Originally created 10/03/04

A second look at The Great Debate



Last week, City Ink promised to rehash The Great Debate. Not the great presidential debate, but radio station 107.7 FM's great debate between District 22 state Senate candidates Charles Walker and Don Cheeks.

But after about 20 minutes of listening to the tape, City Ink had a better idea: Ask the candidates to recount their shining moment and the three biggest lies their opponents told. (They each volunteered four, which we will report in installments during coming weeks.) In alphabetical order:

THEIR SHINING MOMENT: Mr. Cheeks: "I don't remember. I haven't heard the debate. And when you're in the heat of debate, you don't know how it went off. ... Charles had his children and two or three other people there taping it. He's probably heard that tape two or three times. I've got other things to do."

After about 15 minutes of cajoling the senator to think back, he said:

"It wasn't necessarily a high point, but I found it amusing when Charles said he delivered, and I agreed that he did deliver, but I also asked him who got the money that he delivered. Who did he help the most? He didn't answer. What could he say?"

Mr. Walker: "My finest moment was when Don Cheeks indicated that he and Sonny Perdue were good friends. I was able to point out to him he might have been a good friend of Sonny Perdue, but I don't think Sonny Perdue was his good friend because of all the cuts we've received in Augusta, Ga.

"And when I was Senate majority leader, Roy Barnes was my friend, and the people of Augusta, Ga., benefited from that.

"We built two new buildings at Augusta State University, and we funded projects at the Medical College of Georgia, $20 million to the Augusta Neighborhood Corporation. All Cheeks can do is talk about why we can't get anything done. That was my finest moment."

THE LIES: Mr. Cheeks: "I think he lied when he was talking about the pharmacy, about he was going to open it. He's not. The Board of Regents is not going to have any money. They're cutting students and everything else.

"He says, 'I'm going to get it started back up.' Why is he going to start back up what he did away with? Every time I say something, he says he didn't when the record shows he did.

"He, with Tom Allgood, removed it out from under the Board of Regents and put it under MCG Health Services. The Legislature voted on it. They did because he was leading the fight. He led the fight, hoping to make a profit off of it."

Mr. Walker: "One lie was he claimed that the pharmacy at the Medical College of Georgia was closed because Tom Allgood and I separated the hospital from the medical college. And that was a big lie because we didn't have the authority to do that.

"The medical college is operated by the Board of Regents, and the Legislature had absolutely nothing to do with the separation of the hospital from the medical college, and Cheeks knew it."

COMING ATTRACTIONS: Lies 2, 3 and 4. I can hardly wait. Can you?

  Listen to the candidates debate
(RealPlayer plug-in)

9,999,999 TEARS TO GO: Two years ago on the Garden City stage

The mayor's race was all the rage.

Five good folks had their hats in the ring

Hoping to become the next big thing.

But oh, what a toll time doth exact

From one and all, and that's a fact.

Ed McIntyre has gone to his heavenly reward.

Robin Williams may be facing an exercise yard.

Bonnie Ruben has been summoned to court

On hotel fire-code violations, we're sad to report.

They almost handcuffed her and hauled her away

'Cause the inspector got impatient that day

When Ms. Ruben didn't come out post haste

And sign a citation. He had no time to waste.

He didn't care the woman was busy

With checkout time and guests in a tizzy.

The computer was down, and she was on hold

With someone in New Jersey, or so it was told.

Then in walked two cops set to take her to jail.

Was that necessary? It's hard to tell.

The fire chief says no one's above the law,

And keeping an inspector waiting is a serious flaw.

Besides, back at the station, the ribs needed turning.

Ten more minutes, and they'd have been burning.

(We just threw that last part in for fun.)

We know this was a quite serious matter, but still,

Two cops with guns seems like overkill.

Anyway, whatever happened to Bobby Ross,

Who came in last and since his loss

Mr. Ross, whose thumb was green,

Hasn't been seen?

And then there's Bob Young who came out the winner.

Some think he's a saint - others a sinner.

So he does like to gallivant. Well, wouldn't you?

Catch a flight every chance you got

After making the Sons of the Confederacy hot?

By removing a flag from riverwalk's esplanade

On the quietus with a wink and a nod.

But like him or not, he's still got the gavel

And for two years more, he has Gwen and will travel.

MORE THOUGHTS ON sales tax phase V From Citizens Committee Members: "The commissioners' gigantic SPLOST V scheme looks like the iceberg that sank the Titanic - $486 million is just what you see on the surface." (Sonny Pittman)

"It's not the SPLOST package the citizens committee and the citizens of Richmond County worked out in their town-hall meetings. I didn't expect the commission to rubber-stamp what we did, but I didn't expect to see a whole new package." (Clyde Lester)

HE'S OUTTA THERE: Mike Seigler, GBI agent in charge of the Thomson office, retired last week after 29 years. Counting time he has served in the military, Mr. Seigler said he had "maxed out" on his time.

"You reach a point you start bringing home less money," he said.

He'll probably become an expert witness now.

The very private Mr. Seigler didn't even want a office punch-and-cookie retirement party.

SHHHHHHHH! City officials have been sitting on an environmental report of the Joint Law Enforcement Center for at least two weeks, waiting for the city attorney to talk to commissioners about it behind closed doors. "Potential litigation," don't you know? Like the people who work and live over there don't know why they're sneezing.

GREAT MEETING: Augusta's legislative delegation picked up some swag this week, courtesy of an Augusta mental health center. The board of the Community Mental Health Center of East Central Georgia presented an Outstanding Advocacy Award that included a silver calculator and pen set to Reps. Alberta Anderson, Sue Burmeister, Henry Howard and Quincy Murphy and Mr. Cheeks.

"We're so pleased with everything you've done for us," acting Executive Director Phil Horton said. "We've been through a lot and each and every one of you has supported us, and that's the reason we're still here."

Some of the center's previous administration is under federal indictment, accused of using the center to steal more than $2 million, and at one point the state had to provide a $900,000 bailout to keep it afloat. After receiving the wrapped gifts, Dr. Horton told the legislators he understood that they are busy and would understand if they didn't want to stick around for the rest of the meeting. And they didn't.

"Don't you like those meetings where you come in, they give you a gift and you get out?" Mr. Cheeks said.

Staff members said the gifts were provided through a center consultant, Baird & Co.

City Ink thanks science and medicine reporter Tom Corwin for his contribution to this week's column.

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