Sylvia Cooper

City Ink columnist and correspondent for The Augusta Chronicle.

City Ink: Aitken, Myles to run for mayor

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Two more people have filed intentions to run for mayor of Augusta.

Former Augusta Com­mis­sion member Matt Aitken and Lori Myles, a teacher at Josey High School, filed with the Rich­mond County Board of Elec­tions last week.

Aitken is expected to announce Tuesday, according to Augusta officials he’s contacted about his potential candidacy, all of whom say they have not encouraged him for various reasons, including his solid defeat by Bill Fennoy in the 2012 District 1 commission race. As one person stated, “No one but him and the Lord wants him to run.”

But, you know, the Lord moves in mysterious ways.

Aitken did not return phone calls Friday and Sat­urday, but he sent a text message late Saturday afternoon stating: “When and if we decide to run, the media will be the first to know.”

Aitken won a surprise – some said “miraculous” – victory over Fennoy in the majority-black District 1 in a 2009 runoff and served three years before losing to Fennoy in a runoff that restored the 5-5 racial balance on the commission.

Myles, who also did not respond to messages, has taught vocational education at Lucy C. Laney High. Com­mis­sioner Corey Johnson was one of her students. She has also served as president of 100 Black Women of Augusta and is married to the Rev. Kerwin Myles, an assistant pastor of Augusta Deliverance Evangelistic Church.

Augusta Commissioner Alvin Mason; state Sen. Hardie Davis; entrepreneur and former mayoral candidate Helen Blocker Adams; and businessman Charles Cummings have already announced.

SO MANY POTS TO SWEETEN: Commissioners voted last week to issue an $8 million tax anticipation note as a funding mechanism for a Georgia Regents University cancer center request in the next round of the special purpose local option sales tax.

The vote followed a discussion in which commissioners questioned Deputy Finance Director Tim Schroer about the loan, but only Mason seemed curious about what will happen if the tax doesn’t pass. (That’s assuming commissioners pull the package together by March 17.)

Schorer said the loan would be paid back with the $8 million, plus $20,000 or so in interest.

Mason wanted to know what failure would mean to the cancer center and whether the city could pull the $8 million from other funds.

“If it does not pass, it’s over with or what?” he asked. “What if on May 20, the SPLOST package fails?”

Could they borrow the $8 million from the city’s reserve funds and pay it back on some kind of payment plan or take it from pension or enterprise funds, such as water and sewer, he asked. Or perhaps from Housing and Neighborhood Development money?

To all, the answer was “no.”

“I’m just asking the question,” Mason said. “I’m trying to figure it all out. … All our eggs are in one basket. Is there any other basket to put our eggs in? We don’t know what will happen May 20. … I’m trying to figure out how we can help them if it fails.”

If he got an answer, I didn’t hear it.

Commissioner Marion Williams said he was in favor of the cancer center but wanted to know what GRU was bringing to the table and what its books looked like. He said he wanted to see its paperwork and numbers.

A HALF-MILLION HERE, A HALF-MILLION THERE: During the meeting, Mayor Deke Copenhaver said GRU required $12.5 million to access the $45 million in state bond funding from the state and that the Masters Tournament had announced a $6 million donation through the Community Foun­dation for the CSRA, with $1.5 million to go to Camp Lakeside (though Co­pen­haver called it Camp Rain­bow) and $4.5 million toward the cancer center, which, along with the city’s $8 million, totaled $12.5 million.

There was just one little problem. Of that donation, $4 million – not $4.5 million - was to go toward the new facility and $2 million for Camp Lakeside, a camp for children with disabilities and illnesses that will be created in Lincoln County.

Not to worry, GRU spokeswoman Christen Carter said.

“We do not see an issue in securing the bond funds at this point because, for us, $12.5 million isn’t the finish line,” she said.

Heck, what’s a half-million dollars anyway?

DON’T YELL FIRE IN WHAT PASSES FOR THEATER: You might think a fire alarm going off in the Marble Pa­lace during an Augusta Com­mission meeting would make commissioners stop talking and leave the building posthaste, but you’d be wrong.

Four hours, 13 minutes and 17 seconds into Tuesday’s meeting, an ear piercing fire alarm sounded, but they kept on talking.

“Time’s up,” said Com­mis­sioner Grady Smith, but nobody listened.

Engineering Director Abie Ladson was at the podium updating commissioners on the storm cleanup. The mayor asked when he thought he would have the final costs of the cleanup. Ladson said he’d been meeting with federal officials that day.

Commissioner Joe Jack­son asked whether the city could be cleaned up before the Masters, and all the while lights flashed and the alarm sounded. At four hours, 14 minutes and 30 seconds, Fire Chief Chris James entered and ordered them to leave the building; whereupon Commissioner Donnie Smith moved to adjourn the meeting.

At four hours, 15 minutes and 4 seconds, the mayor did that very thing.

