Friday, May 20, 2011

20 MAY 11: She's Thinking Single, They're Seeing Double

If our title today seems familiar, you must know classic country music. It's adapted from an old song by Gary Stewart which involves drinking. But I changed the words, because for all I know our mayor could be a T.T.-totaler.

The issue here isn't music or alcohol at all - it's trash collection. Mayor Teresa Pike Tomlinson said on TV last week she's received a good response to a proposed reduction in city trash pickup [10 May]. But the response from Columbus Council Thursday was different - although no one was rude enough to declare the idea rubbish.

Public Services Director Gary Stickles showed a city map to a budget review meeting, showing once-a-week trash pickup would occur on four weekdays. Wednesday would be a "day off" - so garbage supervisors can join doctors and downtown business owners on the golf course.

When once-a-week trash pickup was suggested at public hearings in 2008, the "off day" for collection was Monday. This made a lot of sense of me, because it would end the confusion which often occurs on federal holidays. In fact, it would give prison inmates on work crews the feeling every September that they're really laborers.

But Councilor Glenn Davis was unimpressed by the proposed reduction from twice-a-week to once-a-week garbage collection. He warned it would produce all sorts of problems, such as rodents and "the smell...." If Davis wants to prevent something smelly, he should jog with me close to the Riverwalk some weekday morning.

(The mayor should explain to Glenn Davis the economic advantages of having "the smell" from once-a-week garbage collection. Sales of air freshener at grocery stores could skyrocket.)

Councilor Skip Henderson admitted to WRBL he only takes out his garbage once a week, so the proposed change would be nothing stressful for him. But he said it's a potential problem for other residents. If the members of "Muscogee Moms" demand a meeting with the mayor like real estate agents are getting today, that could be a sign of trouble.

But Skip Henderson raised another issue involving the two options for garbage collection in the city budget. He said even if service is reduced to once a week now, monthly trash fees still might have to be increased in a few years. In other words, you'd pay more for less - as if you're not already used to that with ice cream.

This explains why Columbus Council is considering an increase in the monthly garbage fee, while keeping twice-a-week collection. The fee could nearly double, from 14 dollars to 24 dollars a month. So the choice is clear: either pile up the dollar bills or the trash sacks.

In a rare speaking appearance on the TV news, Councilor Mike Baker admitted he's heard conflicting opinions about what to do what the Integrated Waste Fund budget problems. A lack of consensus on Council might lead to some kind of compromise. How about doing it like the water bill - and you're charged so much per trash bag?

Mayor Tomlinson admitted to the Ledger-Enquirer after Thursday's meeting her proposal to reduce garbage collection to once a week is in serious trouble. It might not be all the way to the Schatulga Road landfill yet, but it seems to be well east of Woodruff Farm Road.

THE BIG BLOG QUESTION has changed, to get your opinion on the garbage issue. Should the budget be balanced by reducing service to once a week? Should the monthly garbage fee go up? Or is there a better way to solve this problem - short of having everyone throw trash bags in the river?

The previous question on the future of the Muscogee County Marshal's Office closed Thursday afternoon. Our stupefyingly non-scientific poll found 13 voters want the office either eliminated or consolidated. Four want the Marshal's Office kept as is -- and I guess the other Marshal deputies were too busy serving eviction notices to vote.

The big question in our comment section was why Deputy Marshals have radar units to check for speeders. It's apparently allowed under Georgia law, since the Marshal and Sheriff have the same "duties, powers and authority...." Maybe the guns are pulled out when the number of "nulla bonas" is more like nil-a.

I'm going to let this week's e-mail mess related to the Marshal's Office rest/simmer today. With thanks to Richard Hyatt for the nice plug in his latest update, let's move on to other Thursday things....

+ Your blog confirmed Books-A-Million has finalized plans to open a new store at Peachtree Mall. I'm hearing the store will be located near Macy*s - which could pose a dilemma for shoppers. Do you buy the Paula Deen cookbook first, or the food processor?

+ The new Chick-Fil-A opened in Midland - but developers told WTVM there's not enough room around the restaurant to build a SuperTarget store. That's OK, folks. Some of us would be happy with a regular-sized Kroger.

+ All five members of the Bullock County Commission were arrested on felony charges. Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange says they spent county money on jail food without opening the process for sealed bids. Aw c'mon - what if Publix has a big one-week-only half-price sale?

+ Four Columbus High School students were arrested on charges of attempting a "senior prank" involving vandalism. Police believe the students pulled up a few memorial bricks, hoping to leave gaps in the shape of the number 2011 - which leads me to think there were "loose bricks somewhere" long before this week.

+ Developers of the Chattahoochee River whitewater course told WRBL the Eagle and Phenix Dam will be removed in stages over nine months, beginning in September. The dam will NOT be imploded - thus denying Fort Benning soldiers a wonderful training opportunity.

+ Mayor Teresa Pike Tomlinson hosted the first-ever "Bike With the Mayor" evening downtown. I know the mayor didn't want to take a city car in her pay package, but isn't this a little extreme?

+ North Carolina-Pembroke pinned Columbus State 6-0 in the opening game of the NCAA baseball playoffs. The Cougars only picked up two hits all day. Yeow -- that barely tops the total of Rebecca Black....

+ Reports from Canada indicated a deal is close to move the Atlanta Thrashers hockey team to Winnipeg. It looks like that new South Commons Ice Rink opened in the nick of time, to keep the Cottonmouths from moving to the big city.

+ Instant Message to the Auburn University library: Did I read this right - you're going to display some rare historic Bibles? To hear some ministers talk, I thought left-wing liberal universities such as yours didn't even allow them on campus.

SCHEDULED THIS WEEKEND: The mayor responds to what Tollie Strode wrote.... and waiting for the great earthquake (if there's no post Sunday, I might not be here anymore)....

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