Sylvia Cooper

City Ink columnist and correspondent for The Augusta Chronicle.

Augusta Commission says it was tricked with parking deck deal

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Two years ago when Augusta commissioners approved building a $12 million parking deck across from the Augusta Marriott at the Convention Center on Reynolds Street, they thought they were getting a treat after being told the land would be donated.

It was only after an item to approve a 15-year contract with Augusta Riverfront LLC to manage the deck came up that they found out the land hadn’t been donated at all, only the air above it. Now they say the treat was really a trick and demand to know how that happened, and how Augusta Riverfront ended up with 100 ground-floor parking spaces.

City lawyers say the deal was changed so tax-free bonds could be used for construction. But nobody bothered to tell commissioners. City Administrator Fred Russell said he couldn’t specifically remember whether he did tell them and couldn’t specifically remember whether he didn’t.

The bottom line, commissioners say, is that the deck is going to have to sit on city property and that it might come to using the government’s powers of eminent domain to get it.

WHO’S GOING TO LEAD? Russell presented his 2012 city budget proposal with a $7.39 million shortfall in detail last week, then abruptly stopped and said, “The issue becomes, what do you want to do?”

Nobody said anything, but somebody’s going to have to come up with some answers soon, and the options are limited: raise property taxes, cut services or raid reserve funds. I’m betting on the third option. How about you?

WE THANK YOU, DEPUTY PAUGH: Who could have imagined or anticipated the senseless killing of Richmond County Sheriff’s Deputy James D. Paugh or understand why the life of such a fine officer should so abruptly end? Our hearts are heavy as we mourn the loss that diminishes us all, but we promise to honor your memory and never forget your sacrifice.

OR JUST A BRILLIANT DISGUISE: Augusta’s Boy King Deke Copenhaver will ditch his crown and scepter and don his Super Iron Man costume, a wetsuit and running shoes for Monday night’s Halloween party at the Marble Palace.

Before the festivities begin, Super Iron Man will issue a proclamation proclaiming Oct. 31, 2011, as Halloween. He will then say a prayer asking God to forgive everybody there for making such a big to-do over a pagan holiday.

Dozens of city and state officials, school board members, past and present, are expected to attend. Those who show up in street clothes will be turned away.

Commissioner Jerry Brigham wanted to come as The Incredible Shrinking Man, but he isn’t. So he’ll go as a Sumo wrestler and let Russell have his shrinking man costume, which is appropriate since Russell might soon disappear.

Commissioner Grady Smith will come as Mr. Rotorooter.

Commissioner Alvin Mason, recently bitten by the werewolf of ambition, will begin to change form and howl about everything – not when the moon rises, but when the TV camera lights come on.

Commissioner J.R. Hatney will come as Her­man Cain. Commissioner Matt Aitken will come as Batman and Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle as Robin. Commissioner Bill Lockett is Mr. Teriffic, a self-made multi-millionaire who has 14 Ph.Ds and an intellect that makes him the third smartest person in Augusta. The first two are unemployed rocket scientists.

Meanwhile, Mayor Pro Tem Joe Bowles will be a dapper James Bond; Commissioner Joe Jackson, a tough GI Joe. Commissioner Corey Johnson will come as James Brown but will be asked to leave after awhile because he won’t be able to stop singing I Feel Good.

Deputy City Administrator Tameka Allen will be the 50-Foot-Tall Woman, but 25 feet will be stilettos.

Director of Engineering Abie Ladson who took over right-of-way and ditch maintenance in the recent reorganization will come as Sling Blade, his assistant as Lawnmower Man.

Traffic Engineer Steve Cassell will be dressed as a stop sign, but nobody will pay him any attention.

Environmental Services Director Mark Johnson will arrive on a street sweeper, and Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Margaret Woodard will give him a ticket for over-parking.

Jerry Murphy, the records clerk for three city cemeteries, will come as – what else? Cemetery Man.

