Now it's time to reboot

The state has had its final say on the current incarnation of the Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority.

Of course, why the state should even have a say in a local events facility is a question that has yet to be satisfactorily answered.

Still, what needed to be done has been done, through the pen of Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue. He signed House Bill 813, which dissolves the current Coliseum Authority effective 11:59 p.m. May 31. A slimmed-down, seven member authority will replace it.

The antics that have emanated from the authority in the past year or so could have forced a rewriting of the dictionary's entry for "dysfunction."

Board members shouting profanities at one another. The members' walkout in the wake of the sudden firings of the authority's accountant and attorney. The fiscal dithering that corkscrewed the civic center into the ground financially.

And when a confrontation last May between authority member William Fennoy and citizen activist Woody Merry came to blows -- for many, that was the final straw.

Soon after, the Augusta Commission passed a resolution calling for all authority members to resign, and Augusta's state legislative delegation later started crafting the bill to oust the authority.

Then last month came the eleventh-hour letter to the governor, co-written by seven outgoing authority members and one former member, that accused several state legislators of meddling in the authority's affairs -- particularly to keep a general manager who was later fired, and to hire a promoter to spearhead the building of an unwanted new sports arena.

The members' account of events has been disputed by the legislative delegation's chairman, Rep. Quincy Murphy. But the very fact that these claims came to light underscores the question we asked earlier: Why is the state even involved in the purely local doings of a local enterprise such as the civic center complex?

Is it all about wielding power, or feeding egos, or controlling money? Suspicions about all those things are there -- none of which is pleasant to contemplate.

But the operation of the Coliseum Authority clearly has become too politicized, and whatever meddling might have been done in the authority's affairs certainly hasn't helped any -- despite all the good that some authority members have tried to do.

What has come to pass is for the best. The "reset" button has been pressed, and hopefully the Coliseum Authority will be repopulated with more cooler-headed consensus-builders who have the skill sets and business backgrounds to make sound decisions about arena management.

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