8 JUN 10: Shrink Wrap
Absentee voting began Monday in Columbus for the Georgia Primary in mid-July. You KNEW there had to be a reason why candidates for Governor were running commercials so early....
The July primary will mark the end of an era in Muscogee County. The election board announced Monday the U.S. Justice Department has approved the controversial consolidation of precincts, from 48 to 28. If a merger of grade schools was good enough for the school board, that probably settled the issue.
People who accuse the Obama administration of "politics as usual" should think carefully about this decision. The consolidation of precincts was challenged by Muscogee County Democrats and the NAACP - yet the Justice Department approved it. Amazingly, justice actually still may be "blind" once in a while.
The old 48-precinct format will be used in July, with the consolidation taking effect for the November general election. This should give Democrats plenty of time to organize those "rides to the polls" for voters who fear their car will break down going one or two extra miles.
The consolidation of voting precincts simply illustrates a national trend of the last two years. The recession has meant downsizing all over the place. In fact, the only thing showing real growth in our country these days is that oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Muscogee County School Board approved further downsizing steps at a special meeting Monday night. A change in school schedules next term means the district will not have to buy 22 new school buses or hire drivers for them. I can't wait to see the line of teachers at the Public Education Center in August, reserving buses for field trips.
The agenda for Monday's special board meeting explained under the old schedule, middle school buses were late 75 percent of the time during the afternoon. It almost defeated the purpose of teaching students to get out of bed on time in the morning.
The revised class schedule will let Muscogee County high school students sleep in a bit. Their class day will start at 8:35 a.m. next term, instead of 7:45. Somewhere in Hollywood, the staff of Conan O'Brian's upcoming late-night talk show will celebrate today.
School district officials want the high school day to end at 3:25 p.m., because a later dismissal time might keep 2,400 teenagers from working at after-school jobs. Many Columbus residents reading that part of the agenda responded with a simple question - how did those teenagers find jobs in the first place?
The Muscogee County School Board gave tentative approval to a $260 million budget. Officials noted no teachers have lost their jobs in the process. Hopefully some of the teachers will show their gratitude, by hiring laid-off para-professionals to do odd jobs at their homes.
Earlier in the day, Muscogee County schools began a week-long "Best Practices Institute" week for teachers. WTVM reported the keynote speaker reinforced one of his points by giving teachers rocks. The point involved the Biblical account of David and Goliath - but I thought gifts of rocks became obsolete when Charlie Brown received them at Halloween.
-> Monday night's poker tournament had a dramatic moment or two. Read what happened at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-
BLOG UPDATE: Today's Columbus Council telecast on CCG-TV may have more viewers than usual. People want to see how Parks and Recreation Department Director Tony Adams responds to the city audit - not to mention whether he'll bring any elite basketball players, showing driver's licenses to prove they live in Columbus.
Tony Adams is expected to give a presentation to Columbus Council - but it's not clear if that will occur in open session or not. Considering what attorney Stacey Jackson said the other day, the consistent approach would be for Adams to talk behind closed doors -- and Jackson to go against his tendency, and say nothing afterward.
Columbus civil rights groups released a letter Monday from Georgia NAACP President Edward DuBose to the mayor and council. While DuBose told WRBL the police review of the Parks Department audit is "frivolous," his letter did NOT demand the review be canceled. I never knew DuBose was so interested in playing shuffleboard at a recreation center....
Instead, Edward DuBose called for the police review to be expanded - to include how the Ledger-Enquirer obtained a copy of the Parks Department audit so quickly. A statement from the newspaper's acting editor says it came from a "confidential source." If this is "Rec-Gate," the source must have a code name like Deep Thrower.
Edward DuBose also wants the police report on "Rec-Gate" to include how much it cost the police department, in terms of money and staff hours. How nice of DuBose, to give the city auditor an idea for his next project....
Our recent Big Blog Question on the future of Parks Department Director Tony Adams included this comment: "They are now hiding vans they used for those trips down at Park Services...." They're not hiding the Innovative Sports Program vans very well, because I drove there Monday and found one in plain sight.
This Parks Department van might be hard to see from the Park Services parking lot on Cusseta Road, since it's next to a front end loader. But I was able to walk right up to it. Maybe it's the one remaining van which hadn't been towed to the police impound yard for fingerprints.
Before you ask - no, I did NOT try to get inside the Parks Department van to look for things like fuel receipts. The atmosphere at Park Services was a little too intimidating for that. Not from any staff members watching me -- but the explosions from the nearby police firing range.
Another matter for police begins our review of other Monday news....
+ Columbus Police arrested a man on charges of breaking into a day care center on Benning Road, to steal a dishwasher and hot water heater. Why would someone steal a hot water heater - in June? Leave the air conditioner off for a few hours, and water inside a home should warm naturally.
+ City crews worked to repair a sinkhole on 11th Street downtown, west of Broadway. WTVM reported the hole is large enough to swallow a minivan. Hopefully workers won't find any wayward bicyclist from the Aflac Outdoor Games inside it.
+ WRBL interviewed an Auburn woman who vacationed on the Alabama coast, and brought home a tar ball from the beach. Hey - why didn't someone think of this before? Tar ball harvesting for souvenirs! Put them in bags, sell them for a few dollars each -- and if British Petroleum executives autograph the bags, so much the better.
+ Clemson clobbered Auburn 13-7 to win the NCAA baseball regional at
Plainsman Park Hitchcock Field Sanford Stadium. But Auburn fans should look on the bright side. The baseball program had its best season in years - and the fans now have a stockpile of toilet paper, which should last through the summer.
+ Alabama ousted Georgia Tech in another baseball regional 10-8. The Tide will travel to Clemson for the Super-Regional next weekend. We'll see if Nick Saban shows up, wearing the score from last September's football game on a T-shirt.
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