Sylvia Cooper

City Ink columnist and correspondent for The Augusta Chronicle.

Lockett lectures Augusta Commission colleagues, media on ethics

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Before the Augusta Com­mission approved a revamped ethics ordinance last week, Commissioner Bill Lockett gave his colleagues and the media a mighty lecture on ethics, accusing the former of turning a blind eye to repeated local, state and federal violations and the latter of failing to be government watchdogs.

“The credibility of this government is suspect,” Lockett said. “Your continued silence sends a message to our constituents that you not only condone such despicable and deplorable behavior but support policies that could conceivably be financially detrimental to this government.”

When it became apparent where Lockett was headed, Commissioner Wayne Guil­foyle pushed his glasses to the top of his head, leaned way back in his chair and stared up at the ceiling, while others began looking around, laughing and whispering among themselves.

After quoting a former Hew­lett Packard CEO by saying the most effective check and balance on government has been an independent press, Lockett added, “You the media must be able to distinguish fact from fiction. We are in need of watchdog journalism, the practice of investigative journalism. … Where are our investigative reporters? The people have the right to know.”

When it was over, Com­mis­sioner Grady Smith muttered, “He got off on another one. Whew!”

It was such a farce, the only way I could get it out of my mind was to create my own farce: “Foghorn Leg­horn, or Gone With the Windbag.”

“You’re a crook, ah say, you’re a crook, son, even if we do peck in the same barnyard,” Foghorn said. “And you, huddling over there with your cameras, tape recorders and notebooks, you’re just Yeller Dog Jour­nalists. Ah say, I’m gonna take this board and whack you good, son. Whack, whack, whack, whack, whack, whack, whack, whack! Now go be a Watch Dog, I say, a Watch Dog, son, not a Yeller Dog. The guvmint’s raiding the henhouse, and plucking our constituents right under your Yeller Dog nose. We might as well have a fox on duty.

“And you, you Tasma­nian Devil Advocate, start advocating for Foghorn Leg­horn, ah say, not these other fowl birds up here. Don’t be afraid to ruffle a few feathers, ah say. Just don’t ruffle mine, or you’ll be forced to fly the coop. Remember this, it’s my way or the flyway, ah say, it’s my way or the flyway, son.”

THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM: Seriously, though, I couldn’t figure out where Lockett was coming from any more than I could when he and commissioners Marion Wil­liams and Alvin Mason berated city attorney Andrew Mackenzie in public three weeks ago.

Then I saw the item Lock­ett put on Monday’s committee agenda about discussing methods of improving public perception of the commission and how “through its actions and decorum, it can inspire further residential, commercial and industrial development in Augusta,” and decided to seek professional help.

I asked former commissioners and mayors who have perspective from inside and outside the government what they thought the commission could do to improve its image.

Larry Sconyers, consolidated Augusta’s first mayor, said, “The image is that everything is strictly around racial lines. They need to get together and work for all of the people. Our racial relations in Augusta are worse than they were 20 years ago. People talk about the South­side Mafia, but they got things done and brought industry to Augusta.

“The public perception should be that the commission is for all of the people first, and put it out we are a business-friendly county, and we’re really going to make it easy for you to come into the county. Be business friendly, not anti-business.”

Consolidated Augusta’s second mayor, Bob Young, said commissioners could improve the image of the commission by resigning.

““That’s the answer. Mass resignations,” he said.

The city’s oldest living mayor, Lewis Newman, said he had no idea what to suggest.

“I’ve been out of politics so long,” he said. “I’m 94 years old. I like the idea of what they’re trying to do anyway.”

Former District 3 Com­mis­sioner Joe Bowles said Lock­ett proposing to improve public perception of the commission after bashing his colleagues and the attorney in public was one of the most ironic, or moronic, things he’s ever seen.

“I would go back and think of recent actions and see how certain commissioners treat department heads, the administrator and the attorney when they disagree with them. I disagreed with department heads many times, but I never beat up on them in public,” he said.

Bobby Hankerson, a former District 5 commissioner, said he always looked at commission effectiveness as the art of compromise and working together.

“If you don’t work together, you’re not going to get anything done. That’s what people are saying. They aren’t getting anything done.

“Commissioners need to know the cameras are on them. People don’t want this. Where are south Au­gusta commissioners working together? I’ve been observing there’s a lot of focus about downtown, but we seem to have forgotten about south Augusta.”

Former District 1 Com­mis­sioner Matt Aitken said, “You’re not going to inspire people to come to Augusta when you beat up your employees in public. I feel sad for Augusta. I got on the commission to see Au­gusta boom. We’re not there now, but hopefully we’re moving that way.”

Aitken lost his job with Olin Corp. when the company closed its Augusta plant. He was offered a job at one of its other plants or a retirement package. He chose to stay in Augusta and is taking a real estate course. His ideas of where commissioners should focus differs from Hankerson’s.

“The commission is going to have to start looking at how we promote our city with downtown being the prime component. I understand the southside doesn’t like to hear that, but you have to look at where the major events are, the shops and restaurants.”

Jimmy Smith, District 8’s commissioner from 2004 through 2011, said the commission can improve its image if commissioners would do what they agreed to do when they came onto the board.

“Conduct yourself like gentlemen,” he said. “Cer­tainly not to act like they act. It’s worse now than ever.”

GOING WHOLE HOG: Rich­ard Isdell, the president of the Committee for Good Govern­ment, reported that the club’s annual barbecue at Julian Smith Casino last week was a smashing success. Oscar Baker sold 771 tickets beforehand, 82 at the door and expects to collect for 80 more.

Dishing out Sconyers barbecue, hash, potato salad, slaw and white bread were District 12 U.S. Rep. John Barrow; State Court Judge John Flythe; Civil and Magistrate Court Judge Scott Allen; District Attor­ney Ashley Wright and Com­missioner Donnie Smith. Harry Moore kept things organized and moving while Isdell smoozed with the crowd.

Several other elected officials were present, including state Sen. Hardie Davis, who announced last week that he’ll run for mayor of Augusta next year – although City Ink told you that three months ago.

Speculation was rife about who’ll run for Davis’ Senate seat and late Rep. Quin­cy Murphy’s House seat this fall. There are many potential candidates, including Hankerson, who is eligible for both. Attorney Harold Jones’ name is mentioned a lot, but he’s keeping mum. A lot depends on whether Rep. Wayne How­ard will run for Davis’ post or re-election to the House.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, COREY: Commissioner Corey John­son celebrated his 40th birthday Saturday Caribbean-style with a big party at Lewis Blanchard’s party place on Azalea Drive. About 140 people were expected to attend.

Happy Birthday, Corey.

City Ink thanks Robert Mc­Kimson, creator of Fog­horn Leghorn, for his contribution to this week’s column.

Comments (57) Add comment
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Gage Creed
19453
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Gage Creed 08/24/13 - 07:36 pm
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Quoting Foghorn Leghorn...

Quoting Foghorn Leghorn... “Boy’s gotta mouth like a cannon, always shootin’ it off”

Dixieman
17589
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Dixieman 08/24/13 - 08:28 pm
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2
What on earth would we do without Sylvia?

A rare voice of common sense and good journalism. Long may she write and enlighten us!

triscuit
3266
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triscuit 08/24/13 - 08:53 pm
2
5
Oh, Lewis Blanchards

Oh, Lewis Blanchards Hospitality House which like the others, are only supposed to be used Masters Week?.

countyman
21687
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countyman 08/24/13 - 08:59 pm
5
14
Moving forward

The citizens in Richmond County voted for a white mayor in two straight elections. The mayor got over 60% of the vote in both elections. Please don't confuse the local politics with everyday life in Augusta.

The votes where the commissioners disagree has more to do with republican/democrat compared to race.

The only way to make gigantic leaps in terms of the commission is to embrace diversity. Where are the people under 35? We need another woman on the commission, and somebody else like one of tbe commissioners presently who's not black/white.

Augusta desperately needs a democratic/liberal competitor against the Chronicle. I enjoy reading the Chronicle for the most part, but this paper is definitely geared towards white conservatives. Can we have one positive article related to South Augusta?

