Friday, November 20, 2009

20 NOV 09: Stimulate Your Thinking

As of today, the Barack Obama presidency reaches the ten-month mark. Democrats in general still seem to like him. Republicans in general still seem to loathe him. And China's Communist leaders seem to side with the Republicans - because they were concerned about the President indoctrinating people on television.

Have you been following the news reports about errors on the federal "Recovery" web site? The site details where stimulus money is going, yet it's listed congressional districts which don't exist. Wow - maybe Republicans are right, and the Obama administration is trying to rig next year's census.

I wondered if the Columbus area's stimulus projects are listed accurately -- especially after White House officials announced this week most of the errors on the web site had been corrected. But as of Thursday night, several obvious mistakes remained. Clearly White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs hasn't brought his Auburn background into this department.

It's a bit hard to pinpoint Columbus on the Recovery.Gov map of Georgia. So many dots are bunched together that it's difficult to determine exactly how many stimulus projects the area has. At first we found 32, then 31, then 37 - as if visitors to Wikipedia were put in charge of it.

So what errors did we find in the stimulus breakdown? Here's our list....

+ Five separate aid recipients are listed as the "County of Columbus." Close, but not quite. Maybe Rep. Sanford Bishop's children should head to Recovery.Gov for their next jobs, to fix this.

+ Money is allocated to "Boys and Girls Club of the Arkansas River Valley." Arkansas?! That sounds more like Wichita than Columbus - and the folks in Washington probably mispronounce it like the state, too.

+ The Georgia Department of Technical and Adult Education allocates work study payroll money to Columbus, to create or save 2.10 jobs. Does this mean someone at Columbus Technical College only works four hours a week? Or is that one-tenth worker a midget?

+ A dot in eastern Russell County reveals the Alabama Department of Transportation has an even smaller stimulus project. It creates or saves 0.04 jobs - which sounds like the money is paying for a highway flag-waver's lunch breaks.

The most visible stimulus project in Columbus is the "rails to trails" path under construction across the city. A couple of large buildings are being built along the trail. They look like rest stops - but I suppose they could double as rally sites for Democratic candidates.

But one project listed for Columbus has the sort of strange wording you've come to expect from the federal government. More than six million dollars is allocated for "redesigned polygons," which also could be created brand-new or redrawn. They're apparently connected with base realignment - although I'm not sure Fort Benning needs a small-scale Pentagon.

I need to recover a bit after a busy week, so we'll end the web review there and move to some Thursday headlines:

+ The Courier disclosed attorney Frank Myers is suing the weekly paper on grounds of libel and defamation. It stems from a March column by Brother Love which linked Myers to Mayor Jim Wetherington, and declared the mayor a "Godfather" over the city. If the mayor really was a godfather, wouldn't a couple of Councilors objecting to the Office of Crime Prevention be dead by now?

(A response posted at The Courier's web site claims Brother Love's column was simply his opinion, using "rhetorical hyperbole." And publisher Wane Hailes could have gone farther - by putting mug shots of Mayor Wetherington and Frank Myers in "The Joint.")

+ Heath Taylor officially launched his campaign for Russell County Sheriff. WTVM reported more than 500 people attended a rally, including outgoing Sheriff Tommy Boswell -- far too many people for Ralph Johnson to consider moving to Phenix City.

+ General David Petraeus of the Central Command visited Fort Benning, to honor one particular graduate of the Officer Candidate School. Lt. Peter Sprenger has been allowed to continue serving in the Army, even though he has only one eye. Send that superhero to Afghanistan, and we should find Usama bin-Laden once and for all.

+ WTVM showed a Columbus home that's on sale for $1.35 million. The house has five bedrooms and a "saltwater pool." No wonder it's worth more than a million dollars - someone has to truck in a new tank of water from Panama City Beach every week.

+ At the other extreme, members of a Columbus State University fraternity slept outside overnight. It was a fundraiser for the Homeless Resource Network -- but if no one drank Thunderbird around the sleeping bags, it wasn't quite realistic.

+ The University of Georgia football mascot "Uga VII" died in Savannah. It's weird enough when the death of a bulldog tops the evening sportscast. But when Coach Mark Richt issues a statement of sympathy about the dog's death.... well, is Richt overconfident about beating Kentucky this weekend?

(The keepers of Uga VII say the bulldog had a sudden heart attack. But there's one lingering question on my mind about this death. Was Uga VII wearing a black sweater, or a red one?)

+ An NCAA report showed 49 percent of Georgia Tech's football players get diplomas within six years of starting college. This low percentage probably shouldn't be surprising - since the players want the "Modern Languages" degree to translate Payton Manning's quarterback signals.

+ Instant Message to whomever posted an "attack cow" warning sign on their property in Chambers County: You're kidding, right? I mean, why would anyone really "beware of Lulu?" Unless it was Lulu Roman from the old "Hee Haw" series, running toward me at full-speed....

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