Friday, September 18, 2009

18 SEP 09: Lawhon and Order

The campaigning may be over for Muscogee County Superintendent Susan Andrews. But it doesn't work that way for the school board. Members have to stand for election every four years -- which at least gives them a break from sitting down at every meeting.

BLOG EXCLUSIVE: A member of the National PTA Membership Committee reveals today he plans to run for the Muscogee County School Board next year. Charles Lawhon tells your blog he'll seek the District Two seat of John Wells - and his supporters hope all's well that ends Wells.

Charles Lawhon happens to be a long-time blog reader and occasional e-mailer. So he decided to break the news about his school board campaign to us. But Lawhon requested we present this "in a professional and respectful manner." So much for trying what those other news-making web sites are doing - using hidden cameras and pretend prostitutes.

In an e-mail exchange with this blog, Charles Lawhon writes he already has financial commitments for a school board bid. They come from what Lawhon calls "Older Money People." That could mean some key Columbus families - or residents still clinging to "war bonds" from the 1940s in case Germany attacks again.

Charles Lawhon also claims he was approached by current Muscogee County School Board members, about running for John Wells's seat. Lawhon did NOT name any names -- but I get the feeling we're in for another several months of 5-3 votes at board meetings.

To quote one of Charles Lawhon's e-mails: "It is my firm belief that you must have a passion for people to serve people." He goes on to express concern that "some elected officials in this town" have forgotten that idea. Not to mention the local animal control officers....

In fact, Charles Lawhon expanded on our idea about school board campaigns - writing members "must campaign daily" to prove to voters they care about children and their concerns. If Lawhon is elected, kindergarten students across Columbus may have a lot of stories read to them.

Charles Lawhon adds in his e-mail about Muscogee County schools: "We cannot continue to use the same old techniques that we used 40 years ago...." Hmmmm - the supporters of students carrying cell phones may have found their candidate.

Charles Lawhon's education background is through the PTA. He served on the Georgia state PTA board, before taking a national position. And Lawhon chairs the Georgia PTA "Dad's Initiative." Of course, one challenge nowadays is convincing some dads to HAVE initiative....

But people on Charles Lawhon's e-mail list know something else about him. He's a committed Christian, who's not afraid to express his faith. So if high school students are having trouble in "Bible as Literature" class, a private tutor is available.

Charles Lawhon becomes the second man to reveal through this blog a campaign for John Wells's school board seat. The first was Bert Coker [9 Nov 08], who opposed this week's school sales tax vote. So which challenger do you prefer - one who wants to use tax money on new education ideas? Or one who wants to give the money back to you, for buying children new clothes?

(Lawhon tells me he likes Coker, but believes he and government critic Paul Olson "can be their own worst enemies sometimes." Given Olson's propensity to quote government statutes and city codes, it's tempting to compare them to a "Pinky and the Brain" cartoon.)

There's been some speculation John Wells might not run for the school board in 2010. But Wells told your blog Thursday afternoon it's his "intention to seek" another term. Asked about Charles Lawhon, Wells only said he's "entitled to do what he wants to do." Of course, that's why some people distrust public schools in general - that big bad entitlement mentality.

BLOG UPDATE: Muscogee County Schools responded Thursday to one of our indoctrination questions. Spokesperson Claudia Gordon told me there was NO "opt-out" notice for high school juniors, before Wednesday's drunk driving reenactment. Maybe that's not surprising - because teenagers already see plenty of blood in those vampire movies.

-> We marked our 100th night of live poker tournaments this week! Learn how we're doing at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <--

E-MAIL UPDATE: Back to our InBox, for a question which has nothing at all to do with schools....

Has the L-E covered the ACORN scandal?

I didn't know the answer -- because to be honest, I haven't subscribed to a daily newspaper in more than 20 years. This is because I worked at jobs where the employer had its own subscription. Sometimes the Sunday morning fight for Atlanta Journal-Constitution coupons at CNN could get tense....

So I went to the Columbus Public Library Thursday to check the newspaper section. And as it happened, the Thursday Ledger-Enquirer had an Associated Press story on an internal investigation by the nonprofit organization. Of course, conservatives consider such an approach by ACORN to be simply nuts.

The Ledger-Enquirer stack on the library's second floor only went back a few days. I found a couple of short comments about ACORN in the "Sound Off" section Monday and Wednesday -- neither of them complimentary. The newspaper editors probably realize puzzled readers are smart enough to tune to WDAK radio talk shows for more details.

Meanwhile, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue signed an executive order Thursday banning any state business with ACORN. The agency had a contract to spread information about food stamps. If they offer to sell you stamps with President Obama's picture on them, be suspicious.

OK, you ACORN watchers - what do the letters in the group's name stand for? I had to check the web site to remember. It's the "Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now." If you didn't know better, you might think it describes Columbus South Inc. and Midtown Inc.

Let's see what else caught our attention Thursday:

+ In what would have been our main topic any other day, the Exchange Club announced it will no longer serve foot-long hot dogs at the Greater Columbus Fair. Sales apparently have dropped in recent years - and the club simply refused to follow the Ledger-Enquirer's approach, and cut back to a six-inch dog.

(This announcement is the shocking end to a 40-year Exchange Club tradition at the fair, and apparently was based solely on economics. Yes, we can say it -- hot dogs haven't mustard up enough sales.)

+ The parent company of WRBL and the Opelika-Auburn News announced another round of mandatory furloughs. The bad news is that all employees will have to take five days off without pay by the end of the year. The good news is that they can attend the Alabama-Auburn football game in November as a group.

+ Another rainy day led to a flash flood warning in several counties east of Columbus. If this rainy weather lasts much longer, Atlanta city officials will show up with buckets -- to prepare for the day when Lake Lanier will be off-limits.

+ Columbus federal Judge Clay Land presided over a Constitution Day ceremony, as 53 immigrants became naturalized U.S. citizens. As far as we know, none of them delayed taking the oath because they needed to know if President Obama is a citizen as well.

+ Callaway spanked Spencer in high school football 38-7. Part of the Muscogee County school sales tax is supposed to provide a new practice field for Spencer students -- as if the current field prevents players from scoring touchdowns, because it's too bumpy.

+ Instant Message to the Georgia Lottery: Are you kidding me? You created a 30-minute infomercial, about how you filmed a 30-second ad for a scratch-off game? With special projects like that, it's no wonder money is running out to pay for college textbooks.

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.

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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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