Tuesday, August 10, 2010

10 AUG 10: Play or Pay

Some people have no interest in filing lawsuits. Other people only sue when they see no other choice. And then there are the people who seem to be making up for lost time -- suing early and often, as if their family is filled with attorneys.

Less than two weeks after announcing plans to sue the Chattahoochee Valley Library system, the head of a local "white rights" chapter is at it again. His latest news release (which we've admittedly edited a bit) takes on City Hall....

Free Speech Advocate Michael Weaver will be pursuing legal action through the ACLU and private counsel against the station manager Michael King of CCG-TV. On April 14th,2010,Michael Weaver submitted a video to be aired on CCG-TV public access TV,which was denied by the current station manager Michael King and then later denied a second time by Asst.city manager Lisa Goodwin. Members and supporters of the National Alliance are going to make sure that the government of Columbus,Georgia.complies with the 1st Amendment rights of it's citizens....

We already have in our possession a copy of the rules and regulations of CCG-TV and this is clearly an egregious attempt on their part to censor our political message.The law is clearly on our side and they are knowingly violating it! If more Americans would stand up for their Constitutional rights,we wouldn't be in the mess we are currently in today!....

In the name of Freedom,Michael Weaver

Columbus,Ga. National Alliance

The video Weaver submitted is called "America is a Changing Country." Tell me about it - because I can remember when "Foursquare" was a game you played during grade school recess.

Michael Weaver's news release included the CCG-TV office phone number, taken from the online list of city departments. When I called it Monday morning, Michael King seemed stunned to learn Weaver named him as a potential defendant. Kicking an issue up the chain of command may not work as an excuse.

Michael King said he had no comment on Michael Weaver's complaint, and directed me to the City Attorney's office. The office staff seemed to know about the complaint, but a message left for an assistant city attorney brought no reply by Monday night. You don't think CCG-TV is in the middle of a city audit, do you?!

We also called the American Civil Liberties Union office in metro Atlanta Monday, to see if Michael Weaver had talked with it about his threatened lawsuits. A message there also went unreturned - and I couldn't even reach a real person. Perhaps that's not surprising, though. ACLU offices must take countless calls every day from angry Rush Limbaugh listeners.

I'm glad Michael Weaver has a copy of the CCG-TV rules. So do I - since they're posted at the city website. I haven't physically printed out a copy, though. I save that action for more important things - like two-for-one restaurant coupons.

But anyway: Michael Weaver calls CCG-TV "public access" television. That might be disputed in a lawsuit, since it's actually "government access" television. Most cities and cable TV systems make a difference between the two. Government access tends to show city and county meetings and news. Public access sometimes spends entire half-hours making quilts.

The CCG-TV rules specifically bar "political programming," unless it's a forum with all candidates for an elected office or information about a Columbus city government ballot question. That's why there's nothing on the schedule about a "Tea Time with Teresa Tomlinson."

Michael Weaver may be seizing on the CCG-TV policy which allows outside programs with "historical or local appeal to the citizens of Columbus." But that policy goes on to specify events "of City departments or other governmental entities." So given the National Alliance's leanings, the video would have to show an all-Caucasian Columbus council meeting from 1950.

I admitted several years ago to personal frustration with area cable TV companies, because none of them offer public access channels [24 Jan 06]. Only a few independently-produced local programs find a way to the cable schedule, and they have sponsors. In fact, the sponsors annoyingly covered part of the screen every week during "Sports Visions."

I don't claim to be an attorney, much less U.S. District Judge Clay Land. But I suspect Michael Weaver might be told to take his video directly to the cable TV companies. Yet attempting to force those privately-run companies to develop local public access channels might be a challenge. Some of them don't even want to pay to show WTVM.

Another option for Michael Weaver is to buy time on WYBU, the low-power TV-16. The day that admitted "white separatist" appears on "Unity with Pam," I want to be in the studio....

