Any man who has been married for two minutes knows the importance of the infamous “to do” list. As we see the weeks of summer slipping away and the calendar slowly inching its way to July, may I share what I believe is a pretty serious list of things we need to get done before the cooler temperatures of September arrive.
1. Expand the Mayor’s Powers
Outgoing Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver needs to form a blue ribbon committee comprised of our five former living mayors — Lewis Newman, Larry Sconyers, Bob Young and Willie Mays — the Augusta legislative delegation and Mayor-Elect Hardie Davis to draft new legislation giving the city’s chief elected official the serious legal authority that has been lacking since the government consolidated. This needs to be done immediately, so the measure can be voted on and passed early in the 2015 legislative session.
For damn near 20 years the Boogyman known as “the race card” has kept serious reform from being considered, and I have to say it has been one of the most asinine and indefensible stalemates in recent memory. Good news: a black guy won the election, and with 75 percent of the vote he clearly won with a decisive rainbow coalition working in his favor.
I admit I am a bit selfish in asking for such a thing; of course, I have always favored the more efficient and sensible leadership such a move would empower, but also it will shut up the race-baiting weenies who have accused Augusta’s business leadership (which has been pushing for such an upgrade for years) of being racist powermongers who were trying to desperately hold on to the crown. Well, maybe for a minute, anyway.
The mayor-elect is an honorable man, and the city should use the voters’ mandate as a springboard for fast tracking this matter, post haste!
2. An Independent Commission Should be Running the Lady Antebellum Amphitheatre
It is time to get the elected officials out of the day to day business of the Lady A and bring in an appointed commission to oversee the operation. Much like the new and improved Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority has turned things around for the James Brown Arena and the Bell Auditorium, I believe an independent panel could do the same for CC’s most promising public facility. Perhaps they should consider even bringing the Jabez Hardin PAC under the same umbrella, at least as far as recruiting events goes.
I believe the Lady A could benefit from the wisdom of a few locals who have industry experience, as well as those with food and beverage expertise. Nothing against the events we have seen so far, but I believe more could be done, and a permanent concessions staff put in place to better handle what is clearly getting to be a bigger demand than most would have anticipated when it comes to hospitality.
3. Put Engineers in Charge of the SPLOST List
Augusta voters clearly did not like what they saw when the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax project list was finally put together in what many called a “ramrod” fashion. There were complaints that there were too many political pet projects, and not enough public works and public safety expenditures included. There is one way to shut those folks up, and that is to not allow the politicians to participate in the process. I say lock the city’s public works and traffic engineers in a room for about a week, and let them come out with a list of what really needs to be done. Take that list directly to the public with no charity or vanity projects included, and watch how fast it will get passed.
The SPLOST collection method is vastly superior to all other forms of taxation, especially in an urban center city like Augusta, which benefits from thousands of outsiders coming in and spending millions of dollars a day.
4. Get Out of Augusta National’s Way
What the National has asked for in certain traffic accommodations from the City of Augusta is reasonable and customary given the needs and plans of the organization. They have and continue to be exemplary, civic-minded neighbors, contributing millions to local charities, not to mention providing permanent employment for hundreds of locals.
Imagine, if you would, the NFL announcing tomorrow that they would like to permanently base the Super Bowl in one city. Would you like to take a wild guess what kinds of incentive packages would be put together to entice the league to choose one city over another? Trust me, it would be far, far greater than anything close to what the City of Augusta has or could offer to the National.
We have been blessed as a community to have this world-class event in our backyard for seven decades, and while the club spent the first 50 years of that run operating pretty much the same way, the changes we have seen in the last 20 have been breathtaking. The addition last year of the Drive, Chip and Putt competition for junior golfers expanded some aspects of the impact of Masters Week by a full weekend, and if one thing is clear with the newer members of the organization slowly growing in number, nothing is off the table.
There it is folks, have a great summer, and let’s get’r done!