Originally created 06/27/04

Indictment leads Walker to seek divine intervention



Last week's indictment of former state Senate Majority leader Charles Walker came as no surprise. More surprising were the indictment of his daughter Monique and allegations that Mr. Walker stole money from the annual CSRA Classic to pay his gambling debts, which he vehemently denied at Thursday's fish fry at Julian Smith Casino.

Like a lot of other folks who get in trouble, Mr. Walker and his supporters are looking for divine intervention.

The Rev. Marvin McRae, his pastor at Mount Vernon Baptist Church, preached about Joshua and the battle of Jericho and told a story of a little boy who wouldn't let go of his candy although a bully kept knocking him down.

Finally, the bully asked him why he didn't just let go. The little boy said he got out of school at 3:15 p.m. but he had a big brother in middle school who got out at 3:30 p.m. and help was coming.

"Sen. Walker, if you can just hang in there for a little while, your help is coming," the Rev. McRae shouted. "Don't worry about what the TV says. Don't worry about what the newspaper says. We serve a mighty God. Nothing is impossible for him to do."

The crowd, estimated at 2,000, agreed. Many see the indictment as just another white man's plot to destroy a successful black leader. It's all reminiscent of former Augusta Mayor Ed McIntyre's arrest and bribery conviction 20 years ago.

"Same old stuff dished up another way," said former Augusta City Councilwoman Colis Ivey.

Mr. Walker, introduced by former Gov. Roy Barnes, ascended the stage to declare his innocence, profess his faith and ask for their prayers.

"With your prayers, I will prevail," he said.

But one savvy Augusta lawyer, who is a Democrat, says that there's no way Mr. Walker can fight battles on two fronts and that he eventually will withdraw.

"Charles Walker's political future has to take a back seat to the criminal charges," he said. "The only way he ever has a political career is he beats this rap. The only way he beats this rap is to give his full attention to it.

"He's probably in denial right now, but he's got excellent lawyers, and they're telling him to look at reality, that his political career is over.

"Could he win or not? That's academic. It's moot because he can't serve. If you're under indictment, the governor has the right to remove you. Even if he were to get elected, he can't vote. He has to concentrate 100 percent of his effort. Politically, he's history."

But then there's Joshua, and the walls did come tumbling down.

CALL us, Charles: Did Richmond County school Superintendent Charles Larke actually get stuck in an elevator in the new central office headquarters downtown last week as we heard?

We don't know and can't find out because Dr. Larke won't return phone calls. But it wouldn't be surprising if an elevator did malfunction. A lot of other things in the new $11 million compound have gone kaput. The basement flooded. The sprinkler system failed. And ceiling issues finally led city inspectors to halt the move-in last week.

You can run, but you can't hide, Dr. Larke. Unless, of course, you're still stuck in an elevator.

TWO COPS AND A TECHIE: Interim Augusta Administrator Fred Russell, a former lawman and police chief, chose Richmond County Correctional Institute Warden Robert Leverette and Information Technology Director Tameka Allen as deputy administrators. Mr. Leverette will be paid $81,313 a year and Ms. Allen $97,541, making her the highest-paid woman in city government.

No glass ceilings here.

Finally.

GO SIT IN THE CORNER: Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority meetings have become more like school than government meetings of late.

Some bicker over who has the floor to speak. Others discuss things they're told not to talk about in public. (That's called talking out of school.) And then there's Annie Rogers, a former math teacher and newly elected chairwoman of the commission who knows how to keep a class in order with just a withering look.

Last week, Mrs. Rogers stopped authority member Carolyn Usry in midsentence, telling her she would have to stop asking questions about the civic center budget because the issue had already been tabled.

"Yes ma'am, Mrs. Rogers," Mrs. Usry replied, mumbling, "I feel like I'm in the second grade."

FILIBUSTER GOES BUST: Commissioner Andy Cheek nearly did an about-face at a Thursday special purpose sales tax meeting concerning a sports and entertainment arena plan. After previously threatening to filibuster any meeting about the issue by reading the Bible straight through, Mr. Cheek ended up offering mostly praise for the idea and gave only a hint of dissent.

"I still have issues with funding levels with the fire and recreation (departments)," he said, but "if we can work those out, I'd fully support this issue."

Other commissioners also gave positive reviews, and the meeting ended early. Could that be because Commissioners Marion Williams and Willie Mays, who were said to be making a silent protest, weren't there?

ROCKET JOCKEY: Mr. Cheek rode his Suzuki Katana 750 to last week's committee meetings and set his huge black-and-silver helmet on the conference table. Commissioner Tommy Boyles got tired of having to peer over and around it and finally said the thing frightened him.

IS YOUR REFRIGERATOR RUNNING?: Taking a cue from prank-calling teenagers everywhere, some Columbia County political supporters are getting dirty with their guerrilla campaigning.

Thursday night's political debate for Columbia County's Republican candidates brought up allegations about some pretty strange phone calls voters say they are getting in the state Senate race between incumbent Joey Brush and Jim Whitehead.

Mr. Brush, who is fighting to hold onto his 24th District seat, read an e-mail he received from a constituent who relayed a mysterious call from someone who asked her pointed questions about Mr. Brush and ultimately began bashing him.

Mr. Whitehead flatly denied that anyone in his campaign is making the fake polling calls and raised his own questions about why Mr. Brush seems so eager to bring up the issue.

"We've had nothing to do with that even though we keep (getting) dragged into that," he said.

City Ink thanks Staff Writers Greg Rickabaugh and Preston Sparks and Columbia County Bureau Chief Vicky Eckenrode for their contributions to this week's column.

Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or sylvia.cooper@augustachronicle.com.