Sunday Sermon: Everybody Raised Up – Walk!

Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012
Augusta, GA
How many truly great friends do you have? Folks who would go to nearly any extreme to give you comfort, aide, and assistance? One man in the bible had friends like that, friends who would not be denied in their quest to get help for him. He was paralyzed physically and with sin.  Jesus forgave and healed, but first there was that marvelous team of friends.



1 A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2 They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

 6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

 8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them,“Why are you thinking these things? 9 Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”


This miracle definitely made an impression on the disciples of Jesus, as this story appears in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, as well as here in Mark. Imagine the dedication they witnessed!


The paralyzed sinner was carried to the house where Jesus was on a pallet. To their dismay clamoring people had crowded the house and spilled outside.  The most quick-thinking of them found a most daring of solutions and told the others. The stronger of the band of friends hoisted the ailing one onto the roof. The more industrious of them removed a section of roof. Together they gently lowered their beloved friend into the presence of Jesus.


First Jesus took away the sin to the murmurs of doubters of his powers. Then he took away the man’s physical disability, telling him to pick up his mat and go home. We don’t know whether the healed one hesitated. It certainly would have been human. We do know that forgiving the sin was the greater feat, one that Jesus repeated for us all, but one that was not an overt demonstration of his healing power. The sight of the healed man walking out with that mat did that.


We are left to use our imaginations for the rest of the story. How did the healed one thank his devout, strong, unfailing, and devoted friends? We can envision a huge celebration immediately after his miracle. We can conjure up a lifetime of returned dedication to each one of them.


Did this band of brothers remain close for the rest of their days? Unfettered by the shackles and chains we have in modernity that was a much easier task in that day. It was a necessity. It will become one again, probably the hallmark of our collective salvation, reform and recovery after the cataclysmic collapse of our universally corrupt society. That is coming.


Folks who can be a friend and have friends like the man in this story will survive. Those who try another course are very much doomed.  Buying and hoarding gold won’t work. Fleeing America won’t help. Collecting guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition is foolish. Fortifying your home is illusory. In the end and before the end, we have each other. We should all strive to be as good a friend as possible to as many as possible on our way back to the future. The band of friends in this story is there to inspire us.  Hate the sin and love the sinner, it is said. That is easier said than done. It is not impossible.


What do you think the healed man did with respect to sin in his life?  One has to suspect that having felt the healing of Jesus, that this fellow lived as best he could for the rest of his days. We know not how many more days we have individually and as a people. The lesson of today is of friendship. Learn how to nurture it and you will pass the remainder of your days in happiness and peace.



Do this well enough and there will be people willing to walk through fire for you and even die for you.  As one who, until recently, was perfectly content to live out his days, but suddenly chose another path in which new friends and intensely devoted ones now walk, you just have to feel the power there to believe it.


The second commandment is “Love your neighbor as yourself” It is the hardest of them all. When duty calls one to be critical to change another’s wayward behavior, he must always hold out the hand of friendship beyond the controversy.  This writer tries that once a week, calling somebody who thinks there is unrequited animosity to tell them, there is tomorrow and tomorrow let’s work together. Most of the time they are stunned and sometimes this caller will hang up in tears himself.


I have to do better. We all do. Jesus commands it and it is our salvation, and soon, our survival.


Yes, we have to be very committed to changing our society back to comity, honesty, honor, and sacrifice and that means confrontation. Just keep in mind that tomorrow is another day, one in which a lot of wayward people will come home.


Let us close these thoughts with that wonderful song of the power of friendship, You Raise Me Up***




Brother Al Gray, High Reverend of The Church of What’s Happenin’ Now


Last Week’s Sermon: A Ruth-less World Falls Into a Grain Bin of Truth


And now we leave you with our Hymn for the day:

Augusta’s Contract With Heery International Contains More Surprises

Hear Ye, Heery is Here

More Overpriced Payees for the City?
Originally posted on CityStink
February 24, 2012
Augusta, GA
By Al Gray
The author, Al M. Gray is President of Cost Recovery Works, Inc., a provider of Cost Avoidance and Cost Recovery for America’s leading companies, businesses and governments desiring Superior Returns.
In 2003 the City of Augusta did a wise thing in a very foolish way. The administration saw an enormous upswing in capital spending that it lacked the staff and expertise to plan, engineer, procure, manage and control. A large, growing, and respected Atlanta-based firm, Heery International was selected to perform these functions. The strategy was sound.
The execution was horrible.
This blanket order was executed with 4% annual rate increases mandated. Despite the downturn in construction and the overall economy, in which labor, overhead and profit have tended to fall, the compounding of Heery’s rates continued unabated. The rates established for next year are up an incredible 48% over the initial rates. A Principle in Charge then was $162.16 an hour, this year one is $230.81 and next year it would be $240.04. A project manager then was $87.32. Now one is $124.28, rising to $129.25 next year. An administrative assistant went from $42.41 to $62.78 an hour.
The cumulative effects are stunning. In July 2010 the contract was extended to 2013. At the time, the contract price was raised from $7,082,355 to $10,317,906.
Amazingly, the total overhead and fee in RW Allen’s contract to build and equip the entire Tee Center is $1.8 million, while Heery’s program management fees will top $1.2 million. There is another $1.3 million slated for the Webster Detention Center Phase II. The Reynolds Street Parking Deck is a surprising $549,390.
A defense can be made that division of duties between the construction management firms and Heery reduced the costs of the former. That is a valid point. The difference in rates probably negates a lot of this advantage, however.
A fairly common approach is for the hourly rate for such services to be based upon some verifiable figure, usually the salary rate of the employee divided by 2080 (52 weeks, 40 hours per week) times a multiplier that is negotiated. 2.0 to 2.3 is a normal range. The Heery contract does not accomplish this. The rates were firmly set on an unknown basis back in 2003 and 2004. Augusta did not negotiate controls over composition of rates.
Beyond this, generally there is a firm division in setting rates that only people directly engaged in the project or on site are billed. Principals, Project Directors, and home office administrative assistants, all of whom appear on Augusta’s contract, are included within the markup applied to the directly-engaged employees. Augusta’s Heery contract allows these employees to be billed in addition to the marked-up billing rates of the direct employees.
Augusta is only permitted to audit the hours billed and the employee classification. Augusta is not allowed access to payroll records to ascertain accuracy of the rate billed or upon what basis the rate is determined. The language is blunt: “OWNER may only audit accounting records applicable to a cost-reimbursable type compensation.”
What this says is that the public can never know how community liason Butch Gallop‘s Heery billing rate got to be a whopping $177.91 an hour billed, with the potential of being billed at the $240.04 an hour on the rate sheet for next year!
The contract is nearly always advertised as a joint venture between Dukes Edwards Dukes and Heery International. Indeed, Dukes Edwards Dukes principal Winfred Dukes appears on the billing rate sheet at $240.04 an hour in 2013, up from the initial $162.16 an hour. For the sake of clarity and honesty, Dukes bills only about 4 hours a month. He is one of several Heery executives who Augusta should never have allowed to be billed in this writer’s humble opinion, since they are at supervision levels above the Senior Project Managers and directly-engaged staff on Augusta’s projects.
To summarize, the Heery contract has been on auto-pilot with compounding rates, unverifiable rate bases, and apparent inadequate division of direct labor versus overhead. The fault lies with Augusta, not its contractor, in this case as in all of the others recently reviewed. Augusta is profligate with taxpayer money, in this case by not revisiting a blanket order for services, electing to extend it untouched for years.
Who is Winfred Dukes? Well we found him under the Gold Dome in Atlanta.
Who knew Augusta had another state representative in the Georgia House?
Mysterious bodies abound in Augusta’s contracts. So far there are two in the Heery contract.
Stay tuned, there is more to come, as the deciphering of Augusta’s contracting continues.
Much more.***

