Thursday, March 03, 2011

3 MAR 11: Bel Error?

It looks like one political controversy in Phenix City is over - just in time for another to get going. That's probably about all the "scandals" a city Phenix City's size can handle at one time. Columbus is big enough for two at a time, but one of them tends to be suppressed by city officials.

The Alabama Ethics Commission revealed to the Ledger-Enquirer Phenix City School Superintendent Larry DiChiara did NOT violate any rules. Well, at least when it comes to work on his 1954 Chevrolet -- a car so old that instead of a radio, it may have come with a Dinah Shore songbook.

You may remember the Phenix City Council read a long list of complaints against the school district last October [6 Oct 10]. I was going to call it a "laundry list," but that's one of the few things Councilors did NOT complain about.

One of the complaints involved Superintendent Larry DiChiara having work done on his classic car at Phenix City Central High School. We guessed at the time it was a class project, and we were right. Next time, maybe the history teachers and technical center staff should work together on these things.

(In fact, that car is a 1954 Chevy Bel Air -- so the drama club could have joined the fun, by reenacting one of those "Fresh Prince" TV shows.)

The Alabama Ethics Commission concluded there was NO wrongdoing in the painting of the superintendent's classic car. Larry DiChiara paid three times the going rate for a paint job, and the Career Technical Center kept it a year -- almost as long as some low-budget body shops would.

The Alabama Ethics Commission does NOT reveal who files complaints such as this one. But there's already speculation online that someone in Phenix City government did it, in hopes of forcing out the school superintendent. Someday I should ask Larry DiChiara if he has an MP3 player, with "I Will Survive" playing on it.

Not all is settled in this Phenix City feud. A judge's ruling barring the City Council from appointing school board members is being appealed. State courts had better hurry - because by the time they rule, the Council will be up for re-election and needing those members for endorsements.

Meanwhile, a Lee County Judge has been appointed to hear the forgery case of Phenix City Councilor Arthur Sumbry Sr. This case reportedly involves a document "signed" by a 94-year-old man, that a handwriting expert determined was a phony. We'll see if Sumbry's attorneys respond by calling a different forgery expert to the witness stand - Yella Fella.

-> A recent poker night had a sad interruption. Read what happened at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

E-MAIL UPDATE: We wondered if any Columbus-area lawmakers are cosponsoring the Presidential Electibility Assurance Act, or what some have dubbed the "birther bill." So we asked a couple, and received a reply from one of them Wednesday:

This bill was dropped yesterday. I have not read & I do not commit to any bill unless I have read, and agree with, or had a hand in drafting. No one knows the final version of the bill until it goes through the Committee process, Rules & any potential amendments on the House floor.

Representative Richard H Smith

House District 131

Don't you love the lingo of the legislature? When a bill is introduced, it's "dropped." And if enough lawmakers tell a House member it will ruin their chances for re-election, the bill could be dropped again -- dropped off the calendar.

Rep. Richard Smith makes a valid point about the P.E.A.A. It could be changed in many ways between now and the end of the Georgia Legislature's session. Some Republicans may want to fine-tune it -- by banning candidates from any state Georgia has beaten in a major bowl game in the last ten years. You know, such as Hawaii....

We also asked State Senator Josh McKoon where he stands on this bill. He did not reply as of Wednesday night, but one of his own proposals won Senate approval during the day. It changes the rules for absentee and advance voting - including a ban on Sunday voting. If you can't buy a six-pack, you shouldn't pack a ballot box either.

We also had another message Wednesday about wild animals in the heart of Columbus. We suggested the animals might be at war with humans. Wednesday's e-mail writer responds....

I'm not really sure if we are in fact at war with the animals. It would be more interesting if deer carried guns in the woods to make hunting more of a sport (LOL). Animal rights sympathizers constantly proclaim that humans are so "mean" to animals. Have these people ever watched what animals do to one another on the Discovery and National Geographic channels? I guess it's OK if animal cruelty is natural and not humanly induced.

This is a question I've wondered about for years. Why don't the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals work with the animals, to make them more ethical toward each other? Wouldn't PETA be thrilled to get the producers of "When Animals Attack" videos out of business?

We're going to hold one other e-mail for the weekend, and move on to other Wednesday news:

+ Georgia Power filed papers to cut electric bills $43 million, because the cost of natural gas to operate power plants has gone down. That's a nice thing to do -- but part of me wishes some Georgia Power engineers would defect to Atmos Energy, so the natural gas company can compete for electric service completely.

+ New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in suburban Atlanta announced two layoffs of full-time employees, and ten-percent pay cuts for the rest. This is the megachurch with Eddie Long as its Pastor - so members may be paying more attention to those lawsuits than his sermons about tithing.

+ Roundball Night in Dixieland (tm) apparently marked the end of the season for Columbus State women's basketball. The Cougars lost in the Peach Belt Conference tournament 63-45 - and when WDAK doesn't even bother to broadcast the game, you know it's been a bad year.

+ Auburn's men rallied from 20 points down to mow down Mississippi 76-73. It was a night of surprises -- as WXTX showed the game on digital 54.2 seemingly without telling anyone, and the teams clashed in red and orange uniforms. This "Senior Night" wasn't good for senior fans with color blindness.

(Auburn Network broadcaster Rod Bramblett was so upset by one foul call that he scolded an official: "Call what you see, but don't call what you think you see." So much for Bramblett ever appearing on Glenn Beck's talk shows....)

+ The Georgia men lassoed Louisiana State 73-53 for their 20th win of the season. That hasn't happened for the Bulldogs in nine years - and hopefully this time history will NOT repeat itself, with 11 wins lost to NCAA rules violations.

+ Instant Message to St. Matthew Evangelical Lutheran Church on Macon Road: I noticed your Sunday sermon topic, "The Stormy Star." I can't believe you're going to devote an entire message on Charlie Sheen.

SCHEDULED FRIDAY: We haven't done a music review in a long time, so....

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