Wednesday, September 01, 2010

1 SEP 10: Everything Old is News Again

This year's Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum concluded Tuesday. I didn't spend the required 400 dollars to attend -- so if you did, please tell me. How many candidates for Columbus city offices showed up? And how many actually cared enough to take notes on the speakers?

Some people need to hear these lectures on leadership more than others. Georgia gubernatorial candidate Roy Barnes probably would tell you he doesn't. He doesn't need "on the job training" for the office, after all -- especially not from a Republican former first lady.

So Roy Barnes made news in Columbus Tuesday, by eating lunch at a diner. He stopped by the Royal Cafe on 11th Street - which must have made Republicans laugh. They have a "No Royalty" website opposing Barnes. And I assume by mid-October, the "King Rat" videos will be out of hiding again.

Roy Barnes shook hands with the lunch crowd - then sat at a table with State Rep. Calvin Smyre and Mayor Jim Wetherington. With nine weeks left until Election Day, this is no time for a mixed-race luncheon appearance. You know, as in mixing with the other party in the race.

WRBL asked Roy Barnes about his big issue of the moment in the 2010 Georgia Governor's campaign. If you've seen his TV commercials, you know what that is - how much was your adjusted gross income in 1987?

Roy Barnes explained why he's pointing a finger at Nathan Deal for not releasing 25 years of tax returns. Barnes said because Georgians "have the right to know everything about a candidate from a financial viewpoint." Maybe so - but I noticed Barnes blacked out the Social Security numbers on the returns he posted.

Simply out of curiosity, I called up Roy Barnes's 1987 federal tax return Tuesday night. His "total income" as an attorney was more than $425,000. And when the federal return comes to more than 30 pages with attached statements - well, consider Barnes an attorney who likes to share the wealth.

So what is the, uh, Deal with the Republican nominee and his taxes? An aide to Nathan Deal's campaign said a list of tax returns is being prepared - adding: "Roy Barnes has had 20 years to compile his taxes." Translation: Deal threw his returns in cardboard boxes, and stashed them somewhere in his garage.

But really now - how many voters will make their decision on a Georgia Governor in 2010 based on a tax return from 1990? Shouldn't the state's present budget problems be the top priority? Or are we supposed to add up all the "gross income" figures, and declare the candidate with the most money the winner?

The old phrase about "learning the lessons of history" certainly has some truth to it. But I'm not sure how much you can learn about candidates by reviewing their old tax returns. Unless you're a candidate's church pastor, and you want to know if he or she really tithed....

Meanwhile, did you see the Republican response to the Roy Barnes commercials declaring Nathan Deal "more of the same?" A new ad warns Georgia voters a vote for Barnes would bring back "more of the same" - as in 2001. Isn't it about time this state changed its flag again?

. Back at the Cunningham Center, several of next year's Leadership Forum speakers already have been announced. The headline names are former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Senator Johnny Isakson. One spot is blank at the moment - so if Mike Thurmond beats Isakson in November, there could be a debate rematch.

-> 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: It's lunch hour, and two men in a Columbus convenience store want something to drink.

"I'm looking for that Five-Hour Energy," one man says.

"There's Six-Hour Power," the other points out.

The female cashier seems unimpressed. "I'd go ahead and fall asleep."

Let's summon the energy to look at a few more news items....

+ Columbus Police reported someone robbed the Pyramid Food Mart on Buena Vista Road, taking $160 worth of Swisher Sweet cigars. Aw, c'mon - who goes into a convenience store to steal cigars? Did undercover detectives respond by heading to One Baby Place at Doctors Hospital?

+ Columbus Council approved the first grant authorized by the city Office of Crime Prevention. The Juvenile Drug Court will receive more than $67,000 - and in this case, I assume the bills will be marked.

(The grant comes a few weeks after an unusually tough editorial by WTVM's Lee Brantley, asking what Crime Prevention Director Seth Brown has done. Brown was offered a chance to respond, but did not. So in this case, he's putting money where his mouth wasn't.)

+ Columbus Council also approved $24,000 for an archeological study of land at Sixth Street and Sixth Avenue. The city's Black Heritage Trail identifies that area as an "Old Slave Cemetery," yet no bodies ever have been found. The big question is whether the study will find 19th-century slaves - or 21st-century residents of the Booker T. Washington Apartments.

+ Alabama football coach Nick Saban announced Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram has a knee injury, and will miss this weekend's opener against San Jose State. Saban is applying a lesson he learned with the N.F.L. Miami Dolphins. You protect key players, by holding them out of the final pre-season game.

+ Governor Bob Riley declared Friday "College Colors Day" across Alabama. If you're a Georgia Tech fan and don't wear school colors, then you're.... uh.... well, uh.... I can't really say you're yellow, can I?

+ Instant Message to Itha's Beauty Salon on Buena Vista Road: Did WRBL tell the truth? Is your salon's name really on the poker chips? Do you realize the big poker circuit in Columbus doesn't even have that? Of course, that circuit doesn't require entry fees and a share of the prize money....

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