Santa needs big sleigh for politicians' gifts
By Sylvia Cooper| Columnist
Sunday, December 06, 2009
Correction, December 6, 2009: Sunday's City Ink column incorrectly identified Richmond County Board of Education member Barbara Pulliam. (Highlight changes)

Santa came a little early this year for Matt Aitken , bringing him the votes to win the District 1 Augusta Commission seat. It was sort of like the Miracle on 34th Street when the votes came in from the Julian Smith Casino precincts and wrapped up the victory for him. Actually, it was more like the Miracle on Reynolds Street, if you get my drift. And his stunning victory, no doubt, left defeated candidate William Fennoy dreaming of a white Christmas.

Now that that election's behind us, we can start looking forward to the Jan. 5 special election for the District 22 state Senate seat -- involving Democrats Harold Jones, Hardie Davis , Suetta Cannon Scott and Libertarian Taylor Bryant -- and to Christmas shopping.

If I were shopping for Mr. Jones, who gave up the Richmond County State Court solicitor's job, and Mr. Davis, who resigned his District 122 Georgia House seat to run for Ed Tarver's vacant seat, I'd give each a bird in hand, which is worth two in the bush.

I'd give the rest of the state legislators a chaperone to accompany them to Atlanta during the legislative session to keep telephone poles out of their paths -- along with lobbyists. On the other hand, I might just give them all a harem or a big Atlanta gas light, though they probably already have one.

SHOPPING LOCALLY: I'd give Augusta Commissioner Joe Bowles a paddling for back-talking the teacher. And for Commissioner Betty Beard, a copy of Richard Simmons' Sweatin' to the Oldies, which she can give instead of a $20,000 check for a gastric bypass to the next obese person who asks her for help.

Commissioner Corey Johnson needs a year's supply of Rogaine, and Commissioner Jimmy Smith needs lipreading lessons so he can understand what Commissioner Don Grantham is telling him during meetings. Mr. Johnson, Mayor Pro Tem Alvin Mason , Commissioner J.R. Hatney and Commissioner-elect Bill Lockett need sign language lessons because Mr. Fennoy said that if Mr. Aitken were elected they would be "voiceless."

Mayor Deke Copenhaver needs a real job so he won't have to take bit parts in movies. Commissioner Jerry Brigham would get a spot on The Biggest Loser.

I'd give "Al Capone" Grantham a baseball bat so he could teach Mr. Bowles he's not untouchable the next time he doesn't vote as he was told.

City Administrator Fred Russell needs a bridge loan from federal TARP funds, but if that's not possible, just a bridge will do. Commissioner Calvin Holland would get the copy of Mr. Russell's computer hard drive he's always wanted and a free membership to the Patch.

Mr. Mason would get a soapbox from which to announce his campaign for mayor/state rep/senator/governor/president.

Mr. Hatney would get a joke book for all the times he says, "I'm not trying to be funny ..."

City Attorney Chiquita Johnson would get a telephone listing of all the Augusta lawyers so she can stop spending Augusta tax dollars on Atlanta lawyers. Staff Attorney Andrew McKenzie would get a route map so he could avoid being thrown under the bus again by Ms. Johnson.

I'll get Sheriff Ronnie Strength a DVD of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (one of Ernie's favorite movies).

I'd buy Shadow Government founder Woody Merry some Ritalin and a copy of the Warren Commission report. District 1 commission candidate Butch Palmer, who was accused of pointing a gun at a "pharmaceutical salesman" with a penchant for loud music, would get some shotgun shells -- two boxes.

The Rev. Alexander Smith, who said a white candidate shouldn't be allowed to run in District 1, would get a copy of the Rev. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech and a copy of the Constitution.

I'd like to give Richmond County Superintendent Dana Bedden a $15,000 bonus for doing such a good job. But wait! He already got one. Some people are so hard to shop for. But the teachers could all use an ice chest because Dr. Bedden and the board have banned their minifridges.

I'd also like to give board member Barbara Pulliam some of that unusual magenta-colored dye she uses, but I wouldn't begin to know where to find it.

If I can find one, I'll give member Frank Dolan, who insists something is awry with the athletic equipment purchases, a copy of Just Because You're Paranoid, Doesn't Mean They're Not Out To Get You .

Member Jimmy Atkins, who is scandalized by the skimpy outfits cheerleaders, band members and the color guard wear at athletic events, needs some blinders.

CROSSING THE LINE: In Columbia County, Commission Chairman Ron Cross needs a new development, and Commissioner Charles Allen, who promised to freeze taxes if he was elected, needs a new freezer.

Columbia County banker/Commissioner Ron Thigpen would love to have some higher interest rates.

But the whole commission might need a tin cup if it loses the $55 million lawsuit the developers of Marshall Square are pursuing against it for rejecting the development.

Now that Georgia House Speaker Glenn Richardson has resigned, former state Rep. Barry Fleming, who moonlights as his attorney, might need to find another side gig.

We might think about finding school board member Mike Sleeper a bodyguard seeing as how while serving as campaign chairman last year for Scott Dean's county commission race he nearly got into fisticuffs with Mr. Dean's opponent, David Payne, and now Mr. Payne says he's going to challenge Mr. Dean again.

REPUBLICAN RUMBLE: Columbia County Republican Party members need some boxing gloves to settle their fights, and Chairman Lawrence Hammond needs an armored car to go to the special meeting where he will hear complaints lodged against him.

In a message to party members, Mr. Hammond said 4th District Vice Chairman Jim Bartley and nine others had called a special meeting to hear complaints against him. Mr. Hammond said that panel was not properly appointed.

He said he has no problem going before the county committee to rebut his accusers' "ridiculous charges."

In an ethics complaint against Mr. Hammond, Mr. Bartley said the chairman had failed to carry out his professional duties and responsibilities. In her ethics complaint, Nita Boeglen accused Mr. Hammond of distributing information not approved by the board. Pat Goodwin said Mr. Hammond had distributed inaccurate and false information to elected officials.

Sounds like a fun group full of Christmas cheer.

Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228.

From the Sunday, December 06, 2009 edition of the Augusta Chronicle
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