What Is Your Goal?
Another week has gone by and no real progress has been made in the impasse between Augusta commissioners on the issue of where to hold their monthly meetings. Of course that ridiculous debate is merely symptomatic of much larger issues. No need to go over the history of the problem; only those in comas or who bask in the glow of their own willful ignorance don’t know the silly background. So I will dispense with the civics lecture and get to the heart of the matter: What the hell do you people in the Augusta city government hope to accomplish? There appear to be two mindsets that have been represented in recent discussions and votes: Those who want to streamline and economize local civil service and those who see the public payroll as a means to reward supporters, protect friends and wield power. The recent vote to privatize city bus service is a prime example. Under the same general 6-4 vote totals (sadly breaking down white-black), the city’s colossally expensive public transit system has been put under the control of a private management company. Seeing as how the system has been complained about incessantly by its most regular customers, one would think a shakeup in management would not only be welcome, but it would be celebrated with a tickertape parade. But alas, no celebrations are forthcoming. None from the minority commissioners who did not want to give up the day-to-day control, and none from the majority of the white commissioners who for some hideous reason decided to require the management company to maintain current staff for at least two years. Seriously? This is akin to a couple getting married, and even though they now live together, they decide to keep paying two power bills just so they won’t hurt anyone’s feelings. What complete and total bullcrap. The management company leadership says as they start cracking the whip and holding employees accountable for poor performance that there will be voluntary resignations and perhaps even a few terminations for cause. That is all fine and good, but something is wrong when you can articulate that undesirable employees will “soon” be unhappy enough to leave. Why the heck have they ever been allowed to stay in the first place? The whole world is laying off and cutting back employees and yet there are elected officials in Augusta city government who apparently have a hard time believing that our 15-year-old consolidated municipal workforce is not ready for an adjustment. In the meantime, we have debates, discussions and heated exchanges over whose name is going to be on the side of a courthouse, and the way it will be spelled out on the wall. State Court Judge David Watkins, a man whom I have praised many times on these pages and on the air, actually threw a fit when there was an issue over where and how Judge Jack Ruffin’s name was going to be displayed on the new facility. That display actually brought some results, so, as silly as it was that he said he wasn’t moving his office until it was settled, it is hard to ignore success. I share that anecdote just to make the point that while maintaining a public payroll and building municipal shrines is all well and good, what does it say that few of these fine elected officials have said word one about the crime and deadly behavior that goes on in the shadow of their magnificent meeting halls? I would love for Judge Watkins to throw such a fit over the fact that the owners of Augusta’s most dangerous and crime infested apartment complex, River Glen, refuse to do anything about the problems and, in fact, seems to be happy to let most everyone know that they are not going to be calling in police to “bust up the party.” Every dime that goes to the 100 percent Section 8 complex is funneled through the Augusta Housing Authority, so don’t tell me there is not something that can’t be done at the local level to clean up the problem down there. Hey Judge: Why not order the owners to appear in front of local leaders and explain why their business license shouldn’t be revoked for running a hazardous enterprise? Local bars have been shut down for far, far less. So as the politicians continue to “tilt at windmills” and exhibit more mass paranoia than you see from the crowd an hour after a Grateful Dead concert, why not ask them what they are doing about the real life and death safety issues that impact local residents? I mean really… what is their goal?You Might Also Like:
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