If Michael Weaver really wants to spread the National Alliance's message on CCG-TV, there's an easier way to do it. Reserve time on the Columbus Council public agenda. He'd only have five minutes to talk, but he'd be on TV every day for a week. And considering today's lineup includes Edward DuBose and Bill Madison, Weaver might balance things out.

Michael Weaver's second threatened lawsuit made me think a bit about the legal system. The result is a SONG OF THE DAY, which could apply to anyone in a mood to rush to court -- or as the late Paul Harvey liked to call them, "the sue-ers."

But I'm also reminded of a reader who told me recently when people write this blog, they usually "have an agenda." Do you think Michael Weaver is announcing all these threats simply to get free publicity here? After all, anyone can threaten to sue anybody else. It's traditionally only news when the lawsuit is filed, and the attorney gets paid for calling a big news conference.

BLOG UPDATE: The Columbus firefighter arrested for drunk driving last week resigned Monday. Patrick Martin now may follow the example of his Fire Chief - and go into seclusion for weeks.

Fire Chief Jeff Meyer emerged from that seclusion Monday, to talk about the Patrick Martin case. Meyer told The River City Report a firefighter can be, uh, fired if he has two drunk driving convictions in a five-year period. In other words, he needs to stay on the fire wagon for a long time.

Jeff Meyer claimed Columbus Fire/EMT is "more transparent than we used to be." That statement seems strange, considering Fire Marshal Thomas Streeter has done practically all the talking for top Fire/EMT directors in recent months. It's as if Chief Meyer's office has a solid-steel door.

-> 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: We're still receiving responses to our request for home burglary stories, especially if they happened while you were away traveling by air....

While living in Bleecker, AL years ago my house was broken into (literally) while at work. I know the subject matter was "while on vacation" but I need to make two points about the more general topic. One ... the officer taking the report warned me that often the burglars will wait a couple of weeks and break in again after you have replaced the stolen objects. And two ... so the worse thing to do is to have boxes sitting at the curb advertsising what you just added back new to the home. And just for further warning ... be sure that your blank check books are well hidden. Then, if you are burglarized, go through all of them thoroughly. Those who broke into my place took a few checks from the next-to-the-last blank check book and managed to use them before I knew the checks had been stolen, too.

FYI ... my house was burglarized again two weeks later. Luckily (?) I had not replaced anything stolen.

Mike in Columbus

(BTW ... please be sure to thank Robbie Watson for turning me on to your website via TheRiverCityReport.)

That old theory about criminals "returning to the scene of the crime" may be true after all. In 2010, they may become lazy and fail to adjust their GPS devices.

You can tell summer break is over around here, because it was a busy Monday in terms of news....

+ Several local school districts opened for a new term. Carver High School students began attending Baker Middle School. And because of air conditioning problems, some students at North Columbus Elementary simply baked.

(WRBL showed a long line of parents at the Public Education Center, because their residency affidavits have to be notarized. I'd mention the Citizen Service Center in the Government Center basement can take care of that - but then the long line would be to find parking spaces on Second Avenue.)

+ The Chattahoochee Valley Library system announced as of September, residents of surrounding counties will have to pay $35 a year for a library card. Wow -- the Blockbuster Video store on U.S. 280 in Phenix City might not have to close after all.

+ Russell County sanitation workers went on a surprise strike. One of them told WTVM several trash trucks lack working air conditioning -- and apparently people aren't throwing away hand towels during the summer heat, to provide an alternative.

+ Victoryland closed for the second time in six months. Attorneys blamed it on "legal shenanigans" by the Alabama Anti-Gambling Task Force. After all, Commander John Tyson promised "immediate" action against the casino more than a week ago....

+ Columbus Northern won its third consecutive Little League regional game in a row. Northern came from behind to beat Winston-Salem, North Carolina 7-3 in seven innings. Really now - who could root for a Little League team from a city named after cigarettes?

+ Instant Message to the little boy I noticed in the checkout lane of the Phenix City Big Lots: Amazing - you proved it! I'm talking about the Juan Pablo Montoya toy car you put on the counter. You proved an old NASCAR saying - what wins on Sunday sells on Monday.

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