it will reduce its shelf space for products such as RC Cola. Wal-Mart truly is selling out its Arkansas and Southern roots. After all, when was the last time you saw Moon Pies on sale in the bakery?

+ The Russell County Commission voted to make Larry Kite the full-time county engineer. The 25-minute executive session on his job must have been nerve-wracking - since the commissioners could have come out, and told Kite to go fly one.

+ WLTZ reported the Fort Benning property has about 6,000 feral pigs. And you wondered how Country's Barbecue can keep its prices so low....

+ Jordan High School officially was dethroned as Georgia state basketball champion, losing 52-49 to Glenn Hills of Augusta. Maybe the Red Jackets became confused, when a group of Greenjacket baseball players showed up.

+ The Georgia Senate voted to allow Sunday beer sales at a new minor league baseball stadium in Gwinnett County. Buford's Renee Unterman declared during the debate: "Baseball, beer and peanuts - they are as American as apple pie." So which U.S. family really invented beer, the Coorses or the Budweisers?

+ Alabama head football coach Nick Saban admitted his players have to make changes and improve their behavior. WRBL noted eight Alabama players have been arrested since Saban was hired early last year. If this keeps up, sports boosters in Tuscaloosa will trade in their plaid jackets for red and white stripes.

+ Country music legend George Jones promised to perform at a planned new 500-acre development near Dothan. "Country Crossing" will include an amphitheater, shopping, hotels - and bingo. [True/AP] The very thing that will make it different from Pigeon Forge and Branson may be what prompts Governor Bob Riley to order it toward Panama City.

(Does this explain why George Jones showed up at the dedication of the new Russell County Sheriff's Department shooting range? If Constable Robert Schweiger had been there and met him, Hurtsboro could be on the verge of becoming a boom town.)

This blog had more than 43,000 visitors in 2007 -- up 53% from 2006! To advertise to them, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008


It's been a long time since I've personally done it. But Monday brought news that a local political candidate has done that dance. In this case: he put his campaign hat in, he put his campaign hat out - and at the moment it's out, and he's shaking it all about.

Jeremy Hobbs issued an e-mail letter, taking back his announcement that he'll challenge Red McDaniel for Columbus Council this year -- an announcement made in another e-mail only six weeks ago [15 Jan]. Wow, his campaign didn't even last as long as Sam Brownback's.

You'll recall this story started in January 2007, when Jeremy Hobbs e-mailed Red McDaniel to say he would NOT challenge the Councilor in this election year. Hobbs took that back last month - and now he's changed his mind again. If Hobbs isn't careful, he's going to become qualified to manage a Waffle House.

So what led Jeremy Hobbs to withdraw his "letter of intent" to run? An e-mail addressed to Red McDaniel says he has "a debilitating disease that will eventually kill me within the next ten to fifteen years." Our sympathies go out to him - but hold on here. Aren't Columbus Council terms only four years long?

(This news is especially stunning, since Hobbs is secretary of the Muscogee County Young Republicans. It makes you wonder what the party's health care plan is - and whether it's underwritten by a major grant by Blue Cross Blue Shield.)

Jeremy Hobbs's message does NOT say exactly what the disease is, but he drops enough hints to suggest he has the AIDS virus. He calls for the creation of a local HIV/AIDS awareness committee, and admits his own "white blood count is.... critically low." Some scoffing Democrats would say whiteness is essential for any Republican to be successful in politics.

Jeremy Hobbs says his doctor told him last Friday it would NOT be physically wise to run for political office right now. That's because Hobbs plans to take an experimental drug of some sort, and the doctor is concerned about "the stress level from an election." It's not like Hobbs would have to travel to a new state every week to campaign....

Yet Jeremy Hobbs's e-mail to Red McDaniel does NOT completely rule out a campaign this year. "It is possible I will seek Schley's seat," he writes - as in Muscogee County School Board member Philip Schley. So Hobbs's 2008 election status could be out-and-in, out-and-in. Call him the "rocking chair" candidate.

The e-mail from Jeremy Hobbs also is an appeal for Red McDaniel to give him a job to do in the community -- but not a paid job with the city. "I am looking for a commission to a committee," he writes. In politics, that normally means a payment in the other direction....

While Jeremy Hobbs concedes a Columbus Council seat to Red McDaniel, his e-mail still contains some complaints. Among other things, Hobbs lists several roads in need of immediate widening - including Weems, Whittlesey and Whitesville Roads. Why more computer repair shops haven't located in this W-W-W zone, I have no idea.

E-MAIL UPDATE: The Blog of Columbus is your Little League spring training headquarters -- and without our even trying. We received a different side of the Pioneer story Monday....

Mr. Burkard,

I've been reading your blog off and on since first hearing about that "issues" at Pioneer Little League were being reported to you. Until recently, I was on the Board of Directors at Pioneer Little League and served for about 4 years.

Decisions made by the board are done so with the best intentions. No one gets paid to be a member of the board, we hear complaints in public, but never does anyone give praise to the board in public. This is a group of people who give of their time to run a league for the kids to participate in. I've read comments about uniforms. A decision was made to limit the amount being spent on uniforms as in the past some coaches have not thought twice about have a uniform that cost the parents over $100.00 per player and then another coach kept the cost at half that. The Board made a decision last year to limit the cost of the uniforms to a maximum of $65.00 per player. When a family has multiple children playing, the uniform costs can get very expensive. And to accomplish this, the Board made a decision to direct the uniforms to purchase uniforms from certain businesses. Now I know for a fact other leagues have taken similar action and directed that all uniforms be purchased from a particular business (Peach and Northern as two examples in the past). Again, this was done with the best intentions.

For these parents who want to complain, ask about a board meeting and come up to voice complaints. I have heard so many times over the years that a parent had a problem with a coach yet even when the parent was approached and told that a board member had heard of their complaint, we would never receive the complaint in writing, even after asking the parent to do so. We cannot go on verbal complaints. We ask for complaints to be in writing.

In the end, it seems ridiculous for a parent to complain here to you rather than to discuss with the league. And people may point fingers at Pioneer, but every league has it's problems and the people responsible for the leagues are doing their best.

