Dispatches from government reporter Johnny Edwards

Landlord vs. tenant

I don’t get this thing with Butch Palmer and Anthony Jones.

Mr. Palmer – former hairdresser, outspoken Harrisburg activist and landlord of more than a dozen homes – said in early August that he planned to run for Betty Beard’s seat on the Augusta Commission. Last week, on Sept. 3, he paid the $360 qualifying fee and officially entered.

The next day, which was the last day to qualify, Mr. Jones jumped in the race, too. 

These two guys are friends. Before last week, I’d never talked to Mr. Jones in depth, but I’ve been seeing him hanging around with Mr. Palmer for some time. He’s been at Harrisburg neighborhood meetings, and he took part in all three landlord protests with Mr. Palmer.

And the best part: Mr. Jones, 35, is a tenant in one of Mr. Palmer’s houses on Walker Street, just around the corner from where Mr. Palmer lives on Tuttle Street.

Why would two buddies, one paying rent to the other, both in the same group of activists fired up enough about Harrisburg’s problems to take to the streets with placards, each decide to run for the District 1 seat? Don’t people united behind a cause usually rally behind a single candidate? Don’t opposing candidates usually sling mud and mount whisper campaigns?

A theory gaining traction is that Mr. Palmer put Mr. Jones up to running as a tactic for splitting up the black vote. Or perhaps he's thinking that if he can't win, maybe Mr. Jones can. The district is 65 percent black. Five people are in the race, and Ms. Beard, who’s not running again, has endorsed William Fennoy.

Mr. Palmer strongly denies he and his tenant are in cahoots. Mr. Palmer said Mr. Jones is “very politically inclined.”

“He’s got a mind of his own,” Mr. Palmer said. “It’s something that he wants. We’re completely different people.”

I saw Mr. Jones at the protest in Forrest Hills on Wednesday, and he also denied there was any collusion. I asked him how Mr. Palmer reacted when he found out he was in the race.

“He wished me good luck, for one,” Mr. Jones said. “He didn’t appear to me as being upset.”

Mr. Palmer says it’s “remarkable” that two Harrisburg residents care enough about the neighborhood to run for office. He said he’s not as interested in winning as he is in bringing problems to light.

“He’s not running against me,” Mr. Palmer said. “I don’t look at anyone as running against me. We’re running for issues for the neighborhood.”

What good that'll do if they're both trounced is beyond me. In this crowded race, that's a likely outcome.

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HillGuy
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HillGuy 09/10/09 - 08:08 pm
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Wow Johnny... Why don't you

Wow Johnny... Why don't you look and see who got Aitken to run.. Grantham? The DDA? And who got Jo Rae Jenkins to run on the last day? Seems to me this is a free country and anyone can run run for office if they qualify. It's amazing how you like to ignore some things yet harp on others. Could it be that people want to be involved in the political process in Augusta and not have annointed candidates thrust upon them? I think it is great this many people have stepped forward to run, too bad we don't see this is other districts. We have two districts where there is no opposition at all. Choice is good. And people getting involved is good. Interesting how Mr Edwards wants to go out on a limb on this but yet can't seem to bring himself to to do any deep questioning on teh bribery scandal. His idea of investigative reporting is calling a couple of people, and simply asking "do you have any connection with Mr Fry?" Of course they say no.. and Mr Edwards leaves it at that.. no further attempts made to loook into it further. But yet he wants to nitpick over every motivation of why someone is running for the commission. How about you ask Mr Jones?

Taylor B
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Taylor B 09/10/09 - 08:08 pm
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I smell a runoff!

I smell a runoff!

HillGuy
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HillGuy 09/10/09 - 08:14 pm
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And what is this jab you

And what is this jab you love to make about Mr Palmer being a former "hairdresser"? Is that supposed to be some "code word" you want to get out there? Mr Palmer has not owned A salon business since 1995. How many jobs have you had in your life previous to being a reporter? When I was in college I worked in a chicken plant shoveling chicken poop.. should I then be known henceforth as a "former chicken poop shoveler"? You obviously have some major chip on your shoulder and it is getting in the way of your impartiality as a journalist. How about report on all of the former jobs of all of the other candidates running for office?

HillGuy
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HillGuy 09/10/09 - 08:37 pm
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This, coming from Johnny

This, coming from Johnny Edwards.. the same reporter who thought it was important to give us the racial makeup of each commission district and the race of each candidate running. Leaving it to Johnny and The Chronicle to make a racial issue out of anything.