A.G.
Related Stories:
“Galloping” Away With Taxpayers’ Money

**View Heery Document Below

Heery

TEE Center Update: Did Fred Fix the Kitchen But Fail to Execute?

The Convention Center Agreement Today

Fred and Barry’s Unexecuted Fix?

Friday, Feb. 24, 2012
Augusta, GA
In TEE Center Kitchen Costs Leave Taxpayers Burnt! , yesterday’s City Stink exclusive, this writer covered deficiencies in the City of Augusta’s Tee Center Term Sheet with its partner in the project, Augusta Riverfront LLC, which was approved by the city commission on August 21, 2007. This was the approved document recently cited by attorney Jim Plunkett’s resolution recounting the history of commission votes ratifying TEE and parking deck agreements. A formal agreement was belatedly drafted and conditionally approved for the Reynolds Street Parking Deck on February 7. 
 
Despite references in Board of Commissioner meetings all through 2009, no formal contractual agreement has been found executing the final Tee (now conference center) operating agreement. The original operating agreement for the Convention Center was recorded in the office of the Clerk of Superior court. There doesn’t seem to have been any modification nor has there been any action to define rights with respect to the .23 acre tract that the LLC owns under the Tee Center. Like the parking deck agreements the formal agreement seems to have lagged negotiations by years.
Based upon a schedule obtained in an earlier open records request by City Stink contributor Lori Davis (See Modifications Sheet Document Here) and informational updates made since the August 21, 2007 approval of the original term sheet that was unfavorable to Augusta, as noted yesterday, it looks like Augusta City Administrator Fred Russell and city Convention and Visitor’s bureau chief Barry White actually may have done an exceptional job of renegotiating the deal so that it is dramatically more favorable to the city!
The proposed modifications put the City in control of the Center’s finances, gives it catering revenues, provides for a set fee rather than profits from operations, and provides that profits from operations go to Augusta. If this modification represents the final agreement, it is vastly superior to the original deal and is actually a very good deal for the City of Augusta.
From here it looks like the original Term Sheet stands as the only basis of an operating agreement actually approved by the Commission and that the final agreement has been mired in what have to be tremendous legal complexities of merging the Tee agreement with the existing Convention Center agreement.
The final agreement should take care of the issue of the new kitchen equipment and replacements of that equipment going forward, but the Issue of how the new agreement relieved the LLC’s responsibilities going into this transaction, up to and until the combined Tee Center starts operations, still stands as does the issue of LLC responsibility for the proposed HVAC changes demanded by the Marriott.
Leaving issues like these, which should have been finalized before construction, hanging for 4 ½ years is a huge failure of administration, despite Fred Russell’s accomplishment of what looks to be a much, much better deal.
This story will be updated as new developments are known.***


A.G.
** Pdf files referenced in this article can be found below.


Related Stories:

Term Mod Sheet

Exclusive: TEE Center Kitchen Costs Leave Taxpayers Burnt!

!!CityStink.net Exclusive!!

And Now, The Tee Kitchen Saga

A cost recovery opinion and perspective



Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012
Augusta, GA

In a very heated Augusta Richmond County Commission meeting last evening, February 21, 2012, a proposed change order totaling $836,288 for modifications to the Tee Center Contract with RW Allen was disapproved (See The Change Order 2 document here).The substantial price increase was really the aggregate of 13 different change orders combined for the purpose of gaining Commission approval, usually a rubber stamp. This time the commission balked because of a stench boiling out of the unfinished Tee/Convention Center Kitchen. $399,823 of the increase was an HVAC upgrade to the kitchen area at the insistence of the city’s partner in this public-private partnership, Augusta Riverfront LLC, operator of the Marriott hotel.

Neither side of the vote on the commission was wrong. Augusta’s entire project management team had signed off on the change order four months ago, so disapproving it now was a moot point. Some commissioners accurately saw it that way and voted for approval, yet they all have serious questions. The rest missed the point about construction contract law and jumped to the real issue – are the Augusta Riverfront partners in this project controlling and expanding the scope to their benefit, yet totally at public expense?

The change order is a “done deal.”  A war appears imminent between the partners over financial responsibility for various areas of the project.

There is a powerful ODOR coming from the kitchen.

