Sylvia Cooper

City Ink columnist and correspondent for The Augusta Chronicle.

City Ink: Media not invited to city's secret meeting

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It’s a sad state of affairs when the Richmond County school board president holds a tea party at the public library and invites the mayor of Augusta, commissioners, school board members and a former Fort Gordon garrison commander and doesn’t invite a single member of the media.

Worse yet, when a lone reporter from The Augusta Chronicle hears about the gathering and decides to drop by to see what’s going on, hostess Venus Cain said, “It’s none of your business, could you please leave.”

A less intrepid reporter than Meg Mirshak might have acquiesced to Cain’s request, considering the president’s track record.

ROUND 1: In 2007, Cain and trustee Joe Scott, now deceased, clashed at a school board meeting over whether members should read the two questions they’d come up with to ask finalists for the superintendent’s job or ask them extemporaneously.

Board member Marion Barnes and others thought everybody should read the questions so there would be no variations.

Scott said nobody was going to tell him how to ask his questions, so he and Barnes went at it until Cain asked Scott why he was always trying to divide the board, whereupon he said because he blankety-blank wanted to.

You could have lit a fire under Cain, who went around the table and told him she’d kick his A. Board president Jimmy Atkins was so offended by Scott’s profanity that he immediately jumped in and said there would be no taking God’s name in vain in the board room.

Some people thought Cain won the fight. Others sided with Scott. But the final decision would come from a magistrate judge because Scott wouldn’t settle for a split decision and tried to get her locked up.

Cain’s supporters knew she was right, that she definitely could kick his A.

When Cain said that if she could kick her 6-foot-4 husband’s A she could sure kick Scott’s, she wasn’t kidding.

Back in 1995, she might have done that very thing. She was involved in a domestic dispute at their home in Hephzibah and was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge, according to Richmond County Magistrate Court records.

Still, Cain’s reference to her 6-foot-4 husband, Alfred, now deceased, was a low blow, seeing as how Scott was about a foot shorter, so it’s no wonder he got belligerent and started flailing his arms around. Only the intervention of Barnes and Atkins kept him from getting a real education. You know, in the three R’s: Rumblin’, Riotin’, and Rasslin’.

HERE COME DUH JUDGE: Rich­mond County Civil and Magistrate Court Presiding Judge H. Scott Allen denied Scott’s request for an arrest warrant during a pre-arrest hearing a few weeks later.

The judge chided both of them and Barnes for using “language more appropriate to pre-K children in a sandbox” than people elected to make decisions affecting the education of 33,000 children.

The judge suggested they all apologize for their profanity, which they did, and he commended them for it.

“That is the example we want to set for the schoolchildren,” he said.

YOU’VE GOT TO ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE, ELIMINATE THE NEGATIVE – AND THE MEDIA: Anyway, it was only after Mir­shak asked why the public wasn’t notified as required by law that Cain admitted the meeting’s true purpose.

“We’re having tea,” she said. “Would you like to stay for tea?”

Mirshak had never crashed a tea party before, especially an illegal one, but when the group said she could stay, she thought, “Oh, what the heck.”

Then they started talking top secret stuff, like ways to promote positive developments in the city, such as Frog Hollow Tavern being named to Business Jet Traveler magazine’s list of “12 Terrific Restaurants You’ve Probably Never Heard Of.”

Board member Barbara Pul­liam suggested organizing more cultural events, such as a James Brown festival.

Cain said she arranged the event so community leaders could brainstorm ways to move the city forward and combat the negative image often portrayed in the local media as the Army Cyber Command and other military units prepare to relocate to Augusta.

Mayor Deke Copenhaver has been warning folks that the Pentagon is looking at Augusta every day and doesn’t like what it sees in the poor performing schools and city commission.

Well, who does?

And I resemble that remark about the negative local media. We have the sports pages, features, the funny papers, wedding announcements, birth notices and want ads.

Is it our fault Commissioner Marion Williams can’t shut up about Fred Russell’s hard drive, or that people get mugged on the riverwalk, shot at in River Glen, stabbed on lower Broad Street and that kids are failing in school because the parents have failed at home?

They can drink all the tea in China, but the news won’t change until the people do.

APRIL 2007: While perusing the newspaper archives in search of details of the Cain-Scott clash, I ran across a City Ink column I thought was entertaining, especially the comments from people online. This is an edited version:

Augusta was blanketed with yellow last week, from pollen and journalism from Golf Magazine, which had the effrontery to describe the Garden City as “largely low rent, a bargain-basement mosaic of strip malls, strip joints and unassuming houses - all surrounding the world’s most exclusive club.”

