Wednesday, October 13, 2010

13 OCT 10: Fire Containment

Several Columbus Fire Department employees have been conspicuously silent lately. Fire Marshal Thomas Streeter seems to do all the talking on television -- while Fire Chief Jeff Meyer has been out of the spotlight so long, e-mails we receive about him can't even spell his last name correctly.

BLOG EXCLUSIVE: We now may know why another much-discussed firefighter has been quiet for months. Your blog was told Tuesday Battalion Chief Janice Bruner signed an agreement with the city earlier this year to settle all of her complaints -- and the agreement has a confidentiality clause. If it didn't, Bruner likely would have been interviewed by The Courier by now.

The news about an agreement came when we felt required to make phone calls about this new e-mail, from civil rights activist C.A. "Brother Love" Hardmon (you'll notice edits have been applied):

I emailed you in May thrice, June twice, and July once before emailing twice this month. All were to set the record straight about the details of some Columbus issue I was involved in as a community activist. Perhaps, you meant to say in the last 3 months instead of 3 weeks when you spoke about me emailing you. I try not to wear out my welcome with any of the media. Most of the media tries to make sure I do not get much coverage because they get in trouble if they follow up on my information. For instance, the Grassroots Unity Movement shared all the information about the CFEMS and Battalion Chief Janice Bruner's reported complaints to HR Director Tom Barron with WRBL who never followed up but the Courier/Eco Latino did the story because it highlighted the fact that Mayor Wetherington employed a deliberate administrative double standard that favored some and damaged others, the same as he had done with the payroll audit of the Junior Marshal's Program with Municipal Court Clerk Vivian Creighton Bishop and Muscogee County Marshal Greg Countryman. Irrefutably, the mayor's MO is the same with both the Parks and Recreation audit and Junior Marshal's Program payroll audit. They were even both leaked to the same Columbus ledger-Enquirer reporter, Chuck Williams.

Things like that for whatever reason get ignored or downplayed around here. I have been trying to get someone at WRBL to follow up on an interview Allison Flowers conducted with Councilor Wayne Anthony shortly after Georgia State NAACP President Edward O. DuBose and I appeared at council to challenge Mayor Wetherington about the Bruner case and Columbus Fire & EMS. Councilor Anthony stated unequivocally that Chief Bruner and HR were in negotiations of some sort to settle the issue. Just like the mayor offered you a story unsupported by any official documentation of record, and is untrue, this story Councilor Anthony offered Allison Flowers is totally untrue. All she has to do is follow up and she could report to the public what Councilor Anthony told here was untrue.

If local media wanted to get at the truth of any of these controversial issues we bring forth, all they have to do is follow through, most of the time we have already done the hard word in researching the facts. I do not usually make a claim I cannot prove unless I am putting forth a lose opinion, which most of my opinions on the issues are drawn from the true and accurate facts.

The mayor had a number of citizens on the Public Agenda but call Paul Voorhees up before anybody else that had taken the time to comply with the rules and place their names on the Public Agenda, which is an example of his total disregard for the rules and how much of a dictator he is as mayor. It appears to be small thing, but it speaks volumes since the mayor is a former chief of police. It goes to character. But whenever he is caught on tape he says he is human and made a mistake. Well, if it is that easy just give Tony Adams and Herman Porter the same option and put an end to this nonsense. Give Tony Adams his job back; you cannot give him back his reputation after all you have done to him. Put Herman Porter back to work. You are destroying the lives of good people because deep down inside they mean nothing to you. It is not about breaking the law or violating policy. The facts prove all that is a lie the mayor gets away with telling over and over again. He even told ministers before Columbus Council that same lie.

Mayor Wetherington and Internal Auditor John Redmond purposely broke the law regarding the final disposition of internal audits 25 times. I agree with you it should be turned over to the District Attorney or Georgia State Attorney General. The Columbus Council is ducking this one just like the rest. The mayor and internal auditor went so far out there on this one the forced the mayor pro tem to publicly request 3 times at City Council copies of the 25 audits council was not informed had been conducted and had never seen because the mayor had them hidden in a file cabinet for 2 years. She officially asked 3 times waited 30 days and was only provided with the copies when the Courier/Eco Latino reported the mayor and internal auditor had not complied with the request from the mayor pro tem. When the Courier/Eco Latino reported the facts to the public, the mayor pro tem was released the audits the very next day.

