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Politics not on menu at commission's night out

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There were no bones to pick at Augusta commissioners' second social dinner Friday night at T's Restaurant, as there were when they met at Villa Europa a few weeks ago without giving public notice or inviting all the board members. This time they did and avoided cooking their own goose by holding an illegal meeting.

Unfortunately, they had to put up with me because Commissioner Joe Jackson personally extended an invitation -- I'm sure never thinking I'd actually come. But there I was with Ernie in tow, so what could we do but have fun? And we did, with lots of hush puppy humor and deep-fried diplomacy.

As Commissioner Don Grantham said when I asked each of the seven commissioners there to sum up the evening: "There were a lot of laughs. You just didn't know what you were laughing at."

It started off kind of stiff, though, with Jackson and Commissioner Joe Bowles reportedly going to the bar so they could "talk in twos" there. And the first thing you know, a quorum of the commission's Engineering Services Committee had gathered around the salad bar in another room.

Everybody loosened up after a while and started teasing me about picking up the check. Commissioner Bill Lockett said he'd seen on the 5 o'clock news that I was paying for everything. I said I thought Mr. Jackson was paying since he's the one who invited us.

I was introducing Ernie to everybody until Bowles said, "We met Ernie the first time you retired."

"I'm still retired," I said. "Just not full time."

I used to teach boys like him. Smarty pants. But cute anyway.

SEEFOOD: Everybody ordered fried catfish, except for Bowles and Commissioner Matt Aitken , who ordered fried flounder, and Ernie and I, who ordered the seafood-for-two deal, which was really enough for three. The food was fabulous. The scallops were real scallops, not punched-out shark, and the shrimp were shrimply delicious.

Our waitress, Brenda Palmer , was a pro, attentive, efficient and unobtrusive. I know, some people said the term "waitress" is demeaning, but my mama was a waitress, and I only wish I could be half the woman she was. So to me "waitress" is a word of praise.

Owner Garrett Fulcher came by to thank us for coming. He said he was able to come out front more now that his daughters are in the kitchen. Don't you just love good, hardworking families like that? This country is filled with them, or used to be, and they're so overtaxed and underappreciated. My parents owned a restaurant in Tifton, Ga., and Ernie's parents owned one in Nashville, Tenn., so we know how hard the restaurant business is. That's why I'm going to tell you a story I told you a few years ago. When you get to be my age, you do that.

Anyway, Chronicle Local News Director James Folker grew up in Darien, Ga., and worked in Archie's Restaurant as a teenager, and he would tell me about how Archie would get word that the health inspectors were coming and James would have to put on rubber boots and slosh around in cold water, hosing everything down in back.

One time, when Ernie and I were going to the beach, James insisted we stop at Archie's Restaurant. We did, and Archie came over and sat down with us when we told him we knew James. We chit-chatted awhile about the restaurant business. Then after a while, Archie leaned back in his chair and said, "Yeah, the restaurant business is not as glamorous as you might think."

We laughed all the way to the beach, and ever since when we're sweating in the garden or hauling limbs, one or the other of us will say, "Yeah, this yard work is not as glamorous as you might think."

Retired Magistrate Judge John Baxter; his wife, Norma; daughter Beverly Kesel; and her husband, Leonard, also stopped by our table Friday. Beverly said the judge has been eating at T's for 56 years. Imagine that.

SUPPER BOWL: The commissioners decided to pick the total points that would be scored in "The Big Game."

Here's the breakdown:

Jerry Brigham: 7

Joe Bowles: 73

Don Grantham: 49

Joe Jackson: 64

Alvin Mason: 77

Sylvia: 63

I asked why we didn't do it the traditional way, give a score for each team, and Bowles said because somebody might get mad at them.

"This way, they won't know who we're for," he said. "We're trying to be politicians."

FINNY FELLOWSHIP: When we'd finished eating, everybody had a good laugh when Grantham said, "Jerry's bones look like Felix the Cat's. He could comb his hair with those."

I asked them what nickname they'd prefer this time since Schnitzel 7 wasn't appropriate anymore. Brigham said "The Bottom Feeders 7" since they ate catfish, which are bottom feeders. Aitken said, "Catfish Kids." And Grantham said, "Fish Hookers."

They were in the middle of voting on the name when Brigham said they couldn't take a vote because they didn't have a clerk to record it.

Someone asked where they were going to meet next month, and a discussion ensued about which commissioner had the most restaurants in his district. Mason said: "Jerry has everything. I have nothing."

Anyway, they decided on Rae's Coastal Café, and it will be family night.

"Bring your wife. Bring your girlfriend. Bring both," Grantham said.

"Ernie," I said. "Did you hear Don?"

Ernie said he couldn't hear everything down on the end where he was. When I told him, Ernie said, "That's a brave man."

Brigham summed up the evening by saying, "Best hush puppies in town. Good fried food and just eatin' it up."

"I'm, I'm, I'm going to ab-ab-ab-abstain," Mason said, laughing. "Something I haven't done before."

"I concur," Jackson said.

"I couldn't think of anything better than dinner with Sylvia Cooper on Friday night," Bowles said.

Do you think he meant it?

Aitken, likewise, said it was great having dinner with me. Lockett said, "It was real nice to break bread with my brother commissioners under the watchful eye of you know who."

"Nothing like waking up on Sunday morning, getting a Bloody Mary and reading Sylvia's column," Bowles said.

"Yes," Lockett added. "Before I became a commissioner, her article was the first thing I read on Sunday. Now it's the last."

THEY SAID HE SAID: Former Richmond State Court Solicitor Harold Jones says reports he wants the city attorney's job are false, and he doesn't know where they're coming from.

"I'm not interested in it at all," he said. "And I haven't mentioned that I did to anybody. Nor have I had anybody putting out feelers for me."

Jones, who lost his bid for the District 22 state Senate seat to Hardie Davis on Tuesday, said up until then he was planning to be in Atlanta.

"It's crazy, really," he said. "Not before the election or after the election, not one word to anybody. I don't know where it's coming from."

Before the election a TV reporter interviewing him said, "So whoever doesn't win is going to be county attorney?"

Jones said, "I didn't know Hardie was an attorney. Unless he's taken the bar, I don't think he can be county attorney.' "

When asked whether he would take the job if it was offered it to him on a silver platter, he said, "I doubt it very seriously."

OH, LORD, WON'T YOU BUY ME A MERCEDES-BENZ? An unidentified man left a phone message asking for an investigation into parking spaces at James Brown Arena being reserved for Mercedes-Benzes only.

He said he pays his taxes and supports the civic center and doesn't think it's right for people who drive the luxury cars to get such preferential treatment.

City Ink jumped right on it and called Kayla Ott, the director of marketing for the Augusta Entertainment Complex, who said Mercedes-Benz bought sponsorship and has the naming rights to the parking lot. Within that agreement, the company has a number of spots delegated to people who drive Mercedes-Benzes to the complex for ticketed events.

Comments (35) Add comment
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Little Lamb
49260
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Little Lamb 02/06/10 - 10:32 pm
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This is sad.

This is sad.

Nat the Cat
1
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Nat the Cat 02/06/10 - 10:39 pm
0
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I don't think Corey likes

I don't think Corey likes Hush Puppies, or maybe Corey and Al have broken up?

Nat the Cat
1
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Nat the Cat 02/06/10 - 10:41 pm
0
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They made the real old guys,

They made the real old guys, Jimmy and Hatney wash dishes.

Riverman1
94426
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Riverman1 02/06/10 - 10:51 pm
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Nat the Cat, probably so, but

Nat the Cat, probably so, but Don Grantham had a cut of the dishwashing soap purchase, I'll bet.

Nat the Cat
1
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Nat the Cat 02/06/10 - 11:03 pm
0
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Oldmanriver, you're kill'in

Oldmanriver, you're kill'in me....I'm still laughing!

AnotherPerspective
0
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AnotherPerspective 02/06/10 - 11:26 pm
0
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And where would the public

And where would the public sit if they wanted to observe this called meeting of the commission? I'm sure there's plenty of room in a restaurant for the non-paying public to see their commissioners in action.

Nat the Cat
1
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Nat the Cat 02/07/10 - 12:11 am
0
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Sylvia, please know that when

Sylvia, please know that when you find yourself writing about what Jerry Brigham's "fish-bones" look like after he has eaten, you have definitely run out of newsworthy things to write about, which leaves all the rest of us contemplating that retirement becomes you!

