Sports comparisons rally to rescue administrator

  • Follow City Ink

I dropped by City Administrator Fred Russell's office last week to see how he was holding up with so many people blaming him for things they should be blaming the commissioners for, such as the $93,750 buyout of General Counsel Chiquita Johnson.

He was sort of glum and started comparing his job to that of a football coach. A coach works hard but ultimately has to depend on his players, and when they fumble the Monday morning quarterbacks want to fire the coach, he said.

Having once been a football coach's wife, I could relate, but it was kind of a tired analogy, so I said, "Let's compare it to another game."

"Skeet shooting?" he posited. "Throw it up in the air and see what gets shot down.

"Archery? Always walking around with a target on your back. And somebody always has the bow pulled.

"Maybe kayaking? Always in rough water, and you never know when you're going to turn over or bang up against a big rock."

"What about baseball?" I said.

"Three strikes and you're out, or in this case six," he said. "Or being a goalie on a hockey team. You stand there, trying to protect the goal, and people are throwing things at you 120 miles an hour. They all have sticks, too."

"What about horse racing?" I said.

"Sometimes you're just along for the ride," he said. "Or bull riding. You have to hang on, and you realize it's nothing but a big bunch of bull."

Yes, like people blaming him for the Johnson fiasco although it wasn't his decision to hire her as general counsel.

Most commissioners were hell-bent to get the in-house legal department in total control and away from Stephen Shepard's firm after they fired their first general counsel, Eugene Jessup. They promoted Ms. Johnson although it didn't take exceptional mental acuity to know she was trouble on a stick.

Only Commissioner Jerry Brigham voted against hiring her.

SPARE THE ROD: Commissioner Joe Jackson said he doesn't plan to arrange another dinner meeting of the board at Villa Europa or anywhere else, but if he does he'll invite the media and all 10 commissioners, not just seven.

CAPITAL CAPITOL NEWS: Augusta-area Republicans breathed a sigh of relief when new Georgia House Speaker David Ralston announced his committee assignments last week, leaving Rep. Ben Harbin chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee.

Speculation was rampant that Mr. Harbin might be replaced because of a 2007 DUI allegation. And to make the cheese more binding, the speaker appointed Rep. Barbara Sims, of Augusta, to that committee, which will strengthen Augusta's voice in Atlanta for the support of the Medical College of Georgia. However, many Republicans were angry that Mr. Ralston did not remove Rep. Bob Lane, R-Bulloch County, as chairman of the Game, Fish and Parks Committee, as punishment for donating $1,000 of his campaign money to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Roy Barnes . The money was donated to Mr. Lane by Republicans.

SHOOTING STRAIGHT: Butch Palmer, a recent candidate for the District 1 Augusta Commission seat, is still trying to rid Harrisburg of riffraff. He said all the decent Augusta urban dwellers he knows have concealed-weapons permits and are in a dilemma about what to do with their guns when they go to North Augusta.

"We all shop and eat out in North Augusta (Augusta's best asset) but, to go there we have to leave our blighted neighborhoods to make the treacherous ride through this shantytown onto Broad Street to the Fifth Street or the 13th Street bridges," he said. "... Once we start across one of the North Augusta gateway bridges begins our dilemma. We are decent law-abiding citizens, and we know we cannot carry our guns into North Augusta, which is in the neighboring state of South Carolina.

"A weapons checkpoint on the Georgia side of both of the bridges would be a good idea, but the chaos we face in Richmond makes a weapons checkpoint a pipe dream.

"North Augusta Mayor Lark Jones, a brilliant man, may be able to help us if he knew of our troubled situation. Do you think that he might grant special permission to our few inner-city law-abiding citizens to keep our weapons in our cars while we patronize North Augusta? Of course we will assure Mayor Jones that we feel safe and do not have any need, want or desire to carry weapons through North Augusta, but we are faced with the problems of the logistics of getting from our crime zones to his beautiful city of refuge."

So the only thing Mr. Palmer is likely to run for in the future is North Augusta.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? I'm always looking for column ideas, and someone suggested I see what happened to some former politicians or political candidates. So I got to work.

Before I knew it, I had enough info for two columns even though I still hadn't found Moses Todd, Napoleon Jenkins and several others. So I will do some now.

