Sylvia Cooper

City Ink columnist and correspondent for The Augusta Chronicle.

Former commissioner to run for state Senate

  • Follow City Ink

Former Augusta Commission member Joe Bowles plans to run for the District 22 state Senate seat next year. He said Saturday he’ll announce plans to run as an independent when Sen. Hardie Davis officially announces that he’ll run for mayor of Augusta.

District 6 Commissioner Joe Jackson also said Saturday that he’s running for mayor. District 4 Commissioner Alvin Mason announced last week that he’ll run for the job. District 2 Commissioner Corey Johnson has also said he’ll run for mayor.

Bowles said he’s running to get “somebody in Atlanta to represent Augusta.”

“When was the last time a member of our delegation passed a meaningful bill, besides Barbara Sims?” he asked.

Duh. When Charles Walker was Senate majority leader?

IGNORANCE OF THE POLICY IS NO EXCUSE, IS IT? Nobody should have been surprised when the Georgia Board of Regents audit found that Georgia Regents University officials violated board policy by using a university bus, police cars and officers to help put on a wedding at GRU President Ricardo Azziz’s home.

The policy is right there under “Use of Institution Facilities/Property” in the board’s ethics policy, Section 9.10.6.4 concerning Personal Use: “USG property owned by an institution shall be used only for institutional purposes. No USG employees shall permit such property to be removed from the campus of an institution for use on either a rental or loan basis for personal use (BOR Minutes, 1949-50, p. 109).”

Auditors also identified $97,907 in expenditures and obligations for projects at the president’s home, Twin Gables, that hadn’t been approved by the board, but they absolved GRU senior administrators of intending to violate board policy or misuse state resources. Azziz and company just weren’t aware of the policies and regulations.

And as smart as they are, who would have thunk it?

In a written response, Azziz took full responsibility, and blamed everybody but himself.

OTHER PRESIDENTS SET THE PRECEDENT: As for the Twin Gables carport construction, Azziz stated they were “operating in some cases on what practices had been followed in the past.

“In addition, although a number of administrators were aware of the planned initiatives, insufficient communication and coordination between those with responsibility occurred.”

(Translation: It’s their fault for not telling me.)

To prove he wasn’t the only president to make renovations, GRU officials compiled a list of improvements to the president’s house since 2001 (before Azziz got there) totaling $363,365.

As for using the university bus, police vehicles and officers to help put on his niece’s wedding, Azziz stated, “The procedure followed was the same as for similar events hosted by previous presidents. However, some of the decisions for this event were not consistent with current policy.”

Do tell.

WE CAN’T DISAPPOINT BILL: According to the audit report, Azziz’s wife, Cynthia, asked GRU Chief of Police Bill McBride in February for advice on handling parking, security and transportation for the April wedding. McBride suggested use of the GRU bus and offered to volunteer services for the event and later solicited volunteers from among his senior officers.

“GRU senior administrators, to include the President, discussed the proposed use of the bus and agreed that it would be more appropriate to rent a private vehicle,” the report states.

So why didn’t they? Because nobody told McBride, who’d already arranged for the bus.

How flimsy is that?

Concerning the four times campus police picked his children up from school, Azziz said the relevant job descriptions were being updated to make sure the staff’s roles were “appropriately defined.”

(Translation: So they will know not to violate the ethics policy again.)

To make sure senior staff didn’t repeat their failures, he had 19 of them sit with him during a six-hour training session on board policies last week.

A PERFECT STORM: Three controversial issues keep coming up in Augusta government every few years: downtown parking, the ambulance contract and the fire chief’s performance. Usually, they recycle separately, but at last week’s commission meeting all three came up.

Downtown parking has a long and storied history. The latest chapter began recently when the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office started marking car tires with chalk, signaling a plan to enforce the two-hour limit on downtown parking.

Donald Thorstad, an engineer with Johnson, Laschober and Associates in the 1200 block of Broad Street, told commissioners his company, which employs 27 people, relies on parking on the street and that the two-hour limit would be a big problem. Other business owners in that area of Broad Street agree. But next week, commissioners can expect other Broad Street business owners to say the ordinance needs to be enforced. When that happens, you can expect someone to suggest another parking study. The last one was in 2005, so it’s about time for an update.

The Downtown Development Au­thor­ity proposed parking meters a few years ago. After the malls opened in the 1970s, they were taken out in a desperate effort to keep customers shopping downtown. Some people insist there is no downtown parking problem.

