Friday, June 05, 2009

5 JUN 09: Darr to be Different

So where has Ralph Johnson gone, anyway? He seems to have disappeared, since giving up his badge as Muscogee County Sheriff. I haven't heard of Johnson helping in recruiting new law officers - so maybe he's still trying gamely to make friends with African-American ministers.

John Darr has been on the job as Muscogee County Sheriff about six months, and he talked about the job at length Thursday. Darr told WLTZ a main goal has been to improve the public image of the Sheriff's Department. But so far, he has NOT taken the approach of Marshal Greg Countryman - you know, by purchasing new uniforms.

John Darr says one new requirement for Muscogee County Sheriff's officers is to make "personal contact" with someone in the community everyday. Uhhhh - isn't this the same requirement certain women used to have on Victory Drive?

By "personal contact," Sheriff John Darr means deputies are meeting people and saying how-do-you-do. The former sheriff was accused of encouraging this in a wrong way - by having deputies show up at churches on Sunday mornings with arrest warrants.

The Sheriff says the Muscogee County Jail is about 60 inmates above capacity. John Darr notes that's down from six months ago. But those 100 new police officers will be glad to turn things around, in the next few months.

Sheriff John Darr indicated the county jail would be less crowded if the state of Georgia took in more inmates. Trouble is, so many potential holding facilities in Columbus keep being taken by new businesses....

One thing Sheriff John Darr still wants to improve is the deputy training division. Can you really blame him? Columbus Police officers probably are going further than deputies in those "torch runs."

John Darr is in a situation probably no other Muscogee County Sheriff has ever faced - as an opponent in the next election already has announced for the job, and is critiquing Darr's moves online. Someday Mark LaJoye ought to publicly thank Hurtsboro's Robert Schweiger for giving him this idea....

Mark LaJoye's web site declares Sheriff John Darr guilty of "the same classic mistakes" of former Sheriff Ralph Johnson. He says Darr has fired some staff members without cause, while "putting his favorite buddies in job positions...." Darr may get along with District Attorney Julia Slater more than we thought.

Mark LaJoye is even dropping hints of a second challenger for Sheriff John Darr in the next election. LaJoye apparently has heard rumors Marshal Greg Countryman will challenge Darr in the 2012 Democratic primary. Darr has about three years to counter that - starting with the formation of a Junior Sheriff's program.

BLOG UPDATE: The Thursday evening news revealed the city of Columbus wants to use $5.5 million in federal stimulus money for the new NCR plant. If it's not approved, the city might wind up spending $7 million - and the new entrance to the Government Center might have to settle for a carpet, instead of a polished hardwood floor.

Becca Hardin with the Columbus Chamber of Commerce tried to answer the complaints from Ohio lawmakers about the NCR move. She told WRBL the ATM production jobs are "brand new jobs," NOT being moved from another city. If Columbus wanted some old jobs, the city would be trying to move sock mills here from China.

The Columbus Career Center reported more than 500 people already have applied to work at the new Columbus NCR plant. Why, they're lining up for ATM jobs like ATM users on Broadway on a weekend.

Let's see what else seemed interesting on a cool June day....

+ A day of showers and storms left about two inches of rain at the Columbus Airport, and four inches in midtown. The result was flash flooding at Lakebottom Park - and organizers of Sunday's rain-delayed "Arts in the Park" wondering if they should have waited until mid-August.

+ TV reports indicated some Michelin tire employees in Opelika are grumbling, because the plant flags are at half-staff. The flags were lowered to remember three corporate employees who died in the Air France crash. Someone should remind the Opelika workers that when their plant closes in the fall, the flags will be lowered for good.

+ Brad Huskisson was named Columbus State University's permanent softball coach. Huskisson spent more than a year as an "interim" coach - which makes the Muscogee County School Board's hunt for a new superintendent look downright speedy.

+ The Atlanta baseball game against the Chicago Cubs was rained out -- but a bigger story was the release of veteran pitcher Tom Glavine. Former teammate John Smoltz accused the Atlanta management of cutting Glavine to save money. Huh?! Isn't Smoltz a rumored a Republican candidate for public office, once he quits baseball -- which means he'll want to do the very same thing?

+ Instant Message to Lil Kim's Cove on Fourth Street: Thanks for the nice new gift card, which I won for finishing second on Texas Hold 'em Night. But really now - does no one on your staff know how to spell poker? Or is this a hint that I should order off the menu next week?

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