Tuesday, September 28, 2010

28 SEP 10: The First Time Ever

Remember where you were the first time you saw that special someone or something? You might have been in a restaurant, in a school hallway - or perhaps the first time you saw this blog, it was two home computers ago.

As we continue our slowed-down vacation mode, today we do some CLASSIC BLOG reminiscing of our own - and remember the first time we mentioned the four candidates for mayor of Columbus. Think of it as an election forum mixed with a time tunnel....

18-21 JUL 04: Several well-known names have a brick in the [South Commons Olympic] display. I found one for "Wayne Bennett Anthony." Is this the TV news anchor, or the Columbus Councilor? Come to think of it, has anyone ever seen these two men together?

21 JUL 04: As I walk around outside the Dylan Glenn [primary campaign] party, I overhear a curious conversation. "Mayor Poydasheff can come sit my dog...." a man says. Well, this IS a bit more polite than "eat my shorts."

A closer look shows this man is venting to Columbus Councilor Wayne Anthony, apparently about the proposed animal ordinance which failed to get enough votes to pass Tuesday. "There's a difference between a yard dog and a house dog," Anthony is told. So which one can last longer in a hot car?

7-16 MAY 08: Speaking of the campaign, it appears State Rep. Calvin Smyre in Columbus will face a challenger in November after all. Zeph Baker plans to announce his campaign next week, apparently as an independent. Baker says he's a "proven community leader" in his church. Now will he please name his pastor, so we can review all those sermons?....

Zephaniah Baker officially announced he'll run as an independent, against State Rep. Calvin Smyre. WRBL reported Baker will be only the third election challenger Smyre has had in 32 years. Isn't this amazing - a House district in Georgia where only two or three Republicans live.

4-7 NOV 04: So what should Columbus do, to find the extra money it needs? There are several possibilities:

+ City employee cookbooks are on sale at the Government Center. Put them inside Barnes and Noble, and charge double the price.

+ Call Paul Olson, a main opponent of LOST [Local Option Sales Tax]. He opposed the city's "Plan A" - now it's his turn to show one....

A public hearing on widening part of Buena Vista Road brought a protest from Brooke's Florist owner Paul Olson, because his business would have to move. That'll teach him to oppose that one-cent sales tax question....

(On the other hand, Olson said the only place he could move his business is "north Columbus." Aw, c'mon - there are plenty of open spots on Victory Drive. And if Fort Benning's ban continues, a few strip clubs might come open soon.)

25 JUL 06: There was an overflow crowd at the Muscogee County School Board Monday night.... Teresa Tomlinson of Midtown, Inc. said based on four community forums, people want a "hybrid" approach taken to the area around the main library. That means a mix of parkland and residential development. That does NOT mean Jay Toyota should sell hybrid cars there....

Teresa Tomlinson told reporters after her school board presentation she was surprised by the response in the forums to making the entire area around the library a park. It had the most negative reaction of any option - which should prove Trees Columbus did NOT pack the meetings with its own members....

Teresa Tomlinson also reported on a smaller survey conducted by the Lindsey Creek Neighborhood Association. Most of the residents polled support the idea of a new school administration building being built near the library. But the current one is so well hidden, to guard against upset parents....

When Teresa Tomlinson's presentation was finished, I followed the TV reporters outside the meeting room for follow-up questions. With a note pad and pen in hand, she understandably thought I worked for the Ledger-Enquirer -- and she later explained to someone nearby a blog was "an Internet newspaper." I'll take that as a compliment, although some officials probably would compare it to Mad Magazine.

To offer a story tip, make a PayPal donation, advertise to our readers or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: Suspended for vacation

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-10 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

26 SEP 10: Piling On

(BLOGGER'S NOTE: We're on vacation, so the blogging pace has slowed for a few days. Today we offer Classic Blog from 18 Sep 06.)

"Does anybody plan to clean that up?" I asked a neighbor Sunday as I approached a shady tree at our apartment complex. A group of men spent most of Saturday afternoon there, and left beer cans scattered all around the tree - almost as if they expect them to grow into kegs in a few years.

"The Can Man will get 'em," my neighbor who looks 60-something answered. The Can Man?! To some people, this might sound like an industrial version of the tooth fairy.

Does your corner of Columbus have a Can Man? It turns out my neighborhood actually does - a man or woman who goes around picking up discarded aluminum cans, presumably for the recycling money. Come to think of it, there's also a bird feeder in the middle of my apartment complex. Except sometimes, men fire pellet guns at the birds....

I think I've seen the Can Man visit my complex from time to time in recent months. Someone walks up to the trash cans near the curb around pickup day, and probes around inside. Either he's looking for aluminum to recycle, or the convenience stores down the street should start offering inexpensive hot breakfasts.

Several years ago, a Can Woman roamed around the Historic District. My late next-door neighbor quietly left aluminum cans in a bucket outside the back door, and the Can Woman picked them up every week or so. Considering my 70-something neighbor sometimes asked me for loans to make it until payday, I wonder why she didn't go roaming herself.

There was a time long ago when I was a Can Man - not because I had to, but because I wanted to. When I went running in Oklahoma, I'd pick up recyclable cans left along the roadside as I jogged/walked home. It was an experiment in environmentalism - and in a big surprise, at summer's end the soda cans won more nights than the beer cans.

But I've never thought of intentionally leaving aluminum cans outside, for a Can Man to pick up. I suppose some people actually throw trash along the side of a highway as well, so those "adopt-a-mile" groups feel like they're accomplishing something....

Call me greedy, but for years I've saved aluminum cans in a giant trash bag and taken them to a recycling center myself [11 Apr 06]. It doesn't bring in a lot of money - but if I leave them in the city's blue bin along the curb, I don't get a penny. For a single guy, every free dinner at McDonald's matters.

And that's another thing - my "blue bin" for Columbus curbside recycling has been ignored by city collection crews so often, I don't leave it out anymore. I think it's because the recycling is aimed at homeowners. As if apartment dwellers and renters need to deposit our stuff outside Goodwill Industries, then shop there for low-budget clothing.

But while my neighborhood has a Can Man, it doesn't seem to have anyone picking up the other recyclable items for money. At least I've never noticed a Paper Boy - and Plastic Man is still merely a comic book character....

I counted about 20 tires stacked up near the Riverwalk over the weekend. My only conclusion is that the sewer workers found them, while doing their construction over the last several weeks. How some of those big tires wound up fitting in a sewer line, I have no idea....

We can only guess how those tires wound up along the Riverwalk. Some people may have carelessly dumped them in the Chattahoochee. Others might have in practice - dreaming of the day they can row their own kayaks through whitewater rapids downtown.

To offer a story tip, make a PayPal donation, advertise to our readers or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: Suspended for vacation

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-10 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Friday, September 24, 2010

24 SEP 10: Spam-Tember

It's break time for us, but this blog isn't shut down completely. Today we invite you to feast on a SPAM-A-RAMA - where we take real titles of recent spam messages, and offer responses to them. As they say on TV, the fast-paced action starts.... right.... well, wait. Can we hold this for Sunday? Oh, I guess not....


How tall do her heels really need to be?


Then I guess I should get flea market deals somewhere else.


Some of us call it the ball cap.


I'm single - attorney business card attached.


In Columbus, it has to share space with Brewster's Ice Cream.


Yet the number of people blogging for free has never been higher.


I'm old enough to remember when banks called them tellers.


Too late for me - I didn't eat Alpha Bits cereal when I was young.


That's an old joke. How much did you earn last year? Send it in.


That must be a service of John Boy and Billy.


Somehow, I don't think that will stop another oil well explosion.


Don't worry -- my car is 16 years old, so I'm used to getting passed.


No, thank you - she'd only declare my money the "Weakest Link."


A blog about the Chattahoochee Valley isn't enough?


Usually it's for my camera -- two AA batteries.


And then the next play of the football game is run.


Don't look at me, General - I've never even owned a Quran.


They'd better be above 25 percent.


Often, beer drink they.


When did she become the host of TMZ?

To offer a story tip, make a PayPal donation, advertise to our readers or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: Suspended for vacation

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-10 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

21 SEP 10: Meet Me at the Fair

(BLOGGER'S NOTE: We're on vacation, so the blogging pace has slowed for a few days. Today we mark the start of the Greater Columbus Fair, with a look at how we covered fairs past in LaughLine and on this blog.)

