Thursday, December 27, 2007

Albany Beat

Lott headed out?
If Albany City Manager Alfred Lott keeps his word (we know, we know), he’s in the homestretch of his first stint as a top administrator. Lott declared after being hired in September 2005 that he would stay in Albany for three years and that he then would, as it puts it, “graduate” to a bigger and better public management gig. How’s Lott, who was hired in September 2005, doing so far? Who knows? The City Commission has breached its contractual responsibility to appraise the city manager’s performance each year.

‘Fireproof’ on Dove’s A-list
Sherwood Baptist Church ’s new production, “Fireproof,” lured The Dove Foundation CEO Dick Rolfe to the movie set this month. Dove is a nonprofit advocacy organization committed to moving Hollywood in a more family-friendly direction. “The success of movies like ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ and ‘The Passion of the Christ’ made Hollywood sit up and take notice that there was a huge audience being underserved,” Rolfe told the San Francisco Chronicle after his Albany visit. “Fireproof” follows the Sherwood hit “Facing the Giants,” which cost $100,000 to make and brought in $14 million. Rolfe and other parents started the Grand Rapids , Mich. , Dove Foundation in 1991 to create a guide to what they consider “safe” family viewing. Rolfe says the organization’s Website ( garners 2 million hits a month. “We have as much or more experience than most organizations do in reaching American families,” Rolfe says, “and we have sensitivity to what they're looking for in the way of entertainment.”

Must-see TV on at 7 , too
Like news? We do, too. That’s why we’re celebrating WALB-TV’s expansion – so to speak – of its news coverage. The Albany NBC affiliate’s 6 p.m. news is now rebroadcast at 7 p.m. on Mediacom cable channel 26. Since WALB now also broadcasts the 24/7 Weather Channel over the air, it can be picked up by antenna, too.

Albany’s new jet service
DayJet Corp. is expanding its on-demand business travel airline service network to Albany and 27 other new destinations in Georgia , Florida , Alabama and Mississippi . The 5-year-old company’s network expansion follows the October launch of the company's jet service in Tallahassee. Other cities that can be booked by the airline are: Brunswick , Savannah , Valdosta and Waycross , Ga. ; Boca Raton, Daytona Beach, Destin, Fort Pierce, Gainesville, Jacksonville, Key West, Kissimmee, Lakeland, Leesburg, Melbourne, Miami/Opa-Locka, Naples, Ocala, West Palm Beach, Panama City, Pensacola, Punta Gorda, Sanford, Sarasota, Sebring, St. Augustine, and St. Petersburg ; Dothan , Fairhope and Mobile , Ala. ; and Pascagoula , Miss.

Paying to fight crime
Conceding that it might not be able to be done, Columbus Mayor Jim Wetherington is asking residents of his community to put up or shut up about fighting crime. A former police chief who ran a law-and-order campaign before being elected in 2006, Wetherington is asking business leaders to support his request that voters pay an extra penny in sales tax – mostly to pay for public safety. Under Wetherington’s plan, which hasn’t been presented to the City Council, a July referendum would be held. While the bulk of the tax would fund public safety, roads and infrastructure also would be financed with the extra penny, which would raise about $36 million a year and increase Columbus ’ sales tax to 8 percent. “I want to put more police downtown, more police on the Riverwalk, more police in the parks. I want to build new precincts,” Wetherington told the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. “With all of the broth, we are not prepared in the Public Safety Department to deal with it.”

‘Como esta?’ ‘You’re fired!’
Here’s one piece of federal legislation that will not – it had better not, anyway – get anywhere when Congress reconvenes. In his “Common Sense English Act,” Rep. Tom Price (R-Roswell) proposes to amend the Civil Rights Act to allow employers to require workers to speak English while on the job. “English is the language that unites our society and keeps our economy,” Price said in a statement. “Denying employers the right to promote our national language in the workplace only encourages division and creates troublesome misunderstandings.” We figure that Price must think that the U.S. Constitution begins, “We, the English-speaking people of the United States …”

Who’s in your wallet?
Do you know where your Social Security number is? Chances are pretty good a thief does, as it probably is in the hands of every insurance company you've ever had, your bank, your credit card companies, your doctor, the hospital where you had surgery, your student loan company, your university admissions office, and on and on and on. With identity theft now directly affecting 1 in 4 Americans, an online petition drive has started to enable Americans to tell Congress that their SSN is theirs – and should be protected. Info:

