Monday, June 06, 2011

6 JUN 11: Summer Tours

This was one of those weekends when I felt in a poetic mood....

In 14-hundred and 92, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

In 20-hundred and 11, Columbus leaders are in the heavens.

They're flying here, they're flying there. It seems they're flying everywhere.

If budget squabbles get you down, it's high time to head out of town.

It turns out the Columbus City Manager has an overseas trip of his own in the works. City officials confirm Isaiah Hugley will head for China later this month. He'll probably fly to China -- even though Hugley's critics would prefer he take that proverbial slow boat.

(I should stop right here and note this trip is to mainland China. At least one local pastor openly wonders why no one calls it "red China" anymore, since the Communist Party remains in charge. Maybe it's because the color of the U.S. could change every four years, depending on which party wins the White House.)

The City Manager was invited by an arm of the University of Georgia to visit China, and teach civil servants lessons in "management innovation." Lesson one: if an opening occurs in a city department, simply hand it over to an assistant city manager for several months.

The Carl Vinson Institute in Athens will help pay the way for Isaiah Hugley to visit China. But the Chinese government also is paying part of the cost - once again showing how China holds the future of the debt-heavy U.S. in the palm of its hands.

The timing of the city manager's overseas trip isn't clear to me -- but it apparently will begin after Mayor Teresa Pike Tomlinson comes home from Europe. She flew to Germany over the weekend, and is in Berlin on today's anniversary of the "D Day" invasion. Sunday afternoon was open for museum visits -- and of course, waving a U.S. flag from Fort Benning over Nazi exhibits.

Mayor Tomlinson joined five other U.S. mayors for dinner Sunday night with a German company which specializes in "sustainable architecture." Some of the company's designs recently were displayed at New York's Museum of Modern Art - which means you'll never see them in front of the Columbus Public Library.

(This business has designed everything from high-rise apartment buildings and police stations to a "Berlin chair." That chair looks more fitting for a martini bar or an Ikea catalog....)

Other Columbus city leaders have made overseas trips in recent years. But when Bob Poydasheff was mayor, he took his wife to Europe simply for a vacation. And when Muscogee County School Board member John Wells went to Spain - well, let's say he didn't bring back any ideas for adding bull roundups to an agriculture curriculum.

But as Mayor Tomlinson left the country, a new potboiler involving Columbus city government threatened to boil over. Sunday's Ledger-Enquirer revealed the city auditor is examining whether tickets for Columbus Civic Center concerts were swapped for personal services. How many tires can you get for a couple of Brad Paisleys?

-> We hit it big again Thursday night at a local poker tournament. Read what happened at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

E-MAIL UPDATE: I wondered if a certain civil rights activist would comment on this. Sure enough, he did....


"But I noticed Mayor Teresa Pike Tomlinson allowed a Marshal's deputy to response to Tollie Strode's cost analysis, even though he wasn't on the agenda. When Mayor Jim Wetherington pulled that trick, some people nearly considered it treasonous." (Blog of Columbus, Georgia June 1, 2011)

You certainly hit the nail right on the head with that one, as far as Jim Wetherington pulling that same trick at council. Wetherington pulled that trick time and time again. What you did not say was he got away with it every time and Councilor Gary Allen nor Councilor Jerry "Pops" Barnes never uttered a word when Jim Wetherington did it for 4 years. Suddenly, when Mayor Tomlinson calls up a public safety employee to respond to a citizen Gary Allen claims he had never seen anything like that ever happen at Columbus Council. Either he has not paid much attention all these years or Councilor Allen was being dishonest. Bottom line, CCG employees have always been called up to rebut citizens during council and were never required to be on the public agenda.

Oddly enough, you never saw Councilor Jerry Pops Barnes nor Gary Allen public try to lecture Mayor Jim Wetherington or talk down to him. Neither man never publicly disrespected Jim Wetherington they way intentionally disrespected this mayor and tried to embarrass her during this budget review process. Perhaps they have a problem with a female being mayor and public safety director. Whatever it is it needs to be addressed head on.

Another thing you probably caught on that video like many other citizens did was the MCMO deputy was the rank of captain. Mayor Tomlinson made it clear she was calling up Captain Lockett to speak to citizen Strode's statistical analysis that the deputy marshals were wasting taxpayer dollars and time writing traffic citations in the field and ignoring their CORE mission, which is the buzz word all the anti-Muscogee County Marshal's Office crowd constantly repeat like the big lie that it is. Councilor R. Gary Allen deliberately called Captain Lockett "Mr. Lockett" when he made his false statement to the mayor about CCG employees not being called on to rebut citizens appearing on the public agenda.

