City Ink: Week wasn’t good one for ex-mayor Copenhaver

We hope the old saying bad news comes in threes won’t turn out to be true for former Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver, who suffered the loss of his brother and the abrupt cancellation of his talk show, There it Is, on WGAC radio last week.


Beasley Broadcasting had notified Copenhaver his contract wouldn’t be renewed for another year, which isn’t surprising. If it bleeds, it leads. That’s another old saying in the news business. It’s hard to sell good news, especially three hours of it, five days a week. Some of the guests were interesting and informative in promoting their institutions, agencies and causes, but were allowed to go on too long with what amounted to unpaid commercials.


The Grapes of Wrath: Copenhaver was particularly angry about not being allowed to go on the air Wednesday and finish out the week. And despite his assertions of always taking the high road during controversies, he’s been known to undergo a personality change worthy of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde when someone crosses him. He gets on the computer at night and lets his true feelings out in e-mails to various folks. His recent late-night outburst via e-mail to friends and colleagues prompted Beasley management to give him the early hook.

In 2010, the Boy King, as the mayor was then known, got into a night-time e-mail skirmish with WGAC talk show host Austin Rhodes, during which he challenged Rhodes to train for the Ironman contest.

“Brother, you can say whatever you want to about me on air, but you know it takes a real man to do this!” Copenhaver posted.

After that, he stopped posting on Facebook for the longest time.

Not all of Copenhaver’s after-hours ruminations are negative, however. On Thursday night, he posted this message on his Facebook page:

“Pretty amazing that my announcement of Beasley Broadcasting cancelling the show has hit more than 4,000 people (on) LinkedIn in less than a day, not to mention Twitter and Facebook. Wow. Just wow.”

As we said, we hope bad news coming in threes won’t prove true for Copenhaver, but if it were to, the worst thing I can think of that could happen would be for him to be re-elected mayor, and have to put up with commissioners and politics for another four years.


There’s No Such Thing as a Free Ambulance Ride: After taking Gold Cross EMS to court in an attempt to become Richmond County’s zone provider of ambulance service and having the case dismissed by the Georgia Court of Appeals in June, Augusta commissioners voted to renew the effort last week.

Commissioner Sean Frantom brought up the issue of Gold Cross’ increased rates during a closed-door legal meeting last week and commissioners voted unanimously to take Gold Cross on again.

Frantom said he’s received a dozen calls from folks who’ve been billed $400, even though their emergencies didn’t warrant being transported to the hospital, and the city has no say-so in the billing matter.

Other commissioners have complained about the calls, too. So if it bothers them that much, why don’t they just renegotiate the subsidy and stop the calls?

Commissioners cut Gold Cross’ $1.1 million annual subsidy to $380,000 last year, which company officials refused to accept. They are now operating without a subsidy for transporting Richmond County’s large population of indigent and nonpaying patients. It seems only right to me for the county to reimburse Gold Cross for its efforts. After all, nobody is going to run an ambulance service in Richmond County for free, are they?

Gold Cross CEO Vince Brogdon said city officials were told repeatedly last year the company would have to raise its rates.

Ever since Fire Chief Chris James became chief, the city and Gold Cross have disagreed about the company’s contract, fueling the rumor James wants to take over the ambulance service. But that’s just too bad because the county doesn’t have the ambulances to do it and it would cost a fortune to buy them.

Besides, the Region 6 EMS Council granted Gold Cross the exclusive right to answer all 911 calls in the county and unless it votes to reopen the zone to bids, that won’t change. Even then, the vote might be the same way it was last time.


The State of Affairs: City Administrator Janice Allen Jackson’s contract is up soon and commissioners will be reviewing some of her accomplishments, as will we:

Jackson presented a balanced 2017 budget and is expected to do the same with the 2018 budget this week.

She negotiated the subsidy with Gold Cross, but not singlehandedly. Commissioner Sammie Sias gets credit for that. So if you don’t like your $400 bill, call him.

She got the public defender’s office settled in at the old Richmond County library building.

She got the old AT&T building remodeled for the utilities and engineering departments.

She bought new furniture for her office.

She advertised for a new deputy administrator to replace Deputy Administrator Ted Rhinehart.

She learned the art of counting to two instead of six. All she has to do is keep commissioners Ben Hasan and Sias happy, and most everybody else goes along with them, except for Commissioner Marion Williams. He’s a contrarian. Or maybe just contrary.

Frantom and Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle speak up sometimes and express their opinions, which almost always seem to fall on deaf ears.

Mayor Pro Tem Mary Davis doesn’t say a thing and whatever Commissioner Grady Smith says, nobody can understand.

People in their districts should rebel over taxation without representation. As a matter of fact, we’ve heard the number of tea parties on the Hill has increased. And there’s talk of secession in west Augusta.


He’s Come Down With Political Fever Again: Speaking of west Augusta, resident Sonny Pittman wants to run for the District 7 seat on the Richmond County Board of Education vacated by the recent resignation of Frank Dolan, who’s moving out of the district.

Pittman ran for the District 7 Augusta Commission seat in a special election in 2015 after Donnie Smith resigned.

Pittman is a retired banker and retired Army officer with 40 years of military service.

A special election to fill Dolan’s seat will be held in March. Dolan’s term is up Dec. 31, 2018.


Condolences: Ernest “Ernie” Bowman, one of the few remaining old-time south Augusta political operatives, passed away last week.

Ernie was a member of the Richmond County Coliseum Authority in the 1990s, during some tumultuous times, during which he and fellow authority member Bonnie Ruben clashed.

Funeral services will be Tuesday at noon at Gilbert-Lambuth Memorial Chapel on the Paine College campus.



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