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Albany Beat

Retiring Lex -- in style
Amid much pomp and circumstances – and on live television, to boot – Cpl. Dusty Lee’s beloved canine partner, Lex, will retire on Friday from Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany. Lt. Caleb Eames, a Marine spokesman, says he has fielding lots of media requests, including some from some national television networks, to cover Lex’s 8:30 a.m. retirement ceremony. Following a national petition derive and a North Carolina ’s intervention in the matter, Lex is being adopted by Quitman , Miss. , residents Jerome and Rachel Lee, parents of Dusty Lee, who was slain March 21 by combat mortar in Iraq . Lex was wounded during the attack, but recovered and returned to duty. Lex, who turns 8 this month, will become the first U.S. military dog adopted by the family of a deceased handler, military officials say.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Albany Beat

A hundred grand from Bishop
An interesting U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop campaign strategy has caught the attention of the authors of Political Insider, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s daily political blog. Bishop recently donated $100,000 from his campaign treasury to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to assist “less secure candidates,” the Insider noted, as Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Grantsville has done for Republicans. The difference: No challengers have stepped up to oppose Bishop’s 2008 re-election bid, while Westmoreland has two Democratic challengers. “While other Georgia politicians are scratching for extra campaign cash to fund their 2008 races – Rep. Jim Marshall, a Macon Democrat, comes to mind – Bishop and Westmoreland’s checks make sense,” the Insider noted. “Giving to the campaign committees is a must-do for veteran house leaders like Bishop, a member of the House Appropriations Committee. More importantly for Westmoreland, giving big bucks to the committees is a way of winning friends that any
future House leaders would need.”

Stocking stuffer: A great read
The book everyone interested in Lee County has been waiting for is finally on the shelves – just in time for Christmas. The Lee County Chamber of Commerce announced Wednesday that it will release the historical collection, “The Caboose Came Last”, at a reception at 4 p.m. today at the Lee County library. The contributing authors will be sign autographs, and the book will be sold for $20. Info: 759-2422.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Albany Beat

Andre to Michael: Stay
Political blogger Andre Walker ( is among those who aren’t crazy about the idea of losing Sen. Michael Meyer Von Bremen from the state legislature. Meyer Von Bremen, a Demcorat, is considering a 2008 Superior Court run. Says Walker: “There’s a lot of good leadership in the senator from Albany, and to be quite frank with you, I think the quote by Dougherty County Commission Chair Jeff Sinyard says it best: ‘In all honesty, I wish he’d stay where he is.’”

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

My Partner Dusty

Editor's Note: This tribute to 20-year-old Iraq war casualty Dustin Lee of Quitman, Miss., and his canine partner, Lex, was authored by John Burnam, founder of the National Working Dog Memorial Project in Washington, D.C. and author of "Dog Tags of Courage" and "A Soldier’s Best Friends"

I’m a U.S. Marine and the primary element of a two-member team trained to hunt and locate explosives. My partner and I trained as a team for many months honing our expertise to save American lives in the War on Terrorism in Iraq .

The date is March 21, 2007 and I was on the job in Fallujah , Iraq when an enemy fired Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) exploded in our midst. I was blasted to the ground. I’m Stunned. My head is ringing and my body feels numb. My eyes can’t quite focus on anything.

My partner is lying next to me severely wounded and bleeding. I move to him and touch him but he’s not responding. I feel sharp pains in my side and back. I’m bleeding but deal with it and concentrate on comforting my partner and protecting him from further harm.

Everything happened so fast that it caused disorientation and confusion. My senses pick up the lingering smell of burnt powder and smoke from the explosion. I hear lots of American voices and heavy boot-steps hurrying all around us. They reach our location and immediately attend to my partner. And then they carry him away. I’m separated from my partner for the first time. I’m not clear of thought and then I too am carried way but to a different hospital.

I’m in a building lying on a table with lights above and people talking. Still dazed and confused I hear a strange voice say my name, “Lex!” I gesture a slight reflex of acknowledgement. “Lex! You are going to be okay buddy! Just lay still. We are going to take care of your hurts, so stay calm okay, Lex?” My eyes dart around the room searching for my partner, but he’s not there and no one can interpret my thoughts.