I would also like the media give the same attention to the unanimous votes they give to the votes perceived on racial lines.

jwilliams
1117
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jwilliams 08/24/13 - 09:02 pm
14
1
The following item was placed

The following item was placed on the 8/26/2013 administrative services agenda by Bill Lockett.
9. Motion to discuss methods of improving public perception of the Augusta-Richmond County Commission and how the Commission, through its actions and decorum, can inspire further residential, commercial and industrial development in Augusta. (Requested by Commissioner Lockett)
If I may suggest sir; maybe the way for “YOU” personally to improve the public perception as well as gaining respect from your fellow commissioners is for “YOU” to stop not only humiliating and insulting department heads, but your fellow colleagues as well in the very same public setting that “YOU” yourself claim you want to see improved. Lockett, if you want to see an improvement in the public’s perception of “YOU”, then you need to stop attempting to destroy friendships, ruin reputations and misrepresent the truth by the use of the most powerful weapon known to humankind. Contrary to popular opinion the most powerful weapon in the world is not the atomic bomb nor is it some laser beam aimed from outer space. Indeed it is not even a weapon made by man. Concealed as a sniper, quick as a bullet and deadly as a gun it is the three inch animal that lives in a pool of saliva behind an ivory cage of teeth known as the tongue. Lockett if you really want to know who’s contributing to the perception problem in ARC and what would be a great start to repairing it so that indeed ARC can inspire further residential, commercial and industrial development (to use your words), just look in the mirror and tame your tongue. In closing, I agree with Joe Bowles.

Riverman1
94247
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Riverman1 08/24/13 - 09:03 pm
9
3
Commission elections are nonpartisan

"The votes where the commissioners disagree has more to do with republican/democrat compared to race."

Commission elections are nonpartisan. Frankly, this racial division is getting tiring. Even if the commission stays racially split, the election of a black mayor will be enough to finally tilt things their way. Then things will get interesting.

triscuit
3266
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triscuit 08/24/13 - 09:36 pm
2
1
I didn't think the mayor got

I didn't think the mayor got to vote that often.

gargoyle
21104
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gargoyle 08/24/13 - 09:36 pm
5
1
Just what Augusta needs, the

Just what Augusta needs, the hospitality house mafia.

dichotomy
37616
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dichotomy 08/24/13 - 10:12 pm
15
3
If I had been forced to sit

If I had been forced to sit there and listen to the old, pompous, blowhard race baiter lecture somebody about ethics I think I would have thrown up.....and I would have tried to make it to his desktop before I let it fly.

And yes what about those South Augusta commissioners.....especially the one who has thrown in with his downtown brethren and totally failed to represent HIS South Augusta district because he wants all the black downtown support so he can be mayor.

And Mr. Aitken....."I understand the southside doesn’t like to hear that, but you have to look at where the major events are, the shops and restaurants.”

Well we USED to have shops and restaurants before they drained us of our tax money and lowered the level of all of our services to re-float downtown.......and then they started Section 8'ing all of their problem children, criminals, and hard core welfare cases to the southside. GIVE US OUR TAX MONEY BACK IF WE ARE NOT GOING TO GET ANY BENEFIT FROM IT. WE HAVEN'T FOR 17 YEARS SO WE ARE DUE QUITE A DAMNED REFUND. It's pieces of garbage that think like you that are the reason the southside is rotting. You've been throwing your garbage our way since Consolidation. YOU are a classic example of what is WRONG in Richmond County.

I think the problem is that the taxpayers in Southeast Richmond county have not been violent enough in expressing their contempt of the treatment they receive from the commission, administrator, and county department heads.....and yes, our gutless mayor. Especially about the ILLEGAL DUAL PROPERTY TAX AND FEE SYSTEM, DUAL PROPERTY VALUATION SYSTEM, and DISPARITY IN WHERE ALL OF THE REVENUE IS SPENT. It's time for stronger action than just complaining about it.

KSL
144667
Points
KSL 08/24/13 - 10:38 pm
10
3
Dichotomy

I love reading your comments.

janderson1945
1968
Points
janderson1945 08/24/13 - 11:07 pm
9
1
Commissioners

Our commissioners must look beyond race, religion, personal gain, and even what they want for their district. Instead they need to look at what is best for the county as a whole. Our Mayor needs to be a leader and move our commissioners forward in the right direction. Stop worrying about the past and begin to move forward in the right direction from this day forward. As for berating employees, it should not be allowed, the Mayor should put a stop to it and if that isn’t allowed then a commissioner needs to make a motion to prohibit this type of behavior in the future. You have a hired county administrator, hold him accountable for holding the employees accountable and if you must have your say with an employee, do so in closed session under personnel matters.