Jack Connell: Mr. Connell was in the Legislature for 34 years, serving as speaker pro tem of the Georgia House for 28, thereby becoming the longest-serving speaker pro tem in the nation. He retired in 2002 and actively ran his businesses in Augusta until recently, when he became a resident of the Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home, although he spends holidays and special occasions at home, according to his wife, Nan.

When he retired from the Legislature, he "missed it terribly" and still does, she said.

Marion Williams: Mr. Williams served two terms as Augusta's District 2 commissioner and campaigned for his successor, Corey Johnson, whom he plans to run against and defeat this fall. The only good thing about that: I wouldn't have to worry about who would be Turkey of the Year in 2011.

Barry Fleming: He lost his job as attorney for Georgia House Speaker Glenn Richardson when Mr. Richardson resigned, but has been hired as general counsel for new Speaker David Ralston.

Mr. Fleming was chairman of the Columbia County Commission in 2002 when he stepped down to run for the House of Representatives. When the Republicans became the majority, they elected Mr. Fleming majority whip, the No. 3 person in the House. Then in 2008 he resigned to run for Congress against Paul Broun and lost.

Mr. Fleming said public service is in his blood. His father was chairman of the Columbia County Board of Education for 12 years and a city councilman in Harlem.

"So I'm sure I'll run again," he said. "They say the only cure for politics is embalming fluid."

Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228

Comments (39) 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.
AnotherPerspective
0
Points
AnotherPerspective 01/17/10 - 01:21 am
0
0
We need Sylvia to run for

We need Sylvia to run for political office. We need someone to inject a dose of some good ole common sense into our government.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 01/17/10 - 01:29 am
0
0
Lori Davis needs to run for

Lori Davis needs to run for office

Riverman1
83896
Points
Riverman1 01/17/10 - 07:42 am
0
0
Sylvia missed throwing the

Sylvia missed throwing the yellow flag with Fred Russell. It's revealing to learn in the Chronicle today that he is the one who "pushed" for these unheard of large severance packages. The most revealing aspect is that he fixed it so he will get one too!!! I've taken up for him in the past and remember how he got the job amid all the turmoil, but this is wrong. It appears we have drafted many of the wrong players for our fantasy football team, compared to other cities...and we have to pay them off in real cash. Fix this problem NOW so no one else gets cash when we get rid of them. Make them sign that they get nothing or send them on their way to the arena football league.

ONLY THE TRUTH
2
Points
ONLY THE TRUTH 01/17/10 - 08:56 am
0
0
Our do nothing legislative

Our do nothing legislative "team" likes keeping locals (competition) from having too much power--so they keep the status quo!!! They couldn't even play a game of baseball---[filtered word]

spunkygirl
0
Points
spunkygirl 01/17/10 - 10:56 am
0
0
When Butch Palmer cleans up

When Butch Palmer cleans up Harrisburg, he can come over to "old dirty south Augusta". Gordon Hwy. is not the only crime ridden section in South Augusta as several of those moving from Gilbert Manor. relocated there. Yes, the Medical College finally found a way to get rid of the Projects in their back yard and now they're in mine's and I don't like it one bit. Sylvia, perhaps if you were to do a piece on "slum lords" (absentee land lords), it might get the attention of the "power brokers" at the White Place. West Augusta would never tolerate the elementthat seems to infest South Augusta. The Deansbrige section between Wheeler Rd and Golden Camp is almost not recognizabe due to the rif raf that have invaded the neighborhood. All the business have left and those remaining are public drug dens under the guise of "car wash". I am hopeful that the newly electede commisioner for ditrict five will keep his campaign promises. Many of us is depending on him to help reclaim our neighborhoods!

NANF
4
Points
NANF 01/17/10 - 11:16 am
0
0
Butch Palmer is too funny.

Butch Palmer is too funny. He should write a book. Carry on Butch.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 01/17/10 - 02:39 pm
0
0
NANF.. I think that may be in

NANF.. I think that may be in the works. I'm sure it would be an enjoyable read.

