Originally created 12/14/03

ANIC nameplate isn't deserved



THE AUGUSTA Neighborhood Improvement Corp. has been in the news again lately. And city officials have been reminded of the group's outstanding debt on a downtown construction project.

ANIC was supposed to contribute $750,000 toward the Augusta Common park.

After months of asking, the city hasn't seen a dime of the "donation." And the group's name already is etched into the Common's sidewalk next to actual sponsors.

So, here are some possible solutions:

A strip of duct tape to cover ANIC's name would be both opaque and removable.

Ground covers, such as ivy or clematis, might do the trick, too.

Acid or a chisel seem somewhat extreme alternatives.

The answer might simply be a creative adjustment in the city's engraving.

Consider this: You can't spell BOTANICAL without ANIC.

The Augusta BotANICal Common.

Has a nice ring to it, don't you think?

IF A TREE FALLS in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

What about a politician who procures a good deed without a public relations person there to document it?

Several Augusta commissioners were upset last week after getting a local company to donate 30 computers to area schools only to see the credit go to the wrong government entity.

On the day of the donation, school board members and their public relations person were there to promote and praise the project. Some commissioners were there, too, but the city's PR person was nowhere to be found.

Commissioner Bobby Hankerson contends that it was one of several examples of city public relations run amok, explaining that "good PR is when we passed this budget before Thanksgiving," and without splitting along racial lines.

Apparently, it's also when the city extracts a good deed out of private industry AND when the right politicians get the glory.

"The school board had nothing to do with it," Commissioner Marion Williams said, complaining that the commission never gets any good publicity.

Whose fault is that? The media's, apparently.

Elected officials tried to place fault for the oversight on Assistant Administrator Peggy Seigler and her boss, City Administrator George Kolb. Ms. Seigler said no one told her the ceremony was taking place.

She's not the only one. Other commissioners also said they were unaware of the computer-donation arrangement.

"What I'm hearing is something I don't know anything about," outgoing Commissioner Ulmer Bridges said in response to his colleagues' complaints.

Wait, did you hear that?

It must have been a politician's career falling in a forest somewhere.

FORE! Rumor has it that former President Bush was in town earlier this month to play a round at Augusta National Golf Club. Will rumors surface that he, like computer mogul Bill Gates, is thinking of buying a home on Walton Way?

IF THE AUGUSTA-RICHMOND County Coliseum Authority were a show, it would be a tragi-comedy - and the worst act in town:

I Love You. You Love Me.

Act I: Throw Robert's Rules Out!

The curtain opens on Monday's meeting with debate over a proposed policy change that had member Joe Scott warning Chairman Billy Holden, 'You just can't ram it down our throats!" and Bill Maddox shouting that if they approved the motion, they might as well throw Robert's Rules of Order out the door.

Thirty minutes later, board attorney Ed Enoch noted that they weren't arguing about a policy change at all but an exception to a policy.

Oh.

Act II, Give Them a Polygraph

Mr. Scott aired complaints he'd received from Augusta Lynx General Manager Paul Gamsby about problems the hockey team has had trying to practice at the civic center and about Manager Larry Rogers not returning phone calls. Mr. Maddox said Mr. Gamsby had even offered to take a polygraph test.

Mr. Holden's response riled Mr. Maddox, who accused him of trying to run the team off and warned that the facility would have to close its doors.

"Somebody keeps mouthing off (that) before the hockey team's coming we made hundreds of thousands of dollars," Mr. Maddox yelled. "Check the records for the last 10 years. You were losing money."

"Exactly right, exactly right, exactly right," Mr. Scott kept repeating, like a Greek chorus to Mr. Maddox's oration.

Mr. Holden banged the gavel and called Mr. Maddox out of order, but the shouting just grew louder.

It got so bad that Wayne Frazier turned toward the audience singing the Barney song, I Love You, You Love Me.

The act ends with his hands covering his face.

Act III: Thirsty Thursday

Mr. Holden and Mr. Maddox squared off again. Mr. Maddox argued that selling beer for $1 during Thursday games would improve attendance. Mr. Holden argued it would cut into civic center profits.

"You want to give them a Thirsty Thursday, and then you turn around and want to say we're losing money," Mr. Holden said.

"So we lose a few dollars," Mr. Maddox said. "Hell, we lose money out here all the time."

Annie Rogers proposed requiring Mr. Gamsby to voice any grievance to Mr. Rogers before speaking to board members. And Mr. Frazier proposed what would amount to an illegal private meeting to iron out their differences.

"We are very disrespectful to each other," he said. "We need to slow that down."

We'll say.

The end.

Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or Heidi Coryell Williams at (706) 823-3215.