Don’t Feed the Dead Bolted Bears

Dead Bolt from a Wildlife Refuge
Sunday August, 12, 2012
Augusta, GA
By Al Gray 

 
Some of the most tense, relaxation-devoid, and snafu-filled experiences an outdoorsman can have is to try to jamb pack a meaningful hunting or fishing trip into a long weekend. For starters, every guy and his brother have the same idea. The fields and streams can be crowded.  The highways get traffic jams. The destinations can be miss-booked or overbooked. Having a meaningful, positive experience is a challenge. 

 
The Memorial Day weekend of 1979 was like that. A small group of us: Freddie and Sandy Norris, my sister Arlain and her fiancé, Robbie Robertson and this author decided to make a dash for Lake George in east central Florida. The idea was to catch the bluegills bedding atop the large mussel shell beds out in the lake upon the weekend full moon.  We made reservations with Blair’s Jungle Den at Astor. The manager assured us that unit, B2 would be open and awaiting our intended late arrival around midnight. 

 
Multiple compelling emergencies delayed our intended 3:00 PM departure from Evans. After considerable debate, we decided to go for it anyway, leaving around 6:30 Friday evening. We were extremely tired after a long day of working and packing. Passengers slept in order to take their turn at the wheel. The trip down was pure torture. 

 
 
Around 1:30 AM we pulled into the Jungle Den parking lot. Mobile home unit B2 was very clearly occupied, but A3, an old 2 bedroom Jim Walter shanty with an improvised attached bedroom to the rear, was empty. This discussion ensued:
 
Sandy: “I AM NOT staying in that place!” 

 
Me: “Why not?” 

 
Sandy: “I am scared to death of bugs and that place looks like it is roach infested, with maybe fleas, too!” 

 
Me: “There might be some dead crickets from the case that Uncle John insisted upon opening in there last year. We got serenaded and leapt-upon the whole week, but other than the bugs we brought everything was OK 

 
Sandy: “Well, if I see a bug, we are going to the Holiday Inn back in Orange Park. 

 
Unloading luggage commenced in earnest. Freddie, Sandy and Arlain got the main bedrooms and were settling in when I started into the rear bedroom, which turned out to have 2 single beds. One was opposite the door and the other was perpendicular to it at the end of the room. Robbie was just behind me, when I turned on the light switch. The sight of an enormous hairy spider on the wall greeted me. A quick decision was thus prompted. 

 
I exclaimed: “Look what a HUGE spider that’s perched over YOUR bed!”
Robbie laughed as he pulled off one of his sandals. WHAM! The wall shuddered as the heel of that sandal squashed the spider, leaving a smear on the wall, as the spider fell limply alongside the bed to the floor.
 
Sandy yelled: “What was that?” 

 
Me: “Nothing. Robbie is so tired that he crashed into the bed.” (Not a lie – he had!) 

 
Sandy: “I was afraid you were killing insects.” 

 
Me: “We have not seen any insects” (A spider is an arachnid, not an insect.) “Good Night!” 

 
The wind was blowing the next day too briskly to fish on the big lake. The bluegills did not cooperate on the river channels, either. Being constantly buzzed and pushed around by the weekend boat traffic from Astor headed out into the lake might have had something to do with that. Robbie had brought his blue Glasstream  boat, which was so fast it was spooky, but he left the river respecting that the big boats of the commercial fishermen were deceptively fast.  We caught some bluegills in some of the backwater sloughs but the total catch disappointed. 

 
Monday morning and departure time came quickly. We were loading the last luggage, when Sandy stopped at the threshold and looked back into Number A3. “Well,” she said, “I was worried about bugs, but y’all were right – this cabin was bug free. 

 
We broke into uncontrollable laughter. “Sa……Sa……Sandy…… the reason there weren’t any bugs was because the giant wolf spider we killed the first night had eaten them all! 

 
 
What prompted thoughts of disastrous weekend jaunts was opening the junk drawer in the kitchen this week and seeing a pitiful collection of metal parts that had rested there for a decade. Seeing it again brought a belly laugh. It was a souvenir from the Great Yazoo National Wildlife Refuge hunt of 2002. 

 
The Yazoo hunt began innocently enough. As a brother-in-law, Robbie is as good as gold, but when it comes to impromptu hunting trips, he can be a little dangerous. 

 
Robbie: “Don’t you want to go with us to Yazoo this year?” 

