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Augusta City Administrator Fred Russell won't quit, despite commissioners' calls for resignation

Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
In this January file photo, City Administrator Fred Russell unveils his blueprint for restructuring the Augusta-Richmond County government.
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Even though at least two Augusta Commission members are calling for the resignation of Fred Russell, the city administrator said Thursday he does not plan to step down.

Fred Russell is being criticized for approving pay raises for 44 workers.   Staff
Staff
Fred Russell is being criticized for approving pay raises for 44 workers.

"They're going to have to fire me," Russell said. "I'm not going to quit for doing something they told me to do."

Commissioner Alvin Mason demanded Russell's resignation Wednesday after learning that the administrator had approved pay increases for 44 employees during the ongoing reorganization of city government. Russell approved the raises last week. Commissioner Bill Lockett also has called for Russell to resign.

The salary increases come at a time when most Augusta employees, including those supervised by elected officials, have endured furlough salary reductions, done without cost-of-living pay increases for two years and watched vacancies remain unfilled.

Those cost-cutting measures were spurred by this year's $9 million operating deficit. Russell said the raises were, too.

"We didn't give raises; we compensated people for additional duties," he said.

The pay increases added up to about $350,000, with the bulk of them in the city's Engineering Department, where 12 people received raises totaling $137,986.

Mason has placed discussion of the raises and reorganization on Tuesday's 5 p.m. commission meeting agenda. Mayor Deke Copenhaver has called for a closed legal meeting to discuss personnel at 4 p.m.

Russell has cited his authority to make salary adjustments of up to 15 percent and reorganize government as outlined in the personnel manual and reorganization plan approved by six of 10 commissioners earlier this year. Mason and Lockett opposed both actions and claim such authority requires an eight-vote majority because it is a change in the city's form of government.

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Austin Rhodes
2852
Points
Austin Rhodes 08/11/11 - 06:00 pm
0
0
Um...OKAY ! Your move

Um...OKAY !

Your move Commissioners...

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 08/11/11 - 06:05 pm
0
0
My responsibilities at work

My responsibilities at work have more than doubled. My pay has not changed in four years. Fred, you are out of line. We have been sold a bill of goods that you have not delivered on. The citizens of Richmond county are hurting, and this is a slap in our faces.

InChristLove
22420
Points
InChristLove 08/11/11 - 06:12 pm
0
0
I have no problem giving

I have no problem giving someone a raise if their duties increase but dang 15 percent! My work duties have tripled over the past two years and all I get is a 3% cost of living raise (sometimes).

Sweet son
9682
Points
Sweet son 08/11/11 - 06:12 pm
0
0
You couldn't write a script

You couldn't write a script for a comedy show any better than this!!!

HR71C10
0
Points
HR71C10 08/11/11 - 06:18 pm
0
0
Mr. Russell, the employees

Mr. Russell, the employees didn't get promotions. They didn't get a new job assignment, and they did not get additonal duties. I would expect that furloughs go away for us next year, right? I mean, if we have almost half a million dollars to pay 44 hand-picked employees, then none of the others (there are 2700 of us) should be furloughed. Heck, you could have given the 2700 of us a cost of living raise with that money. Oh well, maybe next time. Kudos to Alvin and Bill. Keep up the good work. The citizens are on to you sir. It won't take many more commissioners to get enough votes for you to be headed out the door. Toodles!!!

Riverman1
79316
Points
Riverman1 08/11/11 - 06:25 pm
0
0
I'm curious. I haven't heard

I'm curious. I haven't heard any white Commissioners criticizing Russell. Are there at least two of them who want to see him go? What's his severance package if he is let go?

Richmnd Cty Votr
1
Points
Richmnd Cty Votr 08/11/11 - 06:25 pm
0
0
This is ludacrisy at its

This is ludacrisy at its finest. How dare they give raises when the city is in such debt. The whole world has gone NUTS! (SOME, NOT ALL) Augusta City Commissioners at the top of the LIST.

HR71C10
0
Points
HR71C10 08/11/11 - 06:32 pm
0
0
Riverman, at this point I'm

Riverman, at this point I'm not sure it matters. A severance package to LEAVE is better than him sticking around costing us millions. The answer to your other question is yes, there are white commissioners on board too. What's even funnier is Alvin and Bill are really looking like geniuses right now. They seem to be the only ones with enough testicular fortitude to demand what's right for ALL the citizens in RC not just the ones in their district.

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 08/11/11 - 06:40 pm
0
0
LOL, I called for Russell to

LOL, I called for Russell to step down well over a year ago over the radio and other medias. I guess Im ahead of my time. It doesnt take a rocket scientist to see whats going on. Russell is trying to get fired to get that severence and move on to a town that isnt burned out. Same thing Chiquita did. Smart dude. We are the suckers.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 08/11/11 - 06:53 pm
0
0
Riverman, the votes have

Riverman, the votes have already lined up. Bowles and Aitken have already been vocally critical of this pay raise thing. The big stink is really over the fact that Russell never made any of commissioners aware of his plan to hand out these raises at Monday's committee meeting. That's what sealed his fate. I mean the raises are bad enough but to try to sneak them thru like this look even worse. Russell is gone after next tuesday.

dougk
3
Points
dougk 08/11/11 - 07:23 pm
0
0
Perhaps the only thing
Unpublished

Perhaps the only thing Russell did right lately is label Augusta government a "circus."

dougk
3
Points
dougk 08/11/11 - 07:26 pm
0
0
ICL...cherish your sometimes
Unpublished

ICL...cherish your sometimes 3%...I don't even remember when I got my last...but I think it was 1% and quickly more than eaten up by increased medical insurance contributions.

Pandalover
0
Points
Pandalover 08/11/11 - 07:37 pm
0
0
I think a lot of people of RC

I think a lot of people of RC have had an increase in duties and work hours due to departmental cuts and hiring freezes especially the departments that are 24 hours Mr Russell but the rest of us poor suckers have not been given an increase in salary just the old be glad you still have jobs routine. No cost of living raise-- NOTHING!
You should feel ashamed!

Ushouldnthave
0
Points
Ushouldnthave 08/11/11 - 07:43 pm
0
0
Last year RC had 38 murders

Last year RC had 38 murders (almost everyone is solved). I think the Sheriff's Office deserved those raises for the incredible work that they do in constantly disintegrating conditions. Good ole boys in action in city government.

dougk
3
Points
dougk 08/11/11 - 07:59 pm
0
0
Murders typically aren't hard
Unpublished

Murders typically aren't hard to solve, Ushouldnthave. But, NONETHELESS, law enforcement personnel are underpaid and generally underappreciated relative to those folks who pull a salary and sit behind a desk..

Richmnd Cty Votr
1
Points
Richmnd Cty Votr 08/11/11 - 08:16 pm
0
0
Okay, what can we do as Good

Okay, what can we do as Good Watchdog Citizens and have Russell tossed out on his can? and the ones that told him to give them a raise. Lets take the next level, citizens of Richmond County! Lets let them know that we have had enough of their shanagans, and we are sick and tired and we ain't (excuse my French) going to take it anymore!

Little Lamb
43827
Points
Little Lamb 08/11/11 - 08:44 pm
0
0
Fred (What, me worry?)

Fred (What, me worry?) Russell has been smirking and scheming for a long time over this "reorganization" plan. He knew what was in it, but apparently none of the commissioners actually read the massive document.

It reminds me of Harry Reid's and Nancy Pelosi's "Obamacare" bill. When a reporter asked Pelosi whether some arcane item really was in the bill during the debate period, she answered, “We have to pass the bill in order to find out what's in the bill.”

That's apparently what happened with Alfred E. Russell's reorganization ordinance.

gcap
270
Points
gcap 08/11/11 - 09:21 pm
0
0
First, I would like to thank

First, I would like to thank Commissioner Mason for awakening me. I was actually thinking of returning to RC. When I saw the incompetence of the commission, I somehow thought, "Oh, it'll be OK." But it won't. Second, my bet is the racists of the commission only seek to replace Mr. Russell with one of their kind. What a shame! Finally, why all the stink about Mr. Russell when Mr. Kendrick can hire and fire with impunity, all the while providing significant raises for his chosen few. Yep! I'm staying in Columbia County. We might not get our tax money's worth but it's a helluva lot better than RC.

DuhJudge
206
Points
DuhJudge 08/11/11 - 09:34 pm
0
0
Shark!

Shark!

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 08/11/11 - 09:51 pm
0
0
LL nailed it!

LL nailed it!

Asitisinaug
3
Points
Asitisinaug 08/11/11 - 09:54 pm
0
0
Terrible management decision

Terrible management decision that needs to be reversed if legally possible. For Russell to stand behing "I can legally raise salaries by 15% wihtout your authority" and to actually do that for some it arrogant, ignorant and NOT in the best interest of a city that has given pay decreases to MANY of its employees to include all public safety personnel.

Maybe it is time for him to go. If so, do it without these crazy severence packages.

showboat
304
Points
showboat 08/11/11 - 10:01 pm
0
0
Kendrick needs to re-call his
Unpublished

Kendrick needs to re-call his raises!! until we get the 25,000 back.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 08/11/11 - 10:11 pm
0
0
people, Kendrick is an

people, Kendrick is an "elected" official.. you are all confusing things here. People will have the option to vote out Kendrick. And they have lots of reasons to get rid of kendrick.. that has nothing to do with Russell.. the commissioners have no authority over Kendrick..the voters do. What people need to be asking their commissioners about Kendrick is why he continues to serve on the DDA BOD when it is in violation of the state charter to have more than 1 county elected official serving on it at the same time. The commissioners do have some authority on that. This whole thing was orchestrated by Russell on purpose. LL was right on target.

storiesihaveread
332
Points
storiesihaveread 08/11/11 - 10:43 pm
0
0
Dang dude I was on your side

Dang dude I was on your side until now. But then again I do see him having lunch at the Pinnacle Club, wonder why?

TCB22
598
Points
TCB22 08/11/11 - 11:14 pm
0
0
Retroactive raises are

Retroactive raises are illegal. Where is the legal department.

Little Lamb
43827
Points
Little Lamb 08/11/11 - 11:19 pm
0
0
Oh, my! Oh, my! Oh, my!

Oh, my! Oh, my! Oh, my! Showboat wrote:

Kendrick needs to recall his raises until we get the $25,000 back!

My dear Showboat, I share your frustration and anger, but we must try to compare apples and oranges.

In the first place, the $25,000 stolen from Steven Kendrick's Tax Commission safe will never be recovered. You must accept the fact that it is gone for good. The theft was an inside job and the sheriff's department is not interested in investigating city employees.

In the second place, Steven Kendrick is an elected official who serves at the pleasure of the voters. We can remove him at the next election.

Fred (What, me worry?) Russell, on the other hand, is merely a city employee who serves at the pleasure of the Augusta Commission. He has no contract. He can be removed at any time, and for any reason (including, no reason at all) by a vote of six commissioners.

Russell has done many things wrong in his career, but this contemptible face slap to city employees not in his favor plus the contemptible face slap to the taxpayers of this city regarding the 15% salary increases to certain favored employees must be the straw that breaks the camel's back to send him packing - - - - - no severance - - - - - no golden parachute. We have feted him too long.

Mr. Russell, you have stayed here too long. In God's name, go!

porsche
11
Points
porsche 08/11/11 - 11:21 pm
0
0
The pressure of the

The pressure of the reorganization has affected Fred Russell's frame of mind. He has lost all common sense!

Little Lamb
43827
Points
Little Lamb 08/11/11 - 11:22 pm
0
0
Excellent point of which I

Excellent point of which I was not aware, TCB. Hopefully the proposed raises will never see the light of day.

Little Lamb
43827
Points
Little Lamb 08/11/11 - 11:57 pm
0
0
Fred (What, me worry?)

Fred (What, me worry?) Russell said. “I’m not going to quit for doing something they told me to do.”

Wrong, Fred. The commission did not tell you to give 15% raises to 44 or more high-level employees in the middle of a recession while the low-level employees were taking furloughs.

Instead, they trusted you to act with discretion and wisdom. You violated their trust.

Little Lamb
43827
Points
Little Lamb 08/11/11 - 11:59 pm
0
0
The thing we citizens have to

The thing we citizens have to do is contact our commissioners and tell them to be strong and not grant Russell a golden parachute severance package. He has disciplinary letters in his file and he has been insubordinate and he has violated their trust. No severance is justified.

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