Sylvia Cooper

City Ink columnist and correspondent for The Augusta Chronicle.

Mayoral hopefuls fill forum with nonsense

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Four of the five Augusta mayoral candidates spoke at a forum Thurs­day sponsored by the Rich­mond County Asso­ciation of Educators, and much of what they said was pure and utter nonsense.

Most of it was just words strung together into sentences as empty as the storefronts I passed on Broad Street going from the Chron­icle building to the Board of Education building.

Candidate and Au­gus­­ta Com­mis­sion member Alvin Mason has the advantage of seven years’ experience in city government. In comparison to the others there, he was the only one who seemed to have a grasp on the reality of the government they want to lead.

SMALL BUSINESSES, BIG IDEAS: Concerning small businesses, candidate Helen Blocker-Adams said she would create an advisory committee that would be mentors for small businesses. Maybe she means to do something different from what the city is already doing with the Dis­ad­vantaged Bus­i­ness Enter­prise office and Lo­cal Small Business Oppor­tu­nity Program, which also has an advisory committee.

Candidate Charles Cum­mings, a former nightclub owner, said he thought small businesses should have the same benefits and tax incentives as large businesses and that the city must provide friendlier service.

“Just to make an application is $200 or so just to say, ‘I want to run a business,’” he said. “No one wants to give up $200 to find out they can’t run one. You need to know in advance your business is going to survive.”

Candidate Lori Myles, a language arts teacher, said, “Right now on the commission agenda is the fact that right now in Augusta Mr. Ellis Allbright, who is the CSRA small business administration. He actually heads it, and as a matter of fact about three months ago he has been championing the fact that No. 1, out of all the business owners in the city of Augusta, women own less businesses than all.

“Now get this stat. Only
3 percent of owned business are by black women. Now all the women in Augusta – I said all. I did not say black. But all the women in Augusta need to ask themselves, ‘Why is it they are owning less business?’ … All I’m saying with you and to you and to this only is, yes, grants are available. Wow! Seminars are available. The thing we need to do is make sure that the word gets out because I did read somewhere that the people perish because of the lack of knowledge.”

Vision, Lori. Vision.

THIS SUBJECT IS GETTING DOWNRIGHT TIRESOME: As to whether they’d change the charter to give the mayor more power, the candidates, except for Myles, are saying the very same things people said the first time the subject came up shortly after consolidation. Mayor Larry Sconyers went into office saying he was going to run the city like a business but was mistaken.

“Changing the charter is not the answer,” Mason said. “Changing the person in the seat is the answer. This is what I mean about that. It’s leadership.”

That’s what past mayors thought until they were elected. Sconyers’ motto was “Together We Can.” At his first meeting, commissioners threatened to walk out because he’d made changes to the agenda.

Blocker-Adams said changing the charter wouldn’t be a priority in her first four years.

“The mayor’s power comes from being able to collaborate and build bridges with the commissioners,” she said. “The mayor has the ability to be able to work with all commissioners, collaborate with all of them, build relationships and find the common vision.”

And the moon is made out of green cheese.

Blocker-Adams also said she’d want to meet personally with each of the city’s employees. All 2,800? She wouldn’t have time to do anything else her first term.

Cummings said the mayor has the power of persuasion, and the city administrator has too much power, some of which should be transferred to the mayor.

“When commissioners come to a point where they can’t agree, I think the mayor has power to step in and get involved with the citizens and find out from his own perspective what the citizens are trying to get done, and then move forward with his own effort and own initiatives,” he said.

Obviously, he has no idea of how the mayor and commissioners work. If the mayor moves forward with an initiative they don’t like, they can cut his budget like a former commission did to Bob Young when pushed for ethics reform.

BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY: HOW TO ATTRACT: Myles proposed an advisory council “so we can ask the people what they want, and we can also assess where they want to shop.”

Blocker-Adams said they should put more dollars in the hands of Develop­ment Au­thor­ity of Rich­­mond Coun­ty Executive Di­rec­tor Walter Sprouse.

“If they had more money, they could be able to do a lot more,” she said.

She also proposed diversifying the economy to make Augusta an entertainment capital, helping small businesses and creating jobs.

