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Augusta city administrator named finalist for Sarasota County, Fla., position

Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011 8:42 PM
Last updated 8:50 PM
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City Administrator Fred Russell is among the finalists for a similar job in Sarasota County, Fla., according to media reports there.

The Palm Beach Post and the Herald-Tribune in Sarasota reported Tuesday that Russell is one of eight candidates for county administrator, narrowed from a field of 45 by The Mercer Group, an executive search firm.

Russell said Tuesday afternoon he had not been informed about his finalist status, but that he’d decided over the summer to begin looking at other options.

“Given the nature of the situation, it would be prudent to look around a little bit, yes,” Russell said.

A former deputy police chief in Richmond, Va., and director of the Virginia Crime Commission, Russell came to Augusta as deputy administrator in 2002. He was named Augusta city administrator in 2005 after the resignation of George Kolb.

Sarasota County, on Florida’s western coast, is home to 381,000 permanent residents, almost twice that of Augusta. According to The Mercer Group’s job listing, the county has a commission-administrator form of government in which the commission appoints only two employees — the administrator and the county attorney.

Russell has come under fire in recent months during efforts by a majority of commissioners to increase his authority to hire, fire and promote employees without commission approval. His July decision to promote and award hefty raises to 44 employees involved in a reorganization of several city departments surprised most of the 10-member commission, but the raises remain in effect.

He goes against administrators from York County, S.C.; West Palm Beach; Daytona Beach; and other Florida counties and cities also named among the top eight, according to The Post. Sarasota’s county commission is expected to narrow the field further next Tuesday.

Russell said thoughts about relocating his family to Florida were premature.

“There’s a lot of work that I’m proud of that we’ve done in Augusta, and a lot of work I want to do,” he said. “I just want to explore my options.”

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Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 11/01/11 - 08:18 pm
0
0
You are proud of what you

You are proud of what you have done in Augusta? You have ransacked the place, sir. You better hope Sarasota doesnt know how to google your name, because it isnt good around here.

scoopdedoop64
2520
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scoopdedoop64 11/01/11 - 08:29 pm
0
0
One person's trash is another

One person's trash is another person's treasure. Same goes for people. You may not like or think well of the man and the job he has done here and that is your opinion but until you have walked in another man's shoes its hard to know exactly what has or has not been done right. I don't know Russell personally but he has a right to seek a job to provide for himself and his family. And just because you don't like the performance of a man's job doesn't make him evil. There is so much politics involved in all this that it is hard to know whether he is or is not a good administrator. Just my thoughts.

cityman
-6
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cityman 11/01/11 - 09:21 pm
0
0
Russell is paid well to rip
Unpublished

Russell is paid well to rip us off!

Taylor B
5
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Taylor B 11/01/11 - 09:23 pm
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Scoop, so because you have no

Scoop, so because you have no idea, Im wrong. Im cool with that.

Riverman1
94390
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Riverman1 11/01/11 - 09:25 pm
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I wish Mr. Russell well. It

I wish Mr. Russell well. It wasn't easy here.

scoopdedoop64
2520
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scoopdedoop64 11/01/11 - 09:33 pm
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0
TaylorB, that is not what I

TaylorB, that is not what I meant. I was just giving another perspective.

Riverman1
94390
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Riverman1 11/01/11 - 09:34 pm
0
0
Told you Bill Shanahan was

Told you Bill Shanahan was brought here for a reason. No outsider who is currently a "chief" administrator in a city of any size is coming here to this mess. Shanahan will be the new administrator. Another Army boy makes good.

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 11/01/11 - 10:03 pm
0
0
If bill was to be our next

If bill was to be our next admin, it would have been done in August. The good thing is the next admin will have a two year get out of jail free card, because it will take that long to undo the damage, Im sure. Scoop, no harm meant, but Russell needed to go for quite A WHILE.

Riverman1
94390
Points
Riverman1 11/01/11 - 10:09 pm
0
0
Taylor, some key things were

Taylor, some key things were said when Shanahan came before the Commission discussing matters when Russell was gone. They noted he was new. Even Mason was polite to him. Then there was the whole matter of him being hired in the middle of all the controversy. Something was up with his hiring. His credentials are pretty good. I say it's him, especially when you consider outsiders ain't going to sign on.

sand gnat
686
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sand gnat 11/01/11 - 10:52 pm
0
0
Just don't understand why he

Just don't understand why he would want to leave. After all, Augusta was recently ranked as one of the top ten cities in the USA to live.

shrimp for breakfast
5641
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shrimp for breakfast 11/02/11 - 12:23 am
0
0
Taylor you're wrong because I

Taylor you're wrong because I agree with you and my wife say's I'm always wrong. So if I'm wrong then you're wrong too. Right?

DuhJudge
206
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DuhJudge 11/02/11 - 06:06 am
0
0
Did the paper say he was

Did the paper say he was offered the job? I don't think so. The elections of 2012 are looming.....you should be scared.

allhans
24988
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allhans 11/02/11 - 06:06 am
0
0
This brings to mind an old

This brings to mind an old song; "I don't want her you can have her..."
change the wording a bit and you have it.

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 11/02/11 - 06:23 am
0
0
Shrimp, we are right, because

Shrimp, we are right, because my wife agrees with me :)

dstewartsr
20393
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dstewartsr 11/02/11 - 06:24 am
0
0
Like Will Rogers said, "All I

Like Will Rogers said, "All I knows is what I reads in the papers," and that is what I know about Mr. Russell. No behind the scenes insights which are remarkably featured in the commentary. I do know he has functioned, albeit fitfully, in a govenment run by cronyism, nepotism, and open favoritism whose policies are shaped by exception, meddling and lawsuit. It appears to me it's come time to chase the scapegoat into the wilderness; Mr. Russell should take the opportunity to shake the dust of Augusta from his feet.

Little Lamb
49260
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Little Lamb 11/02/11 - 06:51 am
0
0
The way Russell has

The way Russell has functioned in the government described by Mr. Stewart was to play rope-a-dope with the commissioners. When leadership was called for, Mr. Russell was absent, even absent on the job. City government employees recognize his desire to avoid resolving conflicts, so they devise ways to be absent while on their jobs, too. We have a city government in slow motion, but gobbling up the resources like a tapeworm.

iLove
626
Points
iLove 11/02/11 - 08:19 am
0
0
WHEN, notice the when....you
Unpublished

WHEN, notice the when....you leave Augusta, Mr. Russell please o please take the the other commissionners with you minus Mr. Mason and Mr. Lockett...then maybe we can move forward as a city instead of running in the circles we are so accustomed to. Atleast they have a backbone.

Tell it like it is
35
Points
Tell it like it is 11/02/11 - 09:42 am
0
0
Run Fred Run, you are not

Run Fred Run, you are not wanted here any longer.

Frank I
1204
Points
Frank I 11/02/11 - 11:03 am
0
0
So yesterday he was quoted by

So yesterday he was quoted by a one of the news stations, channel 12 I believe it was, as saying he didn't even remember applying for the position. Now he says "“Given the nature of the situation, it would be prudent to look around a little bit, yes,”... which is the truth Mr. Russell?

Riverman1
94390
Points
Riverman1 11/02/11 - 11:17 am
0
0
Since consolidation no

Since consolidation no administrator has lasted very long except Fred. But I doubt he will get the Florida job. He's too old.

Little Lamb
49260
Points
Little Lamb 11/02/11 - 11:41 am
0
0
Sorry Frank, but truth is a

Sorry Frank, but truth is a stranger to Fred Russell. You'll never get it from him.

Little Lamb
49260
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Little Lamb 11/02/11 - 11:44 am
0
0
Frank I wrote: So yesterday

Frank I wrote:

So yesterday he was quoted by a one of the news stations, channel 12 I believe it was, as saying he didn't even remember applying for the position.

It's scandalous that Augusta continues to pay him a lavish salary when, by his own admission, he has a faulty memory.

andy.hunt4life
0
Points
andy.hunt4life 11/02/11 - 12:12 pm
0
0
Mr. Russell has "situational

Mr. Russell has "situational Alzheimer's". He remembers what he chooses to remember. I wonder if he remembers telling a room full of firemen at the Boathouse to "go to hell" a few years ago. Fortunately for me, I don't work for the city and fortunate for Fred also, because I would NOT have been as composed as them. Hopefully, it will soon be goodbye to "Five Finger" Fred.

happychimer
19624
Points
happychimer 11/02/11 - 12:34 pm
0
0
I laughed when I read that he

I laughed when I read that he said he did no remember applying for the job in Florida.

Little Lamb
49260
Points
Little Lamb 11/02/11 - 01:06 pm
0
0
From the Channel 12 web site

From the Channel 12 web site comes this little tidbit:

Russell says he now has to think about his family. "I really have no intent of leaving Augusta," Russell said. "But sometimes Augusta seems to have an intent of leaving me, and I want to make sure that we are taken care of whatever way we go." Interestingly enough, Augusta commissioners are supposed to meet this Thursday at 11 p.m. to discuss recent changes to the Augusta personnel policy. One of the main topics on the agenda will be to address what some commissioners call golden parachutes for executive positions.

So, Fred will not resign, but he will hunker down to protect his golden parachute. It is rumored that there is a very generous severance provision in the new personnel manual, a manual that Fred himself wrote and the commissioners rubber stamped. Let's take that provision out of the manual before you fire him. And let's do both soon.

I guess the meeting will be held at 11 p.m. to keep the number of reporters in the room down.

mike1sc
217
Points
mike1sc 11/02/11 - 02:37 pm
0
0
Russell has had to work among

Russell has had to work among some of the most arrogant and self-serving commissioners for his entire tenure. They will do the same to his replacement.

And Little Lamb...interesting concept you bring up...but the so-called golden parachute you talk about in the manual, is in every real city in the country. But there again, Richmond County seems to be stuck in the 70's anyway, so it would be quite understandable if that didn't matter to them.

Do people really wonder why Columbia County continues to grow and Richmond County continues to falter? Really?

In my opinion, Fred Russell has earned every dime. I wish him well in whatever happens.

CorporalGripweed
0
Points
CorporalGripweed 11/02/11 - 04:47 pm
0
0
Mr. Russell sits on the board

Mr. Russell sits on the board of Augusta Tomorrow as well. The largest, greatest entity that practices classic "crony capitalism" in Augusta. Nothing happens in this town unless THEY (and he is one) approve and can make a buck off of it. I say good riddance.

lifelongresident
1323
Points
lifelongresident 11/03/11 - 07:24 am
0
0
don't forget about mrs.
Unpublished

don't forget about mrs. russell i am sure there will be a provision in the contract for her to get a job where ever he goes, and i am sure she has a nice severence package as well thanks to the kind, wonderful, and generous citizens of augusta/richmond county

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