Sylvia Cooper

City Ink columnist and correspondent for The Augusta Chronicle.

City, state officials express thanks for different things

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City Hall was closed for Thanksgiving and nothing much was cooking around Augusta but turkey and dressing. So it was time to stir the pot with a few calls to some of the elected officials to ask how they’ve spent Thanksgiving and what they’re most thankful for besides health, home and family.

Our mayor, the Boy King Deke Copenhaver, said he’s very thankful for constant words of encouragement.

“Whether it’s at the Y while I’m working out in the morning, at speaking engagements I do throughout the city on a regular basis, at the 15th Street Kroger when I’m picking up dog food on my way home from work or calls, letters and e-mails, not a day goes by when someone doesn’t reach out to me to let me know that they appreciate the job I’m doing,” he said.

“I’m also incredibly thankful for the wonderful connection I have with the younger generation of Augustans. Through speaking in schools every chance I get to encourage and support the youth of our city and to stress to them how crucial it is for them to get a good education as they are Augusta’s future leaders, I’m always encouraged that kids throughout the community know who the mayor is when I didn’t when I was their age,” Copenhaver said.

ME TOO: City Admini­strator Fred Russell, who’s received a heaping helping of vilification recently, is likewise thankful for encouraging words.

“I’m thankful for the overwhelming support from numerous people who really do count: the citizens on the street,” he said. “They tell me they appreciate the job I’m doing and appreciate that I’m willing to work through all the issues we have.”

(Translation: We feel sorry for you because of all the crap you have to take from those commissioners.)

FEASTING, PRAYING AND MOURNING: Commissioner Jerry Brigham said his wife, Debra, had a “fantastic spread” Thanksgiving Day.

“She had everything under the sun,” he said. “Turkey and dressing, giblet gravy, carrot soufflé, butter beans, creamed corn, congealed salad, cranberry salad, green-bean casserole and pecan pie.”

Brigham is thankful Commissioners Bill Lockett, Alvin Mason and J.R. Hatney walked out of the last commission meeting because those left got the meeting over with quicker and got the 2012 budget passed without a lot of debate.

“I’m thankful we have six votes on the commission and can get most things done,” he said.

Debra Brigham is thankful he can’t run for another term.

Commissioner Joe Jackson’s family came up from Orlando; he fried four turkeys; and they “cooked and ate and cooked and ate” and went to the firing range and fired guns and had bonfires in his backyard.

“I’m thankful we have a commission that’s trying to move Augusta forward with no hidden agendas,” he said.

State Sen. Hardie Davis, pastor of Abundant Life Worship Center on Brown Road, said Wednesday night was one of thanksgiving when folks came up and gave testimony about what they were thankful for.

“I am certainly thankful for my family and all those good things, and I’m also thankful for the opportunity to serve the people of Augusta and the great state of Georgia,” he said.

Commissioner J.R. Hatney, pastor of Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church, and Mark Pearson, pastor of Bethel CME Church held a joint Thanksgiving service last Sunday. Hatney said he’s thankful for good health.

“I’ve been struggling the last 10 months,” he said. “I’m feeling better now.”

He also said there have been seven deaths in his family in nine days, the youngest being 53 years old, the oldest, 99.

THANKFUL TO BE AN AMERICAN AND TURKEY FREE: Commissioner Grady Smith is thankful for simple things people take for granted, such as living in a country where you can speak your mind.

“In other countries, if you say the wrong thing in the wrong place, you could disappear for five years,” he said.

Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength said traditionally he goes deer hunting Thanksgiving morning and then he and his wife, Patti, cook steak and crab legs.

“I’m not big on turkey and dressing,” he said.

In addition to family and health, Strength said. “I’m definitely thankful for the troops that protect this country. They weren’t home for Thanksgiving.”

THANKFUL TO BE A COMMISSIONER: Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle said he’s thankful to be a part of the city with the colleagues he has to work with.

“I’m also thankful Judge (David) Roper dismissed the black ministers’ lawsuit against the city, and maybe now we can move forward together.”

Commissioner Matt Aitken said he’s thankful for the progress District 1 has made in the past few years and thankful for those who gave him a chance to lead.

Currently, he’s mounting an effort to help the waitress and cook at Whistle Stop Café on Greene Street who were put out of work when someone firebombed the café Thanksgiving night. If you want to help, call him at (706) 564-6281.

TWO THANKSGIVING FIRSTS: Commissioner Joe Bowles took his 9-year-old daughter deer hunting Wednesday and she killed her first deer. And he’s thankful for a week without politics.

“I’m thankful I didn’t have to go to the commission building for a week and deal with the nonsense,” he said.

State Rep. Quincy Murphy said for the first time in 31 years, he experienced not having one of his children home at Thanksgiving.

“That was an emotional time,” he said.

But the arrival of his son and daughter right after Thanksgiving cheered him up.