The parties jumped into this agreement based upon a document entitled Management Agreement Term Sheet – Trade Center, Version 6 dated June 29,2007, which the Commission  approved on August 21, 2007 (See TEE Center Term Sheet Document here). The purpose of the term sheet was to set forth that the “City of Augusta (“Augusta”) and Augusta Riverfront LLC (“LLC”) are interested in entering into a joint venture to own, build and operate a Trade, Exhibit and Event Center (“Trade Center”).”

This controlling document failed to establish effective dates or define WHEN operations start and construction ends. It would appear to embrace start of operations before project completion because it requires the Convention and Visitors Bureau to expend city funds 18 months before the project is complete. Aside from this, the project itself was scheduled to accommodate ongoing operations.

Let’s see what the Term Sheet says about cost responsibility. “LLC has total responsibility to provide all operating cost of the Convention Center, including, but not limited to, labor cost, supply cost, insurance and all repair, maintenance, and replacement of equipment. These replacement costs include replacing kitchen equipment, laundry equipment, HVAC equipment, outside walls and roof.”

Then there is this section:

AUGUSTA AND LLC AGREE TO THE FOLLOWING TERMS TO OWN, BUILD AND

OPERATE THE TRADE CENTER

5.  OPERATIONAL & CAPITAL FUNDING: It is anticipated that the new Trade Center’s rental revenues may not be sufficient to cover its operating expenses, particularly in the early years. The Trade Center will have capital needs for addition and replacement of various fixed assets. Augusta and LLC will participate in these Operational and Capital Funding needs as follows:…….

  d………Augusta’s Capital Funds shall specifically not be used for items related to Kitchen Equipment, Laundry Equipment, and any Convention Center or Hotel capital cost.

Remember there are no dates given to establish when operations start because operations were ongoing and overlap construction activities. Even more confusing is what is “Convention Center” versus “Tee Center.” Indeed, by actions of Augusta Riverfront LLC publicly acknowledging that BOTH are the “Convention Center” hasn’t that partner effectively agreed that its financial responsibilities for the combined total include those that previously existed for the Convention Center?

Interestingly, the Term Sheet provided that the kitchen for which Augusta Riverfront had equipment repair and replacement responsibilities would be consolidated with the Tee Center kitchen.

7.      KITCHEN AND BACK-OF-HOUSE: LLC and Augusta will allow the necessary modifications to the Convention Center to provide for the combined use of the kitchen, laundry and back of the house areas. The modified kitchen and back of the house space will be designed for use for both the Convention Center and the Trade Center.

In so combining the “Convention Center” with the “Tee Center” did Augusta Riverfront’s existing financial responsibility for kitchen equipment disappear? Or did it carry over?

4. TERM OF AGREEMENT: Augusta and LLC agree to modify their agreement for the operation of the      Convention Center to include the Trade Center.

The Term Sheet also clearly stated that catering revenues produced by the kitchen equipment do not result in any benefit for Augusta.

APPENDIX A: Definitions

For purposes of calculating the “Trade Center Operational Funding” described in Section 5., the Operating Revenues shall not include the following:…..

m.     Trade Center Catering Revenues

2.                   Trade Center Catering Revenues: shall consist of those food and beverage revenues generated on formal, catered meal functions held in the Trade Center.

City Stink and Augusta Today contributor Lori Davis obtained the December 31, 2012 project billing from Construction Manager at Risk RW Allen to the city (See Document here: Attn to Kitchen Equipment Line Item Item 19 on Page 3). This billing includes a line item of $1,376,987 for Kitchen Equipment, $275,946 of which has already been billed and presumably paid, less the retainage. Examination of the supporting subcontractor invoice shows thousands of dollars to repair and clean existing equipment that would have apparently been the responsibility of the LLC under the previous agreement. The controversial HVAC change order to meet Marriott standards can be added to the total.

It is clear that the infrastructure and building costs for the kitchen are the responsibility of Augusta. These costs are included in the building mechanical, electrical, HVAC and other contracts. No potential issues are apparent there, other than cost issues that might be unearthed in the future by a construction auditor.

Adding the $1,376,987 of kitchen equipment to the Marriott-directed kitchen HVAC upgrade $399,083 means a total of $1,776,070 of kitchen equipment capital costs that are potentially disputable by the City of Augusta as costs to be born by Augusta Riverfront LLC.

Questions abound. Has the City backcharged the LLC for any of the $275,946 paid to date for kitchen equipment and repair or cleaning of existing equipment the LLC seems responsible for? Isn’t the full $1,776,070 capital expenditures for which the LLC is responsible under the existing agreement and the Term sheet?  Was an intent to treat the capital expenditures for new kitchen equipment as an Augusta cost adequately stated in the term sheet? Are the provisions for the LLC to be a partner in the project mean it can claim one start date for its project start date, yet another as the start date of ‘operations’ under the same agreement when no dates are stated in that agreement? Hasn’t the LLC by announcing that the whole is now the “Convention Center” legally shot itself in the foot by in doing so embracing responsibility for kitchen capital expenditures? How many other costs of the Tee Center construction supplant existing LLC responsibilities for operating and capital costs from the existing Convention Center agreements? Where are the backcharges to the LLC?

Summary

To summarize, the Term Sheet establishing the relationship between the City of Augusta and the LLC for the Tee Center Project seems to be flawed in terms of effective dates; makes repeated statements that capital costs of kitchen equipment, which cost more than $1.7 million, and other capital costs are LLC responsibility; combines the existing “Convention Center” agreement with provisions making the LLC responsible for kitchen equipment with the new Tee Center construction and operations; and excludes Augusta from any apparent benefit from use of this capital equipment.

Somebody has a grand mess in their kitchen.This writer would be hard-pressed to decipher financial responsibilities under this informal, rushed, and incomplete Term Sheet “agreement.”

The lawyers are salivating because dividing this baby is going to take more than the wisdom and judgment of Solomon. The opinion from this quarter would be that it could be split 50-50. Given the size of these costs, that won’t be an easy pill to swallow.

The commission is, yet again, in an impossible position with respect to this project. Can they get any more Tee’d off?

