Taxpayers' new $10,000 headache

  • Follow Editorials

There seems to be no end to Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority's stubbornness and stupidity. The panel makes one bad mistake, then compounds it by doubling down.

Meanwhile, taxpayers are groaning under the burden, and the local legislative delegation should be kicking themselves for not abolishing this reckless institution when they had the chance earlier this year.

The latest flap involves the embarrassing rumble some weeks ago between Authority member William Fennoy and community activist Woody Merry. Both men were charged with misdemeanor simple battery and were urged in Magistrate Court to apologize, shake hands and get on with their lives. But Fennoy would have none of it, insisting on going to trial. So both men pleaded not guilty and await a trial date for later this month in Richmond County State Court.

Fennoy might not have been so eager to go to court if he had to pay with his own money. But a majority of his Coliseum colleagues let him off the hook, voting for taxpayers to fund his defense. The first bill paid to Fennoy's attorney, Evita Paschal, was $3,000 to represent him in Magistrate Court.

A second bill, presumably in preparation for the state court trial, was for $10,000 -- so the board majority approved not just doubling down, but tripling down. Another vote was not necessary, said member Janice Jenkins, because they'd already approved paying Fennoy's tab last month.

So, it seems, however much Paschal charges for her services, the Coliseum board will pay it. She must feel like she's won the lottery. Astonishingly, her $10,000 bill itemized no particulars concerning the "extensive research" she claimed she did, such as hourly rates or times spent interviewing witnesses.

Chronicle staffers Sylvia Cooper and Sandy Hodson checked with a number of other area attorneys on what it usually costs to defend a misdemeanor simple battery charge. Suffice it to say none came close to $10,000. The lead defense attorney for rapist-serial killer Renaldo Rivera charged the city only $15,000.

Hopefully, this unnecessary and expensive case will be one more nail in the Coliseum Authority's coffin when lawmakers convene in January.

It was a huge mistake not to put this relic of a board out of its misery this year. It would be a willful neglect of duty if they don't do it next year.

Comments (16) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
pofwe
5
Points
pofwe 10/01/08 - 05:54 am
0
0
It used to be a badge of

It used to be a badge of honor to serve on a civil panel or commission that oversees the business of the people. Now egos and personal prejudices have priority over what is the "right thing" to do for the public. Why do the "honorable members" of these panels of authority allow their cohorts to embarrass them while in session? Why do the elected representatives allow their appointees to show their ignorant hostilities, and personal vendettas, (i.e., roaming around the halls of the facility while NOT attending a meeting, that is in session, when taxpayers money is paying them to attend). This is what Woody was asking the "HOT HEAD, William Fennoy when Fennoy lost his "so-called 'cool'" and reacted violently toward a concerned citizen. At the risk of Political Correctness, I'll just say, "serve" is the word that needs to be re-incorporated by those that are appointed or elected. Many of these folks are popular within their "hoods" but have no idea what it means to be a servant of the people; except you get free gas, a stipend, and perhaps a Sconyers Bar-b-cue "sammige" on occassion. I submit this is their ilk, especially Fennoy.

christian134
1
Points
christian134 10/01/08 - 06:03 am
0
0
Wow and what is it that

Wow and what is it that people don't understand when it comes to highway robbery and granting those that commit said robbery a pat on the back and an "atta boy"...Seems it is kind of like the story of the woman going to the mechanics and opening her checkbook stating "take it all" for I am stupid and more stupid...We, the taxpayer, are the woman in question and the mechanic happens to be the coliseum board members...Disband that board and make Fennoy pay his own lawyers fees...

patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 10/01/08 - 06:31 am
0
0
The coliseum needs to go the

The coliseum needs to go the way of the GGHoF so something constructive can be done with the property. At least the commission would be gone.

