Wednesday, March 24, 2010

24 MAR 10: As Tough as A.B.C.

Alabama can have its debate about electronic bingo, and keep its anti-gambling "commander." Columbus law officers are focusing on another vice right now - alcohol. And in this case, I think the highest-ranking officer is Captain Morgan.

Columbus Council heard an appeal Tuesday evening about a recent vice squad raid. Officers went inside The Golden Cue on Buena Vista Road three weeks ago, and arrested three employees for not carrying "ABC cards." I'm no expert on these things, but I assume this does NOT refer to WTVM business cards.

The Golden Cue was shut down, and the three employees posted bail on that Friday night. But now the employees are considered guilty in the eyes of Columbus city law, because they didn't go to Recorder's Court the following day. They thought they were fine, until they discovered they paid one.

On top of that, the payment of a fine means the three Golden Cue employees are banned for two years from working at any business where alcohol is served. That apparently includes most Columbus restaurants - but I'm not sure if it includes bridal shops.

Golden Cue owner Joyce Wages told Columbus Council the three arrested employees were first offenders, so the two-year ban is too harsh. But a city attorney confirmed that's exactly what the city ordinance requires for not carrying an ABC card. And you thought "carding" only happened at the bar entrance.

Joyce Wages noted one of the arrested employees is a college student with a young child. Now there's an appeal to the emotions. A mother is forced to work in a pool hall, then police stick it to her....

Joyce Wages asked Columbus Council to modify the alcohol ordinance, so it isn't so harsh for first offenders. And in a separate letter, she requested the change "be retroactive back to March 1." If only the NCAA men's basketball tournament could work the same way - so Kansas could beat Northern Iowa this time.

Columbus Council didn't take an immediate vote on Joyce Wages's request - but I suspect she's NOT going to get her way on this. For one thing, the letter in the "public agenda" section is addressed to "Mayor Worthington." He's only been mayor for 38 months -- and some drivers still haven't removed the "Jim Wetherington" bumper stickers from their cars.

(But then again, the Columbus Council agenda for public comments called the business owner "Joyce Wagner" - despite a letter stating otherwise. In Phenix City government, a feud over misspelled names might boil over at a city council work session.)

Are Columbus Police officers being too tough, by going into pool halls and checking for alcohol cards? I actually heard the opposite recently. A man told me about one establishment hosting weekly poker tournaments and claiming to be a restaurant, even though alcohol accounts for a majority of its business. Maybe police are waiting for Yella Fella to stage his own crackdown.

-> We took a long nail to our most recent poker game. Read why at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

BLOG UPDATE: "Was this your lead story on the noon news?" I asked the woman behind the ice cream counter Tuesday afternoon.

The woman serving ice cream was none other than WTVM's Cheryl Renee. She laughed at the question, then answered: "It was in the A-block." Not quite on a par with health care reform, I suppose.

Cheryl Renee joined several other celebrity ice cream preparers for Tuesday's "Free Cone Day" at Ben & Jerry's near Columbus Park Crossing. The reporters who are used to getting "scoops" had to get them and give them out a lot faster.

I went to Ben & Jerry's at a good time. There was barely a line for free ice cream at 2:00 p.m. I could have turned around and collected a second or third cup. But the afternoon was too sunny to allow for that - and the chocolate fudge brownie scoop I chose was simply too thick and rich to eat in a hurry.

A group of "red hat ladies" stood in front of me, in a short line outside Ben & Jerry's. They seemed a little puzzled when I asked if they chose cherry ice cream, to match their outfits.

Hopefully my conservative friends will NOT consider me a turncoat, for attending Free Cone Day. Ben & Jerry's has a reputation for supporting liberal causes. I actually tried to be a capitalist - only to be told no drinks were being sold with the ice cream. Their loss was Winn-Dixie's gain.

We'll have more to say about freebies another day - but now let's speed through other Tuesday topics:

+ Columbus Police reported a man was robbed before dawn outside the Georgia Motel on Victory Drive. The thief stole a wallet, a cell phone - and a quart of Old English 800 malt liquor. If this criminal is caught, he'll be "behind the eight ball" in more ways than one.

+ Atmos Energy confirmed an employee has been fired for misreading natural gas meters. Some customers received unusually low bills for February, then extra-large bills for March. But this employee was NOT getting a bonus for promoting the "level payment plan."

+ Rep. Sanford Bishop attended the signing of the health care reform act by President Obama. Bishop told THE 5:00 p.m. news he voted for reform because the U.S. is guided by two values: "love and the law." And as we all know, former President Clinton only lived by one of those....

+ Georgia Tech granted permission for men's basketball coach Paul Hewitt to talk with St. John's University of New York. Weighing the value of these two schools is a bit like comparing giant peaches with big apples....

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