Friday, June 24, 2011

24 JUN 11: You Miss a Day....

Talk radio listeners know how to end that sentence: miss a lot. I missed two days here because of a necessary road trip, and came home to find I've missed a LOT of interesting local stories. So let's play catch-up today - as opposed to playing with ketchup, which I don't even do with hot dogs.

1. SUMBRY SHUTDOWN. Phenix City Councilor Arthur Sumbry Senior's year went from bad to worse, when sheriff's officers showed up at his mortuary and removed everything inside. This makes the "senior prank" at Columbus High School look really small by comparison.

Russell County Sheriff's deputies went to Sumbry Mortuary and Florist on South Seale Road because the building was in foreclosure. Arthur Sumbry Sr. apparently couldn't make his payments to Synovus Bank - which surprises some of us, who thought his political clout would give him an inside track to the Synovus Board of Directors.

Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor explained he was simply carrying out a court order in a foreclosure case. His deputies carried out everything in the mortuary - including a body, which went to the morgue. Amazingly, that body has NOT been identified as Arthur Sumbry Senior's political career.

The other items from Sumbry Mortuary are now in storage, somewhere in Russell County. Maybe now prosecutors will find that letter of pardon Governor Fob James issued 30 years ago.

The foreclosure comes two months before Arthur Sumbry Sr. is scheduled for trial on perjury and forgery charges. His daughter Sabrina told the Ledger-Enquirer it's a "political move" by the new Russell County Sheriff. She apparently stopped short of calling it a mortuary plot.

2. TALBOT'S FLEECE SALE? Three Talbot County law officers pleaded NOT guilty Thursday to federal extortion charges. A grand jury indicted them, along with a county jailer -- which leads me to think this involves something a little bigger than that police officer who finds Ronald McDonald eating Krystals on TV.

Undercover federal agents went to Talbot County in 2009, looking for some kind of corruption relating to drug trafficking. Of course, some critics of the government believe Talbot County went to pot a long time ago....

A federal prosecutor claims the three accused law officers used threats of force and violence to extort money from Talbot County suspects. Everyone realizes the proper approach is exactly the opposite. You pay a few dollars during summer, for the chance to force someone to drop into a dunk tank at the fair.

As it happens, Talbot County is in the middle of a runoff election to replace the late Sheriff. WRBL discovered one suspect is the son-of-law of candidate Tom Whimberly Junior. So how quickly can his daughter file divorce papers?

Georgia state agents say the charges against Michael Gamble include "computer invasion of privacy." There must be some mistake here. Jailers are supposed to use keys to check on people -- the metal kind, not the ones with big letters of the alphabet on them.

3. NOISY NORTHEAST. Drive west from Talbot County on U.S. 80 and you'll reach the Midland and Upatoi areas of Columbus. If you're not sure exactly where that is, follow the advice they used to give in radio commercials for race tracks - when you hear it, you're near it.

The noise from Fort Benning brought a lot of complaints at the latest "Let's Talk" public forum with Mayor Teresa Pike Tomlinson. Several Midland residents grumbled about firing ranges being used at all hours of the day and night. This may explain why the big Upatoi Independence Day celebration is an invitation-only event.

A Deputy Garrison Commander from Fort Benning attended the forum, and explained the Army needs to "own the night" by having tank training after dark. If the Army doesn't own it, bar owners on Broadway might claim it for themselves....

One resident asked for the live fire training to stop at midnight. Saddam Hussein's aides probably wish they could have made that request, before "Operation Desert Storm" began in Kuwait 20 years ago.

The complaints about noise are one thing, but one of the people who stood and spoke in support of Fort Benning was another. It was Robbie Watson of The River City Report -- a website I assisted Watson in starting last year. When she spoke out, she jumped from observing journalist to biased participant. Not even Matt Drudge endorses candidates at campaign rallies.

Robbie Watson suggested the city do something for concerned Midland and Upatoi residents by purchasing "white noise machines." When I lived near Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta, there was something similar - federal money for "noise abatement." No one dared to approach racial lines with their language about it.

4. IN-CoRreCT. Muscogee County School Superintendent Susan Andrews expressed disappointment Thursday with the district's scores on the annual CRCT exams. It's a little easier for her to this, when the results come out days after the school board extends her contract.

Susan Andrews admitted to WRBL she's never happy with the CRCT results, because there's always room for students to improve. Even Gene Chizik had to keep coaching his team week after week, during the last football season....

The CRCT scores show 48 percent of Muscogee County's eighth-graders do not meet the standard for their grade in science. And the concern doesn't stop there. Part of the remaining 52 percent is using that scientific "knowledge" to pull practical jokes on other students.

SCHEDULED THIS WEEKEND: Your e-mail about the Columbus Mayor's money ideas....

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