Sylvia Cooper

City Ink columnist and correspondent for The Augusta Chronicle.

Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver foiled again

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Somebody must have a hearing problem. That’s one thing I thought after Mayor Deke Copenhaver’s called meeting to recommend Taos, N.M., city manager Oscar Rodriguez for city administrator based on assurances from eight commissioners they’d vote to hire him was sabotaged.

When the meeting convened behind closed doors Wednesday, there were only five votes to hire Rodriguez, not the eight he said he’d been promised. Only Commissioners Mary Davis, Grady Smith, Donnie Smith, Wayne Guilfoyle and Joe Jackson were ready to vote for Rodriguez. Commissioners Bill Lockett, Bill Fennoy, Marion Williams and Alvin Mason wanted to hire Augusta native and former Albany, Ga., city manager Janice Allen Jackson.

The mayor said he wouldn’t have called the meeting if he didn’t think he had the votes. And later that evening, after no doubt fuming about it for several hours, fired off an e-mail saying he’d been lied to. Fennoy, reportedly one of the eight, said he told the mayor he supported Jackson but that if he already had the six votes to hire Rodriguez, he’d support his choice.

After rejecting the notion that a commissioner would lie to the mayor of all people, I’ve concluded this could be a case of the “Joe Rob Mathis Syndrome.”

Joe Rob Mathis was a county commissioner in Rome, Ga., in the late 1980s who during the election of a new commission chairman thought he heard someone nominate the Democrat he and two other of the five commissioners had agreed to vote for beforehand. So he seconded the motion and voted for the nominee who wasn’t the Democrat but a surprised Republican into whose hands the gavel fell on a 3-2 vote.

Another time during a discussion of improvements to the dog pound, a commissioner made a reference to the “installation” of the dog houses. Joe Rob thought he’d said “insulation” and proceeded to pitch a fit.

“Do you mean we’re spending tax money to insulate dog houses when there’s people in Floyd County that don’t have insulation in their houses?” he roared.

“Installation, Joe Rob! Installation! Not insulation!” the chairman shouted.

On the other hand, something else might have happened between the time the mayor had his votes rounded up and the special called meeting. Something that only the well connected insiders such as the Augusta businessman sitting beside me in commission chambers knew. “Nothing’s going to happen today,” he said repeatedly while we waited for commissioners to emerge from their closed-door meeting.

“You might as well go on home. Fennoy is not going to step over the line again and vote with the white commissioners because the last time he did, it didn’t turn out so good for him,” he said.

Fennoy, you’ll recall, voted for the doomed SPLOST 7 package after securing $6 million for Paine College on the list of projects.

The businessman said commissioners won’t hire an administrator until Mayor-elect Hardie Davis and three new members are on board next year.

“So why did they vote to immediately hire a firm to conduct a nationwide search for a new administrator in December, the day they fired administrator Fred Russell and waste $25,000 if they were going to wait until a new mayor was on board?” I pondered aloud.

“Maybe they weren’t at that point yet,” he said.

I think he meant they hadn’t yet decided to let the new black Mayor-elect Hardie Davis and three new commissioners hire the administrator.

Multiple Choice Test

Question 1: Why didn’t at least six commissioners take Deke’s recommendation to hire Oscar Rodriguez?

They wanted to stick it to an Iron Man who wears reflective sunglasses that make him look like a dragonfly.

At least three of them were afraid they couldn’t spell his name right.

They love to waste other people’s money.

Lockett is afraid somebody with degrees from Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will look smarter than he thinks he is.

Corey Johnson wasn’t there to vote because he was stuck straddling a fence.

Commissioner Marion Williams doesn’t take anybody’s recommendation on anything.

Question 2: How could Deke have thought he had the votes and be surprised to find out he didn’t?

He thought wishing would make it so.

He got commitments to vote for Oscar too far ahead of time. Four minutes would have been better than four days.

He hasn’t learned anything about Augusta politics in eight years.