I’m released from the hospital and well enough to travel so they transfer me from Iraq to a U.S. Marine Corp base in Albany , Georgia . I really miss my partner, Dusty. I know something has happened to him because he would never have left me alone for so long.

Yes, my name is Lex. I’m a seven year old German shepherd Military Working Dog, service number E132. My master and loyal partner is Corporal Dustin Jerome Lee, U.S. Marine Corps canine handler from Mississippi . I’m well disciplined to my master’s commands and expertly trained to sniff out bombs and explosives. Where’s my master, Dusty? Where’s Dusty, my partner? No one can understand me but Dusty. Where’s Dusty?

Iraq was to be my last combat tour before retirement. Dusty talked to me all the time about going home and adopting me. I sure do miss my Dusty. He is the best friend I’ve ever had. I love that crazy Marine from Mississippi !

No one can measure the love and unconditional loyalty I have for Dusty. I’d sacrifice my own life for him and he knows it. I just wish I could have stopped that RPG or pushed Dusty away from that powerful blast. It all happened in a blink of an eye and I didn’t see it coming until it was too late. Now I sit alone in my kennel-run waiting for the day Dusty shows up.

The U.S. Marines are treating me very well. I get enough food and water and exercise each day. And the Veterinarian comes by to examine my wounds on a regular basis. I just can’t sleep well at night. I wake up to every little noise and I think about Dusty. Where can that Marine be?

The nights are long. The days turn into weeks. Still no Dusty! My wounds are healing and my hair is growing back. The pain still resides in my back but I can walk okay. I have a piece of shrapnel near my spine that the Veterinarians avoided removing for fear of further health complications. I’ve been fortunate to be declared physically unable to perform in a combat zone.

One of the dog handlers gave me a real good bath and grooming. I felt so refreshed because I was on my way to meet Dusty’s family. Maybe Dusty will be there waiting for me. When I arrived I sensed something was not quite right. Dusty wasn’t there and everyone was sad, but very happy to greet me. I then realized that I was attending Dusty’s funeral. Everyone showed up to pay their respects.

Dusty is a real American hero and he was buried with full military honors. I was so proud to have been his last best friend and partner. At one particular moment of total silence during the ceremony, I sniffed a slight scent in the air that was very familiar. It smelled like Dusty. I figured he sent me a signal that he knew I was there! I moaned a sigh of grief that he would only hear and understand.

I was greeted by the Lee family with joy in their hearts. The picture is of Dustin’s mom, Rachel, and me in church. It felt so warm and comfortable to be with my partner’s loving family. I wanted to stay but I was escorted away after the funeral and back to Albany , Georgia . What is going to happen to me now?

Wait a minute! I was due for retirement, right? Why did the military take me to see Dusty’s family and not leave me there? I belong with them in Mississippi not here in Georgia . There is something very wrong with this picture!

The Lee family adopting me would not be too much to ask considering they will never again see their son, grandson, brother, nephew and friend. Adopting me will keep a big part of Dusty’s life alive for them and for me too! I will enable Dusty’s family to experience what he already knew about me. I loved and protected him everywhere we went and even on the battlefield in Iraq . It’s time the U.S. Marine Corps allowed Dustin’s family to adopt me. I’m not a young pup anymore, you know! I’m of retirement age and I want to spend the rest of my life with the Lee family. It’s where I now belong!
So please help the Lee family adopt me by signing a petition at:

Always Faithful,

Lex (,
German Shepherd Dog
Military Working Dog
U.S. Marine Corps

Friday, October 26, 2007

Willie or Bo? It's Show Time

In their own words, the two candidates vying for Albany’s top political post describe their successes in elective office and their goals for the city

The Albany Journal asked the two mayoral candidates to describe their candidacy and platform. Incumbent Willie Adams did not respond, but has a “Report Card” on his Website. Challenger Bo Dorough, the Ward 4 incumbent, pointed us toward his campaign flyer.

Here is, verbatim, what the candidates say about themselves.


The budget process has been subject to numerous years of loopholes from lawmakers. The budget lacked realistic spending caps to restrain spending. It lacked impacting priorities, and purposeful budgetary programming for reserves. During Adams’ tenure, he has effectively overseen the implementation of fiscal policy that has increased capital reserves levels from zero to eleven million dollars and emergency reserve levels to twenty-four million dollars.

