Commission votes 7-3 to accept Chiquita Johnson resignation

The Augusta Commission has voted 7-3 to accept the resignation of General Counsel Chiquita Johnson, and to appoint Staff Attorney Andrew McKenzie as interim general counsel.

Matt Aitken, Bill Lockett and Jimmy Smith dissented.

According to the severance agreement she signed Monday, Ms. Johnson will be paid for nine more months - three more months than she's entitled to by contract if terminated - and keep her benefits for nine months. The city will pay $1,187.14 to her landlord to break her lease early.

Ms. Johnson also agreed not to file litigation against the city seeking financial compensation, and she can't apply for another job with the city.

Mr. Aitken said he voted no because he was unfamiliar with the issue. Mr. Lockett said he was opposed because the deal was worked out behind the scenes, with him "left out of the loop." Mr. Smith said he didn't like the terms of the severance package, questioning why she should be compensated beyond six months.

"I don't understand that," Mr. Smith said, "when all the evidence is clear that we have."

Though he voted yes, Mr. Grantham said afterward that he did not want to cast a vote in favor of the severence package. City Clerk Lena Bonner said she's checking into procedural rules to see if the vote should be recorded as 6-4.

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