Thursday, August 04, 2011

4 AUG 11: Badges Behaving Badly?

It must be strange for one police officer to arrest another. For one thing, they can probably recite the "Miranda Warning" rights in unison....

A former Columbus Police officer was arrested Wednesday on charges of robbing bank. Authorities say Edward Pascucci held up Citizens Trust Bank on Macon Road during the late morning. Don't you wonder if he did it in a proper police way -- saying something like, "This is a 10-95"?

Authorities say Edward Pascucci stole the usual "undisclosed amount of cash." There are only two places where that phrase tends to be used -- a business robbery and a baseball trade.

But the bank robber didn't get far -- as authorities report Edward Pascucci was stopped and held by a Citizens Trust Bank security guard until police showed up. I thought bank security officers were instructed NOT to intervene in robberies. They're supposed to be a male equivalent of the models on The Price is Right.

The Ledger-Enquirer noted one detail of the bank robbery which caused an online stir. Edward Pascucci reportedly drove to the bank robbery in a Geo Metro. Of course, that means he wouldn't have had room in the back seat to take a lot of money....

Edward Pascucci spent 15 years with Columbus Police, then transferred to the animal control department. So this federal trial could make Columbus famous -- as the first bank robbery to be covered by Animal Planet.

This isn't the first bank heist in Columbus to have police fingerprints on it. Shatoya Wright was on the force when she was arrested in 2009 on charges of helping to plan a holdup on Milgen Road. Wright went from bank teller to police officer to six-month prisoner - and if she's working now with a "foreclosure relief" agency, the circle well may be closed.

The Muscogee County Sheriff's Office also made headlines again Wednesday. Sheriff John Darr placed staff member Regina Millirons on leave, accusing her of reaching into confidential employee files to gain evidence in a discrimination lawsuit. Of course, Millirons could go from jail time for the crime to freedom to be a plaintiff.

Mark Shelnutt turned those employee files into a letter of complaint to the mayor, then to a gender discrimination lawsuit against the sheriff. He called the move to put Millirons on leave "a blatant violation" of laws protecting whistleblowers. Those laws will be less than perfect until football officials are included....

But Sheriff John Darr says the Georgia Open Records Act may have been violated. He told WRBL the "protect and serve" concept ought to apply to employees in his department. Of course, Mark Shelnutt might contend protection of other violations really might be self-serving.

Meanwhile, The River City Report posted a hilarious picture Wednesday from a National Night Out event in Columbus. It shows seven people dressed as comic book superheroes, including a big-bellied Superman. If you were Sheriff John Darr, which one of those would you promote first?

-> Our other blog is thinking about a baseball star, who could get in trouble over poker. Visit "On the Flop!" <-

E-MAIL UPDATE: The archive system on this blog may not be working. But a few of our old posts still may be gaining the wrong kind of attention....

Mr. Richard Burkard,

I am writing in reference to your Blog of Columbus, Georgia posted on Sunday, August, 28, 2005 -- I am deeply disturbed and concerned about negative comments made by you regarding my name and racial concerns -- below is your exact statement to a question about my on-air time at WRBL- TV station from your blog post:

"But no, I don't remember Zubi Anwar. Perhaps other Columbus TV viewers will. With a name like that, I can imagine people were calling TalkLine demanding to see her immigration papers after one week on the air."

Let me assure you that I am a Legal U.S. Citizen with the same rights given to you under the U.S. constitution with Liberty and Justice for all -- I am a Communications/ Media Professional and have been in the U.S. for more than 30 years -- I am shocked that you have racially disgraced my name and reputation on-line. I am sure if we had met in person your derogatory and hurtful ideologies about my name and race would have had no place on your blog. I was hoping this blog would disappear over time -- but after 6 years, it's still coming up in search engines under my name.

If WRBL - TV station was run by racists and narrow-minded non-professionals, then I would have never been hired to work there in Columbus, Georgia -- I left behind some very dear friends and tremendous support from the public.

I would appreciate it if you would remove the negative comments as stated above made about my name and racial innuendos from your August 28, 2005 Blog of Columbus, Georgia -- Your racist comments are not helping my professional on-line reputation -- this has been brought to my attention several times by others -- Please remove it as soon as possible.

I would certainly hope that you will keep an open mind towards people from all walks of life and not judge them harshly -- after all, we are a country of immigrants.

Thank you,

Zubi Anwar

I didn't remember Zubi Anwar six years ago when an e-mail mentioned her, and I'd completely forgotten her since then. But comments such as this can change the memory bank for years to come....

The target of that 2005 joke was not intended to be Zubi Anwar at all. It was the sort of people who tended to call TalkLine on WRCG radio. While not all of them were this way, some callers were quick to jump to conclusions based on ethnicity. If this was August 1941, they'd probably want all Burkards put in detention camps with Asian-American families.

Of course, TalkLine isn't around anymore for that kind of caller - and Calvin Floyd on WLTZ doesn't tend to give those callers much space. These days, that group has to settle for daily insult-tossing in comments at the Ledger-Enquirer's website.

(Did you notice when the newspaper posted an item about a Saturday night show by four Muslim comedians, no comments were allowed? The editors probably were concerned about what some readers would write - even though those comments might help Columbus Police plan arrests.)

But you know, that 2005 joke may have been a little prophetic. Georgia and Alabama have tough new laws against illegal immigrants. The U.S. Justice Department even filed suit against Alabama this week - giving prosecutors in Montgomery something to do, since the bingo corruption trial is ending.

Admittedly, a search online for "Zubi Anwar WRBL" only brings up our joke from 2005. Until today, no one had replied to it in six years. Perhaps she had "tremendous support from the public," but no one wrote in her defense. I don't think she's even made that "You might have grown up in Columbus if...." fad on Facebook.

So I apologize for a joke which apparently brought six years of misunderstanding. I never considered Zubi Anwar's background to be worth a check, and I accept what she's written here. Since search engines tend to put new articles above old ones, her e-mail may push the 2005 post far down the list -- down toward the Wikipedia list of TalkLine hosts.

Let's try to do better with some other Wednesday news....

+ Columbus set a record, with a high temperature of 101 degrees F. So where are all the "climate change" skeptics who laughed loudly in January? Did they melt?

+ WTVM received an escorted tour inside the old Phenix General Hospital building. Phenix City police say the building has mold, exposed wires and open elevator shafts - but to the surprise of many, the reporter did NOT trip over any drunks.

+ CNN visited a plant in Americus which produces "Georgia Chopsticks." It ships four million sets of wooden chopsticks each day to China. Isn't that amazing? If this trend continues, the most famous chef in Beijing someday could be Chef Lee.

+ Mount Zion Baptist Church held a back-to-school "Burgerama." It included a burger cookoff, with judges ranging from Mayor Teresa Pike Tomlinson to Scott Ressmeyer to.... hey, wait a minute! Scott Ressmeyer?!? Asking a Country's Barbecue man to judge hamburgers is like asking baseball legends to judge.... well, you know....

+ Auburn University held its first fall football practice. That pro football lockout ended in the nick of time - because Cam Newton might have shown up to offer UnderArmour shirts to all the players, in violation of NCAA rules.

+ Instant Message to Walgreens: Now hold on here. What do you mean, my plastic checkout bag can be used as "rubber gloves?" If they're plastic, they're not really rubber. Ask any child who's tried to use a whiffleball on a basketball court.

Our count of unique visitors in the first half of 2011 was up 25.5 percent from 2010! To advertise to them, make a PayPal donation, offer a story tip or comment about this blog, write me - but be warned: I may post your e-mail and offer a reply.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

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