Wednesday, December 15, 2010

15 DEC 10: The Big Jim Finish

His era officially began on a cold Tuesday in January. It unofficially ended on an even colder Tuesday in December. Jim Wetherington may have turned up the heat on criminals as Columbus Mayor, but he didn't quite succeed with the winter weather.

Jim Wetherington presided over his final Columbus Council meeting before leaving office Tuesday. Then he went to the guest speaker's mike, and received a standing ovation. No, the Government Center seats were NOT packed with newly-hired police officers.

The outgoing mayor and his wife received a silver platter, as a going-away present. This tells you how tight the Columbus city budget is. Jim Wetherington has been in public service about 50 years, but gold platters simply cost too much these days.

Jim Wetherington is leaving the mayor's office with optimistic words. He said Columbus's "best days are ahead of us." I guess that means you don't have to rate Wetherington among the city's all-time great mayors.

Tuesday's meeting prompted me to recall the day Jim Wetherington became Columbus mayor in 2007. He told the old "Talkline" show that day, "I tried retirement, and I didn't like it" [3 Jan 07]. Now at age 73, Wetherington seems ready to embrace it - although there happens to be an opening for someone to oversee Columbus Senior Centers.

I attended the inauguration of Mayor Wetherington in 2007, and heard him speak about a vision for Columbus. So did he achieve it? Let's review Wetherington's main points and see....

+ More aggressiveness in finding and fixing problems. He certainly accomplished that - as any former Parks Department employee can tell you.

+ More compassion in city operations. Fire Chief Jeff Meyer would say Wetherington showed it. Some civil rights leaders might say the mayor was bipolar.

+ A mayor who "listened to the people." Wetherington listened to Edward DuBose numerous times - then told him he was wrong.

The two outgoing Columbus Councilors also were honored Tuesday. Wayne Anthony was given a nice clock, while Julius Hunter received a tennis racket. Hunter's gift surprised me, considering his new appointment. I thought the mayor would give him an autographed leather-bound copy of the city charter.

Columbus Council did accomplish a little business Tuesday - approving a ten-year plan to end homelessness across the city. It's too bad this wasn't developed sooner. Some of the new base realignment homes could have been turned into duplexes.

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E-MAIL UPDATE: Now from the big city to the small town - and a former Constable who's in a complaining mood again....

Sir Richard:

Thank you sir; for airing my diatribe against the Honorable Al Johnson [3 Dec]. You were the only one with intestinal (guts) fortitude enough to make it public. Oh well! Your coverage is far more extensive than the local media anyway.

You noted correctly - that I have not reached out to you for quite some time. That doesn't mean that I haven't been busy, or that things have improved in "Hurt'sboro. Far from it!

The Mayor (I cannot use the euphemism "Mare" in his particular case) has scraped the bottom of the barrel in every account listed on "Hurt'sboro's books. Furthermore, he has acted without seeking permission of the Town Council. Most of the members of that astute group jumped ship a long time ago.

One Council person chose to stay and "turn things around." That didn't please the Mayor and that individual was soon vilified on the internet. Unable to stand the heat; that individual quicklygot out of the kitchen

With all of his dissenters out of his path; the Mayor and his two elves are looking forward to the holidays. They have hung their stockings with care - in hopes that Santa will stuff them with ($20,000.00) just enough money to pay their delinquent payroll taxes.

If it's true that Santa makes a list - and checks it twice. The Mayor will only find a lump of coal in his stocking on Christmas morning.

But at this time of year; even a crusty old ex Constable can find it in his heart to wish for "Peace on Earth." everywhere. And especially in "Hurt'sboro.

Merry Christmas Sir Richard

R.J. Schweiger

Robert Schweiger actually shows some discretion, by not calling the current Hurtsboro Mayor a "mare" - since Rayford Tapley is male.

But the trouble with these one-sided messages is that Hurtsboro tends to be ignored by Columbus-area news outlets until a crisis occurs. The last big one occurred last year, when Robert Schweiger had the mayor arrested to gain access to city records. Charges of record tampering were dismissed, and things seemed to calm down - or else Schweiger lost Internet service for months.

Since Hurtsboro receives little news coverage, verifying Robert Schweiger's claims is challenging - especially when city officials are hard to find. The mayor and one Councilor don't have listed home phone numbers. Then again, perhaps that's because Schweiger would pick up the phone and accuse them directly.

We left a message for Hurtsboro Councilor Charlie Tolbert Monday evening, but he did NOT call back Tuesday to answer our questions. If Tolbert thinks ignoring Robert Schweiger will make him go away, he should think again. Schweiger simply will appeal anywhere he can - and a humor blog is tame, compared to the Alabama Attorney General's office.

A call to Hurtsboro Town Hall brought a couple of vague answers to Robert Schweiger's claims. Court Clerk Jim Baxley told me one or two Councilors resigned in the last year - but it was because they moved out of town or for "personal reasons," as opposed to a protest of the mayor. Foreclosed homes in Ladonia simply are too cheap to pass up.

We learned several years ago this blog has readers in the Hurtsboro area - and we welcome their replies, to confirm or refute all of this. But we've also learned Robert Schweiger's vision of "peace on Earth" will happen only when Hurtsboro's town government is in pieces and ruin.

Now that we've had big and small, let's see what else has come to call....

+ Columbus Police reported a mother and 12-year-old daughter face charges, after the girl was found with several ibuprofen pills at Baker Middle School. The Ledger-Enquirer reports they violated a Muscogee County district rule that all medication must be reported to a school nurse. So if you're caught with Aleve, it might be a-ten-day-leave.

+ The Muscogee County school nutrition director told GPB Radio cafeterias now serve pizza with more nutritious "whole wheat crust." Isn't this amazing? Our schools have one pizza variety you can't find at the Stevi B's buffet.

+ NBC News reported a controversial appropriations bill in Congress includes $413,000 for "peanut research in Alabama." I couldn't find any other details about it - but I have to assume Cam Newton's father hasn't shared any money with Auburn University scientists lately.

+ WXTX showed the grand reopening of the Ritz Theaters at Hollywood Connection, after months of renovation. The complex now has 13 screens instead of ten - which I suppose will make it the better choice for watching horror movies.

+ Stillman College head football coach Teddy Keaton was arrested on drunk driving charges. Keaton was hired in Tuscaloosa only two weeks ago, so he might not have any assistant coaches who can double as designated drivers.

(In a curious twist, Keaton's Facebook page has the middle name "I'm going to get mine." Perhaps he did. Perhaps he got too much of it. Perhaps police now want Keaton to want what else is coming to him.)

+ Instant Message to the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association: Did I hear it right Tuesday? The high school football all-star game in two weeks will have Carver players on the North team - but Hardaway players on the South team?! I never knew you cared so much about breaking down the "Macon Road divide," to have one Columbus.

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