Monday, January 31, 2011

31 JAN 11: The Rest of the Story (Maybe)

A TV game show of my youth ended every afternoon with host Tom Kennedy declaring: "It's not what you say that counts - it's what you don't say." Sunday's Ledger-Enquirer brought a startling reminder of that. Many hidden pieces in a big Columbus controversy suddenly came together - and showed big-city dailies sometimes still can put small weeklies in their place.

The front-page story "Gaymon's Ghost" revealed many things we didn't know before about the President of the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce and his "tablecloth joke." For instance, we learned....

+ The man portrayed as Mike Gaymon's victim is NOT demanding his resignation. In Tom Wyatt's words, "I'm not driving that train." So does that mean there's railroading here -- by somebody?

+ Wyatt was arrested on contempt of court charges in 2009, because he didn't pay traffic fines. Perhaps even judges in black robes scared him by this point.

+ African-American elected officials met on the matter two weeks ago, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Now we know they're still a "minority," because they didn't have enough members to require a public meeting.

+ The man who organized a silent protest outside a Chamber of Commerce meeting says he accepts Gaymon's apology. Ronzell Buckner plans no more protests - but if that changes, he'd better make them noisy so we know.

For those who hadn't heard about the tablecloth incident in 2008, the Sunday newspaper article provided a complete in-depth explanation. But for those of us who have watched this fuss build since October, it was eye-opening. And serious questions now have to be turned toward The Courier - which looks more slanted than the hill down Steam Mill Road to Buena Vista Road.

We should give The Courier credit for breaking the news of the "tablecloth joke," after it was hidden almost two years. It also was first to publish an interview with Tom Wyatt, in last Thursday's edition. The Ledger-Enquirer found Wyatt in Florida - so that exclusive interview wasn't hidden very well.

I find it very hard to believe The Courier would NOT ask Tom Wyatt if Mike Gaymon should resign. After all, it asked Georgia NAACP President Ed DuBose that question. So why didn't Wyatt's claim in the Ledger-Enquirer of no "vendetta" against the Chamber of Commerce become part of The Courier's story? Did he simply give the wrong answer?

The front page of The Courier's latest issue asks "our African-American elected officials" where they stand. Yet those officials had met ten days earlier, and their concerns apparently led Chamber Chair Carmen Cavezza to urge a public apology statement from Mike Gaymon. The so-called "Voice of the Minority Community" in the masthead looked like the quote one line below about a "lack of knowledge."

To be fair, The Courier's news staff doesn't seem to be much larger than this blog -- so details of stories can be missed. But this is looking like a case where a newspaper hasn't said everything it knew, because some facts got in the way of its agenda. Who would have thought to put Wane Hailes and Andrew Breitbart on the same media list?

Some supporters of The Courier have wondered why the Ledger-Enquirer took so long to report on the "tablecloth joke." Perhaps the daily paper was waiting to assemble all the facts first, while the weekly released a few bits and pieces each issue as they surfaced. It's a bit like using waterboarding, versus filling a swimming pool.

Debating which journalistic approach is better is a bit like comparing white and dark meat apples and oranges. But in the Mike Gaymon case, the Ledger-Enquirer certainly comes across as looking more "fair and balanced." Wow -- I've done it again, now comparing Tim Chitwood to Bill O'Reilly.

The Courier clearly has changed in the last couple of years from a "news" paper to an opinion journal on crusades. You may recall before Mike Gaymon, there was the fuss over where Piggly Wiggly placed its advertising. It may not stop until someone in The Courier's watch list makes page one of The Joint.

Newspaper crusades certainly aren't new -- and they aren't done simply by weekly tabloids. Remember how The New York Times went after Augusta National Golf Club several years ago? Last time I checked, the club was still men-only. The Masters was still a major golf tournament. And Martha Burk was last seen turning her pointing finger toward Tiger Woods.

But crusades reach a point where you either achieve your goal or you don't. Now that we know The Courier's goal is NOT the goal of the originally offended employee, should the newspaper defer to that employee and back down? Or is it hoping for someone to smuggle out Mike Gaymon's joke book?

If there's any comfort for The Courier in all this, at least it's staked out a position as a more probing African-American paper than the Columbus Times. I don't think the Times has mentioned "Gaymon's Ghost" at all - especially if it didn't receive a news release from the Chamber of Commerce to copy and paste.

And at least The Courier's publisher is on the latest list of "50 Most Influential African-Americans" in the area. Yes, Wane Hailes is on a list compiled by his own paper. I've never thought about awarding a Burkard Award to myself....

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

E-MAIL UPDATE: The writer in our Sunday Soapbox subject saw a need for self-correction, after reading what we wrote....

Sir Richard:

Touche! Your obsession for proper spelling and my propensity for making such errors gives you another literate victory! I DO proof-read everything I write; but I guess that my dimming eyesight isn't adequate enough to scrounge out difficult words like "weesel" I will try to improve.

I also admit to a bit of confusion as to whom is appealing What on the School Board issue. It's hard to identify the players without a scorecard, And I really don't know "Who's on First." And, if I remember correctly - all I predicted - was that there would be an Appeal.

Now, about the Public Audit. In my extensive search for that elusive document; I learned through a conversation with Alabama's Chief examiner, that the requirements call for the audit to be kept in a public institution such as the library; or it can be filed with the Examiners as a matter of convenience for the public.

BUT! It is to be presented to the Council and spread upon their minutes Those minutes are available through the Open Records Act.- Any gaps in procedure should show up there.

Ho-Hum! That's enough of the humdrum. I'm a lot more interested in Arthur Sumbry.

R.J. Schweiger

That "W-word" truly is a difficult one - because careful readers will notice Robert Schweiger misspelled it again.

Considering you can't even find the city charter at the Phenix City-Russell County Library, I seriously doubt you'll find an audit of the city finances there. Maybe that's why the city makes sure its share of the expenses are paid [15 Oct 09] - it keeps the complaints heading in the other direction.

A group of e-mails is being held until phone calls can be made about them. So let's check other news items from a marvelous January weekend:

+ WRBL reported Judy Wilkinson's appeal of the "Mimosa Madam" case was turned away by the Citizens Police Review Board. This news may stun a lot of people, who never knew there was a Citizens Police Review Board. Former mayor Jim Wetherington certainly knew how to hide that one.

(Fraternal Order of Police President Randy Robertson admitted he's annoyed at Judy Wilkinson for flaunting her arrest by selling "Mimosa Raid" merchandise. He says alcohol is the biggest drug problem law officers face. Yet Robertson apparently hasn't convinced the police chief to set up "beats" outside liquor stores.)

+ A woman was arrested at the LaGrange bus station on charges of attempting to ship more than 30 pounds of Ecstasy pills to Columbus. Some of the pills were shaped like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Couldn't those turtles simply add a little more oregano to their pizzas?

+ Former President Jimmy Carter told his Sunday School class in Plains that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak probably will have to leave office. I'll only say this about what's happening in Cairo - the Egyptian unrest really sphinx.

+ ESPN The Magazine predicted Carver High School running back Isaiah Crowell will finish second in the 2014 Heisman Trophy voting. Talk about going out on a limb! This assumes Crowell will have something go wrong, to stay in college four years....

+ The Atlanta Falcons coaching staff helped the National Conference win the Pro Bowl game 55-41. The NFC intercepted passes throughout the first half - making me wonder who was the idiot that thought Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning should be all-star quarterbacks.

Final 2010 score: more than 54,700 unique visitors to The Blog of Columbus! To advertise to them, make a PayPal donation, offer a story tip or comment, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 1,040 (- 30, 2.8%)

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.

© 2003-11 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

site stats