They even threw in a snide comment about Bud Light and beef jerky at the corner store “a short walk from Amen Corner.”

“They only seen the nice areas?” asked iletuknow.

“I don’t see where the magazine was that far off base,” wrote Honest. “If you drive John Calhoun Parkway and take an exit, there is a good chance you may leave without your wallet or car …”

“The truth hurts, doesn’t it?” asked peonynut. “Too bad they left out all the crime.”

“It’s a miracle that the golfers aren’t being shot at while driving to and from the airport in south Augusta … Oh wait. That’s right. They were last year. How soon we forget,” wrote jeremychughes.

“The article was correct,” said jennifer2803. “All that’s in Augusta is trashy rundown buildings.”

“Well it is about time somebody stood up and took notice. Kudos to GULF MAGAZINE,” wrote Babsthekid. (It’s Golf Magazine, Babs.) “And to the MAYOR, instead of denying, why don’t you do something about the ‘Bump and Grind Shops’ the ‘Red Light’ district, the Crime and Killings and Robberies instead of spending money on trips to Hawaii? Give the money to the police department to help clean up the disgusting city of Augusta. There was not one word in the article that was untrue.”

(Yes, there was. T-Bonz Steakhouse at 1654 Gordon Highway is not the players’ favorite grub joint. It’s the one on Washington Road. Also, the mayor didn’t go to Hawaii, Babs. If you’re going to be a serious writer, you have to get the facts straight.)

“Well, the first step is to halt low-income housing construction,” said thugskin. “Sorry, but the number of poor must be controlled.”

Comments (19) Add comment
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Riverman1
94428
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Riverman1 04/05/14 - 08:41 pm
7
4
Try Telling The Izvestia Reporter It's A Tea

I think I have this figured out. Any time you have a left leaning slice of government such as Richmond County has, the only way to make it work is with a strict dictatorship. A weak leftist government ends up with chaotic politics and fist fights instead of parliamentary procedure. When the leftist government finally becomes complete, no one misbehaves or even makes eye contact with Kim Jong Un…especially if you are related to him. Izvestia becomes the only news source. So this next Mayor’s reign could be interesting. If he is brutal enough to keep the party members in line, he may create us a little Potemkin village right here in Richmond County, Georgia, United States of America.

Butterman
3696
Points
Butterman 04/05/14 - 09:01 pm
6
3
Cman
Unpublished

I understand Cman was at this tea party too. Too bad Meg mirshak could not get the inside scoop from him about what latest chain store is coming to the mall.

Gage Creed
19463
Points
Gage Creed 04/05/14 - 09:11 pm
4
3
Sprint Metro Market?.. Five

Sprint Metro Market?.. Five Guys?.... Those shops out on Jimmie Dyess?

Gage Creed
19463
Points
Gage Creed 04/05/14 - 09:17 pm
4
2
Ut-OH... Riverman posts....

Ut-OH... Riverman posts.... Butterman posts... a pumpkin is mentioned.

Harley can't be far behind...

Riverman1
94428
Points
Riverman1 04/05/14 - 09:29 pm
6
2
Gage, I thought that was kind

Gage, I thought that was kind of strange myself. Heh. Where's Harley to straighten this out?

deestafford
32301
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deestafford 04/05/14 - 10:28 pm
5
1
We have two rings. Where's the third?

We have two rings of a three ring circus---City Commission and the RCBOE. Who/What is the third ring of the Three Ring Circus?

rebellious
22085
Points
rebellious 04/05/14 - 11:09 pm
6
6
Sorry, I depart

from the highway and take the road less travelled. In this instance, I do not like the illegal meeting with a quorum. Period. What I like is our leaders getting together to try and figure a way for a more positive face on Augusta in the media. Now the media, Sylvia Cooper, Meg Mirshak, et al, know that man bites dog sells more papers than dog bites man. so what do they do? They take every negative shot they can at our leadership! Is it deserved? Probably. But why ride the plane you ride n into the ground? We all (Locals) know the score! But sometimes crazy Uncle Billy does something right. And when he does, don't castigate and deride him for trying.

Ms. Cooper, wasn't there enough dirt or scandal without riding these coattails? I am disappointed in you. Not that you care, but man, give it a break sometimes. Oh yeah, you don't live here, I forgot.

Chronicle, be careful you don't kill the host by reporting so much negative.

Or as I bet Deke is thinking "Thanks for nuttin, with friends like you who needs enemies"

Butterman
3696
Points
Butterman 04/06/14 - 12:04 am
5
2
Hmmm
Unpublished

Was this the illegal meeting where the BOE voted to reassign 6 pRincipals? Rules is rules. Let the sunshine in.

