Chronic nuisance ordinance becomes chronic refrain

  • Follow City Ink

The political pulse of Augusta quickened a little last week, as candidates for city commission and school board seats in the Nov. 3 election expounded on issues such as crime, race relations and, of course, the trade, exhibit and event center.

What happened to all the good bribery stories?

Anyway, on Tuesday, candidates -- or their spokesmen -- for Augusta Commission Districts 1, 3 and 5 and the District 5 seat on the Richmond County school board spoke at the Committee for Good Government meeting. On Thursday and Friday, District 1 candidates JoRae Jenkins, Matt Aitken, William Fennoy and Butch Palmer made their election pitches and answered questions at forums in Harrisburg.

HOOKERS, DEALERS AND SLUM LORDS, OH, MY: I must say there was a lot of generalization going on in Harrisburg, a lot of pie-in-the-sky idealism about bringing people together and such and few specific plans for addressing any of the city's problems, such as the quality of some of its citizenry. I don't suppose anybody can do anything about that.

Mr. Palmer, however, does have a plan he and his supporters say will clean up Augusta and drive the riff-raff out. It's called a Chronic Nuisance Property Ordinance, which I'm sure you've heard about by now. And he pounded away on it every chance he got.

In answering a question about what he planned to do for Harrisburg if elected, Mr. Palmer said the ordinance he wants Augusta commissioners to approve would address the issue of "cars coming and going, coming and going" in his neighborhood.

"We all know they're not selling Avon," he said. "They're not selling Avon! Or is that just me (who thinks that)?"

After Ms. Jenkins had answered a question about her plan for dealing with crime in Augusta by saying more neighborhood watches would help, Mr. Palmer responded to the same question by saying, "As far as neighborhood watches, when it gets as bad as it is in our neighborhood, the drug dealers and prostitutes are the neighborhood watch."

ARE YOU TALKIN' TO ME? Earlier in the week, Harrisburg resident Lori Davis asked Augusta commissioners to set up a task force to work on a Chronic Nuisance Property Ordinance, but they flicked her request off like a flea on the body politic. So Ms. Davis and the other folks from Harrisburg staged a protest outside the Marble Palace after the meeting, but it won't do them any good.

As Commissioner Joe Jackson said after the meeting, "For them to get up on their bandstand and picket the commission, you're going about it the wrong way."

In other words, don't get up on your bandstand and grandstand. That's our job.

Seriously, except for Commissioners Joe Bowles, Corey Johnson and Don Grantham, most commissioners acted sort of confused by Ms. Davis' request, like they couldn't get through their heads what the difference was between the city's existing nuisance ordinance, which deals with shacks and junk, and one that deals with drug dealers, tire squealers and hookers. Maybe they were just playing dumb. Or maybe they just don't like people from Harrisburg telling them what to do.

Truth is, they don't like anybody telling them what to do. But then who does?

AN EXERCISE IN PAIN MANAGEMENT: I'm telling you the truth, I'd almost rather have a root canal than try to get public information from the city through general counsel Chiquita Johnson's office.

Recently, I decided it was time to do an update on how much business our distinguished state Sen. J.B. Powell was doing with the city's water consultant, CH2MHill, and its companion company Operations Management International, which manages the city's wastewater treatment plant.

Then-Commissioner Powell, you will remember, was chairman of the city's public works committee in 1999 and used his influence to get the city's largest contract at the time awarded to OMI. The last time I checked, in 2004, I learned that Mr. Powell had done $2.17 million in subcontract work for OMI and its subcontractors. He also had been awarded a $600,000 contract to inspect the city's sewer system. I got that information with one simple freedom of information letter to the city.

Two weeks ago, I wrote to City Administrator Fred Russell asking for the amount of money the two companies had paid companies owned by Mr. Powell and/or his wife, Charanne, Total Maintenance Solutions and Integrated Site Solutions, since Jan. 1, 2000, which was right after Mr. Powell left the commission.

THIS WILL JUST STING A LITTLE: In a few days I received an e-mail from city staff attorney Kenneth Bray with a year-by-year breakdown of amounts CH2MHill had paid to the Powell companies from 2000 on. But since the total was only $1.9 million, less than the amount in the report I'd received six years ago, I amended the request to include the amount CH2MHill and OMI and their subcontractors had paid the Powell companies.

Last Monday, I got an e-mail from Mr. Bray saying some of the information might be in files that had been ordered from archives, some had been destroyed and some was on hand -- and it was going to cost $30.58 to get it. The law department had dumped the request on the finance department. So I e-mailed him Wednesday stating I would like to talk to him about the request because I didn't think the information is in finance department files and didn't think it was worthwhile to have them comb through piles of old bills. I asked him to call me before proceeding.