29 Sep 00: It's regional fair time in our town. We paid it a visit Thursday night, and were stunned by what we saw. To throw a ball at milk cans, it's now TWO dollars - for ONE ball! Three balls cost five bucks! Those milk cans must be made of sterling silver.

(The "fishy fishy" game also cost two dollars. I'll say something's fishy-fishy about it....)

A civic club in our town is famous at the fair for its foot-long hot dogs. As we waited in line, a woman came up to us and complained, "They gave me hardly ANY chili on my hot dog, and I'm going up there to tell them about it!" We didn't say anything -- but figured later she probably doesn't give anything to the United Way without expecting something back.

("What are those yellow tickets?" the woman asked of the items in our right hand. We offered her a LaughLine business card - but she declined our offer. Perhaps she wouldn't have understood the purpose of it.)

Later at a barbecue booth, we asked for a chicken sandwich. We were stunned to find a leg and breast on white bread - with the chicken still ON the bone! We've heard of crispy chicken sandwiches, but extra-CRUNCHY?

26 Sep 03: The new, improved "Festival at South Commons" opened Thursday evening at the spot of the old "Greater Columbus Fair." So where's the official mascot of the event - a weird-looking creature called "Festive Al?"

Your blogger was first to report about the name being changed from a fair to a festival. [29 Jul] Remember what the Civic Center's spokeswoman said - about no agriculture? So why did they bring in racing pigs, and a park with giraffes?

Greg Hudgison with the Columbus Consolidated Government assured a morning TV interviewer some things have NOT changed, at the new Festival at South Commons. "The foot-long hot dogs are still there," he announced. That's strange - since you'd think the sponsoring Columbus Exchange Club might BE exchanged for something else.

(2010 INSERT: The Exchange Club announced earlier this year it would no longer serve foot-long hot dogs at the fair. Don't be surprised if it's been replaced by a high school math club, measuring hot dogs metrically.)

The Midway is also back at South Commons for the festival. I'm not sure what to think about that. A former Pastor of mine said his wife loved roller coasters - but my current Pastor talks them down so often as risky and harmful, I'm starting to think they're sin.

One of the new items at the first Festival at South Commons is a "Wing Fling" on Saturday. For those of you who haven't heard - this does NOT mean you can win a date with a Cottonmouth hockey player.

One of the bigwigs at the Festival at South Commons has challenged Columbus Councilor Glenn Davis to a "bobbing for chicken wings" contest at the Wing Fling. Truly Davis is turning into a politician - going into a challenge, wide-open mouth first.

The Festival at South Commons is trying to bring in famous musical acts. Saturday night's schedule includes a Civic Center concert by Foreigner - which in this day and age is sure to bring a boycott by military veterans.

Next week's Festival agenda includes open auditions for the CBS reality series "The Amazing Race." Remember, this is a pairs' competition. Come by yourself, and the producers might team you with Brian Sharpe.

(The production crew moves on from there - and next Thursday will look for "Amazing Race' contestants at King Ford in Valley. You'd think they'd simply take Frank and Bubba from the King Ford commercials, without looking for anybody else.)

To offer a story tip, make a PayPal donation, advertise to our readers or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: Suspended for vacation

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-10 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

19 SEP 10: Circus Town

BLOGGER'S NOTE: We're on vacation, so the blogging pace has slowed for a few days. Today we mark Shrine Circus weekend at the Civic Center, with Classic Blog about circuses in years gone by.)

19 Sep 04: Fencing already is up around the west end of South Commons. Either preparations for the Festival are under way very early - or the Shrine Circus is concerned an elephant might escape.

18 Sep 05: The annual Shrine Circus opened at the Columbus Civic Center - which reminded me of a classic joke from a calendar of my youth: "Didya hear about the Shriner who went to the plastic surgeon? He wanted a fez lift."

18 Sep 06: The Shrine Circus finished its annual weekend at the Columbus Civic Center. A few people stood outside again this year, claiming the circus animals are abused. It would be nice to know how many of them drove across town, for the Muscogee County Humane Society "adopt-a-thon...."

(These protesters of circus animal abuse have become almost commonplace. But why don't you ever hear them express concern about how risky the trapeze act is?)

16 Sep 07: The September tradition called the Shrine Circus concludes today at the Columbus Civic Center. The thing is, there aren't any Shriners' hospitals nearby so you can see the benefits of the show. I've never even seen a Shrine member riding around Columbus in one of those little cars -- unless they've been swapped for motorized wheelchairs.

This year the Shrine Circus is doing something different - by giving away $1,000 at every performance. I guess the hospitals are doing without new stethoscopes until next spring....

And in case the circus gets boring, there's also a "beach ball party" during the show. This smells suspicious to me. Do the clowns come along with needles, and release confetti in those balls?

It's also become traditional that if there's a circus in town, there's a protest outside it. The Saturday night newscasts didn't show one - so maybe People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals decided to start in Harris County, by freeing all the roped steers.

But if the picketers are really serious about stopping the Shrine Circus, shouldn't they go after some of its sponsors? It has some big local names this year, including Country's Barbecue and Piggly Wiggly - but come to think of it, I can't recall the last time Piggly Wiggly sponsored a "kiss a pig" contest.

To offer a story tip, make a PayPal donation, advertise to our readers or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: Suspended for vacation

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-10 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

for 18 SEP 10: Stop, Fast

(LAUGHLINE FLASHBACK: As we pause this weekend to mark the Biblical Day of Atonement, we share what we wrote about day for LaughLine subscribers 16 Sep 02. May it be a meaningful day for all who keep it.)

Today is what Jews call "Yom Kippur," or the Day of Atonement. Believers fasted [last] night and fast all day today - then at sundown look at fish and say, "Yum! Kipper!"

For many Jews, Yom Kippur ends a ten-day period of personal reflection and repentance. For instance, Israeli army soldiers are asking themselves if they could have torn down more Palestinian houses....

Israel has been on a high security alert during the "high holy day" season. After all, a "Yom Kippur war" erupted during the 1970s. Back then, Arabs took the phrase about an "army running on its stomach" a bit too seriously.

Yom Kippur is such an important holiday in Israel that all the television stations go off the air. Sometimes we think some U.S. stations should do this on weekends, instead of showing the same old infomercials.

Excerpt from our autobiography: We attended a Day of Atonement service several years ago - and in the middle of the sermon, a woman sitting next to us asked if we wanted a mint. She quickly realized what she'd done. When you're fasting, it's really a day of "not-one-mint."

For those of you who don't mark Yom Kippur, we passed a pawn shop in town Sunday already offering a "Christmas Special." Have they canceled Halloween this year?

To offer a story tip, make a PayPal donation, advertise to our readers or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: Suspended for vacation

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-10 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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17 SEP 10: Scoopin' or Droopin'?

It's a day for blog housecleaning of sorts -- as we try to sort fact from fiction on several current topics. People who contact us may think they have scoops. But after further review, they might really be.... uh, well.... that stuff runners try to dodge on the Riverwalk.

1. MARK OF SUSPICION? Our posts this week about Goodwill Industries of the Southern Rivers included a familiar name. Goodwill's media spokesperson is Kim Cantrell - and that led one critic to bring up Muscogee County School Board candidate Mark Cantrell. Why he would add another circus to his resume, I have no idea....

But anyway: the critic suggested there's an ethics problem because Mark Cantrell's Action Buildings business provides Goodwill Industries donation boxes, while Kim Cantrell is a Vice President. You wondered why he was called "Johnny Outlaw," didn't you?

But there's one big problem with this complaint - as the critic claimed Mark and Kim Cantrell are husband and wife. Mark Cantrell told me Thursday that's NOT true, because Kim is his sister-in-law. He admitted it can be "hard to keep up" with his relatives - but he's also an admitted "workaholic," so the truth could be the reverse.

Mark Cantrell told me he doesn't know anything about how Action Buildings received the right to provide Goodwill Industries donation boxes. To borrow from his commercials, he apparently doesn't need room for that stuff....

The GWISR critic hinted at a conflict of interest, because the donation boxes were never put out for bids. But if Goodwill Industries is a privately-run operation, I don't think it's required to do open bidding. After all, no one seemed to complain when Pastor Wayne Baker hired son Zeph as a youth minister.