 
Me: “Yazoo makes lawn mowers, right?” 

 
Robbie: “No, Doofus, Yazoo as in Yazoo National Wildlife Refuge in Mississippi, down below Greenville. The refuge is on a huge oxbow of the Yazoo River. Last year was the first year they opened it up for hunting – bowhunting only – and there are huge bucks down there. Steve killed a big 8 point last year on our trip there and there weren’t that many hunters.” 

 
Me: “Count me in. Shooting does around the lake isn’t getting tedious, mind you, but a change in scenery might be good. That’s old Jerry Clower’s stomping grounds.” 

 
The appointed day for the trip came. As it turned out, this scribe had a bout of stomach virus, so we made more stops than Steve would have liked, as he was gung-ho to get there to scout. Along the way, we were dreaming aloud about bagging a 12 point, 195-class Pope and Young buck out of that ‘pristine’ swamp in the middle of the Yazoo Refuge. Each one of us already had one on the wall. 

 
Jerry Clower put that scenario to words well with “Want to Buy A Possum?” That one could have been a prophesy for our trip.

As we approached Greenville, I asked a stupid question.
 
Me: “Where we gonna stay? Hampton Inn?“
 
Steve, exchanging amused glances with Robbie: “More like Ho-ville Inn
 
Robbie: “We got the motel covered. We gotta have room to bring Steve’s canoe inside.”
 
Me: “Why can’t we leave it in the truck locked to the bed.”
 
Steve: “Bad part of town. People are walking the highway all hours. Robbie about got a girlfriend forced on him last year. Lots of crack dealing. Everything has to be in the room after dark.”
 
Me: “Ugh. I think I am getting sick again.” “What’s this about the ho’s?
 
Robbie: “There was a knock on the door late last year. I made the mistake of opening it. This woman walked in and she wouldn’t take ‘No’ for an answer. We had to pull our pistols on her to make her leave!”
 
Me: “You might have to pick me up at the Hampton, but I will give it a try
 
Steve wheeled into a dilapidated old motel, pulling into a space at the end room. I went to pay the Indian woman managing the place cash in advance through Monday. Upon returning to the room I saw a problem. The door to the room looked like it was nailed back together and the dead bolt was missing.  
 
Me: “When we go out to eat supper and get groceries, let’s run by Lowe’s.
 
Robbie: “Why?”
 
Me: “There is a hole where the dead bolt used to be. No way I stay in that room with that door being unsecure, never minding the fact that it looks pieced and glued together.”
 
Steve: “Now, I’ve heard of everything. Here we are about to buy our own dead bolt for a motel room!”
 
We walked out the door and smack into a pimp with a couple of ho’s. He and they weren’t insistent, probably because 3 guys in camo don’t generally look like men to be trifled with. There was drug dealing all over the place.
 
Upon our return, I took in the bathroom and shower. I have never seen a shower stall with such a menagerie of scum and mildew. Going in there was a grand mistake. Yeah, my gas perm contacts needed to come out, but my two hunting companions got a strategic jump on me.
 
Steve and Robbie were asleep and they were snoring.
 
It was Loud.
 
Before this story continues, your scribe has a confession to make. I have a habit of molesting my fellow hunters in their sleep – with my snoring. It is legendary. The racket gets so loud that no one who goes on our dove hunting trips will subject themselves to it. They all want another roomie.
 
This time, Yazoo Steve and Robbie were so loud, my efforts just blended in. We joked later that when our gang went hunting, we didn’t go a whoring, we went to snoring.
 
That sparsely attended hunt we were anticipating didn’t happen. On a trip around the loop road around the Yazoo refuge there were 85 pickups parked. There were so many hunters we had to get to the stands we found an hour before daylight and then blink our flashlights in warning to hunters approaching from the main parking areas. Our stands were almost on the water’s edge, which required that we take a short-cut down an old dike, across a beaver dam, through a pine thicket and alongside the swamp. The huge crowd of hunters pushed the deer out onto the humps and islands out in the swamp, so we saw a lot of deer. My stand was in a 14 inch black locust tree that was dropping its pods at the swamp edge. A very nice 8 point buck came in and started munching locust bean pods at 8 yards. He gave me the perfect shot.
 
I didn’t shoot. Thinking of the ordeal of getting that buck out of that swamp, across the oak stand, through the pine woods, up the canal, across the beaver dam, down the dike, and across the field to the truck, all via dragging or carting,  overcame the urge to shoot. That buck was doubly lucky, for he sashayed up to Robbie after he left me. He got a double bye-pass.
 