jsterett
0
Points
jsterett 10/01/08 - 07:10 am
0
0
"Many of these folks are

"Many of these folks are popular within their "hoods" but have no idea what it means to be a servant of the people; except you get free gas, a stipend, and perhaps a Sconyers Bar-b-cue "sammige" on occassion. I submit this is their ilk, especially Fennoy.
Posted by pofwe on Wed Oct 1, 2008 5:54AM " ....................................................................................... Careful, careful...... somebody is going to accuse you of being RACIST.

jsterett
0
Points
jsterett 10/01/08 - 07:19 am
0
0
".........make Fennoy pay his

".........make Fennoy pay his own lawyers fees.................
Posted by christian134 on Wed Oct 1, 2008 6:03 AM "............................Wait a minute......Maybe slappin people around is in his Coliseum Authority board member job description......Don't be too hasty.

christian134
1
Points
christian134 10/01/08 - 07:37 am
0
0
Let these people who are on

Let these people who are on the taxpayers dime pay their own way...What part of that comment isterett do you not understand?...

Little Lamb
45206
Points
Little Lamb 10/01/08 - 07:46 am
0
0
Ed Tarver was the state

Ed Tarver was the state senator who scuttled the legislation, carefully crafted by our delegation in the House, to re-structure the Coliseum Authority and get some legislative oversight. After the House passed the bill, Tarver pulled his support and caused the bill to die in the Senate. Tarver cannot be counted on. Vote for John Butler.

mgroothand
5
Points
mgroothand 10/01/08 - 07:52 am
0
0
I would still like to know

I would still like to know who is paying Woody Merry's legal bills. If he has to pay his own, would that not be discriminatory?

I4PUTT
5
Points
I4PUTT 10/01/08 - 08:31 am
0
0
Why don't we all chip in on

Why don't we all chip in on Woody's defense. Then if we win with Woody, we can sue Fennoy in civil court and name the authority as co defendants. In effect, suing ourselves for money for Woody. This is really dumb.

Reality
3
Points
Reality 10/01/08 - 08:35 am
0
0
I can't understand why he is

I can't understand why he is still on the Authority, let alone having his bills paid by them.....I am assuming Fennoy is Afro-American, otherwise there wouldn't be a payout....Say what you want, the truth is the truth.

mgroothand
5
Points
mgroothand 10/01/08 - 09:15 am
0
0
Reality: Of course Fennoy is

Reality: Of course Fennoy is black, if this squabble had been between two members of the same race it would have blown over when it started.

getalife
4
Points
getalife 10/01/08 - 09:56 am
0
0
When at the court hearing

When at the court hearing Fennoy did not agree to shake hands and forget the issue, at that point he should be held responsible for all future lawyer costs. Someone on the coliseum committee should require a detailed bill from Paschal if they are going to pay it.

critter
2
Points
critter 10/01/08 - 10:17 am
0
0
Just goes to show, use a gun

Just goes to show, use a gun to rob a single person of $20 and they send you to jail. Use your position to rob the public of $20,000, and chances are they'll wind up giving you an award.

mgroothand
5
Points
mgroothand 10/01/08 - 10:48 am
0
0
getalife: You make a very

getalife: You make a very valid point in your first sentence. As far as a detailed bill from Paschal, of course you're right. Only the "if they're going to pay it" is wrong and the crux of this mess. "They" are not going to pay it, you and I and the other taxpayers in RC are going to pay it.

jack
10
Points
jack 10/01/08 - 02:39 pm
0
0
The CA should demand an

The CA should demand an itemized bill for services of Paschal and if not provided, file a complaint with the Georgia Bar Association.every attorney keeps (or should) and provides such records. BTW, does Pashal happen to be black like the RC banana?

mgroothand
5
Points
mgroothand 10/01/08 - 03:52 pm
0
0
You're not really thinking

You're not really thinking "in cahoots" or favoritism, or lack of ethics are you JACK? I'm not really sure whether Evita Paschal is black or not, either way she needs to be investigated thoroughly by the GA bar. First $3000 then $10,000 are nice round figures. Then also attorneys never overcharge do they? Wonder what her hourly rate is? At $200/hour she would have to have spent 65 billable hours on a minor case.

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs