Wednesday, June 09, 2010

9 JUN 10: A-Tony-No

The response came Tuesday, and it was big. But the person expected to give the response was missing, reportedly on the advice of his attorney. Maybe Tony Adams decided to hide with that basketball van, in the Park Services repair yard....

Assistant City Manager Lisa Goodwin presented Columbus Council with Director Tony Adams's response to the recent Parks and Recreation Department audit. The audit took eight months and consists of 28 pages. The response was prepared in three weeks and has 48 pages - so who are you calling inefficient?

The Parks Department response accepted one main criticism of the city audit. Tony Adams admits the Innovative Sports Program should be kept separate from the city budget. After all these years, we're back to whether officials are for or against segregation....

The attorney for Tony Adams seized on a comment by City Manager Isaiah Hugley. Stacey Jackson noted Hugley found NO evidence that any law or city policy was broken. Imagine if Jackson had received the judge position he applied for several months ago - the City Manager might have more power in Columbus than ever before.

Given what the City Manager said, Stacey Jackson wondered why it took eight months for the city auditor to review the Parks and Recreation Department. Jackson must be new to the Columbus area. Look at how long it's taking the city to widen Whittlesey Road....

Mayor Jim Wetherington later told WXTX News at Ten the Innovative Sports Program has been "hidden" in the Parks Department budget for years. Sure enough - do a search for "innovative" in the fiscal 2011 city budget approved Tuesday, and that word never comes up. Of course, that might not speak well of city government as a whole....

Stacey Jackson responded by saying Mayor Wetherington should have looked at the Parks Department budget more closely in the first place. OK, I did - so which line includes the Innovative Sports Program money? Recreation Services? Athletics? Or is "Pottery Shop" a code phrase for elite basketball?

Georgia NAACP President Edward DuBose attended Tuesday's Columbus Council meeting, and told WRBL the police review of the Parks Department audit is a "witch hunt." But Councilor Jerry Barnes said it's NOT targeted specifically at Tony Adams. If it isn't, then some candy-stealing concession stand workers need to hire attorneys as well.

Even concession stand food was addressed in Tony Adams's response. He explained staff members at Parks Department concession stands can eat leftover hot dogs for free, if the stand is closed for the day and the food otherwise would be dumped. If only the elite basketball's gas card could be given to those workers, for driving the hot dogs to a rescue mission.

Columbus Councilors had the best seats in the house for this drama, and offered comments when they could. Skip Henderson called the hot dog discussion "kind of crazy." And Jerry Barnes said any "procedural problems" in the parks system cannot be pinned completely on Tony Adams. Another Tony would appreciate that same sort of compassion right now - Tony Hayward of British Petroleum.

City Manager Isaiah Hugley may be the peacemaker in all this. He said he'll have a meeting with Tony Adams and City Auditor John Redmond. If we ever hear details of that meeting, we may have a hint about who leaked the audit results in the first place.

But there was little peace at times between the mayor and city manager. Jim Wetherington took issue with Isaiah Hugley's call for a comprehensive city policy on out-of-town use of services. The mayor said outsiders pay to use city golf courses and soccer fields now. And imagine if the Columbus Cottonmouths couldn't bring in any more Canadian hockey players.

With an atmosphere of suspicion surrounding all sides of "Rec-Gate," the news media may be next to face finger-pointing. The Ledger-Enquirer's web site did NOT post Tony Adams's response Tuesday, the way it did the Parks Department audit in May. Then there's WLTZ, which somehow ignored the entire discussion and focused on downtown parking fees.

-> Monday night's poker tournament had a dramatic moment or two. Read what happened at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

BLOG CORRECTION: An alert reader set us straight Tuesday about the upcoming college baseball super-regionals....

Hey Richard. You said that the Alabama baseball team would travel to Clemson and wondered if Coach Nick Saban would wear a t-shirt with last September's score upon it, well, it was year before last when Bama defeated Clemson to open the season in the Georgia Dome. Also, it was Phenix City's own Nathan "Peanut" Kilcrease that closed out the win over Georgia Tech and was named the Regional's MVP. I have noticed so many times while watching sportscasts on WSFA TV-12 Montgomery that if an athlete is from anywhere in their viewing area, they inform viewers of that fact. Our local sports reporters never mentioned last night that Kilcrease was from Phenix City.

Thanks for the correction -- as Alabama actually beat Virginia Tech to open the 2009 season. Both games were played at the Georgia Dome, but those wimpy Atlantic Coast Conference teams tend to look alike.

I heard WTVM mention Alabama's starting pitcher in the decisive game against Georgia Tech - former Columbus High School star Taylor Wolfe. But he didn't last long, as Tech's betters acted like they graduated from Cartersville a couple of years ago.

Let's see what else was right or wrong on Tuesday....

+ Phenix City officials opened a new Economic Development Department office. Contrary to what we heard on TV last week, the office is in an old downtown home. That brick building on the corner at Dillingham and Broad remains the top contender for the next mysterious big fire.

+ Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue signed an $18 billion state budget. But he used a line-item veto to remove funding for the Columbus state crime lab -- which tells me Perdue has given up all hope for having a local building named in his honor.

+ Hundreds of cyclists assembled in downtown Columbus for the annual "Bike Ride Across Georgia." But I read complaints online that their path wasn't well marked, and some cyclists lost their way. Where's Scott Ressmeyer with his motorcycle when we need him most?

+ St. Francis Hospital President/CEO Robert Granger told WDAK's "Viewpoint" planned renovations will assure every patient room is a private room. Is this really a good idea? Some patients might want a sick roommate -- at least for comparing the charges on their bills.

+ Instant Message to Uptown Columbus Inc.: You almost upstaged the Parks Department audit response Tuesday. What's this item on the agenda about a "Miss Georgia Pajama Run" next week, at 11:30 on a Friday night? Is this replacing the swimsuit competition at the pageant?

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