Sylvia CooperCity Ink columnist and correspondent for The Augusta Chronicle.

City Ink: Candidates get back to their real lives

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Well, it was fun while it lasted, but it’s all over now except for the runoffs. Now I’ll have to actually work to find something interesting to write about instead of gleaning fascinating commentary from mayoral forums, such as this from candidate Lori Myles: “We can no longer sit back and watch ourselves make our own mistakes.”

Of course, we congratulate Mayor-elect Hardie Davis for his big win last week. At least he seems sane, which is more than I can say for some of the others, even though he thinks Augusta would attract more residents if taxes were higher.

Now, the losing candidates can keep blaming the media and the evil power structure for their defeat while resuming their pre-campaign activities.

Charles Cummings, who received one of the lowest number of votes for mayor in consolidated Augusta’s history, can stop fantasizing about kiosks in hotel lobbies with transit bus schedules and try to open another illegal dance hall in his wife’s name.

It can truly be said, Cum­mings missed the bus this time.

Myles, who is living proof that what’s in a woman’s head is more important than what’s on it, can go back to teaching “language arts” and getting her nails done. She says Augusta politics hasn’t seen the last of her. If not, I would advise her not to brag about founding 100 Black Women of Augusta in one breath and promising voters to work for “one Augusta” in another.

And maybe it would be good for her and anyone else planning to run for mayor or the Augusta Commission to attend a meeting more than once or twice before qualifying, so they’ll have a clue about how the government they want to help run actually works.

Candidate Alvin Mason, whose campaign manager should have stopped him from doing the Mason Shuf­fle on TV on election day, can shuffle back to commission chambers and resume criticizing city staffers. He’s been nice for so long now – magnanimous even in defeat – he’d probably like to choke somebody.

And Helen Blocker-Adams can resume her persona of entrepreneur and businesswoman while continuing to blame the media and the power structure for exposing her mountain of unpaid bills and eviction notices. Someday she could write a book and call it I Led Three Lives: Entrepreneur, Businesswoman and Deadbeat.

ALSO RANS: The write-in votes this time around included the usual Disney characters, Elvis and Jesus.

Former Augusta mayors Larry Sconyers and Bob Young and current Mayor Deke Copenhaver tied with four each, unless you throw out votes for “Deek Copenhagen” and “Keep Deke.”

Upon hearing his vote total, Young said, “I think the best thing I can do is go ahead and concede to Hardie.”

Former City Adminis­trator Fred Russell got one vote and Georgia Regents University President Ricardo Azziz got three, which is good because with any more he might authorize a survey on renaming Augusta, then throw out the results and rename it “Anything But Augusta.”

NOT BAAAAD: Commis­sion­ers really got into the subject of goats when an agenda item came up proposing a pilot program using goats to maintain city-owned detention ponds. Commissioner Grady Smith said that would be better than having prison inmates clean up the property because inmates will run off but goats won’t.

Folks laughed at Com­missioner Marion Williams so much when he first pro­posed using goats to clean up overgrown properties that he was reluctant to bring it up again. As it turns out, Williams was onto some­thing. Goats are being used to control vegetation all over the country, and dozens of goat-renting operations have sprung up with names such as Goat Busters and Hungry Goats.

THE TRUTH IS IN THERE SOMEWHERE: Speaking of criticizing city staffers reminded me of something Com­missioner Bill Lockett said after political gadfly Al Gray, the president of Cost Recovery Works Inc., had blasted the administration over what he contends is the fraud, waste and abuse of SPLOST money on the convention center, parking deck, sheriff’s substation and everything else he could think of.

During his criticism of city contracting methods and oversight of the Marble Palace renovation, he said the project was on the way to costing $65 million instead of $30 million. Lockett told Gray, “It’s so unfortunate we don’t have someone on our payroll that will look out for us as you do,” much to the consternation of city department heads listening via a speaker in the adjacent room.

Commissioner Donnie Smith challenged Gray on the $65 million figure.

“Mr. Gray, the $65 million you spoke of. That was a figure you just made up, isn’t it?” he said.

“Out of experience,” Gray replied.

“No. No, my question was you made it up,” Smith said.

Gray admitted it was.

“So there’s a good bit of that stuff you just make up, and that was a good example,” Smith said.

The folks in the room next door got a big kick out of that.

MEMORIAL: Everywhere you look they lay. They first gave all in revolt for a country not even formed. They died slowly in the dust of the western plains. They fell in the fields of Penn­sylvania, sank in the swamps of Virginia and the Carolinas. Others met their fate in tropic environs otherwise suited for rum and sea breezes.

Then there were those who intentionally rode across the border into Mexico and died there. And there were the boys from Ohio, Georgia, California, Ten­nessee, New Jersey, who huddled in muddy trenches only to gasp their last breaths to end all wars.

They fell in French villages. They were victims of snipers across Germany as they saved the world a second time. They left impressions in the sands of the South Pacific. They froze, almost to death, just before they died in Korea. They sweated in jungle heat so de­bilitating that fear was secondary in Vietnam. But death came anyway – maybe a little easier without the fear of it being out front. They are torn apart by explosions in the Middle East. They die on lists, uncared for.

Rest In Peace, our warriors!

City Ink thanks Ernie Rogers for his contribution to this week’s column.

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Gage Creed
Gage Creed 05/24/14 - 09:20 pm
Regarding Donnie Smith

I'm certain that Donnie Smith has a great deal of experience in making things up....

rebellious 05/24/14 - 09:58 pm

Miss Sylvia at her best, claws sharp and peeling the onion. Gosh, it's like the leash was released and she has said what she's been thinking all along.

Good article Ms. Cooper. And excellent tribute at the end.

Thank you for speaking what many know and think. Keep the sabre unsheathed and the pencil sharp.

corgimom 05/24/14 - 11:05 pm
Hey, she's sweet as pie,

Hey, she's sweet as pie, compared to Margaret Twiggs. Now THERE was one MEAN woman.

Conservative Man
Conservative Man 05/25/14 - 03:43 am
Good column…..

…but for "the folks in the next room" (i.e department heads, staff etc.) to "get a kick" out of the fact that District 7 Commissioner Donnie Smith acted in such an arrogant, childish and petulant fashion towards a concerned citizen speaks volumes….

No offense to Ms. Cooper, but she wasn't in the room when the aforementioned exchange happened…I saw it online "live" and was shocked….

Whats worse is having a sitting Commissioner call a citizen a liar.
Especially when what that citizen said was correct...

Donnie Smith is an embarrassment... And hopefully the citizens of District 7
will vote him out in the next election...

Riverman1 05/25/14 - 06:21 am
Donnie, Stop Playing With The Handcuffs

What’s wrong with y’all making fun of Donnie Smith? He’s just trying to represent all the families and the family values of Richmond County while saving the county money. Now let me get off this unicorn I rode in on and tell Donnie he’s not supposed to play fantasies, especially if he's using state issued handcuffs. Instead, let’s play the Price is Right and see if the final cost is closer to $30 million or $65 million.

Butterman 05/25/14 - 11:02 am

Seems like the voters sided with Mr. Gray on SPLOST. And he is right, based on the history of these sales tax projects.. they tend to double or even triple when all is said and done. Remember, the TEE center started out as a $20 million SPLOST project. But after its cost doubled, you added on the parking deck, the vote buy-off to Laney Walker and the management fee to Morris and Simon, you ended up with around $110 million in total public spending. I would say Mr. Gray was being on the conservative side when he threw the $65 million number out there.

Lori Davis
Lori Davis 05/25/14 - 11:34 am
Here's a Thought

Voters approved 18 million for the Marble Palace. It is now at 40 million.

URA funding was illegal because the board had three illegal members who have now been removed.

And…..The AC will not allow any links to be posted to Al Gray's video which shows what really happened in that Commission meeting exchange between Mr. Gray and Donnie Smith. The website shows it all as well.

badmoon426 05/25/14 - 06:34 pm
Yes, Maybe A Full Story...

...on the Donnie Smith and Al Gray exchange should be done.

Please keep in mind it was Al Gray's sleuthing that revealed the TEE Center Parking Deck was built on land that was mortgaged. No one in the local government was made aware (or the ones that did seem to care didn't bother to reveal it) of this fact.

As for Donnie Smith his part in the Wild Wings altercation should eliminated him from serious contention for any elected position in government.

But alas this is Augusta where the honest are called into question by fools.

rebellious 05/26/14 - 03:43 am
Does anyone

know a link to the Mason Shuffle? I was out of the loop, but heard it was quite embarrassing for the city. I would love to see it. PM me a link if you can.

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