Sunday, August 31, 2008


Saturday night was another victorious night of running. I made it 3.1 miles non-stop, even with the warm weather and humidity. But I may have made a mistake by running with radio headphones - as I didn't need to hear the Auburn football announcers talk about players getting cramps.

After the run comes the dinner - and as I stepped out of my car at a fast-food restaurant on Buena Vista Road, something sounded all too familiar.

"Sir - can I ask you a question?" This time, it was NOT a beggar with amazing timing walking past my car. This question came from a car parked two spots next to mine -- a car with fancy wheel covers. Not fancy enough to spin around while parked, but fancy.

"How much?" I said to the driver of the car.


"How much?" Maybe the wheel covers were bought on a six-month credit plan.

"A thousand dollars," said the driver of the car. Aw, c'mon - Hurricane Gustav didn't drive gasoline prices up THAT much.

"I don't have that," I answered -- and that was very true. When it comes to a fast-food dinner, I follow the example of Domino's Pizza drivers. I always carry less than 20 dollars.

"What did you think I asked?" said the driver of the car next. It was the perfect moment to explain.

"You said you wanted to ask a question. I said, 'How much?' When people ask questions like that on a Saturday night in this city, they're usually begging for money." One exception was a weekend when a Baptist conference was in town, and teenagers stopped even Riverwalk joggers with tracts.

"No, I've got plenty of money," the man in the car said quietly. Wow - it was all I could do to keep my jaw from falling to the pavement.

"Then what's your question?"

"How do I get to Warm Springs Road?" Perhaps he was visiting from out of town for the holiday weekend. He might even be a hurricane evacuee - although I'd think people from Louisiana would stop for dinner at Popeye's, instead of KFC.

After thinking it over a moment, I gave the man directions to Warm Springs Road via Interstate 185 and Manchester Expressway. The driver of the car said something I couldn't hear to a passenger alongside him. Did someone recommend a wrong turn at St. Mary's Road?

"Now repeat that back to me, since you didn't write it down." I was smiling as I said that. I've known grown men who needed things repeated three or four times - due more to the influence of drugs than Alzheimer's Disease.

The man in the car mumbled part of the directions, more toward his passenger than me. Then after a moment's pause I asked, "Any other questions?" I've known co-workers who could turn that moment into an on-the-spot mini-news conference, asking for details about my personal life.

"No," the man in the car answered. So I turned and walked inside for dinner. Sadly, the servers at KFC also were in no mood to ask questions -- because I would have asked for corn on the cob instead of mashed potatoes for a side order.

What a surprise this was - someone with a question, who did NOT turn into Blogger Beggar #9. Clearly he was joking about that thousand-dollar request. But I have to admit, something inside me wondered if a man was going to come up behind me and check my pockets to be sure.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Truly any topic can come up at this blog - including fashion trends....

Richard, For the life of me I will never understand the fascination of "sagging." For those who don't know by now, it is another "art of sorriness" that the decent among us have to endure. Whether our politicians have the courage to pass legislation banning this obnoxious behavior or not, we need to take it upon ourselves as moral people to "shame" these people that insist on showing their underwear and realistically their sorry "rear-ends" in public. I am sure that it is confusing to most children who are not exposed to this ritual and whose parents are trying to raise them correctly in an ever-growing, non-caring society. It sickens me as I see our youth of today and their "I don't care attitudes." Those that do this and those that want to be like them are a blight on our society. Piercings and tattoos are rituals with beginnings in cultures that did not and do not believe in the one true God. Rings were placed in slaves' noses and they were tattooed with numbers and sold as property and they were never respected as human beings. That's why I am saying now, "We should not show any respect to anyone that continues to mutilate their bodies or shows us that their parents did not have what it took to simply teach them to pull their pants up, especially when you are in public." In my opinion, the people that "mark" their bodies with dragons, devils, demons and foreign symbols, of which they have no idea their meanings, are screaming for someone to pay attention to them, because evidently, they didn't get love from where it should have started, Mom and Dad at home! That's the Bottom Line and that's where we are headed fast....the bottom!

Silly me - I saw "sagging" at the start of this message, and thought the writer was talking about the stock market.

(But then again, do you think the writer thought about sagging when he saw those pictures from St. Maarten of the arrest of Michael Registe? He might have been sagging against his will....)

This writer will be pleased to know I've had no interest in sagging over the years. If anything, I have the opposite problem - a building waistline, which means I hardly ever have to wear a belt.

But I tend to use things until they wear out - so if a pair of running shorts loses its elasticity at the waist, I'll sometimes use a safety pin to tighten them up. Yes, it makes me look a bit like Baby Huey from the comic books....

Another reader wants to bash our competition a bit:

The uptown/upscale pay- for- blog, AKA journalism for hire

The Problem with Richard Hyatt's "pay for blog" is jounalistic double mindedness.

The signature of one of the major power sources in the Columbus Consolidated Government, Jim Blanchard, appears on his pages in the Leadership Seminar advertisement. He ran the bank and its other parts of servant leadership along with council. Ads from the power throne seem a little weak in affirmation of all the good deeds he has done for them in the past--but then we only see the surface of the water!

Then there is the Troutman Sanders ad, one of the biggest firms in the state, and the one --that defends politicians when they are brought before the state elections ethics board---and the ethics board is also peopled with lawyers who used to work at the same law firm! True! How well has he covered their clients in the past? Will he cover those politicians with ethics charges in the future- or will he pay homage to his advertiser- their defense attorneys?

First of all, is Richard Hyatt charging a subscriber fee for his web site anymore? I haven't seen the requirement there lately -- even though there's still a login option for "members." I figured the people most likely to be members are former reporters at the Ledger-Enquirer.

I don't know how much power Jim Blanchard wields in city government these days, as Synovus Chairman of the Board. You'll notice his annual "leadership forum" next week doesn't have any speakers who serve on Columbus Council....

A check of the membership lists on Columbus city boards shows "Billy Blanchard" four times. Jim Blanchard isn't there, but his CV shows him on the board of everything from Columbus Bank and Trust to BellSouth to.... hey, wait a minute! BellSouth?! Is his wife the one writing checks for the local phone bill?

But anyway: Richard Hyatt wrote an article about Synovus Financial's last earnings report conference call, in which he was underwhelmed by President Richard Anthony. So I see no sign of him playing favorites in his writing -- especially not if he went to a Florida football game this weekend.

For the sake of full disclosure, we should note this blog has NOT been approached by Jim Blanchard or Troutman Sanders about advertising with us. In fact, we're disappointed that the bar which hosts our Thursday night poker games still hasn't come to us....

Keep those uplifting words of encouragement coming in -- and now let's check some holiday weekend headlines:

+ Callaway Gardens hosted its annual hot-air balloon festival. And for the first time, it also hosted a "regatta" of remote-controlled miniature power boats. Talk about covering both ends of the spectrum....

+ WRBL showed a football tournament at Columbus's Cornerstone Church - only it was "finger football," or the folded-up kind you push across the table. Now THIS shows the downturn of our society! A church was hosting this event - when during my junior high school years, the assistant principal would have confiscated those things during lunch.

+ In full-sized college football, Alabama opened the season by clobbering Clemson 34-10. WEAM-AM "1580 The Zone" had noisy problems tuning in the Alabama broadcast at times - almost like their satellite dish was struggling to find an AM radio station in Birmingham.

(As a single guy, I can tell you ABC Sports didn't handle the second half of this blowout properly at all. C'mon folks - we want to see more Erin Andrews interviews....)

+ Auburn lashed Louisiana-Monroe in its season opener 34-0. The radio crew referred to one freshman running back as a "little Rudi Johnson" - and given the pro football news of the weekend from Cincinnati, that could mean he'll be off the squad next week.

+ The Atlanta Falcons released quarterback Joey Harrington, in its final cuts before the regular season. Harrington has the skills to work in Columbus, you know - if someone would open a nice jazz club for him to play piano.

+ Instant Message to Republican Party spin-masters: You called Barack Obama's running mate a statement that he's "giving up on the South" - and then your candidate picks the governor of Alaska?! What are Georgians supposed to do? Hope Bob Barr and Cynthia McKinney merge their campaigns?

COMING MONDAY: A cut in pay for Labor Day.... it's another Blog Exclusive....

(BLOGGER'S NOTE: Beginning Monday, we're setting a regular daily post time of 3:00 a.m. ET. But of course, breaking news could always change things and move that time up.)

In the first half of 2008, our number of unique visitors jumped 23 percent from last year. To advertise to our readers, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 1050 (+ 41, 4.1%)

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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Saturday, August 30, 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.)

Last weekend a reader sent us a fairly simple question, which started an e-mail discussion:

What churches do you attend? Do you ever go to Cascade Hills?

Could you recommend one to those new to the area.

Any e-mail with the words "Cascade Hills" in it admittedly raises a red flag for me now. Several messages over the years along those lines have turned into full-scale slams against Pastor Bill Purvis - and without one of those guest "Power Teams" picking him up to do it.

