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Augusta administrator keeps job

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Augusta Administrator Fred Russell held onto his job Tuesday, after a motion to fire him failed 6-4.

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Augusta Administrator Fred Russell smiles as the Augusta Commission votes to adjourn. A motion to fire Russell was defeated by a 6-4 vote Tuesday. He has been criticized by some commissioners for granting 15 percent raises to 44 city employees.  Sara Caldwell/Staff
Sara Caldwell/Staff
Augusta Administrator Fred Russell smiles as the Augusta Commission votes to adjourn. A motion to fire Russell was defeated by a 6-4 vote Tuesday. He has been criticized by some commissioners for granting 15 percent raises to 44 city employees.

A standing-room-only audience filled the commission chamber and hallway outside as the commission met for 90 minutes behind closed doors with attorneys, but not Russell.

Emerging into open session, Commission­er Alvin Mason made a motion to terminate Russell that was immediately seconded by Commissioner Bill Lockett.

“In light of the discussion we had back in legal, I want to make a motion that Mr. Russell be terminated, effective immediately,” Mason said.

Mason and Lockett have led a charge to fire Russell since becoming aware last week that the administrator granted 44 employees raises in the context of a reorganization plan that was supposed to save the city money.

While other commissioners had joined them in criticizing the raises, only two – Matt Aitken and J.R. Hatney – voted in favor of the motion.

“We voted to fire him,” Aitken said. “It’s been an ongoing thing ever since (former Public Services Director) Mike Greene and how that whole situation was handled. It’s just been up and down, a roller coaster in so many cases, and when you see the follow-through that we’ve seen from the administrator, and some of the things that were asked over the course of our meetings.”

Aitken, the one commissioner eligible for re-election next year, said he had “received demanding phone calls.”

Greene, who retired, was among the first employees targeted by the reorganization plan. His department was eliminated, and its functions spread among the city’s engineering, recreation and environmental services departments.

Russell has justified the raises by saying employees in the other departments who took on public works’ maintenance functions were now doing more work, but he did not present a report on the subject Tuesday as Mason had requested on the regular meeting agenda.

After they emerged from the closed-door meeting, Mason’s motion to fire Russell initially was met with opposition from Com­missioner Jerry Brigham, who said it needed unanimous consent to be added to the agenda.

When Mason argued that an agenda item relating to the city’s bus service had similarly morphed into an action, General Counsel Andrew MacKenzie offered to “look into the provision if we take a short recess,” but Bowles interjected that unanimous consent was there and the item moved forward.

“I thought we just needed to go ahead and get it over with,” Brigham said after the meeting.

Before the vote was taken, Mason gave a short speech.

“All the citizens are looking for is a few good men who have the intestinal fortitude to do what is right,” he said. “We have all run on a platform of change, setting the tone and moving this city forward.”

Russell’s contract awards him six months’ salary if he’s fired. The city’s new personnel manual adds at least three more months’ severance pay to top-ranking employees who are terminated.

Johnson, who frequently votes with Mason and Lockett, indicated there was more to his vote than a desire to retain Russell.

“I don’t think the people would be happy paying him $200,000 plus the potential litigation,” Johnson said. “The exit is all about the strat­­egy,” he said, declining to elaborate.

Brigham, who has requested the city’s auditor examine whether the raises were given in accordance to policy, said he voted against the motion because the commission had no backup plan.

“Just to go in there and fire some­body when you don’t have any idea about how to replace them? That’s ridiculous,” he said.

While most of the commissioners have called for an explanation for the raises, Russell provided none Tuesday because Brigham motioned to adjourn.

“I had had enough,” Brigham said.

Russell, who had to be summoned from his office after the vote was taken, said, “No matter what the vote was, the commission has the right to do what’s appropriate.”

Among many in attendance was Rollins neighborhood activist Juanita Burney.

“When he gave 15 percent raises, I don’t know what he was thinking,” Burney said. “Fifteen percent is unheard of, especially in a down economy.”

Others were shocked at how few voted in favor of the motion.

“I thanked Matt for his vote,” Harrisburg activist Lori Davis said.

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SouthernChic
3
Points
SouthernChic 08/17/11 - 08:47 am
0
0
Well, you reap what you sow.

Well, you reap what you sow. Remember this come election time, Augusta.

Vito45
-2
Points
Vito45 08/17/11 - 08:49 am
0
0
AR, I disagree. You hire top

AR, I disagree. You hire top flight underlings because they make YOU look good.

iLove
626
Points
iLove 08/17/11 - 08:56 am
0
0
Johnson should be asamed of
Unpublished

Johnson should be asamed of himself. I met him one day @ concert @ the Bell...he didn't rub me the right way then. . . .I didn't pay any attention to the felling then, but now, I see what type of person he is/can be. I;; save those words for another forum.

I think I will throw my hat into the Dist. 2 race, come nxt year.

"We need some stability 'round here." -circa 1985

Watermedic
306
Points
Watermedic 08/17/11 - 09:13 am
0
0
The real deal here is that

The real deal here is that Fred's job is no picnic!! It is not easy when you have some commissioners wanting this and others wanting that. It is likely impossible to keep everyone happy. Thinking before they acted was a very wise choice!

PBrig822
64
Points
PBrig822 08/17/11 - 09:28 am
0
0
Just out of curiosity what

Just out of curiosity what business that jerry brigham owns is being helped by all this? and yes I do think you should run and put your money where your mouth is if you're so much better.

TheOneJustice
52
Points
TheOneJustice 08/17/11 - 09:34 am
0
0
TheOneJustice
52
Points
TheOneJustice 08/17/11 - 09:35 am
0
0
jerrybrigham.com go there
Unpublished

jerrybrigham.com go there that should help you out there and i do put my money where my mouth is sir.

PBrig822
64
Points
PBrig822 08/17/11 - 09:48 am
0
0
Yes I know all about his

Yes I know all about his business. but that is like saying mason's business on post benefits too

PBrig822
64
Points
PBrig822 08/17/11 - 09:52 am
0
0
how does owning a tax

how does owning a tax accounting business benefit? just cause you see him as a commisioner makes you want to have him do your taxes? come up with better. And so what district are you planning to qualify for?

TheOneJustice
52
Points
TheOneJustice 08/17/11 - 10:03 am
0
0
And i run for mayor by the
Unpublished

And i run for mayor by the way if i did run. Deke has not stepped up to the plate with critical decisions he runs away or caves in. He only like's to be on camera he should have been an actor becuase he doesn't help out the city any. He's not a leader but Fred Russell's follower so Fred can budget in his Baseball stadium downtown for him

TheOneJustice
52
Points
TheOneJustice 08/17/11 - 10:20 am
0
0
and just because someone is a
Unpublished

and just because someone is a good person and has morals doesn't mean he knows how to be a success at something, that doesn't help one bit..............

TheOneJustice
52
Points
TheOneJustice 08/17/11 - 10:27 am
0
0
and about for running for
Unpublished

and about for running for mayor i said I could do a better job than the one that is in office. So therefore I did not back down and get scared sir.

Pandalover
0
Points
Pandalover 08/17/11 - 10:45 am
0
0
@TheoneJustice..Well said!

@TheoneJustice..Well said! You don't go giving raises when people are being furloughed and such. Dumb Dumb. Basic math not rocket science.

TheOneJustice
52
Points
TheOneJustice 08/17/11 - 10:48 am
0
0
Thank you Pandalover at least
Unpublished

Thank you Pandalover at least now i have hope someone else has basic math skills as us

showboat
369
Points
showboat 08/17/11 - 11:01 am
0
0
What is Corey getting out of
Unpublished

What is Corey getting out of this for his vote!!!!

wondersnevercease
9218
Points
wondersnevercease 08/17/11 - 11:44 am
0
0
LOL...Augusta Ga Gov....voted
Unpublished

LOL...Augusta Ga Gov....voted "Best Entertainment" provided to the folks across the river....those guys are a hoot!!!

Brad Owens
4906
Points
Brad Owens 08/17/11 - 11:52 am
0
0
TheOneJustice, You obviously

TheOneJustice,

You obviously have no clue what you are talking about if you call Jerry Brigham corrupt.

He is a hard working middle class business owner, honest is the day is long, and if anything, all this time he spends doing the people's work takes away from his company.

I have known him for over twenty years and I am proud to call him my friend. I challenge YOU to produce one single area where you can say he has EVER made a profit from being a commissioner.

Jerry is one of the "select few" and "rare" folks that got into politics to serve the people.

Here is a posting I did on a facebook page of a group that is not allowed to promote itself here...

"Jerry is a good man and is a sane voice of reason in a usual sea of fools down there. Let's lay off his size and focus on the reasons he voted and pushed this the way he did.

By the way, Jerry is not a CABAL man, he ran and beat Don Grantham (ultimate CABAL man) and he is not a member of the Country Club. The CABAL tried to beat Jerry, and did once with Tommy Boyles. The CABAL hates Jerry because he cannot be bought.

He is a regular middle class working guy and take it from me, and I have known him for over 20 years and been good freinds with him for over 13 years, he is a good guy who will be on the right side when it counts. You all can take that to the bank.

You can also bet there is a practical reason (as well as a political one) why this was done this way. Let's see how this plays out. If he says he wants a clear path forward on a replacement, then you can take it at face value, Jerry is not a liar or manipulator.

I want you all to see that Jerry will be a friend to the **** people, not a supporter of the CABAL at all."

That is 100%, now get you eyes focused on the rea enemy here, the CABAL.

Brad

TheOneJustice
52
Points
TheOneJustice 08/17/11 - 12:25 pm
0
0
Jerry Brigham is not moral if
Unpublished

Jerry Brigham is not moral if he was he would have asked fred to resign to for making that move which is disgusting. How can someone keep someone who gave out $18k raises to people making over $100k a year and have people who make less than $40k get furloughed and increased their health insurance. That shows he's a weak individual who sides with people who make bad choices. I side with A. Mason with this it's a first good choice he's made in his career with the commisson cudos to him for once

PBrig822
64
Points
PBrig822 08/17/11 - 12:43 pm
0
0
Well as a public safety

Well as a public safety worker I knew I wasn't going to get rich doing this work nor did I decide to do this to get rich. Every single one of us here do this job because its what we like not to get rich. And how does him wanting to have a solid plan make him not moral? ok they fire russell then what? that would be stupid because already once they were unable to get a solid preson to come in and thats how fred got to be where he was. BTW thanks Brad for enlighting mud throwers who Jerry really is. He has everyone in this county in the interest not just spur of the moment hanging and shooting him self in the foot in the end.

Crime Reports and Rewards TV
33
Points
Crime Reports and Rewards TV 08/17/11 - 03:56 pm
0
0
"people couldn't bring signs

"people couldn't bring signs in or even have them in front of the building. firefighters were there in large numbers but couldn't speak about it."

The MARSHAL that BROKE THE LAW and LIED in front of GOD and everybody to the protestors saying they were ILLEGAL was caught RED HANDED LYING. Augusta's anti free speech law was struck down by THE COURT as being ILLEGAL.

These are the same "Marshals" PROTECTING Stephen Kendrick when he did not deposit the $25,000 that went missing from his office right after he did NOT deposit it in the Brinks Truck that came to get it. Our Marshal's refuse to DO their DUTY and notify the GBI that an elected official did not deposit $25,000 in the Brinks truck that came to get it JUST before it disapeared, NOW THIS!!! UNREAL!!!

Justin4466
43
Points
Justin4466 08/17/11 - 03:36 pm
0
0
Two quotes come to mind when

Two quotes come to mind when you observe the actions of our city government over the past months.

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are always bad men."

"Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it."

This idea of one person having the power the city administrator has been given is absurd. Those voting for the administrator are exactly right, he only did what we gave him authority to do and the bad news is that he still has that power according to the new policy manual. They can call for moratorium, mandates or whatever but the policy manual rules the roost. Government has always had checks and balances that usually fall in then hands of some elected official but for some reason Augusta wants it differently.

The next administrator can come in and do the same thing or worst by using the powers that have been handed to him on a silver platter. The buzz that was floating around when it was thought Fred was gone could unveil the true purpose of the power given to the administrator. All the talk was about bringing in somebody to fire folk and leave in six months. Who are these people that they want to get rid of and why does it have to be underhanded.

It sounds like this new personnel manual is going to keep blowing in the faces of the citizens. To much unchecked power in the hands of one individual.

Crime Reports and Rewards TV
33
Points
Crime Reports and Rewards TV 08/17/11 - 03:58 pm
0
0
Wednesday, August 17,

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- A group tells News 12 they were not allowed to have or stage a protest in front of the Augusta commission building Tuesday.
The group, Augusta Concerned Citizens Against Virtually Everything, was there to support the petition made to fire City Administrator Fred Russell.

"They were told by county marshals that they needed a permit to do so if their group included more than five people and this needed to be done 20 days before the protest," said Brandon Reese with ACAVE. "If this is the case, then the county marshals appear to be in violation of the law."
The marshals were citing an old city protest ordinance that was struck down by the U.S. Court of Appeals in 2004. They were essentially trying to enforce an ordinance that was found to be unconstitutional, thus violating the civil liberties of some of the attendees of Tuesday's commission meeting.

Since the 2004 court ruling, the city of Augusta has not had a formal protest ordinance and a permit for a public assembly in a public space is not even required....

Willow Bailey
20605
Points
Willow Bailey 08/17/11 - 05:08 pm
0
0
I admire and appreciate what

I admire and appreciate what Mason and Lockettt are trying to do for Augusta. Brad Owens said that Mr. Brigham is an honest man, so I am going to have faith in him that he is a part of creating a better plan to change this situation.

Though at this point, it may not look like a win for the citizens of RC, I believe there has been progress. Commissioners are fully aware of just how fed up the community is with the same old cronyism government.

The heat should stay on about rescinding the raises and a plan to reduce and work towards balancing the budget deficit.

Voters need to continue to pay very close attention to the upcoming actions or inactions of Commissioners , so they will have good memories at election time and also as to who would make a great new mayor and sheriff for the people.

It's very disappointing to find out just how few people are viewed as having any significance in this town. Shame on those who act as if they are philanthropist and charitable benefactors, while creating their own power and wealth at the people's expense.

hockeymann
226
Points
hockeymann 08/17/11 - 06:07 pm
0
0
I'd guess the "gang of four"

I'd guess the "gang of four" who lost found out that voting system they're so fond of at times, can also work against them too.

Now, another subject, why can't the commissioners get the Coliseum
Authority & JB Arena head, Monty Jones, to fix the broken things at the
arena, like the awful sound system, scoreboard, and shaky stairs with no
handrails at the end, down to the glass, between 118 & 119. We don't
need skyboxes..We need the place REPAIRED!!

Crime Reports and Rewards TV
33
Points
Crime Reports and Rewards TV 08/17/11 - 08:44 pm
0
0
"Shame on those who act as if

"Shame on those who act as if they are philanthropist and charitable benefactors, while creating their own power and wealth at the people's expense."

We are witnessing the taxpayers money being used AGAINST the tax payer or being out right stolen before our very eyes and NONE of the Authorities are lifting a finger to stop CLEAR VIOLATIONS OF LAW. The reward we get for paying taxes is to have those taxes used against U.S. We wish we could pay more taxes if we thought they would benefit U.S. They are used against us and that is the main reason we would rather stop Throwing gasoline on the fire by giving them more tax money to damage U.S. with.

Willow Bailey
20605
Points
Willow Bailey 08/17/11 - 08:51 pm
0
0
hockeyman, where's the fun

hockeyman, where's the fun and ego gratification coming from making the repairs and saving money. Their decisions remind me of a woman who puts on a new dress over a dirty body and ragged under garments.

Little Lamb
49080
Points
Little Lamb 08/17/11 - 10:47 pm
0
0
Brad's last post above this

Brad's last post above this one is a correct analysis.

Little Lamb
49080
Points
Little Lamb 08/17/11 - 10:50 pm
0
0
Now on to bigger things than

Now on to bigger things than Alfred E. Russell. Which commissioner can put together a coalition of six votes to rescind the raises?

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