Thursday, April 14, 2011

14 APR 11: Liquor vs. Luquire

Today marks the final day of the 2011 Georgia legislative session. The budget work is finished. The "birther bill" which caused a stir has died in committee. And I can't wait to ask State Senator Josh McKoon what happened to that first bill he planned to introduce about charter schools - because I can't find a record of it anywhere online.

One of the biggest bills of the 2011 session will have aftershocks across Georgia for months to come -- and is likely to make one Columbus man very busy. Georgia Christian Coalition President Jerry Luquire says he'll keep fighting to stop Sunday alcohol sales in stores. Luquire can look for a nice check in a few days from the Phenix City-Russell County Chamber of Commerce.

Jerry Luquire prophesied predicted to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution local voters across Georgia will resist the alcohol sales question. And he used a phrase we're likely to hear a lot in coming months: "Keep Sunday safer." Now if Luquire can persuade Morley Safer to comment about it some Sunday evening on "60 Minutes"....

(Some would say the bill on the Georgia Governor's desk actually does keep Sunday safer. It limits alcohol sales in stores to 11 hours, beginning at 12:30 p.m. But that means churches still might have to make a Saturday night "wine run" to prepare for communion services.)

The Georgia Christian Coalition may find some "loyal opposition" to Sunday alcohol stores in rural counties -- the same places which refused to sell tickets, after Georgia voters approved the lottery two decades ago. Those convenience store owners probably are the ones thrilled to see gas prices so high.

But if Jerry Luquire isn't careful, his continued efforts against Sunday alcohol sales could divide the Georgia Republican Party. This week's Georgia House vote was evidence of that, as Rep. Kip Smith voted for the local-option question while Rep. Richard Smith voted no. If Richard Smith is against liquor, does that mean the "Tea Party" is more likely to support him?

Richard Smith's opposition matched that of several Columbus liquor store operators Wednesday. One manager told WRBL the Sunday sales question was pushed by supermarkets and convenience stores, since they're already open seven days a week -- and they don't bother taking down Bud Light signs on Saturday nights as it is.

(Isn't it interesting to hear these store owners admit they prefer to be open only six day a week? Small liquor stores actually have something in common on Sundays with Chick-Fil-A.)

Governor Nathan Deal says he'll sign the bill allowing local-option votes on Sunday alcohol sales in Georgia stores. But if his city or county actually puts the question on the ballot, Deal admits he'll vote no. Does that make the governor a hypocrite - or make him eligible for double the campaign donations?

Governor Nathan Deal says local governments have a "better feel" for the issue of Sunday alcohol sales in stores. This tells me he's not a big alcohol drinker - because on hot summer Sundays, all the cans of beer in an ice chest feel the same way.

So which Columbus Councilor will step forward and offer a proposal to put Sunday alcohol sales in stores on the ballot? I would have put Red McDaniel near the top of the list, but he told the Ledger-Enquirer recently he sees "no need for it." McDaniel is living up to his name politically, isn't he?

For informational purposes only (because you realize the Christian Coalition also would oppose gambling), here are my current odds of which Columbus Councilor will sponsor the Sunday store sales proposal....

+ Glenn Davis - 7:5. Do you really think they only served soft drinks in the baseball clubhouses?

+ Mimi Woodson - 3:1. Columbus South businesses need to grow and flourish, you know.

+ Bruce Huff - 5:1. Drunk drivers on Sunday could keep him busier on Monday - which is sad to say, since he operates a funeral home.

+ Jerry Barnes - 10:1. He actually supported the proposal in the newspaper, even though his profession is nursing. He must not have worked in an emergency room recently.

+ Mike Baker - 40:1. I don't think he's introduced any proposals in four years on Council, anyway.

By the way, it's nice to see Josh McKoon was able to work with fellow State Senator Ed Harbison on a few bills during the Georgia legislative session. They cosponsored a resolution approved by the Senate Tuesday, noting Mayor Teresa Pike Tomlinson's election. Does this prove once and for all McKoon did NOT write "The Truth About Teresa"?

Senators Ed Harbison and Josh McKoon also cosponsored a resolution honoring Muscogee County Coroner Bill Thrower. Did you know he was named 2010 Coroner of the Year by "Child Fatality Review"? The resolution says that - but somehow, I don't think Thrower will put that on his resume if he ever runs for Columbus Council.

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E-MAIL UPDATE: We've given a Phenix City Councilor ample opportunity to respond. But we've heard nothing, so we now post a reader's follow-up to a Sunday Soapbox claim that Jimmy Wetzel plans to run for mayor....

Richard, Rep. Vance is NOT the money man that I referred to. It is a man that has control of not only the one I mentioned, but controls at least one other PC Council member that I know of (and holds the mortgage to her home). He is a man with a long criminal track record and his last name sounds as though he competes in thge circles of that "fancy" checker game, you know the one with kings and pawns. You may not want to publish this email but sadly cr*p such as this does still exist in every town's political circles.

Oh boy - a guessing game! But I thought Richard Bishop worked with Uptown Columbus....

We left two messages with Jimmy Wetzel in the last few days, seeking more details on his peacemaking with the Phenix City School District. But he has yet to reply - as if he's going to be a key character witness in the trial of Arthur Sumbry Sr.

Let's see what else grabbed our interest Wednesday....

+ WRBL witnessed a visit by state and local NAACP leaders to Port Columbus. Edward DuBose admitted he's never toured the Civil War Naval Museum, and opposes any "commemoration" of the 150th anniversary of that war. Hopefully he's complained to Congressman Sanford Bishop -- since his office is giving away calendars "celebrating" every event of 1861.

+ Richard Hyatt's website reported controversial author David Rose will appear at Barnes & Noble next week, reading from his book "The Big Eddy Club." Rose says he's written a revised ending, based on new developments in the Carlton Gary case. If he dares to say Gary's next-door neighbor did it....

+ An inside source confirmed to your blog what we suspected a few weeks ago - Books-A-Million is trying to relocate its Columbus store to Peachtree Mall [25 Mar]. The old WaldenBooks site now is occupied by a clothing store. But the former Parisian space remains unused - and simply waiting to become the site of a news conference by the mayor.

(The Books-A-Million location in Cross Country Plaza closes Friday. I stopped by Wednesday, and a woman immediately asked me if boxes of items near the door were "priced as marked." Considering I was wearing a T-shirt and shorts, maybe this store's real problem is in customer service.)

+ A tour bus organized by the Columbus Times attended a taping of "America's Got Talent" in Atlanta. It was a fund-raiser for the Liberty Theatre - so perhaps the three stars on the theatre "walk of fame" finally will be joined by David Hasselhoff and Sharon Osbourne.

+ Instant Message to "Ralph1942," whoever you are: I know you like to write "gotcha" comments to Ledger-Enquirer stories. But this time the joke's on you. I saw your reply to something I wrote Wednesday - and no, I am NOT really Columbus Councilor Gary Allen.

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