Wednesday, August 04, 2010

4 AUG 10: Sonny C. vs. Sonny P.

The calendar shows it's Wednesday, but plenty of Phenix City store owners can't wait for Friday. They hope to have a big weekend of sales - and hope all Columbus parents cross the river to save some money. Why, Superintendent Larry DiChiara might shake your hand personally in the checkout lane.

Alabama Governor Bob Riley visited the Phenix City Wal-Mart Tuesday, to promote this weekend's state sales tax holiday. Just in time for the start of a new school year, certain items will be tax-exempt. Of course, that's not enough for some parents. They lined up for school supply giveaways - which were wallet-exempt.

This is the fifth year of Alabama's sales tax holiday - but this year there's a big difference. Georgia canceled its holiday, because the state government is so short for money. Governor Sonny Perdue used to give teachers Office Depot shopping cards -- and now he gives them slips of pink paper.

Alabama's Governor seemed to seize on Georgia's cancellation of a tax-free shopping weekend. Not only did Bob Riley show up in Phenix City, but so did an executive from the Alabama Retail Association. She declared: "Georgia's loss is Alabama's gain." It might not make up for all the lottery players visiting Georgia, but it's a start.

Phenix City Mayor Sonny Coulter also attended the Wal-Mart news conference. He told WTVM his city needs to bring in money "any way we can." Oh really? Then where's the mixed martial arts fight at Garrett-Harrison Stadium, between the mayor and Jimmy Wetzel?

Yet Phenix City has joined many other East Alabama cities, in suspending city sales taxes for certain items from Friday to Sunday. Mayor Sonny Coulter hopes while you're shopping, you'll buy items which are NOT tax-exempt. So if you buy your daughter a new dress, a matching handbag might cost you a hand and a foot.

Governor Bob Riley seemed unconcerned that the three-day tax-free shopping weekend will cost the state of Alabama millions of dollars. In his words: "It's not the state's money - it's the people's money." Attorneys for Victoryland wrote down that quote, to use in their next court hearing.

Make no mistake -- Alabama and Georgia both have challenging state financial situations. While Georgia is ordering furlough days for state workers, Alabama's Governor simply announced 7.5 percent proration for schools. Bob Riley let the math majors show their stuff from there....

Before Wal-Mart opened its SuperCenters across Columbus, I shopped at the Phenix City store often. The sales tax holiday probably will lure me there again this weekend. One of my dress shoes is wearing thin on the bottom - and the last thing you want at a church service is an insecure sole.

But I primarily shop at Wal-Mart to buy groceries - so after I look for clothes in Phenix City, I'll probably drive back down U.S. 80 to Columbus and visit a second Wal-Mart. After all, Georgia still has a state sales tax exemption on food while Alabama does not. Any political candidate proposing an end to that exemption would be, well, a cooked goose.

Now that you know my two-timing plan, let's give a once-over to other Tuesday headlines....

+ Columbus tied a record for the date, with a high temperature of 98 degrees F. Trouble is, the city already has closed its swimming pools for the season. Whoever came up with this schedule must really think "summer" begins with the first big blockbuster movie in May.

+ The Russell County School Board approved a contract for Superintendent Mike Green. WRBL reported Green will take a $6,500 pay cut, compared with Yvette Richardson. His expense account is being reduced as well - which tells me he won't need to spend nearly as many weekends in Birmingham.

(Green says he plans to be Superintendent "for the long-haul." Of course, in Russell County that phrase means about two years.)

+ A groundbreaking ceremony was held for a new Marion County High-Middle School. While many in the crowd fanned themselves outside on a hot day, the school cheerleaders performed a routine in uniform. If the football team didn't stage a scrimmage for the occasion, you tell me which one's really a sport.

+ Fort Benning hosted an international "Land Forces Symposium" for Army leaders. If the generals really wanted to impress their guests with a show of "land force," they would have seized land in Chattahoochee County for expansion on the spot.

+ Columbus City Manager Isaiah Hugley admitted to WDAK's "Viewpoint" he's a bit afraid to "Google my name." Don't worry, sir - I did it for you. Wait till the mayor finds out you're really 17, and live in Macon....

(Viewpoint host Mike Gaymon claimed during the interview the Riverwalk has no place to stop for water and restrooms. But that's not true, as drinking fountains and restrooms are available at 11th Street and Rotary Park. There's also a drinking fountain below the Civic Center - which for some reason is the only "Fountain City" fountain at South Commons.)

+ WLTZ interviewed members of a state champion youth baseball team. You may not have heard of it because of its name -- the "Georgia Black Crackers." Another news conference by Edward DuBose appears to be only a matter of time.

+ The New York Mets edged Atlanta 3-2 in National League baseball, on a ninth-inning home run by Jeff Francoeur. I doubt any of "Frankie's Franks" were in the stands at Turner Field for this. His fans probably stopped dressing as hot dogs, after the managers of New York's Citi Field ruled they weren't kosher.

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