Sheriff Ronnie Strength will come as a jailer, carrying a set of skeleton keys.

Several former mayors also will attend the party. Bob Young, who became the Invisible Man for several years but is now over operations at Phinizy Swamp Nature Park, will come as Swamp Man. Accompanying him will be the First Lady of the Swamp, Gwen, dragging a parachute. Young promised not to bring the Creature from the Black Lagoon to twist arms for donations.

Willie Mays, the owner of Mays Mortuary, will come as the Grim Reaper, and Larry Sconyers will show up as a country ham or smoked Boston butt.

Some of the ladies from animal control and public works will be selling kisses, but nobody will be buying.

Some folks will be bobbing for apples while those with political ambitions will be polishing apples. There also will be fishponds hidden by sheets hung in the corner where the ladies who couldn’t sell any kisses can fish for compliments as a consolation.

A highlight will be Super Iron Man and his wife, Malisa, disguised as Lois Lane, doing the Monster Mash.

Utilities Director Tom Wiedmeier will do an Elvis impersonation and get the crowd going with Jailhouse Rock. Nobody else from utilities will be there, but quite a few will send mug shots.

Assistant Fire Chief Jack Hanley, suspended last week for having porn on his work computer, will also sing that Elvis classic Now and Then There’s a Fool Such As I.

Expected to attend together, dressed as the Pointer Sisters, are trustees Barbara Pulliam, Patsy Scott and Eloise Curtis. They’re sure to wow the crowd with their rendition of I’m So Excited. Venus Cain will appear with them briefly, but will drop out to go her own way just like the fourth Pointer sister did in real life.

State Reps. Barbara Sims and Gloria Frazier had planned to come as the Witches of Eastwick, but couldn’t find a third witch. There’s always me.

State Rep. Quincy Murphy will come disguised as an insurance salesman, but it won’t really be a disguise, and nobody will be fooled.

Marion Williams planned to come as Russell’s computer hard drive but since he never could get his hands on it, he had to choose an alternative costume – The Brain.

Calvin Holland will be there disguised as a hatbox and thinking outside of it.

The topics of conversation at this Halloween party will be state Sen. Bill Jackson’s recent economic stimulus, the cost of air over the parking deck and the Curse of David Fry.

Comments (49) Add comment
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TK3
562
Points
TK3 10/29/11 - 05:40 pm
0
0
At least ONE good one :-)

At least ONE good one :-) "the cost of air over the parking deck"

Riverman1
93233
Points
Riverman1 10/29/11 - 05:53 pm
0
0
Augusta Riverfront LLC is

Augusta Riverfront LLC is going to end up making over a half million dollars a year on the TEE as it is now. Are we seriously going to pay them more for the land the parking deck sits on?

Mayor Copenhaver-Boardman was interviewed extensively on a show that aired on TV today. He said some Commissioners weren't there when the arrangements were made. His comment was the bond attorneys would have never let matters stand if there were something wrong with the deal. He said only the land for the TEE was given.

When the newsman asked him if he had asked Augusta Riverfront to give the city the land, he got angry and said some people want to question everything and make it necessary to go back and check past minutes. He said we have to move forward and not look at past events. Then he said, no, he hadn't talked to anyone about donating the land now.

Is this the craziest thing or what?

Riverman1
93233
Points
Riverman1 10/29/11 - 06:11 pm
0
0
Oh "air rights" can be

Oh "air rights" can be bought, sold and donated alright. The problem here is Augusta Riverfront LLC benefits greatly by the parking deck and TEE as we all know. That's their consideration for allowing the thing to be built.

If they are going to play this way, the city should not have constructed the bottom floor for parking. It should have been 2nd floor parking and above only. Since it's already been constructed and the LLC will make over $400,000 a year on it, they should be billed for construction of the ground floor. Of course, the logical and fair thing is for you know who to step in and donate the land.