And when you ask why I'm no longer with Pioneer, it's because I live in Phenix City and have my step-daughter playing in the local league there as we are districted for it.

Thank you for listening, and please remind your readers, this is a kids game. Let the kids play and be there to participate in the fund raising activities as they help everyone involved.


Greg Olvera

We appreciate this alternate viewpoint - and I agree, it does "seem ridiculous" for parents to complain to a blogger first. But that's what happens when Mike Vee and Rachel Baribeau spend all their time on WEAM-AM talking about silly things like college football.

It indeed is a rare occasion when a sports board receives praise. You may have noticed no one has thanked the Muscogee County School Board, for hiring Dell McGee as Carver High School's football coach.

It appears several Little League programs have single suppliers, to offer "group discounts" to players and teams. But I can see why some people might consider that exclusivist. When those people are through complaining about baseball uniforms, let's see those picket signs outside Sam's Club.

Lest you think Pioneer is the only Little League program that's less than perfect -- what's this I'm hearing about a different program, where young players already have made nasty threats against each other? Could there really be that many New York Knick fans in Columbus?

We're still holding one other Little League message, until we can do some fact-checking. So let's move on to some other Monday news headlines....

+ Midland's Seth Harp told WRBL the Georgia Senate will vote today on his proposal to allow Sunday liquor sales in stores. He complained under the current state law, "you can get drunk as a skunk" at a restaurant on Sundays. But he forgets something -- people wearing nice suits after church don't want to spill beer on them.

(The manager of the Villa Nova package store on Second Avenue said he actually prefers to be closed on Sundays. Can you really blame him? He can take home expired liquor on Saturday nights, and invite his friends over to watch games on TV.)

+ Chambers County authorities reported about $4,000 in items were stolen from the Kia training center. These new employees simply don't understand! Johnny Cash sang about building a car "one piece at a time" - not six or seven.

+ WLTZ News reported the U.S. has "had four recessions," and the last economic recession occurred in 1991. That's not what I found online -- which makes me wonder if their reporter consulted the most hardline Republican in the area.

+ An evening jog past the RiverCenter led to the discovery that the touring production "The Greatest Love Story Ever Told" has been canceled. Maybe it's just a coincidence, but Eve Tidwell has that new weekly TV show....

+ Pro basketball's champion San Antonio Spurs assailed the Atlanta Hawks 89-74 -- and won despite scoring only five points in the first quarter. This is why I'll have trouble considering the Hawks a playoff contender until Dominique Wilkins's children are old enough to join the team.

+ Instant Message to the staff of Providence Canyon State Park: Wow -- your attendance jumped more than 50 percent last year! How did you do it? Were people comparing whether the canyon was as empty as West Point Lake?

This blog had more than 43,000 visitors in 2007 -- up 53% from 2006! To advertise to them, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 853 (+ 15, 1.8%)

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, February 24, 2008

for 25 FEB 08: DON'S NO JUAN

Sunday seemed to be Alabama Day on CBS. The network showed the Alabama-Auburn men's basketball's game in the afternoon -- then a story about a former governor during the evening on "60 Minutes." The Wisconsin-Ohio State game must have been a concession to all the Yankees, at network headquarters in New York.

We're focusing on the 60 Minutes telecast, because of a strange new allegation made there. Jill Simpson claimed former White House aide Karl Rove asked her to catch former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman cheating on his wife "if I could." C'mon, Mr. Rove - not all Democrats followed Bill Clinton's example.

Jill Simpson says she spent five years with the Republican Party in Alabama, doing "opposition research." I think this is what New England Patriots coach Bill Belicheck also called it for years....

Jill Simpson says she met with Karl Rove in 2001, and Rove asked her to do some spying on then-Governor Don Siegelman. She reports she watched for months, but found NO evidence of Siegelman cheating on his wife. OK - but did Simpson spot him sneaking into Georgia to buy lottery tickets?

Then came a discussion about the 2002 Alabama Governor's race. Jill Simpson says Karl Rove told her: "My girls can take care of Siegelman" - referring to two female federal prosecutors. For a moment, Simpson must have thought the attorneys were going to use that OTHER type of "bar association."

We should note that Karl Rove denies ever saying these things to Jill Simpson. But White House officials such as Rove have refused to tell their side of the story to a Congressional committee, while Simpson did. After looking at her, I don't think lawmakers are going to confuse her with O.J. Simpson.

The point of the 60 Minutes report was to suggest that Don Siegelman's conviction on bribery charges two years ago was based on Republican political scheming, more than actual evidence. More than 50 former Attorneys General from across the country have called for Congress to review the case -- and we hope they enjoyed their rounds on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.

Former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods (a Republican) told 60 Minutes the prosecution of Don Siegelman was a "personal" matter. He says that explains why Siegelman was hustled off to prison immediately after he was sentenced last summer. But hold on here - didn't he have 13 months after his conviction to pack?

The 60 Minutes report also included videotape of Don Siegelman's current "home." He was shown working with a mop, at a federal prison in Louisiana. If Siegelman ever serves in an elected office again, maybe he'll suggest other politicians do that in government buildings to save money.

Oh yes, that basketball game - Auburn outlasted Alabama 88-76. CBS's Ian Eagle declared the game at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum was "on the road to the Final Four." If that's true, some driver for the network took a very wrong turn at Knoxville or Memphis.

There wasn't much else going on this weekend worth joking about - but here's what we found:

+ Tommy Lee Jones failed to win the Best Actor Oscar for "In the Valley of Elah," which was based on the Richard Davis murder case. Daniel Day-Lewis won for his role in "There Will Be Blood" - a title which could have been placed on the Richard Davis movie, or a Red Cross appeal for donors.

(Speaking of the Oscars: did you see Tilda Swinton, the Best Supporting Actress? I never saw Deborah Singer right after she woke up in the morning - but I think Swinton was imitating that.)

+ The Columbus Civic Center rink was opened to the public, for Sunday ice skating. I think there's a way to attract a bigger crowd for this - mention some budding figure skaters will practice "death spirals."

