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Opinion: Mayor’s Resume is Missing

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Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis paid a California company $500 for a resume but won’t let the people who paid for it see it.

Those people would be Richmond County taxpayers, who by law should be able to see what they bought. But no. In response to The Augusta Press’ open records request to see the resume, the city’s paralegal who handles such requests, says the only thing the city has to show for that $500 is on the city website or Davis’ Linked-In page.

When I looked at the Linked-In page, I was surprised to find out our good mayor is now a doctor, having received a doctorate degree from the Christian Life School of Theology. The school bills itself as providing “an online Christian education for Kingdom-minded leaders.”

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How apropos. What better place could there be for King Hardie to get a doctorate?

Meanwhile, the information on the Linked-In page looked as if it could have been written by a fourth grader, except that a fourth grader might have been able to finish the last sentence.

And Davis says that’s all there is. There are no other responsive documents. But where did the resume go? What could have happened to it? Did it catch fire? Did the dog eat it? Will we ever know?

Not to be Seen

An Augusta Mayor’s Town Hall scheduled for Saturday at Good Shepherd Baptist Church was canceled due to “unforeseen circumstances,” according to Traci George, Augusta Area Coordinator for the Peoples’ Agenda which sponsored the event.

Mayor Hardie Davis and former mayors Larry Sconyers, Bob Young and Deke Copenhaver had agreed to participate. It would have been the first time all four of the mayors of consolidated Augusta-Richmond County would be together at the same time, at least as far as anybody knew.


They were supposed to talk about their goals when they became mayor, whether the goals were achieved, how they were accomplished and what ideas they have for the future of the city.

But after agreeing to take part, Davis backed out. Then, the first mayor of the consolidated government, Larry Sconyers, also declined to appear, after which Young and Copenhaver followed suit.

Snuffed Out

Augusta Commissioner Jordan Johnson’s motion to amend the city’s smoke-free ordinance to allow for the establishment of cigar bars went up in smoke when the public services committee blew it off last week.

Mayor Pro Tem Bobby Williams said the city probably needed cigar bars. And Commissioner Dennis Williams said the city is losing a lot of good revenue by not having them.

“I go to cigar bars because I like the smell of cigars. Everybody has a right to go there or not go there,’’ said Dennis Williams, noting that there are cigar bars in Columbia County and North Augusta.

Bobby Williams said he understands the American Cancer Society’s position on smoking, but that “we have to be guardians of our own bodies.”

Commissioner John Clarke said he knew some people were going to take snipes at him for supporting cigar bars, but if commissioners were going to defeat Johnson’s motion, they should shut down all of the hookah bars in Augusta.

Commissioner Sammie Sias said he couldn’t support approving cigar bars, and Sean Frantom said it would be tough to govern if they opened the smoking ordinance up.

“There’s been lots of outcry over this,” Frantom said. “I anticipate you’re going to see a loud outcry in the entire community if we try to open up a cigar bar. And for me, once you open the box, where do you stop?”


Johnson said his proposal does not circumvent the no smoking ordinance.

“And I just don’t want us to take the conversation and skew it left or right,” he said. “The fact is we’re trying to establish a recreational business friendly – whatever you want to call it. We want to have a cigar bar, so I’ll make a motion to approve this item.”

Johnson’s motion failed on a 2-2 vote with him and Clarke voting yes, and Sias and Frantom voting no.

Later, at the end of the Public Safety committee meeting chaired by Clarke, Clarke said, “This committee is now adjourned to the cigar bar that is nonexistent.”

Empire Building

Administrator Donald has added a member to his executive staff, Deputy Administrator Charles Jackson, a native of Whitehall, N.C., and a public sector veteran with more than 25 years’ experience, according to the city’s website.

Jackson most recently served as county administrator of Northhampton County, N.C., with a population of about 22,000. He resigned from that job in April.

Donald has also added a public information manager to his office, Danielle Harris, about whom there is no information on the website.

