Sylvia Cooper

City Ink columnist and correspondent for The Augusta Chronicle.

Post election doesn't deliver expected breath of fresh air

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Whew! Thank goodness that's over. Now we can go on to important things, such as who's going to be mayor pro tem next year, with Alvin Mason's term about to expire.

On second thought, we do need to do a little postelection post-mortem as a stage-setter for Thursday's commission meeting.

Nobody was surprised voters chose the incumbent Boy King to reign for four more years, especially after he was chauffeured around all election day in a classic fire-engine red convertible by a beautiful blonde named Malisa. And he is an Iron Man.

Harrisburg activist Lori Davis made the election season more interesting and the powers-that-be uncomfortable, but she had three big negatives -- no money, no name recognition and no chance to win against Deke Copenhaver. Mayoral candidate Gil Gilyard got more votes than I expected, up from less than 4 percent in 2006, to 15 percent this go-round. At that rate, he could win without a runoff in 2022.

Nobody was surprised District 4 Mayor Pro Tem Alvin Mason and District 2 Commissioner Corey Johnson retained their seats by big margins. Johnson is a likely candidate for mayor pro tem, and he could certainly use the pay raise that goes along with the job, seeing as how he has two ex-wives and five children.

The only surprise was in the District 10 race where Robert Ingham got almost as many votes as Sean Frantom, although Ingham's only campaign contribution was a $1,076 loan to himself, compared with Frantom's $13,955 in donations. There's a lot of head scratching going on over that one.

I'm not going to say anything about Ingham except when he got up to speak at a breakfast forum right before the election, his pants were falling down.

TWO OUT OF THREE AIN'T BAD: The day after the election, the mayor said if people in Augusta like what he's done so far in bringing peace and progress to the commission, they're going to love what he and his new "team" are going to do now. As it turned out, a day later commissioners met, and they were as divided as they were in Marion Williams' heyday. It was like when you brag on how well your children are doing, and then company comes, and they make a liar out of you.

Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross, County Administrator Steve Szablewski and Community and Leisure Services Director Barry Smith came to Thursday's meeting to give the board an update on Savannah Rapids Park.

Cross congratulated the re-elected commissioners and commended outgoing Commissioners Jimmy Smith and Don Grantham (although he wasn't there) for their eight years of service.

"I also want to congratulate you on all of your progress Augusta is making, the great things you've got going, the TEE center being approved, the judicial center," he said. "I don't know whether Hizzoner is going to get his ballpark or not, but hell, you can't win 'em all."

After the presentation, City Administrator Fred Russell told the mayor he'd like for Cross and company to stay for the meeting.

"If you want to witness it, you're welcome to stay if you like," the mayor said.

Now, I'm guessing they were dying to leave, but thought it might not be good form to jump up and rush out. They stayed, and the show began.

SO, THEY'RE NO LONGER RACIALLY DIVIDED? The first item was for the election of a representative to serve on the Regional Transportation Roundtable with the mayor. Mason nominated Johnson, and Smith nominated Commissioner Jerry Brigham.

Commissioner Bill Lockett said he supported Johnson's nomination because the mayor represented downtown Augusta, so they needed someone who represented south Augusta.

The vote on Johnson failed 5-4 with Johnson, Mason, Lockett and J.R. Hatney voting yes. The vote on Brigham also failed 5-4 with Commissioners Matt Aitken, Joe Bowles, Joe Jackson, Brigham and Smith voting yes.

"I think we need a third-party candidate," Copenhaver said.

Russell then suggested they move the election to the end of the meeting to give commissioners a chance to caucus; whereupon Hatney, who has become the Greek chorus of the commission dramas, said, "Some things make sense," or variations thereof six times.

"You talk about a team and put everything in the same corner," he said.

Bowles said the mayor is elected citywide and Brigham represents west Augusta.

The mayor kept asking for a motion to move the election to the end of the meeting.