GnipGnop
12744
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GnipGnop 08/25/13 - 01:38 am
7
2
Aitken lost his job with Olin Corp. when the company closed its

Olin did not close...they changed the process in which they make Chlorine. They did a mass reduction in force...Lockett should resign...stupid comments as usual.

GnipGnop
12744
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GnipGnop 08/25/13 - 02:58 am
8
2
Let me address countymans post one issue at a time

#1 They voted for a politician not a mayor(he stands for nothing and will not take a stand unless consulting an attorney..or more bluntly he's a spineless politician)..and sorry but its been proven everyday POLITICS is the way of life in Augusta.
#2 The commission is a non partisan election, it has to do with race not politics and it has to do with finger pointing by commissioners that do exactly what they accuse the others of doing...in other words the pot calling the kettle black.
#3 How much more diverse can you get? white, black, asian. How about instead of diversity lets try civility, responsibility and tenacity.
#4 If there was a market for a liberal newspaper there would be one. Just like radio advertisers ain't gonna pay to advertise in something nobody reads or listens to....that's economics 101.
#5 I would like a new car...ain't gonna happen. I will give you another lesson in economics 101....bad news sells better than good news. You want to control what the media prints? Why don't you start your own liberal, diverse, pro Deke rose colored glasses paper yourself?

geecheeriverman
4793
Points
geecheeriverman 08/25/13 - 04:44 am
11
1
Diversity

Black folk are always preaching diversity. What they want is total control.

corgimom
38741
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corgimom 08/25/13 - 04:49 am
7
4
I found Countyman's comments

I found Countyman's comments to be amusing, especially this one:

"The votes where the commissioners disagree has more to do with republican/democrat compared to race."

Yeah, ok.

Riverman1
94247
Points
Riverman1 08/25/13 - 05:11 am
6
1
Triscuit, the mayor gets a vote...

Triscuit, the mayor gets a vote to break 5 to 5 ties.

Riverman1
94247
Points
Riverman1 08/25/13 - 06:43 am
5
1
Lewis Blanchard's hospitality house

Triscuit, about Lewis Blanchard's hospitality house, you don't think there's any ticket buying and selling going on in there, do you? After all it's well inside the 1/2 mile limit where the law prohibits such activity.

southern2
7917
Points
southern2 08/25/13 - 06:44 am
7
2
Lockett is another political

Lockett is another political example of the dog catching the car, 'what do I do next?' Turn up the rhetoric of what you know best...condemn, allege, deny responsibility, and beat the drum of discontent. Note to race baiting pols...there is nothing left to give.

nocnoc
49632
Points
nocnoc 08/25/13 - 06:49 am
7
1
We get what we vote for.

District 8 and two other districts got the brains and the rest of ARC got ....
Well most of you know, where I was headed with that.

When I see Commissioner Bill Lockett; go after just 1 of the DOCUMENTED Bribe, graft, freebie, paid vacation takers, on his political side, or when I see him demand censured and indictment or impeachment.

Then I will believe he is starting to be sincere about Equal Law & Ethics enforcement. Until then he is dancing the Line flapping his gums and slobbering all over us.

seenitB4
98561
Points
seenitB4 08/25/13 - 06:49 am
7
1
Really....Really??

." I understand the southside doesn’t like to hear that, but you have to look at where the major events are, the shops and restaurants.”

I choked on THAT!! btw..it isn't downtown as much as you want it to be....going west my friend with leaps & bounds....like a fast train leaving the station...toot toot...I-20 business is popping & Columbia county will take all of the bling...maybe in less than 6 years.

You are killing Richmond county with all of the nonesense/politics & dichotomy is right...South Augusta has been doomed by the leaders stupid decisions...it didn't have to happen...but alas...it will happen to the inner city too...You just can't help yourselves!

countyman
21687
Points
countyman 08/25/13 - 06:53 am
2
7
Why do the same people always

Riverman... My comment had nothing to do with the local commission races. Plus they maybe non partisan, but everybody pretty much knows who Bill Lockett voted for in terms of the president. Just read the Chronicle's coverage on the black commissioners to know where they stand on party affiliation. The comments were directly related to the actual party affiliation of the commissioners while their in office. The commission can't become racial split, because one of them is already Asian.

