Sylvia Cooper

City Ink columnist and correspondent for The Augusta Chronicle.

Spies and smokes and election board folks

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I guess that’ll teach me. I mentioned the National Security Agency’s spying in my annual Halloween satire last week, and Sunday morning I couldn’t access the Web. A connection to my computer had malfunctioned.

It was probably just a coincidence, but remember what they say: “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.”

BLESS THEM, FATHER, FOR THEY HAVE SINNED: The NSA possibly even wiretapped the pope before his election and monitored the president’s phones. The agency also is reported to have illegally accessed Yahoo and Google files, allowing it to access hundreds of millions of user accounts.

AND THEN THERE ARE THE SMOKING POLICE: Eight months after failing to persuade Augusta Commission members to ban smoking in all public establishments, they were back last week to try again.

Smoking is a nasty, stinking, evil, hazardous-to-your-health addiction, no doubt about it. So why doesn’t the government outlaw it completely? Because government has an addiction, too – called “tax revenue.”

The proposed ban would include electronic cigarettes because they don’t want anybody even looking like they’re smoking.

“I think this would cause some problems with enforcement,” said Kirk Miller, the Georgia grass-roots manager of the Amer­ican Cancer Society Can­cer Action Network. “In just looking at them, one can’t say, ‘Is this a tobacco product or a non-tobacco product.”

Commissioners’ opinions on the subject range from those who lean toward a nanny state and those who oppose government encroachment into every aspect of their lives. Of course, it’s too late for that. (See reference to NSA above.)

In the former category are commissioners Corey Johnson, who put the proposal on the agenda; Bill Lockett, a former federal government employee, and Donnie Smith, a law enforcement officer. In the latter are commissioners Alvin Mason, a former soldier, and Wayne Guilfoyle, a business owner.

Lockett spoke about the evils of not only secondhand smoke but also thirdhand smoke.

Smith said it’s up to the government to set limits to protect people.

“We restrict freedoms to look out for those who cannot look out for themselves,” he said, referring to people exposed to secondhand smoke in the workplace.

For Mason and Guilfoyle it’s also about freedom.

“I can’t support it because it goes against everything that I’ve defended for this United States of Amer­ica,” Mason said.

Guilfoyle asked, “And if they succeed on smoking, will they be back to tackle obesity? Probably next it will be our guns.”

MAYBE YOU SHOULD WORRY: Last week, a former temporary employee was arrested and charged with defrauding the city of Augusta out of $86,456 for work at the city’s wastewater treatment plant she didn’t do, according to Utilities Director Tom Wiedmeier.

Terrilynn Brown is accused of using an office at the plant to fax false time sheets to her staffing agency, which billed the city and was reimbursed. This allegedly went on for eight months after her contract ran out.

And nobody noticed a former temporary employee was being paid $10,807 a month?

The same day I read about that, I read this: “If your tap water smells or tastes like dirt, don’t worry. The Augusta Utilities De­part­ment says it’s not dangerous and they’re trying to fix it.”

WHO KNOWS WHAT GOES ON BEHIND CLOSED DOORS? On the advice of city attorney Andrew MacKenzie, the Richmond County Board of Elections went behind closed doors to discuss whether next year’s mayoral and commission elections will be in July or November.

MacKenzie said the meeting was closed because of possible litigation. That’s his story and he’s sticking to it, although there are no pending lawsuits.

Nonpartisan Augusta mayoral and commission elections traditionally have been held in November, but state Senate Bill 92, which passed the Legislature and was signed into law by the governor last year, calls for all consolidated governments’ nonpartisan elections to be held on the July primary election date.

Elections board members take an oath to “support the Constitution of the United States and of this state.” So the only question that needs to be asked or answered is, “Are they going to uphold their oath of office and set the elections for July?” And that’s the question some board members don’t want to answer. That’s why they went behind closed doors.

Footnote: The U.S. Jus­tice Department objected to the Senate bill last year, but in June the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated the section of the Voting Rights Act requiring Justice De­part­ment preclearance of any voting changes that might affect minority voting strength.

GRAY PANTHERS: Elections Board Executive Director Lynn Bailey and board member Sanford Loyd met with residents of St. Johns Towers about the closing of the precinct in their building, according to resident Jean Stovall.

“Of course, you know we’re rather set in our ways,” she said. “We’ve always had the precinct here at St. Johns as far as I can remember. They want us to vote at May Park, a quarter of a mile away. And there are so many in wheelchairs and walkers. A lot of them won’t vote.”

Stovall said they were told they could vote by absentee ballot, which doesn’t exactly suit them.

“I don’t know if this is a disenfranchisement or not,” she said.

The proposed change is designed to reduce the number of Richmond County polling sites.

FUNDRAISING: Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jack Kingston will be in Au­gusta on Monday for a fundraiser at Fat Man’s Café in Enter­prise Mill. If everybody on the host committee pays the price of admission, he should go away with a fat purse.

Supporters of Thomson resident Terry Holley, who is running for the Senate seat as an independent, will also hold a fundraiser this month.

Holley was formerly on the executive committee of the state Democratic Party. He said he became an independent because he was tired of Republicans and Democrats sounding alike.