Stay tuned for more cost recovery analysis  as the Tee Center documents are dissected while the project nears completion.***

 Al Gray

Editor’s note: City Stink contributor Al Gray is President of Cost Recovery Works, Inc., a Lincoln County, Georgia-based firm focused on construction, public administration, policy and cost recovery reviews on a guaranteed results basis. 

** Below are pdf files of the documents referenced in the above article:

Related Stories:
TEE Update: Did Fred Fix the Kitchen But Fail to Execute?

RWA December Pay App. (Atten to Page 3. Line Item 19 “Kitchen Equipment”)
RWA December 2011 Pay App
TEE center Term Sheet Document:
TEE Term Sheet (1)
TEE Center Change Order 2 Document:
Tee Center Change Order 2 R W Allen

Al Gray: TEE Center GMP Construction Contract Provides No “Guarantees”

When A Guarantee Isn’t One
Originally posted on CityStink
Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012
Augusta, GA
By Al Gray
The author, Al M. Gray is President of Cost Recovery Works, Inc., a provider of Cost Avoidance and Cost Recovery for America’s leading companies, businesses and governments desiring Superior Returns.
Augusta Commissioners on February 21, 2012, today, face a thorny vote on whether to approve a very expensive Change Order 2 (See the document here) to R.W. Allen LLC’s Construction Manager at Risk Contract for construction of the Tee Center. The contract is structured as a cost-plus arrangement with a Guaranteed Maximum Price. Such deals are commonly called GMAX or GMP contracts.
Under a cost-plus GMP contract, the construction manager starts construction before the design and specifications are complete in an effort to accelerate project completion. Otherwise all of the design, specifications and plans must be complete in order to bid the job on a lump sum or fixed price basis. Under a GMP contract, the construction manager mobilizes, awards the early sitework, underground piping, and preliminary concrete work while the architects and engineers complete packages for the various construction disciplines (steel, electrical, HVAC) that occur in later stages. When the overall design reaches majority completion, in this case 65%, the construction manager has enough data to provide the owner with a Guaranteed Maximum Price.
RW Allen and Augusta agreed to a GMP of $27,900,000 in January 2011. (See Document here)
The public highly distrusts cost-plus contracts, even those capped by a maximum price “Guarantee.” In this instance, properly done, cost-plus should have saved money and been the best choice method of project delivery. RW Allen had to deal with a brownfield site (unknown underground obstacles and conditions), coordination with ongoing operations of the hotel and convention center, in a congested area, and in conjunction with new design. Trying to force fixed price contracting intended for a set design would have resulted in risk-loaded contract prices where the real risk remained with the owner, the City of Augusta. The unknowns and variables were too great.Because the Guaranteed Maximum Price assumes set design parameters at the time the price is set, every GMP contract allows for change orders in the event that the design changes in the later stages at the recommendation of the architect and engineers. A change order increases the guaranteed maximum price.
Change Order 2 totaling $836,228 is actually the aggregation of 13 component change orders, including a controversial $399,083 change to the HVAC system to increase air turns to 8 over the base design standard of 2.5. Augusta’s architect approved this change months ago.
Some Augusta commissioners are grumbling because they confused “Guaranteed Maximum Price” with “Lump Sum.” In either contracting method there still would be change orders and they would be legitimate. The commissioners reticence to accept price increases because there is a price “guarantee” is a misunderstanding of the deal.
When a change order like this one gets to the Board of Commisioners it generally is a fait accompli. This looks to be the case in this instance. Under the RW Allen contract, the city is already bound. Look at the dates and signatures on the change order. The master change order 2 is dated October 17, 2011 and is more than four months old! The component change orders have to be of even earlier vintage. RW Allen’s contract for the Tee Center spells out that change orders increase the contract price in Article 15. (See Document Here)
There is little doubt that RW Allen was given the authority to proceed. The City of Augusta’s architect/engineer, program manager, and city administrator have all signed the authorization. (See Document Here) Under the Tee Center contract, the commissioners have no real options.
Augusta commissioners really should not want a lump sum at this point, because a lump sum contract has fewer options for cost reductions and cost recoveries as the contractors have born the risks and have earned the rewards of bearing those risks. (This doesn’t mean that lump sum contracts do not bear auditing, though!).
Commissioners can look forward to reductions in the Guaranteed Maximum Price as the Tee Center is completed. Allowances will be adjusted to actual cost both in the construction manager contract and in the component subcontracted packages. Contingency in this contract was $566,000 and that will be adjusted, too. Adjustments of ‘costs’ may or may not happen, depending on diligence.
Augusta Commissioners should be happy with the contract that they have and not yearn for a counterproductive fixed price that never would have been a lump sum. Just because a contract and change orders to it set a contract price, that does not mean that an evaluation of the scope documents cannot later reduce that price.
The administration and Board of Commissioners need to take prudent steps to verify the costs at completion. In fact, this needs to be performed for all of the various cost-plus GMP contracts the city has done in the last 3 years. Based upon the volume of these contracts, this writer projects that the costs recaptured by a comprehensive effort would range from $1.25 million to $5 million.
Nothing much is “guaranteed” in a GMP contract, just that the contractor keeps the change. Rarely is the change of the loose pocket variety. Augusta has let its contractors keep $millions in change by fruitlessly grumbling about change orders, then closing out “completed” contracts with nary a care.

That does guarantee a price.

Not if Augusta commissioners get wise.***

Al Gray

* (View pdf files of the documents referenced in this article below)

Editor’s note: City Stink contributor Al Gray is President of Cost Recovery Works, Inc., a Lincoln County, Georgia-based firm focused on construction, public administration, policy and cost recovery reviews on a guaranteed results basis.

Below are the documents referenced in this story:

Tee Center Change Order 2 R W Allen
r w Allen Gmp G-1 Tee Center
RWA – Tee Contract

Sunday Sermon: A Ruth-less World Falls into a Grain Bin of Truth

Gleaning on Everlasting Farms


Sunday, Feb. 19, 2012
Augusta, GA 
One of the most moving stories in the Bible is the story of Ruth. The story is one of devotion in how Ruth was faithful to her mother-in-law, Naomi. Compassion flows from the wealthy farmer, Boaz, toward the two of them. Later the compassion turned to love. The whole story is one of inspiration.


