Tuesday, November 17, 2009

17 NOV 09: A Dry Eye in the House

Don't worry, Mark Shelnutt supporters -- we'll get to the defense's case. But we try to make this a humor blog first, and another Monday news item offered much better joke material. Prospective brides, undercover police, a city council member, champagne - I mean, what's not to like?

The owner of a Columbus bridal shop was in Recorder's Court Monday, and is due to return today. Judy Wilkinson happens to be a member of the West Point City Council - so being stuck in court on one of the biggest days in West Point history had to be embarrassing. And to make things worse, Columbus police don't drive Kia patrol cars.

Judy Wilkinson was arrested over the weekend on charges of serving alcohol to customers at the Formal Elegance bridal shop on Veterans Parkway. I thought these businesses stopped at letting brides try on gowns - not displaying test bachelor parties.

Columbus Police say they received several complaints about Judy Wilkinson serving alcohol at her bridal shop. The likely prime source of these complaints is sitting right across Veterans Parkway - and Beacon Seminary might go after Mellow Mushroom Pizza next.

So over the weekend, an undercover police officer went inside Formal Elegance. A male officer claimed to be shopping for tuxedos - but apparently was ready to use a cummerbund as a restraint device.

Police say the undercover officer saw Judy Wilkinson serve mimosas to several customers - a mix of orange juice and champagne. If this is true, it's simply shocking to me. I thought Vera Wang became a famous bridal gown designer because of artistic creativity - not because alcohol led to stupefied brides.

At this point in the story, Judy Wilkinson's attorney says Columbus Police really went too far. Officers apparently went inside Formal Elegance, seized the alcohol, arrested the owner and hauled her downtown for processing. If the producers of "Bridezillas" read this blog, I'm hereby trademarking the name "Copzillas" for any spinoff reality shows.

The attorney for Judy Wilkinson announced in Recorder's Court she's filed a complaint against Columbus Police. She claims the nature of the arrest in front of other customers was embarrassing. David Caruso of "CSI: Miami" might have answered that by saying, "Don't serve the drink, and you'll stay out of the clink."

(This complaint by a business owner's attorney seems a bit absurd to me. More people probably drive by the arrest of a DUI suspect, yet do drunk drivers file complaints? Have we reached the point where police have to take cubicle walls to a crime scene?)

Judy Wilkinson's attorney says when she obtained a city business license for Formal Elegance, she wanted permission to serve alcohol - and she thought the license office had filled out the paperwork properly. Police witnesses in Recorder's Court claimed no such permit was in the paperwork. I'm not sure disco singer Evelyn "Champagne" King could even make a comeback in Columbus.

The attorney for Judy Wilkinson wants the charge of serving alcohol without a license dropped, because of a city employee error. Police might respond she didn't have to serve champagne inside a bridal shop in the first place. She could serve alcohol-free "Fauxmosas." Or I suppose she could promote her business at a golf club, by serving Fore-mosas.

But Columbus Police Chief Ricky Boren told the Ledger-Enquirer Judy Wilkinson still might be in trouble, because she offered mimosas free of charge. Longtime residents may remember the night in the 1990s when the RedStixx baseball team was barred from selling 25-cent beer. Some things in Columbus simply are considered too valuable to give away.

Whatever the outcome, this case of champagne alcohol sales arrest probably surprised a lot of people. Who could have imagined Columbus bridal shops were offering mixed drinks to customers? This might spark protests outside Men's Wearhouse, from guys demanding similar treatment.

-> Our other blog starts with poker, then goes in directions you might not expect. Check "On the Flop!" <--

BLOG UPDATE: Closing arguments are expected today in the federal trial of Mark Shelnutt. Well, I mean arguments by the attorneys in the courtroom. Arguing between Shelnutt's supporters and critics might not close for years to come.

Federal Judge Clay Land dismissed three more counts against Mark Shelnutt Monday, at the prosecution's request. That leaves 36 counts out of 40 for the jury to consider - which could allow prosecutors to argue a tithe already has been removed for the minister's son.

WRBL reported the federal courtroom was packed Monday with members of Mark Shelnutt's church. Shelnutt took the turnout from St. Luke United Methodist as a show of support. But I wonder how many showed up to see if Pastor Hal Brady would tell off everyone in the courtroom, for violating the "false witness" commandment.

Pastor Hal Brady was called as a defense character witness. He testified Mark Shelnutt offered legal services to several people at no charge. The legal phrase for such work is "pro bono" - although no evidence has been introduced to prove Shelnutt is in favor of the music of Sonny Bono and Cher.

Another defense witness Monday was Mark Shelnutt's ex-wife, Chris. She told the court she handled the bill-paying at home, and the attorney kept cash in a "kitty box" in the bedroom. If thousands of dollars were kept there, that would make Mark Shelnutt look more like a fat cat....

While Muscogee County District Attorney Julia Slater has NOT testified in the trial, a member of her staff did Monday. Jennifer Dunlap joined the D.A.'s office from Mark Shelnutt's law firm -- but no, I do NOT think one of the 36 counts involves being an on-the-spot professional reference in a job interview.

E-MAIL UPDATE: One of our contestants in Monday's "Ultimate Guy Championship" offered a quick response - and thankfully, Torrance Hill did NOT put out a contract on me....

Thanks for the nomination, Richard, also on behalf of Fox 54's "For Men Only" segment. Read your blog this AM and for the record, I don't drink or smoke cigars, I love to cook/grill, Not big into fishing, and yes Ride in style in my Honda Odyssey minivan.

Our apologies to Jason Dennis for calling his segment on WXTX News at Ten "Just for Men." We confused it with WLTZ's "Just for Her" segment. Now which Columbus TV station will dare to begin a daily feature on bisexuality?

We added up the score Monday for our four contenders - and sadly, drug dealer Torrance Hill seems to be the Ultimate Guy champion. We registered him positive on three of the six standards. Jason Dennis rates slightly above Mark Shelnutt for second place - because even if you don't smoke cigars, Shelnutt might note possession still is nine-tenths of the law.

Now let's add up the other Monday news of interest:

+ The Kia plant in West Point officially rolled out its first car. Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue was NOT present for the occasion - settling for a news release, while he seeks new business in the United Arab Emirates. When Kia executives won't wait for personal praise from the governor, you know he's a lame duck.

+ The Muscogee County School Board discussed changing its meeting rules, to put a five-minute time limit on public comments. They're really forcing Bert Coker to run for the board next year, aren't they?

+ Columbus State University dedicated its newest building, the Schuster Student Success Center. Any freshman who can say "Schuster Student Success Center" five times without error will receive credit for passing a speech course.

+ The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Georgia Lottery President Margaret DeFrancisco received a $204,000 bonus last fiscal year. Wow - which Fantasy Five jackpot did she hit?

+ Auburn was mauled by Missouri State in men's basketball 73-62. The Auburn announcers noted Missouri State is projected to finish last in the Missouri Valley Conference this season. So Tiger coach Jeff Lebo is now projected to finish his last updated resume around mid-December.

(Missouri State plays its home games in the John Q. Hammons Arena. You'd think Auburn would have done better there - since the fans are simply members of the John Q. public.)

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BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 386 (+ 10, 2.7%)

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