Fiscal prudence was only one component of Adams’ economic impact on the City of Albany. During his tenure, the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport successfully completed a two million dollar expansion that will extend its position as the number 2 airport in cargo transportation for the state of Georgia. Additionally, the expansion will allow for carriers such as UPS and FedEx to easily utilize the airport.

Administrative efficiencies
During his four year tenure, Adams oversaw administrative reforms that began with the hiring of a new city manager, augmenting the positions of two assistant city managers and restructuring into 13 efficient departments. These administrative reforms improved economic efficiency by dramatically lowering duplication of services and responsibilities within the departments and significantly improved compliance and organizational productivity.

In an increasing competitive and distressing economy, these reforms have positively impacted the management of SPLOST funds demonstrated by the increasing efficient usage of funds for community projects that improved the quality of the citizens of Albany.

These changes have established the foundation for policy impact that will improve the quality of life for every citizen for Albany.

Although the time is short and the hurdles may appear daunting, Adams empathically believes that there is no compelling reason why the citizens of Albany cannot rise to the challenge of raising academic performance and establish transformative education policies. Our schools are composed of dedicated and passionate educators that need the support of administration and parents to prepare our future generation of leaders. During his term as mayor, Adams convened a meeting of stakeholders to discuss and flesh out the current problems and potential solutions. This collaborative method is a critical premier to strengthening the educational system.


Albany is gradually losing its identity as “the hub of Southwest Georgia”. There are those who accept the continued decline of our city as inevitable. The failure to attract new industry and the loss in population are cited in support of this conclusion. Others accept the demise of downtown Albany as a natural consequence of commercial relocation. The questionable conduct of certain political leaders causes honest, hard-working citizens to be cynical or even hopeless about the city’s future.

The challenges which we face are formidable but certainly not insurmountable. Our city can and will move forward with strong leadership and a shared vision for the future. We must work to revitalize downtown Albany, improve our public education system, alleviate racial strife and increase economic opportunities for all residents of the city. We must collectively commit and dedicate ourselves to these goals.

We must acknowledge and address our city’s problems if Albany is to maintain the distinction of being the region’s economic and cultural center. This will not occur without substantial changes in our municipal government and community. The citizens of Albany can begin to realize these objectives by electing Bo Dorough, who has a vision of a better tomorrow. It is time to look forward, and not back.

Best Practices
Bo has served on the city commission for eight years. In that time he has observed those services that are efficient, and has definite ideas that will improve the operation of city departments and make the city more “business friendly.” Bo supports performance evaluations, whereby employees who perform above expectations are rewarded, and those that do not meet expectations are counseled and afforded an opportunity to improve their performance if they are to retain their positions with the city.

Public office should not be abused as an opportunity to benefit the elected official, the official’s family or friends. Bo has always opposed conflicts of interest, and voted against accepting personal computers, which were donated to the city commission by Mediacom, as Mediacom has a franchise agreement with the city.

The special purpose local option sales tax provides funds to improve and extend infrastructure, resurface streets, and pave alleys. Bo will assure that SPLOST dollars are expended prudently, and will support allocation of SPLOST funds to replace older infrastructure and expand existing infrastructure to facilitate economic development.

Bo will oppose any property tax increase, and will fight to roll back the millage rate once the re-evaluation process is completed. Citizens will thereby be protected from any increase in property taxes paid to the city.

Fiscal Responsibility
Bo has been an advocate of sound financial policies. He wrote the ordinance that directs the city finance office to deduct the amount any member of the commission exceeds the sum allocated for expense from his or her earnings. Any commissioner who exceeds the travel budget now has that sum deducted for his or her salary. The city retired the majority of its bonded indebtedness and substantially increased its reserves during Bo’s eight years in office.

The city, having lost two major industries in the last four years, must pursue industry to increase opportunities for citizens seeking better paying jobs. We should support vocational education as prospective employers will insist on a qualified, educated work force.

Bo has advocated renovating existing parks and facilities rather than undertaking prohibitively expensive projects approved by previous commissions. He is an avid supporter of youth recreation, and has coached and sponsored teams in a league which serves many underprivileged children.

More than $19 million has been spent at the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport in the last twelve years. Bo has opposed the suggestion that a new airport, equidistant between Albany and Valdosta, be constructed. The Southwest Georgia Regional Airport must remain at its present location – in Albany.

