26 JAN 11: You've Won a New Car?
The main event Tuesday at the Government Center was a chair-tossing courtroom fight. But I missed the drama on the upper floors -- and when I showed up, I spent my time probing around the basement. There's a big difference between a blogger and the elite news media, you know....
BLOG EXCLUSIVE: Mayor Teresa Tomlinson tells your blog she's taking a tight budget personally, and NOT driving a city-issued car for now. We learned this Tuesday in response to an e-mail question....
Can anyone confirm that the new Mayor had the city purchase a Ford Focus for her city car? I was told that there is a fully loaded one in the parking garage in her space???
If she isn't doing any budget changes mid year, and she was elected mid year , shouldn't she have to wait for a car??? Unless Wetherington put in an allowance for her. Then again, I didn't know that a car was part of the deal. Only life time health insurance.
Before I called the mayor's office for an answer, this obviously called for on-scene investigative research. And because it was raining Tuesday morning, I could put on a trenchcoat and look like Peter Jennings.
But my walk around the Government Center's basement parking garage didn't solve the questions. I couldn't find a marked parking spot for the mayor - which could be a security precaution. Columbus Councilors have individual names above parking spaces, but an evening meeting meant all of them were empty. Former baseball player Glenn Davis might arrive three hours early for warm-ups.
Beyond that, I didn't see any Ford Focuses in the parking garage -- fully loaded or otherwise. So I.... oops, wait a minute. If you have more than one of those cars, do they become Foci?
So before law officers came up to me and asked why I was wandering around the parking garage, I went home and called the mayor's office. After explaining the e-mail question and waiting a moment, I was surprised to be transferred directly to the mayor! It took more than three years before Jim Wetherington found me worthy of this.
Mayor Teresa Tomlinson settled the rumor quickly - no, she is NOT driving a new Ford Focus. In fact, she's driving a four-year-old car. I won't say which make or model, again for the sake of security - but it's a step above a Focus. She was a lawyer long enough to afford something better than that.
But then Teresa Tomlinson volunteered more information than I expected. Yes, a city-issued car is part of her "compensation package" as mayor - but she's been asking if she really HAS to take one. If Tomlinson doesn't want it, she could simply autograph it -- and then an online auction might help balance the city budget.
Some city officials are trying to convince Mayor Tomlinson she should drive a city car. She explained it's a matter of insurance liability, in case she's in a crash while making a public appearance. Of course, this means some people will watch Tomlinson's next budget proposal for a new "chauffeur" position.
Mayor Tomlinson said she will NOT take a city car until she takes her "little calculator" and figures out a fiscal 2012 city budget. Wow, look at that - another change from prior mayors. The last two were so old, they needed calculators displaying big numbers.
I checked the city website Tuesday night, to see what other perks the mayor receives. The office has a budget of about $359,000 this fiscal year, but there's no breakdown of that amount by salary and other categories. Do you think Jim Wetherington drove Ford when he was mayor - only it was a police-issue Crown Victoria?
As for Tuesday night's Columbus Council meeting: Councilors were told the chair of the Charter Review Commission does NOT want the meetings televised. He believes the group will work more effectively that way - and we all know how well that worked when Cam Newton lost his football eligibility for a day.
E-MAIL UPDATE: Tuesday's InBox offered a different view on a quote we heard on the TV news Monday night....
I think the man's comments about the project to widen Moon Rd referred to the traffic in front of the strip mall that contains the Knology building ...You take your life in your own hands when you exit that area onto Moon Road..
Wow -- this meant on-scene research project number two. If this keeps up, I may start keeping my gasoline receipts as a business expense.
I drove to J.R. Allen Parkway and Moon Road Tuesday afternoon, and assumed this is the strip mall the reader is describing. There's a restaurant and a day spa here, along with a Chevron Food Mart and a liquor store. The traffic wasn't that bad -- as only one car passed me in the one-lane exit ramp, with two more passing in the shoulder before I could turn left.
We also received these encouraging words Tuesday:
Sir Richard: It's been often quoted - "That you can run, but you can't hide!" There are many more sayings that could be cited - but there's no need to expound. Richard. You are the best source of news for miles around; and I take a lot of pride in recognizing that fact a long time ago. I'm certain that many others have similiar sentiments.
Yesterday's BLOG furthers my point. The Ledger-Enquirer is a joke! The TV outlets are just a step behind! PLEASE take the small step needed to make your BLOG newsworthy as well as humorous. It will be a giant leap in news coverage for local mankind.
I do hope that some of your other readers will echo my sentiments in your BLOG in the very near future.
Let's contort what one of our President's once said "Ask not - what to do with this BLOG - ask yourself; what can this BLOG do for its readers!"
I knew Robert Schweiger was a former Constable in Hurtsboro, and a one-time candidate for Russell County Commission. But I never expected him to be a confessed contortionist.
Hmmmm -- what small steps can I take to "make your blog newsworthy?" I could spend all day sitting by the computer, listening to Columbus police scanners. But when an emergency call came, I'd probably be in the middle of a winning poker hand and lose everything.
Thanks to all of you who write us. And in response, I'll write about Tuesday's news a little more:
+ Informed sources at WTVM revealed Andrew Wittenberg will move from weekend duty, to anchor the 5:30 p.m. news. It's not clear what this will mean for current 5:30 anchor Cheryl Renee. Maybe she's planning a dream honeymoon, which will last much longer than expected.
(One source says Katherine Kington will become the new weekend anchor at WTVM and WXTX. This could mean the end of Sunday Sports Overtime - if Derek Kinkade's analysis of bowling highlights this past weekend didn't already accomplish that.)
+ Columbus Police arrested a burglary suspect, who reportedly crashed a pickup truck through the front window of G&J Outfitters on Hamilton Road. You know it's not your day when you back the truck in to make a quick getaway, and you still get caught.
+ A member of the Jefferson County, Alabama Commission challenged a critic in the State Senate to a duel of sorts. George Bowman admits 200 years ago, he might have taken on Scott Beason with pistols -- but now he wants a chess match. Aw, c'mon! This is Birmingham, not Boston - let's get you two inside a pro wrestling ring.
+ Florida flummoxed Georgia in men's college basketball 104-91 in double overtime. Bulldog broadcaster Scott Howard said the Gators had "a little more juice" in the second overtime. Since they're from Florida, this probably shouldn't have been a surprise.
Today's main topic was the result of a blog reader's "tip." To offer a story tip, advertise to our readers, make a PayPal donation or comment, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.
BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 1,026 (+ 34, 3.4%)
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.