Sylvia Cooper

City Ink columnist and correspondent for The Augusta Chronicle.

Augusta news heard while stuck at home with the pets

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I really must start getting out of the house more. I've been stuck inside with the animals while workmen bang around outside fixing things. The dogs put on quite a show the first morning the roofers showed up at 5 a.m. and started beating on the roof with sledge hammers.

The point of telling you this is that I've gotten way behind on the local news and just found out that former radio reporter Scott Hudson came out of the closet on Facebook. Also, Augusta's former first lady and Realtor Gwen Young has turned over the day-to-day operation of her company to her daughter Andrea Johnson. Gwen is recuperating from a serious ear operation and is hooked up to a PICC line like Ernie was for 12 weeks after he broke his foot and got a staph infection a few years ago. He couldn't walk without crutches for two years. Remember how I shared my pain with you when I weed whacked and cut the electric cord while trimming the shrubbery?

Anyway, back to the news. I also learned my ailing friend Linda Beazley is resigning as chair of the Richmond County Board of Elections. She's back on chemotherapy and fighting the good fight.

THE BLUE GOOSE: This isn't really news, but it's a good story. Library board president Jane Howington told me her husband, Dr. Jerry Howington, is responsible for the Georgia War Veterans Home being called the Blue Goose. He was a junior at the Medical College of Georgia in 1966 when they were building the home. One day he saw they'd put up four tall white pilings with some blue construction material on top. He said, "That looks like a blue goose." And the name caught on.

Over the years, Jane and Jerry have had seven miniature black poodles with the same name -- Tassie -- except that they're called Tassie 1, Tassie 2, and so on. When one dies, they immediately get another one. Jane said a friend asked her what she was going to do if Jerry died and she remarried, and Jane said, "He'll be Jerry 2."

Jane said Jerry thinks she has Alzheimer's. When she told me that, I said something like I didn't believe it. But she said, "No, I'm serious. I'm going to be tested."

All I could say was, "Can I go too?"

DO-OVERS: Commissioner Corey Johnson wants commissioners to rescind the board's previous vote to lease the Patch golf course to the Patch LLC because he mistakenly voted in favor of it two weeks ago. If six commissioners vote for Johnson's motion to rescind at Tuesday's meeting, and another vote is taken, he said he will vote to hire Affinity Golf Partners to manage the course.

Another do-over is the re-advertisement of request for proposals from real estate brokers interested in selling the city's excess property. City officials want to sell unused property such as the Depot on Reynolds Street and the old library on Greene Street to raise money to help with the budget deficit.

The city's procurement department recommended Sherman & Hemstreet to handle the sales. But City Administrator Fred Russell suggested that commissioners consider the three top-ranked firms before making a final decision. Of course Sherman & Hemstreet objected, or tried to, and representatives from another firm tried to present their case at the next meeting, but commissioners voted to re-advertise.

Meanwhile, commissioners bought more property last week, agreeing to pay $175,000 for the historic Penny Savings Bank at Laney-Walker Boulevard and James Brown Boulevard, purportedly to help stabilize that part of the boulevard.

COMPRESSED GAS GIVES LOCAL TRASH HAULERS HEARTBURN: Trash haulers are dumping on the new garbage contracts that require them to use trucks that run on compressed gas, as well as pay for filling stations the city will own from which they will be required to buy the gas.

So it looks like the city's attempt to go green and produce its own energy is a pile of garbage to the haulers who still love the smell of diesel fumes in the morning. It's a big problem, the solution to which is not as simple as taking Beano.

BUY AN IPAD, SAVE A TREE: Nationally, Congress is talking about saving trillions of dollars, but locally they're talking about saving paper by buying iPads and dropping out of national organizations because the city can't afford to send commissioners to national conventions.

Commissioner Bill Lockett wants to save money by eliminating paper usage in the day-to-day administration of the government. He contends the use of iPads would significantly reduce the need for paper and provide instantaneous access to documents by elected officials, department directors and other designated staff.

"Last meeting, somebody provided me with an 800-page ordinance," he said. "It sat there. It was so tall it was blocking the view. Eight hundred pages. I don't know how many copies of that ordinance were made. But you've got to think. You've got paper. You've got to cut down trees for paper. You've got toner. You've got labels. And for what?"

That's a good question, but Lockett's desire for an efficiency study based on his 27 years in federal government service makes me more than a little nervous.

IT'S NOT LIKE IT'S REAL MONEY OR ANYTHING: Johnson wanted to talk about commissioners taking trips to national conventions since the National League of Cities annual conference is coming up in November.

