Sunday, July 26, 2009

26 JUL 09: Rainbow Stew

Several e-mails in recent days have had two very different subjects, but one thing in common. They deal with what newspapers like to abbreviate as "GLBT" issues. If you think that's shorthand for the Harlem Globetrotters, we invite you to pause a moment and look up the real meaning.

Both subjects involve Columbus institutions, but one seems much more serious than the other. We'll start with that one, from the director of a local charity. Jeremy Hobbs's Better Way Foundation is seeking sponsors for an HIV/AIDS Run/Walk in September. One request for 50 dollars reportedly brought this response:

Mr. Hobbs,

We will not be able to provide financial sponsorship this year. I do wish you all the best in this very worthy cause. Thanks for contacting us.

Marion Scott

Uh-oh -- turning down Jeremy Hobbs can be risky business. He knows how to send e-mails. He loves to speak before Columbus Council. And it's about time for him to start spreading rumors about running for office in 2010.

Jeremy Hobbs took the e-mail route in responding to this rejection notice. We've condensed slightly a message to seemingly everyone in his address book:

I simply wanted to forward this thread between our organization The Better Way Foundation, Inc. and Marion Scott of Columbus Regional Healthcare. I find this to be an insult to every person living with HIV and AIDS here in Columbus Georgia. Not only do the majority of the people living with HIV and AIDS receive care through Columbus Regional Healthcare, but also use the Medical Center as a majority for their hospital needs.

So, Columbus Regional can find every book Columbus produces and every billboard to advertise on and every other Charitable Organization to give to but when it comes to HIV and AIDS, they can't muster up $50.00 for an incredible sponsorship package deal to show the people living with HIV and AIDS that this community cares and supports them. But instead I have to tell them that the people they give all their money to and their insurance pays out to can't give a little bit back to them. This is unacceptable.

I ask each of you to forward this entire email trail to everyone you know and to let them know this is why HIV patients do not come forward to groups and meetings and partake in life saving exercises like stress therapy, nutrition, exercise because companies add to the social stigma that AIDS is nothing to be supported. And that is why, because of this ignorance Columbus and the South as a whole have more people becoming infected, living and dying with HIV and AIDS than any other region of the country.

Hobbs may have been insulted -- but at least Scott called his cause "very worthy." Talk-show host Rush Limbaugh might have played the song "You Don't Know Me" and lampooned it.

We should note the 50-dollar sponsorship offer for the HIV/AIDS Run/Walk seems to be a discount price. Your blog has seen one request Jeremy Hobbs sent several weeks ago, which had a "standard sponsorship rate" of 75 dollars. Maybe Columbus Regional is holding out to get ten big banners along the course for 25.

(In a similar e-mail specifically sent to Marion Scott, Jeremy Hobbs indicated the Country's "Midnight Express" fundraiser race charges $3,500 for a sponsorship. But that event has been around for years - and as they say, you have to Run/Walk before you can simply run.)

"I have nothing to say about that" is all Marion Scott would say Friday, when we asked her for a comment on this issue. The Columbus Regional spokesperson knew Jeremy Hobbs was spreading e-mails about her. But maybe she knows something we don't - and Scott Ressmeyer has volunteered to take a second motorcycle ride.

But late Friday, Jeremy Hobbs spread another e-mail - admitting he's apologized to Marion Scott for what he wrote before. Here's a condensed version of the follow-up:

For those who know me personally, know I'm very passionate about HIV and AIDS and those like me who live with it every day. I took the news badly and took it personally because this fight is personal for me and 1600 others living in the Chattahoochee Valley. And as you will see below, I did send a letter of apology to Marion Scott this morning. My re-action was shall we say a poor choice, because I should have stepped away from it for a moment and cooled off before pushing the Big Red Button calling on an Airstrike via the Internet against Columbus Regional. Columbus Regional has been a great steward to this community and has literally saved lives through generosity, love and compassion.

As I get older, I must learn to govern my passions better. I just took that news as a devastating blow to the HIV Community only because it meant we wouldn't have the sponsorship of the major medical branch of Columbus Georgia and show to public that Columbus Regional was behind us every step of the way. It hurt because I knew for sure in my heart Columbus Regional would be there for us. But this economy has crippled the tallest figures in our city, our state, and all throughout our nation.

Wow - a leader using the word "apology." We're still not sure if President Obama has used that word in the last week....

At least Jeremy Hobbs stopped short of calling for protests outside The Medical Center, or a boycott of Columbus Regional. Other local activists would have called news conferences to rush this issue onto the TV news -- then quietly settled things behind the scenes, hoping no one would notice.

