Welcome to City Ink's first Turkey of the Year roundtable. We would say " awards banquet," but we might have to cook something. Besides, we have so many winners, we're like former Augusta City Councilwoman Carolyn Usry , who said, "There's so many of them , I wouldn't know which one is No. 1."
However, we do have some winners in special categories. We have the 2005 Turkey Jerky Award , which goes to former state Rep. Robin Williams, now an inmate at Federal Correctional Institution in Estill, S.C., for trying to pass a bad check while waiting to go to the pokey. Mr. Williams was also nominated in the Turkey of the Year category by Sandy Turner, the chairwoman in the Medical College of Georgia's School of Nursing.
The Cold Turkey Award goes to former Augusta Commissioner Tommy Boyles , who gave up his seat to run for mayor and lost , and will now have to take the cure of political withdrawal. This award might have to be shared with Mr. Mays if he does not win in the Dec. 6 runoff.
The Cooked Goose Award goes to District 1 Augusta Commission candidate Robert DeMello , who put a lock on it when his 36 misdemeanor citations, bankruptcy and liens came to light during the campaign.
The Turkey Leftovers are Augusta commissioners still on the board. Does anyone know what to do with them?
The Nominees: "The Turkey of the Year is obviously Lowell Greenbaum for injecting partisan politics into a non partisan mayor's race," said mayoral candidate Deke Copenhaver's campaign chairman, Tim Moses.
Under Dr. Greenbaum's direction , the Richmond County Democratic Party broke with its tradition of not endorsing candidates in nonpartisan races and endorsed interim Mayor Willie Mays.
Richmond County Republican Party Chairman Dave Barbee also nominated Dr. Greenbaum.
"He's been a total disappointment in the way he's tried to promote Augusta," Mr. Barbee said. "He's done nothing but spew partisan venom. It's just pure hatred. I don't think he hates anybody, but he'll probably take the Turkey of the Year banner and wear it with honor."
"What do I win? Do I win a turkey?" Dr. Greenbaum asked when notified of his nominations.
Dr. Greenbaum in turn nominated Mr. Boyles. He didn't say so, but Mr. Boyles' endorsement of Mr. Copenhaver for mayor probably had something to do with the nomination.
Political consultant Jim Cox said state Sen. J.B. Powell would have to be top turkey for two reasons.
"No. 1, I understand that behind the scenes he's trying to make moves to replace Charles Walker as a political power in the area," he said. "Plus, he didn't know who Tim Moses was."
Mr. Powell said Mr. Cox is really going to think he's a turkey when he finds out he doesn't know who he is, either. Mr. Powell nominated WGAC radio talk show host Austin Rhodes, who he said has much in common with a domestic turkey, starting with a small brain, gobbling a lot for no apparent reason and a tendency to "step in their own poop" without even noticing it.
"Still, I can't help feeling a little bit sorry for both of them," Mr. Powell said.
(Better be careful, J.B. Austin just married into your family.)
Commissioner Andy Cheek said he's sure his "twin brother," Mayor Pro Tem Marion Williams , is a frontrunner , but he sees it as a toss-up between Mr. Williams and Mr. Rhodes.
"Austin criticizes Willie for going to Washington and bad- mouthing Augusta, but Austin bad - mouths the city five days a week," Mr. Cheek said.
Mr. Rhodes nominated U.S. District Court Judge Dudley Bowen Jr. "for a hideous amount of free time out of jail he granted Charles Walker and Robin Williams after their federal corruption convictions."
Commissioner Don Grantham also nominated Mr. Williams, who said earlier this year that there are no gentlemen on the Augusta Commission.
"Can't be but one," Commissioner Jimmy Smith said. "Marion Williams."
Mr. Williams said Helen Blocker-Adams , who came in third in the mayor's race, and Mr. Boyles, who came in fourth, should share the award for endorsing Mr. Copenhaver.
"They talk about change," he said. "They really don't want change. They're playing an old game of politics. We've been having the same thing 200 years. For those people to come up and talk that trash ain't fooling me. I hope those turkeys get roasted come election time."
Actually, Ms. Blocker-Adams received three Turkey of the Year nominations, including one from Metro Courier Publisher Barbara Gordon.
"She made a really, really bad choice," Ms. Gordon said. "Not because Willie is a black man, and we would like to have a black mayor, but Willie is clearly the most experienced, the most well-versed candidate....
"I'll tell you another thing , too. Helen said her campaign was really not about race. Well , see, there's a reality we have to deal with in our city."
Attorney Ben Allen also nominated Ms. Blocker-Adams and state Rep. Sue Burmeister.
"Helen Blocker-Adams said 48 percent of the people wanted change," Mr. Allen said. "The flip side of that is 52 percent, those who voted for Willie Mays and Tommy Boyles, said we want someone in that office who has experience. We've had two previous mayors in that office. Neither one brought the political know-how and can-do spirit Willie Mays will bring."
As for Mrs. Burmeister, Mr. Allen said he read the Justice Department memo, and it states that she said the only way black people would go out and vote is if they are paid.
"That is a statement that makes her my top candidate for Turkey of the Year," Mr. Allen said.
Mrs. Burmeister says she did not make the comments used in the memo.
Commissioner Richard Colclough nominated would-be local government reformer Woody Merry because of his efforts to get commissioners to sign a "Contract With Augusta."
"I think he misunderstands," Mr. Colclough said. "When we're sworn in, we take two oaths. Those are the contracts we make with the citizens and the government."
Mr. Merry said Augusta commissioners are turkeys "because they're gobbling up all of the city's emergency reserve funds."
Commissioner Barbara Sims said people who don't appreciate what Augusta has to offer are turkeys.
"Negative people are turkeys," she said.
But who are they, Barbara? Name names.
So, dear reader, who is your favorite for Turkey of the Year? Use the form below to e - mail City Ink your nominations, name and phone number. No phone calls please. We'll tally the results and bring you our readers' poll next week.
Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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