Whether you like it or not, it’s time to cast those ballots to decide the future of the Garden City.
If you don’t know who you are voting for by now, you’re not alone.
When it comes to the mayor’s race, let’s be honest: many people are still stumped.
Some of the recent revelations this week, especially regarding mayoral candidate Helen Blocker-Adams, are not making the decision any easier.
This week, Blocker-Adams addressed approximately $70,000 in debt dating back to 2005 that she apparently still owes creditors in Aiken County.
The debt was the result of a foreclosure on her home in North Augusta, a bank loan she had with her ex-husband and a car that was repossessed.
It was a major blow to Blocker-Adams’ campaign.
Just last Sunday, The Augusta Chronicle announced its choice for mayor with the endorsement of Blocker-Adams.
The editorial board decided to stick with its original choice of mayor, almost mirroring its endorsement of Blocker-Adams in the 2005 race.
The public has to wonder whether the editorial board is now regretting that endorsement.
Word on the street (and through independent polling by the Atlanta company, InsiderAdvantage) is that mayoral candidate and state Sen. Hardie Davis is currently leading the pack.
So it was no surprise that the glowing editorial endorsement by the Chronicle of Blocker-Adams also took a few jabs at Davis.
In a paragraph describing Blocker-Adams’ toughness, the editorial immediately jumps on Davis for two of the paper’s pet peeves from the past few years.
“Before questioning her toughness, consider: Blocker-Adams’ chief competition for mayor, state Sen. Hardie Davis, told us that, while he objects to the Georgia Regents University name, he won’t fight it unless told to by the public,” the May 10 editorial states. “We also were alarmed at a Georgia Senate report — signed onto by Davis — that called for arrest reports and mug shots to be kept secret. That’s a frightening erosion of the public’s right to know.”
Now, compared to Blocker-Adams’ $70,000 in outstanding debt, the Chronicle’s criticism of Davis seems beyond lame.
First of all, it is no secret that the Chronicle’s publisher William S. Morris III was outraged over the name, Georgia Regents University.
In August 2012, he very publicly resigned from the then-Georgia Health Sciences University board over the controversy because GRU President Ricardo Azziz did not initially include Augusta in the university’s name.
“I object to your ambivalence to the voice of this community,” Morris wrote in a letter to Azziz. “The naming convention you have advocated, and now gained endorsement from the Georgia regents, lacks sensitivity to the enormous community good will that has been cultivated over the years.”
But apparently, Morris didn’t just blame Azziz for his disregard of the wishes of the university’s alumni and students.
Morris also had a beef with Davis for not demanding Azziz include Augusta in the name change.
Strike one against Davis.
And then, let’s consider the editorial board’s objection to Davis’ support of legislation that would keep arrest reports and mug shots secret from the public.
Well, while there is a serious issue relating to the availability of public records in the legislation that Davis supported, many suspect Morris’ objection to being denied access to the arrest records and mug shots had a lot more to do with his wallet than anything else.
After all, the Chronicle loves to promote its online “Booked” section that includes the photos of people recently arrested in Aiken, Columbia and Richmond counties.
Whenever you mess with Morris’ money, that’s strike two against Davis.
Finally, the fact that some of the folks supporting Davis over the past few months also happen to be long-time friends of former state Sen. Charles Walker, that probably makes Morris a little uncomfortable.
So, that’s strike three for Davis.
Of course, now all of those criticisms of Davis seem so shallow compared to the allegations against Blocker-Adams.
Now the big question is: Will the Chronicle stand by its endorsement following the revelations against Blocker-Adams?
What else could the Chronicle gain from still endorsing Blocker-Adams?
Well, if Blocker-Adams is still able to pull off a win (which seems unlikely now), Morris just earned himself the biggest cheerleader in all of Richmond County.
A cheerleader, who happens to hold the highest office within the city’s Marble Palace.
When any of Augusta Riverfront Limited Partnership’s future projects or requests come before the Augusta Commission, Morris will have a very good friend in Blocker-Adams.
And if Blocker-Adams becomes mayor, Paul Simon, the president of Augusta Riverfront Limited Partnership, will no longer have to answer pointed questions from Augusta Commissioner Alvin Mason because he will no longer be in office.
It is a marriage made in heaven.
Blocker-Adams is smitten with the Morris and Morris is smitten with money.
So, here we go, folks:
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to join this man, Billy Morris, and this woman, Helen Blocker-Adams, in holy matrimony.”
Good luck, to both Helen and Billy.
It is definitely a “for better or worse” situation for both parties.
But we have a feeling Billy won’t include the “for richer, for poorer” part of the vows.
That is, unless Helen agrees that Billy will be richer and Augusta will be poorer.