Johnson, apparently stung by criticism for attending the National Association of Counties convention in Colorado last year, said if commissioners aren't going to participate they should drop the memberships and save the dues. After commissioners had weighed in on the subject for awhile, Commissioner Alvin Mason asked whether there was a prohibition on trips to national conventions. When told no, Mason told Johnson to go if he wanted to, that there was nothing stopping him.

"Until or unless there's a stipulation, I don't know why we're discussing this," Mason said.

WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH, WILL THEY BE? Commissioners are moving forward to hire a consultant to study the efficiency of the government. Lockett said they should audit everything, including the finance department. Russell intervened to say he was concerned about the wording of what Lockett said he wanted.

"The document says independent audit," Russell said. "What you described was more a management audit than a financial audit. We do the financial audit every year. The working 'independent audit' makes it sound like we're going to hire an auditor to audit our auditor. That might be a little more complex than we want it to be."

He warned the board they should be ready to make some "hard decisions" and be willing to follow up with the auditors' recommendations.

"That is going to be the hard part," he said. "We can hire lots of people to tell us what we ought to do. Getting it done is where the rubber meets the road. And that's going to be the tough part."

WILL HE TELL WHERE THE BODIES ARE BURIED? You'll probably be able to hear a pin drop when city employee Donald D'Antignac gets up to speak on the subject of "Concerns With The Administrator" at Tuesday's commission meeting. D'Antignac is scheduled to speak on "agreements, contracts, laws, state and federal, municipal laws, policies and procedures, civil rights violations, cover-ups, corruption and misappropriation of tax dollars."

D'Antignac, whose job is slated for extinction under the city's restructuring plan, was convicted of murder in 1974 and served 11 years in prison before coming to work for the city in 1986. Until recently, he worked for several years out of Russell's office, serving as his "eyes and ears," Russell has said.

Reach Sylvia Cooper at sylvia.cooper@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (29) Add comment
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Insider Information
4009
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Insider Information 07/30/11 - 10:05 pm
0
0
Alvin Mason: Let them eat

Alvin Mason: Let them eat cake.

Riverman1
120319
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Riverman1 07/30/11 - 11:09 pm
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"The point of telling you

"The point of telling you this is that I've gotten way behind on the local news and just found out that former radio reporter Scott Hudson came out of the closet on Facebook."

I don't believe that's a newsworthy event even in a gossip column. Scott Hudson is a good local reporter and commentator is all I know. I'd like to see him have his own radio show.

AutumnLeaves
11875
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AutumnLeaves 07/30/11 - 11:37 pm
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A quick and efficient way to

A quick and efficient way to cut down on wasteful government spending is to quit buying expensive, redundant, useless studies that just generate more expensive, redundant, useless studies and STILL little or nothing gets done!

AutumnLeaves
11875
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AutumnLeaves 07/30/11 - 11:34 pm
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I thought he was just one of

I thought he was just one of Russell's body guards (D'Antignac). And Don seems to have the ideal qualifications for working in augustaga.gov . I like Max Burns' bodyguard better. The one I met was retired FBI. Makes more sense to me. Of course, if Mr. D'Antignac is going to reveal all the corruption in Augusta, I bow in respect to his efforts. Somebody needs to do it. Not that much of what he says is really going to be news to anyone. If it is news, THAT would surprise me.

AutumnLeaves
11875
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AutumnLeaves 07/30/11 - 11:43 pm
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Well, I need to go to try to

Well, I need to go to try to get some rest, despite what I saw tonight. Hope what I saw means something GOOD is going to happen. I hope the "guys in the white hats" come out of it unscathed, whatever it is.

Little Lamb
56674
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Little Lamb 07/31/11 - 08:03 am
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I have been posting evidence

I have been posting evidence of Fred (What, me worry?) Russell's public errors and ineptitude for several years. I hope Mr. D’Antignac's revealing of the private and behind-the-scenes corruption will get the ball rolling to begin a candidate search for a new city administrator.

Little Lamb
56674
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Little Lamb 07/31/11 - 08:07 am
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0
Tuesday is the vote to

Tuesday is the vote to rescind the golf course management deal. Today and tomorrow is the time to contact your commissioners by telephone and/or E-mail and tell them to vote NO on the motion to rescind.

Also, if the vote looks like there will be five votes in favor to rescind, then one commissioner's abstention will kill the motion. Who will have the guts to abstain?

