Wednesday, July 27, Eyewitness News at 6

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HELLO EVERYONE AND THANKS FOR JOINING US.I'M LORRA LYNCH JONES
AND I'M FRANK MALLOY..THIS IS EYEWITNESS NEWS AT SIX.

C. JACK ELLIS CALLS IT 'NOTHING SHORT OF GENIUS."
BUT NOT EVERYBODY HAS SUCH FOND MEMORIES OF CITY FINANCES DURING HIS TWO TERMS AS MAYOR.
ELEANOR LISSITZYN IS JOINING US TO EXPLAIN WHY CURRENT MAYOR ROBERT REICHERT IS ONE OF THEM.
FRANK... LORRA... REICHERT SAYS WHEN HE TOOK OFFICE AT THE END OF 2007... MACON WAS IN A STATE OF QUOTE-"FINANCIAL INSTABILITY."
WE ASKED ELLIS ABOUT CITY FINANCES DURING OUR 13WMAZ MAYORAL DEBATE... AND HE SAYS HE LEFT MACON IN GOOD SHAPE.
"I characterize it as nothing short of genius, considering where we came from, considering the fact that we transferred five and a half million dollars to the county in the sales tax renegoations.
ELLIS SAYS EVEN THOUGH THE CITY LOST ABOUT FIVE MILLION DOLLARS IN ANNUAL REVENUE TO THE COUNTY WHEN THEY RENEGOTIATED THE SALES TAX MONEY SPLIT... HE NEVER RAISED TAXES.
"I elected not to raise taxes, I elected not to cut services, and I elected not to lay off any employees."
BUT THE BIBB COUNTY TAX ASSESSOR'S OFFICE SAYS.. TAXES ROSE TWICE...BY A TOTAL OF 2 AND A HALF MILLS... IN 2003 AND 2004.
ELLIS ALSO SAYS THE CITY HAD MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN CASH WHEN HE LEFT OFFICE NEARLY FOUR YEARS AGO.
"We left office with six million dollars in the reserves, what we call the Filomena Mullis fund, the lock box.'
THE CITY'S EXTERNAL AUDITOR... MILLER EDWARDS... SAYS THAT'S TRUE.
BUT AUDIT DOCUMENTS SHOW THAT'S NOT THE ENTIRE STORY.
THE FIRST CITY AUDIT AFTER ELLIS TOOK OFFICE SHOWED TWENTY EIGHT MILLON DOLLARS IN THE CITY'S GENERAL FUND.
BY THE TIME HE LEFT CITY HALL IN 2007... THAT WAS DOWN TO ABOUT SIXTEEN MILLION DOLLARS...
PART OF THE GENERAL FUND... IS THE FUND BALANCE... IT'S THE SUM OF ALL THE CITY'S ASSETS... MINUS ITS LIABILITIES.
IT SUBTRACTS THINGS LIKE UNPAID BILLS... EMPLOYEE SALARIES.. AND OTHER EXPENSES FROM THE AMOUNT OF CASH ON HAND.
AS AN AUDITOR TOLD ME... IT'S LIKE IF YOU HAVE A THOUSAND DOLLARS IN THE BANK... BUT THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS IN BILLS... THEN YOU DON'T REALLY HAVE A THOUSAND DOLLARS.
THE FIRST AUDIT AFTER ELLIS TOOK OFFICE... COMPLETED IN 2000... SHOWED....THE FUND BALANCE WAS TEN POINT SIX MILLION DOLLARS.
BUT CITY C.A.O THOMAS THOMAS SAYS WHEN ELLIS LEFT OFFICE EIGHT YEARS LATER... THE FUND BALANCE WAS IN THE RED.... BY THREE AND HALF MILLION.
Jack Ellis: "Thats not true."
Eleanor Lissitzyn: "So he's wrong?"
Jack Ellis: "He's dead wrong, he doesn't know what he's taking about. He's wrong. He doesn't know what he's talking about."
THE CITY AUDIT FROM 2007 SHOWS THAT THE CITY'S FUND BALANCE WAS NEGATIVE THREE AND A HALF MILLION DOLLARS.
THAT'S A FOURTEEN MILLION DOLLAR DIFFERENCE.
SO WHERE DID THE MONEY GO?
ELLIS SAYS THE DROP IS DUE TO THE CITY TAKING IN LESS MONEY FROM THAT SALES TAX SPLIT.
BUT AUDIT DOCUMENTS SHOW THAT'S NOT THE ENTIRE EXPLAINATION.
FOR YEARS THE CITY HAS GIVEN MONEY TO OPERATIONS LIKE THE CENTERPLEX...AND BOWDEN GOLF COURSE...WHICH NEVER BREAK EVEN... AND CAN'T PAY THE MONEY BACK.
BY 2005... THOSE DEPARTMENTS OWED THE CITY NEARLY FOURTEEN MILLION DOLLARS.
BUT THE ELLIS TEAM COUNTED THOSE AS UNPAID LOANS...THAT WOULD SOMEDAY BE REPAID.
IN 2006 THE CITY AUDITOR MADE MACON BEGIN RECOGNIZING THOSE AS EXPENSES... AND WRITE THEM OFF.
ULTIMATELY ACCORDING TO AUDITOR MILLER EDWARDS... IT ADDED UP TO ABOUT FOURTEEN MILLION DOLLARS IN EXPENSES... AND THAT HELPED PUT THE FUND BALANCE INTO THE RED.
FRANK... LORRA?
THANK YOU ELEANOR.
THE RUN OFF ELECTION FOR MAYOR OF MACON WILL BE HELD AUGUST 16TH.