+ A convenience store in Portal, Georgia claimed to have sold a winning Mega Millions ticket, worth 270 million dollars. Portal is located near Statesboro, and has a population of about 600 people. If the winner lives there, he or she might become the first owner of a Georgia town since Kim Basinger.

+ ESPN Radio reported Atlanta Falcons tight end Alge Crumpler plans to meet with the Tennessee Titans this week. It's enough to make the new coaching staff break out in song and ask: "What's it all about, Alge?"

+ Instant Message to all the NASCAR fans who complained about severe weather interruptions on TV during the Daytona 500: I think what happened Sunday with the race in California is called karma.

This blog had more than 43,000 visitors in 2007 -- up 53% from 2006! To advertise to them, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 838 (- 75, 8.2%, record low)

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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Well, well - so much for the speculation that Robert Schweiger might run for Mayor of Hurtsboro. Instead, he's filed a petition to dissolve the entire town. If you can't beat 'em, put 'em out of business -- a little bit like Microsoft with Yahoo....

Constable Robert Schweiger and four other Hurtsborite.... uh, Hurtsboroia.... well, what DO you call someone who lives in that small, slow-paced Russell County town? A Hurts-burro?

But I was saying: Constable Robert Schweiger and four other Hurtsboro residents have filed a petition at the Russell County Courthouse to put the town out of business. It would become a community under county jurisdiction, much like Seale. And who knows - someday Hurtsboro might also have a four-lane highway racing through it as well.

Fresh off his Big Blog Question triumph, Constable Schweiger told WRBL the people of Hurtsboro deserve better than their current city government. But is literally closing down the town the right answer? Columbus Police officers came up with an alternative - and Jim Wetherington was elected Mayor fair and square.

Robert Schweiger repeated a claim he's said in various ways here for more than a year -- that Hurtsboro is going downhill in a hurry. And it's happening despite a very level Main Street....

Robert Schweiger said he's moved to Hurtsboro to stay: "I don't intend to move until I pass away." There are a number of other residents who were saddened by this comment - like the man who told us last Thanksgiving he wants the Constable to move back to Illinois.

Constable Schweiger also repeated his complaint that Hurtsboro's Mayor is not available to the public, to hear about local problems and explain what's being done about them. There's one sure way to get a mayor out of hiding, to talk about her city - and the next time a company decides to locate in Hurtsboro, that could happen.

If this request for a Russell County takeover of Hurtsboro sounds familiar, you must be a regular blog reader. It's been about a year since we noted Constable Schweiger had submitted several pages of signatures to Alabama's Governor, asking for state intervention [12 Feb 07]. Bob Riley seems to have responded with all the speed of a Hurtsboro police cruiser....

But Alabama state code states any five qualified voters can file a petition with a county Probate Judge to forfeit a city charter. Only five?! This means Phenix City could be dissolved, because a basketball team was upset about not getting to play at Idle Hour Park.

Russell County Probate Judge Alford Harden says he'll schedule a public hearing in Hurtsboro, so the city at large can comment on this proposal to dissolve the town. Maybe someone will suggest a merger with Hatchechubbee, nine miles up the road - and the combined town will be called Hurts-to-be-Chubbee.

Let's presume this petition is successful, and Hurtsboro is dissolved. Do you realize what that means? Constable Schweiger may never send us any more e-mails complaining about.... no, hold it. I think I know better. He'll turn things up a notch, and start complaining about Russell County commissioners.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Spring training for blog writers clearly is underway, as a message from Friday is tossed back....

Pioneer team newsletter??????????

I need to get that info cause the website for them is lacking information.

According to it I have to sell two boston b**ts before March 9th... That is before the season starts.

To the new blog reader: Please send information on anything Pioneer to me at!

I would like to know what is going on prior to the end of the season. And if Rick is offering to help with pictures, well I want to see that for myself. Think he would help with uniforms too?? One of the VP's in the league is the one selling them, maybe he would cut Rick a deal!


From my review of the Pioneer Little League web site, you also can buy a season-long sign on the outfield fence for 250 dollars. So your money can buy two, uh, you-knows - or many more eyeballs.

We haven't heard the last about Pioneer Little League, but another e-mail must be held until we do some checking on it. In the meantime, let's send some Instant Messages....

+ To Fourth Street Baptist Church Pastor J.H. Flakes: That march against violence in the Historic District Saturday was a good idea. But I couldn't help noticing you went north on Veterans Parkway - instead of east, into the Booker T. Washington apartment complex.

+ To Georgia NAACP President Edward DuBose: Are you kidding me?! I mean, that newspaper ad. You actually bought a car from Rob Doll Nissan? Did anybody bother telling you he's a Republican?

+ To Glynn Smith Chevrolet in Opelika: I read the fine print of last week's "Scratch & Match" contest mailing, and I'm puzzled. How can a "$1,000 shopping spree" have a retail value of ten dollars? That makes about as much sense as the sentence which says, "Offer ends at 6:00 PM January 19, 2007."

+ To whomever left chalk messages on the Riverwalk at 11th Street: I don't care if you wrote "Thank you God" in big letters. Graffiti on the wall is still graffiti on the wall -- and I think Jesus would clean it up.

This blog had more than 43,000 visitors in 2007 -- up 53% from 2006! To advertise to them, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 913 (+ 22, 2.5%)

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

© 2003-08 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Friday, February 22, 2008


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

It was a stunning story on the evening news the other night. A Columbus man drives from the northeast corner of town to the middle of Phenix City - and doesn't remember a moment of it. Of course, some drivers may become so overcome by their loud car stereos that this is commonplace....

Andrew Stevenson had a simple schedule, really: drop his five-year-old daughter off at school, then go to work. But he says he backed out of the driveway near Lynch Road - and the next thing he remembered was sitting in his pickup at a CVS parking lot on Highway 280 in Phenix City, facing the wrong direction toward traffic. That should have led to "blackout bingo," with some driver binging his truck.

Andrew Stevenson and his daughter apparently drove down J.R. Allen Parkway from the Schomberg Road area all the way to Phenix City on February 14, and somehow turned into a CVS store OFF the parkway - all while he was in a diabetic coma. After hearing his story, I'll never look at fast-moving lane-changing drivers on the interstate in the same way again.