Jim Wetherington is a dishonest dealer and player. He stories are lame and are never supported by the facts. That is exactly why I asked you to ask the mayor to produce the public information of the official record of time that proved that the sergeant had the 88 hours that totaled the 4 dates that Assistant Chief Fountain and Deputy Chief of Operations Fuetrell instructed Battalion Chief Bruner to sign. No such proof exists to debunk our claim or else it would have been revealed to the public months ago. When the Ledger-Enquirer did a story, or plagiarized the Courier/Eco Latino's story right down to using the exact same pictures of the CFEMS employees but never gave credit, it did not focus on the absence of documented evidence or the dates Chief Bruner were ordered to change in Lotus Notes. This is an official cover up with public officials pretending to be incompetent to hide the facts and the mainstream news media is complicit by not being thorough in their investigative reporting.

Any councilor could make a motion and with 6 votes the GBI could be brought in the next day. Why has any councilor made the motion? I challenged the mayor pro tem but she has not budged or even responded. DA Julia Slater could call in the GBI the evidence of the criminal wrongdoing is there. She campaigned on make the unpopular decisions even when they were unpopular. There was an investigation of Parks and Recreation called by the mayor and the evidence turned over to the Muscogee County DA by the police investigators. We asked for the same thing to be done with CFEMS but no takers. Why? It will prove the mayor was involved up to his eyeballs and the DA knows it. The very evidence in the Parks and Recreation investigation could have all been disposed of as administrative if the mayor wanted it that way. He wants it that way in the CFEMS case so everyone joins in to avoid having an investigation.

It is imperative that the NAACP and Grassroots Unity Movement For Change not be proven right on this in Columbus, as we are supposed to both be groups that hate White people not advocates for justice and good government. That is what we are actually up against. A large segment of the community has been totally brainwashed into believing we are race baiters that use the race card to get out of everything under the sun. The mayor exploits this prejudice in order for him and those he favors to operate above the law and outside the law. Richard, this is the power of bias. It creates barriers to communication and renders you ignorant or oblivious to the truth. We have in Columbus a level of racial division that is ideal for a corrupt government and a dictator mayor like Jim Wetherington. The mayor is a symptom of a greater problem Columbus has apparently had for some time.

There is a reason why many issues are voted on down racial lines. All of us should be concerned. I simply challenge this community to do better and to play it across the board fair. The issues that are important to African American citizens are always vilified and voted down, like the Public Safety Review Commission was voted down in 2008 but the vote for 100 more police officers on the street was approved by council. The logical argument of more rookie police officers should have another level of transparency and accountability to benefit CPD and as an added confidence builder for the citizens who need extra reassurance we would not be voting in the police state. Our conservative pro police mayor and 5 other male councilors did not care how the citizens felt and they voted against more transparency and accountability that would have been a win wine for all parties concerned, which proves they do not want checks and balances on law enforcement. They want law enforcement in Columbus to be able to do whatever they want to do and get away with it as long as they do it to the citizens that do not matter in Columbus, Georgia.

The call for the Parks and Recreation to be conducted as a criminal investigation by GBI and a criminal investigation of CFEMS were both called for by the State NAACP and Grassroots Unity Movement For Change. The mayor refused to do both to demonstrate he was not in the least bit interested in efforts to better race relations in this city. Why would the mayor not be interested in proving to the African American community and indeed the entire city that there was nothing to be suspicious about his decision to investigate Parks and Recreation if he is a mayor serving the best interest of the city? The answer is Mayor William J. "Big Jim" Wetherington is nor has he been from the start a mayor that was interested in anything to do with the African American community except getting 30% of that vote to defeat Bob Poydasheff and getting State Representative Calvin Smrye and Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance President Reverend Joe Andrews (deceased) to support the 2008 LOST to put 100 police officers on the street. Our issues and concerns are relegated to non-issues and backburner issues under the Wetherington administration, which is corrupt and biased to the core.

The citizens can ignore this all they want because they are biased against the messenger for whatever their personal reasons may be. They can dismiss but they are going to have to live with it on their consciences. Wetherington will never admit it is true, he's worried about legacy and reputation, but he is going to have to lie down and night and get up every night and day of his life knowing it is true and knowing people know what the truth about him is, even if they still support him and like him. His legacy is as tarnished as Columbus, Georgia mayor as Richard Nixon's is as an impeached U.S. President. If the local news media, Muscogee County District Attorney, 10-member Columbus Council did their jobs and vigorously pursued the truth in the CFEMS case, the mayor would be exposed as a conspirator after-the-fact in an official government criminal cover up. But they are more worried about Jim Wetherington the man than maintaining and protecting the integrity of our local government. Dereliction of duty is helping Jim Wetherington to operate above the law as he helps others avoid justice, cut and dried.

