Keep Deke

Copenhaver's public, private leadership has done wonders for Augusta

  • Follow Editorials

It's amazing Augusta isn't a city made up entirely of bald people. For years, its politics made most of us want to pull our hair out.

And for good reason: The consolidated government set up in the 1990s was always a monument to mistrust. Got to have five black commissioners, five white. Can't pass anything with a simple majority of commissioners voting; has to be at least six commissioners to include the "other" side. The city administrator can't hire and fire department heads; you need six commissioners, and a public bloodletting, for that. The mayor can vote only in the case of a tie on the commission -- and the losing side just might walk out to prevent one; more 5-to-4 votes than the Supreme Court.

Not much got done, and everyone had an awful time not doing it.

What a difference a few election cycles, and a few tufts of hair, can make.

Today, the commission is congenial and cooperative -- and, oh yes, productive. And it's showing tangible results: Buildings have been cleared and earth moved downtown for the new trade, exhibit and event center, a hotel and a parking garage. Some $37 million has been dedicated to redevelopment in the Laney-Walker area. A new judicial center is being built and a new law enforcement building in the works. Commission meetings that used to stretch into the night are now relatively short and sweet.

Most important, the clouds have parted and the political climate is perhaps as welcoming as any in memory.

We can point to changes on the commission for much of that. But it all started with Mayor Deke Copenhaver's election to a partial term in 2005 and a four-year term in 2006. As he seeks re-election to his last term Nov. 2 -- a re-election we strongly urge -- it's already clear history will remember him as the difference-maker that he is, and one of the most popular politicians in this town's storied history.

The beautiful thing about it is how he's done it: with an unflappable demeanor, a steady hand and an unbending belief in the power of gentle persuasion.

The oddly controversial, on-again-off-again TEE center -- and by extension, the hotel, parking garage and the related Laney-Walker revitalization plans -- might never have become reality without Copenhaver's quiet but girded determination and the respect he exhibits even to those who disagree vehemently.

Few communities around the country can truly say, yes, they are better off now than they were four years ago. Augusta is -- at least as much as any community can be after the financial 9-11 of 2008.

Copenhaver's public and private leadership -- the latter coming in such things as ceaselessly promoting positive events and developments, hosting a monthly prayer breakfast and more -- has not only helped Augusta weather the national economy's bumpy ride, but it's also covered up the local government's continued flaws. We simply must give the city administrator hiring and firing authority over department heads, for instance.

We always wondered whether our problems at City Hall were the result of a dysfunctional charter or poor leadership. As it turns out, it was both. Under Copenhaver, though, the problems with the government structure have been obscured. We should be fortunate enough to have Mayor Copenhaver around another four years -- but in that time, we need to fix the systemic problems.

After all, there may never be another one like him.

Comments (185) 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.
floridasun
381
Points
floridasun 10/13/10 - 10:33 pm
0
0
Go Deke!

Go Deke!

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 10/13/10 - 10:34 pm
0
0
If you think a downtown

If you think a downtown baseball stadium is the most dire issue facing our community, vote for Deke.
If you want someone who runs to ribbon cuttings and away from controversy, vote for Deke.
If you want someone who ducks hard decisions and hides rather than leads, vote for Deke.
If you are happy with the status quo, vote for Deke.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 10/13/10 - 10:41 pm
0
0
31 murders and counting and

31 murders and counting and deke fiddles while Augusta burns and pushes his ballpark.

FedupwithAUG
0
Points
FedupwithAUG 10/13/10 - 11:23 pm
0
0
What a bunch of CRAP!

What a bunch of CRAP!

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 10/14/10 - 12:15 am
0
0
Anyway.... the endorsement

Anyway.... the endorsement that matters is the one on Nov 2nd.. interesting that the AC could not address any of the REAL issues that concern most Augustans in this election... like crime.. they mentioned that yesterday... but not today.. did the crime wave miraculously dissappear in 24 hours?

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 10/14/10 - 12:16 am
0
0
remember this people. "Mayor

remember this people.

"Mayor Deke Copenhaver said he'd likely ignore the results"
http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/government/elections/2010-07-21/voters...

Asitisinaug
4
Points
Asitisinaug 10/14/10 - 01:45 am
0
0
Deke probably is the better

Deke probably is the better choice. It is hard to acomplish much as Augusta has more entitled citizens than those paying taxes. That being said, I do wish Deke would be stronger on issues and re-vamp priorities to ensure that Public Safety and infrastructure comes before dream lists and other non-essential items.

