Augusta delegation closes in on appointments

ATLANTA - The Augusta legislative delegation hasn't had to look far to find people to appoint to various boards and commissions, drawing often from family members and business associates, but it bogged down recently in a discussion about procedures and won't release a list of appointments until it finishes.

Some of the latest appointments are going to a father, a brother, a daughter and a business partner of various delegation members, according to Sen. Hardie Davis, D-Gracewood.

The seven-member delegation appoints several members to most of the government boards that oversee various agencies. The other appointments are usually made by city commissioners and the mayor. Augusta's is one of the few local delegations to make such appointments.

During discussions March 31 on the delegation's appointments for the year, Davis said, things ground to a halt when he launched a debate about whether Cedric Johnson could be appointed to both the Coliseum Authority and the Augusta Aviation Commission.

No one produced a copy of the delegation rules, which prohibit appointees serving in multiple positions, so the discussion went round and round, according to Davis, who said he decided to stop voting for appointments until the issue could be resolved.

On Monday, he said he's resolved the issue in his mind and would nominate Johnson for another term on both authorities.

"It goes without question. He's a fine gentleman and a friend of mine," Davis said.

Rep. Gloria Frazier, D-Hephzibah, credits Johnson and aviation commission Chairman Karlton Howard with progress at Bush Field, including hiring minority vendors, a new director and attracting a second air carrier.

"I feel that they have done an exceptional job," she said. "It's very hard in Augusta to find quality leaders."

Powell nominated Davis' father for an aviation commission vacancy, but no vote was taken. Frazier nominated Karlton Howard, but his brother Rep. Wayne Howard, D-Augusta, abstained.

Karlton Howard was first appointed before Wayne Howard was elected to the seat once held by both his father and his mother.

Davis declined to identify which appointee is a daughter and which is a business partner of delegation members.

Wayne Howard said the entire list of appointments would be released when every member approves the votes he recorded.

Resolution backs Yucca Mountain storage

ATLANTA - A House subcommittee gave its approval Monday to a resolution sponsored by the Augusta House delegation to urge the federal government to open the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository.

The resolution, penned by delegation chairman Rep. Quincy Murphy and co-sponsored by the other four House members, is part of a concerted effort to pass similar resolutions by the South Carolina Legislature and local governments in both states.

Brian Tucker, the chairman of the SRS Community Reuse Organization and president of the North Augusta Chamber of Commerce, told the subcommittee that President Obama's decision to halt plans for the Nevada site left communities across the country scrambling for alternatives.

Community Reuse has meetings scheduled with officials from the Energy Department and members of Congress when group members go to Washington on April 28 to unveil the support to the national media.

Yucca Mountain opponents have raised concerns about the safety of transporting the waste across the country and argue that the repository's design isn't engineered sufficiently to contain the waste for the next 10,000 years.

- Morris News Service