Unseemly. Petty. Spiteful.
Those are just a few ways to describe Mayor Deke Copenhaver’s offer – and subsequent withdrawal – of Get On Up premiere tickets to Augusta Commissioner Bill Fennoy during and after hiring deliberations for the next city administrator.
Clearly, Copenhaver’s offer of tickets to the James Brown biopic and after-party were contingent on Fennoy’s support of Oscar Rodriguez, the mayor’s pick to fill the vacant administrator position. When Fennoy’s support for Rodriguez vanished, so did the offer of tickets the mayor obtained through his personal co-sponsorship of the July 24 gala.
Though Copenhaver chalks up some of the controversy to a miscommunication between him and Fennoy, he acknowledges he initially rescinded his offer based on his “frustration with the commission for not making a decision.”
If that’s not quid pro quo, it sure smells like it.
“Squid pro quo,” perhaps?
Though the mayor apologized to Fennoy personally during a dust up at this week’s Augusta Commission meeting, he owes the city an apology as well. This is not simply a matter between two private individuals. This was a back-room machination by a public official – the top elected official in Augusta, no less – that is tantamount to vote-buying. Some people would even call that “bribery.”
This ticket-for-vote controversy may not rise to that level, but we do know the actions reflect poorly on the office of the mayor. This episode is a sad bookend to an otherwise favorable term in office.
Copenhaver swept into office during a tumultuous political time in the city. He quickly proved himself capable of dealing with the city’s frustrations and obstructions in an almost monastic manner. Calm, rational and almost unnaturally upbeat was this guy’s brand.
That’s what makes this ticket controversy so unbecoming and completely uncharacteristic – we expected a little better from our mayor.
This is an unflinching reminder that even leaders in a growing, mid-sized city such as Augusta can appear small.
Unseemly, petty and spiteful are all apt descriptions of this affair. But none sum it up better than this word: disappointing.