14 APR 10: Trash Talk and Flowery Language
Columbus Council doesn't have a Crime Prevention Director position to debate anymore. So it's found another issue for spinning its wheels and kicking up sand: city garbage collection. Oops, excuse me - that's "integrated waste." Which may need to be segregated into a Council work session of its own....
City Manager Isaiah Hugley's proposal to increase integrated waste fees ran into a brick wall again Tuesday. At least one Columbus Councilor suggested the proposal is being presented in a misleading way -- as a "two-dollar" increase that's really ten. Please don't tell me airlines are going to start collecting our trash.
Councilor Skip Henderson said the City Manager is touting a proposed two-dollar increase in monthly trash fees, but not mentioning it's two dollars a year for the next five years. Henderson must be one of the few people who reads the fine print in those "lease a Lexus" commercials.
Councilor Red McDaniel also was shown on WLTZ, complaining the proposed trash fee increase doesn't make sense. "This is the biggest waste of money I've ever seen," he declared - and if it tops the development of the "what progress has preserved" motto, that's truly shocking.
(Red McDaniel did something I'm noticing more and more among Columbus movers and shakers - calling City Manager Isaiah Hugley by his first name. Where's the respect and formality, for someone in that office? Is his wife Carolyn Hugley showing up at meetings, and ruining all that?)
Councilor Glenn Davis actually called for more public meetings and discussion of garbage rates. Really?! The City Manager held public hearings two years ago [8 Aug 08] - and since then has backed off his call for once-a-week trash collection. Hold another round of hearings, and Isaiah Hugley might demand everyone drive their own trash bags to the landfill.
(Davis added the garbage fee proposal is "not a dinner-table topic" right now. Maybe he wants me to move the usual blog post time from 3:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.)
But Isaiah Hugley warns without an increase in garbage fees, the integrated waste program will have a 39-million dollar deficit in five years. Mayor Jim Wetherington put it politely during the council meeting: "we're clearly in trouble." Others might say the trash bag will have a big hole in it, with everything falling through in the driveway.
Tuesday's agenda included several alternatives for garbage collection, which Councilors proposed during a meeting two weeks ago. Skip Henderson actually suggested imposing a larger fee increase sooner - so upset residents won't be as angry by 2012, when he's up for re-election.
A possible election surprise was present at Tuesday's Council meeting. Flower shop owner and government wonk Paul Olson shows up often, giving five-minute speeches about all sorts of things. But now Olson reportedly is thinking about running for mayor. Harris County leaders can't wait for him to win, and the exodus of Columbus residents to begin.
Paul Olson has been finding faults with Columbus city government for years. While I'm sure he has supporters, they probably match the number who voted for his buddy Bert Coker four years ago. In other words, an "Olson for Mayor" campaign rally would fill Golden Park about as much as a typical Columbus Woodbats game did.
By the way, an invocation was given by a minister at Tuesday's Columbus Council meeting. But that tradition may be in danger, because an anti-religion group is suing to stop invocations at Birmingham City Council meetings. Those plaintiffs should keep something in mind - those prayers didn't prevent Mayor Larry Langford from going to prison for corruption.
BLOG UPDATE: Richard Hyatt's web site posted a response Tuesday from Columbus State University President Tim Mescon, to a planned no-confidence vote by faculty members. Mescon wrote a letter to C.S.U. friends, explaining he's listened to faculty members by "slowing the pace of change." You'll notice it took a solid month to select a new men's basketball coach.
Tim Mescon's letter notes several recent improvements at Columbus State. The university is saving money by moving its e-mail system to Gmail - and in the process, it's giving thousands of students links to spiffy recipes for Spam.
I didn't realize until reading Tim Mescon's letter that C.S.U. now has a round-the-clock "open computer lab." Yippee! All I need is a counterfeit student I.D. card, and I'll have insurance against a computer breakdown when I'm blogging late at night.
-> Our other blog starts with poker, then goes in directions you may not expect. Visitors from around the world read "On the Flop!" <-
E-MAIL UPDATE: A blog reader is keeping close watch for us, on the final days of the Georgia legislative session....
Our Topsy Turvy GA General ASSEMBLY
The link takes you to details of State Senator Preston Smith reportedly being forced out of his place as Judiciary Committee Chair. Smith says it's because he opposes the proposed "bed tax" on hospital stays to fund Medicaid. Smith calls the concept "socialism" - which at least shows how deeply programed a Republican he is.
But there's another angle to this shake-up, which the Ledger-Enquirer revealed Tuesday. Preston Smith's ouster leaves the Senate Judiciary Committee gavel in the hands of Seth Harp. So instead of a tax on hospital stays, Medicaid may get funded through the sales of 12-packs of beer on Sundays.
By the way, a look around the Atlanta Unfiltered web site also reveals Columbus Rep. Richard Smith is paying $2,373 a month during the legislative session. Not for his staff - but an apartment in suburban Marietta. Living among fellow Republicans costs more money than I realized....
Now for a quick drive around the perimeter, to check other Tuesday topics....
+ Georgia state transportation officials told Columbus Council the Brown Avenue Bridge will have to be replaced. If only this decision had been announced one week earlier - then the Fort Benning training exercise in the Chattahoochee River could have been moved, to build a bridge which helps many more people.
(Columbus Council also decides to postpone the widening of Talbotton Road for six more months. That new pavement has to settle for a while, before you rip it up for a four-lane road.)
+ Muscogee County School officials held a forum for teenagers on preventing underage drinking. Two ideas came to my mind right away - digital locks on all beer bottle caps, and a ban on the playing of country music at all high schools.
+ The Ledger-Enquirer revealed former Hardaway High School soccer coach Michael Lydiate has surrendered his teaching certificate. A state investigation concluded he had a sexual affair with a student. We do NOT know if the teenager was asked to do a Brandi Chastain imitation....
+ WRBL went to Callaway Gardens, where flower experts say the azaleas are blooming three weeks later than usual. Isn't that strange? The flowers are matching some local counties' response to the 2010 Census.
+ Jordan was jolted in high school baseball, losing to Heard County 22-2. It was the most successful day for a "Heard" in Columbus since the car dealer went out of business.
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