Sunday, January 30, 2011

30 JAN 11: Sumbry Offenses?

A few people were waiting for the next eruption in Phenix City politics. But I don't think anyone expected it to be announced by the new Russell County Sheriff. After two weeks in office, Heath Taylor's looking like a latter-day Albert Patterson - and his office is safely at the edge of town.

Sheriff Heath Taylor announced the arrest of Phenix City Councilor Arthur Sumbry on felony charges. A Russell County grand jury suspects he forged documents, then perjured himself by lying about it in court. Was the "Street Committee" at The Courier tipped off to this? Sumbry somehow missed its "Most Influential African-Americans" list.

The grand jury accuses Arthur Sumbry Sr. of putting a notary public seal on a false signed warranty deed, then testifying the person who signed the deed was in his presence. The old church phrase "with you in spirit" apparently doesn't count in a civil trial....

Sheriff Heath Taylor says his office started investigating Arthur Sumbry Sr. last October, because the Phenix City Police feared examining a Councilor would be a conflict of interest. Somewhere in Columbus, Tony Adams is wondering why he didn't apply to work in Phenix City in the first place.

The Ledger-Enquirer went to its archives, and found Arthur Sumbry Sr. was convicted in two trials 30 years ago. One of those convictions was for perjury as well - which raises the old question of why more politicians aren't prosecuted for forgetting their campaign promises.

(Arthur Sumbry Sr. received a pardon for those convictions in 1982. Talk about a quick turnaround! His record was cleared almost as quickly as it took to test Carlton Gary's DNA.)

We did our own archive check Saturday night, and discovered Arthur Sumbry Sr. also was arrested in 2005. That case involved writing a bad check for $7,200 [12 Apr 05]. I never heard how that case was settled - but Sumbry still serves on the Phenix City Council, so perhaps business at his mortuary picked up.

So Arthur Sumbry Sr. has a record of 1-2 when it comes to arrests. If he's convicted on these felony charges, will it be "three strikes, you're out?" Or will Sumbry become the next state legislature campaign issue for Johnny Ford?

If Arthur Sumbry Sr. is cleared of the felony charges, he may have more questions to answer. One critic of Phenix City government has sent me a series of accusations, and added more in a message sent Saturday night. But that critic didn't send anything in advance about the felony case - and some of the latest accusations would require a photographer from TMZ to prove.

If you're wondering why I refer to the Councilor as Arthur Sumbry Sr., it's because there's also a "Junior." His son nicknamed "Pee Wee" is the Russell County Coroner. If the father has to give up a Phenix City office, the son is waiting to replace him - and the son's controversial mini-hearse could become an SUV again.

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SUNDAY SOAPBOX: Phenix City politics already were going to be in our spotlight, due to two e-mails from the former Constable of Hurtsboro. This one reached us first....

Sir Richard: How sweet it is when you begrudgingly pass a kind word my way. It really makes life worthwhile. You probably don;t remember - but you hinted that I might be blessed with ESP in one of your BLOGS a few weeks ago. I'm not equipped with any ability to peer into the future, it's just that.any moron (of which I am one) could read the script as written for "Hurt'sboro, and its judicial cronies. But enough of that. After a busy day in Phenix City; I turned to the news as displayed on the pages of the good ol' L-E! Right there on the front page - just as I had predicted - was the news that the Phenix City School Board was appealing Good Ol' Judge Johnson's ruling against them. I will make another prediction. THEY WILL PREVAIL! When you take it to the Court of Civil Appeals - you are walking with the big dogs; fellows like Mayor Tapley and Judge Johnson need to stay on the porch.

R.J. Schweiger

I used the phrase "prophetic gift," not ESP [20 Dec 10] -- although I'm sure some people in Hurtsboro could benefit from the Enrichment Services Program.

Trouble is, the Ledger-Enquirer's article of last Wednesday was NOT about an appeal by the Phenix City School Board. It said the Phenix City Council was appealing a court ruling, which actually was in the school board's favor. So I'm not sure if Robert Schweiger actually predicted that, or he's developing dyslexia.

This case involves Judge Albert Johnson's ruling in November that the Phenix City School Board is independent, and immune from a city investigation. I'm admittedly not a judge, but my reading of Article 9.07 of the city charter this past week showed the city can "inquire into the conduct of any office, department, board or agency...." Yeow -- I'm sounding like Paul Olson.

Phenix City Superintendent Larry DiChiara told the newspaper the city's court appeal will use up money which could "be spent in a much wiser way...." Such as a possible retirement party for Councilor Sumbry....

Within 24 hours of that first e-mail, Robert Schweiger wrote us again - with the title "POP! Goes the weasle" (yes, he spelled it that way)....

Sir Richard:

I do wish you had paid more attention to my decade old complaint about missing Annual disclosures - before you started chasing your tail - 'Round and 'Round the chicken coop. For your information, it matters little what the City Charter includes. It's a matter of State law.

Here in Alabama Title 11 Sec. 43-85 covers the issue in full detail. You can rest assured, that Georgia's Code covers the requirements almost verbatum.

"Hurt'sboro has been playing "Hide and Seek" with the citizens of the Town, the Russell County District Attorney, and the Examiners of Public Accounts for four (4) years. There hasn't been an audit since 2003. Fortunately, all the sought for documents we have a right to examine would be on the ground level floor if they even existed. I'm not capable of competing in a staircase marathon.

I hope you find what you are seeking in the immediate future - but don't be too surprised - if it doesn't exist. There are many unanswered financial questions in "Hurt'sboro, and it seems that they will never be answered. I hope you fare better than I have in uncovering the facts that you seek.

R,J. Schweiger

Strange but true -- I did a Bing search Saturday night for "Alabama Title 11 Sec. 43-85." But what I found at the top doesn't seem to have anything to do with the state law....

Eventually I found the section of the Code of Alabama dealing with annual reviews of city financial records. But it says nothing about where that review is to be kept for public inspection. That's the issue Phenix City government critics are raising -- and the ground floor of City Hall wouldn't qualify, because the City Manager's office isn't there. To get the freshest air, you have to climb the mountain.

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