Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Corporal Gripweed: Where Was Deke?

….Where was George?…..
  Ted Kennedy, Democratic National Convention 1988

In politics it is sometimes very easy to assail your opponent with misdeeds , missteps and gaffes. It's particularly easy if they have a lengthy record of service. Ted Kennedy tried to do the reverse in the case of his speech to the Democratic National Convention in 1988. He attempted to show that George Bush's inaction during the Reagan years precluded him from being able to serve as President.

"When the administration secretly plotted to sell arms to Iran……where was George?When the administration tried to slash Social Security….where was George? You get the picture.

In Augusta, it seems as if we have the same problem. We have a Mayor who has been little more than a cheerleader for six years. My interpretation of leadership means that from time to time you must get your hands dirty in order to actually lead. Sadly, in Augusta that doesn't seem to be the case.

What we have here is an able bureaucrat, but not a leader. A Chief Excutive that will wield a gavel, but will not use the power of his office to ensure that the needs of the many outweigh the wants of a privileged few. 

When our City Administrator negotiated a less than advantageous deal for the taxpayers in regards to the TEE Center property AND parking deck….Where was Deke?

When the Ripken organization threatens to pull their  team out of Augusta if we don't build a stadium most citizens neither want nor need……Where was Deke?

When the Pride Parade was proposed and it took days of wrangling to figure out the result……Where was Deke?

When benefits for Augusta-Richmond County firefighter pensioners was suddenly cancelled over the July 4th holiday….Where was Deke?

When there was near rioting and unrest for weeks at Cherry Tree Crossing after the shooting death of a suspect……Where was Deke?

For more than a week after tornadoes tore through south Augusta a few years ago……Where was Deke? 

You may be saying to yourself, " it's premature to begin the mayoral campaign this early." Fair enough, but my advice is to evaluate whomever is touted by the current administration to be the successor to the "Boy King."  We do not need more of the same

Augusta- Richmond County must have a leader who isn't afraid of confrontation. One who will stand up for what's right even if it's not popular with the "ruling class". Also, a leader who doesn't wait days or in some cases weeks before stepping into the fray to help solve a problem. When the time comes I hope that the voters will elect a man (or woman) who will not follow Mr. Copenhaver's style of governing.  But  one who will break the precedent of passive leadership embraced by our current Mayor.

I'll concede that the current state of affairs isn't entirely Deke's fault. He has been ill-served by subordinates in many instances, but in an effort to remain untainted he's proven to be largely ineffectual in improving the outlook for ARC. The next Mayor must not be afraid to do what's in the best interests for ALL the citizens of this city. Nevermind the political ramifications..
I'm sure Mr. Copenhaver feels like he's done the best he can, but avoidance of controversy is not leadership…..unless he has higher office in mind and wishes to maintain a blemish free record for future campaigns.
If that is the case, Deke should beware. Because if Augusta-Richmond County continues to languish,the chant of... …Where was Deke?…. may come back to haunt him.

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