Thursday, June 02, 2011

2 JUN 11: Your Papers, Please

Columbus made weather history Wednesday, with its earliest 100-degree day of the year -- a high of 102 F. There could be a fringe benefit to global warming, you know. Illegal immigrants will stay in Mexico, because they'll conclude the U.S. really isn't cooler at all.

Illegal immigration was the topic of a training session at Columbus State University Wednesday. Dozens of law officers were taught how to apply Georgia's new immigration reform rules. The process might be easier in Columbus than in other cities - since we don't have a minor league baseball team right now.

Dale Mann with the Georgia Public Safety Training Center told GPB Radio the methods for law officers should NOT change much, once the new immigration law takes effect in July. In other words, small-town police chiefs and sheriffs still will listen carefully for whether or not you have a Southern drawl.

Law officers were told they still will need "probable cause" before checking their citizenship status. Or as a Cherokee County deputy sheriff told WXTX: "You've got to have a reason to pull somebody over" - a translation for those of you who already have forgotten all those years of watching "Law and Order."

Clarke County Sheriff Ira Edwards Jr. says when all is said and done, law officers will "have to be fair" when it comes to enforcing the new Georgia immigration law. He has a good point, of course. The State Patrol should ask for President Obama's birth certificate, as much as they ask for anyone else's.

(The Lee County, Alabama Sheriff happened to appear Wednesday on WLTZ's "Calvin Floyd Live." Jay Jones said he teaches officers the importance of developing good communications skills. You certainly don't want a deputy stumbling over any words while reading the Miranda rights to suspects.)

While Georgia law officers prepare for the new immigration rules, there's still a possibility they will be delayed. Lawsuits have been filed to stop the law
from taking effect - but supporters of the change can take comfort in one thing. As far as we know, the legal documents all have been filed in English.

But warnings about the new Georgia immigration law already may be spreading far and wide. Some South Georgia farmers say they're having trouble finding workers to harvest their crops. Offering discount "you-pick-em" prices apparently doesn't work for Vidalia onions, like it does for Taylor County strawberries.

Since law officers are preparing for Georgia's new immigration rules, it's only fair that drivers prepare as well. If you want to avoid making an officer suspicious and save a trip to jail for not being a legal U.S. citizen, here's what I recommend....

+ Keep all potentially troublesome items hidden in your trunk -- such as the burritos you're taking home from Taco Bell.

+ End the habit of always switching the radio to classical music when an officer pulls you over. One German opera singer now could ruin everything.

+ If you play your own music in the car, donate the Foreigner albums to the Salvation Army as soon as possible.

+ If you drive an import, learn the English translation of what you're driving. But if you own a French Citroën, you might have to adjust the spelling to Spanish and call it a "lemon."

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BLOG UPDATE: Speaking of international travel, the Columbus mayor's office announced Wednesday Teresa Pike Tomlinson will take an all-expenses-paid trip to Germany next week. She's following the example of several U.S. Presidents. When your domestic policies aren't working, leave the country and look like a world leader.

A Government Center statement says Mayor Tomlinson received the invitation after meeting the German Consulate General in April at the National Infantry Museum. This raised one question for me right away -- did he know she's married?

The mayors of Savannah and Cincinnati also have been invited to visit Germany next week. But Mayor Tomlinson has the advantage of meeting with a company which has made Columbus a finalist for a U.S. location, and could bring at least 500 potential jobs. OK, Mayor, let me help you a little - Dirk Nowitzke plays basketball. For Dallas.

While the economic opportunity is promising, the trip to Germany comes at a rather awkward time for Mayor Tomlinson. She'll be out of the country in the week before the final public hearing on the proposed city budget. Who will lobby for the mayor's issues while she's gone? Who will carry that single trash sack all the way to the curb?

(But maybe it's Columbus Council which should be concerned about this trip. Mayor Tomlinson might come home from Germany and decide she wants full control over city officers after all.)

Let's bring everything back home now, as we wrap up other Wednesday news:

+ The Georgia Redistricting Alliance had a public meeting at the Mildred Terry branch library. The state legislature will have a special session this summer on drawing new district lines, and some groups.... hey, wait a minute! That may explain why State Senator Josh McKoon became a member of Port Columbus. He wants Ed Harbison to move his district home to Cusseta.

+ Fort Benning held a seminar for military families on the proper use of social media. Officers are concerned updates on Facebook and Twitter might reveal security details to potential terrorists. That's too bad -- because plenty of privates probably dream of becoming the Foursquare "mayor" of a restaurant, in hopes of getting promoted.

+ WRBL receptionist Margaret Johnson retired, after 54 years on the job. She's moving to the mountains of Tennessee to live with her son - who happens to be the former Muscogee County Sheriff. I didn't know Ralph Johnson had moved completely out of the area. So I guess that means the Phenix City Police Chief's job is safe for a while.

(Instant Message to Ms. Johnson: Are you REALLY sure you want to retire right now? WTVM has a dire need for a weather forecaster at the moment.)

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