“I thank God for giving us the ability to recover from sad times and look forward to the future,” he said.

THANKFUL FOR NATURE’S BEAUTY: State Rep. Barbara Sims said she’s thankful to be able to go to her place at the beach and enjoy her time, reflect and look at the “gorgeous ocean.”

THANKFUL TO BE ALIVE: Augusta State University Athletic Director Clint Bryant said he’s most thankful for life.

“When you start getting older, you start getting more appreciative of being alive,” he said. “It seems like every week, I’m losing friends and people I know. The next thing I’m thankful for is being in the same job for 24 years. In my profession, intercollegiate athletics, I don’t know how many people are in their jobs that many years.”

ERNIE AND I: Are thankful he’s recuperating from open-heart surgery and for the wonderful doctors and nurses at Georgia Health Sciences University/MCG. We had a quiet Thanksgiving at home. It was still a lot of work to cook up the traditional fare for even two people. Chopping, peeling, sautéing, making cornbread, candying yams, baking, and trying not to cook the turkey breast so long it’s as tough as a boot. I’m not complaining. I do like to cook, but when I dried the last pot around 4 p.m., I heaved a big sigh and said, “I have just one word about Thanksgiving for next year: Ryan’s.”

He didn’t say anything.

“Well, the yeast rolls are good,” I said.

Comments (21) Add comment
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Brad Owens
5180
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Brad Owens 11/27/11 - 05:38 am
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I wasn't sure what to expect,

I wasn't sure what to expect, but to tell you the truth, this was great. I love it when you throw politicians softballs on personal stuff they should be able to answer really easy.

They always feel that no matter what they say, it will be considered a positive because they were being positive. It is where folks reveal themselves and is one of the age old and brilliant tactics of a great writer/reporter.

Just read through the replies with a keen eye for knowing that what they say is still a politician saying it. Here are some key phrases to look for and think about;

"working out"
"throughout the city on a regular basis"
"15th Street Kroger"
"home from work"
"the job I’m doing"
"younger generation"
"speaking in schools"
"support the youth"
"good education"
"future leaders"
"kids throughout the community"
"overwhelming support"
"appreciate the job I’m doing"
"willing to work"
"six votes"
"get most things done"
"move Augusta forward with no hidden agendas"
"serve the people of Augusta"
"say the wrong thing in the wrong place, you could disappear for five years"
"dismissed the black ministers’ lawsuit...maybe now we can move forward together"
"progress District 1"
"a chance to lead"
"a week without politics"
"the commission building"
"deal with the nonsense"
"look forward to the future"

Hmmmmm, looks like the politicians think they work too hard and that the people appreciate it, it also looks like things are very positive unless you are black and "just don't get it"

Oh well, read through this with a mind on reality and a sense of humor at how these folks view themselves and thier job they do.

Brad

Riverman1
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Riverman1 11/27/11 - 05:48 am
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Brad, that was insightful.

Brad, that was insightful. But you know a PR firm that can take Copenhaver-Boardman off the beach in SC and make him mayor gives him plenty of buzz words to use. I especially liked the "15th St. Kroger" one. Ha. What an empty Speedo suit, our boy king is.

Riverman1
103375
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Riverman1 11/27/11 - 05:50 am
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I wonder why Clint Bryant

I wonder why Clint Bryant shows up? Politics in his future?

Brad Owens
5180
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Brad Owens 11/27/11 - 08:05 am
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Yeah, like he stops at the

Yeah, like he stops at the "Ghettoger" as we call it, and I have been there MANY times myself.

Also, his use of the phrase "throughout the city" and "throughout the community" is code for 'inclusive of blacks'

Brad

Patty-P
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Patty-P 11/27/11 - 10:31 am
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As far as the politics of it

As far as the politics of it all...this city remains divided. The color-line is there, and it does have an impact on this city in many ways.

Vito45
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Vito45 11/27/11 - 10:54 am
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Patty, how do we overcome

Patty, how do we overcome that color line? At the end of the day, it boils down to the same old liberal/conservative tug of war. The conservatives want to build and promote the downtown area under the premise that a rising tide lifts all boats; and the other side would let downtown rot as long as they got resources for neighborhoods.

tomcasey
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tomcasey 11/27/11 - 10:57 am
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Lets have a photograph of the

Lets have a photograph of the mayor really stopping at the 15th Street Kroger...I would really like it verified.

All the rest is just fluff to me!

Patty-P
3521
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Patty-P 11/27/11 - 11:08 am
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vito....will building and

vito....will building and promoting the downtown area truly benefit everyone at this time? Are there other areas and/or needs elsewhere in the city that could stand to benefit first from the use of the taxpayers money?
What 'resources' for neighborhoods are you talking about?

