Friday, July 30, 2010

30 JUL 10: Push and Poll

Some curmudgeons grumbled years ago they'd never taken part in an opinion poll, and never knew anyone who had. But I suspect the Internet age has changed all that. People can vote in online surveys at every TV station website in Columbus. Sometimes we even have surveys here -- and public officials tend to give our Big Blog Questions the same lack of attention.

One of the biggest names in political polls dialed my phone number Thursday night. Rasmussen Reports is the polling firm of choice for Fox News Channel - but I should note up front that I was never asked to give the "right answers."

I've answered consumer phone surveys for decades, and know real people usually ask the questions. But Rasmussen Reports had everything automated for a touch-tone phone -- which I suppose proves a Republican bias, because the company doesn't hire low-paying workers to help the economy recover.

After a couple of introductory questions about my language and age, the poll got down to business. Is our country heading in the right direction, I was asked? Being the attentive churchgoing man that I am, I voted no - since ministers keep telling me the U.S. is hitting new moral lows. And they did that even before Lindsay Lohan went to jail.

Then I was asked for a rating on the job President Obama was doing. At that moment, I felt a little guilty and ignorant - because I didn't watch the President's appearance on "The View" hours before.

Rasmussen Reports gave me five options for rating the President's job performance. I could strongly or moderately approve, strongly or moderately disapprove - or press "not sure." Guys who can't commit always appreciate an option like that last one....

The politically neutral guy in me actually came out at that point. I voted "not sure" on the performance of President Obama -- even though I've heard many ministers preach against his policies and philosophy. One even has warned the President's voice could put people in a "post-hypnotic" state of suggestion. If that's true, why didn't Chicago wind up with the 2016 Olympic Games?

A couple more questions followed about my age and gender. But then came the question which probably made all the other answers meaningless - how often I vote in elections. Elections? I don't even vote in my own blog questions....

Long-time blog readers probably know I do NOT vote in elections for religious reasons. When I pressed the phone option for "rarely or never," the interview session ended. Rasmussen Reports tends to quote numbers from "likely voters" in its poll results. They probably want the rest of us to quit riding the fence, and start building one along the Arizona-Mexico border.

I've heard some people call Rasmussen Reports the most reliable pollsters, when it comes to politics. Based on my short phone session, I'm not sure what makes them more reliable than Gallup. People can lie with fingers on a phone pad every bit as easily as with words at the front door.

The first Rasmussen Report poll since the Alabama runoff came out this week -- and it's a bit stunning. Republican Robert Bentley has a 20-point lead over Democrat Ron Sparks in the race for Governor. It must be the Alabama football connection - since Bentley is from Tuscaloosa, and has that elephant symbol.

As for the Georgia Governor's race, Rasmussen's latest poll shows Nathan Deal six percentage points ahead of Roy Barnes. Karen Handel is only one percentage point ahead of Barnes. For some reason, Rasmussen did NOT ask a Deal-Handel question about the Republican runoff - perhaps because the last thing we want to see is a divided party.

-> Our other blog starts with poker, then goes in directions you might not expect. People around the world visit "On the Flop!" <-

E-MAIL UPDATE: He was on this week's Columbus Council "Public Agenda" as C.A. Hardmon. Maybe that's why news reports ignored him - they didn't realize his other identity....


When it comes to most media in this town I seem to always have a sore throat [28 Jul]. They want my information on the Bruner case but do not want me on camera. Guess they do not realize I write for the Courier/Eco Latino. The Ledger and the TV news always seems to leave me out of the story. My ego is not very big so they are wasting their time if it is done to hurt me in anyway. My thing is fairness and justice not limelight.

Mr. DuBose is a much better speaker anyway. So the people get the money's worth.

Nevertheless, this story is about a lot more than screws and car tires. The mayor was provided with evidence unearned time was be awarded and employee and a higher ranking chief had ordered another chief to change time. The mayor wants the public to believe we do not even know what we are talking about by using the term time cards. He claims CFEMS does not even use time cards anymore. However, that was the terminology in the Fair Treatment Report filed against Chief Jeff Meyer.

My point is that when the mayor was provided with evidence there was misconduct, he did not move to straighten it up he moved to cover it up, and the facts prove the assertion. The Internal Auditor never performed an audit of CFEMS, though he recommended to the mayor that one be done ASAP. However, there was an investigation that generated a 3-page report that does not come close to doing Battalion Chief Bruner's Fair Treatment Report any justice. Redmond's report does not square with the facts. Screws are not tacks. Whatever system you use to award unearned time or whatever you call the system, somebody is ripping the city off for dollars.

The NAACP and Grassroots Unity Movement for Change have been consistent from the start. We have always urged there be a GBI investigation of P & R and the Bruner case. The mayor is the one worried what they my find in the CFEMS. Likewise, he is worried they would not find anything in the P & R investigation.

There certainly is a double-standard under this mayor. He does even try to hide it and City Council refuses to publicly challenge him on it. There is evidence that will prove just about everything the mayor and internal auditor said about the Bruner case is not true. There is documented evidence, but the council is sitting on its hands.

There is no way you cannot at times believe it is all just about who the messengers and the victims are that counts more than justice or the truth. The mayor has been involved in cover up and a lot of folks are just acting like it did not happen, and buying into this garbage that Chief Bruner never mentioned a word until 13 months later about the screws. When we disprove that, it will instantly be another lie that moves to the forefront. The fear and division in this community allows that to happen, which has been particularly true under the Wetherington administration.

This one is going to really wake this town up. Keep a watch out.

God bless,

Brother Love, Director

Grassroots Unity Movement for Change

It's nice to know the writer's ego is "not very big." Some of his columns and e-mails are, but he's not....

The debate over doctored "time cards" sounds to me like a word game. Fire Chief Jeff Meyer says employee work records have gone computerized in recent years. Yet plenty of workers still would call them "time cards" or "time sheets" - although even the word "sheet" might be considered too racially sensitive nowadays.

Yes, "screws are not tacks" -- but I know from experience they can cause the same amount of damage to your tires. It's not the name of the thing, you know. It's the point of the thing that counts.

So why wait to release the evidence, which supposedly condemns the Columbus Mayor and proves Janice Bruner's points? The most silent person in this story right now is the woman at the center of it all. But perhaps Janice Bruner has to schedule her news conference around all the other city employees Stacey Jackson is representing.

Meanwhile, WRBL reported Thursday the Georgia NAACP has requested a "Rec-Gate" ruling from the U.S. Justice Department. Edward DuBose wants to know if Columbus Mayor Jim Wetherington has the power to request city audits. Why ask officials in Washington that? Isn't that a city charter issue? Or has Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker already cleaned out his office?

The Columbus city government "flow chart" shows the Internal Auditor on the same line as the City Manager, one line below the Mayor. But the "Citizens of Columbus, Georgia" sit above them all - so I'd like to request an audit of whether the Mayor or City Manager spends more money on suits.

Here's one other e-mail, which became hidden in our Spam box Wednesday night:

Suppose to have the 4 canididates for mayor doing a scraubble on the show Thursday morning


Yes, I knew the candidates were appearing on WLTZ's "Rise N Shine." And playing Scrabble should have been much more organized than those forums with viewer phone calls....

I tend to finish blogging late at night these days, so 6:00 a.m. ET is awfully early for me. But I was ready Thursday to record the mayoral candidates' discussion. I woke up in bed at 5:30 a.m. - then the next thing I knew, it was 7:15. So at least I'm not losing any sleep over this race.

WLTZ's evening newscasts again didn't consider the mayoral candidates worthy of a story. Instead, viewers saw a special report on "Craigslist Call Girls" - and I'm personally glad this story wasn't assigned to Dee Armstrong for "Fixing It."

Thanks for your e-mails, comments and eyeballs - and now let's review the things I did NOT miss Thursday:

+ New teachers in Muscogee County schools began an orientation program. I assume all grade school teachers are required to know the proper spelling of furlough.

+ Columbus, Phenix City and Fort Benning leaders announced a combined task force to fight underage drinking. The ceremony at the Columbus Civic Center was called "Three Rings of Commitment" - so I expect tickets for the Shrine Circus will be on sale today.

(Really now - who came up with that name, "Three Rings of Commitment?" Encouraging threesomes in a Bible Belt city simply doesn't seem right....)

+ A man told WTVM he brought home a food order from the Phenix City Zaxby's - only to find a dead cockroach, apparently fried with his dinner. He did NOT eat the roach, to determine once and for all if it tastes like chicken.

+ Canterbury Health Care opened expanded facilities in Phenix City. The officials at the ribbon-cutting included State Senate candidate Billy Beasley. I didn't know he drove up from Barbour County in the middle of the night, to fill nursing home prescriptions.

