Halloween has come early for the mayor’s office. In an outstanding example of trick or treat, Mayor Hardie Davis has been using money from his My Brother’s Keeper account to treat Ryan Mahoney, his Republican political consultant.
My Brother’s Keeper is a program designed to put underprivileged black youths on the right track for success in life. Part of the trick was that Mahoney doesn’t fit the demographic of a needy young black male.
But Mahoney had no idea which account Davis treated him from. Neither did Augusta Chronicle Staff Writer Susan McCord until she looked at payments from the mayor’s accounts and his 2017 calendar and put two and two together.
Of course, Davis being a part-time preacher now would most likely believe that all men are brothers under God. But in this case he paid $4,500 from a fund that was meant to help people to somebody who doesn’t need any help at all – a fine example of robbing many Peters to pay one Paul.
The commission approved $38,750 for the mayor’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative this year, and the same amount is in next year’s proposed budget.
Since they approved the budget, a majority of the commissioners evidently think the program is worth the investment, but not all think using it to pay a political consultant is right.
“I don’t think that money should be used for that,” said Commissioner Marion Williams. “Hardie is the kind of guy that wants to do his own thing. He’s really like a box of Cracker Jacks. You don’t know what you’re going to get. It might be a good prize or a bad prize.”
House of Horrors: It’s also appropriate the Regency Mall fiasco is happening around Halloween. Talk about a witches’ brew bubbling in the cauldron.
“Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble.”
Every time a bubble bursts a new deal appears, and each one is worse than the last. No wonder the Coliseum Authority goes behind closed doors to talk about them.
I believe that Davis, his campaign manager and Coliseum Authority attorney Ed Enoch, while dunking for apples, will end up with a deal that will treat the taxpayers of Augusta just like you treat the innards of a pumpkin when you make a jack-o’-lantern.
Williams said the mall’s owners should be wearing masks because they’re trying to rob the city.
“I think it’s unfair for him (Alan Cardinale) to think that the city would fall for something like that,” he said.
And city Administrator Janice Allenn Jackson’s budget presentation is pretty spooky, too. If they manage to find the money to give employees raises, they’ll probably have to take it back for increased health care costs.
Among dozens of requests for new personnel and capital, the only ones Jackson approved were from the fire department, environmental services and utilities, but the government is still growing strong with new employees for the new Keep Augusta Beautiful program and the Augusta Development Authority for a development specialist to recruit businesses to south Augusta and other underserved areas.
Jackson approved fire department requests totaling $682,350 to hire part-time certified EMTs to staff ambulances on 24-hour shifts and stipend increases for EMTs and paramedics in the fire department.
Maybe that’s customary, but it’s probably part of the plan to eventually put Gold Cross Emergency Medical Services out of business in Richmond County and have Fire Chief Chris James run the ambulance service. The only thing standing in the way is that pesky thing called “designated zone provider,” which Gold Cross has. And $10 million to $12 million in startup costs.
It Was A Graveyard Smash: So with franchise fees and other revenue down and everybody clamoring for raises and more employees, the mayor and commission decided to skip the annual Halloween party this year and instead go trick-or-treating for candy to sell to balance the budget. But when they get together, they can’t agree on whose district they’ll start in.
Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle, dressed as Scrooge, doesn’t want them to trick or treat in south Augusta, because folks there pay all the taxes anyway and have to watch everything go downtown, so they say.
Mayor Pro Tem Mary Davis, dressed as Little Bo Peep because she couldn’t find seven dwarves to complement her Snow White costume, doesn’t want to go to her district because, as everybody knows, her district pays most of the taxes.
Commissioner Marion Williams, who came as the Lone Ranger because he’s usually out there all alone trying to get something done, says he doesn’t care whose district they trick or treat in as long as it’s not one of his.
Commissioner Grady Smith, who came as Mr. Roto Rooter because he has a Ph.D. in plumbing, heating and drainage, echoed Williams’ sentiments.
Commissioner Dennis Williams, dressed as the Big Bad Wolf, says they can’t come to his district because he’ll huff and puff and blow their houses down.
Commissioner Andrew Jefferson, in a pirate’s costume left over from his days pillaging taxpayers when he was on the school board, doesn’t want to trick or treat in his district because he’d have to listen to his predecessor, former Commissioner Bill Lockett, hitting them up for money in the budget for his Age Friendly City activities.
Commissioner Bill Fennoy planned to come dressed as Colin Kaepernick. Unfortunately, he heard the national anthem on the radio and took a knee and couldn’t get back up. “You can’t trick or treat in my district because I won’t be there,” he said.
Commissioner Sean Frantom, dressed as a toothless tiger, roared, “Don’t trick or treat in my district!” but nobody ever listens to him because they’re not afraid of his bite.
Commissioner Ben Hasan, dressed as an astronaut because many of his ideas are out of this world, said, “Stay out of my district because I’m up for re-election next year.”
Commissioner Sammie Sias, dressed as a college professor because he obviously knows everything, doesn’t want people to trick or treat in his district because nobody would be at home. They’ll all be at the Jamestown Community Center on Sammie Sias Way for a free Halloween party, hosted by Chief James, who’ll be dressed as an EMT.
PIO Jim Beasley, who came dressed as Sherlock Holmes because he’s always looking for clues about how to become indispensible to the administrator, wants to send out press releases about the trick-or-treat initiative, but doesn’t know what it will say.
General Counsel Andrew MacKenzie came as Count Dracula, which was the perfect costume because he can’t stand the sun – or the sunshine law.
And the mayor, dressed as My Brother’s Keeper, came with his brother, Mahoney, holding the cookie jar with the mayor’s hand caught in it.