By the way, Mark Cantrell says he's a long-time blog reader - so he was ready to explain that "campaign press party" which was moved last week. Cantrell took part of the blame, saying he presumed the Muscogee County School District would have the same rules for both the Public Education Center and the main library. Apparently one place is more dignified than the other....

2. DEAL BROKE-N? Another phone call this week told me about Georgia gubernatorial candidate Nathan Deal having to sell his home, because his son had filed for bankruptcy. I called the Deal campaign minutes later about this revelation - only to be told it was already a front-page story in the Atlanta newspaper. Lesson: always ask for a source first.

Campaign spokesman Brian Robinson confirmed a sporting goods store opened by Nathan Deal's son went out of business, and Deal has sold a North Georgia home to help pay off the debts. Robinson adds Deal has a second smaller home, and will not "be homeless" - but your vote in November could put Deal in a nice Atlanta mansion for four years.

Brian Robinson promised me Nathan Deal would pay off all his debts - and the Associated Press discovered Thursday the size of those debts is bigger than we thought. Deal has business loans worth nearly three million dollars, which were never disclosed. With red ink like this, Deal would work with a Republican legislature perfectly.

Nathan Deal should have reported his business loans to the Georgia Ethics Commission months ago. He called the failure to do so an "oversight" - since he's been so busy focusing on that irresponsible deficit spending by President Obama.

If Republicans are stunned by the financial troubles of Nathan Deal's son, what until they learn what his daughter is doing in Columbus. Katie Deal performs in "The Full Monty," which opened Thursday night at the Springer Opera House -- a play about male strippers. Somehow I get the feeling her dad will wait for the bootleg DVD to go on sale.

3. WHICH WAY WAYNE? This item takes us to the InBox, where a reader answered Thursday's mention of Columbus mayoral candidates at the voting booth:

Richard, I thought I heard Paul Olson say on the Calvin show (Rise & Shine) that he had researched Wayne Anthony's voting record and that for five years straight prior to this year Mr. Anthony had voted in the Democratic primaries. I do not recall Mr. Anthony denying this. Paul Olson also stated that in North Columbus Mr. Anthony had stated he was a Republican. I remember Mayor Wetherington saying on the radio he didn't know what he was, a Republican or Democrat. But I don't remember him saying which primary he had voted in and I don't recall anyone checking his voting record.

WRBL dug deeper into the matter Thursday night -- and it turns out Nancy Boren at the Election Board had it wrong. Wayne Anthony voted in the Democratic primary and runoff this summer after all. If Mayor Jim Wetherington asks Columbus Police Chief Ricky Boren to review this, ministers really WILL have a reason to protest.

Paul Olson was his usual self unhappy with the correction about Wayne Anthony's primary voting. He accused the Election Board of releasing "erroneous information - purposely, I believe...." Why do I get the feeling Olson's Election Night "party" will be on the ground floor of the Government Center?

As for the long-term record: WRBL found Wayne Anthony has voted in ten Republican primaries and runoffs since 1996, compared with eight Democratic contests. Anthony explained he and his wife selected conservative candidates with the best "qualifications and experience and values." Those candidates never seem to jump party lines at Fox News Channel.

The review also confirmed Zeph Baker has voted in one Republican primary. He says he switched sides in 2004 to choose "the best candidate for Columbus." Last time I checked, Dylan Glenn had taken that vote of confidence and moved far out of town....

That leaves Teresa Tomlinson - and the Election Board found she's voted Democratic in every primary and runoff for 15 years. She may be accused of supporting "gays," but at least her voting record is straight.

4. REC-GATE UPDATE. A court hearing is planned today, on a motion to issue a "gag order" in the case of accused Columbus Parks and Recreation Director Tony Adams. A gag order?! Do they actually want me to write MORE jokes about this?

5. AMAZED IN ATLANTA. When we drove to Athens a few weeks ago to watch Kansas get ridiculously throttled by play Georgia in women's soccer, we passed several noteworthy things in metro Atlanta....

+ QuikTrip has billboards proclaiming their fuel is "gas-alicious." I thought that title only belonged on food from Olive Garden.

+ The High Museum of Art is showing a collection of Salvador Dali paintings. Someone should walk in the door singing "Dali High," to see if anyone gets the joke behind it.

+ A tall sign in College Park for Kennedy & Cohen furniture finally has come down. It stood for more than 20 years after the store closed -- as if some history buffs really believed it was opened by President John Kennedy.

In one more note from there: Seattle won the WNBA championship Thursday night 87-84. The Storm swept the Atlanta Dream in three games. But at least the Dream made the final round in three seasons - while the Hawks have been dreaming of doing that for more than 40 years.

COMING THIS WEEKEND: A day of starvation (some would say) and memories of the circus....

The Blog of Columbus had nearly 25,000 unique visitors in the first half of 2010! To advertise to them, make a PayPal donation, offer a story tip or comment, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 654 (+ 25, 4.0%)

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-10 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

16 SEP 10: An Imperfect Ten

Remember the Goodwill Games - Ted Turner's attempt at a huge sports event to compete against the Olympics? I don't think it ever had a triathlon. But if those games come back, I have a candidate for that event. She's a Goodwill employee nominee who's shown plenty of endurance - even if critics say managers sometimes ride her back.

BLOG EXCLUSIVE: A recently-fired Goodwill Industries store manager told your blog Wednesday one employee in the Southern Rivers region recently finished a pay period with ten consecutive work days. So when I asked a Goodwill spokesperson last week about "nine-day work weeks," I forgot two key words - at least.

Meanwhile, Goodwill Industries of the Southern Rivers store managers reportedly were summoned to a meeting with executives Wednesday. I'm hearing it was in part the result of our Sunday post about possible mistreatment of employees -- and in part because a Goodwill employee posted complaints on Facebook. Hopefully that employee didn't ask "Mafia Wars" to intervene.

An e-mail posted here Sunday claimed Goodwill's Opelika store manager was fired due to slow sales. Chuck Clope confirmed that Wednesday -- telling me he was fired 31 August even though he was "employee of the quarter" for January-March. That trophy apparently melted in the summer heat, like Ben & Jerry's ice cream....

"Yes, it does happen," Chuck Clope said in response to Kim Cantrell's denial that Goodwill Industries employees work nine-day "weeks." He claims the staff member who endured a ten-day week works at the Eufaula store, and piled up 120 hours in a 13-day pay period. That's more work in two weeks than Brett Favre avoided in his last two training camps.

Chuck Clope spent three years with Goodwill Industries, and he says the program has performed good deeds in the Columbus area. But Clope adds the Southern Rivers agency is "top-heavy" with executives, including a 19-member board of directors. Yet if someone donates an extra-large table, you don't want it to go to waste....

Chuck Clope pointed me to Goodwill Industries' financial reports, saying Southern Rivers stores have about half the income of a small Home Depot store. Yet he says Goodwill has more executives, including three Vice Presidents. Two executives actually reported six-figure incomes last year - so they can buy all their clothing at Columbus Park Crossing.

Yet one Goodwill "scorecard" reveals revenues from the now-closed Ben & Jerry's ice cream shop were down 16 percent in the first half of this year. Even with a tough economy, that's a surprise considering our hot summer. Yet Baskin-Robbins hasn't rubbed it in, by announcing its sales were up 31 percent.

Chuck Clope agrees with the assessment of "Anony," who wrote the new Goodwill Industries store in Opelika was badly planned. Clope explained six months after that store opened, some staff members have yet to go through company orientation to receive an employee handbook. Why, they still might be spelling "Goodwill" as two words.

Chuck Clope says Goodwill asked for trouble by opening a new store in Opelika this year, because history shows Lee County is "not a generous community for donations." That was a surprising statement to me. Do Auburn University fans throw every spare dollar they have into the "Beat Bama" food drive?

Chuck Clope tells me he submitted a plan for turning around slow sales at the Opelika Goodwill store, and several ideas in that plan were implemented. But that happened two weeks ago, on the day he was fired. At least the executives listened to Clope - until he was out in the parking lot.

"I got screwed," Chuck Clope says of his March promotion to store manager and his late-August dismissal. Despite official comments, Clope is concerned Goodwill Industries executives don't really care about its employees. Perhaps Wednesday's meeting of managers will change that - or perhaps a few Facebook accounts suddenly will be deleted.

