Wednesday, July 29, 2009

29 JUL 09: One for the Money

The people of Columbus have spoken in online polls -- not once, but twice. And for the moment, a majority on Columbus Council seems to be ignoring them. If the council was discussing health care reform, this might get very ugly....

Columbus Council decided Tuesday night to advance a proposed city Crime Prevention Director from "first reading" to "second reading." In city government, that means a proposal is succeeding. At the doctor's office, this could mean the staff is trying to prevent a malpractice suit.

But the decision on first reading came after a two-hour public hearing -- and it came with at least one Columbus Councilor absent. That's what happens when you schedule this important hearing at the same time as Columbus Woodbats "Fan Appreciation Night."

The former baseball player was NOT absent from Columbus Council - and it was Glenn Davis who said he wanted more discussion on the Crime Prevention Director's position, with everyone involved. It may be time to check the restaurants at Davis's hotel investments, to make sure he doesn't violate the Open Meetings Law.

Glenn Davis expressed concern a city Crime Prevention Director might become a political position. But there's another way to look at this. If online rumors about the mayor are true, Davis may be saying this because HE wants a higher political position.

Mayor Jim Wetherington's Crime Prevention Task Force attended the Columbus Council public hearing. Chair Frank Myers told WXTX "News at Ten" after six months of work, it's time the effort had a director. And as of Tuesday, Brett Favre finally may be available to fill that role.

The Crime Prevention Task Force offered recommendations in five different areas. Among them....

+ Upgrading recreation centers, so they stay open later during the school year. Library employees can simply drive there, after closing their branches early.

+ Enforcement of a late-night juvenile curfew. This curfew took effect in Columbus several years ago - but teenagers apparently don't party on Broadway anymore, where the officers are.

+ A program at Columbus Technical College to train jail and prison inmates for the workplace. Trade in that switchboard at the culinary department for a giant meat cleaver.

+ City assistance in the creation of neighborhood watch groups. As if Columbus Police officers don't do that now, through their "Crime Prevention Unit?" And will people still want to form those groups, after what happened with Henry Louis Gates?

The task force report admits "there is much duplication of 'crime prevention' efforts in our community...." Yet that's the very problem some people have with creating a city Crime Prevention Director. Duplication of work simply would move up the flowchart - and whose office would be closer to the mayor, anyway?

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E-MAIL UPDATE: An updated list of "adequate yearly progress" high school transfers left one reader unimpressed:

If Columbus High was forced to take a share of the transfers all the other high schools would not be adding portables..It is time the all magnet school idea was put aside..It is costly and is causing non magnet students in that attendance area to be bussed all over town..I realize CHS is the showcase of the county,but times are hard and crowded conditions brought on by a federal law is interfering with the education of non magnet kids..Get real MCSD board and do what is right for ALL high school students..

With Kendrick High School added, the number of students transferring to Hardaway and Northside this coming term is now above 400. Yet how can we be sure Columbus High School would NOT need portable classrooms? And in that school's neighborhood, the only good roomy place to put portables might be in Lakebottom Park.

You could blame the federal "No Child Left Behind" Act with making some Muscogee County high schools crowded. But base realignment is liable to make them crowded over the next couple of years, anyway. And dropping magnet schools might risk a violation of another federal law - or have we forgotten the one about racial segregation?

Let's see what else attracted our attention Tuesday....

+ The Hurtsboro City Council had a special meeting on its budget deficit. Mayor Rayford Tapley told WRBL the books can be balanced if garbage fees are increased. Then former Constable Robert Schweiger probably challenged the mayor to drive the garbage truck himself.

+ The owner of the Goo Goo Car Wash chain appeared on WDAK radio's "Viewpoint." Lamar Beck started in Columbus, and now has car washes as far away as Las Vegas -- perfect for cleaning your car before your wallet is cleaned in the casinos.

+ The Ledger-Enquirer reported accused attorney Mark Shelnutt turned down a plea agreement in May. Now he's scheduled for trial in November, and in the process he's showing his religious background. Shelnutt is a United Methodist - and a Baptist attorney wouldn't dare gamble like that.

+ Authorities in Birmingham announced two arrests in a plot to sell counterfeit cigars. I'm not sure how you counterfeit a cigar - well, unless these were novelty cigars which you probably shouldn't light....

(The Jefferson County Sheriff says many of the bogus smokes were labeled as "Swisher Sweets." I've never understood why someone would give a cigar that name. Doesn't it sound like something you should use to clean a toilet bowl?)

+ The Columbus Woodbats finished their regular season by assailing the "Awbil Royals" from metro Atlanta 13-3. I guess the visitors spell their name this way because the "Awful Royals" have been in Kansas City for years.

+ The Auburn Plainsman reported Auburn University has reached a deal with "Tailgate Guys" to provide food and tents outside Jordan-Hare Stadium. You can reserve a top-quality tailgate party before every home football game for $4,275. [True/Associated Press] Of course, at that price you might try building a shed on your parking space and living there 365 days a year.

+ Instant Message to the University of Alabama student body: What gives? The latest "Princeton Review" ranks Georgia fourth on the "party school" list, while you've dropped out of the top ten. You guys are taking football MUCH too seriously again.

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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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