E-mail prompts call for resignation

By: Chris Thomas Email
By: Chris Thomas Email

News 12 First at Five, September 4, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---It's Augusta's latest battle over race and politics. A memo over downtown development and demographics quickly turns into a heated exchange.

"I'm sorry that I didn't phrase this thing properly," Augusta Housing Authority member Dave Barbee said today.

He was apologizing for a private email gone public. Talking to two local developers, he mentioned the Housing Authority trying to close Gilbert Manor so the Medical College of Georgia can expand. It's a move Barbee said in the email would make "the downtown whiter with moving 200 Whites in and moving 500 Blacks out."

Barbee said today, "My email was taken totally out of context."

Jessica Wales says she's lived in low income housing most of her life. She calls Barbee's comments upsetting. "It makes me kinda upset and nervous at the same time, because it creates a lot of racial tension."

Barbee calls this a moral issue. He says, "I am sick and tired of sitting here and warehousing the poor in one section of town. That's wrong. That's morally wrong."

In a battle of what's right and wrong things got pretty heated. Barbee said, "It's not political, it's Biblical."

But one person in the audience countered by saying, "The Bible is clear: From the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. So what you said, that's what you meant."

Exactly what did Barbee mean? He says he simply wanted to promote mixed income housing: "It was talking between lines. There is other emails that's involved."

And those emails continue. Tuesday morning, those local developers sent a five paragraph response to Barbee that ended with "Please do not send me any other unsolicited e-mails."

City leaders called for his resignation. State representative Quincy Murphy says, "It is inconsistent with his public role as an appointed commission for the Augusta Housing Authority and raises concerns of criminal activity."

Mayor Copenhaver says, "I will be willing to have a conversation with him, but I still think it would be best for him to resign his position."

Barbee says, "It was a poorly worded email. It wasn't politically correct and for that I am truly, truly sorry."

As for Jessica, she says, "It's not good enough. It's not good enough."

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  • by Jackie Location: Hephzibah on Sep 6, 2007 at 03:19 PM
    I just read the email and as a ELA teacher, I feel it could have been worded better. I truly believe he wants more families and individuals who will be able to afford the type of housing they desrie to move into the area. It doesn't matter the ethnicity as long as the people are upstanding citizens of the community. It truly is disrupting to go to such a prominent hospital and drive through an area where you have to lock your doors or fear being carjacked. Let's not judge Mr. Barbee unfairly and give him a chance to straighten this out. Like I said before, it was worded poorly and I do not beleive he had underlying motives.
  • by walker on Sep 6, 2007 at 06:31 AM
    I just read the email.. YES, I'm a black female. I do not see a problem with this email. Yes, if you are close-minded you may have a problem with this. The man is saying-in order to keep the $$ that you finally have now- to build/ re-build the Augusta downtown area.. you must move the low income housing out. Yes,Yes, MOVE THEM OUT.. the are looks a mess. I'm tired of driving through the area seeing children running out in the steet. young men drinking their 40's.. hearing loud music , clothes hanging on the line and all over the ground. Please my African Americans- you are living in the heart of the city and not the country. I grew uo in housing in SC, but it was not located near a college or hospital. We have too many vistors that visits MCG.. and why should they drive by the and see such a mess? And why do we have to take people jobs away- What is said was right. I know didn't mean for it come out the way it did. Do you speak clear when speaking to a personal friend?
  • by mad black girl on Sep 6, 2007 at 06:15 AM
    Why do we have to take someone job away. Ok he was wrong- on how he worded the email, but her was right.Why is there so many blacks in that area? Let's have some diversity in that area.First, clean it up. People are scared to drive through there. I'm black and what he said was the truth. Augusta downtown area has a bad image. I'm not saying whites will make it better .but it needs to be cleaned up. As black people some of us do not know how to take care of things..It looks terrible down there. I grew up in housing, but we made sure it was clean , no drugs, no fussing, no kids screaming and running out in the streets.So please don't get mad when someone speaks the truth. We have so many people from everywhere visiting MCG.. why should they have to face the projects and look at a mess? Clean up the area and leave the man alone. Let him keep his job.
  • by Leroy Location: Waynesboro, GA on Sep 6, 2007 at 05:58 AM
    I don't like how Dave Barbee's email came across with racial finger pointing, But it's refreshing to see what's truly felt in the hearts of elected and appointed officials serving the community. However though Barbee was stupid to document it in writing, And others are grandstanding on ethics of the political correctness of Barbee's frankness, I have but one question,,, Is there not one shred truthfulness to his suppositions as ugly as it reads? Sometimes the few must be removed for the greater good of the many if improvements and progress is to occur. Mr. Barbee is suppose to represent the city for the greater good, To bad he shot his mouth off the top of his head and his private thoughts were made a public assination of his charecter and he didn't even have to use the "N" word once. Mr. Barbee I commend your ideas, However I question your thoughts. A Black Man that's live and seen the results of ill-advised good white intentions.
  • by Anonymous on Sep 5, 2007 at 07:21 PM
    It is clear that Mr. Barbee feels that having more "whites" in the downtown area would make for a better Augusta. This is just one e-mail that found it's way to the media. How many more people are saying the same things. This city will never grow as long as people think like this....
  • by Anonymous on Sep 5, 2007 at 01:53 PM
    FYI means "for your information", not "for your eyes"...it means it's unofficial, not that it's private. Though Barbee could have been using it incorrectly...it is a very spontaneous and unedited email.
  • by Terry Location: home on Sep 5, 2007 at 12:51 PM
    I have read this email that was supposed to be PRIVATE over and over, I don't see anything racist. It seems like everyone's reading a different email. I've heard racist comments in local public meetings that nothing was done about, however. For instance, I remember the incident michael/grovetown just wrote about. I don't think Barbee should resign over a private email when public officials are racist-slurring each other, etc., in public meetings and get away with it. I cannot fathom anyone forwarding on an email that says "FYI only" either. I think that was the worst betrayal that happened here, but that's just a layman's instincts, I'm no politician.
  • by michael Location: grovetown on Sep 5, 2007 at 08:57 AM
    what hypocrits you are, when the racist marion williams calls another commissioner white boy which is a racial slur you do not comment, you do not call it a racial slur, when this email comes out as bad as it is you make a big production out of it, do not only report for the blacks a racist is a racist no matter what the color.
  • by Frustrated Location: Augusta on Sep 5, 2007 at 08:18 AM
    Just as soon as the dust settles from one racial incident another pops up. This is what keeps Augusta from developing to it's potential. Barbee should go! By the way, I'm white.
  • by Calvin Location: Hephzibah on Sep 5, 2007 at 07:41 AM
    I read the full email and was shocked to see the racial discrimination. I analyzed it from top to bottom and could not see it for anything other than what it is intended too be, racial discrimination. If our officials let this action go unpunished then they too need to hand over their resignation. An example must be made of Dave Barbie
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