Andrew Stevenson tells me his cell phone rang while he was parked at CVS - apparently a co-worker calling to ask where he was. "I'm lost," is all he could answer. And I'm not sure he even remembers giving that answer. He was more oblivious to his situation than some diehard supporters of Ron Paul's Presidential campaign.

(Stevenson is grateful to an unknown Phenix City female police officer, who came upon his truck. The woman had compassion and concern for his five-year-old daughter. Some five-year-old boys might have considered that trip the biggest thrill this side of Six Flags.)

You'd think Andrew Stevenson would have wound up in a wreck at some point in that long ride. Yet he and his young daughter wound up unhurt, except for Stevenson needing emergency medical treatment for his diabetic coma. After all that unconscious time, it was nothing different than a long ride across the plains of west Texas.

How did Andrew Stevenson and his daughter survive unharmed? He knows the answer, and he'll tell anyone who asks him. God intervened in his behalf. It wasn't quite the Carrie Underwood song "Jesus Take the Wheel," because he's already a Christian man. But guardian angels came to his aid - and who knows, they might even be able to display a Georgia drivers' license if asked.

This story of protection reminded me of the morning in northwest Oklahoma when I was driving in the countryside on a two-lane road, heading to a news story. I fell asleep for only a moment -- but woke up seconds before I would have rear-ended a stopped driver at very high speed. I'd never been more thankful for grassy borders of farmland in my life.

I firmly believe God and His angels intervene, when believing people need them most. The book of Hebrews calls them "ministering spirits," helping people who will inherit salvation. And someday, I might discover those angels are every bit as nice-looking as Cheryl Ladd and Jaclyn Smith on TV.

If you want to know about how these special spirits work and what they do, find a Bible with a concordance in the back. Read over the verses dealing with angels - and you might be surprised by what you find. I'm thankful they're around me, probably intervening in ways I don't even know about. Well, except maybe when telemarketers interrupt my dinner....

This blog had more than 43,000 visitors in 2007 -- up 53% from 2006! To advertise to them, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 891 (- 160, 15.2%, record low)

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, February 21, 2008


We've had a lot of extra visitors to the blog this week - and we thank all of you for stopping by. Part of me wants to post a new poll, to learn which of those nine Barbie dolls people consider the most offensive....

But the Barbies may not be the real reason why visits have jumped. This blog apparently was mentioned in the comments section of the Ledger-Enquirer's story on the Daniel Jordan case [17 Feb] - and another comment there was forwarded to us. Do NOT trust it, until you read our findings below it:

I know for a fact that there were many more things that could have and in some peoples opinion should have been printed about Cascade Hills in the Ledger Enquirer areticle.

Things that would have made Cascade Hills Baptist Church Inc. look far worse than this article made them look. If the LE "had it in for them", they would have included those facts as well. Some of the facts the LE has, but chose not to include in the story,

Did you know Pullen appears in interviews on products sold by Bill Purvis?

Did any of you know that Doug Pullen actually said "I do not know who they are" when asked in the court room about his relationship with Cascade Hills. ?

Did you know that Doug Pullen suggested that he barley knew Bill Purvis and said "I have not talked to him in two or three years", when in fact Pullen had spoken at Cascade Hills and had conversations with Bill Purvis a few months prior to those statements.

Did you know that Doug Pullen refused to step down from hearing the case involving the church and this former employee even though he had obvious ties to Bill Purvis and Cascade Hills Baptist Church Inc.?

Did you know that even after three appearances before Doug Pullen by this defendant, Judge Pullen told a pastor and another city official that the defendant was not on his docket and had never appeared in his courtroom?

Did you know that although ARTICLE V Paragraph B of the Articles of Incorporation for Cascade Hills Baptist Church Inc. states, "the Corporation shall not participate or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office", Bobby Peters sat on the stage and drank coffee with Bill Purvis in staged interviews before his last election.

Did you know that Peters had access to the 8000 members of Cascade Hills before his election along with Bill's implied endorsement. The opposing candidate was not given the same opportunity.

Did you know that there were notes indicating messages from Bobby Peters on paper work concerning bond and other arrest papers having to do with this case. Bond was refused and not set allegedly at the judges request.

Did you know that Peters was the judge on the bench during the Grand Jury Hearing for this case?

Did you know that although Pullen refused to step down from this case when requested in September 2007, he quietly stepped aside the day following the publishing of the Ledger Enquirer article exposing the issuance of questionable subpoenas involving Cascade Hills.

Did you know that Bill Purvis told lies in order to get the defendant back to the church? Those conversations were recorded and entered into evidence.

Did you know that the ledger Enquirer had all of these facts but chose not to use them?

Did you know there are certified court documents including transcripts and/or recordings to prove many of these statements.

I think the Ledger-Enquirer was gracious to Bill Purvis.

....And I think someone isn't learning from the newspaper's example of graciousness, with all these allegations. Of course, if the Ledger-Enquirer really WAS gracious toward Cascade Hills Church, why was the story at the top of page one?

Your blog went to the Superior Court Clerk's office Thursday, and reviewed all the records on the Daniel Jordan case. We found some of the statements made in this e-mail are very misleading, with partial quotes pulled out of context. If I didn't know better, I'd think some alleged "Bible preacher" was behind it.

We already knew Judge Doug Pullen appears in a recorded sermon where Bill Purvis gives his personal testimony. I think we've mentioned it here before -- that Pullen was the prosecutor of the case where Purvis was stabbed and nearly killed. So why should the judge give Purvis's church any special favors? I doubt he's getting residuals, every time WLTZ plays that message.

But Judge Pullen's quote "I do not know who they are" was NOT said concerning Cascade Hills Church. That comment at a Muscogee County court hearing last November related to a list of witnesses in the Daniel Jordan case. The judge wanted to know the names on that witness list - just in case Charles Stanley didn't come down from Atlanta to impress the jury.

Judge Pullen went on to say: "I know a ton of folks who go to church up there" - then he mentioned not seeing the Cascade Hills Pastor in two or three years. He admitted in court he was speaking "to the best of my knowledge." If someone has better knowledge, they should have called Daniel Jordan's lawyers -- because they never brought it up, and tried to hold the judge in contempt in his own courtroom.

