Sunday, April 11, 2010

11 APR 10: The 2010 Ford Focus

The colors of spring are drop-dead gorgeous in my corner of Columbus this weekend. But one dominate color seems to be blue. The Civic Center hosted a blues festival. Downtown Columbus had a bluegrass jam. And a fender-bender on Dillingham Street Saturday night brought out flashing blue lights from two police cars.

The man who sparked the end of Sunday "blue laws" on alcohol sales in east Alabama also visited our area. Former Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford held a series of "bingo rallies" from Phenix City to Dothan. From what I saw on TV, people at the Phenix City rally must prefer blackout bingo - because the crowd was almost all African-American, and standing outside.

Phenix City Mayor Pro Tem Arthur Sumbry was among those standing with Johnny Ford. Sumbry told WRBL several people have told him to "jump out and start fighting" for electronic bingo. I assume these are people who have grown tired of driving to Columbus to buy lottery tickets.

Trouble is, not many Russell County residents seem interested in joining that fight. The turnout outside the new Russell County Government Center didn't appear to be more than 15 people. If that many people attended an old-fashioned bingo night at a veterans hall, almost everyone would go home winning something.

(If anyone attended Johnny Ford's bingo rally in Lee County, the Opelika-Auburn News web site hasn't mentioned it. Saturday's Tea Party rally in Auburn had more than 400 protesters - and they're so concerned about the federal government taking their money, they wouldn't dare put a quarter in an electronic bingo machine.)

Johnny Ford told reporters Alabamians should be allowed to vote on the legality of electronic bingo. He said it's a matter of "justice and jobs." Or in the case of big Victoryland winner Larry Langford, the criminal justice system costing him his job as Birmingham Mayor.

But TV news reports reminded viewers of something else - Johnny Ford is running for Alabama State Senate. In fact, Ford has made electronic bingo his top campaign issue. It's a wonder he hasn't recruited a grade-school chorus to sing, "You ought to vote for Johnny Ford, and Bingo is his name-O...."

Meanwhile, the fight over electronic bingo in Montgomery is taking on epic proportions. Alabama Governor Bob Riley issued a statement declaring he has "supreme executive power" to fight illegal gambling. I never thought the day would come when Riley would sound like North Korea's Kim Jong-il.

Governor Bob Riley wants Alabama Attorney General Troy King to back away from taking over the Anti-Gambling Task Force. King issued his own statement, saying the governor does NOT have unlimited powers. Since King is suing President Obama over health care reform, he's looking like the most unbiased man in the state.

Back in Columbus, did you see the blimp flying over the Frogtown Hollow Bluegrass Jam Saturday afternoon? It promoted the Wind Creek casino in Atmore, Alabama - a casino state officials can't touch, because it's operated by a branch of the Creek Native American tribe. If you're really desperate to lose money in a hurry, not all hope is lost.

I can't recall ever seeing so many ads for casino gambling in the Columbus area - not only Wind Creek, but the Pearl River resort in Mississippi that's closer to Jackson than Biloxi. These legal casinos seem to be seizing on the debate in Montgomery to go after new customers. The only other place to make fast money gambling in Alabama is on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.

-> 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: Last Thursday a blog reader claimed a local state senator had a chance to become a hero. That reader doesn't seem optimistic anymore....

Sen. Seth Harp's "ETHICS BILL" is a sham. All of the good ethics bills died a speedy death. We think that was the plan. The good bill got publicity for campaign contribution limits and now that is dead. Perhaps the leadership thinks that the public will remember those good reforms that were publicized, and think they are in the bill that will pass.

This ETHICS SHAM and ROUSE, SB 17, is authored by Sen. Seth Harp.

Seth's "ETHICS SHAM" bill provides for a name change for the Ethics Commission, and a late filing fee, and some lobbyist changes. It is not directed at Ethics Reform.

Sen Harp's bill intends to let candidates hold on to contributions. House Speaker Ralston is handling that bill in the House. He has made it clear that he, too, like Sen. Seth Harp, does not want to have real ethics reform.

They do not want to limit campaign contributions. WHY! Because politicians can use their war chests, after they leave politics, as Glenn Richardson is doing. Are they all crooks?

Seth may make a lame excuse that the recent Supreme Court Ruling prevents campaign contribution limits, but legal analysis, [by legal eagles], of Harp's excuse, don't hold water. Again, he is way off base.

Instead of having a local man that we can hold up as an example of great and honorable work, we have one of our locals acting out a great pretense on a grand stage.

Seth and his cohorts are up to the same old tricks that plagued the House Speaker Richardson scandal- no campaign contribution limits. The same old people are contributing to the present House Speaker as contributed to the last one. The new Speaker raised $131,000 in just his first few days:

Politicians are for sale. Legislation is for sale. The great pretense is at work. They have no shame!

The present "Ethics Bill", SB 17, is a sham. Sen Bill 17 is a pretense, and it dishonors the authors: Sen. Seth Harp and House Speaker Ralston.

Everyone should remember this when Seth runs for Insurance Commissioner- or does he just plan to retire with his war chest? As a blogger said it best:

"so if he [Sen. Seth Harp] opposes limits on campaign donations, he could leave the Gold Dome as a hero to his banker and a very wealthy man."

Hey, I remember that last quote -- and I should point out you can make unlimited donations to this blog. There's no tax deduction for it. But you don't have to worry about "buying my vote," because I don't even vote in our Big Blog Questions.

State Senator Seth Harp has other issues on his mind. He tells Dick McMichael's blog Georgia needs to balance its budget with a hospital bed fee and higher costs for state services. It could cost you more to file a state lawsuit - so if Harp loses his bid for Insurance Commissioner, he could go back to his law office and increase his rates to make up the difference.

Now let's see what else is blooming in the spring sunshine....

+ Columbus Police reported someone broke into a beauty salon on 17th Street, and stole a variety of items - including several hair driers. If someone tries to sell you one on a street corner, it could be a Con-air job.

+ Kysor Warren held a hiring fair at the Columbus Career Center. Some people reportedly lined up at 3:00 a.m. to be interviewed - as if the souvenir ink pens would be gone in 30 minutes.

+ The new indoor "Skate Shed" held its grand opening, at the downtown Veterans Parkway bridge. The cool skateboarders may use the park at South Commons, but the skateboarders who want to stay cool this summer will be at the shed.

+ Oxbow Meadows held its annual "Reptile Fest." With the Columbus Cottonmouths eliminated from the playoffs, I assume at least one player stopped by to pose for pictures....

+ Mississippi kicked the Cottonmouths to the curb, winning the semifinal series in four games with a 6-2 victory. Things turned ugly when Columbus's Tyler Johnson received a game misconduct for "obscene language," while Dan Leslie was ejected for "abuse of officials." You simply cannot tell the referee his mother wears army boots anymore.

+ Robert Moore of Brookstone School was named Columbus State University's new men's basketball coach. Moore will face quite an adjustment in the weeks ahead. For one thing, some of the college players might not be able to afford a nice dinner.

+ Alabama players topped Georgia players 92-77, in a high school basketball all-star game at Phenix City Central High School. WTVM's highlights included a slam dunk contest for the guys - but where was the dunking contest for women? I think "first player to dunk wins" rules still would be exciting....

+ Instant Message to whomever was on stage around 8:30 Saturday night at the Frogtown Hollow Bluegrass Jam: I never saw you, because I was jogging downtown. But if the rock guitar I heard was really bluegrass music, it drowned out the mandolin far too much.

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