Charter amendment votes fail

Commissioner Bill Lockett (right) voted against a substitute motion Tuesday evening to remove "at the courthouse" from the city's charter.

Augusta commissioners are in violation of the city's charter after failing Tuesday to pass a motion or a substitute motion to strike "at the courthouse" from language stating where they meet and where the administrator has an office.

 

"This agenda item contains a lot of stuff in it," Commissioner Bill Lockett complained of the lengthy charter amendment drafted by General Counsel Andrew MacKenzie that removes the requirement. "You come back with an agenda item with nothing but that particular item on there ... then we can deal with this other stuff at a later date."

MacKenzie proposed the charter amendment last month as local courts prepared to move into the city's new judicial building, saying the charter still included old references to "the courthouse" and "Richmond County" that no longer apply.

But when the city attorney Tuesday offered a substitute motion he said deleted only references to the courthouse and excluded "changing the name from Richmond County to Augusta, Georgia," as he said the measure intended to do, Lockett wasn't buying.

"The general counsel is playing a shell game with us," the District 5 commissioner said.

The substitute motion failed 5-5, with Lockett and commissioners Matt Aitken, Corey Johnson, Alvin Mason and Joe Jackson voting against it.

Aitken said he voted against the substitute motion because he was "tired of this. It needs to be all cleaned up."

The substitute and primary motions require eight votes to pass. The primary motion to adopt the full amendment also failed, with Johnson, Lockett and Mason voting against.

The same three commissioners have opposed all motions this year to adopt a new personnel manual and reorganize city government, saying the moves are an unlawful change in the city's government. Johnson, Lockett, Mason and Johnny Hatney voted against amending the city code to reflect changes in the administrator's duties found in the new manual. City code changes need only six votes to pass.

A board appointment -- Scylance Scott, recommended by the Downtown Development Authority to replace Cassandra Brinson -- passed with opposition from Mayor Pro Tem Joe Bowles, Jackson and Commissioner Grady Smith, after Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle said he wanted to appoint someone else. Aitken said the Laney-Walker developer's appointment reflected the DDA's and other boards' need to be "inclusive."

Lockett also opposed the hire of Evan Joseph as new warden at Richmond County Correctional Institute, not because he opposed Joseph but "because of the controversy" surrounding the city's new policy of giving the administrator the exclusive right to recommend individuals for department head positions. The measure passed 7-2, with Mason also opposed.

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