Sylvia CooperCity Ink columnist and correspondent for The Augusta Chronicle.

Smoking ban huffs, puffs and blows out

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Smoking in public places, a proposed excise tax on manufacturers to help fill an $8.5 million gap in the 2014 general fund budget and the Richmond County Board of Elections’ closed-door meeting to discuss the date of next year’s nonpartisan elections were hot topics in Augusta last week.

The hottest – a proposed amendment to the city smoking ordinance that would have banned smoking in all public places – was snuffed out when Commis­sioner Joe Jackson’s motion to reject it passed on a 6-4 vote, leaving a roomful of advocates stunned but vowing to return and fight another day.

A public hearing on the proposed budget drew executives from the local manufacturing sector to speak against City Administrator Fred Russell’s proposal to impose a 2 percent tax on the energy used in manufacturing, which would generate $1.5 million.

Last year, the Legislature passed a bill that exempted manufacturers from paying sales taxes on energy used in manufacturing, but allowed local governments to impose up to a 2 percent tax to partially make up for the loss.

Commissioner Donnie Smith says the Legislature gave away 6 percent and the city just wants 2 percent of it back.

“They’ll still be getting a 4 percent tax break,” he said. “It’s not the Legis­la­ture’s money anyway. They carved out this group and said they don’t have to pay taxes on energy. There are other groups that want to be exempt. Manufacturers have record profits. They make money. I’m looking out for the individual property owner.”

Other commissioners, including Jackson, fear the industries will leave Augusta for greener pastures.

“You’re telling the CFO of DSM Chemicals to step up to the plate when they pay over a million dollars in property taxes and employ over 500 people,” he said.

WHEN THE PUBLIC WILL VOTE IS NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS: Ac­cording to Augusta Chronicle Staff Writer Susan McCord, attorneys for the Board of Elections could provide only legal opinions and existing law – not an actual threat of litigation – to show why a board meeting was closed to discuss whether elections for mayor and the commission will be held in July or November.

The threat was not litigation but that the public would hear them disagree about the election date, which Republican members say should be July and Democratic members, along with the nonpartisan member, say should be in November.

WHO SAID THAT? Match the speaker to the quote.

1. “Who is going to be determining what’s a cigarette and what’s an e-cigarette?”

2. “Where does the regulation stop, I guess is my question.”

3. “If you’re going to use our services, you have to help pay for them.”

4. “This is not a close case on whether or not it qualifies for attorney-client privileged discussion.”

5. “Augusta has a tendency to gravitate toward less information to the public than more.”

6. “That was pretty quick, wasn’t it?”

7. “When you start designating morality, you’re stepping into the freedoms that a lot of our forefathers died for.”

Choose from: Donnie Smith; Commissioner Gra­dy Smith; Commissioner Joe Jackson; Peter Rab­bit; R.J. Reynolds; City At­tor­ney Andrew Mac­Ken­zie; Commissioner Cor­ey Johnson; Jennifer An­derson, chairwoman of the Augusta BreathEasy Coalition; the agent registering you for Obamacare; former Commissioner Andy Cheek.

Answers: 1, Johnson; 2, Jackson; 3, Donnie Smith; 4, MacKenzie; 5, Cheek; 6, Anderson; 7, Grady Smith

If you correctly matched all quotes with the speakers, you keep up with everything, and you are retired.

If you matched three or more quotes with the speakers, you keep up with the news and you have a job.

If you didn’t match any of the quotes with the speaker, you keep up with the Kardashians and draw unemployment.

ON YOUR MARK: A candidate for the District 4 Au­gus­ta Commission seat and two candidates for the Dis­trict 22 state Senate seat will announce in coming weeks.

The Rev. Melvin Ivey, the pastor of Greater St. John Baptist Church in Harrisburg, said he plans to run for the District 4 commission seat. Ivey is president of the Richmond Coun­ty Neighborhood Asso­ciation. He retired as a chief petty officer in the U.S. Na­val Reserves and as postal manager of the Forest Hills and Fort Gordon post offices.

Former Richmond Coun­ty State Court Solicitor Har­old Jones said he will announce plans to run for the Senate seat in the next two weeks. Jones ran for the seat in 2009 and was defeated in a runoff by Sen. Hardie Davis, who is stepping down to run for mayor.

Political newcomer Elmyria Chivers will announce her candidacy for the state Senate seat at 10 a.m. Tues­day at the John H. Ruf­fin Jr. Courthouse. Chivers is a vice president at Meybohm Realty and has sold real estate in the Augusta area for 22 years.

“I’ve always been an advocate for Augusta,” she said. “I’ve been able to relocate over 600 families to Augusta, which has made an economic impact.”

Commissioner Corey Johnson says he will also run for the state Senate seat.

POLITICS, MEMORIES AND CARAMEL CAKES: Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jack Kingston received a replica of a $40,000 check at a fundraiser Monday in Augusta. Hopefully, he got the real thing before he left town.

Augusta developer Rodger Giles spearheaded the event at Enterprise Mill attended by many interesting people, such as attorney Trav Paine, who gave me a copy of a column I wrote for The Valdosta Daily Times in 1986. It was about the 50th anniversary of the Valdosta High School graduating class. Trav had found it among the belongings of his late father, Tra­vers Paine II. Trav’s father was voted “most handsome” in the class and called “Have You Ever Seen Such Blue Eyes?”

Trav Paine played football at the University of Geor­­gia when my ex coached there. Trav told me at the fundraiser that a touchdown run he made in the 1969 Georgia-Florida game is online and can be seen if you Google his name and “beer commercial,” which I did, and there it was.

The effervescent Vera Lynn Dent was also at the fundraiser and regaled me with tales about her homemade caramel cakes, which she has given to notables such as Prince Andrew (for which she received a thank you note from Buckingham Palace), Gov. Sonny Perdue and Barack Obama during the primary election in Co­lumbia in 2008.

She said he asked her whether she would vote for him, and she said, “No!”

But she did give him the cake after he promised to eat it and not throw it away.

BRIGHAM UPDATE: Former Augusta Commissioner Jerry Brigham is in Doctors Hospital, recuperating from complications from surgery in September.

He lost 80 pounds the past year on a low carbohydrate diet and then lost another 56 pounds during a surgical procedure.

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Riverman1 11/09/13 - 09:50 pm
Sylvia's ex was an assistant

Sylvia's ex was an assistant football coach at UGA? Anybody know his name?

star 11/09/13 - 10:55 pm

Yes Sylvia, I am retired and matched comments with our "representatives" - I keep up with everything because you give us all the REAL NEWS.
Many Thanks for keeping us informed.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 11/10/13 - 12:21 am

I am so disappointed that my commissioner, Donnie Smith, voted in favor of the smoking ban in private businesses. I guess liberty doesn't rank high in his worldview.

Riverman1 11/10/13 - 06:12 am
Puff The Magic Dragon

Donnie Smith is also the one who wanted his constituents to stop voicing their concerns about taxes. He said in reply, “If you’re going to use our services, you have to help pay for them.”

Does he have some kind of magic formula that ignores spending?

seenitB4 11/10/13 - 07:37 am
Haha Funny & true!

If you didn’t match any of the quotes with the speaker, you keep up with the Kardashians and draw unemployment.

nocnoc 11/10/13 - 08:55 am
Its not like they were taking away:

Your _____ Rights.
They, the 4 commissioners, were just placing OUT OF STATE Activists Wishes ahead of ARC Residences/VOTERS. I am surprised we did not get the usual song and dance that MASTERS(tm) visitors would spend more in Smoke Free establishments. You know the typical we need to totally and permanently change Augusta for a 2 week event. BTW: Watch for campaign donations by certain Anti-Smoking groups and leaders in the next elections.

They just want to make it more costly for a major employers to produce here than across the river, or in the next county. So businesses work to a bottom line, increase it one place and they decrease in another place. That leaves jobs, costs and operations.

A Warning I shouldn't give
But DOWNTOWN had better keep in mind if they tick off MAJOR employers and their employees, while they certainly may not move. They could be major donators to political efforts to

Think of what Hwy 56 / Hwy 56 Loop alone could donate to such a cause or to support future candidates that would support sensible County taxation for Countywide use. Unlike dumping our tax dollars into a Bottomless DOWNTOWN Money Pit that never seems to quite fix DOWNTOWN'S Problems and requires more County $$$ for yet another DOWNTOWN project.

Balancing ARC's Budget 099
Wakeup and quit wasting $$$$$ on NEW stuff.
Look at limiting Multi-Million $$$$$ projects to only
Maintenance and Support of existing items.

Figure out how to take care of what you already have.
Most of all quit having pipe dreams and realize Augusta is never
again going to be great FOCUS Point is was prior to 1970's.
Downtown is so addicted to $$$$ it was willing to be called a Slum just to get another $$$$ Fix to shoot up and waste.

The way America Shops has changed since the 70's and Downtown's
all over America have either learned and adjusted or they failed.

ARC needs to learn, no matter who has major $$$$ invested in
Downtown. It is not worth sinking more County-wide Taxpayer $$$$$ into it, while the donors are from the county are neglected.

Darby 11/10/13 - 04:45 pm
Jerry Brigham lost 56 pounds during surgery.?

Did the docs remove a leg or what?

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