Sylvia Cooper

City Ink columnist and correspondent for The Augusta Chronicle.

Tale of one city is an endless source of drama

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It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

So what if that’s not an original beginning? It’s still a fair description of the latest goings on in Augusta, such as City Administrator Fred Russell making a pitch to sell the Deans Bridge Road landfill and Commissioner Bill Lockett calling for a criminal investigation of just about everything in city government.

And then there’s the Richmond County school system coming in at the bottom in adequate yearly progress, Augusta being ranked the No. 10 “brokest city” by an online news magazine, Russell being one of eight finalists for the county manager’s job in Sarasota, Fla.; sparse commissioner participation in a workshop aimed at solving next year’s projected $7.39 million budget deficit, and David Fry headed to trial on bribery charges. Perhaps.

GARBAGE IN, GARBAGE OUT: Russell called selling the Deans Bridge Road landfill “a 30,000-foot high idea.”

“These are strange times we live in, and people that are willing to take advantage of those times will be successful as we go forward,” he said.

Commissioner J.R. Hatney, who hates privatization, outsourcing and enterprise funds with a purple passion, said he was puzzled by the idea.

“Are we drinking before we try to do this, or do we get drunk after?” he asked.

Russell probably thinks he must have been drunk to take the administrator’s job. But I don’t think selling the landfill is a good idea either. With as much garbage that comes out of commissioners’ mouths, unless they could get a “political rhetoric” rate they’d bankrupt the city.

SIX OF ONE, HALF A DOZEN OF THE OTHER: Lockett says city officials are either incompetent or criminal and he wants an outside forensic audit that must include but not be limited to the TEE Center parking garage, land acquisition, leases and financing; utility department water rates for golf courses and other special agreements, the landfill, the transit department and municipal golf course privatizations, retroactive pay raises, SPLOST projects and the land bank.

“If we come up with nothing illegal, that will be fine with me,” he said.

A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE: The bad news is the Richmond County school system performed the worst statewide among districts with similar student demographics, according to final 2010-11 “adequate yearly progress” results.

The good news is that if you start reading from the bottom of the list, we’re No. 1.

School Board President Alex Howard said, “It’s embarrassing to me.” School board Vice President Venus Cain said, “The way it’s done is unfair.”

So what else is new?

I’M LATE. I’M LATE: Mayor Deke Copenhaver didn’t have time to comment on Augusta’s No. 10 “brokest city” ranking by online news magazine The Daily Beast, he told a columnist in Columbus, Ga., which was No. 1 in the national survey.

Apparently, his time is worth more than 2 cents.

THAT OUGHT TO FIX HIM: Russell was a finalist for the Sarasota, Fla., job, but rumor has it that when he heard Commissioner Alvin Mason say on TV he’d be happy to see Russell leave, Russell withdrew his name from contention.

FROM SMORGASBORD TO CHECKERBOARD: Only the mayor and commissioners Jerry Brigham, Wayne Guilfoyle and Hatney heard the various options Russell’s offered for balancing the 2012 budget. Several others are still confused about what year they’re balancing.

“As for the budget, it’s going to be a smorgasbord of going to the Subway shop and deciding whether you want ham or turkey or whether it’s going to be banana peppers or lettuce,” Brigham said after Russell had gone over the options.

“I think we’re at the veggie stage now,” Russell said.

One option includes cutting funding for all outside agencies, including the library and health department. Surprisingly, the conservative Brigham spoke against the cuts, especially Project Access which provides indigent care.

“Overall, it does affect quality of life in this community,” he said. “I don’t think this commission wants to eliminate that.”

“You sound a lot like a Democrat,” Russell said.

“The longer I sit up here, the more I find out there’s less difference between Democrats and Republicans,” Brigham said. “We have certain obligations we have to look at. We have a nice big checkerboard with lots of options.”

Russell agreed. “At this point, you’ve got pieces on the checkerboard to move around.”

ONE MAN’S BRIBE IS ANOTHER MAN’S BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY: Richmond County Superior Court Judge Carl C. Brown Jr. did not accept a plea deal that would have meant a probated sentence for David Fry, the lawyer accused of trying to bribe Commissioners Alvin Mason and Corey Johnson two years ago for their votes to approve the Trade, Event and Exhibition Center. The judge said there was obviously a difference of opinion between Fry’s attorney, Pete Theodocian, and Assistant District Attorney Adam King about what constituted bribery. So Fry seems to be headed for trial. We can only imagine when that will be.

Comments (67) Add comment
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broad street narrow mind
348
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broad street narrow mind 11/05/11 - 05:51 pm
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less difference all the time
Unpublished

less difference all the time between democrats and republicans, jerry brigham, i agree. augusta is not functioning at a high enough level to consider fine-tuning differences in ideologies. this town is ate up.

