Sylvia Cooper

City Ink columnist and correspondent for The Augusta Chronicle.

Augusta Commission member Marion Williams insists on leading turkey awards

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I thought Augusta Commission member Marion Williams would be glad when I told him last week that he would not be this year’s Turkey of the Year. But he wasn’t. At least he said he wasn’t and wanted to know why he was being deprived of the dubious honor.

“Because you’ve calmed down,” I said. “You don’t rant and rave like you did your first two terms on the commission. You’ve mellowed. Besides, when you went off the commission eight years ago I made you Turkey of the Year Emeritus in Perpetuity for being named top turkey of the year four years in a row. This year I plan to make you Leftover Turkey of the Year.”

He said he was disappointed.

“I like being Turkey of the Year.”

“You do?” I said. “OK then. You can be Turkey of the Year again.”

He seemed pleased. And I was, too, because with that out of the way I could concentrate on other turkeys, such as the Georgia Regents University researchers who were exposed in a GRUsome undercover video using dogs in their dental implant experiments. For that, they get the Turkey Butcherers’ award.

• City Administrator Fred Russell gets the Grilled Turkey award for the going-over commissioners gave him about balancing next year’s budget. Suddenly, they’ve decided Russell’s supposed to come up with $8.5 million to fill the general-fund budget deficit and present them with a balanced budget. For that, they get the Wishbone Award.

• Augusta taxpayers get the Plucked Turkey award because of the fees and taxes they’re paying and for the new ones coming their way, such as the stormwater utility fee, or rain tax, for which the government is spending $179,000 of their tax money on a PR campaign to make them think it’s a good idea; a $3-a-month street sweeping fee; a garbage rate increase and an almost certain property-tax increase.

• Augusta industries who’ve lobbied commissioners to exempt them from a 2 percent tax on the energy they use in manufacturing get the Turkey Gobbler award because they’ve al­ready gotten a 4 percent ex­emption on energy from the state, and the 2 percent exemption will cost property owners as much as $2 million next year, $3 million in 2015 and $6 million in 2016.

• Commissioner Joe Jackson gets the Secondhand Smoked Turkey award for his motion to deny a proposed change to the city’s smoking ordinance that would have banished smoking in public places. The Breathe Easy lobby will have to get its second wind and try again next year.

• Commissioners Williams, Alvin Mason, Bill Lockett, Bill Fennoy and Corey Johnson get Flying Turkey awards for flying all over the country to attend national, city and county government conferences, such as the National Association of Counties conference in Fort Worth, Texas, in July.

• Earlier in the year, commission members Grady Smith, Jackson and Wayne Guilfoyle got basted in public and censured for feathering their nests by doing business with the city. Needless to say, they were burned up about being made the main dish they said some of their colleagues had relished ever since former Commissioner Calvin Holland was censured for trying to get Russell’s computer hard drive.

After that, Commissioner Donnie Smith pushed for a new ethics ordinance that would make doing business with the city in any capacity illegal. So a subcommittee was formed to rewrite the ordinance. Johnson and Mason were appointed to the subcommittee right after it became known they’d accepted tickets to ballgames and cash donations for their community outreach efforts from Heery International, the city’s consultant for sales-tax projects.

At the subcommittee’s first meeting, Williams asked them to step down because they’d accepted the gifts, but they refused, and for that, they get the Turkey Gall award.

• Commissioners who voted to give Sheriff Richard Roundtree and State Court Solicitor Kellie McIntyre big raises after less than two months on the job but turned down raise requests from Clerk of Superior Court Elaine Johnson, a 40-year employee, and Probate Judge Harry James get Turkey Jerky awards.

• Mayor Deke Copenhaver gets the Turkey Surprise award for springing a plan on commissioners to renovate King and Sibley mills right before presenting it to GRU officials and for not telling them about a proposal to create an Urban Redevelopment Area downtown and designate it as a slum to save money on Marble Palace renovations. That is, until they read it in the newspaper. The mayor and Russell will share the award.

• The mayor’s Augusta Collaboration Project consultant Matt Kwatinetz gets the Turkey Egg on Your Face award after referring to the “Save the A” campaign that residents and Augusta State University alumni waged in an effort to keep Augusta in the name of the new university as an “embarrassment.”

• Regent University in Virginia gets the Big Chicken award for dropping its trademark lawsuit against GRU.

• Housing and Community Development Director Chester Wheeler gets the Turkey Pie in the Sky award for claiming on the Laney-Walker/Bethlehem Web site there was a 10-to-1 match of private-to-public investment dollars in the Laney-Walker revitalization project. Turns out, the 10-to-1 match is “a long-term aspirational goal.”

• The Overdone Turkey award goes to the Downtown Development Authority for authorizing another study. This time it’s a $40,000 to $60,000 retail study designed to attract business downtown. Good thing they had the parking studies done, so when retailers flock downtown the DDA will know where to tell them to park. Too bad the trolley won’t be running.

• Commissioners revoked the alcohol and business license of Skittlez Bar and Grill, a gay black nightclub on Gordon Highway, for allowing a minor inside. The club was already on probation for an earlier incident involving nudity, a minor and an unpermitted dancer. Therefore, Skittlez gets the Turkey Joint award.

• State Sen. Bill Jackson, R-Appling, gets the Fried Turkey award for saying during the Legislative session, “More murders were committed last year with hammers than with shotguns, rifles or AK-47s. … If they’re going to take the guns, let’s take the frying pans and the hammers. It’s crazy. That frying pan wasn’t going to go and get up out of the kitchen and kill nobody now until that varmint got a hold of it.”

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Riverman1
83728
Points
Riverman1 11/23/13 - 08:36 pm
11
1
Hard Drive

Wasn't it Marion Williams who said he had Russell's hard drive in his pocket?

But I think the biggest Turkey of the Year was overlooked. Dr.Azziz. His latest statement about another branch campus in Atlanta and how Richmond County has lost population has to be laughed at by somebody. It has to be hard to keep him off the list especially since GRU was slammed with the animal research.

Gage Creed
17203
Points
Gage Creed 11/23/13 - 09:11 pm
8
0
Once the turkey is served...

Once the turkey is served... the fruitcake(s) is/are just about to appear...

dichotomy
32858
Points
dichotomy 11/23/13 - 10:24 pm
15
0
"Augusta taxpayers get the

"Augusta taxpayers get the Plucked Turkey award because of the fees and taxes they’re paying and for the new ones coming their way, such the storm-water utility fee, or rain tax,.....; a $3-a-month street sweeping fee; a garbage rate increase and an almost certain property-tax increase."

"Plucked"? Not exactly the word I would use to describe what the incompetent boobs are doing to us but it rhymes.

So, $36 rain tax, $36 street sweeping free, $12.xx garbage fee increase, and...oh, say average $100 property tax increase. Not counting school taxes I would say this is pretty close to a 20% "city" tax and fee increase for the average property owner....or thereabouts.

And this is on top of 3 Local Option Sales Taxes that we are paying PLUS a 4th Transportation Sales Tax. They have the gall to spend us into bankruptcy, raise our taxes and fees 20% and yet the imbeciles have to do a study and hire a consultant to tell them how to pick their nose on EVERY issue AND THEY STILL GET EVERYTHING WRONG.....while traveling all over the country ON OUR DIME and taking kickbacks, campaign donations, skybox tickets, and other assorted bribes.

In a different land where the taxpayers had a backbone there would be a bounty on our downtown clowns. If anyone is planning an ugly, confrontational riot at an upcoming commission meeting please email me direct as I would like to participate. It's time for the commissioners, the administrator, the garbage prince, and oh yeh, the Rain Tax Grinch to see the vehement anger and disgust some of us have for all them. All of them can go Pluck themselves.

AutumnLeaves
7662
Points
AutumnLeaves 11/23/13 - 10:45 pm
8
0
Don't domesticated turkeys

Don't domesticated turkeys usually get their wings clipped? Apparently ours are free range. Oh well, they're still going to get cooked eventually.

Georgialina
7441
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Georgialina 11/23/13 - 11:09 pm
6
0
Let's be honest now....

That frying pan wasn’t going to go and get up out of the kitchen and kill nobody now until that varmint got a hold of it.”....

Neither are any of my guns.

seenitB4
86985
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seenitB4 11/24/13 - 09:48 am
7
0
Dichotomy wins the best post

All of them can go Pluck themselves.

:):)

nocnoc
42470
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nocnoc 11/24/13 - 10:02 am
4
0
State Sen. Bill Jackson may have gotten the award

But he was correct.
Using the limited scope of his comment, that hammers killed more (civilians) people than AK-47's in the USA.

He is correct see for yourself.

2011
http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-...

2012
http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2012/crime-in-the-...

BTW: A real AK-47 is a Select Fire Semi & FULL AUTO Weapon.
They sell for between $11,500 and $16,500 each not counting the ATF Auto Stamp/Tax. There are about 50K to 60K in privately owned citizens hands. There are between 200 million and 350 Million Hammers in the USA at any time.

KSL
129205
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KSL 11/24/13 - 10:39 am
7
1
Riverman

I think Azziz gets the Vulture of the Year award.

GuyGene
1275
Points
GuyGene 11/24/13 - 11:02 am
5
0
Thanks Sylvia!

Oh me, I've been laughing at this article. Great job! But I also believe Azziz should have gotten some kind buzzard award. Thank you for the (sad) laughs!

Darby
25578
Points
Darby 11/24/13 - 12:57 pm
3
0
What? No giblet gravy or

cranberry sauce award? I'm shocked!

Darby
25578
Points
Darby 11/24/13 - 01:00 pm
4
0
And then there's the stuffing award.

Probably shouldn't go there, considering what so many of our elected officials are full of.

countyman
20120
Points
countyman 11/24/13 - 05:09 pm
0
4
Why is the storm water fee or

Why is the storm water fee or rain tax such a big deal for Richmond when the Chronicle adores Columbia were there's already one?

KSL
129205
Points
KSL 11/24/13 - 08:09 pm
1
1
Gee, Countyman

You tell me. I live in Aiken County and our taxes have only creeped up. Seems that is not the feelings I get from the consolidated areas people who are posting here.

Gage Creed
17203
Points
Gage Creed 11/24/13 - 08:56 pm
1
0
CBD Tax

I propose a tax to be assessed against anyone that lives within the CBD, said tax will pay for all of the pet projects and capital improvements placed on the commission agenda.
The tax should be shared equally by all that reside within the boundaries of the CBD.

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