Back at the motel, the dingy carpet was getting muddy from our boots, the canoe was nestled against the wall, Steve’s boot dryers hummed, and the mold in the shower was getting abused by scent-proof shampoo. The seedy beds and the walls, were they to talk, were getting a new experience from three Georgia bowhunters. All of this went on behind our dead-bolt lock.
 
With all that snoring at night and maniacal laughter during the day, no pimps, whores, or dealers were coming anywhere near that end room. It sounded like there were grizzly bears in there.
 
I have to be the only person I know who bought his own motel door dead bolt lock. That’s my story and I am sticking to it.
 
The lock turned up this week. Here is the picture to prove it. 



 

The Three Wise Counties (Video)

Saturday, August 11, 2012
Augusta, GA
From CityStink.net Reports

Three counties in the CSRA region wisely said NO to T-SPLOST on July 31st: Columbia County, Glascock County and Lincoln County. However, since they were outvoted by the rest of the region, they will still be subjected to this hideous new tax and new level of government bureacracy. To make matters worse, since the T-SPLOST was rejected by 75% of the state, including populous metro Atlanta, this will likely result in proceeds from the CSRA’s gasoline tax being diverted to Atlanta. At least 3 local counties had the good judgement to see T-splost for what it was: a sham. Watch Al Gray’s video commentary below:

<iframe width=”420″ height=”315″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/TCAD9X9POKo” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

 

Corey Wants Tough Controls


Understated Brilliance from Corey Johnson

Originally posted on CityStink
Tuesday August 7, 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.
During the rampant hysteria of the Augusta Commission’s July 17, 2012 meeting, a quiet, serious voice spoke. It should have been the loudest voice. It wasn’t. It was the clear voice of reason. It came from this commissioner: Corey Johnson.
Mr. Johnson spoke of a dire need for a contracts expert to come in and straighten out Augusta’s many contracts. He spoke of this needing to be a permanent position in government. You can hear his 1 minute contribution of wisdom here: (press play button in lower left hand corner of the screen)
Corey is showing astuteness and leadership during a meeting when those to either side were flailing like drowning men. Why is he right? These are known issues:
  1. A one-sided parking deck contract favoring the management company with a blank check and a $238,000 (based upon original plan) subsidy.
  2. A Tee Center Contract that provides an unlimited conduit into the general funds of Augusta.
  3. A recorded Kitchen Equipment partnership agreement that remains in effect while Augusta has paid nearly $1.4 million for equipment that is the responsibility of another party, according to those agreements.
  4. An Ambulance contract that bears a $1.3 million subsidy, whereas the same company apparently has a $400,000 subsidy in the neighboring county.
  5. A sewer plant contract that reimburses every conceivable cost, yet provides for a 12% fee and a separate $250,000 director fee.
  6. The problematic Mobility transit contract.
  7. Major cost-plus, guaranteed maximum price, contracts that have not had costs scrutinized to verify that the costs are actual costs.
  8. Myriad issues with medium and small contracts.
  9. Limited or nonexistent rights to audit contracts.
  10. Failure of Augusta Housing to obtain the actual costs before reimbursing Laney Walker contractors for housing unit construction.
Are the contractors writing their own meal tickets? The survey says “YES!”
Bravo, Commissioner Corey Johnson. You did the Augusta citizenry proud that night.
Let’s have more of it.***
A.G.

Special Report: Marble Palace in Full Panic Mode

Mayor Deke: “We’re Not Crooked, Just Stupid.”

 

