Sunday, August 16, 2009

16 AUG 09: No-Colonialism

Let's get the alphabet soup out of the way right now. CB&T stands for Columbus Bank and Trust. BB&T stands for Branch Bank and Trust. And BLT still stands for "bacon, lettuce and tomato" - not some loan office based in Belgium.

BB&T entered the Columbus area Saturday, thanks to the Alabama State Banking Department. The state shut down Montgomery-based Colonial Bank, then the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation handed it over to new owners. So which came first - the bank going under, or the state taking it over?

Signs of trouble at Colonial Bank had been evident for weeks. A quarterly report issued at the end of July said a sale or merger was possible, due to big losses. If that's the case with a big interstate bank, I shudder to think what might happen with Auburn football this fall.

During our Florida getaway two weeks ago, one of the big stories on the late TV news was a federal raid on Colonial's Orlando office. It involved agents from the Troubled Assets Relief Program - so obviously that resulted in TARP coverage.

(One financial expert told Montgomery's WSFA-TV Colonial Bank's collapse may be due to overinvestment in Florida real estate. How much swampland do you have to buy before you get the message?)

Then a few days ago, Bank of America reportedly filed a billion-dollar lawsuit against Colonial Bank. This seems like what we call at the poker table an "all-in moment" - pushing a competitor in an attempt to take it out. I could go farther, and compare it to those "When Animals Attack" videos....

The good news for Colonial customers is that the bank did NOT go out of business completely. Their deposits will move to BB&T, without any losses. This is one time when a savings account at the bank is better than an investment in the stock market -- such as Colonial Bank.

Before the state intervened Friday evening, Colonial Bank's stock closed at a paltry 41 cents a share. It looks we've found another area of the economy in need of a "cash for clunkers" program.

One name became synonymous with Colonial Bank in recent years: Chairman and chief executive Bobby Lowder. But he retired at the end of May - perhaps as the financial downfall was beginning. There's no better time to grab a "golden parachute" than when you're at the edge of a cliff.

It was Bobby Lowder who joined the Auburn University President on that infamous secret trip to Louisville six years ago. They interviewed a potential replacement for football coach Tommy Tuberville - yet somehow, Lowder couldn't persuade Bobby Petrino to leave Arkansas when the opening finally came last year.

Bobby Lowder remains a member of the Auburn University Board of Trustees through 2011. And oh yes - he chairs the Finance Committee. Is that a good thing right now? Are other members entertaining motions for an outside audit - perhaps even by the University of Georgia School of Business?

But let's bring this back home: BB&T will take over three Colonial Bank locations in Columbus and two in Phenix City. This means a bank battle is brewing with CB&T, which could leave some customers confused. Even the company logos look similar - so the next big bank lawsuit may involve copyright infringement.

Perhaps Columbus banks can ease the confusion by adjusting their signs a bit. BB&T should simply put a giant B outside their branches. CB&T can put up a giant C. Every remaining bank can display an A - for "all others."

All in all, it's probably a good thing BB&T is taking over Colonial Bank. After all, this will end one problem which transcends banking and finances -- the fact that Montgomery, Alabama was never part of "Colonial America."

E-MAIL UPDATE: The woman whose e-mail sent us to Muscogee County Recorder's Court last week has sent us a follow-up....

In reference to a comment left on your blog [11 Aug]. I agree ignorance of the law is no excuse. I believe your missing the whole point! The fact is....It is a crime to give false testimony under oath. I had no problem coming to court and pleading guilty, as i did on Aug 7th. I was hoping to get a decrease in the fine, that was all! Low in behold this issue would arise! I'm well aware of my rights, believe me!

I never applied to the police department first off :). I did however complete the CLEA of 2001 there, loved everyone i met!....

Second, this was a single officer who pulled me over, not 2! He introduced himself as officer Andy Fahrenbruch ( heres the name for ya!) when he approached my suv. We carried on a brief conservation, nice, soft spoken officer, quite handsome!(remember though...he's not really Andy Fahrenbruch!)

