Street Talk, E-mails and Blog Posts…OH MY!

Shortly after a newspaper is formed, a seemingly incessant tsunami of incoming information ensues. Phones are ringing, emails are being received, blogs are being posted, and letters arrive in the mail.  It is an actual information overload.  Quickly, our staff went from saying, “OMG, how will we fill up 8 pages?”  to asking, “What do we cut from our standard 24 pages, so that we don’t mess up the balance and design of the newspaper?”  Add layout design and ad creation, and it is easy to see there is more to the newspaper business than writing articles.

An amazing amount of information is conveyed via the telephone.  In a matter of minutes, after the last Columbus City Council meeting, our staff was notified about citizens who were not happy with the way Councilmen Charlie Box and Joe Mickens jumped to grab the spotlight, in regard to the Retired Senior Volunteer Program office closing, in East Columbus.  They wanted the council’s help, but they did not want them to turn it into an election season game.

In regard to the same meeting, the Mayor’s Youth Commission has been lampooned by citizens and government officials, for years.  Whether Robert is sincere or not, he has not sold everyone in this community that he is forthright.

And, here is the rub, for many people.  The Real Story doesn’t ignore that information.  We add it into our reporting.  It is why we call ourselves “Gonzo” journalists.  And, oh by the way, The Real Story will never change.  These are the facts. It is who we are!  And, we say it proudly.

In the meantime, the phone calls, emails and blog posts keep coming, and here is a sampling of what is at the forefront of many people’s minds:

  • “You might want to check on something! Why is the City paying for that “Welcome to Columbus” sign going up between the river and the downtown exit? I drive past that thing, every day, and it is SEVERELY out of whack and looks horrible! Go take a look at it! (and better yet, take some pics!!) I think they need to tear it down and start again!!”
  • “Sign at Tennessee Williams…It is so big you can’t take a picture of the house.”
  • Arguments from both sides of the fence, on whether Sherman Smith got a “break” over his gun violation charge and punishment.
  • “They have the bridge that was damaged today (May 4) closed. This evening, the HWY patrol had a road block DIRECTLY UNDER the bridge!!!! I can’t drive over this bridge because of damage, but they can stop traffic directly under it?? Please, please say something about this!!”

Over the past few months, The Real Story has been swamped with stories of “Thuggery by elected officials, as well as bonds to pave roads where elected officials’ friends and, possibly, family live. In Caledonia, it is frequently brought to our attention that, oftentimes, the degree to which rules are enforced is determined using the concept of “who you know, not what you did or are trying to do”.

Add to this the fact that many people in Columbus believe the story that “old money” has killed our prosperity and that the LINK is only worried about big business, and it is going to be long hot summer.

Let’s hope the stories of gangs and dead bodies are exaggerated.  If not, Columbus may never be the same.  And, that will have nothing to do with the media!

Remember, we are not the government’s PR Department.  But, we are watching!


Originally Published in the May 16, 2012 Print Edition


When All Else Fails, See #5

Today’s lesson, boys and girls, is about meeting etiquette.  As the months have progressed, The Real Story has witnessed Robert’s Rules of Order being bludgeoned, on more than one occasion.  So, here are some simple instructions from the website http://www.robertsrules.org/:


  • Obtain the floor (the right to speak) by being the first to stand when the person speaking has finished; state “Mr./Madam Chairman”. Raising your hand means nothing, and standing while another has the floor is out of order! You must be recognized by the Chair, before speaking!
  • Debate cannot begin until the Chair has stated the motion or resolution and asked “are you ready for the question?” If no one rises, the chair calls for the vote!
  • Before the motion is stated by the Chair (the question) members may suggest modification of the motion; the mover can modify as he pleases, or even withdraw the motion without consent of the seconder; if mover modifies, the seconder can withdraw the second.
  • The “immediately pending question” is the last question stated by the Chair! Motion/Resolution – Amendment – Motion to Postpone
  • The member moving the “immediately pending question” is entitled to preference to the floor!
  • No member can speak twice to the same issue until everyone else wishing to speak has spoken to it once!
  • All remarks must be directed to the Chair. Remarks must be courteous in language and deportment – avoid all personalities, never allude to others by name or to motives!
  • The agenda and all committee reports are merely recommendations! When presented to the assembly and the question is stated, debate begins and changes occur!

Sounds simple enough, but in the spirit of cooperation The Real Story offers the following additions or modifications, so to speak:

  1. Do not, under any circumstance, talk to just hear yourself speak,  Even if you find yourself amusing, the rest of us may find you to be a bore and disruptive
  2. Talking louder than everyone else does not make you right. It just makes you loud and annoying.  As a matter of fact, being loud and wrong is more than little messed up.
  3. If you have not read the minutes before the meeting when everyone else has, shut up.  We are all busy and that is no excuse for your being ill-prepared.
  4. If you hate someone on your board, keep it to yourself.  Your petty concerns about other people are of no interest to the community.
  5. If you are an elected official and you’re scared by your shadow, quit. You are a waste to the community and to your ward, district, etc.  Being afraid of the Mayor, Joe Higgins, or the community is tragic.  The only thing worse is pretending that you’re not a coward.
  6. Do not form little cliques to force your own agenda on the rest of the community. As soon as you forget your work for the community, quit.  (See #5)
  7. Do not think people don’t realize when they have been screwed.  If you wanted to get elected to be a “big wheel”, quit, (See #5)
  8. And last, but not least, doing something because the state Attorney General says it is okay is a cop-out. Period.  Just because some dude in Jackson wrote something does not mean it is the right thing to do.  Have the guts to do what is right, regardless of what they say in Jackson.  If you don’t understand this concept, quit. (and – you guessed it – see #5, and read it over and over)

So, there you go boys and girls.  Always remember, the government works for you not vice versa.  And, regardless of what the AG says, each board member and elected official is there to serve the community. If you don’t understand that…..SEE # 5!


And as a special note: Please, Mr. Elected Dude, don’t send “plants” to your meetings to do your dirty work.  If you do, someone might report it….It’s all about #5

Originally Published in the May 2, 2012 Print Edition

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