Sylvia Cooper

City Ink columnist and correspondent for The Augusta Chronicle.

We'll hear about stadium, merger when they're done

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We were supposed to go on a diet right after New Year’s Day, and now Martin Luther King’s birthday is almost upon us, and I think we’ve actually gained weight. We went on Dr. Oz’s 10-day Mediterranean diet for a few days but found out we don’t like tofu and pita bread. We’re more the mashed potato and gravy types.

So now Ernie is in cardiac rehab at Georgia Health Sciences University, and I joined so I could work out while the team of exercise specialists hook him up to monitors and put him through the paces. It’s really a remarkable facility, with an indoor running and walking track and dozens of exercise machines that look like medieval torture chambers.

After the Friday morning session, we went to Maca­ro­ni Grill for lunch, where I ordered eggplant parmesan, which I highly recommend, as well as the loaf of freshly baked bread you dip in extra virgin olive oil.

Well, olive oil is good for you.

SO, WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING? OK, you don’t want to read about what we’ve been doing. You want to read about the GHSU/ASU merger, the downtown baseball stadium deal that’s being worked out behind the scenes, what the lawmakers are cooking up in Atlanta and the government’s next ploy to pick your pocket.

Well, it seems we know everything about the merger there is to know until they get ready to hold another public meeting to get the public’s input on something that’s already a fait accompli. Ditto for the baseball stadium.

In Atlanta, Sen. Jesse Stone is complying with Augusta Commission member Jerry Brigham’s and Richmond County school board trustee Jack Padgett’s requests not to sign off on the redistricting plan that increases the black population in District 6 to 60.6 percent from 52.9 percent and almost ensures the commission will have six black and four white commissioners. (And won’t payback be hell?)

Anyway, Stone has written Jimmy McDonald in the Office of Redistricting in Atlanta to say the commission has been unable to reach consensus on redistricting the commission and school board. He then asked McDonald to meet with him, commissioners Grady Smith and Brigham, Padgett and Rep. Barbara Sims to discuss the issue this week.

TAX AND SPEND AND TAX AND SPEND SOME MORE: Augusta commissioners spent 2½ hours talking about city Administrator Fred Russell’s plan to eliminate a $2.5 million shortfall in next year’s budget with 34 layoffs and departmental budget cuts.

The focus, however, wasn’t on cutting but on “generating more revenue” and creating additional “revenue streams,” which is a great big joke. Government doesn’t generate revenue. It consumes revenue like a big old hungry giant. What it generates is taxes.

A prime example is the city’s housing development in the Laney-Walker area. I don’t care what the PR purveyors say. You can read all about it in Meg Mirshak’s article in Friday’s edition of The Augusta Chronicle.

Commissioners at Wednes­day’s work session kept saying they couldn’t cut recreation programs or put people out of work. A motion to take $1.5 million (in addition to $2 million already taken) and expect another million from taxes on property that Big Brother just spotted failed 5-2. Expect it to resurface Tuesday.

HORSE SENSE: One of the lighter moments in the work session came when Chief Tax Appraiser Alveeno Ross made his case for not cutting three employees from his office. He said he was under deadlines to get assessments finished, notices sent out, appeals dealt with and the tax digest ready to deliver to the state revenue department.

“In the words of my grandfather, and I quote him, Mr. chairman. ‘If you’ve got to pull the weight of the wagon, no need in letting the horses go.’”

ARNOLD BO BARNOLD, BONANA FANNA FO FARNOLD, FEE FY MO MARNOLD: GHSU President Dr. Ricardo Azziz and ASU President Dr. William Bloodworth held four open meetings Thursday to answer questions and assure folks that the marriage of the two schools is going to work, but they don’t even know whose name it will take. And that’s what everybody seems to be focused on.

Dr. Robert Nesbit, a professor emeritus of surgery, said that when the name Geor­gia Health Sciences Uni­ver­sity was announced last year, someone said GHSU sounded like “Guess Who?” Now it really is, Guess Who?

THE MUSICAL M.D.

(Since the merger of GHSU and ASU in 2012, enrollment in One Big School (OBS) has increased to 30,000, which has strained the facility and overrun the ER, where the Musical M. D. struggles to cope.)

Act 1, scene 1

Nurse: Doctor, you’re needed in here again.

Dr.: Oh, what is it this time? Another case of zits or is it cramps again?

Nurse: Not cramps. He looks very depressed.

Dr.: What seems to be the problem, young man?

Patient: (Sings) Well, I’m in love. I’m in love with a beautiful girl. That’s what’s the matter with me. But she don’t care about me. Lawd, I tried and I tried to keep her satisfied. But she wouldn’t stay. So now that she is lea-eav-in.’ That’s all I can say.

Dr.: (Sings) You’ve got a feelin’ called the blues, oh, Lawd. Since your baby said goodbye. And you don’t know what you’ll do-oo-oo. All you do is sit and sigh, oh, Lawd. You’ve grown so used to her somehow. Well, you’re nobody’s sugar daddy now. And you’re so lo-on-lonesome. You’ve got the lovesick blues.

Here, take these two aspirin, and you’ll feel better in the morning.

Scene 2

Nurse: We’ve got a strange one you need to look at, Doctor.

Dr.: (enters) What seems to be the trouble?

Patient: Can’t you see? I’m green.

Dr.: Hmmm. Have you had any meat and potatoes lately?

Patient: No. I’m a vegan. The thought of eating meat makes me sick.

Dr. So what do you eat?

Patient: Broccoli.

Dr.: Young lady, you have a condition known from the 16th century as green sickness.

Patient: (Sings) I know, and it’s not easy being green. Having to spend each day the color of the leaves. It’s not easy being green. It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things.

Dr.: But green’s the color of spring. And green can be cool and friendly-like. And green can be big like an ocean, or important. Like a mountain or tall like a tree.

Patient: When green is all there is to be. It could make you wonder why, but why wonder why. I am green, and it’ll do fine, it’s beautiful. And I think it’s what I want to be.”

Dr.: Keep eating broccoli three times a day, and you will.

Scene 3

Nurse: Doctor, we have a patient waiting. And he’s crying.

Dr. (Enters) The nurse told me you were crying. Would you like to tell me what the trouble is, young man?

Patient: (Sings) See the bright light shine. It’s just about hometime. I can see my father standing at the door. Lord, I’ve never been this homesick before. I can see the family gather. Sweet faces, they’re all familiar. But no one’s old or feeble anymore. Oh this lonesome heart is cryin.’ Think I’ll spread my wings for flyin.’ Lord, I’ve never felt this homesick before.

Doctor: (Sings) Home is where the heart is. No matter how the heart lives. Inside your heart where love is. That’s where you’ve got to make yourself at home.

The End

City Ink thanks the late Hank Williams, Joe Raposo, Dottie Rambo and Peter, Paul and Mary for their contributions to this week’s column.

Comments (36) Add comment
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Little Lamb
45146
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Little Lamb 01/14/12 - 11:45 pm
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I have spoken to Fred (What,

I have spoken to Fred (What, me worry?) Russell on two or three occasions. He responded to me with a shrug of his shoulders and a re-direction of the subject as if he didn't care at all. And why should he care? I am nothing but a piece of nourishment to him, a bowl of chopped whitefish for him to nibble on throughout the day.

I wonder what I would find if I had the chance to engage him away from city business, to spend some time discussing his philosophy over a couple of beers? I would like to know why Fred Russell so disdains the free market and so cherishes government control and government spending. What is this about his mania for building structures that fascinates him over getting down in the trenches and helping all the citizens of the county?

Why government control over everything? Why not let the private sector buy the 17 acres at 13th and Reynolds and make it productive 365 days out of the year instead of a TEE for only six or eight days out of the year or a minor-league baseball park for 60 or 70 days out of the year?

Why does he not care about the taxpayer?

mike71345
75
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mike71345 01/15/12 - 12:00 am
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Little Lamb, that is awesome.

Little Lamb, that is awesome.

Dipshot
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Dipshot 01/15/12 - 12:41 am
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great post... Bowl of

great post... Bowl of whitefish... interesting analogy.

seenitB4
84926
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seenitB4 01/15/12 - 07:01 am
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I gotta tell you Sylvia....I

I gotta tell you Sylvia....I THOUGHT I had an imagination...honey YOU got it!!!
Thanks for making it so interesting....Hank Williams & all..:)

Craig Spinks
817
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Craig Spinks 01/15/12 - 07:16 am
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Little Lamb, Fred perceives

Little Lamb,

Fred perceives that Billy and Paul have the knife, the butter and the bread. And, as every self-serving, surviving bureaucrat knows, s/he must be on good terms with those who butter his/her bread.

truth_be_told
218
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truth_be_told 01/15/12 - 08:08 am
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Please Little Lamb, surely

Please Little Lamb, surely you are not talking about a private business that would pay payroll taxes, property taxes, and untold sales taxes. What kind of country do you think we are living in? If we had more PRIVATE ventures my property tax might even go down. Boy then I'd be mad..........

