Tuesday, March 09, 2010

9 MAR 10: Prevent Defense

After more than a year of wrangling and finger-pointing, the big decision finally should come today. Will our top leader get his way? Will the legislative branch rebel? If you didn't know better, you'd think the Columbus Crime Prevention Director was going to propose a health care reform plan....

Mayor Jim Wetherington is expected to give Columbus Council his choice for city Crime Prevention Director. The council agenda does NOT reveal which of the two finalists he prefers - but one just happens to have his pastor giving the invocation, while children from his church school lead the pledge of allegiance. Are they all there to lobby, or offer shoulders for crying?

At first mention, the finalists for Columbus Crime Prevention Director sound strange. One handles finances at a church. The other is a middle school counselor. It's almost as if both have secret superpowers, which Mayor Wetherington is sworn to keep secret.

Monday's Ledger-Enquirer revealed what could make the crime prevention finalists qualified. Seth Brown is the business administrator of St. Luke United Methodist Church and its attached school -- but he also chairs the CrimeStoppers board. Somehow I don't think you'll get a $1,000 break from giving offerings, if you give Brown anonymous tips about sermon ideas.

The other finalist for Crime Prevention Director is Tracy Fox, who currently directs the guidance counselors at Veterans Memorial Middle School. Fox is a former Columbus Police officer - so she may have waited for a deeper pool before jumping back in.

If you asked me to guess which one is the mayor's choice.... (pause while you ask the computer, pretending it's me).... I'd guess it's Seth Brown. The presence of Pastor Hal Brady and St. Luke School students on the agenda simply looks too suspicious. But then, the Crime Prevention Director isn't expected to become a detective.

The newspaper profiles offered another clue to my guess. Seth Brown is an Army veteran, who often shows up at police promotion ceremonies. Tracy Fox was a star college volleyball player, but in a sport where "kills" are rewarded.

Neither Crime Prevention Director finalist wanted to talk to the Ledger-Enquirer - which leaves a wide-open question. What sort of prevention ideas do they have in mind? Seth Brown might call on all potential criminals to go to a worship service first -- preferably with NO collection plate passed.

On the other hand, Tracy Fox might emphasize education as a crime prevention priority. For instance, why don't Muscogee County schools have an apprentice program in becoming a locksmith?

Columbus Council also will consider how much to pay the new Crime Prevention Director. The budget for the office has a salary range in the neighborhood of $52,000 to $79,000. By comparison, Superior Court judges are paid more than $100,000 - so while crime doesn't pay, preventing crime won't make you much wealthier.

BLOG UPDATE: The U.S. Education Secretary wound up visiting two Montgomery schools Monday. Arne Duncan added Martin Luther King Elementary, after first scheduling a trip to Robert E. Lee High. If Republican presidential candidates decide to visit Montgomery, they'd better be careful - because "Nixon Elementary" is named after E.D. Nixon.

Our blogging time is limited today, so we'll quickly close with some other Monday news notes....

+ Columbus enjoyed its warmest day since mid-November, with a high of 73 degrees F. Now I know spring is here - not so much because of the temperature, but because a bag of chocolate-covered raisins melted a little in the car.

+ A survey was released, warning Columbus is the ninth most likely U.S. city to have a tornado during March. Isn't this amazing? For once, Columbus is on a "top ten" list which has nothing to do with Aflac.

+ THE 5:00 p.m. news showed an advance look at the new Northside High School auditorium. This means two things for parents. School productions won't be staged at Cascade Hills Church anymore - and the productions are about to become a bit more risque.

+ The Georgia Senate voted unanimously to require witnesses be sworn in, before they give grand jury testimony. Columbus's Ed Harbison proposed this, in the wake of the Kenneth Walker investigation -- as if the added words "I will" would have changed anything else David Glisson said.

+ An Alabama judge ruled Attorney General Troy King has authority over the state anti-gambling task force, as opposed to the governor. The judge gave King two weeks to decide if he supports or opposes raids on electronic bingo halls such as Victoryland. Aw, c'mon - do you REALLY want King to take a stand on this in an election year?

+ The Columbus Lions grinded Greenville 62-6 in a pre-season indoor football game. As we all know, the regular season cannot begin until at least one area college begins spring drills.

+ Alabama's national championship football team visited the White House. But President Obama missed a golden opportunity - as he could have used Terence Cody's bulky body as yet another reason why Congress needs to approve health care reform.

+ Instant Message to Aflac: What do you think about your NASCAR driver these days? Carl Edwards admits he caused another driver to crash Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. If you stick by him, can drunks file insurance claims for giving themselves liver cancer?

SCHEDULED WEDNESDAY: Your comments on Phenix City's economy and the Columbus Airport....

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