Comments (21) Add comment
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dichotomy
32041
Points
dichotomy 11/02/13 - 08:41 pm
14
4
I don't think they can

I don't think they can enforce a law against "e-cigarettes", especially the "mods" that are a battery, coil, and tank. They are filled with perfectly legal liquids that are used as food preservatives and in medicines. If anyone ever says anything to me I am just going to claim it is my homeopathic asthma inhaler. Nanny government has lost it's " " mind. So y'all idiots go ahead and pass an unenforceable law and be ready to prove in court that they expose anyone to any ingredient that is proven harmful.

And don't you EVER let me see ANYONE use an asthma inhaler inside a public building again because they will be exhaling and exposing me to vapors of medications that I have not been prescribed and may be harmful to my health.

just an opinion
2484
Points
just an opinion 11/02/13 - 08:53 pm
8
0
I'm tired of government employess getting paid....

when they don't even show up for work. Don't you agree commissioners?

allhans
23524
Points
allhans 11/02/13 - 10:01 pm
3
0
Okay. Now I have to go buy

Okay. Now I have to go buy some cigarettes......(-:

Little Lamb
45282
Points
Little Lamb 11/02/13 - 11:02 pm
14
3
E-cigarettes

They do not emit "smoke" (because there is no combustion), and they don't contain tobacco. How in the world could any commissioner lump them together into the secondhand smoke ban in bars and restaurants (and strip joints, for that matter)?

oldredneckman96
5054
Points
oldredneckman96 11/03/13 - 01:42 am
4
9
Addiction
Unpublished

If these e-ciggs did not vaporize nicotine, no one would be smoking them. Agreed? If your lungs could magicly remove all the nicotine from the vapor and still allow the vapor to show up as you exhale, no one would care. Ban the use of any tobacco product in public for the same reason we do not let people deficate in public.

Riverman1
82184
Points
Riverman1 11/03/13 - 06:21 am
13
0
E-cigs

E-cigs have a dial where you set how much nicotine you want to receive. Eventually, you work down to a zero setting. Many people continue using them out of habit on the zero setting only receiving a flavored vapor of some kind such as strawberry, etc.

I quit smoking 30 years ago and did it by chewing lots of gum in 5 minute periods, but also holding a ball point pen to give my hands something to do and inhaling air deeply making like the pen was a cig. Opening the gum each time simulated taking the cig out of the pack.

Smoking addiction is psychological in addition to physical as we all know. E-cigs seem to put all these factors into play in a convenient way. I wish they would have had them when I quit. It would be foolish to ban them.

Riverman1
82184
Points
Riverman1 11/03/13 - 06:18 am
6
1
Dizzy Gillespie, Starbucks and Speedos

Forgive me for being so slow, but I’m trying to figure out just how something works. It was reported in the Chronicle this week that the city gave Copenhaver’s Augusta Regional Collaboration Project $300,000. Earlier it was reported that the city had given $100,000 for his jazz café renovation.

The jazz club idea apparently came from the active Matthew Kwatinetz whom we are told is not being paid by the city, but from the Augusta Regional Collaboration Project funds.

So let me ask and maybe y’all can slowly explain things to me. Is the jazz café renovation money mixed with the Copenhaver’s Augusta Regional Collaboration Project which is actually a city financed organization? Is the city paying Matt K via those funds?

Is the $100,000 the city gave to the jazz café now part of the $300,000 or is the total city contributed funding 100 plus 300 for $400,000? Where is all that money now? How much is Matt K being paid? When will work begin on the jazz café? Who chose the jazz music theme? Was Lil Wayne type rap considered or George Jones type country music? (What an incongruous pair)

This is not a reflection on Matt K because as I’ve previously said his resume looks fantastic. This is simple me using a pencil and paper trying to figure out how they balance the checkbook and who's paying the bills. Sorry for such basic questions as to where the money comes from and ends up. Maybe we can all meet at the jazz café and incubate some answers?

CobaltGeorge
155163
Points
CobaltGeorge 11/03/13 - 08:01 am
10
1
I Love My E-Cigs.

After 35 years of one pack a day user, I am now on my 3rd week of low level peach vapor. I feel 100% better. In the past, tried Nicotine Gun, caused stomach problems, Patches caused skin reaction, I think the E-Cig is the answer to a very filthy habit. (and) it only cost me $9.25 per month. I now really don't care where smoking is off limits....there is always a restroom.

Riverman1
82184
Points
Riverman1 11/03/13 - 08:09 am
8
0
CG, great testimony. I know

CG, great testimony. I know people who said the same thing you report. Make no mistake real cigs are killers.

seenitB4
85294
Points
seenitB4 11/03/13 - 08:22 am
8
0
Defecate in public?

Noooo....don't think we can equate smoking with that! We all have our habits BUT thank goodness smoking is not one of mine....I do think that is a freedom of choice, even if it is a killer.
Driving fast---sky diving--too much alcohol--living on the back streets....loving too many--on & on & on...many ways to kill a liver.

CobaltGeorge
155163
Points
CobaltGeorge 11/03/13 - 08:26 am
3
1
GM B4

Did I beat your Ballpark mail?

