Changes to Augusta personnel manual reviewed

Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011 8:49 PM
Last updated Friday, Nov. 4, 2011 5:04 AM
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One of the biggest critics of powers awarded to City Administrator Fred Russell in the new city personnel manual has softened his position.

Calling himself “nitpicker-in-chief” as he presided over a Thursday workshop on revising the manual, Commissioner Bill Lockett conceded toward the end that he didn’t have a problem with the administrator having authority to hire, fire and award raises, only with the manner Russell did so after the manual was adopted in March.

“If he uses the authority fairly, I don’t have a problem with that,” Lockett said.

When Russell exercised those powers, backdating 44 raises to employees reassigned as he reorganized several departments, Lockett and Commissioner Alvin Mason called for Russell’s resignation.

Excepted from Lockett’s approval Thursday, however, was the administrator’s authority to reorganize the government. He said that provision, cited in a lawsuit filed by a local pastors’ group, violates the charter because it passed with only six of 10 commission votes.

The manual leaves hiring and firing of department directors, the administrator, the city clerk, general counsel and several other top positions to the commission, and an earlier provision granting the administrator “exclusive” authority to recommend candidates for those top jobs has already been struck.

Also up for discussion Thursday was the manual’s nepotism policy, the administrator’s authority to overrule personnel board decisions and provisions awarding top executives severance equal to up to two years’ salary if fired without cause.

Lockett and Commissioner Corey Johnson specified Thursday that they wanted a provision allowing the administrator to overrule the personnel board returned to the previous policy in which the board could overturn terminations.

Former Human Resources Director Rod Powell, now working as a city consultant on revising the manual, supported all the revisions presented, including extending the city’s nepotism policy to public safety departments, which previously were excluded, and limiting executives’ severance to nine months’ salary.

“The things that really polarize people, I think they need to come out of there,” Powell said.

The proposed changes will go before the administrative services committee in three weeks, then before the full commission for its approval.

READ PREVIOUS STORIES

about the city’s personnel manual at augustachronicle.com.

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madgerman
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madgerman 11/04/11 - 08:09 am
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And what is the web site that
Unpublished

And what is the web site that we citizens can go to to see how our employees (commissioners) are doing their jobs? By the way do we or don't we have a new personnel manual? If we do, why do we still need a high paid consultant? If the manual is new, why would the commission have hiring authority over someone whose future pay is controlled by Fred? It would seem logical if I hire or fire you, I have the best insight as to your effectivenness at work. And lastly, why are we paying a special segment of our work force any bail out for terminations? I would hope that all city workers have the same termination language if they are fired without cause. BTW what is -Fired without cause?

Little Lamb
46858
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Little Lamb 11/04/11 - 08:26 am
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One example of being fired

One example of being fired without cause would be in a reorganization where you end up with more people than you have jobs, so some need to be laid off. But, let's face it, governments almost never downsize, so the above scenario is not going to happen.

So the manual now says top executives can get up to two years salary if fired without cause. That's outrageously generous. Now let's discuss the elephant in the room, namely, city administrator Fred (What, me worry?) Russell. Can you ever envision a scenario where you would reorganize and say, "Sorry Fred, but we no longer need a city administrator, so we're laying you off because there's no work for you, but you surely were a great administrator and we're glad to give you the maximum severance"?

Fred Russell needs to be fired with cause and thus the severance provisions would not be an issue. He has supervised a purchasing department that has engaged in illegal and unconstitutional activities, according to Judge Carlisle Overstreet. He arranged to give a gratuity to Betty Beard's friend for gastric bypass surgery. He allowed Teresa Smith to run roughshod over citizens trying to get their legitimate work done. He has done such sloppy work that the city has lost numerous lawsuits and paid out millions of dollars in judgments. He has failed to provide commissioners (his bosses) with materials and information they have instructed him to do. And I'm sure you other posters can think of other bone-headed things he has done. Those things are what you call with cause. No severance for Fred.

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