Sunday, May 29, 2011

29 MAY 11: Sending Out an SOS

Hey, about that title -- why didn't Port Columbus call its big event Saturday an SOS? As in "save our ships?" Did the management decide too many people see those letters nowadays, and think of soap pads?

Instead, Saturday's event was simply called a "Rally to Support Port Columbus." Managers of the Civil War Naval Museum estimate 800 people showed up during the two-hour rally. They called it a "great turnout" on short notice - and now the pressure is on Columbus High School's baseball team to top it on Monday.

Port Columbus encouraged people to attend the two-hour rally by offering free admission, and giving away door prizes. The door prizes might qualify under the mayor's idea of an effective "business plan," but I can't see free admission doing it.

The Port Columbus blog claims several "friends, staff, volunteers, pirates, VIP's" attended Saturday's rally. No names were named -- but if Mayor Teresa Pike Tomlinson had shown up, she probably would have been listed under "pirate."

State Senator Josh McKoon gave a speech supporting the museum and opposing any cut in city funding. Dick McMichael's blog notes McKoon even became a member of Port Columbus - a first step toward moving the museum to West Point Lake, if all else fails.

(Port Columbus actually is in Ed Harbison's state senate district. I don't know if he's a member of the museum or not - but if it's any comfort, Harbison gave thousands of dollars last year to the Port Renaissance Hotel in downtown Atlanta.)

Josh McKoon admitted Port Columbus is losing $70,000 in state grant money, because of a tight budget in Atlanta. I thought Governor Nathan Deal was going to care more about Columbus than Sonny Perdue did - but maybe that interest stops with his daughter at the Springer Opera House.

Port Columbus Executive Director Bruce Smith told WTVM he's willing to accept a 17-percent cut in city funding, or about $50,000. The mayor's proposed city budget would make a cut of about 70 percent, or $222,000. The museum staff should have illustrated this during the rally, by holding a limbo contest.

But here's things become confusing for me. The Ledger-Enquirer reported Port Columbus gets almost half its annual budget from the city. But WTVM General Manager Lee Brantley said in an editorial the city only provides 11 percent of the funding. And a real-life Civil war-era museum doesn't have calculators, to sort out the math.

Assuming Lee Brantley's numbers are right, a 70-percent reduction in city funding for Port Columbus actually would be only a seven-percent cut in the total budget. Why would a seven-percent cut force the museum to close? A well-organized Sunday afternoon telethon on WTVM or CCG-TV ought to make that up.

As Port Columbus staffers left feeling encouraged, a new budget bombshell came Saturday from seemingly out of nowhere. Richard Hyatt's website reported proposed cuts in the Muscogee County Sheriff's Office could force the removal of Government Center security checkpoints. Anyone who renews a driver's license in person probably is rooting for that....

-> We received something rare at our Thursday night poker tournament. Read what happened at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

SUNDAY SOAPBOX: Our Saturday memories of a weekend in Joplin, Missouri brought a response from a reader in Ohio....


I enjoy your blog a lot, even though I'm by no means a resident of Columbus (neither one, as a matter of fact). However, today's has to be the best post I've read from you yet. It was touching in so many ways, and I'm sure it will similarly touch others as well.

Have a Blessed Sabbath,

John D

Thank you for the kind words -- but let's not overlook the 15 other states which have cities named Columbus. I doubt Christopher Columbus ever would have imagined his name at the north edge of North Dakota, practically bordering Canada. But then again, it's also hard to believe some Egyptian moved to southwest Georgia and called a town Cairo.

SCHEDULED MONDAY: Memorial Day laughs at al-Qaeda's expense (rescheduled from earlier this month)....

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