Later that day, I sent him this e-mail:

"Dear Mr. Bray,

"Since I sent you the last e-mail, I have talked to several people about who has the information I am looking for, and I was told that the city's contracts with CH2MHill and OMI call for them to share their work with local and small businesses and maintain files on that information, which is public record. I also was told that you could get this information by calling the Augusta Utilities Department and asking them to call Larry Scott for the info on CH2MHill and Gary Andrews for the information on OMI, and they could access it immediately.

"Please let me hear from you about this."

I'm still waiting.

A SMART WAY? Negotiations are under way for the city to buy the old Smartway Furniture building in Southgate Plaza on Gordon Highway and have the sheriff's offices there. Buying the property and renovating it reportedly will cost about $8 million.

OUT OF COMMISSION: After eight years of having his arm twisted by commissioners, employees and the media, Mr. Russell will go into the hospital Monday to have it repaired.

Actually, Mr. Russell injured his arm in a bicycle wreck 10 years ago and had to have a steel rod installed. Now it needs to come out. Mr. Russell said some would say they need to put it in his back now, but he was just joking.

SO FAR, SO GOOD: Last week I took a flu shot and thought I had the flu for two days afterward. I think some people think it was my imagination, but thermometers don't lie.

To make matters worse, a snake bit our latest stray pup, Honey, on her foot. I took her to Augusta Animal Emergency because it was after hours. That is really a nice place. The handsome young veterinarian, Dr. George Runnells, was very good and thorough in explaining my options. The bottom line was he offered a $200 treatment and an $800 treatment. I gambled and went for the $200 one.

Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228.

Comments (33) 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.
Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 10/11/09 - 02:07 am
0
0
Ah,, Sylvia, a great column

Ah,, Sylvia, a great column you have given us today. Yes, Mr Palmer had a lot of good zingers that night, and was the most specific on how he would address crime and cleaning up Augusta. I think this Chronic Nuisance property ordinance idea is gaining traction. Augusta needs this in some form. If the commission had approved Lori Davis' request last week, we would have a citizens task force hammering out the details right now.

Riverman1
87575
Points
Riverman1 10/11/09 - 07:31 am
0
0
Yup, that Chronic Nuisance

Yup, that Chronic Nuisance ordinance seems pretty specific to me, too. The revelations about JB Powell's business with the county reinforces (as if it were needed) the culture of corruption image the county displays often.

Junket831
0
Points
Junket831 10/11/09 - 08:11 am
0
0
Excellent commentary Sylvia!

Excellent commentary Sylvia! It seems only ethical that politicians should be barred from involvement with governments over which they have decision making power. This is the kind of situation that got Mr. Walker and others into trouble. Yes, it would limit the numbers and types of people who might run for public office. BUT, would we be better off? Probably, because the politicians would at least adhere to some ethical standard. Good luck to the Harrisburg group on their proposal for an ordinance. It will take a while but stick to your guns. This is not a problem limited to Harrisburg and there are many in Augusta that share your concern.

Brad Owens
4749
Points
Brad Owens 10/11/09 - 08:32 am
0
0
Butch deserves a try given

Butch deserves a try given his passion and dedication to making Augusta better.

Brad Owens
4749
Points
Brad Owens 10/11/09 - 08:46 am
0
0
For the record, Senator

For the record, Senator Powell did not seek a second term on the Commission BECAUSE his business, that he owned before he was on the commission, was suffering because he was not allowed to continue to do business with the county once elected. He lost 100's of thousands of dollars in business due to his serving. His position as Senator doesn't compromise his bidding with the county government. Also, Bill Khulke did MILLIONS in contracts with the county, I see no one screaming for his Republican head. I just think that EVERYONE must be looked at with the same standard. Even Republicans.

justus4
107
Points
justus4 10/11/09 - 08:54 am
0
0
'What happened to all the
Unpublished

'What happened to all the good bribery stories?" Well, the best one have not yet be printed and the false one was stuck out there all last week for comments. However, no letter-to-the-editor or speculations about the investigation of ol' Fry, whose failed attempt to bribe two elected officials is absent from any public information outlets. "We" know why, but do others? What judge will hear evidence? A secret Grand Jury inquiry maybe? Taxpayers deserve media individuals to do their job and expose corruption, which appears kinda easy, if asking the right questions. Ole J.B. and the water plant subcontractors is a typical example and could easily be a conflict of interest, resulting in leagl procedures, resulting in criminal acts. There only needs to be the courage and will to ask the hard questions. In Walker's case, "they" asked questions and went to the sky to find wrongdoing, but J.B. and his investments are extremely obvious. Minority citizens watch all this stuff and know whats happening. Let see if the AWM and truthseekers even want to know.

DEVGRU
0
Points
DEVGRU 10/11/09 - 09:03 am
0
0
Some serious policing by the

Some serious policing by the sheriff's department would drive thugs out of Harrisburg. There are enough laws on the books to do it if Sheriff Strength wants to. Maybe he is the man to be talking to.

DEVGRU
0
Points
DEVGRU 10/11/09 - 09:14 am
0
0
Justus4 is definitely an

Justus4 is definitely an expert in ebonics.

bettyboop
7
Points
bettyboop 10/11/09 - 09:18 am
0
0
LOL...justus again I will say

LOL...justus again I will say it... you sir are a "maroon" !!

Brad Owens
4749
Points
Brad Owens 10/11/09 - 09:26 am
0
0
justus4, it is not against

justus4, it is not against ANY law for public officials to do business with the government. They must make it known if they are doing said business on the same level in which they serve. It is unethical for them to use their authority to get undeserved business, like Walker did in Atlanta at Grady Hospital. Walker said if they didn't use more of his useless temps he woould withold funding from his committee for the State funded hospital. A threat he was in a position to follow through on. Now Senator Powell bids on these or they are given because he can do the work and it is well known. He doesn't vote on the money and he has no control over the process. Your comparisons and saying that they merit investigations while in the next breath defending the convicted criminal Walker rings hollow and shows you to be more interested in the race of someone instead of 'justus' being served for wrong doing.

eachoneteachone
0
Points
eachoneteachone 10/11/09 - 09:33 am
0
0
Please everyone read this HUD

Please everyone read this HUD funded strudy. It is an overview of chronic nuisance property ordinances: http://www.practitionerresources.org/cache/documents/19720.pdf

getalife
4
Points
getalife 10/11/09 - 09:40 am
0
0
Good article Sylvia!!

Good article Sylvia!!

corgimom
34732
Points
corgimom 10/11/09 - 10:22 am
0
0
"In Walker's case, "they"

"In Walker's case, "they" asked questions and went to the sky to find wrongdoing, but J.B. and his investments are extremely obvious." And Justus knows all about the Walker case, doesn't he?

Discussionstarter
495
Points
Discussionstarter 10/11/09 - 10:24 am
0
0
The Commission is a STOP sign

The Commission is a STOP sign to progress in Augusta. They need to lay their egos and racial focus aside.... and ask what they can do to serve the people of Augusta and make it a better place to live. The Mayor may not have any power but at least he could step up and start addressing issues. The Commissioners have done nothing to IMPROVE Augusta.

corgimom
34732
Points
corgimom 10/11/09 - 10:44 am
0
0
"As far as neighborhood

"As far as neighborhood watches, when it gets as bad as it is in our neighborhood, the drug dealers and prostitutes are the neighborhood watch." Butch, what a priceless remark! And it's true, unfortunately.

CorporalGripweed
0
Points
CorporalGripweed 10/11/09 - 10:44 am
0
0
Sylvia is probably right on

Sylvia is probably right on two points. Ms. Davis' proposal went right over their heads. As if they had made up their minds to table the proposal before they even read it. And secondly , it's obvious they don't like being told what to do. Sadly, most other cities who have enacted these types of ordinances did so because their Commissions saw it as necessary. They weren't prompted by the citizens at large to do so. So here's a compromise Commissioners, If it makes you feel better about yourselves, then say it was YOUR idea, enact the ordinance, pat yourselves on the back then go to lunch. We in Harrisburg (and the rest of the county for that matter) don't care who gets the credit JUST GET IT DONE!!

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 10/11/09 - 11:03 am
0
0
"We know they're not selling

"We know they're not selling Avon!".....yeah.. they're selling something white, but it's not body powder

disssman
6
Points
disssman 10/11/09 - 11:09 am
0
0
I fully understand Butch's

I fully understand Butch's plight. Every evening I sit on my patio and listen to the hoodlims blaring their music and burning their tires racing on the street behind my house. It is amazing that the entire street has turned into a ghetto in little more than two years because of section 8. I really believe it is time to require that landlords have a business license if they are renting more than one house in the county. It just makes good sence for the tax base and will ensure that owners actually take care of their property. And think of the increase in the tax base at Masters time that out of town owners would have to pay. We make owners of car washes, day cares, doctors offices and everybody else with an income producing property get a license, so why not people in the business of rental propertys?

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 10/11/09 - 11:13 am
0
0
Disssman, I think you have a

Disssman, I think you have a good point.

