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Commission vote on Augusta Municipal Golf Course stands

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Augusta Commission member Corey Johnson did not get the support he sought to undo his July 19 vote to lease Augusta Municipal Golf Course to a private firm.

Commissioner Corey Johnson wanted a new vote on leasing the Augusta Municipal Golf Course, saying he made a mistake last month and meant to endorse another proposal. The do-over motion failed, with only three supporting votes.   Corey Perrine/Staff
Corey Perrine/Staff
Commissioner Corey Johnson wanted a new vote on leasing the Augusta Municipal Golf Course, saying he made a mistake last month and meant to endorse another proposal. The do-over motion failed, with only three supporting votes.

Johnson said his previous vote, one of six in favor of leasing the course to The Patch in Augusta LLC, was an "error," and he made a motion during Tuesday's commission meeting to rescind the earlier action.

Only three commissioners -- Johnson, Grady Smith and Johnny Hatney -- voted yes, so the motion failed.

Now, city officials must work out details of a lease agreement with The Patch in Augusta, a firm composed of Scottish golf developer Brian Hendry and Savannah, Ga., developer Michael Kistler.

Working through an Augusta lawyer, the two men have proposed to rent the course from the city for $1,000 a month and make up any operating losses by marketing rounds to tourists during Masters Week.

The alternative, which Johnson said he intended to vote for July 19, was to pay Affiniti Golf Partners, an Alpharetta, Ga., firm that now manages Forest Hills Golf Course, $5,000 a month to manage Augusta Municipal Golf Course, nicknamed "The Patch."

Smith, who speculated he might not agree to Johnson's do-over request because Johnson had voted against his motion to reconsider another commission action, has long served on the board that the governs the University System of Georgia Board of Regents-owned Forest Hills and supported Affiniti based on the improvements he said the firm has made there.

The Affiniti proposal also included provisions to assist nearby First Tee of Augusta with maintenance and youth golf so the city could convey part of the First Tee real estate it owns to Augusta State University for the school's expansion plans.

Voting against Johnson's motion, Commissioner Alvin Mason said it was "unfortunate" that a commissioner had been unprepared.

"To do anything different would be hypocritical," despite the move's potential to disappoint Augusta State and some Patch players, Mason said.

Although the motion was read aloud before the July 19 vote, Johnson said afterward that he had intended to vote for the plan developed by James Kendrick. Kendrick, a First Tee board member, helped put together the deal with Affiniti.

The golf course has been operating at an annual loss of around $150,000 since 2003. Neither proposal guaranteed employment for the eight city workers who currently operate the course.

Voting with Commissioners Jerry Brigham, Joe Jackson, Mason and Wayne Guilfoyle and Mayor Pro Tem Joe Bowles against Johnson's motion, Commissioner Bill Lockett said the city would be setting itself up for litigation if commissioners were routinely allowed to change their votes.

"Certain principles I'm going to stand by," Lockett said.

Millage rate set

In other action, the commission voted 6-3, with Commissioners Alvin Mason, Joe Jackson and Wayne Guilfoyle opposed, to tentatively set the millage rate for general fund maintenance and operations at 8.075 mills. The 0.019-mill increase over 2010 will increase property tax bills on a $100,000 house by 88 cents in the suburbs and $1.33 in the city’s urban district and will generate approximately $150,000 in new revenue, City Administrator Fred Russell said.

Originally scheduled to address the commission but a no-show today was city employee Donald D’Antignac, who’d requested to speak about Russell and “agreements, contracts, laws state and federal, municipal laws, policies and procedures, civil rights violations, cover-ups, corruption and misappropriation of tax dollars,” according to his agenda request. D’Antignac was identified by The Augusta Chronicle as having served a prison sentence for murder prior his 1986 hire but is currently in a dispute with city officials over his failure to enroll in a city pension plan.

Comments (58) Add comment
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Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 08/02/11 - 06:30 pm
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Where was Bill Lockett?

Where was Bill Lockett?

Riverman1
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Riverman1 08/02/11 - 06:37 pm
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Told you D'Antignac wouldn't

Told you D'Antignac wouldn't say anything.