Law enforcement
Reducing crime will be Bo’s top priority. The Albany Police Department is now full staffed, and salaries are finally comparable to those paid to police in similarly-sized communities. We must support and expand neighborhood watch programs. Citizens, by working together, can make a difference.

Bo has worked to enhance the appearance of our city. He supported an ordinance that makes it easier for the city to remove junk vehicles from residential areas, and another that increased penalties and fines for violation of city codes dealing with illegal dumping. If elected, Bo will assure the city does a better job of enforcing these ordinances.

Bo understands alley paving is a priority for many citizens, and fought to assure substantial SPLOST funds were allocated to such projects. He opposed the mayor and majority of the commission, who voted to reduce the sums designated for alley paving from $5 million to $3 million. If elected, Bo will commit to an allocation of no less than $6 million for alley paving in the next SPLOST referendum, which will be presented to the voters in 2010. This should be sufficient to pave an additional forty alleys within the city.

New direction
Bo has a record of service and a clear platform. He is anxious to lead our city in a new direction.

Dorough’s pledge:
Work to rebuild and revitalize Albany
Make city government more accessible and accountable to the public
Work to attract new industry
Be a conscientious steward of city properties and funds
Oppose conflicts of interest in public affairs
Work to improve the quality of life for all citizens

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hypocrite of the Week: Joey Fieldinstream

If there's anything that aligns our radio show's namesake and I, it's our disdain for hypocrisy in government. I think Batman's really going to like this one:

In south Mississippi, an incumbent state senator, Joey Fillingane (pictured), recently mailed a campaign flyer to his constituents professing his love of guns. On the flyer is a photo of Fillingame in full camo gear standing alongside a similarly clad boy. Why, the NRA endorsed Fillingane over his opponent, the flyer says. There's nothing wrong with that, especially in Mississippi. Right? Well, sure there is. The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks has no record of Fillingane ever having a hunting license. Gun lover, indeed; henceforth, let's call him Fieldinstream. (His opponent, Gerald Buffington, does have a hunting license, by the way, and has renewed it every year since at least 2005.)

Adding to Fieldinstream's hypocritical presentation is a pro-family screed that would make you believe he has sired the largest clan in Lamar County, Miss., while -- in reality -- his family credentials are as funny as his hunting qualifications. Fieldinstream is wifeless, childless, and according to his campaign finance reports -- he only moved out of his mommy and daddy’s house last year, at the tender age of 34, months before running for the Senate position.

Fieldinstream also lives two lives when it comes to his professional work. He makes enormous political points deriding personal injury trial lawyers, even going so far as decrying from the House podium in 2002 that "trial lawyers killed Jesus Christ." You probably can see the next one coming -- the doozy that sealed Fieldstream's Hypocrite-of-the-Week selection. That's right: Fieldinstream IS a trial lawyer -- complete with a full-page phone book ad soliciting auto accidents, slip-and-fall cases and wrongfuldeath claims, and defending DUI offenders. In previous elections, he received huge political contributions from trial lawyers statewide, a contribution from the state trial lawyers' political action committee, and even a contribution from the trial lawyers' president.

Congrats on your (apparent) newfound appreciation for the outdoors, Joey boy. But don't you just hate those icky, gooey little worms?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Mailbag produces insight

It took learning it first-hand, but it seems to me that reports of radio’s death were premature.

Thank goodness.

Really, I was under the impression that I-pods were be taking over the world. (As for me, I use my 12-year-old’s I-pod. I would never buy one, because I’m too cheap. Anybody who knows me knows that.) But didn’t I hear on CNN and Fox News and WALB and even on the elementary school TV station that I-pods and mp3s and satellite radio and even Rush Limbaugh being on television meant that radio was dead and buried?

My, how I hope those same pundits are calling for Willie Adams’ re-election this fall.

Listeners to “our little radio show” -– as host Matt “Batman” Patrick calls it -- are popping up from every direction. Just today, much to my delight and certainly to my surprise, I learned that our family physician listens to the show. Now, that’s validating. I mean, how valuable is the doc’s time? And he spends some of every single weekday listening to Matt and I? Holy smoke.In addition to the number of and quality of our listeners, another surprise to me – the radio newbie – is that it’s OK that we’re not getting tons of calls on Wake Up Albany. After all, Albany is Squawksville, where citizen input is nearly always anonymous (which delights Albany city officials, by the way).

