Sunday, October 17, 2010

17 OCT 10: One on Three

So the three suspects in "Rec-Gate" now have had their "day in court." And all three were left disappointed -- because Judge John Allen decided they could deserve several more....

Judge John Allen found probable cause to send the bulk of the Columbus Parks and Recreation case to a grand jury. While felony counts remain, he dismissed misdemeanor tax evasion charges against Tony Adams and Herman Porter because a statute of limitations had run out. District court is different from a basketball court, in that some contests aren't allowed to go into overtime.

Saturday's Ledger-Enquirer noted the preliminary hearing only occurred because Tony Adams and Herman Porter asked for one. Judge John Allen said the case still would have gone to a grand jury, even if he had thrown out every count. So the District Attorney's office may feel like it's leading the fight on points.

The court hearing made one thing clear - the Parks Department case could boil down to whether contributions to the Columbus Blazers AAU basketball team are city money or not. Prosecutors say they are. Defense attorneys say they aren't. And the size of the word "Columbus" on the uniforms could be a big determining factor.

A Columbus police detective testified some of the checks for the "Columbus Blazers Athletic Program" bank account were written to Columbus Parks and Recreation. It's not clear to me if anyone corrected those checks. If the smell of soap was on, I suppose that would be a sign of money laundering.

Detective Lance Deaton told the court city facilities were used for AAU basketball tournaments. He claimed suspect William Fox charged the city for game officials, then sent that money to the Columbus Blazers bank account with Tony Adams's approval. I thought charging was against the rules of basketball in the first place....

The detective added the Columbus Blazers bank account was set up using a city tax identification number. If this is true, this sounds strange - identity theft against a city?! Tony Adams could have gone on road trips, and pretended to be the City Manager.

But defense attorney Manny Arora told reporters after the hearing the charges are "stupid" and the case consists of "idiocy." He contends parks department employees never stole city money, because it wasn't city money at all. And you thought fights like this over government money were suspended until after Election Day....

Manny Arora says the claim of $200,000 in mishandled money is "a very limited amount," and was spread out "over six to seven years." This is how you can tell Arora lives in Atlanta - because in Columbus, $30,000 a year still is a large income.

As if all that was not enough, defense attorney Stacey Jackson had to take the witness stand during the hearing. Prosecutors want him dismissed from the case due to a "conflict of interest," similar to the Michael Registe case. It's almost as if Jackson has become the most dangerous defense lawyer in Columbus - and the District Attorney wishes Georgia's Governor had appointed him judge.

None of the news reports on the hearing indicated whether Tony Adams's one-time assistant was in the courtroom. Cammie Currie may have been busy handling her own problem - a threat to be fired this coming week, for reportedly making false statements. But you'd think she would have shown up, simply to try out possible defense attorneys.

-> Wednesday night's "thrilling moment" in online poker now has us feeling robbed! Read the latest on this matter at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

BLOG UPDATE: We have unfinished business from one of C.A. "Brother Love" Hardmon's e-mails. An aide to Paul "Ranger Joe" Voorhees tells me Voorhees appeared at Columbus Council recently alongside former City Manager Carmen Cavezza [13 Oct], and indeed was asked to speak by Mayor Jim Wetherington. The former police chief simply wanted testimony from a corroborating witness.

Joe Coley says Carmen Cavezza and Paul Voorhees appeared together to ask for a $100,000 city grant. Cavezza was the scheduled "public agenda" speaker about the Victory Coalition, which aims to improve Columbus South. You may have noticed Columbus South Inc.'s Reggie Richards has moved on, and now is trying to save Bibb City for going too "gangsta."

C.A. Hardmon declared Mayor Wetherington a "dictator" for calling on Paul Voorhees to speak at a council meeting without filling out a Public Agenda Form. But Joe Coley checked the city rules, and told me the Mayor and Council members can invite anyone they wish to speak at meetings. Perhaps next week, Wayne Anthony will invite the writers of "The Truth About Teresa."

By the way, C.A. Hardmon's "Grassroots Unity Movement for Change" now has either a new ally or new competition. A Friday news conference included the founder of something called "Columbus Cop Watch," which will monitor misconduct by law enforcement. Think of it as the Razzie Awards, while CrimeStoppers is the Oscars.

Now for other items from a beautiful autumn weekend:

+ Which local minister told his congregation during a service: "I don't go on Myface, Facebook...."? He corrected himself to mean Myspace - but that moment was a test of how godly-minded the congregation really is.

+ The Muscogee County School District announced 11 more schools were added to the "average yearly progress" list, thanks to a second round of tests. Carver High School now has made A.Y.P., while Shaw and Kendrick have not -- which will add to the rumors that Dell McGee is becoming the football version of Coach Bobby Howard.

+ Uptown Columbus hosted the annual "Boots on Broadway" day celebrating soldiers. So when is PAWS Humane having a special day for Fort Benning - you know, "Puss-n-Boots"?

+ Local volunteers removed trash from the Chattahoochee River on "Help the Hooch" weekend. WTVM showed one crew member carrying what appeared to be the lid of a washing machine. It probably was clean when it entered the river, but it didn't look that way coming out.

+ The Ledger-Enquirer reported TSYS promoted United Way donations by staging a staff sumo wrestling tournament. Is this really a good idea? Some people could conclude the United Way is only for "fat cats."

+ Auburn remained unbeaten in college football by assailing Arkansas 65-43. It was the highest scoring game in Southeastern Conference history. And it was SO HIGH that the Tigers must have dedicated this game to the new basketball arena.

+ Alabama mashed Mississippi 23-10. But many local Alabama fans probably are upset with Davis Broadcasting, because it turned off Eli Gold's play-by-play on WIOL AM-FM at 12:00 midnight ET to return to ESPN radio. Trying to call Kristin Gold at WTVM for updates simply isn't the same.

(Do you think Alabama was motivated at all by Mississippi's new mascot? The visitors are replacing "Johnny Reb" with a Mississippi Black Bear - and Crimson Tide fans would tell you there's only one football "Bear" in this part of the country, even though he's been gone nearly 30 years.)

+ Instant Message to the Springer Opera House: That reminds me - how could you schedule the play "Bear Country" Saturday night so it occurred during the Alabama game? Or did you allow people to bring radios with headphones inside the theater?

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