"Mr. Mayor, are you sure you don't want to ask Columbia County to leave?" Lockett asked.

They didn't leave then, but were gone before the finale of that little drama.

JUST TRYING TO MAKE A KILLING? The next item concerned the revocation of the business license of Teresa Cummings, doing business as Mamie Lee's Southern Cooking on Tobacco Road. It's a long story involving the killing of 18-year-old Stedmund Fryer on a dance floor at Super C's in 2007, and the subsequent revocation of Charles Cummings' business license, which he later got back. He couldn't get an alcohol license, though, for 10 years, and he wasn't making enough money. So, Teresa Cummings gets the commission to grant her a beer and wine license and says her husband won't even be around, which certainly wasn't the case when sheriff's Investigator Tony Hyatt paid a little call on the establishment early one Sunday morning in October and discovered an illegal dance hall, just like in the days of yore when Fryer was gunned down. Nobody there seemed to know who Teresa Cummings was.

So, last Monday, the commission's public services committee unanimously voted to revoke Teresa Cummings' business license. But when it got to the full commission, she had lawyer Jack Batson by her side, and he started misrepresenting the facts of what had previously gone on and suggesting there could be a lawsuit on the scale of X-Mart if they shut her down. That is, until Mason set the record straight in no uncertain terms. But commissioners got befuddled -- except for Aitken, Brigham and Smith -- because Hyatt said Sheriff Ronnie Strength's recommendation was to revoke the beer and alcohol license instead of the business license. So, they voted 6-3 to send the matter back to committee for "clarity."

Cross then stood up and said, "You have probably ended my political career because I had forgotten how nice it is to sit on the outside of these decisions." And the Columbia County contingent departed.

FORE! Commissioners then clashed over denying the bid protest from the parties who had submitted a bid to operate the Municipal Golf Course but were disqualified because they hadn't submitted a business license. Brigham wanted to waive the requirement and open the bid to see what was in it, as did Bowles and Commissioner Joe Jackson. Russell advised against it, and the majority voted to deny the protest.

A LITTLE MORE INFORMATION THAN NEEDED: And finally, when the mayor asked for a motion to reconsider the election of a commissioner to serve on the Regional Transportation Roundtable, Brigham made a motion to adjourn, but it failed, and they voted to reconsider. Hatney immediately nominated Jackson, who was elected on an 8-1 vote with Bowles voting no.

When asked afterward why he voted no, Bowles said he didn't like to see one side of the commission being pitted against the other.

Brigham was livid because he'd lobbied to be on the roundtable, and two commissioners who'd promised to vote for him didn't.

After the meeting, Jackson was walking down the hall talking on his cell phone when somebody on the other end said, "Jerry's got his panties in a wad."

"That's a mighty big pair of panties," Jackson said.

LOST THEIR CLOUT: When we wrote the day after the election that the Southside Mafia has lost its clout, I received an e-mail stating "that was quite a term to use in a news story!"

The writer didn't know the history of the term and suggested I might like to enlighten folks similarly culturally deprived. I said I would, but here I am out of space, so it will have to wait until next week. Then I'll take excerpts from a story I wrote 12 years ago about the once-powerful group of kingmakers.

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Insider Information
4009
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Insider Information 11/06/10 - 08:50 pm
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Sylvia, will you be following

Sylvia, will you be following up to tell us about the last compaign disclosure for Deke "The Ribbon-Cutter" Copenhaver?

Did he really not accept donations as he said?

Did he file a false report for all those Deke signs?

Deke, the king that he is, would never lie to us, his lowly subjects.

Taylor B
5
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Taylor B 11/06/10 - 09:42 pm
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The Southside Mafia still has

The Southside Mafia still has power, they got Grady Smith and Jack Padgett still in office. Glad to see JB Powell get hammered.

Russell Gibbs
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Russell Gibbs 11/06/10 - 10:50 pm
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If JB was hammered, how would

If JB was hammered, how would you describe the results of your race?
67.51% to 32.16%.

Taylor B
5
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Taylor B 11/06/10 - 10:54 pm
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Russell I was hammered too. I

Russell I was hammered too. I tried to look up the results of your race, but your not man enough to run. So, there you go!

omnomnom
3964
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omnomnom 11/06/10 - 11:09 pm
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le sigh. blood bath to ensue.

le sigh. blood bath to ensue. maybe the red stain will make Augustas red tape pale in comparison.

Taylor B
5
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Taylor B 11/06/10 - 11:59 pm
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I am looking at my loss as a

I am looking at my loss as a positive, Mr. Gibbs. You see, as an elected official, I would be very restrained in my political activism and what I can say or do on a daily basis. Now, I have no one to answer to except my own political principles.

My muzzle is off. I will not run for office again. We will organize and expose those not for the good of our city for who they really are, without political repercussion. There is nothing left for you to take from us. We will fight for our city, our children, OUR AUGUSTA.

Don't confuse desperation with determination. Cheap shots, like the one in the above comment, are a show of desperation and arrogance.

I'm a loser. Watch my smoke, sir.

GoGators2010
0
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GoGators2010 11/07/10 - 05:38 am
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Taylor B - Sounds like a

Taylor B - Sounds like a plan. I wish we had more like you. Good luck, sir!

Brad Owens
4727
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Brad Owens 11/07/10 - 07:50 am
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Well, well, well... anyone

Well, well, well... anyone ready for my three point plan to make the commission work better now?

1.) Mayor gets a vote on all items

2.) Administrator gets to hire and fire with a super majority over-ride by commissioners

3.) A majority vote of the quorum present passes any item

These three changes would make all the things outlined above go away.

The Mayor is the only member elected countywide and I think he should be given a vote for sure, even if my horse didn't win the race, this is about what is best for the county, not an individual.

The Adminstrator must have the authority to match his responsibility. Plain and simple tenet of good leadership.

The majority vote to past any item would free the voting blocs so they would not be in a corner in a political sense when it comes to voting. Add in the Mayor having a vote and you would have a great recipe for getting the people's business done with fewer stoppages or political obstacles.

My $.02 worth,

Brad

Riverman1
87157
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Riverman1 11/07/10 - 08:49 am
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Brad, Deke is so afraid to

Brad, Deke is so afraid to anger anyone, if you gave him a vote he would abstain.

The very poor showing Sean Frantom made was surprising. I admire his work cleaning up Augusta with the Saturday Crew and hope he continues his efforts along those lines. Everyone is not cut out for politics. Grady having Josh Kelley do his singing promo was pretty cool.

Taylor Bryant, you fought a good fight and opened up the public's eyes to many issues. You are different in a good way and many of us admire your grit taking on a powerful insider.

Since Sylvia said she didn't read these comments because it stiffled her creativity, Ernie, tell her not to mention Jerry Brigham's panties too early in the morning.

getalife
4
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getalife 11/07/10 - 10:07 am
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Brad, I think your three

Brad, I think your three point plan makes more sense than anything anyone else has said. Maybe part of the plan should be to make it illegal if the Boy King tried to abstain on any issue.

Taylor B
5
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Taylor B 11/07/10 - 10:53 am
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RM, thanks brother. We will

RM, thanks brother. We will keep bringing it to these "leaders" until they are behaving properly or gone. They work for us, and once they fail to recognize that, they need to be sent home.

Brad Owens
4727
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Brad Owens 11/07/10 - 11:17 am
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Taylor, I want you to know

Taylor, I want you to know that I admire you. You keep your head in the game and keep making a difference your way.

It takes guts to run. And as Gunnery Sgt Hartman would say, "You got guts, and Guts is ENOUGH!"

