Wednesday, June 24, 2009

24 JUN 09: Sparkle Plenty

Am I missing something here? Independence Day is only ten days away, yet I still haven't seen any commercials for fireworks stands on TV. If I find out Wanda the "Bang Bang Lady" laid off the "Boom Boom Lady," it's really going to hurt.

The first fireworks show of the season was staged in Columbus Tuesday. It admittedly wasn't a very big one, as it was set up by the Georgia Fire Commissioner and a deputy fire chief. They apparently didn't even jazz it up, by exploding watermelons.

The Ledger-Enquirer reports the "fireworks show" at a Columbus fire station consisted of the lighting of four sparklers. This sounds perfect for 4 July, if you have the budget of the Columbus Woodbats....

While sparklers are legal to light across Georgia, other kinds of fireworks are not. Bottle rockets are illegal. And you should leave the "cherry bombs" for some wild ice cream float at Sonic.

If you're caught shooting off illegal fireworks in Georgia, you could be fined $1,000. But here's the thing - most of the time, aren't the fireworks faster than the law officer? Police would have to drive by at the right moment. And they'd have to determine the cloud of smoke is from firecrackers and not a barbecue grill.

Georgia Fire/Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine urged Columbus residents NOT to buy fireworks in East Alabama. He explained most of the items sold there are illegal to shoot in Georgia. Translation: he's running for Governor, and concerned about sending tax dollars out of state.

Yes, I know John Oxendine came to Columbus wearing his "Georgia Fire Commissioner" hat. But let's be honest here - he's an announced candidate for Governor, and considered by some people the current Republican front-runner. And on a tour like this, his commissioner's hat doesn't cover his candidate's face.

John Oxendine admits he opposed the legalization of sparklers in Georgia several years ago. But now he considers them a "safer alternative" to other fireworks. If he backtracks on something like this, should we trust him on bigger issues? Would Oxendine's support of firearms somehow widen to include firecrackers?

(If fireworks really mattered that much to John Oxendine, they'd be part of his 12-point "Contract with Georgia." But they're not - as he merely settles there for building new water reservoirs, to handle the damage.)

To be fair: the John Oxendine campaign web site does NOT include his Columbus trip to promote fireworks safety. But perhaps it's no coincidence that the web site also does NOT mention expanding the state budget for public safety personnel, to handle the damage.

P.S. If our title today sounds familiar, you may be showing your age. "Sparkle Plenty" is a longtime character in the Dick Tracy comic strip, who married Tracy's son. Any resemblance to the marriage of Nancy and Ricky Boren is purely coincidental.

-> Our other blog starts with poker, then goes in directions you might not expect. Visit "On the Flop!" <--

E-MAIL UPDATE: Here's a comment ripped from the Tuesday news headlines....

Hi Richard:

Uptown BID Boss doesn't know about the shooting and robberies that happened Saturday night in Uptown until contacted by a news reporter Monday afternoon. He say's "We didn't have any problems with our six security officers down there." How can six police officers patrolling a street full of drunks not identify any problems the entire weekend?

Just wonderin'

Well, let's check that quote from Mr. BID again. He didn't have any problems with the six security officers. Other people downtown were the problem.

But other officers may be coming to the aid of the Business Improvement District officers. The Tuesday evening news reported the Columbus State University Police is increasing patrols downtown. And if that doesn't make things safe, they'll really get serious - and send in Columbus Police officers.

An even more recent crime seems to have downtown business owners especially concerned. A woman was robbed as she left Phenix Finance Monday afternoon, reportedly by men who tried to offer her books. Be suspicious of anyone who can't find Judy Bugs down the street.

The manager of Phenix Finance suggested the city put "cameras on corners" downtown. Uhhhh - doesn't Broadway already have that? They're between the traffic lights at several intersections. If police isn't going to use them to catch speeders and red-light runners, we might as well go more upscale.

Now for other notes from the Tuesday news....

+ The high temperature in Columbus dropped a little, but still was 95 degrees F. St. Francis Hospital reports several people have been treated for heatstroke -- while countless men dream of getting to a golf course for a different kind of "stroke" treatment.

+ Harris County businessman Earl Davis joined the crowd of candidates for Vance Davis's state House seat. The way this is going, District 129 will wind up with 129 candidates.

+ The Lee County School Board reviewed bids for a new high school in Smiths Station. Officials were stunned to find the bids were millions of dollars under budget. Only one business was disappointed by this - as Long Buildings hoped to be the discount builder of last resort.

+ WRBL visited the Village at Westgate subdivision in Fort Mitchell, where a neighborhood group has formed to provide activities for teenagers. The report showed a basketball court, sand volleyball court and baseball diamond -- all empty. Perhaps the family with the X-Box is away on vacation....

+ Instant Message to the driver I saw pulled over by a police officer on Wynnton Road: You understand why he was suspicious, right? It's one thing to have a temporary "dealer tag" on your used car. But in June 2009, it's another thing to have the tag say "Bill Heard."

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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.

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