MANY REPUBLICANS CALL FELLOW PARTY MEMBERS RINOS.. OR REPUBLICANS IN NAME ONLY.. IF THEY DON'T MEET CONSERVATIVE VALUES.
IN MACON.. SOME DEMOCRATS BASH FELLOW DEMOCRATS BY CALLING THEM REPUBLICANS... OR SAYING THEY HAVE GOT REPUBLICAN SUPPORTERS.
AS RANDALL SAVAGE REPORTS THE BASHING HAS INFILTERATED THE DEMOCRATIC RUNOFFS FOR MAYOR AND STATE SENATOR.
<<FORMER MACON MAYOR C. JACK ELLIS SAYS HE WAS TEASING DURING A RECENT DEBATE WHEN HE INSINUATED THAT MAYOR ROBERT REICHERT MIGHT BE A REPUBLICAN.
AND ELLIS SAYS HE HAS REPUBLICAN SUPPORTERS TOO.. WISHED HE HAD MORE.
8:42:14 C. Jack Ellis: Mayoral Candidate: I think the question was why were Republicans supporting my opponent, Robert Reichert, and I said in jest perhaps he's a Republican.
REICHERT SAYS BRANDING FOLKS HURTS THE COMMUNITY.
1:57:27 Robert Reichert, Macon Mayor: I see the intent to use partisanship only as a way to divide and to try to identify me as being with the Republicans or supported by Republicans. I'm proud to have the support of people from across this community.
POLITICAL SCIENTIST CLIF WILKINSON SAYS CANDIDATES LIKE ELLIS WHO LABEL THEIR OPPONENTS HOPE TO RAISING QUESTIONS IN VOTERS MINDS.
13:22 Clif Wilkinson: Political Scientist: at least in the primary race what you need to try to accomplish is to say look, you know, be cautious, my opponent is not exactly one of us. My opponent doesn't hold onto those same values and ideals.
CITY COUNCILWOMAN ELAINE LUCAS CALLED DEMOCRATIC CHALLENGER CHRIS HORNE A CLOSET REPUBLICAN THIS SUMMER.
Chris Horne, Former Council Candidate; It's an old way of doing things. When you don't have anything positive to say about your own record, you start making up lies and calling people names.
RANDALL SAVAGE.. 13 WMAZ.. EYEWITNESS NEWS.
>>
ALSO IN THE RACE FOR DISTRICT 26 SENATE SEAT...
LAST WEEK... DAVID LUCAS NOTED THAT MIRIAM PARIS WAS ENDORSED BY REPUBLICAN ALLEN PEAKE.. AND SAID THE REPUBLICANS ARE OUT TO GET HIM.
PARIS RELEASED A STATEMENT YESTERDAY AFFIRMING THAT SHE'S A DEMOCRAT... BUT ALSO SAYING THAT SHE AIMS TO REPRESENT ALL OF THE PEOPLE IN THE DISTRICT.

