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Russell, Augusta fire chief keep jobs at commission meeting

Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2011 10:03 PM
Last updated Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011 8:30 PM
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City Administrator Fred Russell still has his job, as does Fire Chief Howard Willis, despite calls again Tuesday to fire both.

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Commissioner Alvin Mason questions Administrator Fred Russell on the controversial raises he awarded to employees during Tuesday evenings commission meeting in Augusta.  Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Commissioner Alvin Mason questions Administrator Fred Russell on the controversial raises he awarded to employees during Tuesday evenings commission meeting in Augusta.

In a meeting that filled the commission chamber nearly an hour before it began and saw Russell have to intervene in a verbal dispute between commissioners Al Mason and Grady Smith, city employees also regained their pay for the last of five furlough days scheduled for the year.

The employees, including 87 firefighters who attended to hear Augusta Firefighters Association Vice President Charles Masters detail a long list of complaints about three people in fire administration, get the last two former furlough days off with pay.

Masters’ list of issues, including a recent policy change that pulled an aerial truck off residential calls on the city’s south side, all pointed toward top firefighter leadership as the problem.

“This department has been on autopilot for six years,” said Masters, drawing a standing ovation from firefighters in the audience and calling for the termination of Willis and deputy fire chiefs Carl Scott and Mike Rogers.

No action was taken regarding the fire department, but as firefighters were exiting the room, Smith said he’d had enough of Mason’s critical public comments about city department heads, including Willis, and the two got in an argument behind the dais. Russell advised them that microphones were on.

“It was a difference of opinion about how employees should be treated at the podium,” Smith said.

Mason asked Masters about whether fire administration ought to hold EMT certification, but his questions weren’t as pointed as they were at the Aug. 29 committee meetings, where he repeatedly asked Willis and other department heads about their job qualifications and educational attainment.

Mason, who had three commissioners join him in a vote to fire Russell on Aug. 16, Tuesday found only the support of Lockett in a vote that failed 7-2.

Commissioner J.R. Hatney, who previously voted with Lockett and Mason to fire Russell, was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.

Commissioner Matt Aitken, who also previously voted to fire Russell, said prior to the vote that “until we have a plan that is the will of this body,” he wouldn’t vote against Russell.

Other commissioners, still reeling from the revelation that Russell awarded 44 hefty pay raises to certain employees involved in the ongoing reorganization of city government, have said they won’t vote to fire Russell without a plan of succession. On Tuesday, Mason noted that, despite his disapproval of the new personnel manual, it spells out the line of succession.

Commissioner Corey Johnson, who surprised some constituents when he did not vote against Russell Aug. 16, said he’d been “called names” for his prior vote against Russell, but that he “has to look at the facts, (and) weigh them” himself.

The results of an internal audit, which may reveal that several of the 44 raises were more than the 15 percent increases Russell is authorized to give, were not presented Tuesday.

Commissioner Jerry Brigham, who requested the internal audit, said he had not received “the final report” from the auditor and wasn’t ready to discuss its findings.

City employees got two furlough days’ pay returned, but Mason and Lockett wanted more. Among Tuesday motions the pair favored that failed were:

l Lockett’s motion to repay all five 2011 employee furlough days;

l Mason’s motion to rescind the 44 raises, which failed 5-4 with Aitken and Johnson also in favor;

l A request to give raises to all Augusta employees;

l The vote to fire Russell.

Comments (19) Add comment
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PR
0
Points
PR 09/06/11 - 10:25 pm
0
0
Of course they're still
Unpublished

Of course they're still employed. It's Augusta...the Peter Principle is alive and well. You don't have to be qualifed for the job, you just need to have a brown nose and big lips for kissing backsides.

dichotomy
46968
Points
dichotomy 09/06/11 - 10:54 pm
0
0
Mason and Lockett continue to

Mason and Lockett continue to show their true mentality. They would cut of their nose to spite their face. They would propose three or four wrongs to counter Russell's wrong. Hey Mason and Lockett........FIVE WRONGS DO NOT MAKE A RIGHT. Stop doing stupid stuff and get with the program of reducing spending, eliminating duplication, providing basic services, and stopping the ball park. Nobody is paying either one of you to get into personal peeing contests.

DuhJudge
206
Points
DuhJudge 09/06/11 - 11:54 pm
0
0
Quintus, Sword. Give me your

Quintus, Sword. Give me your sword.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 09/07/11 - 12:08 am
0
0
Corey Johnson better be

Corey Johnson better be careful. Talk like that will draw the wrath of the Rev. Melvin "Poison" Ivey.

Poison Ivey expects strict obedience and not independent thought. How dare Commissioner Johnson weigh the facts and think for himself.

Craig Spinks
819
Points
Craig Spinks 09/07/11 - 03:33 am
0
0
The "new day" of which my

The "new day" of which my late friend, Mrs. Kingsley Riley, often spoke was not one in which people fussed and postured in protection of their particular interests but one in which ALL PEOPLE were united in promoting the welfare of A-RC, generally, and our kids, particularly.

thewiz0oz
9
Points
thewiz0oz 09/07/11 - 03:33 am
0
0
If the Administer was allowed

If the Administer was allowed to do his job according to the staffing size needs of the City of Augusta vs comparable other like-sized city governments the work force would be reduced from approximately 2,700 to approximately 1,900 employeees reducing the annual cost of government by approximately $10,000,000 and validating the promises made at Consolidation. This would free up mvoney to better award the performers & fund the government. Turn Fred loose-judge his bperformance without handcuffs. And if he doesn't perform fire him. Under those circumstances a quality replacement will be easier to find.
Too many Commissioners are still protecting unnecessary employees based on political parsonage rather than City need.Commissioners Advise & Concent - if you want an operations job quality for it and apply. Travelers don't make good air pilots.

beep beep
81
Points
beep beep 09/07/11 - 08:58 am
0
0
Too many chiefs and not

Too many chiefs and not enough indians!!!! Thats the problem with Richmond County government. Besides the fact that EVERYTHING is black and white. Amazing how people keep complaining and yet nothing ever changes.

lifelongresident
1329
Points
lifelongresident 09/07/11 - 09:30 am
0
0
"Ole taxem fred" should have
Unpublished

"Ole taxem fred" should have been fired a long time ago based on having an affair with his now wife (who was married to someone else at the time but working for the sheriff's office while he was the city administrator). that is a blatant conflict of interest which could have left the county open of a potential lawsuit if the relationship didn't work out.....

MOXrocks
54
Points
MOXrocks 09/07/11 - 09:32 am
0
0
As an Aikenite, it truly

As an Aikenite, it truly saddens me to see A-RC continually go down this path. It's like watching Jerry Springer. I am by no means saying that Aiken is perfect but A-RC could take a lesson from surrounding communities and try to figure out how to work together. Idealism, I know, but if these underlying undertones of race division and good-ole-boy politics never leave, A-RC is going to go down even farther. Good luck.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 09/07/11 - 10:08 am
0
0
I challenge anyone to name a

I challenge anyone to name a vote taken by the Augusta Commission that has made your life better.

Little Lamb
56861
Points
Little Lamb 09/07/11 - 10:18 am
0
0
I can't think of one that has

I can't think of one that has made my life better, Insider; but perhaps that city employee who got the city to pay for her gastric bypass surgery (with the help of Fred (What, me worry?) Russell and Betty (Bypass) Beard) would consider her life better. That is, if the surgery was a success, which many gastric bypass surgeries are not.

usklxm72
13
Points
usklxm72 09/07/11 - 10:16 am
0
0
I agree with you Moxrocks,

I agree with you Moxrocks, glad to be an Aikenite. I have switched to WIS for my local news. Stop playing with race cards and get down to the business of running the government.

ADAMS
20
Points
ADAMS 09/07/11 - 10:32 am
0
0
Augusta need a new direction

Augusta need a new direction in government!!! Fred Russell must go and a investigation into the Augusta Fire department is needed.

Tell it like it is
35
Points
Tell it like it is 09/07/11 - 11:58 am
0
0
What a joke ! Keep the rest

What a joke ! Keep the rest of the state laughing at Augusta. These clowns are so funny they should make a movie. Keep
Fred !! That is the most disgusting thing I have heard today. This man is not doing Augusta any good, he should go.

Sweet son
14798
Points
Sweet son 09/07/11 - 12:24 pm
0
0
In the video it was obvious

In the video it was obvious that Fred was furious with Mason twice and he should have been. First his comment about Fred saying a lot and not saying anything was uncalled for and secondly when he made the remark about Fred being on vacation was also uncalled for. Mason should have been reprimanded by the commission for belittling another member of the ARC government team in a public meeting. If it had been the other way around Mason would have called on the card. Glad he lost big last night!!!!

Riverman1
121138
Points
Riverman1 09/07/11 - 01:00 pm
0
0
I told you Chief Willis would

I told you Chief Willis would be the new scapegoat. Keep in mind, there are some who want to see a certain person move into the EMA position and receive the six figure income that goes with it. These people are mad that Willis has dual roles. He does a good job and saves the county lots.

eb97
836
Points
eb97 09/07/11 - 04:59 pm
0
0
To reach budget goals, you

To reach budget goals, you cut the fat from the top not the bottom. You need more worker bees than queens. I say start by getting rid of Russell and one of his Adm. assistants because just how many assistants does one really need, just taking up a space and a pay check.

eb97
836
Points
eb97 09/07/11 - 05:01 pm
0
0
I hope the Augusta voters see

I hope the Augusta voters see the writing on the wall and get rid of the current commissioners except Mason who is speaking for the people .

Pu239
284
Points
Pu239 09/07/11 - 05:15 pm
0
0
Flush them all...including
Unpublished

Flush them all...including Mason

Damon Cline
12
Points
Damon Cline 09/07/11 - 10:01 pm
0
0
"Mason is speaking for the

"Mason is speaking for the people..." Which people? The people who feed the government cow or the people who only milk it?

southiegal
26
Points
southiegal 09/08/11 - 08:57 pm
0
0
Russell needs to go NOW!

Russell needs to go NOW! Wants sheriff to make cuts now after he gave big raises out. No way should this happen. Sheriff's dept. & Fire dept. should be getting more money. They deserve it not peons sitting behind a desk.

microteckie
0
Points
microteckie 09/10/11 - 02:03 pm
0
0
This foolishness in Augusta

This foolishness in Augusta government must come to an end. There is no other place on earth can a person give out illegal and unnecessary raises to people who are not qualified for the jobs that have and keep his own. I work hard for the tax dollars that this city happily takes from me only to flush it down the toilet. The police dept. and fire dept. deserve raises after receiving years of pay cuts. How is it possible that the other commissioners do not see this is unfair? How do they expect the citizens of this city to react when it is reelection time? I commend Mr. Mason for bringing the issues with this city's administation to light. I hope other citizens join me on election day to get rid of those commissioners who voted to keep Fred and elect people who are looking out for our best interest and not their own.

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