Taylor B
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Taylor B 09/10/09 - 08:47 pm
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nbreese, whats the deal?

nbreese, whats the deal? Retract the claws for a second. You don't see the wierdness of the connection? Why would you run against your landlord, especially since the platforms have to be close to the same? As far as the hairdresser comment, it gives his background. I know Aitken works for Olin. What's "factory" a code word for? Palmer said he owned a salon on his own website, and thats all the work experience I see he has. If he was a fireman, magician, or keyboardist for Bootsy Collins, he doesnt brag about it on HIS OWN site.

 Not everything is a conspiracy, not every reporter is "pocketed." He seems to have given Palmer and his group tons of coverage, which is warranted.

Harrisburg Homeowner
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Harrisburg Homeowner 09/10/09 - 08:53 pm
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Johnny, it does seem beneath

Johnny, it does seem beneath you to refer to Butch as "the former hairdresser."  I am not going to mention what is being said between the lines.  It is not who he is.  Butch has watched Harrisburg and other District One areas go down the drain as the City Commissioners have fought over how to spend taxpaper money to bring tourism to Augusta.   He wants what most of us want....to walk down a beautiful Augusta street without worrying about gangs, thugs, prostitutes, etc.  He wants to know his neighbors and to be able to stop to talk to them in a cordial manner.  He wants community.  Something we are desperately lacking all across America.  He is willing to fight for those freedoms.  There are very few who are willing to take that step.  Please don't help sling mud by starting inuendos.  It's so beneath you.  You are better than that.

HillGuy
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HillGuy 09/10/09 - 08:53 pm
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Well a runoff is pretty much

Well a runoff is pretty much a high probability when you have more than 2 candidates in the race. Mr Palmer announced hi intentions in early August. Then Betty Beard decided not to run and William fennoy jumped in. Next Matt Aitken jumped in and announced at the DDA clock in downtown. Then Jo Rae Jenkins and Mr Jones joined the race. We have a 5 person race. I think it is great. Running for the commission should not be a cakewalk. Different candidates bring their own issues and perspectives to the race. How dare Mr Edwards marginalize Mr. Jones' candidacy. I look forward to hearing about what his issues and concerns are, just as I look forward to hearing from Jo Rae Jenkins, Matt Aitken, and William Fennoy. It's unfortunate that people like Edwards want to reduce everything that happens in Augusta to race. To Mr Edwards.. Mr Jones is just another "black" candidate.. and Mr Palmer and Aitken are the "white" candidates. Augusta will never progress if we still have this mentality, especially among members of the media.

HillGuy
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HillGuy 09/10/09 - 09:00 pm
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Again, Mr Palmer's current

Again, Mr Palmer's current profession is a landlord. he is a business person. That's what should matter. We didn't hear about all of the former professions of the other candidates. Mr. Edwards is using this as a "code word". He knows what he is trying to accomplish, and he should be ashamed. As for you atcylorb.. it's pretty obvious you are a libertarian.. have strong opinions on government and taxation etc.. but all I ever hear from you criticizing others for sticking their neck out to run.. Why don't you run for office?

HillGuy
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HillGuy 09/10/09 - 09:01 pm
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*

*

Taylor B
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Taylor B 09/10/09 - 09:15 pm
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nbreese, paying 360 bucks

nbreese, paying 360 bucks aint sticking your neck out. As for me not running, I have my reasons..... maybe later. Plus, District six is locked down for a while, I believe.

Taylor B
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Taylor B 09/10/09 - 09:30 pm
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Replica watches? If these

Replica watches? If these foreign comment spammers are going to post on here, do it on the Alan English blog. LOL

eachoneteachone
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eachoneteachone 09/10/09 - 09:56 pm
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Mr Palmer was the owner of a

Mr Palmer was the owner of a successful beauty salon. His business created jobs. Why did you say that he was simply a hairdresser? The Curtiss sisters  who own Platts Funeral home are both embalmers but I dought that you would call ether one of them embalmers or morticians. Why are you on a witch hunt to insinuate rummer and innuendo against good and decent people? I wish more people were like these Harrisburg activists. Mr. Palmer shows good character and the ability to get along with other politicians. We can't say that for the crew on county commission. I believe that Mr. Palmer has a very good chance of winning this election without a runoff because so many people in all districts respect what he is doing in district one, especially in Harrisburg.