Originally posted on CityStink
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Augusta, GA
By Lori Tabb Davis
Al M. Gray, President of Cost Recovery Works, Inc. contributed multidisciplinary review techniques in support of this article.
We at Augusta Today and CityStink.net have waited for the hullabaloo over last Tuesday’s election to subside to respond to the cry of a panicked Augusta Commission and Mayor to -paraphrasing here – “Let the District Attorney investigate the TEE Center Parking Deck and bring in the Georgia Bureau of Investigation if there is fraud.”
What a total joke. That motion carried 7:1 but it was a plaintive cry for someone, anyone, to rescue the city from its many failures – be they criminal or just incompetence.
You could almost see the fear and desperation in the air. Matt Aitken wailed that Augusta “is becoming a laughingstock” while Joe Jackson moaned to the media about opening “Pandora’s box.
Now we are getting somewhere! We agree with the angst and terror. Attempting to throw the hot potato of the TEE debacle into D.A . Ashley Wright’s lap was never going to work. Mayor Deke Copenhaver instructed that we should “present” our evidence to Ms. Wright. He obviously missed a very key point – The evidence is in his possession and custody. We have gotten where we are with slow, diligent investigation of limited facts based upon the laborious Georgia Open Records Act request process.
Deke, you have the records. Why not throw all of them open to Augusta Today and CityStink.net? We welcome your new found candor, but you just are not sincere, you are desperate to shake us off the trail.
You almost sound as if you are wailing “We are not criminal, we are just Stupid!” You won’t get any argument here.
Augusta Today and CityStink.net contributor Al Gray and I went to Ashley Wright’s office on Friday, July 27 to relieve her of the hot potato and toss it back to you and the commission. Your motion was plain stupid. Of course, we don’t have evidence of criminality – that takes LAW ENFORCEMENT with a capability and DESIRE to investigate. The D.A. doesn’t have the resources. In Augusta these days there is no desire to investigate either, only to engage in endless cover up of very serious issues and FACTS – YOUR FACTS – that we discovered. They include:
    • Failure of City Attorneys to advise the commission of Millions of Dollars of liens on property under the $12 million Reynolds Street Parking Deck until after the structure was built. How did this happen when you have engaged special legal counsel?
    • Failure to execute a partnership agreement governing division of responsibilities with partner Augusta Riverfront LLC with respect to $50 million in buildings constructed on land owned by the LLC. How did this happen when Fred Russell promised in July of 2009 – three years ago – that these agreements were being “finalized?”
    • Failure to execute management agreements beforehand, with the result that the commission has a figurative gun to its head – execute a bad agreement or else – so that Commissioners Bowles, Guilfoyle, and Lockett are being forced into arduous hours of work to fix what $1500 an hour worth of “experts” have fouled up!
    • Submitting management agreements for the decks that are UNLIMITED BLANK CHECKS, putting the citizens of Augusta at risk of losing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. We suspect the same is true of the TEE Center itself. Why are there 15 pages of direct incidences where the commercial terms, as Al Gray calls them, provide monetary benefits to Augusta Riverfront that are vastly more lucrative than the rejected Ampco contract? Why don’t YOU demand answers, as a growing number of savvy commissioners are doing?
    • Buying $1.4 million of kitchen equipment without getting commission approval for changing recorded agreements whereby Augusta Riverfront pays for kitchen equipment while Augusta pays for the building and the kitchen space within the TEE center. Why hasn’t the LLC been billed yet?
    • Where is the $1.4 million of kitchen equipment? Contractor billings show it as work complete, when the facts are that the kitchen was an empty space at the time of the billings back at the end of May! Just this week there was a report about the kitchen equipment being installed. Where are Augusta’s assets? Where was it installed as reported through May? Where is contractually-required documentation for stored equipment?
    • Where are the cost details whereby ANYONE can verify that contract limitations on the supplier/subcontractor overhead and profit of 15 % were not exceeded for the kitchen equipment? We extend this challenge to any public accounting firm wishing to help us and to YOU, since you have boasted of the city’s “fine accounting.”
    • Where is the authority to spend Augusta funds refurbishing Augusta Riverfront LLC’s equipment? Whose equipment is it after the work is done?
You celebrated killing a forensic audit that might have answered some of these questions. You threw it over to a D.A. Who you knew could not and would not do anything.
Mr. Mayor, why are you engaged in this massive cover-up?
To the Commissioners inexplicably remaining in denial – How are you going to remain in this community when the truth comes out – IT WILL – showing you failed in your fiduciary duty to the public?
Is claiming utter stupidity – since criminality is off the table – your final defense?
Augusta is rapidly acquiring a reputation as the most CORRUPT city in Georgia. Your actions in refusing to consider the evidence at hand are adding fuel to the fire.***
I agree with Commissioner Aitken that our government is a laughingstock.
You and the Russell Administration are in full panic mode. Some commissioners are now wide awake and the rest have to be getting antsy.
We will not be dissuaded by your cover up.***
Stay tuned. More to come.

Lori Davis

T-SPLOST Beneficiaries Boost Anderson Congressional Campaign

Monday, August 6, 2012
Augusta, GA
From CityStink.net Reports
Al M. Gray, President of Cost Recovery Works, Inc. contributed multidisciplinary review techniques in support of this article.
Analysis of campaign disclosure reports submitted by the Lee Anderson for Congress campaign show an unsurprising result. Anderson, a Republican running for the 12th Congressional District Seat in the Congress of the United States was an early and heavy beneficiary of political donations from area contractors, more specifically paving and site work contractors who stand to gain from the T-Splost bill.
While Anderson was in the Georgia House of Representatives, he voted for House Bill 277, the Transportation Investment Act of 2010, which was quickly dubbed T-Splost.
While voters in Columbia and Lincoln Counties who were former constituents of Anderson’s voted down T-Splost in their respective counties, most were shocked to learn that they had been sold into subservience to the inner city entitlement crowd by Lee Anderson. Because it was a regional vote, Anderson and the gold dome crowd had eliminated home rule on the county level.
It is said that “the path to hell is paved with good intentions,”  but for the pavers the path to riches is a river of cash to Lee Anderson.***

Anderson Paving Contributions

Short Story: Fat Pitch Wood Ignites Laughter

The Fat Lighter Stump Rattler

Sunday, August 5, 2012
Lincoln County, GA

By Al Gray


An indispensable material in country life, a role that will accelerate its current reprise as the economics of energy demands, is the fat lighter stump.  Fat lighter is also known as “fat lighter,” “lighter wood,” “rich lighter,” “pine knot,” “lighter knot,” “heart pine,” and other similar descriptors of resin-rich pine wood. The stump is the most concentrated area of the tree to be left full of pitch, albeit not the only section, as trees with cat-faces, like this one, are also great sources.

Our modern homes are increasingly equipped with wood stoves and heaters, creating current demand, but strips and splinters of fat lighter have been used to start fires in the Southern United States for eons. One can imagine the nostrils of the earliest Americans flaring to take in the pleasant aroma of pine pitch as they stacked their own kindling to make camp fires or cook fires in their lodges.


For this aging scribe, that smell brings back memories and more than a few laughs.


Back in 1966, my great Uncle Land Rhodes set out to find some hunting land to rent in the Shell Bluff community of Burke County, Georgia. He found a willing partner in Bennie Gilchrist, who had about 250 acres off of Georgia Highway 23. The place had a couple of peanut fields on it for dove shooting, a few covies of quail and some briar patches full of rabbits. Mainly, though, the place was situated in close proximity to vast public lands of ITT Rayonier, Continental Can, and other private lands where the family could hunt.


In the midst of the first season the clan decided to camp out in an old tin-roofed shanty with just two rooms. One room had a working fireplace. The other did not. Naturally everybody with two legs slept in the one with the fireplace, for it was a brutally cold winter.  The greater number of the hunting party was better dressed for the cold and slept in the second room.

To get the fire started, they picked up some fat lighter over around Youmans Road on the way back from the first afternoon hunt. The splinters of that fat wood produced a rich, wafting odor of pine resin. Soon the fire was crackling, the stories were being spun, and before long, the tin roof was buzzing from the snoring from both rooms. No alcohol was involved, because John Rhodes was a tee-totaler and adamant about that.


The morning of the second day was a quail hunt, with plans for a grand rabbit hunt after lunch.  John, Land, and Andrew were the morning hunter contingent as the bigger party for the rabbit hunt was still up on Stevens Creek Road in Martinez. It was a good morning, too, for the uncles bagged 22 bobwhites before the hunting prowess of Bronco, King, and Nell.


Upon their return to the camp they found that Buster, Hugh, and Junior arrived. We won’t engage in a round of overstatement about the fare being sumptuous fried quail, cabbage, corn on the cob, cornbread, and a helping of Aunt Francis’ peach cobbler, because it was mostly saltines, sardines, and Vienna sausage. Afterward came a nap in front of the fireplace.


No one was asleep when a knock came from the front door. It was Alvin Needy, a local inhabitant who worked on farms part time. Old Alvin was known to drink moonshine and he had been into it early that day.  “Hey, fellas, y’all kill many birds this mawnin?” Buster said “Yeah, I wrung the neck of one of the yard hens for Hattie Mae just before we drove down, but you got to ask Land here if they got any quail birds.” Land said “Yeah, we found a big covey, got 5 on the rise and 3 more single birds. We knocked around and got a really nice mess of birds.”


