Originally created 12/24/06

The week before Christmas, and not a devil was stirring



Somebody at Tuesday's Augusta Commission meeting might have done what one Augusta Chronicle reader suggested in his recent online comments - open the windows in the commission chambers during the prayer so all the devils could float out.

It was either that or Mayor Deke Copenhaver's memo calling for a Christmas truce that caused commissioners to be so restrained. Well, everyone but Mayor Pro Tem Marion Williams. Wild horses couldn't restrain him. And barring some unexpected alliances or unforeseen coup, he'll reign again in 2007. He says he has six votes. Maybe. Maybe not. But if no one else has six, he'll hold over 'til hell freezes over or his term runs out.

CAN YOU COUNT TO SIX? So there sat Commissioner Jerry Brigham, who put the issue of electing a mayor pro tem for 2006 on the agenda with the idea of electing Mr. Williams and making him ineligible for the post next year. He didn't open his mouth when the mayor and City Attorney Stephen Shepard astutely noted they couldn't have an election without a nomination.

So why did you put it on the agenda, Jerry?

Because he didn't have six votes, he said.

When did you find that out, Jerry?

WHO'S PULLING HIS STRINGS? Commissioner Joe Bowles not only didn't pursue the issue of individual travel budgets for commissioners, he apologized to the Reno Three for even bringing it up if they thought he was attacking them.

So why did you put it on the agenda again, Joe?

THE HORNS OF A DILEMMA: And no decision was made on the garbage billing after almost three years of talking about a separate quarterly billing system instead of billing on property-tax bills. A plan to do that, sanctioned by auditors as a way of getting rid of a $4 million deficit, would eliminate problems with escrow accounts and an unfair fee system. But don't expect that to happen because everybody in the county who receives the service would pay the same - $276 a year, which is against some commissioners' religion. They worship at the altar of making some people pay for picking up other people's trash.

Mr. Bowles didn't know what he wanted to do. He first voted to leave the billing on the tax bills and then voted to go to a separate billing system.

They postponed hiring two lawyers for a law department until January, which is another whole source of ill will.

So don't let Tuesday's apparent peace fool you. The devils will be back.

PICK YOUR POISON: The man who jumped up during the commission meeting and ranted about the dangers of contamination in Hyde Park had a pack of opened cigarettes in his pocket.

Also, one of the spokesmen from Riverkeepers who spoke to commissioners recently about Mercury contamination from Olin Corp. was smoking outside the Marble Palace after the meeting.

WHAT EVERY WOMAN WANTS, REALLY: To go somewhere and have a good time.

DR. BOTTOM LINE: As a doctor and administrator, Medical College of Georgia President Daniel W. Rahn has learned both to wax eloquent and to keep his eye on what's important. At a ceremony earlier this month in the School of Dentistry to accept a $50,000 donation toward a new building, Dr. Rahn thanked the Georgia Dental Association for putting its "imprimatur" on the project.

A quick check of the dictionary tells us that means "sanction" or "approval." At the end of the ceremony, however, Dr. Rahn turned to dental association president Mike Rogers, an Augusta orthodontist, and said simply, "Show me the money." Dr. Rogers pulled the actual check out of his jacket pocket but school officials hastened to try to hand Dr. Rahn a giant fake check sitting nearby, created for the grip-and-grin photo shoot.

"You hold that one," Dr. Rahn told them. "I'll hold this one."

YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU WANT TO DO: That's true. But sometimes you don't want to do what you could do if you wanted to.

With Ernie sidelined, I've learned to weed whack, fix stuff and talk tool. I know my vise-grip from my duck bills. I even learned that electrical outlets have sex. One is the male and one is the female.

Last week, I learned to put a new belt on the vacuum cleaner. I got my Phillips-head screwdriver and got down on the floor, remembering the most important lesson I've learned since turning into a man: Look at how it's in there before taking it out, so you can put it back in just like that.

I unscrewed the lid and sat there memorizing what the broken belt was wrapped around before taking it out and trying to put the new one in. I got the belt around one drive shaft, but struggled mightily to get it looped over the other. Try as I might, I couldn't do it. I sat there sighing and ready to give up until I turned the vacuum cleaner around and pulled the belt toward me and over the drive shaft instead of trying to stretch it forward over the drive shaft. Drive shaft. That's another addition to my mechanical lexicon.

Then came the hard part. Getting up off the floor. I can still get down with the best of them. It's that getting up that's a killer.

A CHRISTMAS STORY: At Wal-Mart in Thomson, I saw something new. A Crock Pot smoker. I lifted the lid and peeked inside. That would make a nice Christmas gift for somebody. But who? I went down the list. Nobody qualified. Still it would make a nice gift for ... I know. Ernie. So what if he doesn't cook? I bought it anyway.

Then I picked up a rice steamer for when I go on a diet in January, some Christmas dish towels, two rugs for the back door and bird seed.

It was pushing noon, and I hadn't bought a single present except the Crock Pot, so I headed for Augusta thinking maybe I'd have better luck there. At Dillard's, the first thing that caught my eye were the ladies' shoes. Unfortunately, I didn't know what size anybody on my list wore. Fortunately, I did know mine. The fur-lined moccasins felt so good on my feet I wore them out of the store.

At the cosmetics counter, what should they be having but a gift with purchase. Buy something for $21.50, and they throw in a gift. Too bad sister-in-law Janet is allergic to almost everything. I could have gotten her some cologne or lotion, but no, she breaks out in hives. Still, I couldn't turn my back on a deal like that, could I?

In ladies wear, there was a jacket that would have been perfect for my daughter-in-law, except that it wasn't her color. As luck would have it though, it was mine.

At the mall, it was the same thing, I couldn't find anything for anybody that I thought they'd like to have. It was depressing. In housewares, the only thing I could find was a teapot in my everyday china. I wandered around with that teapot looking at the sheets and towels for awhile and eventually ended up watching the puppies at the pet store.

After a few hours of this, I was exhausted and had to go home. Christmas shopping wears me out.

GET YOUR PREDICTIONS IN EARLY: Who ever would have thought that Gracewood would be taken off the map in 2006 or that so many politicians wouldn't know where they live? So what's in store for 2007? We can only imagine. So let's do. E-mail your prognostications about Augusta politics, politicians and the fate of the Garden City, and if they're really, really good, I'll put them in next Sunday's City Ink.

Remember. Really, really good.

City Ink thanks Staff Writer Tom Corwin for his contribution to this week's column.

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