Sylvia Cooper

City Ink columnist and correspondent for The Augusta Chronicle.

Politics off to roaring start in 2013

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After simmering down for the holidays, politics was back on the front burner in Augusta.

Four new commissioners were sworn into office; a new mayor pro tem was elected; the U.S. Justice De­part­ment rejected state Rep. Barbara Sims’ legislation to move Augusta Com­mission elections from No­vember to July; and Rich­mond County Sheriff Rich­ard Roundtree’s inaugural ball was a smashing success.

Retired Augusta Judicial Circuit Chief Judge William M. Fleming Jr. administered the oath to District 3 Commissioner Mary Davis; Superior Court Judge Carl Brown did the honors for District 1 Commissioner Bill Fennoy and Super District 9 Commissioner Marion Williams; and Richmond County Civil and Magistrate Court Chief Judge William D. Jennings III swore in District 7 Commissioner Donnie Smith.

The commission then elected Commissioner Corey Johnson as mayor pro tem, but not without a challenge. Commissioner Joe Jackson nominated Johnson and immediately moved that the nominations be closed. Wil­liams said the nominations shouldn’t be closed before others could be made because that would mean they’d have only one choice. He was overruled by City Attorney Andrew MacKenzie, who said that if the first candidate nominated wasn’t elected, other nominations could be made and voted on.

Many in the audience disagreed. Some said that wasn’t right because Jack­son had actually made two motions instead of one – the nomination and the motion to close the nominations. When one lady leaned forward and asked city Admin­is­trator Fred Russell whether he could do that, Russell said he could under the city’s rules.

Anyway, Johnson was elected with nine votes, and Wil­liams abstained, neither of which surprised anybody.

CAN’T WE JUST ALL SIT ALONG: Though Mayor Deke Copenhaver had said he planned to rearrange commission seating so Williams would not sit to his immediate left, where the 9th District commissioner traditionally sits, he apparently changed his mind because Williams was sitting right there beside him at Wednesday’s meeting.

When asked what happened, Williams said the mayor understood after they talked it over.

THE LAW OF UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES: In response to Georgia’s request to pre-clear Sims’ legislation, moving the date of Augusta Commis­sion and mayoral elections from November to July, U.S. Assistant Attorney Gen­eral Thomas Perez said it was a veiled effort to dilute minority voting strength.

Personally, I think Mr. Perez should come and take a look around and see who the minority is.

Sims’ legislation, along with the state Sen­ate Re­dis­tric­ting Com­mittee drawing part of Republican Sen. Bill Jackson’s district into Richmond County, backfired, so to speak. It angered Augusta’s black community, motivating them to challenge white incumbents and turn out to vote in last year’s elections.

AND A GOOD TIME WAS HAD BY ALL: Roundtree’s black tie inaugural ball was a “fabulous” affair that raised $30,000 for charity, according to former Mayor Bob Young and his wife, Gwen.

“I told Bob I felt like I was at a Hollywood gala,” she said.

The Youngs were among 300 people attending the ball, which featured a cocktail hour; color guard; seated dinner of filet mignon and crab cakes; a live auction; remarks by Young, Co­pen­haver, State Court Judge David Watkins and Round­tree; music; and dancing.

“It was a very classy evening,” Gwen Young said. “The sheriff did the live auction. He was outstanding. He kept it moving. He was very funny. It was hilarious and fun. There were 32 full tables. The music by Wesson and Preston was wonderful. The evening was wonderful, and I’m so glad I went.”

State Sen. Hardie Davis gave the invocation. The mistress of ceremonies was WJBF-TV personality Dee Griffin.

Watkins administered the oath of office to Round­tree, a reaffirmation of the sheriff’s earlier oath. He alluded to the Biblical tale of David and Goliath – Roundtree, of course, being David, who against all odds defeated Goliath, who no doubt was a giant good ol’ white boy. The difference between this David (Roundtree) and Goliath is that after David knocked Goliath down, Goliath got up and embraced him, according to Watkins.

Among a number of other notables attending were Davis’ wife, Yvette; Copenhaver’s wife, Malisa; Merle and David Alalof; Richmond County Clerk of Court Elaine Johnson and sheriff’s Maj. Gene Johnson; Commissioner Bill Lockett and his wife, Jewel; Commissioners Corey Johnson and Marion Williams; Judge Carl Brown; Minnesota Fatz and Cher Best from WKSP-FM’s “Fatz and Cher Morning Show”; Augusta Judicial Circuit District Attorney Ashley Wright and Donnie Smith; Richmond County Democratic Party Chairman Lowell Greenbaum and his wife, Gloria; and attorney Randy Frails.

During his remarks, Young asked Williams whether he was sitting in the chair the mayor assigned him, which delighted the crowd. He also put Roundtree’s election in the context of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball 65 years ago. Robinson said that when Pee Wee Reese put his arm around him, he knew the team accepted him.

“There’s no question that we accepted Richard Roundtree,” Young said, with his arm around him.

“It was a non-racial, non-partisan occasion,” Young said later.

I GUESS THE GUNS MADE THEM DO IT: What a sad state of affairs it is that a man who has contributed so much to the children and youth in his community should be robbed at gunpoint, possibly by some he helped. But that’s what happened to J.R. Riles, the owner of J.R.’s Stop and Shop on Martin Luther King Boulevard, on Dec. 29.

Riles and six other men at the store were robbed and forced to take off their pants by three men, one of whom was armed and had a scarf around his face.

“He said if I kept looking at him he was going to turn this into a homicide,” Riles said. “He threatened to kill me three times.”

The robbers took Riles’ four-carat diamond ring and other jewelry and the keys to two cars, which were later abandoned near the Cherry Tree Crossing apartments.

Each year, Riles puts on a block party for children in the neighborhood and gives away five computers.

Somebody around there knows who these culprits are and should step up and help solve this crime.

TWO BITS, FOUR BITS, SIX BITS: It seems people don’t make New Year’s resolutions like they used to. I called several and asked whether they’d made any this year and, if so, have they kept them so far.

“I did not make any New Years resolutions,” Bob Young said.

Marion Williams said, “I don’t traditionally make any because it’s hard to keep them.”

Real estate broker John­ny Hensley said, “I made one I know I will keep. I made a resolution not to make any resolutions.”

Former state Sen. J.B. Powell said, “I always break them, so there’s no reason to make them. I was going to stop cussing, and I didn‘t make it very long.”

I, like Powell, also resolved to stop swearing. I told Ernie on New Year’s Day that I was going to get a jar and put it on the counter and every time I said a foul word, I was going to put a quarter in the jar.

On Thursday, out of the blue, Ernie said, “You need to go to the bank.”

“Why do I need to go to the bank?” I asked, puzzled.

“To get some quarters,” he said.

“Quarters? Why do I need quarters?”

“You owe that jar about $12.50,” he said.

Comments (19) Add comment
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Patty-P
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Patty-P 01/05/13 - 08:06 pm
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' What a sad state of affairs

' What a sad state of affairs it is that a man who has contributed so much to the children and youth in his community should be robbed at gunpoint, possibly by some he helped.'
I can't imagine the feeling. People don't care about each other these days. Heartless, and without souls.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 01/05/13 - 10:15 pm
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Observations

J.R. Riles wearing a 4 carat diamond ring down there is carrying raw meat through the lions' den.

On the subject of Bob Young, he's sure making some interesting statements as I've been saying lately. What did he mean by this at Sheriff Roundtree's ball?
“It was a non-racial, non-partisan occasion.”

I'm trying to figure out just what Mayor Copenhaver can do. Maybe if he brings hors d'oeuvres they'll let him serve them right to left or whatever that was he wanted to do.

Judge David Watkins is leading and prodding black folks to run for every office in the county. He said something like he didn't want one election in Richmond County not to have a black person running.

The way Ashley Wright and Donnie Smith were described appeared to give lots of importance to her, but not so much to him by leaving out his title of Commissioner. I bet that's kind of like when a couple with a female doctor is introduced.
"Augusta Judicial Circuit District Attorney Ashley Wright and Donnie Smith."

Riverman1
83470
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Riverman1 01/05/13 - 10:47 pm
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Reese's Real Heroism

Thought-provoking portrayal of the Pee Wee Reese arm around Jackie Robinson incident, but the real courage of Pee Wee Reese was exemplified before the incident on the field. A petition was drawn up by a group of Dodgers players that said they would not take the field with a black man.

