Augusta Commission to address code of conduct at retreat



Dodging reporters’ questions on his way in and out of the Augusta Commission’s regular meeting Tuesday, Commissioner Alvin Mason spoke publicly only once during the meeting.

He took issue with the code of conduct Mayor Deke Copenhaver wanted the commission to reapprove.

The usually verbose Mason, making his first public appearance since his arrest for domestic violence last week, echoed questions raised by Commissioner Bill Lockett about the one-page code, which has twice been adopted by the commission.

"We tried this in 2006, in 2009, and now we contemplate doing it again in 2012, and nothing has changed," Lockett said.

Mason said one of the code's nine bullet points, which deals with setting aside individual differences and supporting the commission's actions, immediately jumped out as problematic.

"It's awfully difficult to meet up and lay down your differences," he said, "especially if you have some legitimate reason in your own mind, and/or some proof."

Throughout 2011, Mason and Lockett – and, usually, commissioners Corey Johnson and J.R. Hatney – often split with their white colleagues to oppose and publicly speak out against most measures involving a new personnel manual, outsourcing city functions and whether to increase the administrator's authority.

Copenhaver said he wanted to readopt the code because "last year, things got a little sideways on us."

The mayor, who read the existing code into the record, said he was "fine" with Johnson's motion to call a commission retreat to revisit the code instead of reapproving the document Tuesday.

During a half-hour meeting, the first of 2012, the commission also withdrew without prejudice an agenda item dealing with a new overlay district in the Laney-Walker historic district.

That maneuver frees the applicant to present a revised application to the Augusta Planning Commission, Planning and Development Director George Patty said.

The original application, filed by APD Urban Planning and Management, a consulting firm hired to assist with Augusta's massive redevelopment plan for the Laney-Walker and Bethlehem neighborhoods, hit snags when bloggers noticed procedural errors in the original application process, Patty has said.

Both agenda items passed 9-0 Tuesday with Commissioner Joe Jackson out.



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