City Ink: Monument rally, an education summit and a skunk story

Isn’t it just too ironic – I think that’s the right word – that the Augusta NAACP’s rally against the Confederate monument on Broad Street was held the same day as the Richmond County school system’s annual education summit, where the topic was poverty and hunger in Augusta?

 

City officials and business and education leaders met Thursday morning and heard an education expert say that 25.2 percent of Richmond County families live below the poverty level, compared with the national average of 14.7 percent, and that a major reason students in poverty fail is hunger. They’re hungry because there’s no food at home. Some parents don’t feed their children, so the school system sends them home with dinner in a backpack.

Now, I’d like to know why the NAACP isn’t rallying against awful parents and hungry children instead of a 150-year-old statue that isn’t even about them anyway. Rallying about something really harming somebody would really be an advancement, now wouldn’t it?

There’s No Such Thing as a Free Rally: The cost to the city for providing security and other services for Thursday’s rally topped $30,000, according to Augusta Chronicle staff writer Nefeteria Brewster.

“Richmond County Chief Deputy Patrick Clayton said costs for labor came to $21,100 and up to $10,000 for additional services and equipment that included a Georgia State Patrol helicopter that flew overhead.”

The Abolition of History: “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped.

“Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.” – George Orwell, 1984

Rallying for Reading: Praise for the Mothers of Professional Basketball Players Inc. and Scholastic, which brought 700 books to three third-grade classes at Garrett Elementary School last week.

Atlantic Region Director Annette Henson, mother of the Milwaukee Bucks’ John Henson, led the project and was one of the mothers at Garrett Elementary to present the books to classrooms and speak with students, according to an article in Friday’s Chronicle.

“We told stories about our children when they were growing up – how they read as children and how they continue to read,” she said.

Good for Henson and the other mothers of professional basketball players who are actually doing something for the children.

Déjà vu Delusion: Early in Mayor Hardie Davis’ term, he held a news conference to announce plans to change city government, and then last week he announced he wants to change the site of the new arena.

So, based on how his first big idea was received and the growing resistance to moving the arena to Regency Mall from the downtown site their consultants recommended, I’m not too sure he hasn’t made a big mistake. Maybe he thinks so, too, and maybe that’s why he canceled a Friday news conference.

This latest move is almost as bizarre as the first one, when, without telling any of the commissioners or inviting them to attend, Davis called a news conference to announce plans to have the city charter changed to create a “strong mayor” form of government. The change would give him the power to set the budget, expand his own budget, audit city finances, hire and fire the administrator and department heads, and veto commission actions.

This time, at Tuesday’s Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority meeting, member Darren Smith read part of a letter to Davis from the Regency Mall owners, offering the land to the city for $1 a year for 35 years.

The authority voted 4-2 to locate the arena on the mall site, although there were many other stipulations in the letter not mentioned in the motion – and despite the recommendation to build it at the James Brown Arena-Bell Auditorium complex.

“It’s just strange how it went down,” said Brad Usry, the authority’s vice chairman and the chairman of the new arena committee.

Reaction to the vote has been mostly negative. A petition to “Save the J” is being circulated, and Chris Rucker at Kruhu has come up with this T-shirt slogan: “Don’t Move the Groove. Keep the James Brown Arena Downtown.”

Augusta Commission member Sean Frantom said he doesn’t think the Regency Mall site would have the necessary six commission votes to be approved.

“The building and grounds subcommittee voted four to one Friday on keeping it downtown. And then they turn around Tuesday at the authority meeting and vote to put it on land we don’t even own. So it would be another TEE Center.”

When asked how the new arena would be paid for, Usry said, “That’s the $125 million question.”

The Reports of His Death Are Greatly Exaggerated: Political icon Willie Mays has been having health problems of late. So to combat rumors that Mays has died, James D. Riles posted a photo on his Facebook page showing Mays standing between J.R. Riles and Booker T. Robinson.

“I would like to tell everyone Willie Mays is not dead,” James Riles posted. “Please stop saying you heard he was dead on social media and passing it on. That is fake news, please stop. Willie had had some health problems but he is doing good. If Willie Mays was really dead it would be on the news as one of the top stories in Augusta.”

“Looks better than the two men with him,” commented Ken Cone.

Stinkin’ To High Heaven: A prowler came snooping around our house Friday night. The dogs started barking and Ernie got up with his pistol and opened the door.

They ran out, and Ernie yelled, “Skuunk! Get back in here!” They came running back in smelling like skunks. Fortunately, there was no direct hit. We haven’t been so lucky in the past.

Several years ago, our dog Joe killed a skunk and brought it into the backyard, where he dropped it right under the dining room windows.

Ernie smelled it first and called me to come see if I smelled a skunk.

I sniffed and said, “Maybe it’s these daffodils going bad in the window.”

“It’s not the daffodils,” he said, throwing the windows open, unaware the skunk was right beneath. So naturally that only made matters worse.

Then I went around to the dogs until I got to Joe, who didn’t look all that happy. I poured some skunk odor remover on him, but it wasn’t enough.

So I sent Ernie to the store, and he came back with two big cans of tomato juice. He said the clerks in the pet department at Walmart said that was the most effective thing for eliminating skunk odor. So we poured tomato juice all over him.

And then I went in and poured the rest into vodka.

 

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