Sylvia Cooper

City Ink columnist and correspondent for The Augusta Chronicle.

All of Augusta's horrors coming out for Halloween

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The city’s Halloween party will be downtown this year, and everybody’s invited, which gives a whole new definition to the word “slumming.”

A parade will begin at the Haunted Pillar on Broad Street and wind its way through the central business district some city officials want to designate as a slum. An Elvis impersonator will be on one float singing In the Ghetto, and a Tupac wannabe will be on another rapping out Ghetto Gospel.

City finance officials will be on one corner juggling an $8.5 million budget gap. The recreation department will be on another conducting a virtual golf tournament, with the winner getting to play free at the Patch along with everybody else.

People will be bobbing for apples in garbage cans. City Administrator Fred Russell will be dressed as a homeless man with a shopping cart, pushing a new tax.

A House of Horrors will feature Housing and Neigh­borhood Develop­ment Di­rec­­­tor Chester Wheeler walking around with a blank checkbook. State De­part­ment of Trans­por­tation board member Don Grantham will be talking up a 2-cent T-SPLOST, and consultants will be stuffing commissioners’ pockets with campaign donations and Falcons tickets, so they can keep on picking taxpayers’ pockets.

Safety will be a priority. Therefore, there will be three or four police on every corner disguised as loiterers. Sheriff Richard Roundtree will be operating a shooting range to raise money for his second annual inaugural ball.

A magician will be performing in front of the Sum­mit apartments and claiming he made the William Make­peace Thack­ery historical plaque disappear before anybody got there.

Very important local and state dignitaries will attend. The head of the National Se­cur­ity Agency at Fort Gordon will come dressed as Uncle Sam but will be so busy with wiretaps, he’ll miss the parade.

Dr. Ricardo Azziz, the president of Georgia Re­gents University, would come dressed as God, but since nobody knows exactly what God looks like, he’ll be wearing an Obama costume.

Donald Trump will come disguised as Gov. Nathan Deal because Deal is the only man in America who knows more about the art of the deal than Trump. Deal, meanwhile, will be dressed as Trump in an effort to shake the state Ethics Com­mission auditor.

A high point will be when Mayor Deke Copen­haver arrives at the old Woolworth building with consultant Matt Kwatinetz and announces plans to open the first of a chain of Boy King Res­taurants there, complete with the original lunch counter. It will be the first Broad Street project financed with low-interest loans for slum revitalization in the Urban Redevelopment Area.

When the party’s over, garbage haulers will move in, but it will take them awhile to figure out where they’re supposed to go.

YOU FROM AROUND HERE? Speaking of Kwatinetz, some folks have questioned a $300,000 budget request for the mayor’s Augusta Re­gional Col­laboration Project and whether some of the money will be used to pay him. The mayor said the commission approved the $300,000 earlier this year for development of the mills and cultural districts to help with GRU’s expansion plans.

“The money approved was not allocated this year so it is being placed in next year’s budget,” Copen­haver said via e-mail. “Matt is a consultant who is being paid through the ARC Project Fund with the Community Foun­­dation. No city funds are used to pay him as he is paid through the major donations of Starbucks and Jim Hull among others. As I mentioned before, the initial $100,000 approved for my economic development initiative is going directly towards improvements to 600 Broad Street.”

The mayor noted that he was able to use the city’s initial $100,000 commitment to leverage more than $300,000 in private investment to help bring on Kwatinetz, who is working with the city, GRU, local businesses, arts and technology communities and other local organizations to help make Au­gusta “the most thriving city it can possibly be.”

“Matt helped bring Star­bucks with its $172 million investment and 140 new jobs to Augusta,” Copen­ha­ver said. “A pretty proven track record of achievement that benefits our community if you ask me.”

“NEVERMORE”: In keeping with the season, City Ink asked several commissioners what they think is the spookiest thing about the local, state and federal governments and what they’d wear to a Halloween party.

