Thursday, July 28, 2011

28 JUL 11: Rumorville

"When did you become Robert Schweiger's boy?" a man asked me a couple of weeks ago. I knew what the man meant - but some people might get the wrong idea. So let me set the record straight in an indisputable way: I did NOT have close relations with that man, Mr. Schweiger. I never told.... hey, how did that link get there?

The man on a mission to wipe Hurtsboro, Alabama off the map (at least as a city) is due to return to Russell County court today. This is a court case continued from April - and remembering what happened when I tried to attend in April, [28 Apr] people who want to attend might leave 30 minutes to find their way around.

Robert Schweiger is suing the city of Hurtsboro over the payment of more than $8,000 from a gasoline tax fund to an engineering firm. A Russell County judge dismissed the case last year, but an Alabama appeals court reinstated it. Now Judge Albert Johnson is hearing it a second time - and perhaps this time Schweiger won't give him too loud an earful.

This case could have gone to court quietly - but when I was presented last week with an apparently-false claim Robert Schweiger had cancer, I was compelled to contact him about both matters. Here's part of his reply:

"Sir" Richard:

If I were in any kind of difficulty, (physical or otherwise) my relatives would be the last to "gather" to support me. I don't know where you got that information - but you can take it with a grain of salt.

As to the July 28'th hearing - It,s the last of several continuances wherein, the Town et al has to prove the litigation was spurious. A fact that they haven't been able to prove up until now.

I just received notice this morning that the Town's attorney (Fred Gray Jr.) has withdrawn from the case, and has notified the Court that he no longer represents either the Town of Hurtsboro or Rayford Tapley....

You may recall Schweiger lost his attorney in this case as well - as the man moved to the Huntsville area. If neither side has "handlers," today's hearing actually might be a lot more fun.

But this is where the label "Robert Schweiger's boy" starts to stick and sting. The former Hurtsboro Constable has sent this blog dozens of e-mails over several years, most of them finding fault with city officials and business owners. Replies from other Hurtsboro residents have been few and far between - but then again, this small town still may be looking for its first Wi-Fi "hot spot."

To complicate matters, I'm currently involved in a project which does not allow me to make long-distance calls to Hurtsboro during business hours. The only Hurtsboro Town Council member with a listed phone number never returns my messages. And Mayor Rayford Tapley clearly has yet to ask the mayor of Columbus for tips on answering critics.

So I've been unable to check Robert Schweiger's claim about Fred Gray Junior dropping Hurtsboro like a reality show bachelor. The former town attorney was Armando Pitters of Montgomery - but as I recall, he didn't return a phone message I left at his office several months ago. Pitters may have read this blog and decided I was a small-time version of Andrew Breitbart.

If that one-sidedness wasn't enough, Robert Schweiger e-mailed us again the other night....

"Sir" Richard: I got quite a surprise today. I learned that Mayor Tapley has subpeoned at least two Council members to testify. I don't know what he has under his hat - buut I do know that they are the two who have opposed his every move. The hearing is set for 8::00 central/(:00 Eastern - see you there. R.J. Schweiger

He means 9:00 a.m. Eastern, of course -- but sorry, I won't be there. That other project will keep me away again. And when that project pays me more in one day than blog readers have contributed here in the last 12 months, the capitalist side of me simply refuses to be denied.

I've become very aware this blog is read in local newsrooms - so today's post is partly an appeal for their assistance. All we need is one reporter visiting Russell County Court, to see if the rumors are true. Is Fred Gray Jr. missing? Is the Hurtsboro Mayor calling political critics to the witness stand? And does Robert Schweiger have noticeable lumps on his arms or neck?

But come to think of it, what I've mentioned here may explain why Columbus newsrooms don't give Robert Schweiger's crusading much attention. Hurtsboro is a 28-mile one-way drive from Columbus. It doesn't have a lot of people. And the town has so many rumors and half-truths going back and forth, I'm not even sure the Columbus city auditor could sort it out.

(There's one outlet Schweiger apparently still hasn't tried, in his publicity hunt. Isn't WTVM still looking for community bloggers?)

Now back to the big city, which didn't have a lot of big news Wednesday....

+ Muscogee County Sheriff John Darr called for an audit of how jail funds are used. He admitted an audit of his office never occurred last year, even though it's supposed to take place annually. Do we need to call in the Georgia Bureau of Investigation on John Redmond, too?

+ Phenix City School Superintendent Larry DiChiara told WRBL he's overseeing a "district of choice" when it comes to base realignment. He said numerous military families are relocating to Russell County, desiring to attend Phenix City Schools. Perhaps these families are hearing about the divisions on the Russell County School Board, and deciding they don't want their children's future to be Sealed.

+ Columbus American completed a pool-play sweep in the Georgia Little League tournament by mashing Masters City 8-5. American plays a semifinal game today against Madison County. I sincerely hope the opposing team isn't so trendy that the players are called "Mad Men."

+ The rumored trade between local baseball stars finally occurred, but in a three-way deal. Colby Rasmus was sent from St. Louis to Toronto for Edwin Jackson, after Jackson was traded from the Chicago White Sox to Toronto only hours before. Rasmus needed to be traded to Atlanta - so his dad could commute from Russell County and snap him out of his hitting slump.

(If you count a few hours with Toronto, Edwin Jackson will join his seventh major league team in nine years by pitching for St. Louis. And he's only 27! Is Jackson trying for some kind of record - or is he planning for a career after baseball as a travel agent?)

+ Atlanta edged Pittsburgh 2-1 in ten innings, after a 19-inning marathon the night before. Catcher Brian McCann is on the 15-day disabled list with a "strained oblique." A strained what?!?! When I was young, my geometry class strained to learn "obtuse."

SCHEDULED FRIDAY: A whole new meaning to "the 5:00 surprise"....

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