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Lockett explains his concern with Augusta Commission details

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He calls himself “nitpicker-in-chief.” So why is Augusta Commissioner Bill Lockett so concerned about what seems to be the minutiae of Augusta government?

Bill Lockett says he's an elected official, not a politician.  Corey Perrine/File
Corey Perrine/File
Bill Lockett says he's an elected official, not a politician.

For one, he has the time and experience. At 72, Lockett is retired from a long and varied government career that began in 1957 in the Marines, continued for 15 years in the Army, ran five more years with the Georgia Department of Labor, 10 as a federal human resources investigator, then 10 as a business instructor at Butler High School, where he retired for a final time in 2005.

“Being a former federal investigator, I paid quite a bit of attention to detail, and I’m able to read between the lines,” said Lockett, who holds a master’s degree in public administration. “If you’re going to try to get something by me, you better make sure you’re on top of your game, because if you’re not, I’m going to catch you.”

Lockett said he was recruited by former Commissioner Calvin Holland and others to run for the District 5 seat, for which he might seek a second term next year.

“I’m not a professional politician; I consider myself an elected official,” he said by phone while driving home from training for Georgia elected officials Friday in Dublin.

Lockett said he enjoys being involved in his community but that recent relentless commission unrest and trouble with the administrator are making the official side of his position almost untenable.

“I still enjoy being a commissioner, but I don’t enjoy coming to the meetings, I’ll be honest,” he said.

He and Commissioner Alvin Mason call the voting pattern that has persisted most of this year the “Gang of Six,” for the six white commissioners who have consistently voted for numerous changes: a new personnel manual, outsourcing the city golf course and bus service, and enhancements to the administrator’s authority over personnel.

The group, whose six votes the city attorney deemed a sufficient majority to approve the changes, rarely consults with the “Gang of Four,” the four black commissioners, Lockett said. As a result, changes are ushered in “piecemeal,” with little attention paid to detail or to the big picture – something that’s maddening for Lockett.

“That’s the way this reorganization has been,” he said. “Making decisions, not knowing what the impact is going to be.”

Other commissioners say they’ve accommodated Lockett’s need to closely examine proposed changes, holding multiple workshops on the personnel manual, reorganization and budget.

City Administrator Fred Russell, whom Lockett and Mason twice tried to fire for making changes he was authorized to make, says he wants their support.

“I would love for eight, nine, 10 to agree to move forward with projects,” Russell said. “But democracy says it’s only six.”

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Riverman1
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Riverman1 11/21/11 - 04:55 am
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Interesting article that

Interesting article that spreads light and understanding. Bill Lockett, the chief nitpicker, would fit in well with those who comment on the Chronicle.

Asitisinaug
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Asitisinaug 11/21/11 - 05:00 am
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It would not matter how many

It would not matter how many studies are put forth or how much time is given to review the matter, etc. For the "gang of 6" it is about progress and efficency and for the "gang of 4" it is about race.

The commission, with all of their MANY faults has made great progress with the many changes listed above. Commissoners are not elected to run the day to day operations, that is the job of an administrator. If we could just get rid of Fred and hire a good black administrator then mabye the gang of 4 would actually agree with the gang of progression.

And, anyone who argues for waisting more money on the bus system vs. what we are now doing or loosing nearly 500k per year on a county golf course vs. making 15k per year isn't looking out for the best interest of any tax payer.

Mr. Lockett, thanks for all of your past military service and teaching of our youth...you have done enough.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 11/21/11 - 05:19 am
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A realistic view of Augusta

A realistic view of Augusta voters shows all are not taxpayers and some who are reap rewards from government spending. Two different groups with the same purpose of using taxpayers money for themselves. That's the divide.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 11/21/11 - 08:59 am
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Susan McCord wrote: (T)he

Susan McCord wrote:

(T)he “Gang of Six,” for the six white commissioners . . . rarely consults with the “Gang of Four,” the four black commissioners, Lockett said.

Is Lockett playing the race card, or is it simply the pity card, the victim card?

Lockett appears to be a man walking around in a morass of distrust. Look at this quote from the article above:

“If you’re going to try to get something by me, you better make sure you’re on top of your game, because if you’re not, I’m going to catch you.”

Here we see a paranoid man thinking everyone is out to get him. What a sad way to look at life.

belle
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belle 11/21/11 - 08:04 am
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Bill Lockett is not playing a
Unpublished

Bill Lockett is not playing a race card. If you review the trouble the commission has had you will see that Lockett is always the first to walk out, the other three follow because they know the commission won't listen to them. I do not for the life of me understand why the commission is so against following procedure. When Mr. Lockett referred to the black commissioner being left out, he meant that the white commissioners are holding their own little meetings and deciding their votes before they meet with the full commission. I am not all surprised that this might be the case.
No matter what, I just want to know why the commissioners are so against establishing a guideline and following it? Are they afraid to be held accountable?

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 11/21/11 - 08:26 am
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Belle wrote: No matter what,

Belle wrote:

No matter what, I just want to know why the commissioners are so against establishing a guideline and following it? Are they afraid to be held accountable?

The commission is following its guidelines, at least most of the time. The guideline is sometimes called the "city charter," but more correctly is called the Augusta-Richmond County Code. On the matter in question when Lockett, Mason and Hatney walked out, i.e., a single commissioner (Jackson) putting an item on the agenda without that item having first gone through a committee, the County Code clearly states that such an action is permissible. Any single commissioner can place any item on the agenda as long as he or she follows the timeliness protocol and goes through the clerk of commission. That is as it should be, for as Jerry Brigham pointed out, sometimes committee chairmen can bury items they don't like. It's a checks and balances thing.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 11/21/11 - 08:47 am
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One instance where the

One instance where the commission did not follow the code was when they gave a gratuity (gift) to the city employee (Betty Beard's friend) so she could pay for an elective surgery. That is against Code sections 1-1-28 and 1-1-23. Fred (What, me worry?) Russell was right there in the thick of it.

Why should Fred worry? He has total immunity. He does not need to worry about losing his job.

JimCox
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JimCox 11/21/11 - 10:39 am
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"Nitpicker in Chief", the

"Nitpicker in Chief", the moniker says it all. I'm not sure how a career with the government qualifies anyone to know much about business. If Commissioner Lockett thinks anything about the government procurement process resembles normal business, he is mistaken. It is obvious to me that the objective is to delay any progress at all so that the "four amigos" have a chance to become the "fiddlin' five" after the next election. The fact is Augusta is falling behind the rest of the state because of our inability to move forward. I personally don't care who comes up with the plan, black, white or asian, but do something. Augusta has so much to offer, but our petty differences are killing the city's future.

Crime Reports and Rewards TV
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Crime Reports and Rewards TV 11/21/11 - 03:23 pm
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Thank you for your service

Thank you for your service Commissioner Lockett:o)

CorporalGripweed
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CorporalGripweed 11/21/11 - 05:28 pm
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I don't view this as a "black

I don't view this as a "black vs. white "thing. I view it as a "wrong vs. right" thing. Case in point: recently the zoning designation for the WHOLE neighborhood of Harrisburg was changed without even one public hearing as required by law. Part of this was accomplished with information, as required by law, from a privately funded study. Which according to George Patty NEVER happened.
Our Dear Leaders just took it upon themselves (without the proper authority) to do this.
If these people who sit on commission would just follow procedure they would have less of Mr. Lockett's complaining to deal with.
I for one am glad SOMEONE is trying to keep these people honest.(There's an interesting statement!)Part of the problem is in this city elected officials (black and white)have gotten away with the sort of shenanigans I described earlier for WAYY too long and it bothers them when any one deigns to question their motives. I'm glad when anyone has to guts to make them explain themselves. Even if it is one of their own...

Crime Reports and Rewards TV
33
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Crime Reports and Rewards TV 11/21/11 - 10:11 pm
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Iron sharpens iron...

Iron sharpens iron...

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