BuckeyeInGA
114
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BuckeyeInGA 02/07/10 - 12:57 am
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Are these events taxpayer

Are these events taxpayer funded?

Emerydan
10
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Emerydan 02/07/10 - 01:30 am
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Again.. can we just rename

Again.. can we just rename this Hazzard County? They might as well have met at The Boar's nest.

Brad Owens
4922
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Brad Owens 02/07/10 - 06:16 am
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Emerydan, funny stuff. Who

Emerydan, funny stuff. Who will play Sheriff Roscoe P. Coaltrain?

Jonas
0
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Jonas 02/07/10 - 07:03 am
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If I am not mistaken isn't

If I am not mistaken isn't T's owned by Charles Walker??

Emerydan you have the post of the year so far!!! LOL!!!

scott-hudson
10
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scott-hudson 02/07/10 - 07:23 am
0
0
No it wasn't taxpayer funded,

No it wasn't taxpayer funded, and T's is not owned by Charles Walker, and there is no conspiracy afoot. It is about time our commissioners hung out with one another and enjoyed each others company...I personally do not care what they talked about over dinner, Sylvia was there to make sure it was all above board...It is good to see them getting along as friends, meaning when they disagree as public officials, it will be civil and in the public interest as far as they are concerned...Thanks for going Sylvia, I had other plans but would have enjoyed being there...

thewiz0oz
9
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thewiz0oz 02/07/10 - 07:45 am
0
0
hummmmmmmm ---Sylvia, it

hummmmmmmm ---Sylvia, it seems the best way to a reporters good comments is through her stomach -- next time yell "fire" and see which of the Commissioners run over you trying to get out & which ones try to help you get out -- the true test of character & honsty.

justus4
113
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justus4 02/07/10 - 08:00 am
0
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Presenting this stuff as some
Unpublished

Presenting this stuff as some kinda "news event" is truely baffling and exposes the extent U know who will go to, to change the subject from ANYTHING meaningful. Poor attempts at humor and dishonesty appears to be the evening's theme, while serious matters are conducted in backrooms. Why not go there for answers?

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
11294
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ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 02/07/10 - 08:09 am
0
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Thank you justus, I've now

Thank you justus, I've now had my weekly fill of racism!

corgimom
38787
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corgimom 02/07/10 - 08:11 am
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Justus' avitar is a scene in

Justus' avitar is a scene in Paris. What a small world we live in- Champ Walker's daughter's name is Paris, and he named his clothing label- way back in the day- "Paris". Isn't that an amazing coincidence?

Only_The_Truth
0
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Only_The_Truth 02/07/10 - 08:26 am
0
0
Justus4, How was your dinner

Justus4, How was your dinner at Bonefish last night??

disssman
6
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disssman 02/07/10 - 08:55 am
0
0
Well a Mercedes parking lot

Well a Mercedes parking lot on city property, I wonder when the rest of the dealers in town will buy up the remaining spots? I don't recall seeing a posting in the paper that the city was taking bids for parking spaces. Of course that dosen't compare to the two for profit businesses in the not for profit muncipal building on Broad street. Wonder how they got to set up in a taxpayer funded building?

tstoney
0
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tstoney 02/07/10 - 09:05 am
0
0
Way to go Ms Sylvia. Keep'em

Way to go Ms Sylvia. Keep'em honest!!!

Riverman1
94426
Points
Riverman1 02/07/10 - 09:06 am
0
0
Actually, I don't believe the

Actually, I don't believe the law should apply to these type get-togethers. What's wrong with them socializing like that without the press being nosy? How can they get to know each other to the point where trust develops if they can't have time together out of Commission meetings? The Sunshine Law goes against common sense in this regard.

