Thursday, March 27, 2008

Albany Beat

Downtown cleanup a joke?
Crime is so rampant in inner-city Albany , we can’t help but question the sincerity of city leadership’s call on the new Code Enforcement Department to single-handedly reverse downtown blight by requiring property owners to improve dilapidated properties. Take the area of North Monroe and West Residence avenues, for example. This week, three side-by-side-by-side residences – from 408 to 412 W. Residence – remain a haven for drug-dealers and dogfighters despite all the tough talk from the city. “My tenants are moving out. They are so scared. And when I call the police, they do nothing. They’re probably scared, too,” said Barbara Beauchamp, who owns rental property in the area. A stabbing occurred in the neighborhood last weekend, and a maintenance worker witnessed a man fleeing a burglary scene, but the police refused to question the man because “they said they didn’t see him break in,” Ms. Beauchamp said. At 412 N. Monroe , the residents have been evicted because of the unsanitary conditions of the home; yet, on Wednesday, at least 10 tenants remained. “Now, that’s ridiculous,” Ms. Beauchamp frustratingly said.Indeed.

Whoops, again, at Cooper
Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. is voluntarily recalling tens of thousands of tires made in Albany for manufacturing defects. The company told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that it will recall more than 48,000 light truck tires sold under more than 20 brand names, including Cooper Discoverer, Wildcat and Wild Country. Concerns with sidewall separation prompted the voluntary recall. A similar Cooper tire recall was held eight months ago.

Central Monitoring coat tally: 1,702
As it turns out, Southwest Georgians still had plenty of coats in their closet after Central Monitoring’s 2007 coat drive netted 2,218 coats. Another 1,702 coats were collected in the Albany alarm monitoring and installation company’s 2007-08 One Warm Coast drive. Albany ’s 11 fire stations and many businesses, churches and organizations participated in the now-annual endeavor. The coats were taken to the Food Bank of Southwest Georgia , which distributed them to member agencies.

Big Loser in Albany
Poppi Kramer from the NBC hit “Biggest Loser” Season 3 is coming to Albany . Ms. Kramer continued on her journey to lose weight after being sent home, losing half of her body weight, and has been proclaimed the season’s “At-Home Winner.” As the keynote speaker, Ms. Kramer will help culminate the Albany-Savannah weight loss challenge at 6:30 p.m. April 3 at the Government Center , 222 Pine Ave. Nearly 50 families participated in the Albany-Savannah challenge to lose weight, lower cholesterol and blood-pressure levels, and incorporate exercise into their lifestyles.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Albany Beat

Malone: Chip off block

On July 18, 2005, Reginald “Reggie” Harris, Jr. was an athletic and active 14-year-old boy who broke his leg when he attempted to jump over a ditch. Today, because of medical practice, Reggie is an amputee; Harris’ family successfully claimed that Sumter Regional Hospital staff ignored repeated complaints that the boy couldn’t feel or move his toes.

Harris, of Americus, will never play football gain or otherwise have opportunities that otherwise would have been afforded to him. Due to having being represented by of the best plaintiff’s attorney firms in the United States , though, Harris will have the financial wherewithal to have a decent life. Last week, Harris and his family were awarded $24 million in a Dougherty County civil suit against Sumter Regional and two co-defendants.

Hiring Malone Law, the law firm of famed Albany native Thomas W. “Tommy” Malone and his son, Adam, was a brilliant move for the Harrises. Indeed, Tommy Malone’s patient, steadfast tutelage of his son is paying big dividends for the Malone family – and their clients.

After learning how to try cases in the district attorneys' office during law school, Adam Malone has used that experience to distinguish himself in the courtroom. His first trial resulted in a $760,000 jury verdict for permanent injuries suffered by a 9-year-old girl who was hit by a truck when the insurance company offered only $75,000. Since then, Adam Malone has continued to obtain numerous substantial recoveries many of which reach into the millions of dollars depending upon the severity of the injuries for victims of medical negligence, automobile and tractor-trailer wrecks, and other events arising out of negligent or careless conduct.

Already, Adam Malone has obtained several jury verdicts in excess of $1 million; the Harris verdict is his – and one of Dougherty County ’s – largest. Meanwhile, Tommy Malone’s largest verdict is a $45 million in a medical malpractice award in 1995 in Fulton County for a case in which he represented parents’ claims for medical expenses for their child, and for loss of services and the child’s claims for future medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost income.

Adam Malone serves in various leadership capacities with the State Bar of Georgia and holds office in several nationwide legal organizations. He is the president-elect of the Southern Trial Lawyers Association, an invitation-only organization of elite trial attorneys. Adam is also on the Board of Governors for the prestigious Belli Society, a charitable organization that promotes the study of law by funding research, conducting lectures, seminars, and publishing legal articles. He also serves as an officer in the Professional Negligence Section of the American Association for Justice.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Albany Beat

When laws don’t matter
When Police Chief James Younger refuses to enforce laws including red-light violations, littering and jaywalking, is he violating his oath of office? That's what some disgusted Albany Journal readers are asking after the newspaper reported last week that the Albany Police Department apparently does not write tickets for running red lights unless the violation causes an accident. “How in the world can you protect the citizens if you do not enforce the laws? At what point do we say that speeding is not worth enforcing?” Great questions, we think. Too bad the police chief and his boss, City Manager Alfred Lott, won’t provide the answers or the associated public records – even when state law compels them to. (Younger is still refusing the Journal access to red light tickets his officers have written.) The Journal received considerable feedback about this story – fully supportive except for an anonymous assertion without documentation that Albany police do write some red-light tickets when accidents aren’t involved. If that’s the case, our story was incomplete because of the police chief's and city manager's failure to do their jobs; that is, to produce public records or otherwise answer our inquiry. Still, if the story contained an inaccuracy, we want to correct it. So, Younger and Lott, we again ask you, “How many red-light tickets did the city write during 2005, 2006 and 2007?” The answer is a matter of public record; let us see it.

Congressman from Albany ailing
Illinois Rep. Bobby Rush, an Albany native, is recovering at home after a successful surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from a salivary gland. “I am very blessed because, although rare, this cancer was determined to be localized,” the 61-year-old Chicago Democrat said in a statement Sunday. The surgery was performed at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Rush was born in Albany and left as a youngster when his family moved to Chicago . A former Black Panther, Rush has represented Illinois ’ First District since 1993, having once defeated a young Congressional challenger named Barack Obama.

Fighting school vouchers
State Sen. Michael Meyer Von Bremen is standing admirably against the notion of allowing parents to bail their children from sinking public schools by issuing them vouchers to attend another school – even a private institution. The Albany Democrat says student with higher test scores would be the most likely to leave failing schools. “These schools will go into a rut they will never get out of,” he said. Meyer Von Bremen lost his argument: The measure passed the Senate 32-21.

Columbus without baseball?
Tim Heller is trying to sell the professional baseball team that made a brief touch down in Albany before moving to Columbus . Heller’s sale of the Columbus Catfish, formerly the South Georgia Waves, must be approved by the South Atlantic League and Minor League Baseball. If the sale is approved, the team may move to a new ballpark in Bowling Green , Ky. The South Coast League of Professional Baseball, which owns the South Georgia Peanuts and three other teams, has its eyes on putting a team in Columbus if Heller’s sale is consummated. The Waves played in Albany in 2003.

Jackson: Water fight over

Bainbridge water-rights activist Dr. Oscar Jackson, whose advocacy positive impacted watershed stretching to Dougherty County and beyond, say he’s hanging up his hat because he’s tired and his health is bad. The popular-yet-tenacious 81-year-old retired dentist recently lost a battle to convince the city of Bainbridge not to hire Albany ’s William G. “Jerry” Usry, who has been busted for ethics violations, as a state lobbyist at a rate of $6,000 per month for four months. “Many will think the recent differences I had with the City of Bainbridge for hiring the individual they did as a lobbyist was the main reason for my termination in the water matter. It was not," Jackson told the Bainbridge Post-Searchlight newspaper. "The mayor assured me he (Usry) would not be doing this kind of activity regarding water resources.”

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Albany Beat

Doing things downtown
Between his smarts, his energy and his charisma, has any newcomer on the public’s payroll in Albany ever made as a big of an immediate impact as Don Buie, the Albany Dougherty Inner City Authority’s downtown manager? “I came here to do things … I didn’t come to Albany to fail,” Buie recently told the Albany Herald. “I promised everyone I would hit the ground running … and I will keep doing that – not matter who is involved in the process. Maybe forever – or until the people in charge run me off.” Buie’s sincerity and candor is definitely a far cry from Albany City Manager Alfred Lott (who says he is Buie’s boss, but isn’t); indeed, he enthusiastically volunteered into the night working the gate at the Mardi Gras festival. That’s a Lott better than we’re used to.

Big spill on Westside
The Albany Public Works Department averted a major sewer spill after pump failures at lift stations on Gillionville and Walnut roads. About 700 gallons of untreated wastewater was released Feb. 28 from a manhole at Westwood Apartments at Oglethorpe Avenue and Lennox Drive , and about 2,500 gallons of wastewater flowed from an Elm Street manhole into a detection pond at Gordon Avenue and Westtown Road . A jet vacuum was used for several days to retrieve the wastewater.

Top Goobers
Albany ’s professional baseball team has two new head honchos. New South Georgia Peanuts General Manager Deanna Davis arrived in town last week from Frederick Keys, where she served as assistant general manager for ticketing and operations. She replaces fired general manager Keith Michlig, who last week took the post as Georgia Southwestern University ’s sports information director. This week, the Peanuts replaced Wally Backman, the controversial, hot-headed Peanuts field chief and former major league manager who resigned after the season, with assistant coach Buddy York. Backman now coaches the independent Northern League Joliet Jackhammers. The Peanuts are one of four teams remaining in the South Coast League of Professional Baseball, a non-Major League-affiliated baseball organization that debuted in 2007.

Democrats: Securing incumbency
Democratic Party of Georgia leaders must be feeling desperate; they are breaking rules and principles of decency by no longer offering voter information to Democratic challengers of Democratic incumbents. The party’s shameless decision, in addition to violating its bylaws, makes it harder for incumbents – even awful ones – to be challenged by fellow Democrats. To boot, the party is losing money it raises by selling voter files.