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Hearing in Baptist Ministers' lawsuit against Augusta today

Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011 10:32 PM
Last updated Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011 4:25 AM
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A hearing today may signal the end of a frivolous lawsuit alleging Augusta violated its charter when six commissioners voted to give City Administrator Fred Russell extra duties.

Or it may be a moment of triumph for the other four Augusta commissioners, who’ve cited the lawsuit since April as a reason to vote “no” on nearly all matters related to the city’s new personnel manual and Russell’s efforts to reorganize city departments, changes with which they disagree.

The Baptist Ministers Conference of Augusta Inc., Metro Courier publisher Barbara Gordon, Paine College historian Mallory Millender and the Revs. K.B. Martin, James Williams and Melvin Ivy filed the suit in April against Mayor Deke Copenhaver, Russell and the six commissioners.

The complaint alleged the six commission votes were insufficient to pass city code amendments and a personnel manual that seemingly gave the administrator authority to hire, fire, give raises and reorganize city departments.

The plaintiffs said the changes were an illegal change in the city’s form of government, which Augusta’s charter requires a minimum of eight commission votes to pass.

The votes were “a veiled attempt to amend the charter without complying with the statutorily mandated process for doing so,” the amended complaint says.

Delving into conversations surrounding the drafting of consolidated Augusta-Richmond County government’s charter, the complaint says Augusta’s mayor, as chief executive, actually has the power to hire, fire and reorganize, powers that the commission cannot give to someone else under the law without eight votes.

Copenhaver briefly entertained the idea of assuming such powers, calling for the Georgia attorney general to decide between competing legal opinions – one from General Counsel Andrew MacKenzie, another from a lawyer for the Georgia General Assembly – that differed on whether he had those powers.

Augusta Circuit Superior Court Judge J. David Roper is presiding over the case and will hear arguments on the city’s motion for summary judgment today.

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Riverman1
81496
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Riverman1 11/17/11 - 05:52 am
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The Baptist ministers should

The Baptist ministers should combine their choirs and have them wear their robes to all Commission meetings and sing in unison when a proposal by the administrator is not to their liking instead of going to court. It would be a Blues Brothers in the church type scene.

Maybe they could get the Catholics to send a priest or two and have them chant in Latin while the choir sings. The choir giving out hymns that warn of the wrath that awaits city officials while the priests exorcise them at the same time. That would be better than a lawsuit.

shrimp for breakfast
5422
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shrimp for breakfast 11/17/11 - 07:16 am
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And Riverman how about Some

And Riverman how about Some Mormons telling all the Commisioners about the GOOD NEWS!

Riverman1
81496
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Riverman1 11/17/11 - 07:25 am
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Shrimp, the Mormon Tabernacle

Shrimp, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in with that crowd would be something even if LDS President Spencer Kimball did have a revelation back in 1978.

tinman
35
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tinman 11/17/11 - 09:39 am
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I wonder if these heroic

I wonder if these heroic Baptist Ministers have ever heard of the separation of church and state. Of course the have--when government tries to do something they don't like, but if it is something they want then there is no such thing as separation. I wonder why the IRS isn't looking into their tax status! But of course there is nothing political about the Ministers Association! Really!!

Little Lamb
44971
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Little Lamb 11/17/11 - 10:17 am
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Okay, I guess the lawyer for

Okay, I guess the lawyer for the Baptist ministers is hanging his hat on the following nail, pasted in its entirety from the code on the city's web site:

Sec. 1-2-27. Authority and duties as chief executive officer.

The Mayor shall be the chief executive officer of Augusta-Richmond County. It shall be his duty to have the ordinances and laws governing Augusta-Richmond County put in full force.

Little Lamb
44971
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Little Lamb 11/17/11 - 10:22 am
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The above sounds pretty

The above sounds pretty strong and all-emcompassing, doesn't it? But maybe the lawyer for the Baptist ministers didn't read the section that preceded it. Here is the rest of the story, pasted in from the city's web site:

Sec. 1-2-26. Powers, authority and duties generally.

The Mayor shall have and exercise the following duties, powers and authority:
(a) He shall preside over all meetings of Commission, regular or special, whenever present;
(b) He shall call a special meeting of Commission whenever five (5) members of Commission, in writing, so request and he shall direct the clerk of Commission to send reasonable written notice of all such special meetings to each member thereof. He may also call a special meeting of the Commission or call any committee together at any time he deems necessary;
(c) He shall be recognized as the head of the Augusta-Richmond County government for all ceremonial purposes and for the service of civil process;
(d) He shall have the same right to speak at the meetings of the Commission as the members thereof, but may vote only to create or break a tie on all questions before the Commission. The Mayor shall not have the right to vote upon the question of appointments to the various committees;
(e) The Mayor shall have and exercise the duties, powers and authority herein defined and specified and those imposed upon and vested in him by the acts of the General Assembly or by the Commission;
The Mayor, by authority of the Commission herein provided, also shall have authority:
(f) To impose disciplinary action upon the Administrator after ratification by a majority of the Commission;
(g) To examine all bills and accounts presented to the Commission;
(h) To examine the digest of tax returns;
(i) To examine the accounts, books and returns of all Augusta-Richmond County officers;
(j) To examine all other matters and things connected with Augusta-Richmond County finances;
(k) To appoint some competent person, whenever deemed necessary by him, to make any examination specified in paragraphs (g), (h), (i), and (j) of this section, and to report the result thereof to him;
(l) To use all legal means to possess the Augusta-Richmond County Commission of all property belonging to Augusta-Richmond County, whenever it can be identified as such property;
(m) To give the Commission his views in the form of a message, on such subjects as in his opinion may be for the public interest or the necessary information of the Commission;
(n) To use all lawful and proper means for the exercise of any power, or the discharge of any duty, devolved upon him by this Code, or by the Commission, or by any act of the General Assembly, for the good of Augusta-Richmond County.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I don't see anything about hiring and firing in there, except in item (f), if the Commission voted to discipline (including termination) the Administrator. That would be cool, actually. If the Commission actually votes to fire the Administrator, under item (f) it would be the Mayor who actually does the firing after the fact!

By the way, those words in bold-face in the list of duties above were emboldened by me for emphasis. They are not in bold-face in the actual document.

entitlements-r-us
4
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entitlements-r-us 11/17/11 - 02:10 pm
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Could this possibly be a

Could this possibly be a response by the ministers in relation to the gang of 6 not agreeing to give them city monies to maintain the same programs the city has financially supported for years? Year after year they come to the commission for money and receive it. This year they were left in the cold with their hands open.

Sweet son
9988
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Sweet son 11/17/11 - 02:31 pm
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The Baptist Ministers

The Baptist Ministers Conference of Augusta Inc., Metro Courier publisher Barbara Gordon, Paine College historian Mallory Millender and the Revs. K.B. Martin, James Williams and Melvin Ivy filed the suit in April against Mayor Deke Copenhaver, Russell and the six commissioners.

Wonder if the above mentioned filed the suit at the urging of the four amigos who call themselves Commissioners?

You know that you can't call anything racial or racist but this suit and anything or anybody associated with it seems to fit the bill. It is obiviously black vs white and has nothing to do with making the RC government function!

entitlements-r-us
4
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entitlements-r-us 11/17/11 - 02:34 pm
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Sweet son: This was probably

Sweet son: This was probably done at the encouragement by some of the members of our wonderful ARC delegation in Atlanta. They communicate regularly with the amigos and make many "suggestions" as to how they should vote.

Little Lamb
44971
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Little Lamb 11/17/11 - 02:56 pm
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I wonder if those Baptist

I wonder if those Baptist ministers take up special collections at their churches to pay for these political legal fees, or do they merely take the money out of the regular church funds?

Lori Davis
885
Points
Lori Davis 11/17/11 - 03:02 pm
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Little Lamb, When I ran for

Little Lamb, When I ran for Mayor there was a section 1-2-27that stated that the Mayor is the Chief Executive Officer of Augusta Richmond County. It shall be his duty to have the laws and ordinances governing Augusta Richmond County put into full force. Wonder when this disappeared. I ran an entire campaign on this section.

Little Lamb
44971
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Little Lamb 11/17/11 - 03:08 pm
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Lori, look up above. I

Lori, look up above. I posted that ordinance section at 9:17 a.m. The trouble is, "What is the meaning of the term 'put into full force'?" Section 1-2-26 has so many restrictions on the mayor that I don't think he can carry out 1-2-27.

Lori Davis
885
Points
Lori Davis 11/17/11 - 03:14 pm
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Sorry Little Lamb. I missed

Sorry Little Lamb. I missed that. I feel better now!

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