Sylvia Cooper

City Ink columnist and correspondent for The Augusta Chronicle.

Forecast does not look good for Fred Russell

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We’ve been shook up by an earthquake and blown away by hurricane news. Politically speaking, we can expect more of the same Monday when Augusta commission members shake things up and rattle the rafters at City Hall with strong gusts of hot air.

Commissioners Alvin Mason and Bill Lockett are proposing across-the-board raises for all employees who didn’t get them under City Administrator Fred Russell’s reorganization plan.

Cha-ching!

Mason also wants a status report from the city’s consultant on sales-tax projects, Heery International, while Lockett wants a status report on all SPLOST projects, I through 6, which covers the past 21 years of work.

Bring dinner and breakfast too.

Mason also wants to discuss pay raises, reorganization, re-classification and receive a report from Russell on the methodology used to determine the percentage of increases. And Lockett wants to “review and discuss the authority utilized to make retroactive pay increases to 44 Augusta-Richmond County employees and explain what action will be taken to eliminate the pay disparity created among Senior Executive Service, (SES) Group Employees; provide written documentation to support each pay increase and a written legal opinion to address the legality of making retroactive pay increases.”

Whew!

Commissioner Corey Johnson, trying to make up for not voting to fire Russell last week, wants to suspend his authority to give raises. And that’s not everything they have on committee agendas to give Russell hell about. They’ll have to wait awhile for some of it though because he’s not scheduled to come back from vacation until Tuesday. Lockett said he didn’t know when he placed some of the items on the agenda.

So the forecast for Russell is for continued heat and humility, accompanied by rumbling and grumbling, designed for humbling.

A PARSON’S TALE: The Augusta Baptist Ministers Conference sponsored a town hall meeting Tuesday at Antioch Baptist Church, moderated by Barbara Gordon, the publisher of The Metro Courier and a plaintiff in the ministers’ lawsuit against the city over restructuring.

The Rev. Melvin Ivey, the pastor of Greater St. John Baptist Church, also a plaintiff, gave an “Update on Lawsuit, Depositions, Hearing Date and The Real Purpose Behind Restructuring The Government.”

“I just want to bring you up to speed as to where we stand with our lawsuit,” he said. “First of all, let me say it this way, is that the city of Augusta was surprised that we had the nerve to question them. Say it again. The city of Augusta was surprised that we had the nerve to question them.

“When we questioned their authority with moving forward with the restructuring of the city government without having eight votes, they even attacked the ministers. They told us we need to stay in our place. You know how it is. They say, ‘Boy, get back in your place.’

“Well, I stopped by tonight to tell you I not only don’t have a place, but they’re not going to tell me where to go. They even had the nerve to say, ‘Preachers need to stay in the pulpit – stay out of government.’ Well, the Bible that I read says that the government would be on his shoulders. Whose shoulders? Going to be on the shoulders of Christ.”

SILVER’S UP TO ABOUT $40 AN OUNCE: Ivey then said he expects the lawsuit to go to court next month.

“We are taking them to court because the law is on our side,” he said. “They know that they’re wrong. They even went back and tried to change some language. They even bought one of our commissioners. Ya’ll know what I’m talking about. The one that sold out. I’m talking about the one the Lord said, ‘Who’s the Judas?’ Now we know who the Judas is. Judas is named Corey Johnson.”

He then took Johnson to task for what he said was a switcheroo with Commissioner Matt Aitken.

“He and Corey did what you call a switch, so Matt Aitken could get some street cred. So he could say, ‘I voted against Fred Russell.’ ”

“Fred Russell didn’t give those raises by himself. I guarantee you those six white commissioners and the mayor knew exactly what he was doing. They weren’t surprised.”

WHITE FLIGHT EXPLAINED: The real purpose for restructuring is that Augusta is becoming predominantly black, he said.

“They’re sending everybody to Grovetown. They’re sending everybody to Martinez. They’re sending everybody to Evans. When you get ready to buy a house, first thing they tell you is, ‘Move to Martinez.’ They say, ‘They’ve got better schools in Martinez.’ They tell you they’ve got better stores in Martinez.”

JUST TRYING TO GET OUT OF A CRACK: “They tell you the crime rate is better in Martinez,” Ivey continued. “The crime rate is not better in Martinez. The crime rate in Martinez is the same as it is here in Augusta-Richmond County. People are selling dope. People are breaking into your house. People are stealing. People are breaking into your house in Columbia County the same as they are in Augusta-Richmond County. You know why? There are no jobs. That’s why they’re breaking into your homes.”

Ivey then said the reason so many people are walking in neighborhoods is that they were moved out of Gilbert Manor but not provided any transportation.

“That’s why you see people walking in your backyard, and you get mad, thinking they’re trying to break into your house,” he said. “They’re just trying to make it to the store.”

RESTRUCTURING TO SPREAD POVERTY: The reason for restructuring is to outsource city departments, Ivey said.

