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Augusta Commission rejects new district map

Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011 9:20 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011 5:01 AM
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New district lines that seemed a compromise when they won unanimous approval by an ad-hoc committee last week were rejected Tuesday when five Augusta Commission members voted against them.

With Mayor Deke Copenhaver not present to break a tie, a motion in support of the plan approved on Nov. 29 by the committee failed Tuesday 5-5.

Commissioners Jerry Brigham and Grady Smith, both of whom served on the ad hoc committee, were opposed, as were Mayor Pro Tem Joe Bowles and commissioners Joe Jackson and Wayne Guilfoyle.

“After the fact, I believe that this (plan) does not continue the path where we are now with the governance of this county,” Brigham said before voting. “We either need to refer it back to the ad hoc committee or we need to disapprove this plan.”

The plan modifies existing commission and school board lines to account for population shifts. It creates six majority-black districts, one more than under the existing lines, based on 2010 census data showing a county now 55.84 percent black or mixed-race including black.

Guilfoyle referred to the mid-1990s, when authors of Augusta’s consolidation bill appeared to create a government run by five white and five black commissioners, despite a county that was then majority white.

The committee’s plan is “no longer equal and fair,” Guilfoyle said.

“The hypocrisy that goes on in this commission is extremely disappointing,” said Mason, who chaired the ad-hoc committee, which met six times and conducted four public hearings.

“We had more than enough opportunity to address the issues,” Mason said, declining to reconvene the committee.

The only white commissioner to vote for the plan, Commissioner Matt Aitken, said he voted for it not to intentionally create a tie but because the committee had approved it 12-0.

“The vote that was taken sent a strong message to the community,” Aitken said.

Commissioner Bill Lockett, who served on the committee and voted in favor of the plan Tuesday, said all sides had to compromise when drawing the maps.

“We were in a majority, 7-5,” Lockett said of the committee’s seven black members. “We decided that we were going to set an example.”

Earlier Tuesday, Jackson spoke out strongly against the plan despite being term-limited from running again from District 6, which shifts from 53 percent black to 60 percent black or mixed-race. Jackson said he’d rallied fellow commissioners to join him in support of rejecting it.

Jackson said neighborhoods such as Northview, Waverly and elsewhere across the city had been sliced up in the plan to serve “a hidden agenda.”

“What gets me is the legislators decided to get heavily involved,” Jackson said. “It should have been up to the school board and the commission.”

School board member Jimmy Atkins, who attended Tuesday’s meeting, said he attended some of the hearings and didn’t notice any public outcry about the preliminary drafts’ minority percentages. Atkins also questioned the delegation’s role. “I think they overstepped their bounds,” he said.

The third of five plans considered by the committee, Plan 3 was devised at the request of Sen. Hardie Davis, D-Gracewood, who sought majority-black districts that were between 60 percent and 65 percent, not in the 70 percent range, as four were in Plan 2. Plan 3R, approved by the committee Nov. 29, slightly decreased District 6’s black percentage.

Despite the setback, the commission’s vote isn’t binding on the legislative delegation, which is charged with authoring legislation in support of the plan. The redistricting plan needs approval from the General Assembly, the governor and the U.S. Department of Justice.

If a majority of the delegation supports the plan, it goes onto a consent agenda for certain approval. But a dissenting legislator can have the bill pulled from the consent agenda and require a vote by the entire House or Senate. Calls to delegation members Tuesday were not returned.

Copenhaver missed the meeting because he is on vacation, according to his executive assistant, Karyn Nixon.

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willie7
1047
Points
willie7 12/06/11 - 09:51 pm
0
0
What is wrong if you have 6
Unpublished

What is wrong if you have 6 Black Commissioners?---You now have 6 White Commissioners and the population of Augusta is majority Black.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 12/06/11 - 10:14 pm
0
0
Some things in Augusta will

Some things in Augusta will never change...

1. EVERYTHING is about race.

2. If there is the hint of controversy, our fearless leader Deke runs and hides.

Asitisinaug
4
Points
Asitisinaug 12/06/11 - 11:06 pm
0
0
Any commissioner that can't

Any commissioner that can't get past race should be removed from office.

The blacks, whites and browns that PAY TAXES to fund this community should be the ones the commissioners are listening to and they should act in their best interest regardless of race, sex, religion, etc.

