Coliseum Authority chairman steps down

File/Staff
Keith Brown: Chairman faced criticism from board members about his decision to cancel Tuesday's meeting.

Coliseum Authority Chairman Keith Brown resigned as chairman Tuesday afternoon after a no-confidence vote earlier in the day by five members who asked him to step down.

 

"If I don't have the support of those people before I even have my first full meeting, I'm not the right chairman anyway," Mr. Brown said.

He will remain as a voting member of the board, and Vice Chairman Richard Isdell has assumed the role of chairman and has called a meeting for 9 a.m. Thursday.

"I'll be at the meeting Thursday with bells on, and I will do everything I can to move forward," Mr. Brown said. "I will support the new chairman."

Mr. Brown had canceled Tuesday's regular meeting, but half the board showed up anyway to register dissatisfaction with his leadership.

Former Chairman Harry Moore and Mr. Isdell contend Mr. Brown canceled the meeting because Mr. Moore had placed an item on the agenda calling for re-hiring Julie Huggins as facilities manager.

Ms. Huggins was fired earlier this year, which Mr. Moore said was in retaliation for former Manager Robert "Flash" Gordon's dismissal, shortly before Ms. Huggins was hired.

Those present also criticized Mr. Brown for unilaterally interviewing and attempting to hire a facilities manager without board authority.

In calling for the no-confidence vote and Mr. Brown's resignation, member Freddie Sanders said Mr. Brown "has shown no respect whatsoever" for the board's duty to carry on the public's business in running the civic center complex."

"He should not be down here in a fiduciary capacity doing the business of the taxpayers of this city," Mr. Sanders said.

Mr. Brown said he canceled the meeting because board members' tempers were high and he thought they needed a cooling off period.

"Richard Isdell and Bill Law got in a shouting match and almost got into a fight Friday," he said. "I wanted the members to cool down so we could do the board's business."

At Tuesday's meeting, Mr. Sanders also suggested all 12 board members resign at the next meeting and let the legislators and commissioners who appointed them re-appoint them if they want to.

"There are people on the board who can't get reappointed, and they're trying to destroy this facility," he said.

Concerning Mr. Brown's efforts to hire a facilities manager without the board's knowledge or authority, member Jack Usry said board members decided at an April 22 meeting they would not hire anyone until they got a management company on board to run the entertainment complex.

"On one other meeting we had a vote taken to hold off hiring until a management company was in place, and that motion carried 7-3," he said.

Mr. Brown said when that vote was called to his attention, he suspended the hiring.

Mr. Isdell asked board attorney Ed Enoch whether Mr. Brown had the authority to cancel Tuesday's meeting.

"The bylaws state there will be a monthly meeting," Mr. Enoch said. "The bylaws specifically state no one person has the authority to cancel the meeting."

Mr. Sanders said it was essential the board meet soon because the concessions contract ends Friday and needs immediate action. In addition, the Lynx contract must be approved early next month, and the board needs to decide on fabric for the seats that will be installed in the arena.

Community activist Woody Merry was present at the meeting and also called for Mr. Brown's resignation.

Augusta Commissioner Joe Jackson, who appointed new member Donnie Thompson to fill the seat left open by the expired term of John Manuel, attended and said he was "kind of disappointed" because he wanted to see the board work together.

Mr. Brown said he has worked diligently on Augusta Colts issues, the Lynx contract and the concessions contract, and for some members to vote no confidence in him is spiteful.

Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or sylvia.cooper@augustachronicle.com.

Topics: