R.W. Allen’s Guaranteed Money Pits

IMG_4374Owners like to use a contract delivery method called “Design Build” when they don’t know what the heck they are building, don’t want to take the time to design it before bidding it out, or have a site with too many unknown conditions.  Since they don’t know these things they put a fig leaf of protection against unlimited costs called a “Guaranteed Maximum Price” or GMP. Even in commercial or industrial construction, supposedly knowledgeable in cost controls and with fewer unknowns, GMP contracts are a challenge to administer, because the assumptions the contractor gives in quoting a GMP generally last only days or weeks. Owners would be better off with a pure cost-plus contract with great controls, but the owner’s internal politics command at least a fiction of a fixed price.

Imagine trying to catch a butterfly in a windstorm – that is how elusive the “guarantee” becomes.

In government there is no better money-hemorrhaging device than these contracts, hence perhaps GMP should automatically be understood by citizens as being “Guaranteed Money Pit.”

The City of Augusta, Georgia loves to squander money using GMP contracts, having thoroughly embarrassed itself with the things. Augusta  built a $30 million Convention Center across land the city didn’t own and paying for it with Kitchen Equipment added by change order to a “guaranteed” price,  spending about $50 million on a Municipal Building Remodeling that was supposed to cost $20 million mostly covered by another GMP contract, and building houses in the Laney Walker district with maximum-price, not to exceed contracts that never were adjusted to actual cost.

There were only three finalist selected by Augusta for the Old Green Street Library remodeling, and two of the three had “Allen” in their name. The low bidder who didn’t have “Allen” in its name and who bid on the whole project in its bid, with a Guaranteed Price for all of the work, somehow didn’t get the award. RW Allen, LLC was awarded the work on a piecemeal basis, destroying any figment of a guarantee in this writer’s estimation.

John Allen, nephew and contributor to Congressman Richard W. Allen, is a principal in the Allen-Batchelor firm, which was also on the finalist listing.

District 8 Wayne Guilfoyle said it best “if all three firms are proposing this project the following including the proper scope, met the required schedule and fully capable of completing the RFP why are we selecting the highest bidder?” Then later Commissioner Guilfoyle said “So we’re approving something we don’t have a clue, only a partial.

It must be nice to be R.W. Allen LLC and to have Augusta push you into a yet another money pit where nothing is guaranteed but more profits.

 

No Opting Out of The Greatest Transition

You got your demons, you got desires, well I’ve got a few of my own – Don Henley

Four years ago, a loose coalition of citizens came together to bring a powerful blend of research, online publication, media presence, and reform to Augusta, Georgia and east central Georgia. One started a blog named City Stink, that moniker being a statement of admiration for long-time Augusta Chronicle columnist Sylvia Cooper and her column City Ink, yet impishly labeling the town as the source for all manner of unsavory things. Augusta wasn’t the sole target, either. The archives of Agraynation are amply populated with the City Stink posts, which retain power and utility for change.

As with all human endeavors, members grew weary, lost stomach for the political idiocy, and allowed personal differences to intercede in what was a wonderful community effort. During a nearly two year hiatus, individuals in the group ventured out on various initiatives, successfully defeating SPLOST 7a in Augusta and forcing SPLOST 7b proponents to slash waste, while promising reforms. Members of the Facebook groups Augusta Today and Augusta Political Watch, along with old participants in the City Stink effort, have used the interruption in the fray to observe what transpired in the vacuum and how positive developments proceeded from those action-filled 30 months.

The methods were proven. Mistakes were made, but those were instructive.  Glenn Frey, the late Eagle and co-writer of “One of these Nights” said “We all have our dreams, a vision we hope will come true someday. When that ‘someday’ will come is up to each of us.” Yes, our demons and desires got in the way of continued success, but the need for action has never been greater.

