Mason, Davis go head-to-head over SPLOST 7 funds in forum

Thursday, March 27, 2014 10:27 PM
Last updated Friday, March 28, 2014 8:46 AM
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Four Augusta mayor candidates went several rounds at a Thursday forum over the city’s seventh special purpose local option sales tax referendum, set to go on the May 20 ballot with the mayor’s race. But only one –
Sen. Hardie Davis – said he’ll vote for it.

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Candidate Alvin Mason answers a question during a forum for mayoral candidates at Beulah Grove Baptist Church.   JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
Candidate Alvin Mason answers a question during a forum for mayoral candidates at Beulah Grove Baptist Church.

The candidates and some in the public have criticized the $194 million construction package, developed in a matter of weeks by Mayor Deke Copenhaver, as heavy on special interests and light on infrastructure. Mayoral candidate and Augusta Commission member Alvin Mason agreed.

Mason said the 1 percent sales tax levied on purchases at the cash register was good if “used for the appropriate purpose,” but not the package six commissioners approved at a meeting called by Copenhaver only “33 minutes” ahead of a public notice deadline “with no input” from the public.

“You’re going to have transparency in government with Alvin Mason,” he said.

Candidate Helen Blocker-Adams, an entrepreneur, said she, too, liked the “concept” of the sales tax plan, which allows any visitor to assist with its needs. “I just don’t like the package that was put together.”

Charles Cummings, a retired businessman, noted that the previous sales tax package included funds to renovate Augusta Municipal Building, but the commission later determined it wasn’t enough, and approved renovations requiring a dip into an unapproved package for more funds.

“Once we get the money allocated, we’ll do what we want with it,” Cummings said of the city’s attitude toward the sales tax.

Davis said the tax “allows us to enhance the quality of life without raising property taxes” and includes funds for surveillance cameras, for instance, to “save downtown.”

He said the rushed schedule, resulting in a May 20 referendum, was caused by a change in election dates.

Ultimately, voters don’t “ask who made the sausage,” but rather, “does it taste good,” Davis said. “I’m going to vote for it.”

Mason, rebutting Davis, said $50 million in the package designated for infrastructure “doesn’t even have a list of what it should be spent on … Those (included) projects are what (Copenhaver) wanted to have before he got out of here.”

Davis said Mason was chairman of the city’s engineering committee; Mason said no, he was not, but he pulled out a list compiled by the city Engineering Department of $50 million in infrastructure projects. “He probably has a copy of this list,” Davis said.

“Not being on the table, but at the table,” Davis said of Mason missing some of the hastily called sales tax package sessions, adding as mayor he’ll create a “community cabinet” of advisers from across the city and host mayors hours in each commission district to ensure transparency in government.

“Half-truths and whole lies,” Mason responded to a subsequent question about transparency.

The special purpose local option sales tax package approved by the commission shows the $50 million in projects as “to be determined,” he said. Any list, “came because Commissioner Mason requested that list.”

Davis responded, “The last thing this community needs is a bully. What this community needs is a statesman.”

Following up, Blocker-Adams said she too downloaded the Engineering list from the city Web site, while the commission-approved document shows infrastructure projects as “to be determined.”

The sales tax package specifies many projects, such as Copenhaver’s mills campus proposal, a new arts and cultural center at
Paine College, and recreation projects.

Funds that aren’t designated to a particular project, however, may be spent in any manner within the category they are allocated, if voters approve.

The forum, sponsored by the Augusta NAACP branch, drew several hundred people to the Poplar Street sanctuary of Beulah Grove Baptist Church. Candidate Lori Myles did not attend. Organizers said she had another commitment.

Afterward, attendee Joanne Wilder said the forum had helped her narrow her choices to two – Mason and Davis – but she hadn’t made up her mind on which she’s selecting May 20. “I’ll vote for one of them,” she said.

Dave Owens said “all of them were good,” but he had made up his mind. “I pick Hardie Davis. He’s a minister,” Owens said.