He thinks a man’s word is his bond.

He never read Julius Ceaser.

The Joe Rob Mathis Syndrome.

Answer to Question 1: All of the above will do, but number 3 is the best one.

Answer to Question 2: Also all of the above will do, but number 2 is the best one.

We Don ‘t Need No Stinkum Tough Guy

The mayor said he brought commissioners the most qualified candidate and thinks what they did Wednesday is a disservice to the community.

“In a city with 200,000 people, 2,700 city employees, plus growth coming from Fort Gordon, you have to have a point person people can go to,” he said. “Interim Administrator Tameka Allen and Interim Deputy Administrator Steve Cassell are doing a good job, but they’re wearing too hats. They’re stretched too thin.”

Allen is also IT director, and Cassell is Traffic Engineering director.

One of the biggest things in favor of Rodriguez is that he was city manager in Eagle Pass, Texas, a border town that had a corrupt police chief, so much so that federal agencies had pulled out, the mayor said.

“He fired the police chief and got the federal border agencies back. Anybody who’s got the backbone to do that would have no problem handling the commission.”

The rejection of Rodriguez has shown the mayor that a majority of commissioners don’t really want what they say they want – a truly professionally managed government, he said.

Alive and Well in Augusta

During WJBF TV’s recent four-part series on “Racism in Augusta Politics,” in response to a question about Augusta and Richmond County consolidation, panelist Terry Elam, Augusta Technical College President, said what everybody knows is true about Augusta government.

“What we designed was a 50-50 split of power,” he said. “That’s the way it was designed. If you want to know why it’s been ineffective is because we have two camps. It’s no longer the south versus the west. It’s the black commissioners versus the white commissioners.”

On the subject of trust, Elam said you have to build trust between people, and panelist Bob Young, former Augusta mayor, said, “Remember back when the Chamber of Commerce put together this trust initiative, and all these different segments of the community were going to meet privately. Whatever happened to that?”

“It died,” Elam said.

“How long did it take for that to die, Terry?” Young asked.

“Less than six months.”

“Because no one could trust anyone,” said panelist Barbara Gordon, Metro Courier Publisher.

“Nobody could trust anyone,” said Young.

Close to Greatness

I met the Godfather of Soul one time in Mayor Young’s office. He was as high as a kite. James Brown. Not the mayor.

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corgimom
33953
Points
corgimom 07/26/14 - 08:11 pm
6
6
"It’s the black commissioners

"It’s the black commissioners versus the white commissioners.”

And in other breaking news, the sky is blue.

And it's been like this for years.

But that may change, now that there's going to be a majority black commission and a black mayor.

Now it'll be the black commissions that aren't against anybody, because they will have all the power. They won't need to be against anybody. And the white commissioners will spend their days pounding sand and reminiscing about the good ol' days.

jpbrig
246
Points
jpbrig 07/26/14 - 08:38 pm
7
0
been there

If Allen was the Mayor's choice she would be on the job now. Tax and pay increases are next, been a broke Augusta a year are so down the road.

Pops
10351
Points
Pops 07/26/14 - 10:30 pm
11
0
I think that inflated egos may play

a part in some of the things that go on with these guys.

JRC2024
9266
Points
JRC2024 07/26/14 - 11:12 pm
10
0
Some body needs to carry a

Some body needs to carry a hat pin to the meetings and stick it in few or those inflated egos. They are only important in their eyes. Get back to what you were elected to do.

dichotomy
34332
Points
dichotomy 07/26/14 - 11:20 pm
20
1
Just more cowardly "gotcha"

Just more cowardly "gotcha" crap from the same sneaky, lying black commissioners because they want to hire nothing but black into the position.....ALL positions. Why don't the cowards just stand up and say "Whites, Hispanics, and Orientals Need Not Apply". Get used to it. You are going to see a LOT more of it.

Next year the 4 white commissioners might as well start attending the meetings in black face so they won't stand out so bad when they have one of those meetings where the mayor, commissioners, administrator, sheriff, fire chief, fire chief's new mouthpiece, planning and zoning, human resources, tax commissioner, procurement director, housing director, chief dog catcher, 911 director, 311 manager, commission clerk, disadvantaged business enterprise director, engineering director, EEO director, IT director, and all of the other department heads show up. As a matter of fact, I don't know why they would even bother attending the commission meetings. They haven't had much influence since consolidation with the asinine cowardly tactics the black commissioners have used and NOW they won't have ANY INPUT AT ALL. There's no reason for them to even participate. No sense wasting their time peeing into the wind for a lost cause.

If you are white and still have a department head job with the "city" of Augusta I hope you are riding a white horse and have a sidekick named Tonto because you are pretty much the Lone Ranger. Oh, there are a few of you left but probably not for long. I'd be dusting off those resumes if I were you. We are 40% of the population of RC but we will not have 40% of the high level jobs. We aren't to the Detroit status yet but this is pretty much how Memphrica got it's start and subsequent nickname.

I hope Columbia County and Aiken County can absorb a few more white folks because I think some will be coming their way now that we already see the intent of our majority black commission and black mayor (like he really didn't have input to this fiasco). The COWARDS should have stood up before they spent the money for the search and put these candidates through this crap if they wanted ONLY a black administrator. The should have stood up and said "we only want a black administrator and we want to wait until we have a black mayor and 6 black commissioners so you white folks won't have anything to say about it." That's MY money they spent on this cruel joke and I hate every breath those lying cowards take.

Hold on to your wallets South Richmond County....you are going to be paying a lot of "senior" black folks salaries. Hell, you already are.....more than their percentage of the population......but you are going to be paying for more. Augusta/Richmond County has become a hostile environment for white folks. Leave if you can. The coup d'état is complete and you lost. How's that Consolidation thingy workin' out for ya? You are now the minority population, the majority taxpayers, and effectively have ZERO representation. Your 40% counts for ZILCH under our charter. You are just here to pay the bills. Tameka has your new, updated share figured out already for this year.

404Law
226
Points
404Law 07/26/14 - 11:35 pm
2
13
A stretch to pull the race card

The vote was 8-1. Black AND white commissioners decided to table the search. What does it matter who was going to vote for who? The mayor wasn't honest with commissioners (both black and white) when he attempted to whip votes and has since apologized to a few of them. Also I know for certain that at least one of the black commisioners referenced in the article did NOT plan to vote for the black candidate and said as much in the special call meeting. Sylvia simply made this up, because it fit her poorly constructed race narrative.

blues550
380
Points
blues550 07/27/14 - 03:15 am
0
0
Young...We Don;t Need No Stinking Young!
Unpublished

Young??? We don't need no stinking Young. Cut 'N Run Young's only positive move was to deliver Pam Tucker to Columbia County...thanks God. For Bobby it was all downhill after the "First Lade of Augusta" did a brodie with the army paratroopers.

Conservative Man
5577
Points
Conservative Man 07/27/14 - 03:30 am
6
2
HELLO!!!….

This is NOT a black vs. white issue!!!

This is, and HAS been an issue of "green"…

The longer the media, and the power structure can keep us divided along racial lines, is more time that they can control the narrative and the purse strings….

If we continue to argue about black vs. white, then THEY will continue to steal us blind….

Heads up people…..The white power structure in RC has co-opted the black power structure to achieve their aims….with the implicit agreement that RC will be handed over to the black power players…something that was due to happen eventually considering demographic shifts….

What WILL happen is that when the black power structure has control, RC will be bankrupt and by then the "good ole boys" will have made off with all the cash and Hardie, Fennoy, Marion, etc. will be left to take the blame and clean up the mess…"bait and switch"…at its finest..

