Sylvia Cooper

City Ink columnist and correspondent for The Augusta Chronicle.

Good Government panel high on incumbents

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The winners were laughing and telling jokes, and the losers were saying, "Deal the cards."

But at least for now, there was no loser in the race for mayor as the votes were tallied for the Richmond County Committee for Good Government's endorsements at the Julian Smith barbecue pit. Mayoral candidate Lori Davis said she was happy to receive only four fewer votes than incumbent Mayor Deke Copenhaver.

The mayor said he was happy to receive the endorsement. No mention that many of the members are current or former Harrisburg residents and that Harrisburg is Davis' stronghold. I guess he learned his lesson after he pooh-pooed the results of the local Democratic Party's straw poll questions in the July primary about whether they thought public money should be used to build a baseball stadium downtown. More than 77 percent voted no, and he said the vote was not representative of Augusta's registered voters, which is probably true, but it rubbed some folks the wrong way.

Every incumbent on the ballot received the Good Government committee's endorsement. Most of the candidates who didn't get endorsements said that the members weren't from their districts anyway and that they always favor the establishment candidates.

Former Mayor Bob Young said the losers shouldn't feel bad because the committee didn't endorse him either time he ran for mayor.

TAYLOR WHO? During a phone conversation with District 6 school board candidate Taylor Bryant, who did not get the good government committee's endorsement, Bryant mentioned that state Agriculture Commissioner candidate J.B. Powell and Jimmy Smith's son, Darren Smith, had asked him to drop out of the school board race and run against District 6 incumbent Commissioner Joe Jackson before qualifying closed.

"It became apparent Smith and Powell had a problem with Joe," Bryant said.

Bryant said he didn't know Darren Smith was Jimmy Smith's son until then but that he had talked to Powell "several times."

"I don't play that game," he said, adding he didn't trust them as far as he could throw them. "Honestly, I think Joe is doing the best he can. I don't think Joe is beatable this year anyway."

Asked whether he had asked Bryant to run against Jackson, Powell said: "Who is Taylor Bryant? No, I don't know him. I don't remember him. I've heard the name. You're telling me something I don't know."

Powell said if he'd done half the things he's been accused of, he'd be "a rascal."

Darren Smith said he did not ask Bryant to drop out of the school board race and run against Jackson.

"My question to him was, 'Why would you run against Jack Padgett?'" Smith said. "I just thought it was a bad move to run against Jack Padgett, who has been there so many years and has done such a good job."

Jimmy Smith just laughed when he was called and said: "I don't want to get involved."

As for Jackson, he said he thinks "amnesia is setting in" with Powell and Smith, and he doesn't know what he's done that's made "the Old Guard" mad at him.

"I'm assuming it has to do with Don (Grantham) and Jimmy (Smith) not being on the engineering services committee.

"I don't think I've done anything wrong," he said. "I've done the best I could. I can put my head on the pillow at night and sleep."

Jackson said Bryant's phone records could show whether he's telling the truth.

The south Augusta pols think that they helped get Jackson elected and that he turned against them on several issues, such as a downtown baseball stadium.

IT'S GOOD FOR THE GREENS: At last week's Augusta Commission meeting, Commissioner Bill Lockett made a motion to postpone action on the Municipal Golf Course, better known as the Patch, for 60 days to allow Augusta State University, Paine College, Patch Loyalists, First Tee and the Richmond County Board of Education to meet and come up with a way to keep the course operating "at no cost to this government."

"B.S.," said a commissioner under his breath. (Actually, it was the word itself, not the abbreviation).

The three suspects were Commissioners Jerry Brigham, Joe Bowles and Jackson at the far left end of the dais. They want to privatize the course and don't want to delay putting out requests for qualifications from firms interested in managing it.

Questioned afterward, Brigham said he didn't think he said it.

Bowles said he didn't say it.

"I'm not going to say who said it," Bowles said. "That's not my place. But I guarantee you I thought it. The whole notion they're going to bring a proposal back that's not going to cost taxpayers anything is bull."

Jackson said: "I can neither confirm nor deny, but we were all thinking it."

Bowles said the city had already given ASU valuable property on Damascus Road.