+ The Columbus area escaped Winn-Dixie's butcher knife, as the supermarket chain announced the closing of one Alabama and two Georgia stores. This is especially good news for people in Columbus South -- because the thought of replacing the South Lumpkin Road store with a third Piggly Wiggly in a two-mile radius would be too hard to bear.

+ Columbus Northern completed a sweep of pool play at the Georgia Little League baseball tournament. Northern knocked over Walton County 16-0 - which is amazing, considering a team with "Walton" in its name should have the best equipment Wal-Mart can provide.

+ WRBL hosted a pre-season cookout for all area high school football coaches. The coaches had to be careful about what they ate. Anyone asking for chicken could have it mentioned on their rivals' bulletin boards in September.

+ WTVM showed the annual picture day for the Carver football team, in the high school gym. What happened after the photo session was NOT shown - with players ripping out bleacher planks to take home as souvenirs, before demolition begins next week.

+ Instant Message to President Obama: OK, that's nice - you were on "The View" Thursday. Now will you do the fair and evenhanded thing? You should appear on that other 11:00 a.m. program - and show your economic prowess as a contestant on "The Price is Right."

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© 2003-10 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

29 JUL 10: Free to See, You and Me

Be advised - today's post may contain what the late Paul Harvey called "a little bit more than I know." We tried to get some solid information about this topic, but didn't find much. But that doesn't stop a lot of political bloggers, so it might be good enough for me....

For the first time since last year's "Big Switch," warning messages are appearing across the screen on WTVM and WXTX. They warn the stations could disappear from Mediacom Cable Friday. I knew the summer heat was bad, but you don't expect TV stations to evaporate like this.

The warning messages say Mediacom's contract to carry WTVM and WXTX has expired. The cable company is showing the stations through Friday -- but if contract details aren't worked out by then, the stations could go off the box. And "America's Most Wanted" criminals could stay on the loose for years to come.

What's behind this Columbus TV standoff? Alas, that proved to be the problem Wednesday. First I called WTVM General Manager Lee Brantley, at the "Hey Lee" number which actually does reach his office. But my message was not returned -- almost as if Brantley fears I might return to see him someday.

Then I called the Mediacom contact number shown on its website. After only a couple of phone key presses, I talked to a real person in the cable TV area. I suppose we should declare Mediacom the upset winner in customer service right there, and move on....

But anyway: the Mediacom operator said he had no special notices about possible changes in Columbus TV service. Perhaps the news about WTVM and WXTX hasn't reached the Mediacom call center yet. After all, it took local stations four days to discover a giant marriage proposal above the 13th Street Viaduct.

The most detailed explanation of this standoff comes not from Columbus, but Albany. The big TV station there indicates Raycom Media is in negotiations with Mediacom about all its stations nationwide. WALB's contract runs out in December. In Columbus, we've gone to "extra time" -- and things could end with a penalty kick-off of programming.

(WALB apparently is displaying warning messages as well - five months before the Mediacom contract expires. Perhaps there's a well-coordinated deal to sell broadcast antennas at Best Buy.)

The Albany explanation includes everything but what Raycom Media and Mediacom are negotiating. I think the answer to that is simple - money. The cable company really doesn't care whether Barbara Gauthier or Semone Doughton anchors the 6:00 p.m. news.

Once upon a time, cable TV companies offered local broadcast stations to customers as a public service. But many stations have decided if cable is going to pay fees to show networks such as ESPN and MTV, they should pay to show local programs as well. No, I do NOT think that's how WTVM's "Share the Wealth" campaign started.

Some cable companies have tried to resist paying retransmission fees. Cable TV of East Alabama sent its own warning messages to subscribers three years ago - and WTVM was inundated over Memorial Day weekend with angry calls and e-mails. But the cable company eventually gave in [1 Jun 07], as the thought of showing Montgomery's ABC affiliate was too hard to bear.

At this point, it appears Mediacom Cable is taking a low-key approach to the negotiations with WTVM and WXTX. After all, if the operators aren't telling customers Lee Brantley is the greediest man since Bernard Madoff....

But Raycom Media's on-screen messages might be seen as something more than informational. News anchor Jason Dennis admitted on his Twitter feed Wednesday he's been looking for an excuse to switch from Mediacom to satellite TV. Normally men only care about "dishes" when they're at the kitchen sink after dinner.

Of course, some of us have no Animal Planet dog in this media fight. I still have basic broadcast TV at home, and that's good enough for me. The programs on eight stations are free. And I think the women in my church congregation come much closer to being "Real Housewives."

Let's switch off the set now, and check some Wednesday news clippings....

+ The high temperature in Columbus was 96 degrees F. That was down a bit from recent days, yet WTVM notes Columbus could wind up with the hottest July on record. You KNOW it's hot when you leave a bag of popcorn in your car at the start of the workday, and it's popped by lunchtime.

+ A Columbus assistant city attorney told WRBL Battalion Chief Janice Bruner never contacted city affirmative action officers about her issues with Fire/EMT directors. Considering it took Bruner 13 months to file a fair treatment report over screws in her tires, maybe she's simply too busy doing her job.

+ The Atlanta Journal-Constitution checked divorce records, and found Georgia Attorney General candidate Preston Smith admitted in court to an adulterous affair with a staff member. If Smith wins the Republican runoff, Ken Hodges obviously won't have to change his "prosecutor, not a politician" slogan.

+ Authorities in Pinson, Alabama reported they discovered a methamphetamine lab operating behind a produce stand. That wasn't juice from the oranges keeping customers healthy - it was the well-hidden cough syrup.

+ Columbus Northern stayed unbeaten in the Georgia Little League baseball tournament by mauling Martinez-Evans 15-5. Someday I'll find out once and for all if that city near Augusta is pronounced MAR-ti-nez or Mar-TEE-nez. Maybe it was founded by the same people who founded Buena Vista.

(WRBL noted the Northern game was delayed when the sprinklers at Double Churches Park came on unexpectedly. So how many parents tried to rush onto the field to cool off?)

+ Instant Message to Heath Jackson of WBOJ-FM "88.5 The Truth": I heard you mention Wednesday was National Milk Chocolate Day. But here's my question -- why? Do Hershey's and Nestle really want their chocolate bars to melt, while I drive them home from the store in midsummer?

The Blog of Columbus had nearly 25,000 unique visitors in the first half of 2010! To advertise to them, make a PayPal donation, offer a story tip or comment, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

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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.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

28 JUL 10: Screws Loose Somewhere

You never know what might come up at a Columbus Council meeting. Tuesday night, there was an impassioned debate about screws. In fact, I haven't seen such a lengthy discussion about that topic since Russell County school principal Larry Screws was arrested a few years ago.

Georgia NAACP President Ed DuBose demanded the city order a state investigation of screws found in a fire battalion chief's tires. DuBose warned it could be a case of "domestic terrorism." I can't wait to see the reaction from service personnel, when I use that phrase to explain a flat tire at Wal-Mart.

All this stems from the recent fuss over a "missing" city audit of Columbus Fire/EMT. Battalion Chief Janice Bruner filed a complaint with the city, claiming someone placed two-inch screws near the tires of her city car. If that was intentional, the person who left the screws has a twisted set of morals....

Janice Bruner says she drove to a fire scene, not knowing the screws were in the tires. That obviously could have been dangerous. But domestic terrorism cases in the last decade have tended to be more violent than that. And why would a terrorist go after a Columbus firefighter, when Fort Benning soldiers are only a few miles away?

While Ed DuBose called for a Georgia Bureau of Investigation, uh, investigation, Mayor Jim Wetherington would hear nothing of it. He said Janice Bruner waited 13 months to file a complaint about the screws near her car -- and it's not like Senate Republicans were staging a filibuster about it.

Mayor Jim Wetherington added for all we know, the screws may have been placed near a Columbus Fire/EMT car by young pranksters. You know, the sort of people who leave empty beer bottles standing in the middle of a restaurant parking lot - providing a great reason why Georgia needs a bottle deposit law.

One unanswered question from the late-night newscasts was whether the G.B.I. would have hard evidence to study in this case. Did Janice Bruner somehow keep the two-inch screws? Have city workers held onto the damaged tires? And are certain groups of people more likely to use straightedge or Phillips screws?

But let's be honest here - the debate here involves a lot more than two-inch screws. Ed DuBose and the Georgia NAACP clearly smell a double standard by the mayor, between the handling of the Parks Department and Fire/EMT audits. They also seem intent on making Jim Wetherington a lame-duck mayor as soon as possible.

If the G.B.I. is going to review the case of the stray screws, Columbus Council may have to override the mayor and approve a resolution about it. In the meantime, maybe it's time the NAACP held a special targeted membership drive - to add several private detectives.

I didn't realize until I checked the Columbus Council agenda that two men talked about the Fire/EMT audit. Ed DuBose followed C.A. "Brother Love" Hardmon - and if only DuBose's emotional comments made the late-night newscasts, Hardmon must have spoken with a sore throat.

The main topic of the evening for Columbus Council was supposed to be new procedures for handling ALL city audits. But the discussion was postponed, because a proposed ordinance had late changes by a Councilor who was absent. Mayor Pro Tem Evelyn Turner Pugh may have chosen an event with more unity and less tension -- the Little League baseball tournament.

By the way: too bad for the Georgia Blazers basketball team. It lost in the semifinal round of that AAU tournament in Orlando. A final-round game would have put the Blazers on ESPN-U Tuesday night - and then the entire country might have learned about Tony Adams and that Parks Department audit.

-> A big online poker tournament, a big comeback -- and one big regrettable decision. Read what happened to us Tuesday night at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

E-MAIL UPDATE: Tuesday's originally scheduled hot topic inspired our first message from one of this year's local candidates....

After reading the comment in the Sunday edition of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer on the handling of city audits by holding closed door sessions, I feel I must comment. To hold such meetings before the public can review the documents is what contributes to public mistrust of our government.

First, let me state that I believe in the initial purpose of the audits- to assess the appropriate use of city funds to ensure the money is being spent for the intended purposes. I think this helps track the money and allows our city leaders and citizens the opportunity for input to improve the process.

Unfortunately, the process has been tainted by charges of racism, political favoritism, and the perception that the audits are being used to target individuals.

My hope is we can sort through the various political agendas, and get back to the business of being the best caretakers of the tax money from the citizens, and using the funds for programs that provide positive opportunities for our kids.

Bruce Huff

Candidate for District 3

Columbus City Council

Hmmmm - what do you think of this? I mean, it's a compliment when a political candidate writes a blogger like me. But shouldn't Bruce Huff follow Ed DuBose's example, and reserve five minutes at a Council meeting?

The comment about discussing city audits in a closed session happened to come from Councilor Julius Hunter - the man Bruce Huff hopes to unseat in November. The newspaper article added a statement from City Attorney Clifton Fay that Georgia law bans such closed-door meetings. The next logical question is whether Fay is barred from endorsing Huff.

Let's close the audit books now, and check the paperwork from other Tuesday news....

+ A Muscogee County School spokesperson told WRBL the online auction of Carver High School memorabilia raised about $14,000. Valerie Fuller said a large tiger over the old building is now "in storage," until the new high school is built. She was NOT more specific - lest construction workers find the tiger covered with a "Green Wave" of paint.

+ A car crashed into the side of a veterinary clinic in Lanett. Police told WTVM the driver blamed her flip-flops, which became stuck in the gas and brake pedals. The staff at Jay Toyota probably called the U.S. headquarters as soon as they heard that.

+ The Gospel Music Association announced the Dove Awards will be presented in Atlanta next year, after decades in Nashville. It's about time Christian musicians cleaned up that "Dirty South" stuff....

(But whose idea was it to present next year's Dove Awards at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta? I don't need a Bible to know doves and foxes don't really mix.)

+ Columbus Northern bashed Brooks Area 12-7, in the Georgia Little League baseball tournament. So why is the team called "Brooks Area?" Please don't tell me they followed Tony Adams's example, and brought in players from far outside Brooks County.

The Blog of Columbus had nearly 25,000 unique visitors in the first half of 2010! To advertise to them, make a PayPal donation, offer a story tip or comment, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

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© 2003-10 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

27 JUL 10: Shirley, He's Running

What a fast couple of weeks it's been for Shirley Sherrod. One day you're a middle-level Agriculture Department employee. Then you become an Internet star. Then you get an apology from the President. And now Sherrod may be finding new short-term work -- as the Democratic Party's answer to Sarah Palin.

Shirley Sherrod made a surprise visit to downtown Columbus Monday evening, to endorse Rep. Sanford Bishop for re-election. Sherrod gave an endorsement speech at the Government Center - but local TV stations didn't learn the lesson of last week, and only played short soundbites from it.

Shirley Sherrod says she's known Sanford Bishop for years. In fact, Bishop helped Sherrod obtain her first job with the Georgia Department of Agriculture years ago. Of course, critics might call this one good handful of dirty politics leading to another.

Shirley Sherrod describes herself as a "simple country girl" - but she said the events of the last ten days have shown she's a "fighter." I'm not sure how much "fight" really is involved in answering questions on morning TV newscasts. But then again, maybe Elizabeth Hasselbeck argued with Sherrod on "The View."

Shirley Sherrod adds the Internet and media attention has reached the point where "I can't even go to the cleaners" without getting noticed. At least she's going there herself - after Andrew Breitbart practically took her there.

(Sherrod admits she's thinking about suing Breitbart, for posting that video clip from her speech to an NAACP banquet in Coffee County. Wow - imagine the lawsuits Republicans could file against Michael Moore and Sacha Baron Cohen.)

The U.S. Agriculture Secretary has offered Shirley Sherrod a new job, dealing with civil rights matter. Sherrod told reporters she still hasn't read details of the offer, and she's waiting "for the spotlight to fade." There's no better way to accomplish that than by joining a Congressman on the campaign trail, is there?

Shirley Sherrod was with Rep. Sanford Bishop in Albany, before the appearance in Columbus. One online comment I read claimed they arrived with an escort from Muscogee County Marshal's officers. What are those officers supposed to do - sit around and wait for Tony Adams to return from Orlando, before serving papers to him?

It's easy to conclude Sanford Bishop is taking advantage of his friend's "15 minutes of fame" in an election year. But then again, I wonder if Shirley Sherrod is testing some political waters herself - perhaps to become a special niche campaign endorser. She could be the "President Obama did me wrong, but vote for these other Democrats anyway" speaker.

But if that's Shirley Sherrod's plan, she's taking a big personal risk. You'll notice Andrew Breitbart never has publicly apologized for what he posted last week. The reason seems to be as I suspected - Breitbart is hunting for more evidence against her. The latest has clips of Sherrod's husband, and even notes her daughter is named Russia. So where is the outcry about Vladimir Guerrero playing U.S. baseball?

The Shirley Sherrod appearance actually made Sanford Bishop's Government Center event a two-parter. She arrived 90 minutes after the Congressman.... well, WTVM said he "announced his campaign for re-election." Why would Bishop wait six days after the Georgia Primary to do this? Did all the Democrats forget to vote for him last week, because he was unopposed?

The surprise appearance by Shirley Sherrod may have distracted some people from the previously scheduled Columbus campaign event of the day. Mayoral candidate Teresa Tomlinson had a "meet and greet" open house at her campaign headquarters. In contrast, Paul Olson still will get his five-minute griping time at Columbus Council today shown on CCG-TV.

-> Our other blog starts with poker, then goes in directions you might not expect. Visitors from around the world read "On the Flop!" <-

E-MAIL UPDATE: One reader apparently has been mulling over last Tuesday's topic, involving a pit bull attack....

So - when are the cities around here going to step up and do the Right thing.

The link is to a story about Mississippi towns requiring pit bull owners to obtain special permits. One city is about to make owners put their dogs in a pen with a six-foot-high fence and a roof. The owners also would have to obtain $100,000 in liability insurance - which is a creative new approach to a government stimulus plan.

Speaking of "animal stories," we must update Monday's main blog topic. The large cockroach in the honey jar expired Monday morning. Let the record show it survived in the 16-ounce jar three-and-a-half days. All middle school science students now have the challenge of beating that time, one way or the other.

Let's move on to other Monday headlines....

+ WLTZ reported someone attacked and injured a man at an apartment on Sixth Avenue with a "toilet fixture." The person who did this is nothing short of a Lowe's-down bum....

+ Columbus Police arrested a man, after finding 11 video gambling machines in a back room at a Buena Vista Road shopping center. That center includes a Rent-a-Center store - but I hope this wasn't a creative way of helping people behind in their payments.

+ WLTZ revealed members of Fort Benning's Third Brigade will leave Iraq several months early, with the first wave of soldiers returning in August. I'd tell you more about it - but the patriotic side of me refuses to look at all those documents posted by WikiLeaks.

+ Columbus Northern's game in the Georgia Little League baseball tournament was suspended, due to a thunderstorm. I was stunned to see people put a tarp over the infield at Double Churches Park. That's how you know Columbus is a serious baseball town - because where I grew up, parents and coaches simply would let the dirt infield get as hard as a rock.

(Is everybody happy with the Northern All-Star roster this year -- especially compared with 2006? I noticed a couple of African-American players in the lineup. And for all I know, Kobi Buglioli may be like Kobe Bryant and grew up in Italy.)

