AUGUSTA, GA - Commissioner Joe Jackson reiterated his comment made in February that the Richmond County Commission is already pregnant with the Trade, Exhibit and Event Center and is time to deliver it. The Augusta Commission on Monday rejected two motions to approve a set of operating documents.
Candidates for District One, Denice Traina, Bill Fenoy and Stanley Hawes are in favor of leaving the decision to the new commissioners in January 2013. Traina stated that is better to tabling the final decision to move forward with the management agreement between the City of Augusta and the Augusta Riverfront, LLC so that bids may be put out formally and that these bids may be evaluated fairly on their merit. She also favors a temporary agreement to keep the opening plans due in January.
For many in Augusta the TEE Center debacle is a case of "legitimate rape" to the taxpayers, and the incumbent District 1 commissioner Matt Aitken called the naysayers as "disgruntled" people.
Fred Russell, the city administrator, told Mrs. Traina once that the "need is not there" when she asked him about improving the Augusta Public Transit (APT). She was also told that the city funds are not there either and that the APT is not generating profit but losses.
Traina has being pushing since 2009 the improvement of the APT with the same argument that Russell is using to defend with all the strength of his being the TEE Center: Connecting people to the entertainment venues, to their work places and to shop any part of the city will benefit everybody and will generate more revenues for the city.
Mrs. Traina presented to the Augusta Richmond County Commission more than 350 signatures requesting the improvement of the APT with more routes and the re-installment of the Fort Gordon route. The action of Mrs. Traina was taken as "information" by the Commission. The request for building the TEE Center and give it to Augusta Riverfront, LLC not only was pursued behind closed doors but overpriced, from $20 million to more than $50 million. The money that Russell could not find for the APT requested by the taxpayers of Richmond County was "there" suddenly.
Estimated losses for the TEE Center are close to $1 million per year but Russell said there is money also to cover the losses of the TEE Center. "There" is the money that could have gone for the APT.
Marion Williams asked the incumbent District Attorney, Ashley Wright, why he was investigated for trying to bring economic development to his District 2, at the time when he was commissioner, but nothing is done in the case of the TEE Center.
With all the unanswered questions in regard to the project now almost finishing Williams instead of an answer from Mrs. Wright she was just silence on the matter during a forum hosted by the NAACP. Williams is running for the District 9 seat against attorney Harold Jones.