Sunday, May 09, 2010

9 MAY 10: Lonesome Hobos' Squall

Only three-tenths of a mile into my Saturday night jog, I saw three young people breaking the law. And not one Columbus Police officer was in sight! Do we need another one-cent sales tax vote or something?

What were the three young people doing? They were walking on the railroad tracks in South Commons. I didn't realize until this past week that it was illegal to do that. Dangerous, yes - but so is skateboarding, and the city built a park to accommodate that.

The Norfolk Southern Railroad sent officers to Columbus this past week, to crack down on people who live and walk along the tracks. They were nice enough to hand out pamphlets and provide one day's warning -- but I'm not sure they told people which side was the wrong side of the tracks.

WTVM reports Norfolk Southern police went back the next day and made two arrests -- people who had not removed their belongings from under the Second Avenue bridge. If they want to live in "Uptown," they'll have to pay upscale rents for loft space.

Norfolk Southern police explained rail lines in the downtown area are private property. People walking on the tracks or living under railroad bridges are considered trespassers. The staff at the House of Mercy considers them future staff members.

(Officers threatened to throw the trespassers' belongings in the landfill. This seems a bit harsh. Couldn't they go in a convenience store dumpster - so the suspects had 48 hours to somehow post bail?)

Of all the people to be arrested for trespassing at the Second Avenue Bridge, one of them was named Bill Heard. First he loses his car dealerships, then his Green Island Hills mansion - and now this?!

Norfolk Southern explains the crackdown on trespassers is due to safety. Two people in Columbus were injured last year, when they were struck by railroad trains. That surprised me, because I didn't think freight trains were going so fast that people couldn't jump on them for a free ride.

But let's be honest here - by clearing people away from the Second Avenue Bridge, Columbus is showing it still has a problem with homelessness. And this time, railroad police came in to do the dirty work -- as opposed to the mayor's 30-day grace period of 2007 [18 Jan 07]. There's much less of an image problem when a big corporation takes the blame.

Will homeless people move to the former rail line, that's becoming the Fall Line Trace? Since it's supposed to be closed late at night, I suspect Columbus police will be watching it for "trespassers" as well. Maybe the patrol bikes really should be bicycles built for two.

My late father actually drove his pickup truck on railroad tracks a few times. He worked in the "bottoms" area of Kansas City, and the tracks sometimes were the shortest path between destinations. But as I rode with him, I didn't feel very comfortable about it. For one thing, asphalt streets were much smoother - even with potholes.

And as for the three young people I saw walking on the rails - I didn't say anything, and kept on jogging. After what happened with Frank Lumpkin III, I didn't dare attempt to make a citizen's arrest. Not when one of the three appeared to be armed with a skateboard.

-> We had a big reason to say "T.G.I.F." at the poker table Friday evening. Learn why at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

E-MAIL UPDATE: A reader ranted to us Thursday about the proposed Columbus city budget (among other things). Now the reader sends a follow-up....

Btw, I want nothing to do with the Columbus Tea Party. Their last event sported a Cross Dresser emcee. He was shaking his Pom Poms with a shemmy shake that shook a little too funky for my conservative politics. He was wiggling his wing wong so much that he nearly made his dress fly up! You will note that Josh McKoon went on with his appearance there though he knew beforehand that there would be a cross dresser representing the "Conservative" Tea Party". I don't know what they have in that Tea, but I prefer Champagne anyway.

Doesn't their leadership have the sense to know that political stunts can ruin political careers? The unmarried McKoon was not enhanced by that association.

Then you have the La Grange Tea Party, which is organized by the head of the militia there.

Josh McKoon can be part of the Cross-Dressing Crowd all he wants, but I want no part of it. And, as for the militia folks, they are as crazy as the Pom Pom Tu Tu crowd.

Conservative is as Conservative does.

Ooh boy -- this is asking for it. I didn't attend the Tax Day event 15 April, and WRBL's live report didn't show the emcee. But it's noteworthy that the Josh McKoon campaign web site doesn't have any photos from that night.

But here's the thing -- our records show this reader who wants reduced city government supported improved public safety in Columbus several years ago. If you voted for the one-cent sales tax to add 100 police officers, you voted for more government. Maybe you'd rather see government in a police uniform than ballet tights, but it's still more government.

Not much news is thrilling me this weekend, but here's a little anyway....

+ The annual Best Ranger competition began at Fort Benning, and concludes today. We're saddened to note again this year, no teams of forest rangers have entered the competition.

+ The Columbus Symphony Orchestra had a "Romantic Russian" concert. I heard Scott Miller on WDAK scoff at this concept - which tells me he's watched a lot more hockey on TV than "Sex and the City" episodes.

+ The Atlanta Hawks lost for the third game in a row to Orlando, 105-75. Hawks star Joe Johnson was booed by some fans, then told reporters he didn't care if they showed up to watch him play. Believe me, Joe - before you showed up, most fans didn't care either.

+ The Columbus State University men's tennis team advanced in the NCAA playoffs by beating Georgia College and State University 5-3. But where is tennis going, when WTVM shows doubles players giving each other chest bumps after points? Well, it least it was done in men's tennis....

+ Instant Message to Fourth Street Baptist Church Pastor Johnny Flakes: Thanks for stopping by my door Saturday. But about that shirt you wore - I'm probably the only person on the block who appreciates tennis. Come back in September wearing a Georgia Bulldogs jersey, and almost everyone else will want to chat with you.

This blog had more than 55,000 unique visitors in 2009! To advertise to them, make a PayPal donation, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 614 (+ 17, 2.8%)

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-10 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

site stats