Tuesday, January 19, 2010

19 JAN 10: Michael's Trumpet

"Happy King Day," I said to the African-American woman behind the counter at a downtown sandwich shop.

"King Day?!?!?" The young woman was stumped, until another African-American woman next to her quietly explained.

"Martin Luther King Day...."

"It totally slipped my mind." Perhaps that shouldn't be surprising -- when it's a work day on, not a holiday off.

BLOG EXCLUSIVE: A Russell County judge used M.L.K. Day to imply racism was behind the recent firing of the county school superintendent. Michael Bellamy spoke at Monday's midday "unity service" at Metropolitan Baptist Church. For those of you who attended this event, I was the white man who did NOT sit on the platform.

Michael Bellamy was careful with his words, during what seemed to be an hour-long prepared speech. He said he offered an "opinion" about Russell County Schools NOT as a judge, "but as Deacon Bellamy from Franchise Missionary." Translation: everything could change if Yvette Richardson sues.

With his deacon title on, Michael Bellamy noted both the Russell County and Phenix City superintendents scored 98-percent grades in a state review. "One superintendent had his contract extended five additional years. The other superintendent was fired. Something doesn't sound right to me." Well, hold on - where does Larry DiChiara travel on weekends?

The mock judicial robe was back on Michael Bellamy, when he directed a comment toward a Columbus Councilor on the platform. "The mayor may be in charge, Mr. Anthony - but the city who really runs the city is Mr. Hugley." Isn't this amazing? The Columbus City Manager's job became a mayoral campaign issue, by someone who lives out of town.

Councilor/mayoral candidate Wayne Anthony sat on the platform at the unity service. But he had no part in the program, and never said a word. Wow, Teresa Tomlinson could have done that -- wherever she was.

Judge Michael Bellamy urged everyone in attendance to get involved in the upcoming midterm election, and "elect folks who are responsible, and with God in their lives." So which Columbus Pastor would like to play Rick Warren, and give the mayoral candidates a Bible quiz?

Judge Michael Bellamy also called for a change in the Alabama state law barring convicted felons from voting. He recalled hearing a Bible study, where a woman said Moses was "a convicted murderer." Well, not exactly. Joseph went to prison on trumped-up charges - while Moses fled into exile, which sadly makes him a bit like Roman Polanski.

Michael Bellamy noted his wife Florence is a member of the Phenix City School Board. He invited everyone to attend Wednesday's City Council, as the agenda includes a resolution to honor her. Hmmmm - was that invitation designed to stop any objections by Jimmy Wetzel?

(For some reason, Florence Weeks Bellamy introduced her husband during the unity service. It's a good thing they're happily married - because who knows what Elizabeth Edwards might say in that situation.)

The rest of Judge Michael Bellamy's remarks were more commonplace for M.L.K. Day - but with a few noteworthy quotes:

+ "Martin marched, so Obama could run." In fact, the President was in Boston the other day running to save part of his political legacy.

+ "Change does not happen instantly." In Phenix City, some salaries didn't change until the final days of the state legislative session.

+ "Don't expect to get paid for everything you do." Wow, that convicted me - so for more than 90 percent of this blog's readers, today's edition fulfills my "day of service."

Michael Bellamy also urged adults to get involved in school PTA's, even if they don't have a child in those schools. I have mixed thoughts about this. For one thing, what if a sex offender wanted to join? But on the other hand, maybe this would improve the unity service program - which misspelled Metropolitan twice and "overcome" once.

The unity service at Metropolitan Baptist Church never mentioned the late pastor Joseph Andrews. But it ended with new Pastor John Keel declaring with admitted "boldness" that Martin Luther King Jr. was "the greatest human being.... this side of Jesus Christ." What do you know - the idea of Barack Obama being a Messiah figure is wearing off already.

But what does it say about "unity" in Columbus when the audience for a midday unity service is 99 percent African-American? Are white people more likely to attend a unity breakfast at the Trade Center - so they can get some food to go with the speeches, and save valuable time?

As I walked to my car after the unity service, I was reminded that a potentially divisive election year is beginning. A business card left at my driver's-side door promoted Columbus Council candidate Bruce Huff - whose honors include being named regional "Mortician of the Year" in 2009. A slate combining Huff with Councilor and nurse Jerry Barnes could be a matter of life and death.

