Come Party With Us… And Bring Cash!

Come Party With Us… And Bring Cash!

I am not sure whether to call this “ballsy,” “audacious” or “ignorant as all Hell.”

Pick one; any of them fit.

Invitations to Augusta Commissioner Corey Johnson’s 40th birthday party went out a few weeks ago and, as you can see, the back of it had a fairly direct “suggestion”: birthday presents are not necessary, but “monetary gifts are appreciated.”

Been around a good long time, this is a first for me. A sitting politician (or someone on his behalf) asking not for political contributions, but for cold, hard cash in the form of a birthday present.

Commissioner Johnson is serving his last elected term for the city. Because his higher political aspirations have never been a secret, it came as no surprise that he used the occasion of this event to announce he is seeking the 22nd District State Senate seat currently held by Hardie Davis. Davis will be leaving his position to run for mayor of Augusta.

Johnson has had a good run on the commission, despite often running afoul of the outspoken political boomerang we all know as Marion Williams. That said, he needs to take serious stock of the way he carries himself, particularly in the area of finances.

Getting a little “glad-hand” in old Augusta is one thing, but if he makes his way into state legislative service, such “birthday parties” can earn the attention of those who tend to frown upon public officials soliciting gratuities.

If state authorities, or God forbid the IRS, start poking around his personal records after such an event, he could find himself in real trouble.

Corey should take the advice of the old timers around here and stick to “fish frys” and “bar-be-ques” where his henchmen can distribute tickets and pick up receipts.

Heck of a concept, though… and much healthier than tying it to all that fried food, and fatty pork.


Last Week’s Austin Rhodes Media Blitz

I do not employ a publicist but, if I did, last week she would have gotten a bonus. Aside from the column that I usually write, I was a topic of great interest in three different articles, in three very different publications.

In the Metro Spirit’s Insider column we had a piece suggesting I was “digging in for an extended campaign” in my ongoing battle with Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree.

While I do not deny voicing objections to Tree when he sets bad policy, or makes a bad decision, I have given him credit for several good things I have seen in his nine months in office. Contrary to the piece, I have no problem with his name being on patrol cars, and I do not blame him directly for the DUI arrest of the TV reporter.

But yes, seeing as how I was one of the few people who campaigned against him that was not either put on the department payroll or retained on the department payroll (after his victory), I have no inspiration to become a Tree Hugger.

In his own weekly column in The Jail Report, the sheriff himself had a most bizarre response when asked why he would not come on the radio show so we could hash out our differences for the good of the community. I would reprint what he said here, but I would likely be accused of intentionally misquoting him. Hand to Heaven, I could not understand what he was trying to say. This much was clear, though; he said he did not want to increase my ratings (we haven’t been in a ratings period since mid-June, and won’t be back in one until mid-October, but let’s not split hairs), and something along the lines that I needed to get my facts straight, or some such. Kinda ironic, the sheriff’s demands for pure accuracy. His newly established and personally designed Public Information Office has put out more corrections and retractions lately than the media can keep up with. But hey, nobody is perfect.

And finally, my old buddy Corey Washington, a local author who has appeared on my show several times to promote three different books over the years, used about 600 words to warn the community about me in a featured column in the Urban Pro Weekly under the headline: “Austin Rhodes: The Most Dangerous Man in Augusta.”

At some point in the recent past, I went from being a great way to get the word out about his work, to being the Anti-Christ. Who knew?

I haven’t beaten anyone with a baseball bat on Riverwalk, I haven’t knocked the stew out of anyone at Waffle House, I did not shoot up a neighborhood party with a bunch of my homies, nor did I kill and decapitate any members of my family, but somehow I win this amazing and dubious title.

My parents are so proud (the ones I did not kill).

Got to chuckle about that one. That big, bold headline is going to look great framed and hanging on my bathroom “Wall of Fame.”

And how was your week?

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