Sunday, April 04, 2010

4 APR 10: A Very Different Animal

When the calendar turns to April around here, it means several things. The temperature climbs above 80 degrees F. Pollen covers cars. And the late-night hollering begins outside my window. Saturday night, it was a drunk man threatening to beat people up -- which somehow they can't do when it's cold outside.

Since 2010 is an election year, April also means it's time for Alabama candidates to get serious. The primary is 1 June, so contenders had until Friday to decide whether or not they're running. Part of me expects the number of candidates to go up this year - for the people who think the world's going to end in 2012, anyway.

A curious last-minute filing occurred Friday in Russell County. Jeff Gibson entered the race for Sheriff, even though he doesn't seem to have any experience in that level of law enforcement. But that's OK -- I think Peggy Martin is the only Russell County Commissioner who's never been in that same situation.

For Jeff Gibson to run for Russell County Sheriff, he had to do something he didn't want to do -- give up his Columbus city job. City rules require city employees to resign their positions, if they're going to run for office. After all, we don't want candidates for Marshal wrapping their arrest warrants in campaign brochures.

Jeff Gibson worked 14 years with Columbus city government - most of them in animal control. So after all those years collecting dogs and cats, is he ready to oversee a Sheriff's Office? I suppose escaping humans don't run as fast as pit bulls, but still....

Jeff Gibson told WRBL he decided to run for Sheriff because "the love for the community of Russell County and the people of Russell County need my support and my concerns and my prayers." OK -- but if you're really that concerned about Russell County, why did you spend so many years on the Columbus city payroll?

The decision by Jeff Gibson means Russell County actually will have a race for Sheriff. Chief Investigator Heath Taylor announced he was running months ago, and he has large campaign billboards up in Phenix City. I wouldn't be surprised if Taylor has a case of Heath bars, ready to give away at community meetings.

Both Jeff Gibson and Heath Taylor are Democrats, so they'll clash in the 1 June primary. Well, maybe. Alabama election rules allow party leaders to control who appears on primary ballots. The Republicans disqualified a candidate for State Senate Saturday - so they'd better not use the phrase "up or down vote" anytime soon, when it comes to nominations.

(Why can't other walks of life have rules like this? If the NCAA basketball committee exercised this veto power, my alma mater Kansas would be playing in Monday's final round instead of Butler.)

Alabama Democrats are talking as if they won't disqualify any candidates this year - not even Jeff Gibson, whose experience on the surface seems questionable. State law allows practically any adult resident to run for Sheriff. In fact, I'm a bit surprised Robert Schweiger isn't running - because then the former Hurtsboro Constable finally could clear away the town's criminals.

In other news at the Alabama filing deadline, Josh Segall announced he will NOT challenge Rep. Mike Rogers after all. The Democratic attorney gave Rogers a fight in 2008 - but to borrow a campaign cliche, perhaps Segall can read the Tea Party leaflets.

And the Alabama Governor's race received new attention, because Democrat Ron Sparks shaved off a mustache he's had for more than 30 years. If the state Agriculture Commissioner can't run as an outsider, at least he can say he's partially a "fresh face."

As for Georgia politics, gubernatorial candidate David Poythress spoke to Muscogee County Democrats Saturday. Poythress squeezed the meeting into a Chattahoochee River fishing trip with two grandsons, which he reports ended with two trout. For some reason, he did NOT report how many local votes he caught....

-> You can't win 'em all at the poker table. Find out what happened to us the other night at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

BLOG UPDATE: A personal $1,000 dream moved within one step of fulfillment Saturday night. Duke downed West Virginia 78-57, to put the "Blog of Columbus" entry alone in second place in the "My Bracket is Money" contest. There's no way I can finish higher than second - so sports analysts probably have concluded the leader simply wanted it more.

The top prize in the Piggly Wiggly basketball bracket contest is $10,000. I can finish second and win a $1,000 gift card - but it all comes down to Monday night's final game. If Butler can beat Duke, I win. If Duke beats Butler, about 30 other contestants will jump above me - and since I'm a white guy, I face a terrible disadvantage when it comes to jumping.

It appears I'll finish first in one aspect of the contest, which has no prize attached - the highest percentage of correct picks. My choices have been right 71 percent of the time, yet I still won't be the grand prize winner. If this happened in NASCAR, a rule change would be announced this weekend.

(But maybe it's the story of my life. I think my date choices over the years have been right 100 percent of the time - yet I'm still single.)

I'd better stop bragging and get back to blogging - so let's check other weekend news and notes:

+ Hardaway High School held a barbecue for the junior class, because all but one member took the high school graduation test. Wow - imagine what could have happened if simply half the class had sold one magazine subscription.

+ WRCG kept its Saturday Spanish programming "Poder Latino" on the air, two days after abandoning talk radio for "True Oldies." Most of us can't tell if a Spanish-language song is an oldie or not - unless maybe it's "Rancho Grande."

+ WTVM and WXTX brought back Saturday night sportscasts, for the first time in more than a year. Maybe now fans will show up at Columbus State University baseball and softball games....

+ The Columbus Cottonmouths scored with 15 seconds left to tie the game, then scored at 19:02 of overtime to beat Mississippi 5-4. Yet the paid attendance for this playoff game was only 1,762 - so the crush of carnival fans at Spring Fling must be worse than anyone imagined.

+ The Columbus Lions lost to Albany in indoor football 56-41. This is a natural rivalry simply waiting to grow. How about the season's big winner taking the "520 Fight" trophy - made entirely of cotton and pecans from Stewart and Webster Counties?

+ Instant Message to whomever spray-painted the word "freedom" on a Lee County Red Cross van: Did you mean you're free to spray-paint the word anywhere you choose? Or do you want the next Red Cross mission to Haiti to end with all the Haitians moved to Alabama?

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