America has lost nearly every institution with direct responsibility to control financial matters and the Rule of Law, foundation of social stability, is for practical matters dead. The Accountants have abandoned financial standards that protected us for decades. The Lawmakers have rewritten the Law to legalize fraud. The Ministry has thrown “THOU SHALT NOT STEAL” out of the Ten Commandments. The Bankers have destroyed one of the two functions that make the United States Dollar “money” and are on the brink of killing the other. The Media have been either silenced or captivated.

We have the tools to overcome it all. The Augusta reformers proved several important techniques and strategies. As great as the challenges are, the technology and methods are here to overcome them all. All that is missing is desire to make it happen.

Laughter is the best medicine and there are bounteous sources of outrageous humor that only need a little attention to have everyone laughing on the way to restoring our cities, counties, states and America. We are in the midst of the greatest transformation and transition in 400 years, if not all of human history.

“Agraynation” perhaps sounds a lot like “aggravation” to some. The subscribers list is stale, yet there are many in the community and state included in the automatic notification feature. Posts may be coming faster than you like via your email account. If so please UNSUBSCRIBE if you get one notification too many. Please accept my apology if notification that accompanies this post is that “one too many.”

Thanks to everyone for you encouragement, support, and participation. And……..welcome back to the fray.

– The Arrowflinger

 

After Lee Anderson Blew Off Clark Howard….

By The Arrowflinger

In 2010 Georgia House District 117 Representative Lee Anderson was getting calls from constituents with concerns about the upcoming House vote on Senate Bill 31, the infamous law that delighted more than seventy  Southern Company  lobbyists by giving the company’s Georgia Power Company over $1 billion in advance profits and a guaranteed 11% return on nuclear plant Units 3 and 4 at the Vogtle generating complex near Waynesboro. Famous consumer advocate Clark Howard begged Lee and the rest of the legislators to vote no and he did so repeatedly.

 

 

 

Seventy Lobbyists? With Lee it was the 71st lobbyist, his Southern Company-employed daughter, who mattered more than the folks back home.

Anderson of the 117th voted AYE.

These days Lee is campaigning for the vacated Georgia Senate District 24 seat waving his phone promising voters that he will answer the phone and call them back. He isn’t saying when. He called this constituent after his vote for SB 31.

Now where are we? Unit 3 was to have begun operation last month, but recent updates have the unit only 26% complete with a $900 Million Cost Overrun to be paid by ratepayers when Georgia Power gets its way after the May elections.

Contractors have been paid out to the 60% completion level, despite the unit being only 26% complete. This is the tight construction cost control the 70 lobbyists touted?

Clark Howard was right, but Lee Anderson’s 71st lobbyist home economics were the sizzle in the bacon for House District 117 residents, who got $109 a year higher invoices.

He isn’t much good at writing bills but is wonderful at raising them.

After Lee Anderson blew off Clark Howard, how are you going to pay your power bill and what is that hay farmer going to toss in next?

Equal Protection, Equal Accountability

Comments of Al M. Gray to the Augusta Commission
Equal Protection, Equal Accountability
March 1, 2016

Mayor Davis, lady and gentlemen of the commission, thank you for the opportunity to speak today.
The baseball great Yogi Berra once said “If you come to a fork in the road, take it” but after its last two meetings perhaps this body should stop, back up and try another fork before the wheels come off of Augusta’s government like one of those KME firetrucks. Citizens, officials, and observers far and wide have been taken aback by votes to remedy a pay-increase scandal which represents a horrendous breach of Constitutional equal protection for the one employee and the simultaneous dismissal of equal accountability for 3 others who arguably had more responsibility.

The vote and particularly the commentary during the last commission meeting filled me and most observers with dismay, not just because of the ugly tone, but because the transparency so loudly promised during the SPLOST campaign is obviously dead. A citizenry who saw its garbage collection service cut in half now sees, yet again, tomfoolery to shift money between accounts to cover benefits to the downtown.They see the time-consuming machinations this administration has undertaken to do it during a time in which new SPLOST controls were supposedly a priority.

The biggest scandal in Augusta history – the financially ruinous Tee Center/Laney Walker Development deal – wasted more $tens of millions than a convention of con artists could dream up. The principle TEE contract required extensive records to be kept until the year 2020, yet neither side of the ugliness of the last 2 weeks wants to empower Augusta by learning from its mistakes there. One faction wouldn’t want it out during the state Republican Party Convention at the Convention Center out of fear of embarrassing party officials and the city. The other seems to want to maintain the sloppiness to get tens of millions more in loot with assertions of “it’s our turn, now” or “we are getting our share.”

Politicians like to create a façade of controls to hide the looting, but not controls to stop the looting. With the TEE center Augusta wound up with the daisy chain of “expert” controllers costing a combined $1250 per hour who controlled almost nothing and rubberstamped nearly everything. The powerfully-written construction management contract that Augusta won was turned into mush at their hands. Why?

Your Gift From the Copenhaver

Another Yogism by Berra– “It is Déjà vu all over again” – fits my 40 year odyssey out of Augusta, back, and now into this chamber. The mid 1970’s found me at the Labor Department in Augusta working to administer the old 13 county CETA employment programs. Fury erupted among the mostly black program management in Augusta that Columbia County had preselected an overwhelmingly white contingent of ineligible folks, but then came the embarrassing find that Augusta’s enrollees were mostly black ineligible folks.

A poor blind black woman with a young lad in tow came into the Program Directors’ office to see the Reverend F. Francis Cook. “This is my grandson, Jonathan, who sees about me, the best he can, but he needs one of those CETA jobs you all are handing out,” she said. Deputy Director Cook was in tears. There were no jobs left for the eligible and deserving grandson. He got crowded out by black politics. F. Francis Cook made sure we quit running a program for cronies, to make room for his people and for ALL people.

Yes, you can use the system perfected by the last administration to loot the people and discriminatingly spread $millions but “They did it and we are too!” makes a twisted concept of equal protection, while hurting the wrong people -people in your community.

What happened over the last two weeks destroyed confidence that this commission desires the promised transparency and reform. Choose another fork, one of real reform; this one is a dead end for Augusta.

Thank you.

Here is the video

Mother (of) Goofs – The Convention Center that Rick Built

This is the Convention Center that Rick built.
Conference Harrison Bldg

This is the parcel
http://gismap.augustaga.gov/PropertyCard/Default.aspx?pin=037-3-
That lay under the Convention Center that Rick built.

This is the Center Manager/Owner
paulssimon
That had the parcel
That lay under the Center that Rick built.

This is equipment the partnership deal said would be paid for by
Tilting Kettles
That Center Manager/Owner
That had the parcel
That lay under the Convention Center that Rick built.

This is the Administrator who worked with Rick to bill the city for


That kitchen equipment that was going to be the cost of
That Center Manager/Owner
That had the parcel
That lay under the Convention Center that Rick built.

This is the lawyer who looked in vain for the city commission-executed PARTNERSHIP CHANGE
permitting
Augusta Attorney Andrew McKenzie
That Administrator to work with Rick to bill the city for
That kitchen equipment that was going to be the cost of
That Center Manager/Owner
That had the parcel
That lay under the Convention Center that Rick built.

This is the Architect paid to prevent contracting snafus
who got excluded from reviewing the purchase for which
That lawyer found no partnership change to allow
That Administrator to work with Rick to bill the city for
That kitchen equipment that was going to be the cost of
That Center Manager/Owner
That had the parcel
That lay under the Convention Center that Rick built.

This is the land right Augusta found it had under its Convention Center after
Air Rights?
That Architect noted his exclusion from the purchase review that might have stopped
That which the lawyer found no partnership change to allow
That Administrator to work with Rick to bill the city for
That kitchen equipment that was going to be the cost of
That Center Manager/Owner
That had the parcel
That lay under the Convention Center that Rick built.

