• Runoff election results
• Augusta Commission members meeting to choose a new city administrator
• What, if anything, the Paine College Board of Trustees will do concerning the push by disaffected alumni to oust the president – if they meet
• The status of Commissioner Donnie Smith’s suspension from his job with the Georgia State Patrol
It’s mandatory in the newspaper business to write about elections right before they’re held, so I called the local candidates in runoffs and asked them to state in one sentence why voters should vote for them. I figured it should be like what my editor at the Valdosta Daily Times, Archie MacKay, always said about the lead in a news story. It should sum up the whole thing in 25 words or less and not bore anybody.
Commissioner Corey Johnson, a candidate for the District 22 state Senate seat, said, “Because I’ve demonstrated since I’ve been on the Augusta Commission that I can work with all people, and I’m willing to listen to people.”
Johnson’s rival for the District 22 seat, attorney Harold Jones, said, “I have the dedication, ideas and love of the city to bring us out of complacency and contentment of small things to a place where we embrace new ideas to address challenges.”
Jones has the endorsements of Sheriff Richard Roundtree, Solicitor General Kellie McIntyre and Tax Commissioner Steven Kendrick.
Mayor Deke Copenhaver, businessman J.R. Riles and former Augusta Human Resources Employment Manager Moses McCauley have endorsed Johnson.
WILL THE CYCLE BE UNBROKEN? In his one-sentence response, Augusta Commission District 6 candidate Ben Hasan, the publisher of the Urban Pro Weekly newspaper, said, “I’ve been going down there for eight years and attended 85 percent of commission and committee meetings, and the real issue we have here among commissioners is a trust factor, and by having interviewed every sitting commissioner on my TV show, I think with those relationships I will be able to come in as a neutral party and build trust among them.”
District 6 candidate Bob Finnegan, a retired military officer and civil service employee, said, “I’m the candidate that firmly believes that Augusta, especially south Augusta, has huge potential and that my leadership, experience in the military, governmental service and politics are the right combination to represent the people of District 6.”
JUST IMAGINE: The mayor is expected to call a meeting this week for commissioners to choose a new administrator from three finalists. If so, we can only imagine what will happen – except that Commissioner Marion Williams will say none of them has key qualifications called for in the ads, such as experience as an administrator in a government the size of Augusta’s with a similar budget.
If the mayor, working behind the scenes, has gotten commissioners to reach consensus on his top pick, Oscar Rodriguez, a former city manager in Taos, N.M., I can see him and Commissioner Bill Lockett making speeches about the outstanding finalists. Lockett’s will last longer than the mayor’s. He will then make the nomination, but not before Commissioners Bill Fennoy and Wayne Guilfoyle also speak on the quality of the finalists. The vote will pass 8-1, with Williams voting no and Commissioner Alvin Mason absent.
If there’s no consensus beforehand, I see Williams saying none of the finalists fills the bill; Johnson nominating former Albany, Ga., city manager Janice Jackson, an Augusta native; and Guilfoyle nominating Rodriguez. The vote for both nominations will be 5-4 because Williams will abstain each time to keep the mayor from breaking a tie.
HEADING THEM OFF AT THE PASS: The ouster of Paine College President George C. Bradley is being pursued by alumni dissatisfied with his leadership via a Web site that accuses the president and other Paine officials of serious financial and ethical wrongdoing.
The latest from the alumni named “The Paine Defender” at thepaineproject.net is that a Board of Trustees meeting will probably not take place Friday since no notices of the meeting have been sent to board members because Bradley doesn’t want the issue to come up.
“Apparently, Dr. Bradley has canceled the meeting,” the Web site message states. “As he controls the Board of Trustees, this is not surprising. No Board control of the college is one of the reasons Paine is on probation. It has been cited by SACS that the institution did not demonstrate compliance with” a core requirement and comprehensive standards “all having to do with a lack of control by the Board of Trustees.
“The fact that Dr. Bradley can cancel this meeting merely proves the point SACS has made in putting the college on probation – no control of the college by the Board of Trustees.”
Paine was placed on probation in June by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges for failing to correct the same problems for two years.
CLOSE TO SOME ANSWERS? It’s been a month since Smith was placed on administrative leave with pay from his position of lieutenant with the Georgia State Patrol, leave “pending the completion of an investigation into a possible policy violation.” Smith says he can’t talk about it. So we’re just waiting for the other shoe to drop, the ax to fall or the state patrol to exonerate.
FOR THE RECORD: The brother and sister of convicted felon George Harvey, who died after a Richmond County deputy used a stun gun on him last year while police tried to arrest him, appeared before commissioners last week, apparently on the advice of their attorney. They asked for answers to questions about the sheriff’s office policies and grand jury proceedings, both of which are not in commissioners’ purview. The family plans to sue the city, so Tuesday’s performances were probably just another step in the process.
Harvey, who was high on drugs, died of cardiac arrest in June 2013 at a service station on Gordon Highway while resisting arrest by two officers. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation looked into the case and the Richmond County grand jury did not indict.
Sister Alvera Harvey said people are saying they just want money, but she just wants her brother back. That should be the quote of the week.
IN A PICKLE: As soon as this rain stops, the cucumber plants are coming up by the roots. Last year, Ernie planted only three plants that didn’t produce a half-dozen cucumbers all summer. So this year, he overcompensated, and we’ve been overwhelmed by cucumbers and cucumber vines that have climbed up the tomato cages, over the compost bin and are headed for the stable. We’ve made mountain pickles, which are easy since you just pack whole cucumbers in gallon glass jars, pour vinegar over them and put them in a dark place for six weeks, after which you slice them, pour sugar and a few drops of oil of cloves over them and put them in jars.
We’ve also made bread and butter pickles, regular and hot; dill pickles; crisp sweet pickles; mustard pickles; and labor-intensive sweet pickles that take three days to make. You have to dye them dark green with food coloring for full effect, in the process of which I also dyed my fingers dark green.
We give the pickles to friends and family members in baskets for Christmas. If they don’t like pickles, it’s just too bad.