Monday, August 23, 2010

23 AUG 10: The Season of Giving

If anyone has done a formal poll on the Columbus Mayor's race, I haven't seen it. And I know better than to trust online polls -- even the one I posted several months ago. For instance, whoever set up a current poll at The Courier's website somehow didn't realize Paul Olson is running....

All four candidates for mayor have submitted campaign finance reports for the first half of this year. These reports raised some eyebrows four years ago, when Jim Wetherington received a donation from a Victory Drive nightclub. Yet you'll notice several of those clubs continue to make the crime report - so does that show how ethical and upright he is?

We looked through the campaign finance reports Sunday night, beginning with Paul Olson. You know, the man who brags online he's "not controlled by special interest money." Almost three-fourths of his "contributions" consist of Olson loaning money to his own campaign - so I guess this means he's self-controlled.

The only famous name on Paul Olson's contributor list is Paul Voorhees, the owner of Ranger Joe's. Olson is a retired military man, of course - but is he suggesting today's military isn't that special?

Paul Olson also has financial support from the owner of City Cab Company. That explains the bumper sticker I saw on one of those red taxis Sunday. Even in a nonpartisan mayor's race, Olson is now the "red" candidate.

By comparison, the campaign report filed by Wayne Anthony is much more star-studded. His 17-page list of donors includes Dan Amos of Aflac, Steve Melton of CB&T, several members of the W.C. Bradley/Turner family - and based on this list, apparently Paul Pierce of the Springer Opera House now can be considered "old money."

Someone told me months ago Wayne Anthony would be the "business candidate" in the mayor's race. I counted $5,000 in contributions from Aflac executives alone. And to balance any alleged "fat cats," there's a donation from Dr. Jan McBarron of Georgia Bariatrics.

The Wayne Anthony contribution list also includes newly-appointed Judge Bill Rumer and Muscogee County School Board Chair Philip Schley. Did the envelope with Schley's check mention anything about the school district changing classroom hours?

But the $55,000 in donations to Wayne Anthony's campaign is puny, compared with Teresa Tomlinson. She reports contributions of nearly $145,000 through the end of June. And you thought no one was prospering in this economy....

The mayor's race may be nonpartisan, but Teresa Tomlinson has a $500 donation from the Muscogee County Democratic Committee. I found no such donation for any candidate from Muscogee County Republicans - but then again, they're trying to spend every dollar they can to unseat Sanford Bishop.

A side-by-side comparison of the financial reports is eye-opening in one way. Several Columbus executives are splitting their ticket - giving to both the Wayne Anthony and Teresa Tomlinson campaigns. Synovus executive James Blanchard gave $500 each way. If they wind up in a runoff, Blanchard may have to flip a credit card to choose a favorite.

That leaves the campaign report of Zeph Baker - and despite all his billboards around Columbus, he reported practically the same amount of contributions as Paul Olson. He's raised less than $30,000. You'd think someone named Baker would be better at raising things than that.

Zeph Baker's financial report includes a donation of supplies from former Columbus NAACP President Bill Madison. And Baker's minister/father Wayne was nice enough to make a donation. I'd expect dear old Dad to give more than $100 - but maybe this is on top of the new car as a high school graduation gift.

Zeph Baker's financial report contains perhaps the most jaw-dropping donation of all. He received $2,400 from "Bermuda Tan, Inc." on Veterans Court. Really now - a tanning salon endorsing Zeph Baker?! I never quite thought of One Columbus working this way....

-> 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: There's still time to vote in our Big Blog "Burger Blowout" Question - and today, a reader seems to explain a vote for "Other"....

Best burger in town is B Merrill's cheese burger,but first you have to have an order of the best chicken wings in town..No biddy wings and drums,but real chickens cooked perfectly...followed by the best burger ever...

Wow -- I didn't know the B in B. Merrill's stood for "burgers." I've heard much more about the chicken at that restaurant. And no, I do NOT mean the manager who chickened out of having a restaurant on Manchester Expressway.

Now let's check some weekend leftovers, which are dominated by education:

+ Several sources tell your blog Chattahoochee Valley Community College will miss the scheduled September opening of its new Instructional Center. The ribbon-cutting may not come until December - and the blame is placed on last year's heavy rains. If the new building trained engineers instead of nurses, things might have moved along faster.

+ Columbus State University held its annual freshman convocation. C.S.U. is overlooking a way to draw a big crowd for this event - by merging it with Tuesday's foam party.

+ WXTX showed the Spencer High School marching band holding a fundraising concert, in the parking lot of the Airport Thruway Wal-Mart. Aw, c'mon - Airport Thruway?! I realize the Buena Vista Road store is Kendrick's turf. But how did the Hardaway band let this group slip in?

+ The annual "Heroes Read" event was held at the Columbus Public Library, with books read to children by soldiers and firefighters. The Government Center could use an event like this - with the mayor reading the results of the Fire/EMT Department audit.

+ The first "BarkWorld Expo" concluded in Atlanta - a conference focusing on social media and animals. As if Twitter wasn't enough?! What are they planning next - Fishbook? An expanded version of "Digg" for dogs?

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