Public Safety (For Everyone) is rarely even discussed and yet all of our agencies - Sheriff's Office, Fire Service and 9-1-1 need support and assistance. For a city of this size not to even have an EMA Director is absolutely pathetic and shows how little emphasis is placed on the safety and security of our citizens compared to the millions wasted each year within our community.

Iwannakno
1533
Points
Iwannakno 12/07/11 - 12:11 am
0
0
You can't make up this
Unpublished

You can't make up this dysfunctional stuff that happens in Augusta. It is so laughable it's sad.

BevBoudreaux
0
Points
BevBoudreaux 12/07/11 - 02:41 am
0
0
Let's call this what it

Let's call this what it really is... the last gasps of The Cabal trying to hold on to power despite the fact that the demographic shifts in the county are going against them. And exactly how can Joe "Bad Haircut" Jackson rationalize his vote yesterday? He was on the committee that voted for this plan (approve unanimously btw).. so why didn't commissioner Jackson vote against it then? Why the sudden change of heart? There is another solution and I am sure Jackson and the other protectorates of The Cabal will not like it.. its the DOJ coming in and redrawing the districts.. and that's looking more and more likely now.. so be careful what you ask for Augusta Cabal.

Brad Owens
4914
Points
Brad Owens 12/07/11 - 05:34 am
0
0
I think they have a good

I think they have a good point that when the voting % were majority white they set it up to be balanced, but they argued all the way.

I told the 'black' commissioners that they should go ahead and give the mayor a full vote (request it through the delgation) so that after the next round of elections they would have a six vote majority no matter what.

The CABAL loves it when the it is a race issue, because that divides the city and when we are divided they can exploit each weaker side.

If the working class folks in Augusta, both black and white, would stand together it would stop a lot of problems, but that is like saying I wish we had world peace.

Some of us are already working together, there is a movement that is growing that is uniting all sides for the better good.

Brad

blues550
380
Points
blues550 12/07/11 - 07:37 am
0
0
Used to laugh this crap off
Unpublished

Used to laugh this crap off and say I'm just glad I live in Columbia County. Oops!

Little Lamb
49247
Points
Little Lamb 12/07/11 - 07:47 am
0
0
Usually I cannot figure out

Usually I cannot figure out what point Bill Lockett is trying to make with his public statements:

Commissioner Bill Lockett, who served on the committee and voted in favor of the plan Tuesday, said all sides had to compromise when drawing the maps. “We were in a majority, 7-5,” Lockett said of the committee’s seven black members. “We decided that we were going to set an example.”

What kind of example did the committee set?

Riverman1
94246
Points
Riverman1 12/07/11 - 07:49 am
0
0
It's interesting how many of

It's interesting how many of us white conservatives get this. The majority of the conflicts in Richmond County are caused by a segment of white office holders seeking to maintain control of the money in predominantly black Richmond County. Until the King George led colonial Commission is defeated and homerule enacted, don't expect the people to be peaceful.

irishfarmer
24
Points
irishfarmer 12/07/11 - 08:58 am
0
0
BevBoudreaux first of all Joe

BevBoudreaux first of all Joe Jackson was not on the committee that was incharge of this the following commissioners were on it Jerry Brigham, Grady Smith, Bill Lockett, and Alvin Mason. Now that this is cleared up. How about we try some plain common sense for a change. Lets make all commission districts 50-50 white black or as close as we can. Instead of black people saying a white cant represent them and whites being scared of some black power movement. This would make sure that every commissioner would have to work for the entire district since in Georgia you need 50% plus 1 to win. Next make every commission seat be up for election instead of 5 at a time. This would allow some toxic members to be voted out and replaced with those who are doing a great job. Next State Senators and Reps need to mind their jobs at the stae level and let school board and commissioners do the job the public elected them to do and yes that is a jab at Sen. Hardie Davis. If Augusta wants to move forward this would be a excellent first step. Or we can be controlled like usual by race based politics forever. It is time for alot of growing up to be done in Augusta, Ga. period! Fair is always the best policy.

vbost
0
Points
vbost 12/07/11 - 09:16 am
0
0
Amazing that the Boy Prince

Amazing that the Boy Prince was on "vacation" with such an important issue to be considered. Too bad that he could not have been there to break the dead-lock, but that is good ole Deke for you. Maybe if a baseball stadium attached to the map, he'd have been there!!! But who are we kidding, even if he had been there, some one else would have "stooped" to the occasion and caused a deadlock. The whole process of our local government is wired to fail!

