Pledge to wrong flag speaks volumes

There were signs that last week's Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority meeting wasn't going to go well for new facilities manager Julie Huggins.

After member Booker T. Roberson prayed for everybody to set aside their personal agendas and do the right thing, (but didn't do it himself), everybody turned around toward the wrong corner of the room and said the Pledge of Allegiance to the Georgia flag.

PARLIAMENTARY POWER PLAYS: Then Chairman Harry "Harrisburg" Moore announced he was resigning, but member Willie "I'm Running" Law moved not to accept the resignation.

"They can vote, but I'm not going to be the chairman," Mr. Moore said.

But board attorney Ed "I Don't Want To Be Fired Again" Enoch told him he had to run the meeting or leave.

Mr. Moore wanted to step down as chairman but remain on the board, which would have allowed him to vote and would have shifted the balance of power to the pro-Huggins side.

Vice Chairwoman Janice Jenkins , one of six black members determined to fire Mrs. Huggins, would have had to take over and lose her vote because the chairman doesn't vote except in cases of a tie.

When the board voted 6-5 not to accept Mr. Moore's resignation, he balked but finally gave in. When Mr. Enoch ruled against him a second time, he said, "You ain't nothing but a damn traitor."

And so it went as they moved on down the agenda to the main event, the firing of Mrs. Huggins, in which Mr. Law took the lead with members Mildred McDaniel , William Fennoy , Mrs. Jenkins and Keith Brown chiming in.

I reckon Mr. "Which Way Is Home?" Brown's new goal in life is to make sure nobody ever lies again since the Richmond County Board of Elections determined he'd lied about his residency and nixed his run for the Augusta Commission.

It was obvious to me that by firing Mrs. Huggins, they could kill two birds with one stone -- her and Mr. Moore for promoting her hiring and putting her to work over their objections.

I don't see how she lived through it, sitting there being raked over the coals for a title discrepancy that had been explained by two of her former bosses. After all, she'd seen firsthand the gross incompetence and rampant mismanagement that had taken place under former General Manager Flash Gordon , including canceled credit for unpaid bills, dirty buildings and laughable financial records, including a lost $5,000 check, which isn't so laughable when you think about it being your money.

Afterward, Mrs. Huggins called the authority "a political circus" and said if she was the sacrificial lamb because Mr. Gordon was fired, somebody ought to look at his resume.

UNDER THE BIG TOP: Mrs. Huggins' reference to the authority being a political circus is worthy of consideration because she did get shot out of a cannon at what has unquestionably become, if not the Greatest Show on Earth, at least the Greatest Show in Augusta. But I never saw a circus where nobody wanted to be the ringmaster and the sawdust wasn't on the floor but in the clowns' heads.

SWITCHING A DEVIL FOR A WITCH: A compromise bill to restructure the authority and change the name passed the House with only Rep. Barbara Sims not signing it. It now goes to the Senate, where Sen. Ed. Tarver and J.B. Powell will take a whack at it.

If the bill passes as written -- which it won't -- there is at least a chance that some appointees would know something about the operation they're expected to oversee. That's refreshing.

But word is the senators will rename it the Augusta Entertainment Commission or something like that, which would change it from an authority to a commission under control of the Augusta Commission. Now, that ought to take the politics out of it.

CRAPE-CREPE. WHO GIVES A CRAPE? The most fun I had all week was being embroiled in the controversy over the spelling of crape myrtles.

It all started when Dave Barbee got a letter from the city telling him he'd cut the crape, or if you prefer, crepe myrtles, in front of his house in violation of city ordinance and could be subject to the long arm of the law.

Now, Mr. Barbee is very sensitive to such things, his property taxes being what they are, so he was outraged, to say the least, at the notion of city employees riding around looking for folks cutting back their crape-crepe myrtles. The "shrubbery police," he called them.

So we shot a picture of Mr. Barbee standing in front of his mutilated trees, and wrote a story, which I tried to balance out by getting the other side, which in this case was from LeRoy "Dr. Tree" Simkins , the president of the Augusta Tree Commission.

Dr. Tree accused Mr. Barbee and others of his ilk of committing "Crape Murder." Sheriff Ronnie Strength, however, said he would not be making an arrest. Anyway, at 5:39 a.m. Friday, the day the story ran in The Chronicle , Sliique e-mailed:

"It is CREPE!!!!!!!!"

I e-mailed back:

"Sorry. It is Crape. Look it up."

Ten minutes later, I heard from Sliique again:

"I'm sorry, too. I HAD looked it up, prior to e-mailing and it was 'crepe.'

Now, I find fast-growing-trees.com/CrapeMyrtles.htm."

So we went back and forth all day, and at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Sliique e-mailed to say when he'd Googled "crepe" early that morning, he'd gotten all kinds of hits.

"Then, after receiving your e-mail this afternoon, I Googled it again, using "crape," so ... BOTH are correct spelling. Voila!"

Voila!

KAREN SWATS BACK: After last week's expose of the sports scandal that took place when Columbia County's laser tag team waxed Richmond County's by cheating and Mayor Deke Copenhaver and City Administrator Fred Russell fired back, City Ink received the following e-mail from B. Karen Chrjapin , the executive director of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce:

"Please give my condolences to Mr. Russell and his merry band of SWAT boys on their loss to Columbia County's 'team of amateurs' in the Chamber's Laser Tag Tournament.

"It's very amusing that Augusta brought in a professional SWAT team AND recruited an Adventure Crossing employee to play on their team, yet Columbia County is the one accused of cheating. Now that's some real down-home cookin'!

"The fact is: both teams were given the same information (prior to the match) on how to play and how to win. Columbia County's only advantage is that our team plays very well together!

We look forward to the next challenge and again, I'm sorry if we made those poor SWAT boys cry."

Karen

TEASING LIKE 10-YEAR-OLDS: The "Home Cookin' " controversy erupted in banter at the Leadership Augusta 2008 Awards luncheon last week, when the mayor said the jury was still out on who won the match, which prompted Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross to come out with this zinger:

"Augusta-Richmond County government is probably the only government that can probably misinterpret good management and strategic planning as cheating."

Then Columbia County Commissioner Tommy Mercer said he'd been calling baseball and high school football for 32 years and is branching out into laser tag refereeing.

"And I am declaring Columbia County did beat Richmond County," he said.

Later, MCG President Dr. Dan Rahn said he'd like to thank the mayor "for not wasting county time developing skills in something as silly as laser tag," which stung Mr. Cross. After all, hadn't he just complimented Dr. Rahn?

"I take back what I said about Dr. Rahn," he said.

Mr. Copenhaver then noted that an article in The Chronicle quoted a bystander at the match saying, "The problem is you can't think like a SWAT guy. You have to think like a 10-year-old."

"Which tells me that everybody in Columbia County -- no offense -- is thinking like 10-year-olds," the mayor said.

"It fits my son-in-law Mike Sleeper, who was the top point-getter," Mr. Cross said.

Then Dr. Rahn said, "I think some things it's good not to be good at."

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