Poor choice of word

Proposed 'slum' designation for Augusta exposes flaw in state law

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They sure don’t like the word, but they’ll take the money that comes with it.

And they’re not alone.

An Augusta Commission committee Monday will consider a resolution declaring a good chunk of the city core to be a “slum” area under state law, in order to raise $26.5 million in urban development funds for the $40 million City Hall renovation.

State law requires the
unsavory designation before the city can raise the funds. But
denizens of Augusta were shocked when the news hit Friday that city leaders were willing to declare downtown a slum, even while not really meaning it, and even still for money.

And the headline that they were considering doing so went out far beyond Augusta.

That’s not quite fair.

First off, the unfortunate wording is a creation of state law that dates to the 1950s.

Secondly, while we have serious needs and shortcomings, no one would ride or walk through the city core, particularly through what most of us regard as downtown, and think it a “slum” by any stretch of the imagination.

Thirdly, this isn’t the first time this particular legal indignity has had to be swallowed here; we did it in 2010, in regard to the ongoing Laney-Walker redevelopment.

Lastly, it so happens that other communities in Georgia have likewise held their noses and passed similar resolutions to take advantage of raising urban development funds.

“Slums are popping up all over metro Atlanta,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote in May 2010. “At last count, 10 cities and counties in the region declared part of themselves a slum – a necessary step to apply as a state Opportunity Zone.”

The real culprit here isn’t the Augusta Commission, but the state law – which not only forces cities and counties to denigrate themselves to create “Opportunity Zones,” but which also stretches the definition of “slums” beyond recognition.

“(S)lums are in the eye of the beholder,” the Atlanta newspaper wrote. “Homes worth $300,000 and up to $1 million surround the new ‘slum’ in Sandy Springs.”

“It is plainly apparent that our downtown is not a slum,” Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver wrote to us in response to our inquiry. “Just this week I did an interview with the National Association of Counties out of Washington, as they’ve chosen Augusta as a national case study for successful local economic development initiatives. They will be featuring the success of our Laney Walker/Bethlehem Redevelopment, our recruitment of Starbucks and the success of the Convention Center (exceeding revenue projections) among other initiatives.

“Just this month our city center will host TechNet Augusta (1,500 to 2,000 attendees), Border Bash, Arts in the Heart and the Half Ironman, which all will have a huge economic impact on our city. I seriously doubt the organizers of any of these events would consider our downtown a slum, and I certainly don’t. It’s unfortunate that we have to use this term to access state funding, but using it ultimately helps save the taxpayers money.”

There’s no reason our good and decent burgs must flog themselves in the public square to seek redevelopment money. Maybe the state should confine “slum” funding to areas of true and rampant blight.

In either case, another word with less emotional baggage could be found.

Comments (19) Add comment
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Riverman1
83488
Points
Riverman1 09/07/13 - 06:14 am
5
1
Poor Choice of Words Was Deke's...Sad

Deke said, “…and the success of the Convention Center (exceeding revenue projections).”

With the abysmal occupancy rate of the TEE Center with few true events that attract nonresidents, the revenue projections must have been absolutely microscopic.

Then we have this ongoing deception about the Laney Walker project that has produced few houses at a tremendous cost. Remember it was discovered they pay public relations firms to make the project and area appear to be successful. The Laney Walker project not only exceeded its budget with the highly paid consultant friends, but now cajoles the commission to give them more.

Deke, stop with the mistruths. You are “sad” to quote what you called the accurate Chronicle story on the slum designation.

Bodhisattva
6139
Points
Bodhisattva 09/07/13 - 05:45 am
2
4
"First off, the unfortunate

"First off, the unfortunate wording is a creation of state law that dates to the 1950s."

