Wednesday, May 05, 2010

5 MAY 10: Looser Here, Tighter There

It's the biggest news story of the year so far in Columbus - yet today, I might as well be M.C. Hammer. Nope, can't touch that....

If you came here for insight and humor about Tuesday's top story dating from 1992, you must not have come here in a while. Several blog readers let me have it earlier this year about being insensitive with matters of death. So the only thing I'll do about this story is link to someone who apparently has a better sense of humor about such things.

Additional police officers truly are having an impact in Columbus. Tuesday's Ledger-Enquirer reported they're even affecting the proposed city budget - because while some departments have frozen funding, others are in line for new personnel. The mayor is borrowing from Spencer High School, and launching a "blue wave."

Mayor Jim Wetherington's proposed budget would dip into "streets and safety" sales tax money to fund six new positions at the Sheriff's Office. Sheriff John Darr says he asked for 12. Wow - this mayor is turning into a softie in his final months of office.

The mayor is not surprised that more personnel are needed in the Sheriff's Office. He said 100 more police officers mean a full Muscogee County Jail. And you know what a full jail means - nice raises for everyone at the bail bonding offices.

If there was a contest in Columbus public safety for the most extra officers, Sheriff John Darr actually won. He's budgeted for six new positions, while Marshal Greg Countryman is in line for three. Two years ago, Countryman said he wanted 26 - so he may have to give his junior marshals summer internships.

The proposed city budget also would use Local Option Sales Tax money to add an extra Assistant District Attorney. Uh-oh - Mark Shelnutt sightings at the Government Center may start all over again.

(Some people might be surprised that public safety money is being used for a prosecutor. But those people may be among the small group which has never seen an episode of "Law and Order.")

But as I reviewed blog entries from the 2008 LOST vote Tuesday night, I was reminded that the campaign promised "66 correctional officers." [17 Jul 08] Sheriff John Darr says once the Muscogee County Jail is expanded, he'll need all 66 of them. This could come down to which official picks the right candidate in the mayor's race.

Columbus city officials have made clear one group of people wearing badges will receive NO city funding - school crossing guards. The Muscogee County School Board hoped the city would cover their salaries. Instead, the board may have to be thankful for a random radar gun near River Road Elementary School.

The school board held its first public hearing Tuesday night on a proposed set of serious budget cuts. WXTX showed several upset parents - and imagine if they were in the part of town where two schools might be combined.

School Board member Cathy Williams told the Northside High School audience cuts have to be made because "the governor is keeping our money." Now wait a minute - how can the Georgia Governor keep money the state doesn't have? Simply because that's how some people bought fancy houses....

School Board member John Wells noted unlike other places in Georgia, Muscogee County is NOT planning to fire teachers. Force them to take enough unpaid furlough days, and they'll resign on their own in frustration.

The next school budget forum takes place tonight at Carver High School. At least a new Carver building is assured, thanks to the school sales tax vote -- but if further cuts are needed, the principal might be able to rent unneeded classrooms for storage space.

Now a quick check of other events from National Teacher Day:

+ Aflac won the Webby Award as the top insurance web site. This puts Aflac on a list of winners alongside the New York Times, the New Yorker magzine and Twitter -- although I suppose the duck probably would feel more comfortable with Elmo at the Sesame Street site.

+ Scott Ressmeyer took his "Ride for Miracles" media tour to WDAK radio's "Viewpoint." Ressmeyer said he won't even be reimbursed for gas money on his upcoming 48-state motorcycle ride. But after he finishes riding on "Corridor Z," that detail could show up on his Schedule A.

+ Brookstone won the Georgia state Class A men's golf title. Two members of the four-man team are a son and cousin of Larry Mize. Maybe they should return the favor, and coach Mize to better finishes on the Champions Tour.

+ Orlando overwhelmed the Atlanta Hawks in the N.B.A. playoffs 114-71. I hope no Hawk players proclaimed Sunday they were "going to Disney World" - and then actually did it.

+ Instant Message to Hardee's: About your commercial claiming "guys don't bake" - how do you explain those old commercials with the Dunkin Donuts guy?

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