6 OCT 10: Show and Tell
Well, well -- Phenix City officials have much more on their minds than military flyovers at high school football games. In fact, they talked Tuesday as if the military might need to intervene to make peace with the School Board.
The Phenix City Council meeting was about to end quietly, when Councilor Jimmy Wetzel decided to reveal some of the city's concerns with the school district. He indicated the district may have serious ethical problems. And since the school board is NOT elected, the city can't run "attack ads" on TV against it.
Jimmy Wetzel spoke in behalf of Mayor Sonny Coulter, saying he has "full support" of the Phenix City Council to meet with the school board. It's nice to see these feuding city officials have buried the.... no, wait a minute. The hatchet is still out, and now it's pointed at other people.
Jimmy Wetzel revealed the Alabama Ethics Commission is reviewing a complaint that someone in the school system did work on Superintendent Larry DiChiara's car. So? As long as the shop teacher determined the grade for that work....
(That punch line may not be so far-fetched. The school district's Twitter feed says the high school wrestling team is trying to raise money by doing "odd jobs." So the heavyweight wrestler could lift the Superintendent's car, while a middleweight changed a muffler.)
Jimmy Wetzel added the Russell County District Attorney is prosecuting three cases of improper relationships in the Phenix City Schools. Wetzel described them as teacher-student, teacher-teacher and even "superintendents and administrators." Uh-oh - did Booth's Corner Café close to hide some steamy evidence?
Jimmy Wetzel also said there are complaints of nepotism in Phenix City Schools - because one school board member has five relatives working for the district. Yet so far, Wetzel has NOT offered a motion to investigate why so many elected officials in Russell County have been named Sumbry.
Mayor Sonny Coulter says he wants to meet privately with the Phenix City School Board about these accusations and others, but the board has refused to cooperate. Perhaps it's because such a private meeting would violate the Alabama Open Meetings Act. Or perhaps it's because a public meeting could generate enough ticket sales to pay the debts on the Freshman Academy.
Superintendent Larry DiChiara told the evening news he wants to meet with Phenix City's mayor - but in a "proper manner." In other words, Sonny Coulter should arrange this through "Rise-n-Shine" host Calvin Floyd....
Amazingly, high school football again is not far from the surface in this feud. Phenix City Superintendent Larry DiChiara admitted Tuesday there's a dispute over whether the school district should pay part of the city's cost to maintain Garrett-Harrison Stadium. After all, pushing lawnmowers in the summer is a great way to keep players in shape.
The Superintendent admitted the dispute about Garrett-Harrison Stadium is so bad, he's looked around for other places where Phenix City Central could play home football games. The field at Glenwood School is named after former mayor Sammy Howard, you know....
In other cities, the City Manager might be intervening as a mediator right now. But you may recall Phenix City Manager Wallace Hunter made an angry phone call to Superintendent Larry DiChiara one night last October [24 Nov 09] - and apparently the U.S. Secretary of State has been too concerned about Israel to settle that.
One person told me online Tuesday night what Phenix City really needs is "federal intervention," to resolve all these disputes. I think there's a less expensive answer, only a few miles down the road. Have things calmed down enough in Hurtsboro for Robert Schweiger to ride to the rescue?
Yes, Columbus has some complaints of its own. In fact, we have phone calls pending from a couple of e-mails about them. So those will wait for now, and move on to other Tuesday topics:
+ WRBL reported a late-night fire left minor damage at the KFC on Milgen Road. This is why I do NOT order spicy wings.
+ Two women pleaded guilty to stealing $450,000 from accounts at Fourth Street Baptist Church. It's not clear to me what they did with the money -- but if I searched long enough, I might find a new sanctuary with their names on a plaque at the door.
+ The final flight of Third Brigade soldiers arrived at Fort Benning from Iraq. An army spokesperson told WTVM about 5,000 troops have flown home in the last few weeks - so now the sales of top-dollar dinners at Huddle House on Victory Drive may drop a bit.
Fearsome Foursome candidates for Columbus Mayor held their 34th election forum - this time on environmental issues. Teresa Tomlinson made a good try, by wearing a green dress. But Zeph Baker has had green on his campaign signs for months. As long as this promotional truck outside the Government Center is a hybrid....
(Have you noticed how Roy Barnes is practicing recycling? His campaign line on TV about "the rest of the nation laughing at us" used to apply to the Georgia Legislature - but this week he's talking about Nathan Deal.)
+ Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue told GPB Radio since he took office, the state has grown better in managing its money. When Georgia has hardly any money left to spend, I guess it WOULD be easier....
+ Wells Fargo announced it has converted all Wachovia branches in Alabama to the new merger name. I noticed this while driving through Phenix City this week. The Wells Fargo teller actually was happy to change my big bill - and did NOT give me a lecture about the importance of having a check card.
+ Columbus Regional held a women's cancer awareness luncheon at the Trade Center - and guest speaker Emory Austin appeared wearing a pink wig. Wow, I don't think even the singer Pink pulls a stunt like that anymore....
+ The pop band Hot Chelle Rae performed a free afternoon concert at Extreme Marine on Northlake Parkway. Talk about a strange place to hold a concert! Is there a city rule banning Club H-2-O from opening before 8:00 p.m.?
(I'll admit it - I'd never heard of Hot Chelle Rae before Tuesday. When I heard the name, I thought it had something to do with the September heat wave.)
+ Troy trounced Middle Tennessee 42-13 in college football. They must have played on a Tuesday night at the request of ESPN - to avoid having all of its networks show poker at the same time.
+ Instant Message to the University of Georgia Athletic Department: Good idea - introducing "UGA VIII" the bulldog at this weekend's football game. The last thing you need is for fans to blame that four-game losing streak on the head coach.
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