FUTURE FORUMS

The five candidates for Augusta mayor are businesswoman Helen Blocker-Adams, retired businessman Charles Cummings, state Sen. Hardie Davis, Augusta Commission member Alvin Mason and high school teacher Lori Myles. Two more forums are planned before the May 20 election:

• April 14, 6 p.m., Carrie J. Mays Community Center, 1014 11th Ave.

• May 13, 7 p.m., Julian Smith Casino Barbecue Pit, 3 Milledge Road

Comments (40) Add comment
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Butterman
3678
Points
Butterman 03/27/14 - 11:43 pm
4
3
Splost
Unpublished

is the big issue in this election. When it comes to the mayor's race the contest comes down to two men: Hardie Davis and Al Mason. One of them will be the next mayor. Hardie Davis is pro Splost and Alvin Mason is against it. Please vote accordingly.

Butterman
3678
Points
Butterman 03/28/14 - 12:03 am
4
4
The Cabal's Choice
Unpublished

is clearly Hardie Davis. SPLOST is their slush fund gravy train. No way he would bite the hand that feeds him by opposing Splost. Now you know. Vote accordingly.

Butterman
3678
Points
Butterman 03/28/14 - 02:17 am
5
4
for what it's worth
Unpublished

Hardie Davis already has the endorsement of Countyman.. Take that for whatever it's worth. Now we know why since Davis supports Splost 7 and all of the pork barrel spending going to outside groups and pie in the sky boondoggles.

dickworth1
954
Points
dickworth1 03/28/14 - 05:17 am
2
3
Alvin or Hardie?
Unpublished

Alvin Mason is part of the problem, let's not forget he was there to spend taxpayers money on whatever as a commissioner. The current
commission can blame the mayor for everything, but the facts are the commission rules. You should not elect this guy for his past history shows he does what he wants and not what the taxpayers want. He professes to have been against the doubling of our trash pick fees but did nothing, the same thing would be true of all commissioners and he will not change as mayor. We need new people in the white castle and out with any current politician. People are writing off the other candidates and saying it is a two horse race. Isn't it time for a woman to take over and run the city in a responsible business like attitude instead of good old buddy politics. Get rid of the current commission that is going to bankrupt the city and get someone that can guide us to prosperity for all citizens. I am against the splost as written and will not vote for it, even as the commissioners threaten us with a property tax increase, which would never be in the talks if the commission was more responsible. I vote for change not rearrange!

SRD
397
Points
SRD 03/28/14 - 05:27 am
5
3
slanted

This seems a little slanted.... It appears to me there were other comments left out, you seem to be painting a picture for Davis, could it be that Davis has the big boys approval as in the money movers and shakers in Augusta. And why would that be? Can it be that Davis is playing well with others and Mason isn't? I'd say that Davis is playing well with the money guys, the property owners, and favor spending poo-bears in Augusta. I'm not falling for it AC! Mason is the only one telling the truth here as far as I can see!

Riverman1
81382
Points
Riverman1 03/28/14 - 06:30 am
8
2
Lawd, Lawd, Lawd, Amen

Does us all good to get out to church now and then.

Interesting the way the Chronicle always describes Helen Blocker-Adams as an "entrepreneur" without saying exactly what she does. Why don't they just say "The Dynamic Miss HBA" or some other flowery description?

Interesting the way Hardie Davis talked of "saving downtown." Better hold onto your wallets those of you who don't live downtown.

Interesting the gentleman is going to vote for Davis "because he's a minister." If you walk into any government meeting in Augusta and say Reverend, 95% of those present will answer you.

Interesting that Charles Cummings actually made sense. He's moving up in the polls.

Interesting that Alvin Mason is not a minister. He needs to get ordained by a mail order church fast.

seenitB4
84145
Points
seenitB4 03/28/14 - 06:47 am
4
2
Lawdy lawdy is right

Vote just because someone is a minister...naaah...not good thinking

It probably is between Hardie & Mason....let them go at it & may the best man win.

Riverman1
81382
Points
Riverman1 03/28/14 - 06:57 am
3
1
SeenIt, I see you were

SeenIt, I see you were sitting in the second row at the church.

seenitB4
84145
Points
seenitB4 03/28/14 - 07:23 am
3
2
Sitting up front

That reminds me of a dream I had....I was sitting up front & was nakkid as a jaybird.....strange & it probably has some meaning but, do I even want to know it.

Why did it have to be in front of the church, I never like the front seat.

Riverman1
81382
Points
Riverman1 03/28/14 - 07:38 am
3
1
Dream, Dream, Dream

It wouldn't be a good dream if you were naked sitting in the back and no one could see you. That would be like dreaming you were naked in the shower. If the candidates spoke naked I wonder if the votes from the women in the audience would be influenced?

Oops, forgot about HBA. I'd vote for her if she spoke naked. Heck, I'd vote for about any female if she spoke naked.

seenitB4
84145
Points
seenitB4 03/28/14 - 07:44 am
2
2
hahha

I just saw a photo on Fb of a nekkid woman you wouldn't vote for....wish I could post on here BUT you know how uptight Sean is about that!!! :)

seenitB4
84145
Points
seenitB4 03/28/14 - 07:46 am
2
2
Yes

If the men were nekkid it would influence my vote....:)

Lori Davis
868
Points
Lori Davis 03/28/14 - 08:35 am
6
1
Missing the point

According to OCGA 48-8-110-111, many of the projects in this SPLOST are ILLEGAL. Hardie Davis is a LAW MAKER for crying out loud. If he is for SPLOST 7, he does not believe in the rule of law. This is all anyone needs to know about him or any of the other candidates in their support or lack of support for SPLOST. We also need to know where Harold Jones and Corey Johnson stand on this issue, because one of them will be our next LAW MAKER. Does anyone get this point besides me?

dsterling9
709
Points
dsterling9 03/28/14 - 08:44 am
5
1
CHANGE OF CHOICE

I had all but narrowed my choice for mayor down to Hardie Davis; however, his support of the money grabbing SPLOST has lost my vote. Loris Davis is correct...the give away of tax dollars to outside organizations/agencies is ILLEGAL and Mr. Hardie should know this. At this point there is no candidate worthy of my vote. That being said I must vote for one and it will not be one of the two mentioned here.

dichotomy
31678
Points
dichotomy 03/28/14 - 08:55 am
2
3
Butterman.....I oppose the

Butterman.....I oppose the SPLOST because of the illegal, PRIVATE organizations that were included. Most of the "official" stuff I pretty much agree with except for the Mills.

Mason opposes SPLOST because South Richmond County actually got some funding this time. You know Mason want's to spend the money in "other" neighborhoods and downtown.

I cannot vote for Mason simply because he opposes the SPLOST. I don't like his "skybox" ethics". I don't like his demeanor. I didn't like his domestic violence, dodging arrest, and preferential treatment. And I don't like the way he started strategically dodging commission meetings and votes on controversial issues as soon as he declared his intention to run for mayor.

I personally think ALL of our available choices are poor choices but if I have to pick one it certainly will not be Skybox Mason.

Brad Owens
4178
Points
Brad Owens 03/28/14 - 09:01 am
3
1
No mention of TSPLOST?

Hmmmm, I might go to the next mayors forum and ask a few questions.

grinder48
1844
Points
grinder48 03/28/14 - 09:05 am
0
0
Anti-Male Rhetoric
Unpublished

dickworth1 wrote, "Isn't it time for a woman to take over and run the city ... " WHAT?!!! So you're saying we should be biased toward a woman based solely on her gender ??? How about this novel approach, how about supporting the best candidate, whether male or female?

grinder48
1844
Points
grinder48 03/28/14 - 09:07 am
0
0
Riverman1 03/28/14 - 06:30 am
Unpublished

Great comment, dead on target.

Lori Davis
868
Points
Lori Davis 03/28/14 - 09:12 am
2
1
Correct Brad

TSPLOST is another issue to look at as well.