With no public discussion, commissioners approved a new manager of Economic Development & Innovation for the administrator’s office last week and five new meter readers for the utility department.

You Were Right. They Have Been Guessing.

In the written background information requesting the new meter readers, Utility Department Director Wes Byne shed a lot of light on the “human resource crisis that started with Covid related shut-downs and continuing issues such as military leave, medical leave, FMLA, Worker’s Comp, leave without pay, regular sick leave, training inefficiencies due to excessive position turnover and badly needed vacations.”

In the past year, the department had a 40 percent turnover rate in the meter reading group with resulting worker shortages creating a ripple effect throughout the division.

“We have fallen significantly behind in reading our routes, which has created the need to, at times, estimate certain billing cycles in order to get the billing out on a timely basis,” according to the background document.


About 70 percent of the meters are electronically read, and the department is trying to add more and more with the ultimate goal of a completely automated system, Byne states in his lengthy request for new meter readers.

The annual estimated salary budget for the five new meter readers is $147,693, plus about $66,500 a year for benefits.

So That Settles That

After years of arguing about whether a commissioner has to be recognized by the mayor before making a motion, Ben Hasan solved the issue once for all last week by asking General Counsel Wayne Brown. And Brown said a commissioner can make a motion without being recognized by the mayor.

A $12 Million Dollar Ball of Wax

Augusta City Administrator Odie Donald wants to increase the $10 million of American Rescue Plan money that Mayor Pro Tem Bobby Williams proposed giving each commissioner to spend in his district to $12 million. His plan calls for Super District commissioners John Clarke and Francine Scott to each get $1.5 million and for the mayor to be included and get $1 million.

Donald said commissioners won’t just be handed $1 million to spend in their districts but that they would have to request the money to be spent on a project and that a committee would review the request and either approve or disapprove it.

After Bobby Williams made his proposal Commissioner John Clarke said, “Giving each commissioner a $1 million blank check is a recipe for disaster.”

But after thinking about it, Clarke seems to have softened his initial stance.

Previously, we imagined what commissioners might do with a million dollars to spend next year. And now, we imagine how the committee might respond to their requests.

Commissioner Sean Frantom asked to spend his million on a bronze statue of himself to put up in District 7, so it would stand the test of time and commemorate his service to the citizens of the district during the pandemic.


The committee approved Frantom’s request unanimously and recommended that his statue be of him straddling a rhino.

The committee unanimously approved Commissioner Ben Hasan’s first request to use his million dollars to re-start his newspaper for his district only. In the new Urban Pro Weekly, Hasan will be the only reporter, writer and editor. And he can speak to himself to get commission quotes for his stories and chastise himself for speaking to the media.

The committee also approved Mayor Pro Tem Bobby Williams’ request to use part of his million as pre-payments for future speeding tickets and other moving violations because he’s had so many in the past. The committee also recommended that a substantial portion should go toward installing speed bumps on residential streets in District 5, especially on the streets he comes and goes on.

The committee also approved Commissioner Jordan Johnson’s request to donate his million to the homeless shelter building fund, but when notified of the decision, Johnson said he’d changed his mind about the donation because he’d discovered that giving away other people’s money was a lot easier and more fun than giving away your own. So, he

decided to put it in the bank and let it draw interest. And the committee approved that too.

The committee voted to allow Commissioner Francine Scott to use her $1.5 million on box lunches to distribute to the needy and to increase the size of the annex she planned to build onto her church.

The committee denied Commissioner Brandon Garrett’s request to spend his million on building a weather station, so he could tell which way the wind was blowing before he voted on anything. The committee said he was doing just fine with his finger and told him to come up with something else.

The committee couldn’t decide what to do about Commissioner and Augusta mayoral candidate Dennis Williams’ request to use his million to buy the mayor’s campaign staff that currently works in his office since he’s probably not going to be running for office again anytime soon. The committee said they’d have to get a legal opinion on whether their approval could be considered a de facto campaign donation. A decision is pending.