The court records never indicate Judge Doug Pullen "stepping down" from the Daniel Jordan case. But when the plea bargain was settled in court earlier this month, a different judge issued the sentence - and not Bobby Peters, but John Allen. Apparently the rumor-spreaders have yet to find any pictures with Allen and Bill Purvis in the same room.

We called Judge Doug Pullen's office for his side of all these allegations Thursday. A clerk called back, to tell us he "doesn't comment on stuff like that." So Pullen must not be up for election anytime soon, like John McCain is....

(Judge Pullen has a more pressing issue these days. Court clerks told us he's out of town, because his mother-in-law is seriously ill. Our best wishes to the judge and his family - and if a husband is that concerned about his mother-in-law, that says a lot about his patience and compassion.)

As for Judge Bobby Peters: the only document on file concerning him is from an arraignment hearing he conducted last September 7. Daniel Jordan had his arraignment waived at the hearing. And there's no evidence the courtroom was filled with 8,000 Cascade Hills Church members demanding justice.

But why is someone trying to connect this theft of a Cascade Hills Church hard drive to the 2004 race for judge between Bobby Peters and Roxann Daniel? Not even Daniel's backers dragged Bill Purvis's name into that race - while some people tried to bring up Peters's former romances.

So what did Pastor Bill Purvis say, to bring a fired Daniel Jordan back to Cascade Hills Church? Court transcripts show he offered a severance package and a letter of recommendation, if Jordan could fix the problem with a church computer. In fact, Purvis handed Jordan an envelope moments before police arrested Jordan. For all we know, it might have contained Monopoly money....

Last year's conversations between Bill Purvis and Daniel Jordan may well have been tape-recorded -- but they were NOT entered into evidence outside a grand jury hearing. So there's no written transcript of the discussion in the court files. We don't know for sure if the Pastor swore, much less lied.

CORRECTED: When Daniel Jordan entered his no-contest plea, a prosecutor said the taped conversation showed Jordan "vacillated" between two explanations. First he said he knew nothing about the unworkable church computer with taped messages -- then he claimed they "ought to be on the hard drive." Come to think of it, Jordan sounds like he could work at plenty of computer repair shops.

We called Daniel Jordan's attorney Thursday as well, hoping he could tell us about the recordings and all the other "certified" evidence. But Tim Flournoy did NOT return our message. And added attorney Richard Hagler probably wouldn't have called us back - since he may still be suspicious of us, for daring to call him about David Glisson.

CORRECTED: Whether the Ledger-Enquirer knew all these "more things" really doesn't matter. The newspaper wasn't on trial, nor was Pastor Bill Purvis. This conspiracy theorist overlooks a basic fact: Daniel Jordan pleaded no-contest to end the case. If it had all these supposed loopholes, why didn't he claim innocence and go to trial? Purvis on a witness stand actually might have brought reporters to the courtroom.

So if this commenter had been a newspaper reporter.... well, I'm not sure the Ledger-Enquirer would hire him/her in the first place. After all, judges did not prosecute Daniel Jordan -- the District Attorney did. And if the Cascade Hills Pastor did lie, some of the commenter's points could be called lies as well. Maybe all sides need to do a Bible study -- about the "log in your own eye."

BLOG UPDATE: Riverfest may be dead and gone, but plans were announced Thursday for something else - what Uptown Columbus is calling "Broadway Springfest." Drive too fast on parts of Broadway, and the springs on your shock absorbers might need replacing.

Broadway Springfest will be held on Broadway (duh), during the last weekend of April - the weekend when Riverfest was staged for decades. "A Prairie Home Companion" will NOT be back in Columbus that weekend, as it's scheduled to appear in Arkansas. The farther away from those overzealous fans, the better....

The Historic Columbus Foundation staged Riverfest until 2006. Elizabeth Barker with the Foundation told WRBL Thursday the agency didn't want to let it go. But when the Pig Jig is up, the jig is up.

Peter Bowden of the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau said it's important to have a spring festival in Columbus. But judging from the new name, it's apparently NOT important to have it next to the river. After all, what if the drought continues a few more years - and the river disappears?

The best part about Broadway Springfest may be that it's FREE. Well, the events for children will be free. The art exhibits will be free to examine - but if you don't buy anything from the artists, they'll become "starving artists" and relocate to the Four Points Sheraton Hotel.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Last Friday's e-mail about a local Little League brought a message from an apparent first-time reader, who wondered how he could "subscribe" to our blog:

i cant find anything but a link to music....

oh yeah i read about pioneer, this is our first year there should i just not talk to anyone? i did find it strange when the parents on our team was told that none of the kids could go to the bathroom alone. you cant imagine the thoughts than ran threw my head. im glad i know now

i don't know who rick chadwick is but in my team news letter is says

"Rick Chadwick wants all parents to know if you have financial difficulty with buying pictures he will try to help"

i guess im not the only one tripping on the fact that baseball and softball is expensive!

not that i will be buying pictures because i prefer to take my own. i will spring for a team pic though

Huh - Little Leaguers have to go to the restroom in pairs? This is taking the swimming "buddy system" to a very different level....

Rick Chadwick is the longtime President of Pioneer Little League. He's still listed with that title on the program's web site. So I assume this means controversial coach Philip Miley has moved on, as he declared here last summer [24 Jun 07] - perhaps trying to find a way to work for Miley Cyrus.

As for subscribing to the blog -- if you mean RSS feeds, we've never set things up for that. In fact, I was stunned the other day to find the "search blog" bar at the top of the home page actually works now.

Now for some other items from a soggy Thursday:

+ Columbus Council began a two-day retreat at the Trade Center. Remember when those meetings were held at Callaway Gardens? When a "retreat" is only a three-block walk from your usual meeting place, the city budget must be tight.

+ Aflac announced a new fitness project, in which it will sponsor "Iron Girl" triathlons across the country. Boy, did I misunderstand this one! I thought the Aflac duck was going to put on that cape again, and help Iron Girl arrest all those evil health insurance salesmen.

+ WRBL revealed Gonzo's Sports Bar will reopen on Seale Road in Phenix City, one year after its liquor license at Phenix Plaza was pulled. I can see the signs at the grand opening: "Gonzo's -- Not Forgotten."

+ Georgia State Senator Joseph Carter proposed a bill requiring all public school children to undergo an annual BMI test. A child's Body Mass Index would be checked, to show whether he or she is obese. Hopefully no lawmaker will dare to call this idea "No Child's Behind Left."

+ Instant Message to the Georgia Department of Revenue: Sorry to bother you again. But is there a reason why the lines on Form 500 now allow for entries in the billions of dollars - but everything is rounded off to the nearest dollar? Are that many wealthy Republicans running state government now? Or are they all fans of "The Price is Right?"

SCHEDULED THIS WEEKEND: A remarkable ride down J.R. Allen Parkway....

This blog had more than 43,000 visitors in 2007 -- up 53% from 2006! To advertise to them, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 1051 (+ 15, 1.4%)

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.

REVISION 1/9:16am

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21 FEB 08: DAY'S IN

Take that, you scoffers! A new airline was announced for Columbus Metro Airport Wednesday. Well, it's sort of an airline. Well, it's more like an air taxi service. Wellllll - it's a next step in impressing your sweetheart beyond a limousine ride.

DayJet went to the Chamber of Commerce office, to announce it's beginning service from Columbus to seven cities. Six of them are in Florida, but Panama City is NOT included - so the police departments in Eufaula and Abbeville don't have to worry about losing money from speeders.

DayJet began service last October, billing itself as a "per-seat, on-demand" regional air service. The on-demand part sounds different enough - but what's the big deal about "per-seat?" I thought Southwest was the only airline which charged overweight people for two seats.

A DayJet executive told WLTZ his air service is a "business enabler." It comes across to me as a charter service, which can respond to your request in less than four hours. Do you realize in some parts of Columbus, this response is almost as fast as METRA?

But I'm wondering how many Columbus business people will need or want to travel to some of the Florida "Day Ports." Airports near Miami and Tampa might be helpful - but Gainesville? Big football weekends only happen a few times a year....

(And service between Columbus and Pensacola? It sounds good if you're a Fort Benning soldier, who wants to play a prank on a buddy in the Navy....)

The price of a DayJet flight depends on several factors. If you're flexible in your departure time, the cost is lower. Of course, most major airlines work the same way. If you're flexible about being on an overbooked flight during a holiday weekend, going on "stand-by" might earn you a free ticket.

The announcement in Columbus didn't mention the fact that DayJet also has service at the Auburn-Opelika Airport. So East Alabama residents might prefer to catch a flight there - especially the Auburn trustees looking for new coaches. Oops, I mean athletes....

As for the non-charter fliers, the Columbus Airport is up to five ASA flights a day -- assuming the airport web site's information is current. When the airport's newsletter hasn't been updated in six years, there's good reason to wonder about that.

E-MAIL UPDATE: One reader is so upset that they've sent us two messages on a topic in two days....

How can we trust a school board who spends millions in taxes and the chairman does not allegedly even pay his own property

taxes..Mr.Chairman,I think you should resign your position..This is the same man who told me he checked with all the principals and kids walking to portables do not get wet when it rains.These kids must be waterproof or walking under invisible canopies Did he think I would believe that also?...

So,James Walker,Pres.of MCSD board,can spend our tax money without any thought ,because he never paid his property tax or never paid the complete tax...I think Mr.Walker should resign. We,as taxpayers,put our trust in him to spend tax money wisely. He has violated that trust. How can he not have known the taxes had not been paid? My understanding is that the tax office must try every means possible to notify the property owner. The statement from the tax office says that part of the taxes were paid. To have paid part of the taxes don't you think that is a give away to knowing that taxes were owed?...If what the Ledger printed is true,then Mr.Walker should be decent enough to resign his seat on the board.

What the Ledger-Enquirer's Tim Chitwood wrote is that James Walker co-owns a building at Veterans Parkway and West Britt David Road which is delinquent in property taxes. In fact, the building is scheduled for auction in two weeks - so critics might be able to buy it, and turn it into a recall campaign headquarters.

James Walker explained to the newspaper that SOME of the property taxes have been paid - and after the building is refinanced, the rest will be paid as well. If this is grounds for the School Board Chairman to resign, I'd like to see every board member's credit card statements.

The newspaper article also notes the billing address for the Veterans Parkway building actually is registered in the name of James Walker's co-owner, Ronnie Alligood. If unpaid property taxes lead to the building's sale at auction, he might not be living up to his name....

The payment of part of the property tax bill could be an "estimated payment." I finished working on my federal tax return Wednesday, and I could apply my refund to the "estimated taxes" for 2008. But then, that's a bad example -- because aren't we all pretty sure we'll have federal income tax withheld this year?

And to the winner of the Big Blog Question goes the victory speech:

Sir Richard:

Thank you for having the intestinal fortitude (guts) to accept my challenge!

The recent poll just reinforces my assessment of the situation. First of all I will remind you that I said - your readers prefer to read - not submit. And, I don't think that fifteen votes can be considered worthy by any means!

I do want to thank those who responded with comments. They were appreciated!! And,they were in stark contrast to the anonyminity and stony silence of the Constable bashers from "Hurt'sboro. It would take very little "head-scratching," to come up with the names of this group headed by Rick Perry! I'm surprised that the rotund fop had time to vote. He is usually busy downloading risque material from the internet. "Mr." Perry has good reason to despise me. And, if your readers would like to hear "The rest of the story" I can be easily reached at or two of the local Blogs!

I would like to close; by mopping out a couple of corners. First of all there was NO council meeting in "Hurt'sboro the other night. It was cancelled when they spotted WTVM in town (another meeting was scrubbed tonight) I guess they are just too nervous to get together. It was no miracle - that Charlie Torbert, went on camera - I and the WTVM reporter cornered him at his home and he just couldn't escape!

Finally - you minimized the dog mauling incident, and said that I exaggerated the affair. The truth is - I kept it low key on purpose. I merely stated that the dog was being mauled when its owner FRIGHTENED the monsters off. I didn't tell you that - shots were fired - and they were meant to kill!!

