During his final State of the City address, Mayor Deke Copenhaver said Augusta is under the Army Cyber Command’s microscope, and Washington is checking us out every day.
That’s an understatement. Everybody is under the NSA/Cyber Command’s microscope, earphones and electronic spying devices.
You might find this hard to believe, but I’ll swear on a stack of Bibles it’s the truth. While researching the National Security Agency and Cyber Command online Friday night, Yahoo flashed a notice that unusual activity had been detected on my computer, and I had to change my password to log back in.
If you don’t believe me, I’ll get Commissioner Marion Williams to demand the NSA’s hard drive.
Anyway, the mayor and community leaders can’t say enough about the boost to the area’s economy the operation will bring, but nobody mentions the interdependencies between the Cyber Command and the NSA, which is under fire for massive spying programs we only know about because of contractor Edward Snowden. The NSA gathers the information on citizens, allies and enemies and shares it with the Cyber Command for its cyber warfare operations, which I hope are never used against us poor turkeys.
DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT CUSSIN’: The upside to all the spying is that at some point it will be a lot easier to write this column. All I’ll have to do is think about stuff, and the spy network will spread it around. I’ll just have to be careful what I think about.
WE’RE ALREADY MORE THAN HALFWAY THERE: “If a dictator ever took over, the NSA could enable (him) to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back.” – Sen. Frank Church (1975)
EVEN BIG BROTHER WOULD HAVE QUIT WATCHING: In his speech, the mayor said Augusta officials should be on their best behavior because Washington is watching. I hope they weren’t watching last Monday when Augusta Commission committee meetings went on so long they lost quorums.
The public services committee lasted three hours, an hour of it with commissioners Williams and Bill Lockett arguing against moving forward to build the transit bus maintenance building on property the city owns off Highway 56 because it’s contaminated.
The move is important because redevelopment in and around the MCG Foundation’s 15th Street Kroger shopping center can’t happen until the current facility is abandoned.
Attorney Jim Plunkett assured them that the EPD had OK’d the land as suitable for bus maintenance operations, and that part of the property the previous owner had used as a dump had been vented to release any methane gas. Another sticking point was that part of the property where the buses would be parked is in the floodplain.
“What would happen if it flooded?”
Uh. Move the buses.
The irony in all this concern about contamination is that the current bus maintenance barn property on Broad Street is contaminated, too. In fact, you can bet every bit of downtown property is contaminated, including the levee that Commissioner Alvin Mason, a candidate for mayor, wants to level.
Not only would it take an act of Congress, but it also would cost a gazillion dollars to move and dispose of all that contaminated dirt. And the notion of private development on the leveled levee would be a violation of federal rules against building in a floodplain.
And what would happen if Augusta flooded? You can’t move the city.
A LEGACY WITHOUT A CLUE: The headline on the story in Friday’s Augusta Chronicle about the mayor’s speech stating “Copenhaver looks at legacy in last city address” caught my attention. What is a legacy? Is it something people will remember Copenhaver by, like Starbucks coming to Augusta or 98 straight prayer breakfasts? Or is it what my older sister June said I was when they blackballed me from Sigma Delta Sigma?
The blackballing was understandable because I was a bushy-haired and socially unacceptable teen. I ran a one-girl animal rescue operation in our backyard. I loved the smell of Vitalis hair tonic, so I got a bottle and rubbed it on my face and up my nose and got so sick and dizzy I fell down in the front yard and threw up.
Sister June said I was a nut. Mama said I was just happy-go-lucky. But most people agreed with June. That’s why they blackballed me from Sigma Delta Sigma, a sorority of Tifton debutantes, being a member of which was akin to being on the social register of Alligator, Miss.
But I didn’t care. I didn’t want to go to meetings and work on projects. I was wild and free, doing flips in our yard and dreaming of being in the circus or playing with the stray animals and staying up all night reading.
Anyway, when I didn’t get into the SDS, June said she just had to take a stand.
“Why, you’re a legacy!” she cried.
I didn’t know what a legacy was, but I knew it was something I didn’t want to be.
So she resigned, but it didn’t hurt her any. She was still the most popular girl in school, and all her boyfriends drove big cars. They all turned out to be losers, though.
THE SIGNS, THEY ARE A’CHANGIN’ (PART II): Last week, we were imagining the scene that forced Georgia Regents University President Ricardo Azziz to allow the word “Augusta” to be added to campus signs. We think it must have been precipitated by a visit to his office from members of the Georgia Board of Regents who took him to task for reneging on his promise to include the word “Augusta” on all Georgia Regents University signs.
As we resume, Regent Ben Tarbaby III has reminded Azziz that this is an election year and that the political winds have shifted, blowing the smell of scorched earth and burned bridges from Augusta into the governor’s office.
“The governor has a lot at stake here with a majority of the voters still on their high horses,” Tarbaby says. “And, as you know, it takes a majority to win the governorship. The man’s got a lot to lose here.”
Regent Dr. Bone Setter jumps in and says, “Now this latest trick you pulled. This bait and switch with the signs, saying one thing one year and doing another the next, has put him, and more importantly us, in even worse shape. You’ve got to do something to smooth the ruffled feathers and make peace.”
“Do you mean leave?” Azziz asks.
“No, you can’t do that yet. But the people need some sign you don’t hate Augusta.”
“But, I do. I do,” Azziz wails, as he throws himself face-down on his desk and bangs it with his fists.
“Nevertheless, we want you to announce tomorrow you’re adding ‘Augusta’ to the signs.”
“Where?” Azziz asks. “After ‘Georgia Regents University’?”
“Before and after would be ideal: ‘Augusta Georgia Regents University at Augusta,’ but we’ll settle for one ‘Augusta.’ Then the governor will come here and announce the state’s allocating $53 million for the cancer center.”
“But he already did that.”
“That’s all right. He can do it again in a big ceremony where he presents you with an oversized cardboard check like a car dealership gives the salesman of the year. Then you could make a speech about how much you love Augusta. Wouldn’t that be cool?”
Azziz throws himself face-down on his desk again and begins tearing his pompadour out.
We imagine that’s more or less the way it happened.