23 DEC 09: Moving Out, Moving Over
There was a big news event in Columbus Tuesday, involving a local business. But several readers have made clear I must not joke about it, because a relative of a key figure is dead [8 Dec]. Let's hope nothing bad happens to anyone in Phenix City government for the next three years....
(Maybe WTVM received the same complaints I did. They didn't attend Tuesday's big news event. The other TV stations made it a top story, so they apparently have nothing to lose.)
Given this guidance, we had to look outside Columbus for a main topic Tuesday. Thankfully a couple of politicians cooperated, by announcing surprising decisions. One week after visiting Columbus to promote her bid for Georgia Governor, Karen Handel announced she's resigning as Secretary of State. Critics will say she can't Handel two things at the same time.
A statement from Karen Handel says she's leaving the Georgia Secretary of State's job one year early to avoid any appearance of a conflict, as she runs for Governor. That's strange - former Secretary of State Cathy Cox didn't do that in two different elections, and she lost both of them.
Karen Handel adds she wants to show she's "all in," when it comes to a campaign for Governor. There, you see - if a Republican like Handel can use poker phrases, it must not be gambling.
But WRBL pointed out one interesting aspect of Karen Handel's decision. Georgia state law bars elected officials from campaign activities during a legislative session. By leaving the Secretary of State office at the end of December, Handel doesn't have to worry about that rule. She can follow Sarah Palin's example, and appear on the Oprah Winfrey Show during January.
One poll suggests Karen Handel is second place right now, among Republicans running for Georgia Governor. So she might need those extra weeks to campaign - because the G.O.P. has yet to conclude Handel's "Messiah."
The second surprising announcement Tuesday came from north Alabama. Congressman Parker Griffith announced he's switching to the Republican Party, one year after he was elected as a Democrat. Never underestimate the example of Senator Richard Shelby....
Rep. Parker Griffith told reporters a year in Washington has shown him "the differences between the two parties could not be more clear...." Did Griffith really need to be elected to Congress to learn this? He could have scanned the cable television dial on an average weeknight.
Rep. Parker Griffith faulted the Democratic Party for promoting "massive new spending, tax increases, bailouts...." What IS the deal with these politicians - focused on nothing but money?
Parker Griffith was considered a "Blue Dog Democrat," much as Rep. Sanford Bishop is. But Bishop remains loyal to the Democratic Party - which I guess makes him Northside High School dark blue, while Griffith was a Carver High School light blue.
-> Our other blog starts with poker, then goes in directions you might not expect. People around the world visit "On the Flop!" <--
E-MAIL UPDATE: Our review of 2009 brought a challenge from a reader Tuesday....
Actually, you are mistaken when you say there isn't a nice restaurant within 300 feet of the new National infantry Museum. There is a very nice restaurant inside called the Fife & Drum! Have you visited the new museum?
Also, there is a chapel on the property although I think it is probably more than 300 feet from the museum.
The entire place is amazing and a fitting tribute to those who have served and sacrificed.
- D. Thompson
Yes, I've been inside the museum several times. In fact, this blog reviewed The Fife and Drum only weeks after it opened [10 May]. But I don't really consider that "close to" the museum (as we worded it), because it's actually inside the building. It's a bit like keeping your kidneys close to your body.
I'm also aware of the "Chapel and Mess Hall" on the National Infantry Museum grounds. The chapel can be rented for weddings and memorial services. I don't know if any church group is using it for weekly services -- but I assume pacifist Quakers would NOT be welcome.
Before we continue our year-end reflections, let's check other Tuesday headlines:
+ The Literary Alliance handed out free books to children at seven Columbus housing complexes, accompanied by police officers. Huh - police again?! Have that many grown-ups been stealing gifts, then selling them on eBay for fast money?
+ The Eufaula Tribune reported Quitman County will receive five million dollars in federal stimulus money to improve Union Church Road - an eight-mile road with one church and 12 houses. These rumors about new Wal-Mart SuperCenters are getting out of hand....
(Quitman County Manager Larry Clark admits no one in the county asked for the federal stimulus money. It's not even on the federal government's "Recovery" online map. But Rep. Sanford Bishop apparently lobbied for it - and come to think of it, there's still no area highway named in his honor.)
+ Troy Public Radio's "Community Focus" featured an official with the Alabama State Parks system. He said the renovated Lakepoint Resort near Eufaula includes a shower that measures four-by-five feet. He actually seemed impressed by that - but compared to where I live, it's the equivalent of a double-wide bathtub.
+ ABC "World News" showed a recent taxpayer-funded party by Federal Aviation Administration officials in downtown Atlanta. In fact, it occurred in the atrium of CNN Center - which leads me to ask why CNN didn't have this story first. The cable network must be so low on money that everyone is taking a lunch to work.
+ The Columbus Cottonmouths were handled by Huntsville 4-2, in a game which had a fight after only three seconds of play. So much for those hackneyed platitudes about "peace on earth" and "good will...."
+ Atlanta's baseball team traded pitcher Javier Vazquez to the New York Yankees, for outfielder Melky Cabrera. Some Atlanta fans are enraged by this move - but look on the bright side. When someone goes up to a player next season and asks, "Got milk?" he can answer, "Well, sort of."
2009 IN REVIEW CON'D: April was a scary month in some ways. First a tornado cut through downtown Columbus and Phenix City. Then a giant Columbus Water Works tank collapsed. Perhaps the installation of a "hurricane simulator" at Peachtree Mall prevented things from being even worse.
This blog had a couple of surprising exclusives in April. First we broke the news that Fiesta Columbus was
canceled "never scheduled" by the Civic Center for 2009. Then an official with the Columbus NAACP blew up the excuse that President Bill Madison resigned due to an "ailing wife." Simply because the agency's budget is ailing doesn't always mean a wife is.
The lack of a "fiesta" wasn't the only news from South Commons in April. Golden Park hosted a college baseball tournament which had hardly any publicity. And a skateboard park had its "grand opening" ten months after the real opening - which doesn't really help with that "Columbus is behind the times" stereotype.
A tight economy forced the city of Columbus to order a hiring freeze from April through June. Some people wanted it continued until the end of the year - but the new Crime Prevention Director was approved, anyway.
The parent company of Peachtree Mall filed for bankruptcy protection in April. But despite some rumors, the mall remains open this week - with sales which could drive credit card customers bankrupt.
Even local media were affected by the tight economy in April. WDAK fired morning show co-host Chris Weber. WRBL dropped 90 minutes of daily newscasts. Yet WLTZ found the money to broadcast The CW Network on a second channel - so those "Vampire Diaries" marathons must not cost an arm and a leg.
April was the month "Columbus Tea Party" protests began downtown. I still don't understand why a barbecue restaurant isn't sponsoring those things....
April was also the month when Muscogee County school officials decided to tear down Carver High School, and build a replacement. The school board showed it had learned a lesson - that one historic high school sitting idle with peeling paint is enough.
The crime blotter in April included a federal raid at the Ritmo Latino nightclub. The managers' next big event might be billed as "So You Think You Can Dance - wearing leg shackles."
One of the most curious sights in April involved Auburn city council member Arthur Dowdell, picking up Confederate battle flags from cemetery plots. Amazingly, he never offered them to people attending the Sticks country music festival.
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