Emerydan
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Emerydan 08/02/11 - 06:50 pm
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I'm disappointed in Grady

I'm disappointed in Grady Smith. I know he favored the Affiniti deal from the beginning, but this really doesn't look good for him.

Asitisinaug
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Asitisinaug 08/02/11 - 06:59 pm
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I am glad it was not allowed.

I am glad it was not allowed. This will save the county over $150,000.00 in losses per year that we are currently incurring. This also allows us to make $12,000.00 per year vs. the Affiniti deal which would have cost us $60,000.00 plus to loss of the $12,000.00 for a difference of $72,000.00.

Grady has never mixed words that he believes the affiniti deal is best so it only makes since that he voted this way today. I disagree with his opinion but certainly understand him voting this way today as he has made his opinion on Affiniti very well known.

Emerydan
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Emerydan 08/02/11 - 07:15 pm
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well not really asitis,

well not really asitis, because this was about allowing a re-vote NOT on the deal with affiniti. Grady even mentioned that he was not allowed a do-over on a vote from a month or so ago, and was contemplating voting against allowing Corey Johnson a do-over out of principle to be consistent. If it has been standard practice not to allow do-overs then why bend the rules in this instance? Oh because allowing a do-over in this case might benefit you. It just doesn't look good.. not for Johnson or Smith. I think people will always believe that some shenanigans went on behind the scene to get Corey to switch his vote after the fact and with Grady voting to allow the do-over just reinforces that suspicion. It doesn't look Kosher.

Emerydan
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Emerydan 08/02/11 - 07:31 pm
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I'm liking Al Mason more and

I'm liking Al Mason more and more every day.

Emerydan
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Emerydan 08/02/11 - 07:38 pm
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what happened to Matt Aitken?

what happened to Matt Aitken?

404Law
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404Law 08/02/11 - 08:12 pm
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Little Lamb, The article

Little Lamb, The article reads: Voting with commissioners Jerry Brigham, Joe Jackson, Mason and Wayne Guilfoyle and Mayor Pro Tem Joe Bowles against Johnson's motion, Commissioner Bill Lockett said the city would be setting itself up for litigation if commissioners were routinely allowed to change their votes. "Certain principles I'm going to stand by," Lockett said.

So, as I predicted, principle won over blind loyalties.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 08/02/11 - 08:41 pm
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Thank you, 404. I asked my

Thank you, 404. I asked my question at 6:29 and the details were not there. I salute reporter Sandy McCord for covering the city beat. Sandy, you are the greatest.

And those of you who read my posts recognize that I have criticised Commissioner Bill Lockett's actions in the past. But here he demonstrates real statesmanship and principle. Commissioner Lockett, I salute you in your action and your reasoning today.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 08/02/11 - 08:52 pm
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Emerydan asked, “What

Emerydan asked, “What happened to Matt Aitken?”

He had a conflict and could not attend the meeting. It's understandable because they start the meetings when most workers are working.

Columbia County Commission holds their meetings at night when working people can attend and ask questions and see their commissioners in action. Richmond County Commission holds their meetings in the afternoons when working people cannot attend.

justthefacts
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justthefacts 08/02/11 - 08:53 pm
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Probably a moot point now,

Probably a moot point now, but I wonder why the reporter did not investigate the entire SOW and Ts&Cs of the two proposals. Two things were known. One pays $12K and the other get paided $60K. That's it.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 08/02/11 - 08:54 pm
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Emerydan wrote, “I'm liking

Emerydan wrote, “I'm liking Al Mason more and more every day.”

And I am, too, Dan. Here he demonstrates a principle, as did Commissioner Lockett.

Taylor B
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Taylor B 08/02/11 - 09:09 pm
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When I ran for senate, I sat

When I ran for senate, I sat down with my employer and asked if I could have 40 days off a year. He told me no. I ran for office, knowing if I won I would lose my job. Aitken should have done the same.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 08/02/11 - 09:26 pm
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I asked my boss if I could

I asked my boss if I could have time off if I ran for the County BOE and won. He laughed at me and said sure because he knew I'd never be elected. He had a good point there.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 08/02/11 - 09:55 pm
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Taylor B and Riverman have

Taylor B and Riverman have provided good insights to public service. Most of the commissioners in Columbia County have work responsibilities. Most of the commissioners in Richmond County do not! Here is a suggestion from Little Lamb — change the Richmond county meeting schedule to be one per month and to begin at 6:00 p.m.