JRC2024
10529
Points
JRC2024 12/07/11 - 09:20 am
0
0
That plan would be too simple

That plan would be too simple Irish.

BevBoudreaux
0
Points
BevBoudreaux 12/07/11 - 10:24 am
0
0
OK Irish.. thanks for the

OK Irish.. thanks for the correction.. so Jerry Brigham and Grady Smith voted in favor of the map when it passed unanimously in committee (which they were on) yet proceeded to vote against it yesterday in the commission. Again.. why the change of heart? They were for it a week ago now they are against it. And let's be realistic people.. we have have to go through redistricting every 10 years.. that's why we have a census in the first place. The 14th amendment requires voting districts to be roughly of equal size to satisfy one man one vote requirements. If we didn't have redistricting you would have static districts where one could have double the population of another but have the same amount of representation.. is that fair? No, and it's also unconstitutional. Also you are never going to be able to draw all 50-50 black/ white districts in Augusta because the city is not 50-50 black/white.. it is now majority black and increasing in that direction.. so it only stands to reason that a majority of the commission districts will have majority black populations.. that still does not guarantee just because a district is majority black or white it will be represented by someone of that race. Look at Dist 1.. it is over 60% black, yet is represented by Matt Aitken.. who is white. But now its some of the white commissioners who want to gerrymander the districts so that they can maintain power.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 12/07/11 - 11:07 am
0
0
Just one question... How will

Just one question...

How will districts of any size, shape or demographic make us safer?

We've had a deputy killed, a deputy run over and a deputy shot out, and our commissioners are still fighting the civil war.

What will it take for our commissioners to work on real problems, rather than the problems they make up?

BevBoudreaux
0
Points
BevBoudreaux 12/07/11 - 11:26 am
0
0
Good question Insider... why

Good question Insider... why are 5 commissioners holding this up when this was a compromise redistricting map approved unanimously by committee.. and two commissioners that voted in favor of it in the committee turned around and voted against it yesterday. Like it or not, redistricting has to be done.. either it can be done locally by our own representatives.. or the Feds can step in and do it for us. Obviously no one is going to be 100% happy with any redistricting map.. but the one approved in committee was a fair compromise and it passed unanimously..so what exactly do they want to do now? Oh and btw Insider.. teh same commissioners holding up the redistricting map also voted for a budget that includes no money to hire more sheriff's deputies, yet it includes $100,000 for a PR person for Deke. What do you think about that?

BevBoudreaux
0
Points
BevBoudreaux 12/07/11 - 11:39 am
0
0
and if any of you think that

and if any of you think that it was just a coincidence that Deke was on vacation when this vote was taken, then I have a great deal for you on the 13th street bridge. This was all orchestrated before hand. We all know that it takes 6 votes to pass anything.. so a 5-5 split without the mayor breaking the tie means the motion does not pass. It also conveniently allowed Deke to ride the fence on yet another issue.. the measure fails without Deke having to take sides. It also allowed Matt Aitken to be the lone white commissioner to vote for the redistricting map.. it's all part of his re-election bid to say to the black community that he voted with them over redistricting and went against the other white commissioners.. but his vote was meaningless because the measure was not going to pass anyway.. especially without Deke to break a tie. I mean this was a pretty important vote yesterday.. KInd of odd that Deke decided to take that day off isn't it? Well not if they had this all planned out before hand.

Little Lamb
49247
Points
Little Lamb 12/07/11 - 11:50 am
0
0
I say let the Justice

I say let the Justice Department draw up the districts. That way no sitting commissioner will be responsible. Come to think of it, none of them has been responsible for a long time.

Little Lamb
49247
Points
Little Lamb 12/07/11 - 11:52 am
0
0
I'm glad to see that I am not

I'm glad to see that I am not alone in being unable to understand Bill Lockett. No one has been able to answer my question from my 7:47 post.

irishfarmer
24
Points
irishfarmer 12/07/11 - 12:11 pm
0
0
Little Lamb some of the best

Little Lamb some of the best questions asked about augusta politics never get a answer.

I say let the sec. of state for georgia and the Att. General for Georgia come together and draw the district lines. that will leave a state Senator and State Rep. with a agenda out of the process along with some commissioners who have a agenda as well. Let a neutral group do the drawing of the districts. The Att. General of the sate is held to uphold the laws of it and the Secr. of State is incharge of elections. Im sure though that many will not like this idea and thats ok because those folks never like anything that makes sense. Just look at some of the people they have elected to office or cast their own votes for. Get real our commission cant agree on anything and we have state seantors and reps with control issues that is the facts and until they are changed thru the election process they will continue. Congrats to a few you get what you vote for.

