Details emerge on TEE center 'millionaire' threat

  • Follow Metro

A threat from a "local millionaire" read aloud by Mayor Pro Tem Alvin Mason at his monthly constituent meeting Saturday came from real estate broker Joe Edge, whose office is handling a land sale involving the proposed Hyatt hotel on Reynolds Street.

But Mr. Edge says that's not why he sent the e-mail in May, and he doesn't see what was so threatening about it.

"A local millionaire, huh?" Mr. Edge said Monday. "I wish. Not even close."

According to a report by WRDW-TV (Channel 12), Mr. Mason told a group at Gracewood Community Center that no one will influence his position on the proposed trade, exhibit and event center through "bribery, through threats, or fear."

Attorney David W. Fry faces two counts of bribery for allegedly offering Mr. Mason and Commissioner Corey Johnson posts in a parking deck management company if they changed their votes on the $38 million TEE center.

Mr. Mason told the group he started getting threats two days after the five black commissioners sat out of a special called meeting to vote on the project -- which was May 26, the same day they held a joint news conference outside the Municipal Building.

He then read from an e-mail he said was sent by a "local millionaire," according to WRDW.

"I own real estate in your district," Mr. Mason read. "And I will do everything I can to ensure you don't get re-elected if the commission does not change their mind."

The Augusta Chronicle obtained the e-mail Monday through an open records request.

The message from Mr. Edge, the president of Sherman & Hemstreet Real Estate Co., was sent to Mr. Mason and Commissioner Betty Beard and copied to Mayor Deke Copenhaver.

In it, Mr. Edge said he is "extremely disgusted" by how the commission is acting and that the five commissioners who are "halting progress should seriously reconsider their position."

"I own real estate in both of your districts," the actual e-mail reads, "and I will do everything I can to ensure you don't get re-elected if the commission does not change their mind."

The e-mail says the TEE center would spur new development downtown, including "a large Hyatt Hotel."

Asked how he knew about a possible Hyatt at that time, since it wasn't made public until mid-August, Mr. Edge said one of his agents represents businessman Julian Osbon in the transaction he's trying to complete with the developer.

Mr. Osbon, the owner of one of four properties that would make up the Hyatt site, has urged commissioners to approve the TEE center before his contract expires and the hotel falls through.

Mr. Edge said the hotel deal wasn't what led him to write the e-mail, though. He said he was speaking out as an outraged taxpayer.

"I might have been pretty pointed and direct, but it's the truth," Mr. Edge said Monday in a telephone interview. "I'm not going to retract anything that I wrote in this e-mail."

He said what Mr. Mason is construing as a threat is something he has a legal right to do.

"Whoever runs against him will get a donation from me," he said.

What Mr. Mason seems to have most taken exception to came in a follow-up e-mail from Mr. Edge.

According to the e-mail chain provided by the city, 10 minutes after Mr. Edge sent the first e-mail, Mr. Mason responded, "Do whatever you feel you need to do! But I will not react to threats!"

"It is not a threat," Mr. Edge replied three minutes later. "It is a comment and concern from a tax paying constituent in your district. You should not take it lightheartedly. You should really consider the consequences of how this will affect the city of Augusta and your re-election chances (if either even matter to you)."

Mr. Mason read part of that passage Saturday, and cited such language as "lightheartedly" and "consequences" when asked about it by The Chronicle on Monday.

"I perceived it as a threat," Mr. Mason said. "I'm through with it. You all can do what you want with it."

Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or johnny.edwards@augustachronicle.com.

ONLINE EXTRA

Read the series of emails between Alvin Mason and Joe Edge (.pdf)

Comments (71) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
HillGuy
7
Points
HillGuy 09/15/09 - 12:41 am
0
0
Now it's all starting to make

Now it's all starting to make sense.. David Fry was not in this alone. Let's clean up Augusta politics
www.butchforaugusta.org

Asitisinaug
3
Points
Asitisinaug 09/15/09 - 01:47 am
0
0
Sounds more like Mr. Mason

Sounds more like Mr. Mason was grandstanding and trying to make himself look much better than he is. I'm not a big fan of the Tee Center and I also do believe there is more to the David Fry situation. However, this is merely a local businessman who has strong business interests in the city doing well and prospering and he contacted his local commission and even copied the mayor with what he is upset with. It was by no means a threat as Mr. Mason portrays it and if that is what he considers a threat then he need not be in politics. This man is trying to bring more tax revenue to Augusta and is trying to get his point across and yes, those who pay this kind of tax money to the city certainly deserve to have their voices heard. Just like the national tax base, 10% of the local population here pays 90% of the taxes and of course they feel very much neglected by the commission and their antics and how they grosely waste money because even us measly tax payers feel that way.