-> Our other blog starts with poker, then heads in directions you might not expect. See what we mean at "On the Flop!" <-

BLOG CORRECTION: We removed a joke about Paul Olson Wednesday, after a reader noted he actually did speak at Tuesday's Columbus Council meeting. The "public agenda" had so many speakers that even Olson became lost in the shuffle for us.

But it appears Paul Olson needs to post a correction as well. His mayoral campaign website claims Wayne Anthony voted as a Democrat in the Georgia Primary - yet the Election Board told WRBL Wednesday Anthony actually voted as a Republican. Besides, where did Olson get his information - by snooping around ballot boxes?

Let's see if we can get the facts straight from Wednesday's news....

+ The high temperature in Columbus was 94 degrees F. The Georgia state climatologist reports our area is back in a "moderate drought." An "extreme drought" might describe the Spencer High School football team.

(WRBL reported an evening wildfire erupted on Fort Benning, spreading smoke across parts of Columbus. Those delegates at the Warfighting Conference simply don't know when to call it a night.)

+ The University of Alabama announced fall enrollment went above 30,000 students for the first time. The Tuscaloosa campus has seen enrollment jump 54 percent since 2002 - once again proving a winning football team matters.

+ Randy Morris confirmed he'll leave the Columbus Northern Little League program to become "Community Coach" for Northside High School baseball. The Ledger-Enquirer explained that means he's an uncertified assistant coach. I guessed a "Community Coach" offered batting tips on Twitter.

(Little League lovers should remember two things about Randy Morris. He talked about retiring from coaching after Northern won the 2006 World Series, but he returned. And Bobby Howard could tell you a high school baseball coach doesn't have much to do during Little League playoff time in August.)

+ Instant Message to the Nathan Deal gubernatorial campaign team: OK, it's your turn. What do you mean, your candidate will "get it right the first time?" If that's true, why was Deal a Democrat for years before switching parties?

The Blog of Columbus had nearly 25,000 unique visitors in the first half of 2010! To advertise to them, make a PayPal donation, offer a story tip or comment, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 629 (+ 22, 3.6%)

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-10 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

15 SEP 10: Is This Trip Really Necessary?

A recent online "all-comers" poll asked which candidate for Columbus Mayor has run the most negative campaign. I couldn't track down the results Tuesday night, but I understand Paul Olson received the most votes. You wouldn't expect the two ministers to be on top - especially since neither of them called for burning Qurans.

So it was surprising Tuesday to hear pastor/mayoral candidate Wayne Anthony "go negative" in a way about an opponent. It was especially surprising that Anthony did it from his seat on Columbus Council - although he might point a finger, and say Paul Olson started it with those "public agenda" speeches.

Wayne Anthony called for the city to drop its lawsuits against travel websites over hotel-motel taxes. But in a statement read during the Columbus Council meeting, he challenged the role of Teresa Tomlinson's husband as an attorney for the city in the case. First of all, the thought of Trip Tomlinson suing travel sites simply invites too many bad jokes....

Wayne Anthony claimed after further investigation, "the lawsuits do not have merit" against travel websites. That's strange - because City Attorney Clifton Faye later noted the city has won its case at the Georgia Supreme Court twice. If Trip Tomlinson can fool top justices that well, maybe we should be thankful it's only his wife on the ballot.

Wayne Anthony suggested a conflict of interest could be looming. What if Teresa Tomlinson is elected mayor, while her husband's law firm sues lawsuits for the city? But why stop there, Mr. Anthony? Where's the outrage about the Columbus Police Chief possibly intervening in vote counts, since his wife works with the Election Board?

Wayne Anthony withdraw a motion to drop the hotel-motel tax cases, after reading his statement. But the City Attorney says Anthony never should have brought up the topic in the first place - that it was a topic for executive session. If Paul Olson becomes mayor, Clifton Faye may demand power to control all microphones at Council meetings.

WRBL had to show Wayne Anthony's statement to Teresa Tomlinson after the Council meeting. Apparently she didn't attend this week - but it was the morning after a mayoral candidate forum, so she may have been in the film room reviewing the debate with her coaches.

Teresa Tomlinson said by reading his statement, Wayne Anthony's complaint "wasn't coming from the heart, or even the gut...." Translation: Anthony needs to check with the White House about getting a TelePrompter.

Teresa Tomlinson added she'll abide by Georgia's ethics and "conflict of interest" laws if she's elected mayor. Too bad for Columbus Council - that would mean no free catered lunches from The Butler's Pantry.

Husband Trip Tomlinson said out loud what many probably thought quietly when they heard Wayne Anthony's statement -- that he's trying to turn the travel website lawsuits "into a political football." The Tomlinsons want it to become a political hockey puck. You know -- frozen solid, and no one allowed to run with it.

But Wayne Anthony replied the statement he wrote was "hard to do," because he's tried to be a "consensus builder" for eight years as a Columbus Councilor. Part of me wonders if this church pastor went to his prayer closet after the meeting, and repented of being so angry.

Since none of the candidates or their spouses said it Tuesday, I will: Wayne Anthony's statement is the clearest sign yet that Teresa Tomlinson is the front- runner in the mayor's race. After all, she's starting to pour her superior campaign fund into TV commercials. And Anthony finally spoke up about the lawsuits seven weeks before Election Day - as if he'll have time for a long road trip come January.

There could have been a "political football" doubleheader at Columbus Council Tuesday. The Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance was there, calling for a state review of the Parks and Recreation case. That alliance happens to include the father of Zeph Baker. But the mayoral candidate didn't stand with them - perhaps giving thanks that Wayne Baker isn't alliance president anymore.

If Zeph Baker was leading the mayor's race, someone surely would have brought up his father by now. When Pastor Wayne Baker was Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance President, a pamphlet compared the Muscogee County Sheriff's Office to the Taliban. Did Zeph Baker agree with Dad then? Is that claim still true today? Or is Emily Walker's latest endorsement still to come?

One more Government Center issue begins our quick check of other Tuesday news:

+ Columbus Council approved the construction of a 180-foot-tall cell phone tower in Columbus South. If it's that close to Fort Benning, it should double as a U.S. flagpole....

+ The annual Fort Benning Infantry Warfighting Conference opened at the Trade Center. My morning run took me down Front Avenue, where I saw military vehicles on the street and long-barreled weapons on display outdoors -- so this is the safest spot in the city for taking a walk today.

+ Mike Gaymon of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce declared on WDAK's "Viewpoint" it costs $940 per mile to drive a tank from Fort Knox, Kentucky to Fort Benning for base realignment. Imagine how much higher than cost would be, if our soldiers hadn't liberated Iraq.

+ An evening fire damaged Dudley Lumber in Salem. It's not clear if employees followed the advice on new billboards for rival Harvey Lumber Company. If you can't get aboard, get a plank....

+ Seattle edged Atlanta 87-84, to take a two-game lead in the WNBA finals. I keep waiting for some smart-aleck Seattle newspaper to post the headline: "DREAM WHIPPED."

+ Instant Message to the Roy Barnes gubernatorial campaign team: Aw, c'mon - now you're calling Nathan Deal's tax returns "a desperate attempt to fool the voters"?! You attacked Deal for weeks, because he didn't release anything at all. If he did everything you say, you'd complain he doesn't show any leadership skills.

The Blog of Columbus had nearly 25,000 unique visitors in the first half of 2010! To advertise to them, make a PayPal donation, offer a story tip or comment, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-10 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

UPDATE 1/10:55 am ET....

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

14 SEP 10: Seconds and Thirds

The countdown to Election Day reaches seven weeks today. And so far, only one candidate for Muscogee County School Board has made a splash in the news. At least Mark Cantrell hasn't suggested setting up Action Buildings outside crowded schools.

Everything seemed to be business as usual Monday evening, as the Muscogee County School Board held its monthly work session. And crowded conditions came up, in a couple of different ways. Some students will have to deal with extra bodies. But that's OK, because some school principals may have to share a desk as well....

Muscogee County education officials say several schools need more Assistant Principals. They're recommended at four grade schools, where almost all the students live in poverty -- and where the parents with money had the wisdom to move their children to private academies.