The Blog of Columbus had nearly 25,000 unique visitors in the first half of 2010! To advertise to them, make a PayPal donation, offer a story tip or comment, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

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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.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

26 JUL 10: Your Pest Prevention

As of Sunday night, my latest science experiment was still alive. I'm really not one for doing elaborate science experiments - although I've found if you never dust off your computer screen, a natural glare filter develops after a while.

This experiment involves a large cockroach, which happened to land in the wrong place at the wrong time. I spotted it Thursday evening inside an empty 16-ounce jar of honey on my kitchen counter. Roaches are the lazy person's dish cleaners, you know. The rice stuck to your serving spoon tonight could be all gone by breakfast time tomorrow.

I walked into the kitchen, spotted the cockroach in the honey jar and jumped on the opportunity. I grabbed the jar lid, twisted it tight -- and my experiment was under way. Animal rights groups will be pleased to learn I added no unseemly chemicals to the jar. And that includes my breath.

The experiment is simply a matter of life and death. How long can this cockroach survive in a closed environment? Call it a "Survivor" home game....

The honey jar had been rinsed for plastic recycling, so the cockroach has nothing to eat. It's apparently left a few (ahem) droppings in the jar, but clearly knows better than to eat them. And unlike other roaches, this one hasn't been scrambling to find an escape route -- as if it assumes one of the 100 new Columbus police officers will come to rescue it.

The cockroach clearly was slowing down, when I checked it Sunday night. It was upside down, but still flailing its legs and moving its feelers a bit. That's something to remember, if you hear on the news about businesses going "belly-up."

This actually is the second year in a row that I've stumbled upon this kind of cockroach experiment. But last year, I had to leave the roach behind after a couple of days when I left town for a church convention. Salvation certainly came up at that convention, but only for humans.

(Yes, the roach was dead by the time I returned home nine days later. In fact, I'd forgotten it had been left behind. But that's simply not the sort of thing you leave with the next-door neighbor for safeguarding -- especially when you don't have children, for creating a "science fair" excuse.)

If this all-natural form of fighting pests seems strange, consider what a man in my church congregation told me over the weekend. "I bought my first pack of cigarettes," he admitted. But no, he did NOT buy them for smoking - even though he became a grandfather for the first time a couple of weeks ago.

This man is trying to keep deer out of his garden - and he read online that nicotine would do the job. So he crushed ten cigarettes and made a formula for spraying on his vegetables. I'm not exactly sure how, but he says it works. Another man who heard about it guessed the deer die of lung cancer.

Hopefully this man will make sure the vegetables in his garden are rinsed, before he eats them. Otherwise, something even stranger and addictive could happen. I don't want to see him show up for a church dinner, and attempt to light a cucumber in his mouth.

-> Thursday night was another big one at the poker table for us. Read what happened (and more) at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

E-MAIL UPDATE: Uh-oh - I may already be in a new online journalist's dog house....

Richard, the Facebook picture? Really! Your post is inaccurate Richard. I do not have a recorded interview with Cheryl Walker. I NEVER offered to sell the taped interview with David Glisson to any outlet. That's something called Checkbook journalism. I do not and will not engage in such. I DID offer the interview to one station, WTVM as a freelance reporter asking to be compensated for my time shooting, writing, producing and editing the piece featuring David Glisson. BIG Difference Richard.

To be clear, The River City Report was created as a news clearinghouse like Drudge for people who don't have time to surf every website for detailed information, it's a great one stop shop for the community. As for the David Glisson interview, I verbally agreed with David not to air the video A. Until his death or B. until he authorized the release while still on this earth.

I don't sit around thinking about how I need an outlet for this interview.


OK, OK -- thanks for the other side of the story. I thought Robbie Watson had told me she talked with Kenneth Walker's widow. Perhaps she did, but didn't record it. I'd think it would have made for a better documentary on "Frontline," but that's her decision.

And by the way: what's the problem with Facebook pictures? I don't think Robbie Watson looks bad in that photo. Unless I've ruined her plans to do undercover investigations at the Government Center....

Speaking of investigations, let's review a skimpy Sunday in terms of news:

+ The Ledger-Enquirer printed its own probe of the "missing" Columbus Fire/EMT audit, which The Courier uncovered several weeks ago. Mayor Jim Wetherington denied trying to hide the report, saying it was on file in his office since February 2009. Columbus Councilors apparently need a seminar in filing open records requests.

(Fire Chief Jeff Meyer admitted fire stations lack security cameras, so items can be stolen while crews are out on calls. Televisions can be taken, computers can disappear - and who knows how many drug addicts have searched for diabetes test kits.)

+ A Cherokee County, Georgia man reported finding four pounds of marijuana, hidden in the frame of a painting he bought five years ago. The painting shows a plant -- because if it showed a weed, that would simply be too obvious.

+ Columbus Northern whipped Warner Robins East 9-2 in the Georgia Little League baseball tournament. In a way, this was a rivalry game between two cities with familiar local icons - and you might say the Aflac duck defeated the lame duck.

+ Instant Message to Metropolitan Baptist Church on Fifth Avenue: I saw your Sunday sermon title on the marquee - "Been in the Valley Too Long." So how many members are planning to move to Atlanta?

The Blog of Columbus had nearly 25,000 unique visitors in the first half of 2010! To advertise to them, make a PayPal donation, offer a story tip or comment, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 499 (- 30, 5.7%)

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.

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

25 JUL 10: Robbie on the River

The time has come to reveal a secret -- one I've known was coming for several months. As of this weekend, the news media in Columbus have new competition. In fact, this one could be both a friend and a foe. Play nice, and you might get a link. Foul something up, and you might wind up with a picture which isn't fit for The Daily Show.

BLOG EXCLUSIVE: As of Friday night, Columbus has its own version of the Drudge Report. "The River City Report" is the latest project by one-time TV sports anchor and "Talkline" radio host Robbie Watson. If a certain Ford dealer would advertise with her, it might become the Rivertown Report....

Robbie Watson hopes her website will become a main stopping point for people seeking news about Columbus. The River City Report is intentionally designed to imitate what Matt Drudge does. Watson probably was as stunned as I was this past week, to learn Drudge actually has a staff of employees.

At this point, The River City Report is entirely Robbie Watson's project. She plans to comb the web each day, posting links to top stories of interest to the Columbus area. Several items this weekend have a military emphasis - as if Watson knows Fort Benning soldiers don't trust that left-leaning downtown newspaper.

But Robbie Watson hopes to use The River City Report to break news from time to time. Her first "exclusive" isn't well-marked above her masthead, but it's about the possibility a big bank might try to buy out Synovus Financial. Let's face it - that "S" symbol hasn't produced a lot of profitable $-signs lately.

A note of full disclosure must be made here. Robbie Watson asked me last winter to help her set up The River City Report - and I was paid a nice consulting fee for doing that. My main job was to build her home page, and make sure it had the proper computer code. Watson has adjusted the page for her big launch. For one thing, there's still no picture of her relative at a Woolworth store....

(You'll notice The River City Report is nice enough to include this blog at the top of its regular "link list" at the bottom of the home page. I didn't ask for that. Robbie Watson gave it to me - and to sit atop the Atlanta newspaper in anything is downright humbling.)

Robbie Watson hoped to launch The River City Report at the end of March. She waited four months to make sure everything was in order, but she's told me she wants the website running at Columbus city elections approach. So who will be first to leave her an anonymous news tip, claiming Zeph Baker and Teresa Tomlinson are dating?

The River City Report at last may give Robbie Watson the outlet she's wanted, for releasing two potentially explosive recordings. Several years ago she gained the only known interview with David Glisson about the Kenneth Walker case. Watson also talked with widow Cheryl Walker -- something the Republicans running for Georgia Attorney General probably also want to do.

People inside Columbus television have told me Robbie Watson offered these exclusive interviews to local stations. But the stations didn't want to pay money to show her recordings. For one thing, they actually MAKE money on Sunday afternoons by showing infomercials with Jack LaLanne....

Please don't confuse The River City Report with another local online project. "The Columbus Report" claims to be in beta form, offering the latest scoop on "what's happening right now in Columbus, GA and beyond." The "beyond" includes everything from baseball updates to Meghan McCain - so this could be a front for the Muscogee County Young Republicans.

The Columbus Report consists largely of Twitter updates, from a wide range of sources. The "local news" is largely from Atlanta, since the news outlets there seem to update more often. And the "locals only" area gives you everything from Booth's Corner Café in Phenix City to Columbus librarian Bobbi Newman. I'm not sure ketchup and kindles would mix too well....

-> Thursday night was another big one at the poker table for us. Read what happened (and more) at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

E-MAIL UPDATE: Our recent mentions of the "gusher in the Gulf" led one reader to think back almost 20 years....