Bruce Huff has yet to file any documents with the election board, but the business card indicates he's running for Julius Hunter's seat in District 3. In the world of political survival, this eventually happens - the Hunter becomes the hunted.

Back where we started all this, we asked three African-American poker players Monday night how they spent M.L.K. Day. Two said they rested and did nothing, while a third had to work. Did those people really understand the significance of the holiday? Well, perhaps about as much as the crowd at Atlanta's Philips Arena for a pro basketball matinee....

You're invited to hear me sing this weekend! I'll be part of a worship service at the United Church of God-Columbus. It starts Saturday at 2:30 p.m. ET at the Woodmen of the World hall on Milgen Road, next door to Lumber Liquidators.

BLOG UPDATE: The Columbus Government Center was open on M.L.K. Day, for a campaign announcement. Zeph Baker confirmed he's entering the race for mayor -- but apparently no reporter asked if Baker will save money once he takes office, by keeping the Government Center completely closed on holidays.

The Zeph Baker campaign web site is operational already. It notes he's "a widower" and "a proud and devoted father of three children." Does a single father really have time to serve as mayor of Columbus, which his site says soon will top 200,000 residents? Will part of the mayoral offices be reserved for Pastor Wayne Baker and a children's bookshelf?

(The campaign web site includes a page for volunteering. You can make phone calls, display a sign in your yard - but it stops short of offering to babysit while Zeph Baker is campaigning.)

Now for a quick review of other holiday discoveries:

+ The Courier reported an attorney for Frank Myers has withdrawn a lawsuit against the tabloid in Muscogee County Superior Court. But a new libel lawsuit is planned in State Court - where perhaps other local news media finally will pay it some attention.

+ St. Patrick's School in Phenix City prepared to reopen today, after Friday's fire. Some students will be moved to a former convent on the grounds - perhaps ending the dreams of administrators, who hoped to rent the building for TV soap opera scenes.

+ The Chronicle of Higher Education reported Auburn University President Jay Gogue ranks among the ten highest-paid campus leaders in the U.S. Gogue had compensation of more than $727,000 last academic year. This is obviously scandalous - since everyone knows the Auburn football coach should be the highest-paid person on campus.

+ The Columbus Life won their first-ever home basketball game, hiking over Appalachia 129-94. But Carver High School's gym was NOT full for the opener, even though tickets were offered for as low as two dollars. Maybe if the team had set up goals in the Civic Center parking lot, before Sunday's Cottonmouths game....

(TV reports indicated part of the proceeds from the Life's home opener would be given to Carver High School. That's funny - I thought the school sales tax was gong to provide enough money for an all-new high school. Maybe someone misunderstood how the concept of renting works.)

+ WLTZ spotted Stanford football coach Jim Harbaugh in the bleachers, at the Opelika-Phenix City Central basketball game. He apparently was finalizing a college commitment by Central quarterback Darren Daniel - but I truly hope he's not locking Daniel in an electrical shed until signing day.

(Daniel told the Birmingham News he visited the Stanford campus, and met former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice there. If Rice talked up Stanford more than her home state of Alabama, the state may not be as Republican as some politicians think.)

+ Instant Message to Carl Gregory Honda: I meant to ask you about last weekend's TV ad - the one offering prices "under NADA." Doesn't "nada" mean "nothing" in Spanish? Were you actually giving cars away?

TEN YEARS' LAUGHTER/19 JAN 00: A curious crime story from Lake City, Florida: a car dealer claims someone vandalized the FORDS on his lot -- but not the Toyotas, Lincolns or Mercurys. He's declared it a "HATE CRIME" against Fords! (True)

+ Maybe the Fords need "Escorts" there for awhile.

+ Have you been driven to HATE lately?

+ "If I had money, I'd tell you what I'd do / Go downtown and SMASH a Ford truck or two/ Crazy mad at Ford trucks...."

+ Were Jeff Gordon or Dale Earnhardt seen fleeing the scene?

We bow to Judge Michael Bellamy's wishes today, and NOT appeal for money here. To offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 380 (+ 13, 3.5%)

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.

© 2003-10 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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