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macon.com MIDDAY UPDATE: Macon mayoral candidates to debate tonight; Delta, United planes nearly collide, FAA says; CDC looking for $22 million in missing equipment

A political forum tonight at the Grand Opera House will solicit the Macon mayoral candidates' stance on key issues in the community.

The Telegraph's recent visioning exercise led by the University of Georgia's Fanning Institute identified five issues important to local residents.

During the 7 p.m. forum, candidates will be asked to share their thoughts on how to improve city finances, reduce crime, work with the county to solve problems and how they would grow the economy and preserve natural resources.

The forum is sponsored by Mercer University, The Telegraph and the League of Women Voters with support form the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Community Foundation of Central Georgia.

Members of the audience will be able to submit questions to the candidates, who will face a three-member panel featuring Bill Odum, chair of the Central Georgia Health System; Sheryl Towers, interim director of the Center for Racial Understanding and Ruby Roberts, owner of Ruby's in a Rush.

Telegraph editorial page editor Charles Richardson will serve as moderator of the event, which is open to the public.

- Liz Fabian

SEARCH ON FOR MISSING CDC EQUIPMENT

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will investigate the disappearance of $22 million worth of equipment, computers and other items from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.Last month, a congressional oversight committee requested an audit of the CDC's property management procedures and an investigation into allegations of theft at the center.

CDC officials said they have accounted for about $9 million in missing goods in recent weeks.

"A thorough audit will help stop the bleeding of taxpayer-owned property at CDC," U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, said in a statement Wednesday. "In cases of theft, it will also tell us what happened to the thieves."

The committee specifically said it was concerned about a suspected "insider" burglary of $500,000 in computers, and millions of dollars worth of other items missing or unaccounted for since the CDC's last audit in 1995.

Daniel Levinson, inspector general of Health and Human Services, told Barton in a June 25 letter that his department would conduct an audit and investigate the theft allegations, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Thursday.

Between fiscal 2004 and 2006, there were 61 investigations into the theft or disappearance of CDC property. No arrests or disciplinary action resulted from those investigations, and several are ongoing, CDC spokesman Tom Skinner said.

He said much of the equipment was discovered missing during a reorganization at the center. Staff are using new computer programs to better track items, he said.

- Associated Press

DELTA, UNITED PLANES NEARLY COLLIDE, FAA REPORTS

Two planes came within a few hundred feet of colliding on a runway at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, authorities said.

The pilot of Delta Flight 1489 and air traffic controllers noticed a plane entering a runway Wednesday as the Delta flight approached the same runway for a landing, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said.

The Delta pilot pulled up the plane and circled the airport to avoid United Flight 1544, which had missed a turn onto another taxiway, Bergen said.

The incident was under investigation, and whoever is at fault will be penalized, Bergen said. Neither pilot has been identified.

When a plane is on a runway without authorization, the FAA labels the incident as a "runway incursion." The airport has had three runway incursions between June 1, 2006, and May 31, according to FAA records. Two were blamed on pilot error and the third was ruled an air traffic control error.

- Associated Press



LATER TODAY ON MACON.COM

- Two boys accused of burning two dogs will get their day in court. We'll bring you an update.

We'll have an update on the arrest of alleged child predators by the Twiggs County Sheriff's Department.

WHAT'S COOKING FOR

Here's a taste of what we're working on:

- Bibb County school board member Terry Tripp has qualified to run for a county commission seat.

- Professors from across the country are attending a month-long institute about Flannery O'Connor at Georgia College. Reporter Jennifer Burk takes a look at the institute, as well as Flannery O'Connor and what she means to the college and area.

VISIT US AGAIN SOON

We invite you to check out our Web site again tomorrow for the Midday Update. Monday through Friday, Day News/Online Editor Beth MacFadyen will bring you timely information about what Telegraph staffers are working on, plus news we think you need to know immediately. Send feedback to bmacfadyen@macon.com.

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