Tuesday, January 26, 2010

26 JAN 10: Don't Do the Crime If....

Members of SOA Watch made their annual follow-up trip to Columbus Monday. Long-time residents know what that means. The march is downtown, not down Fort Benning Road. It goes to federal court, not the main gate. But this year one thing was different -- as Ruth Ann's Restaurant couldn't reopen in time to get a big breakfast crowd.

Four members of SOA Watch were scheduled to appear in federal court, for illegally crossing onto Fort Benning last November. Trouble was, Michael Walli of Washington, D.C. never showed up and now faces arrest -- which means Walli season is underway up north early this year.

The SOA Watch web site claims Michael Walli "consciously chose to not return for his trial...." Maybe this is a two-pronged protest -- not only against a Fort Benning school, but those high airline baggage fees.

The big news from Monday's federal court hearing is that the three trespassers received longer sentences than in recent years. They'll spend six months in prison instead of three -- and those criminals should be thankful Judge Clay Land wasn't doing the sentencing, or they might be away for years.

(Imagine if Orly Taitz had known about this SOA Watch court appearance. She might get the protesters to argue the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation is unconstitutional, because Barack Obama is Commander-in-Chief.)

An SOA Watch ex-con line-crosser from recent years told the TV news she was "devastated" by Magistrate Mallon Faircloth handing the three trespassers maximum sentences. Faircloth plans to retire later this year - so he could be going out with a gavel-bang.

Trespasser Nancy Gwin tried to look on the bright side - saying the prison time is an opportunity to extend her "witness" against WHINSEC. This raises a fascinating question. Do prison inmates who meet these protesters ever join SOA Watch rallies, after they finish their sentences? Or do the inmates consider them just as crazy as many conservatives do?

Convicted priest Louie Vitale told WLTZ his decision to cross on Fort Benning property last November was "really free speech." Of course it was - much like the people who rob banks really are trying to "end welfare as we know it."

Then there's Texas trespasser Ken Hayes, who admits he attended SOA Watch weekend for 13 years before deciding to cross onto Fort Benning. This is why that big March revival in Auburn with Billy Graham's grandson needs to be more than a one-time event....

What struck me most about this year's trespassers was their ages - as the youngest suspect in court Monday was 60. So maybe they shouldn't be surprised by Judge Mallon Faircloth's longer sentences. They actually might be old enough to know better.

(Then again, if these trespassers are getting more cantankerous with age, why can't their magistrate be?)

The leader of SOA Watch apparently was absent from Monday's court hearing. But you can join Roy Bourgeois in March on a one-week trip to El Salvador, where his group will ask that government to end its use of WHINSEC to train soldiers. I'm sure Cuba and Venezuela would be thrilled to gain their business.

-> Why are we taking a small bottle of hand soap to our poker nights these days? Read the surprising answer at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <--

E-MAIL UPDATE: Monday's TSYS topic ticked off one reader....

Dear Richard, Thank you so very much for your unwavering devotion to truth and integrity. We expect to hear new news from you- and You deliver with a punchline.

The following golden parachutes are bolstered by the business we as a city do with the company and tax abatements they as a company get from the city/county government.

When we focus in on the issue of city reserves we learn the 30+ million of reserves used to be much more in the Poydasheff era. We need larger and not smaller reserves. Too many city handouts, too many entitlements, too many recreational facilities on the tax dollar.

Who holds the reserves? CB& T. What do they pay the city?

Who knows as they refuse to divulge that information.

But, when we try to get between the reserves and the CB & T control of it we learn quickly we will be penalized in one way or another.

CB & T has their corporate leadership in leadership advisory roles to the city of Columbus. They back particular candidates, and contribute large sums of money to their campaigns.

What candidates are not owned by CB&T?

Those are the candidates we should vote for, unless, of course the power mongering CB&T execs have hedged their bets, as they do in the tight races, when they are the major contributors for both or all opponents in a particular race....

CB& T has their own form of predatory conduct by taking advantage of the city leadership, controlling important city boards, buying control of candidates, housing city reserves, and getting all possible city tax abatements----

ALL while they are busy firing low level employees and taking huge benefits, stock options and salaries.

Are the CB&T, etc. gang, good citizens of Columbus?

What do you mean, too many city recreational facilities in Columbus? The city actually sold one of its parks in recent years - which I didn't realize until the old Belvedere Park recently became a crime scene. The church which owns that property now really needs to convert that unlocked restroom building into a prayer closet.

On top of that, TSYS executives might challenge being lumped together with Columbus Bank and Trust. A recent annual report declares: "On December 31, 2007.... TSYS became a fully independent company.... Transactions with Synovus and its affiliates are no longer considered related party transactions." At least not until the Riverwalk is connected between 12th and 14th Streets.

Check the list of Columbus city boards, and you'll find NONE of the top five TSYS executives we mentioned Monday are there. Perhaps they're too busy trying to gain new business, such as an agreement announced last week with Caterpillar Financial Services. So take that - a tractor for all you de-tractors.

Let's see what else made news on a modest Monday:

+ Fire destroyed a vacant home on Sesame Street in Columbus. There was no immediate word on a cause - but I'm hearing a green monster was seen dragging a trash can away from the scene.

+ Former prosecutor John Tyson was named the new director of Alabama's anti-gambling task force. After hearing Tyson talk tough against some recent rulings on electronic bingo machines, Governor Bob Riley had better not make any more wagers on college football games.

+ Columbus High won both the boys' and girls' city high school swim meets. If I saw the highlights on WTVM correctly, one Columbus girls' relay team defeated another school by more than a lap. Do roller derby rules kick in then, with the team getting a bonus point?

+ Faulkner State chopped Chattahoochee Valley 61-56, in men's junior college basketball. We overlooked CVCC Coach Richard Mahone winning his 600th career game the other night. He has four times as many winning nights as Jay Leno did at 10:00 p.m.

TEN YEARS' LAUGHTER/26 JAN 00: The Super Buildup for the Super Bowl continues in Hot-lanta.... The Rams and Titans will NOT wear U.S. flags on their helmets Sunday. Jesse Jackson wanted flags displayed, to protest Confederate symbols on the Georgia state flag. The NFL explained that the Civil War ended 135 years ago!

The NFL also argues the flag makes a "political statement," that should NOT be on uniforms. Nice of the league to think about the Elian Gonzales case....

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