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Russell no longer in running for Sarasota County, Fla., administrator job

Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011 4:21 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011 3:56 AM
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Augusta City Administrator Fred Russell is no longer under consideration for a similar job in Sarasota County, Fla.

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Augusta City Administrator Fred Russell is no longer under consideration for a similar job in Sarasota County, Fla.  Zach Boyden-Holmes/File
Zach Boyden-Holmes/File
Augusta City Administrator Fred Russell is no longer under consideration for a similar job in Sarasota County, Fla.

After public, individual interviews with each of the four finalists for Sarasota County administrator, Russell received only one vote from the five Sarasota County commissioners. The commission voted to begin contract negotiations with Randall Reid, the current Alachua County, Fla., administrator.

Russell spoke at length about Augusta during his interview, conducted during a public commission meeting that was broadcast on Sarasota County’s Web site. He described Augusta’s job market as including “a lot of call centers” but soon to benefit from a new chemical manufacturer building on the city’s south side. He described how in 2002, he’d planned to return to work in the Virginia governor’s office after short stint as a deputy city administrator in Augusta.

Asked how he’d help Sarasota County cope with a recent purchasing department scandal that led to the resignation of the county’s administrator, Russell noted that the news media might be paying a “back-sided compliment” in paying attention to an issue “not as bad as a lot that goes on in this world.”

Russell described tax-funded efforts under way in Augusta’s Laney-Walker neighborhood – where displaced Hyde Park residents will be relocated under federal guidelines, and new nontraditional student housing will be built.

Several of the four candidates interviewed Tuesday were asked about news articles and broadcasts that cast them in a negative light, and Russell was no exception, with Sarasota County Commissioner Jon Thaxton questioning Russell about Augusta’s ownership of only air rights to the Trade, Exhibit and Event Center parking deck.

Russell answered at length, mentioning some community bitterness over the TEE Center’s management ties to the publisher of The Augusta Chronicle, and describing details that did change during a four- or five-year period, but denying any wrongdoing.

“I have nothing to hide in that closet whatsoever,” he said.

Reached after the meeting by e-mail, Sarasota County Commissioner Christine Robinson, who cast the only vote in favor of hiring Russell, said she liked his response to questions about improving business relations and his experience with sports tourism.

“He had a refreshing sense of humor and really cares about the morale of government employees,” she said. “Augusta is lucky to have him.

Comments (46) Add comment
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Fiat_Lux
15342
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Fiat_Lux 11/15/11 - 05:26 pm
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Bummer.

Bummer.

Little Lamb
45817
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Little Lamb 11/16/11 - 09:00 am
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Last paragraph: typical

Last paragraph: typical non-answer from Russell. He's evasive, flippant, and arrogant.

He knew from the outset he was never going to get that job.
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The article has been updated, so the new last paragraph has changed. What I was referring to was this:

Sarasota County Commissioner Jon Thaxton question[ed] Russell about Augusta’s ownership of only air rights to the Trade, Exhibit and Event Center parking deck. Russell answered at length, mentioning some community bitterness over the TEE Center’s management ties to the publisher of The Augusta Chronicle, and describing details that did change during a four- or five-year period, but denying any wrongdoing. “I have nothing to hide in that closet whatsoever,” he said.

Little Lamb
45817
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Little Lamb 11/15/11 - 05:38 pm
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For having to put up with

For having to put up with Russell and the commissioners year after year, I hope Susan McCord at least got a trip to Sarasota paid for by the Chronicle to cover this story.

Cynical old woman
1099
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Cynical old woman 11/15/11 - 06:53 pm
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Augusta's loss....Sarasota's

Augusta's loss....Sarasota's gain. Knew it was too good to be true.

BevBoudreaux
0
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BevBoudreaux 11/15/11 - 07:17 pm
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Looks like Fred's mishandling

Looks like Fred's mishandling of the parking deck has come back to bite him in the you know where

Willow Bailey
20580
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Willow Bailey 11/15/11 - 07:34 pm
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How embarrassing, only one

How embarrassing, only one vote and that was for being funny. Problem is nobody's laughing much here.

Riverman1
83470
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Riverman1 11/15/11 - 08:16 pm
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Look, we all know he's

Look, we all know he's leaving. I'm really surprised at all the mean personal attacks especially on the radio. He really was in a no-win situation. This now makes it 100% of the administrators after consolidation Augusta has run off.

Did he hire Bill Shanahan? I'm predicting he is the next administrator.

Easyeddieg
0
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Easyeddieg 11/15/11 - 08:10 pm
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Fred may or may not be good

Fred may or may not be good for Augusta, I can't say. With everything in Augusta seemingly decided along party / racial lines, will anyone worth having ever run for any political position? The same goes for the national level as well.

corgimom
32144
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corgimom 11/15/11 - 08:33 pm
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"During Russell’s interview,

"During Russell’s interview, a Sarasota commissioner questioned him about Augusta’s ownership of only air rights to the Trade, Exhibit and Event Center parking deck."

Yeah, even in Sarasota FL they know a horrific deal when they see one.

Riverman1
83470
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Riverman1 11/15/11 - 08:36 pm
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Corgimom, haha. So true.

Corgimom, haha. So true.

augusta citizen
9280
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augusta citizen 11/15/11 - 08:38 pm
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Bet he wishes he hadn't given

Bet he wishes he hadn't given that Sarasota Herald-Tribune interview....

Riverman1
83470
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Riverman1 11/15/11 - 08:41 pm
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Something came to me. Back

Something came to me. Back when I was working on a grad degree one of the examples given of...well, stupidity in finance, was of the Japanese, back when they ruled the earth financially, buying a building in Chicago, but not realizing they hadn't bought the land under the building. I'm sure thousands of other people read that classic example and I bet some of them live in Augusta and work for the Morris Company.

