It seems everyone has expensive plans for Augusta

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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 sylvia.cooper@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (17) Add comment
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No_Longer_Amazed
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No_Longer_Amazed 08/31/08 - 03:03 am
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Another study for another

Another study for another stadium? When will it ever end??

insider
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insider 08/31/08 - 07:30 am
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As usual Sylvia, make the

As usual Sylvia, make the ones that are trying to do right look bad. How much did Richard pay you this time? Tell the whole story - Richard Isdell was continually spending taxpayer dollars with his friends such as $1800.00 for the George Croft Band for the James Brown celebration without board approval - he just signs contracts and binds the board to pay for the bills he accumulates. Another $1000.00 to his friend at ASU to conduct a training in which the Legislative Delegation had told him would be free by the University of Georgia, by the way only 3 members were available to attend - sounds like a good deal to me. And let's not forget Richard calling down to arena and telling Ms. Roberts to pay the vendor for the grounds maintainance before any work was done - several thousands of dollars. Does Richard have an open checkbook to do whatever he wants? If so, then why does his actions violate the State Bylaws and the purchasing policy of the authority? So the group tied his hands and he tried to through a temper tantrum and they didn't back down - YOU GO GUYS!! IF HE MAKES A BILL NOW WITHOUT PROPER APPROVAL _ HE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE BILL - SORRY FRIENDS!

NedaKlugh
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NedaKlugh 08/31/08 - 07:53 am
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Sounds like Insider was at

Sounds like Insider was at the meeting, which one are you? Jenkins, Brown, Fennoy, McDaniel or Law? It was not up to board's approval to hire the band, they told management to hire the band, which they did...ASU board training, only 3 chose to attend, the others felt like they didn't need it... and the vendor cost was already approved by the board. One thing you interestingly forgot to say Insider was that Jenkins who made the motion (probably prepare for her "lawsuit" in regards to her affair with Brown) to pay ALL the legal fees for Fennoy in his sandbox fight with Merry and it was passed!

Mr. Law looked really tried to look nice and professional in the shirt and tie, perhaps in anticipation of the vote to make him a point of contact?

Riverman1
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Riverman1 08/31/08 - 07:56 am
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The remarks by "Insider"

The remarks by "Insider" demonstrate the authority ineptness. They want to disrupt EVERYTHING. Now the management company is going to have another person on the authority to answer to. How is it going to work when the company is told two different things by those they are supposed to answer to? Remember the company said in the other 71 facilities they manage they only answer to one person. Only in Augusta. What is the legality of the Governor disbanding the authority since our legislative delegation won't? If that fails, give it to ASU and let them run it.

SargentMidTown
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SargentMidTown 08/31/08 - 08:24 am
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Mr. Clements Camera idea is

Mr. Clements Camera idea is great. In fact every neighborhood in Augusta should have camera watch. England has low crime and many cameras.

insider
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insider 08/31/08 - 09:09 am
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NedaKlugh sound like you were

NedaKlugh sound like you were at the meeting - it is open to the public. What is the difference in Jenkins making a motion to pay Fennoy's legal fees in which a policy was passed in 1995 by the board to pay legal fees of board members in cases like Fennoy's and Richard spending unauthorized taxpayer dollars and his affair with a member on the board? Be careful NedaKlugh - you may end up in a suit too. Get all the facts instead of part of them. It was up to the board to approve the amount of the band -any purchase over $500.00 must be approved by the board-that is the POLICY- do you understand what policy means?

corgimom
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corgimom 08/31/08 - 09:28 am
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"Judge Wheale asked Mr.

"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."
They were 23 and 25 years old, respectively. And they are still growing up??????

NedaKlugh
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NedaKlugh 08/31/08 - 10:01 am
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Insider - are you saying that

Insider - are you saying that Richard is having an affair with a mamber of the board and you are telling me to be careful? The "facts" that you are stating are so bias - you must have been part of the "group" that set this all up. January can't come soon enough to abolish all of you.

bigalsc
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bigalsc 08/31/08 - 10:10 am
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I like this big arena

I like this big arena concept.Sooner or later, it nneds to dawn on Augusta that its not half way to everywhere else but in the CENTER of everywhere else -- the spoke in the wheel.

NedaKlugh
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NedaKlugh 08/31/08 - 10:37 am
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Great comment bigalsc and so

Great comment bigalsc and so true - hope it happens

North Richmond County
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North Richmond County 08/31/08 - 12:02 pm
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How come the chronicle is

How come the chronicle is always so negative. When people are trying to do something positive. Can you named a major project thats being built in a city doesn't cost millions or billions of dollars. Nothing in america is free. Anything we decide to build will cost money. Im for building a water park first. And saving the money from the trolley to build a light rail. The first leg could be from downtown to west augusta to south augusta. Then you could connect to evans, martinez, and north augusta. And aiken, hephzibah, grovetown, burke county, mcduffie county last. Just because billy morris won't profit from these ideas going downtown. Doesn't mean augusta won't benefit from them.

North Richmond County
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North Richmond County 08/31/08 - 12:06 pm
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The arena and stadium are

The arena and stadium are both good ideas. The drag strip is okay, i do think there is a market for it. The trolley system is a okay but not for augusta. Lets get some type of rail system instead of a trolley. The camera system is a wonderful idea. Alot of people especially older still have this view of downtown augusta like its 1982 and not 2008. People do need reinforcement to feel safe. I would take a waterpark being built in downtown or in hepzibah/burke county area. Savannah, or columbia don't have a water park yet. That way when people come for the master's they can bring their kids. And augusta can become a tourist attraction even when its not april

jack
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jack 08/31/08 - 01:13 pm
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A trooley to nowhere just

A trooley to nowhere just don't make sense. I guess motel guests will get free rides on it too.

North Richmond County
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North Richmond County 08/31/08 - 01:43 pm
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If you do the camera system.

If you do the camera system. People who are afraid will be helped out alot. Why don't build a rail system going through downtown instead.

No_Longer_Amazed
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No_Longer_Amazed 08/31/08 - 05:21 pm
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North Richmond County: You

North Richmond County: You ought to run for the Augusta-Richmond County Commission. You would fit right in, as from your comments on this and other forums you don't seem to have seen or heard of any taxpayer funded project that you don't like. You seem to have a special fixation on a water park!

Riverman1
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Riverman1 09/01/08 - 07:33 am
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If they put cameras downtown,

If they put cameras downtown, they better chain them down good.

The Godfather
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The Godfather 09/02/08 - 07:25 am
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Now we can see whats goin on

Now we can see whats goin on around the discoteque!!

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