Two big nuisances

Problem properties are one -- city bureaucracy is another

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Why doesn't the Augusta government just drop all pretense and just declare citizen activists to be the real "chronic nuisance"?

When Goshen residents were ambushed last year by city plans to seek federal stimulus funds to restart a defunct development in that neighborhood, they were utterly stonewalled by the city bureaucracy. Activist Becky Shealy finally got a copy of the city's federal funds application after two weeks of trying -- even though the law required it be tendered to her within three days -- and only after her appeal to a full Augusta Commission meeting.

Now, Lori Davis and other Harrisburg activists are seeking the drafting of a public nuisance ordinance to help battle problem properties in the area. The city went so far as to form a committee, and to include Davis on it, and draw up an ordinance -- but appears unwilling to go any further than that.

From what Davis can reckon, the fix was in pretty much from the start. Despite her best efforts to bring in a national expert on such ordinances, and despite her providing the city legal department with examples from other parts of the country, lawyers for the Augusta government claim such an ordinance would be unconstitutional. The committee appeared to quickly agree and pat Davis on the head and wonder aloud what else they could do for her.

How patronizing and condescending.

The city is about to give up without really trying. The bureaucrats -- who appear to see citizens as nuisances anyway -- want this to go away as quickly as possible. They seem convinced there's nothing they can learn from other cities. How myopic. How dismissive.

Their alternative seems to be, well, let's get another committee together and talk about maybe someday, if the mood grabs us, we can enforce existing codes. Forgive the rest of us for being skeptical. Not that long ago, a then-Augusta commissioner was found to have properties unfit for habitation and in violation of city codes.

Shame on the mayor, city administrator and commission for allowing this public-be-damned tone to live on at City Hall, even after the sacking of its worst purveyor, former city attorney Chiquita Johnson. Mayor Deke Copenhaver is a sterling ambassador for the city to the outside world -- not so much of an advocate inside City Hall for residents. City administrator Fred Russell considers the 10 commissioners and the mayor to be his bosses, not you.

People like Lori Davis are tired of the city's patronizing attitude and its knee-jerk stance that nothing can be done. We don't blame her.

Local government is supposed to be the most responsive to citizens.

John H. Campbell, the chronic nuisance ordinance consultant that Davis helped bring to Augusta, has a firm in Portland, Ore., that has been recognized for "outstanding commitment to supporting community involvement."

Sadly enough, Mr. Campbell will get little competition for such awards from here.

Comments (26) Add comment
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Emerydan
10
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Emerydan 04/21/10 - 11:48 pm
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Excellent Editorial Mr

Excellent Editorial Mr Ryan!!!

Emerydan
10
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Emerydan 04/22/10 - 12:14 am
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Lori.. run for mayor!! And

Lori.. run for mayor!! And apparently I'm not the only one who thinks so:
http://www.examiner.com/x-34362-Augusta-Political-Buzz-Examiner~y2010m1d...

deekster
24
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deekster 04/22/10 - 05:48 am
0
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What a revolting development

What a revolting development this turned out to be!!! Just another day in Dysfunction Junction. All aboooooard!!! Where is Uncle Joe on this matter? This train is headed to Sebastian Way where it will have to build a "turn around" because the "RR tracks have been removed". Hallelujah!!! Mayor Deke's "eyes are set on Washington DC". Dysfunction Junction is the perfect local for Deke's Senatorial Training in "Issues Avoidance 101. Not one "photo op" dealing with controversy.

justus4
103
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justus4 04/22/10 - 07:49 am
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...nothing new here. Everyone
Unpublished

...nothing new here. Everyone TALKS about openess and "We the People" but in most cases it becomes an exercise in the crazy. Everyone says, "The American People" or "The public citizen deserve" or "Taxpayers pay their salary" but it means absolutely NOTHING. Not only will the so-called "activists" not be heard, but the "forces" may begin to make life difficult for all involved. Anyone who've lived in American cities know how it's done, so who thought their government was any different?

Riverman1
86791
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Riverman1 04/22/10 - 10:24 am
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Mayor Copenhaver is a nice

Mayor Copenhaver is a nice guy. ™

harrisburgwillrise
0
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harrisburgwillrise 04/22/10 - 12:26 pm
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These bureaucrats are fearful

These bureaucrats are fearful that it will come out how bad they are at doing their jobs, plus they don't want any more work. Adding a CNPO does not make more work. Eventually and very quickly, it will make less work for everyone, especially the cash strapped Sheriff's Dept. Lark Jones the Mayor of North Augusta said it best when he said that NA did not need a CNPO because they enforced the codes that they already have in such a manner that no other ordinances were needed. Lack of civility is what runs people out of neighborhoods. Consider the January statistics for Richmond County with two different crimes. In January 2010 there were 3 murders but 711 thefts by taking. Herein lies the problem. The Sheriff's Dept. needs to be redirected in some way. A CNPO would be very helpful for them and requires community policing with the RCSO has shown no interest in doing.

Cadence
219
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Cadence 04/22/10 - 12:32 pm
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If people could just behave

If people could just behave and treat their neighbors with respect they would not need a law to enforce it.

Harrisburg Homeowner
0
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Harrisburg Homeowner 04/22/10 - 12:51 pm
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Cadence, if bullfrogs had

Cadence, if bullfrogs had wings, they wouldn't bump their tails so much either. But alas, people are people and bullfrogs are bullfrogs. BUT we can expect our city to work for us. We elected them. We pay their salaries and their bills. They are not the elite. They are our public servants--our employees. We are their employers. Don't forget that.

We, the Concerned Citizens of Richmond County, have established an online petition to show our city employees that we want a Chronic Nuisance Property Ordinance. Please visit this site and sign your name:

"RICHMOND COUNTY REGISTERED VOTERS WANT CHRONIC NUISANCE PROPERTY ORDINANCE"
http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/arc-cnpo/

You need not to be a registered voter in Richmond County, although we would like you to comment if you are. Anyone who is affected by the way Richmond County does it's business should sign. In the comment section, please let us know how you are affected, whether you are a property owner in RC and live elsewhere; whether you work here; or whether you visit RC and have been affected---all of these opinions count. We are not going away until OUR EMPLOYEES pay attention to our needs.

And remember ARC employees, we hired you; we can fire you.

Harrisburg Homeowner
0
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Harrisburg Homeowner 04/22/10 - 01:23 pm
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Justus4, We ARE seeing

Justus4, We ARE seeing change, albeit slow. As you know, government is very slow to change. They WILL see the light. Besides, from what I am seeing, it is only a couple of individuals who outright oppose us. Perhaps they oppose us in private but I doubt there are many, if any, who do. Joe Bowles and Corey Johnson are actively working with us. Our problem with the CNPO is that the attorney who drew up the ordinance, according to a CNPO committee member, slammed it as unconstitutional and un-American at the Commissioner's meeting. This smells VERY FISHY---and---in my opinion, warrents GBI intervention to see who MAY be taking under-the-table bribes from property owners and drug lords who want this ordinance squashed.

CorporalGripweed
0
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CorporalGripweed 04/22/10 - 03:39 pm
0
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Well said everyone. And we

Well said everyone. And we need to remind all who will listen, to call their commissioner and ask that they vote for the ordinance when it's finally drafted. Remember, just because the ordinance was drafted and then declared unconstitutional by Wayne Brown doesn't mean it's over. So keep up the pressure on these people to get it done!

Brad Owens
4715
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Brad Owens 04/22/10 - 04:10 pm
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Where is Matt Aitken in all

Where is Matt Aitken in all this?

joebowles
104
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joebowles 04/22/10 - 04:12 pm
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The CNPO is far from being

The CNPO is far from being dead!!!!!!!!

joebowles
104
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joebowles 04/22/10 - 04:14 pm
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Brad, I had lunch with Matt

Brad, I had lunch with Matt today and he's on board!!!

baronvonreich
0
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baronvonreich 04/22/10 - 04:23 pm
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We all know that the U Know

We all know that the U Know Who commissioners don't want to disrupt their buddies' incomes like Betty Slumlord Beard. They don't even care about Richmond County in general much less the public at large. They only care about their own interests.

stephr721
204
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stephr721 04/22/10 - 04:54 pm
0
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An articulate, well-written

An articulate, well-written editorial backed up by facts - my heart be still.

Taylor B
5
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Taylor B 04/22/10 - 05:23 pm
0
0
Did the lawyer cite why it

Did the lawyer cite why it was unconstitutional?