thewiz0oz
9
Points
thewiz0oz 01/17/10 - 04:04 pm
0
0
The CONSOLIDATION CHARTER

The CONSOLIDATION CHARTER created a strong Commission & weak everyone else. Drafted by Senator Charles Walker and carried through the Georgia House by Representative Robin Williams the Charter was intended to create gridlock and needing a power broker to control things behind the scene. Charles Walker saw himself as being that power broker. The Administrator is actually more of a consultant than a manager who has direct responsibility over City Managers who currently do not report to him. The Administrator should report directly to the Mayor & have the reporting responsibility for City managers. The Mayor, who is the only member of the Commission elected city-wide, should have the authority to dismiss an administrator subject to a majority vote of the Commission. The Mayor should have other authority & responsibility. Currently, with 10 bosses running City Government we have no single person responsible with authority. The answer is to fix our CONSOLIDATION CHARTER. This RESPONSIBILITY LIES AT THE FEET OF THE VOTERS AS THEY ELECT OUR legislative delegation. If our current legislators do not have the will to fix the CONSOLIDATION CHARTER they need to step aside for leaders who wil.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 01/17/10 - 04:17 pm
0
0
Many of us knew this was a

Many of us knew this was a recipe for disaster from day one..but The Chronicle was one of the bioggest cheerleaders of this flawed consolidation. Don't forget Don Grantham was a key figure in the negotiations. All of the typical Civic Boosters kept telling us how we just had do this regardless of the obvious flaws in teh structure.. that being suddenly the second largest city in the state would bring Augusta more clout and usher in an era of progress.. yeah that really turned out well didn't it?

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 01/17/10 - 04:24 pm
0
0
We had a very competent city

We had a very competent city administrator in Randy Oliver.. But he had opposition on both sides. He was the wrong color for some commissioners, then he ran afoul of The Morris machine when he dared question the supposed "deal" Paul S Simon was presenting to the commission for the city to forgive the $7.5 million loan they had obtained to build the Radisson. Oliver, being independent and looking at the issue objectively.. saw that it was no deal at all for the city.. and plainly said so.. that certainly ruffled some feathers. So now they have Russell.. who is a yes-man and won't question a darn thing.

thewiz0oz
9
Points
thewiz0oz 01/17/10 - 04:45 pm
0
0
I supported Consolidation at

I supported Consolidation at the time. The City had loss half its population in 30 years & had the responsibility under Federal guidelines to support subsidized housing projects. With a significant funding base gone & increased cost to operate the city was going bankrupt. Its only option was to expand city borders which drew lawsuits from the County with the taxpayer paying both sides of the litigation. Meanwhile, the County government was ethically challenged with significant waste taking place. The 1988 Consolidation Bill which was approved by the City & County was challenged by Moses Todd & Company resulting in the Justice Department torpedoing it. Even Charles Walker, who took the 1995 bill to Atlanta, was surprised when it passed. His creation of racial gridlock has prevented it from being fixed until this date. Looking back, annexation would have been the best solution but status-quo at the time was not acceptable.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 01/17/10 - 05:15 pm
0
0
I supported annexation. It

I supported annexation. It would have been much better in the long run. What we essentially got with consolidation was a complete dissolution of the city government replaced by a county commission. being the second largest city on paper doesn't mean anything if you are left with a fatally flawed system of government. And look at the results.. since consolidation.. Ruchmond county has lost population. The supposed rennaissance that was hyped by boosters never materialized. By the way.. many leaders in the black community did support annexation. That would have been the best route to take.

thewiz0oz
9
Points
thewiz0oz 01/17/10 - 06:01 pm
0
0
From what I remember the

From what I remember the process of annexing out Washington Road around the Augusta National went well but the Justice Department required for parts of East Augusta to be included to keep the racial balance in place. The problems seemed to come from the County's reluctance to concede the high tax income portions without a fight, resulting in litigation. I don't remember the exact cause of annexation being terminated but I assumed the legal aspect were the cause. The 1988 Consolidation Bill which passed was one that would create a more functional government. Don't remember the details but Moses Todd once bragged to me that he & a handful of voters went to Washington & trumped the wishes of the thousands who supported it. Well, we have what we have & it was better than having a bankrupt city which would have hurt the entire trade area. Hopefully the current Consolidation Charter can be amendended to give us a government structure similar to what the more successful cities have. The Legislative Delegation is the key to giving the voters the right to vote on this.

Riverman1
83896
Points
Riverman1 01/17/10 - 07:15 pm
0
0
For annexation wouldn't more

For annexation wouldn't more than half of those voting from the area to be annexed have to vote for it? I think that's the case and it is highly unlikely West Augusta would have voted to join the city.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 01/17/10 - 07:47 pm
0
0
well for consolidation to

well for consolidation to pass more than half of the people in the old city limits had to approve it as well as a majority of those in the county. Not much difference really, actually the political threshold for annexation is easier to cross, but was not really pursued becaus ethe power brokers were hell bent on consolidation because it would give Augusta the sexy title of 2nd largest city, even if it meant making a deal with the devil (Cholly Walker). Annexation would have been the smarter route.. it was not opposed like consolidation was in the black community.. but it was not really pursued.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 01/17/10 - 07:51 pm
0
0
but the thing is.. south

but the thing is.. south richmond was forced into this arrangement and have always resented it. Annexation could have just included the urbanized portions of the county on the city and leave the more rural areas as the county government.