Libertarians are the future,

Brad

dizzy dictator
107
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dizzy dictator 11/07/10 - 11:39 pm
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Taylor, I read a little about

Taylor, I read a little about your focus with keeping students interested in school. Check out Assabet Valley Vocational Technical High School located in Marlborough, Massachusetts. This concept is what is needed here in Augusta while using the same technique. Students attend their shop class for the entire week, no academics. Then they switch the next week to attend academic classes, only. Students like this way because its like saying you get homework every other week even though you get homework and need to study for tests before you are back in academic class. In the mean time, while you are in your shop, you have dedicated 7 hours each day, 5 days per week to learn on hands. This school opened up certain shops to the public, like automotive, car body shop, hairdressing ect that allowed the public to come in and get work done for far less money than in the public sector. The shop teachers watched over the students while accomplishing the jobs and the students were always eager to learn. Before the school was built, some parents didn't want it because they all wanted their children to attend college only. My take on this is does it really hurt to have a backup plan to life? If a student takes automotive, guess what, he can save money fixing his own vehicle when he does go to college. If the student really likes automotive, than go to college and take business classes to open up your own shop. This is a goal and part of life. This school has so much to offer and the concept is so sweet. Here in Augusta, High Schools have Tech classes, but this school is so different. I have to say, this was the best time in my life and I never cared for school until I attended this school for my 4 High School years. I was much happier, didn't skip school and my grades improved greatly! And guess what, businesses related to your shop choice will be glad to hire students attending this type of school. Just please check out this school online. Just imagine a school like this being built in Augusta, then open it up to adult evening classes later on, that means money in our pockets!! Oh but wait, what about Augusta Tech? My opinion is Augusta Tech is over crowded and this will only help out!

Taylor B
5
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Taylor B 11/08/10 - 08:41 am
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Dizzy, sounds great. My plan

Dizzy, sounds great. My plan was to have privately funded afterschool programs in technical training. This would provide a basic understanding of technical skills and be cost effective.

AutumnLeaves
8507
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AutumnLeaves 11/08/10 - 04:20 pm
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I'm not surprised that Deke

I'm not surprised that Deke won. But how many people out there that are disappointed the Lori didn't win? I am. I wish Augusta had had more time to get to know her before she began running and also I wish more law-abiding people were actually paying attention to what is happening to Augusta. Apparently, too many voters here think they are insulated from the crime problems or ARE the crime problems.

countyman
20631
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countyman 11/09/10 - 04:15 pm
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Deke continues to make the

Deke continues to make the city of Augusta a better place.

The area unemployment is lower than the national and state average. The July sales tax revenue was .23% higher compared to July of 2009. The city is 3.4% ahead of the projected revenue. From July 2009 to July 2010, the metro area gained 4,700 jobs - more than any other metro area in the state.

Augusta ranks 4th in the nation for private sector job growth(100 largest metros in the united states). The city ranked 19th in the raw number change(3,300 new jobs from Sept 2009 to Sept 2010). Other than the cities of Charleston and McAllen. The raw number change ranking is very significant. Augusta is much smaller compared to the other 18 cities in the top 20(DC, ATL, NY, BOS, Miami, Baltimore, etc).
http://www.bizjournals.com/buffalo/job-rankings-for-100-biggest-markets....

The job creation in the city of Augusta is staggering.. ADP, Procter & Gamble, T-Mobile, ESI, American Tire, ERS, Miller-Motte, Solocup, Knology, Carustar, Teleperformance, etc.

countyman
20631
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countyman 11/09/10 - 03:53 pm
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Major developments are

Major developments are transforming Augusta into a southeastern shopping/entertainment center. The first Costco in the state of georgia outside of metro Atlanta is opening at the VAR. New retail, hotels, restaurants, offices, etc will follow behind the Costco. Both the 25 acre shopping center of Jimmie Dyess and the Flowing Wells Business park breakground next year. Crane Creek is zoned B-2 and should include both a residential and retail component. The Highland Ridge commerce center and the Carmax area are waiting on the retail..

