Sunday, May 30, 2010

30 MAY 10: Outside Shooters

"Welcome soccer players," said a sign along Victory Drive Saturday night. The Georgia State Cup for youth club teams is underway through Monday at the Woodruff Farm complex. We'll see if someone changes the sign Tuesday to "Welcome basketball players" - and if that brings out police investigators.

Mayor Jim Wetherington has asked Columbus Police to look into the recent city audit of the Parks and Recreation Department. Those of you who wanted a return of the "Park Police" are getting your wish - although probably not in the way you wanted it.

The mayor admitted he was troubled by the Parks Department audit [19 May]. But asking Columbus Police to get involved?! Well, we probably shouldn't be surprised by that. That's a reflex action for longtime lawman Jim Wetherington. I'm a bit surprised he didn't order bicyclists stopped for speeding during the Aflac Outdoor Games.

WRBL obtained a statement from Jim Wetherington about the request for a police review. It says in part: "As the mayor of Columbus, Georgia, I would be remiss not to order a comprehensive investigation of these important issues." Wow -- even in paper statements, he specifies "Columbus, Georgia." Does he look THAT much like the mayor of Columbus, Ohio?

At first Mayor Wetherington seemed more concerned with the release of the Parks Department audit than the findings itself. He noted to Columbus Council a copy of the findings was released to reporters on the day he received it. You'd think the auditor would have learned a lesson from the Junior Marshal's Program - and handle those things like a North Korean government statement.

The Ledger-Enquirer isn't waiting for police to probe the parks system. It's been digging into the youth basketball program, which goes around the country on road trips - and this weekend it found more than half the players live outside Columbus. So? If my alma mater Kansas was barred from recruiting out-of-state.... well, the Jayhawks still might have lost to Northern Iowa.

The newspaper also discovered the Columbus Blazers elite basketball teams have some kind of sponsorship deal with Nike. It must not be a very expensive deal - because I don't hear any rumors about the Blazers trying to sign LeBron James.

(The Blazers are part of the Parks Department's Innovative Sports Program. The way things are looking, the "innovative" part may involve budgeting and accounting.)

One of the Columbus Blazers basketball teams is on a road trip to Los Angeles this weekend, but Parks Department Director Tony Adams did NOT go with them. It's reportedly on orders from "his supervisor" - and I hope he enjoys playing Monopoly and bid whist with one of the Assistant City Managers.

Tony Adams is in the middle of this audit whirlwind - yet he's suddenly become the quietest man in Columbus. He has yet to issue a comment, perhaps because he's under a deadline of next week to submit a response. When Adams finally makes a public statement, who is more likely to stand alongside him - among attorneys Stacy Jackson, Frank Martin or Mark Shelnutt?

In the interest of full disclosure, I should note I sought the Parks Department's help four years ago. When I tried to start a statewide sports league, I wanted to reserve a Columbus stadium for a match - and never could get anyone to confirm a date, much less a rental charge. Was that incompetence? Or did the staff know better than I did that the league would fail?

THE BIG BLOG QUESTION will cut directly to the chase in this matter. Remember when Mayor Jim Wetherington announced Fire Chief Jeff Meyer was "salvageable" after another big investigation? We want to know if Parks and Recreation Director Tony Adams is salvageable. Keep in mind that a nice winning record didn't help the Atlanta Hawks' coach keep his job this month.

Back at Woodruff Farm, Saturday's rain wreaked havoc on the Georgia State Cup soccer schedule. Action was scheduled to resume today at 7:00 a.m. I thought the only soccer games played that early on a Sunday morning were in Italy's "Serie A."

Let's see what else is making news on a wet holiday weekend - or perhaps we should reword that Halladay, after what happened Saturday night:

+ Our best wishes to Richard Hyatt, who resumed online writing Saturday after a prolonged hospital stay. Hyatt reports he went to St. Francis Hospital for surgery, then became infected and (ahem) wound up losing a testicle. Time will tell whether Hyatt's next book will be co-authored by attorney Gary Bruce.

+ Military veterans staged a protest downtown, urging Georgia's Governor to veto a proposed change to driver's licenses. Drivers could note if they have post-traumatic stress disorder. I can understand the concerns about discrimination - but show that PTSD license to a potential mugger, and it could be a great crime prevention tool.

+ Muscogee County Schools wrapped up a weekend of graduation ceremonies at the Civic Center. The last high school to have a ceremony was Carver - and if you have a picture of a senior wearing a ceiling tile for a mortar board, please e-mail it to us.

+ Scott Ressmeyer's second "ride for miracles" ended downtown. His motorcycle "posse" raised tens of thousands of dollars for the Children's Miracle Network over the last three weeks - and Harris County Sheriff Mike Jolley may have tens of thousands of forms waiting for him at the office this week.

+ The Georgia AAA high school baseball final round was postponed by rain. Ringgold and Columbus now will play a doubleheader Monday at Columbus State University - which tells me they forgot to put the tarp over the Golden Park infield again.

+ The Columbus Lions lost at Louisiana 51-31. The Lions wind up 2-1 on a five-week road trip, and return home next weekend for "Cancer Awareness Night." A better promotion might be "Are You Aware We Still Exist Night."

+ Instant Message to the Muscogee County Tax Commissioner: Thank you for moving on to the "BLU" Georgia license plates. I've seen so many "BLB" plates lately that I thought a new movie version of "The Blob" was coming out.

SCHEDULED MONDAY: Our first primary preview of 2010....

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