“Everybody out of the building! Now!” he said.

Mason said, “Don’t get on the elevator.”

As it turned out, there was no fire. There wasn’t even a whiff of smoke. Vibrations from building renovations had apparently shaken an alarm handle loose, setting off the system.

ROLLING UPHILL: Some­thing happened in Tuesday’s commission meeting that’s never happened before.

Annie Blount was appealing to commissioners for help regarding her Wylds Road home, which was flooded with raw sewage in December when workers used high pressure to try to unclog a pipe. The sewage had destroyed all of their photos, furniture and antiques, including a piano her father had given her when she was 9.

She and her husband have been living in a motel, then suites, since Dec. 15.

The home has been cleaned, but eight of nine environmental tests indicate the presence of E. coli and coliform bacteria.

“All we want is for our contents to be replaced and our home put back,” Blount said.

She also said they’d been assured at the time that everything would be made right, but now city officials say the home and furnishings will be restored, minus 20 percent for depreciation. That’s city policy.

“How can we even talk about policy and procedure? When I heard the response about the testing – I don’t know … ” choked Williams, having lost his voice.

“Ladies and gentlemen, it finally happened,” Copenhaver said. “He’s speechless.”

YOU WANT TOE TAGS WITH THAT? Barbara Moss, a mail courier for the city, drives a car with the word “courier” on the side. Often people mistake the word for “coroner,” she said.

“I was at the library, and a man asked me, he said, ‘Do you like your job?’ ‘I said, ‘I love my job,’ and the man said, “You like hauling dead bodies around?’ I said, ‘I don’t haul dead bodies around. I haul mail. I’m a courier, not a coroner.’”

The same thing happened recently at the drive-in window of a fast-food place, she said. The girl at the window asked her the same thing the man at the library did. Moss corrected her, and the cashier, who was standing nearby said, “I told you that wasn’t what it was.”

“What did you say it was then?” the girl at the window asked.

“I don’t know, but it wasn’t that,” the cashier replied.

Comments (20) Add comment
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Little Lamb
45256
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Little Lamb 02/22/14 - 09:41 pm
4
0
“I don’t know, but it wasn’t that!”

That line could become famous here on the comments page.

deestafford
26008
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deestafford 02/22/14 - 10:19 pm
7
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Is it me or does it seem ridiculous that a meeting...

Is it just me or does it seem ridiculous that a meeting of the county commission should take over 4 hours? How long did it last after they returned from the fire alarm exercise? To me it seems like a lack of organization as to the meeting agenda and some folks must like to hear themselves talk. There also must be some micromanaging. How does this compare to meetings in other cities?

Why anyone would want to be a county commissioner and have to sit through such long meetings is beyond me. Maybe, just maybe, that keeps some highly qualified persons from running for office.

raul
4532
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raul 02/22/14 - 11:21 pm
8
1
Smart of Mason to ask the

Smart of Mason to ask the what if the SPLOST fails question. When Mayor Deke was asked what if the SPLOST fails he basically said funding could come from other sources. What other sources? Need to know that going in.

Gage Creed
16700
Points
Gage Creed 02/22/14 - 11:33 pm
4
1
Remain Calm and BORROW MORE!

Remain Calm and BORROW MORE!

Augz79
1083
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Augz79 02/23/14 - 01:05 am
5
0
Matt Aitken???

The establishment needs to tune its ears to the political landscape. People are tired of black vs. white. Every mayor's race it's the same thing -- Election Day serves as a de-facto primary for the white vs. black candidates, and then the runoff decides if the mayor is black or white. It's time to get PAST this. Aitken is a great guy I'm sure, but if he could not overcome his own demographic challenges to hold onto District 1, why should he subject himself to a mayor's race where he will be seen as the chosen candidate of the establishment. Matt, run as far away from this as you can. It's not worth it.

Conservative Man
5429
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Conservative Man 02/23/14 - 02:34 am
4
0
Matt Aitken running for Mayor?

....as we say in the south...Bless his heart.

geecheeriverman
1983
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geecheeriverman 02/23/14 - 06:43 am
9
0
Rev's wife

Just what we need, another rev or rev's wife in city government.

Just My Opinion
5454
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Just My Opinion 02/23/14 - 07:00 am
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Well, one reason the folks of

Well, one reason the folks of District 1 may actually WANT Aitken to run and win the Mayor's race is that they'd be represented TWICE...that'd be by Aitken and Fennoy. Even though we all know the Mayor's position doesn't hold a lot of power, representation is still a valuable thing to have available. I have no idea of where the other candidates come from, but that's just something that popped into my mind when I read this.

Riverman1
82151
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Riverman1 02/23/14 - 07:57 am
5
1
Fire Hoses, Entrepreneurs, Couriers, Coroners, Motel Rooms

Have an open meeting in Richmond County and they won’t stop talking. Have one in Columbia County and no one wants to talk. It was like someone in Columbia County pulled the fire alarm they were in such a hurry to get out of there when those on the hospital advisory committee learned their meeting was going to be open… Fire Chief James should have used the fire hose to make the RC commissioners stop talking…But I’m curious about this “entrepreneur” description that always describes Helen Blocker-Adams in the Chronicle. What exactly does this capitalist mogul do? Speaking of factory worker Matt Aitken, I bet he makes more money than she does…With all the trouble the RC Coroner is in maybe that courier could be the coroner, too, for a while. I mean exactly what kind of important Richmond County documents have to be driven around by a courier? Tell me one city official who had such a pressing need to see a paper so fast it had to be driven over? I’d like to see a log of her trips. I think that trip to the fast food restaurant to pick up fries and Big Macs for city officials is a good example of how her days are spent….Annie Blount talked about the E. coli cultured from her house, but she better not use a black light to check out the motel room bed she is sleeping in.

corgimom
31051
Points
corgimom 02/23/14 - 08:11 am
1
4
We have a rider on our

We have a rider on our homeowners insurance for sewage backups. It costs $25 per year, just in case something like that were to happen to us.

It's not covered under a standard homeowner's policy.

corgimom
31051
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corgimom 02/23/14 - 08:13 am
4
2
Couriers are routine in a

Couriers are routine in a municipality, it's the same thing as having someone deliver the inter-office mail in a company.

soapy_725
43672
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soapy_725 02/23/14 - 08:22 am
1
0
Will Matt's boss let him off from work to play the mayor role?
Unpublished

Will Matt's boss let him off from work to play the mayor role?

seenitB4
85139
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seenitB4 02/23/14 - 08:48 am
3
0
What exactly does this capitalist mogul do?

Maybe she is on Shark Tank & we didn't know it!

seenitB4
85139
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seenitB4 02/23/14 - 08:54 am
4
0
Coroner=couriers

And some don't know the difference...they have something in common...they begin with the letter c....

Read this article folks......I just can't accept the Richmond county government..what complete nonesense...& you want to be my latex man!!!

justthefacts
21291
Points
justthefacts 02/23/14 - 09:55 am
1
0
Courier

I don't have any idea what a city courier would make, but, using a professional private courier service in those cases where one is needed would surely be less expensive.

Gage Creed
16700
Points
Gage Creed 02/23/14 - 10:43 am
1
0
I wonder if Currier and Ives

I wonder if Currier and Ives had a courier? Things that make you go....hmm

Butterman
3678
Points
Butterman 02/23/14 - 02:17 pm
0
1
Myles
Unpublished

Mason and Corey seem to be campaigning together. Word is The Mason campaign got Myles to jump in the race to syphon votes away from Helen.

Butterman
3678
Points
Butterman 02/23/14 - 02:57 pm
0
2
Drugs Must Have Fried His Brain
Unpublished

All those drugs Aitken did in his youth must have fried his brain because he is out of his mind if the thinks he has a snowball's chance in Hades being elected mayor or anything else for that matter.

corgimom
31051
Points
corgimom 02/23/14 - 03:03 pm
1
2
What Butterman said. WORD.

What Butterman said. WORD.

corgimom
31051
Points
corgimom 02/23/14 - 03:05 pm
0
2
JTF, couriers are needed

JTF, couriers are needed daily, all day long. We had them at MCG, too, and in-house is far cheaper for a company than professional.

They are common among any large company or organization.

justthefacts
21291
Points
justthefacts 02/23/14 - 03:32 pm
3
0
Corgi

No they are not.

Butterman
3678
Points
Butterman 02/23/14 - 03:33 pm
0
0
HBA
Unpublished

Can anyone tell me what Helen Blocker-Adams does? It says in the paper she is an entrepreneur. What kind? I had a brother in-law who always called himself an "entrepreneur" when you asked him what kind of work he did. He was unemployed and sold some things on Ebay every now and then that he had stashed in the garage.

Butterman
3678
Points
Butterman 02/23/14 - 03:50 pm
2
0
Loss for Words
Unpublished

Anyone remember when Chris Thomas interviewed Aitken a couple years ago about the city budget. He froze up and looked like a deer caught in the headlights. Painful to watch really. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=LgHD1ncNtyI&app=desktop

Truth Matters
6585
Points
Truth Matters 02/24/14 - 04:04 am
1
0
"But, you know, the Lord

"But, you know, the Lord moves in mysterious ways."

He does work in mysterious ways, but a win for Aitken would be nothing short of a "resurrection."

Marinerman1
4616
Points
Marinerman1 02/24/14 - 10:00 am
1
0
ARC Needs To Fix This

The ARC needs to make the Blounts whole. The "depreciation" is BS !!!!! Everybody with half a brain carries replacement cost insurance.

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