Suit says law not followed

A taxpayer activist group has filed another lawsuit alleging Augusta's procurement department won't follow Georgia's open records law.

 

The Association for Fair Government is seeking a court order to force the department to maintain certain records required under city code and make them available to the public.

According to a complaint filed Wednesday, association attorney Robert Mullins' attempts in April and May to access bid documents were thwarted by city attorneys and Procurement Director Geri Sams. Public employees said documents didn't exist, gave access to files with the requested documents left out, took more than the three days allowed under state law to respond to requests and ignored other requests completely, according to the complaint.

In the case of a bid to demolish an electrical equipment building for the St. Sebastian Way project, the procurement department couldn't produce two of the three bid evaluators' score forms -- most notably those of evaluator Phyllis Mills, a procurement employee whose harsh scores nearly tipped the overall average in favor of a losing company. Nor could the department produce documents explaining criteria used to judge the bids, which a city ordinance says must be available.

A lawsuit represents just one side of a dispute. A hearing has been scheduled at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at the municipal building.

Along with a court order, the association also wants attorneys fees because the city has "acted in bad faith and been stubbornly litigious."

Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or johnny.edwards@augustachronicle.com.