Riverman1
82184
Points
Riverman1 11/03/13 - 08:35 am
6
0
SeenIt, at least I don't sky

SeenIt, at least I don't sky dive.

seenitB4
85294
Points
seenitB4 11/03/13 - 08:42 am
3
0
Ballpark mail with young boy

It is hard to beat the look on that young face...it said a lot!!! :)

Like..."Thanks Dad for bringing me to to the ball park...I get it now."

and river....that living on back streets thingy will take you down one day.....we will have a niiice funeral service forya though...lol

Riverman1
82184
Points
Riverman1 11/03/13 - 09:09 am
6
1
Downtown Has Atmosphere

Downtown Augusta does have a certain ambiance. The smell of weed in the air and guys wearing funny little hats walking dogs who "go" next to the trees. These people usually work for one of the many Augusta development agencies or some group doing a study for the city. They are test subjects at MCG, sit at sidewalk tables with cheap wine as walkers weave through, campaign to keep the bars open to 5, praise gentrification or some other nonsensical term, live in loft apartments or the Richmond Summit where they can hear the bedsprings of the neighbors late at night creaking.

Bizkit
30683
Points
Bizkit 11/03/13 - 09:37 am
6
0
Drinking too much water can

Drinking too much water can kill you-we need to ban water too. Eating too much salt can kill you-ban salt. The whole is idea is that some people believe some people are too stupid to look after themselves and "they" need to protect them. The progressive mantra just like NY trying to ban Bigge Cups. Tobacco use is legal and I understand there are areas restricted just like drinking but we don't usually completely ban alcohol. Smokers have rights too-they should have designated areas to smoke in any location. Why should smokers be restricted from the same activities as anyone else. We accommodate handicaps-well smoking is a handicap too.

JRC2024
8514
Points
JRC2024 11/03/13 - 11:10 am
2
0
Smoking is definitely a

Smoking is definitely a handicap. My father could not lay them down until the doctor told him he would not do his cancer surgery. He did then and then picked them back up after the surgery. It is a horrible nasty addiction. I know, I used to smoke but gave it up 43 years ago.

Bizkit
30683
Points
Bizkit 11/03/13 - 12:17 pm
2
0
Alcohol is a greater handicap

Alcohol is a greater handicap to our society than tobacco consumption. Alcohol links with addiction and cancer too, then cirrhosis of the liver, auto accidents, and violence. Alcohol can lead to impaired judgment and adopting risky sexual behaviors too =that contributes to STDs. If I were a nanny I would be more concerned with alcohol than tobacco. Far fewer people abstain from alcohol (11% men 22% woman) than have tried it or drink regularly. Smoking has decreased since the 60s when nearly half the population smoked to 19% in 2011. I'd be concerned about drinking but you can bet the commissioners won't prevent that. Like second hand smoke is a hazard and non-drinker could easily be run over and killed by a drinker-especially on Broad Street.

pimpernell
94
Points
pimpernell 11/03/13 - 12:22 pm
2
0
Water works job application

Can somebody tell me how to apply for a temporaryjob at the water works? I would like to get on the payroll there. I read in the paper that you don't have to do anything there and you can make $10,000 a month. You don't have to punch a clock and you just fax them how much money you want to get and they will send it to you in a brown
paper bag. I don't have much experience making water smell like dirty things but we have a dog who can. I am not going to leave my name, age, race, education, or work experience because that might be considered racist and immaterial. Please reply to this column quickly because I am behind on my Chrysler 300 payments.

pimpernell
94
Points
pimpernell 11/03/13 - 12:22 pm
2
0
Water works job application

Can somebody tell me how to apply for a temporaryjob at the water works? I would like to get on the payroll there. I read in the paper that you don't have to do anything there and you can make $10,000 a month. You don't have to punch a clock and you just fax them how much money you want to get and they will send it to you in a brown
paper bag. I don't have much experience making water smell like dirty things but we have a dog who can. I am not going to leave my name, age, race, education, or work experience because that might be considered racist and immaterial. Please reply to this column quickly because I am behind on my Chrysler 300 payments.

dichotomy
32041
Points
dichotomy 11/03/13 - 06:01 pm
2
0
I Love My E-Cigs.

I hear you CG. A little over 5 months using mine now after smoking for 49 years and up to 3 packs a day. I haven't had a real smoke since the middle of May and there are still 3 cartoons laying up here in the cabinet. Haven't even been tempted to open a pack. Sure hope the Feds and the state of GA don't miss my tax revenue.

galaxygrl
1185
Points
galaxygrl 11/03/13 - 11:44 pm
1
0
Voting Precincts

Doesn't anyone care about the seniors at St. John's losing their voting station and being disenfranchised? Most of them won't use the absentee ballot system and driving to May Park and standing in line isn't possible physically for them. Heat,rain, and lines when you are in a wheel chair or use a walker and or oxygen makes it very difficult. Leave the station there.

corgimom
31152
Points
corgimom 11/04/13 - 05:58 pm
0
0
If they won't use the

If they won't use the absentee ballots, that's their choice, but no, they are not being disenfranchised. They just don't want things to change.

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