The committee denied Commissioner Catherine McKnight’s request to use her million to buy Ulta Beauty, so every woman in her district could look like a Steel Magnolia, too, on grounds it was too frivolous and not a serious enough thing to spend taxpayers’ money on. She said she didn’t know why. Looking good is the most serious thing anybody can do. The committee didn’t agree.


The mayor showed up at the committee meeting and told the chairman he’d already spent his million dollars, but he didn’t have any receipts. The chairman noticed that Davis was looking good and said, “The only thing I can say is,  that’s a lot of money to spend on makeup.”

The committee was so divided over Commissioner John Clarke’s request, they asked him to come in for an interview which has been transcribed and reported verbatim below:

Mr. Chairman: Ask Commissioner John Clarke to come in, please.

(Sounds of Clarke entering the room are heard.)

Mr. Chairman: Mr. Clarke, I read in the newspaper that you wouldn’t touch the $1 million with a 10-foot pole. Is that correct?

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Clarke: Mr. Chairman, I’ve thought it over, and I have changed my mind. I want to take my million dollars and pay for a forensic audit of the entire city government. My colleagues on the commission don’t want to do that. They say it puts a dark cloud over the government and makes people think it’s corrupt. It might be or it might not be, but we won’t know until we have it audited forensically.

Mr. Chairman: Hmmm. I thought your request would be simpler, not so controversial. Something like a million in $1 dollar bills to spend at the Discotheque. That’s what I heard anyway.

Clarke: Mr. Chairman, I don’t know where you got that idea. I don’t go to the Discotheque, but if anybody has suffered because of the pandemic, it’s the employees of the Discotheque and the rescue plan money is to help people recover from the pandemic. In fact, I do want

to help the employees of the Discotheque, but you can give me the half the million in $5 bills, not $1s, and I’ll still have enough to pay for the audit.

The chairman said the committee would have to take his request under advisement again.

Sylvia Cooper is a Columnist with The Augusta Press. Reach her at sylvia.cooper@theaugustapress.com.


7 COMMENTS

  1. Does Augusta have ordinance again chewing tobacca and snuff? Is it ok to expectorate residual chaw terbacca materials onto city streets and sidewalks? what about tobacca flavored gum residual matters onto sidewalks on broad st? Tell me more about those hooker bars and if they required to place a red light at the front windows.

  2. I just don’t understand why people in government need so many assistants to get the job accomplished..and being that the mayor has a few you’d think out of the 3 of them somebody could keep up with his receipts. We sure have seen that politicians are greedy and worthless no matter their skin color..

  3. Riverwalk is a pretty experience the first time but after you’ve seen it there’s little to make you want to go back, with the result that there are few people there and it’s unsafe in the evening. There’s nothing going on there: no shops, restaurants, museums, bars etc. if there were lots of people there and it was thriving it would generate economic activity and tax income for the city. This is our most valuable land on a unique resource, the largest river between the Hudson and Mississippi. Other cities have developed their riverfronts and have become tourist destinations. In fact virtually every city on a major water feature has had a renaissance because of it e.g. Greenville, Chattanooga, San Antonio. Why haven’t we done this here? Mainly two reasons: lack of vision and fear.
    When you walk around downtown you can’t see the river because there’s a pile of dirt (I.e. the levee) obscuring your view. The levee at one time stopped flooding of downtown but is no longer needed. In the 50 years I’ve lived here no flood has reached even the base of our levee. There are five upstream dams. In the event the Thurmond dam were to collapse the top of our levee would be estimated 38 feet under water. So it’s not protecting us from that. But what have we lost by not taking the levee down? Our quality of life, ultimately. Our politicians won’t ever make plans like this; they’re too busy trying to find ways to tax you or worry about whose nephew will be the next fire chief.
    Tom Swift

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