TODAY'S 13WMAZ DOT COM WEB POLL QUESTION ASKS... DO YOU VOTE STRICTLY ALONG PARTY LINES?
SO FAR 76 PERCENT OF YOU SAY NO YOU DON'T.
24 PERCENT OF YOU SAY YES... YOU DO.
YOU HAVE UNTIL MIDNIGHT TO VOTE... LOOK FOR THE QUESTION ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE HOMEPAGE AT 13WMAZ DOT COM.

ONE MONTH AFTER MERCER LAW GRADUATE LAUREN GIDDINGS WAS LAST SEEN ALIVE... MACON POLICE HOPE TO DEBUNK RUMORS RELATED TO THEIR INVESTIGATION OF HER DEATH.
AT A NEWS CONFERENCE THIS MORNING... CHIEF MIKE BURNS SAID INVESTIGATORS EXPECT TO MEET AGAIN SOON WITH BIBB COUNTY'S DISTRICT ATTORNEY.
AS LAUREN DISPIRITO SHOWS YOU... THEY ADMIT THEY'VE SHARED FEW DETAILS ON THE CASE.
<<Lauren dispirito, eyewitness news: "During a brief news conference this morning... Macon police chief mike burns said widespread rumors about dismembered bodies being found... And a serial killer in the city... Are false.
Mike burns, macon police chief: "we're not hiding any bodies, we don't have a serial killer running loose, we hadn't found any murdered bodies in the river, it's all rumors."
Lauren dispirito, eyewitness news:
He read several... Including one that said police are citing stephen mcdaniel as a person of interest in the case only to hide the fact that there's a serial killer on the loose and to keep the public from panicking. Burns said that is not true.
Burns said he does not know who started the rumors... And that detectives don't have time to track them down while they investigate the case.
He acknowledged people might be more likely to believe the rumors...Because police have shared few details about the giddings case.
Police have received several emails from the f-b-i about evidence they've sent to them for analysis.
But he said he could not tell us today what was in those emails.... and though he would not answer a question about possible d-n-a evidence in the case... He said he may be able to soon.
Lauren dispirito, eyewitness news: "can you tell us if any of the evidence results that you have gotten back point to any dna from mcdaniel being found on lauren giddings' body or anywhere in her apartment?"
Chief mike burns, macon police: "um, no i'm not going to say that right yet.
Lauren dispirito, eyewitness news: "is it something you think you could say in the future?"
Chief mike burns, macon police: "yes."
Lauren dispirito, eyewitness news: Burns would not say if they're closer to an arrest... But said investigators expect to meet next week with bibb county district attorney greg winters. In macon, lauren dispirito, 13wmaz, eyewitness news.">> BURNS SAID THEY'VE GOTTEN EMAILS FROM THE FBI ABOUT SOME OF THE EVIDENCE SENT TO THE F-B-I CRIME LAB.
HE DOES NOT EXPECT TO HAVE ALL THE FORENSIC TEST RESULTS BACK FROM THE F-B-I BY THE TIME THEY MEET WITH WINTERS NEXT WEEK.
HE SAYS INVESTIGATORS MAY HOLD ANOTHER NEWS CONFERENCE AFTER THAT MEETING.

THE CITY OF WRIGHTSVILLE IN JOHNSON COUNTY IS ADVISING PEOPLE TO BOIL THEIR DRINKING WATER.
CITY CLERK APRIL YOUNG SAYS WATER SAMPLES THAT CAME BACK TODAY SHOWED A PROBLEM WITH CHLORINE IN THE WATER.
SHE REFERRED FURTHER QUESTIONS TO WATER SUPERINTENDENT CHARLES BLACKBURN...WHO COULD NOT BE REACHED FOR COMMENT.
THE BOIL ORDER APPLIES TO ANYONE WHO GETS WRIGHTSVILLE CITY WATER.
YOUNG SAYS THE ORDER IS IN EFFECT UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.

THE BIBB COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE IS ASKING FOR YOUR HELP IDENTIFYING A BODY FOUND IN THE OCMULGEE RIVER SUNDAY MORNING.
SERGEANT SEAN DEFOE WITH THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE SAYS THE BODY IS A WHITE MAN ABOUT 45 TO 55 YEARS OLD.
HE IS SIX FOOT TWO INCHES... HAS A SIZE 13 FOOT... A SHAVED HEAD... AND A FULL BEARD.
DEFOE SAYS THE MAN HAD SEVERAL TATTOOS ON HIS CHEST... INCLUDING A UNICORN... TWO ROSES... A CASTLE AND A FLOWER.
IF YOU HAVE ANY INFORMATION ON WHO HE IS...YOU CAN CALL THE BIBB COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE AT 478-746-9441.
AGAIN... 746-9441.