We've attended several Columbus congregations over the years. For the last several months, the primary one has been Cascade Hills Church - but that's ending after this weekend. In fact, we've intentionally timed this item to appear during the Saturday evening service. That way no one can block the door and usher us out as a potential threat.

We told the e-mailer we had doctrinal issues with some of the things Cascade Hills Church does during services, as well as some of the things its pastor preaches. It's not a matter of the clothing Bill Purvis wears during sermons, or the music played by the band -- although Purvis's defense of an unbaptized long-haired guitar player on stage made me wonder if he's read I Corinthians 11 lately.

We noted here several weeks ago that while Bill Purvis was on vacation in July, Cascade Hills Church played a series of recorded messages with Purvis doing the preaching [4 Aug]. I'm told this occurred for the second summer in a row. In Branson, Missouri, I think they call off the show if the big star can't appear in person....

Since Cascade Hills Church has a full staff of ministers, we told the e-mailer that approach to July services seemed curious. That brought another e-mail....

Dear Richard,

Allow me to ask you this. Do you know Bill Purvis personally? Have you ever talked with him one on one? I do know go there, but are you telling me that for the services while he was gone they played a taped message of Bill and had no guest pastor or associate pastor preach a message? If so, that sounds a little bit on the controlling side to me. However, if I recall that was a big debate a year or so ago, about the church being a cult.



We've talked to Bill Purvis twice in the last 12 months. One lengthy discussion was prompted by e-mail questions last fall about a change in Cascade Hills Church's bylaws [7 Oct 07]. That post wound up being quoted in a front-page Ledger-Enquirer story - but the newspaper still isn't so desperate for reporters that it quotes us regularly.

The second chat with Bill Purvis was much shorter, a few weeks later. We pointed out an incorrect Bible reference which appeared on the church screens. We were NOT concerned about the error, as much as the fact that no one else in the large congregation apparently mentioned it to him.

That leads to a big puzzle we've developed about the Cascade Hills Church congregation. During the months we've attended, not many members brought Bibles and hardly anyone seemed to take notes on the sermons. Perhaps they're going home and researching the things Bill Purvis says. Or perhaps they're going to work during the week and simply repeating his one-liners.

Of course, I know better than to judge a church simply by the members you meet at a service. They can be at all points in a spiritual journey, from sinner to saint -- which makes them a bit like the elected officials representing political parties.

I really don't think it's fair to call Cascade Hills Church a cult. But I suspect many members go for the "star" giving the sermon -- similar to Charles Stanley in Atlanta or Rick Warren in southern California. With Bill Purvis's "Real Time" appearing weekly on national cable TV, he has to beware not developing a really big ego.

But based on what I've heard Bill Purvis preach over the last few months, I don't see an ego problem. He's self-deprecating in talking about himself. And I'd think he'd be the first to say if you're attending Cascade Hills Church simply for him, you're there for the wrong person. He might want you to stay there to find the right Person, though....

So where else have we attended church lately? For four months last fall and winter, we attended the biggest Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Columbus. We've just posted our thoughts on the SDA's in general in our religious web area. But I hesitate to say I "have a beef" with them - since they don't tend to be meat-eaters.

I've also renewed an association with a former Columbus pastor who was fired in 2000 for opposing some denominational changes. He lives in Montgomery, and has a ministry holding "Bible discussions" by conference call several times a week. They're interesting and seem doctrinally sound. But it's not exactly worship - and I'm not sure if I should figure the long-distance bill into my tithe checks.

And we noted in March we're taking a "leave of absence" from the association I've attended for years [29 Mar]. So far, the only group doing better than that association on my notepad is the Montgomery minister. But I haven't driven to see him much, because of the cost of gasoline. Long-distance truly IS the next best thing to being there....

So where will our church search go next? We told ABC the location in an e-mail, but we are NOT prepared to reveal it here yet. We want to show up unannounced and privately - because it would be embarrassing for a congregation to welcome a newcomer with a red carpet and confetti.

In his last correspondence with me, ABC wrote: "Maybe we should just start our own church." I'm not sure how well that would work. After all, what if he's offended when I preach from the wrong Bible translation?

As it happens, I've been doing some Bible study lately seeking signs of the "right church" and true Christians. Perhaps one of the most overlooked passages is what Jesus says in Mark 16 - signs such as driving out demons, picking up snakes and drinking "deadly poison." Sad to say, some of that seems to be practiced only by Wicca groups.

If you're church-shopping as I am, I suggest you consider those five signs Jesus mentioned - but also how close the congregation and minister are to the Word of God. That means both the written word called the Bible, and the "Word who became flesh" known as Jesus. If other things take priority, be careful. For instance, there's no evidence that Jesus declared any U.S. politician the Antichrist....

In the first half of 2008, our number of unique visitors jumped 23 percent from last year. To advertise to our readers, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 1009 (- 200, 16.5%)

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, August 29, 2008


Two different and noteworthy events are planned at South Commons tonight. One will be a regular tradition that opens a season. The other will be a sad end to years of tradition. Of course, some people might argue that end actually came Thursday night - with the last "Thirsty Thursday" and cheap beer.

The lights were on above Golden Park Thursday morning, when I stepped outside for a wake-up run. That seemed strange, since there was no day game scheduled or live cable telecast planned. Then I realized - the lights are a memorial, for a local team about to die.

The Columbus Catfish play their final scheduled game at Golden Park tonight. Then after a weekend road trip to Rome, the team will move to Bowling Green, Kentucky - yet it will still play in the South Atlantic League, even though Bowling Green is closer to St. Louis than the Atlantic Ocean.

(The blog of loyal Catfish follower "Basil" is arguing Columbus is not eliminated from the playoffs yet. But based on his logic and my math, the closest can get to Augusta by Monday is 1 ½ games. He's clinging to more hope than some Hillary Rodham Clinton supporters.)

The city of Bowling Green only has about 50,000 people, and its county has less than 100,000. Yet it was able to build a nice new stadium to lure the Catfish away. For most fishermen around here, simple spin bait could be enough.

A check of the Bowling Green baseball web site shows there are seven finalists in a "name the team" contest. The Catfish are NOT on the list, but the Bluegills are - the only real option that would allow Hook the mascot to keep his job.

The Columbus Catfish will mark their final game with "Fan Appreciation Night," and undisclosed gifts for fans at the entrance. I suppose they could range from official Catfish ball caps to unexploded items from recently canceled Friday night fireworks shows.

The media postmortems on the Columbus Catfish actually have been pre-mortems, beginning several weeks ago. Sportscasts and writers have noted how Columbus historically has not supported minor league baseball. Why, I don't even recall any local candidates getting free publicity this year by throwing out the first pitch.

City officials have hinted there's interest from other teams in moving to Golden Park. That doesn't really surprise me. A couple come to mind right away - Columbus and Russell County High Schools.

Richard Hyatt's recent online historical perspective noted Golden Park has been vacant during baseball season before - sometimes for several years. But new minor league teams eventually showed up, so I suppose it could happen again. In the meantime, those busloads of Fort Benning soldiers will have to be content with yelling "Hooah!" around a Peach Little League diamond.

The South Commons event likely to draw a larger crowd tonight is the traditional Carver-Spencer high school football game. Alumni from both schools will show up for fellowship. The marching bands and dance teams will perform. And here's the strangest thing - for the first time in years, the football game suddenly matters.

Carver will bring a 15-game winning streak to McClung Memorial Stadium, coming off last year's undefeated season and AAA state title. But that might not be the biggest drama of the night. Some people may be looking for DeRon Furr to show up, and announce he's changing colleges again.

How many Carver boosters will be rumbling in the stands about the lack of a football championship sign at the Columbus city limits? It was promised last December, but I still haven't seen one posted. Of course, the Carver football team doesn't have the luxury of being able to move to Kentucky....

Spencer High School was 5-5 last year, its best season in 15 years. What does it say when a break-even record has the fans excited? Are these the same people who have watched their Ford stock drop to less than five dollars a share?

The college football season actually began Thursday night for some people, as Georgia Tech jolted Jacksonville State 41-14. A "Tech check" of the school's web site shows NO Columbus radio station is carrying the games again this year. But true Georgia Tech grads can figure out how to hook up a radio, to hear games on small-power stations near Warm Springs.

Troy University also opened its season Thursday night, by winning at Middle Tennessee State. The final score: Troy Trojans 31, MTSU Bishis 17.

Let's move away from the sports desk now, and check the news and weather....

+ The federal government's weekly "drought monitor" map showed Columbus is no longer in a drought condition, thanks to Tropical Storm Fay. But the map still shows this area is "abnormally dry" -- making the humor here more appropriate than ever.

+ Some Columbus gas stations reportedly increased their prices 20 cents a gallon. So much for driving out of town for Labor Day - we'll have to stay home, and prepare our storm shelter for Hurricane Gustav.

+ A Muscogee County court hearing began pitting the city of Columbus against the Expedia travel web site. The complaint claims Expedia's booking of hotel rooms robs Columbus of hotel/motel taxes. Expedia claims the lawsuit is "premature" - like it's holding the tax money in a ten-year certificate of deposit.

