Changes come for coliseum panel

The current Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority board’s time is up at 11:59 p.m. on May 31, but whether a new board will be in place the next morning is uncertain, leaving open the possibility that the civic center complex’s management company could be left running the two venues with no oversight committee.


A restructuring bill signed by Gov. Sonny Perdue on Tuesday ousts the nine remaining board members and reduces the 12-seat panel to seven seats. Three will be appointed by the five Augusta commissioners in each of the two super districts, and the legislative delegation will pick a chairman who only votes to break a tie.

Super district 10 Commissioner Don Grantham said he and the other four on his side – Joe Bowles, Jerry Brigham, Joe Jackson and Jimmy Smith – have been tossing around five names in phone conversations, and they’ll whittle them down to three and have them ready for a vote at Tuesday’s commission meeting, which is the last one before June 1.

“I think we’ll come up with three good ones,” Mr. Grantham said.

The five from the other super district haven’t started talking, though, according to both super district 9 Commissioner J.R. Hatney and Commissioner Calvin Holland. Mr. Hatney said they were waiting to see what the governor would do. Outgoing authority members asked for a veto, accusing state lawmakers of passing the bill in retaliation because board members wouldn’t carry out their agenda, but Mr. Perdue never read their letter.

Two names likely to be on the table on the district 9 side are Charles E. Harris and Bonita Jenkins, who commissioners Alvin Mason and Corey Johnson wanted to appoint, respectively, in April before they found out the overhaul bill would boot anyone sitting on the board and bar them from being reappointed for one year.

Mr. Hatney said it’s unlikely they’ll have three names agreed to by Tuesday, but he’d like to have them appointed by June 1. If it’s not done Tuesday, confirming them in time would require a special-called meeting, according to City Clerk Lena Bonner.

“We’re gonna’ work on it,” Mr. Hatney said.

As for the chairman, Sen. Ed Tarver said it’s highly unlikely the delegation can name one in time for the bill’s effective date. Getting the delegation members together that soon would be difficult, he said. Next week Rep. Hardie Davis heads to Australia for a political exchange program through the American Council of Young Political Leaders, which lasts 10 days, starting May 22.

Mr. Tarver said he believes the six commission appointees could theoretically go on without a chairman by electing a vice chairman to preside over meetings.

Language in the bill is unclear about what happens if no panel is in place after May 31. Some language indicates the old board could stay on – “All appointees to the Authority shall serve until their respective successors are appointed and qualified.”

Mr. Tarver said he doesn’t read it that way. With 12 seats being reduced to seven, current members would have no respective successors, so that clause only applies to future board members, he said.

Other language seems to say the appointments can’t be made yet, that they’re to be done “as soon as practicable on or after the date this section becomes effective in 2009.”

“It doesn’t preclude us from starting the process,” Mr. Tarver said.

Should a panel not be in place by June 1, management company Global Spectrum would go on operating the James Brown Arena and Bell Auditorium. But since coliseum authority meetings are held monthly, usually on the fourth Tuesday of the month, there would be no gap in the meetings where Global reports to the board.

Mr. Tarver said picking a chairman by June 23 – which would be the first meeting date for the new authority – shouldn’t be a problem.

The last meeting for the current board is scheduled May 26.



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