A possible $100 million investment coming in South Augusta. BottleTek could bring 100 new high paying jobs. Janksowki Properties might built a 306 acre riverfront 'town' near the Augusta Regional airport in South Augusta. Inlcuding a marina, commercial development, and 500 residential units.

Millions of dollars are being invested into the downtown central business district, medical district, and the inner city. The emporium condos, dental school, parking deck(1st level commercial and retail space), tee center/Augusta Marriott convention center, judicial center, sheriff's office, kroc center, laney walker(townhomes, neighborhoods, roads, street lights, business center), martha lester school, sutherland mill, paine college, saint sebastian, etc are helping revitalize the urban core.

countyman
20631
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countyman 11/09/10 - 04:16 pm
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American Eagle started flying

American Eagle started flying out of Augusta Regional in June of this year. In april of 2010 the airport had a 17% growth rate compared to 2009. The airport had a 12% growth rate last year. $10.5 million was invested into airport projects and there's a new 440 space parking area. The federal government is spending $13 million at the airport on runway reconstruction. The valet parking service started in July of 2010.

The future of Augusta is brighter than the sun. Before Dr. Bedden left Augusta to take the superintendent position in Dallas. He stated how outsiders think Augusta is a diamond in the rough. He said he wished more of the locals would realize the potential in Augusta.

countyman
20631
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countyman 11/09/10 - 04:16 pm
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Forbes, Businessweek, Metro

Forbes, Businessweek, Metro Monitor, CNN, Kraft, GA Trend, CNBC, Geo Parent, Parenting.com, Miliken, etc have notice the progress taking place in Augusta.

A few of the recent national rankings..

1. Kraft's Single Best Town in America Finalist
2. CNBC #1 city in the US to buy a starter home
3. Southeast Construction #9 in the Southeast For New Housing Construction
4. GeoParent: 10 best places to raise a family in the US
5. Metro Monitor – 23rd among the strongest metro performances across 4 indicators
6. Metro Monitor 7th best economy in the united states
7. Metro Monitor-11th strongest economy in the nation
8. Metro Monitor-18th strongest economy in the nation
9. Forbes #5 in the nation “Best Bang For the Buck” Cities
10. Forbes #22 Fastest Recovering Cities in America
11. Business Week #23 “Forty Strongest Metro Economies”
12. Business Week #11 “America’s 25 Next Recovering Job Markets”
13. Business Week #6 “Strongest Building Markets for Housing”
14. Business Week #21 “30 Strongest Housing Markets in the United States”
15. Forbes #44 “100 Cities Where Americans Are Getting Richer”
16. #9 Best Cities For Moms in America
17. #22 Best Midsized Cities For Job Growth
18. Voted one of America's Top 100 Rated Cities
19. Voted one of the Best Georgia retirement communities
20. Forbes #18 ''America's 25 strongest housing Markets''
21. Relocate America top 100 cities
22. CNN 11 Cities that are beating the recession
23. Parenting.Com 2010 best cities for families

Lori Davis
958
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Lori Davis 11/09/10 - 05:10 pm
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Thanks to Alvin Mason, who

Thanks to Alvin Mason, who said in an interview yesterday, that he would not be trying to bring business to south Augusta, but that the first order of business was to deal with crime. Alvin, I applaud you.

CorporalGripweed
0
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CorporalGripweed 11/09/10 - 06:18 pm
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Here's my statistic,..34

Here's my statistic,..34 murders in the same neighborhoods.

CorporalGripweed
0
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CorporalGripweed 11/09/10 - 06:51 pm
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RCSO's own website reports

RCSO's own website reports since May of this year over 414 police reports filed within five blocks of the KROC Center.The majority being of a violent nature. All the "happy-shiny" statistics won't change this.