I plead guilty to not moving over, because i didn't!!

But, tell me, If your loved one was up for trial, would you not feel that their civil rights were violated if someone NOT a witness to the crime gave sworn testimony!!?? Oh yea! By the way, my husband is an insurance agent, a good one! Need your life insurance up'd, let me know!! It can't hurt! :)

Also, By the way, I move over for ANY individual person walking on the side of the road, whether it be a city offical, employee, or homeless joe! I think millions of others feel the same way or else they would not have signed the petition for decreasing fines from the move over law!

The officer in court that testified against me WAS NOT the issuing officer of that ticket, this was not a matter of him sitting in for the officer, nor was he on the scene!! furthermore, if people are in there car pulled to the side of the fricking street, who thinks to move over anyway!!

Anyway, the issue is under investigation by Lt. Starling at CPD.I'm hoping the dash cam will shed light, if it was even on! I don't want this to happen to anyone else, knowingly or unknowingly.

There is another individual that I am in close contact with that has experienced the same issue that day. She's not going to speak with anyone except legal.She witnessed the whole thing unfold in recorders court. She does have a trial coming up though!

p.s. a suspended 30 day sentence is news to me!!!! Id like to see that transcript!!!


When Nicky Peters refers to CLEA, that's the Citizens Law Enforcement Academy -- which teaches the public about how local public safety works. Have any local civil rights leaders ever gone through this course? It might reduce the number of accusatory news conferences and appearances at Columbus Council -- well, maybe by 20 percent.

A stamp saying "30 days suspended" was on the Recorder's Court record next to Nicky Peters's name. But it noted she paid the $500 fine -- so she didn't get to take home a souvenir jail identification bracelet at no extra charge.

Oh yes, about life insurance -- agents call me about that often. I tell them I've never been married, and I don't have any children. And unlike some people upset about telemarketing calls during the dinner hour, I'm telling the truth.

Let's take one other e-mail, which combines several recent subjects:

The educators in GA who changed standardized test answer sheets were charged with tampering with government documents. They hould all move to Hurtsboro and open a private school and run the city..

I wonder how many of those parents waiting in line at the Northside High complex had Harris county tags?

This may upset some people, but I'm going to ask out loud what others in Columbus probably have been thinking. Did former Principal Phyllis Jones "cook the books" with test scores at Rigdon Road School, the way she finagled with book fair money? Some CRCT numbers showed a sudden sharp dip this year - and I can't believe the prize incentives were that much worse.

Let's see what else is making headlines this weekend....

+ Fort Benning marked "National Airborne Day" with a big parachute jump. So was anything done to mark National Donut Day back in June - like calling the soldiers "Doughboys" again?

+ Columbus State University held a "Day of Service" across the city. The annual "C.S.U. Day" will come in about six months, to complete the "circle of life" illustration.

+ The RiverCenter held "single-ticket Saturday," promoting the upcoming season. In about three weeks, Columbus Police will do something similar to this - "multiple-ticket Saturday," to crack down on Labor Day weekend speeders.

+ Lynch Chevrolet in Auburn revealed it will lose its General Motors affiliation at the end of next year. Perhaps the financial markets will have recovered by then, so Bill Heard's family can begin its big comeback.

+ The Atlanta Falcons lost their first pre-season game to Detroit 27-26. None of the Falcon quarterbacks had any rushing yards - probably out of respect to Michael Vick signing with another team.

+ Our Burkard Bulk Mail Index dropped below 400 for the first time, after standing above the 6,000 mark three-and-a-half years ago. Are that many spammers giving up? Or are they moving their offers to TV infomercials?

+ Instant Message to WXTX weekend anchor Andrew Wittenberg: What do you mean, "Better late than never"?! When it comes to approaching tropical storms, I consider "never" a much better choice.

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: 391 (+ 12, 3.2%)

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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