Emerydan
10
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Emerydan 04/22/10 - 05:37 pm
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The thing that is so strange

The thing that is so strange is that it was the law department that drew up the wording of the oprdinance, and then this same law department declared the ordinance they presented as unconstitutional.. it sopunds like to me we have a lot more incompetent ppl in the law dept that need to be shown the door besides Miss Banana. And remember it was this same law department that didn't blink an eye when Miss Banana proposed what were actually blatantly unconstitutional restrictions on the media. CNPOs have withstood constitutional challenges elsewhere.This is not some novice concept only being tried in Augusta.. actually we are behind the curve. As someone else noted earlier, this smells fishy. As for the commissioners, Joe Bowles, Corey Johnson and Matt Aitken have been extremely helpful.. especially Mr Bowles. But I know Lori Davis will not give up on this.. she will keep pushing, and eventually things will work out.

Emerydan
10
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Emerydan 04/22/10 - 06:03 pm
0
0
Sounds like we've got another

Sounds like we've got another Banana with Wayne Brown.

Taylor B
5
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Taylor B 04/22/10 - 06:05 pm
0
0
Ugh, I'm out of the loop. Was

Ugh, I'm out of the loop. Was it the GA constitution or the US? Which part didn't line up?

chel
0
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chel 04/22/10 - 07:35 pm
0
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I understand and support what

I understand and support what Lori Davis and the Harrisburg community are trying to do with this CNPO. My husband and I have battled being vandalized and robbed because of vagrants and squatters who come around from the vacant condemned buildings on our block. We have spent so much time and money out of our pockets to renovate and beautify our buildings only to have other property owners defy the ordinances set in place. It's not fair. And I myself wonder who all is benefiting from this matter as stated by Harrisburg Homeowner.

CorporalGripweed
0
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CorporalGripweed 04/22/10 - 09:47 pm
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0
Taylor, The lawyer did not

Taylor,
The lawyer did not state why it was unconstitutional. It seemed to be his personal opinion.

CorporalGripweed
0
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CorporalGripweed 04/22/10 - 10:26 pm
0
0
Augusta citizen, and everyone

Augusta citizen, and everyone else, Augusta has to clean up this city or there will be no one wanting to come to the Tee Center. I don't understand why the powers that be can't get this through their heads!

isaidit
0
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isaidit 04/23/10 - 05:51 am
0
0
Seems our elected "PUBLIC

Seems our elected "PUBLIC SERVANTS" are more interested in protecting the land lords profits than the folk they suckered into voting for them. There's no doubt a CNOP is needed in every community and statiscally needed in some neighborhoods desparately!! Name one elected official that didn't PROMISE safer streets during their campaign?? I'm waiting!!?? Right, they all did.....yet, here we are......STONEWALLED at the offset of providing those same safer streets they promised! The reason our ELITE commissioners value land lord profits over public saftey is MONEY.....period! Make note of every elected official that opposes or even hinders the progress of the CNOP, and you'll know who's in somebody's pocket.......then WE THE PEOPLE know who to vote OUT!!

isaidit
0
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isaidit 04/23/10 - 06:08 am
0
0
Augustacitizen......I had the

Augustacitizen......I had the same wonderful experience strolling one evening two (2) years ago about dusk with my significant other. A couple of punks followed about twelve feet behind us. We would stop from time to time to snap a photo....when we walked, they walked, when we stopped....you guessed it, they stopped. At one photo op, I had my friend pose in a position where I captured them in the background, I'm sure they noticed and things got VERY TENSE.....so we stayed within view of other people for our safety. We could'nt get off the River Walk quick enough. What a shame. Have'nt taken a summers night stroll since.

motorheadaches
0
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motorheadaches 04/23/10 - 11:07 pm
0
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I'm listening Commissioner

I'm listening Commissioner Bowles but can't seem to hear you too well through all the excrement! Mr. Bowles, All I heard was you cave with the rest of the cowards and make a counter proposal to step up enforcement and train landlords as opposed to voting on the draft CNPO... Train landlords? Who are you trying to kid? WE NEED ACTION NOW, NOT COMPLACENTCY OR COWARDICE!!!

AutumnLeaves
8434
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AutumnLeaves 05/27/10 - 06:59 pm
0
0
Awesome editorial and

Awesome editorial and like-minded comments! Bless you!

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