The only reason I called Russell County was because THERE WAS NO LOCAL LAW AVAILABLE! The Reason I sent the Mayor Pro-Tem the letter was to remind her that local ordinances were not being enforced! The only reason I sent it to you was to publize and bring notice to the "novel" conditions here in town!!

I must give credit where credit is due! Your BLOG and the profiling by WRBL & WTVM have stirred the wrath of the "ladies" in "Hurt'sboro's Literary guild! They say its all your fault that the town looks so bad in the eyes of the world! Keep up the good work!

Constable R.J. Schweiger

OK - I'll grant you the argument that most of our readers don't want to "submit." That explains all the negative e-mail we get regarding all sorts of elected officials....

But while R.J. Schweiger thanks the comment writers in this victory statement (whom I'm not sure even live in Hurtsboro), he does NOT thank the voters who came to his side. If he plans to run for another term as Constable, he'll have to adjust this. But then, some people are wondering if Schweiger plans to run for Hurtsboro Mayor - since it probably would be easier to clean a house from the inside out.

The Constable simply can't resist making new accusations, as he claims victory. Where is his evidence that the owner of Perry Hardware downloads "risque material?" Is he doubling as an undercover officer, seeking in the back rooms of stores?

If Hurtsboro's City Council didn't meet last week, why did Councilor Charlie Torbert suggest it did - by saying members decided NOT to take action against the interim police chief? Did everyone decide this over lunch at the City Grill?

What Constable Schweiger calls a "mauling" of a dog, Russell County Animal Control officers called a "scratch." [12 Feb] So there are two sides to this story - and we still haven't heard directly from the dog owner, so there may be two sides to "stony silence" in Hurtsboro as well.

I didn't realize Hurtsboro had a "Literary Guild" - and we invite all the library patrons to e-mail us, if they want to tell the other side of the town's story. In the last year, we've only heard from one challenger to the Constable's constant criticism. And we had to travel personally to Hurtsboro for Thanksgiving, to learn the town even has artwork on its Main Street buildings.

By the way: the trial of Hurtsboro City Councilor Mae Dell McVay has been rescheduled for March 10. She's already been reprimanded by the Alabama Ethics Commission, for her vote in support of selling three used city vehicles to her husband for $200. If the city garbage truck and a police car have trouble running, maybe the McVays should give them back.

One more e-mail is going to require some double-checking at the Government Center, before we post it. In the meantime, here are some other news highlights from Wednesday:

+ A lunar eclipse was visible in downtown Columbus. And that was strange, because WLTZ meteorologist Mark Prater declared flat-out at the end of "The 6 O'Clock Report" it would NOT be visible due to cloud cover. His angle of the Columbus sky must be blurry - from four states away in Iowa.

+ Columbus Police announced Rosemary Clancy was arrested, on charges of attempting to scam a 77-year-old man. Detectives say Clancy claimed to be an undercover officer, and told the man to pull money of his bank account to avoid being arrested. Imagine if the man had offered her drugs instead -- or simply surrendered.

(Columbus Police Lt. Gil Slouchick assured the evening news undercover officers will never ask people for money. Of course, this makes it a little more difficult to find printers of counterfeit bills.)

+ Lanett police reported a woman robbed an O'Reilly auto parts store, wearing jogging pants which were turned inside-out. I thought people displaying the tags on their hats were strange....

+ Opelika's City Council voted to give the winner of this summer's race for mayor a $20,000 raise, to $72,000. Columbus City Manager Isaiah Hugley will be looking for that story online today - because he hasn't had a raise in a couple of years.

(Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller promises if he wins re-election, he'll give away that $20,000 raise. That's the way to inspire someone to work on his campaign staff....)

+ Christian Garay of Columbus won the USTA national clay court tennis title, for players 12 and under. Our city could have a young Andre Agassi on our hands. Now all we need to find is the right child movie star, for him to date.

+ Tennessee trampled Auburn in men's college basketball 89-70. Tiger broadcaster Damian Fishback declared during the first half the officials would be biased against Auburn, so Tennessee's Saturday showdown at Memphis wouldn't lose any luster. Yet Tennessee was called for three more fouls, and Auburn had ten more free throw attempts -- so does Fishback plan to join someone's Presidential campaign?

(Then again, Fishback may have said all this for another reason. He might be Coach Jeff Lebo's agent, and trying to save Lebo's job.)

+ Instant Message to the Georgia Department of Revenue: You're kidding, right? I mean, the revised state tax return - now with SEVEN pages, instead of four? And the first page only has room for my name, along with my dependants? Did your staff lose its vision insurance coverage?

This blog had more than 43,000 visitors in 2007 -- up 53% from 2006! To advertise to them, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 1036 (+ 23, 2.3%)

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.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008


When you're a single guy, the passenger seat of your car can have a variety of uses. Briefcases can be propped open to check maps. Hampers full of clothes can be hauled to the laundromat. And when you're on a road trip, there's no better way to nibble on donuts and Krystal burgers.

But in the last couple of weeks, something startling has happened. Two people actually have asked me to give them rides. Some people have warned me against doing this, and in some cases I've asked riders to empty their pockets first. To check for weapons, I mean - not to pay me a tip....

The first free ride came a couple of weeks ago on poker night. As I lingered over an early exit, a man came up to me needing a ride home. He claimed his boss had just called on his cell phone, and told him to get ready for a trip to Atlanta -- at around 9:45 p.m. Is an undercover sheriff's deputy watching for illegal gambling after all?!

The man I'll call Art followed me to my car, asking several questions about my background. He seemed impressed by the fact by the job I have - but then again, I never admitted to him I'm a blogger.

Art explained he was called to work at an odd hour because he works for a painting crew. He and his boss were off the Naval Air Station northwest of Atlanta, to paint some barracks. I've heard of soldiers and sailors getting ready for inspection, but not their buildings....

Art told me the company also has a contract to paint homes on Fort Benning, and the crew is paid 250 dollars a unit. With base realignment coming, that company could be in line for a financial windfall -- as long as there's no shortage of camouflage-colored khaki paint.