But here's the thing: Superintendent Susan Andrews recommends only HALF an Assistant Principal at the four grade schools. I'm not quite sure how this works. Either two schools will share an Assistant Principal - or the assistants will have evening jobs at Wal-Mart.

It surprised me to see most Muscogee County grade schools have half-time or full-time assistant principals. When I was young, my elementary school didn't have any. And when the principal's name came up at all, it usually involved a "board of education" related to spanking.

That statistical document also reveals North Columbus has the highest enrollment of any Muscogee County elementary school right now, at 687 students. This is what happens when your part of town has successful Little League baseball teams....

The fourth-highest enrollment belongs to Martin Luther King Elementary -- and Superintendent Susan Andrews says third-grade classes there have reached their maximum number of students. She apparently stopped short of saying enrollment at Martin Luther King has "been to the mountain top."

The Muscogee County School Board is being asked to approve a "class size waiver" at M.L.K. Elementary. Trouble is, WTVM incorrectly spelled the word "waver" in one of its Monday newscasts. I hope the teacher who was fired from M.L.K. a couple of years ago isn't an advisor in television news now.

If Muscogee County and Georgia state boards approve, the M.L.K. maximum for third-grade classes would be increased by one to four students. That may not sound like much - but children near the end of the alphabet will have to wait even longer to announce they're "present."

Muscogee County school officials want to delay any redrawing of school zones until next school year, to allow for upcoming increases from base realignment. Apparently M.L.K. Elementary already is seeing a little of that growth -- and if more military families are moving into Elizabeth Canty Homes, the gun violence might finally stop.

Meanwhile, a report released Monday showed the average Scholastic Aptitude Test score for Georgia high school students dropped by seven points last year. And there's even worse news to top that - as most Georgians are more concerned about dropping a football game to South Carolina by 11 points.

Experts say the average Georgia SAT score dropped to 1,453 in part because more high school seniors took the test. When more seniors take the test, history indicates the average score is likely to go down. So if you don't think you're bright enough to enter college, do the state Education Department a favor -- skip the coming tests, and use the savings in fees to shop at the mall.

-> Our recent poker tournaments have made us smile often. Read about them at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

BLOG UPDATE: Columbus Police announced a third arrest Monday in the "Rec-Gate" case. William Fox of East Marietta Basketball Inc. is charged with felony conspiracy to defraud - and if he picks up a second technical foul, he could be out of the game completely.

Let's travel through a little more Monday news....

+ The four candidates for Columbus Mayor held yet another forum. This time, the theme at the Springer Opera House was the arts community. I didn't attend this -- but obviously Wayne Anthony and Zeph Baker want more gospel concerts. And Teresa Tomlinson can teach art classes at recreation centers, since her latest ad suggests she once decorated school gyms.

(And when it comes to Paul Olson and the arts - well, the Columbus Museum might want to start the last-ditch fund-raising drive now.)

+ Soul singer Usher announced Atlanta's Philips Arena will be a December stop on his "OMG" tour. I'm going to presume those initials do NOT stand for "Obama Must Go...."

+ WRBL pushed the rain-delayed U.S. Open Tennis finals to digital 3.2, so it could keep showing reruns of "Two-and-a-Half Men." Apparently the managers decided more viewers want to see "love games" by Charlie Sheen than Rafael Nadal.

+ WTVM's high school football "play of the week" was an attempted tackle by a Chattahoochee County defender, which left the station's chief photographer with a concussion and fractured ribs. We wish Paul Therrien well as he recovers - and we wonder how many anti-news media sickos voted for this play online.

+ Instant Message to Senator Johnny Isakson: I'm a little confused by your latest campaign commercial. If you're really "standing up for conservative values," why do you admit flying home to Georgia "almost every weekend?" Doesn't all that travel sound like something a free-spending liberal would do?

The Blog of Columbus had nearly 25,000 unique visitors in the first half of 2010! To advertise to them, make a PayPal donation, offer a story tip or comment, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 582 (+ 16, 2.8%)

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-10 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

13 SEP 10: Sanford and Daughter

Columbus set another weather record Sunday, with a high temperature of 98 degrees F. And the real reason behind all the record highs is becoming clear to me. As they love to say on the TV news, the campaign races are "heating up" - with candidates and activists offering plenty of hot air.

The heat was on a veteran local lawmaker over the weekend. It stemmed from the discovery that Rep. Sanford Bishop gave scholarships from a Congressional foundation to two of his relatives. It's hard to believe Bishop spent so much time in Washington that he forgot about the Georgia HOPE Scholarship.

Records uncovered by Politico.com show Rep. Sanford Bishop's stepdaughter received a scholarship from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation in 2003. Aayesha Owens Reese went on to have a nice part-time job with the Muscogee County Junior Marshal program - while Bishop did nothing to fund rail service between Atlanta and Columbus, to ease Reese's commute.

Politico also found the niece of Sanford Bishop's wife received scholarships from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation in 2003 and 2005. Remember, Vivian Creighton Bishop is only the Municipal Court Clerk - with no power to order ethics investigations.

Rep. Sanford Bishop was tracked down in Sumter County, to explain these scholarships. He said at the time, the rules for Congressional Black Caucus Foundation scholarships had NO restrictions on awarding them to relatives. That restriction was added two years ago - perhaps to ensure lawmakers actually make contact with voters and their families.

Rep. Sanford Bishop promises to repay the amount he gave his relatives in scholarship money to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. But that's too little too late for Bishop's campaign opponent. Mike Keown's campaign claims it shows a "lack of character and judgment." Then again, it could show a lack of scholarship applicants....

Before you laugh at that, consider what happened in Columbus a few years ago. The Courier offered thousands of dollars in college scholarships to local students - and no one applied [5 Aug 07]. If the newspaper ever found a way to blame this on Mayor Jim Wetherington, I didn't hear about it.

You have to call up Page Two of Politico's report on Rep. Sanford Bishop to learn one key detail. The scholarships from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation are NOT paid with your tax dollars. The fund comes from corporate donations. In fact, some scholarships have the name "Cheerios" on them. Bishop gave them to his Honeys, and Republicans consider that Nuts.

Even before this issue became public, some political watchers sensed Sanford Bishop could be losing support in his re-election bid. They think Mike Keown is riding a wave of anti-incumbent sentiment, and could make the November vote for Congress close. Who knows - Dylan Glenn might emerge from hiding and endorse Keown before long.

But Rep. Sanford Bishop has plenty of incumbent tricks at his disposal. He could send another "Sanford Bishop Reports" newsletter across his district, using taxpayer funds allocated for such things. And he could bring big-name Democrats to Columbus for rallies. After all, Bill Clinton was in Georgia last week - backing a U.S. Senate candidate who's even more likely to lose.

Mike Keown was in Columbus Sunday, speaking to the local Tea Party's second annual "9/12" rally at the Government Center. The Ledger-Enquirer reports this year's theme was "Repeal, Reduce, Restore." Reusing and recycling are something liberals do, of course....

What does the Columbus Tea Party want repealed? WTVM showed one participant's sign calling for repeal of the 16th amendment - the one allowing the federal government to impose taxes. If all federal tax money went away, how would the huge deficit be paid off? Would Jerry Lewis be asked to host a second telethon?

I won't tax your patience much longer -- and quickly review other weekend discoveries:

+ Columbus Councilor Glenn Davis told the Ledger-Enquirer the Parks and Recreation scandal might not have occurred, if a Recreation Advisory Board had met more often. In fact, the city's list of board members still shows one whose term expired eight months ago. Perhaps this board only meets when a Little League team falls short of the regional title.

+ The Altrusa Club Book Sale continued at Daniel Middle School, with books sold by the bagful. I don't recall this sale ever extending to a second weekend before. If Alabama cities can sue BP over lost revenue, Altrusa might be able to sue Apple for inventing the iPad.

+ PMB Broadcasting swapped formats at three of its radio stations. WRLD-FM is now "Boomer 95.3" again, playing "True Oldies Channel" music which used to be on WRCG AM-FM. WRCG is now "106.9 The Ride" - and now is on its third different format in six months. If this trend continues, "The Swingin' Years" soon might be on 24 hours a day.

+ The Georgia Department of Labor posted a job opening for an experienced Sushi Chef. But I think this listing lacks pizzazz. It should say: "Seeking seasoned sushi chefs to season sushi in Savannah."