Taylor B
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Taylor B 09/10/09 - 10:04 pm
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Wow Johnny, struck a nerve

Wow Johnny, struck a nerve with this one. These folks are so sensitive when you call their guy who used to be a hairdresser a hairdresser.

eachoneteachone
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eachoneteachone 09/10/09 - 10:30 pm
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Speaking of Platts funeral

Speaking of Platts funeral home..the owners donated the building where Margaret Woodard did the big ribbon cutting for a Harrisburg  Sheriffs sub station. Tonight I attended the Harrisburg neighborhood association meeting. Apperantly,  the substation is inactive. There is a violent crime wave a couple of blocks from the substation. The people in the neighborhood call both Woodard and the sub station  a farce and they say that  Mrs. Woodard, directior of the Downtown Development Aughority  is a tool for deep pocket business. They were saying that the DDA was a shady entrprise. Woodard who is paid 80 thousand dollars a year and she is not to be trusted: http://www.metrospirit.com/index.php?cat=121304064644348&z_Issue_ID=11010906093720576&ShowArchiveArticle_ID=11011606093596036

Johnny Edwards
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Johnny Edwards 09/10/09 - 10:52 pm
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Whoa! I certainly didn't

Whoa! I certainly didn't mean any offense to Butch when I said he's a former hairdresser. I didn't think that was a bad thing. I did a big profile story on him a while back, and we talked about how he used to own a salon, on Crawford Avenue if memory serves. I've referred to him as a former hairdresser several times and no one's ever accused me of using code words. I've written about him quite a lot, because I find him to be a very interesting guy. This situation with Jones is just one more interesting thing.

nbreese, I'm getting tired of your insults about how I do my job. If you have a complaint, call my editor. All the evidence right now points to Fry acting alone. In fact, it appears the motive might have been a cut for himself of the parking deck profits -- allegedly, that is. As for this blog, I'm doing my job in pointing out something strange. I don't mean any insult to Butch or Anthony, and for you to go berzerk because I'm asking questions about something so patently odd, well, you need to lighten up. And if the two of them are insulted by this, they're going to need much thicker skin in the event that either of them wins. Politics in this town are rough, and this is kid gloves compared to what may lie ahead. To be honest, I like both of those guys. But were I to fail to point this connection out, that would be dereliction of duty.

And on the race thing, there is no way to ignore race when covering the Augusta Commission. Believe me, I tried. There has been a 5-5 split ever since consolidation took effect in 1996. For a white candidate to win in a majority black district or for a black candidate to win in a minority white district, either of those would be a monumental task. Statistically, that might happen first in the district Joe Jackson represents, but that's another story.

And, nbreese, you don't see a difference between the Aitken and Jones situations? Let's say Grantham did put up Aitken. Okay. Now what if Grantham had been running for his seat, and he had put up one of his friends to run against him in the same race? That would be something else entirely. In that hypothetical situation, I would be writing this same type of thing about him.

But I don't know that Butch did put Jones up. Both of them deny it, and I'm reporting it. And I'll get to the other candidates. We've got two months left.

Harrisburg Homeowner
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Harrisburg Homeowner 09/10/09 - 11:10 pm
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If I got the wrong opinion

If I got the wrong opinion about you, Johnny, I apologize. 

harrisburgwillrise
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harrisburgwillrise 09/10/09 - 11:20 pm
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Johnny,   Actually we

Johnny,

 

Actually we appreciate you in Harrisburg. You are the best thing that has happened to us in the past three months.. The TV stations always show up late and after the fact. They are so lame.  You have been with us all the way with our, "Sorry landlord protests."  My hat's off to you.  I will e-maill you shortly to give you more information on the Rosalyn Reese property at Crawford and Hicks. For all you naysayers, Butch Palmer works hard for his neighbors.  Who is Matt Aitken? what has he done for his neighborhood lately?

HillGuy
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HillGuy 09/11/09 - 01:07 am
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Mr Palmer didn't need to get

Mr Palmer didn't need to get anyone else to run.. he stands a very good chance of winning on his own merits. But as he said.. it's not always about winning; it's about bringing issues to the forefront that would otherwise be ignored, and I look forward to hearing the issues that are important to Mr Jones. As I said, I think it is great that we have so many people stepping forward. This should be the norm in every election.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 09/11/09 - 08:24 am
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This is a reply to Earhone's

This is a reply to Earhone's comment about the police sub-station in Harrisburg being "inactive."  Do you know what a sub-station is?  It is a place that an on-patrol deputy may go during his shift to write his reports.  It is not a place that is supposed to be manned 24/7.  If you see deputies sitting in a sub-station, you are not seeing good policing.

harrisburgwillrise
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harrisburgwillrise 09/11/09 - 09:18 am
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So what do you call the

So what do you call the substation in Daniel Village?

Johnny Edwards
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Johnny Edwards 09/11/09 - 09:35 am
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You are right, nbreese. It

You are right, nbreese. It may force a runoff, but we'll hear many different points of view. For the same reasons you're citing, I wish Libertarian and Green party candidates were allowed into presidential debates. The fact that they aren't shows how rigged the system is.

My challenge now is to report what the candidates stand for, and I'll be contacting Butch, Anthony, Fennoy, Aitken and Jenkins soon.

angie020461
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angie020461 09/11/09 - 11:40 am
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Good!  I'm glad they're

Good!  I'm glad they're friends.  So if one wins, it is a win win!!

angie020461
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angie020461 09/11/09 - 11:41 am
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BTW I'm Angie1961!! NOT

BTW I'm Angie1961!! NOT fitzwilliam.  Sic UM Butch!!!

KingJames
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KingJames 09/11/09 - 01:28 pm
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I wish the folks of

I wish the folks of Harrisburg the best of luck with bringing attention to their problems so that improvements can be made.  

I also thought it was strange to have two candidates for the same office in a familiar relationship such as landlord and tenant.  Mr. Edwards, please provide a little more background information on all the candidates.  Have any of them strong business acumen?  Is there any evidence of them being civically minded enough to understand or quickly learn the way the local government fuctions (what's legal and what's not)?  Are any of these candidates educated, and if so to what level and from what college or university? 

I ask these questions because a good candidate, in my humble opinion, should be well-rounded so they may attempt to do the most good for all citizens, not just a few.  The problem of crime in one neighborhood may not necessarily be the same problem another faces.  The best candidate will see that, and want to improve all of Augusta while maintaining good moral character, remaining fiscally conscious, and being dedicated to the people.

Taylor B
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Taylor B 09/11/09 - 01:57 pm
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I'm not that focused on

I'm not that focused on education of a commissioner. I don't think there is much you can learn in college to prepare you to run this city. There seems to be a lack of "thinkers." Every political action has reactions that most local politicians don't recognize. Would the Golf Gardens project have been scrapped if we knew what would happen? I think so. I see the TEE center as a short sighted project also. We need visionaries, not dignitaries.

Toocpop
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Toocpop 09/11/09 - 02:47 pm
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Regardless of education,

Regardless of education, commission candidates should be: 1) well-rounded advocates for the people of his or her district, 2) currently attend commission meetings, 3) listen and act according to those in need in the community, and 4) have a love and care for the progressive move forward of the Garden City. So far, the candidate that I have observed out in the community working with citizens of all districts, helping students get additional buses as a result of overcrowding, who answers to the needs of others is Jo'Rae Jenkins. Ms. Jenkins has worked on many other campaigns for officials and has provided many helpful services to others of diverse socio and economic backgrounds. Young, fresh ideas are what is needed along with diversity classes to breakdown the stereotypes people have that cause them to fear one another and prevent US from moving forward.

Taylor B
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Taylor B 09/11/09 - 03:31 pm
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She's pro TEE center and pro

She's pro TEE center and pro trolley. Heard her on Esposito's show. Sounds nice, but I don't see why she wants that stuff.

weeflow
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weeflow 09/11/09 - 03:43 pm
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Just let me say good luck to

Just let me say good luck to all who have stepped forward to run for District 1.

It's hard to find people who care about their city let alone their community. I would like to send 2 thumbs up to one of the canidates who I had the pleasure of seeing in action at University Hospital a week or so ago. The canidate showed the compassion and strength I feel is needed here in Augusta. The canidate took it upon themselve to help a young Richmond Academy Student who had been waiting to get a sports check-up and had been there for almost 4 hours tring to get this check-up. The reason for this is the parent was not present so the doctors wouldn't see this child. The canidate went through great lenghts to make sure this child got the check-up they needed by going to the school, calling grandparents, driving the child home and talking with the office staff to see what could be done to make sure this child could get this check-up. I'm proud to have seen this person in action they would make a great Commissioner for District 1. As of today the young lady has gotten her check-up and is going to be on the softball team at Richmond Academy. This I know because I to got involved also to help but this canidate took the bull by the horns and helped that young lady and many others I'm told, and as I have read here today. So with more strength and compassion for others, whichth is what is needed in Augusta then this city can begin to reap the fruits a garden city is meant to grow. Good compassionate, caring, and strong community minded citizens like this young lady is. Thanks to you Mrs. Jenkins we need more like you.

weeflow
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weeflow 09/11/09 - 03:55 pm
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Does the Tee Center and

Does the Tee Center and Trolley mean more income to the city and more jobs?

Taylor B
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Taylor B 09/11/09 - 04:39 pm
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Wee, were talking almost 100

Wee, were talking almost 100 million in those two projects, not counting maintenance. Show me how that's economically viable and I'll be surprised. Your candidate needs a reality check. She's probably a great person, but she's either buying into something I refuse to or really horrible at math and economics.

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