Riverman1
83896
Points
Riverman1 01/17/10 - 07:59 pm
0
0
I wish we had the voting by

I wish we had the voting by district for the 1995 consolidation referendum. It would be interesting to see how it went.

Harrisburgsurvivor
2
Points
Harrisburgsurvivor 01/17/10 - 08:31 pm
0
0
Sylvia, I can depend on you

Sylvia, I can depend on you to inform and entertain me. Thank you. The line about Mr. Palmer running for Noth Augusta was a hoot! What is sad id the grains of truth that are in Mr. Palmers' rantings.

athome
92
Points
athome 01/17/10 - 11:47 pm
0
0
Mr. Palmer should check into

Mr. Palmer should check into states with reciprocity which issue permits for non residents. Those of us in SC can obtain a Florida or New Hampshire permit based on our SC home state permit. GA recognizes those 2 atates permits (but not SC) so we can cross the bridges, still be legal, and defend ourselves.

blues550
376
Points
blues550 01/18/10 - 09:09 am
0
0
Is Butch Palmer shooting
Unpublished

Is Butch Palmer shooting straight an ozy-moron?

windsor41
0
Points
windsor41 01/18/10 - 10:35 am
0
0
small town with small minds

small town with small minds running it.AUGUSTA.

Newsreader
11
Points
Newsreader 01/18/10 - 11:02 am
0
0
Palmer's first chapter will

Palmer's first chapter will be the "The Good, the Gay, and the Elected".

Harrisburgsurvivor
2
Points
Harrisburgsurvivor 01/18/10 - 01:30 pm
0
0
Newsreader This is from a

Newsreader This is from a previous comment from you

" I agree with the Mayor, take the high road. To paraphase scripture, as for me and my family, we will take the Lord's way. As for Austin Rhodes, the ratings speak for themselves. If you do not want to hear the trash he spews, then readjust your radio.&#0133"

Obviously, your remark about Mr. Palmer shows that you are a loose jawed hypocrite. I assure that you are passing on hypocritical family "values". Common!

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 01/18/10 - 02:30 pm
0
0
what's an "ozy moron"?

what's an "ozy moron"?

Harrisburgsurvivor
2
Points
Harrisburgsurvivor 01/19/10 - 12:32 am
0
0
blues550.... Are you trying

blues550.... Are you trying to say oxymoron ? Please check your spelling because it makes appear moronic and your attempted contextual content pegs you as being trite.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 01/19/10 - 02:16 am
0
0
me thinks blues550 has a

me thinks blues550 has a crush on Butch Palmer or is just jealous

amt560
0
Points
amt560 01/19/10 - 11:53 am
0
0
elect Alan Tanner, to the 8th

elect Alan Tanner, to the 8th district county commission. Why?
In the last splost, 10 million for a downtown symphony district 1, 2.5 mill for private college district 1, 3 mill for a lake at regency mall, district 5, district 8, nothing. thank to Jimmy Socks Smith who said "the only thing south augusta has is sewer plant and a garbage dump, and we deserve better." He said you have to go to washington road to buy a pair of socks. This is the kind of person who is supposed to be working for district 8. Thank God Smith cannot run again in 2010, but if the same people who jimmy cares most about will need someone from that camp.
Alan Tanner is the only one who will work for the 8th district and has sign a pledge of 15 things he will do when elected. If you want the last of the SSM gone and new start vote Tanner

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 01/19/10 - 03:10 pm
0
0
Does Alan Tanner have a

Does Alan Tanner have a website up yet? I'd be interested in reading his platform. South Augusta definately deserves better representation. It has not been getting that. I don't live in the district but would be willing to help out in any way I can.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 01/19/10 - 03:11 pm
0
0
Lori Davis for mayor and Alan

Lori Davis for mayor and Alan Tanner for Dist 8. I like the sound of that.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 01/19/10 - 04:39 pm
0
0
btw.. sylvia is a local

btw.. sylvia is a local treasure

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs