For those of you who've seen my byline in the paper on city stories and wondering who in heck is writing this stuff – allow me to introduce myself.
I'm Phil Boyum and my beat is the city. This includes city government, city elections, city politics, city events and city problems. Really, anything happening in the city — that is not sports.
Right now, I'm wrapping up my second week on the beat and it has been a bit of baptism by fire. So far, I've sat in on two long city council meetings and one marathon alcohol control board meeting. (That's a lot of names to remember).
My first impression is a positive one. I've already come across many individuals who are passionate about the city and their ideals and most seem primarily concerned with the welfare of the city and its residents – instead of the usual personal crusades that seem to pervade politics in smaller towns.
Regardless, I've found the people and officials of Statesboro to be friendly, cordial and waving or saying hello at every opportunity. Please keep this up. There are far too few friendly places these days.
As for the reporting, I'm already seeing the positive effects local reporting in a daily newspaper can have in a community. My story in today's paper is a good example.
The ladies that contacted me are living in a local HUD housing complex, which means the federal government is subsidizing their rent. It also means the management company who runs the complex is profiting from federal money.
That in itself is not necessarily bad. But when you take money from the government and don't fulfill your end of the bargain, someone should know about it.
To be fair, I can’t say as I had any real great part in breaking the story or even to "force" management to get their act together. In fact, the management wouldn't even talk to me. And there is no doubt they began some of the repairs because of the visit from the Statesboro City Marshall, who seems to be the only government official involved doing their job. But I also know that a repair truck was spotted the day after I made my visit to the complex – a small victory itself.
Another side of the reporting process, related to my city beat, is the delightful task of reviewing of state and local government documents, especially the ones that impact the city or its residents.
These things are written so dry, there should be a warning on the cover that says "Read with water." But every now and again I'll come across a real gem. And, since I'm no fan of needless government regulations or superfluous laws, I'll share them with you at every opportunity.
With the recent alcohol violations and the revelation that the alcohol control board can no longer levee fines, I did some background checking into the state ordinances. Today's fine example of government work is Georgia State Code 3-3-3 which discusses the conduct that is prohibited on premises that serve alcohol.
Section 3-3-3(a) states "No person shall perform on licensed premises acts of or acts which constitute or simulate (3) the displaying of any portion of the....cleft of the buttocks."
My first thought was, "Man, what happens if the police ever raid the local plumber's hangout?"
This thought was followed closely by "How do you simulate that?"
Then I pondered the House sub-committee meeting where they hammered out the final language. I imagine it went like this:
"Well, you know we can't say the obvious stuff."
"Let's keep it innocuous then. How about rear trench?"
"A bit low-brow, anything more stylish?"
"How about prehensile valley? Or the posterior gluteal line?"
"Naw. I say we stick with Bob’s suggestion from lunch, ‘cleft of the buttocks.'"
And a law is born.
All I really know is, whoever came up with that language must of had a stick in their cleft.
In short (and kidding aside), I'm still learning the ropes, learning about the city and learning about the history that is always behind the passage of any laws. But even in my brief tenure here at the Herald, I've found that local reporting is still a vital component of the community. We not only keep citizens informed, but we help shed light on absurdities and abuses that often sneak in. Let me know if I can help.
I can be reached at 489-9454.