KSL
128784
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KSL 11/15/11 - 09:07 pm
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Augusta/Richmond County, have

Augusta/Richmond County, have a clue.

BevBoudreaux
0
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BevBoudreaux 11/15/11 - 09:08 pm
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well atleast the

well atleast the commissioners in Sarasota do their homework and check the public records

KSL
128784
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KSL 11/15/11 - 09:09 pm
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That makes how many jobs he

That makes how many jobs he has not been offered?

Riverman1
83470
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Riverman1 11/15/11 - 09:42 pm
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How old is Russell? It's time

How old is Russell? It's time for him to go to Florida as a resident of a retirement community. He's already retired as a police officer.

Willow Bailey
20580
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Willow Bailey 11/15/11 - 09:47 pm
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It would be very interesting

It would be very interesting to know if the construction of the Tee Center was financed or paid for out of the city treasury. If financed, who is the lender? How about it Little Lamb, do you have info on this?

Riverman1
83470
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Riverman1 11/15/11 - 09:54 pm
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Willow, what do you mean?

Willow, what do you mean? SPLOST...with that BS vote where it was going to cost 18 million and now is over 100 million.

sand gnat
510
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sand gnat 11/16/11 - 12:10 am
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Welcome home, Fred. Augusta

Welcome home, Fred. Augusta needs you.

Jilly Bean
0
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Jilly Bean 11/16/11 - 01:58 am
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I cant believe so many people

I cant believe so many people give Fred a hard time. I bet all the complainers couldnt do his job. The problem is not fred is the commisioners. Mason is always trying to cause trouble it seems. Come back to Augusta Fred and show these people what you can really do.

habersham100
177
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habersham100 11/16/11 - 05:55 am
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For sure, I can't do a better

For sure, I can't do a better job than the aforementioned individual; however, the major difference between us is that I KNOW I can't do a better job. This is the only place I know that apparently opens the doors and allows the world's incompetents to come in and get hired in "positions" that are well paid without fear of losing their income should they seek employment elsewhere...

Little Lamb
45817
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Little Lamb 11/16/11 - 09:08 am
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Thanks for asking, Willow. I

Thanks for asking, Willow. I certainly don't know the details of the parking deck financing operation. And Brad has been begging for details of the same thing here on the forum, but no forumite has stepped up to post details.

Remember that we (the people) voted to tax ourselves to build the TEE center, but that vote was not construed as including the parking deck. So it was a separate deal. I am sure that the city floated one or more bonds for the TEE and one or more bonds for the parking deck.

You would think that the Downtown Development Authority would have been in on the bond action, but they have not been crowing lately, so no one knows.

It would make a good, in-depth newspaper story, but the three print media in town don't want to print it because us readers have Sesame Street attention spans and would not read it.

harley_52
23159
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harley_52 11/16/11 - 09:25 am
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Can anyone imagine having a

Can anyone imagine having a job where you had ten immediate bosses who couldn't agree among themselves what needed to be done, or whether the way you were approaching a problem was okay with them?

Riverman1
83470
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Riverman1 11/16/11 - 09:28 am
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Harley, imagine your OER and

Harley, imagine your OER and the support form if you had to be rated in that situation. Impossible.

Riverman1
83470
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Riverman1 11/16/11 - 09:35 am
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When I was an Army officer

When I was an Army officer (like Harley, but lower ranking, heh) I never once had a less than outstanding OER. My technique to achieve the great efficiency ratings was to get drunk every few days with whoever my current boss was. If I tried that with ten people I would have never lasted.

mike1sc
217
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mike1sc 11/16/11 - 10:39 am
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So everyone thinks that when

So everyone thinks that when Fred leaves....all the problems will go with him, huh? How sad that everyone buys into what certain commissioners have been shoveling. Let's see who they pick to blame after Russell is gone....and, wow, I didn't know Fred had a vote on all these decisions the commission made?

harley_52
23159
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harley_52 11/16/11 - 10:55 am
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Riverman1 said "My technique

Riverman1 said "My technique to achieve the great efficiency ratings was to get drunk every few days with whoever my current boss was."

Those were the days. At one time that was the path to success in many organizations, including some units in the military.

I think the military has moved in the opposite direction in the past couple of decades and now drinking is pretty much discouraged, at least in public.

It remains a career enhancer in lots of civilian organizations, however.

macktaylor
29
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macktaylor 11/16/11 - 11:02 am
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I agree I don't think the

I agree I don't think the problem is so much with Fred as it is the bickering that still continues in the absence of Marion Williams.

harley_52
23159
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harley_52 11/16/11 - 11:04 am
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mike1sc said "So everyone

mike1sc said "So everyone thinks that when Fred leaves....all the problems will go with him, huh?"

Not everyone. Some of us think the problems are mainly a function of the organizational structure above Fred's level which present anyone in Fred's position with the impossible task of working for at least ten direct supervisors, each giving their own directions, and each demanding their own actions, priorities, and responses which may, or may not, be at odds with one another.

I don't think Dwight Eisenhower or Lee Iococca would be successful in the job.

Willow Bailey
20580
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Willow Bailey 11/16/11 - 11:16 am
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River & LL, it would be a lot

River & LL, it would be a lot easier, however, no less inept, to make improvements on a piece of property out of pocket than it would be to do so with a financial institution involved. Why did the city's legal department not examine the deed? Not too much attention paid to the details here, or at least so it appears. But who really knows?

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