Wednesday, January 27, 2010

27 JAN 10: On to the Next Case

Years of debate about one piece of Columbus property appeared to end Tuesday. But then a man walked in and tried to start a new discussion - if not about that property, perhaps another one. It's almost as if that man has been spending his free time watching TV soap operas....

The main event of the afternoon was a news conference by the plaintiffs in the Education Park Coalition lawsuit. News releases promoting this promised "the next step" in the process. But when the plaintiffs smiled and held hands instead of carrying protest signs, I could guess the outcome.

The Education Park Coalition members announced "unanimous support" for the Memorandum of Understanding unveiled last week [21-22 Jan]. The lawsuit demanding a park on land south of the Columbus Public Library will be dropped, once all local officials vote their approval. Hopefully all the paperwork can be recycled as easily as that asphalt....

Speaking for all the other plaintiffs, Lucius Morton praised attorney Josh McKoon for working on behalf of the Education Park Coalition "pro bono." Since McKoon is a Republican, he's especially pro-Rep. Mary Bono.

Josh McKoon admitted to reporters he was "pleasantly surprised" to see a settlement worked out among all the various parties. There was the Education Park Coalition, city officials, the school board, the library board - and you'd think Trees Columbus would have demanded a minimum number of pine seedlings.

Your blog actually attended this news conference, since Josh McKoon sent a personal e-mail invitation. So I asked Lucius Morton if he was disappointed the final Memorandum of Understanding never mentions the word "park." If I understand his answer, the greenspace is as good as a park if the city spends enough "green" on it.

Exactly when it appeared the news conference quietly would wind down, a surprise guest piped up. Veterans activist Jim Rhodes was standing among the reporters -- and he asked the plaintiffs to help find property for a veterans' center in Columbus. Surely Rhodes doesn't think they're going to call for that thing to be built at the library's back door....

Jim Rhodes says the Department of Veterans Affairs is looking for land to build a veterans' center. He was concerned by the Ledger-Enquirer report Tuesday of an agreement to tear down the old Baker High School, which was suggested last year as a possible a V.A. hospital. Rhodes is as stunned as I am by this - two Columbus land swaps being worked out in the same month.

The latest land swap involves the Muscogee County School District and the Columbus Housing Authority. The district will receive land in the new Baker Village II Arbor Pointe development for a new school. The Housing Authority will gain the old Baker High School building -- and apparently that board is in no mood for brownstone condominiums along Victory Drive.

This land swap answers my recent question about why Carver High School students won't be moved into the old Baker High building, while a new Carver building goes up. That landmark appears doomed to destruction - and maybe then Waffle House will launch the big Columbus South dining boom.

Back at the news conference, Jim Rhodes was left disappointed. The Education Park Coalition plaintiffs indicated they could do nothing to help him. If Rhodes suggested building a V.A. hospital with ten acres of grass around it, the response might have been different....

There were a couple of other familiar faces at Tuesday's news conference. Land swap dealmaker Frank Myers stood in the back, saying nothing. And Columbus mayoral candidate Zeph Baker was on hand -- working the room as best he could, and perhaps dreaming Baker Middle School can be renamed to add a Zeph.

Zeph Baker told me he was glad to see the "special interests did not prevail" in the greenspace settlement. We'll see if he's right about that in a couple of years - when businesses start requesting permission to hold company picnics on the lawn.

Columbus Council approved the Memorandum of Understanding for greenspace at Tuesday night's meeting. The Muscogee County School Board is expected to do the same at a weekend retreat. Then Josh McKoon tells me about 18 months of work is planned to transform the land south of the main library - so instead of ugly asphalt, library visitors can view ugly front end loaders.

-> 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: Our InBox was not a pleasant place Tuesday. One reader didn't think much about the day's main topic....

Well, Richard, a mildly amusing reportage of the SOA trial and sentences. But it's not really a funny matter. Trouble with so many of you Americans is that, for you, someone protesting about something you support or feel indifferent about is a wacko, terrorist, nutjob - I'm not really up with your slang terms - but someone who exercises their right to freedom of expression aginst something you disagree with (abortion?) is some sort of hero. Not expressing myself very clearly here!

Truth is the US has exported terror - yes, terror - by training paramilitaries etc from many repressive regimes around the world. No, I don't need the SOA to tell me that.

And what's so funny about the SOA Watch people being old?

Perhaps, for all your apparent worldliness, you don't realise or don't care that the US is a greedy, malicious, smug, hypocritical power crazy force in the world. When I was in the US recently, got talking to a business consultant guy who told me he is Republican by nature but had come to understand why so many people in the world hate the US because his wife is German and she had 'enlightened' him. Perhaps you could broaden your horizons a little.