The American people are all worried (and they should be)about the clean up people on the Gulf breathing all the chemicals from the oil and the smoke from the burning oil..Yet,our military veterans who served in Desert Storm were exposed to the burning oil wells and now suffer from illnesses as a result. They are having a hard time getting medical benefits..The sky was black with burning oil smoke and our soldiers were exposed..Now they suffer from lung problems,severe itching rashes,migraines and PTSD and no one will listen...

The U.S. Army actually has a website allowing soldiers to check their health risk from the burning wells in Kuwait. So the viewpoint may have changed from a 1994 report, which called the long-term health effects "minimal." And we should be thankful U.S. soldiers in 1991 didn't have that itching in their trigger fingers.

Meanwhile, Masterbuilt fed about 1,200 Gulf coast residents at its "Grillin' for the Gulf" event in Gulf Shores. WLTZ noted even a couple of zoo animals showed up. I never knew parrots ate fried turkey....

Let's see what else is sticking to our brain this weekend:

+ Mayor Jim Wetherington told the Ledger-Enquirer suspended Parks and Recreation Director Tony Adams should NOT be coaching the Georgia Blazers basketball team at a tournament in Orlando. Now hold on - maybe Adams isn't really coaching. Maybe he's "networking," and handing out resumes.

+ Russell County School Board President Larry Laney told WRBL a contract with interim Superintendent Mike Green might not be ready in time for a Tuesday board meeting. Supporters of other finalists shouldn't get their hopes up about this. Senator Jeff Sessions received a one-week delay in a vote on Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan - and Andrew Breitbart apparently couldn't find anything on her.

+ The annual "Kits 4 Kids" giveaway offered school supplies to hundreds of local children. This was WTVM's big event - yet for some reason, the late-night newscasts never mentioned it. Maybe the economy really has come back, and every parent can afford to buy pens and pencils.

+ WTVM interviewed Chris French about his latest project. Believe it or not, the well-known Columbus car dealer now is involved with Georgia Organic Farms. So what does he say to the farmers - "Let's mark 'em all UP"?!

+ The National Museum of Patriotism in Atlanta announced it will close next weekend, and become an online-only museum. I assume Glenn Beck will blame this on President Obama on his radio show, first thing Monday morning....

+ The Georgia state Little League baseball tournament began at Double Churches Park. Based on the highlights I saw Saturday night, one of the sponsors ought to be an auto glass repair company - because a home run is going to smash a passing windshield sooner or later.

+ Journalists attending "SEC Media Days" overwhelmingly picked Alabama to win the Southeastern Conference football title. Auburn head coach Gene Chizik mentioned during his appearance that pro football teams want to hire some of his coaches. But if Alabama doesn't want them, is that really a compliment?

+ Instant Message to the promoters of Friday night's called-off mixed martial arts card at the Civic Center: Hopefully you learned a lesson from this. Next time, don't schedule MMA on the same weekend as a Fort Benning combatives tournament. Benning is less expensive, and some of the contestants carry weapons.

SCHEDULED MONDAY: An area grandpa buys his first pack of cigarettes.... but not to smoke them....

The Blog of Columbus had nearly 25,000 unique visitors in the first half of 2010! To advertise to them, make a PayPal donation, offer a story tip or comment, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 529 (- 64, 10.8%)

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.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

23 JUL 10: Grilling and Grumbling

Instant Message to all members of Congress who criticized President Obama for vacationing in Maine: Do YOU plan to vacation on the Gulf coast, as you say the President should have done? If you don't, Michael Moore might pay you a visit - and he was pulling political stunts in the media long before Andrew Breitbart did.

Columbus may be a four-hour drive from the Gulf of Mexico and the big oil spill, but one local company plans to show it cares today. Masterbuilt hopes to feed 1,000 people in Gulf Shores, in a luncheon called "Grillin' for the Gulf." It's a bit like the big Jimmy Buffett concert -- except it's a buffet.

Masterbuilt President and CEO John McLemore has been in Gulf Shores for a couple of days, preparing for the big free lunch. He wrote on Twitter it's for "anyone affected" by the oil spill - from fishing crews to cleanup workers. But I assume BP executives in south Alabama will need to show up in a disguise....

(The luncheon will be served at Gulf Shores's civic center. I assume this will be indoors - because otherwise, the weather might be stickier than oil on a pelican.)

But Grillin' for the Gulf won't serve the typical Gulf coast meal. John McLemore told WLTZ the lunch will have 500 pounds of ribs. And the main event may be 90 fried turkeys, prepared with Masterbuilt's Butterball turkey fryers. Alabamians used to fish on Fridays will have to pay for it at Captain D's.

So let's be honest -- this massive Masterbuilt mission is partly a public relations effort. The company probably hopes to gain some customers from Grillin' for the Gulf. And managers also ought to hope no one complains about the turkey actually being fried, not grilled.

(Hey, wait a minute - they're frying turkeys for cleanup workers?! They spend day after day searching for oil on the beach, and now they're going to eat some for lunch.)

Masterbuilt's John McLemore is one of many people encouraging Southerners to visit the Gulf coast, because the oil spill has cost the area a lot of tourists. As they might say along Mobile Bay, business has gone from "jumbo shrimp" to an unhappy medium.

Alabama's Attorney General stepped into the oily mess Thursday. Troy King announced he'll file a lawsuit for the state against BP, because the current damage claims process is too slow. King wants the payoff to be almost as fast as electronic bingo machines do it at Victoryland.

Troy King surprisingly suggested the President's man in charge of oil spill compensation is acting in partnership with BP. King claimed Ken Feinberg actually is being paid by the oil company. If that's true, then why hasn't Feinberg in any of BP's TV commercials?

Meanwhile, three people who were fishing for tuna near the BP oil rig when it exploded in April filed their own lawsuit. The lawsuit seeks compensation for "emotional distress" - not to mention the fact that something blackened their tuna besides charcoal.

-> Thursday night was another big one at the poker table for us. Read what happened (and more) at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

SPAM-A-RAMA: I haven't been to the Gulf coast in nine months -- yet amazingly, I was informed the other day I could be eligible for money from the oil spill compensation fund. Now why would this news sent by e-mail possibly wind up in my "Spam" box?!

"Has the BP Oil Spill Caused you Financial Loss?" the spam e-mail asks. I'm supposed to click on a link to "take action.... claim your part of the $20 Billion Compensation Fund." Personally, I think it's the opposite. Oil on coastal beaches has saved me money -- lowering my temptation to play poker in Biloxi or Panama City Beach.

The fine print of the e-mail indicates it came from a marketing firm - NOT based along the Gulf coast, but in Carson City, Nevada. Aw, c'mon! If I want to make big bucks from the oil spill, I'll stay at home and call attorney Gary Bruce.

Now let's degrease ourselves from all this oil, and check other Thursday news:

+ The high temperature in Columbus hit 100 degrees F. Yet a low dew point allowed for a morning run of nearly one-and-a-half miles. And at this time of year, I don't have to worry about getting lost while running. I simply follow my trail of sweat drops on the sidewalk from home.

+ The candidates for Columbus Mayor held a forum on disability issues at the main library. WTVM reported the candidates plan to hold 18 forums across the city before Election Day. Perhaps by the end of the 18th forum, Paul Olson will be able to finish making all his points.

(Candidate Zeph Baker admitted he wants to see a bigger turnout in the November election, compared with this week's Georgia Primary. I don't think he'll have to worry about that - especially if Sarah Palin starts calling Roy Barnes names.)

+ The Russell County School Board voted 4-3 to begin contract talks with Interim Superintendent Mike Green, to give him the job permanently. Of course, in Russell County the superintendent's job is about as "permanent" as that of a pro basketball head coach.

(WRBL's website reported five finalists for superintendent were supposed to be considered, but board member Chuck Johnson moved for Green to be appointed on the spot. You'd almost think Russell County's school year starts next Monday, not in two weeks.)

+ WRBL's broadcast signal apparently was off the air all evening. I couldn't watch the station newscasts at all on my set. But then again, sometimes I have to leave the living room before my antenna picks up some stations at all.

+ WTVM reported the McDonald's on Macon Road has reopened, after weeks of renovation. The restaurant now has two drive-through lanes - which makes me wonder why Publix didn't approach McDonald's in the first place, if the supermarket really needs a drive-through pharmacy.

+ Georgia had its turn at Southeastern Conference football "Media Days." Receiver A.J. Green denied any illegal tampering by an agent at a party in Miami, telling reporters he's never even been to Miami. OK - so did any reporter follow that up by asking about visits to Fort Lauderdale or Palm Beach?

SCHEDULED NEXT WEEK: I make a big capture, and you'll see the proof....