+ The Atlanta Falcons opened the regular season by losing to Pittsburgh 15-9 in overtime. A potential game-winning drive in the fourth quarter was stopped by an interception by Steeler safety Troy Polamalu. Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan apparently was too dumbstruck by Polamalu's hair.

+ The Atlanta Dream missed a last-second shot, and lost Game 1 of the WNBA Finals 79-77 in Seattle. The Dream almost won, even though star Angel McCoughtry needed three stitches on her forehead in the fourth quarter. Take that, you feminists! If women didn't know how to stitch, she couldn't have returned to the game.

+ Instant Message to Teresa Tomlinson: About that new mayoral campaign commercial, praising how smart you were as a child - shouldn't you follow Roy Barnes's example? Are you going to post your school report cards online?

The Blog of Columbus had nearly 25,000 unique visitors in the first half of 2010! To advertise to them, make a PayPal donation, offer a story tip or comment, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 566 (- 24, 4.1%)

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-10 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

12 SEP 10: Goodwill Grunting

"I took a real chance by calling you," a man said on the phone one recent evening. When someone calls a humor blog to make charges of abuse at a local institution, it might be considered a sign of desperation. Or it could be a sign the Ledger-Enquirer is committing too many reporters to the Parks and Recreation scandal.

BLOG EXCLUSIVE: A spokesperson for Goodwill Industries of the Southern Rivers admits one manager is "no longer with us," for making employees work excessive hours. That vague-sounding phrase could mean the manager was fired, forced to resign - or drifted over to Marble Slab Creamery after Ben & Jerry's closed.

Your blog called Goodwill Industries after receiving a series of complaints about working conditions. They culminated in this e-mail from someone using the name "Anony," which we've edited a bit:

It seems another one bites the dust as Goodwill Industries of the Southern Rivers (GWISR) continues to blame their employees for lackadaisical sales. The manager of the Opelika store was recently terminated due to this fact, a scapegoat for GWISRs lack of strategy and planning. Apparently, GWISR and its board of directors failed to do their homework before they opened this store. Was research conducted prior in terms of geographics, demographics, competition and accessibility?! GWISR has access to a (free) tool as a member of a world class international nonprofit organization, a very smart tool. Yet, because of their failure to use such a tool, until the use of it was mandated by the "top" after the Oplelika store was opened, a career man loses his job and will always have to answer "yes" to the question, "have you ever been terminated from a job?" when submitting his next job application.

Richard, of course you blogged about the closing of Ben & Jerry's [17 Aug]. I loved your comments about the mis-placement in North Cols in 2005 as opposed to where it should've been located in South Cols.

On another note, the hours of the employees at the N. Cols store have been reduced by 10 hours per pay period because donations have decreased, altho', employees are still expected to work 9 days in a row before they have 2 days off so they can just "die" during their time off before the cycle begins again.

..a woman in her 80's, employed by GWISR for over 40 years makes less than $10/hour. She is my heroine. She stands on shoddy fatigue mat for 8 hours a day. How can GWISR wake up in the morning and be fine with this disturbing fact while the "top" is smiling all the way to the bank.

Thanks for your attention.... Well, do I dare send this? I have nothing to lose. Here goes "send".

We confirmed this past week that Charles Clope no longer is Goodwill's Opelika retail manager. Staff members did not say whether or not it was a firing, and our efforts to contact him at home led to a disconnected phone. We tried to call Clope, but the answer was "nope."

This e-mail followed telephone complaints that GWISR employees have a work environment similar to a "third world sweatshop" or a "Russian gulag" - with extra-long work weeks, and work days with barely any lunch breaks. If only these employees had an easier job. For instance, they could be meteorologists during tornado season....

The central point of the complaints seems to be that GWISR puts property and profits ahead of personnel. One caller directed us to the Goodwill Success Center, which is in a small business park behind Cross Country Plaza. The caller said the complex has "only two tenants." At least it has two - while the old movie theater there has been empty for years.

So what does Goodwill Industries have to say about all this? We called a spokesperson to ask some tough questions. To borrow from old English madrigal songs, we wanted to see if Anony-knows....

Starting from the top of the e-mail, GWISR spokesperson Kim Cantrell admitted there's some "ebb and flow" in donations and retail store sales throughout the year. She says September historically is one of the slower months. That may explain why national chains are trying to convince you Halloween is only days away.

Kim Cantrell explained GWISR has "full-time" employees, but their weeks can vary. The hours are adjusted from 30 to 40 per week, depending on the pace of donations and sales. I've had jobs like that over the years - and when your relief calls out sick on a Sunday evening, a double shift lasting until 8:00 a.m. can seem like a one-mile run expanded to a marathon.

Kim Cantrell insists the Goodwill Industries cooperative venture with Ben & Jerry's had positive results. She said 20 young people received management training skills, and three of them are still with Goodwill. Two others are high school seniors - so they're only one YouTube video away from big-money recording contracts.

(Cantrell says Ben & Jerry's near Columbus Park Crossing had good sales at first. But the recession made a trip to the ice cream shop "an afterthought" for many people. Well, you certainly wouldn't go there shortly BEFORE dinner....)

What about the claim of nine-day work weeks? That was news to Kim Cantrell, so she did some checking - calling us back later to report that's NOT the case anywhere in Goodwill Industries. Cantrell admitted six-day or seven-day weeks sometimes occur, based on staffing and scheduling. I don't recall reporters at the Little League World Series complaining about that.

Kim Cantrell says GWISR is committed to providing a balance of work and family time for its employees. If the employees want to carry donation boxes to and from softball games at South Commons, so much the better.

Kim Cantrell added GWISR strives to pay its employees more than the minimum wage. But she admitted managers are still adjusting their budgets to the most recent increase in that minimum -- even though the increase to $7.25 per hour occurred 14 months ago. Some of you could leave the change in your suit pockets, before handing them over....

So there you have it - a classic case of employer versus employee, with differing views on a company's conditions. I suppose Goodwill staff members with a gripe could call their state Labor Department, and ask for an investigation. At least the staff members and state investigators would be paid. The person who made calls for today's blog topic wasn't.

-> Our recent poker tournaments have made us smile often. Read about them at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

E-MAIL UPDATE: Of all the tributes for a slain Columbus radio host, this one could raise the most eyebrows....

I've updated my blog in memory of Heath Jackson, who was killed by a black criminal. This is a grave example of the unfortunate results of forced Diversity and Multiculturalism! The Jewish -controlled media has blood on their hands! They've created the anti-white environment which put this young man's life at risk,at the hands of a black thug. May this black thug be given one of the following: the noose, the electric chair, lethal injection or the firing squad as just punishment for his crimes.

This blog is the "News4Whites" site of Columbus National Alliance leader Michael Weaver. But wait a minute - Jewish-controlled media?! Somehow I don't think Lee Brantley is Jewish - nor is WBOJ-FM General Manager Brian Hite.

I could bring up the recent "brother against brother" homicide in Phenix City - but what about the racketeering case involving the Bleckleys from Richland? Who told that Euro-American couple to pull an investment scheme on the owners of a Japanese restaurant? That new "Wall Street" movie was still in production when it happened....

Let's move on to an e-mail which combines several topics in one:

Greetings! I'm going to make this short, because we both know how valuable time is....

I've been reading your blog for a few months, well ever since I had to Google "Ed Bostic Sonny 100". Your blog led me to the end of my confused search of where my favorite morning DJ went. I'll be honest, I just thought Tammy Terry had a sweet voice (which helped get me up and going as I'm not a morning person) and liked the chemistry of the two. I discovered your blog is the only spot I can get for the "news and tid bits" that matter to me, so I'm a weekly reader. I am a 27 year old native of Phenix City, however the past four years I lived in Seale, right down the road from the old courthouse. I was hoping you'd show up Monday, with Camera in hand. On a side note, I too do not understand the elevator, however I have been told it will broaden the ability to be rented for events. Ironically my eldest cousin was married there about 7 years ago... which I did not attend. Shhh...

Getting to the point, I am replying to your post from September 2. The reason why the job fair for the Huddle House in Ft. Benning was held at the Double Tree is simple, the company "Valley Hospitality" operates the kitchen "Houlihan's" inside the Double Tree, it's also their latest pride. I'm not affiliated with them, however the company I work for does a lot of their custom kitchen stainless work, which is local I might add.

