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.

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