Friday, December 03, 2010

3 DEC 10: Gaggle Searching

We told you in November about a Phenix City businessman's dilemma. Someone stole two of his outdoor decorations, and held them for ransom. Today we have good news about that case - and it came without a Russell County Judge issuing a restraining order.

The main broker at Wilson Realty in downtown Phenix City can smile now, because he has his two geese back. I happened to spot Darrell Wilson outside with them this week -- so thankfully, I won't have to go tell Aunt Rhody the old beheaded goose is dead.

Darrell Wilson had my phone number, but never called me with an update on the "wild geese chase." [14 Nov] He says the decorative geese were returned to his office on the Monday after Thanksgiving. Since they aren't real, I'm not sure why the goose-napper would be concerned about them being cooked for dinner.

I drove into Phenix City for other reasons this week, and noticed a change in the sign outside Wilson Realty on 13th Street. What had been an appeal for the goose-napper to call him turned into a poem of celebration. Darrell Wilson admitted he needs to change it again. After all, passers-by might forget he actually has property to sell.

Yet the mystery of the grabbed geese isn't settled completely. Darrell Wilson still doesn't know who did it - and he apparently did NOT have a face-to-face meeting to pay hundreds of dollars in ransom. And Phenix City Police officers are busy being retrained in how to conduct themselves while off-duty.

Darrell Wilson says the manager of a tile company across 13th Street from his office provided a phone number to call. But it turned out to be the cell phone for the President of Phenix-Girard Bank. He shouldn't need a 300-dollar ransom - unless he's helping the School Superintendent balance those financial records.

Darrell Wilson was setting up a holiday-season display when I stopped to chat with him, including ribbons wrapped around his geese. He reminded me a carousel from last year's display also was swiped. Wilson undoubtedly hopes the thefts now will stop -- especially since I didn't see motion sensors on anything, to set off alarms.

Other people are still searching for real animals -- and going to great lengths to find them. Thursday night's news showed a "pet detective" from Nebraska visiting Columbus, to find a dog which jumped over a boarding facility's fence. Some people take Jim Carrey movies much too seriously....

An adviser to the Animal Planet "Dog Whisperer" was called to Columbus, to help find the missing dog. Karin Tarqwin used to be a private investigator checking people - but now she has four tracking dogs, and charges $125 per hour to hunt for animals. How many unemployed South Georgia quail hunters are going to try this line of work now?

-> Thursday was a BIG day for us in online poker! Read what happened at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

E-MAIL UPDATE: Let's catch up on this week's big stories. We start with the Columbus runoff election - and a message titled, "Votes Are Not an Entitlement"....


Representative Calvin Smyre is always a good scapegoat for local Republicans. He is anathema. If the Chattahoochee River dried up tomorrow, I am sure they would find a way to somehow blame Calvin Smyre. For them, he is the local version of the hated Don King. And just why would Calvin Smyre owe his support to Pastor Zephaniah Baker, a former political opponent, when longtime political enemies of Calvin Smyre were supporting Pastor Baker mayoral race and the Georgia House District race? I thought Republicans have this big problem with people wanting something for nothing or people getting preferential treatment. You have to earn the African American vote just like you earn other demographic votes, despite the believed stereotypes. Representative Smyre has the right to support whoever he wants to be mayor. All of the reasons for Representative Smyre not supporting Zeph Baker for mayor are his own and he is entitled to every one of them. One thing I am pretty sure of, however, he did not refuse to support Zeph Baker for mayor because he was Black.

Take care,

Brother Love, Director

Grassroots Unity Movement for Change

This e-mail raises an important question, which I doubt anyone has asked before. Does Calvin Smyre's office at Synovus face the Chattahoochee River or not?

Rep. Calvin Smyre may get along with Republicans more than we realize. His face is on one of the "I Am the Chamber" billboards along Victory Drive. Perhaps relations will thaw completely in 2011, with Smyre appearing on "Viewpoint."

As for the woman Zeph Baker beat: the first of those "controversies" surrounding Mayor-Elect Teresa Tomlinson emerged Thursday. Richard Hyatt's website reported Both Tomlinson and outgoing Mayor Jim Wetherington both want to appoint members to a city Charter Review Committee. Can't they share the 15 appointments? After all, they're going to share offices at the Government Center.

Meanwhile, I'd been wondering whatever happened to that little town in western Russell County. The town's number-one mouthpiece has written us again....

I waited with bated breath for Judge Albert Johnson's ruling on the Phenix City Council and Russell County School Board's controversy. I was interested because of it's similarity to an issue I brought before his Court.