By this time Alvin was inside, peering all around. “You mens got some licca you can spare for old Alvin? “ John spoke up and said “ I don’t drink. I suspect these other boys do, but not when I am around.” “WHAT?” exclaimed Alvin. “Six white mens down heah in dis sandy place in a shack on dis cold day and NO Booze?” By this time he had rumbled and stumbled to the door to the back room. He wasn’t taking no for an answer, believing he was being put off and mislead. Alvin reached for the door knob. One of the uncles said “I wouldn’t do that if I were you……”


“AiiiiEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!! “


Too late, Alvin had opened a Pandora’s box. 16 beagles overran Alvin. Old Bo headed for the front door….John grabbed him and said “Oh no, Bo, not time to go.” Polly, Prissy, Peaches, Jojo, Jesse, Freddy, Hap, Annie, Mabel, Jinx, Rebel, Tom, Fanny, Lucy, and Missy were milling around a still-muttering Alvin. “OOOO….WEEEE..lookit all de rabbit dawgs!”  He turned to flee and tripped over Mabel. Then the licking started.  Imagine 16 beagle butts turned outward while lathering attention on a drunk.


Word has it that Alvin was in church the next Sunday and didn’t touch moonshine for a very long while.


That day was one for the books. The afternoon was crisp and the thunder of 16 beagles in fully cry carried for nearly a mile. Alvin was long gone by the time the pack returned to that back room of the shanty.


35 years later your scribe went on a hunting lease exploration up at Old Anderson Plantation in Warren County near Norwood, Georgia, much like Uncle Land’s in finding the Gilchrist place. The plantation manager – let’s call him Jim Doe – met me at the hunting camp. At the time the plantation was about 20,000 acres and it had a central area of about 1500 acres that was open to bow hunting only. Jim was very gracious and we spent a lot of time, not just doing the obligatory cruise of the roads and fields, but a lot of actual strolling through the oak stands on the property. About half-way through, Jim spotted a fat lighter stump that he wanted, so we uprooted it and threw it in the back of my pickup truck.




Eventually I had seen enough to conclude the excursion and return to the camp. We were approaching a creek bottom on the paved highway, when Jim yelled “Rattlesnake!,”  pointing at a reptile nearing the centerline. “Kill him” he commanded.I complied, despite having to cross the double yellow line, then slam on the brakes as we crossed the snake’s body. The rattler was slung to the edge of the pavement. 

 We backed up and parked. The snake had somewhat regained his senses to head for the high grass. Jim said “Shoot him.” That brought the response “With WHAT?” There was no gun in the truck. The only thing available was the old fat lighter stump. It was about 3 feet long and perhaps 8 inches wide at its base, but it was solid. While Jim was busily cutting a stick to dispatch the snake with the Gerber folding saw from my hunting pack, I grabbed that stump, walked over to the rattlesnake, and dropped it on his head. The rattle was buzzing furiously. The assault with the fat lighter piece stopped the advance toward the tall weeds, then Jim’s stick finished the job.


Jim said “Let’s take this snake back to Rooster back at the camp. He likes to make hatbands from rattlesnake skins. This is a good one because it isn’t full of birdshot or buckshot holes.”


Rooster had left camp. I was left with the snake in the back of the truck near the tailgate, as I had my cooler and drinks forward against the tool box.


The trip back to Augusta began.  When the on ramp to I-20 at the Camak Exit was approaching a sudden bout of thirst struck for one of the Diet Pepsi’s in the cooler. I pulled off on the apron at the top of the ramp, got out of the truck, reached for a can of Pepsi, popped the top, and started to drink. Out of the corner of my eye, there was movement and something red. At the bottom of the ramp was a fiery red Mustang GT, with the trunk raised. Walking toward me was a guy dressed in an Atlanta Braves T Shirt and jeans. There had been a big game early that afternoon in Atlanta. Obviously there was car trouble.


I pulled down the ramp and rolled down the window. “Hi,”the man said, “I‘m Charlie Reed. My buddy, Dan Potts, and I were driving back to Augusta from the Braves – Giants game, when we hit a piece of metal that blew out a tire. We cannot get the lug nuts off of the wheel because the #%$%$# lug wrench handle is too short to apply enough leverage. Do you have a 4 way lug wrench?” “Sure do,” I replied. “I have a length of pipe to slide over a lug wrench as an extended lever, too!” We located the wrench and pipe in the tool box.


Charlie was a talker, one of those incessant gabbers, to whom you cannot get in a word edgewise. We were about 150 yards from the Mustang.


Charlie said “It sure is hot, could I ride back to the car in your truck?”


I replied “my passenger side seat and the floorboard are filled with tree stand paraphernalia”


He said, “That’s OK I will just hop back there and ride!” The man never stopped flapping his jaws to look what he was doing.


I stammered “No…no!….”


Charlie said “It’s OK, I am not choosy.”


Me: There’s a……”


Charlie, stepping up on the bumper, lifting his right leg high over the tailgate: “I ride in the backs of trucks all the time.”


Me: “I wouldn’t do that if I were You……..”  


Charlie, looking down in mid-giant-stride, his leg perpendicular to the ground 5 feet below: Aiiiieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

SNAKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Charlie bailed out in mid stride and catapulted to the ground. No bones were broken, only his stream of talk.


I have that way with people. I go to find a little fat lighter to make a fire. Somewhere along the way, be it to a county commission or just a hitchhiker in a Braves shirt. I will advise “I wouldn’t do that if I were You……..”  They then ignore me but they come to their senses screaming.


I did that recently, warning about how the TSPLOST transportation tax in Georgia was going to bite them. They promoted it anyway.


It went TSPLAT.


They should have banged the TSLOST to death with a stick of fat lighter.  Now they have to bail out and land on their rumps.


I will laugh my large Gray-family-inherited buns off.***


A.G.


ITYS

Farmer Lee Anderson Grows Taxes

The Lee Tax Shift
Originally posted on CityStink
Friday, August 3, 2012
Columbia County, GA
By Kurt Huttar

 

Al M. Gray, President of Cost Recovery Works, Inc. contributed multidisciplinary review techniques in support of this article.
Last Tuesday, July 31, 2012, saw the completion of the biggest tax shift in CSRA and Georgia history with the passage of the 1% sales tax for transportation called T-Splost. Less than two months after Columbia County Representatives Lee Anderson and Ben Harbin voted for $tens of millions in new sales tax exemptions for Delta Airlines,  Delta, Georgia’s  domineering airline, contributed $225,000 used to convince easily-swayed voters to vote themselves a 33%sales tax increase on food.
Perhaps Delta, once notorious for sending passengers on the last leg back to Augusta on buses, wants safer roads on which to transport shafted customers upon whom it foisted an $8 billion tax increase.
Anderson, now a candidate for the 12thCongressional District seat now held by Democrat John Barrow, voted to cut Delta’s sales taxes but voted for these sales tax increases on us in the middle class. Here we find Lee dining with George Bowen, the lobbyist who greased through the fuel tax exemption for Delta and Georgia Power.
Worse is the behavior of Georgia Power Company, who gave $395,000 to deluge us with pro T-Splost propaganda after the same legislation saved them $hundreds of millions. It is noted that said cost savings supposedly are given back to consumers via fuel adjustments to their rates, but how many citizens trust those calculations? This also came after Lee Anderson voted in 2009 for Georgia Power’s advance billing of $1 billion in profits, hidden as “construction costs.” We got double digit rate increases from that, too.
Yes, we voters are now going to have to pay Lee’s 14% T-Splost sales tax increase on those double-digit, advance-profit charges on our power bills.
Here, the Georgia Gang, including former Augusta Chronicle opinion editor, Phil Kent, questioned the rush by Lee Anderson and others to pass the bill.
Lee could not be dissuaded by pleas of “Read the BILL, Lee!”
Anderson, a hay farmer, also voted for a $500 million a year hospital bed tax. How did he make a “No Tax Increase” Pledge with Grover Norguist’s Amercans for Tax Reform and vote for these tax increases? Can we believe his promises?
It was most frustrating for us in Columbia County to only be able to put up a few score “VOTE NO” signs, then go home to find pro-T-Splost mailers in the mailbox.
I had to  drive by scads of “Vote Yes” signs illegally placed in medians and rights of way, like this one:
I had to listen to broadcast appeals funded by these corporations who just got sales tax cuts.
Finally, I got a batch of signs from Augusta County Commissioner Joe Bowles, who courageously fought adoption of this terrible tax.
On August 21, we have chance to just say ‘No!” once again. This time it is a vote against legislators stupidly subordinating our Columbia County votes to those of ignorant and corrupt Augustans. This time it is a vote mindful that this dastardly T-Splost tax begins to be collected January 1.

Just say no to Lee Anderson for Congress.