+ A sculpture of a girl in a raincoat was dedicated at Tenth and Broadway. The Ledger-Enquirer reports Columbus Regional paid $9,500 to have it put there - so I won't be surprised if it will be merged with some other sculpture in a few months.

+ Instant Message to Michael Registe: That had to be a bit embarrassing. Not only did police in St. Maarten arrest you on murder charges -- but it looks like when you were arrested, you wore little more than your underwear. If you're going to run from the long arm of the law, at least you should wear a short-sleeve shirt.

SCHEDULED SATURDAY: A simple question to our blog, which has no easy answer (this will be posted at a special late-afternoon time)....

In the first half of 2008, our number of unique visitors jumped 23 percent from last year. To advertise to our readers, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 1209 (+ 36, 3.1%)

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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Thursday, August 28, 2008


Wednesday was a satisfying day for Columbus Police, as the F.B.I. announced the arrest of Michael Registe in the Netherlands Antilles. Yet some people are not exactly satisfied with the police department -- and now that list includes former police officers. Why they want to risk appearing in the same group with Registe may be a bit hard to understand....

BLOG EXCLUSIVE: Your blog has new detailed information on what happened to former Columbus Police officer Brent Rollins. You'll recall after he was fired from the force in June, Rollins used the phrase "all come out in the wash" [9 Jun]. Rollins now reveals his appeal for reinstatement was rejected last week -- so he may be choosing to "Shout it out" as well.

(How many times have you heard someone say during a dispute, "It'll all come out in the wash"? Only you never hear the supposedly key missing details - as if they were washed down the drain, and now are missing at sea?)

Brent Rollins also claims there's a case pending inside the Columbus Police Department, where two officers may have lied during an "official investigation." So they're investigating an investigation - which sounds more like something members of Congress do, when they have nothing to complain about.

Brent Rollins sent this blog an e-mail explanation of what he's faced over the last several years in law enforcement. He suggests his firing resulted from a mix of difficult personal events and a lack of compassion by Chief Ricky Boren. I suppose some might dismiss this as "sour grapes" - but at least Rollins has enough sense not to take a Taser downtown to get even.

The Brent Rollins e-mail is lengthy, starts off confessional and then turns accusational:

In early 2001, I met this young lady working at a convenience store on St. Mary's Rd. while I was working in the middle of the night at a patrolman for the Columbus Police Department. I had no debt and was completely happy. She asked me out several times before I finally said yes. We dated through 2001 and into 2002.

Early 2002, I felt the market was right for me to purchase my first home. She did not and fought me every step of the way. When I closed on the house, I was nervous and excited all at once. She invited herself to move in. For the next few months, I realized the relationship was going nowhere. One incident that sticks out in my head...I worked part-time at the Piggly Wiggly from 6 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. then I worked at the Police Department from 11:15 p.m. until 7:45 a.m. I then slept during the day. I then worked the Piggly Wiggly again, then at the Department again until 7:45 am. I then worked Cascade Hills Church from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. I then worked directing traffic at a funeral home grand opening until 6 p.m. I was working these jobs to pay for debt she helped me accrue. After working all those hours, I came home to find that she was going to play pool with her parents that evening around 9 p.m. I told her I was going to bed and asked if she would clean up the mess she'd made over the past few days. She looked at me and said, "you do it." This conversation with her led me to believe that our relationship was not going to last. During the summer of 2002, I asked her to move out.

I did not have any contact with her until she called me about a week after New Years, 2003. She stated she wanted to talk. She came over and said she'd not realized how important I was to her and how much she loved me. We decided to try and work it out. About a week later, on a Saturday, I tried all day to reach her by phone. She didn't call me back until really late on that Saturday night. She told me that she had been pregnant with my child up until that point. She had an abortion that day. I will have to say, I cried like a little girl. I don't know if it was guilt or what, but we got back together.

In 2004, I made a bad decision to move away from Columbus. At the urging of my girlfriend, I moved to Forsyth County, G. A. to work for the Sheriff's Office there. I was very unhappy and a very short time later, I moved back. I got my job back at the Columbus Police Department. I had to live in a rental house for a year because I rented my house out. During that year, I made more bad decisions. I allowed my live-in girlfriend's parents to move in. I was supporting four adults on my patrolman's salary. My stress level was through the roof. My girlfriend's car quit working. I told her to look for a car for eight thousand and below. I explained that the payment would be good for us at that price. She found a car for twelve thousand dollars. When I explained that was over budget, she had a fit the devil would be proud of. I gave in, despite my better judgement. I also had apparently lost my mind because I asked her to marry me during the summer of 2004. We set a date of July 16th, 2005.

As 2005 was about five months old, we moved back into my house after the year lease was up. It had been one h**l of a year, planning a wedding that I couldn't afford. On that fateful day, I said, "I do." We then went on our honeymoon to New Orleans, then on a cruise. We got back to Columbus and a short time later hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. About a month later, my new bride wakes me up during the day, which is my bedtime because I work at night, and announces that we don't love each other like we used to. I spent the next few weeks trying to get her to tell me what I needed to fix. She says she doesn't want me to be a Police Officer, she doesn't like where we live, the list goes on and on. I told her I had free counseling sessions from work. She said she didn't want to do that. On a Friday, she tells me she is moving in with her parents. I spent the next day at my mother's house, answering the phone when my wife would call and curse at me. She was cursing so loudly, my mother could hear her clearly from across the room. That day I decided that I needed to end my marriage.

On October 3rd, 2005, I met with a lawyer about the divorce. On the 4th, I filed for divorce. I changed the locks on the house. I got a restraining order. I changed the lock on the post office box. I borrowed a car to drive. I turned off all the phones I had in my name for her and her parents. I went into hiding. About a month later, I finally answered her call. She said to me she didn't want a divorce. She told me she would do anything to save our marriage. I asked her to go to counseling with me. She said she wouldn't do that. I stopped answering her calls again. On December 16th, 2005, I walked into Judge Allen's courtroom to be divorced. She didn't show up. I haven't spoken to her since.

November 2005, I met a woman who was unhappy in her marriage. I was unhappy in life so I guess we bonded. I would go out to eat with her, her husband, and her daughter. I would go to their house and watch television. This was a bad decision. She then divorced her husband and we started dating. For most of 2006 and 2007, we dated. She even lived with me for a short period of time. During the whole time we dated, it was not uncommon to see her husband stalking us, driving by the house, or following us to restaurants. While we would watch TV at my house, he would be parked down the street calling both of our phones over and over again. I wanted to press charges, but she encouraged me not to. We finally broke up and the stalking stopped. He was busy with his new career as a Columbus Police Officer. He was doing his father, assistant Chief Rowe, proud.

I think 2007 was the year all my stress began to boil over. I made a doctor's appointment. She put me on mood stabilization medication. But until we found the right one, I was taking medicine to help me sleep, medicine to wake me up, and mood stabilization medication. During this time, I was suspended for the first time in my 7 year career. I yelled some curse words at work towards two people who were arguing in the street. The people complained and I was suspended without pay for 3 days. I also was under stress because my father's mother was dying. My father asked me to witness a man who worked for Primerica lying about why he couldn't give him my grandmother's money. Dad had power of attorney. My father stated this man had been lying to him for weeks about why he couldn't give him the money he needed to care for my grandmother. I made the mistake of going into the mans office after work, while in uniform. As I stood in this mans office listening to him lie, I began to envision my grandmother doing the very odd things she would do due to her illness. I became angry and before I knew it, I had struck the mans desk. He immediately turned to his computer, typed a few things, and gave my dad a check. He had been lying for weeks. This man complained to the Police Department. I was suspended without pay for 3 days. During this 6 day period of suspension, I called my Captain and explained to him that my doctor was changing my medication and I would be taking some sick time along with my suspension days. I explained to him that I didn't feel like myself. These were the only two times I had ever been in trouble since starting at the Police Department in 2000. My grandmother died in August 2007.

In October 2007, I was dispatched to a call at 2001 Torch Hill Road, building 10 in reference to a cutting. Upon arrival, I observed a black male exit the number 10 building and run when he saw my patrol vehicle. I followed the subject in the car for just short of a football field. He stopped running, turned around and began waiving his right hand in the air while saying he didn't have anything to do with the cutting....with many curse words mixed in. The subject had blood on his shirt, his left hand was wrapped in a white shirt, and I couldn't tell if his left hand was inside his waistband or out by the way he was holding his hand. During this, I was yelling out of my car window for him to lay on the ground, that we would get it worked out. I yelled many times for him to lay on the ground. From a dead stop, I lunged the car at him. He put his hands on the hood, but did not lay on the ground. I lunged the car at him again, barely striking him, but knocking him down. Then I got out of my car and handcuffed him. Come to find out, he walked out of his girlfriend's apartment, saw the cut woman, she got blood on him, and then he ran when he saw the Police. He didn't have anything to do with the situation. He said he ran because he was scared. He had been arrested and charged with many crimes less than a week prior. I transported him to jail for obstructing an officer. Inside the jail, he was asked if he was hurt, been in an accident, had high blood pressure, and a host of other questions. He denied being hurt. Several days later when he got out of jail, he complained to the Police Department.