FallingLeaves
27
Points
FallingLeaves 10/11/09 - 11:23 am
0
0
I love that line (I had to

I love that line (I had to laugh at the coincidence) in which he says we know they are not selling Avon, because the people next to me in my last neighborhood actually had a sign up to that effect. It dawned on me not too long after we moved in that the only people coming to the house were males with droopy drawers and gangsta cars, except for the really nice little sports cars with out-of-state plates, also driven by males and they went in, came out, and didn't have any bags of Avon or anything else visible with them, not that I expected to see any. It was obvious there were transactions going on, but it is highly unlikely it was Avon Products.

Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 10/11/09 - 11:27 am
0
0
Speaking of contracts with

Speaking of contracts with county governments, does A-RC post its contracts and its external contract audits on its website? And how about Columbia County, I query rhetorically. A state-level governmental watchdog reports that CC does neither.

Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 10/11/09 - 11:31 am
0
0
By the way, the name of the

By the way, the name of the watchdog organization is Sunshine Review. Its website is "www.sunshinereview.org."

eachoneteachone
0
Points
eachoneteachone 10/11/09 - 12:02 pm
0
0
Mr Palmer said that he and

Mr Palmer said that he and Mrs. Davis had met with Sheriff Strength, George Patty who is head of zoning and Rob Sherman who is head of licensing and code enforcement. All these top ranking Richmond County officials say that Richmond County needs a Chronic Nuisance Property Ordinance!!! Please call your commissioner and let him know that you know what is going on and they you are holding them accountable.

Little Lamb
47282
Points
Little Lamb 10/11/09 - 02:01 pm
0
0
It would seem that the

It would seem that the commissioners do not want to write a chronic nuisance property ordinance because some of them, their friends, and their relatives OWN chronic nuisance properties and profit from them.

disssman
6
Points
disssman 10/11/09 - 04:17 pm
0
0
Little Lamb you are correct

Little Lamb you are correct and the by words of the day is "we wouldn't want to upset the voters if at all possible". I agree with some of the posts that suggest the sheriff start enforcing the law just a little more. What does it take to set up a radar on a street or to issue a ticket for loud stereos? Is that really all that hard to do? I would think the Harrisburg neighborhood or mine are just as important to police as the Bobby Jones highway between Peach orchard and S.C. In fact I would think if we add the units on the empty stretches of open 4 lane highways on Tobacco road with little or no traffic, we could have more neighborhood presence. And believe me neighborhood presence is what we need and not just a drive thru at 35 MPH.

t dunn
0
Points
t dunn 10/11/09 - 08:15 pm
0
0
Hey Sylvia, we have got to

Hey Sylvia, we have got to know what happened with Honey.

Discussionstarter
495
Points
Discussionstarter 10/11/09 - 08:28 pm
0
0
Whatever happened with the

Whatever happened with the Weinberger investigations and the stolen trailers?

dyomite
16
Points
dyomite 10/11/09 - 08:56 pm
0
0
why can't people that belive

why can't people that belive in the chronic nuisance ordinance get to gether and visit the commissioners down town and see if that will help. harrisburg tried but not that many people came we need more it is not just about district one it is about richmond county. if we want more bussiness to come to augusta we need to clean it up. on the empty building down town the people that own them they need to fix the up or sell them. but we as a tax payers need to see it done. make the owners pay more tax on the empty buildings and see if they we sell the property. or fix it up.

dyomite
16
Points
dyomite 10/11/09 - 09:01 pm
0
0
hope every one enjoyed the

hope every one enjoyed the greek fest. it was very nice. during the ruff time with money and all it is nice to go somewhere that is free to get into and see the dancing and the beautiful music.taste some of the food and enjoyed the music. it is hard to go to the different fest. when you pay to get in and then have to buy food and trinkets. thank you to the greek community.

eachoneteachone
0
Points
eachoneteachone 10/11/09 - 10:53 pm
0
0
The Bethlehem neighborhood

The Bethlehem neighborhood was destroyed because of drugs and thugs. If a chronic nuisance property ordinance would have been around twenty years ago Bethlehem would still be viable. Betty Beard is a sick woman not to cheer for a Richmond County chronic nuisance property ordinance. She obviously has so much bitterness because of what happened to Bethlehem She wants destruction for other Richmond County Neighborhoods!

Back to Top

Top headlines

Search of alleged dealer's home found drugs, firearms

An Augusta man who alleged sheriff's officers have used illegal steroids, some for years, came to the attention of a Richmond County Sheriff's narcotics officer twice, according to an ...
Search Augusta jobs