Thursday, August 13, 2009

13 AUG 09: Your Papers, Please

Instant Message to Robert Schweiger: I hope you didn't hurt yourself dancing around the house Wednesday. I imagine you invited all your friends over, to celebrate the arrest of your town's mayor. And based on your last petition drive, your 12-pack of soda or beer may not be empty yet.

Hurtsboro Mayor Rayford Tapley was indicted by a Russell County grand jury, then surrendered at the county jail Wednesday to be arrested. The "mug shot" posted at the Ledger-Enquirer's web site actually doesn't look that bad. If former Constable Robert Schweiger had been allowed to make the arrest unannounced, things might have been very different.

Compared with other recent Hurtsboro cases, the indictment against Mayor Rayford Tapley seems tame. He's NOT accused of stealing city money or threatening a lover, but "tampering with governmental records." If they're not public, how do we know Tapley's tampered with them? Not even the challengers of President Obama's citizenship have made that charge - yet.

The grand jury indictment explains the real complaint against Mayor Rayford Tapley is not providing Hurtsboro City Council meetings and financial records to a citizen. Guess which citizen. Yup - none other than Robert Schweiger. And Schweiger is so focused on Hurtsboro politics, you'd think he takes detailed notes on council meetings himself.

WTVM reported Robert Schweiger was the only witness to speak against the Hurtsboro Mayor, when a grand jury met last week. You'd think prosecutors would need a second witness, to convict Rayford Tapley at trial. If that surprise second witness turns out to be former mayor Sandra Tarver-Yoba, Schweiger might collapse in shock.

Robert Schweiger finally found friendly ears at the Russell County grand jury, after the sheriff and prosecutors refused to arrest Mayor Rayford Tapley last month [16 Jul]. Schweiger's complaint then was "obstructing justice." By not turning over city records, the new charge is more like a hockey penalty - obstruction/holding.

Yet Robert Schweiger insisted on the evening news he has "no personal grudge" against the Hurtsboro Mayor. Well, that's probably accurate. His grudge is more against everyone in city government, and the government in general.

In response, Mayor Rayford Tapley insists he'll release the Hurtsboro city financial records once a six-year audit is completed in September. This may reveal how bad the Hurtsboro books really are - if he can't afford to have the records bulk-copied at Kinko's.

The Hurtsboro Mayor is scheduled for arraignment Friday - but Rayford Tapley's attorney plans to file a motion today to throw out the indictment. Ken White calls the indictment's language is too general and vague. In other words, Robert Schweiger should have kept notes of every time the mayor ignored him.

(Robert Schweiger probably would point out Ken White is a former Russell County Judge, who found Schweiger guilty of contempt of court a couple of years ago. A rematch of sorts may be coming - and I'd suggest this fight may be big enough to stage at Phenix City Central High School's new gymnasium.)

Hurtsboro Mayor Rayford Tapley is free for now on a 250-dollar bond. And unlike Robert Schweiger's most recent court case, I doubt Tapley is allowed to pay the bond in five-dollar increments once a month.

Robert Schweiger admits most people don't believe it, but he really loves the town of Hurtsboro. He says his goal is to make Hurtsboro safe and clean again. And what better way is there to accomplish that dream, than to have the mayor arrested for not providing paperwork?

This blog has chronicled the complaints and offenses of Hurtsboro for nearly three years - usually not because we wanted to, but Robert Schweiger demanded it in e-mails sent to us. Yet we received no message from him Wednesday, trumpeting the arrest of the mayor. It's hard to believe he's finally mellowing - and actually considers Rayford Tapley innocent until proven guilty.

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BLOG UPDATE: Columbus supporters of health care reform held their own forum Wednesday. Only this was described on the TV news as a "roundtable" - and apparently it wasn't open to the public, either. Are we discussing national policy, or practicing for the opening night of football season?

Nine supporters of health care reform gathered at the office of Columbus Councilor Jerry "Pops" Barnes. Barnes is a nurse - and if you haven't noticed, he's brought a bit of "government-run health care" to Columbus in the last couple of years. After all, those are city-paid EMS workers providing free diabetes tests at fire stations.

The supporters of health care reform are part of "Organizing for America." It's described as the "grass-roots movement" supporting President Obama's proposals. Yet if the White House is to some extent urging these groups to mobilize, how really "grass-roots" is that? Isn't it more like rolling out several yards of sod from a nursery?

The Organizing for America group seemed to be preparing for next week's health care town hall meeting set up by Rep. Sanford Bishop. The conservative "Columbus Tea Party" group plans to be there as well. This shapes up to be great political theatre at the National Infantry Museum -- and it won't even be on the IMAX screen.

Now for more "actors and their roles" from the Wednesday news....

+ WXTX "News at Ten" reported a kickoff event for the Muscogee County School sales tax proposal is planned in a couple of weeks. The theme apparently will involve a "new day" for local schools. Would they dare hold this meeting at the newest district building - the administrative offices on Macon Road?

+ The Ledger-Enquirer reported someone contacted the Columbus Fire Marshal, asking whether Northside High School is overcrowded. Despite almost 400 transfer students, the fire marshal concluded it is NOT. As long as students take turns walking the hallways to class, everything should be fine.

+ Russell County High School football coach Rico White responded to accusations that he painted graffiti near the school. He told WRBL the school board has never liked him, and he "only got approved by a 4-3 vote." Not even a last name like White can unify this board....

(The WRBL web site says Rico White is under investigation for "vandalizism." For what?!?! Who's teaching spelling in Russell County these days, Snoop Dogg?)

+ Huntsville International Airport announced it's applying for a federal grant, to recruit a new "low-fare" airline. Why doesn't the Columbus Airport do something like this? When a round-trip ASA ticket to Atlanta costs $509, as it did Wednesday night, almost any airline should be low-fare.

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