It's no secret that I've tried for years, to gain access to the Public Records in Hurtsboro. So far, it's been an exercise in futility. I have pursued every avenue known to man; just to get a peek at those "secret" documents. I started with oral requests, authored written requests, and then filed a Civil Complaint.

That complaint was tossed like a hot rock between Judge Greene and Judge Johnson; but it eventually ended up in Judge Johnson's Court.

The Complaint was filed in regard to a long overdue audit, and the proven fact; that our Gas Tax money was being spent improperly. I wanted the audit produced as required by law, and to have the Gas Tax fund frozen to prevent further withdrawals.

Evidently, Judge Johnson didn't see any urgency in the situation - so he didn't schedule a hearing on the matter for six months.

When the day of the hearing arrived - The Court transcripts provide indisputable evidence that he threatened me with jail time, dismissed my complaint, without sake of much argument, and assessed me with the Hurtsboro attorney's fees. He gave no reason for the rulings.

I contested the monetary award and filed a motion to "strike" the order. Judge Johnson immediately denied that motion.. Now the whole mess is in the hands of The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals.

Since the hearing in June; Mayor Tapley has blithely drained the $30,000.00 Gas Tax Fund, Those dollars were wasted on a sidewalk project. Those earmarked funds fell far short of financing the so called Streetscape Project, and the contractor that did the work has been left holding the bag for several thousand dollars. There are many other unauthorized expenditures the Mayor should be held accountable for, including; $5,000.00 in legal fees..

I didn't expect a decisive ruling from Judge Johnson on the Phenix City Counsel versus the Russell County School Board controversy - and he didn't disappoint. It isn't possible to resolve that issue through compromise There will be appeals.

Neither party in the Russell County School Board - Phenix City Counsel issue is going to go away quietly, And, neither of them are going to settle for half a loaf. Judge Johnson is smack dab in the middle of a situation that he cannot skirt this time

Both the Phenix City Council and the Russell County School Board are well within their rights, and to deny either party those rights - is downright unconstitutional..

Is it unreasonable to ask for Public Records? Evidently Judge Johnson thinks so. Is it legal to refuse to disclose them? Judge Johnson seems to hold that view. Is it prudent to stonewall an action; that could stop indiscriminate spending by public officials? Judge Johnson's action in regard to Hurtsboro seems to point in that direction.. Should anyone who questions the actions of local officials, be sanctioned for bringing it to the attention of the Court. Judge Johnson thinks it's appropriate..

It will only be a matter of a few weeks - before it will be known - whether the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals agrees or differs with Judge Johnson's point of view in regard to Hurtsboro's ills. It will take a lot longer to put out the fire that's raging between the Russell County School Board and the City Fathers in Phenix City.

R.J. Schweiger

First of all, let's correct something in this message. The current "Phenix Pheud" involves the CITY school board and council. In Russell County, school board members quarrel with each other to make up for the lack of a City Hall.

But anyway: I thought the mayor of Hurtsboro tuned over city records to former Constable Robert Schweiger for a review last year. Apparently Schweiger wasn't satisfied with that - and he wants the records released every year.

It's up tot he Phenix City Council to decide if it will appeal Judge Al Johnson's ruling. In the meantime, School Superintendent Larry DiChiara can be thankful for one thing. When he speaks at the upcoming Troy University winter commencement, the event will be inside the Columbus city limits.

Our thanks to all of you who write - and now let's take a quick spin around Thursday's headlines:

+ Fireworks exploded over the Chattahoochee River, to cap the annual "Night of Lights" ceremony. But in a big surprise, no evening TV newscast showed any video of the event. Either security was extra-tight in the wake of that arrest in Portland - or this year's emcee was Calvin Floyd.

+ The morning low in Columbus was 30 degrees F. Freezing weather may have caused a water pipe to break at the Cusseta-Chattahoochee County Library. The library won't reopen until Saturday afternoon - and if there's any fiberglass insulation left from the repair work, children might be able to build their own Snuggies.

+ WLTZ reported the basic training program at Fort Benning is being overhauled. Among other things, new soldiers no longer will undergo drills in using bayonets. Wow - is the weekly newspaper with Fort Benning news going to change its name to The Humvee?

(Soldiers in basic training also face new guidelines for meals. White bread is out, while more fruit is in -- which critics probably consider a sneaky way of endorsing openly homosexual personnel.)

+ Club Oxygen downtown hosted an evening of action by "Micro Wrestling Federation" athletes. All the contestants are what used to be called "midget wrestlers" -- a term some people consider offensive today. I suggest we borrow from Columbus Youth Football, and call them all "pee-wees."

+ Instant Message to attorney Mark Shelnutt: Somebody has to ask it -- if you can afford an "associate" to represent client Patrick Harrington in court, why do you need donations for a legal defense fund?

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