I WAS FOR BEFORE I WAS AGAINST IT: Commissioner Jimmy Smith made a motion to deny a request for a special exception to operate a personal care home on Fairwood Drive. The vote was 5-5 to deny, and the mayor broke the tie by voting to deny. The clerk read the votes aloud and said Smith had voted no.

"Mr. Smith voted no on his own motion?" the mayor said, laughing.

Mayor Pro Tem Alvin Mason said Smith's conscience got him and caused him to change his mind and vote no.

"My conscience ain't got me," Smith said.

"He wants to change his vote," said Commissioner Don Grantham.

"Ya'll didn't let me change my vote," Commissioner Johnny Hatney reminded them.

At a June meeting on the golf course, Hatney voted for a motion he later said he hadn't understood. He railed on for five minutes, repeating over and over, "I want to change my vote" before giving up and saying he guessed he'd "acted crazy long enough."

Smith wasn't allowed to change his, either.

HOW NOT TO WIN VOTES AND INFLUENCE COMMISSIONERS: Sanford Loyd , the chairman of the Downtown Development Authority's parking committee, got a little testy when commissioners started talking about postponing action on the authority's proposal to become the city's parking police last week. Commissioners said they want answers about costs and revenues from the DDA before approving the proposal.

Loyd said he didn't see why they wanted to delay things because the proposal had been before commissioners four times and nothing in it had changed. He said he didn't know what questions they wanted answered because they'd been talking about it for some time.

When City Administrator Fred Russell encouraged Loyd to consider his recommendation to meet with commissioners to go over the verbiage, Loyd said, "I don't have any choice."

Lockett said part of the reason the commission couldn't come to an agreement was that everything keeps changing. Commissioners were told it would cost about $145,000 to operate the program the first year with a $44,000 profit, but at the last meeting they were told it would cost more than $300,000. He said if DDA members were using their own money, they wouldn't do it.

Mason said the ordinance stated that any profits from the parking operation would go to "Augusta," but when he'd questioned whether that meant all of Augusta or just downtown, they said it was just downtown. He said if he came downtown and got a parking ticket he thought some of the revenue should go to his district.

Finally, Mason said commissioners could do one of two things -- vote on the motion to refer the matter back to the DDA for 30 days for them to prepare a pro forma and meet with commissioners, or he could make a substitute motion to deny the plan.

"That's your choice, commissioner. That's your choice," Loyd said.

"Mr. Chairman, I'd like to make a substitute motion," Lockett said, but the mayor cut him off, saying the question had already been called for.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Felicity Abbigale Roberts-Dixon , who is 10 years old today.

Comments (36) Add comment
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Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 10/09/10 - 11:44 pm
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0
I'd like to first say that

I'd like to first say that the info that Sylvia found was not from the Bryant Campaign. While awed at the blatant "push" of Mr. Powell and Mr. Darren Smith, we shrugged it off. Other than a phone record I have no proof of the conversation. To me, it's just consequences of doing battle with the powers that be. I was not going to make this an issue... I'd rather make an issue of how the BOE has been run than why a State Senator feels the need to push around a local candidate for School Board.

I will not back down from this, though. The fact that Mr. Powell has tried to marginalize us shows how weak the grip of his machine has become. The fact that you tried to not "remember" who I am is convenient. I never gave you my cell number in the times we have talked before. I have the phone bill, sir, and will make it public if you would like. I have no reason to drag you into this. Why you were involved is still a mystery to me. I will, however, not be called a liar.

Meanwhile, I will still be knocking doors, putting up signs, and doing my best to serve the students, parents, and employees of Richmond County. I will be at every forum, and I openly challenge my opponent to a debate on the issues that face our schools. I owe no one anything. Can you say the same? Let's keep this race about the issues, because I'm a servant, not a politician. I put kids over politics, and urge your side to do the same.

Taylor Bryant

pointstoponder
461
Points
pointstoponder 10/09/10 - 11:58 pm
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J B Powell IS a rascal and it

J B Powell IS a rascal and it pleases me to no end to have an opportunity to vote against him.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 10/10/10 - 12:30 am
0
0
That's a good question. Why

That's a good question.
Why doesn't the DDA want to use its own money to fund its efforts to chase away downtown visitors?
While we're asking questions, how much money has the DDA spent on "studies" in the past few years?
How about a trolley? Now, that was a great waste of our money. How about a high-speed rail? Maybe a space shuttle? We need more money for more studies.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 10/10/10 - 12:37 am
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0
Sylvia also forgot to mention

Sylvia also forgot to mention that Team Deke brought in a slate of new "voting" members just a month BEFORE the CGG BBQ.. everyone knows that this has been a ploy by political candidates for years to essentially buy the endorsement. Team Lori will not play those games. And despite Deke's efforts to pack the vote.. he barely eeked out the endorsement. In any case this is a victory for Lori Davis. The CGG basically backs the establishment candidates... the good-ole boys..I mean look at the endorsements.. nearly ALL incumbents.. but for MAYOR it was almost a draw. I think it shows that support for Deke has weakened. He is vulnerable. I think ultimately South Augusta will decide this election.

paulbaughman28
215
Points
paulbaughman28 10/10/10 - 03:31 am
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I wish I could vote.....

I wish I could vote.....

Brad Owens
4859
Points
Brad Owens 10/10/10 - 04:00 am
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Sanford Loyd showed the

Sanford Loyd showed the commission what I always talk about but people hardly ever get to see, ARROGANCE.

THEY know better than anyone what we need and YOU just 'don't get it' if you don't bow to their wishes.

By the way, when Sanford was on the DDA years ago, he was the one that asked, and received $60,000.00 for the original parking study they base all this garbage off of. He said, and I quote (cause I was there) "This study will not be done and just sit on a shelf."

That was about six or seven years ago.

It is funny how much these "self-funding" ideas that the DDA comes up with ends up costing the tax payer when all is said and done.

Defund the Dirty Deals Authority,

Brad Owens

P.S. This parking plan is a bad idea and it should be stopped.

BO

Brad Owens
4859
Points
Brad Owens 10/10/10 - 04:16 am
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P.P.S. When I was on the DDA

P.P.S. When I was on the DDA I proposed sereral bigger projects that were not even considered.

I wanted to build one large parking deck between Reynolds and Broad and use our SPLOST monies to buy up a set of properties down beside and behid the museum. There is a rail spur that runs behinf the Disco Tech all the way down towards 5th Street. My idea was to buy up the buildings and build a pedestrian only area and have two sets of shops facing out with walk through areas. Like has been done in Savannah.

Anyway.

There HAVE been REAL development ideas put forward, but the DDA id full of petty self servers and since my ideas would only HELP a majority without making a few of them any money, they were shot dow.

Well that and I am a jerk.

Brad

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 10/10/10 - 04:23 am
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DDA.. Dirty Deals.. but NOT

DDA.. Dirty Deals.. but NOT done cheap... Dirty Deals but they're NOT done Cheap.. some props to AC/DC please

paulbaughman28
215
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paulbaughman28 10/10/10 - 04:32 am
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@emerydan......no

@emerydan......no

C. Hannah
0
Points
C. Hannah 10/10/10 - 06:45 am
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Well said Taylor; well

Well said Taylor; well said.

Charlie Hannah

corgimom
36770
Points
corgimom 10/10/10 - 07:06 am
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0
What would happen if- People

What would happen if-

People finally FACED FACTS that the population center of Augusta has shifted west, Downtown Augusta no longer serves the purpose that it did in the past, and to quit pouring millions upon millions upon millions to "redevelop" and put more shops in,that nobody wants to go to?

If you have empty retail space downtown, DON"T BUILD MORE. There is already a surplus.

When does it end?

LuvAugusta
0
Points
LuvAugusta 10/10/10 - 08:23 am
0
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Sanford Loyd works and

Sanford Loyd works and invests in downtown Augusta. He lives in Augusta too, not another continent! Unlike most of the posters and posers on this comment page he is trying to bring new business to downtown. Thank you Sanford!

Taylor B
5
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Taylor B 10/10/10 - 08:53 am
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Thank you, Mr. Hannah.

Thank you, Mr. Hannah.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 10/10/10 - 09:18 am
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As I said before.... Downtown

As I said before....
Downtown Augusta: If you ticket, they will come.

Brad Owens
4859
Points
Brad Owens 10/10/10 - 09:24 am
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corgimom, There is a huge

corgimom,

There is a huge shortage of SMALL business space downtown. Small spaces with reasonable rent would bring lots of new niche business that will attract certain groups to shop no matter the drive.