The Blog of Columbus had nearly 25,000 unique visitors in the first half of 2010! To advertise to them, make a PayPal donation, offer a story tip or comment, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 573 (+ 23, 4.2%)

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.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

22 JUL 10: Mondays with Mari J.

So what have you put inside YOUR shoes lately? I mean, other than your socks and your feet? Wouldn't Dr. Scholl's make a lot of money in the South right now, by selling an insole you can chill in the refrigerator before walking outside?

A Columbus city employee is accused of putting something very different in his shoes. Sheriff's officers claimed Wednesday Anthony Hubbard hid marijuana there, while on the job as a garbage truck driver. Of course, supporters might argue he was trying to make the marijuana easier to roll.

The Muscogee County Sheriff's Office claims Anthony Hubbard sold pot to prison inmates who help pick up the trash. For some reason, one of the big sale days was Mondays. Talk about starting the week on a high note....

Anthony Hubbard reportedly was searched by sheriff's deputies Tuesday, and was arrested when marijuana was found on him. If this is true, we can't really say Hubbard was caught red-handed - perhaps more like brown-footed.

But NO prison inmates will be charged in this case. An assistant warden told WTVM none of them were found with marijuana. This tells me it's not "medicinal marijuana," because the inmates can smoke it in a hurry.

This case clears up some questions about the staffing of Columbus city garbage trucks. The driver acts as a paid supervisor, while prison inmates do the heavy lifting. You know, maybe that's part of the problem. Some prisoners do their time, then "lift" other people's property.

(But this may cause another problem -- in terms of traffic backups. Marijuana supporters will drive slowly behind the trash trucks, hoping for simply a whiff....)

Jail records indicate Anthony Hubbard posted bond - but he hasn't returned to work with the city. If he comes back, he'll be placed on administrative leave and face termination. So I won't be surprised if Hubbard is spotted with Tony Adams at that big basketball tournament in Florida.

That was the other Columbus city employee who made news Wednesday. Tony Adams was spotted in Orlando, coaching Georgia Blazers basketball players at an AAU tournament. He's still coaching, even though he's on administrative leave - so Adams somehow has more clout than Damon Evans did at the University of Georgia.

An attorney for the Parks and Recreation Director told WRBL Adams's trip was paid for by Nike, through a third-party nonprofit group called East Marietta Basketball. If this seems shocking, remember something - Nike never dropped Tiger Woods from its endorsement list.

-> Our other blog starts with poker, then goes in directions you might not expect. Visit "On the Flop!" <-

E-MAIL UPDATE: We don't receive public service announcements very often, but here's one....


Could you please mention the women's book club I am trying to get started in Columbus?

The web site for it is:

Our first meeting will be July 31 and we will discuss Bird in Hand by Christina Baker Kline.

We will meet at Cheddar's at 11:00 a.m. for lunch.

I have been trying to find/start a good women's book club here in town. If you could help me get the word out that would be great!



Talk about an old-fashioned idea! After all, we're in 2010 - and I have friends who call those things DTB's: Dead Tree Books.

(You'll notice Nancy chooses her words carefully. She does NOT talk about "kindling" interest in a book club.)

I was naturally curious about the book these women are reading. "Bird in Hand" is a novel which includes two good friends, a deadly car crash and an adulterous affair. Perhaps this explains why I don't read novels - since plots like that are still on daytime TV every afternoon.

Let's close the virtual book on Wednesday with other news headlines:

+ The Ledger-Enquirer reported Muscogee County school maintenance workers officially have filed their discrimination lawsuit against the district. Former Columbus NAACP President Bill Madison told WRBL he's helping the plaintiffs on his own, separate from the organization. I'll believe that when I see Madison's old hearse parked outside the Public Education Center.

+ The Loft shut down its websites, after WXTX discovered credit card information on dozens of customers was posted online. Posting the credit card numbers is one thing - but revealing to your boss how many drinks you had at the nightclub is something else.

+ A University of Georgia scientist warned the Columbus Rotary Club there's a health risk from the fires burning spilled Gulf of Mexico oil. Dr. Samantha Joye says smoke from the fires could be spreading dangerous materials across south Georgia. Uh-oh -- peanut farmers might have to order an extra tank of herbicide.

+ Documents filed in a lawsuit revealed Victoryland earned about $162 million from electronic bingo in 2008. But it donated less than two million dollars to charities. There's an obvious flaw in the logic here. Casino workers faithfully pay tithes to Macon County churches, from all the money gamblers lose.

+ University of Alabama trustees approved plans for a new psychiatric hospital in Tuscaloosa. I assume a special wing will be available every November, for frustrated Auburn football fans.

+ Southeastern Conference football "Media Days" began in suburban Birmingham. Alabama head coach Nick Saban took a moment to assure reporters he'd be talking about the 2010 season. Crimson Tide fans were all too happy to save that talk for the new fiscal year.

+ Instant Message to WLTZ's Jeremy Babin: If you're going to provide live online updates about SEC Media Days, you'd better learn to spell Nick Saban's name correctly -- either that, or be evenhanded and spell the Auburn coach's first name Jean.

The Blog of Columbus had nearly 25,000 unique visitors in the first half of 2010! To advertise to them, make a PayPal donation, offer a story tip or comment, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 550 (+ 19, 3.6%)

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.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

21 JUL 10: Next of Ken

Tuesday was not a good day for the Georgia NAACP. First it did do a two-step over a controversial viral video. Then its top target for defeat in the Georgia Primary won in a rout. It's almost enough to make the group's leaders go back to Kansas City and hold another national convention.

Final unofficial numbers from the Democratic Primary for Attorney General show Rob Teilhet beat Ken Hodges by about 600 votes in Muscogee County. But Hodges led practically every other county in the state -- so Emily Walker might want to limit her own political plans to running for Columbus Council.

Muscogee County Democrats apparently remembered what happened with that grand jury in 2004 -- or at least were reminded of it by the "attack ad" with the mother of Kenneth Walker. But statewide, Ken Hodges handled Rob Teilhet with ease. The lesson seems to be clear -- justice Teilhet'ed is justice denied.

Georgia NAACP leaders promised to follow Ken Hodges everywhere the campaign trail went, spreading the word about the Kenneth Walker case [12 May]. But what does the civil rights group do now? Does the NAACP oppose Hodges so much that it actually will back the Republican nominee for Attorney General - proving it actually can get along with the Tea Party?

It appeared Tuesday night the Republican race for Georgia Attorney General was heading for a runoff. The leader was Cobb County attorney Sam Olens, whose website calls him a "strong fiscal conservative." Why does that matter for a state Attorney General? Does this mean Olens would fire all staff members, and investigate complaints himself?

In another statewide race with Columbus connections, Republican Seth Harp finished in the middle of the pack for Georgia Insurance Commissioner. That means no runoff, no statewide office - but maybe more TV time for Harp, appearing in commercials during daytime court shows.

Seth Harp admitted to WRBL the Insurance Commissioner vote was disappointing. But he predicted "lawyers will be happy" across Columbus, because he'll spend all his time as an attorney. Well, until someone Harp to lobby in Washington for more base realignment support money.

Seth Harp carried Muscogee and Harris Counties by about a seven-to-one margin. But outside the Columbus area, he didn't do very well. Maybe he should have promised to allow Sunday sales of liquor at convenience stores - even though that has absolutely nothing to do with what the Georgia Insurance Commissioner does.

Harp's campaign for Insurance Commissioner put his State Senate seat up for grabs. Evelyn Thompson Anderson of Grantville won the Democratic nomination by a two-to-one margin over Columbus doctor Joe Hurst. If this was a vote against health care reform, Rep. Sanford Bishop might be in big trouble.

Evelyn Thompson Anderson is listed on a state web site as 66 years old and retired. She told WTVM she wants to "bring gambling to Georgia." Uhhhhh - Anderson must pay at the pump for all her gasoline, and never enter convenience stores....

Evelyn Thompson Anderson advances to take on Josh McKoon in November. McKoon was unopposed in the Republican Primary -- and knowing how he used to challenge Ed Harbison, I suspect his first attack ad will be on the radio by the end of the week.

At the top of the ticket, Roy Barnes rolled to the Democratic nomination for Governor by claiming nearly two-thirds of the vote. If Ol' Roy is good enough for Wal-Mart shoppers with dogs, he's good enough for Georgia Democrats.

Thurbert Baker was second in the Democratic Primary for Governor. David Poythress apparently will finish a weak third - but the good news for Poythress is that he won't have to miss any state paychecks now.

The Republican race for Governor is heading to a runoff in three weeks. Karen Handel led a seven-person field, while Otis Putnam apparently will finish last. Putnam is an hourly worker at a Wal-Mart in Brunswick - about as far off the beaten path as a Georgia Republican can be.

Karen Handel told supporters Tuesday night she succeeded despite plenty of scoffers. She described herself as a candidate against the political establishment, and an "outsider." Outsider?! Did Handel telecommute from home, while serving as Georgia Secretary of State?

WTVM asked Karen Handel about the Republican opponents who accuse her of being too liberal. Handel replied she "can't control what my opponents do." That's quite a contrast with Roy Barnes, who sounds like he's ready to bar lawmakers from proposing an official state cookie.

It appears former Congressman Nathan Deal will face Karen Handel in the Republican runoff. Deal took a different approach from the election night parties in Atlanta ballrooms, by renting an airport hangar in Gainesville. So I suppose Deal started his runoff fly-arounds at 3:00 a.m., by visiting a Waffle House in Augusta.

The biggest story from the Republican race for Georgia Governor may be John Oxendine. A one-time favorite collapsed down the stretch and finished in fourth place. This qualifies as the biggest Republican campaign collapse in Georgia since Guy Millner lost a late lead in the 1990s - and the mill trade hasn't been the same since.

John Oxendine's wife cried on stage before his concession speech. But he told supporters he had "a lot of fun" running for Governor. Life's always a lot of fun until the money supporting you runs dry.

At the federal level, Mike Keown won a three-way Republican contest to challenge Rep. Sanford Bishop. Keown describes himself as a "Baptist preacher," while Bishop is a Baptist deacon and trustee. So I can't wait for someone to ask them during a debate which Bible translation they prefer.

In terms of election night coverage, WTVM showed again why it's the runaway "News Leader" of Columbus. Why, it fouled up more campaign live shots than the other TV stations even tried to put on the air.

While the Georgia Primary had all sorts of attention, there was other items of interest Tuesday....

+ A developer announced plans to build a new Publix store in Cross Country Plaza, next door to the current store. This apparently will allow more room, as well as a drive-through pharmacy - which will balance out Publix selling those green reusable shopping bags.

(Poor Teresa Whitaker of WRBL - she wanted to call the shopping center in Midtown "Country Crossing." But then again, maybe an expanded Publix will have room to sell bingo cards.)

+ Phenix City Police Chief Ray Smith announced the department will obtain four new infrared cameras for patrol cars. I hear these cameras are so powerful that they can see through any exaggeration the mayor might make.

+ The Columbus Cottonmouths announced top-scoring forward Tim Green is retiring. So is penalty-minute leader Dan Leslie, who will become a "juvenile counselor in a youth facility in Canada." Apparently the rules about abusing prisoners aren't as stringent north of the border....

+ Instant Message to Chick-Fil-A of Phenix City: That was quite a surprise while I ate dinner - two employees doing a spontaneous "chicken dance." Put cow outfits on them, and you could have the next award-winning TV commercial.

The Blog of Columbus had nearly 25,000 unique visitors in the first half of 2010! To advertise to them, make a PayPal donation, offer a story tip or comment, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 531 (+ 11, 2.1%)

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.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

20 JUL 10: When Animals Attack

Did you see the unusual video from a home in metro Birmingham? Authorities spent Monday wrestling with and hauling away a loose alligator. How many Alabama football fans now will try to raid "S.E.C. Media Days," and do the same thing to Urban Meyer?

But that scene is tame compared with a couple of Columbus animal stories in recent days. Police announced Monday they will NOT file criminal charges against the owner of a pit bull, which bit a 12-year-old boy on Fifth Avenue over the weekend. After seeing the child's wounds on TV, you wonder why law officers don't use pit bulls to get even with that "Nightmare on Elm Street" guy.

Valerie Brown claims her next-door neighbor said, "Get him," before the pit bull attacked her son. But police decided the dog was NOT provoked, and the neighbor should be cited for "not attending to an animal." It sounds like he "attended" about as well as football fans attended the Columbus Lions game Sunday night.

The 12-year-old boy has serious wounds, and we wish him a full recovery. The pit bull is being held by Columbus Animal Control for ten days -- and if it barks uncontrollably when lights are left on overnight, it may be turned over to Georgia Power for training.

An animal control officer told WLTZ pit bulls are NOT born violent, but many owners want them to be vicious guard dogs. For some of us, a Chihuahua is sufficient for keeping us away -- or at least they were, until Paris Hilton started carrying them in her purse.

As for that other weekend case: police told WTVM two Columbus men got into an argument. One had a dog, who supposedly went after the other man. But the other man had a gun, and shot the dog. There's a Wild West version of the game "rock, paper, scissors" waiting to be developed here....

I recall a case like this occurred in Russell County several years ago. A dog owner reported his neighbor walked outside and shot his pet - but authorities told the owner there was no law against it. Who could have guessed there was that kind of loophole in Alabama hunting seasons?

Animal control experts say if you're threatened by a dog, you should do the exact opposite of your instincts. Do NOT run, but stand still. After all, there's a reason why 400-meter sprint champions don't hold match races against greyhounds at Victoryland.

Long-time blog readers know I'm a cat person, not a dog person. Cases such as the recent ones in Columbus explain why. The most annoying thing cats have done to my body is rub against my legs, to pass me their fleas.

The complex where I live has a "no-pet" clause in the lease. But that doesn't stop one of my neighbors from pouring a large pile of cat food outside her back door. It's NOT in a bowl, but simply piled on the porch. For all I know, the "can man" who collects beer cans from another neighbor's back door might chew on that food for lunch.

Since we're politics-free on this election day, let's steer clear of Columbus Airport and check other Monday headlines....

+ Columbus Police captured a suspected burglar, who was spotted on the roof of a coin laundry on Veterans Parkway. This is why I always sweep my hand around the washer bins, before moving clothes to the dryer - so I don't have to go back and pick up something I overlooked.

+ Mayor Jim Wetherington said he hopes to teach the 100 new police officers the importance of patrolling businesses and homes on the overnight shift. But I fear the WTVM interviewer went away disappointed - because the mayor did NOT endorse that new TV series "Rookie Blue."

+ Preliminary reports showed 32 Muscogee County schools made "adequate yearly progress" on spring exams. But that's down from 42 schools last year, meaning 43 percent of the district's schools fell short -- and I shudder to think how many students would be unable to do the mathematics on that.

(The Ledger-Enquirer reports five of the eight Muscogee County high schools fell short of A.Y.P. for a second year. That means they're now on the "needs improvement" list - and come the fall of 2011, Hardaway and Northside may look like mobile home parks due to all the transferring students in portables.)

+ The Muscogee County School Board approved an agreement which will lead to the demolition of the fire-damaged Baker High School. The school district will swap the Baker land for property next door held by the Columbus Housing Authority. A last-minute proposal involving a trade of Carver and Spencer football players was rejected.

+ Fire erupted inside the historic Langdale Mill in Valley. WTVM reported the damage was limited to part of the mill. WLTZ put the words "Mill Burns Down" on the screen. And staff members with a cable TV station inside the building panicked so much, they fled the building without thinking to point a camera at the flames.

+ The Space Science Center downtown began the first of two days with free admission. The official reason involves the closing of the Omnisphere Theater for maintenance. I think there's also an unofficial reason - to see how many people remember to celebrate the anniversary of the first walk on the moon.

+ Alabama Governor Bob Riley announced Raytheon will open a factory at Redstone Arsenal to produce missiles. If Riley gets his way, the first missile will be programmed to strike Quincy's 777 casino in Shorter.

+ Instant Message to Columbus State University: Shame on me. I never knew until Monday night that the Cougar mascot is named Cody. So there WAS a deal made with the city, to rename that street University Avenue....

SCHEDULED WEDNESDAY: The primary, in all its colors....

The Blog of Columbus had nearly 25,000 unique visitors in the first half of 2010! To advertise to them, make a PayPal donation, offer a story tip or comment, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 520 (+ 21, 4.2%)

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.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

19 JUL 10: Winners and Wanna-Bes

There are two big local topics on this Monday. Both involve battles for supremacy, and making proper attacks at the right places and times. But I'd better stop the comparisons there - because you might conclude I like some of those political commercials.

Congratulations to the Columbus Lions, on winning the Southern Indoor Football League championship Sunday night! At last there's a team of mostly out-of-town athletes that everyone in our city can support.

The Columbus Lions devoured the Louisiana Swashbucklers 68-13 to capture the S.I.F.L. title. Columbus clearly had the swash, while the opponents buckled.

The Lions' stars played like stars in the title tilt. Quarterback Chris McCoy threw for five touchdowns - then was rested in the fourth quarter, so he could make calls arranging for a "championship gear" kiosk to open at Peachtree Mall today.

Damien Daniels lived up to our "D theme" of the weekend at the Civic Center, by intercepting two Louisiana passes. He was a denying defender - and may get a diamond ring to wear with denim at his day job.