Taylor B
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Taylor B 11/05/11 - 06:01 pm
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Yeah, the BOE was re-elected

Yeah, the BOE was re-elected though. Keep up the good work, Augusta voters...

cityman
-6
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cityman 11/05/11 - 07:25 pm
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Venus Cain said, “The way
Unpublished

Venus Cain said, “The way it’s done is unfair" LOL ...

Insider Information
4009
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Insider Information 11/05/11 - 07:30 pm
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We're one of the "brokest

We're one of the "brokest cities," but we can certainly afford to build Copenhaver Stadium downtown.

That stadium alone will cure cancer, end world hunger and educate our children for generations to come.

cityman
-6
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cityman 11/05/11 - 07:30 pm
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I believe that the low school
Unpublished

I believe that the low school rating reflects the Richmond County gene pool. Low fat ...very little cream to rise to the top!

BraxtonB
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BraxtonB 11/05/11 - 10:05 pm
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“The longer I sit up here,

“The longer I sit up here, the more I find out there’s less difference between Democrats and Republicans,” Brigham said

Bingo. The sooner people figure that out, the better off we'll be.

Taylor B
5
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Taylor B 11/05/11 - 11:34 pm
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Brax, good post.

Brax, good post.

Riverman1
103396
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Riverman1 11/06/11 - 05:47 am
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Why do you people who don't

Why do you people who don't even live in Richmond County constantly bash its schools? Davidson Fine Arts academy and all 15 of their students love the Richmond County School System. They even had a student get into Harvard once. Plus you look at the average cost of a house in some Columbia County neighborhoods and they are not high as some Richmond County ones. We have a Costco, a chemical plant coming and a store that's been remodeled with 3 apartments upstairs while the Lakeside, Evans and Greenbrier zones have nothing like that.

Riverman1
103396
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Riverman1 11/06/11 - 05:52 am
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Joe Bowles said the other day

Joe Bowles said the other day if the landfill is sold he is leaving Richmond Cty. He said that's its biggest asset or something close to that. A commentary of sorts about the county.

Maybe the county should keep enlarging the dump and charge surrounding counties for their waste. The thing could grow in a projected corridor that's been studied which will eliminate delapidated housing and provide improved views along Gordon Hwy as you enter the city. Have it go over the X-rated shops too.

seenitB4
108875
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seenitB4 11/06/11 - 06:49 am
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riverman...I think the time

riverman...I think the time change has warped some brain cells...but hey......heheh....hiho silver....let it rip...:)

seenitB4
108875
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seenitB4 11/06/11 - 06:56 am
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Hey....maybe you are on to

Hey....maybe you are on to something RM.....could it be that the chemical plants-pollution-toxins-dumps...all in South Augusta cause bad school stats....cause Augusta to rate on the poorest city list......maybe the South end needs to create their own little city....call it Peach Orchard Village......& actually plant peaches along hy 25 & Mike Padgett .....beautify the streets with flowers....oh if only....if only...sigh

Riverman1
103396
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Riverman1 11/06/11 - 07:04 am
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SeenIt, and I thought YOU

SeenIt, and I thought YOU could understand me. Heh. But Peach Orchard Village sounds cool as a dip in the river this morning would be. How about tobacco plants growing along Tobacco Rd? Those things have pretty flowers.

Justin4466
43
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Justin4466 11/06/11 - 07:27 am
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Did we really expect Sylvia

Did we really expect Sylvia to address the parking deck land deal? Sounds like it should have lead her litany of citizen concerns.

seenitB4
108875
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seenitB4 11/06/11 - 07:48 am
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I know you are trying to

I know you are trying to replace the rose colored glasses....but nocando...only one of them will do....cocka doodle do....
Tobacco Rd with trees & flowers would be great.....I think that road should look as proud as a peacock...after all it has made history & so mannnny folks have read about it......if I had any power in government in the CSRA that is exactly what I would do....change it & make it a beautiful road.

Riverman1
103396
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Riverman1 11/06/11 - 07:54 am
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SeenIt, I know you grew up in

SeenIt, I know you grew up in South Augusta, love it and want to see it improved in all ways. Tobacco Rd is famous, but Erskine Caldwell hardly painted pretty picture of the area and the south. It is riveting reading, but dark as a Johnny can't come out and play because....joke.

scott-hudson
10
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scott-hudson 11/06/11 - 07:54 am
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Bill Lockett never ceases to

Bill Lockett never ceases to amuse me...please Augusta, please keep voting these people into office...It is job security for Sylvia and myself if you keep on voting for these folks. I am going to have to go out and get a new copy of the circus music track I use, the copy I have now is worn out.

