Thursday, June 17, 2010

17 JUN 10: Vote-Ed 2010

Georgia's Governor announced the name of a new state school superintendent Wednesday. But Brad Bryant is truly a lame duck, as voters will approve his replacement in November and he isn't currently on the ballot. Why, Bryant might not be in office long enough for Roy Barnes to accuse him of doing anything wrong.

With only one month left before the Georgia Primary, many candidates are trying to make education a big issue. That may explain Wednesday's "town hall meeting" at the Columbus Public Library with two state lawmakers. WRBL showed a meeting so small, you'd think the new Muscogee County class schedules already were in effect.

State Representatives Debbie Buckner and Carolyn Hugley called the town hall meeting to let people vent about Georgia's problems with education funding. But the meeting apparently wasn't publicized very well. Last week's Columbus Times didn't mention it -- and that paper had room to mention basketball star Dwyane Wade's messy divorce.

Rep. Debbie Buckner used the meeting to claim the Georgia legislature missed a chance this year to provide one billion dollars for public schools. It was a "point of sale" bill, which she and Carolyn Hugley happened to sponsor with three other local House members. If it never reached a vote in the House, maybe some thought it was a hidden billion-dollar windfall for Columbus.

The point of sale bill doesn't take long to read, and calls on the Georgia Department of Revenue to inform cities and counties quickly about tax collections. I don't understand how faster e-mails and phone calls would give public schools one billion extra dollars -- unless the information would encourage county treasurers to buy a stack of lottery tickets.

Rep. Debbie Buckner suggested faster contact from the Georgia Department of Revenue would reveal which local businesses are NOT registered with the state, so probably owe sales taxes. Aha - now I think I get it! Columbus would have an advantage in going after those businesses, because the 100 new police officers need work to do.

The entire town hall story reminded me of a made-for-TV campaign event - especially considering not many people were in the room with the lawmakers. Perhaps these people will advance to the next step, and be ready should President Obama ever decide to visit Columbus again.

But here's the thing - if this was a Democratic campaign event, it involved two state lawmakers who currently are running unopposed. I've heard no buzz about any Columbus candidates filing in two weeks as independents. Besides, we all remember how well it worked for Zeph Baker in 2008.

Maybe this point-of-sale bill is how Democratic gubernatorial candidate Roy Barnes plans to meet all his campaign promises about education. You know - things like higher teacher pay, with no more furloughs EVER. Barnes certainly hasn't explained how he'll pay for those things. Unless he plans to expand his online campaign store....

Another candidate for Georgia Governor offered a very different idea for funding education Wednesday. Thurbert Baker called for the legalization of electronic bingo games - which could settle the question of what sort of new business to bring to Columbus South. Simply rename it "Victory-Land" Drive....

Thurbert Baker's "BEST Initiative" suggests electronic bingo would provide enough money to expand the Georgia school year. He wants a 200-day school year within a decade, which isn't far from year-round schooling -- and would allow parents more time to spend in front of machines at bingo halls to pay for it all.

As for Alabama, Lee County began recounting votes Wednesday in the Republican Primary for Governor. Your blog has (giggle) come upon an audio clip of the recount process, as it unfolded somewhere in rural Alabama. If this is accurate, they might be better off counting oil-covered birds at Orange Beach....

-> We're marking an anniversary this week, at local poker tables. Read all about it at our other blog,"On the Flop!" <-

BIG PREDICTION UPDATE: Uh-oh - Miss Cherokee Rose failed to win in Wednesday's first night of preliminaries at the Miss Georgia pageant. Shame on me, for not checking the contestants' names along with their pictures. The swimsuit category was won by a woman named Springer.

Let's see what else grabbed for our attention Wednesday:

+ Columbus Police reported someone broke into Benning Auto Parts on 17th Street, and stole a 500-pound engine used for drag racing. Drivers on J.R. Allen Parkway should be on alert today - as someone may pass even the super-speeders.

+ A group of Teak Drive residents filed suit against the city of Columbus, over last year's watershed flooding. Isn't it interesting that 11th Street downtown reopened Wednesday, with sewer repairs finished in two weeks - yet some people on Teak Drive still have damaged homes after a year?

+ T-Mobile announced it will close its LaGrange return center, and lay off nearly 400 workers. This is what happens when a cell phone company lets you have only a "fave five," while Facebook lets you have all the friends you want.

+ The University of Georgia announced local linebacker Jarvis Jones will NOT play this coming season, as he transfers from Southern California. At least Jones is used to being a redshirt -- since that's the U.S.C. home uniform.

(The Georgia doctors checked Jones's neck and cleared him to play - even though Southern Cal doctors wouldn't let him take part in spring practice. I never realized Southern humidity could have such a healing effect on football players.)

+ Atlanta topped Tampa Bay in baseball 6-2, amid reports veteran third baseman Chipper Jones will retire at the end of the season. Imagine the emotional clubhouse speeches Bobby Cox could give between now and October - urging the team over and over to win one for the Chipper.

+ Instant Message to area Walgreens stores: Talk about a disappointment! Page two of this week's ad shows boxes of Chips Deluxe cookies are on sale for 99 cents - yet FOUR different stores didn't have them in stock! Just because we're in Georgia does NOT mean we only eat Pecan Sandies.

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