November 2nd, I arrived at work to find that I had been placed on administrative duty until the investigation was complete. I was assigned to Property and Evidence for the next 7 months while the Office of Professional Standards (O.O.P.S.) investigated the complaint. During those months, I was called into their office to answer some questions about an incident which took place on Estes Dr. O.O.P.S. had gone back and reviewed every video tape my patrol car ever made in order to find more things I had done wrong. On the video tape, I could be heard telling this young man he should not disrespect his mother and he should go to school. The only thing is, I was cursing loudly while I was telling him these things. A few months later, I was back at this house taking the boy, who was now 17, to jail at the request of his mother. This tape was made during the first part of 2007, over a year before. I explained that I should have gone about the incident a different way, but I really didn't think they were going to make a real big deal of it since the people NEVER complained about it until O.O.P.S. began knocking on their door asking them to complain. In 7 years, I have answered approximately 16,800 calls for service and only 4 people ever complained.

After being questioned about this incident is when I realized what was really going on. I suspect that Chief Boren told O.O.P.S. to find as much as they could to get me into trouble so he could fire me. He was angry about the emails I had sent out about 2 years prior. A few days later, I received a letter telling me to be in the Chief's office to answer to the 4 policy violations listed on the paper. I thought I would be ok since there were only 4 violations listed. When the meeting started, they listed many more than just the 4 I was aware of. I was then questioned by the command staff as to my behavior during 2007. I explained my medication changes, my grandmothers passing, along with my many other stresses. I didn't mention that the assistant Chief's son had been stalking me for almost a year. Not sure why I didn't, but I didn't. I also mentioned that I had attempted to take 2 classes I had been told to take by the department as part of my punishment for the trouble I had been in earlier in 2007. I told them I tried to sign up for the classes twice and was told it was NOT my job to sign up for the classes, but the training division would sign me up for the classes. Time went by and I was never sent to the classes. Chief Rowe stated that he'd watched several videos of mine from my car and noticed I always seemed very quiet, calm, and reserved. He asked me what happened in 2007. I explained again all of the things that had been building up in my life. I was sent from the room. When I entered the room again, Chief Boren stated I was going to be terminated for my behavior. He stated the reasons were that I had not taken the classes I was supposed to take along with the other complaints that were made against me. I then left the department. My plan was to resign from the department and go work elsewhere and I attempted to resign from the department the next day, but was not allowed to. I then appealed the Chief's decision to Tom Barron, the city's human resource director. He and the Chief went back and forth for almost a week as to whether or not to allow me to resign. The Chief told Mr. Barron I should have resigned before my final meeting with him and the command staff. Mr. Barron finally rolled over and I had to appeal the decision further.

On August 20th, 2008, I went in front of a appeal board. I had an attorney and a witness who was there to sing my praise as a Police Officer. She told the board that I was the best influence on her son when he was a teenager. She also stated she and her son often talked about where he would be in life if it weren't for me being there to keep him straight as he was growing up. I told the board that I had made some mistakes in my life and I didn't want to work for the Columbus Police Department anymore. I told them I wanted to be allowed to resign so I could keep my Georgia Peace Officer Certification and work elsewhere in the state. Chief Boren told the board that I was an officer out of control, I shouldn't wear a badge or a gun, and I shouldn't be allowed to be a Police Officer anywhere. I guess I was just following in his foot steps. I have had several retired officers tell me how Patrolman then Detective Boren used to rough people up to get them to admit to crimes. I bet Carlton Gary would support those statements.

I can understand if Chief Boren doesn't want me to work in Columbus, but talk about beating a dead horse! He is ruining my life all because of some emails I sent out 2 years earlier. Not only is he angry about the emails, he is angry because O.O.P.S. launched an investigation, that lasted the better part of a year, into who was sending the emails and couldn't solve the mystery. They never thought to just reply to one of them and ask because I would've told them. What really gets me is that Chief Boren has allowed other officers to resign after they were arrested and convicted of crimes. Those officers now work elsewhere in the state. He has allowed officers who have committed family violence offenses to continue to be employed and he has allowed officers who have been arrested to continue to work at the department. I never lied and I never committed a crime. I am still debating if I should release my list of officers who are still working at the department who have been arrested and the crime was swept under the rug.

An effective and good Chief would've looked at the whole circumstances and realized that I had NEVER been in trouble during my law enforcement career except during 2007. A good Chief would have made sure I had those classes I had been assigned to. Those classes may have prevented me from getting into any trouble after I took them, but alas I wasn't allowed to take verbal judo and anger management.

On average I answered 200 calls for service a month multiplied by 12 months a year then multiplied by 8 years equals an estimated 19,200 calls I answered in my career as a Columbus Police Officer. Out of those 19,200 calls for service, I received 3 sustained complaints. All of those complaints were in 2007. Another point of interest is that I have had 2 agencies contact me in order to recruit me to work for them. My future employment all depends on whether or not the Peace Officer Standards and Training Counsel (P.O.S.T.) pulls my certification.

I have made many mistakes in my life. I guess my biggest was not sitting down, shutting up, and NOT saying the sky was orange when the Chief told me it was. Well, I guess its on to the next chapter in my life.


Brent Rollins

Starting from the top: what we have here is a large dose of real life. It's admittedly a curious life when women ask male police officers for dates. That was especially so in early 2001 -- because that was before the September 11 attacks, which suddenly turned all Fort Benning soldiers into heroes.

Those months with a convenience store employee should show the importance of being careful with romance, even if you're in a position of responsibility such as police work. Of course, many people have fallen short in that area. That's why I haven't heard John Edwards give a speech at the Democratic Convention.

Brent Rollins's experiences early in this decade help explain some of the e-mails he sent this blog under the "Is Our City Safe" pseudonym. He worked in jobs outside police hours to pay for a home. And his work at Piggly Wiggly explains why he once suggested former Mayor Bob Poydasheff go bag groceries there.

It's interesting that a move to the wealthy side of metro Atlanta left Brent Rollins "very unhappy." Who knows how many law officers have left cities such as Columbus for bigger places which offer more money? Trouble is, they then discover bigger cities actually have more crime in them.

I can relate somewhat to what Brent Rollins faced with his live-in girlfriend's parents in 2004. In the late 1980's two men approached me needing places to stay -- one for "a couple of weeks," the other for "about a month." Only later did I discover a "couple" can mean 36, and "about" one can be interpreted as 18.

But what sort of spouse wakes up a partner while he or she is sleeping, to declare the old love is missing? I'd think that sort of complaint would come (ahem) shortly before bedtime - but I've admittedly only read books on foreplay....

Getting closer to the meat of the issue: it's nice to know the Columbus Police Department offers free counseling sessions for police officers. I can imagine how law enforcement can be stressful for a family. After all, even an organized crime boss like Tony Soprano needed a psychiatrist.

But wow - Brent Rollins says he first had to deal with an angry wife, then a stalking ex-husband of his girlfriend. No wonder he sent so many e-mails around town in 2005 and 2006. His complaints about city government actually served as stress relief.

This stalking accusation involving a son of the assistant police chief may be familiar to regular blog readers. We revealed last summer that Brian Rowe was arrested on stalking charges - but his case was moved to a "dead docket," and has never come to trial [12 Jul 07]. And strangely, the District Attorney never complained about Rowe's $3,500 bond being too low.

Brian Rowe's ex-wife told us last year the stalking charge was a "mistake," and she thinks he can be a great police officer [18 Jul 07]. We e-mailed her Wednesday for a comment on Brent Rollins's accusations, but received no response by our deadline. We hope she's not on the run from anyone else....

It's fascinating to me that Brent Rollins's stress problems overwhelmed him last year - after the election of the mayor he so badly wanted. It seems clear that city government was NOT Rollins's biggest headache - relationship problems were. But then again, Rollins didn't have good relations with the former mayor at all.

So two people argue in a street - and when a police officer curses toward them, they turn around and report it to the chief?! If this is what it takes to stop quarrels and bring people together, Vice President Cheney might take a foul-mouthed rapper with him to the Republic of Georgia next week.

Brent Rollins uses the years of stressful personal relationships and "mood stabilization medication" to explain what happened that fateful October day on Torch Hill Road. But that explanation also indicates Rollins tried to follow proper procedure that day. NASCAR drivers have been doing a lot more damage with their cars lately.

I never realized the Columbus Police Department had a division called OOPS for short. That's about as curious as the football acronym I had to figure out the other day -- the PUP. That stands for "physically unable to perform." I thought it referred to a party for top rookies.

Brent Rollins clearly is accusing Chief Ricky Boren of having a vendetta against him. But for all I know, a full review of police car videotapes may be common in a case like this. That way the Office of Professional Standards can write on its final report, "OOPS: he did it again."

If Brent Rollins really kept a list of arrested Columbus police officers and the number of calls he answered on the force, he may have been in the wrong department of policing. Someone who keeps notes that well should be a detective, not a patrolman.

I could write more about Brent Rollins's long explanation, but time does not permit. In a follow-up he sent to some of our questions Wednesday, Rollins admits he's currently out of work - and is leaning toward a "regular job" away from law enforcement. Wednesday's expansion of the Cessna plant may have come in the nick of time....

(But Rollins admits a "smaller department" may be interested in hiring him. How IS that search for a police chief in Hurtsboro going, anyway?)

Brent Rollins also admits he's still "on the fence" about filing a civil lawsuit against the city of Columbus. It depends on what happens with the two officers he says are under investigation right now. Hmmmm - I suppose a class-action suit would have more weight behind it....

So what do you think - is Brent Rollins making excuses for what led to his dismissal from Columbus Police? Have higher-ups in the department handled things badly? And will you really get an honest answer, if you ask a mysterious e-mailer who he is? A number of people have been burned by schemers from Nigeria that way.

E-MAIL UPDATE: We have one other message today, that's short and to the point....

First I read your blog,then I read the Ledger to see what the Ledger does not know..

I guess I should say thank you for that. But believe me, the Ledger-Enquirer knows plenty of things that I do not. I mean, Sonya Sorich seems to know the hottest party spots every weekend -- but no one invites me to any of them.

In the first half of 2008, our number of unique visitors jumped 23 percent from last year. To advertise to our readers, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

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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, August 27, 2008


If you think all the Democrats are glued to TV sets watching C-SPAN this week, you're wrong. I found an exception the other night - a woman who admits she wasn't watching, because she had to put her twin sons to bed at 9:30 p.m. And no, I don't think she's a disgruntled Hillary Rodham Clinton supporter....

The woman who was tending to her children was Julia Slater, the Democrat who's running for Muscogee County District Attorney. I decided I owed her a call back, after last week's rumblings about Mark Shelnutt and suspects receiving "low bonds." I keep waiting for a candidate to declare them junk bonds.

Julia Slater's point is that if low bonds are given to criminal suspects in Recorder's Court, District Attorney Gray Conger has only himself to blame. Slater says Conger has chosen to keep his staff away from preliminary hearings, where initial bonds are set. Show up late for the ball game, and you might miss the most important play.

Julia Slater says if she's elected District Attorney, she plans to have prosecutors present at Recorder's Court hearings. The present staff is hereby put on notice - those hearings sometimes start at 8:00 a.m., so you might not be able to sleep late anymore.

District Attorney Gray Conger apparently tried a different approach, after learning about the two "low bonds" set by Judge Haywood Turner. He had the suspects arrested again on additional charges. Griffin Rotary Club President Frank Stuart Thompson now faces five new counts, with a total bond of $45,000. If he met that bond Tuesday, I think a judge will turn over the "river" card.

I couldn't help noticing Tuesday night that Frank Stuart Thompson's picture has been removed from the Griffin Rotary Club home page [21 Aug], and the club President's page now is practically empty. There's no explanation posted for it -- so what have the Rotarians done with their Big Wheel?

But back to the race: Julia Slater is a former Assistant District Attorney, who says she plans to reorganize the office if she's elected. Admittedly, I did NOT ask if she'd buy furniture from Kinder's or Rooms to Go....

No wait: Julia Slater really means she wants to reorganize the prosecution staff. She says Assistant District Attorneys have become too specialized in specific criminal areas. If those 100 new police officers drive down the homicide rate, the murder attorneys are going to have find other things to do.

Julia Slater's web site adds she wants a renewed focus on the "Crimes Against Children Unit" in the District Attorney's office. It's time we went back to the good old days - when a crime against a child meant the older brother or sister took a bigger piece of cake.

With ten weeks left before Election Day, Julia Slater says she's emphasizing what she plans to do as District Attorney. She seemed stunned by my suggestion that she might have a clip file of Gray Conger stories, ready to use against him. Perhaps some of Slater's lawyer friends were assigned that duty....

THE BIG BLOG QUESTION on Hurtsboro's future ended Tuesday afternoon - and 77 percent of our voters say the Russell County town should have its charter taken away (17-5). The Tuesday evening news said a judge's ruling on that could come within days. Perhaps he was waiting to see if anyone showed up to vote in the city election.

The question on Hurtsboro's charter sparked perhaps the liveliest discussion of any poll we've had. The comments somehow continued after we closed the poll on our multimedia page - making us wonder how many voters were Georgia Tech students learning about computer hacking.

Supporters of the charter suspension praised "vigilant activist" Robert Schweiger for his efforts. In fact, one voter urged Schweiger to "start working Columbus Council and the corruption there." Well, Schweiger's giving up the Constable position - so he could commute to Columbus as a new police officer.

But others called Constable Schweiger an "old man with no life," who tries "to make everyone in his community miserable." Maybe he should learn from the late Lonnie Jackson, and start a summer tutorial program.

One voter said Hurtsboro could survive as a town with a Mayor and City Council "who are willing to listen to the people." He cited mayoral candidate Ray Tapley, who advanced Tuesday to an October runoff against Teutonya Burns. Some of us thought "Teutonya" was what an auto painting shop offers to do....

The controversial Constable sent us e-mail during our question, and we decided to hold it until the voting was closed:

Sir Richard:

Just a short post to thank you for running the "Hurt'sboro poll. It's appreciated!

Just as one commenter noted; you are spreading the "word," world-wide. I've received personal queries from quite a distance - all of them favorable!

I also want to "thank" the individual who characterized me unfavorably - it's nice to hear both sides of the story - even if it's contorted! But, if these folks wish to debase me - I wish they would spell their words correctly and use good grammar! You can read between the lines and question their intellectual capacity!

I don't know how long you intend to continue to run the poll; but I think it's serving its purpose. Thank you Sir Richard - I'm sure that there's more to come!!

Constable R.J. Schweiger

How we wish everyone would "spell their words correctly." Like the title of "Mayor" in Hurtsboro - or even grammar in this message....

There likely will be "more to come" in Hurtsboro. If the Macon County judge assigned to the case decides to revoke the city charter, that decision probably could be appealed all the way to Alabama's Supreme Court. But that court removed Roy Moore from office, and a 150-year-old town isn't that much more of an institution.

Several other elections in the area top our review of Tuesday's news....

+ Sonny Coulter won the mayor's race in Phenix City. He's now been elected to that office four separate times -- and in an even stranger twist for Alabama politics, his wife never has run for the job.

+ Arnold Leak was reelected mayor of Valley. Of course, this means instead of "news leaks" from City Hall we'll have Leak's news.

+ Jay Jaxon won another term as mayor of Eufaula, and by an even wider margin than in 2004. But loser Randall Greene's name may not be out of the spotlight long - because Bill Heard may have some car lots to sell to him.

+ Looking ahead to 2010, David Poythress announced he'll run for Georgia Governor. Poythress is currently "adjutant-general" of the Georgia National Guard. And since he's a Democrat, he may also run as the agitated General.

+ Columbus Council heard about plans to bring back riverboat tours on the Chattahoochee River this fall. Some people I know heard this idea, and openly wondered what sights are worth seeing along the river. Maybe I should call the Convention and Visitors Bureau, and negotiate a deal for my Riverwalk runs.

(There used to be riverboat tours on the Chattahoochee. But they stopped a few years ago, and the Trade Center renovations may have made the old dock at Eighth Street unusable. So why not combine two activities in one - and have passengers go to the riverboat in a kayak?)

SCHEDULED THURSDAY: One man's story of years in local law enforcement. This blog exclusive may stun you....

In the first half of 2008, our number of unique visitors jumped 23 percent from last year. To advertise to our readers, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

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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, August 26, 2008


At first there were only rumors, which couldn't be confirmed. Then Kaffie Sledge wrote an article about it in the Ledger-Enquirer. Now it's confirmed - through a football ruling, of all things. But no, there are NO plans to merge Carver and Spencer High Schools into a grand "super-band."

The Georgia High School Association ruled Monday that Robert Bailey Jr. can have a special waiver, to play football this season for Shaw High School. That's no big deal, until you learn where Bailey is from - Jena, Louisiana. Yes, the city where Cynthia McKinney is the only presidential candidate likely to pay a visit this fall.

Robert Bailey Jr. is one of the "Jena Six," accused in an attack on a high school student which sparked racial tension. You may recall the big civil rights rally which took place there last September - which based on recent history will lead to a memorial marker being erected in about 40 years.

(One of the six suspects already has pleaded guilty. Mychal Bell said on cable TV this past weekend that Jena, Louisiana is "a real racist town." Isn't it nice to know Robert Bailey Jr. is now in a city where no one ever thinks that way?)

Robert Bailey Jr. is awaiting trial in Louisiana for battery in the "Jena Six" case. He's also one defendant in a civil lawsuit, which was filed by the student who was allegedly attacked two years ago. So it's a bit surprising Bailey went out for football, and not the debate squad....

