Thursday, November 18, 2010

18 NOV 10: Bent Out of Shape

Did you ever have a day when you felt like Gumby? Wednesday was one of those days for me -- pushed and pulled by people in a couple of ways. It was almost like an old pop song from the 1960s....

Perhaps not surprisingly, the pushing and pulling resulted from our first-ever trip to Green Island Hills. But the surprise was where it started -- this Wednesday morning masthead at The River City Report. I usually send Robbie Watson a courtesy preview of my main topic of the day. But I wrote "scolding" about what happened Tuesday - and she turned it into something scalding.

The headline alleges Dan Menefee "bullied" me at Green Island Country Club, when I tried to ask Zeph Baker a few questions after the Republican women's luncheon. Perhaps he was being protective - but bullied?! He didn't order me to leave the building -- not the way another mayoral candidate did [3 Nov].

(Yes, I know what some of you are saying. You consider the "popular" part of that headline an exaggeration, too. But Alexa shows this blog's "traffic rank" is higher than the websites of Richard Hyatt and "Newsradio 540" WDAK - maybe because I actually offer traffic reports once in a while.)

A headline above all that said something to the effect of: "Why this man should NOT be mayor" -- and linked to this blog. I wrote it Wednesday and I'll write it again: I do NOT endorse any candidates. That headline may be The River City Report's opinion -- with Teresa Tomlinson now off the hook for selling a house to the outgoing publisher of the Ledger-Enquirer.

That online discovery in the morning led to the second pull of the day. Dan Menefee phoned me during the lunch hour, wondering about The River City Report's headline. I told Menefee what you've just read -- but he wanted me in his office that very afternoon. Not even Mayor Jim Wetherington has demanded that of me.

Dan Menefee went over the Tuesday and Wednesday blog posts while on the phone with me - saying Zeph Baker cannot oppose an expanded Muscogee County Jail, because a federal agreement requires an expansion. When my attempts at punchlines are taken this seriously, it shows I've had an off night of writing....

What I was trying to say is this: I thought the Muscogee County Jail already made criminals "as uncomfortable as possible" - by being so crowded. Zeph Baker talks about turning up the heat a little earlier. And like home air conditioning in early May, it probably will cost us all a little more.

Dan Menefee went on to say of the Green Island Hills luncheon: "Jerry Luquire has you in his pocket...." I noted I've written jokes in the past here about the Georgia Christian Coalition President. I could have also mentioned how Robert Schweiger jokes continued, after the then-Hurtsboro Constable sent a donation to become a "blog patron." You'll note he hasn't written in a long time....

(Oh yes - you can become a blog patron, too. Free lunches last for a little while, but PayPal accounts can last much longer.)

I used the moment to ask Dan Menefee a couple of questions relating to the Zeph Baker campaign. He didn't know the answers - and calls to the campaign office later in the day again brought no response. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs at least makes up some kind of soundbite, on the spur of the moment.

So the pushing and pulling goes - and admittedly it's not always comfortable. But at times like Wednesday, I step back for a moment and marvel at it all. This little blog has come a long way in eight years. When mayoral candidates return my calls and civil rights activists of all skin colors unload their concerns, it's actually humbling -- except I'm smart enough NOT to run for office myself.

THE BIG BLOG QUESTION on the citywide Columbus Council runoff ended Wednesday afternoon. Judy Thomas claimed two-thirds of the 15 votes in our shamefully nonscientific poll. Travis Chambers received three votes, barely beating "None of the Above." So how many of those votes came from Mayor Jim Wetherington's office?

The mayor's office actually is the topic of our newest question. Once again, "None of the Above" is an option along with the two runoff candidates. And if you're reading this blog in Alaska, the proper spelling of the last name in the comments section is Murkowski.

-> Our other blog starts with poker, then goes in directions you might not expect. Visit "On the Flop!" <-

BLOG CLARIFICATION: Apparently they're talking about two landfills in Russell County, not simply one. WTVM explained Phenix City Council approved an expansion to an existing landfill. But a public hearing was held Wednesday evening on plans for a new landfill in south Phenix City. For once, the south side would get something new and current - only the latest waste products.

Developers say they listened to earlier protests, and moved the proposed Russell County landfill three-fourths of a mile farther west. That would put it nearly two miles from the Chattahoochee River - and make it even harder for Continental Carbon to drop off black dust which otherwise would cover Columbus.

The landfill developers also promise to bar household garbage from the new site - only allowing "natural" waste such as wood and metals. But South Phenix City activists told WRBL there could be soil damage, and the area still would be a "dump." Why not do what Columbus does - and buy a lot of green tarp to surround the site, so no one can tell the difference?

Now let's discard the rest of Wednesday's headlines....

+ WRBL revealed this weekend's episode of "Undercover Boss" will take place at a Subway restaurant in Auburn. At last - we might catch Jared ordering a sandwich that's high in fat.

+ TMZ tried to connect a million-dollar donation to Auburn University by Victoryland owner Milton McGregor with the Cam Newton investigation. That's exactly what Alabama needs - a surprise appearance during the second quarter of the Iron Bowl by the Anti-Gambling Task Force.

(A defense attorney says McGregor never contacted Newton, or anyone related to the investigation. But don't be surprised if this report makes McGregor's legal fees go up a little.)

+ Roundball Night in Dixieland (tm) saw Georgia Tech's men return to form, by assaulting Albany 78-51. The New York university's nickname is the Great Danes - but on this night, the only person worthy of that title was tennis star Caroline Wozniacki.

+ Instant Message to Loco's Bar and Grill: I think you're innocent of all wrongdoing. But I'm glad you only have two metro Columbus locations - as opposed to those Four-Loco's in other places.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

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