This is the Manager/owners parcel value for which Augusta was forced to trade the equipment to use its own building
on
That empty land right Augusta found it had after
That Architect noted his exclusion from the purchase review that might have stopped
That which the lawyer found no partnership change to allow
That Administrator to work with Rick to bill the city for
That kitchen equipment that was going to be the cost of
That Center Manager/Owner
That had the parcel
That lay under the Convention Center that Rick built.

These are the $8250 in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 campaign contributions from the Center Manager/Owner
paulssimon
Rick got after buying

That equipment value it became necessary to trade for
That empty land rights Augusta found it had after
That the Architect noted his exclusion from the purchase review that might have noted
That which the lawyer found no partnership change to allow
That Administrator to work with Rick to bill the city for
That kitchen equipment that was going to be the cost of
That Center Manager/Owner
That had the parcel
That lay under the Convention Center that Rick built.

This is the rival donkey in Congress grinning like a mule eating briars

That Rick got those campaign contributions from the Center Manager/Owner seeing
That equipment value it became necessary to trade for
That land right Augusta found it had after
That Architect noted his exclusion from the purchase review that might have noted
That which the lawyer found no partnership change to allow
That Administrator to work with Rick to bill the city for
That kitchen equipment that was going to be the cost of
That Center Manager/Owner
That had the parcel
That lay under the Convention Center that Rick built.

Blame it on the Evans UFO

The first report in this series, Conflict in Columbia County, peered into the April 2010 vote to grant the mass banking contract of Columbia County, Georgia to GB&T, Georgia Bank and Trust, a bank in which 2 commissioners, Ron Cross and Charlie Allen held stock and a third, Ron Thigpen, serves as Chief Operating Officer.

The award came after an extensive Request for Proposal was issued to about a dozen local banks in January. Responses were due by February 18th. Four county employees were designated as evaluators of the proposals: Water Director Billy Clayton, Accounting Manager Debra North, Finance Director Lee Ann DeLoach (then Reece), and Phyllis Swain. After the evaluations were compiled and the scoring totaled, First Citizens Bank scored the highest of the responding banks, with GB&T in second place. First Citizens quoted a minimum interest rate on deposits of 1%, with DeLoach noting the lack of a floor with GB&T relative to First Citizens and Swain noting that First Citizens had the best rate. The initial recommendation was to award the agreement to First Citizens.

GB&T had quoted a variable rate with a floor of 0.75%, 0.25% less than First Citizens. This put the minimum interest rate income from First Citizens 33% higher than GB&T.

That is when the UFO landed and all sorts of communications were disrupted. In this case UFO means Unidentified Financial Official. Some member or members of the County Finance Committee put the award on hold and sought direction from Jeffries, the County’s sole-sourced Bond Underwriter. When asked the identity of the Finance Committee member(s) who initiated the request from Jeffries, the county administration could not provide it, not could it provide any correspondence from Jeffries other than an Analysis showing that the county would earn more with GB&T. That analysis became the basis for what came to the commission as “Option Two” and a revised recommendation to award the mass banking arrangement to GB&T.

Out of a Finance Committee comprised of then Chairman Scott Dean, who is now in prison on an unrelated conviction, commission chairman and GB&T shareholder Ron Cross and District one commissioner and GBT executive Ron Thigpen, who was the UFO? If the UFO landed in the commission chambers, why is there no video, no tracks and no sign of his coming and leaving, only a mystery document which turned out to be wrong, predicting higher interest rates that never materialized and costing the county dearly?

Citizens-activists working with agraynation.com also sought whether First Citizens or the other banks responding to the RFP were invited to rebid or comment on the Jeffries analysis.The county answered that there was no written contact found with First Citizens after notification that their bank was on the list of finalists.

Finally, a response to a Georgia Open Records request to Columbia County, shows that the county was paid the 0.75% minimum throughout 2011 and 2012 on nearly all of the accounts covered by the mass banking RFP, rather than the much higher rates expected when the deal was awarded to the three commissioners’ bank.

