Show members the door

You would hope that in a city where elected officials are maintaining a new, higher standard for getting along, some of that goodwill might trickle down to the lone holdouts at the Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority.


No such luck. It's almost as if the authority actively seeks new, head-shaking ways to throw open its utter dysfunction for public display.

In the past week alone, authority members Richard Isdell and Willie Law almost came to blows as they traded shouts of profanity after one meeting.

And Tuesday -- after authority Chairman Keith Brown unilaterally decided to cancel that day's scheduled meeting -- several members showed up anyway, and the topic of conversation drifted to their unhappiness with Brown.

At least two members say that Brown tried to cancel the meeting -- contrary to his powers under authority bylaws -- to avoid an agenda item to discuss the rehiring of Facilities Manager Julie Huggins. She, you may remember, spent all of one week on the job earlier this year. Some observers still see her firing as petty, eye-for-an-eye retribution for the March firing of Robert "Flash" Gordon as the civic center's manager.

Tuesday's Coliseum Authority imbroglio wound down as Brown resigned as chairman -- even before he had a chance to preside over one full meeting of the board.

It's all so maddening. The members who add more function than dysfunction to the authority can't keep the entire board focused and effective. Then there's the authority's protracted dithering over its budget. There's the January members' walkout in the wake of the sudden firings of the authority's attorney and accountant.

Even the board's officer elections aren't without drama. Last month, five members tossed around the nomination for treasurer like a ticking bomb before the job went to absent member Adrian Arnold.

Amid all this, the entertainment offerings of the civic center itself still are too often unworthy in stature for Georgia's second-largest city. And when Augusta can draw acts with serious name recognition -- Aaron Tippin, Blood, Sweat and Tears or Souljah Boy, to name a few -- the audiences end up being so small through ineffective promotion that the authority loses tens of thousands of dollars on shows. In the case of Souljah Boy, advance ticket sales were so paltry that the hip-hop sensation outright canceled his Augusta appearance earlier this month.

The Coliseum Authority is scheduled to meet today at 9 a.m., and if it has any concern about a brighter future for the civic center, every member should resign.

In its place, nominators should find 12 members who are cut from the same timber as members of, say, the Augusta Commission of the Richmond County Board of Education -- elected bodies composed of people who are willing to work together and move forward.

These new members should meet specific criteria that justify their placement on the authority. They should be competent, consensus-building business people, not unqualified recipients of political largesse.

And why not introduce an orientation program for new members? The board has no program resembling that now, and that's another part of the problem.

Today's Coliseum Authority meeting should be the jumping-off point to start fixing the board's problems and the low community morale that accompanies them -- a time for less bickering and more solutions.



Fri, 08/18/2017 - 02:39

Look! Up in the sky!