How can local government diversify the economy? And does government actually create jobs? Most every commission and mayoral candidate talk about it, but I can’t think of one they’ve created once they get elected, except for the one then-Commissioner Betty Beard had created for Donald D’Antignac. D’Antignac reported directly to Administrator Fred Russell until Russell got fired. Now, nobody seems to know who D’Antignac reports to.

Cummings, who noted that he’d had a semi-pro football team in 1995, proposed creating semi-pro football and basketball teams.

State Sen. Hardie Davis didn’t attend the mayoral candidate forum because the Legislature is in session.

GOVERNMENT AT WORK: Young has been gone from his job at U.S. Housing and Urban De­vel­op­ment in Washington since 2009. After five years, he heard from the agency.

“Maybe they want me back,” he said. “This week they sent me a government credit card. Should I let Gwen use it to contribute to the national debt?”

The letter announcing the arrival of the new tax-exempt government card listed among “an unsurpassed array of services and features” worldwide card acceptance at 34 million merchant locations.

She could do a lot of damage with that.

Maybe the inspector general should take a look at HUD credit cards. The inspector general’s recent sampling of EPA credit cards showed 75 of 80 transactions involved waste, fraud or abuse. In a sample of $152,600 in transactions, $79,254 were prohibited, improper or erroneous.

EVERYBODY RIDES OR GETS TAKEN FOR ONE: Members of the Urban Redevelopment Agency, responsible for issuing a $28.5 million revenue bond to pay for renovations at the Marble Palace, met Friday but weren’t sure Augusta commissioners know that payment on the bonds, about $3 million annually, will have to come from property tax revenues if voters reject the special purpose local option sales tax package. So they took no action on the bonds and scheduled a meeting with commissioners for Tuesday.

Agency appointee Terry Elam, the president of Au­gus­ta Technical College, summed up the city’s situation if the tax fails: “To me, that’s just the same as you going to a car dealership, and you do a credit application, and you drive off in a new car. You come back in a week, and they didn’t approve your credit application. And now you’ve got a debt you’ve got to deal with, and the consequences of it.”

Comments (44) Add comment
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Riverman1
86979
Points
Riverman1 03/15/14 - 10:47 pm
18
3
Motley Crew

It appears all except Mason came across like people who wandered in off the street from in front of the empty store fronts and were mistakenly thought to be candidates. It reminds me of Jimmy McMillian and the Rent’s Too High Party. No wonder Hardie Davis didn’t want to be lumped in with that motley crew.

deestafford
28715
Points
deestafford 03/15/14 - 11:59 pm
13
1
All I can say is....

All I can say is it's gonna be a long time between this mayoral election and the next one.

jmo
16730
Points
jmo 03/16/14 - 05:48 am
9
2
Pick a Mayor.....

from this bunch of clowns. On and upward Augusta.

geecheeriverman
3088
Points
geecheeriverman 03/16/14 - 06:13 am
11
3
Silver tongue

Alvin Mason could be called the silver tongue devil. He, like most politicians , say what they think you want to hear. He has a way to say it that is oh so smooth. I lived in Disgusta for almost 40 years, and I am so glad that I now live in Columbia County. We have our problems with not so saintly politicians, but it is governed so much better. Uneducated politicians (Most on the Augusta Commission) can not and will not manage their own personal affairs. How can we expect them to handle the City/County affairs.

rwarmy
38
Points
rwarmy 03/16/14 - 07:17 am
12
2
Mayor

With the new Mayor being black and probably a majority of the commissioners and possibly the new Administrator, I wonder who will be blamed for terrible governmental decisions and lack of leadership? Will be watching future reactions from the black community. I suspect it will just be a lovefest! LOL

fatherinevans
239
Points
fatherinevans 03/16/14 - 07:32 am
10
6
This should be fun.....

The next 4 years should be fun to watch....glad I can sit on my porch in Columbia County and sip on a cold one....New signs coming into Augusta....Welcome to the Augusta Zoo !!

seenitB4
90855
Points
seenitB4 03/16/14 - 07:41 am
6
2
Warm & cozy heh

You might be in Columbia county but it will over flow....just look at DeKalb county today...
I would suggest you try to help them elect someone who can make Augusta proud.

