Thursday, July 09, 2009

9 JUL 09: Fort Yes, City No

Remember the Instant Message we posted Tuesday, about someone asking for an investigation by the Alabama Attorney General? The story behind that request went public Wednesday -- and some people found fault with the entire Phenix City Council, not merely one member. Perhaps the council shouldn't have apologized to each other after all.

A group of Fort Mitchell residents went before the Russell County Commission, to complain about an effort to have their neighborhood annexed into Phenix City. The effort is led by Phenix City Councilor Arthur Sumbry - who apparently wants more people to experience the thrill of voting for two Sumbrys, instead of only the Russell County Coroner.

The Fort Mitchell residents say Arthur Sumbry is trying to get them to sign petitions to become part of Phenix City. Sumbry claims among other things, annexation will allow them to have city sewer service - which suggests to me the petition drive came before that sewer line broke in June.

But is Arthur Sumbry telling the truth? Our mysterious Phenix City postal mailer who asked for a state investigation doesn't think so:

This councilman tells these county residents that "grants" will be available to make this happen. The origin of these promises date back at least four years. Those unfortunae souls who fell for this still do not have sanitary sewage. The only change in their status is that they are now paying "higher property taxes."

As for increased city services these citizens alreadyhad city police protection (jurisdiction), fire protection (mutual aid agreements with the city fire department), garbage collection (by the county). Furthermore all of these citizens are not located in the Phenix City Water Utility Jurisdiction.

Councilor Arthur Sumbry confirmed to WRBL he's tried to convince Fort Mitchell residents to be annexed in the past, but the petition drive fell short. He can't even promise them a new Subway restaurant will be coming.

The postal mail goes on to ask Alabama Attorney General Troy King to issue Arthur Sumbry "at a minimum a 'public reprimand'...." The upset Fort Mitchell residents did that in so many words Wednesday -- and at least Phenix City Councilor Jimmy Wetzel was there, to tell Sumbry what they said.

(Our snail mailer also wants the U.S. Justice Department to examine whether Fort Mitchell residents "have been deliberately misled." Does he really expect officials in Washington to step into this? After all, Karl Rove left the White House staff several years ago.)

Resident Shirley Smith later said the fault goes beyond Arthur Sumbry, to the entire Phenix City Council. She believes other council members have been kept in the dark about the petition drive in Fort Mitchell. Well, at least Sumbry isn't upsetting people by hanging around City Hall all day....

The Phenix City Attorney noted there's no law against Councilor Arthur Sumbry going to residents outside the city limits, and asking them to sign an annexation petition. After all, how far would we go with rules like this? Next thing you know, Auburn University might be barred from recruiting Columbus athletes.

But there are two sides to this annexation issue. Is it fair that Fort Mitchell residents have access to all sorts of Phenix City services, yet don't pay city property taxes? You can't have your fire department chili night and eat it, too....

But then again, the Ledger-Enquirer noted the other day that Fort Mitchell is a fast-growing area. Perhaps the protesting residents dream of having their own city in a few years -- and with so many soldiers moving there due to base realignment, Fort Mitchell could be patrolled by military police.

-> We're playing live poker two nights a week these days. Check how things are going (and more) at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <--

E-MAIL UPDATE: Speaking of Russell County, guess who's writing us from Hurtsboro....

"Sir" Richard:

I see you are still of the mind-set that I am Ounti or whatever he calls himself. You don't know how wrong you are.

I do not scrawl and if I had any breaking news, you would be the first to receive it.I haven't forgotten all the good coverage you provided for the public in the past about the "shenanigans" in "Hurt'sboro.

It's rumored. But since I don't deal in rumors. I cannot tell you that the Mayor, the "Mare," and the Mayor Pro tem are fighting like cats and dogs.

Its just a rumor - so I won't pass it on.

Constable R.J. Schweiger?????

Thank you for not forgetting such things -- but I can't forget the time the former Constable called me a buffoon [19 Feb 07]. The mysterious mail from "Russell C. Ounti" began shortly after that. Several Alabama readers are convinced Schweiger wrote them - but then, some members of Congress are convinced Michael Jackson was a criminal.

Back in Columbus, Wednesday's thoughts about high school transfers prompted a reader to ask....

Why didn't the Ledger or Ms Fuller give the number of transfers out of Kendrick.?

One local high school for years has had a large number of transfers from there.I didn't see any where in the Ledger article that more bathrooms were being added to the schools that are over crowded.

Perhaps Columbus High needs to go back to being only a part magnet school to absorb their share of transfers.

Muscogee County Schools Director of Communications Valerie Fuller told me Wednesday the Kendrick number still hasn't been determined. That's also true with Shaw High School - where you may have noticed plenty of budding baseball stars have transferred to Columbus already.

Valerie Fuller says it could be September before a final report on "average yearly progress" is ready for Kendrick and Shaw High Schools. The number of transfers will be based in part on the results of science retesting - so the district can't do the math until students do the chemistry.

As for the extra bathrooms: Valerie Fuller checked for me, and said none will be added alongside the portables. Transferring students will have to go inside the high schools, like everyone else -- as opposed to "going" between the portables.

Let's take one more e-mail, on a very different topic:

Hi - my name is Clay bushong and I do online marketing for record companies.

We have an artist - Adam Hood - that is playing The Loft this weekend.

Not sure if you review CDs or shows but would love to send you the CD to mention the show on your blog

Let me know what you think



Adam Hood and his publicist would help their cause, if his web site actually mentioned a performance at The Loft. It didn't Wednesday night -- but if Hood is making some money while attending the Jehovah's Witness convention at the Civic Center, we wish him well.

(The Loft's web site does mention Adam Hood's concert on Saturday night. It's only five dollars a ticket, while The Marshall Tucker Band at the Phenix City Amphitheater costs ten dollars - and remember, the Amphitheater does NOT have pool tables if the music gets boring.)

In the Internet age, a blogger doesn't need to review CD's in advance. I sampled some of Adam Hood's music on Myspace - and other than a few four-letter words, it seems all right to me. The title "Buzzes Like Neon" surprised me, since I thought most young adults became buzzed on energy drinks these days.

Thanks to all of you who write from far and near - and now let's quickly review other Wednesday headlines:

+ Two men who drove away from a Muscogee County Prison work detail were captured in Las Vegas. The inmates apparently missed the start of the World Series of Poker "Main Event" - and apparently didn't realize they needed a $10,000 "buy-in" to enter.

+ Allstate released a survey showing Columbus has the second-safest drivers in Georgia, behind only Augusta. My hometown of Kansas City, Kansas tops both of them -- which surprises me, because drivers there have a NASCAR track for inspiration.

(The average Columbus driver has a collision every 9.5 years. My last one came last year, when someone bumped into my car in a church parking lot and broke a taillight. Part of me wanted even worse damage, so my old Honda could be declared a total loss.)

+ WRBL aired a report on what Columbus Woodbats manager Adam Johnson says to players during a game. Yet I was more drawn to the pictures of Golden Park, with a lot of empty seats. This team may need to hold "Military Appreciation Night" every other game for the rest of the summer.

+ The Columbus Cottonmouths announced captain Craig Stahl will return for one final season. Yes, hockey fans - the old Stahl game isn't over yet.

The number of unique visitors to our blog in the first half of 2009 was up 11.1 percent! To advertise to them, offer a story tip, make a PayPal donation or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 631 (+ 22, 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.

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