Commissioner Mary Davis: The spookiest thing in local government is that we designate all of downtown a slum. The spookiest thing in the state is that it keeps putting mandates on the local government, and we then have to find the money for them. On the federal level, that the government shuts down again.

Davis said she’d go to a Halloween party as the Fairy Godmother.

Commissioner Donnie Smith: “The spookiest thing is the feeling I have that Count Dracula is coming and sucking all the blood out of commissioners when they’re trying to balance the budget. In the state, I always worry about what legislators are going to do when they’re in session. Like giving away 6 percent tax break to industries and unfunded mandates. The most dangerous 40 days of the year are when they’re in session.

“Federally, it is our leadership in Washington. On a daily basis, you never know what those people are going to do like spending $500 million on a computer system for health care, and it doesn’t even work.”

If Smith was going to a Halloween party, he’d go as the Grim Reaper because he plans to bring bad news to some folks about changes in government.

Commissioner Marion Williams: “The spookiest thing in city government is that it won’t do anything to generate money except raise taxes.

“What’s spooky about the state are mandates, and there’s no money coming with them. In the federal government, the spookiest thing is the government shutting down.”

Williams said if he were going to a Halloween party, he’d go as Superman.

Commissioner Grady Smith: “The spookiest thing in the city is the prospect of seeing a bunch of goats feeding on the canal banks as Marion Williams suggested.”

He balked at saying anything spooky about state-level goings-on so as not to rile Deal or Grantham, but as for the U.S., he said “Obama.”

If he were going to a Hal­loween party, he’d go as a Hell’s Angel.

Commissioner Bill Fennoy: “The spookiest thing in city government is not being able to balance the budget and give our deserving employees a raise. The spookiest thing in state government is not being able to provide local boards of education with enough money and resources to educate our children. The spookiest thing in federal government is the inability to put party politics aside for the good of the country.”

If he were going to a Halloween party, Fennoy said he’d go as an Augusta Chron­­icle columnist and scare everybody to death.

Commissioner Joe Jackson: “The spookiest thing in city government is procurement/Fred. The spookiest thing in state government is our House delegation. The spookiest thing in federal government is Obama­care.”

And if he were going to a Halloween party, he said he’d go as G.I. Joe.

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dichotomy
36275
Points
dichotomy 10/26/13 - 10:42 pm
7
2
I think each of 9

I think each of 9 commissioners, the mayor, Roundtree, and Fred should dress as a TAX.

Rain tax.
School tax.
Property tax.
Garbage tax.
Fire tax.
TSPLOST tax.
One commissioner each for SPLOSTs taxes past, and present.
Deke can pretend he is a Collaboration Project tax.
Roundtree can go as a Riverwalk Patrol extortion tax.
And Fred can go as a future SPLOST tax that he has already spent.

Of course the ones that go as the Property tax, Fire tax, and Garbage tax would have to decide if they were going as RURAL taxes or URBAN taxes.......there is a BIG difference and totally unexplainable.

Commissioner Guilfoyle can go as a red headed step-child since he represents the interests of District 8 and is outnumbered by the gang of tax and fee thieves.

fishman960
1502
Points
fishman960 10/26/13 - 09:04 pm
2
1
Carnival

Someone has to be in the tank for "Soak the Bloke". I know who I want in it....

Riverman1
90604
Points
Riverman1 10/26/13 - 09:39 pm
6
2
I'm Going As Charlie Chan In Augusta

Ancient ancestor once say, "In darkness, sometimes difficult to distinguish hawk from vulture.”

Forgive this humble servant, but I’m still trying to figure out the $100,000 that was originally thought to be a donation by Honorable Mayor. Later he clarified the original $100,000 came from the city for his “economic development initiative… going directly towards improvements to 600 Broad Street.” Next he coaxed a philanthropist to donate $100,000. In other words the original $100,000 was for the renovations to the building for a coffee shop and all that jazz.