Just like RM said...Motley crew.

Graymare
3373
Points
Graymare 03/16/14 - 08:09 am
7
2
Oh my!

Sounds like not one of these folks were prepared to speak and give concrete answers. A couple of them speak and say nothing! Fasten your seat belts folks. It's all uphill from here. Anyone want to by a house? I just love Sylvia's commentary! Tell it like it is, Sister!

scoobynews
3896
Points
scoobynews 03/16/14 - 08:16 am
7
1
Seenit

It is already happening. Just check out Grovetown.

soapy_725
43757
Points
soapy_725 03/16/14 - 08:48 am
0
0
All aboard!The ARC of No Covenant is officially a welfare state.
Unpublished

All aboard! The ARC of No Covenant is officially a welfare state.

soapy_725
43757
Points
soapy_725 03/16/14 - 08:49 am
0
0
"Ridin' on that long black train" to never-never land.
Unpublished

"Ridin' on that long black train" to never-never land.

soapy_725
43757
Points
soapy_725 03/16/14 - 08:51 am
0
0
Did she also read the zeal without knowledge&wisdom is dangerous
Unpublished

Did she also read the zeal without knowledge&wisdom is dangerous

soapy_725
43757
Points
soapy_725 03/16/14 - 08:52 am
0
0
Is Detroit a cancer being researched at GRU? Who knew?
Unpublished

Is Detroit a cancer being researched at GRU? Who knew?

soapy_725
43757
Points
soapy_725 03/16/14 - 08:53 am
0
0
Reminds me of a very popular movie series? "madness, madness"
Unpublished

Reminds me of a very popular movie series? "madness, madness"

Lori Davis
958
Points
Lori Davis 03/16/14 - 11:01 am
7
1
Sad State of Affairs

I was there, and Sylvia could not have come up with a better title for her column.

southern2
6624
Points
southern2 03/16/14 - 11:18 am
4
1
Non-shocker on mayoral race

Non-shocker on mayoral race candidates forum but the "GOVERNMENT AT WORK" credit card sends my blood pressure through the roof.

"The thing we need to do is make sure that the word gets out because I did read somewhere that the people perish because of the lack of knowledge.” (LM)

allhans
24009
Points
allhans 03/16/14 - 11:24 am
5
1
This is reality, folks...Oh

This is reality, folks...Oh MY!

dichotomy
34451
Points
dichotomy 03/16/14 - 11:25 am
7
2
"I would suggest you try to

"I would suggest you try to help them elect someone who can make Augusta proud."

Hard to do seenit..........ain't one running that will make us proud. None of them will talk about specific issues because they don't have a clue, and even it they did it makes the majority voter's heads hurt. The most specific comment so far has been Cummings saying he would help out the preachers if he is elected.

And Sylvia.....Alvin Mason....."he was the only one who seemed to have a grasp on the reality of the government they want to lead."

Yeh, we ALL know Skybox has a grasp of the system. Perks and "campaign" donations from contractors. And just because he can quote a few numbers because he has been a commissioner doesn't mean that his "apple pie and ice cream" comments weren't as useless as the rest of them. He doesn't have any solutions for our day to day problems either and he managed to miss, dodge, and intentionally not attend a lot of commission meetings when they were voting on controversial issues. He is no better than the rest and none of them are ANYWHERE near mayor material.

Maybe the people who wrote the charter did not give the mayor any power because they knew the caliber of what was coming. If this is the best group we can come up with, I for one will be glad the mayor does not have any power.

And if Alvin ever mentions tearing down the levee again, PLEASE somebody ask him who is going to pay for it......and what group of people in town would profit the most from it? Can you say taxpayer built hotel, TEE center, and parking deck "owners'. Yes, that's right...I said OWNERS. We are about the only municipality I know of that is stupid enough to build a group of private individuals a huge facility and parking deck....to THEIR specifications......give them TOTAL control of it......and include a FREE...TAXPAYER PAID....operation and maintenance contract where we pay them to run the facility that we built them and accept all liability for maintenance. Now tell me there wasn't something crooked, or incredibly dumb, that went on there. My question to the new power base coming to the commission and mayor's office.....was the Laney Walker blackmail deal worth this kind of blatant ripoff of taxpayer money? And how is that broke, mismanaged Laney Walker redevelopment thing working out for you???? It's ALL one big money grab for the commissioners but with NO THOUGHT to how it's being spent.

But someone else made the right comment. It is sure going to be fun to sit out here on the ranch and watch the blame game for the next few years. I hope I can ride it out but I am preparing myself financially for a quick exit if necessary. I am not aware of any existing city where living conditions and taxation did not get worse for the working class TRUE county "minority" when there was a similar shift in political power. The track record is pretty dismal. I don't know if that is because of the leadership or the inevitability of the demographics and the impact that has on flight and avoidance. But things don't seem to go too well in most cases for the "city" residents. I'd like to believe that everything is going to be hunky dory but when I look at what's happened elsewhere, I see no reason to be optimistic in the long term. Anything different will be a pleasant surprise and I am willing to take a wait and see attitude before I jump ship. But that does not mean that I am not wearing a life preserver and prepared to launch the lifeboat. Nocnoc ain't the only one who has been sizing up the market. I'm stubborn and I'm grumpy but I'm not totally stupid.

countyman
20603
Points
countyman 03/16/14 - 12:01 pm
5
7
Sad!!!

The CSRA will never be able to completely move forward until the bias against Richmond County ends.. The surrounding counties will NEVER be more important compared to Richmond.. Why do some people in the media and community seem to believe the suburbs can lead you to the promise land? Where's the proof? Columbia County grew fast between 2000/2010 and they only managed to attract one large private development(good jobs)in Taxslayer.

I'm voting for Hardie Davis, but the sky is falling everyday comments are getting real old..

What is shocking about the article? Sylvia lives in Columbia County and voted for the republican party. Why should anybody expect for Sylvia to look forward to electing democrats into office? What's the point of this article? Let's ask Marion Williams his opinions about the people running for the Columbia County commission to replace Charles Allen?

I have a very important question for the people who always feel the need to bash Richmond County and tell us how great Columbia County is.. Why don't you get Ron Cross to bring some jobs into the CSRA since your county and politicians are so great? Why do 30,000 residents from Columbia County still drive to Richmond for employment? If the politicians in Columbia County are so much better, then prove it with attracting white collar jobs. Instead of bringing up the normal suburban population growth, that is mostly the result of steering from local realtors or telling people how awful everywhere in South Augusta is..

Dichotomy... The Laney Walker funds are coming from the hotel tax and not taxpayers.. The 1.5 million visitors in Richmond County are paying for the improvements... I wouldn't bash this idea, because the city should use it to cleanup areas in South Augusta.

Conservative Man
5577
Points
Conservative Man 03/16/14 - 12:12 pm
2
3
My take….

….is. First, Myles and Cummings are virtual unknowns and will do nothing more than be spoilers.

Ms. Blocker-Adams is a nice lady, but ARC does not need "nice" any longer. ..we need leadership.

…Kinda feel the same about Hardie. A nice man but he's been largely ineffective as a legislator and I suspect that trend will continue if elected Mayor..

..My sources (not just Sylvia) tell me that of all the candidates at the forum Alvin was the ONLY one was aware of the Mayors stated duties under the ARC charter and repeated that we was willing to use the power of the office to do more than be an overpaid cheerleader…Lord knows we have enough of THEM as it is.

….as it stands right now I'm willing to give Mason a chance…I am however interested to see what Hardie has to say at the next forum…because this race ultimately will come down to either Hardie or Alvin being the next Mayor...

Riverman1
86979
Points
Riverman1 03/16/14 - 12:30 pm
9
2
Sylvia lives in Columbia County?

Sylvia lives in Columbia County? News to me. The fact is she works in Richmond County for the Chronicle, the Augusta newspaper. What's she supposed to write about? You guys are out to lunch with this idea only those who live in Richmond County can comment on its trials and tribulations.

Conservativeman, yeah, it seems Blocker-Adams talks herself out of serious contention every time she utters some nonsensical idea. At one time many thought she was a viable candidate. The Chronicle has to be embarrassed about its past endorsement.

Butterman
3682
Points
Butterman 03/16/14 - 12:28 pm
1
4
Vote Mason
Unpublished

"Candidate and Au­gus­­ta Com­mis­sion member Alvin Mason has the advantage of seven years’ experience in city government. In comparison to the others there, he was the only one who seemed to have a grasp on the reality of the government they want to lead" Sylvia said it best. Hardie Could not be bothered to show up. HBA wants to form more committees. The other two are clueless.

countyman
20603
Points
countyman 03/16/14 - 01:13 pm
2
7
Double standard

Sylvia may actually live in Mcduffie County on second thought, but my initial point still remains.. How many republicans have nice things to say about democrats running for office?

Why does the media allow for the residents in the surrounding counties to create the appearance of Richmond County more than it's own residents?

The media should be fair and not try to influence the public with their own beliefs. I have no problem if everybody wants to speak on the issues in Richmond County, because it's the main county.

Let's hope the media allows for everybody to speak their minds all the time and not only during particular circumstances. The replacement of Charles Allen in Columbia County is right around the corner..

seenitB4
90855
Points
seenitB4 03/16/14 - 01:26 pm
3
1
I think

Sylvia lives outside of Thomson Ga with pets & woods .....& husband too.

I'm glad we have ctyman's ok to post about Augusta...heh heh

Butterman
3682
Points
Butterman 03/16/14 - 01:56 pm
6
3
Countyman
Unpublished

Considering how countyman posts under an anonymous pseudonym, who is he to question where forum commenters live?

Augz79
1083
Points
Augz79 03/16/14 - 02:15 pm
1
5
Helen Blocker-Adams

HBA has a great personality and positive attitude to be a face for the city. However, personality alone does not make a mayor. She needs to start putting forth concrete ideas and proposals, less vague-alities.

Her platform includes proposals to create no less than five mayoral offices. How this is going to be paid for? A media relations council? Is that like paying for PR so the media reports stories that make us happy about Augusta? Countyman does that for free on the daily!

Her YouTube channel has an interesting intro from her campaign manager. A former Deke backer who recruited HBA into this race, she represents legions of Augustans (including herself) who were one step away from pulling up stakes and moving out of the county. Yes -- the crappy schools were not enough to make them move, but all it took was a mayor's race to get them to jump ship to another county. That's priorities for ya.

HBA's platform
Helen for Mayor - Youtube video

Augz79
1083
Points
Augz79 03/16/14 - 02:11 pm
7
2
Countyman

Countyman, Mrs. Cooper is doing her job. Her job is reporting and commenting on the state of politics in Augusta. Apparently you think it would be better if the Chronicle was some communist party rag that only reported the *good* things about the city.

At least Mrs. Cooper is getting a paycheck for her work. Who pays you to shill for Augusta?

Butterman
3682
Points
Butterman 03/16/14 - 02:14 pm
5
1
HBA
Unpublished

Puhleeze! HBA Makes deke look like a decisive leader. She may have a bubbly personality, but she is all fluff.

countyman
20603
Points
countyman 03/16/14 - 02:35 pm
1
7
Media coverage

Augz79... The article written by Mrs. Cooper is find and I don't have any problem with the editorial. I feel the media should cover both sides and not one particular side of the spectrum. Mrs. Cooper is the same person who didn't agree with the top rankings for Augusta(top ten place to live and retire).. Why didn't she write the editorial disagreeing with any ranking for Evans or Martinez? Please tell me how either Martinez or Evans is any better than Summerville, Forest Hills, West Augusta, or North Richmond?

The 'Augusta' Chronicle should report the majority of positive things in Augusta, but they don't want too.. Where's the articles on the daily life in Augusta? The local media coverage of South Augusta is the worse of any place in the entire CSRA..

Butterman
3682
Points
Butterman 03/16/14 - 02:34 pm
4
1
Pravda
Unpublished

The media should report the news.. not what you deem to be "positive". There are example of media outlets that do that. Go to any communist autocracy and look at their state owned media.. all positive.

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