Old Bo – The Tail Wagged of a Thief

T-Boned at the Augusta National

Friday June 22, 2012
Augusta, GA
by Al Gray

This hunter has a confession to make.

I hated old Bo as much as Uncle John loved him.
Bo was the fastest beagle in Uncle’s pack of 32 and the houndish fellow had real charisma, hence John Rhodes would never leave the scoundrel home, as much as I wished he would. You might ask why a beagle could be despised by a fellow, especially one with “Happiness is a Beagle” emblazoned on a 40 year old sweatshirt. For me it was simple. I usually avoid people like old Bo.

The reason Bo always led the pack was straightforward.

He cheated.

While the rest of the pack sought the rabbit with nose to dusty ground, diligently working to stay on track, Bo would run ahead or cut in front. When the more deserving of his fellows would correct the course of the pack, after the rabbit threw them a loop or an out, Bo would always be opportunistically waiting to charge into the lead, his chop mouth a-barking.

I was aghast and disgusted. Bo was a cutter who stole the glory from those who worked very hard for it.

Taking all 32 of the pack was a troublesome affair. The hunters always had to keep count when loading the dogs up, lest one be left behind. A poor rabbit was doomed, because the pack would split, so that when he doubled back, he likely would run smack into the other half. One simply cannot convey the ground shaking racket 32 beagles make!

Uncle John’s best friend was Judson Bentley brother to his brother-in-law Irving Bentley. Judson was a most humorous, often cigar-chomping fellow, who frequently accompanied Uncles John, Land and Andrew on their rabbit hunts. Jud was the grandfather of WGAC radio talk show host Austin Rhodes (no relation to John Rhodes or this writer’s maternal grandfather).

John Rhodes was a notoriously frugal man. He drove a 1964 green Ford Ranger pickup. Instead of footing the bill for a serious box box to go in the back of it, Uncle fashioned a cover over the bed that was anchored in the corner post boxes. Instead of having a real dog box door, the box only had the tailgate to hold the pack in place. It was an accident waiting to happen.

One extremely cold morning in 1966, John, Land and Jud headed south toward Burke County with a half-compliment of 16 charged-up, excited beagles. In those days there was no Bobby Jones Expressway, so that the hunters leaving from Stevens Creek Road in Martinez had to pick a tortuous path down Washington Road, to Berckmans Road, over to Highland, then to Wheeless, over to Lumpkin Road and then south on Highway 56.

A terrible thing happened.

Just as they rounded the corner onto Berckmans Road at the big green water tower on the Augusta National side of the road, the truck either grazed the curb or encountered a bump. The tailgate fell down. All 16 beagles poured out into the intersection of Washington Road and Berckman’s road! Cars swerved. Horns blew. After a few minutes traffic stopped.

It was simply a miracle. John and Land caught and reloaded dogs while Jud, who at this point was pretty serious about events, counted. People got out of cars to help. Babe, Tiny, and Beulah were already rooting around in the vines along the National’s fence trying to jump a rabbit. Sadly what could have turned into a epochal story of a beagle pack running wild down Magnolia Lane was thwarted by the excellent fencing. Beulah was not amused when Land picked her up. She growled.

Travelers kept feeding wayward hounds into the back of the truck. 

Jud had counted 15.

Where was Bo? The uncles went looking while Jud lit a stogie.

They heard a commotion from across the street, in the A&P parking lot. A woman had dropped her bag of groceries, which gave that larcenous hound, Bo, his chance. Bo trotted back to his master, meeting him halfway across the lot, with a T-bone steak in his mouth. John Rhodes didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, because he had to pay the woman for her spoiled groceries.Bo had done what he did best, cut loose from the others to steal a treat.

With Bo in hand and order restored, the party headed on down to McBean, where the threat was no longer automotive, but was more in the order of avoiding moonshiners, rattlers, and old Miz Robinson.

Jud talked about that morning for years and it became a Rhodes family legend.

History doesn’t record what happened on the hunt that day, but hunters and 16 beagles were blessed with tragedy averted at the water tower. All have passed and all that remains is their memory.


I thought I was beyond Bo’s reach when he died, but then cousin Hugh turned loose his pup Flash one morning the next season. The dog raced out ahead looking to cut in front and steal the lead. “Cheater!” I muttered….then a the thought hit.