Riverman1
120319
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Riverman1 07/31/11 - 08:29 am
0
0
There is as much chance of

There is as much chance of D’Antignac revealing something significant as there is of Charles DeVaney being mayor again. D’Antignac knows what happens to snitches from his years in prison. He is playing his only card for a better future which I have no doubt he has been assured of in the past few days.

AutumnLeaves
11875
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AutumnLeaves 07/31/11 - 11:20 am
0
0
Maybe he feels he has nothing

Maybe he feels he has nothing left to lose. I would like whatever truths he might be holding to come out.

whatmistake
100
Points
whatmistake 07/31/11 - 01:28 pm
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If Corey Johnson was

If Corey Johnson was "confused", as he'd have us believe, why did he wait till after casting a vote to declare he didn't know what he was voting on? That's worse than ineptitude. That's idiocy.

Little Lamb
56674
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Little Lamb 07/31/11 - 02:25 pm
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Excellent question,

Excellent question, WhatMistake. My sources tell me it was only after Johnson's "handlers" called him on his cell phone did he realize he was supposed to have voted for Affinity.

dichotomy
46705
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dichotomy 07/31/11 - 03:55 pm
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I sure wish the garbage gurus

I sure wish the garbage gurus would worry more about negotiating us a cheaper garbage rate instead of forcing the carriers to do something that will, no doubt, end up costing us another exhobitant raise in our garbage fees. I hate crusaders who operate with other people's money who have no choice in the situation.

Little Lamb
56674
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Little Lamb 07/31/11 - 04:06 pm
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Amen, Dichotomy, and again I

Amen, Dichotomy, and again I say, "Amen." Augusta is a Chevrolet town, but we are paying Cadillac garbage rates. Forcing the garbage collectors to pay for the infrastructure to capture, purify and compress the city's landfill gas will result in a much higher garbage rate. Forcing them to buy compressed landfill gas from the city leaves them at the mercy of whatever exorbitant rate Mark Johnson cooks up.

A better solution is for Johnson to simply sell the purified landfill gas to Atlanta Gas Light wholesale. The infrastructure is much simpler for that operation.

As far as the rates, the most obvious savings would be to go for once a week pick-up. Since we recycle as much as possible, I never come close to a full garbage can. Augusta's twice a week pick-up is too luxurious.

Little Lamb
56674
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Little Lamb 07/31/11 - 04:18 pm
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Sylvia Cooper

Sylvia Cooper wrote:

Commissioner Bill Lockett wants to save money by eliminating paper usage in the day-to-day administration of the government. He contends the use of iPads would significantly reduce the need for paper and provide instantaneous access to documents by elected officials, department directors and other designated staff.

Well, if iPads are good enough for our schoolchildren, I guess they are okay for elected officials, department directors and other designated staff. But who gets to do the designation? Won't the ones left out feel slighted and start to pout? Won't they stage a sick out?

What's wrong with letting each elected official, department director and staff member buy his/her own iPad with their own money?

Riverman1
120319
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Riverman1 07/31/11 - 05:37 pm
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Good point, LL. So only those

Good point, LL. So only those designated will have access to the day-to-day paperwork? What happens to those involved in the work who ACTUALLY need the information? Of course when you talk about giving iPads to commissioners it's a done deal. Don't they already have laptops paid for by the county?

madgerman
236
Points
madgerman 07/31/11 - 07:30 pm
0
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I wonder how many IPads we
Unpublished

I wonder how many IPads we would need? Perhaps one or two per employee would be sufficient. Now what would that cost? Lockett needs to look at all the IM programs and devices we have bought for the city and the RCBOE before he starts another spending spree. Or could it be someone has a family member or large contributor in the IPad sales business.

fred1
0
Points
fred1 07/31/11 - 08:26 pm
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One TV station in GA says

One TV station in GA says they save $22,000 a year by using iPads instead of scripts. I think the city would save, easily, $50,000 per year. Without any discount it would cost the city, upfront, about $31,000 for a middle of the road model... if they got 40 of them. Seems like a savings to me. So. it will never happen.

happychimer
26196
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happychimer 07/31/11 - 08:27 pm
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It is sad to hear about Linda

It is sad to hear about Linda Beazley. She is such a sweet lady. She was one of my favorite customers when I worked. She always had a smile. I hope and pray she has better days, and gets well soon.

Riverman1
120319
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Riverman1 07/31/11 - 09:52 pm
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Fred, so only 40 people will

Fred, so only 40 people will have the information? What happens to the others who need the information?

Little Lamb
56674
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Little Lamb 07/31/11 - 10:36 pm
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Just think about this:

Just think about this: Commissioner Bill Lockett is complaining about getting an 800-page document dumped on his desk as a result of a request he made. How loudly will he complain when the IT department downloads a 2-GB file onto his iPad to fulfill his request? I'd rather read a large paper document than to tap the iPad screen 1,600 times to read it on the screen.

Now, on the other hand, if the commissioners could be forced to read Atlas Shrugged on their new iPads and pass a test on the book before they could vote on the next motion, I might be in favor.

Little Lamb
56674
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Little Lamb 07/31/11 - 10:40 pm
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Wow! My post made some time

Wow! My post made some time between 4:06 and 5:37 was deleted! It was a post complaining about Commissioner Bill Lockett's request to have the city provide iPads to elected officials, department directors and select employees. It was not inflammatory nor derogatory. It should not have been deleted.

iLove
626
Points
iLove 08/01/11 - 12:47 am
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0
Prayers for Ms. Beazley.
Unpublished

Prayers for Ms. Beazley. Hang in there!!

The last few posters seem upset about the iPad idea...and cannot actually see that it will save massive amounts of paper.

Mad because Mr. Lockett came up with the idea???
Who knows, yet, only in Augusta.

Cadence
219
Points
Cadence 08/01/11 - 06:33 am
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0
I love this column.

I love this column.

Riverman1
120319
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Riverman1 08/01/11 - 07:32 am
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ItLove, I'm not upset because

ItLove, I'm not upset because Mr. Lockett bought up the idea of iPads, but as I pointed out it's not well thought out. Don't the commissiioners already have laptops paid for by the county? But, most importantly, if only a select 40-50 people have the iPads with the documents on there, how do the other county employees utilize the information? See what I mean.

By the way, I like the way Mr. Lockett takes on Mayor Copenhaver-Boardman and battles the establishment much like some of us do. When he reminded the mayor the Laney Walker money was a "pay-off" for the TEE, I laughed outloud like I was a five year old watching cartoons.

LL, I saw nothing offensive in your post and even commented on it because it was a great post.

Little Lamb
56674
Points
Little Lamb 08/01/11 - 08:29 am
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I did mention the Augusta

I did mention the Augusta commission and school children in the same post. Perhaps a parent of a school child was offended and reported the post. :-)

Sean Moores
341
Points
Sean Moores 08/01/11 - 08:46 am
0
0
Little Lamb, there was

Little Lamb, there was nothing wrong with that post. It must have been removed by mistake, I reposted it.

wondersnevercease
9218
Points
wondersnevercease 08/01/11 - 10:54 am
0
0
LOL...LL I think it may have
Unpublished

LOL...LL I think it may have been this comment that caused the removal...

"What's wrong with letting each elected official, department director and staff member buy his/her own iPad with their own money?"

Glad it was reposted.

Little Lamb
56674
Points
Little Lamb 08/01/11 - 11:06 am
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Thanks, Sean. They said you

Thanks, Sean. They said you were on vacation last week. Hope it was enjoyable. Welcome back.

Little Lamb
56674
Points
Little Lamb 08/01/11 - 09:15 pm
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0
Tomorrow is the vote to

Tomorrow is the vote to rescind the approved resolution to award the management contract to "The Patch LLC."

If you do not have a relationship with your commissioner(s), then you need do nothing but watch tomorrow's 6:00 news.

But if anyone here has a relationship with Grady Smith, it might be a good idea to call him tonight (before 9:30 out of courtesy) and ask him to vote against the motion to rescind. Why, you ask? After all, it was Grady Smith who championed the countermeasure that would have Affinity Golf Partners manage the golf course, which continues to put taxpayers on the hook for golf course losses.

Well, the reason is simple. The people spoke. They, through their representatives, wanted The Patch LLC to manage the course.

Grady would show great magnanimity if he votes against rescinding the resolution. He would show that he is a big man and can accept the will of the people.

Little Lamb
56674
Points
Little Lamb 08/02/11 - 08:11 am
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So Corey Johnson is looking

So Corey Johnson is looking for a little cover before he goes on his next junket. Sylvia Cooper wrote:

After commissioners had weighed in on the subject for awhile, Commissioner Alvin Mason asked whether there was a prohibition on trips to national conventions. When told no, Mason told Johnson to go if he wanted to, that there was nothing stopping him. "Until or unless there's a stipulation, I don't know why we're discussing this," Mason said.

It sounds like Mason and Johnson are going to run against each other for mayor in the next election.

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