The quality most often missed in this story is toughness and tenacity.


These passages were taken from the Bible Gateway, New International Version.

 1 Long ago, during the time the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a man named Elimelech left the town of Bethlehem in Judah. He, his wife, and his two sons moved to the country of Moab. 2 The man’s wife was named Naomi….Later  5 … Naomi was left alone without her husband or her two sons.

 8 Then Naomi told her daughters-in-law, “Each of you should go back home to your mother. You have been very kind to me and my sons who are now dead. So I pray that the LORD will be just as kind to you…14 So again they cried very much. Then Orpah kissed Naomi goodbye, but Ruth hugged her and stayed.

16 ….Ruth said, “Don’t force me to leave you! Don’t force me to go back to my own people. Let me go with you. Wherever you go, I will go. Wherever you sleep, I will sleep. Your people will be my people. Your God will be my God. 17 Where you die, I will die, and that is where I will be buried. I ask the LORD to punish me if I don’t keep this promise: Only death will separate us.”

 22 So Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth, the Moabite, came back from the hill country of Moab. These two women came to Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.  

Chapter 2 1 There was a rich man named Boaz living in Bethlehem 2 One day Ruth, the Moabite, said to Naomi, “I think I will go to the fields. Maybe I can find someone who will be kind to me and let me gather the grain they leave in their field.”  Naomi said, “Fine, daughter, go ahead.”

 3 So Ruth went to the fields. She followed the workers who were cutting the grain and gathered the grain that was left. [b] It happened that part of the field belonged to Boaz….

 5 Boaz spoke to his servant who was in charge of the workers. He asked, “Whose girl is that?” 6 The servant answered, “She is the Moabite woman who came with Naomi from the country of Moab. 7 She came early this morning and asked me if she could follow the workers and gather the grain that was left on the ground. She rested only a short time in that shelter.” [c]

 8 Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Listen, child. Stay here in my field to gather grain for yourself. There is no need for you to go to any other field. Continue following behind my women workers. 9 Watch to see which fields they go into to cut the grain and follow them. I have warned the young men not to bother you. When you are thirsty, go and drink from the same water jug my men drink from.”

 10 Then Ruth bowed very low to the ground. She said to Boaz, “I am a foreigner, so I am surprised you even noticed me.” 11 Boaz answered her, “I know about all the help you have given to your mother-in-law Naomi. I know you helped her even after your husband died. And I know that you left your father and mother and your own country and came here to this country. You did not know anyone from this country, but you came here with Naomi. 12 The LORD will reward you for all the good things you have done. The LORD, the God of Israel, will pay you in full. You have come to him for safety, [d] and he will protect you.”


Wikipedia defines “gleaning” as:  the act of collecting leftover crops from farmers’ fields after they have been commercially harvested or on fields where it is not economically profitable to harvest.


This writer has made a living from gleaning.


Gleaning requires stubbornness in refusing to accept that all the good has been gotten out of anything. Ruth succeeded in getting enough barley grain to sustain her and Naomi, even before Boaz intervened to make certain Ruth got a bounty.


Gleaning involves excelling above the average competitor. Boaz had field hands – the Book of Ruth makes clear that they were both men and women workers – charged with gathering his riches of grain. Ruth had to work harder and know where to look for grain kernels that fell amongst the chaff, the soil, and ruts of the field. She probably knew exactly what to look for in discovering hidden caches.


Gleaning involves overcoming politics to even be allowed on the field. Surely in that day some owners begrudged the gleaners harvests considering the grain to be “mine” to the point of letting it rot away. We all know and have seen this attitude.


The farmer’s foremen could not have liked the idea of having gleaners around. When the gleaner’s gathered too great a bounty, it would make them look bad in the eyes of the boss.  One can bet that, where the foreman had his say, the fields were closed to gleaners. You may have noticed that only part of the field belonged to Boaz.


Gleaning also provides a sense of pride. We cannot help but notice that Ruth continued to glean after she found favor in the eyes of Boaz. He seems to have respected that by letting her earn her own support, probably knowing Ruth would never have accepted outright gifting of the grain. Politics came to the fore on that too, because of the resentment of his paid workers that would have ensued, had the grain been gifted.


Finally, gleaning is just plain common sense. Rather than let unappreciated, uncaptured resources continue to be squandered, it puts them to work providing sustenance to the resourceful, the committed, and the faithful.


The economic and financial times we find ourselves in is giving way to gleaning in myriad fields and ways like wood waste to fuel, scrap steel to recycling, ebay sales of what was ‘junk’ discarded by unappreciative owners but recaptured by the gleaners, and cost recovery reviews that find wasted monies that can fund new, productive ventures.


Political resistance is futile against something so filled with common sense, purpose, proven results, productivity, self-worth, and founded in the works of Ruth. Many fields are fertile from discarded wastes of all descriptions that remain closed. They shouldn’t be and they won’t be isolated much longer. There are strong forces in play that won’t allow it.


We don’t have to glean much to be captivated by the words of Ruth that have descended through the ages ” Entreat me not to leave thee, and to return from following after thee, for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.”


Ruth’s example is not lost. Indeed it soon will emerge triumphant as we turn away from the abyss.


Glean on.***








Al Gray

“Galloping” Away with Taxpayers’ Money

Augusta Stumbling Into a “Gallop”


Wednesday Feb. 15, 2012
Augusta, GA
*updated at 3:45pm
by IndyInjun
We were watching WRDW’s Chris Thomas on the latest Marriott hotel fiasco, a Tee Center change order of $396,000, when a familiar face appeared defending the hotel’s pricey standards that Augusta is being asked to fund. It was long-time Augusta political activist and Charles Walker acolyte, Wilbert “Butch” Gallop. Mr. Gallop was identified as a “project liaison,” whatever that is. 

At last count there were three oversight and management service companies, TVS Design, Heery International, and R.W. Allen charging well over $4 million to manage the Tee Center and Reynolds Street Parking Deck Projects. That’s a lot of overhead! Why are so many needed to administer these trouble-plagued jobs? Why is it so costly?
One reason is that Augusta is being charged $177.91 per hour for Butch Gallop’s services by program Manager Heery International for his work as “community liaison.”


We have a hint of what Butch Gallop’s “liaison” work for Heery International might entail from a June 17, 2009 article in the Augusta Chronicle by Johnny Edwards. In this article we learned that Gallop essentially worked as a “community organizer” to help drive out the vote by canvassing neighborhoods and supposedly dispelling “misinformation” to pass the SPLOST VI. Gallop worked alongside Janie Peel, Brenda Durandt, and Tricia Hughes on the “Yes to SPLOST  VI” campaign.


Butch Gallop is quoted in the article: “The team that was put together — Brenda Durant, Janie Peel and Tricia Hughes — put something together to really educate the community…The naysayers always have something negative to say, but they didn’t know why they were negative. All they kept talking about was pork-barrel projects.”


All this while he was on the payroll of Heery International, which manages Augusta’s sales tax projects. So does that mean taxpayers are indirectly paying Butch Gallop to be a lobbyist and community organizer to help push thru these SPLOSTs, which greatly benefit Heery International? It sure appears that way.
Casting the net beyond the Tee Center and Deck projects we found Butch Gallop in the pay of ESG Operations, Inc., operator of the Messerly Waste Water Treatment Plant at the rate of $2,500.00 per month. While whether Gallop was charged as a reimbursable cost under the waste water treatment plant contract or is absorbed in the overhead cost of the contractor’s services is immaterial. Augusta paid.
Just how many other Augusta contractors feel compelled to engage Butch Gallop’s services? What is going on here?

What exactly does a “liaison” do?

In these times of tough budget decisions, employee pay and benefit reductions, and aggressive cost-cutting, how will city leaders defend this galloping cost?
Augusta is squandering millions of dollars, while its commissioners dawdle and play the most unfortunate of political games. Stay tuned.***

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The Hotel That Never Was

Artist’s rendering of the proposed Hyatt Place hotel

Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012
Augusta, GA

Donated land was not the only promise broken in the TEE Center and Parking deck debacle. Some people may remember that the promise of  a $25,000,000 Hyatt Place Hotel was a major selling  point more than 2 and half years ago to force commissioners to act on approving the TEE Center and parking deck deal. We have this Augusta Chronicle article from August 11, 2009 that shows how Julian Osbon and Courtland Dusseau were essentially issuing an ultimatum to commissioners: Approve the TEE Center and parking deck or the city loses the hotel. The TEE Center and deck were eventually approved on Dec. 9, 2009.

It is very clear that the hotel was being used as a bargaining chip to get the TEE Center agreement passed, which in August of 2009 was at an impasse. In the article, Julian Osbon, who owned the land where the hotel was to be built said: ““I don’t think all the people understand the consequences. I wanted to make sure that if we did lose the hotel, that everyone had an opportunity to consider the possibilities. 

Osbon, also sent a letter to commissioners and the Mayor that expressed this same sentiment, urging them to approve the TEE Center or they would lose the hotel and lose what he estimated being a $215,000,000 25 year economic impact to the city. You can read that memorandum here: Osbon August 10, 2009 Memorandum to commissioners. (see pdf file at end of this article). Osbon also sent out an URGENT COMMUNITY ALERT (see 2nd pdf at end of article) to elected officials and business leaders essentially telling them that the only thing holding back construction on a new $25 million hotel was an agreement over the TEE Center. He also goes into a lengthy diatribe excoriating the black commissioners who he believes were holding up progress on the TEE Center, reserving most of his venom for Dist. 1 commissioner Betty Beard: “Perhaps Commissioner Beard does not understand that revenue producing venues such as a successful convention center is where the money will come from to revitalize the Laney-Walker and Bethlehem neighborhoods which are her pet projects, but are unfortunately in another Commissioner’s district.   It appears that District One voters have been ignored by our elected representative.”  

You must remember that 2009 was an election year and Beard’s seat was coming up for reelection. It appears as an obvious political threat towards Beard:  Vote for the TEE Center or pay a political price for not doing so. Shortly after this URGENT COMMUNITY ALERT went out, Beard decided not to run for reelection. Ultimately, Matt Aitken, a pro TEE Center candidate defeated Bill Fennoy in a run-off and took office. After his election win, the TEE Center agreement was approved just days later.
Osbon also issued a deadline of August 31, 2009 to commissioners to approve the TEE Center agreement saying in his Community Alert: “But August 31st is an important date for me. It represents the time to “draw a line in the sand,” I invested in my property at a time when it was very questionable as to whether or not it was a wise thing to do. As mentioned above I have held the property for more than a decade primarily to insure the best use of it by the community. Yes, I will make money if the hotel closes on it. And probably I will make more money if they do not. My property is the key piece in any development in the Common area and will easily increase in value. But nothing will bring more value to Augusta than the proposed Hyatt Place Hotel.