Tots
25850
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Tots 01/15/12 - 08:28 am
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Very well said Little

Very well said Little Lamb,and the whitefish comment nearly made me spit my coffee out..

Riverman1
81925
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Riverman1 01/15/12 - 09:55 am
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Little Lamb, you captured the

Little Lamb, you captured the situation perfectly. Fred Russell had no idea when he brushed you off it would show up in print. You turned him into chopped whitefish. Shows him.

By the way, who was the person in the media who said Russell would be gone months ago? Wrong.

Riverman1
81925
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Riverman1 01/15/12 - 09:57 am
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A local hospital is about to

A local hospital is about to announce significant downsizing with many lay-offs. There will even be a name change of sorts although not on the order of GHSU-ASU.

eb97
835
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eb97 01/15/12 - 10:01 am
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@Little Lamb, you have made

@Little Lamb, you have made my day.

wondersnevercease
9218
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wondersnevercease 01/15/12 - 10:13 am
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Great post LL..you turned
Unpublished

Great post LL..you turned this really silly collection of words into something worth reading...

.sorry Sylvia I usually adore your work but this was just....well silly.

Conservative Man
5402
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Conservative Man 01/15/12 - 11:58 am
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Fred is just doing what he's

Fred is just doing what he's told. Those that REALLY control this town generally fly under the radar and don't like the light being directed at them so they get others to do their dirty work for them...

Insider Information
4009
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Insider Information 01/15/12 - 12:01 pm
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If this baseball stadium is

If this baseball stadium is great, then I issue challenges...

- I challenge the commissioners to bring this to a public vote.

- I challenge Cal Ripken himself to address the public.

- I challenge those who want a stadium to open up their pocketbooks, donate and start a campaign similar to the Kroc Center.

If - emphasis on the "if" - this downtown stadium thing is a great idea, then voters will approve it, the public will embrace it and donations will pour in.

We will never know, though, because no one will step up and take the challenge. As Frank Dolan would say, "Put your big boy pants on."

Insider Information
4009
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Insider Information 01/15/12 - 12:03 pm
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Conservative Man, so very

Conservative Man, so very true.

There is a reason why that really big golf tournament is called "the masters". They are the masters and the city has more than enough willing puppets.

countyman
19618
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countyman 01/15/12 - 12:48 pm
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The RC citizens voted for the

The RC citizens voted for the TEE Center, and it's not located on the GGHF property..

The stadium is a multi-use facility which can be used 365 days a year.. Jim Jacoby doesn't build baseball stadiums around the US.. Concerts, residential, restaurants, and residential..

Little Lamb
45146
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Little Lamb 01/15/12 - 02:58 pm
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Yeah, Countyman. Someone

Yeah, Countyman. Someone posted on here yesterday or Friday that the land the TEE center sits on is owned by Riverfront, LLC. But of course, the actual TEE building was paid for entirely by taxpayers. We didn't even get the air rights to the TEE.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 01/15/12 - 03:02 pm
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Countyman wrote, "The stadium

Countyman wrote, "The stadium is a multi-use facility which can be used 365 days a year."

There is not a stadium anywhere in the world in use 365 days a year. Don't try to justify the stadium with wild claims. It weakens your argument.

Riverman1
81925
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Riverman1 01/15/12 - 03:16 pm
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Countyman doesn't understand

Countyman doesn't understand who owns the land under the TEE and parking garage. He doesn't do that LLC thing at all.

Insider Information
4009
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Insider Information 01/15/12 - 03:32 pm
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Dekebot, I agree. My respect

Dekebot, I agree.

My respect for Cal Ripken is long gone.

He built an incredible reputation over a brilliant career only to flush it away with antics such as this. I can't respect extortion (Give me my stadium or I'm picking up my team and going home).

Conservative Man
5402
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Conservative Man 01/15/12 - 03:33 pm
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I haven't lost respect for

I haven't lost respect for Cal as much as I've lost respect for those who are enamored with his celebrity and would rather cozy up to him than worry about how they spend the taxpayers money in this County.

