Thursday, February 03, 2011

3 FEB 11: Goodbye, Crowell World

If you came here looking for comments about Groundhog Day -- sorry, I'm not playing. I was taught years ago to follow the "clean meats" mentioned in the Bible....

Another event had the attention of many people in the Columbus area Wednesday. It was National Signing Day for high school football players - and this year, Columbus had live national television coverage on ESPN-U. It would have been nice if one of the players had said, "What progress has preserved" at some point.

ESPN came to Columbus for a big announcement from one of the top U.S. high school running backs. Carver's Isaiah Crowell announced he'll play college football at Georgia -- and did it not only by putting on a Georgia hat, but displaying a live little bulldog. It was a rare daytime TV mix of sports talk and the "Pet of the Week."

Isaiah Crowell chose to join a recruiting class Georgia head coach Mark Richt has dubbed the "Dream Team." If it doesn't have a division title in a couple of years, Richt may be dreaming about a new coaching job in the Mid-American Conference.

Wednesday's announcement ended months of speculation about where Isaiah Crowell will play college football. Alabama was one of the finalists - and Richard Hyatt's website reports Alabama head coach Nick Saban even visited Crowell's grandmother at a nursing home. The Carver star can "motor," but I don't think Grandma's wheelchair can match it.

One of Isaiah Crowell's teammates at Carver signed a letter of intent to play college football at Auburn. Defensive lineman Gabe Wright put on an Auburn hat with the words, "Nick Who?" on it. Was this a slap at Nick Saban? At departing Auburn defensive star Nick Fairley? Or does Wright have something against Nickelodeon?

A total of 20 Carver football players signed national letters Wednesday to play college football somewhere. Who could have predicted that five years ago? It shows how Coach Dell McGee has turned around a mediocre program - and you almost wonder why he didn't ask Mark Richt about an assistant coach's opening, to follow Isaiah Crowell's coattails.

Auburn University responded by gaining a college commitment from a top prospect in Maryland. His announcement also was shown on ESPN-U -- but his signed letter had yet to arrive in Auburn by Wednesday night. This could give a completely new meaning to the "double reverse."

One high school coach told WXTX National Signing Day has become "crazy." It wasn't hard to find evidence of that Wednesday....

+ Valley High School defensive back Erique Florence signed a commitment to Auburn - then did a dance in the school library, where he was joined by WLTZ reporter Christina Chambers. Chambers must be hoping to be recruited by "America's Got Talent."

(Florence says he was pursued by so many colleges, he has "enough letters to start my own library." Hopefully the Auburn coaching staff will remind him not to sell them.)

+ The Alabama athletic office reportedly set up a web-cam on its fax machine, so fans could watch signed letters of intent arrive. For some diehards, it was a nice warm-up for today's arrival of Social Security checks.

+ WLTZ showed special Signing Day graphics, with the signature of Eli Remmington. An online search for that name didn't turn up much - so maybe he's the top prospect in Davenport, Iowa.

+ LaGrange High School defensive end Javonte Daniel provided the nicest surprise of the day for me -- by signing a commitment to play at my alma mater, Kansas. It's nice to see this blog is getting results! Someone has to be the pioneer, to turn things back around.

+ Alabama Governor Robert Bentley announced a new program called "Hardest Hit Alabama." It will award.... oops, wait a minute. That's a program about home foreclosure, not tackles during football games.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Uh-oh - I fear the blogosphere "honeymoon" with the new Columbus mayor is over....

Richard - Sorry to get with you again so soon. Someone just forwarded me your blog for today. Clearly, I can't respond to all commentary about this administration and don't intend to. I am committed, however, to responding to anything that is misheard or that would create misinformation in the community. Editorial license aside, I'm afraid you missed the point of our Occupation Tax discussion completely. I hope you taped it and can go back and listen to the recorded show. (By the way, as with Mayor Wetherington, I will appear on the Chamber's radio show the Monday of each month. That continued arrangement was made some time ago).

The discussion was that our current Occupation Tax system is believed to be highly inequitable and uncompetitive in the business community. It is the business community that is clamoring for review and changes. One example we discussed on the show is a local business that pays $95,000 a year in Occupation Tax in Columbus, but is looking at taking its business and jobs to LaGrange because it would only pay $5,000 in Occupational Tax there. Numerous businesses have that problem and are considering leaving our county for tax relief purposes. One business last year had layoffs and lost hundreds of thousands of dollars and yet paid over a quarter of a million dollars in Occupation Tax almost causing them to close their doors. So, a Mayor, or anyone in a leadership position, must ask: "Do we have an Occupational Tax structure that is suitable to a healthy job market or are we driving businesses out of our county? Completely contrary to the comment that this review or our Occupational Tax would be "raised" or will result in businesses going to Harris County, the opposite is true. If we don't start looking at how we maybe inequitably taxing businesses, we will lose jobs.

Please understand that I respect critical analysis tremendously. I was in a role equivalent to an "investigative reporter" for 16 years. We all know that editorial priviledge is essential to community anaylsis. I do think though that a miscontruction of the information does not forward the discussion. I am available anytime you wish to "pin me down" further on a subject. I welcome any debate or converstation about issues important to our city. I could not, however, let precisely the opposite of what was discussed be published as accurate without comment. I hope you understand.

Teresa Pike Tomlinson

Well, this could have been worse - the mayor could have called me into her office, the way the Phenix City Manager did.

Here's what happened with me Tuesday: I was awakened from bed by the telephone police alert. I went to my radio, and heard Senator Saxby Chambliss talking on WDAK's "Viewpoint." Then I turned off the radio and did something related to the police alert. Let's just say I did NOT bow down to any elected officials....

Other tasks of the day eventually kept me busy, including a money-winning night in online poker. So it was 1:30 a.m. when I finally was able to focus on Wednesday's topic -- and I'm not sure even Columbus Councilors are allowed to call the mayor with questions at 1:30 in the morning.

So I apologize for only hearing part of the discussion about the city occupation tax, and taking an admitted guess which apparently was wrong. But the "blogger in his pajamas" didn't want to wake up the mayor in the middle of the night. There's a fine line between "investigative reporting" and simple harassment.

But the mayor's explanation raises other questions, which likely will be answered in coming weeks. If the occupation tax structure is changed so Columbus businesses pay less, another source of revenue will have to change to keep the city budget balanced. Richard Hyatt's website hinted Wednesday a "blue ribbon committee" may examine the tax issue. Blue - not green, the color of money?

I'm admittedly taking a chance by not asking the mayor about Viewpoint airing on Mondays, as opposed to Tuesdays. But I'm going to move on to other Wednesday news:

+ Columbus Police told the Ledger-Enquirer someone stole copper gutter pipes from the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce building. NOW try telling me the Mike Gaymon controversy hasn't distracted the Chamber staff....

+ The RiverCenter ended a three-night national touring performance of the musical "Beauty and the Beast." Wasn't the timing of this amazing - considering what Charlie Sheen has been doing lately?

+ GPB Radio reported the Georgia Senate's President Pro Tem has a bill to allow school districts to replace textbooks in middle schools with iPads. You know Georgia education is in trouble when students could receive Apples FROM the teachers, instead of the other way around.

+ Roundball Night in Dixieland (tm) found Georgia's men edging Arkansas 60-59. The game came down to a winning foul shot by Trey Thompkins with 1.4 seconds left - and as the Bulldogs ended a time out before that shot, the players were spotted laughing. Did the coach threaten to have Thompkins push the team bus home through the snow?

+ Instant Message to one of Wednesday's letter-writers in the Ledger-Enquirer: You must not have seen what I saw. The Columbus "March for Life" rally WAS on the evening news. WLTZ mentioned it, and interviewed the guest speaker. That station only shows "Everybody Loves Raymond" reruns once a day now.

COMING SOON: A business where I was "welcomed" by a motion to slash my throat....

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