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)

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seenitB4
72625
Points
seenitB4 08/25/13 - 08:57 am
6
1

^^Oh Lordy

There goes our party!

countyman
16799
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countyman 08/25/13 - 09:30 am
2
6

Downtown is the heartbeat of

Downtown is the heartbeat of any community. South Augusta is growing, and private investment is underway. The Arts in the Heart, Westobou, Southern National, ESI Ironman, Mayors Masters Reception, Par 3 Party, July 4 celebration, market on the river, concerts at the arena/bell, Christmas light up, etc are held in the Central Business District.

jwilliams
660
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jwilliams 08/25/13 - 09:35 am
2
3

Riverman I agree with you in

Riverman I agree with you in respect to Guilfoye. He constantly votes along racial lines and in lock step with his friend Joe “Jethro Bodine” Jackson. The only time Guilfoye pulls his “MINORTY CARD” is when his company is seeking preference in the awarding of contracts.

seenitB4
72625
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seenitB4 08/25/13 - 10:59 am
5
2

Spread the fluff ctyman

If your body has a cancer & you don't heal it the body will die...doesn't matter what part of the body...

You can't expect the same tax payers to stay put & continue paying for "extras" they never see any benefit or ever get to use...I know some are looking for another place to live because they are so tired of the uneven politics of Augusta...it doesn't take a genius to figure out what will happen when they leave......some are older & will die out..

I'm saying this with concern because what happens to Richmond county matters to me...the commish needs to look at the whole of the problem & putting in a park or so won't heal the problem.imho

jwilliams
660
Points
jwilliams 08/25/13 - 09:45 am
3
2

Hey Riverman, if Blanchard is

Hey Riverman, if Blanchard is looking to get on board a ship that could possibly take him where he wants to go, maybe he needs to look at the name on the side of Corey “THE GREAT ONE” Johnson’s ship. Can you say “THE TITANIC?”

Austin Rhodes
2674
Points
Austin Rhodes 08/25/13 - 09:47 am
6
3

Boy, have you guys missed the punchline...

On the invitation to Corey's birthday party was this:
"Your presence is a present! However, if you want to honor Corey with a physical birthday wish, monetary gifts are appreciated."

I kid you not.

P.S. ---> Lewis's party house is a equal opportunity facility. The GOP had a big gathering there two weeks ago, with State Atty General Sam Olens as the guest of honor.

P.P.S. ---> The hospitality/party house across the street from Lewis's place, valued at 1.4 million dollars...is in foreclosure.

Riverman1
70549
Points
Riverman1 08/25/13 - 09:52 am
5
1

JWilliams, Are You Sure?

JWilliams said in regards to Guilfoye, "He constantly votes along racial lines and in lock step with his friend Joe “Jethro Bodine” Jackson. The only time Guilfoye pulls his “MINORTY CARD” is when his company is seeking preference in the awarding of contracts."

Are you sure about that? I thought he just said the other day something entirely different about the awarding of contracts?

Little Lamb
40138
Points
Little Lamb 08/25/13 - 09:53 am
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1

Disclosure

I wonder if Corey Johnson will list those cash gifts on his next quarterly campaign contribution report?

KSL
105764
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KSL 08/25/13 - 10:24 am
5
2

In the spirit of being fair and balanced

Can't countyman aprise us of business closings and layoffs? After all, posters are constantly complaining that the Chronicle slants its position toward the conservative.

SB3
3121
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SB3 08/25/13 - 11:18 am
4
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Countyman must be on salary

Countyman must be on salary as spinmeister. It's gotten to where I only listen to half of what he says and believe half of that. It's certainly not the half that says the commission members can even spell ethics.

dichotomy
26645
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dichotomy 08/25/13 - 12:36 pm
6
0

countyman......"South Augusta

countyman......"South Augusta is growing, and private investment is underway. "

And I say, NOT SO THAT YOU WOULD NOTICE. If you are talking about a drug store and maybe a couple of straphangers on the corner of Windsor Spring and Tobacco Rd......whoopee. Don't even say motel on the Gordon Hwy......I can't shop or eat there.

You want to see something that is growing......come take a look at the pothole I have to run through to make the turn into my driveway.....and all of the other potholes, and pothole patches that have potholes up and down Old Waynesboro Rd. It's coming apart in CHUNKS.