Brad Owens
4906
Points
Brad Owens 09/15/09 - 02:30 am
0
0
This seems to be a group of

This seems to be a group of people who are use to getting their way and when they did not they get mad as heck huh? A bunch a rich guys trying to use the system to sell their over priced land to a hotel chain that really doesn't know what it is getting into in Augusta. I guess the idea of tax holdays to help growth has gone now to outright bribery (and I don't mean GFry). If we spend $100,000,000 we will build a hotel for you.

Brad Owens
4906
Points
Brad Owens 09/15/09 - 02:33 am
0
0
By the way, I like Mason's

By the way, I like Mason's reply. He is a retired Senior NCO and I bet he will not back down to these 'Big Shots' or put up with their crapola! HOOAHH!!!

Riverman1
93691
Points
Riverman1 09/15/09 - 03:41 am
0
0
Ditto Brad's remarks about

Ditto Brad's remarks about Mason being a retired NCO and not backing down. Also, ditto HillGuy's point that Fry wasn't in this alone. Anyone notice where the Mayor's committee to solve the impasse has not even met?

grinder48
2054
Points
grinder48 09/15/09 - 05:03 am
0
0
Dead on target Asitisinaug,
Unpublished

Dead on target Asitisinaug, Mason is grandstanding. There's absolutely nothing wrong with letting elected officials know you will work to defeat them.

WhippingPost
1
Points
WhippingPost 09/15/09 - 05:10 am
0
0
Everybody that disagrees with

Everybody that disagrees with every politician is threatening to replace them. It's part of the job.

Coolbreez
0
Points
Coolbreez 09/15/09 - 05:37 am
0
0
I have agreed with many of

I have agreed with many of the comments or positions you took over the years but I don’t know if I am with you on this one Brad. If not the TEE Center or Baseball field or what ever, then what will work for Augusta?
I don’t believe being a retired NCO is an automatic plus as far as knowledge or understanding of the issue. I work with the military every day. I sit in their safety meetings and planning boards and am dumb-founded at some of the answers or suggestions to a particular problem or issue, and these guys wear more metals on their chest than Mr. T, so being a retire NCO holds no water with me. Mr. Mason needs to put action behind his words, sitting out, walking out or abstaining is not helping. He needs to be apart of the solution not part of the problem.

bettyboop
7
Points
bettyboop 09/15/09 - 05:38 am
0
0
Doesn't sound like a threat

Doesn't sound like a threat to me ..sounds like someone pi**ed off with the efforts of some commissioners to stall progress......sameo..sameo....yes mason is "through " with it now because his mission is accomplished. (duh)..

SoonerorLater
0
Points
SoonerorLater 09/15/09 - 05:57 am
0
0
To my knowledge the TEE

To my knowledge the TEE center was voted by the citizens to impose a special tax to pay for it. So there is approximately $38 million raised, which was the initial estimate for the center. Now several years has gone by and the commission has not voted to build the center. Now the cost has gone up, and will continue to do so as long as they drag their feet. So the citizens of Augusta paid for something they did not get, I think they are due a refund.

2tired2argueanymore
1
Points
2tired2argueanymore 09/15/09 - 06:38 am
0
0
The TEE center has already

The TEE center has already been voted on by the people and approved. The problem is like it always is in Augusta, they sit on everything and committee it to death until the costs sky rocket and then it never gets done. Just last night they talked about how Augusta had been given money to restore the Train Depot and never did it so now the money can't be spent there because it is not public property so they are going to spend it somewhere else. If Augusta could vote on something and then just do it, it would be a miracle.

Little Lamb
49041
Points
Little Lamb 09/15/09 - 06:53 am
0
0
These scurrillous E-mails are

These scurrillous E-mails are more reasons to postpone the TEE center until a clean referendum question is put to the voters again in November, 2010. We should have a say as to whether we still want this white elephant that will sit empty 98% of the time.