Anyway, it’s now up to $300,000 in private donations plus the original $100,000 for $400,000. But Kwatinetz is being paid with this money.

“It is unasked question which prevent sleep.” I don’t want to seem pushy or anything, but would it be too much to ask what agency has the money and how much Kwatinetz is being paid and by whom? I think we have been told Starbucks and Jim Hull each contributed $100,000. Is this fact?

Does the commission have any say about how the money is spent or about hiring Kwatinetz? Excuse me if too nosey, but “anxious man hurries too fast and stubs big toe.”

countyman
21299
Points
countyman 10/26/13 - 10:34 pm
4
10
Facts

The private sector can spend their money anyway they choose and they don't have to inform the local public.

Starbucks and the private sector contributed $300k towards the ARC project from the beginning. Anytime cities begin to look real solutions in order to improve the quality of life, and they become progressive the private sector automatically becomes more interested.

Mr. Kwatinez is being paid from the ARC project and not the city of Augusta.. The city donated $100k to the renovation of the chamber of commerce...

The corporate at Starbucks obviously wants Augusta to move into the future unlike so many people that have lived here for decades.. Those few people don't want the city of Augusta to build anything new, but they still expect the city to repair the roads, hire more police officers, etc....

Certain people love to make the sarcastic remarks or simply put down anything related to making this city a better place to live... Over the next few years it's going to become much harder to spin the ideas and proposal when national brands like Starbucks are investing $200,000 on top of their new plant in South Augusta.

dichotomy
36275
Points
dichotomy 10/26/13 - 10:31 pm
11
2
"unlike some many people that

"unlike some many people that have lived here for decades."

Yeh, we can't have the long time residents having anything to say about the goings on in their community now can we? After all, they are just the ones that own their property and pay their taxes.

countyman
21299
Points
countyman 10/26/13 - 10:53 pm
4
10
Augusta

I don't think anybody can deny the city of Augusta needs fresh blood.. I mean even the local paper(Augusta Chronicle)continues to hype up Columbia County compared to the main county Richmond... In most cities(Atlanta Journal Constitution) the local paper is always more bias against the suburbs compared to the main county.

Are you satisfied with the current shape of Augusta? The city is desperately starving for additional creative and visionary thinking.

Some of the long time residents have a major problem accepting 'change' and it's hurting the current progress of Augusta.. Many of them are still holding on to the negative experiences from the past, and now they can't accept the good things happening in 2013..

Dichomtomy... You love to bring up the city of North Augusta no matter the discussion. I want the best for North Augusta, and I want the entire CSRA to grow..

What prosperous metro in the US has a suburb of 20,000 people leading the way?

Do you really believe the best solution for attracting high paying jobs to the CSRA is with North Augusta in the front over Augusta?

While I don't agree with everything Dr. Azziz has done in the community recently. I do like the idea of moving quickly, because we've been stuck in the past for generations....

Riverman1
90604
Points
Riverman1 10/27/13 - 05:25 am
9
2
Charlie Chan in The Sky Dragon

“Would much prefer to wait a few moments more to soar with eagle rather than rush to fly with fledgling sparrow.”

I read what Countyman said and am trying to make sense of that with this. Deke said, “Matt is a consultant who is being paid through the ARC Project Fund with the Community Foundation. No city funds are used to pay him as he is paid through the major donations of Starbucks and Jim Hull among others.”

Forgive me for being fly in ointment. So is this saying the donations of Starbucks and Jim Hull that we thought were private investments that were going to 600 Broad to build Honorable Mayor a place to drink coffee and listen to jazz are going to pay Honorable Kwatinetz? Is original $100,000 ever going to buy paint and nails for Honorable Mayor’s jazz café? “When weaving nets, all threads counted.” (Charlie Chan's Secret)

seenitB4
93717
Points
seenitB4 10/27/13 - 07:12 am
4
2
That is NOT true

... In most cities(Atlanta Journal Constitution) the local paper is always more bias against the suburbs compared to the main county.