“How many times have you called to check on a bill and somebody you can barely understand was talking to you on the other line? That’s called outsourcing. If they give you a job, it’s a part-time job. If they give you something, there’s no benefits. There’s no sick leave with those jobs. There’s no vacation with those jobs. They give you a job with a minimum wage, which means, pastors, we would never be self-sufficient because our people don’t have any money. We talk about tithing. Our people don’t even have a decent job. Our people are struggling to rub two nickels together to make a dime.”

And restructuring was never designed to save money, he said.

“It was designed so whoever comes into power – they know the way things are going we’re going to have seven or eight black commissioners and a black mayor. And the sad truth is you’re not going to have any power. So the whole purpose behind the reorganization is not to save money. It’s so people that look like you and I will not be able to move into west Augusta. It’s so people who look like you and I will never be able to afford a $250,000 home. Why? Because we’re still making minimum wages. They feel like minimum wage is too much.

“It’s time for a recall.

“It’s time for us to take a stand and let them know when you sell your vote, make sure you’ve got somewhere to go.”

THEY’RE PLANNING TO SUCCEED! “Here’s the bottom line. Your children and my children are going to have to reap what’s been sown. And until we stand up, until we do what’s right, they’re going to continue to take advantage of us. They’re going to do everything they can. And do you know what they’re going to do? They’re going to strip Augusta-Richmond County of all the benefits, and then they’re going to go to Martinez. They’re trying to make Martinez the place to live, so they can get all those federal dollars in Martinez, not Augusta-Richmond County.”

12TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: It’s awhile before qualifying, but Republican candidates are already making their intentions known. State Rep. Lee Anderson is already in the race, and former state Rep. Barry Fleming plans to run for Anderson’s seat. Augusta contractor R.W. “Rick” Allen is also committed, so those in the know say. And former Congressman Max Burns is testing the district waters for support.

Meanwhile, Don Grantham, 10th District member of the state Department of Transportation board, is now in the 12th District.

Comments (44) Add comment
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allhans
25543
Points
allhans 08/28/11 - 10:58 am
0
0
Since those who live on

Since those who live on Federal funds follow the money.....
Well, you know...send it anywhere but here. . Share! Spread the wealth!

david jennings
625
Points
david jennings 08/28/11 - 12:06 pm
0
0
Thanks dichotomy.You said it

Thanks dichotomy.You said it much better than I could.When the rev iveys are in total charge of Aug./RC govmt.the only way they will survive will be with thier hand stuck out demanding the Fed give them money.And you know whos money that is,the people got out of RC.I might would give a job to someone and pay above min. wage,but I would expect them to pull thier pants up above thier knees.

billyjones1949
1
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billyjones1949 08/28/11 - 01:09 pm
0
0
Mr. Ivey there will always be

Mr. Ivey there will always be a section of the population made up of people like the one's you are talking about. They are the ones with no ambition, no education and are content living not even a midle class life and on the backs of the working people of all races. And what makes you think that every employeer has to provide vacation time, benifits and all the other things that large companies can provide. The small business cannot because of the costs involved. A small business cannot afford those perks. Ilove , where do we look up what you are posting. Whiz and iwannaknow, you are 1000% right.

billyjones1949
1
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billyjones1949 08/28/11 - 01:41 pm
0
0
Mr. Ivey, you can race bait

Mr. Ivey, you can race bait and do all the talking you want to. It makes no difference to me because what you say is just meant to "stir the pot" so you can get more donations and a bigger share of the money. As David says, pull up your pants and as I say "You look like fools walking around with your pants down and holding up the belt with one hand." What decent woman or man would want to be seen with someone that looks like that.

Brad Owens
5435
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Brad Owens 08/28/11 - 02:22 pm
0
0
"Judas is named Corey

"Judas is named Corey Johnson."

AAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Too funny. I love Augusta politics.

Little Lamb
57586
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Little Lamb 08/28/11 - 02:29 pm
0
0
On one of Rush Limbaugh's

On one of Rush Limbaugh's shows this week, he talked about the necessity to roll back Obamacare, then begin rolling back other governmental programs one by one.

Similarly, here locally, we must get our priorities straight.

First, roll back O'Russell cash. Those 15% raises in the middle of this economic downturn are slaps in the faces of us taxpayers.

Second, roll back O'Russell's authority to grant such raises in the future. The commission needs to approve all salary adjustments.

Third, roll back O'Russell's golden parachute. The city administrator serves at the pleasure of the commission. They should be able to fire him at will for any reason, even the color of his shoes, with no severance package encumbering the decision-making process.

Fourth, roll back any "deputy administrator" positions. Department heads should report directly to the administrator without this costly and unnecessary level of bureaucracy.

Fifth, once the golden parachute has been jettisoned, fire Fred (What, me worry?) Russell.

Then we can begin planning for next month's agenda.

Riverman1
124271
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Riverman1 08/28/11 - 03:11 pm
0
0
Can we all just talk here and

Can we all just talk here and get down to the problem? The white commissioners (now don't confuse me with this Aitken, Johnson switch thing) want Russell to downsize and privatize city government services. The blacks don't want him eliminating any jobs or privatizing services. There is power in the black community when a commissioner can provide good jobs.