"I'm not signing that," Reese told the ringleaders, who included Dixie Walker, Kirby Higbe and Bobby Bragan. "No way." Team captain Reese shook Robinson’s hand when he first walked onto the field at Dodger spring training.

Somehow I didn’t see many shaking Roundtree’s hand until he made the big leagues.

concercitizen
340
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concercitizen 01/05/13 - 11:08 pm
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"The difference between this

"The difference between this David (Roundtree) and Goliath is that after David knocked Goliath down, Goliath got up and embraced him, according to Watkins." I think the major difference this time was that the "good old white boy"Goliath needed to remain employed after the election was over. So much for all that education that Goliath tooted his horn about during the election.

rebellious
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rebellious 01/05/13 - 11:22 pm
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Discression

I will throttle my remarks on Sylvia's City Ink this week, although I think she has read my posts.

But I will pose this question: What happens when the minority becomes the majority and vice versa?

*Is the old "minority" still still considered a minority because of national census?
*Does the old majority start cowtowing to the new majority, you know, hat in hand, shufflin behind and wanting to be of service?
*Do the rules in effect before become null and void due to fear of retribution or the appearance of being bitter.
*Can the new majority agree that balance of power is still as important now as it was when they were a minority? or
*Will the new majority drive the new minority to the mat and force them out of town?

Whatever happened to judging a person by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin? Is that a mantra which is embraced when an edge is needed, then discarded when the advantage is gained?

I ask these questions because of some things in the news lately.

-While I think the motivation was wrong, the judges ruling on moving municipal elections from November to July was due to the U.S. Assistant Attorney Gen­eral Thomas Perez decision it was a veiled effort to dilute minority voting strength.
-The Mayor wants to rearrange the chairs on the Titanic, yet doesn't after Marion Williams objects.
- An excellent District Attorney narrowly escapes defeat by a lesser qualified candidate
- Marion Williams is re-elected after proving to be a hindrance to forward progress on the commission.
- The push to make local non-partisan election partisan is not dead.
- Tremendous fanfare given to the election of a Sheriff who happens to be black yet has accomplished no notable achievement in office, even though we, as a State, have had multiple black Sheriffs, Mayors, Councilmen and as a Nation a President in a second term, Secretary of State, Chief of Staff, Senators, Representativs, etc...

So was Martin Luther King Jr. all wet in that speech, or does the color of a man's skin matter?

I had an old coach once. Our team had won very few games. We won a big game, one time, and went nuts celebrating. He quietly called us together in a huddle and said "Act like you've been here before, OK?"

rebellious
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rebellious 01/05/13 - 11:25 pm
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Sean Moores

Will my previous comment also be queued for review and never published as was an earlier comment? If they are going to be flagged and removed, please use the method used in the past for notification rather than the pigeon hole technique.

rebellious
20656
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rebellious 01/05/13 - 11:41 pm
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The difference

between Jackie Robinson and Richard Roundtree is Jackie Robinson performed in his chosen profession to earn his position on a team. Pee Wee Reese obviously recognized that fact. Bob Young..not so much.

How do you spell pandering??????

dichotomy
32714
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dichotomy 01/06/13 - 12:39 am
13
2
"US. Assistant Attorney

"US. Assistant Attorney Gen­eral Thomas Perez said it was a veiled effort to dilute minority voting strength."

It was an idiotic statement by an Assistant Attorney General considering that this IS a black majority county. He could have cited any other reason but "diluting the minority voting strength" is not even applicable.

"What a sad state of affairs it is that a man who has contributed so much to the children and youth in his community should be robbed at gunpoint, possibly by some he helped. "

Nowadays if you help someone they have nothing but contempt for you. Explains a lot of our crime.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 01/06/13 - 09:28 am
7
2
A Rip Roaring start all right!

Five inmates at the Idaho State Correctional Institution are suing national beer and wine companies for $1 billion, claiming that alcohol was responsible for their crimes, the Associated Press reports. The civil suit alleges that they were not sufficiently warned about alcohol's addictive properties.

The inmates, who do not yet have an attorney, drafted the litigation themselves.

We are letting the crazies run our world now.....:(

griff6035
3987
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griff6035 01/06/13 - 09:53 am
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A A G

Be very careful dichptomy, certain posters will call you a raciest.

OpenCurtain
10049
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OpenCurtain 01/06/13 - 02:37 pm
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As it was pointed out

Look around who is the minority in RC-A?