Still, we are getting amazing feedback –- and some of it even is on the record by real, live people who aren’t afraid to associate their first and last names with their perspectives. Imagine that. Some of the feedback challenges us – well, me – because I’m the one on the show who stirs stuff up. I’ve got to tell you, though: I CRAVE feedback like that of Evan Chelini, who takes issue with some of my stance against ultimate fighting.

I respect countering perspectives, and – more often than not – I become more enlightened when I hear it. Thanks, Evan, for listening, for being respectful, for inviting dialogue, and for not insisting that we settle things in the ring.

I’ll be talking to you in the morning – and seeing you on Sept. 5, which you join us in the studio for a discussion.

Meanwhile, here’s some of what’s in my Wake Up Albany e-mailbag.

“I listen to your show every morning on my way to work at a downtown senior center. Would love to hear someone talk about the problems that our local (seniors) are experiencing at this time. Funds for transportation (both meals on wheels, and congregate) were cut severely for the ’08 fiscal year. Our local politicians seem to just bury their heads in the sand about this problem. Our district alone has lost between $200,000 and $300,000 in funding and we are in desperate need for some help. I’m hoping that maybe if you could address this problem on your show, people would be more aware of what is going on." -- Angelika Smith (

“First of all, I can only guess what convinced you to refer as any combat between two people as 'cockfighting'. Those kinds of statements tend to display a certain level of either blatant ignorance or an ill-researched topic, for someone in the employment of a news delivery agency, I can only hope it is the latter. However, do not take this message as a personal attack from any angle. This is just something to make you aware of the number of differences between what you see in bars and what the influx in Albany that is actually happening. For years, the International Sport Combat Federation has been hosting events in the Georgia/Florida area. They have maintained a steadfast policy on rules and regulations that always keep in mind the safety of the fighters given the circumstances of the sport itself. The rules ( and the disqualifications policy should in their own right distinguish between the events that have been ‘stewing in your heart and mind.’ In closing, I do agree with you that the average Albany (nightspot) lacks the capability to hold anything close to a sanctioned mixed martial arts event. However, a little understanding should be given to the sport that I, myself, and many others have come to know and love. I welcome a reply and discussion."Evan Chelini (

"I am so glad that someone has finally taken this station in hand to do something with it. There has been so much potential and so little done. I really like your program in the mornings, but I have one HUGE beef. The signal is so weak that I can even pick it up until I almost get to the Cooper Tires factory. I love talk radio and I never listen to music. If you had a stronger signal, I’d listen to you at home (I live in worth County and can’t pick you up there.) I’d also buy advertising for my little business. (I scan slides and photos and put them on DVDs, create/public books for people, and make PowerPoint presentations for businesses. But your signal is WAY too weal. We REALLY need a strong talk radio station for ALL of Dougherty County and the surrounding counties. Hope you all can get that signal stronger! Oh, and are you going to fix your Website so that we can listen to you online. That would be helpful as well. Thanks for what you do."
– Jeanine Gibbs (

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Did I marry jail bait?

Oh, yeah. One more thing. This "half plus seven" rule that Matt told us about on the show is really bothering. Sometimes when I do the math, I say breathe a sigh of relief. Other times, I wonder if I ought to turn myself in to the cops. "Half plus seven"? you ask. I did, too. It's Man's Rule No. 441: Do not date a woman (or girl) who is younger than half your age plus seven years old. In other words, if you're 18, you can get away with dating a 16-year-old (Half of 18 is 9, plus 7,equals 16). And if you're 34, you can't date anyone younger than 24 (Half of 34 is 17, plus 7, equals 24). Gotcha worried? There's a calculator on the Web at

Cannon, Whatley and a lost class ring

Boy, did downtown merchant/lawyer Phil Cannon steal the show Wednesday.

Phil walked into the studio, put on the headset, and spent the next 90 minutes Tuesday chatting away nonstop -- offering insight, information, and -- yep -- humor. I just sent him an e-mail to make it perfectly clear that he's welcome to come and co-host the show.

Among the week's other highlight was our chat with Superintendent of Schools Sally Whatley. She's not in her comfort zone in a radio studio, not knowing for sure what's going to be thrown her way, but she toughed it out. And she told the school system's story -- which is why we invited her.