Does everyone see now why the Chronicle pushed for the TEE-parking deck? Not only do they benefit by the thing being next to their hotel, they make a half million a year on the parking deck.

Many Arrows
-1
Points
Many Arrows 10/29/11 - 06:22 pm
0
0
The taxpayer would have come

The taxpayer would have come to the party, but he was in the rape trauma center.

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 10/29/11 - 06:26 pm
0
0
Many Arrows! Where have you

Many Arrows! Where have you been buddy? Welcome to the massacre!

Many Arrows
-1
Points
Many Arrows 10/29/11 - 06:28 pm
0
0
"Fair" River???? After a $200

"Fair" River???? After a $200 million bankruptcy and upping debt by 50% in certain places, I don't think that is what you can expect. Limited liability doesn't accrue to the PUBLIC. They ain't passing that cowboy hat around without a derringer hidden in the other hand.

Many Arrows
-1
Points
Many Arrows 10/29/11 - 06:29 pm
0
0
I pitched my tent at 13th and

I pitched my tent at 13th and Reynolds....You didn't see it between the stacks of tile?

Many Arrows
-1
Points
Many Arrows 10/29/11 - 06:30 pm
0
0
I just saved the image of

I just saved the image of this page.....posts will go down in 4....3....2...1..

CorporalGripweed
0
Points
CorporalGripweed 10/29/11 - 06:49 pm
0
0
Deke said to move forward and

Deke said to move forward and not look at past events? That's rich. "Who are you gonna believe.? Me or your lying eyes?" Just the fact that he,(they)(Riverfront LLC etc.) doesn't want exposure ,tells me that there should be MUCH exposure and MUCHO investigation into these types of shenanigans concerning properties along the riverfront.
Methinks me smells a rat..

Riverman1
93233
Points
Riverman1 10/29/11 - 07:03 pm
0
0
Many Arrows, I'm going to

Many Arrows, I'm going to nominate all of us for a "Commenters Pulitzer Prize" for exposing shenanigans in local government. I don't know what else we could have done except chained ourselves to something to prevent the bulldozers from moving the earth that we are now finding out is not ours. You should have heard Deke today.

eagle
94
Points
eagle 10/29/11 - 07:11 pm
0
0
Love reading about the
Unpublished

Love reading about the escapades of the Augusta Commissioners. You never know what they're going to do (or not do) next. Mrs. Cooper, always look forward to your columns.

Many Arrows
-1
Points
Many Arrows 10/29/11 - 07:38 pm
0
0
River, the Arrowflinger has

River, the Arrowflinger has put forth great scribe work to big chiefs of the village, even to the high chief Man of Iron. It shall come into light, soon, very soon. All with lodge from village of McBean to Hope-zee-bah must be alert. Great is danger to property. When such outrages arose in Columbia lands, there was near riot in parlay room of High chiefs on Trail of Ray Gun and later Tribe of Furious Ferry were on warpath. Chiefs saw light and truth.....in terror of the people. Tribes in Richmond land are asleep, yet. If they do not rise and seek truth, dearest possessions may be lost. If the minions of evil succeed, however, even greater will be laughter of he of full quiver.

Riverman1
93233
Points
Riverman1 10/29/11 - 08:15 pm
0
0
MA, if Man of Iron has read

MA, if Man of Iron has read your smoke signals already, in the interview, it didn't appear he had changed. Of course it may have been taped a day or two ago.

Dipshot
-5
Points
Dipshot 10/29/11 - 09:29 pm
0
0
Any mayor who was an advocate

Any mayor who was an advocate for the taxpayers of this city would be OUTRAGED over this parking deck fiasco.. instead The Iron Man is upset that the word has gotten out just how rotten this TEE center and parking deck deal was..as usual, he just wants it to go away, so he can get back to PR puff and fluff that makes him look good. Kudos to the alternative media for breaking this story.. and others for picking it up, including Sylvia.