Robert Bailey Jr. has relatives in Columbus, so he moved here and enrolled at Shaw High School last term. Now he'll be able to play football in his senior season - and how ironic it is that the Shaw colors are basic black and white.

Shaw High School Principal Jim Arnold said Monday Robert Bailey Jr. is a "genuinely nice young man," and makes A's and B's in his classes. That should earn Arnold a nice all-expenses-paid trip in a few months - to testify as a character witness.

A blog I found Monday night quoted from a message spread in July by Shaw Defensive Coordinator Brandon Wood. He says Robert Bailey Jr. has "the ability to sign a major college football scholarship." That sounds impressive, until you realize Georgia State is trying to start a major college football program.

Shaw football coach Scott Newman even called Robert Bailey Jr. "a leader on the team." That really shouldn't be surprising. Bailey's been on TV about his case more often than the Shaw students who do in-school newscasts.

It would be nice to think Robert Bailey Jr. will have a peaceful senior season on the Shaw football team. But I've lived in the South long enough to know better. I've heard enough stories of football fans uttering racial slurs toward players at halftime - and making some of the drunk hockey fans in Huntsville seem almost respectable.

(I even heard reports of students fighting in the stands last Thursday night in Phenix City. Imagine if the Central-Carver game had been for real, and not a scrimmage.)

Now that Robert Bailey Jr. is known to everyone as a Shaw High School student, and especially as a football player, here's hoping other players and fans will keep a cool head about it all. And here's hoping the only people showing up at Kinnett Stadium wearing all-white outfits are playing for visiting teams.

Here's what else we learned Sunday, while trying to stay dry:

+ A downpour struck Columbus in late morning, causing some flash flooding. TV newscasters reminded motorists if you can't see the road, you shouldn't drive. This reminder also should be posted on the inside doors of a lot of bars....

+ Dr. Philip Schley of the Muscogee County School Board told the afternoon news he hopes a new superintendent can be named by the end of November. If this sounds absurd, consider this - we may not be able to name a President-Elect by then, either.

+ The Ledger-Enquirer reported GMAC has broken off its credit relationship with Bill Heard Chevrolet. That special guest "Price Slicer-Dicer" needs to get his knife under control.

+ Auburn attorney Mike Slocumb condemned a proposal before Alabama's Supreme Court to ban celebrities from TV commercials for lawyers. A committee of the state bar association explains its goal is to make attorney ads look "professional." As if Ken Nugent grinning as he says, "One call, that's all" is professional....

(Mike Slocumb is upset because his TV ads feature William Shatner. But c'mon - at least Shatner wears a suit, like he does on "Boston Legal." Slocumb could have asked Shatner to dress like Captain Kirk.)

+ National Public Radio noted Alabama Congressional candidates Bobby Bright and Jay Love are both deacons at the same Baptist church in Montgomery. Hmmmm -- who sits farther to the right of the pulpit?

+ Instant Message to the man I heard complaining about severe weather warnings interrupting his TV favorite program: Wow - I never knew angry males like you watch "Divorce Court."

BURKARD'S BEST BETS: Gas for $3.45 a gallon at Circle K on Fourth Street.... FREE chicken biscuits during breakfast hours at Chick-Fil-A.... and sales of Thompson's Water Seal jumping at local hardware stores....

SCHEDULED WEDNESDAY: An update on that Rotary Club President from out of town....

In the first half of 2008, our number of unique visitors jumped 23 percent from last year. To advertise to our readers, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 1080 (+ 38, 3.6%)

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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Monday, August 25, 2008


So I understand they're having a city election in Hurtsboro Tuesday. But I couldn't tell you who is running, because no one has told me. And Constable Robert Schweiger certainly hasn't told me, because he doesn't think the vote should even count....

Hurtsboro is one of several East Alabama cities which are preparing for local elections Tuesday. Mayors will be selected. City council positions will be filled. And if a race is close, new enemies are likely to be made.

The closest vote to downtown Columbus is the Phenix City election. Mayor Jeff Hardin decided not to run for re-election -- obviously because someone would have brought up that movie theatre he still hasn't brought to town, after four years.

The Phenix City Mayor's race comes down to two familiar names. One is former mayor Sonny Coulter, who hopes to hold the office for a fourth time. Will the landing of Tropical Storm Fay in Florida four times prove to be prophetic?

Sonny Coulter has promoted his campaign around Phenix City with signs simply saying, "Sonny!" If I didn't know better, I'd think Sonny Perdue had moved across the state line - or I'd try to corner Coulter at a community meeting and give him a "Sonny Do" list.

The other man running for Phenix City Mayor is Gene Oswalt. Based on how he stopped me in a hallway at First Baptist Church a few weeks ago to challenge my right to be inside the building, I'll never confuse him with country music performer Bashful Brother Oswald....

Gene Oswalt is trying to emphasize his years of service in Phenix City. Yet to me, he doesn't have the name recognition that Sonny Coulter has. Maybe if Oswalt submitted a list of every city employee he plans to fire....

Up the road a few miles, Smiths Station also has a city election Tuesday. LaFaye Dellinger is seeking another term as mayor. You may recall she told this blog last summer the citizens will decide if she should seek a third term [7 Aug 07] -- so I wonder how many of them mailed her campaign donations.

The challenger for Smiths Station Mayor is Ken Belcher. Belcher actually has a campaign web site, which includes a baby picture and a photo showing he lives in a motor home. Most political candidates recall their "humble beginnings" years after the fact - they don't run in the middle of them.

A side issue in the Smiths Station city election is a pay raise, which the winners will receive in the coming term. This is clearly one time when Republican residents wish they had a "None of the Above" option on the ballot....

Another mayoral race at stake Tuesday is in Eufaula. Jay Jaxon is seeking a fifth term - and I think one of the highlights of his first four terms has been the naming of the Jacksonville Jaguars' mascot in his honor.

Jay Jaxon is truly a survivor in Eufaula, after winning a very close vote four years ago. He's even survived a proposal to rename the city "Lake Eufaula" - which I think was last seen at the bottom of the lake, being devoured by largemouth bass.

The Eufaula mayor's race actually is a rematch, as Jay Jaxon is challenged for the second election in a row by car dealer Randall Greene. Hopefully Greene is using the same campaign signs he posted four years ago - to prove once and for all he's the Greene candidate.

But some rumor-spreading apparently has developed in this race. Randall Greene had to explain to the Eufaula Tribune last week why he filed bankruptcy papers twice in this decade. He's now a principle General Motors dealer near Nashville - and given G.M.'s sales, a third bankruptcy filing might not be far off.

One curious argument in the Eufaula mayor's race is whether or not the city is growing. The candidates dispute which set of census numbers accurately reflects Eufaula's population. I think this means if there's a big turnout Tuesday, Randall Greene will accuse Jay Jaxon of voter fraud.

>> People in several states and at least two countries are reading our new blog about poker and life. Visit "On the Flop!" <<

TODAY'S ULTIMATE BLOG OLYMPIC MOMENT: I turned on NBC Sunday afternoon, and saw people doing bicycle stunts live from Oregon. Apparently after showing a table tennis gold-medal match at 2:00 a.m. Sunday during a tornado warning, they finally ran out of Olympic sports to cover.

(So with the Beijing Games finally over, is it safe for us to put away the political correctness and call it "Red China" again? And why do "Red State Republicans" have no trouble calling it that?)

OVERHEARD OVER HERE: A Columbus teacher tried to illustrate a point recently, by mentioning a famous work of art.

"You've seen that statue by Rogaine.... the guy who's thinking...."

While you pause to think over that one, let's wrap up some news from the weekend:

+ The Columbus area began cleaning up damage from Tropical Storm Fay. One report showed Valley, Alabama received more than seven inches of rain. That should help keep West Point Lake filled for awhile. And I hope the people in Apalachicola are happy - because they might not need to borrow any water from Lake Lanier for a couple of weeks.

(Thanks mostly to Tropical Storm Fay, my personal financial winning streak grew to four days in a row. No, not from playing poker - but days with the air conditioner turned off.)

+ Muscogee County Republican Chair Josh McKoon issued a news release, criticizing Barack Obama's selection of a running mate. But really now - the only choice McKoon might have endorsed is himself. And even then, he would have accused Obama of having a sinister plot to divide the G.O.P.

+ Instant Message to WRBL: I watched your golf tournament Sunday, so I know the final outcome. Based on the score box in the corner of the screen, it was Vijay Singh at -8, followed by First Alert at -3.

In the first half of 2008, our number of unique visitors jumped 23 percent from last year. To advertise to our readers, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

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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, August 24, 2008


"If you prayed for rain, God answered your prayer," a pastor said during a Saturday evening service in Columbus. OK - then who was the smart-aleck who prayed for winds strong enough to knock down trees?

The center of Tropical Storm Fay went west on U.S. 98 across the Florida panhandle, but Columbus felt plenty of impact. A combination of immense rain and gusty winds knocked down trees in several places. But look on the bright side - it's just about time to start preparing a stash of firewood.

In one case, a tree fell onto a car on Gentian Boulevard near the main post office. That apparently explains why my mail wasn't delivered Saturday. The old motto says not "rain, snow or gloom of night" will stop the postman - but it says nothing about traffic jams on two-lane roads.

Then there was the 100-year-old oak tree which fell on an Episcopal church in Auburn. That tree will have people talking, when it's covered with tinsel in the fellowship hall in December....

WRBL showed a picture of Auburn University students who evacuated classrooms into a hallway, because of a possible tornado. I'm glad they were safe - but c'mon, they were standing! Don't they teach students to get on their knees and cover their heads these days? Or was that declared a church-state violation?

Even though lightning was minimal, the rain and wind also caused scattered power outages across the area. But thankfully, things could have been a lot worse. Outages next Saturday at the start of college football season would have caused a massive panic.

Occasional heavy rain could be dangerous as well. WXTX "News at Ten" showed a Domino's Pizza delivery car flipped over on Interstate 185. Pizza boxes reportedly were scattered everywhere - but I really don't think that counts as a "hand-tossed" pizza.

While I couldn't find an official amount online Saturday night, Columbus received about two inches of rain during the day. And I received a great name for a musical group, if Derek Kinkade and Steve Graham ever want to start one - the "Outer Rain Band."

(The drenching arc from Fay also is called a "feeder band" - but that sounds too much to me like high school marchers on a road trip to the other side of the state.)

As if the soaking in Columbus was not enough, a tornado watch was issued late in the evening. It was scheduled to last until 4:00 a.m. ET -- giving some families an excuse to stay up and watch the Olympic gold-medal men's basketball game on NBC.

As you might guess, the rainy weather caused problems with all sorts of Columbus events....

+ The Space Science Center's "evening under the stars" was moved indoors. An "evening under the umbrellas" just didn't sound right.

+ A day of canvassing was planned for the Barack Obama campaign. Instead, canvasses were prepared to cover storm-damaged roofs.

+ As far as I know, the "Midnight Express Run" in midtown went on as scheduled. But I hope the crew put warning cones around the rain puddles - because some runners pay top dollars for their shoes, and don't want them damaged by silly things like water.

+ A group in the church I'm attending was supposed to have a Saturday night potluck dinner. But for reasons which had nothing to do with the weather, it was moved up to Friday night without my knowledge. "Fickle Fay" has nothing on single adults with scattered interests.

TODAY'S BLOG OLYMPIC MOMENT: Albany's Angelo Taylor won a second gold medal Saturday, as part of the U.S. men's 4x400 meter relay team. A pro football player must have called Beijing, and convinced the runners to put "stick-em" on their hands to hold the baton.

E-MAIL UPDATE: As the Beijing Games conclude today, a blog reader has a different Olympic thought....

Glad to see IOC is checking on age of Chinese gymnastic team...That youngest one looked 11...Also,the President of the IOC told Jamaican sprinter,Bolt, his "showboating" was not appreciated. So,there really is an IOC. Maybe the IOC should come and run the government Hurts boro.

I'm not really sure why people are making such a fuss about the ages of gymnasts. It's not like they're going to sign endorsement deals to sell beer.

But hmmmm - what if the International Olympic Committee took charge of Hurtsboro? I'm still not sure residents like Robert Schweiger would be happy. For one thing, all the proposed ordinances would be read in French as well as English....

Meanwhile, a local activist is upset with the Ledger-Enquirer - and passed on a "cc" of her complaint to us:

Why didn't you report this- AGAIN? The minutes are on my website under Dev Auth Min

Minutes from development authority which gave 80 Million in tax exemptions to Adams. The Development Authority Atty is the atty for Adams"

"Upon motion made by Fernando Verdree and seconded by Carmen Cavezza, the Authority unanimously approved the Inducement Resolution in the form attached hereto as Exhibit "E" in the amount of $80,000,000 for the Geo. M. Adams Co. Project and authorized the execution of all documents pertaining to the bond issue. For information the bond amount does not include any land cost. Ed Sprouse disclosed that firm of Page, Scrantom, Sprouse, Tucker & Ford has been involved but that he personally has not."

Deborah Owens....

The minutes I found on that web site show this vote occurred in March - but they never say what the George M. Adams Company's project is. Maybe we're going to have a high-tech "Adams Farm" on Adams Farm Road after all.

The home page of that web site also has an e-mail from Becca Hardin of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce, in which she says the Columbus Development Authority "does not grant tax exemptions." Apparently the "inducement resolutions" are left to the local Board of Tax Assessors - and I guess that board does the inducing labor.

Now for other news items which found dry shelter over the last few days....

+ Retired pro football player Jeremiah Castille handed out hundreds of backpacks to students at Davis Elementary School. Any child who took a backpack after receiving a "Kits for Kids" pack should be taught a "virtue of the week" lesson in sharing.

+ A group of monks from Tibet prepared sand sculptures at an art museum in Auburn. Let's all hope the Olympic beach volleyball players stay in California for the next few weeks....

+ A Texas State University survey ranked Alabama the seventh-worst state in the country for litter. Georgia apparently missed the "worst ten" list - so apparently Georgia has the harder-working prison inmates along the highways.

+ Instant Message to the Columbus Catfish: You DID remember to cover the Golden Park infield, didn't you? Or should we assume this week's final homestand isn't going to happen, and start watching for the U-Haul trailers?

In the first half of 2008, our number of unique visitors jumped 23 percent from last year. To advertise to our readers, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

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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, August 23, 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.)

The final weekend of the Beijing Olympics has arrived. Based on what I've read and heard, some people will be glad to see it end. Like the bosses whose employees have been losing sleep watching late-night events, or being distracted all morning.

TODAY'S BLOG OLYMPIC MOMENT: Have the Olympics come up at the church you attend? I've attended a few churches over the years where they treated with disdain, and even some criticism. They go beyond the church sign I saw during the 1996 games in Atlanta, which quoted an old hymn: "I'd rather have Jesus than silver and gold."

I lived in metro Atlanta as the 1996 games approached, and attended a church which met less than one mile from the Olympic Stadium site (now Turner Field). The pastor openly said he wanted to be as far from that site as possible when the Olympics arrived. It was almost like he knew Eric Rudolph was planning a bombing....

When July 1996 came, the pastor had his wish - and we had services a 20-minute drive west of downtown, where not even MARTA buses could reach us. Yet this happened as the church denomination was starting to emphasize evangelism and outreach. It disappointed me, as an opportunity was squandered - as if we dropped the baton like a U.S. relay team.

During the 2000 Sydney Games, I visited a congregation in Montgomery where another pastor clearly was uninspired by the Olympics. He called it a tribute to "the gods of sports and money." As far as I know, he never has made the same comment about college football season....

Then about a year ago, I heard a minister in Columbus suggest the Olympic Games actually are unbiblical. He quoted Galatians 4, and said people at that time were allowing themselves to be enslaved to Olympic years. I have yet to find a Bible commentary or online ministry which agrees with that interpretation of "years." But perhaps we should be thankful that the modern Olympics only last about 17 days.

What's behind all this Olympic nay-saying? The Montgomery minister explained the games are all about the "human spirit," which falls far short of the Spirit of God. He's right about that - yet the human spirit has accomplished a few good things. Imagine how overweight some of us would be, if not for diet soda....

Yet if you look and listen closely during the Olympics, you can find moments when that higher Spirit comes through. How well I remember Laura Wilkinson's first words on NBC after winning the 2000 diving gold medal with a fractured foot - when she gave Jesus the glory for it. I'm still waiting for a Wiccan gold medal winner, who gives glory to Mother Nature.

I spent a couple of Sundays inside Atlanta's downtown "Olympic ring" in 1996, and discovered it was quite a street fair. You could find anything from pin traders to soapbox preachers. Admittedly, the pin traders seemed more popular - and certainly were not shouted down, as long as they had business licenses....

Yet a number of ministries used those Olympic games as an opportunity to witness to the crowd. In fact, I have a "1996 Olympic copy" of the Contemporary English Version of the Bible - as a downtown Atlanta church gave them away to visitors. Of course, I doubt many tourists from China or Iran dared to wander in....

My point of these reflections is this: believers can sit on the sidelines and grumble about the Olympics and all the attention they get. Or they can go into the action and "be a light." Maybe people will pay attention to your light. Maybe they won't. But if you keep your light turned off and stashed far away, will God consider that a gold-medal performance?

SCHEDULED SUNDAY: A blog reader has an Olympic moment to offer....

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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, August 22, 2008


We were under a tight schedule Thursday, so all we could do for you was prepare this SPAM-A-RAMA. We've marveled lately at how many spam message titles are mentioning famous people. We do NOT think all these titles are true and accurate - but we'll comment on them nonetheless:


Do I really need an agent handcuffed to my wrist?


Which means his quote probably is, "I'm against racism."


If she shops at a factory outlet store, please let me know.


I could go to a construction site in Columbus right now and shoot the same thing.


Of what - winning big on Jeopardy?


I'm sorry, but I really don't think a headband improves your tennis game.


Hopefully it's a margarine that's low in cholesterol.


I already knew he grew up in the Ozarks.


There's nothing like a gift subscription to Rush Limbaugh's web site.


Never mention the trips to rehab in your resume.


Well, it could have been Darryl Strawberry.


Now now - that week in Hawaii was called a vacation.


So? I've done that, too -- when I rented a convertible to drive to Florida.


I think the question confused him - about whether he planned to drive trucks after leaving office.


The shutdown Movie Gallery stores had to send them somewhere....


Why - because he didn't want to father Destiny's Child?


Wait, check that. The residents simply will bring up His name a lot, during arguments.


Get complete coverage tonight on WLTZ's 7:00 Report.


Can he stop by Moscow and Tehran on his way home?


She could make the Auburn fight song sexy, by slowing down the beat a bit.


They covered up this secret on "Green Acres" for a long time.


In Hollywood, the "over-and-under" for her sentence is 40 hours.


So which candidate is the tight-fisted conservative again?


Wow - quite a step up from studying the mechanics who fix her car.


He can be SO creative with those titles.


There - now he can claim he's represented everybody at least once. And critics can say he's offended everybody at least once.

SCHEDULED THIS WEEKEND: A make-up Olympic moment which might surprise you....

In the first half of 2008, our number of unique visitors jumped 23 percent from last year. To advertise to our readers, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

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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, August 21, 2008


It's been about four years since my last conversation with Columbus attorney Mark Shelnutt. In fact, it was shortly before the 2004 judicial election between Bobby Peters and Roxann Daniel. Now there's another dicey race for judge, and Shelnutt's name has come up again. Yet he wasn't a candidate then or now -- and he doesn't look a Mafioso type to me.

BLOG EXCLUSIVE: Mark Shelnutt confirmed to your blog Wednesday that he's representing the President of the Griffin, Georgia Rotary Club -- a man accused by Columbus Police of trying to solicit child sex online. There are cities where they spin a "wheel of justice" on TV, but I don't think the Rotarians have anything to do with it.

The home page of the Griffin Rotary Club shows Frank Stuart Thompson receiving the "Rotary Jewels," and inviting members to join him for a "Dinner with the Governor" next Monday night. Once word gets around about his legal problems, Sonny Perdue will be even more relieved to know the invitation does NOT involve him.

Columbus Police say Frank Stuart Thompson made an online contact with what he thought was a 12-year-old girl, then agreed to meet with her on Front Avenue downtown. But that "girl" reportedly turned out to be an undercover police officer. If this is true, Thompson should be thankful that officer isn't dating Jon Scott of "Dateline NBC."

For Mark Shelnutt, this case is a bit personal. He told me Wednesday he went through a church confirmation class as a boy in Griffin with one of Frank Thompson's siblings. Shelnutt says people in Griffin are stunned by the arrest. And imagine what today's weekly Rotary Club meeting could be like - especially if someone asks where "impeachment" is in the bylaws.

But is Mark Shelnutt taking the Frank Thompson case a bit TOO personally? This week's news raised questions about it, as did this e-mail we received Wednesday....

I saw on the news last night where Judge Turner had set the bail of a child molester at $5,000..His excuse for so low was that bail is to make sure a person shows up in court and not to punish the person..I also thought bail was set to help protect the public until the person came to trial to prove their innocence..Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. .Just another jab at the public by Judge Turner..

Before we get to Judge Haywood Turner, Shelnutt would want to make some corrections. He'd note Thompson is only a suspect -- and he indicated to me Wednesday Thompson has no criminal past along these lines. I'm assuming those "lines" are both online and offline.

Mark Shelnutt admits he called five different local judges on a weekend, hoping to get bail set for Frank Thompson. But he says that's been a common practice, during his years as a defense attorney in Columbus. If the bail bonding companies can offer 24-hour service, why not the judges?

Mark Shelnutt says Judge Haywood Turner was the first one who returned his call, to set Frank Thompson's bail. So it was like the business world - first come, first petition served....

Mark Shelnutt repeated to me the line Judge Haywood Turner is using -- that bond is NOT supposed to be punishment for an alleged crime. Apparently that explanation hasn't been told to the guards at Guantanamo Bay.

Mark Shelnutt added since posting bond, Frank Thompson has made a return trip to Columbus. No, I did NOT ask if he was attending a Rotary "make-up meeting...."

District Attorney Gray Conger argues Judge Haywood Turner set too low a bond in this case, and Mark Shelnutt went "behind his back" to free Frank Thompson. But Shelnutt says the prosecutor's office never is involved in bond hearings at the level of Recorder's Court. Besides, have you ever seen prosecutors at the Crimestoppers "Jail and Bail" events?

Mark Shelnutt told me the complaint by Gray Conger is "nothing but political posturing." The District Attorney is up for re-election this fall, as is Judge Haywood Turner. But here's the thing - aren't they both Republicans? At least on the ballot? At least THIS year, as opposed to 2000?

The November election well could be a factor in all this - and in fact, we originally called Mark Shelnutt about yet another e-mail which is election-related:

I am sure that you know by now that Julia Slater will be running for District Attorney. Are you aware of the rumors and stories surrounding the firm that she works for. Berry, Shellnut, Day and Hoffman (oops, Hoffman left) is a very reputable firm. Slater has worked there for a few years. Unfortunately, one of her employers, Mark Shellnut, has been going around town claiming that he is being investigated. He has approached the FBI, the DEA, and the U.S. Attorney's office in attempts to find out if he is being investigated. He also tells all the influential people in town how the government is out to get him. This is no doubt to try to save his Good Name.

Now comes the elections. With the other rumors circulating, that Shellnut was going to run for Superior Court Judge, he must have felt that his credibility was in question with the mixing of the investigation rumors. Shellnut will now throw Julia Slater's name into the mix to run for District Attorney, this setting up his defense. If the alleged investigation leads to an arrest, it will be turned into a political agenda that has nothing to do with the District Attorney's Office.

Politics is H**l.

Of course this is easy speculation, but is relative easy to ascertain if you read between the lines.

Strange as it may seem, Julia Slater called us Wednesday after we talked with Mark Shelnutt. We had NOT called her, and she had to leave a message because we were out on an errand. What do you think might have inspired that call? I thought "second opinions" were common only with doctors.

But anyway: Mark Shelnutt clarified what he's been saying -- that he actually had heard rumors of an investigation, instead of saying he actually WAS under investigation. After all, plenty of people think the government is out to get them. Take the ones who mail tax returns on April 15....

Mark Shelnutt explains he didn't want to wind up in a "conflict of interest" with a client, because of an investigation against him. So he was asking around to learn the truth behind the rumor - and he told me nothing has been confirmed. Amazingly, Shelnutt was nice enough to stop short of blaming Gray Conger for it.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Wednesday's Instant Message brought a response - and sadly, it wasn't from that good-looking woman on TV who called me a chicken....

I'm just thankful that Donald Gold is not currently doing the commercials for Direct Optical Center. One thing I never figured out though, how does "earless" Donald keep his glasses on?

Now now - I've heard this question before. Look carefully at the center's web site, and you'll see Dr. Gold has a small right ear. If you can't see it, maybe it's time you called to schedule an exam.

I have a theory for these rumors that Dr. Donald Gold has no ears. People have become so used to seeing big ears on Ross Perot and Barack Obama that they think anyone with something less was attacked by Mike Tyson.

>> People in several states and at least two countries are reading our new blog about poker and life. Visit "On the Flop!" <<

TODAY'S BLOG OLYMPIC MOMENT: Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Trainor won the Olympic gold medal in women's beach volleyball Thursday morning in Beijing. I went to a day of beach volleyball at the 1996 Atlanta games, and the first match was like an outdoor party. Then the U.S. teams left the sand - and so few people were left in the stands that you could get "up close and personal."

Now some other items of interest from Wednesday's news....

+ Farmers south of Columbus prepared for possible heavy rain from Tropical Storm Fay. But of course, the storm system could drain itself dry before reaching our area - and then you'd have a Fay accompli.

+ The LaGrange Daily News showed pictures of a new video replay scoreboard, that's being installed at Callaway Stadium. LaGrange High School will have a "jumbotron" this fall, Auburn University football will have one - and what will Columbus's two stadiums have? Students taking cell-phone pictures?

(The video replay board in LaGrange costs $200,000, and is apparently being funded by donations from local businesses. The Muscogee County Schools probably should try that same approach - because the sight of school board members shopping for HDTV's at Best Buy would only raise questions.)

+ WKCN "Kissin' 99.3" announced Taylor Swift will appear in concert at the Columbus Civic Center in late September. Tickets go on sale Friday morning - but it seems awfully early in the term for her fans to declare "Senior Skip Day" for this.

+ Instant Message to Bear O'Brian: Well, well - welcome back to Columbus radio, on Kissin' 99.3! It seems like you never really left. And most of the shoppers who hear you inside Piggly Wiggly stores probably never knew you left.

In the first half of 2008, our number of unique visitors jumped 23 percent from last year. To advertise to our readers, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

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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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