Sylvia Cooper

City Ink columnist and correspondent for The Augusta Chronicle.

Commission rhetoric hits new low at meeting

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Augusta Commission members could well take a page out of GRU President Ricardo Azziz’s book and hire a media consultant to help improve their image.

On the other hand, it might be too late. A cheaper solution would be to just take a slow boat to China.

Commission rhetoric hit a new low at the most recent regular meeting. It all started when commissioners Joe Jackson, Don­nie Smith, Grady Smith and Wayne Guilfoyle blocked a request from CSRA Business League Pres­i­dent Ellis Allbright to meet with Administrator Fred Russell to discuss a proposed contract.

The league wants to help administer the city’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program for about $175,000. The opposing commissioners contend the city is already paying people to do that job and see no reason to pay other folks to do it too.

NOTHING BUT SOUR NOTES: When the vote to authorize the Allbright-Russell meeting failed, Commissioner Marion Williams let the hammer down.

“I’m really tired of sitting up here, pretending we’re all getting along,” he said. “Pretending everybody’s singing Kumbaya. We ain’t singing nothing up here. And it’s a disgrace. I’m really fed up. The man (Allbright) has been here three or four times asking just to put a conversation together, and we won’t even vote to do that.”

That prompted dire warnings about Augusta’s future and an exchange between Williams and Grady Smith, which was gaveled down by Mayor Pro Tem Corey Johnson.

IS IT JUST ME OR DO OUR BLACK COMMISSIONERS ONLY FIND FAULT WITH WHITE EMPLOYEES? Because Wil­liams had put an item on the agenda calling for a no-confidence vote on Gen­eral Counsel Andrew MacKenzie, he spoke first and accused the attorney of giving bad opinions and lying.

“He has flat-footed lied to us in this meeting,” Wil­liams said.

He was just getting wound up good when John­son interrupted to say Jackson and Grady Smith had a motion and a second on the floor to adjourn. So they voted, but the motion failed.

The delay, however, gave Williams time to get his second wind, to everyone’s eternal regret.

Next up was Commis­sioner Alvin Mason, whose complaint concerned an e-mail he’d sent MacKenzie with questions about a previous motion to change the times of committee and commission meetings. Mason spent far too long taking issue with the motion and MacKenzie’s lack of response to his e-mail, which seemed to irritate him most of all.

I could go into it all here, but try as I might, I couldn’t understand the intricacies of what Mason was saying, and life is too short anyway, so we’ll skip to Commis­sioner Bill Lockett, who accused MacKenzie of numerous flawed contracts and showing favoritism to certain commissioners.

For the sake of brevity, I’ll summarize Lockett’s complaints, which concerned what he said were the law department’s “flawed contracts” that have been “complete, abject failures.”

“We can start off with
the golf course,” Lockett said. “McKenzie from Scotland. Very poor contract. A thousand dollars a month. We didn’t collect on that. We ended up having to pay on that. Mobility Transit. Very, very poor
contract. Supposed to be saving us money. It cost us an exorbitant amount of money.”

LAYING THE GROUNDWORK FOR A HOSTILE WORKPLACE AND SLANDER LAWSUIT: “Í refute all, if not substantially all, factual allegations in respect to what has been said,” MacKenzie responded.

“If I have said something you think is a lie, I’d appreciate it if you’d come to my office and understand all the relevant facts before you call me a liar in public. I’d appreciate at least that much respect before you come to a public meeting and slander me in that way …. These allegations are completely unfounded.”

CIVILITY. THY NAME IS WILLIAMS: When MacKenzie finished speaking, Donnie Smith apologized and came to his defense.

“I apologize, Andrew, because whether you give information contrary to what someone wants to hear, you should not have to be abused and called a liar in public,” Smith said.

“I don’t apologize,” Wil­liams said. “If you lied in public, I’ll address you in public.”

Grady Smith also defended the attorney.

“The thing about it is a minute ago I’m getting a lecture about how this county will never get ahead, and then all the sudden you jump on a man like a pack of wolves,” he said. “You talk out one side of your mouth and then the other.”

Guilfoyle said he was “truly amazed” at what had taken place.

“Everybody in this room either worked for somebody or they currently work for somebody right now,” he said. “For their boss or superior to call them out on the floor and call them a liar. Disgrace them. Embarrass him. His family. His friends. You will never see me disrespect people the way that he just got disrespected. For this to happen, I’m truly embarrassed to be on the commission at this time.”

HOIST WITH THEIR OWN PETARD: “I think some of us are being a little hypocritical,” countered Bill Lockett. “For the past month, some of y’all have been working on rules of conduct for employees and public officials in government. Some of y’all are on that committee. The chairman of that committee (Donnie Smith) is sitting here now. And one of the things you said in here is: (Reads from the proposed ordinance)

“If the mayor or commission of Augusta has reason to believe a public official has violated the ethical requirements of this (ordinance), he or she may request that commissioners may authorize a formal investigation of such person by placing such request on the full commission agenda in accordance with procedural commission rules.

“An allegation can be made about one of us, and it goes on the full agenda,” Lockett added. “This is what y’all decided, and this is what we’re going to be talking about in a minute. How hypocritical can you be to say what we’re doing now is wrong?”

LICENSE AND INSURANCE CARD, PLEASE. AND CAN I INTEREST YOU IN A USED BIOLOGY BOOK? Commis­sion­ers voted to donate three used police cars to Paine College for use by their police, but first they want assurances the vehicles won’t be used for traffic enforcement on 15th Street, Laney-Walker Boulevard and Druid and Central avenues.

Donnie Smith said other campus police were acting like the state patrol.

“On Sunday morning at 9:15 I was on my way to church, and three MCG police cars had cars stopped on 15th Street,” he said. “Campus police should focus on protecting the students, alumni and buildings. The sheriff’s department is responsible for traffic enforcement.”

Commissioners told Rus­sell to speak with officials from both schools about their concerns.

HELP WANTED: During her presentation to commissioners about her 15-year-old son receiving a black eye during a scuffle with deputies, Kenya James praised the Youth Explorer program that Sheriff Richard Roundtree has implemented to improve community relations.

“We need to try to teach the young adults the proper rapport with police officers,” she said. “How to act when they encounter a police officer. I’m a single parent. I’m raising two males, but I’m a female. I’m a girl raising a boy. So that’s why I don’t know what boys, especially black males, have to encounter, so therefore, outside help will be appreciated.”

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TCB22
622
Points
TCB22 08/17/13 - 09:10 pm
19
1
Unproductive

All of the drama and seemingly mutual dislike among commissioners is beyond unproductive. Is there any hope to cling to for the future of Augusta? Sad.

nocnoc
41344
Points
nocnoc 08/17/13 - 09:48 pm
19
1
Is the ARC Commission fliming a reality show?

Its a show that would likely have a viable viewing audience and maybe ARC some $$$.

A real Lizard, Duck, Hard Core, Dynasty, Saggin, sleeping in meetings, screaming, maybe a fist fight, racial, domestic issues, JR style contract deals, type of Commission.

gargoyle
16258
Points
gargoyle 08/17/13 - 09:52 pm
16
1
The real question is if given

The real question is if given good legal advice would that group of political hacks use it.

Little Lamb
45354
Points
Little Lamb 08/17/13 - 10:07 pm
13
1
Reality Show?

They could call it Princess Augusta Boo Boo.

Little Lamb
45354
Points
Little Lamb 08/17/13 - 10:14 pm
8
2
Commission Meeting Tuesday

Well, in two and a half days there’ll be another Commission meeting. What do you want to bet that they will be all nicey, nicey; and there will be no controversy?

GnipGnop
11902
Points
GnipGnop 08/17/13 - 11:02 pm
10
3
I will be glad

when all the commissioners are black...then there will be none of this race crap....it's pathetic.

Brad Owens
4290
Points
Brad Owens 08/17/13 - 11:34 pm
12
2
AWESOME!

This is just the best time ever in local politics...

Minority rule is coming to an end in Richdesia County

the compromiser
66
Points
the compromiser 08/17/13 - 11:38 pm
4
14
If they all were Marion Williams

Check this out. If all the Commisioners were like Marion Williams, we would and will get things done. You see, he stands for Truth, Justice and the American way. I was always taught a Spade is a Spade. If you lied then you lied and should be put in check right then and there. Being a public official, one has to have thick skin. I notice that the white commisioners want to say whatever and the Blacks should just shut up. I would go to war with Marion Williams. You know where he is coming from. These other commisioners, well, they just show their hands every night. Continue to do your thing Marion, because I can see that you are representing you people.

rebellious
20630
Points
rebellious 08/17/13 - 11:51 pm
12
1
Corey

Johnson's Mayoral test run - FAIL!

rebellious
20630
Points
rebellious 08/17/13 - 11:55 pm
10
1
Unbelievable

they couldn't get a majority vote too adjourn? Who doesn't want to go home? Guess some would rather stay and have a good old fashioned argument. My loving wife gets like that sometimes. When I walk in the door and pick up on it, I just turn right around and head to my happy place. The commission needs a happy place!

Graymare
3029
Points
Graymare 08/18/13 - 12:06 am
13
2
Well it's the same 'ole, same 'ole

S.S.D.D. with the county commissioners. No wonder the county is going down the toilet. Time to sell the house and move away from this mess. All the property owners get are lower property values, higher taxes and nothing more. The Commissioners are too full of their own egos to be of any good for Richmond County.

GnipGnop
11902
Points
GnipGnop 08/18/13 - 01:30 am
17
1
Really?

How honest was Marion with the dragsnack business? How honest was he when poor people got shafted for their property for the new Laney Stadium and he made out like a bandit with his buddy Larke at the wheel...if you are gonna call a spade a spade then call them all not just a select few...

Deacallion
23
Points
Deacallion 08/18/13 - 02:27 am
10
3
No wonder

Augusta has a lot of promise and unused potential. The Augusta Commissioners truly have no idea on how to manage local politics. That's a real shame. Burning money on projects that benefit no one except the people that proposed them in the first place, is not a way to use the county resources. As far as county resources go, donating three used police cars to Paine College and not permitting their use in an official manner, like traffic enforcement, is asinine. And I think it's wonderful that MCG cops are enforcing traffic law. My advice to those that travel down in the Medical District is simple. Follow the rules of the road and there will be no basis to conduct a traffic stop. I think the Augusta Commissioners would do well to follow that logic themselves.

corgimom
31462
Points
corgimom 08/18/13 - 05:08 am
14
2
“We need to try to teach the

“We need to try to teach the young adults the proper rapport with police officers,” she said. “How to act when they encounter a police officer. I’m a single parent. I’m raising two males, but I’m a female. I’m a girl raising a boy. So that’s why I don’t know what boys, especially black males, have to encounter, so therefore, outside help will be appreciated.”

I raised a son, and I was a single mother for part of that time, I didn't look to agencies to help raise him. That was my job.

And I taught my son how to handle himself if he was stopped by the police, and he managed just fine. How hard is it to teach the concept "Never run from the police, bad things will happen"?

nocnoc
41344
Points
nocnoc 08/18/13 - 06:48 am
8
2
An ALL Black commission getting along ☻☻☻☻☻☺☺☺

Ever heard of BOB?
Even though it was sarcas, I have to laugh at the idea of an
ALL Black commission getting alone.

I have lived in and around the Black Communities a part of my life and I have heard dozens of different insults where one Black would challenge how black another was.

Corigmom can likely share a few she has heard also.

A few I have heard, that I can quickly remember, over the years:

Crack'ar in a black suit,
Ain't black enough to understand,
Too much Red, not enough Bone.
ain't black enough to understand,
He's a Brownie,
Has too much white blood,

Yes some Blacks discriminate against how black or not, another black is.

myfather15
54869
Points
myfather15 08/18/13 - 06:46 am
7
2
If the truth offends someone,

If the truth offends someone, then maybe they NEED to be offended!!

nocnoc
41344
Points
nocnoc 08/18/13 - 06:51 am
11
1
Motto

The ARC Downtown Commissioners Motto
"When Errors have been made. Others will be blamed."

nocnoc
41344
Points
nocnoc 08/18/13 - 07:55 am
1
1
 

 deleted

seenitB4
85748
Points
seenitB4 08/18/13 - 07:32 am
6
1
Turn it up--turn it over & turn it loose

"Won't be long now"...that is what my dad said right before he died....& that my friend is happening to Richmond county as we speak....step aside because you can't win....another Atlanta in the making.....bye bye.

