Wednesday, March 17, 2010

17 MAR 10: March Mayoral Madness

Did I miss something here -- or has the Columbus mayoral election been moved up from November? Tuesday was an active campaign day, with two joint appearances by three candidates and supporters of one accusing another. If you didn't know better, you might think advance voting begins next week.

A source in a position to know confirms to your blog Teresa Tomlinson was the overwhelming choice Tuesday, in a "straw poll" of this year's Leadership Columbus class. I'm not why they took a poll with straw - unless this session of the training was sponsored by Westville.

Three of the four announced candidates for mayor gave presentations to the Leadership Columbus class. I'm told a poll taken afterward gave Teresa Tomlinson 22 out of 28 votes. Wayne Anthony received five. And I suspect some of Zeph Baker's supporters want to review the racial background of the class.

The Leadership Columbus forum came hours after Richard Hyatt's web site discovered perhaps the first "attack ad" of the mayoral race. A group which backs Zeph Baker posted video of a Teresa Tomlinson breakfast speech from January -- with some extra commentary thrown in. I thought only right-wingers such as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck did stuff like this....

The video from "The Watkins Group" takes Teresa Tomlinson to task for referring to survivors of Hurricane Katrina as "refugees." It claims the word refers to "people who are fleeing from.... attacks, or persecution." Well, yes - but it also refers to people fleeing for "refuge or safety" from anything. If my home was flooding due to a hurricane, I'd probably feel under attack anyway.

The Watkins Group also declares Teresa Tomlinson "insensitive" for closing her breakfast remarks with a short prayer. Yet the group supports Zeph Baker so much that it built his campaign web site - and he's the son of a church pastor. Is it better for his dad to be the designated campaign prayer-giver?

(People at the breakfast didn't seem that offended by what Teresa Tomlinson did. I heard plenty of amens and applause when her prayer ended. If anyone walked out yelling "hypocrite," you'd think the video would have included that.)

While Richard Hyatt's web site didn't mention it, The Watkins Group also has posted video of Zeph Baker's remarks from the January breakfast. He said it's important that "us, as citizens of this fair city, come together...." With wording like that, you might be able to figure out why Baker isn't running for the school board.

(Zeph Baker did NOT end his January remarks with a prayer -- which Teresa Tomlinson's supporters might call a sneaky ploy to win the atheist and agnostic vote.)

If Wayne Anthony said anything at the January breakfast, it hasn't been posted online. And you know - he might not object to that. If Zeph Baker and Teresa Tomlinson supporters take turns elbowing each other, Anthony could take the "high road" to victory in November. And he's actually a minister, so prayers from him are sort of expected....

Wayne Anthony, Zeph Baker and Teresa Tomlinson concluded their day-night doubleheader Tuesday night at Meritage Café, speaking to a Republican women's group. Do you think the ladies had to remind each other the mayor's race is non-partisan, so they couldn't boo anyone from the beginning?

WRBL finally gained a comment Tuesday night from the unknown fourth candidate for mayor. Randall Bergmann said Columbus has "all the talent to be just as good as anybody else" - even Atlanta. He makes a good point. As of Tuesday night, the Columbus Cottonmouths seemed assured of a playoff spot - while the Atlanta Thrashers were five points short.

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BLOG UPDATE: Several news items actually had updates Tuesday. The biggest came from Mayor Jim Wetherington, who announced a tentative agreement to keep the Columbus G.B.I. crime lab open. This would end the "Save Our Underfunded Lab" fund-raising drive, and make the mayor SOUL Brother number one.

Mayor Wetherington revealed Georgia Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle called him Sunday night, and agreed to restore $200,000 to fund the crime lab next fiscal year. The city still would have to pay $66,000 to keep it going from April to June - which should be exactly enough time for Columbus Council to name the lab in the mayor's honor.

In a related move, Harris County commissioners voted Tuesday night to take over operations of Liberty Bell Pool. The state shut down the pool at F.D.R. State Park last summer to save money. Apparently plenty of upset children cried, "Give me Liberty or give me death."

Let's update other things, from a Tuesday which was everything news-wise that Monday was not....

+ Accused child molester John Preznkop and the accused extortioners/mothers of his two alleged victims appeared in Recorder's Court. Preznkop's attorney revealed the alleged victims also have been arrested, because this is "straight-up prostitution." Uhhhhh - I've never done this sort of thing, but I don't think you can do that while straight up.

(Columbus police told WTVM one of the teenage girls in this case posted a MySpace profile claiming she was 100 years old. John Przenkop is 43 - so shouldn't he have been a little suspicious when he met the girls? Or did the "100-year-old" keep her hair in a bun?)

+ An arson arrest was announced in the River Road Pharmacy fire. Somebody's gotta ask it - why is Fire Marshal Thomas Streeter doing all the public talking in this case, and not Fire Chief Jeff Meyer? Did Meyer get caught smoking a cigarette during a job interview again?

+ Phenix City officials declared they have no reason to share the costs of expanding the Russell County Jail. Mayor Sonny Coulter said the city once had a deal with Russell County for expansion, but that was back in 1989. Coulter ought to know, as I think he was starting his second term as mayor then.

(Phenix City officials added the city has fewer than 40 jail inmates, while the Russell County jail currently allocates 68 cells to Phenix City. Take that, skeptical residents! The city has moved more criminals out of town than you thought.)

+ Phenix City officials also announced receipt of a $30,000 grant for mapping. I'm not sure why the city needs $30,000 to do that. It's called Mapquest....

+ WTVM showed a fire safety drill at Fairfax Elementary School in east Alabama, where children crawled on the floor to escape smoke. It's easier for children in that state to keep themselves safe. They simply sing one of the college football fight songs - "Stop, Drop, Roll Alabama."

+ Columbus State University's baseball team stomped Stillman 9-3, for its 20th win in a row. It seems like only one thing can stop the Cougars this season - but I'm not sure if the Georgia legislature can cut the budget for college sports.

+ Instant Message to the RiverCenter: About that movie you're showing tonight, "When I Find the Ocean" - is that somehow connected to Columbus Water Works and "Fix a Leak Week?"

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