The problem is that EVERYONE thinks we need a Banana Republic or GAP before we are growing again. That is just the wrong way to think. My plan would have created about twenty 1000 to 2000 sq ft spaces that would be owned by the DDA and rented at reduced rates to help small bussiness folks get started.

The rent was to be based on the money we needed to service the debt on the purchase and construction costs/bonds.

There are lots of things that the DDA could be doing to help people but they don't.

Brad

Brad Owens
4859
Points
Brad Owens 10/10/10 - 09:40 am
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LuvAugusta, Even from West

LuvAugusta,

Even from West Africa I can see through this farce. This is NOT about helping downtown, it is about helping the DDA find another revenue source.

This is NOT about parking, this is about revenues for the DDA.

Also, I own property in Richmond County, my family owns properties in Richmond County, we pay taxes, and I have lots of freinds who own businesses in downtown who will be affected in a negative way by bad ideas like this parking ticket issue. So, I have just as much a right to comment and I have insight due to my service downtown that most new comers don't have.

Maybe you should look beyond Loyd's arrogant attitude and see that no matter what he says, he is flogging a rotten bill of goods for the small business owners and citizens.

Parking is a non-issue,

Brad

jb1234
0
Points
jb1234 10/10/10 - 10:11 am
0
0
Brad, that idea you mentioned

Brad, that idea you mentioned in your 5:16 post is really good! I remember stumbling on an article about something similar from an old issue of the Metro Spirit ( http://www.metrospirit.com/index.php?cat=121304064644348&z_Issue_ID=1100... ), did you write it?

Lori Davis
968
Points
Lori Davis 10/10/10 - 10:24 am
0
0
Great job, Taylor. Augusta

Great job, Taylor. Augusta needs more people like you to take a stand for what is right. There are people in this town that fear people like you and me because we are not bought and paid for, and we have nothing for them to dig up. They can't call in favors. Maybe after Nov. 2, we will see a new day emerging in this city. It's time! I believe that the people are ready for this.

countyman
21299
Points
countyman 10/10/10 - 10:59 am
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0
This is not a good sign for

This is not a good sign for Lori Davis. The Committee for Good Government is basically a Harrisburg group.. I thought Lori would atleast beat Deke by 8%-10%. You can pretty much mark down the Central Business District, Forest Hills, Summerville/Hill/Midtown, West Augusta, and the parts of 30907 in West Augusta who have a Martinez address for Deke. That leaves South Augusta, Southwest Augusta, East Augusta, Olde Town, and Laney Walker...

CorporalGripweed
0
Points
CorporalGripweed 10/10/10 - 11:34 am
0
0
Au Contraire' County, it is

Au Contraire' County, it is indeed a victory for Lori. First I disagree that it is a Harrisburg group. Some of the members are definitely former Harrisburg residents but the overriding majority are not.Secondly, losing by 4 votes without bringing in a "slate" of paid for supporters is actually better than winning the endorsement, because everyone connected with politics in this town knows how the CGG allows "members" to be registered the month before. Basically buying the endorsement. Lori refused to do this and STILL almost won. So no amount of "spin" by the Dekesters can nullify this fact. Bottom line, Lori came within 4 votes of beating the machine and she didn't have to pay for it.
IMO this proves Mr.Mayor is not as popular as everyone seems to think and he is vulnerable.

countyman
21299
Points
countyman 10/10/10 - 11:51 am
0
0
Lori Davis isn't very popular

Lori Davis isn't very popular outside of Harrisburg as some of her supporters tend to think. The supporters are falling for the articles in the chronicle. Her main campaign issue is the CNPO. The CNPO isn't the main focus of people living in low crime neighborhoods or areas in Augusta.

countyman
21299
Points
countyman 10/10/10 - 12:02 pm
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For example, what is the CNPO

For example, what is the CNPO going to do for Southwest Augusta? The area of 30909 who lives closer to Glenn Hills but their kids go to ARC...

Both Jimmie Dyess pkwy and Gordon Hwy between Jimmie Dyess and Harlem are VERY low crime areas.

Even Olde Town which is located in the inner city outside of downtown... There isn't much crime besides car break-ins or burglaries. They don't have the shootings like the raggedy side of Harrisburg, Eastbound, Southside(Dogwood Terrace), or Sunset(Cherry Tree Crossing).