For now, the ticketing plan is on hold while city and sheriff’s officials huddle. If they recommend enforcing the two-hour limit, they’ll need to create a traffic court because there’s no way to collect parking fines when people don’t pay. And after two years, the tickets are invalid.

Some commissioners have suggested they could be collected through Magistrate Court, but I do believe that will happen over the magistrate judges’ dead bodies.

DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DO: The ambulance contract is also creating controversy. Commissioners agreed to put it back out for bids, and 13 vendors attended a pre-bid conference. However, commissioners Donnie Smith, Marion Williams and others tried to rescind the bid proposal and renegotiate the contract with the current provider Gold Cross. Commissioners Bill Lockett and Alvin Mason tried to trump Williams’ motion. The committee vote tied 2-2.

Smith also questioned Fire Chief Chris James about manpower shortages causing engine companies to be shut down and about having to borrow air tanks from Fort Gordon because most of the departments’ tanks had reached an inspection deadline.

Lockett said Smith was being disrespectful to James and cut him off by calling for the vote, which I thought was hypocritical considering Lockett’s harsh public criticism of Administrator Fred Russell, Attorney Andrew MacKenzie and other department heads.

HE’S NOT HARVEY: When commissioners emerged from their legal meeting and took their seats last week, they were asked to vote on the closed meeting affidavit. The clerk began recording the votes reflected on the overhead screen. She said the vote was unanimous, except for Commissioner Grady Smith, who was not present. A few folks snickered, and someone said he was too there. Smith looked surprised when he saw the screen and said, “I know I’m not the prettiest thing to look at, but I’m right here.”

CELEBRITIES: Mayor Deke Copen­haver spoke at River Ridge Elementary School’s career fair Thursday, and afterward a cute little red-headed girl with pigtails came up and asked whether he knew Williams.

“I thought that the question coming from a third-grader was a little unusual until another little girl in the class came up to me and said, ‘My granddaddy is Marion Williams,’” Copenhaver said. “I proceeded to tell Marion’s granddaughter Avery that I couldn’t wait to tell her grandfather that I had met her!”

Comments (24) 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.
Conservative Man
5564
Points
Conservative Man 05/18/13 - 07:27 pm
4
0
Joe Jackson for Mayor,

Joe Jackson for Mayor, REALLY?????

Gage Creed
17203
Points
Gage Creed 05/18/13 - 08:25 pm
7
0
Do I sense a pay raise for

Do I sense a pay raise for the Mayor after the election?

Riverman1
83725
Points
Riverman1 05/18/13 - 08:30 pm
5
0
Red Headed Granddaughter

I bet it took Deke a while to figure that out.

Riverman1
83725
Points
Riverman1 05/18/13 - 09:03 pm
7
1
Joe Jackson

Maybe he has some money to run. He did contribute a thousand dollars to Scott Peebles' campaign for sheriff....didn't he?

About all the black politicians running for mayor, it might be easier to just list those not running.

triscuit
3084
Points
triscuit 05/18/13 - 09:04 pm
5
0
Will the sitting

Will the sitting commissioners have to step down to run for office?

allhans
23620
Points
allhans 05/18/13 - 09:31 pm
4
0
It wasn't the granddaughter

It wasn't the granddaughter with the red pigtails.

Riverman1
83725
Points
Riverman1 05/18/13 - 09:36 pm
3
0
Allhans...ah, I got it

Allhans...ah, I got it wrong....Imagine that. Thanks.

jwilliams
831
Points
jwilliams 05/18/13 - 10:01 pm
4
0
Corey Johnson is not running

Corey Johnson is not running for mayor, he’s looking for a “GOLDEN” (hint, hint) opportunity that’s westbound from Augusta.

jwilliams
831
Points
jwilliams 05/19/13 - 12:17 am
6
0
Taken from the ARC commission

Taken from the ARC commission agenda for 5/21/2013.
27. Motion to approve a request by Ms. Pearlie Mae Brunson regarding a claim for damages in the amount of $546.72 resulting from an incident in which her automobile was damaged when it struck a pothole on Cadden Road. (Approved by Finance Committee May 13, 2013)

If this item is approved at the 5/21/2013 commission meeting, the floodgates will open. Anytime you strike a pothole the possibility is there that it might cause damage or “Knock” the vehicle out of alignment, and there are a lot of potholes in ARC, which will account for a lot of claims. Pay this one; pay them ALL.

Just My Opinion
5617
Points
Just My Opinion 05/19/13 - 05:51 am
3
1
Joe Bowles needs to clean up

Joe Bowles needs to clean up his mouth before he decides to run for Senate. He's said some pretty harsh things that a respectable politician shouldn't say....and didn't care that it got into the paper. Not sure I'd vote for him. Too brash and seems to be a loose cannon that might end up embarassing Augusta instead of helping us.

seenitB4
86957
Points
seenitB4 05/19/13 - 07:06 am
3
1
Run Joe run...

We need brash....we need spunk...put someone in there with some get up & go......I hope he gets it!

seenitB4
86957
Points
seenitB4 05/19/13 - 07:08 am
4
0
Running for Mayor

I wouldn't be surprised if countyman ran too......the more the merrier.

Riverman1
83725
Points
Riverman1 05/19/13 - 08:04 am
4
1
JB Powell

JB Powell is a former Richmond County Commissioner and state senator. He has political power in South Augusta and since the "white" field for mayor appears pathetically weak at this time, I believe he would have a good shot at the office. He's a long time Democrat and many blacks would support him. Really think about it, who is a better candidate? Could Powell get the media behind him?

Riverman1
83725
Points
Riverman1 05/19/13 - 08:07 am
4
1
JWilliams, informative comment

JWilliams, informative comment. Certainly no community can open itself to paying damages from road damage except under the most unusual circumstances. Imagine the assault on the county for damages if this is allowed.

nocnoc
42470
Points
nocnoc 05/19/13 - 08:13 am
3
1
President Azziz a.k.a. The

President Azziz a.k.a.

The GRU Teflon Don.

So much education and years of management, but always claiming
"I did not know." when it come to ethics and honesty issues.

nocnoc
42470
Points
nocnoc 05/19/13 - 08:18 am
2
0
In case any one missed it. I

In case any one missed it.

I heard we may need a viable candidate for Dist 6. in the upcoming election.

seenitB4
86957
Points
seenitB4 05/19/13 - 08:22 am
3
0
Which media....maybe some...

Could Powell get the media behind him?

nocnoc
42470
Points
nocnoc 05/19/13 - 08:47 am
2
0
Riverman1
83725
Points
Riverman1 05/19/13 - 09:29 am
2
1
SeenIt is way too smart.

SeenIt is way too smart. But let me elaborate.

Joe Jackson has as much chance of winning a race for Mayor as George "Buster" Albert Sancken Jr. Even if Powell doesn’t get all the media behind him, I learned it doesn’t mean that much. Remember the Chronicle supported Helen Blocker-Adams over Copenhaver. Still who else would the Chronicle support? Certainly not Joe Jackson. Blocker-Adams with her radio show may be up to supporting Powell, too. After all, she supported Copenhaver over Willie Mays in their run-off. The other radio show would support Charles Walker before Powell.

Darby
25577
Points
Darby 05/19/13 - 11:53 am
1
1
Maybe someone should tell

Joe Bowles that the Georgia Senate is not a non-partisan seat.

You choose sides or you don't get elected. He might as well run a write-in candidacy.

Little Lamb
45870
Points
Little Lamb 05/19/13 - 12:40 pm
1
0
Parking

Sylvia Cooper wrote:

Some people insist there is no downtown parking problem.

I am one of them. I have driven downtown hundreds of times, and the only time I had a problem parking was the one time I went to the 4th of July fireworks display.

Little Lamb
45870
Points
Little Lamb 05/19/13 - 12:48 pm
2
1
Not Non-partisan

Darby is correct that the state senate race is a partisan race. But, under the rules of the election it is permissible to run as an independent. The drawback is that if you go that route you have to petition to get on the ballot. The number of petition signers you have to get is daunting. Still, Joe Bowles is connected and smart. If he wants to run, he can get plenty of volunteers to help him petition. I will be glad to help. I've knocked on a lot of doors in my time.

I would gladly vote for Joe Bowles for State Senator. Unfortunately, I am in the district served by the guy from Waynesboro (not that there's anything wrong with him — I have been pleased with his voting record).

Darby
25577
Points
Darby 05/19/13 - 03:49 pm
2
0
Little Lamb - He can get on the ballot as an

independent or as a write-in candidate. Either way, he's got a mountain to climb in this very partisan state.

If he wants to get elected, he needs to choose a party and win that party's primary.

I'm thinking he believes he can by-pass the primary process and save all the hassle and money. It's been tried before but, off hand, I can't think of a single time it's worked.

The opportunity for success going that route remind me of the old one about a snowball's chance in Hell.

galaxygrl
1197
Points
galaxygrl 05/19/13 - 11:19 pm
1
1
I did not know

nocnoc, the "I did not know" answer seems to be fertile soil right now. It is working for Obama,Jay Carney and Holder just this last week.

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs