A family affair
Warning to all public figures in Columbia: The Missouri School of Journalism educates hundreds of journalism students a year and, odds are, one of them will find out if you’re lying.
When he joined the MU basketball team, freshman Miguel Paul listed Chris Paul, an all-star point guard with the New Orleans Hornets, as his first cousin. In November, Miguel gave an interview to the Columbia Missourian about his cousin, saying Chris sought Miguel out two years ago when his team won a tournament in North Carolina. According to the story, Chris organized a surprise meeting with Miguel to give him some advice: Play with your head and have fun.
This week, KOMU reporter Michael Kelly asked Chris about Miguel. His answer: “Who?”
Turns out, Miguel’s assertion that Chris is his first cousin was an error, said David Reiter, Missouri associate director of media relations. They may be distant relations, but it doesn’t sound like they’ve ever met.
Miguel’s little embellishment blazed through the blogosphere all the way to the "Jim Rome Is Burning," but that didn’t keep Missouri’s basketball team from defeating Colorado 107-62.
“A guy like that, you’ve just got to keep encouraging him,” senior DeMarre Carroll told the Kansas City star about Miguel.
How should MU handle Miguel’s situation?
Cold, colder, coldest
On Thursday it was actually colder in Columbia than at the South Pole.
At 11 a.m. that day, thermometers in Columbia showed a frigid 3 degrees. The McMurdo Research Station in Antarctica registered 21 degrees.
Russia, Iceland, Alaska — all these places were warmer than Columbia at times in the past week. Here in Missouri, residents prepared for the coldest temperatures since 2003.
Plumbers prepared for calls about sinks and toilets without water as pipes froze and for leaks as the pipes thawed again. Heating professionals repaired furnace motors, igniters and electronic parts that are more likely to fail during cold weather. Auto mechanics checked tire pressures, which change with harsh weather, and warned drivers to let their cars run for a while before driving. Shelters prepared more beds and meals for homeless populations seeking respite from the cold.
And we’re not out of the woods yet. Meteorologists predict cooler-than-average weather for February and March.
How did you prepare for the biting cold last week? Will you do anything different to prepare for the coming months?
Living our own dream
Columbia is taking President-elect Barack Obama’s call for a national day of service on Martin Luther King Jr. Day seriously.
Seventeen service events are registered on the “Renew America Together” page of USAservice.org, which raises awareness of service opportunities in communities. Obama’s Presidential Inaugural Committee launched the site recently, and already 8,500 service events are listed in honor of King.
On MLK Day, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is planning a celebration at Columbia’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, followed by a ceremony and free lunch. Stephens College will hold its annual award ceremony, honoring those who embody the values of King. And on Monday evening, residents can gather at Douglass High School and participate in an annual candlelight walk, celebration and service.
Already, community members have begun to remember and honor King’s teachings. About 1,000 people attended the Columbia Values Diversity breakfast on Thursday to celebrate the individual and group achievements and efforts in line with King’s dream.
What does celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day mean for you and for Columbia?
UM cuts back
University of Missouri System President Gary Forsee and MU Chancellor Brady Deaton are using everything in their power to cut expenses as the economy worsens. To prove they mean business, both administrators have pulled out a few new tools — italics, underlines and all-caps.
On Wednesday, Forsee sent a memo outlining 14 specific areas campuswide where costs must be reduced "significantly" (italics and underline are in the original document), though no set amount was listed for each campus. MU Chancellor Brady Deaton followed with a Columbia-specific outline he deemed “CRITICAL” (emphasis original).
Most of the 14 points involve faculty and staff expenses, such as overtime, salaries and travel. Training for employees and paying dues to professional societies will be eliminated unless necessary to keep someone employed. Most business meals and refreshments will be eliminated.
Electronic publishing will replace hard copies of documents and publications, except, said Deaton, where there is not high-speed Internet service, such as rural Missouri.
Already, the system is under a hiring freeze, but if expenditures cannot be reined in, tuition increases and layoffs may follow.
What can the UM System afford to sacrifice to stay in business?
Stealing street signs
It started as a prank: Get drunk, go out and steal a street sign. At first, college kids were stealing signs with beer names, such as Corona Road and Rolling Rock Drive. But now, city officials say this antic has grown into a serious problem.
First, there’s the money. From November 2007 to November 2008, approximately 1,730 street signs were replaced on Columbia streets, costing the city around $35,000 in new materials.
Then, there’s the safety. Emergency response teams use those signs for guidance, and without them, teams cannot respond as quickly as possible. About a year ago, a stolen street sign caused about one minute of delay for the Columbia Fire Department while responding to a kitchen fire. Officials say stolen street signs literally put lives in danger.
To prevent stealing, the city is switching from fiberglass signs to aluminum, which are harder to break away from the pole. However, the switch will cost an additional $30 per sign. The city may also paint street names on curbs as a second reference for navigation.
“It’s not just a joke or a prank,” said Jill Stedem, spokesperson for the Columbia Public Works Department. “It’s very serious, and it’s definitely a crime.”
How can Columbia prevent the theft of street signs?