Thursday, July 07, 2011

7 JUL 11: Phenix War II

"As of now, it is my intention to run for mayor." The man who said that Wednesday night probably isn't surprising many people. In fact, some might say he's already running Phenix City - and perhaps running over anyone in his way.

BLOG EXCLUSIVE: Phenix City Councilor Jimmy Wetzel gave his strongest indication yet that he'll run for mayor next year. And he went much farther - accusing incumbent Sonny Coulter of trying to run him out of office through investigations by the District Attorney. The old question returns: is he a prosecutor or a persecutor?

Jimmy Wetzel told your blog Mayor Sonny Coulter "has been to the District Attorney numerous times," trying to break up a three-vote majority of Phenix City Councilors. He said Coulter is "trying to have the City Manager investigated, trying to have me investigated...." I've never felt more blessed to live on the Columbus side of the river.

Jimmy Wetzel went on to connect Phenix City politics to the double trouble Councilor Arthur Sumbry Sr. could face in court in August. "Mayor Sonny Coulter is right in the middle of it," Wetzel claimed about the foreclosure of Sumbry Mortuary. Then at least he could have helped remove the pews from the chapel.

Jimmy Wetzel even claimed Russell County District Attorney Kenneth Davis grew so tired of visits from Sonny Coulter, he told the Phenix City mayor to stop visiting his office. Yet Wetzel says the mayor doesn't visit Phenix City Hall enough -- so maybe Coulter needs a better GPS device in his car.

You could have seen some of this finger-pointing in person, had you attended Wednesday's Phenix City Council meeting. Jimmy Wetzel says he again publicly scolded Mayor Sonny Coulter for not visiting City Hall enough -- sometimes for as long as two weeks. Someone under 35 needs to explain to Wetzel what telecommuting is.

People who subscribe to Cable TV of East Alabama can see Wetzel's constructive criticism, when Phenix City Council meetings are replayed. I'm unable to see them where I live - but Wetzel made it sound like his verbal fireworks show rivaled Thunder on the Hooch.

Jimmy Wetzel admitted he was giving me "a mouthful." But I have the feeling he was looking for a place to unload, after all the TV interviews Mayor Sonny Coulter gave about plans for the old Cobb Hospital. WLTZ was the only station which showed Wetzel - while Arthur Sumbry and Michelle Walker snuck away, as if lightning aimed toward Wetzel might strike them.

Phenix City Council approved a resolution spending $10,000 to search for asbestos inside Cobb Hospital. If an environmental company hears ghosts coughing uncontrollably, that should settle the question.

Mayor Sonny Coulter told TV reporters there's "no plan" for bulldozing and rebuilding on the Cobb Hospital site. But Jimmy Wetzel told me City Manager Wallace Hunter has had a plan in the works for months - it simply isn't final and official yet. In fact, it sounds a bit like Wetzel's plan to run for mayor....

And that's where Jimmy Wetzel went after Sonny Coulter - saying the Phenix City Mayor would know about plans for building a new city government complex on the Cobb Hospital land, if he stopped by City Hall more often. Is Sonny Coulter really so old that he lacks an e-mail account?

But Jimmy Wetzel didn't stop there. He said many Phenix City residents consider Sonny Coulter the man who "gave.... away" Phenix Regional Hospital years ago, by selling it to Columbus Regional while serving as mayor and hospital administrator. I guess that means voters were in a giving mood, when they put Coulter back in the mayor's office in 2008.

The old Phenix City hospital has sat empty for eight years, since Columbus Regional closed it. Well, maybe not completely empty - because Jimmy Wetzel blamed Mayor Sonny Coulter for the building becoming a place for copper theft, "devil worshiping and ghosts." Wow! That puts it two steps ahead of Port Columbus.

I actually called Jimmy Wetzel about another piece of property. A former Phenix City official has spread tips suggesting the Cobb Hospital purchase includes the old Phenix-Girard Bank building downtown. Wetzel explained that was a separate city purchase for $175,000 -- after the Gilley Group took it into foreclosure. That building could have wound up in the hands of Montgomery attorneys.

In short, Jimmy Wetzel didn't sound like a man "intending" to run for Phenix City Mayor. He's already doing it -- and you don't have to wait for formal debates between Wetzel and incumbent Sonny Coulter. They may hold them twice a month in Council Chambers for the next year.

(BLOGGER'S NOTE: Wetzel had other interesting things to tell us, but we're holding those for another day.)

E-MAIL UPDATE: "Prophet!" declared the title of a message in our InBox Wednesday. We referred to Miss Georgia, but....

Well, since you were only a year early in your prediction, would you please make an end times prediction?

Considering the temporal meaning of "day" in the Bible, I figure 365 such days would be a very long time, indeed.

While you are at it, how about a prediction as to the remaining time of service by our esteemed City Manager and his able assistant?

Roccccck Chaaaaaaalk Garbaaaaaaaage, P.U! (Not a reflection of fine Kansans everywhere!)

Ed Joyce

I'll address the first question in a post this weekend. But City Manger Isaiah Hugley and assistant Lisa Goodwin may last longer than you think. No Columbus Councilor has dared to call for their resignations yet. Neither has the mayor. And perhaps most important, neither did several city audits.

Let's move on to.... hey, wait a minute! What's with this mocking of the chant at my old alma mater?! Kansas is coming to our area in September, for a football game against Georgia Tech. As long as the Jayhawks resist the temptation to eat a pre-game meal at The Varsity, they'll have a chance to win.

And as Little League district baseball tournaments wrap up, we receive this....

Did you see where CHS and Bobby Howard are holding a baseball clinic for elementary kids?..Starting recruiting early to get those best little players interested in CHS...

Not so fast here. If these children have time to attend a Columbus High School clinic, that tells me they didn't make Little League all-star teams -- so aren't they more likely to play high school baseball at Spencer?

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