Meanwhile, I'm still trying to solve the Albany High Class of 1972 mystery. I received an e-mail from someone trying to return to its owner a girl's class ring with the initials YML. We talked about it on the show, and got a call right away from a 1972 grad who is going to hook us up with an old Indians' yearbook. Stay tuned.

Archived interviews and the upcoming schedule are on the Web at

Monday, August 6, 2007

Wakin' Up Albany

Wake Up Albany! continues to be the talk of the town. Folks want to know who "that Matt guy" is. The man sure knows how to make an interview flow.

Since my first blog, here's who we've had the show: Sam Shugart, Lake Park Recreation Club volunteer; Sophia Glover, Albany State University's public information director, and Dr. Leroy Bynum, ASU's fine arts chair; David Maschke, a Dougherty County Board of Education member; Dr. Carole Rutland, executive director of RiverWay South; Mike Gebhart, the Albany Herald publisher; Jim Finkelstein, the First Amendment-defending freedom-to-smoke-pot advocating Albany attorney; Janice Allen Jackson, former Albany city manager; Jim Wilcox, general manager of WALB-TV; and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle -- again!

Here's what's on tap on Wake Up Albany! Interviews start just after 7:30 a.m., unless otherwise noted:

  • Tuesday, Aug. 7 -- Lynn Borders, executive director of Community in Schools of Albany-Dougherty/Partnership for Education, will discuss the "Dine Out for Kids" and the recent merger of two educational programs.

  • Wednesday, Aug. 8 -- At 8 a.m., Diane Fletcher, the Southwest Georgia Cancer Coalition CEO, will discuss our area's cancer rates the coalition's initiatives to battle the deadly disease.

  • Thursday, Aug. 9 -- Ken Hodges, the Dougherty County Judicial Circuit district attorney, will discuss the perceptions and realities associated with question: Is Albany safe?

  • Friday, Aug. 10 -- Steve Preston, director of the Darton College Writing Center and former host of "The Front Page" radio show, will return to the microphone after a long hiatus.

  • Monday, Aug. 13 -- Ketih Walker, the Albany Chorale artistic director, will discuss the new season, how to audition, and how people can supoprt the organization.

  • Wednesday, Aug. 15 -- Jennifer Stokes, the GA SAFE Albany resource director, will discuss foster parenting.

  • Thursday, Aug. 16: Dr. Sally Whatley, Dougherty County School System superintendent, will discuss the local board's feats and challenges.

  • Friday, Aug. 17: Jenny Collins, of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, will discuss the chamber's Young Leaders initiative.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Farewell, Mike Flynn

In 2006, I approached Cumulus officials about doing a talk radio show focusing on local issues. They weren't interested. Then Jay Wachs came to town on his white horse to run Cumulus' Albany stations. Mike Flynn ran the talk-show idea by Jay -- and within a couple of months, Wake Up Albany With Matt Patrick was conceived. This week, a month-and-a-half into the project, Mike bade farewell to the show. A new job in Valdosta has him spread too thin to come hang out with us every day, but Mike promises to stay in touch by calling in from time to time. Some of our conversations since Mike's departure aren't as fluid, or as balanced, or as poignant. But Mike says we'll be OK without him -- and I think he's right. Thanks, Mike, for caring enough about Albany to conceive of Wake Up Albany! and to help make it a reality. Now, that's leadership.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Janice Allen Jackson on the show July 31!

Jim Finkelstein's commentary on today's show -- particularly that addictive narcotics should not only be legalized, but given out for free by the government -- certainly was fascinating today. Matt was so intrigued by Jim's depth of knowledge that he suggested that Jim come host the show from time to time. Works for me.

The upcoming show that has people talking -- in my circle, anyway -- is the July 31 discussion with former Albany city manager Janice Allen Jackson. Yep, my old boss. My mentor in the field of public administration. Forced out of city hall by Mayor Willie Adams, et al, Ms. Jackson got the last laugh: She makes a lot more money and oversees a much larger organization as Mecklenberg (N.C.) County's general manager for community health and safety. If I've heard it once I've heard it a thousand times over the past 18 months: "I sure do wish Janice". Of course, some precede the sentiment with, "I never thought I'd say this, but ..." Tune in at 7:30 a.m. July 31 to see what Janice is up to. Wanna say "Hi," call in to the show at 889-9988.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Wake Up Albany! Diary

I'm wondering if we're on to something with this radio thing.

