When it comes to cheap entertainment, coliseum authority is the best act around

It was another slow week at City Hall. City Administrator Fred Russell was off with the Tour de Georgia. Augusta commissioners were getting ready for their annual Association County Commissioners of Georgia convention in Savannah this weekend. Mandatory training, don't you know.

But we still had the Coliseum Authority, which never fails to keep us busy and entertained.

It was time to elect officers for the year at last week's meeting, and personnel committee chairwoman Janice Jenkins and members Mildred McDaniel and William Fennoy had spent two hours the week before lining up a slate of nominees to present to the board, only to be told by board attorney Ed Enoch that the slate was supposed to be presented seven days before the vote.

Mrs. Jenkins was not amused. And she grew even less amused when she was nominated for vice chairwoman, and the nominations were closed before anyone could second the motion.

So they had to go through a whole big rigmarole about what it would take to rescind the vote to close the nominations and re-vote, which Mrs. Jenkins blamed on Mr. Enoch and told him so in no uncertain terms, to which he said, "I'm not running the meeting."

Then, lo and behold, after a recess during which Mr. Enoch boned up on Robert's Rules of Order, he announced that nominations from the floor didn't even require seconds.

Anyway, Richard Isdell ended up as vice chairman, and Keith Brown became chairman when some of Freddie Sanders' committed votes evaporated into thin air. Booker T. Roberson , his campaign manager, said he couldn't believe they "flipped" on him like that and made a whole "390-degree turn."

Mr. Sanders thought it was funny, and John Manuel, who had encouraged Mr. Sanders to seek the chairmanship, ended up voting for Mr. Brown. He said he did so in order to get a white voting majority this year. Remember, the chairman doesn't vote except in case of a tie.

William Fennoy was eventually elected secretary, but nobody wanted to be treasurer. So they nominated the absent Adrian Arnold , who was elected unanimously.

SAME OLD BLUES: Board members received a jolt when they learned that former manager Robert "Flash" Gordon had been promoting a Blood, Sweat and Tears concert in-house before he was fired but didn't tell anybody. The show was expected to cost the civic center $70,000.

To break even, they needed to sell 1,187 tickets. A few hours before Friday's concert, only 329 tickets had been sold.

That's the second of Mr. Gordon's in-house promotions that flopped. The civic center lost $30,000 on the Aaron Tippin-Joe Diffee concert earlier this year.

Seems there wasn't much promotion going on for either concert.

Oh, by the way, authority members voted at the meeting to give Mr. Gordon two weeks' vacation pay.

BUDGET, BUDGET. WHO'S GOT THE BUDGET? Mr. Sanders wants to get a handle on the center's finances and insisted they adopt the 2006-07 budget as the 2007-08 budget so they'll have one because the 2007-08 fiscal year ends in June, and they have no budget.

Authority member Willie Law said there were several versions of the 2006-07 budget floating around, and they needed to be sure they adopted the right one.

Oh heck, what does it matter anyway?

AND THE RACE IS ON -- ALMOST: Things are sure to pick up next week when qualifying for this year's elections begins.

Sheriff Ronnie Strength will shoot it out this year with Jimmie Lee Sullivan , who was with the Augusta Police Department for 18 months in the late '70s and a jailer for the Richmond County Sheriff's Office for 10 months before he was fired.

We hear his personnel file will make for some really interesting reading.

District 22 state Sen. Ed Tarver will have to fight to retain his seat against former Augusta Commissioner Marion Williams . People who study these things say it won't be easy.

In his last election, Mr. Tarver benefited from a crossover Republican vote that likely won't be there this time because the Republicans have their own fish to fry for Republican candidates' fish frys.

Mr. Williams, they say, could win the Senate seat because despite what the establishment says about him, many voters in his district identify more closely with him than they do with Mr. Tarver.

Mr. Williams said he's doing grass-roots campaigning. He says he's going back to "Hoover Days."

"I'm going back to what I know: hard work and meeting the people where they are," he said.

He said he's received $6,000 to $7,000 in campaign contributions so far and even has folks in South Carolina who can't vote for him sending donations.

Mr. Tarver said he's ready to have voters compare his record in his three years in the Senate to Mr. Williams' record during his eight years as Augusta commissioner.

Newly appointed District Attorney Ashley Wright will have to defend her job against Juvenile Court Judge Willie Saunders .

He served as prosecutor in former DA Danny Craig's office for eight years and says regardless of who the governor appointed to the office, he feels he's the best qualified, most well-rounded candidate. But don't they all say that?

State Rep. Gloria Frazier , D-Augusta, will have a challenger in former school board member A.K. Hasan .

Democrat Reps. Quincy Murphy , Hardie Davis and Wayne Howard will run again along with Republican Barbara Sims . The only news there would be if they weren't going to run again.

Four candidates -- Tommy Boyles , Sanford Loyd , Keven Mack and Steven Kendrick -- are expected to qualify for tax commissioner to replace Jerry Saul , who is retiring Thursday.

BILLING BUT NO COOING: Augusta Regional Library Board President Jane Howington and Regional Library Director Gary Swint are outraged that Heery International, which oversees the city's sales-tax projects, wants a $452,064 fee increase, which would bring its total fee for overseeing the library's architect and contractor to $1,300,469.

That fee would be 5.42 percent. The typical project manager fee is 2 percent to 3 percent, Ms. Howington said.

And she ought to know, seeing as how when she was president of the Columbia County school board, seven schools were built on time and on budget without an overseer.

"At what point do we stop paying the overseer to oversee the overseer?" she asked.

She's also asked Augusta commissioners not to give Heery any more money because it will be taken out of the project budget and they won't be able to finish the building.

HERE'S A THOUGHT: Maybe instead of a raise, city leaders should ask Heery to chip in to compensate taxpayers for the expensive bath -- $260,000 -- they took for the demolition of the old candy factory on Telfair Street. Thompson Wrecking Co., whose bid for the project was rejected although it was the lowest, sued the city in 2006.

Heery and Robert T. Munger , the project manager for the city's sales tax projects, were added to the lawsuit after Mr. Munger told city commissioners and the public that Thompson Wrecking Co. wouldn't be the most inexpensive bidder because the company that got the bid would use the city's landfill and provide $222,000 in landfill tipping fees for the city.

Not only did taxpayers have to pay J&B Construction $260,000 more than Thompson for the job, J&B didn't use the Augusta landfill, so there was no $222,000 for city coffers either.

Heery did pay its own $25,000 settlement to Thompson, however.

City Ink thanks Staff Writer Sandy Hodson for her contribution to this week's column.

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

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