Our Sheriff's Office is understaffed and underfunded and we sure as heck can be furloughing our deputies with all of the crime taking place in Augusta.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 10/14/10 - 01:53 am
0
0
asitis.. Deke has had 5 years

asitis.. Deke has had 5 years to demonstrate leadership in these areas and he has failed to do so. He also seems completely unwilling to use the powers that the office does have. Even now, the crime epidemic still doesn't appear to be on his radar.. why should we think he will all of a sudden get religion after the election. We have a better choice:
http://www.loridavisformayor.com

Brad Owens
4914
Points
Brad Owens 10/14/10 - 04:11 am
0
0
Well, this is no surprise. I

Well, this is no surprise. I would like for them to point to one accomplishment that was Deke's that would merit hiring him for another four year contract.

Output has decreased, businesses have closed, plans have been cancelled, unemployment his higher, the housing market is stagnant, and there has been no non-government sponsored development in our county.

Crime is up, murders have reached Dodge City standards, and yet the Mayor has not felt it was important enough to even COMMENT on the problem.

But Deke gets his reward for helping get the TEE passed. That was a $100,000,000.00 tax dollar injection into the cabal he is the rep for.

I think six years is long enough to get your agenda in place, and yet Deke needs another four to get the $60,000,000.00 ballpark on the next SPLOST (wait and see).

Augusta needs leaders who are not afraid to take a stand and Deke ain't the one.

Where was Deke during the Cherry Tree Crossing near riot? HIDING. Now that's leadership!

Where was Deke on supporting the 1st Ammendment? Asking the Law Department to see if he could block gay folks from having a parade. he dosen't get an opinion for the St Patrick's Day parade, or Christmas, or ANY other parade. Now that is ledaership, progressive and bigoted.

Where was Deke when employees were caught red handed stealing? He was meeting with Ripken Baseball I guess and too busy to speak up.

And the list goes on and on.

I do think it is funny that the Chronicle gives Deke credit for weathering the economic storm, AAAAHHHAHAHAHAHA!

Deke has ZERO control or ability to do anything about ANY economic issue. That is pretty funny, well I guess inaction has helped by not having the government get involed.

I am sure a lot of Deke "The Meek" Copenhaver's supporters are happy but the truth is, the folks influenced by the paper were already voting for him.

No news here, $100mil buys lots of support,

Brad

thewiz0oz
9
Points
thewiz0oz 10/14/10 - 04:18 am
0
0
Deke walked into one of

Deke walked into one of biggest political challenges any elected official could face: A commission evenly divided based on race, the need for a super-majority to initiate any action by the City and no vote for or against any action. The person responsible for crime control is the sheriff who serves at the pleasure of the voters. So direct your anger against crime to the one you hired.

johnston.cliff
2
Points
johnston.cliff 10/14/10 - 05:54 am
0
0
Well said, thewiz0oz. Deke

Well said, thewiz0oz. Deke operates within the confines of the city charter, is very limited in actual power and leads through the power of persuasion. His actions seem more of an art than a skill, but his results are much greater than every mayor since DeVaney, combined.
While the naysayers all seem to find different projects Deke needs to focus on, they don't seem to mind the success he's had in starting or completing long stymied projects. And while there are many who want Deke to be very aggressive in his actions, no one can deny the calming effect his style has on the stormy sessions of the council.
In truth, there's not a better choice available in this election.

johnston.cliff
2
Points
johnston.cliff 10/14/10 - 05:58 am
0
0
Brad, your 5:11 is so far off

Brad, your 5:11 is so far off base, people who read it would think you're totally out of touch. How long has it been since you've been to Augusta?

RAINBOW
11
Points
RAINBOW 10/14/10 - 05:59 am
0
0
Augusta isn't they only

Augusta isn't they only place getting furlough days,even they govoner of Ga. can't seem to do much about,they mayor cant stop crime,he cant stop entitlements,businesses have closed everywhere,they mayor cant work magic,as some seem to think he should,Mrs.Davis,her biggest agenda is cleaning up Harrisburg,theres a lot of Harrisburgs in they state of Georgia,so look at things realistically,I for one will votye for Deke because I dont expect him to do things beyond his power to do.

Riverman1
94183
Points
Riverman1 10/14/10 - 06:33 am
0
0
Deke is a whimsical, detached

Deke is a whimsical, detached person who completely skips over the duties of mayor that say the mayor should ensure the laws and ordinances of Richmond County are carried out. He is strangely disengaged even his admirers understand.

We often hear from his supporters the mayor has no real power to do anything. As many of us noted during the Cherry Tree riots he was at Hilton Head and refused to answer his messages for DAYS. He doesn’t understand what leadership can do in such situations.

He appears uncomfortable when he is pressed to do the blue collar business of running a city. The one time I recall him actively getting involved in the work of the city was when raw sewage was being dumped into the river right before the Ironman he was training hours a day to participate in. He had the Water and Sewer Dept, divert the drain with the contamination.

If Deke feels like the position of mayor has no power and carries no responsibility, why does he spend hundreds of thousands of dollars running for the office? (Now think real hard about that.)

Give me someone who actually wants to be in the office, rolls up her sleeves and isn’t afraid to tell all the departments the people expect efficient government that does its job.

Deke would be better off running for mayor of his beach town where the reclusive, reticent, retired people, riding around in golf carts, fit more with him.

Riverman1
94183
Points
Riverman1 10/14/10 - 06:34 am
0
0
Good post, Brad. The idea

Good post, Brad.

The idea Deke somehow lessened the impact of the recession on Augusta is the funniest thing I've read in a while.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 10/14/10 - 07:02 am
0
0
Kind of interesting that the

Kind of interesting that the paper harps on the TEE Center as Deke's biggest accomplishment.. a project that doubled in cost from what voters approved in the SPLOST in 2005 (before Deke took office, btw), then had an additional $50,000,000 worth of goodies attached to "buy off" one commissioner's vote, and then a $17,000,000 parking deck added. Don't forget that the saga dragged on for nearly a year with shady folks trying to bribe commissioners to change votes and then you had articifical deadlines being imposed by a hotel developer to force a vote, who has yet to break ground on the hotel that he hung over everyone's head. Funny that the Chrocilce makes mention of this hotel, that we have just recently learned has YET to even secure financing. And don't forget that when we learned that just perhaps these TEE Centers may not be the great investments promised, and that there are quite a lot that are busts. Expert, Dr Heywood Sanders, who essentially was telling them things they did not want to hear... was told to get lost by our commission. The only thing that got the TEE approved was not any steady leadership from Deke, but rather the election of Matt Aitken..look how quickly they took that vote once he won that seat. And all the sordidness surrounding this white elephant was swept under the rug. So if you think a SPLOST project approved for $20,000,000 ballooning to over $100,000,00 is something to be proud of, then go ahead and tell yourself that. But most people in Augusta think there are bigger problems facing this city, and they see a do-nothing mayor who ignores them..who claims he is powerless to do anything when it suits him, yet is reticent to take credit for things that are completely out of his control. For The AC to not even mention the crime and blight issue in this editorial shows that it is as much, if not more, out of touch than Deke is. But as River said this editorial, this is simply preaching to their choir.. most Augustans can see past the crapola.

johnston.cliff
2
Points
johnston.cliff 10/14/10 - 07:17 am
0
0
Emerydan, Riverman,

Emerydan, Riverman, Brad,
Which mayor has all of the super powers you feel a mayor should have?
Which mayor since consolidation has accomplished as much as Deke?
Who is a better choice for mayor this year?

Little Lamb
49245
Points
Little Lamb 10/14/10 - 07:20 am
0
0
Emerydan wrote: Kind of

Emerydan wrote:

Kind of interesting that the paper harps on the TEE Center as Deke's biggest accomplishment.

It is not surprising. The TEE Center is the city's latest gift to the Morris empire. Many of the conventioners will stay at the Marriott hotel, and some will eat at Augustinos restaurant. How nice. Also, the TEE Center management package was presented to a Morris enterprise, wrapped with a bow. Several hundred thousand dollars a year flow from the city to the management enterprise; a no-risk proposition for them.

Little Lamb
49245
Points
Little Lamb 10/14/10 - 07:22 am
0
0
I am not surprised that the

I am not surprised that the mayor does not speak out on crime, Emerydan. Augusta is a city of delegation. The sheriff takes care of crime; the mayor takes care of promoting the city to outsiders; the commission fiddles while Rome burns; and the city administrator does not worry.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 10/14/10 - 07:23 am
0
0
It's situation of

It's situation of non-leadership and buck passing is what it is.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 10/14/10 - 07:29 am
0
0
Pop quiz... Can you name one

Pop quiz...
Can you name one position Deke holds on anything other than the baseball stadium?

It might not be in the charter, but the mayor can still have an opinion. He even went into hiding when that guy tried to bribe commissioners. How much leadership does it take to say I am opposed to bribery?

As for bribery, the TEE Center never would have passed with out bribery. How soon we forget the 10s of millions of dollars promised to improve two neighborhoods so Deke could get one vote. (Deke must have been watching Congress pass the health care bill)

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 10/14/10 - 07:30 am
0
0
Read the charter.. it lays

Read the charter.. it lays out some clear cut powers for the mayor.. most of which are going ignored.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 10/14/10 - 07:33 am
0
0
By the way, the Deke

By the way, the Deke defenders always say that the mayor has no authority to do anything, so Deke does his job well by doing nothing.

If that is true, then why even have a mayor?

We're furloughing employees, yet the mayor's office conservatively costs $250,000 to run when you consider salary and benefits for the mayor and his two secretaries and general office expenses.

corgimom
38695
Points
corgimom 10/14/10 - 07:41 am
0
0
"The person responsible for

"The person responsible for crime control is the sheriff who serves at the pleasure of the voters. So direct your anger against crime to the one you hired."

Last that I looked, the sheriff's office is funded entirely by the A-RC commissioners, and they are the ones that Ronnie Strength reports to.

Or Wiz, are Ronnie Strength and his deputies supposed to be miracle workers?

Instead of worrying about ball parks, the city leaders need to GET SOME MONEY to the sheriff's office for personnel and equipment to fight the drug war that's happening in Richmond County.

corgimom
38695
Points
corgimom 10/14/10 - 07:43 am
0
0
If Deke has done so much for

If Deke has done so much for Augusta during the recession, why are unemployment and foreclosures of homes so high?

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 10/14/10 - 07:45 am
0
0
Again.. it is quite telling

Again.. it is quite telling when the TEE center is being touted as Deke's biggest accomplishment as mayor.. Can anyone tell me exactly how Deke showed leadership on the TEE Center? By ignoring the fact that the costs had more than doubled from what voters approved on the SPLOST ballot? By sweeping under the rug the bribery allegations? By ignoring the evidence that these things are usually money losers for cities? I remember this whole thing being an absolute mess around this time last year, and I sure as heck didn't see one bit of principled leadership from Deke on this issue. let's atleast be honest, if you want to give anyone person the credit for getting the TEE deal approved.. give it to Matt Aitken. As soon as he won the dist 1 seat, the TEE center deal was inked. Deke had absolutely nothing to do with it... NOTHING as usual.. but then I guess, according to The Chroncle, doing absolutely NOTHING and makeing absolutely no decisions is something to celebrate.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 10/14/10 - 07:48 am
0
0
The mayor at the very least

The mayor at the very least can hold strategy meetings on a weekly basis with the Sheriff..At the very least Deke could avail himself and build a working relationship with the Sheriff and try and understand how best the city can help meet the needs of his department. has Deke ever done this? Has Deke ever made a habit of meeting regularly with ANY department heads? We do know that in one year Deke had over 29 meetings with officials from Ripken baseball and 0 with the Sheriff. That shows perfectly where his priorities lie.

Little Lamb
49245
Points
Little Lamb 10/14/10 - 08:04 am
0
0
Insider information

Insider information wrote:

We're furloughing employees, yet the mayor's office conservatively costs $250,000 to run when you consider salary and benefits for the mayor and his two secretaries and general office expenses.

Good point. If we abolish the mayor's office, we could fund new "master plans" every two years.

Little Lamb
49245
Points
Little Lamb 10/14/10 - 08:06 am
0
0
Have you noticed how not one

Have you noticed how not one candidate for any city office is publicizing his/her stance on public financing for a new baseball stadium. You would think they would take a stand and publicize it.

harrisburgwillrise
0
Points
harrisburgwillrise 10/14/10 - 08:15 am
0
0
Little Lamb, Lori Davis

Little Lamb, Lori Davis states in her platform that she does not support any public funding for a baseball stadium, and she speaks of this at almost every forum.

Back to Top
loading...
Search Augusta jobs