Lobbyists love him. The middle class groans under the burdens their orgies of money and excess we are left with.
Isn’t it time the people won one?***
KH

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T-SPLOST Passes in CSRA Despite Columbia County Saying No

Originally posted on CityStink
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Augusta, GA
By The Outsider
Al M. Gray, President of Cost Recovery Works, Inc. contributed multidisciplinary review techniques in support of this article.
Bucking a statewide trend, it appears that the T-SPLOST tax has passed in the 13 county Central Savannah River Area region. The latest vote totals as of 11pm on July 31 showed a margin of 56% voting in favor and  44% voting against with a more than 6,000 vote spread. This is by far the best showing for the T-SPLOST   in all 12 regions of the state, where latest totals showed that the tax was failing in 9 out of 12 regions.
Perhaps the biggest repudiation of T-SPLOST came in the  metro Atlanta region, where voters are rejecting the tax by a wide margin of 63% against and 37% in favor. This, after millions of dollars were poured into the Atlanta region by pro T-SPLOST groups  for an ad blitz pitching the tax. Its failure in the metro Atlanta region will make things very complicated, since the law states that any region which does not pass the tax will have their state transportation matching funds slashed….and with metro Atlanta comprising nearly 50% of the state’s population, that’s a lot of money. You can now expect a barrage of lawsuits challenging the efficacy of T-SPLOST now that it seems to have failed in 75% of the regions, including the states’s most populous metropolitan area.
The T-SPLOST also failed in Coastal Georgia, which after metro Atlanta accounted for the most spending by Pro T-SPLOST groups. In fact, Chatham County rejected the tax by over 57%  despite the Savannah port deepening being a signature project touted by T-SPLOST backers.
So why did it pass in the CSRA? 
By looking at the most recent vote totals, it appears that T-SPLOST mainly passed here because of Augusta-Richmond County (the most populous county in the region) where it was approved by more than 58% of the vote with a nearly 6,000 vote margin. T-SPLOST did particularly well in predominately African-American voting precincts in Richmond County. The tax found its softest support in West Augusta and South Richmond County precincts with a slight majority of those precincts rejecting T-SPLOST.
The story was completely different in Columbia County where over 58% of voters rejected the T-SPLOST.   The latest totals showed 14,358 voting against and 10,340 voting in favor. But even though Columbia County voters resoundly  rejected T-SPLOST, they will  still be taxed anyway. Lincoln County and Glascock County also rejected the T-SPLOST. The nine other rural counties passed it, presumably because of the promise from politicians that they would be getting over $87 million in additional tax revenue from populous Richmond and Columbia Counties
Since this is a regional tax regime, Columbia County is tied to the other 12 counties in the CSRA region, including Augusta-Richmond County. Under the provisions of the tax district, Columbia County will be a donor county, giving up  over $23 million of its sales tax proceeds to other counties in the region. But under the T-SPLOST regime Augusta/Richmond County will be giving away $63 million of its sales tax proceeds to other counties, which makes the overwhelming support there even more baffling. Columbia County will also now be married to what many political observers consider a corrupt and incompetent Augusta-Richmond County for control of transportation dollars.
Impact on the 12th District Congressional Race
Lee Anderson voted for T-SPLOST in the Georgia General Assembly, and now he appears to be in a run-off for the 12 Georgia Congressional GOP nomination with either Rick Allen or Wright McCleod. Anderson defended his T-SPLOST vote by saying he was only voting to give the people a say in the matter. However, critics charged that the regional vote was unfair and would subject individual counties to the tax even if their voters overwhelmingly opposed it at the polls. That scenario now seems to have been born out in Columbia County. All 3 of Anderson’s GOP challengers said they were against T-SPLOST. Now there is speculation of whether there will be a voter backlash against Anderson in his home base of Columbia County because of the T-SPLOST outcome.
Also in the hot seat is Columbia County commission chairman Ron Cross, who heavily promoted T-SPLOST. Seeing as how it failed by such a wide margin there, his critics have yet another example to show  how the commission chairman is out of touch with the average voter in Columbia County. If there is any bright spot for Columbia County over the T-SPLOST outcome is that it may lead to the overwhelming passage of a referendum imposing term limits on county commissioners and the chairman.
Now the CSRA region will have one of the highest sales taxes in the state, making it less competitive for business. However, neighboring South Carolina  retailers are likely to see a jump in business from T-SPLOST. ***
Stay Tuned… more to come
OS