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
11036
Points
ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 09/15/09 - 06:59 am
0
0
The problem is the rest of

The problem is the rest of the commissioners haven't gotten their Betty Beard benefits. Threat my eye, it's a matter of the commissioners not taking care of business. I'm not going to cater to people who don't pay taxes and ignore the man who is paying the bills. He can take his business elsewhere and remove it from the tax base also!!!

harrisburgwillrise
0
Points
harrisburgwillrise 09/15/09 - 07:05 am
0
0
We are fighting similar

We are fighting similar circumstances in Harrisburg with deep pockets demanding the status quo. There is corruption all over this City. It is time to clean house. At least Betty Beard is leaving voluntarily. A Tee Center we do not need. It's easy to see who is going to benefit from all of this. More deep pockets. Clean up our neighborhoods first, and the taxes will take care of themselves for all of the big projects.

WW1949
19
Points
WW1949 09/15/09 - 07:07 am
0
0
The makeup of the commission

The makeup of the commission should have reps according to the precentage of taxpayers there are in an area. The more taxes that come out of a district the more reps it has. The less taxes the less reps. Why should a district that hardly pays anything hold back everything.

lulu
0
Points
lulu 09/15/09 - 07:20 am
0
0
Coldbeer hit the nail on the

Coldbeer hit the nail on the head. Gimme mine

feduptaxpayer
0
Points
feduptaxpayer 09/15/09 - 07:30 am
0
0
A suggestion to the

A suggestion to the commission: cancel all the TEE center stuff and the Betty Beard area stuff. Take the money that was raised by the SPLOST and also the motel tax..... return it to the homeowners in Richmond County by lowering the taxes on the property of those that pay for a lot of the bills. At least we can get the benefit of the money while the commission continues to play their games.

justus4
113
Points
justus4 09/15/09 - 07:34 am
0
0
Great job Alvin! But don't
Unpublished

Great job Alvin! But don't think that your honesty & integrity will be appreciated much, because the establishment clowns doesn't enjoy your exposing the corruption. Ol' Edge should have serious legal problems like; 1) Trying to Influence a Public Official or 2) Threatening a Public Official, 3) Communicating a Threat to Influence Legislation, but this guy seems to know something that gives him comfort. Does he know: The investigation will go no where, or individuals responsible for the investigation are "on his side" or that no one could possibly convict him, but the e-mail stating, "I will do everything I can to ensure..." Well, thats a threat! Let a African-American say that in any fashion and its considered a threat. Example: If Mason had invited the Ol' guy behind the building...Wow! Every non-minority in the area would have said, "He's violent!","He's dangerous!" Ha! But ole Edge is saying he will do almost ANYTHING to stop Mason's re-election and the authorities will almost certainly do nothing. Again, way to go Mason and thats what "they" fear most: Your leadership skills and the possibility that others may become "uppity." KEEP CHARGING!

ripjones
2
Points
ripjones 09/15/09 - 07:35 am
0
0
Until construction of the TEE

Until construction of the TEE Center has begun, STOP sending funds to the Lainey Revitalization !! NO additional dollars. All parties to the original Betty Beard dealings are crooks. Dollars for a vote -- corruption at a higher level, but corruption nonetheless. This is paramount to the reason that Augusta government is a joke. Call it what you will - this nothing more than a pay-off.

joekm46
0
Points
joekm46 09/15/09 - 07:57 am
0
0
So I guess someone who could

So I guess someone who could not even make the rank of officer, makes him or her qualified to help run the affairs of a city??? Maybe Blyth, Ga. needs a mayor Pro Tem..Not to offend anyone in Blyth, just a size comparrison......

Grasshopper
7
Points
Grasshopper 09/15/09 - 07:58 am
0
0
I am sure, the Idiot Fry,

I am sure, the Idiot Fry, will plea bargain and spill some names.

rufus
2
Points
rufus 09/15/09 - 08:54 am
0
0
There is nothing wrong with a

There is nothing wrong with a concerned citizen putting his financial support behind a more qualified candidate. The commission is a joke for all to see.

Tots
26317
Points
Tots 09/15/09 - 09:12 am
0
0
Good post Coolbreez@6:37.

Good post Coolbreez@6:37.

john
1212
Points
john 09/15/09 - 09:12 am
0
0
I dont think that matters

I dont think that matters joekm46. Both NCO's and commissioned officers are leaders. Both ranks have oustanding leaders and sorry ones. Actually the NCO's focus more on taking care of the troops and being an advocate for them so it might be a good fit. Nothing against officers. I have been both an NCO then made it to field grade officer. Im blessed to have been on both sides.

Tots
26317
Points
Tots 09/15/09 - 09:20 am
0
0
For MR Mason and the other

For MR Mason and the other five black commissioners to abstain,walk out or sit out without having a solution to the problem,then I would say they are the problem.

Brad Owens
4906
Points
Brad Owens 09/15/09 - 09:23 am
0
0
You all that are acting like

You all that are acting like there was NOTHING to these conversations are being obtuse. The fact is, when you make threats like that TO GET SOMETHING YOU WANT it is wrong. I pledge to match ANY contribution this Edge fella makes to Mason's opposition to Mason myself. And for all you folks trashing NCO's, it is just more elite non-sense. This is all connected to the Fry incident you can bet it. Mark my words, Fry did not act alone and these very same guys all mad at Mason and making threats towards him OBVIOUSLY stood to gain many bones form this deal. They should all be investigated, starting with this guy Edge.

Newsreader
11
Points
Newsreader 09/15/09 - 09:31 am
0
0
I really don't give a rats

I really don't give a rats azz about Mr. Edge's wants or desires. I am sure that biggest want and strongest desire is more money. However, the only threat he made was aginst Mr. Mason's campaign. It is perfectly ok with me if anyone or everyones sends any of the sitting candidates a note of how they feel about the job they are doing, and whether or not the writer of the note will support their campaign. But then that is just my humble opinion. Worth the same as Brad Owens' opinion, very damn little. But we are missing the point. The commission does need to come to the table and settle the TEE center. UP OR DOWN, just settle the matter. Move on to the next phase or return the money collected. "Sitting out" instead of attending meetings does no damn good. A lack of majority means the issue stays open. I feel like Jerry Clower, shoot amongst them, somebody has got to have some relief! Is the TEE center really a "black/white" or "rich/poor", or "taxdollarwaste/Development potential" issue? Well pick a side and vote. Take a stand and stick with it! The real problem is all of the Commissioners want to flex there muscle, and hold the reign over the little power they have. Help us All!

Just tired
0
Points
Just tired 09/15/09 - 09:33 am
0
0
Gee! Now when one tells a

Gee! Now when one tells a politician that they will do whatever it takes within the law to prevent the persons re-election the statement becomes a "threat". Careful folks this same activity could easily be construed as a "hate" crime next.

Little Lamb
49041
Points
Little Lamb 09/15/09 - 09:48 am
0
0
When I first heard about

When I first heard about Fry's bribe attempt last week I just knew that Julian Osbon had to be behind it. It's looking more and more like that's true. He's in cahoots with this Edge fellow.

revitalizeaugusta
0
Points
revitalizeaugusta 09/15/09 - 09:52 am
0
0
YOU GUYS ARE REALLY MISSING

YOU GUYS ARE REALLY MISSING THE POINT!!! The fact is that the county voted on this and now the commisisoners are using the TEE center and their position as leverage to funnel money into poor neighborhoods that contributed the least amount to the taxes collected in the first place. I also find it odd that Mr. Frye and this bribery issue came up at the "perfect" time for the commission to kill the deal. And this talk about NCO is BS too. If you read Mr. Edge's bio you will see he was also a NCO in the Marine Corps. A NCO in the Marine Corps means a lot more than some NCO in the army. Take that for what it is worth but any member of the armed services will and should agree. Mr. Edge is obviously an upset tax payer who had the guts to stand up to people who are makeing poor decisions for the county. He ows proeprty in Richmond County so he is allowed to make the comments he made. Mr. Mason needs to grow some thicker skin. He shoud have learned that in the army. Maybe he should have went in the Marines instead. Sounds to me like Mr. Edge should lead a tea party in Augusta GA!!!!!!!

Back to Top

Top headlines

Daniel Field removes trees, lights structures in airspace

Daniel Field, managed by operations company Augusta Aviation, has spent more than $30,000 conducting land surveys, removing 30 trees and installing red blinking lights on top of the Newman Tennis ...
Search Augusta jobs