Monday, November 22, 2010

22 NOV 10: Two for Nine

It may go down as the "money" photo of the Columbus 2010 election. But I missed it, and I suspect almost everyone else in town did. Two candidates reportedly HUGGED each other at a Rotary Club meeting two weeks ago! And it wasn't because Dubose and Carol Porter were crying about their losing campaigns.

Judy Thomas says she and Travis Chambers hugged, when they saw each other at the Rotary Club. They're the two finalists for the citywide Columbus Council Post 9, and it was their first meeting since Election Day. If these were candidates for Alabama Agriculture Commissioner, Dale Peterson might have pointed his shotgun instead.

We've promised to tell you what the Post 9 runoff candidates said last week at the Muscogee-Harris County Republican Women's luncheon. Neither Travis Chambers nor Judy Thomas claimed to be Republican. In fact, they're SO nonpartisan that neither candidate has been endorsed by Zeph Baker or Teresa Tomlinson.

Real estate agent Travis Chambers received the only spontaneous applause of any candidate at Green Island Country Club. It came when he said recreation centers should become "life centers," teaching young people to "get the earring out of your ear." Apparently not many Republican women are married to jewelers....

Travis Chambers indicated other aspects of public safety should take priority over the new Crime Prevention Commission. He recalled riding with a police officer as part of Leadership Columbus, watching the officer chase and stun-gun a suspect - and then asking, "How much money do you make?" Chambers clearly wants a spot on the Council Budget Committee.

In fact, Travis Chambers seemed quite money-conscious during his remarks at Green Island. He recalled working at Goodwill Industries for $16,500 a year, then at TSYS for $19,000 a year -- and apparently Chambers left Goodwill in a good mood, because I've never received any e-mails from him.

"No one gave Travis Chambers nothing," the candidate bluntly told the luncheon. Statements like this are how you can spot a candidate for Columbus Council from a candidate for Muscogee County School Board....

By comparison, Judy Thomas gained fame over the last four years as a top assistant to Mayor Jim Wetherington. In fact, she told the luncheon she only missed three Columbus Council meetings in three-and-a-half years. She may have better notes on Paul Olson's "public agenda" comments than Olson himself.

Judy Thomas's resume includes several years as a grade school teacher. She still has connections in education, as campaign disclosure reports show at least seven donations from managers of the California Teachers Association. It's about time recreation centers added some beach volleyball courts....

One of Judy Thomas's big concerns is how the "streets and safety sales tax" is allocated. She says Columbus Councilors made three attempts this year to tap into the 70 percent allocated for law officers, and use that money for other purposes. I guess salaries for softball umpires and youth football referees really don't count.

Another main issue for Judy Thomas is the Columbus Drug Court program. She told the luncheon 45 percent of its graduates do NOT return to a life of crime. Thomas did not say how many former drug abusers stop short of a complete turnaround - for instance, by becoming pharmacists.

A check of campaign financial documents shows Travis Chambers has a donation from Marshal Greg Countryman. Judy Thomas has a donation from Sheriff John Darr. The tie-breaking vote belongs to Police Chief Ricky Boren, but he apparently hasn't given money to anyone.

E-MAIL UPDATE: We mentioned Sunday a new Alabama State Senator is taking the oath of office at both a McDonald's and a Burger King. One reader took issue with our calling that a "fair and balanced" approach:


I think you're slippin'. Tom Whatley taking an oath at a McD's and then a BK might be "fair", but there's no way it's going to be a balanced meal.


John D Carmack

Well, yeah -- I see your point. But I'm actually surprised we didn't hear any complaints about Whatley discriminating against Waffle House.

-> We had a character-testing moment at the poker table over the weekend. Read what happened at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

OUR TEXT FOR TODAY: It's our first in a long time -- and we defer to the husband of one of our nieces, who posted this over the weekend:

"Dear Brain, My job is hard enough as it is, please no more Four Loko. Thanks, Heart"

Thank YOU, Ryan -- and now let's wrap up some weekend news:

+ An annual survey by CQ Press ranked Columbus the 23rd most dangerous metropolitan area in the U.S. Metro Columbus is worse for crime than Houston, Baltimore and Birmingham. So there's an obvious question to ask - when are we getting our own season of "COPS"?

+ Columbus Police told WRBL two more SOA Watch protesters were arrested, for climbing a fence onto Fort Benning. Officers say the number of demonstrators was down about 2,000 this year. But in a way, SOA Watch is saying police tried to reverse that trend - by putting five undercover officers in the crowd.

(The suspects arrested Saturday were in Recorder's Court - including the news crew from Russia Today. SOA Watch claims their bail was set ten times higher than normal. But in the news crew's case, there may be confusion - because no one exchanges Russian rubles for U.S. dollars in Columbus.)

+ Carl Edwards won the NASCAR season finale in Miami. This gives Aflac Racing back-to-back wins to close the year, after a season-long drought -- a condition that might be called pair-a-duck-xical.

+ The Atlanta Falcons stopped St. Louis 34-17, and are tied for the best record in pro football at 8-2. Or as they might say around Auburn, barely good for fifth place in the B.C.S. standings.

+ Connecticut crushed Georgia Tech 71-51, to tie a record for women's college basketball. The Huskies have won 81 games in a row - which is getting close to matching how many months in a row WFXE-FM "Foxie 105" has led in the radio ratings.

+ Instant Message to METRA: I saw the two buses which stopped at the Frank Chester Recreation Center Sunday afternoon -- the ones filled with police officers. When was the last time even one of them rode a bus while on duty?

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