Now, more important than commission meetings are committee meetings. I suggest that they change them to once per month and do them on Saturday mornings at 8:00 a.m., with coffee and fruit salad available to anyone who attends.

That would allow working people to be on the commission rather than retired hangers on and old fogey business owners who have time on their hands for mischief.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 08/02/11 - 10:00 pm
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Also, I would require that

Also, I would require that the Downtown Development Authority be restricted from speaking to the commission to no more than once per year.

Taylor B
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Taylor B 08/02/11 - 10:02 pm
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LL, I agree. Riverman, I have

LL, I agree. Riverman, I have a feeling that our bosses had the same idea... heh! A lowly auto tech as a senator, perish the thought!

Riverman1
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Riverman1 08/02/11 - 10:11 pm
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Taylor, you are not only an

Taylor, you are not only an auto tech, you are a Chronicle poster. You be somebody. I wish I were an auto tech sometimes. It's kind of like Joe Gibbs, the former Redskins coach, who retired from football and went into NASCAR as a team owner. There's something exciting about cars like getting drunk and shooting a gun at the moon. See why my boss knew I would never be elected? Heh.

Emerydan
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Emerydan 08/02/11 - 10:04 pm
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Little Lamb has it right!

Little Lamb has it right! Probably would save money too. Some one should suggest this at the next commission meeting.. That is if anyone can get off work to go down to attend.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 08/02/11 - 10:15 pm
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Didn't they have a big

Didn't they have a big discussion about changing the meeting times not long ago?

joebowles
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joebowles 08/02/11 - 10:25 pm
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The meeting was at 5:00 pm, I

The meeting was at 5:00 pm, I pushed for 6 but I couldn't get support, I guess some people couldn't make it to the early bird dinner........

Emerydan
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Emerydan 08/02/11 - 10:29 pm
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well river they actually

well river they actually changed it from 2pm to 5pm.. which is better, I suppose.. but I think little Lamb has it right.. start them at 7pm.. we are only talking about twice a month.. and do the committee meetings on a Saturday morning and have doughnuts and coffee provided (jerry would be there on the double!). If we want more people to serve then we have to make these meetings more convenient for working people.

Emerydan
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Emerydan 08/02/11 - 10:31 pm
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Hey Joe.. how about 7pm?..

Hey Joe.. how about 7pm?.. that way they can still make the early bird special and have a full stomach for the meeting (less grouchy)

Craig Spinks
817
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Craig Spinks 08/03/11 - 12:54 am
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No mulligans, huh?

No mulligans, huh?

owensjef2
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owensjef2 08/03/11 - 06:21 am
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I wish I could take my Gary

I wish I could take my Gary Hart for President vote back from 1984, but oh well I can't.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 08/03/11 - 06:35 am
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Ditto what EmeryDan said

Ditto what EmeryDan said about Alvin Mason emerging as a leader. One can only imagine how Commission meetings would be run with him as a strong mayor, ex-military and all, running things. Much different than with our current passive beach boy. Does anyone think Mason would have turned off his phone and ran to the beach for a week when the riots broke out? I don't.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 08/03/11 - 06:40 am
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Grady Smith has been one

Grady Smith has been one disappointment after another. First he voted to keep the stadium project moving, then he tried to say he didn't understand the vote which observers there said was unlikely. Then he tries to pad the pockets of his buddies at the golf course with 60 plus grand a year for doing nothing. Then he tries to have a revote on the issue when the precedent had already been set for no revotes because of him. When Calvin Lockett shows more sense on the matter than Smith it's time for the voters of South Augusta to think hard about the next election.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 08/03/11 - 06:42 am
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No mention in the article or

No mention in the article or comments here about D'Antignac deciding not to talk?

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 08/03/11 - 07:40 am
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Maybe D’Antignac was paid

Maybe D’Antignac was paid off.

Austin Rhodes
2852
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Austin Rhodes 08/03/11 - 07:42 am
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Not yet LL...but THAT is what

Not yet LL...but THAT is what he is aiming for. Got the word coming at 7:50.

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