Bulldog
1319
Points
Bulldog 03/28/14 - 09:35 am
4
1
Mason seems the logical choice

Of all the candidates, Alvin Mason is quite obviously the best choice. While I certainly oppose this SPLOST, Mason is the obvious choice for so many other reasons. He has the leadership ability, vision and intellect to help run a major city. The rest of the candidates seriously fail in one or more of these major categories. Augusta is not Waynesboro or Thomson. There is a huge difference. We must elect people who know what they are doing. Alvin Mason is the only candidate who fits that description.

story1
802
Points
story1 03/28/14 - 10:06 am
5
1
Picture this...

If Hardie Davis wins Mayor and Splost is voted down, he will continue to push the package back on a future ballot with few changes. Based on that concern, I'm voting for Alvin Mason and "No" to Splost. We need a leader that is going to make the right decisions for the whole community and handing out tax dollars to all the outside agencies is not the right decision.

Privy
104
Points
Privy 03/28/14 - 11:31 am
3
1
I want to know why the

I want to know why the infrastructure of city facilities and parks are not added into the departmental budgets with a given accountability of how the funds will be used.
Way to generic as it stands now. I will be voting "no"

Butterman
3678
Points
Butterman 03/28/14 - 11:33 am
4
1
Dichotomy
Unpublished

Iused to really respect your insightful comments anf usually agreed with you 90% of the time but you have been way off base lately. Mason was the first local candidate to come out against Splost. He made it very clear why he was opposed and it was not just because his district was left out mostly. He said the process was unnecessarily rushed. He is right. The current Splost does not expire until 2016. We have an entire year to vote on this and get it right. Mason said he opposed nearly $22 million going to outside groups like the arts council, imperial, SOA and Paine College which is against the intent of the Splost law. He says he wants to see more nuts and bolts infrastructure not fluff. He also says he opposes Splost because of the way the public was completely left out of the process and how the mayor controlled it making sure his political cronies were rewarded. That is why he is opposed. You obviously have some personal beef with Mason.. that is the only way to explain why you would vote to cut off your nose to spite your face. Go ahead and vote for Helen if that suits you. I will give her credit for coming out against Splost. But she is also buddies with the DDA crowd.. you know the ones who constantly want to funnel your tax dollars to downtown to benefit their pet projects.

Butterman
3678
Points
Butterman 03/28/14 - 11:35 am
4
1
NO on SPLOST
Unpublished

YES on MASON

Butterman
3678
Points
Butterman 03/28/14 - 11:38 am
4
1
TSplost
Unpublished

oh btw, Hardie Davis voted for Tsplost and also voted to exempt large corporations from paying sales taxes. Seems like Davis loves new taxes when they are chiefly paid by the poor and middle class

...point to ponder
743
Points
...point to ponder 03/28/14 - 11:41 am
3
2
Mayor's race

Voting for Mason and against SPLOST.

The splost was poorly done. A new administration will have a chance to get it right WITH public input.

Butterman
3678
Points
Butterman 03/28/14 - 11:43 am
3
1
Mason
Unpublished

is not my ideal choice but he is the best choice out of who is running. So far he has been on the right side of most of the issues.

jimbob
62
Points
jimbob 03/28/14 - 11:51 am
0
1
Is Augusta like Charlotte getting a crook as Mayor?

Just asking if one or more of these people who are seeking a Mayoral job with no power, just influence, might be in it for the money, behind the scenes illegal money that is!

Butterman
3678
Points
Butterman 03/28/14 - 12:00 pm
2
1
Donor List
Unpublished

I think when you take a look at Hardie Davis' donor list it will be clear why he is in favor of Splost. Because many of his biggest contributors have and will continue to directly benefit from the SPLOST slush fund.

badmoon426
1024
Points
badmoon426 03/28/14 - 12:27 pm
4
1
Alvin Mason...

...is truly a leader and will be able to move Augusta forward better than the current occupant of the position.

His position on SPLOST is documented and it has been a part of his candidacy from the very beginning.

Vote YES for Commissioner Al Mason for mayor and vote NO for the pork laden, Ill defined and illegal SPLOST VII.

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