Life in the fast lane is not as glamorous as you might think.
Ernie had a quadruple bypass last week. And that’s easier said than done. It took the skills of Dr. Vinayak Kamath, director, Heart and Cardiovascular Health Services at GHSU, and a team of anesthesiologists, nurses, technicians and about eight hours from an antiseptic bath at 6 a.m. to a room in the intensive care unit.
He was in ICU two days under the constant care of beautiful nurses Amber Forrester, Gaynor Knapp and Rhonda Meno and others whose names I missed. Those girls never stop.
When Ernie came to, he was exuberantly happy to be alive, but about the third day he didn’t seem so jubilant. When I said something about it, he said once the anesthesia and drugs started wearing off things didn’t seem so rosy.
As you know if you’ve ever been there, there’s no day or night in ICU. Dozens of the best medical personnel in the country are busy, busy, busy working to keep incredibly sick and injured people alive.
What a treasure this teaching hospital and medical college are for this area! And if city leaders and elected officials ever let it get away, they’ll have to put Augusta on life support.
Anyway, Ernie is doing great. Much better than expected and will be home Sunday.
My sister June said to expect him to be depressed. I said, “I’m already depressed,” to which she replied, “You don’t count.”
You do remember my big sister, June, don’t you? The one who knew everything and still does? She even knew George Washington’s head was preserved in a box in a building on Fourth Street in Tifton. She showed me the box behind a glass store front one time.
FEAST OR FAMINE: Wouldn’t you just know it? After weeks of stagnation, with no big news coming from the Augusta Commission, I’m on hospital duty and all hell breaks loose.
City Administrator Fred Russell goes off to interview for a county manager’s job in Sarasota, Fla., which he didn’t get; Commissioners Bill Lockett, Alvin Mason and J.R. Hatney storm out of last week’s meeting; Augusta Superior Court Judge David Roper rules in the Augusta Baptist Minister’s Conference, et al’s, lawsuit against the city and six of the 10 commissioners. So it’s no wonder I let Thanksgiving and the Turkey of the Year awards slip up on me.
NOT THE ANSWER TO A PRAYER: Tuesday’s commission was pretty hum-drum for the most part, with some controversy over the proposed Laney Walker neighborhood overlay zoning and other zoning matters.
I don’t know whether attorney Jimmy Findlay was trying to ingratiate himself with the black commissioners with a little speech about civil rights, former governors George Wallace and Carl Sanders and the rule of law, prefatory to getting on with the facts of his client’s zoning issue, but I don’t think it worked. Both Lockett and Mason made a point of saying they appreciated the history lesson, but….
Pastor Larry Fryer had gotten the meeting started with a three-minute prayer calling for unity and harmony, which seemed to have been answered until it came to approving the revised employee personnel manual. Commissioner Joe Jackson put the item on the regular meeting agenda without first letting it go through the administrative services committee, which Lockett chairs. So Lockett and Mason took exception. Lockett was particularly peeved because some of the changes discussed in a work session were not on the final draft.
Jackson and company – Commissioners Joe Bowles, Jerry Brigham, Grady Smith, Wayne Guilfoyle and Matt Aitken – say they’re sick of Lockett’s constant nit-picking and Mason’s insults (He said on TV he didn’t like them and thought what they were doing as far as the manual was unethical, if not illegal.) Jackson said he knew that after a year’s haggling over the manual, another week wouldn’t make any difference. So they approved it and the 2012 budget in the last three minutes.
NOW CAN WE STOP THE TEMPER TANTRUMS?: Two days later, Judge Roper ruled in favor of the city, the mayor and the six white commissioners and against the Baptist Ministers Conference of Augusta, Metro Courier Publisher Barbara Gordon, Mallory Millender and the Revs. K.B. Martin, James Williams and Melvin Ivey, finding that the commission did not overstep its bounds in delegating more power to the city administrator and changing several other provisions in the personnel manual.
Hopefully, that will be the end of an issue about which more deliberate lies have been told than anything I can remember in city government. By approving the personnel manual, commissioners were not trying to give the administrator the power to hire and fire department heads, only the power to recommend candidates to the commission who would have the final say. Some of the people who ran around telling folks it would give Russell hiring and firing power and change the structure of the government knew it wasn’t true but kept on saying it anyway. I guess they had their reasons.
TURKEY OF THE YEAR: Welcome to the Sixth Annual Turkey of the Year Awards.
The pickings were a little thin this year because there are no local elections this month, no forums or debates that always produce lots of bird-brained statements and big fat turkeys. But I scratched around and came up with a few worth honoring.
Russell gets the Defeated Turkey award because he strutted off to Sarasota to interview for another job and came back with his tail feathers dragging the ground.
Boy King Mayor Deke Copenhaver gets the Tough Turkey award because after months and months of Iron Man training, he’s all muscle and bone.
Commissioner Aitken gets dual awards this year. He gets the Trapped Turkey award for letting a TV reporter pin him down to admitting he’d voted for the 2012 city budget without knowing it included layoffs for 34 employees. And he gets the Cooked Goose award for not knowing what was in the budget before voting for it.
Augusta lawyer Chris Nicholson gets the Penned-up Turkey award because he got sassy with State Court Judge David Watkins, walked out on his client, ignored the judge’s order, was found in contempt, fined and sentenced to 20 days in jail, which ended up being one day. He reported to the jail to serve that stiff sentence Friday.
Former Augusta Utilities Department employee Shaheem Unique Monroe and his supervisor, Patrick Maurice Cooper, will likewise share the Brass Turkey award for being arrested for stealing 11 industrial brass water meters and a large spool of copper tubing from the city.
Commissioner Smith gets the Best Actor Turkey award for playing dumb every time commissioners discuss Forest Hills Golf Course’s $149-a-month water bill.
Lockett and Mason will share the Top Turkey award for publically insulting anybody and everybody in city government and questioning their honesty and integrity.