Little Lamb
45354
Points
Little Lamb 08/18/13 - 07:35 am
9
1
Spotty Reporting

Sylvia Cooper wrote:

Because Wil­liams had put an item on the agenda calling for a no-confidence vote on Gen­eral Counsel Andrew MacKenzie, he spoke first and accused the attorney of giving bad opinions and lying. “He has flat-footed lied to us in this meeting,” Wil­liams said.

That's okay as far as it goes. But Ms. Cooper should have gone further and reported the content of the lies Williams alleged. Was there any substance to Williams’ allegations? We won’t find the answers here.

avidreader
3125
Points
avidreader 08/18/13 - 07:46 am
4
2
Interesting!

I'm wondering if the GRU and Paine campus cops comment is any reflection on this past July's TASER trial?

nocnoc
41344
Points
nocnoc 08/18/13 - 07:53 am
13
0
I have a picture of this meeting in my mind

Most of the commissioners in each others faces and whining like spoiled brats on a playground, about who owns the sandbox.

Then there is Wayne Guilfoyle, sitting there with his head in his hands.

Yes, I have to wonder what is going through his mind?

Is It Thoughts Like:

* I spend time away from my family for this?

* I spend time away from my business for this?

* I get accused of things I did not do, but then 2 months later I see other 2 commissioners openly take bribes of free tickets, free contractor paid trips and campaign donations.

But nothing is said?

nocnoc
41344
Points
nocnoc 08/18/13 - 07:56 am
5
2
Question

Isn't about time to redraw the District lines?
When was the last time they were adjusted?

seenitB4
85748
Points
seenitB4 08/18/13 - 07:59 am
8
1
Sheriff--The Mayor & the candle stick maker

We will run this county as we see fit....

and yall want me to move back to RICHMOND COUNTY...surely you jest.:)

leebraxjr
270
Points
leebraxjr 08/18/13 - 08:09 am
2
2
Running for Office

With respect to all the commissioners in Augusta, I am formally submitting that I will be running for office during the next election.

gildea09
57
Points
gildea09 08/18/13 - 08:51 am
5
2
disappointed

If the quotes made by Donnie Smith are accurate, I would like to know were they made by Lt Donnie Smith, Georgia State Patrol or Commissioner Donnie Smith. It is disappointing to hear of a law enforcement officer disrespecting another agency for enforcing traffic laws. I understand politics, but how does Lt/Commissioner Smith balance his obligations to enforce the laws and pander to his voters?? If the quotes are true, I guess we have that answer, don't we?

Since we (the faculty, staff and students) of GRU have to cross those streets every day to get to and from our cars, the fact that our police officers are visible and active makes us feel safe. If you don't want a ticket, don't violate the law, especially around our campus!! Oh BTW, I happen to know all the police officers at GRU are also sworn Richmond County Deputies Lt/Commissioner Smith. Another little know fact, being a state agency, GRU Police do not get one dime of the fines collected from any of the tickets they write.

Riverman1
82436
Points
Riverman1 08/18/13 - 08:58 am
6
0
Marion Tried To Tell Y'all

Give certain Commissioners 1 or 2 jobs made-up no work jobs that are $175,000 a year that they can pass out to whomever they want and things will be fine. Marion tried to tell y'all.

deestafford
26590
Points
deestafford 08/18/13 - 09:18 am
9
1
The behavior of Williams is that of an ignorant, narcissistic

bigot who thinks nothing of belittling others in attempt to make himself look big. There are two ways to appear to become big...one is to tear the other person down to your level and the other is to raise yourself up. Williams' behavior shows he has chosen the former.

There are ways to publicly criticize but that takes class.

Bizkit
30801
Points
Bizkit 08/18/13 - 09:48 am
7
1
How pathetic and embarrassing

How pathetic and embarrassing to the community. These folks are suppose to be adults, but they act like children. It's disgusting and killing the community. We could really aid the ending of racism by just ending this commission.

corgimom
31462
Points
corgimom 08/18/13 - 11:30 am
3
0
There is no "new low" when it

There is no "new low" when it comes to Augusta politics, that's why they are the laughingstock of the state.

We know that no matter how low the bar gets lowered, it's not done.

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