Thanks for your Blog, for keeping things cut and dry yet with an often humorous pun!

Brent White

Ed Bostic is still at WRLD-FM "95.3 The Ride" - but maybe Chuck Leonard needs to work on softening his voice.

I didn't know about the Russell County Courthouse Fair until after it was over. But I was fair and evenhanded when it came to Labor Day events - because I also didn't check any supermarkets, to see how full those firefighters' boots really were.

Our last e-mail comes from Ohio, and ponders some of Saturday's topics:

Hello Richard,

I don't know if any congregations had a say in the pictures that were used for the "local" UCG sites. UCG Cleveland had a nice colorful picture that will still be up on what's left of the old site for a couple months at www.ucg-cleveland.com (the .org address now points to the new one, but we are going to let this one expire) of the skyline in Cleveland, OH. The one that is on the new site is some washed out picture that I frankly don't care much for.

As far as begging goes, I'm all for the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing for individual offerings. If a civic group is advertising in order to raise funds or even to raise awareness so those who need the donations, then I personally don't see a problem with that. Of course, the question is "if" that is the only reason …


John D Carmack

IT Consultant & Blogger

I think the "washed-out picture" is supposed to show Cleveland at sunrise. Of course, that could be reversed with the departure of LeBron James.

Thanks to all of you who visit and write - and with wishes for a happy Grandparents' Day, let's check some weekend headlines:

+ WXTX reported Columbus Police fired several shots at a loose and charging pit bull -- but all the shots missed. Perhaps that's just as well. The thought of Paws Humane calling a news conference to demand a review by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation would have looked strange....

+ The National Infantry Museum hosted "Academy Day 2010," introducing high school students to military colleges. This is what happens when Columbus doesn't have an Academy sporting goods store.

+ Country singer Laura Bell Bundy performed at Fort Benning to mark Patriot Day. Bundy's entertainment career has included a role on the old soap opera "Guiding Light" and performances on Broadway. In other words, she's Reba McEntire going in the opposite direction.

+ Alabama remained the national champion of college football by pounding Penn State 24-3. So why isn't WIOL AM-FM "The Zone" carrying Crimson Tide games this season? Is the Davis Broadcasting management waiting for complementary season tickets or something?

+ Georgia Tech lost 28-25 -- to, of all teams, dear old Kansas! And to think I met Tech loyalist Richard Hyatt at dinner the other night, and admitted things looked bleak for my Jayhawks. I take a big step toward peacemaking, and the blessing comes....

(Yes, I shook hands with Richard Hyatt. I even took the initiative to walk over to his table, since he didn't know my face. This talk about "One Columbus" still can become a reality.)

+ Instant Message to WTVM's Kristin Gold: LOVED your lead story for the Saturday night sportscasts! But this biased Kansas fan feels compelled to offer some advice. Around here, you only start with Atlantic Coast Conference football when absolutely NO Southeastern Conference teams are playing. Nothing screams "outsider" more than that.

SCHEDULED MONDAY: The big story of the weekend which I haven't mentioned here (go ahead, guess)....

The Blog of Columbus had nearly 25,000 unique visitors in the first half of 2010! To advertise to them, make a PayPal donation, offer a story tip or comment, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 590 (+ 21, 3.7%)

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-10 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

11 SEP 10: When the Disaster Came

(BLOGGER'S NOTE: You may find the following items humorous, serious, or a little of both - but we offer these thoughts from time to time, as we keep a seventh-day Sabbath.)

If you've followed the commercials in the Georgia Governor's race, you realize voters have a clear choice this year. One man goes around the state apologizing for what he did. The other man hides what he did, and sees no reason to apologize for anything.

Republican party commercials claim Roy Barnes's four years as Georgia Governor were a "disaster." But this day reminds me of how Barnes responded to a national disaster - the 11 September attacks. In the wake of what happened nine years ago today, Senator Zell Miller called for nuclear bomb drops on Afghanistan. Come to think of it, that probably would have burned a few Qurans....

One week after the Tuesday of terror in 2001, Columbus city officials organized a noon-hour prayer service. It took place outdoors, on the Plaza Level of the Government Center. That couldn't happen now, because benches and boxes with trees cover a lot of that area. For some reason, Keep Columbus Beautiful didn't exchange that space for downtown parking room.

Then-Governor Roy Barnes came down from Atlanta for the Government Center event. Not only did Barnes give a short speech -- he also led a prayer. This was surprising to me. Elected officials never give the invocation at Columbus Council meetings - although two current candidates for mayor have the credentials to change that in a hurry.

Looking back, the moment struck me as an example of the "two Georgia" concept. Could Governor Roy Barnes get away with leading a prayer at such a public service in Atlanta? Wouldn't some civil liberties group file suit or stage a protest -- or demand he also speak to atheists, with a prayer to nothing in particular?

The event in 2001 was a reminder of the "Bible Belt" reputation Columbus has. When a time capsule was buried at the Millennium Clock downtown in 1999, a message from then-Mayor Bobby Peters included a Bible reference. Trouble is, that capsule apparently also contains batteries to fix the clock so it runs properly.

But anyway: before Republicans condemn everything Roy Barnes did as Georgia Governor, they should recall his prayer at the Government Center. It's something I don't think Sonny Perdue has done over the last eight years. City officials might say he's cursed Columbus more than blessed it.

Nine years after that prayer service, have people in Columbus forgotten 11 September? The city website shows NO special event today to mark "Patriot Day." The Civic Center will be busy, but with the annual Junior League Attic Sale. And when the big event at Columbus State University is a charity dodgeball tournament - well, the skyscrapers in New York couldn't move back then.

WTVM reports Fort Benning soldiers plan to mark Patriot Day by doing fix-up work at Reese Road Elementary School. That might upset a pastor I know, who says 11 September should NOT be about a "day of service" - not in a time of war. Is it too late for Shooters to organize a marksmanship contest?

So if you want to pray on this 11 September, you have two options. Find a congregation holding a weekly Sabbath worship service, or pray in private. Either way, I recommend praying for leaders to have God's wisdom in handling the fight - and for Jesus to come soon to end the fighting. Revelation 19 indicates He'll do it in a powerful way. And not even Fort Benning's finest will be able to win then.

E-MAIL UPDATE: We hope to clear our InBox of messages this weekend - starting with this one responding to our Labor Day topic....

Does your church, the United Church of God, actually have a gorgeous allee of trees as illustrated on their website, accessed through your blog, of course? If so, I would like to see it.

I love giving to beggars and I tell no one about it.

This reader raises a very good point about beggars. The Bible talks about giving to needy people in secret, without making an open display of it. We've pointed out here how some civic groups send news releases all over town, begging for media coverage of their giveaways [11 Dec 09]. In their case, the left hand DOES know what the right hand is doing - and shaking as many hands as possible.

I mention encounters with beggars here after the fact, not before. I've done it because the beggars often turn into fascinating or bizarre stories. I try to reveal whether their street-corner appeals are legitimate or not. They also offer a sense of how widespread panhandling is in Columbus - and last time I checked, being a "tramp" was still in the city code as a bad thing.

As for those row of trees - no, they are NOT at the place where the Columbus congregation meets. The association's home office set up the website -- and the Presiding Elder admits he has no idea where the home office found that picture. If you want to print it out and search for a matching pecan farm in Webster County, that's up to you.

BUT SERIOUSLY: As the funeral service for Heath Jackson neared Friday afternoon, Joseph Brannan of PMB Broadcasting gave us a call. He explained the row of radio station vans outside McMullen Funeral Home Thursday was arranged in coordination with Jackson's family. Brannan described it as an "honor guard," similar to what fire and police departments would do for fallen members of public safety.

Joseph Brannan noted Heath Jackson was on the air at WCGQ-FM, before moving to WBOJ-FM. So the radio vans indeed were a show of support. You can show support or sympathy for what Heath Jackson did by making a tax-deductible donation to "88.5 the Truth."

SCHEDULED SUNDAY: Is a local agency abusive in its handling of employees? We've heard from both sides of the issue....