Dipshot
-5
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Dipshot 01/15/12 - 04:46 pm
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Hear! Hear! Mr Reagan

Hear! Hear! Mr Reagan

Little Lamb
45146
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Little Lamb 01/15/12 - 06:20 pm
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Well, Sylvia wrote about more

Well, Sylvia wrote about more than the ballpark. She obviously went to the commission meeting (or she read Susan's story) and she talked about commission backpedaling again. The commission can ride a bicycle backwards better than Lester Maddox. Do you remember how the commission voted to direct ole What, Me Worry? himself to choose how to balance the budget, and he said he would have to fire 34 employees and cut out recreation programs. Fair enough, but now Sylvia tells us this:

Augusta commissioners spent 2½ hours talking about city Administrator Fred Russell’s plan to eliminate a $2.5 million shortfall in next year’s budget with 34 layoffs and departmental budget cuts. The focus, however, wasn’t on cutting but on “generating more revenue” and creating additional “revenue streams,” which is a great big joke. Government doesn’t generate revenue. It consumes revenue like a big old hungry giant. What it generates is taxes. . . . Commissioners at Wednes­day’s work session kept saying they couldn’t cut recreation programs or put people out of work.

Little Lamb asks, “Why not?”

Russell told them in commission meeting that it would take layoffs and they voted for him to lay off 34. Then when he told them who the 34 would be, they schedule another meeting to crawfish and say they didn't really mean it!

We are in serious trouble, folks, if these commissioners cannot stomach a leaner government.

Little Lamb
45146
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Little Lamb 01/15/12 - 06:31 pm
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Riverman wrote, “By the way,

Riverman wrote, “By the way, who was the person in the media who said Russell would be gone months ago? Wrong.”

Yes, River, and that appears to be a lost opportunity. Of course the "person in the media is a radio talk show host with curly hair. But the momentum to terminate Russell appears to be a lost opportunity. I am disappointed in Jerry Brigham who led us on with false hope for a firing. He said that the commission could not fire Russell without a "plan" in place. Okay, that was last summer. How long does it take to come up with a plan to fire someone who is lazy, sneaky, insubordinate, disingenuous, derelict, and whose mistakes have cost the city hundreds of millions?

Riverman1
81925
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Riverman1 01/15/12 - 07:45 pm
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When Brad Means had Mayor

When Brad Means had Mayor Copenhaver-Boardman on his show a couple of months ago it was revealing. Means smiled about the whole land ownship under the parking deck issue, shrugged and asked the Mayor if he simply couldn't talk to the owner of the land the parking garage sits on and get it signed over to the county.

Means was thinking like most of us that it was only common sense and the right thing to do. Well, Mayor Copenhaver-Boardman got indignant as a Hill resident being asked to babysit at the church daycare center, and started to talk about all those people who make trouble looking up the minutes of old Commisson meetings.

Means was kind of surprised his common sense suggestion was met with such hostility. Welcome to our world, Brad Means.

Riverman1
81925
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Riverman1 01/15/12 - 07:50 pm
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Little Lamb said, "How long

Little Lamb said, "How long does it take to come up with a plan to fire someone who is lazy, sneaky, insubordinate, disingenuous, derelict, and whose mistakes have cost the city hundreds of millions?"

LL....Are you implying Russell doesn't deserve outstanding evaluations? Maybe you should be more direct in your feelings about him. Heh.

Willow Bailey
20580
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Willow Bailey 01/15/12 - 09:23 pm
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Sylvia is one smart cookie.

Sylvia is one smart cookie. Yep, you'll know there's a ballpark when they make the announcement. It's coming very soon.

Agreed, LL, local government is as drunk on spending as national. Get ready Richmond County, your property taxes are going up, up, but not away!

Too much dishonesty, too many beholden, too many fingers in the till. Wouldn't it be some kind of wonderful to see the whole lot dumped on their collective behinds and people installed that actually work for and answer to the taxpayers. Well, we can dream, can't we; it is MLK's birthday.

Riverman1
81925
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Riverman1 01/15/12 - 09:21 pm
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Willow, about the stadium,

Willow, about the stadium, the talks continue, the ASU Prof decided to release another study and what clinches it is that Joe Bowles says nothing is up. Heh.

Willow Bailey
20580
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Willow Bailey 01/15/12 - 09:26 pm
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Yep, more liar, liar, pants

Yep, more liar, liar, pants on fire. The only talk they get is the ballot box. I hope the stadium costs every single one of them their little government positions. The Brad Means thing is incredible!!! I miss Brad Owens on here.

Riverman1
81925
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Riverman1 01/16/12 - 06:24 pm
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My goodness!!!! Mayor

My goodness!!!! Mayor Copenhaver-Boardman just said on WJBF the stadium is going to happen!!! He said a unique opportunity arose and they are going to take advantage of it. What did I tell you when that study by the ASU professor came out and Joe Bowles denying it all to keep us off track. Do the people not have any voice at all anymore?

Riverman1
81925
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Riverman1 01/16/12 - 06:24 pm
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This is on the GGHOF

This is on the GGHOF property.

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