Tuesday, May 10, 2011

10 MAY 11: Let's Get Small

"You're going to see a lot less government." That bold statement was made Monday by the mayor of Columbus -- but if you're tired of seeing police cars lurking around corners, I don't think I'd jump up and down to celebrate.

Mayor Teresa Pike Tomlinson faced questions about her proposed Columbus city budget on WLTZ's "Calvin Floyd Live." That quote about "a lot less government" was in response to a viewer who suggested other city services be cut instead of garbage collection. Some residents may be friendlier with the prison inmates on trash duty than we realize.

The mayor assured the caller her proposed two-percent cut in the city operating fund will lead to a lot less government being seen around Columbus. I think she means fewer service trucks will be on the streets -- and it will be fun watching tree-trimming crews show up on bicycles.

Mayor Tomlinson noted many city fleet vehicles are overdue for replacement, because they have more than 150,000 miles on them. I can relate to that. My humble Honda is now 17 years old -- but it's only at around 148,000 miles, because the odometer has been on intermittent for about three years.

When it comes to trash, the mayor said she's had a "great response" to her proposed cut to once-a-week garbage collection. Apparently she has yet to hear from lobbying groups which produce plastic bags....

Mayor Tomlinson noted some Columbus Councilors are proposing an alternative to reduced garbage collection. They would raise the garbage fee ten dollars a month, to 24 dollars. In other words, every bag of microwave popcorn you empty would cost 71 percent more to throw away. And then people wonder why Usama bin-Laden burned his trash?!

(One caller asked the mayor if she'll need to buy more trash cans. Not necessarily - think of it as a grown-up version of cup stacking contests.)

The mayor estimates a reduction from two trash pickup days to one per week would save the city $331,000. She admitted to a caller the city's Integrated Waste Fund could have even more money if businesses practiced recycling. And there could be other benefits. If bars required customers to put green and brown beer bottles in different bins, we might spot the drunks faster.

People with long memories will recall the City Manager's office suggested reducing trash collection to save money three years ago [8 Aug 08]. That idea went.... well, I was going to say it went into the garbage. But Columbus accepts white paper for recycling.

But now Mayor Tomlinson is forcing Columbus Council to face the garbage question and make a decision. Some political analysts might say she's verifying those campaign claims about being a strong mayor. Others may be wishing she went farther, and put this before Council in an election year.

And when Mayor Tomlinson uses phrases such as "a lot less government," shouldn't that silence the election critics who kept labeling her a Democrat? Or will Republicans conclude once-a-week garbage pickup means she's going soft on prison work crews?

As it happens, budget-cutting also was a priority Monday night at a Muscogee County School Board work session. Board member John Wells told WRBL state funding for the district is expected to drop as much as 11 million dollars. So if you teachers sitting in bars after work playing Keno, their schools might need the money.

John Wells says Muscogee County Schools might have to cut funding for nurses by six percent to balance the budget. We all know what that means - less Ritalin for grade-school students, and more Rite-Aid aspirin.

Under federal law, the Muscogee County School Board is forced to increase prices for school lunches and breakfasts. High-school students will pay $2.10 for lunch next term - making that 99-cent Tuesday two-piece special at Church's chicken look better and better.

In contrast to all this, the Columbus Water Board approved a bigger budget Monday. WLTZ reported it's about three percent larger because of sewer repair issues - and water bills may increase 2.9 percent next year. Maybe if enough of us agreed to use the bathroom only once a week....

-> Sunday night's big online poker game left us with a wide range of emotions. Read what happened at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

BLOG UPDATE: We confirmed Monday Vicky James has left the midday shift at WFXE-FM for a new job in Greenville, South Carolina. "Foxie 105" is advertising for a replacement -- so please do NOT start rumors about Donny Osmond moving down the dial.

So what do you think - should I apply for the midday announcing job at Foxie 105? We could have DJ Chip followed by Bloggie-Blog.

Here's what else we noticed on a rather muggy Monday....

+ Columbus Police told the Ledger-Enquirer a hit-and-run driver was arrested for driving 90 miles per hour on Second Avenue. And even more amazingly, it happened near 30th Street. If the driver had been heading down the big hill toward 18th Street and the Salvation Army, it might be understandable....

+ WRBL declared Columbus Parks Director nominee Dr. James Worsley received "the VIP treatment," touring all the city park facilities. By VIP, I guess that means Carver Park had the Sunday allocation of police cars.

+ Armstrong Atlantic State came from behind to collar Columbus State 8-4 in the Peach Belt Conference baseball tournament. Even though the Cougars played practically at home inside Golden Park, they were eliminated in two consecutive games. C'mon guys - Clayton State has the team called the Lakers.

+ Georgia running back Washaun Ealey was released from his scholarship, so he can transfer to another college. Ealey was suspended from the football team during the winter. Then Coach Mark Richt showed Isaiah Crowell the "missing man formation" on a recruiting trip. Richt's next job could be as a scriptwriter for a pro wrestling troupe.

+ Instant Message to everyone wondering why Monday's blog entry was posted so late: Beats me. I set the timer for 3:00 a.m. ET, as I usually do. I never expected "the cloud" to have a bad case of Monday blahs.

(BLOGGER'S NOTE: The jokes for today have concluded, but you're welcome to read on for thoughts about another Monday news item.)

BUT SERIOUSLY: Former Municipal Court Judge Haywood Turner died Sunday night -- a judge who certainly was colorful and controversial. And I suspect he's taking some secrets to the grave with him.

One of the most-visited days in this blog's history came when we were challenged to review Judge Turner's divorce papers, in light of an investigation by the Southern Poverty Law Center. It was a case where someone came to a humor blog with something that wasn't very funny -- and it led to one of our rare days when all jokes were suspended. You can review what we found in the blog posts of 9-10 Mar 09

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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.

© 2003-11 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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