They are fair with positives & negatives of both ..imo

seenitB4
93717
Points
seenitB4 10/27/13 - 07:16 am
7
2
You say this..

"Are you satisfied with the current shape of Augusta? The city is desperately starving for additional creative and visionary thinking."

I would say they are starving for wealthy taxpayers...and the actions taken by the commish will continue to run them away...

But hey, don't take my word for this, just read the comments on here.

Graymare
3620
Points
Graymare 10/27/13 - 08:21 am
1
2
Never thought I would agree

Never thought I would agree with Williams, but I do agree with his statement, "Commissioner Marion Williams: “The spookiest thing in city government is that it won’t do anything to generate money except raise taxes." Omgosh!

dichotomy
36275
Points
dichotomy 10/27/13 - 08:58 am
5
2
countyman...."Dichomtomy...

countyman...."Dichomtomy... You love to bring up the city of North Augusta no matter the discussion. I want the best for North Augusta, and I want the entire CSRA to grow."

I'm not a drum beater for North Augusta. I merely state the fact that everything is cheaper there because of Podunk taxes in this county and gasoline is cheaper there too. And NOTHING North Augusta does HURTS me. But almost everything Augusta does hurts the area, the community, the district that I live in and have lived in for 23 years. They take my money, give me nothing, charge me extra for any service they give me, and dump their undesirables into my district which lowers my property values (market, not tax) even more. While dumping their low income crime inclined undesirables out here they fail to provide adequate police, fire, and ambulance service so that works out nicely for the break-in punks and thieves. Augusta's policies on taxes, allocation of services, and Section 8 relocation have managed to drive off most retail stores and restaurants in my area since Consolidation AND ALL OF THOSE POLICIES COME FROM "PROGRESSIVES" WHO INSIST THAT DOWTOWN IS ALL THAT MATTERS. Although I think the excuse of progressives is a bit much because MUCH of what happens downtown happens because of power, greed, influence, and vote trading which pits the black community against rich business people who have figured out that they can both play their games and line their pockets with OUR TAX MONEY in the NAME of progress. Well their AIN'T NO PROGRESS OUT MY WAY. The only thing going UP out here is the number of bubbles on the CRIME MAP that say BREAK-IN, RESIDENCE, DAY TIME.

Gage Creed
18871
Points
Gage Creed 10/27/13 - 11:49 am
2
1
Study Burke and Santayana

"Some of the long time residents have a major problem accepting 'change' and it's hurting the current progress of Augusta.. Many of them are still holding on to the negative experiences from the past, and now they can't accept the good things happening in 2013.."

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

countyman
21299
Points
countyman 10/27/13 - 01:44 pm
1
4
Augusta

The AJC doesn't treat Fulton and Cherokee counties the same in metro Atlanta....

''I would say they are starving for wealthy taxpayers...and the actions taken by the commish will continue to run them away...''

While every place could always use additional wealthy taxpayers...

They all can't be running away if Richmond County has attracted a new movie theater, Cabela's, Whole Foods, DSW, HomeGoods, Genghis Grill, Texas Roadhouse, etc in 10 months...

badmoon426
1187
Points
badmoon426 10/27/13 - 03:10 pm
2
1
From What I Understand...

...some people are actually trying to find out exactly where all the money is coming from for the ARC Project.

"Inquiring minds want to know"!

Brad Owens
4859
Points
Brad Owens 10/27/13 - 06:08 pm
0
1
So this "K" is the one huh????

I bet Walt Sprouse will be surprised to hear that Mr. "K" is the one that brought Starbucks here and not the Development Authority.

Riverman1
90604
Points
Riverman1 10/28/13 - 05:04 am
0
0
Heck, I thought Countyman

Heck, I thought Countyman brought Starbucks here :).

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