I'd sure like to see a spreadsheet that compares house and land taxes collected by district vs. county spending by district.

I'd also like to see a comparison of Section 8 funds distributed by district in, oh say the year 2000 vs. Section 8 funds by district in 2013.

Oh yeh, and it would be nice to see a Grand Monetary Total of ALL taxpayer money that was used to build real property which is under TOTAL LONG TERM CONTRACTUAL CONTROL of PRIVATE citizens Paul Simon and "associates".....and what percentage of that amount came from South Augusta and Southeast Richmond County in Section.....errr.....District 8.

countyman
16799
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countyman 08/25/13 - 01:39 pm
1
6

Augusta

SB3.. The overwhelmingly majority of my comments are based on facts. I very rarely share my personal opinions on here.

I don't get paid in regards to this, and only enjoy offering the local public a different perspective.

Dichotomy. The Rockwood and Starbucks plants under construction will offer high paying jobs. The 3 acres being developed next to Walgreens can provide somewhere to dine. The Hampton Inn(Hilton brand) is actually a new hotel, and not motel. I do agree the commission should do more to improve the entire county, but specifically East Augusta, Laney Walker, Sand Hills, parts of South Augusta, Turpin Hill, etc..

I don't however agree with the premise that all of the money is going downtown, or South Augusta doesn't receive public investment. Especially when I can easily ride to Greenville or Chattanooga and see the results when cities really invest downtown. I won't even mention the amount of public investment in Charleston or Savannah. Where is the public investment in West Augusta? The businesses are flocking there, and still no urban park in the Augusta Exchange.

Little Lamb
40138
Points
Little Lamb 08/25/13 - 02:16 pm
5
0

Opinions

Countyman posted:

I very rarely share my personal opinions on here.

Wrong. You very often post things like, "The city needs to build an urban park in the Wheeler Parkway area."

Or like, "A downtown baseball stadium will create a lot of new economic impact."

Those projections about the future are not facts. They are opinions.

Riverman1
70549
Points
Riverman1 08/25/13 - 02:17 pm
4
0

Wayne Guilfoyle

Just to be fair to Wayne Guil­foyle, I'm fairly certain he has never used any type of minority status when bidding for contracts with the city. The categories for minorities that I've seen don't even include half Japanese or half Asians of any kind except Pacific Islanders. Wayne goes into the pile with us evil whites who can be legally discriminated against although we are the minority in Richmond County. 'Splain that to me.

Little Lamb
40138
Points
Little Lamb 08/25/13 - 02:21 pm
1
0

What Did He Say?

When Commissioners Bill Lockett and Marion Williams accused city attorney Andrew MacKenzie of lying in public, I never heard any reporting of what exactly MacKenzie said that was supposed to be a lie. Does anyone know?

GnipGnop
10947
Points
GnipGnop 08/25/13 - 04:59 pm
2
1

HAHAHAHAHA you never offer your opinion?

Thanks for the laugh!!!! The only thing growing in South Augusta is the property tax bill and the number of section 8 residents being moved from downtown to South Augusta. The 2 plants you continually speak of will do nothing more than replace the jobs lost at Olin, P&G and the Fragrance Company.

Gage Creed
12378
Points
Gage Creed 08/25/13 - 05:28 pm
0
0

Somebody has to do it...

Somebody has to do it... don't forget the Five Guys at Colony Plaza!
(eyeroll) Colony Plaza is due to become an Edgy City...

corgimom
19240
Points
corgimom 08/25/13 - 06:14 pm
1
1

"Corgimom.... The votes do

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

Countyman, and that is why you will never, ever get it, how Augusta works.

corgimom
19240
Points
corgimom 08/25/13 - 06:17 pm
1
1

"The Arts in the Heart,

"The Arts in the Heart, Westobou, Southern National, ESI Ironman, Mayors Masters Reception, Par 3 Party, July 4 celebration, market on the river, concerts at the arena/bell, Christmas light up, etc are held in the Central Business District."

We all know that, what's your point, Countyman? So what, a bunch of festivals and parties are held Downtown?

I have to tell you, Countyman, the majority of Augustans don't care about that stuff. They might go to one or two things during the year, but they aren't all up in it, like you are. You are not the typical Augustan.