So what's happened is the white commissioners have the blacks taking out their anger on Russell instead of the white commissioners or on our speedo wearing Mayor Copenhaver-Boardman. The blacks also don't want to appear to be totally going against everything white so they take it out on Russell.

When the racial divide is fixed on the Commission, the administrator's job will actually become possible. He will be able to carry out the wishes of the Commission which is really a pretty simple, stress free thing to do.

Six to fo, we don't want no mo.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 08/28/11 - 03:27 pm
0
0
I want a Hispanic and an

I want a Hispanic and an Asian person to get on the Commission.

That would really confuse the heck out of people.

Taylor B
5
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Taylor B 08/28/11 - 04:01 pm
0
0
Insider... we have an Asian

Insider... we have an Asian there now.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 08/28/11 - 04:20 pm
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0
Taylor B, thanks for

Taylor B, thanks for correcting me.

How quickly we forget when there is so much talk of black and white. I long for the day when we talk about actual issues like taxes, crime, education, economic development - all issues that transcend race.

j-campbell
2
Points
j-campbell 08/28/11 - 04:31 pm
0
0
Regarding Taylor B's and

Regarding Taylor B's and Emerydan's exchange (see above) that used improvements to the Savannah River as an example, if the Federal Government's Army Corps of Engineers were to surrender their virtual monopoly on control of the river to the states of Georgia and South Carolina, then requiring improvements to be funded solely by those states might make sense. However, as long as the Feds insist on retaining control, then a majority of such funding should come from Federal coffers.

Privy
112
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Privy 08/28/11 - 06:40 pm
0
0
Before the reorganization

Before the reorganization plan was made public there was already a list in place of who was getting what positions.. That was being shown to the employees who would be losing their jobs, how do you think they felt, how would you feel?
There is nothing in this city goverment for accountability, if it does not get to the media then it is washed over.

iLove
626
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iLove 08/28/11 - 07:58 pm
0
0
One minute it's this the next
Unpublished

One minute it's this the next it's that...are people more upset at the ministers or Fred Russel???

Why would Cooper give so must attention to the words of a Ivey?...hmmm...

DuhJudge
206
Points
DuhJudge 08/28/11 - 09:25 pm
0
0
In this county, the Sheriff

In this county, the Sheriff is the boss of law enforcement officers. Has he given out any "raises" in this economic environment? If he has, is that different than what Russell did? I still contend that the word raise is misapplied here. Compensation for new responsibilities is not a "raise." If you are given new and more subordinates to manage, an increase in pay is probably warranted. Regardless, it is the boss's decision.

Riverman1
124271
Points
Riverman1 08/28/11 - 10:12 pm
0
0
I need to correct something.

I need to correct something. I said earlier that Barry Paschal was Ben Harbin's cousin. I said he was his "cuz," but I actually thought they were cousins. They are not related and are not close friends. My apologies.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 08/28/11 - 10:58 pm
0
0
Taylor, excuse me , but am I

Taylor, excuse me , but am I missing something here? Who on the commission is Asian? Are you talking about Deke? He does have some asian-like features (eyes)

SlapShot2
0
Points
SlapShot2 08/28/11 - 11:39 pm
0
0
Mr. Ivey is whats wrong with

Mr. Ivey is whats wrong with this community and part of the problem and not a solution. Great post Tom and Andy!!!

Riverman1
124271
Points
Riverman1 08/29/11 - 07:48 am
0
0
Emerydan, I think Taylor is

Emerydan, I think Taylor is referring to William Guilfoyle although I'm not sure. Copenhaver-Boardman is a Scandinavian, helmet with horns on it, speedo wearing Viking. (Visualize that.)

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 08/29/11 - 10:30 am
0
0
Guilfoyle is asian? never

Guilfoyle is asian? never knew that. He doesn't look asian to me. maybe he's like a Tiger Woods asian? I figured Deke was hard core scandinavian with his last name and he does resemble that Icelandic singer Bjork... who looks sort of asian.

wondersnevercease
9218
Points
wondersnevercease 08/29/11 - 10:35 am
0
0
LOL..
Unpublished

LOL..

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 08/29/11 - 10:41 am
0
0
wonders.. it's not just the

wonders.. it's not just the black community. The Deke machine was such a juggernaut because he was able to get into the big churches in town.. both white and black. That's why they were so confident.. they know if you have the support of certain "churches" you will win elections. Don't try to make this just a "black" issue. It's just maybe the black churches are more vocal, but you have the same thing happening (albeit more subtly) in the big white churches too. Don't you remember how the pastor of Curtis Baptist Church would pack the commission chambers (to a point where they would even move the meeting to larger chambers).. to oppose the a business legally being able to obtain a liquor license or to keep the city in a losing battle fighting the x-mart costing the taxpayers beaucoup bucks. Those were crusades lead by the "white churches".. but I guess that was ok... and they always seemed to get their way, whether it was good policy or not.

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