The mayor of Augusta is white, and I don't know why some people are caught up in the idea of an black mayor.

Corgimom.... The votes do have more to do with republican/democrat than race..

Seenitb4.. The major events, tourism, etc is held downtown. I guess you could argue in terms of shops and restaurants though. The majority are still definitely not located in Columbia County(Evans is doing pretty good though) compared to Richmond County. The majority of new businesses are coming to West Augusta/North Richmond(Cabela's, movie theater, Michael Kors, H&M, Whole Foods, Texas Roadhouse, Genghis Grill, etc.

seenitB4
98561
Points
seenitB4 08/25/13 - 06:57 am
6
1
Hey Blanchard

About this...

Caribbean-style with a big party at Lewis Blanchard’s party place on Azalea Drive.

Just wondering if he would like to have a party for the posters on here?

seenitB4
98561
Points
seenitB4 08/25/13 - 07:05 am
6
2
Stop it countyman

With this...

Seenitb4.. The major events, tourism, etc is held downtown. I guess you could argue in terms of shops and restaurants though

You are making my sides hurt...& my back....WHAT MAJOR events are you talking about? At the Tee? The west side is growing & you know that!

Riverman1
94247
Points
Riverman1 08/25/13 - 07:06 am
5
1
SeenIt

I'll take back everything I've ever said about Blanchard if he hosts our party. Heh.

Riverman1
94247
Points
Riverman1 08/25/13 - 07:11 am
6
2
Countyman Says Commission Not Racially Divided.

I absolutely love the way Countyman always brings up Wayne Guilfoyle as not being white because his mother was Japanese. LOL. Anything to avoid saying the Commission is 5 whites and 5 blacks I suppose. Have you ever seen him vote with the 5 blacks to make the 6th vote on anything? Maybe we can find some Indian blood in Marion Williams and say he's Indian?

seenitB4
98561
Points
seenitB4 08/25/13 - 07:16 am
3
1
Everything you have said?

Heh heh....that will take a lot of chewing ..:)

Anyway... we could become great friends with him after all....I would think wise people would want to"butter" us up a little bit..for various reasons....:)

seenitB4
98561
Points
seenitB4 08/25/13 - 07:38 am
6
2
If you live on the south side

PLEASE understand what they are saying with this...

“The commission is going to have to start looking at how we promote our city with downtown being the prime component.

That is FLAT OUT telling YOU where the $$$ will be spent!!

GEEZ....I wouldn't take that if I still lived in south Augusta ..

avidreader
3567
Points
avidreader 08/25/13 - 07:52 am
4
4
Countyman and The Voices

I am pleased that Countyman takes the time to participate in this forum. No one is going to agree with all of his input, but at least he's plugging away in his attempt to voice his facts and opinions. He adds a bit of noble-statesman to our cheers and jeers.

I often agree/disagree with many of the voices in this forum, but I am appreciative of the varied points-of-view. We should all gather at Fat Man's sometime and have a "Voices Convention". Riverman can lead the invitation drive. Little Lamb and Countyman can organize the debates. MyFather can be in charge of security. Of course we'd need some African American democrats to balance the debate, and their aren't many choices from this AC on-line forum. How about a TED.com platform where each speaker gets 7 minutes? I'm sure Sylvia Cooper and Tracey McManus would show up for some critical insight.

I began writing this with a hint of sarcasm in my spraying thoughts; however, it might not be a bad idea. Riverman, take charge, and the lambs will follow (pun intended).

Riverman1
94247
Points
Riverman1 08/25/13 - 07:53 am
5
2
Keep Your Enemies Close Doesn't Always Work

I wonder what our local Machiavelli is doing hosting a party for Corey Johnson? Think he is going to run for Sheriff against his boss the next election and is building alliances? Et tu, Brute?

Riverman1
94247
Points
Riverman1 08/25/13 - 07:57 am
7
3
Avid Reader you lost me at

Avid Reader you lost me at this with your description of Countyman: "He adds a bit of noble-statesman to our cheers and jeers."

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