CorporalGripweed
0
Points
CorporalGripweed 10/10/10 - 12:10 pm
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0
Again I would beg to differ

Again I would beg to differ about her poularity outside Harrisburg.Reports are that when she has been in various neighborhoods all over Augusta ,(particularly S. Augusta)she is universally recognized and commended on her efforts to clean up ALL of Richmond Co. with her CNPO efforts. As for West Augusta, granted she will probably not do very well in those areas. I feel it is because most of those voters do not share her sense of urgency in solving the crime and blight issues as they are not directly affected by it.
Having said that her supporters (and even a few of her detractors) say that she is an energizing force who should not be taken lightly.

CorporalGripweed
0
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CorporalGripweed 10/10/10 - 12:15 pm
0
0
I heard she has also

I heard she has also challenged Deke and Mr Gilyard to a debate in an opem forum . I believe Mr Gilyard has accepted. Mr Deke has not. Politically he doesn't have to but it would be better to hear the candidates speak for themselves instaed of all the chatter in these forums. Sadly, I know he will never accept.

countyman
21299
Points
countyman 10/10/10 - 12:36 pm
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0
Well considering the numerous

Well considering the numerous number of times Lori Davis has been on the news. It's not shocking people in Augusta know who she is...

I betting that's propably inner South Augusta. Regency mall area, meadowbrook, bungalow road, glenn hills circle, barton village, wheeless rd, etc.

Outer South Augusta is much diffrent than the old urbanized part. The parts of Old Waynesboro and Brown roads not in the city limits of Hephzibah, Goshen, Lakes at Spirit Creek, Willis Foreman rd, Southlake Estates, Hwy 56 after you cross Tobbaco rd, etc.

I happen to like Lori Davis but I feel Deke is a better candidate. I hope the mayor will debate both Lori and Gil on the issues facing Augusta.

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 10/10/10 - 12:33 pm
0
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Its nearly impossible to get

Its nearly impossible to get a debate in this town.

corgimom
36770
Points
corgimom 10/10/10 - 12:44 pm
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Brad Owens-"Small spaces with

Brad Owens-"Small spaces with reasonable rent would bring lots of new niche business that will attract certain groups to shop no matter the drive.":

The Antique Mall. 'Nuff said.

By the way. By the time you build cute new little shops, you can FORGET about the idea of reasonable rent. The two don't mesh.

corgimom
36770
Points
corgimom 10/10/10 - 12:46 pm
0
0
A debate hurts incumbents.

A debate hurts incumbents. Why would Deke agree to that? He would be foolish to do so- he would come in at a tremendous disadvantage, he'd have to defend every one of his non-decisions PLUS the hugely unpopular baseball stadium.

Willow Bailey
20603
Points
Willow Bailey 10/10/10 - 02:26 pm
0
0
I grew up in Augusta and miss

I grew up in Augusta and miss the days of a thriving downtown. If you think about it, though, we had a diversity of businesses; J.B Whites, Davisons, Cullums, Belks; Casual Hut, Daniels Den, Rubens, S. H. Kress, Greens, various shoe shops, furniture stores, entertainment, restaurants, businesses, banks, real estate, attorney's, Georgia Pacific and Proctor & Gamble, Southern Bell/AT&T etc.

It's hard to imagine being able to make it work with only small specialty shops. I think there does need to be a major draw, like a Pottery Barn. Antique/junk shops get the browsers, Pottery Barn gets the cash from young to older purchasers. Currently given the clientele of those who are frequenting the streets of downtown, most of the women I know, no longer feel comfortable shopping on Broad Street, particularly alone. Also, of course, there isn't much that is appealing to purchase apart from Merry's. As a result, lots of shopping dollars are going to outside cities like Charleston.

In a nut shell, three things have changed downtown Augusta over the last 30 years. Relocation of anchor businesses, elected officials, and drug use.

With that said, we need more people like Brad Owens and Lori Davis, who are thinking and interested in not only seeing, but working for, a revitalization; not to mention some new city officials.

Brad Owens
4859
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Brad Owens 10/10/10 - 03:24 pm
0
0
jb, Yes, that was my article.

jb,

Yes, that was my article. WOW! I had forgot about it and I notice that my name is not on the article. I wonder why that is, anyway, I bet the properties are available.

I may not be right all the time, but I am right sometimes.

Thanks for finding that,

Brad

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