By the way, a search of the Columbus Regional web site for "HIV" and "AIDS" was surprising. Only a few items came up - one of them the Community Health Pharmacy inside the Health Department. It may be the only place in that part of town serving cocktails. The cocktail of AIDS drugs, I mean - while the Hitch N Rail Tavern down the road only has beer.

Now to that other GLBT e-mail topic - and it's about a TV commercial which we admit stunned us when we saw it:

Has someone's name affected someone's personality? Have you noticed that the head of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce, Mike Gaynor- Gaylor or gay something, is being depicted as a fairy in a Columbus Chamber of Commerce commercial? They have placed the Gay man's head on a cartoon fairy body and he flits around advertising "Chamberland". Exactly what are they advertising? Gaydom? Has anyone considered the happy impact such a GAY commercial will have on Columbus? Okay, So I get it, he wants to come out of the closet, but does he need to pull the Chamber of Commerce with him?

First of all, his name is Mike Gaymon. The last part of that last name can balance out the first part, and keep him a balanced man.

"There will be NO coming-out party at Chamberland," Chamber of Commerce spokesman Michael Dunbar assured your blog Friday. But I think he wants people to come out TO Chamberland - which is the theme of this year's Chamber Business Expo in mid-August. By the way, the sponsorship rates there make the Better Way Foundation an ever better deal.

The Chamberland theme clearly is modeled after Disneyland - with the Columbus Trade Center divided into sections, somewhat like a theme park. Trouble is, this is still the closest thing the Columbus area has TO a theme park....

Michael Dunbar called the e-mail we read to him "so humorous." But he admits he was a "bit paranoid" about the idea of Mike Gaymon appearing like a fairy in a commercial, so he had the Business Expo committee show it to Gaymon first. "He thought it was a riot," Dunbar says - stopping short of comparing it to a "Stonewall riot."

But Michael Dunbar admitted our phone call was the second the Chamber of Commerce has received about Chamberland having some kind of homosexual overtone. He suggested the questioners find something else to be concerned about - perhaps like lobbying the White House to allow federal stimulus money for the NCR plant.

Let the record show Chamber President Mike Gaymon is a married man with three daughters. He's also mentioned on his weekly WDAK talk show that he's a "preacher's kid." So in his vocabulary, an "outing" probably still means a weekend picnic in the park.

Hopefully we've resolved any lingering rumors -- but I must admit this has raised a related question. Did this kind of misunderstanding force Gayfers department store to sell out to Dillard's several years ago?

Let's move on now to some weekend headlines:

+ Columbus Urban League Reginald Pugh told WRBL his agency will lose state funding in September because African-American elected officials have abandoned him. Pugh claims it's retaliation for his two campaigns against State Senator Ed Harbison. So how did City Manager Isaiah Hugley outvote all the other members of the United Way board, which also cut its funding?

(WRBL checked United Way evaluation reports on the Urban League, and volunteers gave the agency much lower scores this year than in recent years. Maybe it's time to check the bus giving free rides to the polls, and change the shock absorbers.)

+ The minimum wage went up to $7.25 per hour - and Jim Morpeth of Country's Barbecue told the 5:00 p.m. news all workers deserve it. Political wonks across the city heard that, and marked him down as a potential candidate for the Georgia Legislature.

(Those of you critical of the higher minimum wage should stop and think a minute. Which event brought the U.S. economy to the brink of collapse - the minimum wage going up last July, or investment banks not marking down mortgage rates in September?)

+ Low-income children in Columbus received free school supplies at the annual "Kits for Kids" giveaway. After all these years, are they still giving youngsters #2 pencils? Hasn't some psychologist come forward to warn that number could hurt their self-esteem?

+ Wire services reported Pratt and Whitney may move some of its aircraft work from Connecticut to Columbus. Oh goody - now we have two big projects worthy of federal stimulus money.

+ Lake Martin was filled with boats for the first-ever "Aquapalooza" concert. The crowd could have enjoyed free food with the free country music - but professional bass fishermen decided to have a tournament somewhere else.

(For some reason, Alan Jackson was the top act at Aquapalooza. You'd think Kenny Chesney would have been there - since he's the guy who sings "When the sun goes down, over the water....")

+ Which Sumter County farmer/rancher had several cows get loose near a Wal-Mart store the other day? I'm told the animals roamed around the parking lot - but it's not clear if they ever found a Chick-Fil-A restaurant.

+ Instant Message to WLTZ News: Wow, did you scare me for a minute! I saw your interview with a 100-year-old great-grandmother Friday night, and thought she was your latest "Ambush Makeover" winner.

SCHEDULED MONDAY: We're invited back to the scene of an ugly debate....

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: 558 (- 55, 9.0%)

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.

© 2003-09 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

site stats