HomeOpinionPolitics 101 shapes mayor's response to ethics investigations

Politics 101 shapes mayor’s response to ethics investigations

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Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis called a news conference on short notice Thursday to address issues brought to light by this newspaper regarding two investigations by the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission – Ethics Commission for short.

Based on what he revealed at the news event and the fact he didn’t take questions after he’d said what he wanted to say to get it on the record, I knew he was using “Politics 101,” Chapters 5 and 6 again, “Get What You Want to Say Out Fast,“ and “How to Avoid Lying by Not Staying Around Long Enough for Reporters to Ask Questions.”

The mayor’s monologue could hardly be called a creditable news conference. It can be summed up by his saying the citizens of Augusta don’t need to worry about what he’s done or let’s don’t talk about history. Let’s talk about moving Augusta forward.

Despite the emails he sent concerning the billboards put up by the Concerned Citizens of the CSRA, he really isn’t and never has been a concerned citizen of Augusta. That’s probably the only thing he said I could believe.  He’s only concerned about himself.

Proof of that is in his selfish spending on things to please and aggrandize himself with the past five years, especially his My Brother’s Keeper money on his reelection campaign and $7,000 to the Miller Theater for his reelection swearing-in and party. As the story unfolded throughout this year, it was hard to believe he spent more than $20,000 on videos with imported B-list actresses and websites with out-of-town companies while exhorting Augustans during his 2021 State of the City address to support local businesses and vendors.

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There’s no reason to go on and on about this, The Augusta Press and some other media outlets have elaborated on it all, especially about his lack of receipts and invoices that the more I think about, I think was intentional because if there are no listed expenses, there’s no way to tell what the money went for.

That way he could say repeatedly in interviews that he did nothing illegal. Who could say he did?

If you don’t know what he’s about now except taking trips to the Mexican border to protest Republican President Donald Trump’s immigration policy while ignoring the chaos of President Joe Biden’s, and last week’s trip to Qatar to talk about climate change, which he knows no more about than you do, I’m sure you don’t want to know.

Observation of the Week

It’s interesting that the mayor would take several detailed pages to explain away an insignificant bit of foreign travel, yet use only one vague paragraph to explain an ethics complaint that could result in a criminal prosecution.

…Not Even a Mouse

T’was the week before Christmas and all through City Hall, Mayor Hardie Davis denied any wrongdoing with billboards and Regency Mall

In a hurriedly called news conference, he had his say, didn’t answer any questions and hurried away.

He knew nothing about dark money or Concerned Citizens of the CSRA, although he alone chose what their billboards would say.

The state Ethics Commission is investigating this, by the way, and has the email where Hardie gave his OK.

When what to investigators’ wondering eyes did appear but templates and designs showing what would be done, proving Hardie knew the Concerned Citizens because he was one.

And he knew about dark money all tarnished with ashes and soot, and knew it spends like the other wherever it’s put.

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And he spent $24,000 from his city budget on consultants to promote his #SOGO endeavor and $500 more for an architectural drawing he knew nothing of whatsoever.

While Hardie said he didn’t know what the Concerned Citizens of the CSRA were about, and didn’t have his permission,

Citizen Dave Barbee was full of doubt and filled with suspicion, so he called the Elections Board to see if they were registered and abiding by the law.

And when Barbee learned there was an omission, he immediately reported them to the state Ethics Commission

Which, as dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly, opened two investigations in the blink of an eye.

One on the billboards and one on campaign and financial disclosure reports, neither one fiddlesticks. But Hardie will claim it’s all politics. And that will go over like a ton of bricks.

The ethics commissioners will speak not a word but go straight to work. And before they are finished will say, “This guy’s a jerk!”

So, when St. Nick flies into town Christmas Eve, more rapid than eagles his coursers come with a loaded sleigh, Hardie should jump on, grab the reins and fly away.

“Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer and Vixen, on! Donner and Blixen, On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all! Get me out of here quick before I fall!” we’d hear him say as he flies out of sight.

“Happy Christmas to all One Augusta, and to all a good night.”

Can the Christmas Spirit Survive in this Pottersville? 

Merry Christmas! Santa checked his list to see who’s been naughty and nice and decided to leave the mayor, commissioners and others some presents anyway. We hope he remembers to wear a mask in government buildings and gets back to the North Pole without being given a COVID-19 shot and a $100 dollar gift card.

He came a little early this year for City Administrator Odie Donald, who thinks he’s Kris Kringle after handing out $6 million or so of federal Rescue Plan money in bonuses and performance pay to employees, as well as getting them an extra Mental Health holiday for Christmas. He also has $11 million in ARP money just waiting there in the budget, to be divided up between the 10 commissioners and mayor to fritter away.

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Santa has already brought Odie a public information officer who won’t answer the phone; a CFO/deputy administrator, joining one he hired earlier, a capital improvement projects manager and an economic development and innovation manager. He’s also bringing a reorganized Public Works Department of salaried-up employees who hopefully will know which grass to cut to avoid the confusion that reigned when the grass-cutting duties were assigned to four or five departments. It was a paltry excuse for overgrown grass and bushes, but they said the departments didn’t know where it was they were supposed to cut the grass. And all of the directors make over $100,000 a year.

Santa should bring Public Works Director Hameed Malik a few more consultants to consult on how to look busy while doing almost nothing. And Code Enforcement officers want better hiding places to while away their afternoons.

Meanwhile, Recreation and Parks Director Maurice McDowell wants a new waterpark. That way he will have more facilities to stay closed due to multiple malfunctions.

Odie is also working on creating another government department on affordable housing that will pay most of the initial costs and involve local banks. I thought the city had a Housing and Development Department that did that, but maybe Augusta needs more affordable housing than anybody thought.

Jolly old St. Nick is bringing The Ad Hoc Redistricting Committee an Ad Hoc plaque engraved with the message, “Congratulations for Quitting Work on the Map and Voting for the Most Taxation with the Least Representation for Summerville and Forest Hills.”

He’s also bringing Dave Barbee a giant billboard with Dave’s picture on it holding a trophy engraved with the words, “Number 1 Concerned Citizen of the CSRA.”

Santa is bringing Sheriff Richard Roundtree a better class of jailers and criminals and a new sub-station at the EconoLodge.

Santa is bringing Fire Chief Antonio Burden a “Big Surprise” trophy for being the first Richmond County Fire Chief to gain the support of rank-and-file firefighters since Chief Butch Murdock.

Commissioners John Clarke and Catherine McKnight can expect Santa to deliver a forensic audit of the entire city government. Santa will put former Commissioner Marion Williams in charge of overseeing it. Williams has already agreed and said, ‘This time it will be an audit and not a fraudit!”

Commissioner Ben Hasan will get the Keys to the City so he can run every department.  Commissioner Sammie Sias previously had the keys but had to turn them in when he was forced to step down.

St. Nick might bring Coach Dip Metress and the Augusta University basketball team a regional or even national championship, but the NCAA might take it away because of the coaches’ hands-on tutoring program.

Sylvia Cooper is a Columnist with The Augusta Press. Reach her at [email protected]

12 COMMENTS

  1. THE NEW DEM strategy is to hold a news conference
    where one reads to the hapless attendees with confidence

    Then simply “the one,” he walks away as a farce
    as reporters yell questions while viewing his arse

    The strategy was developed by a fellow named Joe
    and away he goes while reporters yell questions crows

  2. Sylvia’s on ???? as usual. Augusta politics is a sad state of affairs. We have only two honest and forthright Commissioners, Mrs. McKnight and Mr. Clarke. It’s so sad that the rest of our government officials aren’t.

  3. I must say that while ignorance may not be bliss, knowledge of Augusta’s political nonsense as layed out by Sylvia is sickening. A lifetime of investing in a community is devalued by elected officials drifting rudderless. The tide lowers all ships and the best anyone can hope for is it will come in again.

    Meanwhile, millions will be paid to those who never missed a paycheck while taxpayers who have continue to pay at the same rate.

    The inmates run the asylum and have opened the floodgates to free this, free that and the Emperor’s new clothes are fantastic.

    Sign me as Sick in South Augusta

  4. The press conferences Hardie Davis gave seem strangely similar to Joe Biden’s press conferences. Are they the same for the same reason or can one answer questions but won’t and the would answer questions but can’t?

  5. I have read the above comments and I observed that two commissioners were complimented as “honest and forthright”.
    But no commissioner can be complimented for looking after the overtaxed property owners.
    No commissioner thinks that it is his or her job to take a hard look at the budget and propose cuts in spending , cuts in personnel , cuts in anything .
    The current commissioners just go along to get along .
    The property owners are theirs to bleed for money until Augusta bankrupts .
    Remember the proposed 3 mill property tax increase — that all commissioners supported —to fund a new and unnecessary $250 million dollar Civic Center that we can NOT afford .
    After the taxpayers defeated it, these commissioners unanimously reappointed all members of the Coliseum Authority and handed them $ 45,000.00 to hire a consultant—- a consultant FOR WHAT .
    THE PROPERTY TAXPAYERS MAY NOT FIND OUT UNTIL AFTER THE MAY 2022 COMMISSION ELECTIONS .

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