Willow Bailey
20605
Points
Willow Bailey 10/29/11 - 09:16 pm
0
0
Tricked you say? How much

Tricked you say? How much more incompetent could Russell/Commisioners/Legal Dept. be?

Yes, Dipshot, those doggone details are annoying.

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 10/29/11 - 09:26 pm
0
0
Guys... it goes way deeper

Guys... it goes way deeper than this. Trust me.

Little Lamb
48858
Points
Little Lamb 10/29/11 - 09:47 pm
0
0
Sylvia Cooper's headline

Sylvia Cooper's headline reads:

Augusta Commission says it was tricked with parking deck deal

That's okay, commissioners. There is no shame in being tricked once. But don't become tricked again. Now is the time to fire city administrator Fred (What, me worry?) Russell for cause (negligence, insubordination, absenteeism on the job, and incompetence) and send him packing with no severance package.

The next step is to begin condemnation proceedings on the real estate under the parking deck. No matter what it takes — take this land.

Dipshot
-5
Points
Dipshot 10/29/11 - 09:52 pm
0
0
What Lamb said

What Lamb said

Little Lamb
48858
Points
Little Lamb 10/29/11 - 09:54 pm
0
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Many Arrows wrote: When such

Many Arrows wrote:

When such outrages arose in Columbia lands, there was near riot in parlay room of High chiefs on Trail of Ray Gun and later Tribe of Furious Ferry were on warpath.

I see you are talking of Fred (What, me worry?) Russell's proposed deal to create Richmond County's first overlay district following the Columbia County's mold. There is much danger to property owners in these pernicious things. Please, Please, Please, Augusta commissioners - - - please fire Fred Russell for cause as soon as you can. He is dangerous to this city!!

Little Lamb
48858
Points
Little Lamb 10/29/11 - 10:04 pm
0
0
Sylvia Cooper

Sylvia Cooper wrote:

Augusta’s Boy King Deke Copenhaver will ditch his crown and scepter and don his Super Iron Man costume, a wetsuit and running shoes for Monday night’s Halloween party at the Marble Palace.

There was a country music song kind of like this:

He's the King of the Silver Dollar.
He rules a smoky kingdom.
His scepter is a wine glass,
And a barstool is this throne.

His groupies stalk around him.
They seek to win his favor;
To see which one will take the King
Of the Silver Dollar home. . . .

Crime Reports and Rewards TV
33
Points
Crime Reports and Rewards TV 10/29/11 - 10:17 pm
0
0
Will the scandals never end?

Will the scandals never end?

Dipshot
-5
Points
Dipshot 10/29/11 - 10:23 pm
0
0
If they did, then this would

If they did, then this would stop being Augusta.. what you should ask is: "will the scandal cover-ups ever end?"

Vito45
-2
Points
Vito45 10/29/11 - 11:35 pm
0
0
Sylvia takes no prisoners.

Sylvia takes no prisoners. You GO girl!

seenitB4
96837
Points
seenitB4 10/30/11 - 05:02 am
0
0
Sylvia ....ya got what it

Sylvia ....ya got what it takes!!

Many Arrows
-1
Points
Many Arrows 10/30/11 - 07:18 am
0
0
Lamb, Columbia's was the

Lamb,

Columbia's was the model of common sense, completeness, and constitution awareness compared to what ARC is being asked/asking to do. Reckless doesn't quite fit.

dorisday
0
Points
dorisday 10/30/11 - 07:25 am
0
0
with the exception of a few

with the exception of a few good men on the commission, they all should have gone to the party as Morons on parade!!! or we be the idiots.....

dichotomy
37344
Points
dichotomy 10/30/11 - 08:36 am
0
0
The land under the parking

The land under the parking lot....really! This should be the catalyst to fire everyone involved and recall the commissioners. If the commissioners did not know...THEY SHOULD HAVE...and this just demonstrates their ignorance and how easily they are fooled. Don't let them plead ignorance. They should have been reading every document before they got us involved with this thing. When will the Augusta voters realize that our commissioners, our administrators, and our department heads all fall into two categories? They are all either too stupid, or too crooked to be allowed to enter into these big business deals with Simon and the rest of the Morris surrogates. They are outclassed and out maneuvered at ever turn. If you think this is bad wait until you see the "deal" you get stuck with for the ball park. This is absolutely incredible.....literally. Same story, different day. TaxPAYERS 0, rich guys downtown 1. Our incompetent local government could not organize a successful company picnic and would probably manage to get sued in the process.