Osbon’s self-imposed August 31st deadline for an agreement on the TEE Center was extended when things got even more complicated when revelations emerged that two commissioners were allegedly offered bribes by local attorney David Fry. That news came out about the same time as Mr. Osbon’s date for “drawing a line in the sand.“. And complicating matters further is that one of the commissioners who was approached in the alleged bribery attempt, Alvin Mason, revealed that he was receiving political threats back in May of that year  from a prominent local businessman, Joe Edge,  the President of Sherman and Hemstreet Real Estate Company, who ironically was handling the sale of the land for the proposed Hyatt Place hotel. This Sept. 15th, 2009 article by Johnny Edwards  that appeared in the Augusta Chronicle gives more details about this political threat.
Alvin Mason released excerpts of the email he received from Mr. Edge. Here is one of the more interesting lines: “I own real estate in your district, and I will do everything I can to ensure you don’t get re-elected if the commission does not change their mind.” (referencing the stalled vote on the TEE Center). The May 28th email references the proposed Hyatt Place hotel, which was not made public until August of that year when Osbon began issuing his ultimatums to commissioners.
The hotel had now become a focal point in the debate over the TEE Center and commissioners were being urged and in some cases politically threatened to change their votes on it based on the promise of this Hyatt Place hotel and its supposed  $215 million 25 year economic impact on the city.
The First Signs of Trouble
So now let’s fast forward a few months to January of 2010. The TEE Center and its companion parking deck have been approved and plans are underway to begin construction. We have this  January 20, 2010 article in The Augusta Chronicle by Tim Rausch that seems to indicate that the hotel was moving forward. Courtland Dusseau, a managing partner of Alabama based Legacy Hospitality LLC, the developers of the hotel said: “We’re working on budgets today. We’ll have the business plan, financial plan put together by tomorrow and start meeting with bankers. We were concerned about when the TEE Center was starting. As long as it’s gonna happen, we’re fine.” It was even expected that the hotel would be open a year before the TEE Center. But here we are in 2012 just six months from the expected opening of the TEE Center and there has not even been a ground breaking for the hotel.
But in that same January 20th Augusta Chronicle article we had our first warning that this hotel may not ever happen. In the article, Dusseau admitted that he had no time line in place for ground breaking and had still not secured financing for the project. He was hoping that a grant from the OneGeorgia Foundation would help him secure other financing from local banks. So now, something that seemed like a sure thing once the commissioners signed the dotted line approving the TEE Center was up in the air. And it was a little more than ironic that Mr. Dusseau could not give the public a date for groundbreaking when commissioners were being issued a deadline just a few months prior to approve the TEE Center, based on this hotel. We have to ask, Did commissioners ever bother to get anything in writing from Mr Dusseau prior to voting to approve the TEE Center project on Dec. 9, 2009, that he did indeed have guarantees for financing the hotel  if the TEE center project was approved and built? Just like the supposed promise to release the liens on the property where the parking deck sits, getting things in writing before voting on something is always the smart course of action. But it does not appear that commissioners have learned from past mistakes.
Time Goes By
Months and months passed and still there were no announcements of when there would be groundbreaking for this Hyatt Place hotel. Then we have this Augusta Chronicle article from October 5 2010 telling us that the project was indefinitely delayed because of issues of securing financing. Mr Dusseau told Augusta Chronicle reporter Tracey McManus: “In today’s economic climate, it’s just really hard to get hotel financing. It’s just a matter of time.” A matter of time? Like the next century? While commissioners were being rushed by Mr Dusseau and Julian Osbon just a year earlier to approve the TEE Center project because of the immediacy of this hotel… now he was taking his own sweet time to secure financing. We have to ask…. shouldn’t the guarantees for financing have been secured before Mr Osbon started issuing ultimatums to commissioners over this hotel?
Then, in December of 2010, Dusseau was coming to city leaders with his hands out. He was hoping the city would lend its credit to help him with financing his 139 room Hyatt Place hotel. This Dec. 13, 2010 Augusta Chronicle article by Susan McCord gives more details. City administrator Fred Russell declined the request saying that the city didn’t need to be in the hotel business, but two new levels to the TEE Center parking deck were added around this time. It is not clear if that was motivated to help Mr Dusseau secure financing for the hotel.

A 2009 parking study did reference possible future development as one of the justifications for building a parking deck rather than less expensive surface parking. In that study, which was released in October of 2009, two options were recommended to satisfy expanded parking needs for the TEE Center. Option 1  was a much cheaper surface parking lot along 9th street at The Riverwalk. The second option was building a 400 space parking deck across Reynolds Street. Were city leaders compelled to go with the more expensive deck option because of the promises being made by Mr Dusseau and Osbon of another hotel being built directly across the street? We will have more on this in an upcoming article.

But my how things had changed. What was being presented as a $25 million gift to the city of Augusta by private developers just little more than a year earlier was now being pitched as something that the city should go into millions of dollars in debt to get built.
In a 2009 Letter to the Editor in The Augusta Chronicle, Julian Osbon called approving the TEE Center a “no-brainer”.. and he once again referenced this hotel saying.. “Does anyone really think the Hyatt Hotel Group would put a new $25 million facility in downtown Augusta without doing their due diligence?

Due diligence? Like securing financing upfront? Perhaps Mr Osbon should have done his due diligence by getting assurances from Mr. Dusseau that this hotel was a sure thing as long as the TEE Center was approved before he started issuing ultimatums and deadlines to commissioners and  firing off snarky letters to the editor and issuing his URGENT COMMUNITY ALERT.

Commissioners were pressured to approve the TEE Center partly because of this hotel and it appears by all accounts, that the hotel was pure fantasy…. merely a proposal and not a shovel ready project that simply awaited their approval. But this is not the first time commissioners have been  mislead over the TEE Center. They were told land would be donated and it never was. And let’s not forget that we have a trial about to get underway involving the alleged attempted bribery of two commissioners over The TEE Center and parking deck.

But here we are two and a half years after Julian Osbon issued his first ultimatum over the TEE Center based on this hotel which it appears will never be built. Blame the bad credit market… but the fact remains that this hotel project should have been presented as a mere proposal that still required securing financing.. instead of a sure thing to get commissioners to change their votes on the TEE Center. It appears that commissioners lived up to their end of the bargain. They approved the TEE Center project. The parking deck is open for business and the convention center is just months away from opening. Like the land that was promised to be donated to the city for the parking deck, it appears that this hotel has also turned into thin air.***

Below are pdf files of the Augusta 10, 2009 Memorandum and the Community Alert  that Julian Osbon sent out:
OsbonMemorandum

Below is the Urgent Community Alert
OsbonCommunityAlert
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More Deception in Parking Gate?

Once again a majority of commissioners have egg on their face

Monday, Feb. 13, 2012
Augusta, GA
By The Outsider

Well it appears that there may be no deal after all to release the liens on the property where the $12 million TEE Center parking deck sits, nor does there appear  to be any deal in place for the property to be acquired by the city’s land bank.