Richard, let us just be real for a moment or maybe two. Do you in your wildest dreams think that a Black man in Columbus without the backing of a national organization could day in and day out publicly call Mayor Wetherington a liar, say that his runs the city like a G******** with attorney Frank Myers as his c********** or chief advisor be sued, challenge the lawsuit and go on to reveal even more shocking facts and get away with it without anybody discrediting any allegation I have made with some documented proof I was lying? They respond to Paul Olson and Bill Madison allegations time and time again they publicly challenge them. I challenge to challenge me, but the challenge goes unanswered every time. All they have to do is write the Courier/Eco Latino and owner/publisher Wane Hailes will be glad to print every document they provide and every word they say. No one takes me up. The safest bet in town is that you are not going to ever see it happen. It is guaranteed you will win hands down, even playing against the house. I do.

First of all, Wane Haines confirmed to me Tuesday C.A. Hardmon is still writing a column for The Courier. If Hardmon is auditioning to write for this blog, I can't afford to pay him a salary right now....

But anyway: City Human Resources Director Tom Barron told me Councilor Wayne Anthony should have used the words "had negotiated," in describing the settlement with Janice Bruner. Uh-oh -- which candidate for mayor will be the first to accuse Anthony of being a dangerous loose cannon?

"It was a cold day," Tom Barron said as he tried to remember when the settlement was reached. He finally tracked down the date in his records: 7 January of this year. Fact check #1 - yes, it was cold. Several school districts canceled classes in advance.

Tom Barron explained the city of Columbus worked out the settlement with Janice Bruner in Atlanta, because it was done at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission office. Fact check #2 - an assistant city attorney claimed in July Bruner never filed a complaint with Columbus affirmative action officers [29 Jul]. Now we know why. She went over everybody's heads.

Tom Barron noted because the city's settlement with Janice Bruner is "bound by confidentiality," he also couldn't talk much about it. But he speculated the document deals with "any and all" complaints she made about Columbus Fire/EMS -- making it sound like this included the screws near the tires, the staff time cards, and even stray dogs around hydrants.

But the date mentioned by the Human Resources Director is worth a second look. WRBL has reported January was when Janice Bruner filed a fair treatment complaint with the city. Did Bruner file that complaint at the very same time she settled other issues? Or was this matter settled faster than Isaiah Crowell can run a 40-yard dash?

My conversation with Tom Barron warranted a follow-up call Tuesday night to C.A. Hardmon. He admitted he wasn't 100-percent certain a settlement had been reached, and said the city attorney had indicated there was NO such deal. Wow - when the city attorney doesn't know about it, this settlement is REALLY confidential.

But C.A. Hardmon called the revealing of the settlement a diversion - saying it couldn't possibly have resolved possible criminal misconduct. The criminal elements of the Columbus Fire/EMS are what Hardmon reviewed at the state level. And of course, he thinks the mayor has become part of that criminal element....

(I'm sorry, but I can't bring myself to abbreviating the fire department the way Hardmon does. "CFEMS" can be pronounced "see femmes" - and some people might think I'm sneakily endorsing strip clubs.)

I asked C.A. Hardmon directly if he'd asked the four candidates for Mayor where they stand about his demand for a state review of Columbus Fire/EMS. Hardmon says he hopes to accomplish that by the end of this week. Oh goody - another lengthy e-mail is coming.

Wrapping up other matters in C.A. Hardmon's e-mail: I don't have cable TV to watch Columbus Council meetings, so I don't know which one had the guest appearance by Paul Voorhees. The owner of Ranger Joe's has yet to return my voice mail message. Really, I promise - no questions about that donation to Paul Olson's campaign.

Whether or not Mayor Jim Wetherington has a "tarnished" legacy clearly depends on the eyes of the beholder. Some people might compare him to Richard Nixon. Others might note President Clinton was impeached, and he's now considered a popular politician.

And you may have noticed I brought out asterisks for two words in C.A. Hardmon's e-mail. I don't want to be sued for using those words about the mayor, the way The Courier were sued last year. If you're new to that issue, I'll simply put it this way - they aren't "general" and "cohort."

