As Augusta commissioners consider Mayor Deke Copenhaver’s call for a vote affirming his powers as chief executive, Copenhaver will visit with members of the Augusta legislative delegation in Atlanta.
The Wednesday visit is part of a leadership trip sponsored by Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce, but it’s the first publicly acknowledged meeting between city officials and the delegation since last month when Democratic members became critical of Augusta’s efforts to restructure its government.
An opinion issued by legislative lawyers for the delegation found the city’s attempts to change the structure of government illegal without the commission amending the city charter, in contrast to an opinion by city legal counsel, but placed Copenhaver at the center of the debate by saying he has authority over hiring and firing no mayor since consolidation has exercised. The city is requesting legal opinions related to the issues from Attorney General Sam Olens.
Copenhaver announced earlier this week he’d put the powers up for a Tuesday vote by the commission, but conceded it’s the latest bit of confusion and difficulty arising under the 1995 charter.
After meeting with Georgia’s governor, university chancellor and others at the capitol, Copenhaver said he’ll tell delegation members that the charter needs review by an independent agency.
Commissioners Jerry Brigham, Joe Bowles, Grady Smith and Joe Jackson said they were not invited to the Atlanta meeting and had no plans to attend. Commissioner Bill Lockett is ill and other commissioners could not be reached for comment Tuesday.