6 MAY 10: Lowe and Away
Phenix City may be one of the 15 biggest cities in Alabama. But it's now clear the town isn't big enough for two leaders named "Lowe." As we might say in classic Southern: one Lowe had to go, so the ol' Lowe is no mo'.
The Ledger-Enquirer caught one big item from Tuesday's Phenix City Council meeting that everyone else apparently missed. The council voted to replace School Board President Eddie Lowe and Vice President Lori White. In Columbus, voters decide whether school board members stay or go. Phenix City's charter may realize how uneducated some voters are.
The vote was 3-2 to remove Eddie Lowe, five months after Woodrow Lowe was named Phenix City Central High School football coach. I don't think the two men are related -- nor do I think the lack of local appearances by Ann Coulter means she's related to the Phenix City Mayor.
Mayor Sonny Coulter argued for keeping the Phenix City School Board leaders. He noted Eddie Lowe and Lori White have served well for more than ten years. But with some voters this year, anyone with leadership experience going all the way back to the 1900s will be crusty around the edges.
But Phenix City Councilor Jimmy Wetzel says the school board should have members with experience in education. He added newcomers Barbara Mitchell and Fran Ellis are retired and "have got some age on them." If they weren't Southern ladies, they might have slapped Wetzel after the meeting for that remark.
Jimmy Wetzel added many people with an education background would like to serve on the Phenix City School Board, instead of keeping the usual members. That's nice - but why not go all the way with this? Wetzel sought to propose putting the Phenix City Council under term limits, beginning with him.
For regular blog readers, these changes may sound familiar. Phenix City School Superintendent Larry DiChiara predicted to this blog last November that Jimmy Wetzel would try to overhaul the school board, starting with the President. [24 Nov 09] It now appears DiChiara was right - and he wasn't even a political science major.
The Phenix City Superintendent admitted to me last fall he was "very concerned" about the city council making major changes in the school board. While Larry DiChiara says he has a tight contract, will these two changes persuade him to start looking for another position -- before fireworks go off at someplace besides high school football games?
On the other hand, Jimmy Wetzel has made it clear to me he's trying to follow the instructions of Phenix City voters. He says they voted for change in 2008, when they elected him [25 Nov 09]. And as we all recall, that's included the council members putting more change in their pockets.
Hopefully Eddie Lowe and Lori White won't be depressed over the city council's move to remove them. They should keep one of their defenders in mind. Sonny Coulter left the mayor's office three times, yet still came back for more.
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E-MAIL UPDATE: Wednesday's look at Columbus city and school budgets may have been the last straw for one reader....
In a day of foreclosures, job losses, and government cut backs we have:
1. A city that runs golf courses
2. A city that runs tennis courts
3. A city that builds natatoriums
4. A city that tried to buy a $250,000 heap of art
5. A city that is trying to add a floor on to a new admin building- while enriching the architects that have for so long held this city hostage to its desires
6. A city that pays black churches for all sorts of social services in order to buy votes
7. A city that give raises in the middle of a recession
8. A city that wants additional floor space for future expansion
We need a wake up call! We need smaller, not larger government. It looks like you are all becoming a bunch of socialists who expect the government to be everything to everyone.
We have people who want to have money for their churches in social welfare programs and they get it.
We have people who want dance classes on the south side as a supposed means of crime prevention. My tax dollars DO NOT need to go to dance classes in recreation facilities.
If those children want to get into crime - let them - and then lock them up. Tell their mothers to get out in the streets and help their kids. It is not the government's role to tutor children in dance lessons. If it is said that dance classes decrease crime then get private benefactors to start up and maintain classes. IT IS NOT THE ROLE OF GOVERNMENT TO FOSTER DEPENDENCY in the guise of crime prevention.
The city cannot and should not be participating in recreation, and social welfare programs. And to top it all off, the city is giving money to such unworthy "government" causes, while increasing taxes and cutting back on teachers pay, educational needs, and city activities such as cutting the right of ways.
FOR GOD's sake where is the list of priorities in this city?
This city needs to focus on the age old wisdom of the Depression Era:
"A penny saved is a penny earned and a penny spent is a penny gone forever."
Please stop the social welfare giving and the employee raises. Who should expect a raise in a recession? Please speak the truth- "Stop, Enough Already"!
Please stop raising fees and using taxes for inappropriate government spending.
Please stop buying black votes with money to black leaders. Are you afraid of being called racist if you do not give to black leaders? Stand up to that sort of pressure with a firm "NO, No More bully tactics. No more social welfare programs. No more government dependency."
Wow -- after all these months, we may have our first letter from a Tea Party member.
There's a lot to address here, and I'll probably overlook some things. But as I understand it, the proposed city budget for fiscal 2011 is balanced. Columbus isn't so desperate financially that it has to sell golf courses and tennis courts. But I know from experience the outdoor racquetball courts in Benning Park reflect no money in the budget for a new coat of paint.
The planned natatorium will be built with money from a bond issue approved in January. As long as those bonds aren't purchased by the government of Greece, Columbus may not have anything to worry about.
It's been a long time since anyone brought up the Albert Paley sculpture, which was proposed for the entrance to the Columbus Public Library. But it was the library board which proposed buying it - and Columbus Council said no by a margin of 9-1 [20 Jul 05]. The one in favor was Wayne Anthony, but he hasn't been elected mayor yet.
I'm assuming the church reference in this e-mail refers to the city bailout of the Legacy Terrace housing complex last year. Last time I drove past it, there still didn't seem to be many occupied homes -- so perhaps the city holds part of the answer to the foreclosure problem already.
I did find a "list of priorities" for Columbus. It was in a city planning newsletter last spring -- and it included a "salary supplement" for public safety workers from the "streets and safety" sales tax. Shame on the city for using politically correct language, instead of simply calling it a raise.
But am I understanding this correctly -- the writer wants Columbus to abandon its tennis courts and golf courses, while leaving young people on their own? That thinking may be overlooking something. If city-funded recreation center instructors don't oversee teenagers, city-funded jail guards will.
The zeal of this writer actually confuses two governmental bodies. It's the Muscogee County School Board which is considering a higher millage rate and furlough days. That's not the city's mission. The only city activity around schools could be directing traffic in drop-off zones, because school crossing guards may no longer exist.
The complexities of this e-mail require me to put another one on hold until later. Let's quickly summarize Cinco de Mayo....
+ Michael Ledford was named Columbus Police Officer of the Year. Ledford also received a "medal of valor" for pulling someone out of a burning truck. Of course, this could spark a demand by jealous firefighters for their own 100 new positions.
+ Georgia gubernatorial candidate Roy Barnes released his personal tax returns - going back 25 years. I think we've uncovered the first candidate with a subscription to LifeLock....
(I haven't reviewed this stack of tax returns. But given Barnes's first TV commercial this year, someone should check whether two of them are dated 2010 and 2011.)
+ Glenwood won the AISA state baseball title for the second year in a row. The Gators swept Pike Liberal in the final series -- which could be a preview of conservative gains across Alabama in the November election.
+ Instant Message to the National Infantry Museum: I hear you're getting close to 500,000 visitors. So will there be a special prize for number 500,000? And will any round-trip flight to Iraq or Afghanistan be guaranteed?
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