Wednesday, February 16, 2011

16 FEB 11: Passing the Bucks

It all depends on your perspective, I guess. If some leaders appoint committees to study big issues, it's called "delegating authority." Other leaders who do the same thing get accused of "dodging responsibility." And if parents assign big tasks to their children, it gets the nice title of "character building."

This contrast came to my mind after examining the latest announcement from the new Columbus Mayor. Teresa Pike Tomlinson announced three new commissions which will study economic matters. The fact that none of the commission members will be paid to serve should tell you how serious the economic situation is.

The group which is likely to get the most attention is the Mayor's Revenue Review Commission. In Phenix City, this would be called an accounting firm - and brought in from at least 80 miles away.

A statement from Mayor Teresa Pike Tomlinson says the MRRC "will review any and all municipal revenue streams...." You knew someone would find a way to tax the whitewater rafting project, didn't you?

The mayor already has dropped hints about changes she'd like to see in those "revenue streams." She's mentioned adjustments in the occupation tax, and campaigned on the idea of putting a "sunset" on the property tax freeze. But the MRRC also will review sales taxes - so we could see a proposal for "LOST two in a row."

At least one other member of the Mayor's Revenue Review Commission already has suggestions on the record. Pete Robinson told a civic club in January Columbus should consider a "consumption tax" - which seems like a sales tax, but makes occasional cookie-bingers such as I feel very guilty.

Pete Robinson also dared in that speech to suggest Columbus impose a city income tax. And this man is listed on the MRRC as an "advisor to Governor Deal"? He sounds more like a man who would organize an October fly-around of Democrats....

If you think Mayor Teresa Pike Tomlinson is a Democrat, how do you explain her choice of a Chair for the Mayor's Revenue Review Commission? It's former State Senator Seth Harp -- who's trying to become Muscogee Party Republican Chair. Don't be surprised if he proposes doubling alcohol taxes on Sundays.

Indeed, that's the genius behind the appointments to the MRRC. It's a mix of people from all sides of the political spectrum. If they can reach consensus on any kind of tax increase, it would be hard to defeat in a voter referendum. Mayor Tomlinson simply will mention the "big elephant in the room" - and bring Seth Harp with her.

Compare this commission's assignment to what former Mayor Jim Wetherington did. He proposed a "streets and safety" sales tax on his own, without needing a group of bobble-heads yes men outside counselors to suggest it. Wetherington was more of a "lone wolf" police officer than we may have realized.

One thing strikes me as missing in the Mayor's Revenue Review Commission. It has three attorneys, three "business owners" and the Chamber of Commerce President - but no ordinary rank-and-file workers who might face the biggest challenge in paying new taxes. Of course, those people also would have the biggest problem attending afternoon meetings at the River Club.

The statement from the mayor's office says private citizens "volunteered to serve" on the MRRC, as well as two other commissions. That's nice -- but did I miss the announcement that volunteers were wanted for these groups in the first place? Do that many local movers and shakers really watch CCG-TV in the middle of the night?

Teresa Pike Tomlinson also named members Tuesday to a Mayor's Real Estate Investment Initiative Commission. Considering the possible acronym there, it says a lot about the market nationwide in recent years - it REIIC's.

The third commission announced Tuesday is the Mayor's Neighborhood Stabilization and Improvement Commission. Its goal is to enhance neighborhoods and "fight blight." So which part of town should be next to have trees chopped down along the roadside, while new ones are planted in the middle of the street?

-> We played a new kind of online poker this past weekend -- and liked it a lot. Read what happened at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

E-MAIL UPDATE: The barber shop hunt we mentioned Tuesday led one reader to offer suggestions....

For reference you might try Holt's in the Rothschild building on 1st ave in the 1200 block. Although Mr Holt is dead I believe his son still runs the shop. Holt used to cut my hair for 2 bits back in the sixties when he worked in the rear of Melcalf's Department Store. Also Wynnton Barbershop which strangely is not in Wynnton but rather is located behind B. Merrills on Veterans parkway.

The owner of Wynnton Barber probably had a difficult economic decision to make. He traded volume work close to Fort Benning for potentially big tips from "old money" in north Columbus and Harris County.

Let's face it -- you probably don't read barber shop reviews every day. So I should note I was NOT compensated for what I wrote about Victory Barber Shop. Some "mommy blogs" occasionally receive new products from companies to try out and review. I haven't even been heard from NICE, FRIENDLY Columbus car dealers tempting me with SPACIOUS SHINY 2011 sedans.

Enough of the hint-dropping - let's get Tuesday's news on the record....

+ Columbus Police told the Ledger-Enquirer someone passed a counterfeit 20-dollar bill at Kendrick High School. If Usher's picture is on the bill, be suspicious....

+ Georgia Governor Nathan Deal announced an expansion at Pratt & Whitney, which will bring almost 200 new jobs to Columbus. This may be one time when "fly-by-night" workers will receive special favor.

+ Columbus Regional Health Care President Larry Sanders announced plans to retire. If you ran St. Francis Hospital, would you acknowledge this? Would you reserve a parking spot for Sanders near the front of the emergency room, because you doubt his old employer will?

+ Cici's Pizza on Auburn Avenue announced the addition of a drive-through lane. Hmmmm - drive-through pizza? Don't you normally have to wait 15 or 20 minutes after ordering one of.... oh wait. That's about how long you have to wait in the drive-through lanes of Krystal and Captain D's now.

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