Let’s get the ball rolling this week with a pop quiz.
Question: Why won’t Republican 12th Congressional District candidate Lee Anderson debate incumbent Democratic candidate John Barrow?
1. He’s like the bulldog that catches the car and doesn’t know what to do with it.
2. The moderator might ask him what he thinks about the Federal Reserve.
3. He subscribes to the theory that it’s better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you’re stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.
4. He thinks it’s better to be seen and not heard, especially if you speak Southern.
5. His handlers think 12th District voters can’t see the man behind the curtain.
6. He thinks it’s better to throw manure than speak it.
7. Any of the above
THE SOUNDS OF SILENCE: I don’t see what Anderson’s handlers are so worried about. Just how smart and articulate do you have to be to be in Congress? Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Decatur, said during a House Armed Services Committee hearing that he was afraid the island of Guam would become so overly populated it would tip over and capsize. And no less than Vice President Joe Biden said, “If we do everything right, if we do it with absolute certainty, there’s still a 30 percent chance we’re going to get it wrong.”
Barrow agreed last week to participate in an Atlanta Press Club debate even if Anderson doesn’t. Anderson was quoted in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as saying he declined because it would only give Barrow a wider forum to lie about his record.
Barrow said voters should figure out for themselves who’s telling the truth and who’s lying.
“There are some important issues we need to talk about,” he said. “Let’s talk about the things he wants to do on tax reform, Medicare and Social Security.
“If you can’t speak up and defend yourself, how could you possibly defend Augusta and Fort Gordon from the budget cutters?”
The Barrow camp has invited Anderson to appear in at least five public forums, and he has rejected them all.
“He’s hiding, no question about it,” Barrow said. “This is not a question of who’s the better speaker or best on his feet. That’s not the point. What are you going to do with the voter card that we’re asking folks to give us? How can the voter know whether to vote for him if he won’t let them know what he intends to do?”
Barrow said he is running against Anderson’s spokesman, “a hired gun who specializes in cheap shots.”
“That’s not a campaign,” he said. “That’s a farce.”
RUNNING INTERFERENCE: A call to Anderson’s cellphone last week was returned by one of his spokesmen who insisted on knowing the nature of my proposed composition. I said I didn’t know until I spoke to Anderson. How could I? Most of the time I just let it come to me. The spokesman said to call him back when I could tell him what I was going to write. Next time, I’ll say I want to know if it’s too late to plant corn.
TEE IT UP FREE: Today is the last day you can play a free round of golf at the Patch. As you know, the course was closed Sept. 5 for five days and opened back up with free golf. They said attendance had skyrocketed since they’d made it free. Can you believe it?
CASH FOR CLOUT: On the political front, Republican candidate for sheriff Freddie Sanders’ fundraiser at Jesse Carroll Community Center last week drew about 250 people This week, his Democratic rival Richard Roundtree is having one beginning at 5 p.m. Thursday at Julian Smith Casino.
District 1 Augusta Commission candidate Bill Fennoy’s supporters participated in a pinochle tournament Saturday, and he got the pot.
District 7 commission candidate Donnie Smith is having fundraisers Monday and Tuesday nights at private residences, but anybody who wants to attend can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HE’S TRUE TO HIS SCHOOL: Mayor Deke Copenhaver has donated $20,000 to the Augusta State University fundraising campaign.
“I figure that whatever the name may be, I’m proud to be a part of Jaguar Nation, and I want to support my school and its students!” he said.
HE’S BAAAAACK: Citizen activist Woody Merry and his CSRA Help are back as of today and asking for help.
“We’re smarter. We’re better organized,” he said. “I’m back because I’m sick of where we’re going in Augusta.”
High on his list of priorities is a “feasible and cost effective solution to the flooding problem in Hyde Park.”
In July, Merry e-mailed city Administrator Fred Russell, Copenhaver, City Engineer Abie Ladson and Housing Director Chester Wheeler stating a family trust is willing to donate five acres on Dan Bowles Road to the city for a detention pond.
“The size of this property and its elevation are perfect for the construction of a detention pond,” he stated. “There is a drainage ditch already in place and currently feeding water to Phinizy Swamp.”
That and replacing clogged ditches with concrete pipe and installing culverts with grates in addition to bigger pipes under the railroad tracks to help drain water from Hyde Park are solutions that should be explored before destroying the neighborhood, Merry said.
Merry said nobody from the city has responded to his e-mail. And last week, commissioners approved spending $475,206 to move Hyde Park residents, although there’s only about $4.5 million in sales-tax revenue dedicated to the buyouts, relocations and construction for an estimated $18 million drainage project.
DOWN GOES MERRY! DOWN GOES MERRY!: Merry and CSRA Help came into the public arena in 2005. Three years later, Merry really came into the arena, that being the James Brown Arena, when he and Coliseum Authority member Fennoy got into a chest bumping contest before an authority meeting. Because Merry was the one who ended up on the floor, he seemed to have gotten the worst of it. However, it was the taxpayers who took it on the chin when they had to pay Fennoy’s lawyer, Evita Paschall, $13,000 to represent him in magistrate and state court.
Both men were arrested on misdemeanor charges after a probable cause hearing. Civil and Magistrate Judge Scott Allen urged them to make up, but Paschall, said Fennoy wanted to proceed. A few months later, a resolution worked out by the state court solicitor allowed the city to put behind it what one judge called a “civic embarrassment.”
The resolution shifted blame to Merry but required only that he write a letter of apology and behave himself at public meetings.
In his letter of “unconditional and heart-felt apology” to the authority, Fennoy and Augusta citizens, Merry acknowledged that on rare occasions he might become overzealous in seeking his goals of facilitating constructive discourse regarding issues of economic development and the fiscal responsibility of local government.
“Please know that I am truly sorry for this incident, and that I have learned a valuable lesson regarding diplomacy which I will take forward with me for the remainder of my life. Very Sincerely, Bradford W. Merry”
I’M SURE HE SAID “RYDER”: Last week, Sharon Hall e-mailed to say: “I enjoy reading your column every Sunday. In your column, Sept. 16, 2012, you mentioned former Sheriff E.R. Atkins. He was my uncle. His name was Rydner not Ryder. My cousins and I called him Uncle Rydner. His nickname was Foots because he had large feet as he was a big man. His wife Louise was my grandmother’s sister. Yes, he was a gentle giant & very easy going.”