And, in other obvious, say-nothing news, tomorrow is Monday.

countyman
16799
Points
countyman 08/25/13 - 06:24 pm
1
7

The same few people

The same few people lol...

The Starbucks plants is already brining in new investment. Georgia Power is building something in the area, and expect for another company to announce intentions to build in the Corporate Park also.

The Starbucks plant won the 2012 GA 'Deal of the Year' in the large city category. The Starbucks plant was named honorable mention by Site Selection for the top economic development in the US.

The facts suggest middle class and upper middle class people are moving into South Augusta.

Before you try to spin anything just look at the Augusta Chronicle weekly property transfers..

Corgimom. The majority of Augustans obviously care about those events otherwise they wouldn't attract so many people.

corgimom
19240
Points
corgimom 08/25/13 - 06:21 pm
2
1

KSL, in Countyman's world,

KSL, in Countyman's world, layoffs, plant closings, unemployment, poverty, abysmal schools and a broken, and broke, school district doesn't exist.

I can only imagine how he'll try to spin it when RC goes bankrupt.

countyman
16799
Points
countyman 08/25/13 - 06:30 pm
1
6

City has millions in reserves

I'll let you guys continue to make this about me, because you obviously can't spin the growth.

Private developers look at the FACTS and not opionions... The facts clearly showing Augusta is growing in 2013, and companies are following behind.

The people who find the perfect spot for companies like Cabela's, Starbucks, Rockwood, Georgia theater company(movie theater), H&M, Whole Foods, Texas Roadhouse, etc make big bucks...

They obviously chose to locate in Richmond County for an reason.

corgimom
19240
Points
corgimom 08/25/13 - 06:29 pm
3
1

"The facts suggest middle

"The facts suggest middle class and upper middle class people are moving into South Augusta."

The facts don't suggest, they flat-out SCREAM that lots of middle class and upper middle class are moving out of the old parts of South Augusta in droves, and have been since the 80's. And replacing them are Section 8 recipients and gang members and criminals. But you don't ever seem to mention the people that are moving OUT of South Augusta, do you?

As for your ridiculous comment of how the majority of Augustans care about those events, you are talking about over 100,000 people that "care" in a county where there are 47,000 people living in poverty.

Countyman, since you know everything there is to know about Augusta, please tell me how many of those people that are living in poverty attend The Arts in the Heart, Westobou, Southern National, ESI Ironman, Mayors Masters Reception, Par 3 Party, July 4 celebration, market on the river, concerts at the arena/bell, Christmas light up, etc.

I can just see the Section 8 recipients at the Mayors' Masters' Reception or the Ironman, can't you?

And, of course, Westobou or Arts in the Heart is a MUST for the residents of Augusta' ghettos.

Countyman, you are better than TV.

corgimom
19240
Points
corgimom 08/25/13 - 06:32 pm
4
1

"The Starbucks plant won the

"The Starbucks plant won the 2012 GA 'Deal of the Year' in the large city category. "

Who in the SAM HILL CARES ABOUT THIS JUNK?

The SCHOOL SYSTEM IS GOING BROKE, COUNTYMAN-

Now THAT will be the Deal of the Year!

corgimom
19240
Points
corgimom 08/25/13 - 06:34 pm
5
1

"They obviously chose to

"They obviously chose to locate in Richmond County for an reason."

SURE, Richmond County signed away YEARS and YEARS of tax revenue so that these companies would come here. And they will LEAVE as soon as the breaks are over, going west to CC and east to AC, where the growth and the income are! They aren't stupid, they don't care about Richmond County, they are in business to make as much profit as possible. Who would think otherwise?

Gage Creed
12378
Points
Gage Creed 08/25/13 - 06:42 pm
0
0

I wonder how much the people

I wonder how much the people make that downsize places like IFF, IP, P&G? Heard a rumor that DSM is looking to get out of the caprolactam business in Augusta?

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-07-02/dsm-said-to-consider-exit-from-...

Riverman1
70549
Points
Riverman1 08/26/13 - 11:38 am
1
0

The Reserve Fund

There is $27 million in the Richmond County reserve fund. Last year they took out $3 million to pay the bills.

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