Sylvia Cooper

City Ink columnist and correspondent for The Augusta Chronicle.

Some candidates still owe unpaid taxes

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A week ago, lawyer Jack Long filed a complaint with the state elections director challenging Juvenile Court Judge Willie Saunders’ candidacy for Superior Court judge because he owes federal taxes, which aren’t a part of his bankruptcy payment plan.

Then, last week Hephzibah resident Willie E. Cooper Jr. challenged sheriff candidate Richard Roundtree’s eligibility because of his federal tax liens and state tax executions.

The Georgia Constitution states that anyone who doesn’t pay his or her taxes in full or file a payment plan to repay the full amount is not eligible to run for public office.

Candidates sign an affidavit when qualifying that states, “I am not a defaulter for any federal, state, county, municipal, or school system taxes required of such office holder or candidate.”

It adds that in the cases of those who are, “such ineligibility may be removed at any time by full payment thereof, or by making payments to the tax authority pursuant to a payment plan of under such other conditions as the General Assembly may provide by general law (pursuant to Ga. Const. Art. II, Sec. II, Paragraph III).”

So, if they sign the affidavit knowing they owe taxes and haven’t worked out a payment plan with the taxing authority, it’s a false affidavit that subjects them to criminal penalties. So sayeth the affidavit right above where candidates sign to qualify.

Oh, just go ahead and sign it. Who cares about the Georgia Constitution and some silly old law?

SPIDERS AND SNAKES: Last week, I gave you my honest opinion of the sheriff candidates.

This week, I’m giving you my honest opinion of the Augusta government administration.

With the exception of Deputy Administrator Tameka Allen and maybe one or two others, the administration, the law department and the human resources team that investigated allegations of time-card fraud in the recreation department are incompetent.

Administrator Fred Russell is such a snake in the grass, I can hardly stand to go to the Marble Palace anymore.

Former Director Tom Beck was fired for signing Operations Manager Melinda Pearson’s time card paying her for comp days, and Pearson was demoted to maintenance worker on grounds that, as an exempt (salaried) employee, she was ineligible for comp time and had none coming anyway.

Never mind that she’d worked 47 hours of overtime and that comp time for exempt recreation employees who worked nights and weekends was long-standing policy and practice.

What makes this kangaroo court comical, or would if two people’s lives, reputations and careers hadn’t been ruined, is that Russell himself has paid exempt recreation employees for overtime, Beck said.

In 2005, the city set up a service center at May Park after hurricane Katrina to house the Red Cross, GEMA and FEMA.

Some recreation administrators, including now-deceased Assistant Director Robert Howard, then-facilities director Joanie Smith and others, worked and Russell authorized overtime pay for them.

“I vehemently disagreed with him because we had people out working softball tournaments and tennis tournaments and working their buns off,” Beck said. “So he actually paid these people overtime. Now I’m getting fired for it.”

I hope you have the records to prove it, Tom.

OPEN RECORDS OPENED HIS EYES: Beck also just had his first brush with the city law department and open records requests.

“I paid $78 for six hours worth of time and $13 worth of printing, but the time is the problem,” he said. “I knew exactly where the documents were when I asked for them. At the most, it should have taken one hour.”

NAME DROPPER: Commissioner Jerry Brigham’s resolution asking that the word “Augusta” be in the new name of the consolidated GHSU/ASU will be up for a commission vote next week.

I’ve been giving this some thought and, like hundreds of other people, have suggestions. One is Deke University. Somehow it has the ring of familiarity.

I thought of several others, but they were already taken, such as Olympia University, which would fit right in with plans to make the downtown area a sports mecca.

Then I hit on this: Georgia Arts, Sciences, Business, Research & Philosophy – GASBURP. The alma mater would be “I Feel Good.”

SUNNY ACRES: “Have you read Sunny Acres, Pat?” author Naomi Williams asked as Pat Mangum, the last of the foursome at the table next to ours in the Brandon Wilde dining room, was leaving.

“I haven’t finished it,” Mangum replied. “I read at night and fall asleep.”

“Do you mean my book puts you to sleep?” Williams asked.

“I’m going to finish it,” Mangum said. “I just read a little bit every night.”

Then Glynn Rogier, a thinly disguised character in Sunny Acres, came in, and Williams ordered her to come over.

“Please,” Rogier said. “Come over, please.”

“Come over here,” Williams repeated.

“Please,” said Rogier, standing her ground.

Williams finally said the magic word, and Rogier came over.

“She’s bossing everybody around like she’s still teaching,” I said, laughing.

Williams taught English to Augusta children for 42 years, and still can’t stop rooting out bad grammar wherever she hears it, often with the famous arched eyebrow and stare.

That is, when she’s not selling Sunny Acres, her third, and she says, last book.

“Amy, how’s your little boy?” she asked a Brandon Wilde employee clearing a table.

“Good,” Amy replied.

“Does that mean he’s not naughty?” Williams asked.

I think the lesson was lost on Amy.

“I loved teaching,” Williams said after we’d gone to her apartment at Brandon Wilde. “Every class was different. I never taught the class the same way. I worked hard. I never taught anything I didn’t reread. And why they were scared of me, I don’t know, but now they love me.”

She never had children, but a week never passes that she doesn’t hear from one of her former students.

“They are my children,” she said.

And many of those children, including three of her former Star students, Dr. Karen Abele DeVore of Spartanburg, S.C.; Dr. Stephen Luxemberg of Atlanta; and Dr. Brian Beasley, professor of mathematics at Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C., came to Augusta for her book signing and birthday party at Brandon Wilde.

“One day I was teaching the difference between ‘lie’ and ‘lay,’ and I said, ‘My dog Ariel knows ‘lay’ is a transitive verb and has to have an object,” Williams said. “He knows that ‘lie’ is an intransitive verb and does not have an object. If I say, ‘lay down, Ariel,’ he won’t move. If I say ‘lie down, Ariel,’ he will lie down.”

One day Brian came by her house and gave the dog a test. He said, “Lay down, Ariel,” and the dog didn’t move. Then he said, “Lie down, Ariel,” and Ariel lay down.

“Brian said, ‘I don’t believe it! I don’t believe it!’” Williams said. “But it was an accident.”

All of her dogs have been named after Shakespearean characters.

After visiting awhile and observing Williams’ long-haired dachshund, Prince Hamlet, throw his head back and howl along when she sang “Hallelujah, Hallelujah,” she let me out of the gated community.

“Have you read Sunny Acres? she asked resident Janet Meinhold.

Williams will sign copies of “Sunny Acres,” a poignant and funny book, at the main library in downtown Augusta on Saturday, beginning at 2 p.m.

Comments (15) Add comment
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janderson1945
1968
Points
janderson1945 06/03/12 - 12:33 am
8
1
Karma

So, Richard Roundtree has his lawyer file a motion against candidate Robbie Silas because his high school diploma wasn’t certified. It wasn’t technically but Silas did graduate from High School even if he can’t follow instructions properly. Karma comes along and now and Silas needs to have his day. Whala…A motion has now been filed against Roundtree because he owes over $15,000.00 in taxes and has other liens on top of that. Frankly, neither are qualified to be our Sheriff. At least Willie Saunders had a plan worked out and did everything the right and legal way – he may have had to file bankruptcy but hey, times are tough and he is paying the majority and is still a good person who does a good job for our community.

I think this should be entered as Quote of the Year: “Administrator Fred Russell is such a snake in the grass, I can hardly stand to go to the Marble Palace anymore.”

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 06/03/12 - 03:01 am
2
1
Sylvia can you tell us what

Sylvia can you tell us what local leaders are referred to by Morris News Service contributor Walter C Jones in the following May 15th article?

" The Augusta marriage is a friendly one, arranged by local leaders who believe one medium-size university will give the city more heft than two small ones."

http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/government/2012-05-14/state-panel-stru...

No_Longer_Amazed
5146
Points
No_Longer_Amazed 06/03/12 - 06:00 am
6
0
Like I commented last week......

If Lawyer Long says that "anyone who doesn’t pay their taxes in full or file a payment plan to repay the full amount is not eligible to run for public office," why would it not also apply to candidates in the sheriff's race? Lawyer Lyons has already said that if candidates are "not ligit they need to be called out" in the high school diploma debacle!

JohnBrownAug
1962
Points
JohnBrownAug 06/03/12 - 06:10 am
6
0
"Administrator Fred Russell

"Administrator Fred Russell is such a snake in the grass, I can hardly stand to go to the Marble Palace anymore."

Hahaha..I love it. There are public figures I'm going to start calling that.

About the Law Dept and the copying fees, it's becoming apparent there is an intentional policy to delay, overcharge and generally discourage the public and media from obtaining copies of records. This issue needs to be addressed by the Commission and firm directives given to stop the petty behavior. It is a direct infringement on the newspaper's ability to find facts.

I would go so far as to say nothing should be charged for the time spent finding the requested documents. It's up to the departments to keep documents filed so they easily find them. It's ludicrous the fees they are charging. At the most it should be something like ten cents a page.

The Law Dept. is getting hung up in their closed shop with legalese and not showing common sense unless they are trying to justify themselves with made-up work. It's a totally ridiculous situation that has to be stopped immediately.

seenitB4
97384
Points
seenitB4 06/03/12 - 06:39 am
4
0
A snake...

