A pair of tickets to the local premiere of the James Brown biopic Get On Up caused a dust-up on the Augusta Commission after one official said he was denied the perk after refusing to support the mayor’s choice for a new administrator.
Commissioner Bill Fennoy said Mayor Deke Copenhaver offered him tickets to the film then withdrew the offer after he declined to support the hiring of Oscar Rodriguez.
Raising the issue at Tuesday’s commission meeting, Marion Williams asked what the city’s participation in the July 24 premiere had been, and Copenhaver and Interim City Administrator Tameka Allen said they were unaware of the city making any financial contribution to the event.
“I was in Carolina” and missed the premiere and after-party, Williams said, but “some people had tickets, and if some of us are going to be compensated, rewarded, encouraged, then everybody needs to be treated the same way.”
Commissioners Alvin Mason and Mary Davis said they each paid around $200 to attend both the film and after-party, while Copenhaver revealed he was an individual sponsor of the event.
“They were short on money, so I came on board as a sponsor, individually, not on behalf of the city,” Copenhaver said.
Fennoy said he was “promised” the two tickets by the mayor two days before the film debuted in Augusta, but that things changed quickly.
“On Tuesday, I was assured that I would have two tickets to the Get On Up premiere, and after we had the commission meeting Wednesday, a called meeting to vote on the administrator, evidently someone didn’t get the vote that they wanted and so they sent me a text saying that the tickets that had previously been promised to me were going to someone that’s interested in Augusta,” Fennoy said. “I have a copy of that text in case someone questions whether that’s true or not.”
Copenhaver expressed his dismay the night of July 23 in an e-mail sent to commissioners that he’d been lied to by at least two commissioners, Fennoy and Bill Lockett, about their willingness to support Rodriguez. Lockett said after the meeting he and Fennoy were willing to support a candidate for whom Copenhaver already had six votes, but wouldn’t join the five votes Rodriguez appeared to have behind closed doors and become the sixth.
Copenhaver said he apologized to Fennoy after sending the text and had his assistant, Al Dallas, tell Fennoy the tickets would be available for him.
“I publicly apologized to you, but those tickets, because I know you did speak out, those tickets were waiting for you at the theater and unfortunately, those two tickets went unused.”
Fennoy said it was too late.
“I received that text Wednesday that said those tickets would not be available,” he said. “The premier was Thursday.”