CorporalGripweed
0
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CorporalGripweed 11/09/10 - 07:07 pm
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The Harrisburg-West End

The Harrisburg-West End Neighborhood Association has been receiving crime stats for the last few years. Research has shown that in the last three years crime of a violent nature has increased exponentially. We understand , not every one cares about Harrisburg ( or insert neighborhood here), but I'm pretty sure those who've invested in the KROC Center care that this facility succeed. Until city leaders admit there is a problem and the RCSO change their tactics, these numbers will only get worse.
I'm not a "glass-half-empty" type. I believe this can be reversed. But to the "polly-anna's", understand, those of us who live in these areas could care less about Forbes rankings or Parent Magazine polls etc. All we care about is getting those of YOU in power tohelp us reverse this trend. And soon.

CorporalGripweed
0
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CorporalGripweed 11/09/10 - 07:13 pm
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NeighborhoodScout.com ranks

NeighborhoodScout.com ranks cities on an index concerning crime. 100 being safest, 1 being most dangerous. Augusta ranks a 4. Meaning 96% of cities our size are safer.
Again...ignoring and sugar-coating the problem will not make it go away.

CorporalGripweed
0
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CorporalGripweed 11/09/10 - 07:18 pm
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Would love to chat more but

Would love to chat more but I've got to guard my property and hope my truck doesn't get broken into AGAIN while the city garners ANOTHER great ranking from some list, that I ( and most of the residents of this city ) could care less about.

countyman
20631
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countyman 11/09/10 - 08:30 pm
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When ever I post something

When ever I post something positive about Augusta. There is always a couple of people who can't take it. Yet for some reason, when the same group of people post the daily sky is falling comments nobody responds back.

The federal government uses the FBI crime stats to monitor the national crime rate. According to the 2009 violent crime rankings. Augusta is SAFE place to live compared to the majority cities our size.. The lower the number the safer the city is.

1. Madison, WI 228.2
2. Des Moines, IA 275.3
3. Spokane, WA 377.2
4. Huntsville, AL 405.5
5. Augusta, GA 415.1
6. Savannah, GA 428.5
7. Macon, GA 440.3
8. Durham, NC 442.7
9.Trenton, NJ 457.9
10. Greensboro 479.2
11. Knoxville, TN 494.4
12. Winston-Salem, NC 510.6
13. Columbus, GA 521.5
14. Toldeo, OH 557.4
15. Chattanooga, TN 589.9
16. Charleston, SC 616.3
17. Wichita, KS 642.3
18. Baton Rouge, LA 697.3
19. Mobile, AL 724.8
20. Columbia, SC 760.9
21. Tallahassee, FL 766.8

I guess the people working at the FBI are living in fantasy land too lol...
http://www2.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2009/data/table_06.html

Riverman1
87157
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Riverman1 11/10/10 - 07:15 pm
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Countyman, you are completely

Countyman, you are completely correct about all the good things happening in Augusta economically. We have survived the recession well and new companies are moving in.

Where you are way off is with your statistics about crime. Augusta is a consolidated county government as you know with a few citizens living in Hephzibah and Blythe. You have to compare Augusta-Richmond County to other counties, not cities to get an accurate picture.

When you do that, also factor in the population of the counties. Richmond County will be BY FAR the deadliest county in Georgia this year with just the 34 murders so far this year this year, that means 1 out of every 5882 people is murdered. (There were 4 murders in Richmond County in December last year, but we won't even worry about what happens next month, 34 is enough.) The other crime laden counties in Georgia looked like this last year: Fulton County had a 1 out of 9068 rate. Chatham 1 out of 8290. Bibb 1 out of 7045. Muscogee 1 out of 14615. Cobb 1 out of 29750.

Now let's take this a step further. The vast majority of the murders are occurring in the downtown area of the old city of Augusta that has a population of about 44,000. If you did the murder rate of that area with that population it would probably rank worse than downtown Baghdad.

Crime in the downtown area is a crisis and we have to figure out ways to alleviate this deadly problem.

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