By Al Gray
Augusta's $715,000 “Incidental” Gift1
David Copperfield's illusion of making the Statue of Liberty disappear is“listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest disappearance ever performed by a magician. ” In the closed-loop, incestuous world of Augusta media, similar miracles have been performed over the years, mostly by using the tactic of blowing up small incidents of monetary losses, -be they by graft, fraud, or plain stupidity – to divert attention from the elephants in the room. Grandma used to call this “straining gnats while swallowing camels.” The Reynolds Street Parking Deck doesn't have tusks or a hump, but some folks who know better have camel hair on their bibs.
The bit players in the Augusta illusion are officials like Tax Commissioner Stephen Kendrick, who was still being hounded by the Augusta Chronicle a year later over a missing $25,000, and former city commissioner Betty Beard's $20,000 supposed misappropriation of funds.
What Fred Russell made go away looked like this:
What Fred reappeared wasn't an elephant, it was much larger:
If you are Augusta Riverfront, LLC, Fred relieved you of an ugly, unattended surface lot. What he came back with appears to be an enclosed, lighted, secure, landscaped, and operated lot at no capital or operating cost.
Sweet. It must be nice to be a principal partner of Augusta Riverfront, LLC and the publisher of the only daily newspaper in the city, The Augusta Chronicle, where you can use your influence in the media to create illusions through the art of distraction, just like David Copperfield.
Everyone should be so lucky as to negotiate a deal with Fred Russell like this.***
1 Based upon the RSPD agreement submitted to the Board of Commissioners 1/30/2012
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