The Columbus Lions championship ends years of waiting for Jason Gibson. His tenure as a head coach in Columbus goes back to the Chattahoochee Valley Vipers, which preceded the Lions in 2006. Our area simply wasn't big enough for two sets of snakes....

On top of that, Jason Gibson has coached the Columbus Lions in three different indoor football leagues. First there was the World League, then the American League - and now he's won a championship in the Southern League. Another loss, and Gibson might have been forced to settle for a state title over Macon and Albany.

A couple of things about Sunday night's title game admittedly annoyed me. For some reason, WXTX "News at Ten" never mentioned it. Columbus wins a football championship, and viewers instead get to hear off-key "American Idol" contestants in Nashville....

The larger annoyance involved radio coverage of the S.I.F.L. finals. I had other projects to work on, which kept me from attending. Yet the Columbus Lions were completely absent from local stations. Columbus High School baseball games can get on the air, with only a few days' notice. Were the local radio groups afraid of competing against "60 Minutes?"

Thankfully the S.I.F.L. provided a live Twitter feed of the championship game. Well, it did until the middle of the fourth quarter. The writer apparently decided at that point to leave the Columbus Civic Center, in case fans started burning cars in the parking lot.

(There also were regular online updates from State Senate candidate Josh McKoon - and amazingly, he did NOT mix the score with appeals to vote for him in November.)

But late Sunday night brought perhaps the saddest news of all. I'm told only 2,007 fans attended the S.I.F.L. title game at the Civic Center. I know 2007 was the Columbus Lions' first season, but I don't think that's a good excuse for this....

I drove by the Civic Center at 3:45 Sunday afternoon, about two hours before kickoff - and only five cars were parked outside the main door. Who could have guessed it can be too hot to tailgate before a football game?

The attendance of 2,007 for an indoor football championship game again will raise complaints that Columbus is a dreadful sports town. Maybe next time, the Lions can arrange for Carver and Spencer High Schools to play a scrimmage at halftime.

-> Unusual things happened to us at last Thursday night's poker tournament. Read about them at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

BLOG UPDATE: Now to that other fight for victory - as we've reached the eve of the Georgia Primary. Several candidates will make last-minute trips to Columbus today. Republicans especially need to do it - because they seem to be too stingy to spend money on campaign commercials here.

As we've done in years past, we offer this "political pop quiz" to see if you're ready to vote in the Georgia primary. Ready or not, here we go....

1. Name the Columbus man who is running for state Insurance Commissioner. Explain why he didn't train for the campaign by working at Aflac.

2. Which candidate for Governor has stunned long-time political watchers during primary season - because he actually spoke for himself, without having county sheriffs talk for him?

3. Who are the Republicans seeking to challenge Rep. Sanford Bishop? Why have none of them attempted to track down Dylan Glenn for an endorsement?

4. Which candidate dared to bring up the Kenneth Walker case in a campaign commercial? Why hasn't someone told him that approach didn't work for Sheriff Ralph Johnson two years ago?

5. Which candidates have the backing of the Columbus Tea Party? How much tea must a candidate drink to qualify for an endorsement?

6. Why are the Libertarian candidates unopposed in the Georgia Primary? Does the reason reflect how few members the party has?

7. Who is the woman running for Georgia Governor? Why isn't she playing music from the "Messiah" everywhere she goes?

8. Name the Democrats campaigning for Lieutenant Governor. Explain why people should care about who wins that office.

9. Which Republican candidate likes to refer to himself as an "Ox?" Why is he running for Governor, and not Agriculture Commissioner?

10. Name the two Democrats running for Seth Harp's State Senate seat. Then name which one has a thicker dossier in Republican Josh McKoon's office.

11. How many state representatives and state senators in this area have opposition? Which flavor of doughnut is best for illustrating this?

12. Which candidate for Governor is tired of the "rest of the nation.... laughing at us?" Should I hire a lawyer now, in case this candidate tries to ban humor blogs?

The Blog of Columbus had nearly 25,000 unique visitors in the first half of 2010! To advertise to them, make a PayPal donation, offer a story tip or comment, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 499 (- 66, 11.7%)

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.

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

18 JUL 10: From Mall to Mauled

Some might call the Columbus Civic Center the C.C.C. But this weekend, the key letter is D. Saturday night was the annual "Denim and Diamonds" concert. And tonight, fans want to see Down and Dirty Defense -- even if the game is indoors.

The Columbus Lions play for the Southern Indoor Football League title this evening against Louisiana. For some reason, no one is calling this game the SIFL-Bowl. If it was called the Southern National Indoor Football League, that would have been even better - the SNIFL-Bowl.

The Lions are led into the arena by quarterback Chris McCoy - a man who lives a surprising double life. WTVM revealed the other day McCoy is also the general manager of Peachtree Mall. So if you were wondering where to find SIFL championship T-shirts Monday morning, the answer should be obvious....

Chris McCoy oversees Peachtree Mall's operations by day, then practices with the Columbus Lions in the evening. McCoy has been known through the years as a running quarterback - which may explain why there's no ad for Aéropostale along the boards at the Civic Center.

If Chris McCoy's name sounds familiar, it's probably because of his college football career. He set a record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback, while at Navy. So why isn't he at Columbus Park Crossing, managing the Old Navy store?

But when I heard the name Chris McCoy, something else came to mind -- a collegiate scandal. McCoy was allowed to graduate from the Naval Academy, after (ahem) making love to another student. The female student was expelled - which may prove some quarterbacks simply have great protection.

Chris McCoy received probation from the U.S. Navy - and he reportedly had to do a lot of extra marching before he graduated from Annapolis. Come to think of it, maybe that's how South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford came up with his lie about walking the Appalachian Trail.

Chris McCoy was signed by the Green Bay Packers after playing for the Navy. But that apparently didn't work out, and the native of Morris, Georgia now is in Columbus. Maybe it was the thought of playing in Wisconsin in December and January - and that's why McCoy has two climate-controlled workplaces.

Chris McCoy was named SIFL Offensive Player of the Year. Fellow Lion Damian Daniels was named Defensive Player of the Year. Even the Special Teams Player of the Year plays for Columbus - kicker Trey Crum. The mention of that name makes me want to head for the kitchen and clean my toaster.

The Columbus Lions have come close to winning indoor football titles before, but never have. So I assume Coach Jason Gibson motivated his team this week by showing highlights of the Buffalo Bills from the 1990's....

Standing in the Lions' path tonight is the defending SIFL champion, the Louisiana Swashbucklers. Aw, c'mon - who came up with that nickname, a drunk car dealer?

The Louisiana Swashbucklers play their home games in Lake Charles, at an arena dubbed the "Smugglers' Den." You almost expect the coach to talk about having ten "yarrrrs" to go.

The Louisiana Swashbucklers are so into this theme that their roster includes a defensive lineman named John Paul Jones. Of course, most people hear that name nowadays and think he should be performing with Led Zeppelin....

It will be interesting to see how large a crowd the SIFL Championship game draws. Columbus is considered a big football city. The game time has been set relatively early, at 6:00 p.m. ET. And July usually is a month when church pastors go away on summer vacation.

The SIFL actually will have a second event in Columbus Monday. Awards will be presented to players, as the teams hold year-end meetings. The league should have had six teams this year, but wound up with five. If any more teams evaporate, the scoffing about global warming finally could end.

Now that you're ready for the big game, let's check some timely tailgating topics from the weekend....

+ Online reports indicated a drunk driver ran over several mailboxes on River Road. This wouldn't be happening if River Road Elementary was a year-round school - because police would have a radar post there at most hours of the day.

+ WRBL revealed details of the Columbus city settlement of a hotel-motel tax dispute with Orbitz. The travel website will pay the city $450,000, then be immune from paying taxes for ten years. I'm left wondering where city attorneys got this idea -- from playing Monopoly, or Dungeons and Dragons.

+ Harris County Commissioner Joey Loudermilk was appointed to the Georgia Board of Education. Loudermilk is an executive with Aflac - so I assume biology students won't have to worry about dissecting ducks.

+ Carol Porter campaigned in Columbus for Georgia Lieutenant Governor. Her husband DuBose Porter is running for Governor, but did NOT appear with her - so please don't tell me they have a plan to save money on state employee travel.

+ Georgia gubernatorial candidate Nathan Deal claimed "real women" support him -- apparently compared with Sarah Palin endorsing Karen Handel. Those plastic surgery rumors simply won't go away....

+ Instant Message to Kingdom Minded Entertainment: I hope your weekend show with "clean Christian comedy" went well at the Cunningham Center. I try to do the same sort of thing here - which explains why I haven't mentioned Mel Gibson here lately.

The Blog of Columbus had nearly 25,000 unique visitors in the first half of 2010! To advertise to them, make a PayPal donation, offer a story tip or comment, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 565 (+ 13, 2.4%)

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.

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