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.

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