The Blog of Columbus had nearly 25,000 unique visitors in the first half of 2010! To advertise to them, make a PayPal donation, offer a story tip or comment, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 569 (- 57, 9.1%)

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-10 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Friday, September 10, 2010

10 SEP 10: Football or Sex?

Our apologies right away, if today's title is a shock to you. It is, of course, NOT a cheap publicity stunt to attract more readers. As far as we know, there are no special blog rating periods during the year where this would be more appropriate.

Our question is inspired by Thursday night's Auburn University football game. The Tigers mopped up Mississippi State 17-14 in Starkville - a place where so many fans shake cow bells, you'd think Chick-Fil-A sponsors every home game.

But here's the deal: for the second game in a row, the Auburn broadcast on WVRK-FM "Rock 103" included commercials for condoms. They apparently are the doing of Clear Channel Radio. After all, The Auburn Network is run by Alabama House Republican Leader Mike Hubbard - and Republicans there realize any mention of condoms is considered downright liberal.

The commercials specifically sell one brand of Trojans condoms. This raises an obvious question - why are these ads on during Auburn football games, instead of Troy?

(True confession: the first time I saw a billboard in suburban Atlanta promoting a box of Trojans, I thought it was a new brand of beer. And yes, I was well above age 21.)

In a way, the condom-mercials don't really surprise me. Clear Channel Radio has aired them for years in Columbus. One night I even heard about "Trojan Man" on WHAL-AM, when it was "Hallelujah 1460" playing gospel music [17 Jun 04]. Maybe the managers concluded Columbus is filled with religious hypocrites.

And to be fair, Auburn's first two football games have been night games. The condom ads are airing after 8:00 p.m. ET - and as we all know, children in East Alabama are safely put in bed by 7:30 on a school night.

The commercials for condoms also are, uh, a perfect fit with the Rock 103 audience. You know - young men who would snicker if I wrote Auburn was "on top of Ole Miss...."

But I'd think Auburn football games would draw a more wide-ranging radio audience. It might even attract entire families, young and old - people who turn down the TV audio on ESPN, because they consider Rod Bramblett "fair and balanced" when he shouts about Tiger touchdowns.

Where is the sensitivity by Clear Channel Radio, in running condom-mercials during college football games? Where is the concern for young ears? Where is.... oh wait, I forgot. Clear Channel has been running Budweiser beer commercials a lot longer.

Meanwhile, The Auburn Network carried a political ad during Thursday night's game. Robert Bentley promised not to take a salary as Governor, until Alabama achieves "full employment." Someone on Bentley's staff needs to tell him that promise got David Poythress nowhere in Georgia.

(Speaking of which: I want to cash in on the flood of money from political campaign commercials. So I've created a generic one - with candidates simply filling in the blanks and adding a "paid for" tag line. This could be my ticket to an attack ad inheritance....)

Oh yes, the game - Auburn won despite Mississippi State running what radio analyst Stan White called "bubble screens." Does that have anything to do with chewing gum while wearing braces?

-> Our recent poker tournaments have been challenging, in ways other than the game. Read about them at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

OVERHEARD OVER HERE: A Pastor is leading a Bible discussion -- and admitting believers sometimes try to get even with enemies on their own, only to foul things up. This leads to a question.

"So we're not going to burn any Qurans?"

The Pastor is ready to give an answer. "I actually plan to start with The New York Times."

E-MAIL UPDATE: We've tried to establish a new policy this year NOT to joke about stories involving death. So thankfully, this message goes beyond that....

Columbus is in mourning after the loss of a fine young man,Heath Jackson.. I thought it was low when the Ledger made the choice of remembering him by putting a picture of his body bag on the front pg..Why not have a nice blow up of him playing his guitar,but not something that ends his memory with violence.. THere is just too much violence in our city..

Richard,add another perp to your list at Crystal Valley...I get an e-mail everytime a sex offender is added to the list in Cols..added one to Cystal Valley Park this morning...Where are these people getting the idea to all live in the same sq.mile..? If I had a child and lived there I would be getting out fast.....

Actually, it was The River City Report which started the Crystal Valley list [2 Sep]. Maybe convicted sex offenders live there because the makers of "crystal meth" realize a drug raid there is inevitable.

I have another theory about this cluster of sex offenders in Crystal Valley Estates. Remember when Georgia had a state law requiring convicted sex offenders to live 1,000 feet away from schools and churches? Maybe that was the only place in town which qualified -- and the only alternative was building an island in the middle of Lake Oliver.

We'll get to Heath Jackson in a moment -- but first let's get caught up on a couple of days' worth of news:

+ Thursday's high temperature in Columbus was a record 97 degrees F. That explains why the CVS clearance sale on summer items does NOT include fans. So why are lawn chairs excluded, too? Do Little League "fall ball" programs bring out that many parents?

+ WRBL interviewed the mother of accused Parks and Recreation Director Tony Adams. Ola Marion claimed the "Rec-Gate" investigation and arrest are all about race -- and she doesn't think city officials really know what her son did wrong. Since many of them didn't know about the audit for months, they might figure everything out by January.

+ The Phenix City Council approved a fiscal 2011 budget which includes a hiring freeze. WRBL reports there's only money to buy four new police cars - so Senator Richard Shelby needs to hide some extra money deep inside one of those tax cut extensions.

+ Michael and Phillis Bleckley of Richland pleaded guilty to racketeering charges, for running an investment scheme which cost a Columbus restaurant manager millions of dollars. The couple will go to prison, could lose ownership of the Bulloch House restaurant in Warm Springs - and their reputations are as blackened as a catfish on the grill.

+ The top worldwide executive of Kia resigned, in the wake of the first recall of cars made at the West Point plant. Uh-oh - now Republicans might start a move to impeach Vice President Biden, for promising too many new jobs this summer.

+ The evening news reported five Muscogee County schools are receiving federal grant money, to encourage children to eat more fruits and vegetables. Here's hoping the schools don't blow all that money on a single trip to The Fresh Market.

+ Carver humiliated Hardaway in high school football 44-0. That makes a combined score of 107-0 against two Muscogee County opponents - so when Carver plays Jordan in late October, perhaps they should reduce the game to two quarters.

+ St. Louis lashed Atlanta in baseball at Turner Field 11-4. The embattled Colby Rasmus hit two home runs, drove in four runs - then explained to manager Tony LaRussa how he plays so much better when his father's house is a two-hour drive away.

+ Instant Message to the Freedom From Religion Foundation: About those billboards you plan to post in Atlanta - I don't object to "sleep in on Sundays." I've been worshiping on Saturdays for years.

(BLOGGER'S NOTE: The jokes for today have concluded. But you're welcome to read on, for personal thoughts about another Thursday news item.)

BUT SERIOUSLY: When was the last time Columbus Police had to do traffic control at a funeral visitation? It happened Thursday evening at McMullen Funeral Home, during the two-hour visitation for radio host and homicide victim Heath Jackson.

I've never seen a visitation so crowded -- and it reflected what I overheard one man say about Jackson: "He touched people in a lot of areas." For instance, I didn't know Jackson once had a band which played in Columbus clubs. One display of pictures included a promotional sign for an appearance at Scruffy Murphy's.

The casket was closed at the funeral home, but Jackson's 25-year life was on full display - with a video montage and boards of pictures and quotes. One quote was from Jackson himself, telling his parents: "I'll soon have enough money to solve all your problems." Sadly, a burglar-turned-killer is accused of leaving the family with many more.

Perhaps it's the wrong time to write this - but Thursday seemed like the wrong time for local radio stations to park promotional vans outside the front of a funeral home. Several station vehicles were on display. Perhaps it was designed to show where Jackson worked, but it came across to me as tacky at best and self-aggrandizing at worst.

The crowd remembering Heath Jackson confirmed what I thought when I first learned of his death Tuesday afternoon. His killing has touched a nerve in Columbus like few others have. It's also evident in the number of visits to this blog, which soared during the late afternoon Tuesday. Our visitor counts for Tuesday and Wednesday were the highest since March 2009.

The funeral service for Heath Jackson will take place at Evangel Temple. If you're unable to attend or have questions about how his death could have happened, this newly-posted religious article may be able to help.

The Blog of Columbus had nearly 25,000 unique visitors in the first half of 2010! To advertise to them, make a PayPal donation, offer a story tip or comment, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 626 (+ 61, 10.8%)

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-10 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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