Bo left a son.***
Al and Queenie 1973

Austin Rhodes’ Challenge: Hire a Lawyer!

Augusta afternoon radio personality Austin Rhodes

Originally Posted By CityStink
Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012
Augusta, GA
By The Outsider
Contributions were made to this article by Al M. Gray, 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.
Austin Rhodes started his radio program off yesterday by issuing a challenge to the members of the citizens local government watchdog group on Facebook called Augusta Today: Hire a lawyer! It’s not because that Augusta Today is in any sort of legal trouble, but rather Rhodes contends that ultimately it will take legal action for the citizens activist group to get real action on their goals of government reform at  the Marble Palace.
Augusta’s government is kind of like  a meth addict. Their behavior is often highly inappropriate, but  they don’t think they have a problem. They’ve been doing  things this way for so long that to them it’s just the normal way of operating. In addiction psychology, that’s known as DENIAL. You can’t just politely ask them to change their ways. Sometimes there has to be an INTERVENTION. And that’s where the lawyers come in. So far, members of Augusta Today have been presenting the evidence of the bad deal the city got suckered into over the TEE Center and Parking deck hoping that commissioners would “see the light,” and change course. But over the course of the 13 weeks since we broke the ParkingGate scandal, there’s been very little action from the commission. In fact, some of them have even tried to marginalize members of Augusta Today as just grumpy gadflies.
On December 20th, 2011 six commissioners did finally approve a forensic audit to examine any possible improprieties involved in land transactions involved in the TEE Center  Parking Deck, but since then there has been no further action on the audit and now at least a couple of commissioners are trying to torpedo it. But members of Augusta Today press on, believing that in the end they will be vindicated because the facts are on their side.
Legal counsel could be helpful to the group though, and it is an idea that has been discussed before.. even at the very beginning of its formation..which evolved out of ACAVE.  Citizen activists can make a lot of noise, get information out there before the public by getting the media involved; they can pack commission meetings, call commissioners, write letters and emails, send letters to the editors, request public records and even start their own political  news blog! But in the end the decisions are in the hands of the elected officials, and in the case of Augusta, the politicians have been in denial for so long that they often just ignore the public they are supposed to serve.. no matter how valid their arguments are or how loudly they make them.
Enter the lawyers. Legal counsel has the power of the courts at their disposal to force the commission’s hand, just like a court can order a repeat drug offender into rehab. It’s called a Writ of mandamus. It’s when a court forces a lower court or government officer to perform a duty. In the case of ParkingGate, it could be forcing the commission to move forward with the forensic audit……they did vote to approve it after all. A writ of mandamus could also possibly be used to force a public referendum on any new ballpark.. that some elected officials are doing their darndest to get around.
But some of you may say: “But Woody Merry and his group filed lawsuits against the city all of the time and that got no where.”
True. But Woody Merry would usually file a lawsuit about any and everything and he often didn’t have the evidence to back up his claims. That’s  counterproductive and in the end just costs the taxpayers more in legal fees.
Augusta Today is different; they do their homework. They’ve done exhaustive research on the parking deck and TEE Center, as well as the Laney-Walker/Bethlehem redevelopment overlay, submitting open records requests for hundreds of pages of public records. And that doesn’t come cheap. Individual members  have dug into their own pockets shelling out hundreds of dollars to get these records. Another appeal of retaining legal counsel would be that it would cover obtaining most of the necessary legal documents and public records to move forward on a particular project. It’s like killing two birds with one stone.
But lawyers don’t come cheap. And the one that Austin Rhodes is recommending, Robert Mullins, won’t likely work for peanuts. Mullins has a successful track record suing the city. In 2009 Mullins sued the city on behalf of the Association for Fair Government to force the city to release public records.  That suit involved the release of public records over construction bids that the city’s procurement department kept stonewalling  over. In the end, Mullins prevailed.
Mullins won a settlement from the city on behalf of Thomson Wrecking Company for a sum in excess of $200,000  in July of 2011 over claims that the city’s procurement department violated a 2007 order regarding the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program.
The upper echelon of Augusta Today tell City Stink that they are taking a serious look at Robert Mullins and his track record. But first the group has to raise the money. Austin Rhodes quickly pledged $100 to the effort on the air yesterday. Then former Augusta Commissioner Andy Cheek called in and pledged $100 of his own. Members of Augusta Today are telling us that work is being done now to file the right paperwork so that they can form a legal fund and begin taking donations and start the process of retaining an attorney.
Once that happens the group will add a donation button to their Facebook page. We will also add it to CityStink.net as well. Stay tuned.***
UPDATE: We just learned that the city’s procurement department has begun the process of issuing requests for proposals from forensic auditing firms.

