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.