Oh, by the way, and it's irrelevant really, I've nephews who are US citizens, having been born there.

Happy blogging


Cornishman may not believe this, but I've found humor over the years with protests on all sides of the political spectrum -- even the Tea Party gatherings of recent months [16 Apr 09]. Drives on both the left and right sides of the road risk going over the edge, and rolling me over with laughter.

Cornishman didn't tell me where he lives, but it's clear what he thinks about the U.S. We're terror-promoting, greedy, malicious and power-crazy -- and I shudder to think how this reader would describe Iran and North Korea.

I was struck by the ages of the SOA Watch trespassers because I can remember when protest marches were a young person's "thing," as in 1970-era "things." They were the activists who warned us NOT to trust anyone over 30 or 40 - so now that they're protesting at 60 or 77, I guess the only people left to distrust are nursing home residents.

As for broad horizons: I've traveled outside the U.S. four times. I don't recall anyone in Canada, England, France or the Netherlands telling me they hated my country. The closest thing I heard was "gringo" - and that was at a church convention in Puerto Rico, which is a U.S. commonwealth.

Now let's rewind farther back. The reader who wrote us about Monday's main topic isn't finished....

Dear Richard,

I know it is your job to joke and poke fun, but my following quote bears out in your own link on board member listings:

"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---- "






This e-mail included the full list of board members, but I'm editing out the names because I don't think every single member works for Columbus Bank and Trust or Synovus. Last time I checked, the only "liquid assets" Billy Turner handled involved Columbus Water Works.

Since our writer seems compelled to hijack a TSYS topic to attack CB&T, we asked two political candidates Tuesday whether they could be bought by big bank bucks. State Senate candidate Josh McKoon told me he'll be an "independent conservative voice," whose vote cannot be purchased. Of course, your campaign donations can help McKoon buy many votes of his own....

(Before McKoon's opponents write me -- yes, I'm aware the group he represents held its news conference in the main library's Synovus-CB&T Room.)

Compare Josh McKoon's answer to what we heard from mayoral candidate Zeph Baker. His reply to the CB&T question sounded somewhat familiar - and if I had attended Baker's news conference last week launching his campaign, I think I would have heard the very same soundbite.

We thank our readers and writers from far and near - and now let's see what else made news Tuesday:

+ Nathan Suber officially announced he's running to regain his old Columbus Council seat. The rally included an endorsement by Suber's uncle, who happens to be Atlanta baseball legend Hank Aaron. I think Aaron's appearance was a reminder that Suber served three previous terms - so a win in November would be a four-bagger.

(TV reports indicated Muscogee County Marshal Greg Countryman supports Nathan Suber - which is amazing, since Suber wanted the Marshal's Department abolished during the 1990s. If I was Sheriff John Darr, I'd get the Powerpoint presentation justifying my budget ready now.)

+ Columbus Council approved new rules for "doggie day care" centers near residential neighborhoods. A maximum four dogs will be allowed to run outside at one time - which means the Civic Center still can host concerts by Three Dog Night.

+ Dee Armstrong ended 19 months of local TV limbo, by appearing in a WLTZ promotional ad. Armstrong will host a station-sponsored talent contest Friday night in Auburn. Then perhaps she'll appear on Rise-n-Shine, to hold debates on health care with Dr. Jan McBarron.

+ WBOJ-FM "88.5 the Truth" had its weekly Teen Advisors night - including a man who was given the nickname "Cumulonimbus." Don't you dare tell that guy Charles Darwin was right....

+ Kendrick remained unbeaten in girls' high school basketball, by lashing LaGrange 86-39. Then LaGrange remained unbeaten in boys' basketball, by topping Kendrick 53-49. There ought to be a tiebreaker after a night like this - like maybe a tug-of-war between the cheerleading squads.

+ A Georgia House member proposed a constitutional amendment, to legalize gambling on horse races. Henry Geisinger says race tracks in rural areas would produce jobs. And imagine how hat sales could skyrocket, if Callaway Gardens held Steeplechase races for an entire month.

+ Instant Message to WTVM's Dave Platta: It's one thing to tell me former Alabama defensive star Terrence Cody weighs 370 pounds. But did you REALLY have to show him during the dinner hour without a shirt on? With those dangling.... wellll, uhhh.... with Heidi Montag's worst nightmare....

TEN YEARS' LAUGHTER/27 JAN 00: Dennis Rodman has been spotted partying at Super Bowl Week events in Atlanta. Trouble is, it's SO COLD there that he can only show PHOTOS of his tattoos....

This blog had more than 55,000 unique visitors in 2009! To advertise to them, make a PayPal donation, 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: 404 (+ 10, 2.5%)

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.

site stats