Magnolia Trace: After The Storm (videos with enhanced audio)

Originally Posted by CityStink
Wednesday Dec 7, 2011
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.
As we predicted,  there were indeed a lot of fireworks at last night’s Columbia County Commission meeting. Angry residents, mostly from Martinez neighborhoods surrounding the controversial Magnolia Trace subsidized housing development now under construction off Old Ferry Rd, packed commission chambers giving commissioners an earfull.
Jennifer McCray, founder of the opposition group on Facebook: Say No to Magnolia Trace Housing Project gave a very civil presentation that voiced many of the concerns of the residents who were opposing the development and their frustration over being left in the dark by their elected officials. You can view Jennifer McCray’s presentation below:

Other speakers were a bit more theatrical like afternoon radio talk show personality Austin Rhodes. We kid Austin, but he is in the theater. Also later in the video Commissioner Trey Allen addresses some questions and makes a motion to hire outside counsel. Ron Cross remains defiant. See entire Columbia County Magnolia Trace video in two parts below (better Quality):
NOTE: you may be prompted to activate the SilverLight Plugin for your browser. This will only need to be done once.


Video Part One

Video Part Two

The whole meeting could have easily devolved into chaos with an angry mob storming the commission chambers with pitchforks and torches, but cooler heads prevailed. Jennifer McCray quickly emerged as the responsible and level-headed leader for the opposition.
At the outset it appeared that all the residents might be able to do was pack the chambers and voice their anger at the elected officials they held responsible for the situation. It appeared that trying to stop the development was a lost cause. However, in the end the opposition won a small victory. Dist. 2 Commissioner Trey Allen made a motion for the county to seek outside counsel to study the possibility of getting an injunction or getting the developers to alter their plans. That seemed to satisfy many residents.
CityStink.net spoke with Jennifer McCray, the main spokesperson for the opposition, and  asked if she was pleased with  the outcome of last night’s meeting and she had this to say:
” Yes, I am pleased that the Commissioners are taking this seriously, and that they agreed to hire outside counsel. I am hoping that now  that they have seen the outcry from the community, they will be more willing to work with us and hopefully begin to build a relationship with the developer to try and find a happy compromise to this situation.”
But others are not so optimistic about the decision to hire outside counsel. Austin Rhodes called it nothing but “window dressing.” Many other citizens are still skeptical of the outcome from yesterday and see it as a “stalling tactic”.  The actions of the commission last night does not halt construction on the Magnolia Trace development. It will be interesting to see who the county hires as outside counsel and how vigorously they will pursue the matter. Or will outside counsel just tell the commission what they already know and stick taxpayers with a big bill. That  seems to be the sentiment of critics like Austin Rhodes.
We asked Jennifer McCray what her group was prepared to do if they are not satisfied with the results from the outside counsel. We asked if the opposition group would file its own lawsuit to halt the development. Ms McCray responded:
“I don’t know that a lawsuit of any kind could stop this. What we will need to find are loopholes that we can crawl through to stop this, or at least change the course. I hope that we can begin a dialogue with the developer to reduce the number of low income families being placed in those units, and instead balance it with elderly or disabled citizens.”
Ms McCray was not impressed with Ron Cross’ attitude towards the citizens at last night’s meeting.
“I was appalled at Mr. Cross’ behavior last night in the meeting. As an elected official, especially as Chairman,  I would expect him to keep his actions and comments as professional as possible. Attempting to bate the crowd with witty comments and outright sarcasm, I personally feel was juvenile and petty.”
Even though opponents did win a small victory last night, this saga is far from over. CityStink.net is working new leads on this story that could bring an entirely new dimension to it, possibly bringing much bigger names into the mix. Stay tuned, we will keep you updated as we learn more.***
*CityStink.net would like to thank Jill Peterson for providing the videos and Kurt Huttar for enhancing the audio.*

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