Vito45
-2
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Vito45 11/27/11 - 11:35 am
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Not right now Patty, but as

Not right now Patty, but as an ongoing fight during good times and bad. It just appears to me that the perpetual struggle is the black commissioners want the resources to go into the neighborhoods of the folks they represent while the white commissioners want to put resources more towards central city. Of course, it may just be pettiness on both accounts that "if you want it, I'm against it.".

Better yet, why don't you tell me what you think is the fundamental problem that causes grown men to act like children, getting up and walking out trying to prevent quorums, etc. I am more than willing to understand the dynamic that causes so much gridlock, because I don't now. What is that body of so called men doing that causes many to refer to them as a three ring circus?

Lori Davis
1060
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Lori Davis 11/27/11 - 11:47 am
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I especially liked Joe

I especially liked Joe Jackson's comment about,"No hidden agendas." Really? Wonder if he knows that he voted to have Harrisburg established as an Enterprise/Opportunity Zone without any public hearing. This is a zoning change of mass proportions. By the way, what George Patty, Fred Russell, and the Commissioners did to put this application together for Harrisburg was against the law, state law to be exact. No hidden agendas.....bullcrap. Also I guess the parking deck fiasco had no hidden agenda either.

Riverman1
103375
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Riverman1 11/27/11 - 12:12 pm
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I looked again at Deke's 15th

I looked again at Deke's 15th Street Kroger comment. He doesn't really shop there, he only stops for dogfood on the way home.

Riverman1
103375
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Riverman1 11/27/11 - 12:18 pm
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In the past, I've had my

In the past, I've had my comments about Deke pulled because the Chronicle said I was just making fun of him for no good reason. I think in this case, Deke's comments in the article should be pulled for being trite and making fun of the public. He probably just mailed Sylvia the buzz phrases and told her to use them all.

Riverman1
103375
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Riverman1 11/27/11 - 12:25 pm
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Speaking of Deke and the

Speaking of Deke and the Commissioners shopping, I hope they get to shop at Costco's when the public is not there and get a discount as local officials. Considering the millions in taxbreaks we gave this international company to take our retail money that's the least they could do for Deke and the boys.

david jennings
625
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david jennings 11/27/11 - 12:43 pm
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I like the Mayor and a couple

I like the Mayor and a couple of the commisioners, and I have seen him at Kroger on 15th.

Patty-P
3521
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Patty-P 11/27/11 - 12:58 pm
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Vito, others have walked out

Vito, others have walked out of interviews and avoided critical questions regarding the decision-making of certain members of the commission. People have brought up legitimate concerns to the members of the commission, the mayor, etc. There truly is an underlying problem with the politics here in Augusta.
I would like to see the mayor actually visit some of the people in the various communities and see what their concerns are. He needs to be more citizen-friendly.

seenitB4
108861
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seenitB4 11/27/11 - 01:06 pm
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patty says.. I would like to

patty says..
I would like to see the mayor actually visit some of the people in the various communities and see what their concerns are. He needs to be more citizen-friendly.

I agree 100%...excellent idea.....meet at Sconyers & get to know the south-side folks.....:)

Willow Bailey
20606
Points
Willow Bailey 11/27/11 - 03:37 pm
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The city of Augusta has

The city of Augusta has invested in every study known to mankind several times; yet, nothing is changed.

If I were mayor for just one day, I would INVEST IN THE PEOPLE, the commissioners, the department heads, the city administrator, and the sheriff. The essence of that investment would be to train them to work together as a healthy and functional team to lead our government and its citizens effectively and positively into a direction that is mutually beneficial to the majority.

There is a lack of real honesty, a lack of understanding about the real issues, a lack of agreed upon values and goals, a lack of focus, a lack of sincerity and ultimately a lack of a leader who is able and not afraid to lead.

We have a leaderless local government and those who should be under leadership are fighting for a role that doesn't belong to them. In the middle of this chaos, the power shifts to those with money and influence sliding into the subtle position of empowering and enriching themselves at the expense of the community.

NOTHING will change, until SOMETHING changes.

augusta citizen
10453
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augusta citizen 11/27/11 - 04:14 pm
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Vito, you're right about that

Vito, you're right about that perpetual struggle, it's always there. I think a vibrant downtown is great, but Augusta's hasn't taken off and with the current economy, I don't see it happening now. Maybe Augusta was just a little too late getting into the whole downtown revitalization thing.

seenitB4, I think most people agree that when the city/county consolidation came about, south Augusta got the shaft, major!

Patty-P
3521
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Patty-P 11/27/11 - 04:55 pm
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Excellent post Willow.

Excellent post Willow.

Willow Bailey
20606
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Willow Bailey 11/27/11 - 05:07 pm
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Thank you Patty, I hope you

Thank you Patty, I hope you enjoyed your holiday.

Riverman1
103375
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Riverman1 11/27/11 - 05:21 pm
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Willow, a wise comment. The

Willow, a wise comment. The elusive quality that makes a good leader. Everyone doesn't have it; it can't be bought.

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