Wednesday, August 18, 2010

18 Aug 10: P.O.'d by T.T.

For the conservative "old guard" of Columbus, Tuesday may have seemed like their worst nightmare come to life. A longtime local critic wasn't calling a radio talk show to complain. Instead, he was a live guest -- interviewed respectfully by the President of the Chamber of Commerce. I don't think Doug Kellett ever went so far as to have him in the studio....

Paul Olson was one of two Columbus mayoral candidates to appear on WDAK's "Viewpoint." The other two will appear next Tuesday - and since Mike Gaymon is asking everyone the same set of questions, Wayne Anthony and Zeph Baker have the advantage of seven days to rehearse their answers.

Paul Olson and Teresa Tomlinson actually found common ground in their one-on-one interviews. Both are concerned about base realignment at Fort Benning leading to housing growth outside Columbus - especially in Fort Mitchell. The sooner the Army seizes that area by eminent domain for expansion, the better.

But Paul Olson is getting a reputation for being the aggressor in the mayor's race. It showed again Tuesday, when Viewpoint post Mike Gaymon asked for his stand on the Columbus property tax freeze. Olson responded by asking twice what Teresa Tomlinson had said minutes earlier - as if Olson was locked in a soundproof booth, borrowed from "Family Feud."

Teresa Tomlinson said the property tax freeze has become an "entitlement" for homeowners in Columbus, which needs to be adjusted for future residents. She indicated she'd propose a ballot question next year to end the freeze for homes purchased after 2012. I can hear critics now, calling this the "Columbus Global Warming" question.

In contrast, Paul Olson said the property tax freeze should remain under all circumstances, and even should be rolled back. That shouldn't surprise anyone at the Government Center -- at least the ones who think he's cold-hearted toward most city employees.

Paul Olson also had somewhat-biting words toward several unnamed 2010 candidates. Perhaps seizing on a commentary by Richard Hyatt, Olson said candidates who supported Karen Handel in the Georgia Primary for Governor now have "egg on their faces," and won't be able to work with the winner in November. Olson should know - he's lost so often, city officials rarely work with him.

Paul Olson was asked how he'd work as mayor for consensus with Columbus Council. His rambling answer focused on an approaching update of the city charter, where the mayor can appoint most of the members of a review commission. You won't mind if Bert Coker rewrites city codes, do you?

Another curious comment from Paul Olson referred to the rail yard under the 13th Street Viaduct. He called rail the least expensive form of transportation, and asked why the Kia plant was built "50 miles away." Is Olson implying city officials bungled a chance to have Kia in Columbus? Or does someone need to tell him there used to be an "Atlanta and West Point Railroad?"

Paul Olson admitted on Viewpoint he's been voting as a Republican, but once ran for State Senate as a Democrat. Yet during a Sunday forum, Olson accused opponent Wayne Anthony of voting in the Democratic Primary after appearing at a Republican candidate's rally. At least they both have experience for this mayoral race in being nonpartisan....

(That forum ended with Olson refusing to answer questions for The River City Report. Olson explained: "You've said some mean things about me." It looks like my chances of gaining a blog-exclusive interview are out the window.)

During her segment on WDAK, Teresa Tomlinson touted her experience as a consensus builder. You need that sort of consensus to get Jimmy John's to share a strip mall in Midtown with other stores....

But what struck me about the Teresa Tomlinson interview was how wonky she sounded. She actually used the word "counterintuitive" while describing BRAC development in South Columbus. Language like that might lead some people to think she's Paul Olson's cousin.

Teresa Tomlinson noted the mayoral candidates have had about 20 forums this year - and she seemed to complain news media coverage of the meetings has been scarce. Why, two hours on "Rise N Shine" have yet to produce one soundbite in a WLTZ newscast....

In my case, I've been waiting for Election Day to draw closer before going politically heavy. With 11 weeks left, it may be time to do that -- before those mysterious October letters with an Americus postmark show up in my mailbox.

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BLOG UPDATE: The head of the Columbus National Alliance chapter says former Municipal Court Judge Haywood Turner never has been a member. Michael Weaver told your blog Tuesday Turner also never has been a "supporter." Turner obviously didn't support Weaver in 2006 -- not in that court case against WTVM's General Manager.

Michael Weaver explained more details about that 2006 civil suit. He says Lee Brantley had a Columbus Police officer escort him and his father out of Thunder on the Hooch, after he gave National Alliance literature to a videographer. Brantley probably wanted that literature kept outside - since you never see a WRBL news crew inside.

Even political candidates have been told to stop handing out items at Thunder on the Hooch. While the event is held outdoors on and around the Dillingham Street Bridge, WTVM rents the space and considers it a "private party." It's so private that thousands of people are urged to attend for free....

Political literature actually can be offered inside Thunder on the Hooch, but only if you pay to be a sponsor. I've seen candidates with tables over the years - including a candidate for District Attorney who put his name on small bottles of water. He somehow forgot 98 percent of those bottles either go into recycling bins, or get tossed along the roadside.

With those matters hopefully resolved, let's check other Tuesday topics....

+ WTVM reported State Senator Ed Harbison was found in violations of Georgia ethics rules for expenditures. Harbison will pay $3,000 in penalties and reimbursement. Recalling the fuss this matter caused on this blog two years ago, Josh McKoon now may be wishing he never moved to a different district.

+ As many as 15 bats were discovered inside Park Elementary School in Hamilton. This obviously caused a stir among parents - who wondered how the Northern Little League team could leave their bats behind on a trip to the World Series.

+ Carmike Cinemas announced it will show all of the Northern Little League's World Series games on a giant movie screen at Columbus Park Crossing. Admission to the screening will be free. Popcorn probably will be sold at the usual overinflated price.

+ Phenix City Mayor Sonny Coulter revealed he hopes to attract college football games to a renovated Garrett-Harrison Stadium. He admitted the games would be smaller than Georgia-Auburn - but wouldn't Troy really want a home-field advantage for a game against Georgia State?

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