It’s spring break, and these dentures have noticed a decided downturn in chit-chat as a chunk of the Chattahoochee Valley charged off to the beach.
But the news never takes a holiday, and we’re forced to grit our teeth and stay put.
Thankfully, the depleted populace still has cooked up plenty of gristle for these choppers to chew up and spit out. Like ...
Would Pepsi get this deal?
Any question of Coca-Cola’s outsized influence in its argued birthplace of Columbus no longer is in doubt: A variance to city regulations recently allowed bright red Coke umbrellas and sandwich boards downtown.
Uptown Columbus, Inc., the nonprofit organization that serves much like a mall manager for downtown, successfully lobbied the Uptown Facade Board to allow the umbrellas emblazoned with the ubiquitous Coke logo at downtown outdoor cafes and businesses. The umbrellas have since sprouted in front of establishments in the 1000 and 1100 blocks of Broadway.
It’s a tantalizing deal for restaurants and merchants, since they can offer customers shade that could have cost the businesses more than $250 apiece. But the rule change also is a soda-sweet deal for Coke, which gets prime downtown advertising at miniscule expense.
The nine-member citizen board that governs downtown facades had to OK the umbrellas because the advertising and colors were not consistent with city regulations, which limit advertising and require “earth tones” -- a more subdued motif than bright red.
The Facade Board stopped short of other Coke-related advertising Uptown requested that would have turned part of downtown into a living billboard for the soft-drink giant -- including a mural showcasing the city’s Coke history and banners on light poles that would serve as a “history lesson.”
So take time to admire the new signage next time you’re dining alfresco. Just don’t order a Pepsi.
Speaking of downtown ...
Uptown Columbus leaders continue to push for a delay in changing the city’s archaic “tramp” law, which makes it illegal to be homeless here. But Councilor Jerry “Pops” Barnes is not backing down and hopes council again will consider changing the ordinance at its Tuesday meeting.
Uptown wants city leaders to consider establishing a “no panhandling” zone downtown. Barnes wants the city to ban “aggressive panhandling” and quit jailing people just for being homeless.
A new twist takes place April 29, when Columbus hosts the “Country for a Cause Music Fest,” from which some proceeds go to the city’s plan to end homelessness here.
Where will the concert be held? On the median stage in the 1100 block of Broadway, where advocates for the homeless can ask people for money -- if that’s not illegal.
Some local Democrats in 2010 blasted Columbus’ voting precinct consolidation plan as a conspiracy to reduce black turnout and a violation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. But the plan developed by elections director Nancy Boren gained Justice Department approval -- and it so impressed state officials that Boren is among eight local elections directors Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp has appointed to his elections advisory council.
Among the local elections board’s critics were City Manager Isaiah Hugley; his sister, school board member Pat Hugley-Green; his wife, state Rep. Carolyn Hugley; state NAACP head Ed DuBose; Wayne Hailes and Carl “Brother Love” Hardmon of the Courier newspaper and Muscogee Democratic Party chair Jeanne Dugas.
The advisory council will review Georgia’s election code and state election board rules and recommend changes, focusing on “improvements that create cost savings and increase efficiencies for state, county and local governments,” Kemp said in a press release.
Fife for a Jack
Former Columbus Councilor Jack Rodgers has resigned his position on the Charter Review Commission for health reasons. Rodgers, an appointment of Councilor Mike Baker, will be replaced by former Muscogee County School Board member Fife Whiteside.
‘Rite’ or wrong?
A new trend has caught the attention of a Columbus rabbi, who was recently quoted in national media. Destination bar mitzvahs and bat mitvahs -- the coming-of-age rite for Jewish boys and girls -- have become trendy in part because of ease and cost. But Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin, an author and the rabbi of Temple Israel, told MSNBC that these so-called “elopements” are a problem for Judaism because they remove the child from the local Jewish community -- which he says is the glue that holds the religion together.
“The beauty of the setting doesn’t come from the beach and sunset,” Salkin told the network. The MSNBC report says parents can spend upwards of $25,000 for a bat or bar mitzvah, hiring disc jockeys or live bands, caterers and florists.