When the history of Augusta politics is written, one chapter will be about mayoral candidate Helen Blocker-Adams. And the title will be, “She Had One Foot in the Mayor’s Office and the Other on a Banana Peel, Then Somebody Liened On Her, and She Slipped Away.”
Who in the world – except for the people she stiffed on loans and leases - would have ever thought she was such an imposter? Billing herself as an entrepreneur and successful businesswoman, she had a lot of folks fooled until somebody dropped a packet of Aiken County court records on media doorsteps.
And that was just the beginning. Unable to talk her way out of the growing evidence of unpaid bills and a lapsed 501(c)3 license, she suspended her campaign. She has not, however, officially withdrawn from the race, which means the chapter about her in the political history of Augusta could be titled, “Her Political Boat Was Sinking in a Sea of Debt Until Voters Bailed Her Out.”
NOT YOUR USUAL BAG LADY: Yes, she had a lot of people fooled, but not everybody, especially those who wrote checks after she endorsed Deke Copenhaver over interim Mayor Willie Mays in 2005, according to an Augusta commissioner who was there.
After the endorsement, a group of “concerned” Augustans held a cocktail party and collected thousands of dollars and gave it to Blocker-Adams in a bag so she could pay off her campaign debt.
I asked the commissioner how he knew that, and he said, “I was there. I wrote a check. I’ve got the canceled check.”
THE HILLBILLY WHO WOULD BE BARON: This latest turn of events with Blocker-Adams brought to mind something that happened when I was in high school.
A man who purported to be a defector from the Hitler regime came to Tifton and made the civic club rounds speaking of his daring escape from Germany during the war and his adventures before coming to the United States.
He called himself something like Baron Von Furstenburg and spoke with a thick German accent. I think he even spoke to us during a Tifton High assembly. He got engaged to English teacher Miss Greene, who roomed with math teacher Miss Hayes. He gave Miss Greene a diamond engagement ring. You could tell she was so proud of it.
Apparently Miss Hayes had had her eye on the baron, too, and after he gave Miss Greene the ring, the two teachers became enemies. They’d been living in the same apartment, but they got into a big fight and separated over the baron. We were giddy with gossip about it.
After all this celebrity and attention, The Tifton Gazette ran a front-page story that Von Furstenburg was an imposter. Not only was he not an escapee from Hitler’s regime, but he wasn’t even German. He was married with three or four children who were in North Carolina, and his accent came from an injury he’d received in a car accident.
I don’t know how he got exposed, but it might be that his wife was after him for child support or something.
Needless to say, it was a big shock to everybody, especially Miss Greene.
SOMETIMES IT SEEMS THERE COULD BE NO MORE SURPRISES. AND THEN …: After all the sturm and drang over getting the Urban Redevelopment Agency board to approve issuing $28.5 million in revenue bonds to finance Marble Palace renovations by May 20 or face having the project shut down, it turns out three of the five members are ineligible to serve on the board, so the board’s action is null and void and there will have to be a do-over with three new members.
Board Chairman Henry Ingram, Universal Plumbing owner Larry Jones and Augusta Technical College President Terry Elam must be replaced because they serve on other boards. City code states that a person can sit on only one board or authority at a time, a rule that escaped almost everybody’s attention.
During several meetings and long discussions among special city counsel Jim Plunkett, city finance officials and the board, they were warned that time was of the essence because they were “dangerously close” to running out of money.
But the board didn’t want to issue the bonds until they were assured that Augusta commissioners were aware that if SPLOST 7 didn’t pass, the $2.9 million annual bond debt would be paid with property taxes. So it took another painfully long meeting for the board to be assured that the commission knew what it was doing, which is never a sure bet.
Plunkett said officials were proceeding to issue the bonds when City Clerk Lena Bonner alerted them about the ineligible board members.
“I’m glad Lena raised the issue before we issued the bonds,” he said. “We’ve just postponed everything.”
The mayor will nominate three new members next week for commission approval.
EIGHT IS ENOUGH: There were two things I wanted to tell you about last week but didn’t have space. Now I can’t remember but one of them.
It was about something that happened at the AMBUCS mayoral forum luncheon. They served thick slices of pork loin, which I noticed most folks at our table didn’t eat. I thought it was a shame to throw it away when there were so many starving dogs in the world, so I asked the folks nearest me whether they minded if I wrapped their leftover meat in a napkin and took it home to my dogs (even though they are far from being starving).
We were rounding up the meat when club president Janice Dixon began making final remarks. I was so preoccupied with the pork that I wasn’t listening until I heard her say my name, so I apologized and confessed that I was taking the meat. Everybody laughed and began donating their pork; then somebody asked how many dogs I had, and I said, eight. “We did have nine, but we lost Little Lucky in March.”
He was 14 and crippled. Some cretin had dropped him by the road during a rainstorm, and I found him crying and muddy under the bushes by the back door. He was so little I bathed him in the bathroom sink. Sometimes I called him Little Moses. So that’s an example of why we have so many dogs.
When I’m in the pet store, and the clerk asks what kind of dog I have, I say, “Every kind there is.”
OUT ON A LIMB, PART 2: Last April, I told you about how I tried to get a snake out of a cedar tree and save a bird’s nest but failed because the only way I could reach him with a long pole was to stand directly underneath the branch, in which case he might fall on my head, and I would immediately have a stroke and die on the spot. So it came down to me or the bird’s nest. And after mulling it over a few seconds, I made the obvious choice and went into the house and had a drink.
Well, guess what? He was back Friday. Same tree. Same snake. The only difference is that this time Ernie was at home. So I started screaming, and he came running and got a shotgun and shot the snake’s head off while I watched. Then, something fell on my head, and I got hysterical until I saw it was a piece of pine straw and not a snake. Still, my nerves were shot. So I went into the house and had a drink.