Doesn’t an old construction guy like Chairman Cross know that nothing produces more controversy and lawsuits in procurement than awarding bids based on new criteria that have been denied to the other bidders? Isn’t doing something like that and having it lose 33% more revenue than the recommended vendor even worse? How much of his net worth is in that bank stock and its related business ventures, anyhow?

A lot of answers are due Columbia County voters before May 20.

Here is a video presentation recorded in the waning days of April 2014.

Next up in the series – County Revenue Vaporized by the Evans UFO?

Conflict in Columbia County?

Would y’all just look what we have here! In April 2010 the award of Columbia County’s Major banking agreement was on the Columbia County Commission agenda. Uncomfortably, three Commissioners had stock in Georgia Bank in Trust at the time of this vote. The county attorney seemed concerned about the whole area of ethics but it looks from up here in the pine woods that the entire commission was prepped to put on ballerina slippers and tiptoe through the minefield of awarding the county’s mass banking agreement to, well, Georgia Bank and Trust.

District One Commissioner Ron Thigpen was Chief Operating Officer of GB&T (very recently promoted to President). The county attorney found he could avoid the technical definition of a “Conflict of Interest” by recusing himself from this, an official vote of the commission. The county attorney found that the other GB&T shareholders Ron Cross and Charles Allen, Jr., held less than 5% of the bank’s shares and the bank being publicly held fit another exception in the Ethics Ordinance. The final step in the fanciful footwork that carried them to apparent safety was getting the not-ensnared commissioners Scott Dean and Trey Allen to bless the choreography and allow Cross and Charlie Allen to vote, which they did, awarding the banking deal to their bank.

Did the commission gracefully tiptoe across the ethics minefield on gilded slippers, as they would have us believe? Or were they really tap-dancing across it wearing snowshoes?

One of the Rons sure looks like he stepped on one of those Vietnam -era “bouncing betty” mines with a slow trigger. After all, it has taken 4 years for the damage to pop up and show itself to the taxpayers of Columbia County.

The mine had “Appearance of a Conflict” written all over it. The shrapnel might just now be striking. Wasn’t the key issue for Cross and Allen really how much their stock made up of their total assets and how much they stood to gain? How could Thigpen make myriad impartial decisions, beyond just that commission vote, like whether to increase or pay down debt when his bank stood to gain or lose revenue from the county’s deposits there?

Coming up next in the series is “Blame it on the UFO!”

-AF

A Crusading Chronicle Turns to Jihad

The independent media in east central Georgia fully expected the Augusta Chronicle to launch a crusade against 12th District Congressman John Barrow, the leviathan-besting survivor of six previous bouts with Billy Morris’ crumbling media empire and we were not disappointed. The salvo began with an opinion piece on September 15 and letters to the editor blasting the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DNCC)’s ads on behalf of Barrow, which targeted Rick Allen’s government contracts. Allen, the Republican Party nominee opposing Barrow, quickly and adeptly incorporated the newspaper’s attack on Barrow into his own campaign ads.The crusade had begun.

The Chronicle and Allen actually were justified in ridiculing the DNCC ads, because it was RW Allen, LLC, who held those contracts, not Rick Allen, who has had a declining participation in his firm in recent years, while retaining the title of President of the Firm. Also, as Allen, the Republican campaign apparatus, local talk radio, and the Chronicle pointed out, most of those contracts were competitively bid on a hard price basis and the “cost overruns” were indeed minimal.

The DNCC baited a trap. The Allen apparatchiks, especially Morris Communications, stepped into it. John Barrow, a Harvard Law graduate, probably wasn’t an unwitting beneficiary. If he was, he won’t be much longer, for the denunciations and denials of the DNCC charges by Allen and the Chronicle will only focus attention on the scandal-plagued Tee Center project, now termed the Augusta Convention Center, where RW Allen was the construction manager and a Chronicle affiliate was the chief beneficiary. It wasn’t hard bid, but was one of those loosey-goosey “guaranteed maximum price” deals and Augusta was billed the maximum price.