People are saying that we sound legit. Who would've thunk it?

Frankly, I didn't know what to expect, and still don't. But we have people talking, and we have people listening. Maybe people in Albany are more cognizant of their community's challenges -- and its successes -- than they were just three weeks ago. Do you suppose we have people thinking? If not, it's certainly worth a try.

After all, it certainly is time for Albany to wake up. That's what everybody says, anyway -- and I believe it.

Our Wake Up Albany! guests so far have been: Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle; state Rep. Ed Rynders; Albany Herald Editor Carlton Fletcher (twice); Albany Herald Executive Editor Jim Hendricks, Dougherty County Schools finance chief Robert Lloyd; "Playing for Peanuts" producer John Fitzgerald; Chief Assistant District Attorney Greg Edwards.; Scott Loehr, executive director of the Flint RiverQuarium; and Roger Marietta, who took on a noisy nightspot and a nonresponsive city government -- and won.

The highlight of the 3-plus-week-old show definitely has been Mr. Cagle's visit with us -- albeit by telephone. He was cordial, somewhat candid for a politician, and altogether not a bad interview for a Republican. The most exciting topic Mr. Cagle discussed was a new initiative to give local school systems choice in terms of whether to generate revenue from sales taxes or property taxes. It's not Neal Boortz's "fair tax" initiative, but Dougherty County property taxpayers, in particular, ought to jump on it in a hurry. Imagine the opportunity decrease the tax burden on landowners while allowing our neighbors from throughout the region to pay for schools' operation at the mall and Locos and the Mellow Mushroom. Consider this: An estimated 40 percent of Dougherty County sales tax is paid by our neighbors. It's something to think about (there we go encouraging people to think, again), anyway.

Other notable Wake Up Albany! moments were two announcements (aka "exclusives") made on the show: Mr. Marietta proclaimed that he will be a City Commission candidate this fall, and Cumulus market manager Jay Wachs offered $35,000 of in-kind marketing services to the RiverQuarium.

Undoubtedly, the most contentious interviewee has been Mr. Lloyd, who provided some sound facts and perspective ("if we don't raise taxes, we will lose momentum") about the school system's tax hike, but not without mixing in some doublespeak and defensiveness -- even about his British (or was it Australian?) accent. Mr. Lloyd may be among the smartest minds in the school system, but he's a painful interview. But he says he's coming back -- to help us understand why Dougherty County doesn't come close with matching up with Lowndes County in terms of how much taxpayers spend per pupil.

Here's who we have on tap on Wake Up Albany!
  • Thursday, July 19 -- Sam Shugart, Lake Park Recreation Club volunteer, to discuss the July 28 fund-raising yard-sale for Lake Loretta at Covenant Presbyterian Church.

  • Friday, July 10 -- Sophia Glover, Albany State University's public information director, to discuss the flap involving Ray Charles' estate's donation of $3 million to the university for a fine arts center.

  • Monday, July 23 -- David Maschke, a Dougherty County Board of Education member, will talk about his motivation behind trying to open the school system attorney's position to all comers.

  • Tuesday, July 24 -- Carole Rutland, executive director of RiverWay South will discuss the July 26 public forum at the Flint RiverQuarium encouraging citizens to give their input on plans to create a RiverWay South Heritage Trail, which will include the Flint watershed.

  • Wednesday, July 25 -- Mike Gebhart, the Albany Herald publisher, will discuss how the newspaper's editorial board operates, and some of the paper's recent opinion pieces.

  • Friday, July 27 -- Jim Finkelstein, the First Amendment-defending Albany attorney, will talk about current events. His Iraq war perspective was recently published USA Today.

  • Tuesday, July 31 -- Janice Allen Jackson, who served as Albany city manager from 1996 to 2004, will discuss what it's like to help run a local government six times larger than the Good Life City's. As Mecklenberg (N.C.) County's general manager for community health and safety, Ms. Jackson directs about three times more employees than she did in Albany, when I served as her assistant to the city manager.

  • Tuesday, Aug. 2 -- Jim Wilcox, general manager of WALB-TV, will discuss his hard-hitting "Viewpoint" editorials.

  • Friday, Aug. 10 -- Steve Preston, director of the Darton College Writing Center and former host of "The Front Page" radio show, will return to the microphone after a long hiatus.