Brad Owens
4906
Points
Brad Owens 10/30/11 - 08:49 am
0
0
FOLLOW THE MONEY! The key

FOLLOW THE MONEY!

The key here has been said a few times but folks have missed it. Let me put the two together here for everyone (and I hope this doesn't get removed, it seems Sean has really been cracking down on my comments as of late).

1.) City lawyers say the deal was changed so tax-free bonds could be used for construction.

2.) His (Mayor Copenhaver) comment was the bond attorneys would have never let matters stand if there were something wrong with the deal.

Now, here are a few bones that need to be dug up on this based on the excuse that has been given;

1.) WHO issued the bonds?

2.) WHO is servicing the bonds?

3.) WHICH attorney is handling this and what are the fees being charged?

4.) ARE these "double barrel" bonds?

5.) WHICH bank is holding the money for these deals?

6.) WHAT interest rate/fee/surcharge is being charged by the bank?

7.) Is it legal for the commission to vote on a program that spends money and for it to be changed in such a drastic manner so as to give up any and all income on the parking deck (first floor parking) and not bring it back for a vote?

I am tired of seeing all this smoke and being told it's fog.

Brad

P.S. Sylvia, it was not after the 15 year item came up that this was made known, it was because WE found it doing title deed research of surrounding property to see who would gain the most from the TEE dael and this parking deck.

Brad Owens
4906
Points
Brad Owens 10/30/11 - 09:09 am
0
0
I WANT TO STATE BEFORE YOU

I WANT TO STATE BEFORE YOU READ THIS THAT I AM NOT SAYING ANYTHING ILLEGAL HAS TAKEN PLACE. ALL INFORMATION IN THE NEXT POST IS FACT AND A MATTER OF PUBLIC RECORD. I AM JUST SHOWING YOU THE FACTS AND YOU CAN MAKE UP YOUR OWN MINDS AS TO THE ETHICAL NATURE OF THIS LAND DEAL FOR THE PARKING DECK.

The value of the land was inflated due to a certain sitting State Senator who owned a parcel needed for the parking deck getting a really good deal of a land swap for it.

Seems that a corner lot owned by the Senator valued at $24,000.00 was swapped for one that the city had to PURCHASE for $117,000.00.

So the tax payer had to shell out $117,000.00 to swap land so that this certain Senator could avoid paying capital gains tax on the land sale (he said this himself on Austin Rhode's radio show).

Also, this deal means that the land the parking deck is sitting on NOW has a value of $1,700,000.00 per acre. So I bet the Riverfront LLC is hoping that we DO take it from them, because now "fair market value" is much more than it was before the city wanted to build the parking deck there so it seems.

I am sure this will be removed, so I am making a copy to save on another website.

The facts are stubborn things,

Brad

tomcasey
-2
Points
tomcasey 10/30/11 - 09:58 am
0
0
The facts are what Brad Owens

The facts are what Brad Owens says they are stubborn things...also great opening FOLLOW THE MONEY.

The story was really developed due to an internet conversation that asked the question about who owned 933 Broad Investment Co, LLC? This led to current and former Augustans doing title deed research regarding these various sweetheart deals in the ARC. Well the research and associated paper trail led the 933 Broad Investment Co, LLC. to the Augusta Riverfront LLC.

The claim for breaking the story is a group of concerned citizens over on FaceBook. Congratulations!

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