Before the contract trap was even sprung by the Barrow team, the Chronicle-Allen media express derailed less than 10 days of leaving the station. Its crusade suddenly was rerouted into a jihad against Islamic US citizens of Augusta.

The Islamic Society of Augusta had gotten acceptance of an invitation to debate from both Allen and Barrow for a debate to be held at the Islamic Center in Evans on September 27. Steve Crawford, editor of the Columbia County News-Times, a Morris publication, had agreed to be the moderator. Both candidates agreed to the Islamic Society hosting the event, Crawford’s moderation, and the place.

With no warning, Morris management took its newly-found jihadi knife and backstabbed host and moderator by forbidding Crawford from moderating. The event was put into danger of cancellation. Barrow appeared at the side of the Islamic Society’s Dr. Hossam Fadel and denounced the Morris action. Rick Allen was silent with the only response being the Allen campaign’s celebration of the “gotcha” moment of capturing Barrow in the company of a Muslim “cleric,” as they put it.

The debate was ‘saved’ by moving it to the less-than-200-person capacity of the Columbia County Commission Chamber from the 800-person-capacity Islamic Center. By several accounts, hundreds were turned away who arrived on time. The Chronicle’s jihadi knife got them too.

Before the debate began, Columbia County Republican Party Chairman Dewey Galeas added fuel to outrage at Republican party tactics by refusing to take Dr. Fadel’s offered hand for a handshake. Such ugliness is sure to be linked to other recent incidents by the state and county Republican parties.

Inside there were discussions of these events and a question was asked about the threat of Islamophobia to the constitutional rights of US citizens that are supposed to exist despite race, creed, national origin, religion or political belief. Here is the video of those remarks.

The Insider at the Metro Spirit concluded:

When (talk radio show host Austin)Rhodes pressed Atkins to explain which candidate was uncomfortable with the Islamic Community Center as the venue, Atkins was honest.

“It was the Rick Allen campaign headquarters,” Atkins told Rhodes.

Someone in the Morris-Allen alliance decided that the images of knife-wielding terrorists beheading folks in Iraq would be a nice thing to pin on John Barrow, turning the law abiding, honorable citizens in the Islamic Society into victims of a back-stabbing. Newsprint won’t stanch the bleeding and electronic publication won’t heal the wound.

The Chronicle‘s express might or might not get derailed at a guaranteed maximum price to its owners, but November 4 is Judgment Day when the voters decide whose political future is decapitated and whether it will be with his own knife.

Augusta Ministers Rose Up for Georgia!

by AL M. Gray

Guest Column for the Urban Pro Weekly

The 2500 statewide votes by which Karen Handel lost the Republican Party nomination for governor to Nathan Deal in 2010 hurt this writer deeply. The corruption-plagued Deal became governor because the personal commitment to total courage had fallen short……leaving sighs of regret that “I should have…” or “we could have….” Four years later we have another chance to restore faith and honor in the office of Governor of Georgia. It will take one word – COURAGE.

In that decisive month of August, 2010, Nathan Deal came on the local Austin Rhodes Show twice and his powerful supporter, Congressman Paul Broun, was on once, each time for a half-hour. Knowing that your author was well versed in Deal’s voting record, scandals, and escape from Congress barely ahead of an ethics investigation, Rhodes allowed the next half-hour each time for a through rebuttal of the Deal propaganda. If only the COURAGE to speak out on talk radio programs had extended to a statewide effort, Nathan Deal would be just another failed, bankrupt politician.

Why can such bold statements be made? Going into the August run-off, the entire Republican Party establishment and almost all local officials of that party were solidly behind Deal. It was a powerful machine, yet here in the CSRA, it lost and decisively so! Counties within 50 miles of the WGAC radio station voted for Handel by 60% to 40%. Had we Handel supporters had the COURAGE to take our talk radio strategy across the state, Deal would have lost and our state spared four years of embarrassing outrages.