Your welcome for doing the research on that for you Chronicle. At least with accurate research you couldn't blame it on Obama. It was very simple. You should try it on your own sometime.

deestafford
27412
Points
deestafford 09/07/13 - 05:57 am
3
0
Well, if it's the law's wording that is the problem

let's just get our local delegation to have it changed. It shouldn't take anyone having a Phi Beta Kappa key to change the wording so it fits today's intentions. Maybe a slum is a slum and needs special financing and what we have is something else that needs to be called whatever it is. After all, words mean something.

seenitB4
86692
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seenitB4 09/07/13 - 06:01 am
5
0
Dates back to the 1950s

Well that is where it needs to stay ...back in the 1950s....give it something else....low income---some blight---something ELSE!

What Augusta needs is a forceful leader...I mean a REAL tough speaking leader.....you can't fluff your way through this....for goodness sake when you vote again..please forget quiche & think STEAK!

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
7622
Points
ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 09/07/13 - 06:06 am
9
0
Fraud

It seems that calling this area a Slum to get this money is a fraud and should be against the law. That's about like me asking the bank to give me a million dollars for a storage shed worth 500. Oh wait, in politics you can do anything you want!!!

Riverman1
83488
Points
Riverman1 09/07/13 - 06:17 am
5
0
SeenIt, LOL ColdBeer, yep.

SeenIt, LOL

ColdBeer, yep. It's either the truth or fraud to make the rest of the county responsible for more spending downtown. Which is it?

Rhetor
1007
Points
Rhetor 09/07/13 - 06:42 am
5
7
hmm

Well, I don't live in Augusta and the city can handle this as they wish. But, good grief! Have you seen that place? The word "slum" is a compliment for downtown Augusta. This is so typical of the conservative response, is it not? Instead of trying to solve a problem, just deny that it exists.

chascushman
6653
Points
chascushman 09/07/13 - 08:16 am
3
2
"Instead of trying to solve a
Unpublished

"Instead of trying to solve a problem, just deny that it exists."
rhetor, if they tear down the mess they have now they will just build more section 8 housing which will make things even worse. It is typical for liberals to think more gov't is the answer when gov't caused most of the problem. Can you spell Detroit?

nocnoc
42423
Points
nocnoc 09/07/13 - 08:21 am
4
0
"..we did it in 2010..."

What's this WE Kemosabe?

If this is really about fixing economic deprived/disadvantaged zones, may I suggest:

1. US-25 corridor from Olive Rd to I-520 ?
2. Gordon Hwy from Molly Pond Rd to Barton Chapel Rd?
3. Barton Chapel Rd. Between US-1 and US-78?
4. Dean bridge Rd. Gordon Hwy to Barton Chapel Rd.

OH! but wait these are not DOWNTOWN Locations.
These are in the deliberately neglected dumping grounds called the
Old County South Side & South East Sides?

At the sound of harping, and I will until my family leaves ARC:
The South Side is STILL WAITING FOR ITS FIRST "economic" revitalization project, while Downtown continues blow through $$$$$ for revitalization project, after failed revitalization project.

Since most to the Property Tax Money comes from outside DOWNTOWN how about AT LEAST some Quid Pro Quo.

Too many of us here on the South Side see planned Economic Discrimination not Economic revitalization.

BTW:
Diamond Park is not a Economic revitalization project it is a recreation facility... a park. An so is a "proposed" nature walks out here.

a "Economics"revitalization project

nocnoc
42423
Points
nocnoc 09/07/13 - 08:35 am
3
0
Read it

Read it yourself.

www.dca.state.ga.us/communities/.../programs/.../ReDevManual.doc‎

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=11&cad=rja&...

Appendix E Sample Resolution Declaring “Slum or Blight” .... County Unified Government, Augusta-Richmond County and Columbus Con

Bizkit
31244
Points
Bizkit 09/07/13 - 08:55 am
3
1
Does Bod do work for the

Does Bod do work for the paper and do research? What does the date of the law have to do with this? This strategy has become so common place to qualify and attain funds. Everybody is doing it. Universities and colleges push their faculty to get any grants (some schools the research is important but others it doesn't really matter-just get the money) so the school can get indirect costs. All the growth at Paine college is suppose (part of five year plan) to be funded from indirect cost of faculty grants (all faculty have to have a grant) so they can build dorms-and a football team.
We recently saw where two assistant professors received a grant to study women in STEM fields-the goal is for all faculty to have such grants. A friend who works there told me Paine received a hefty grant from the Dept of Energy to study biofuels and they have about 6 flasks with algae growing in them (although full scale bioreactors are already present). Makes you wonder if some people aren't scamming for funds.

Bizkit
31244
Points
Bizkit 09/07/13 - 09:10 am
5
1
Haven't they already funneled

Haven't they already funneled lots of funding to the area already. Seems we build to improve it and then locals vandalize and slum-erize it.

grouse
1635
Points
grouse 09/07/13 - 10:35 am
0
0
The Chronicle is for
Unpublished

The Chronicle is for government handouts?? Lol.

dichotomy
32720
Points
dichotomy 09/07/13 - 10:50 am
8
0
"Everybody is doing it." It's

"Everybody is doing it."

It's like the old joke of "Would you have sex with me for $5 million dollars?"

Once you say "yes", we have already established that you are a prostitute so they only thing left is to negotiate the price.

And believe me, we are governed by prostitutes who are willing to lie, cheat, and steal to get MORE MONEY.

If fact, I think I would rather be led by ACTUAL prostitutes. At least they are up front about how they conduct their business and telling you what you will get for your money.

Politicians take your money and promise you good loving but end up just jerking you around.

Sweet son
10323
Points
Sweet son 09/07/13 - 11:41 am
3
0
Seems like

'blighted' would have been a better word.

September is Ovarian Cancer awareness month.

It is a silent killer!

Lori Davis
918
Points
Lori Davis 09/07/13 - 02:10 pm
4
0
To Mike Ryan

Harrisburg was declared a slum in 2010 to get the state designation; Opportunity Zone. All was done without a public hearing and with a falsified application to the Department of Community Affairs. This was done all the while I was serving on a committee with George Patty to try and bring a Chronic Nuisance Property Ordinance to Richmond County. The application to the DCA said that Mr. Patty got his stats from, "A privately funded study." This study does not exist. I will concede that Harrisburg quite possibly deserves this designation, however, skirting the law, or quite frankly, breaking it, to get this done should be investigated as well. I see there is no mention of Harrisburg in the article. Explanation, Mr. Ryan? Harrisburg was voted on by the Commission the same day as Laney Walker-Bethlehem. I guess the city knows that a few middle class folks in Harrisburg could never afford an attorney to challenge the city and Mr. Patty on this one. Don't be so sure.

harley_52
23161
Points
harley_52 09/07/13 - 04:32 pm
2
2
"This study does not exist."

Are there any legal requirements defining what a "study" is? Did Patty file a false official document and use such a document to defraud somebody?

Lori Davis
918
Points
Lori Davis 09/07/13 - 04:40 pm
4
0
It seems to have all been

It seems to have all been taken at face value. Deke was on the Board of the DCA, or just off of it when this took place. I have all of the documents through an open records request. There were statistics stated that they supposedly came from the privately funded study. The city attorney even signed off on the fact that all requirements had been met. They never met the public hearing requirement which was on the check list and checked off.

Darby
25496
Points
Darby 09/07/13 - 05:52 pm
4
0
"......declaring a good chunk of the city core

to be a “slum” area under state law, in order to raise $26.5 million in urban development funds for the $40 million City Hall renovation."

.
Obviously the welfare mentality isn't limited to just those on EBT giveaway programs.

Then again, that's pretty much what we have here, isn't it?

No worries, somebody will pay for it and it's legal isn't it?

And the taxpayer well will never run dry. Will it?

harley_52
23161
Points
harley_52 09/07/13 - 06:44 pm
1
0
Lori...

Have you had a lawyer review it? Maybe one from the GA Attorney General's office, or even from Eric Holder's office? If they got money via fraudulent representations, it's a crime.

Pops
8272
Points
Pops 09/07/13 - 06:55 pm
3
0
Deke is a

Nothing more than a fake.....just binding his time to get elected to another do nothing state job.....might as well be a community organizer.......

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