Back into the rough

With gridlock on city golf course, commission takes huge step backward

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The mayor says we’ll be all right.

All evidence to the contrary.

The Augusta Commission, back to a 5-5 racial split after last year’s elections, wasted little time in splitting votes by race Tuesday and grinding progress to a screeching halt. Black commissioners opposed, and white commissioners supported, having a professional company run the city golf course.

Their loggerheads caused the management company to withdraw its bid to run the course.

Congratulations, Augusta Commission.

Even in Augusta, you have to wonder: How in the world is this a racial issue?

The vote Tuesday surely would’ve been a 5-5 tie, which would have allowed Mayor Deke Copenhaver to cast a deciding vote. But he likely would’ve voted to approve the deal – so Commissioner Marion Williams pulled a stunt he and others used to block progress several years ago during his first stint on the commission: He abstained, leaving the vote at 5-4 – one vote short of the six-vote majority required for the Augusta Commission to approve things.

For some reason, some members of the Augusta Commission actually seem opposed to having the municipal golf course known as the Patch be operated well enough to turn a buck – or at least not lose hundreds of thousands of them, as it has historically.

So, despite a vote by the previous commission in December to approve private management of the course, the new commission gridlocked on finalizing the deal.

Commissioner Bill Fennoy, who voted against the lease deal with Virginia Beach Golf Management, actually insinuated that the course shouldn’t have to be profitable, since the city’s aquatics and tennis facilities aren’t.

That’s like saying your student shouldn’t have to work hard because the kid next to him in class isn’t.

But Commissioner Donnie Smith, citing the city’s projected $5.2 million deficit, noted the lunacy of the commission turning down the company’s $100,000 check – and, moreover, avoiding operational losses at the course.

Commissioner Mary Davis also noted correctly that the course is in “dire need of professional attention.”

This city should decide, once and for all, whether it wants to have a municipal golf course. If the answer is yes, then get it professional management and invest in fixing its embarrassing condition. Regular patrons, as well as Masters Week guests, deserve no less.

If the answer is no, then sell it.

As for the racial split on this issue, it makes absolutely no sense. Many of the golfers who frequent the Patch are minorities. They deserve better than what they’re getting from this commission.

Virginia Beach Golf Management ran from this mess like a putt down a false front. You can’t blame them. You have to wonder why any company outside of Augusta would want to do business with a city that is so poorly managed, volatile and even hostile to prospective business partners.

If this is the new commission’s best shot from the first tee, it’s going to be a long 18 holes.

Comments (21) Add comment
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Riverman1
93489
Points
Riverman1 02/08/13 - 04:17 am
13
1
Pravda

It’s the power the black commissioners want to have over the course that is attractive to them keeping it city operated. When a commissioner goes out to the Patch the staff treats him well because their jobs depend on keeping the commission pleased. It’s actually the same reason many are against privatizing any county owned entity. The jobs are important chips for commissioners in the community.

It gets into a philosophical economic debate of whether contented government workers are more important to the community than productive, job loss fearing, private, competitive workers. Socialism v. capitalism. Just realize Commissars and government bureaucrats are the ones who go to the head of the line to buy from government bread stores and THAT’S what this is all about. It’s the pravda.

Willow Bailey
20605
Points
Willow Bailey 02/08/13 - 08:04 am
10
0
Outsource the commissioners?

Outsource the commissioners?

allaboutlife
55
Points
allaboutlife 02/08/13 - 08:23 am
11
0
The black commissioners are

The black commissioners are so used to throwing their weight around by going to the patch and playing for free, they cannot stomach the thought of a private company turning them away, or worse yet, making them pay to play golf. Heaven forbid! Give them free memberships and the contract will sail through.

Techfan
6462
Points
Techfan 02/08/13 - 09:10 am
12
2
It's a shame it wasn't a 5-5

It's a shame it wasn't a 5-5 split on the TEE Center. How many millions has that ended up costing the city?

Willow Bailey
20605
Points
Willow Bailey 02/08/13 - 09:36 am
5
0
Like River, says, Pravada!

Like River, says, Pravada! You just can't put a price on that, especially when someone else is footing your bill.

soapy_725
44110
Points
soapy_725 02/08/13 - 09:57 am
1
0
Progress is in the eye of the beholder.
Unpublished

What is important to the majority of the inhabitants of ARC is subjective. Honesty is what is lacking on both sides. The white power structure is on offense. The black power structure is on defense. The white side wants government to build massive cathedrals to fit their egos. The blacks want government to provide services.

Someone on Walton Way Ext. and Almond Lake sees the value in "political kingdom building". Someone on Laney Walker wants a simple roof over their head.

Is the issue black and white? Or just the priority list? Wealthy despots desires or the needs of their subjects.

ARC will never move from May 1970 because both sides are liars. New buildings will be built. Industry will come and go. The CBD will remain a museum. But the heart and soul of ARC is dead. By suicide.

soapy_725
44110
Points
soapy_725 02/08/13 - 10:09 am
1
0
The Legacy of Deke Boardman-Coperhaver?
Unpublished

That is the question? Could the potential political career of one man capture the entire energy and financial output of the second largest city in Georgia? Would the power brokers of the CSRA use one man to spearhead a massive use of government funds to make themselves wealthy at the expense of the taxpayer? Is kingdom building a reality for ARC?

History says YES to all of this in spades. A man preaching progressive politics from a church platform. We have a man who manages to float above a sea of feces and continues to smell like a rose.

mike1sc
217
Points
mike1sc 02/08/13 - 10:33 am
9
1
This Sure Makes Sense

Losing money year after year versus losing no money and having the course maintained. I can certainly understand keeping the "losing money" option.

The Commissioners who did this are IDIOTS.

mike1sc
217
Points
mike1sc 02/08/13 - 10:42 am
7
3
A Huge Step Backward for this Commission?

The huge step backward was not this most recent decision, but the last election was.....shame shame on Richmond County. Rock for Dough to Columbia County....the Greenjackets to North Augusta.

But you have comments from some posters like "Techfan" who complains about the millions spent on the TEE Center. Techfan, I bet you still have a black and white tv in your living room, don't you? Progress takes money.....but these days with the most recent examples mentioned in this post, it seems the tax revenue is moving away from Richmond County. I wonder why.......

dichotomy
37417
Points
dichotomy 02/08/13 - 11:00 am
9
0
Marion Williams has been

Marion Williams has been re-elected. Lockett, Mason, Fennoy....apparently we have the best of the best from the black community on the commission. Lots of blow but no go. 'Nuff said.

Not one of them has posed a viable, money saving solution to the golf course...or anything else. They are just happy to keep things the money losing way it's been done for decades. They can't adapt to changing times like other SUCCESSFUL municipalities are doing all over the country. Contract ALL of this crap out and get it off of the backs of the taxpayers. But they seem to have perfected blocking anyone else's solutions just because it was not the black solution. Well guess what....it will NEVER be the black solution because they don't have any solutions. They can all blowhard and grandstand about why they don't like what the white commissioners are proposing but they NEVER offer their solution to save the taxpayers money. Their solution is always to do nothing, live in the 1960's, and raise our taxes to pay for it.

And don't get me wrong. I don't support any of the big spending, bond floating, Paul & Assoiciates projects the white commissioners have gotten us into either. But there again, the black commissioners only opposed those until they could double the size of the pie so they could get their big slice. When the pot got right they voted YES. Maybe that is the problem with the golf course. They haven't figured out how to get a big enough slice out of a paltry $250,000 dollar savings. There is no money in it for them so they will just use this issue to show their "control" for publicity purposes. And that's right up Marion's alley.

bubbasauce
24260
Points
bubbasauce 02/08/13 - 11:03 am
7
1
Sounds like reverse racism to

Sounds like reverse racism to me! Ha! Riverman was right, they love the power of actually thinking they are Somebody! Not! And yes, all the free stuff I get for being a big commissioner! Whoeeee!

Darby
29215
Points
Darby 02/08/13 - 11:54 am
5
0
Call me a heretic if you like, but I suggest that we plow the...

darned thing under and convert it to a pumpkin patch. That way we could grow and sell a crop once a year for Halloween.

Everybody participates in Halloween, black and white. That would have the dual effect of making a small profit on the property and removing the racial "crutch" that has crippled the commission on this issue.

Hey!... It' a thought, even if just a little tongue in cheek.

Darby
29215
Points
Darby 02/08/13 - 11:59 am
8
1
"Sounds like reverse racism to me!"

Bubba - Maybe you haven't noticed, but if it weren't for reverse racism, we wouldn't have a real race problem in this country.

Progs couldn't survive two weeks without the issue of race to prop them up.

Jane18
12332
Points
Jane18 02/08/13 - 12:42 pm
6
1
"Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Bride"!

....and people wonder why Augusta cannot be a city that people want to visit and spend money. I'm sorry Augusta, you are never going to be any more than you are now.......and that ain't much!! Politics really does stink!

whatmistake
100
Points
whatmistake 02/08/13 - 01:20 pm
4
1
The black commissioners.....

are interested only in assuring that they, their families and friends have easy access to a golf course where the taxpayer, not the person using the service, pays the cost.

jwilliams
1116
Points
jwilliams 02/08/13 - 06:36 pm
6
0
MASTER TICKETS

Since the discussion emphasis is on golf and golf courses, I would like to slightly change the subject and AX a question. Is it me, or does anyone else see anything wrong with Augusta Richmond County Commissioners receiving complementary (free) Master Tournament tickets and then turning around and selling them for a substantial profit? I know that there have been situations where certain Commissioners have donated their complementary (free) tickets to Wounded Warriors or others, which is fine; but when an elected official sells these complementary (free) tickets for a substantial profit I personally see something ethically wrong with that. Being a Commissioner must be a “GREAT” job.

Darby
29215
Points
Darby 02/08/13 - 04:43 pm
3
0
"when an elected official sells these complementary (free)"...

he's due for a serious slap on the wrist....

But even that's not likely.

countyman
21630
Points
countyman 02/08/13 - 06:37 pm
1
1
The truth will set you free!

The sky is always falling in Augusta.

The Rock for Dough concert maybe going to Columbia County, but the funds still go towards the First Tee of Augusta. The actual Masters tournament, Par 3 Party, and Mayors Reception are in Richmond County.

The city of North Augusta will have to spend $43 million in order for the Augusta Greenjackets to cross the river.

The majority of citizens in Richmond County approved the TEE center. I find it ironic nobody has a problem with Columbia County building a $10 million exhibition hall in Grovetown, and none of their citizens got a chance to vote. The Project Jackson proposal in North Augusta includes a conference center. Millions of tourist visit Augusta compared to North Augusta or Grovetown. It's similar to the mix-use development being considered a bad idea for downtown Augusta, but now Project Jackson is this great development.

The cost of the TEE Center is $38 million. The center is up to 20 events, and will bring a $12 million impact. This doesn't include the $6 million Holiday Inn Express, Eros Bistro, former WAGT building(restaurant/meeting space), Farmhaus Burgers/12 apts, 901 Broad(9 apts/4,300 sq. ft. commercial space), Boars Head Public House, etc who are opening due to the TEE Center.

countyman
21630
Points
countyman 02/08/13 - 06:59 pm
1
1
The truth will set you free!

Jane 18.... The rest of the areas in Georgia excluding metro Atlanta and the city of Savannah. They all must really suck in terms of attracting tourist who spend money. Augusta easily ranks third in the state when it comes to the number of visitors per year.

The areas in the CSRA surrounding Richmond County must be really awful then. I would post the numbers for visitor, but Richmond County makes them look too bad. They amount of visitors shouldn't be similar anyway considering their suburbs/exurbs of Augusta.

The media and certain people want Mr. Guifoyle to be white so they can turn everything into a race issue. The problem is republican/democrat, and not ethnicity.

404Law
226
Points
404Law 02/08/13 - 07:09 pm
1
1
Missing the putt...again

The ACES wants all of you to think this is the fault of so-called bonehead, black commissioners. And, it seems that the AC and its ES have done a good job of controlling the narrative about this particular issue.

Yes, AC, you are correct; but for the wrong reasons. Yes, the majority of those frequenting the Patch are non-white. Conversely, the majority of people benefiting from "government subsidies" to swim and play tennis at a reduced rate are white. When the City cedes a service to a private company, then the City loses some control over provision of services and costs (e.g., costs that are often passed on to the consumer). For instance, the City bus services. By the way, didn't the so-called White commissioners "pull a stunt" (as you describe above) to get that passed? Didn't they try to "pull another stunt" with the special call meeting? Hmm. How soon we forget.

In the case of the Patch, leasing the Patch may out-price the majority of those currently frequenting the golf course - so-called minorities who happen to be the majority in Augusta. That's what the so-called black commissioners do not want to happen.

So, the recommendation by some black commissioners to revisit and revise the vendor proposal process and the procedures for how contracts are negotiated and approved will help put in place "controls" that will allow the City to have more say in the provision and quality of services and costs associated with leasing such facilities. The so-called black commissioners are not against the City making money. That's ludicrous. Indeed, they are very much against loses(!), especially City loses that are passed on to their constituents, the primarily black and low-income.

Of course, you know this...but this kind of thoughtful analysis does not sell copy. Further, it would be a cold day in H before you actually admit that the so-called black commissioner's strategy is actually a good one for their constituents.

But keep bashing the so-called black commissioners. You will never get your pedestrian bridge to nowhere. You also will see more City Stink arriving at your front door.

404Law
226
Points
404Law 02/08/13 - 07:53 pm
0
0
Can't be true...

Newly elected D3 commissioner is exploring a run for mayor? Current mayor will set the stage for her campaign? Lining up state-level backers and donors now? Can't be true. Can't be true Augusta.

If true, then I guess now is a better time than any. Former D3 commissioner would never win city-wide election in Augusta. So, I guess the hope is for split loyalties (gender vs. race) between D3 and D4 supporters that will ultimately benefit D3. And, in an off election year, they are pretty confident about their chances.

Why did I answer my phone?!?! Ugh. Even the ring tone this time seemed strange and ominous.

itsanotherday1
48270
Points
itsanotherday1 02/08/13 - 08:01 pm
1
0
The 5 white commissioners

The 5 white commissioners should refuse ( 4 nays and 1 abstention) to pass a budget that has money in it for the Patch.

Like Grandma always said, "It is a sorry gme that two can't play".

Riverman1
93489
Points
Riverman1 02/09/13 - 07:20 am
2
0
404 Law, there is truth in

404 Law, there is truth in your statement and mine. The Aquatic Center and tennis complex should both be taken off the city ledger along with the golf course. Can we agree on that?

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