WGAC Georgia Counties 2010

Courage is a more than a word. It is the difference in victory and defeat.

Courage arose in an unexpected way a dozen years ago in your city, when a group of brave ministers in the black community took the full measure of charges against Georgia Senate Majority Leader Charles Walker under prayerful consideration and stepped out to endorse a white Republican, Randy Hall. Their decision shook the state. To discontinue support of the most powerful black, Democratic Party politician in Georgia history took stamina and it did not come without repercussions, yet they did it with clarity and firmness of voice.

Their stand now gives you moral authority to take a position with those of us who are Independents, principled Republicans, Libertarians, and motivated voters in ridding our state of the Deal gang. We need to be telling our churchgoing brothers and sisters who normally unfailingly cleave to the Republican Party of the brave Augusta Ministers for Hall in 2002 and their stand. We should use every chance we get to remind them of the moral qualities that men and women of fail of all colors profess to live by, to raise their children by, and live religious lives for. We should ask them to have courage too – the courage to ditch their partisan loyalties for just one election year to make things as right as citizens of this great state can make them.

The governor’s race isn’t about President Obama. It is about us and our courage to confront powerful office holders gone astray. If your ministers can do that, then why won’t they and their ministers do this?

Talk to the people of other races in West Augusta, Columbia County and across our area. Tell them of your concerns. Let them know that you will rejoice if they just show the same gumption, independence, and honor to present the same principled opposition in showing Nathan Deal the door as your ministers did in 2002. Surely they wouldn’t want you to have a higher moral ground!

Georgia is in the heart of the Bible Belt but Georgians have had the unhappy history of letting charlatans bamboozle their way into office or stay after they have gone wrong. In 2014 one hopes that we have the same courage as Augusta ministers of 2002 and that honor prevails.

Austin Rhodes Political Theories Not from Einstein

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.”
– Rita Mae Brown , but frequently attributed to Albert Einstein

The last time Saxby Chambliss’ Georgia seat in the U.S. Senate was contested, it was by Democrat Jim Martin in 2008. The general election ended in a run-off. This writer, normally a Republican and fanatically conservative, endorsed Jim Martin out of sheer fright of the damage “Taxby,” as he is known in Georgia, might do with another term. After all, Chambliss had voted for the now $17 trillion Medicare D unfunded liability, the Patriot Act that took our constitutional rights, and a smorgasbord of outrageous government spending.
None of that mattered to Augusta radio talker Austin Rhodes. There isn’t a smidgeon of independence in his body when it comes to partisan politics. There is no “Republican” too objectionable to be supported to the hilt. Humorously, there is a Georgia prison system that has come to house many of his favorites. When it came to voting for Martin, Rhodes yammered about how important it was to vote for the “conservative” Chambliss for the sake of avoiding the dangerous liberal Supreme Court justice appointments Democrat Martin might vote to approve and all of the perils that the “liberal” Martin might engender.

Chambliss won.

Oops! Chambliss voted for the nomination of John Roberts to be the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Roberts voted for Obamacare, the greatest Republican-feared monster ever.

Read that one slowly. The “conservative” Austin wanted and got to avoid disastrous liberal court decisions voted for the Justice delivering the biggest liberal program that could be imagined!

Sadly the damage that the GOP establishment clown Taxby would go on to inflict will likely result in the financial collapse of America! Chambliss was the ranking member on the Agriculture Committee when the chance came to reform the colossal $400 trillion financial derivatives markets that caused the 2008 Lehman Brothers collapse. Derivatives were the biggest problem, because these insurance “contracts” where written without the reserves required by every state insurance commissioner and didn’t keep enough money to pay off the contracts when they became bad gambling debts. This came from a Saxby Chambliss vote in 2000. Worse than that, they were made even better than our money in the banks by a worse Chambliss vote that allowed mixing of the bad gambling debts with insured bank deposits!

