Augusta Administrator Fred Russell back at work, but still in hot seat

Administrator declines to respond to critics

Tuesday, Aug 30, 2011 9:34 PM
Last updated 9:51 PM
  • Follow Government

Returning from a week’s vacation Tuesday, having missed a five-hour session on Monday in which several Augusta Commission members grilled city department heads about controversial raises he pushed through, City Administrator Fred Russell offered two words about the inquisition.

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Commissioners Alvin Mason (from left), Wayne Guilfoyle and Bill Lockett questioned city department heads about reorganization efforts Monday.   RAINIER EHRHARDT/STAFF
RAINIER EHRHARDT/STAFF
Commissioners Alvin Mason (from left), Wayne Guilfoyle and Bill Lockett questioned city department heads about reorganization efforts Monday.

“No comment.”

At the Monday committee meetings, in Russell’s absence, Commissioner Al Mason – sometimes joined by Bill Lockett and Wayne Guilfoyle – took the directors to task about the implementation of the raises awarded some employees and other changes related to Russell’s work of reorganizing city government.

A vote Monday to rescind the raises passed in committee 3-0, with Mason, Lockett and Matt Aitken voting in favor, while Commissioner Jerry Brigham accused Mason of holding a “kangaroo court” and walked out before the vote.

Rescinding the raises – for which the 44 employees were paid a lump sum for the amount they would have made if earning the higher pay as of May 2 – needs six commission votes to pass. A related measure to suspend Russell’s authority to give raises and reorganize government wasn’t voted on Monday and will go before the full commission next week.

Russell, insisting he had not interviewed for jobs while away, said he’d planned the vacation months ago and spent the week with a firm that fed approximately 600 riders on stops along the mountainous USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado.

The consolidated government’s longest-serving administrator has been under fire for months from Mason and Lockett, who disapproved of the reorganization plan and new personnel manual. But the pair gained partners in their fury when commissioners realized the number and size of the raises, which amount to more than $350,000 across six departments. Mason’s motion to fire Russell failed 6-4 Aug. 16.

The department heads who received the raises defended them as justified by their additional job duties under the reorganization plan’s first phase, while heads of those who did not – Engineering, Procurement, Richmond County Correctional Institute, Augusta Fire Department, Housing and Community Development and others – complained that morale was down as staffers who’ve lost colleagues to downsizing and pay to furlough reductions do more with less.

Brigham, a member of the city’s Pension and Audit Committee, said he and fellow committee members Mayor Deke Copenhaver and Joe Bowles have directed internal auditor Baird & Company to review the raises, and that auditor Brenda Carroll’s report should be completed soon.

Brigham said the review costs nothing under the city’s annual contract with Baird.

Comments (15) Add comment
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dougk
3
Points
dougk 08/30/11 - 09:02 pm
0
0
Russell is back in his
Unpublished

Russell is back in his circus. What role is he going to be characterized as playing next? Ring leader, clown, sword swallower, trapese artist, magician, or animal trainer?

happychimer
19624
Points
happychimer 08/30/11 - 09:33 pm
0
0
Somethingelse is brewing

Somethingelse is brewing about Russell.It has not hit the newspaper yet.

Riverman1
94426
Points
Riverman1 08/30/11 - 09:47 pm
0
0
Russell would be better off

Russell would be better off walking down Broad Street at 2 AM than dealing with the Commission.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 08/30/11 - 10:38 pm
0
0
happy, what's brewing?

happy, what's brewing?

DuhJudge
206
Points
DuhJudge 08/30/11 - 10:42 pm
0
0
"Inquisition" is certainly an

"Inquisition" is certainly an appropriate choice of words. As is "no comment." Now that he is back, let the games begin. Its like watching Gladiator, one of my favorite movies.

Riverman1
94426
Points
Riverman1 08/31/11 - 05:22 am
0
0
Let's see, he could respond

Let's see, he could respond to his critics and say they are full of it and that would help a lot, sarcasm intended. Or he can say no comment and try not to fan the flames. I thought the press slammed Dick Cheney a lot, but he has it easy compared to Russell.

If and when Russell leaves his house will be razed, the dirt plowed under and salt thrown on the ground so nothing will ever grow there again. I swear we should call the national press to town and tell them Cheny is not the most hated man in the western hemisphere, it's our man, Fred Russell.

blues550
380
Points
blues550 08/31/11 - 06:09 am
0
0
Leave Fred alone. He's doing
Unpublished

Leave Fred alone. He's doing a great job despite the peanut gallery he works with.

SCyankee
0
Points
SCyankee 08/31/11 - 06:44 am
0
0
not to stir the pot too
Unpublished

not to stir the pot too much...but you all do realize all this would not be an issue if he was black..right?

whiteflighttocc1
20
Points
whiteflighttocc1 08/31/11 - 07:15 am
0
0
I heard from a credible
Unpublished

I heard from a credible source that Russel was about to be indicted about something. they wouldnt tell me what. either way he is a dead man walking in a sense. he is not going to be able to get anything done now wether you like him or not. now that he is back it will become a circus. this is why everyone is moving to columbia county. well one of the reasons.

Riverman1
94426
Points
Riverman1 08/31/11 - 08:25 am
0
0
Ahhh, a coming indictment.

Ahhh, a coming indictment. Maybe that's what some have been hinting at. But you know with all the hatred directed at this guy and all the scrutiny, it's no wonder. His assistant, the guy who served time for murder and was fired, threatened he had all kinds of bad stuff. Whether it's true or not, who knows? Guess we will find out.

I have generally liked Alvin Mason and wouldn't mind seeing him become the next mayor. I've derided Russell in the past for various things. But all this bashing has gone too far. If Russell is indicted, I wonder how much of it will be because of the same irrational dislike of the man?

Riverman1
94426
Points
Riverman1 08/31/11 - 08:26 am
0
0
Know who else is starting to

Know who else is starting to become a scapegoat? Chief Bubba Willis of the Fire Dept.

Little Lamb
49260
Points
Little Lamb 08/31/11 - 08:33 am
0
0
I cannot speak for others,

I cannot speak for others, but my dislike of Russell's job performance is completely rational.

Little Lamb
49260
Points
Little Lamb 08/31/11 - 08:42 am
0
0
Riverman wrote: His

Riverman wrote:

His (Russell's) assistant, the guy who served time for murder and was fired, threatened he had all kinds of bad stuff.

Okay, we learned that Russell's assistant (Mr. D'Antignac) was let go in the restructuring. But what we have not learned yet is precisely how many city employees have been laid off or retired (voluntarily or involuntarily) as a direct result of this restructuring and what were their salaries.

Also, governments are good at sleight of hand. Let's say that the government tells us that they laid off one hundred positions in the restructuring. What they don't tell us is how many of the one hundred positions was actually vacant at the time.

Let's say the government tells us that they laid off fifty actual employees in the restructuring. What they don't tell us is that they hired forty new employees to take their place.

Riverman1
94426
Points
Riverman1 08/31/11 - 08:43 am
0
0
LL, you are rational and are

LL, you are rational and are the loyal opposition on this matter. I pay attention to what you say.

happychimer
19624
Points
happychimer 08/31/11 - 09:04 am
0
0
Insider Information check out

Insider Information check out the Mason story on wrdw. I am not allowed to post a link.

Brad Owens
4922
Points
Brad Owens 08/31/11 - 09:04 am
0
0
Lets Endeavor to Persevere

Lets Endeavor to Persevere

mike1sc
217
Points
mike1sc 08/31/11 - 09:11 am
0
0
People defending Alvin

People defending Alvin mason.....who is this...Alvin Mason? I find it hard to ever defend someone who is on a witch hunt...plain and simple. If someone has a vendetta against someone, then facts are just in the way, the only thing they see is anger.

I'm sorry...this is just idiocy...it is. As Richmond County continues to lose population....do you think anyone wonders why? Every county government lives and dies on taxes generated by people living in their county....if people continue to leave, and for good reason I might add, at some point all the SPLOSTs in the state can't help a dying county...if its own people lose faith and move away.

So all you idiots down there keep arguing about trivial things which makes each of you the laughing stock of everyone who doesn't live in your doomed county. Who says Augusta doesn't have a local comedy show in town....its been meeting regularly for years....

And think your county isn't doomed....ride down Broad Street at 8:00pm and aside from the empty storefronts look into the empty "open" places, and the only conclusion for it is it is just a great example of the county itself...it is dying on the vine. Look who's driving.....a city mired in the 70s.....while everyone else moves on, Augusta wants to argue about meeting locations for 2 months...ha! Great comedy.....sad commentary.

Tell it like it is
35
Points
Tell it like it is 08/31/11 - 09:13 am
0
0
Well Jerry you just lost my

Well Jerry you just lost my vote for supporting
Fred.

Sweet son
11791
Points
Sweet son 08/31/11 - 11:19 am
0
0
Tell it, Jerry Brigham was

Tell it, Jerry Brigham was the only one in the meeting who made the right choice. The 'New Three Amigos' Kangaroo Court must have really been in session. Wonder which one had the gavel, Mason, Lockett or Guilfoyle? Jerry is right in saying if they had issues with Mr. Russell's legal decisions then he should have been there to face his accusers. As for Department Heads defending their raises this too is BS. Raises were given by Mr. Russell and he should have been the one defending them. The whole mess makes me sick. I am ashamed to have to admit to paying taxes in the "Great State of Richmond." Oh, if Mason doesn't get his way he will take his gavel and go home!

Brad Owens
4922
Points
Brad Owens 08/31/11 - 11:51 am
0
0
Oh yes, ask any questions and

Oh yes, ask any questions and you are "a problem" you are an "obsatcle to progress" you are on a "wicth hunt"...YAWN.

I have NO problems with elected officials doing thier oversight job.

Al Mason and Bill Lockett were RIGHT about this and you all must not want to see that for some reason.

Brad

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