A 15-YEAR-OLD GIRL DIED THIS MORNING FROM INJURIES SHE RECEIVED IN A WARNER ROBINS CAR ACCIDENT LAST WEEK.
WARNER ROBINS POLICE SPOKESWOMAN TABITHA PUGH SAYS THE ACCIDENT HAPPENED FRIDAY AT LAKE JOY ROAD AND FEAGIN MILL ROAD.
THE TEEN WAS RIDING IN AN S-U-V WHEN ANOTHER CAR RAN A RED LIGHT... HIT IT... AND CAUSED IT TO FLIP.
PUGH SAYS ANOTHER PASSENGER... A 12-YEAR-OLD BOY... IS IN STABLE CONDITION.
THEY DID NOT RELEASE THE NAME OF THE FIFTEEN YEAR OLD WHO DIED..
POLICE ARE STILL INVESTIGATING ... AND NO CHARGES HAVE BEEN FILED.

STARTING TOMORROW... EIGHT LITTLE LEAGUE SOFTBALL TEAMS WILL FIGHT FOR THE CHANCE TO GO TO THE WORLD SERIES
THEY'LL MEET IN THE SOUTHEAST LITTLE LEAGUE SOFTBALL TOURNAMENT IN WARNER ROBINS.
JIM AUTRY... SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF FLINT ENERGIES... IS COORDINATING THE 170 TOURNAMENT VOLUNTEERS.
HE SAYS AS MANY AS 6-THOUSAND PEOPLE CAME OUT TO THE GAMES LAST YEAR... WHEN THE WARNER ROBINS TEAM WAS IN THE TOURNAMENT.
HE SAYS HE EXPECTS IT TO BE JUST AS BUSY THIS YEAR.
"There's a sense of excitement this morning just as the girls from the other states were rolling in. everybody's excited about that. We know we're going to have a great tournament for the girls and three day's later, we'll start all over for the boys."
THIS YEAR'S GEORGIA CHAMPIONS ARE FROM BARTOW COUNTY.
THEIR FIRST GAME IS TOMORROW AT ONE P-M AGAINST TENNESSEE.
ALL THE GAMES ARE FREE TO ATTEND... BUT NO COOLERS ARE ALLOWED.

THE GEORGIA COLLEGE NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM OPENS IT'S DOORS TO THE PUBLIC EVERY WEEKDAY.
NESTLED ON THE GROUND FLOOR OF HERTY HALL ARE MILLIONS OF YEARS OF HISTORY.
THE CIRCULAR DESIGN OF THE MUSEUM WALKS YOU THROUGH THE LIFE CYCLE OF A FOSSIL.
REMINDERS OF THE PAST LINE ALL FOUR WALLS OF THE COLLEGE'S NATURAL TREASURE.
THE VIEW FROM INSIDE OF THE DOME PLANETARIUM IS OUT OF THIS WORLD.
ANOTHER POPULAR SPOT IS THE CAVE REPLICA... SHOWING HOW WATER CONSTRUCTED THE ROCK.
MUSEUM MANAGER ASHLEY QUINN SAYS THE ARTIFACTS ARE ALL PART OF THE GEORGIA COLLEGE FAMILY.
Ashley Quinn, Museum Manager: "Eighty percent of what you see in the museum are actually collected by students who have gone to school here at Georgia College over the last twenty-five to thirty years. About two hundred students and their professors have been involved in collecting the fossils that you see in the museum."
QUINN SAYS THEY ARE WORKING ON A HALLOWEEN EVENT CALLED A NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE GEORGIA COLLEGE NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM VISIT 13-WMAZ DOT COM AND LOOK FOR THE DAY TRIP DESTINATION STORY.

THANKS FOR JOINING US.... WE'LL BE BACK TONIGHT AT 11.
BUT REMEMBER...THE NEWS IS ALWAYS ON AT 13WMAZ.COM !
THE EVENING NEWS IS UP NEXT.
HAVE A SAFE NIGHT EVERYONE.


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