I hardly know where to begin with the Coliseum Authority, so I'll just start with what they did first. And that was vote to negotiate a letter of intent or contract with Atlanta promoter Jerry Dickerson for his consulting services for an 18,000-to-20,000-seat arena in downtown Augusta.
While Mayor Deke Copenhaver and others are cold to the idea and have for all practical purposes dismissed it, it lives on in the minds of -- exactly who I don't know, other than Mr. Dickerson and authority members.
So let's see. The mayor wants a $31.8 million downtown baseball stadium, the Downtown Development Authority wants a $20-million-a-mile trolley, and the coliseum authority wants a $125 million to $250 million arena.
Marion Williams' drag strip is starting to look better every day.
OUT ON FIRST: So many ambitious projects (with no money in sight to pay for them) made me think of Aaron Clements over at C&C Automotive, who expressed an interest in getting into politics after his year as president of the National Automotive Service Association. He said he enjoyed it so much that he attended Augusta Tomorrow's master plan spring workshop, where the group asked for opinions on what would make downtown Augusta more desirable.
He said his opinions were different from all the others. He proposed a camera system for downtown that would help officers monitor the goings-on and give people a sense of security.
"With a good camera system, one officer could monitor 10 city blocks," he said. "This would be a small fraction of the price of many of the projects that have been mentioned."
And Augusta could have a marketing plan that would include having one of the safest downtowns in America.
Well, surprise, surprise!
"My idea did not hit a home run," he said.
Of course not. It makes too much sense.
A FAIRY TALE: Once upon a time, Global Spectrum took over civic center operations and there was no reason for authority members to fuss and fight. So they all got along and everybody lived happily ever after until a wicked witch cast a spell over the complex and everything in it. And last Tuesday, Janice Jenkins , Bill Law , Keith Brown , Mildred McDaniel and William Fennoy came to the meeting seeking revenge on Chairman Richard Isdell for what they deemed to be his sleight of hand.
Mr. Fennoy accused Mr. Isdell of not following procedure in hiring the George Croft Band for the James Brown plaque dedication or arranging board training at Augusta State University.
Mr. Isdell said he had nothing to do with hiring the band and that he set up the training at ASU because the local lawmakers, also known as the peacemakers because of their magical ability to get along with each other, said they needed diversity training or some such, and it would be cheaper at ASU.
So it went, on and on and on until Booker T. Roberson , who works both sides of the highway to heaven, talking one way and voting the other, said, "Stop picking, picking. What's happened has happened. This is like trying to put toothpaste back in the tube."
Still, the picking went on for almost three hours, with Mrs. Jenkins and the other wizards complaining that Mr. Isdell has not been communicating with them, which was funny because she and the other four had obviously been communicating a lot with each other and nobody else before the meeting.
They also used their magical majority vote to change an earlier agreement to have the chairman and vice chairman be the points of contact between the board and Global Spectrum.
Poof! And Mr. Law became a point of contact, too, although sage attorney Ed Enoch advised against it.
"If the chairman is not competent, burn him at the stake," he said.
Oh, wait, that's not what he said. I got carried away. He said, "Remove him from office."
He also said, "I think you're making a problem for management."
The Global Spectrum fairy godfather said the company preferred one point of contact.
"That's what we do at 71 other facilities," he said.
Though he was under attack from start to finish, Mr. Isdell kept his cool until almost the end of the story.
"We are not going to micromanage this company!" he shouted. "As chairman, I am not going to allow it!"
And he huffed and he puffed, and he blew their house down.
THE UNKINDEST CUT: At a meeting last week of MCG Health Inc., the company that runs Medical College of Georgia Hospital and Clinics, Chairman Donald Leebern Jr. was surprised with a cake honoring his 70th birthday. The cake was decorated with cookies, which Mr. Leebern usually leaves the meeting with (he claims it is his only compensation for serving on the board).
The normally gregarious Mr. Leebern, who is also a member of the University System of Georgia Board of Regents, was initially at a loss for words after workers wheeled in the cake and sang Happy Birthday . Then he turned around and spotted board member Rhonda Graybeal .
"I want Rhonda to help me," he said. "Come on, help me cut this cake."
As Mrs. Graybeal came forward, Mr. Leebern added, "There's always a great lady behind every average man."
"Usually with a knife," quipped MCG President Daniel W. Rahn .
PEACH STATE VIPS: State Sen. Ed Tarver , who was at Invesco Field for Barack Obama's acceptance speech Thursday, said if seat location is any indication, Obama-Biden definitely considers Georgia to be in play. The Georgia delegates were directly in front of the podium behind Illinois and Virginia.
FOR THE BIRDS: The noise you hear coming from Augusta Regional Airport in the next few weeks won't be from jet engines. Officials are trying to stop their annual bird problems by using some pyrotechnics to divert the massive flock's flight path. The blackbirds begin to arrive in September to roost in the grassy man-made retention ponds near the wastewater treatment plant off Doug Barnard Parkway.
Airport spokeswoman Diane Johnston said they hope that by starting the fireworks early, they can divert the flock's flight path farther down the Savannah River and the airplanes won't be affected.
JUDICIAL WATCH: Bob Chaplin owns rental property in Augusta, and in the past year, thieves looking for copper and other metals have done $32,000 worth of damage to his property. They've destroyed $5,000 air conditioners to get copper they take to recycling centers and sell for $20 or $30. And quite naturally, he's frustrated and angry.
So when he caught Malcolm Favors , 23, and Renardo Emery , 25, hiding in the attic of a house he owned on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard after they'd stripped all the copper and wire and destroyed the heating and air-conditioning systems, he wanted them sent to prison. But their public defender lawyers and the district attorney worked out a negotiated plea and asked for first-offender status.
In court last week, Mr. Chaplin told Superior Court Judge Duncan Wheale , a graduate of The Citadel, that if the former late president of the school, retired four-star Gen. Mark Clark , were sitting in Judge Wheale's seat, he wouldn't give the two first-offender status.
"Well, that's what I thought," Judge Wheale said.
But there are too many felons and too few beds.
"There are 400,000 felons arrested in Georgia every year," he said. "I'd like to send them all to jail."
Judge Wheale asked Mr. Favors' mother what she'd do if Mr. Chaplin came to her house and tore out all her plumbing. She said she'd be upset but that "people make mistakes growing up."
"Breaking in somebody's house is not a mistake," the judge said.
Neither defendant had a job, nor had they ever filed an income tax statement, which sounded about right. There are 60,000 people in prison in Georgia, and 51 percent have never had a job.
The district attorney recommended eight years' probation for both, and despite Mr. Favors' two guilty pleas for other crimes in 2007, Judge Wheale sentenced them as first offenders and ordered them to get jobs within 30 days and pay Mr. Chaplin $6,610 within 12 months.
"If you mess up one time, I'm going to put you in prison for 20 years," he said.
NO BULL: Ernie and I are now the proud owners of a baby bull. He belonged to Andy Knox , whose pasture joins our property in Thomson. The bull's mama went off into the woods and died, and the poor little half-starved fellow just stands in the pasture waiting for her to return. So I called Mr. Knox and asked him whether we could buy the bull, and he said we could have him.
Now we've just got to catch him.
City Ink thanks staff writer Tom Corwin for his contribution.
Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.