So it looks like instead of coming up with a last ditch effort to solve Parking Gate, what we have is merely more subterfuge and deception. And the mission of the city’s land bank is to acquire blighted properties that are often delinquent in property taxes. The property where the TEE center parking deck sits hardly qualifies.  So it appears we are back to square one. But the question must be asked…. what exactly happened at last Tuesday’s commission meeting? Were commissioners deceived yet again over this parking deck saga? It certainly appears that way.
(Watch Chris Thomas Report on WRDW News 12 Below)

Al Gray and Lori Davis presented compelling evidence at last Tuesday’s  commission meeting as to why the motion to approve the parking deck management contract with Augusta Riverfront LLC should be defeated. Mr Gray made the point that commissioners should use this as an opportunity to exercise some leverage to demand more transparency and the right to audit all of the city’s financial relationships with Augusta Riverfront LLC. That demand sent Augusta Riverfront LLC and their protectors on the commission into panic mode.. and at the last minute in what seemed to be a Hail Mary Pass, commissioner Jerry Brigham said that he had an agreement with Augusta Riverfront LLC, that Wells Fargo had agreed to release all liens and have the land transferred to the  city’s land bank. It had appeared that a solution had been reached, and a majority of commissioners, splitting along racial lines approved the management agreement with Augusta Riverfront LLC. The four black commissioners said that Tuesday’s commission meeting was the first that they had heard of this deal. But it appears this solution was all a ruse, and nothing but an attempt to thwart the efforts to open up the books to the other contracts the city has with Augusta Riverfront LLC.

So What’s Really Going On Here?
 Did Commissioner Brigham really have an agreement with Augusta Riverfront LLC before last Tuesday’s commission meeting? Commissioner Bowles says it all came together the afternoon before Tuesday’s vote. It seems to us that Commissioner Brigham should be able to produce something in writing from the bank that they had agreed to release the liens and consulted with the land bank that they could take the property before presenting this as a solution to commissioners. Was there anything in writing from the bank confirming release of the liens? We also have to question the judgement of the other five commissioners who voted for this “deal” last Tuesday. Now they all have egg all over their faces. There is no documentation that shows the bank has agreed to release the liens. So we have to ask..What’s really going on here? Was this really a good faith effort to find a last minute solution to put the land under city ownership free of all liens or was this a ruse to rush a management agreement through to cover all of this up?***
CS

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Sunday Sermon: The Sword of Goliath

The Sword of Goliath

Sunday Feb. 12, 2012
Augusta, GA

Everyone knows the story of David and Goliath. The round stones are remembered. Oft forgotten is the sword.

12  David went back and forth …….to tend his father’s sheep at Bethlehem. 17 Now Jesse said to his son David, “Take this … grain and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers and hurry to their camp. 

 20 Early in the morning David left the flock in the care of a shepherd, loaded up and set out, as Jesse had directed. He reached the camp as the army was going out to its battle positions…. the Israelites had been saying, “Do you see how this man keeps coming out? He comes out to defy Israel. The king will give great wealth to the man who kills him. He will also give him his daughter in marriage and will exempt his family from taxes in Israel.”

 28 When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness?…… I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”

 29 “Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?” …. What David said was overheard ….. and Saul sent for him.

 32 David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” 33 Saul replied, “You …..  are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”

 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear…. 37 The LORD who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”

 Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you.” David chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.

 43 He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!” 45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty…..All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

 48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.

 50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.

 51 David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the sheath. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword.



Let’s get the picture now. Goliath was a massive brute of a man with a mighty sword, heavy armaments, brass helmet, with a shield carrier in front and a formidable army at his rear. Defeating him seemed impossible and the people of Israel were resigned to defeat and decades of enslavement to very wicked, evil people.



David had no reason to get involved. His father told him to deliver food and come back home. When he started asking questions his brothers said “Don’t you have sheep that need tending?” To cap it off, the only way Israel thought it could bring forth a hero was to bribe him with tax exemptions. You read this just now. How modern and true to our own corruption!


The king looked David over and saw a fresh-faced kid from the fields with no apparent battle experience or credentials as a warrior. David knew himself better, having an unheralded but very real history of valiantly defending those under his protection. He had no need of the king’s fanciful armor and weaponry. He chose what he could deliver with deadly accuracy.

His weapons were smooth round stones, worn into the hardest of orbs by eons in water constantly eroded by currents. His delivery was by a sling. He knew the weapon was simple, the delivery had to be exactly on target, or he would meet the fate from which he delivered the sheep.



Goliath was contemptuous of David’s unarmed appearance unknowing of the lad’s feats alone in the woods back home. He thought his greatness commanded a more credentialed adversary. Maybe it was all the brass, who knows? Then the boy started running – straight toward Goliath – with purpose, never deviating even a step. Goliath had nothing to fear, his mighty sword was in his grip.



Goliath never knew what hit him.




The sword he never thought would be turned on him cost him his head.

A fearsome lout, a modern Goliath, stalks our land. He cares not for our needs, wants, desires, freedoms or rights, only extending his crushing corruption in domination of us all. Before him go his shield bearers, the politicians, lawyers, administrators and lobbyists. This hideous monster thunders derision at we the people, seemingly with impunity.  Defeatists won’t challenge him. They cower behind a forest of excuses.



That Goliath intimidated with his voice for 40 days, it is written. The Goliath of Augusta has had his 40 years. We have heard his words of derision and contempt.   We have seen his brassy swagger. We have heard the words “why don’t you mind your own business?”  The doubters who should be our brothers question our motives. We like David say “Can’t I even speak?” We look for inspiration and get offers of tax exemption bribes.



Goliath was insulted by his opponent’s lack of armaments and credentials. Is the Augusta leviathan making the same mistake? Are truth, justice, and determination the hardened projectiles that will bring it all down?



Augusta and America yearns for a champion. If one comes, he won’t be riding in on a blaze of glory. He or she will probably be like David. He will take a very strange path to destiny, led there by God, or if you believe not in Him, fate. When he took to the field that day never did Goliath dream that he would lose his life on the blade of his own sword, wielded by so unlikely and unknown a defender of the powerless.



Are you Goliath?



Run!


 

The smooth hard stone of truth flung from unexpected hands is about to smite you. The people will have a sword.

It is yours.***




Previous Sermon:


Nehemiah Gazes on Augusta
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