Sometimes, politicians and other city officials aren’t lying when they flip-flop or tell whoppers. They’re just delusional.
Two weeks ago, when Augusta commissioners were discussing what to do about the proposed gateway sculptures for Riverwatch Parkway and Alexander Drive, Mayor Pro Tem Sean Frantom said they should stop the process and start over because his constituents had rejected both finalists.
“For us to put anything other than golf in District 7 on Riverwatch in my opinion is kind of a travesty because that’s what we’re known for,” he said.
King Mayor Hardie Davis’s impassioned response included a call for commissioners to move forward with one of the proposed finalists in the Greater Augusta Arts Council gateway sculpture competition, and he challenged everybody to be “bigger” and “bolder” and to understand that not everybody likes golf.
While Augusta might be the golf capital of the universe, he said, it is city of diversity and inclusion, a city of people, many of whom had never held a golf club.
“We are a city of African Americans. We are a city of Latinos. We are a city of Chicanos, etcetera. And as such, this is a unique time in our city’s history to take that next step forward. And while this proposed sculpture doesn’t have Tiger Woods with his arms raised high after winning the Masters, there is a distinct connection to golf with the proposed sculpture.”
Then lo and behold! When the matter of what to do about the finalists in the Riverwatch sculpture competition came up again Tuesday, Davis said he’s going to be asking the community to support a statue of Tiger Woods.
“And I think it’s fitting and proper to have this city where Tiger Woods returned to prominence raise the resources to have a bronze sculpture with him with his hands raised on the 18th green to be put in its most fitting and proper location,” he said.
He must have gotten a call from the Augusta National.
Blowing More Smoke
In Friday’s edition of The Augusta Chronicle, Staff Writer Susan McCord attended a commission budget meeting and wrote the following about Fire Chief Chris James request:
“James’ budget request for nine EMS lieutenants at a cost of $577,118 gave the commissioners pause, as about half of them disagree with expanding city involvement with EMS, a service contracted out to Gold Cross.
James said the additions are “not a ploy” to increase city EMS service but would likely go to pay existing staff to ensure an incident commander is on each city ambulance.
The positions also create a career path for firefighters interested in doing EMS work, he said.”
James’ comment that the additions are “not a ploy” is definitely a whopper. And on a Whoppermeter scale of from 1 to 10, it’s a 10.
He already has a Sergeant, a front-line supervisor on every ambulance. Why would he need two? Does the sheriff’s office have a supervisor in every single vehicle? Does the Marshal’s office have a supervisor in every single vehicle? Does the utilities department have a supervisor in every single vehicle?
The truth is that James wants to stockpile a staff and get more ambulances to try to take over EMS from current provider Gold Cross. Commissioner Sammie Sias probably told him to.
James wants two supervisors in every ambulance. And he can’t even staff his fire trucks as it is. He’s the fire chief whose main responsibility it staffing his fire trucks, fighting fires and being first responder. Yet he’s saying he’s trying to find a path for firefighters to get off fire trucks and into ambulances which will hurt fire department staffing that is already so short firefighters are being forced to work mandatory overtime.
And James’s assertions he’s not trying to get into the ambulance business is another big whopper.
If not, why is he trying to increase pay and make everybody a lieutenant? Why not offer the same for the fire department? Where in his budget did he focus on recruitment and firefighter retention? His budget seeks more money for EMS only.
If commissioners approve his request, it will crush an already depleted department. Besides, what’s James going to do when he has all this ambulance staff and no fire trucks on the road? That fancy ISO rating will most likely drift away like the smoke he’s blowing.
And not to be overlooked is the 911 director requesting more dispatchers and two vehicles. So the city needs more EMS crews, more dispatchers, but no plan to get into the EMS business.
Uh oh! The Whoppermeter is stuck on 10 and won’t come down.
James must think we’re all fools, which some of us are. And that’s not a whopper.
An Arena by Any Other Name is still the same unless You’re a James Brown Fan
Augusta Commissioner Marion Williams called Saturday all upset because the James Brown sign has been removed from in front of the arena and a new marquee has been installed.
I was surprised but thought there must be a reason, so I called Brad Usry, vice-chairman of the Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority, to ask what was going on, and it seems a lot is going on.
Usry said the authority changed the marquee sign to Augusta Entertainment Complex as a part of a branding campaign for the James Brown Arena and Bell Auditorium.
“The sinage within the new arena when we get it built will enhance his name more,” Usry said. “To think we’re changing the name of the arena is the furthest thing in the world from our minds.”
The branding campaign in no way takes away from James Brown’s legacy and his name being on the arena, Usry said.
“We’re going to do more,” he said. “The authority knows the value of the James Brown Arena name.”
The authority approved the ad campaign in December based on a proposal from Chris Rucker, owner of the downtown creative firm Kruhu. The campaign will last about two years and cost $50,000. The authority unveiled a new logo and ad campaign in January.
On Veterans Day and On Every Other Day
Happy Veterans Day to all you veterans! Accept gracefully all the “thanks for your service” comments and accept gratefully the free breakfasts and lunches being made available to you by restaurants in the area. And accept with great self-respect the knowledge that you served your country well in its time of need. Know that your fellow citizens wish you – most of all – peace and happiness on more than just this one special day.
– A Veterans Day submission from Vietnam combat veteran Ernie Rogers