Columbus made a great leap forward over Easter weekend when lawyers lured Columbus Council and the Muscogee County School Board into a joint executive session that went on for three days.
Attorneys informed the elected officials the "legal matter" they were to discuss behind closed doors was so sensitive they had to surrender their wireless devices to ensure secrecy.
The result was that second-tier city and school administrators stopped getting emails and text messages from the control-freak politicians trapped in the meeting, and without such distractions were able to get all their work done.
"We cleared five cold-case murders, eight assaults and 1,750 burglaries," said Columbus Police Chief Dicky Boring. "It's amazing what you can accomplish when the mayor's not texting you every five minutes."
Boring was quick to credit the Georgia Bureau of Investigation with helping investigators follow up on leads and finish backlogged crime lab forensics. The agency in a news release said it also was able to focus on its most critical duties once elected officials here quit asking it to investigate each other.
City projects also made rapid progress, according to Deputy City Manager David Carringtons:
"We finally finished the Sixth Avenue sewer project, so all the streets around the jail and Public Safety Center are open to traffic -- no more detours, roadblocks, sinkholes, broken gas lines and people getting jailed for contempt because we had the area so messed up they couldn't get to their Recorder's Court hearings on time."
The effects of increased efficiency within the school district were not immediately apparent, though graduation rates and test scores were expected to rise.
The ease with which difficult challenges were surmounted in the absence of political leadership prompted some to join in extending the closed meeting as long as possible.
When catered food for the private session ran low, civic-minded residents quickly organized a 5-kilometer "Run for Sanity" to resupply the larder.
"We had 4,356 runners sign up," said organizer Scott Oscarmeyer. "Some thought we were raising funds for the mentally ill. When we told them it was for the council and school board, they just said, 'Yeah, we know.'"
The effort added another 24 hours to the joint executive session. "With the race proceeds, we bought 10 smoked turkeys, 15 boxes of red wine, and a used hospital bed in case John Wells or Red McDaniel needed a nap."
As a result, the board and council were confined from midday Friday until the meeting finally adjourned at 6 p.m. Sunday.
Besides the major advances that occurred in the elected leaders' absence, their extended confinement in each other's company had another benefit, Oscarmeyer said:
"Several decided they just can't take any more, so they're not going to seek re-election."
This is Tim Chitwood's April Fools Day column.