A veteran councilor calling a uniformed deputy marshal "mister" was an act of disrespect Councilor Allen wanted everybody to see and hear. It was very calculated and very deliberate. He said it straight out without equivocation or hesitation.

Councilor Allen did not call Captain Lockett deputy or even officer, as you might expect; he called him "mister" as if the captain was not even in law enforcement or held a legitimate rank of captain Allen should recognize. Councilor Barnes and Allen are so blinded by there animosity toward the marshal they do not even realize that the absurd arguments they are making and the stunts they are pulling in this debate of placing the deputy marshal and probably other law enforcement officers in the field in greater danger by signaling to the criminal element there are uniformed peace officers out there that you do not have to recognize and respect. That is the dangerous and irresponsible message that both councilors are responsible for sending out. And that is what citizens should be worried about and should demand come to an immediate halt before some law enforcement officers gets hurt.

Apparently, Councilor Allen has a personal deep seated and longstanding dislike of the MCMO that will not go away until the MCMO is abolished as Councilor Pops Barnes has announced on WRBL News and at Columbus City Council. Noticeably, Councilor Barnes does not want the MCMO deputies writing tickets in the field and his appointee to the Charter Review Commission, D.L. Moore, does not want them in a law enforcement style uniform. Councilor Gary Allen does not even want them to have the same vehicle as CPD nor riding down the same street at the same time that a sheriff's deputy does. Those very lame arguments coupled with the high degree of contempt publicly demonstrated by both councilors are a surefire tip off that duplication of services and waste of taxpayer dollars are not at all what Pops Barnes' call to abolish the marshal's office a little over 2 years after we pass a permanent sales tax projected to bring in 30-36 million dollars in revenue with 70% of that money going to public safety agencies.

None of this is very pleasant to hear. But somebody as a concerned citizen and as a service has to bring it to the attention of other fellow citizens for their consideration.

There is no doubt more to all this bizarre complaining about sworn law enforcement officers enforcing the law on our city streets than meets the eye.

The logical conclusion is that it is all personal and political and very much so.

Take care,

Brother Love, Director

Grassroots Unity Movement for Change

Ohhhh - so what the mayor does is not the issue anymore. How Columbus Councilors react to it is. Today's readers don't have to watch "Wheel of Fortune" tonight to witness free spins.

For me to guess why Councilor Gary Allen called Captain Curtis Lockette (that's with an extra "e", Mr. Director Hardmon) "Mister" would call for mind-reading on my part. And let's face it -- I can't always be sure of Brother Love's emotions when he writes me.

I've attended church groups for years which tend to be on the formal side - and "Mister" was always an acceptable way of addressing someone, including the pastor. You didn't dare call the pastor by his first name. Yet somehow, we stopped short of calling the Lord "Mr. Jesus."

But at least Gary Allen called Curtis Lockette "Mister" at that Columbus Council meeting a couple of weeks ago. It could have been worse, you know. Be thankful Allen didn't repeat some of the rants I heard athletes use on TV years ago....

We'll wait to see if a "rally for titles" develops outside the Government Center - and move on to other weekend headlines:

+ Columbus Police told the Ledger-Enquirer 18 people were arrested in a crackdown on pandering and prostitution. Two of the suspects are females - which makes me wonder if they're the women who wanted to "date" me over Memorial Day. I could pick them out of a lineup, as long as they're fully clothed.

+ An open house showed off loft housing in the downtown area. If you lease the right location over the Chattahoochee River, you might be able to pay the rent by selling video of lovebirds doing unseemly things on the Riverwalk.

+ Troy University reported the costume of the "T-Roy" mascot has disappeared. Police are on the lookout for a giant wooden horse....

+ Former "American Idol" finalist Bo Bice performed at the Phenix City Amphitheatre. Do you think Bice's career would have turned out differently, had he won the final vote in 2005? I still think Carrie Underwood would have wound up endorsing 100-percent pure Vitamin Water.

+ The Columbus Lions won the "520 feud" over Albany Panthers, to clinch the S.I.F.L. Southern Division title. That means home field advantage for two rounds of the playoffs -- and don't be surprised if NBC Sports shows up with a big production truck. The network might need a backup come September, to prove Sunday night still is football night.

+ Instant Message to whomever spray-painted the words "Sooey Catfish" and "Killa Catfish" on a bridge above the Atlanta Downtown Connector: Why weren't you that enthusiastic about Columbus minor-league baseball before the team left town?

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