ANSWER
The minority in a majority of Georgia's larger towns & cities. Is it time that the new minorities start demanding the same Minority rights and protections. All Minorities have had clear extra protections since 1965. Should not, the New Minority have those same protections now extended to them?

In short why shouldn't the new Majority be expended to support the New Minority?

Latest Demographic Breakdowns
The RC-A minority has lower crimes rate that the RC-A Majority per 1000.

AUGUSTA's RACIAL MAKEUP
WHITE 39.10%
BLACK OR AFRICAN AMERICAN 54.73%

Or

ATLANTA'S RACIAL MAKEUP
WHITE 38.36%
BLACK OR AFRICAN AMERICAN 54.02%

Or
WAYNESBOROR'S RACIAL MAKEUP
WHITE 26.43%
BLACK OR AFRICAN AMERICAN 70.74%

Or
SAVANNAH'S RACIAL MAKEUP
WHITE 38.29%
BLACK OR AFRICAN AMERICAN 55.40%

Or
MACON'S RACIAL MAKEUP
WHITE 28.56%
BLACK OR AFRICAN AMERICAN 67.94%

Patty-P
3516
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Patty-P 01/06/13 - 04:50 pm
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opencurtain

I'm trying to figure out exactly the point of your last post.

Bantana
2071
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Bantana 01/06/13 - 05:27 pm
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6
exactly !

what is the point? i believe the reason for the percentages is that many white residents chose to flee to the suburbs. when whites are relegated to the back of the bus, refused service at restaurants, movie theaters and hotels, refused the right to vote, kidnapped and lynched for looking at women of color, forced to use seperate restrooms, not allowed to attend state institutions of higher learning, and on and on and on...only then will we know what it feels like to be persecuted as a minority for the color of our skin. if we had to suffer those degadations then we might understand the need for protections afforded to minorities.

Gage Creed
17103
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Gage Creed 01/06/13 - 05:58 pm
2
0
If you are the majority can

If you are the majority can you also be the minority? So how long before ALL men can be treated as equals? Will it ever happen?

OpenCurtain
10049
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OpenCurtain 01/06/13 - 06:58 pm
5
0
Cage Got it...

Now than we have a NEW Minority and new Majority in Augusta, Ga will we or can we get along? I can and have for over 40 years.

But we need to AGREE the new New Majority cannot use the excuse that they are being treated bad or unfairly?

The New Majority has been in charge for years. They can treat themselves as good as they want and how they want. Any unfair treatment has rested with the new majority of the voters of RC-A for 16 years.

The playing deck of cards has not been stack for 16 years, and in fact it is minus a major stumbling block to united good well.

The all to profitable for some RACE CARD.

Given the above , what does a July voting date have to do with unfair voting tatics?

The Federal judge's comments regarding the law was an attempt to hurt the City minorities, fails all factual logic test given the NEW demographics in the Majority of GA. Cities.

fatboyhog
1930
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fatboyhog 01/06/13 - 11:12 pm
5
1
? for Bantana...

...exactly when was it that you, or anyone that you personally know, suffered from the indignities that you list?

While these things that you list were wrong, and I am glad that most of us have moved forward, I firmly believe that in the year 2013, if you are held back, you only have yourself to blame.

There was was time that protections for minorities were needed, but I feel like the time for that has passed. While discrimination still exists, it is alive and well in all races (and is wrong no matter who discriminates). As soon as we all decide to let go of the past and look towards the future, we'll all be better off.

JRC2024
8837
Points
JRC2024 01/07/13 - 09:57 am
2
0
Amen Fatboy. I let go of the

Amen Fatboy. I let go of the past along time ago because it was not right and because of my customer base. And as you say it is you that hold yourself back if you still hold onto those ideas. For those that use the race card I discount them to 0 and pay no attention to them. We all should do that and treat everyone like we want to be treated.

Sean Moores
313
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Sean Moores 01/07/13 - 10:56 am
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@ rebellious 10:25

Your 10:22 comment was caught by our spam filter. I don't know why. It is just a computer program; sometimes it gets fooled and pulls a legitimate comment. It is posted now.

Riverman1
83470
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Riverman1 01/07/13 - 06:14 pm
0
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So some ranking officers at

So some ranking officers at the RCSO don't like it that they can't give department info to the press?

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