Art also seemed surprised by the fact that I'm single. And at that point, he made a surprising admission: "I'm a bisexual." That's funny -- he didn't have THAT much beer on his breath from poker night.

I didn't comment on Art's admission -- but for a moment, I have to admit I wondered if Art would go farther in discussing his sexuality. A couple of female passengers actually have tried to proposition me during rides. One woman in south Atlanta kept asking how much money I had - and it turned out she did NOT want change to pay me gas money.

But the conversation went in other directions, and Art didn't say anything more about being bisexual. When I dropped him off near Bibb City, he actually gave me a couple of options for getting out of the neighborhood to go home. So he was a "bi-" in more ways than one....

The second passenger walked past me in a grocery store parking lot last weekend. I was putting sacks in my trunk, and a woman needed a lift up River Road to a Manchester Expressway bus stop. She had several full sacks as well - and at least she cared enough not to push a shopping cart out of the lot, or have me push it along in front of my bumper.

The woman I'll call Betty wasn't sure what time it was, but she wanted to catch a METRA bus on Manchester Expressway at River Road. I don't know what METRA's policy is about hauling grocery sacks -- but a couple of airlines would charge 20 dollars per sack these days.

With Betty's grocery sacks in my back seat and mine in the trunk, there was no risk of getting our food mixed up. And the drive up the River Road hill toward Manchester Expressway only took a couple of minutes. In February, that's no problem. In August, my frozen foods might thaw out in that time.

Betty and I agreed the Piggly Wiggly store on River Road was unusual, in only using paper grocery bags. She noted other stores in the Columbus area use plastic bags, and wondered if that one really was saving money with paper. Come to think of it, the Phenix City stores should have those bags - since Mead WestVaco is in Russell County, not Muscogee.

The two courtesy trips didn't take long, and both ended peacefully. So if someone comes up to you needing a ride, don't be quick to reject them - but do be careful in assessing the need. This week's news has shown that. If your rider wants a trip to the sheriff's office to surrender to a crime, have a backup plan in mind.

THE BIG BLOG QUESTION closed Tuesday night, with the Constable of Hurtsboro claiming victory. Two-thirds of our voters (10-5) said Robert Schweiger's e-mails should NOT be barred from this blog. So Hurtsboro residents with opposition views are going to have to write us with replies - because that's a long road trip, when gas is at three dollars a gallon.

One backer of Robert Schweiger called him their "favorite part" of this blog. That voter actually wondered if he was real - or a concocted Constable who's fictional. But Schweiger was on the late-night TV news during our poll, doing what he seems to do all the time. In this case, he complained about the Hurtsboro police chief.

"If then he does exist, he needs to write fiction...." the voter commented. Don't worry - there are plenty of Hurtsboro residents who say Robert Schweiger's been doing that in his e-mails for months....

Another supporter called Robert Schweiger's e-mails "fun," and said he reveals "the goings on in rural America." Well, what do you know - since no TV station carries "The Andy Griffith Show" anymore, we're filling a major need.

So Constable Schweiger lives to e-mail us another day - although he seemed to be prepared for rejection, as he wrote the Sin City Inquisition and Bar-B-Q blog during our poll. If a bidding war breaks out for his messages from Hurtsboro, I'm not sure what the outcome would be. None of the independent bloggers have any advertising income to offer him.

E-MAIL UPDATE: A reader wants us to focus on a slightly larger political office....

We are waiting for your Presidential endorsement!!!

Guess what - you're going to keep waiting. It's our policy NOT to endorse political candidates, from the top of the ticket to the bottom. Or do you want us to pick the next President at Columbus State University?

We heartily endorse these other jokes, based on Tuesday's news:

+ Muscogee County Republican Chair Josh McKoon went before the school board, and claimed its vote to finance a new administration building was unlawful. Huh?! That wasn't on the petition at Saturday's precinct meeting. Did McKoon decide the building isn't going to have enough greenspace around it?

(In other business, the school board voted to bring back regular physical education classes in grade schools. Child obesity has become such a big problem that more youngsters know about Hungry Jacks than jumping jacks.)

+ Midland's Seth Harp gave a speech before the Georgia Senate, suggesting the doctors who bought Summit Hospital really wanted to locate in Columbus. Harp claimed Georgia's "certificate of need" rules forced the new Hughston Memorial Hospital to be in Phenix City. Not to mention the long wait for a separate exit from J.R. Allen Parkway....

(Seth Harp claimed the new Hughston Memorial Hospital "opened" last week. That shows how focused he is on Georgia issues - because he never heard about Summit Hospital's official opening 18 months ago.)

+ The Georgia Senate approved a bill we've been following, to put tough restrictions on computer-generated "robo-calls." It appears the rules will require a human operator to be on the line, asking if you want to hear the computer message. The operators who take this sort of job might wind up with the lowest self-esteem on the planet.

+ WLTZ reported the Russell County NAACP helped clean up tornado damage in Cottonton. If that chapter can get involved in a project like that, I think the Columbus chapter can go back to the Spencer House downtown and finish the outside paint job.

+ A Russell County judge ordered Seale kennel owner Diane Brown to surrender all her remaining 170 dogs. But WRBL reported when animal control officers went to her home, 140 of them were missing. So if you see stray dogs roaming around Barbour County, they might not have blown there from the tornado.

+ The Cottonmouths came home from a three-game road trip, and were jarred by Jacksonville 7-1. When WEAM announcer Mike Vee starts talking about the Jacksonville booster club's post-game stroganoff and salad in the locker room -- AND the game is in Columbus -- you know it's out of hand.

(It should be noted several Cottonmouth players missed the game with the flu. If they can take shots on the ice, they should receive some off the ice - flu shots, I mean.)

+ Instant Message to the Diaz-Verson family: Let me get this straight. Fidel Castro's resignation as Cuban President was announced around 3:00 a.m. And you drove to Miami's "Little Havana" by 5:00 p.m.?! Just because you fled Cuba does NOT give you the right to break the speed limit.

This blog had more than 43,000 visitors in 2007 -- up 53% from 2006! To advertise to them, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 1013 (+ 33, 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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