Tuesday, August 02, 2011

2 AUG 11: Pick Six

Shame on me - I'd forgotten. City auditor John Redmond is NOT the most provocative person connected to Columbus city government. He has some competition, in a commission which held a meeting Monday. And unlike Redmond's work, voters actually can decide if this committee is right.

The City Charter Review Commission met at the Government Center. And if I heard WRBL's report correctly, most members supported a change in Columbus Council -- with the number of districts dropping from eight to six. I suppose the commission wants to balance things out, as Georgia adds a congressional seat.

I misunderstood this proposal, when the Ledger-Enquirer first mentioned it a few weeks ago [13 Jul]. There still would be ten Columbus Councilors -- but the number of districts would drop by two, while four of the Council seats would be "at-large" seats. If you didn't know better, you might think the commission is recognizing Columbus's obesity problem.

Several current Columbus Councilors already are lobbying against this change. Minutes of the June meeting show Glenn Davis pointed out the current two at-large councilors live in his district. Imagine if four at-large councilors lived there -- they could have unofficial meetings at Davis's hotel.

That's the thing about at-large elections in Columbus. Voters tend to show up more on the north side than the south. So is this proposal for two new at-large districts an effort to tilt the balance of power -- and make Councilor Mimi Woodson feel even lonelier?

Another issue was offered to a charter review subcommittee by District 5 Councilor Mike Baker. He said larger districts would make it harder for councilors to stay in touch with their constituents. You can spot the city officials who don't have Facebook or Twitter accounts these days....

There's another hidden issue in this proposal to reduce the number of Columbus Council districts. Which districts would be combined, and whose seats would be squeezed out of existence? It almost sounds like a subtle hint to Red McDaniel that it's time to retire.

Related to this, another idea bouncing around the Charter Review Commission would put term limits on the mayor and council. Recent mayors have made this an unofficial rule. Ask Bob Poydasheff what happens when you try to break with tradition....

Councilor Glenn Davis is lobbying a subcommittee against term limits as well. The minutes indicate Davis's position: "we already have term limits with the voters voting every four years...." That's easy for Davis to say, considering he was unopposed in the last election. [True!]

Another topic for the Charter Review Commission Monday was what we dubbed in June the "Fountain City 500" - a minimum fee for city services which all homeowners would pay. There could be another way to collect this money, which the commission has overlooked. Impose fines on every homeowner who sets garbage at the curb the night before collection day.

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BLOG SPECIAL EVENT: A phone call to the survey company Monday confirmed credit card payments should NOT count in my July diary of spending. With that left out, my percentages spent in various ways finally came into balance - and I hope I don't knock the tabulators out of whack by making so many mistakes in ink.

With credit card and rent payments excluded, I wound up doing almost half my July spending on "other services," mostly church contributions. Then came utilities at 18 percent, followed by 11 percent spent at gas stations. In an amazing show of discipline, all my July spending at gas stations actually was on gasoline.

E-MAIL UPDATE: That diary isn't the only thing which has confused me lately. Let's reexamine the Sunday Soapbox....

"Sir" Richard:

Thank you for printing my "story" on your Sunday Blog. But, once again you have lost your way in the maze that makes up this case. I agree, that the loss of exposure to the public by the media, is my loss and "Mayor" Tapley's gain. I read the second item in your Sunday edition; and totally agree - that there's no direct path to justice - for the "little" guy.

Even when those cloaked by the system are caught red-handed; they are just given a slap on the wrist and a kiss on the cheek to ease any discomfort they may have endured.

But, I disagree with you on who came off with a victory in Court last Thursday. It was I who was being sued for attorney's fees, and Judge Johnson wanted that to happen. The Town's claim AGAINST me. was DISMISSED. Much to Judge Johnson's chagrin - the Town lost its battle to saddle me with their attorney's fees.

I do agree; that there are no clear cut winners here. The Town spent money that could have been better used for street repairs.. I, in turn, spent money that I could have given to my favorite charity. And, the issue contained in the original complaint is still ongoing and unresolved

After a decade of effort, on my part, to expose the obvious corruption in local government I'm not even at square one. The citizens have become apathetic, the media is no longer interested, and the Circuit Court's Judiciary considers me just a thorn in their side.

Far more serious issues than a simple complaint, lie ahead for The local officials in "Hurt'sboro. Issues that transcend Local, County, and State levels. Sooner or later, heads will roll.

R.J. Schweiger .

Yes, please forgive me -- I got it wrong. The roles were reversed. Robert Schweiger won in court. But a core issue remains: why can't Hurtsboro officials use "street repair" money to hire an engineering firm? Wouldn't that firm plan the street repairs? Or does Schweiger simply want a city truck to stop at every bump in the road, and toss hot asphalt on it?

(So what are these "far more serious issues" ahead for Hurtsboro? Is Robert Schweiger hinting at some kind of federal lawsuit? I'm not sure the town even has a tennis court, much less racketeering.)

I could make a fuss about others "printing" Robert Schweiger's e-mail, and my merely posting it - but instead, let's try to make sense out of Monday's other news:

+ Alabama took its turn releasing an "adequate yearly progress" report. The Phenix City and Russell County districts fell short of A.Y.P. So when Phenix City Superintendent Larry DiChiara declares he runs a "district of choice" for the military, it may be simply that he wins coin flips.

+ A federal judge dismissed one of the bribery charges against Victoryland owner Milton McGregor. But he faces several others, as attorneys in the bingo corruption case prepare closing arguments for Wednesday. If McGregor is cleared of all the charges, he may be the luckiest man at Victoryland since Larry Langford won all those jackpots.

+ Georgia high school football teams began fall drills - and WRBL reported Jordan had a midnight practice session. I think Pacelli's "midnight madness" received more media attention because those players actually think they can have a winning season.

+ Instant Message to the Atlanta Falcons: I've been meaning to ask what you thought of Tampa Bay paying $19 million over six years to take away punter Michael Koenen. Do you have a secret plan to replace Koenen - and which member of the U.S. women's soccer team most deserves that job?

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