Wednesday, February 09, 2011

9 FEB 11: Blue, Less Blood

When I take walks on cold and wet winter days at Peachtree Mall, I often find a slow-stepping uniformed "mall cop" on patrol. He's big and tall, perhaps to keep teenagers and pre-teens in line. And thankfully, he hasn't stopped me yet for walking faster then him.

Are you feeling safer in Columbus these days? The mayor and police chief tried to convince everyone Tuesday you should. A news release announced the city crime rate dropped 8.8 percent last year. This is one time when "crazy eights" leaving town may be a good thing.

The 8.8 percent decline includes everything from murder to larceny - offenses defined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as "Part-1 Crimes." If you spray-paint X's on trees to match what a city crew is doing downtown on Veterans Parkway, you're simply second-rate.

While the Columbus homicide count increased by two last year, declines were reported in all other major crimes. The number of car thefts dropped by almost 34 percent - so maybe the fad of "Grand Theft Auto" video games finally is disappearing.

Mayor Teresa Pike Tomlinson said it's important to reduce the number of "entry-level crimes." That's a very fitting description of auto theft, burglary and robbery. You have to enter a car, a house, a business....

(Side point here: we have decided to refer to the mayor from now on as "Teresa Pike Tomlinson," since she signed a recent e-mail to us that way. We're following the approach news outlets used when Hillary Rodham Clinton was U.S. first lady. But we are stopping short of concluding this signature proves she's a Democrat.)

The mayor and police chief say the lower crime numbers prove the "streets and safety" Local Option Sales Tax is having an impact. Yet I suspect there were extra officers at Kendrick High School's basketball games Tuesday night, after a fight involving Carver and Kendrick students last weekend. Maybe police should set up a mixed martial arts octagon on the front lawn.

As it happens, the Office of Crime Prevention received Columbus Council approval to fund four more community programs Tuesday. But at least one of them has been in operation for several years - the FAST program to bond at-risk children with their families. I'm not sure how a city grant will make that process any FAST-er....

(After checking the Columbus Council online agenda Tuesday night, I've concluded the "FAST program" does not apply to the official city photographer.)

Office of Crime Prevention Director Seth Brown says one of his goals this year is the launch of a program to enroll convicted felons at Columbus Technical College after they leave prison. This makes a lot of sense to me - since there simply isn't a lot of demand for license plate makers these days.

-> We had a big night of online poker last week. Read what happened at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

OVERHEARD OVER HERE: A room full of office workers is watching a Powerpoint presentation on technology equipment. One slide shows a Universal Power Supply machine -- and an older man decides to offer a young worker a bit of advice.

"That's not a brown truck, so it's the other UPS."

Now let's try to make sense of other Tuesday news....

+ The Columbus Council agenda revealed former Councilor Julius Hunter has applied to become a Recorder's Court Judge. He'll obviously want the courtroom to be as quiet as he was during most Council meetings.

+ Auburn University announced its 2011 football schedule. The most intriguing game to me occurs one week before the Iron Bowl, when the Tigers host Samford. Will fans boo a team coached by former Auburn quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Pat Sullivan? Or will the crowd decide it can stand Pat?

+ Georgia running back Washaun Ealey was suspended from the team indefinitely. He reportedly never showed up for a "punishment run." Part of me thinks a better reaction would be to make Ealey run across the Auburn campus in the middle of the day, in a Georgia uniform.

(Somebody has to ask it - did Isaiah Crowell know this suspension was coming when he signed the national letter of intent with Georgia last week? If Coach Mark Richt could show him a mock workout with no running backs, he could have prepared a "wanted" poster with Ealey's picture on it.)

+ The Georgia men's basketball team lost to Xavier 65-57 -- and during a timeout in the final minute, some of the students at Stegeman Coliseum booed the officials. Apparently they don't teach incoming freshmen about "Southern hospitality" the way they once did.

+ Instant Message to Alabama Governor Robert Bentley: Could you please come up with a different word, to describe cuts in the state education budget? Every time I hear "proration," I think of Ken-L Ration dog food - and I wonder how many dogs really were "pro" that.

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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.

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