Augusta leaders not scared about giving candidates support



The Augusta Commission's two Joes -- Bowles and Jackson -- are violating a tenet of smart politics by openly getting involved in other candidates' campaigns. They have endorsed Taylor Bryant for the District 6 seat on the Richmond County school board and are playing host to a drop-in for Super District 10 commission candidate Sean Frantom on the rooftop of the Partridge Inn on Tuesday.

Other hosts are Tax Commissioner Steven Kendrick, Braye Boardman, Diane Ford, Wayne Hawkins, Tim Moses, Paul Simon, Dan Troutman, Bill Wingate, Chad Benton, Derek Dugan, Brooke Hixon, Greg O'Connor, Ed Presnell, Becky Shealy, Ashley Hock Smith and Anthony Sweat .

Boy King Deke Copenhaver is also said to be working to get members of his court who are more amenable to him and is supporting Frantom behind the scenes in a movement that pits the Old Guard against the Young Turks.

The mayor said members of the Augusta Homebuilders Association were asking him about that the other day, and he told them he was 42 now. Commissioner Matt Aitken, whom many folks said the mayor helped get elected, is in his 50s, so he doesn't think the label "Young Turks" applies to them.

"Sean is a friend of mine. Grady is, too," he said, referring to 62-year-old District 10 candidate Grady Smith. "It is more exciting to see young candidates. We need that young perspective. We need to get input from the best and brightest."

DOWN AND DE-FRIENDED IN HARRISBURG: City Ink has confirmed with the mayor that he has de-friended Harrisburg resident and former District 1 Augusta Commission candidate Butch Palmer.

Palmer accused the mayor on his Facebook page of not doing enough to clean up Augusta. He wrote that the mayor was the Top Bass and should show more leadership. The mayor wrote Palmer to say a bass was a fish, which he most definitely was not.

WHAT ONCE SEEMED LIKE A CRIME IS NOW A GOVERNMENT PROGRAM: It looks like former Augusta Mayor Pro Tem Betty Beard was ahead of her time when she helped an obese city waterworks employee get gastric bypass surgery in 2004. The state of South Carolina will pay for 100 obese government workers to get stomach-shrinking surgery in a pilot program next year.

The Legislature funded the program, which will pay about $24,000 each for gastric bypass or lap-band surgery, but, of course, the taxpayers are footing the bill, as usual.

Beard caught hell from all over last year when she acknowledged asking a developer to write a check for $20,000 to pay for the operation that probably saved 450-pound Otasha Harden 's life. Even the FBI was said to be investigating what we called Operation Bypass. Now, isn't it funny that what so many people said was a crime just last year is now a government program? Most of them are one and the same anyway.

CAN YOU HANDLE THIS DEAL: Gubernatorial candidates Nathan Deal and Karen Handel were still trading insults down to the wire of last week's Republican primary runoff, but when the sun came up Wednesday, Handel conceded and endorsed Deal.

I would say politics makes strange bedfellows, but that might be taken the wrong way here. But I do wonder whether Handel will make an appearance at one of the unity breakfasts the Republicans are holding and say something good about Deal, whom she called "a corrupt relic of Washington" on many an occasion during the campaign. If so, I can imagine it would go something like this:

"Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I know it might seem like I've flip-flopped overnight when I say to you that I fully endorse Nathan Wheel And Deal -- I mean Nathan Deal, one of the best good ol' boys ever to go to Washington and do the people's business, as well as his own. To some, it might seem like we can't salvage this Republican rift, but Nathan was able to salvage his salvage business, so I don't see why we can't salvage this situation. Do you?"

The crowd cheers.

"I know I made a big deal about his being named one of the most corrupt members of Congress and about his resignation before the U.S. House panel's final investigative report came out, but he called me a closet liberal and said I supported gays and abortions. So the next time he complained about my 'Special Report -- Investigation Journal' headlined 'Back Room Deals, Million-dollar Payments and Resignation From Congress,' there was nothing for me to do but tell him to put on his big boy pants.

"But all of that's in the past now. He won. I'm over it. We've put it all behind us in the spirit of party unity. We're reunited, and it feels so good. Reunited 'cause we understood."

The crowd goes wild, as Handel, Deal, House Speaker David Ralston and Gov. Sonny Perdue join hands and sing: "There's one perfect fit. And sugar, this one is it. We both are so excited 'cause we're reunited, hey hey."

ARE PINE-PELLET FUELED FIRESIDE CHATS IN OUR FUTURE? Before Tuesday's runoff, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Roy Barnes had ads out begging forgiveness for past mistakes as governor and pitching the use of Georgia pine pellets to fuel power plants.

In one ad captured on YouTube, he apologizes to teachers for not listening to them when he was governor before (pretty sappy stuff). What is remarkable about this video is that Barnes looks just like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and you know what he gave us when he was president: the New Deal.

HEY, BUDDY, CAN YOU SPARE A VOLVO? There's a trend of politicians using car analogies to make their points these days. In endorsing Deal, Handel said, "Barnes would return Georgia to a past that is best kept in our rearview mirror."

And when President Obama was in Detroit pushing smaller, gas-saving cars, he said the Republicans drove the economy in the ditch and now they want the keys back. He also said when you want the car to go forward, you put it in "D" like the "D" on a Democratic ballot. Vote Democrat and move forward. Want it to go back, put it in "R," just like the "R" on a Republican ballot.

Our problem is that with all the new federal taxes facing us to pay for Obamacare and other Washington excesses, we poor people in Georgia won't be able to afford gas, much less cars.

WINGING IT: A few days ago, I sent Ernie to the store to buy some two-piece frozen chicken wing parts. When he got there, he called and said he was at the frozen chicken wing bin, but couldn't find anything that said two-piece wings.

I told him to read the package, that what he was looking for was a package that had the disjointed wing parts without the wing tip. He didn't know what I was talking about and started asking the other shoppers whether what he had in his hand was what I'd described. One lady told him what he had was wingettes. So he got back on the phone and asked whether I wanted wingettes. I told him to come on home, and I'd go back and get the wings.

When I got there, I walked to the bin and picked up the bag with the two sections. I recognized it immediately because it was in a see-through plastic bag. When I got home, I said, "For someone as smart as you are and who knows everything, you sure are dumb about chicken wings."

He looked at me and said, "When I retire, we're going to have to take the bullets out of our guns."



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