So keep on blaming the "blacks" while saying the "whites" are ok..or vice versa…

..bottom line is that the fix is in….and the only color that matters is green….

Riverman1
86791
Points
Riverman1 07/27/14 - 06:36 am
7
1
Victory Brings Responsibility

I wasn’t sitting next to Sylvia at the Commission meeting, but I’ve always believed the candidate chosen would be the one the blacks wanted and not Deke. The Boy King is upset that it’s been validated he has absolutely no influence with the black officials. He’ll be on the way to the beach soon as he can. The truth is he never had influence. Larry Sconyers BBQ hash was better liked and probably smarter. Bob Young, acting like the newsman on TV, had the Commissioners not wanting to turn the channel.

Things may turn out as Dichotomy says, but let’s hope not. Augusta government has been the pits with the racial divide that was so ripe for influence peddling. The black majority county and government may surprise us all because now it’s on them. Nowhere to go but up and all that.

But I wouldn’t be too happy if I were on the black side with the changing demographics of the county. The CSRA reminds me of South Africa before the fall of the white separatist government. They created these supposedly independent nations inside their country which had an almost exclusive black population. The goal was to have a white South Africa and keep blacks in a reservation type existence. Where do you think the reservation will be in the CSRA?

Riverman1
86791
Points
Riverman1 07/27/14 - 06:23 am
6
1
Cleaning Up The Grammar

About that wearing "too hats" and being stretched "too thin," everyone knows it should be stretched two thin.

Bodhisattva
6464
Points
Bodhisattva 07/27/14 - 06:29 am
5
1
Deke showed up to something?
Unpublished

Then he gets mad because he didn't get his way? Poor baby. I guess when there aren't tens of million of dollars in it for his cronies and relatives he just has to go it alone and look like the straw man he's always been and just a puppet without anyone there to pull the strings.

seenitB4
90642
Points
seenitB4 07/27/14 - 07:20 am
3
0
dichotomy

Have you looked at land around Appling? It is time my friend, rates are low & your blood pressure would get a break too.

seenitB4
90642
Points
seenitB4 07/27/14 - 07:39 am
5
1
fired off an e-mail saying he’d been lied to.

Oh Brother, that is funny....South Augusta feels your pain.

nocnoc
44736
Points
nocnoc 07/27/14 - 07:49 am
4
1
Put a fork in it

Augusta is Done.

The problems with Augusta have been cooking so long that Augusta is cooked tough and needs to be tossed out and a FRESH meat brought in and a better recipe for cooking the meat needs to be applied.

The problem is there are 10 Cooks (Commissioners) each with their own way of cooking.

nocnoc
44736
Points
nocnoc 07/27/14 - 08:04 am
1
1
 

 

seenitB4
90642
Points
seenitB4 07/27/14 - 08:03 am
7
0
USA is done

I hope we don't say that in our lifetime....but it doesn't look very bright right now.

Last night I watched the news & thought...is the whole middle east fighting each other....have we ever had a leader, like Putin, dare to take land like he has lately? Was Hitler the last guy to do that?

MrClen1944
255
Points
MrClen1944 07/27/14 - 08:35 am
8
0
It ain't gonna change, at

It ain't gonna change, at least for the better. Black v White and ignorance will still be the word of the day for the majority voters in Richmond Co. As long as they are getting their checks, they could care less about the shrinking tax paying base. As long as the Black commissioners can spend someone else's money and convince their voters they are sticking it to the Whites, it will never change down there.

reader54
259
Points
reader54 07/27/14 - 09:03 am
5
0
I was enjoying the article,

I was enjoying the article, grammatical errors and all, until the last sentence. But hey, nobody is perfect and I never heard Mr. Brown even insinuate that he was. However, he was recognized around the WORLD for his musical contributions and was loyal to Augusta his entire life. There are not many, if any, musical legends that haven't found solace from the pressures of fame by self-medicating to temporarily escape. Some are just able to conceal it better than others. In spite of the fact that James Brown was born into extreme poverty, had a very limited formal education and endured Segregation and the humility and emotional pain that accompanies it, he overcame it all to succeed and forgive. So, my point is, why can't the educated and socially privileged do so? The man has been dead for years and still, some find a need to bash him with cheap-shots. The article is expressing racism in local politics and out of nowhere, Mr. Brown is slighted in the last sentence of an article that has nothing to do with him or even the entertainment business. Perhaps, this is an example of why there is no trust between Races and one reason that it is perpetuated. It is socially unacceptable to denigrate the deceased for amusement. It seems as though James Brown took the higher road. May he Rest in Peace!?

hoptoad
13508
Points
hoptoad 07/27/14 - 09:22 am
5
1
If the city of Augusta had

If the city of Augusta had only white office holders, the black residents would raise holy heck and demand equal representation. Yet, they have no problem packing the majority with all black reps and dashing any hopes of diversity and perhaps the presentation of new or fresh ideas.

Thankfully, I do not live in RC and feel sorry for the dwindling number of taxpaying citizens who still reside there. Where is the money going to come from to keep Augusta running when many more taxpayers move on out? Higher taxes for y'all that are left!

jpbrig
246
Points
jpbrig 07/27/14 - 09:31 am
3
0
Green issue

the green issue is going to be tax to the cap and spend to the max then soon the green will be gone. some boys wanted to cut the spending others want to spend more and the spending more won each time. they will left to pick up their own mess.

dichotomy
34332
Points
dichotomy 07/27/14 - 11:05 am
7
1
seenit....."dichotomy Have

seenit....."dichotomy Have you looked at land around Appling?"

The fact is that I cannot afford to move. I'm sitting here on 16 acres in a brick house 1200 ft. from the road with county water and cable TV.......and I'm dug in, booby trapped, trip wired, firing laned, and bunkered up like the Japanese on Iwo Jima. Unfortunately, due to Consolidation and demographics, and my wonderful county building a water plant and 40,000 gallon chlorine tank next to me, my house and property are market valued (not tax valued) at between 1/2 and 1/3 of what it would take to move to a smaller house on a few acres near Appling....or Lincoln County.

I'm trapped. Those that can get out should. Believe me, I'd go if I could. I'll hole up here and wait for Five Guys, Target, and Walmart with countyman. Somebody has to stick around and complain and, from the looks of things, it is going to be a target rich environment.

sand gnat
568
Points
sand gnat 07/27/14 - 11:39 am
4
0
Top 10 Place To Live

Over the last few years, I have read where Augusta is ranked one of the top ten small cities in the nation to live and raise a family. It is home of the Masters. Maybe CBS will give more of these local 'feel good' stories during next year's airing around the world.

flipa1
2160
Points
flipa1 07/27/14 - 01:11 pm
1
0
A 2% mill increase was tabled

A 2% mill increase was tabled last week to support the local environmentalist, so both are raising taxes...

ColCo
819
Points
ColCo 07/27/14 - 01:23 pm
2
1
Will be interesting to watch

I understand that Marion Williams has made the statement "Hardie Davis isn't my Mayor." It will be interesting to watch the infighting and posturing among the minority commissioners. Now that they have caught the car, we'll see if "their way," whatever that is, will actually work. Glad I don't live or own property there.

hoptoad
13508
Points
hoptoad 07/27/14 - 01:48 pm
3
0
Yep, colco, I agree. Just

Yep, colco, I agree. Just because there is a black majority in total control of Augusta does not mean there still won't be infighting.

Riverman1
86791
Points
Riverman1 07/27/14 - 03:07 pm
3
0
Dichotomy Thanks

Dichotomy, thanks for your truthful reporting.

TrulyWorried
15315
Points
TrulyWorried 07/27/14 - 09:56 pm
2
0
To Dichotomy

We'll stick with you and I believe a lot of other folks will too. The victory is not in flight.

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