If Hardmon really wanted to go after Mayor Wetherington, he could do it himself - by starting a recall petition drive. But it's a little late in the mayor's term to start that now. And the last one attempted in Columbus fizzled, when William Howell of Rainbow/PUSH took on Sheriff Ralph Johnson. You may remember Johnson - the last man to be accused of setting back race relations 40 years.

C.A. Hardmon keeps challenging me to file open record requests, to review more documents in the Columbus Fire fuss. But this is supposed to be a humor blog - and besides, I don't want to hinder The Courier in its effort to win a Pulitzer Prize.

-> Sunday night brought a thrilling moment in one form of online poker. Read what happened at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

BLOG UPDATE: Wayne Anthony fired a second political barrel at a mayoral opponent Tuesday -- announcing he's been investigating Teresa Tomlinson's years at MidTown Inc. I presume Anthony will move on today, to investigate who slashed Zeph Baker's campaign poster.

Wayne Anthony waited this time until the Columbus Council meeting ended, then accused Teresa Tomlinson of taking too much money as MidTown Inc. Executive Director while budgeting too little for improvements. But if you think about it, MidTown Inc. didn't have to spend that much on improvements. The Muscogee County School Board has paid for almost all of it.

Wayne Anthony's "executive summary" says Teresa Tomlinson worked only 30 hours per week at MidTown Inc. in 2008, yet was paid more than $80,000 for it. It's this kind of thinking which explains why Columbus hasn't hosted any major league professional sports in ten years.

(Assuming that amount is true, Tomlinson earned more in 2008 than Mayor Jim Wetherington. So if she's elected, Tomlinson could be working more, earning less -- and facing a lot more direct insults about it at Columbus Council meetings.)

Wayne Anthony is looking at this from the viewpoint of a financial planner, which he is. But Anthony also is a church pastor - and if Teresa Tomlinson attended his church, wouldn't he be encouraging her to tithe on all that income?

In response, Teresa Tomlinson said she actually worked full-time at MidTown Inc. in 2008. And she claimed in 2006-07, she worked full-time for NO money at all. So there - Tomlinson had some serious catching up to do.

I'm not sure when Wayne Anthony launched this investigation. But the first allegation of MidTown mismanagement appeared late last week at the "Truth About Teresa" blog. Does this mean the Anthony campaign is behind that blog? Or is Chuck Williams at the Ledger-Enquirer now off-limits for receiving leaked documents?

So the updated (your sponsorship can go here) mayoral scoreboard looks this way: Wayne Anthony has accused Teresa Tomlinson of misconduct twice. Paul Olson has put down Anthony and Tomlinson on his website for months. And the closer Election Day comes, the more Zeph Baker looks like.... well, uhhhh.... like the "white knight" in the race.

Tuesday's accusations brought a highly unusual moment of "full disclosure" from WRBL. The station revealed it switched reporters on the Wayne Anthony story, because one reporter has a "personal relationship" with a member of Anthony's campaign. That's quite a switch from years ago -- when Blaine Stewart had to post his personal secrets on a private blog.

Meanwhile, local candidates are filing quarterly campaign reports with the Election Board. In a big surprise, Wayne Anthony reports a 100-dollar donation from Bob Poydasheff - the former mayor who endorsed Teresa Tomlinson on this blog in June [14 Jun]. Poydasheff gave 100 dollars to Tomlinson several days later. So this could be the priciest "senior moment" of the year.

Now a quick summary of Tuesday's other topics....

+ Columbus Council approved the use of land near Fort Benning for a new "linear park." I think this means another lengthy bike trail in Columbus South - instead of WLTZ misspelling the last name of Sidney Lanier.

+ Phenix City-Russell County Chamber of Commerce President Victor Cross told WXTX he dreams of a new 800-seat theatre on Troy University's property near the Chattahoochee River. Has anyone told Cross that Chattahoochee Valley Community College is about to open a new building with that very thing? Phenix City isn't even big enough for one movie theatre....

+ Georgia running back Caleb King was suspended two games, after missing a court appearance for a speeding ticket and getting arrested. Oh, for the good old days - when a running back "in jail" meant defensive players had him surrounded.

+ Instant Message to Captain D's: Aw c'mon - "Shrimp-Zilla"?! The thought of "jumbo shrimp" sounds strange enough as it is.

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