Tuesday, February 02, 2010

2 FEB 10: Life, Liberty and Losing

So let me get this straight. When Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus and the National Guard stood outside Little Rock Central High School, it was partly to protect the right to.... gamble?! And here I thought the civil rights movement originated in church sanctuaries, not fellowship hall bingo nights....

Former Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford dared to declare the feud over Victoryland's electronic bingo machines a civil rights issue Monday. In fact, he compared a planned raid by state troopers last week to the Edmund Pettis Bridge at Selma in 1965. Wow - did the officers plan to remove the machines, or ruin them with high-pressure fire hoses?

Johnny Ford told reporters the Alabama State Patrol presence outside Victoryland last Friday was reminiscent of "storm troopers." But there was one big difference he overlooked. The officers last week actually stayed under control, after a judge issued a restraining order.

Johnny Ford called on Victoryland's supporters to join in a noon-hour march to the Alabama State Capitol on Wednesday. He held an organizational meeting Monday night. I suspect one big issue was making sure charter buses weren't already reserved for gambling trips to Shorter or Biloxi.

Two thoughts came to mind when I saw the WTVM report on Johnny Ford's news conference. The first was that we're in an election year - and Ford happens to be running for Alabama State Senate. Is Ford really trying to hit a political jackpot, without spending any money on bingo?

(Some could argue there's politics on the other side as well. Governor Bob Riley campaigned on a platform of "courageous leadership" and a balanced budget without gambling. Perhaps Riley wants a legacy that emphasizes closed doors more, and proration less.)

The second thought is that Johnny Ford went on tilt over the line of absurdity, by suggesting Victoryland's survival was a civil rights issue. When Zell Miller campaigned for a Georgia Lottery, I don't recall him asking Andrew Young and Joseph Lowery to endorse it in front of the King Center in Atlanta.

A web site which focuses on civil rights matters seems to agree with me. It's focused right now on the census and health care reform. About the only place where gambling is mentioned involves "compulsive gambling" -- and believe it or not, Congress has decided it's NOT a disability.

To be fair: Johnny Ford has a point when he says the closing of Quincy's 777 gaming center could put a lot of people out or work. But what has he done as Tuskegee Mayor or in the state legislature to diversify the Macon County economy? Only one breakthrough by Ford comes to mind - and Macon County merely led the way in accepting Sunday beer sales at convenience stores.

But Johnny Ford seems to forget that before we saw Shorter in 2010 and Selma in 1965, there was Phenix City in 1954. Would Ford have used economic grounds to defend illegal gambling on Broad Street then? Not to mention prostitution by.... well, uh, you know.... another kind of "broad."

The Alabama NAACP become involved in the Victoryland feud Monday as well. It issued a proclamation which seemed to side with electronic bingo halls such as Quincy's 777, on the grounds that threatened raids and shutdowns can hurt workers' families. I'm left wondering how many church pastors are on the NAACP board these days.

Hours after Johnny Ford called for a march on Montgomery, WSFA-TV reported Victoryland's gaming center was closed. Owner Milton McGregor explained computer updates will bring the electronic bingo games in compliance with recent state Supreme Court rulings. We'd better hear people yelling "Bingo!" at the top of their lungs at least six times an hour....

-> Monday night is becoming a big poker night for us. Check why at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <--

E-MAIL UPDATE: Now we move to freedom of the press -- or is that "free press" for all readers?

Hey, Rich,

What's wrong with the Columbus rag? Most other papers do not make you "REGISTER" to read their on-line version. Check out the NY Times, Drudge, AJC, etc. None of them try to put cookies in your computer and track your website perusals in order to market you with specific pop ups, at least not with forced sign in and login password storage potential. Sometimes I wonder what will happen when they finally go belly up and are so clueless that they say they did not see it coming. I like to read the paper but the advertisers miss out on me seeing their ads if I refuse to sign in or sign up with the rag's intrusive devises. Thank you for not forcing the public to sign in to read your log. Thank you for doing it free. You are the best.

The Drudge Report is not really a newspaper, so it's unfair to compare it with the Ledger-Enquirer. But the New York Times and Atlanta Journal-Constitution used to require online registration as well -- and the Times plans to charge a fee for parts of its online edition next year. Pay a fine, for those reviews about wine....

Before you grumble about the Ledger-Enquirer's cookies, look on the bright side. The Valley Times-News in the West Point-Lanett area requires a three-month paid subscription to see ANY online stories. The printers' union there must be more powerful than anywhere else in Alabama.

And before I accept thanks for a lack of registration fees, I should borrow from a favorite Fort Benning phrase. The cost of free blogging is NOT free. Be thankful I haven't started a full-fledged pledge drive, like they do on GPB television - and please respond in a proper logical way.

We admittedly failed to make calls Monday on those two other e-mails. We'll try to do better next time, and move on to other Monday news:

+ Public hearings began on moving Muscogee County students away from high schools which missed adequate yearly progress. This plan admittedly confuses me. Transfers to Hardaway actually will attend Jordan?! Transfers to Northside actually will attend Kendrick?! Which oil company recommended this idea?

+ Momma Goldberg's Deli returned to Columbus, opening a store on Manchester Expressway. A manager predicted the proximity to the chain's Auburn base should attract a crowd. So why did Momma Goldberg's fail in Columbus years ago? Did Georgia fans arrange a secret boycott?

+ WTVM went to Buena Vista, and asked a long-time resident why the town isn't pronounced in the normal Spanish way: "BWAY-nah VEE-stuh." The man didn't know - but he promised to ask some friends currently vacationing in JUR-don.

+ Auburn police reported a man from Atlanta was arrested outside Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum before Saturday's showdown with Alabama. He's accused of using phony 20-dollar bills to buy basketball tickets. On most weekends, people would have laughed him out of town - because Auburn basketball tickets aren't even that valuable.

+ The Georgia Dome in Atlanta was named the site for next year's Wrestlemania. Smart shoppers will head there on the day after the pro wrestling card - when souvenir brass knuckles should be half-price.

+ Instant Message to "Miss Georgia" Emily Cook: Do you think this was the reason why you didn't do well in Las Vegas last weekend? They were looking for Miss America, not a National Enquirer reporter....

TEN YEARS' LAUGHTER/2 FEB 00: Then, of course, there’s the punishment of baseball big mouth John Rocker. Among other things, the Atlanta pitcher must undergo sensitivity training. “Could we please throw that fastball a bit more LOVINGLY, Mr. Rocker?”

And how did Rocker find out that he’s suspended until May first? Don’t you secretly wish some purple-haired guy speaking Spanish delivered him a special delivery letter?

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