Nat the Cat
1
Points
Nat the Cat 02/07/10 - 09:11 am
0
0
Disssman-I heard Toyota

Disssman-I heard Toyota bought some spaces near the front door, but they kept having to pull them out of the arena!

corgimom
38787
Points
corgimom 02/07/10 - 09:29 am
0
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Riverman, there's a fine line

Riverman, there's a fine line between socializing and meetings. If they are "just socializing" then they wouldn't mind having someone like Sylvia sit in, right? Nat, you got the story wrong. Toyota bought some spaces, but the cars kept accelerating past the arena- they couldn't stop. :)

Riverman1
94426
Points
Riverman1 02/07/10 - 10:14 am
0
0
Corgimom, if they are just

Corgimom, if they are just socializing of course they would mind having the press there. Sylvia might even tell on Joe and Joe for hitting the bar if she were around. Really, folks, this is a silly, no common sense, unenforceable law. If you believe they can't communicate as a group without the public knowing, you've been sitting at the Tee's (dang, that reminds me of the TEE) bar too long and probably sitting on that stool with the slash in the upholstered seat that has been there forever.

thewiz0oz
9
Points
thewiz0oz 02/07/10 - 10:29 am
0
0
Riverman1 -- I expect you to

Riverman1 -- I expect you to buy me a drink -- Tea is OK -- when both the TEE Center & the Hyatt Hotel is completed -- that is if we can find a place to park downtown -- of course there is not a parking problem -- only the perception that a car has been occupying the space all day that you wanted for just 30 minutes.

corgimom
38787
Points
corgimom 02/07/10 - 10:32 am
0
0
Riverman, many years ago I

Riverman, many years ago I had very close contact with a couple of county commissioners. More "bidness" was conducted away from the Marble Palace than in it- which means the citizens, that have to pay for everything and are directly affected by the decisions, have no say in the matter- and don't even know what is happening. That's un-Constitutional and illegal, you know?

corgimom
38787
Points
corgimom 02/07/10 - 10:34 am
0
0
Oz, you can park in the

Oz, you can park in the multi-million dollar parking deck. Do you remember how so many of us said "there isn't enough parking space there, don't do this?"

deekster
24
Points
deekster 02/07/10 - 10:50 am
0
0
Anyone who believes that each

Anyone who believes that each member of AT pays over $6,000 annually for the privilege of working free" needs to be committed to MCG. They are the ones would believe that a politician will spend $250,000 to get a $12000 a year position. The politicians, developers and contractors are "in bed together" and it ain't a "holy marriage". It is a business venture for their mutual wealth. The politicians use tax money to by land, pay for any studies and infrastructure. Developers and contractors build buildings. And they all get rich. They don't steal all of the money, No, even the "mafia" settles for "point on the dollars". Just enough to "wet their beaks". Five percent or ten percent of "billions of dollars" of construction has made fortunes in Augusta. The "skyline may change" but the "heart of Augusta" will stay the same. Progress could be great, but this is more of the same. If these, "heart of gold" individuals sincerely cared about Augusta's future they would have removed the railroad "switch yards" from the middle of town. You can't get into or out of town without a RR crossing. What if Augusta had a "Graniteville Disaster"? Not to mention that the 13th Street Bridge is the only access to downtown without a visit to a ghetto.

Riverman1
94426
Points
Riverman1 02/07/10 - 10:52 am
0
0
Corigmom, there is nothing

Corigmom, there is nothing unconstitutional about having County Commission meetings without the press. The Sunshine law is a state law. Think of the Democrats holding private meetings on the health care plan and not even letting Republican lawmakers in. Again, the Georgia Sunshine Law is so silly it has us reading about fried catfish gatherings at T's. There are too many ways to circumvent the spirit of the law and it's done in every county in Georgia. Oz, let's wait to see how the first year bookings at the TEE go before we decide who buys who a drink. That should be a great bet for you since you believe $10 million in business is already lined up :)

corgimom
38787
Points
corgimom 02/07/10 - 11:01 am
0
0
The County Commission is not

The County Commission is not structured like the House and the Senate, so that's not a fair comparison- you're comparing apples to tomatoes. The Democrats are meeting like they are to pay back the Republicans- who did the exact same thing years ago, and the Republicans thought that was a great idea at the time. You can't have a quorum of the Commissioners without notification- and that's a good thing. Nobody is having secret meetings of the entire Senate, and that's what the Sunshine Law is about.

WW1949
19
Points
WW1949 02/07/10 - 11:22 am
0
0
Someone tell me how you get a

Someone tell me how you get a picture by your name.

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