BevBoudreaux
0
Points
BevBoudreaux 12/07/11 - 12:23 pm
0
0
LL.. I agree and that is

LL.. I agree and that is likely what will happen.. the DOJ will just redraw the districts with no local input.. that will certainly backfire on the commissioners who voted against the compromise redistricting map yesterday.

sucram
0
Points
sucram 12/07/11 - 12:46 pm
0
0
Wayne Guilfoyle sounds like

Wayne Guilfoyle sounds like Marion Williams sounded when Matt Aiken was about to win the district one election 2 years ago by saying it was drafted to serve 5 blacks and 5 whites. In a 10 year period you would expect populations to shift. A lot of the people from East Augusta have moved to South Augusta and a lot of people from South Augusta have moved to West Augusta and Columbia County. And why did Brigham and Smith say anything when they were on the Ad-Hoc Committee, when they approved it unaniomously.

BevBoudreaux
0
Points
BevBoudreaux 12/07/11 - 01:12 pm
0
0
sucram.. I agree. based on

sucram.. I agree. based on guilfoyle's comments Aitken should resign his post to make way for a black candidate right? I mean have to maintain that 5-5 balance into perpetuity right?

Little Lamb
49247
Points
Little Lamb 12/07/11 - 01:22 pm
0
0
Except for willie7, there has

Except for willie7, there has been an uncommon amount of common sense in today's posts. Sadly, I have to inject a bit of lunacy here from the article above (at the end of the article):

Despite the setback, the commission’s vote isn’t binding on the legislative delegation, which is charged with authoring legislation in support of the plan. The redistricting plan needs approval from the General Assembly, the governor and the U.S. Department of Justice. If a majority of the delegation supports the plan, it goes onto a consent agenda for certain approval. But a dissenting legislator can have the bill pulled from the consent agenda and require a vote by the entire House or Senate.

Well, our commission did it again. They hired a consultant, to the tune of a hundred thousand dollars or so, to draft these district lines; then they rejected the map. All the while, it was never the commission's responsibility at all!

CorporalGripweed
0
Points
CorporalGripweed 12/07/11 - 01:59 pm
0
0
Agree with Bev about Deke.

Agree with Bev about Deke. His vacation was probably not a coincidence. And it allows him , yet again, to not have to make a decision. It's a shame that there is such a vaccuum of leadership in the mayor's office.

BevBoudreaux
0
Points
BevBoudreaux 12/07/11 - 02:34 pm
0
0
Keen eye LL.. that's the real

Keen eye LL.. that's the real outrage here

BevBoudreaux
0
Points
BevBoudreaux 12/07/11 - 02:37 pm
0
0
Good point Corp.. and ppl

Good point Corp.. and ppl always complain that the mayor doesn't have a vote.. BUT HE DOES.. he can vote to break ties.. here you had an important issue where the mayor's vote would have decided the outcome.. and Deke was M.I.A. yet again. How convenient for him.

CorporalGripweed
0
Points
CorporalGripweed 12/07/11 - 03:01 pm
0
0
I think his reticence to make

I think his reticence to make stands is contrived. He said after the last election he has no intention to run for public office again. I believe he has his eyes on higher office, Lt. Gov. or even Gov.
Hence the obvious aversion to anything even remotely controversial.
He's on about a dozen different boards and committees pertaining to statewide issues so he's been campaigning for years already. Time will tell but my gut tells me when his term ends it won't be the last we'll see of the "Boy King".

BevBoudreaux
0
Points
BevBoudreaux 12/07/11 - 05:57 pm
0
0
Well if we got Raw Deal.. I

Well if we got Raw Deal.. I would not be surprised if we ended up with Meek Deke

irishfarmer
24
Points
irishfarmer 12/08/11 - 09:21 am
0
0
BevBourdreaux: only because

BevBourdreaux: only because of liberal democrats and rhino's who elect people like our mayor. When Augustans wake up and finally realize this then you will see a change. hopefully this will happen very soon as in 2012 with the next set of elections.

HotDiva01
0
Points
HotDiva01 12/08/11 - 09:43 am
0
0
irishfarmer i agree with you

irishfarmer i agree with you 100%. By the way what is the status on the person (B.B. Langham) that you was discussing about on here last year. Is he still looking at running for office in our area?

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