A snake in the grass....hohahahohahah...I hope LLamb sees this!

eb97
835
Points
eb97 06/03/12 - 08:34 am
4
0
Snake in the grass.....LOL

I just wish more tax payers would attend the meetings at the marble palace so they could see where Sylvia is coming from. I have attended a few myself and you really just want to jump out of your seat and Boo the Snake in the Grass after speaking, but then that would not be polite or allowed. But sometimes, you just want to let these people know how you feel about what they have just stated.
Please, attend some of these meetings, I assure you, you will be entertained by the sheer stupidity

csraguy
2395
Points
csraguy 06/03/12 - 10:14 am
5
0
Snake in the grass...

Now, thats funny! Fred's job is one I certainly would never want to do - trying to manage at the direction of the commission is probably nearly impossible but I do certainly think it could be done much better.

Khan'tB4Real
948
Points
Khan'tB4Real 06/03/12 - 10:33 am
5
0
Some snakes are more poisonous ...
Unpublished

Honestly I hope you don't believe that Fred Russell is the ONLY snake in the grass. Compared to some of the high ranking officials in the RC government who think targeting people is an olympic sport. There are some king cobras out there who make Fred Russell look like a garter snake! Including some candidates for office this year.

gcap
290
Points
gcap 06/03/12 - 10:57 am
3
0
Congratulations, Ms. Williams!

A number of educators worked at Langford Junior High when I attended. Only two could claim to be teachers. Thank you, Ms. Williams and Ms. Esther Parrish. You taught. And we learned.

seenitB4
97384
Points
seenitB4 06/03/12 - 12:18 pm
5
0
Thanks khant B4eal

Thanks for putting the facts on the table....just be careful with names on here....cause ole Sean the bossman won't allow that...

You are adding some light to the darkness.....we need that sooo much!

Georgia1964
36
Points
Georgia1964 06/03/12 - 04:18 pm
9
1
elected officials

Wake up Augusta....Roundtree as Sheriff..OMG!!! I dare not vote for someone that is fiscally irresponsible. Silas, please read the criteria for candidacy...Hooked on Phonics...Ivey..Ehh duh!!Is there a Rosetta Stone CD for the English Language. We need to vote for someone that is educated and most importantly have common sense. Augusta is the second largest city and we act like the Beverly Hillbillies! The time is now for us to vote people into office that are capable of protecing the citizens of Augusta, Richmond County. Let's be proactive, rather than reactive!

itsanotherday1
48303
Points
itsanotherday1 06/03/12 - 05:03 pm
3
4
Qualifications are

Qualifications are immaterial; the vote will fall along racial lines. (see: 2008 presidential race)

JohnBrownAug
1962
Points
JohnBrownAug 06/03/12 - 05:13 pm
5
2
Isanotherday, you are

Isanotherday, you are absolutely right. Voting follows racial lines all over the nation. It's normal and doesn't mean we are any more racist here.

Khan'tB4Real
948
Points
Khan'tB4Real 06/03/12 - 11:28 pm
3
5
Fiscally irresponsible
Unpublished

Fiscally irresponsible bothers you, but MORALLY irresponsible doesn't? So there's a problem owing taxes, not being the best public speaker, etc. BUT breaking the covenant of marriage is NO BIG DEAL? Yeah, great leader and role model.

rebellious
21863
Points
rebellious 06/04/12 - 01:21 pm
0
2
GA64 & JAnd45, you missed the point

I know this comment is late and will probably be missed because you have moved on to todays dribble for comments, BUT..... Silas is one of maybe two candidates who followed the instructions. They called for a certified copy of the candidate's High School Diploma. Not a replica, a copy of the original. Not a replication, not a duplication, and certainly not a document signed by a Superintendant not even in office at the time the original was issued. Certification of that "copy", when adhering to the instructions, is made by virtue of a Notary Public assigning signature and seal to the copy. That is what Mr. Silas did. How in the heck could the current Superintendants signature appear on a copy of a diploma which was issued (?) years ago? The idea is to document the diploma, and therefore the High School education, by having a copy of the original certified as being a copy of the original. Not really that difficult for most to understand when the twists and distortions of the truth are removed.

JohnBrownAug
1962
Points
JohnBrownAug 06/04/12 - 02:40 pm
1
1
It was kind of a cheap shot

It was kind of a cheap shot throwing Silas in with the tax deadbeats. He did nothing wrong.

JRC2024
10420
Points
JRC2024 06/11/12 - 08:10 am
0
0
I wonder where my high school

I wonder where my high school diploma is. Haven't seen it since I graduated.

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