Butterman
3696
Points
Butterman 04/05/14 - 11:47 pm
3
3
Venus
Unpublished

Goddess on the mountain top
Burning like a silver flame
The summit of beauty and love
And Venus was her name

She's got it
Yeah, baby, she's got it
I'm your Venus, I'm your fire
At your desire
Well, I'm your Venus, I'm your fire
At your desire

Her weapons were her crystal eyes
Making every man mad
Black as the dark night she was
Got what no one else had
Wah!

She's got it
Yeah, baby, she's got it
I'm your Venus, I'm your fire
At your desire
Well, I'm your Venus, I'm your fire
At your desire

GnipGnop
12764
Points
GnipGnop 04/06/14 - 02:57 am
5
2
Just like every other

Illegal action this will amount to nothing...nobody cares..you have a lawyer running for mayor that supports the illegal monies in SPLOST. Nobody cares!!!!

corgimom
38787
Points
corgimom 04/06/14 - 07:17 am
4
2
I wonder how many meetings

I wonder how many meetings there have been in the last 30 years discussing "how to move Augusta forward."

And you see the results.

Little Old Lady
9144
Points
Little Old Lady 04/06/14 - 07:27 am
9
1
Education

I was under the impression that the RCBOE was in the business of educating children. Guess I was wrong.

seenitB4
98774
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seenitB4 04/06/14 - 08:23 am
2
3
The news is what it is..

If anyone is disappointed in Augusta news they would be down in the floor crying over the Atlanta news...(honest injun)

seenitB4
98774
Points
seenitB4 04/06/14 - 08:35 am
6
1
Reporting the negative--you say..

We all understand what is happening here--don't we..heh

The cyber folks are coming--let's spit & shine & put out the good silver-cover up that mess in the corner too, sparkle baby sparkle..

rebel, I feel your pain, I really do. I've shed the tears just looking at my childhood home area.
I have to ask though, what headlines do you want AC to omit? The Southgate shooting & death or the robbed at gunpoint story?

If there were 6 crimes in Rcty & they only printed 2, which ones would get the ink?
The newspaper is not the problem.....if they had flossed over the Riverwalk beating we would have raised---well you know what.

Augusta has greatness & that is posted on here....some overlook it.

justthefacts
25498
Points
justthefacts 04/06/14 - 08:38 am
6
1
harley?

I think he must have read something "about the company you keep" and fled. Too bad.

seenitB4
98774
Points
seenitB4 04/06/14 - 08:53 am
3
3
Sparkle dust on JTF

Please throw some of that dust on me JTF.....You have more than your share of giddiness...:))

Yea, I'm jealous!

Darby
29559
Points
Darby 04/06/14 - 09:52 am
4
1
Little Old Lady

Guess you guessed correctly..

Butterman
3696
Points
Butterman 04/06/14 - 10:13 am
3
1
Venus Cain
Unpublished

.. wasn't she a character on American Gladiators?

TrulyWorried
16748
Points
TrulyWorried 04/06/14 - 10:49 am
2
4
City Ink

I only hope not too many Masters' guests will take the time to read this week's City Ink. Really puts Augusta into a worse light than it deserves.

seenitB4
98774
Points
seenitB4 04/06/14 - 11:22 am
3
1
Funny thing

The feel good & great Augusta articles are in the paper TODAY....funny thing is, I didn't see any of the finger pointing folks on the thread...alas, I guess they are too dang busy pointing fingers at "other" posters to enjoy the feel good postings..

What we have here is a failure to communicate....we see what we want to see. Human nature at it's best..
I won't tell you where they are...look for them.

Brad Owens
4925
Points
Brad Owens 04/06/14 - 11:55 am
6
1
This stuff is tame...

I mean if the REAL facts of the just how bad the rot is and how deep it goes were known it would give vapors to the ladies at the club house. Not to mention the nepotism, cronyism and rascalism that goes on. If it were told this "illegal" meeting non-sense (eyes rolling) would seem as small as it really is.

Augusta has lots of real problems, the perception is spot on in most cases and grossly under stated in others.

sand gnat
686
Points
sand gnat 04/06/14 - 03:46 pm
1
3
Excited

You would think Ft. Gordon would be excited since Augusta/Richmond County was voted one of the top ten cities to live last year. I know it excites me. Quality education. Quality commission. Quality law enforcement. Super high bond rating. Surplus budgets. No rough sides of town. What more could you ask for?

Gage Creed
19463
Points
Gage Creed 04/06/14 - 04:46 pm
1
1
Sand Gnat must have stayed at

Sand Gnat must have stayed at the Economy Inn....a lot.

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