Monday, January 10, 2011

10 JAN 11: The Drinks and the Stink

Sleet began falling on the Columbus area Sunday night. It was great weather for sipping hot chocolate, as opposed to orange juice. But if you didn't buy orange juice to go with your stockpile of bread and milk, blame yourself when the cold and flu comes.

A woman who got in trouble for offering spiked orange juice at her Columbus business is coming out of hiding. Judy "Mimosa Madam" Wilkinson is shopping around a book proposal, and revealing things we never knew about her case. A little alcohol can make an amazing truth serum, you know....

Judy Wilkinson told WLTZ's "Calvin Floyd Live" her arrest at the Formal Elegance shop on Veterans Parkway in November 2009 led to an internal affairs' investigation by Columbus Police. She says it ended with four officers "non-exonerated." Apparently only a judge has the power in Columbus to declare someone guilty.

Judy Wilkinson says eight police officers were involved in her arrest 14 months ago, for serving a mix of orange juice and champagne to bridal customers without a license. She compared it to a "special operations task force." Imagine if Wilkinson had been selling lingerie, instead of bridal gowns.

Judy Wilkinson says one of the male "undercover officers" at Formal Elegance that day didn't act very discreet. She claims a police lieutenant probed around the store "like a pervert." Maybe his last assignment was at a business on Victory Drive.

On top of that, Judy Wilkinson claims a police officer took a photo of a customer during her arrest - a naked woman, who apparently was in a dressing room. Talk about giving a new meaning to "blushing brides"....

"I was frisked about everywhere," Judy Wilkinson says of her arrest. But I can understand why police did it -- as flasks of alcohol can be tucked into almost anyone's overcoat.

City Manager Isaiah Hugley has defended Columbus Police actions at Formal Elegance, saying officers enforced state laws on alcohol licenses [7 Apr 10]. But Judy Wilkinson says her offense was "not a credible crime" - as if it doesn't count toward "street cred."

Prosecutors wound up striking a "first offender" deal of sorts with Judy Wilkinson, deferring prosecution if she performed community service. Friday's interview never brought up whether Wilkinson has completed that. But she admitted her attorney had imposed limits on what she could say. Talk too much trash, and you might pick up trash in response.

Judy Wilkinson says she's trying to appeal even that settlement, by getting on the agenda for a police civilian review board. Wilkinson lives in West Point, so she may not realize that board was largely in hiding while Jim Wetherington was Columbus Mayor....

Judy Wilkinson admitted to a caller she's had offers to move Formal Elegance to other cities. Calvin and Nan Floyd didn't let her finish her explanation of why she's still located in Columbus. Maybe it's because guilt-ridden police officers have been stopping by, to purchase her "Mimosa Madam" T-shirts. [True!]

There's a bigger issue for Judy Wilkinson beyond her "Mimosa-gate" arrest. She says Columbus Council needs to reword a 2009 ordinance regulating alcohol possession, because "everybody.... who picks up a drink" technically violates it. If you order a beer at a restaurant or bar this week, be careful - and get a straw, so you don't have to touch the merchandise.

But the oddest thing I heard during the interview was Judy Wilkinson's statement: "I'm a non-drinker." Then why serve champagne-laced drinks to customers, perhaps without their knowledge? We could have had a simple tradeoff -- eight cops for Seven-Up.

-> Poker games don't normally end in one hand, but it's happened to us twice recently. Read what happened at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

BLOG UPDATE: Georgia's new governor and legislature take office today -- but the winter storm has changed the schedule. The Nathan Deal inaugural gala has been canceled. That's just as well - since with his financial problems, all he probably had to wear was his usual business suit.

(They've also canceled a morning prayer service, which was planned before the inauguration. If Roy Barnes was taking office today, conservatives across Georgia would be outraged. But Nathan Deal is.... well, he's a converted Democrat. So conservatives still will be outraged, but only whispering.)

It's also the first day in office for Columbus's newest State Senator. On the night Josh McKoon was elected last November, I asked him what his first bill in Atlanta would involve. McKoon wants state regulations removed, if charter school systems are doing well on tests. But how far would he take this idea? Didn't a Georgia peanut plant make a lot of people sick that way?

BIG PREDICTION: After going two-for-two in the college football rivalry games last November, my next-door neighbor has made his choice for tonight's Bowl Championship Series title game. If he was drinking the "Cammy Cam Juice" when I talked with him, it apparently didn't work....

(Here's hoping Cam Newton doesn't repeat that "Cammy Cam Juice" offer to sideline reporters tonight. Given what's happened at ESPN during bowl season, someone might consider it an act of harassment.)

Even "The Natty" (as an Oregon cheerleader called it) has been affected somewhat by the ice storm. Auburn University has canceled a planned viewing party at the new Au-rena. Apparently the safer alternative is for fans to stand outside at Toomer's Corner for hours, hoping their boom-box batteries last.

We'll check another event at that arena, in our review of weekend news....

+ A wrecking crew began demolishing the old Baker High School building. But 2,000 bricks from the structure are being saved for a scholarship fund sales drive. How will anyone know it's different from a brick at the old Carver High School? That fiery odor can't last forever.

+ The Ledger-Enquirer reported Cascade Hills Church Pastor Bill Purvis led the start of a series at Rivertown Church called "Pray for Your Pastor." Two years ago I called Rivertown a "Cascade Hills wanna-be." [1 Jan 09] In most other businesses, the executives would never reveal trade secrets like this....

+ Louisiana State stopped Auburn in men's college basketball 62-55. Auburn scored only six points in the first half - almost as if it was helping the football defense get ready for Oregon.

+ Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green confirmed he's entering the pro football draft this spring. Too late, A.J. - you've already given "Uga VIII" the bulldog a bad upset stomach.

+ Instant Message to Mayor Teresa Tomlinson: Wow - another break with tradition! Usually the mayor buys the first St. Jude Dream Home ticket. This year, it goes to Randy Owen of the group Alabama?! Is it because they aren't building the dream home in MidTown?

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