Readers probably understand that they can call their insurance agent to place a binder on insurance for their new car. However,those binders cannot be deposited and spent . That requires a cash transaction. They aren’t “money good”. Well, in the panic of 2008, $10 million increments of insurance binders/derivatives/gambling bets were being made whole at taxpayer expense with the bailout of AIG.

$10 million or more in our money went to reimburse a phone conversation memo? Most employees cannot get $250 travel costs paid with no receipts!

Jim Martin would never have been in a position to correct these catastrophic errors. Saxby/Taxby was as the ranking member of the Agriculture Committee. Did he demand that no longer could phone calls cost taxpayers $100’s of billions in total? Watch this for yourselves.

There you have it. There are more derivatives now than in 2008 and they can still be a phone call, thanks to Saxby Chambliss.

Now in 2014, Austin Rhodes is still hawking US Senate candidates based upon their party affiliations, citing possible court nominations and legislation.

This writer is with Austin in supporting Republican David Perdue, having campaigned for him to the hilt in the primary season.

Perdue or even Democrat Michelle Nunn are far more capable than the retiring Chambliss.

Let’s hope this time Austin has it right, even if the reasoning isn’t sound by Einstein standards.

Cooking Sinergy on Reynolds Street

Some like to use the phrase “God Don’t Like Ugly” to describe situations where extreme karma erupt, but isn’t it more apt that both God and Satan have senses of humor when mortal humans gore their own ox?

Readers will see the title and immediately think “Synergy isn’t spelled that way!” Correct they are. Synergy is the creation of a whole that is greater than the simple sum of its parts. “Sinergy” is creation of an offense that is greater than the simple sum of its ingredients. “Sinergy” has gotten cooked up in heaping batches in a Reynolds Street kitchen in the Augusta Convention Center.

After the management at Augusta-based Morris Communications decided to go all-in cheerleading their TEE Center caper, which saw a Morris Communications affiliated company awarded with the management agreement to operate that now-infamous convention center, they failed to warn their local government reporters about the legal minefield lying in wait. Hundreds of pages of Uniform Commercial Code filings, easements and cross-easements, and the existing Conference Center operating agreement directly were impacted by the construction of the TEE Center. Poor reporters hadn’t the time or expertise to read the huge volumes required to avoid embarrassing blunders.

Sinergy struck reporter Susan McCord hard, when she published an expose about Augusta Commissioner Alvin Mason, prominently focused upon the number $1500, which was reportedly the amount of each of the campaign contributions made to Mason and fellow commissioner Corey Johnson by Augusta contractor Heery International in 2009.

$1500.

Whether it came through divine or demonic device is uncertain, but $1500 is the cost born by Augusta to refurbish existing kitchen equipment found in the TEE Center invoicing. According to the legalese in the documents recorded in the Office of the Augusta Richmond County Superior Court Clerk the equipment items were likely the asset of Augusta Riverfront LLC, the Morris affiliate. Under the ongoing 50 year Conference Center agreement, extended by the TEE Center agreement, kitchen equipment was the responsibility of the Augusta Riverfront entity, therefore any “existing” kitchen equipment in the complex would not have been the property of Augusta.

Did Morris’ newspaper slam Commissioner Mason for a $1500 ethical lapse when their affiliate enjoyed exactly $1500 Augusta funds to rebuild its equipment?

In Augusta a $1500 kettle whistles steam that Al Mason’s $1500 pot is black and the laughing imps who once hid out in the press room found their sinergy brewing in the $2 million taxpayer funded kitchen on Reynolds Street.

In the words of Bea Arthur……

When this writer spoke before the Augusta Commission against the SPLOST vote back in April, a heartfelt recommendation was expressed to have a “Truth Commission” empaneled in Augusta. South Africa found greater peace after Bishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela insisted on holding Truth Commissions after apartheid ended. Only when Augusta’s media giant comes to the table in a spirit of truth toward all communities and all people in your city will Augusta’s apartheid end.

That is how it looks from up here in the Lincoln County pine woods across the lake.

AG