Riverman1
103396
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Riverman1 11/06/11 - 08:00 am
0
0
So, Scott, who are THESE

So, Scott, who are THESE people you are referring to? It might be interesting to see who you think is on the sugary side of the corn flakes. Actually, I think Sylvia exaggerated Bill Lockett's suggestion in order to marginalize the idea of having the TEE deals investigated.

seenitB4
108875
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seenitB4 11/06/11 - 08:07 am
0
0
Caldwell saw the poverty....I

Caldwell saw the poverty....I see what it can be...you have heard of the broken window theory....I believe it works.
I just need Sylvia to re-write the Tobacco Rd. story.

allhans
25528
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allhans 11/06/11 - 08:08 am
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"The bad news is the Richmond

"The bad news is the Richmond County school system performed the worst statewide among districts with similar student..."

And to think that so many place the blame for these results on tests. If the students didn't have to take tests they would look better, or some such ....

DuhJudge
206
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DuhJudge 11/06/11 - 08:10 am
0
0
Do not under appreciate the

Do not under appreciate the landfill or the water department in Richmond County. Nor the fact that I-20 travels through it. An airport located in the city, a commercial airport just 10 minutes away from everyone in the county. A perimeter road and a parkway and an expressway. And universities and culture and clout. With all of this, I contest the listing in any magazine that purports that Augusta is broke.

Riverman1
103396
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Riverman1 11/06/11 - 08:13 am
0
0
SeenIt, yep. When Rudy

SeenIt, yep. When Rudy Giuliani became mayor of NYC he used the theory by going after those who jump subway turnstiles and so on. He said you had to stop the small lawbreaking to prevent the big ones. It works.

broad street narrow mind
348
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broad street narrow mind 11/06/11 - 08:28 am
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yeah, scott hudson, what's so
Unpublished

yeah, scott hudson, what's so hilarious about lockett? what in that list of things to be looked into would you remove?
The circus music might work for your (and sylvia's) struggle to not see the real news stories, such as the parking deck mess. who owns it, who runs it, who knew what was going on, and when? do do doodle oo do do do do.

justthefacts
28974
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justthefacts 11/06/11 - 08:35 am
0
0
“Are we drinking before we

“Are we drinking before we try to do this, or do we get drunk after?” he asked. I vote BOTH!

scott-hudson
10
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scott-hudson 11/06/11 - 08:51 am
0
0
BSNM and RM, go sit in a

BSNM and RM, go sit in a commission meeting and watch these guys in action, you will find it hilarious...sad, unfortunate, unbelievable, but at the end of the day hilarious. In terms of the parking deck, the David Fry mess, ANIC, the DDA, ECT ECT...there is a device that picks up certain frequencies of electromagnetic radiation and you will hear all of this being covered and discussed if you take the time to do so...and Sean, before you delete my post, I am not promoting my electromagnetic radiation frequency, just saying we in the media are covering this stuff both Sylvia and I as well as others. No one is covering for anyone.

broad street narrow mind
348
Points
broad street narrow mind 11/06/11 - 08:54 am
0
0
scott hudson, which item in
Unpublished

scott hudson, which item in lockett's list of things to be audited would you remove? i'd love to see those audits done. and, no, interviews with the people not covering anything by those "not covering for anyone" isn't as good.

scott-hudson
10
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scott-hudson 11/06/11 - 09:49 am
0
0
BSNM, audit all the golf

BSNM, audit all the golf courses and the water rates charged, then charge them full price and watch all of our golf courses dry up and wither into empty fields...audit Mark Johnson and the landfill and find that his department is a consistent moneymaker for the city and he has all but begged for us to privatize the capture of methane gas turning it into natural gas to fuel public buildings. You want to audit something? Audit ANIC...Audit the Augusta Housing Authority...Audit the procurement department...Bill Lockett wants to audit the Patch because he is ticked off that rain checks won't be flowing like candy anymore...nuff said.

broad street narrow mind
348
Points
broad street narrow mind 11/06/11 - 09:56 am
0
0
does scott hudson not welcome
Unpublished

does scott hudson not welcome an audit into the parking deck land acquisition? (or the land bank or public transit or even the golf courses and landfill?) why not just throw anic in on the list rather than mock what i think is a very responsible proposition. i want to see these audits very much. interesting to see it as clownish.

scott-hudson
10
Points
scott-hudson 11/06/11 - 09:56 am
0
0
...And for the record, I do

...And for the record, I do not play golf.

scott-hudson
10
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scott-hudson 11/06/11 - 10:03 am
0
0
All I am saying is there is

All I am saying is there is plenty of corruption to look at, and you are going to hear about some of it this week. Lockett et al. is throwing up the suggestions of audits on things he knows to be legitimate, some he knows to be shady, and ignoring the ones he is POSITIVE are underhanded and costing the taxpayers. That, in my little book, makes him a disingenuous clown.

broad street narrow mind
348
Points
broad street narrow mind 11/06/11 - 10:25 am
0
0
how about the parking deck
Unpublished

how about the parking deck land acquisition, scott hudson? which category is that?

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