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Augusta Commission to address code of conduct at retreat

Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012 9:33 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012 3:02 AM
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Dodging reporters’ questions on his way in and out of the Augusta Commission’s regular meeting Tuesday, Commissioner Alvin Mason spoke publicly only once during the meeting.

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Emily Rose Bennett/Staff
Commissioner Alvin Mason took issue with the code of conduct’s provision about setting aside differences.

He took issue with the code of conduct Mayor Deke Copenhaver wanted the commission to reapprove.

The usually verbose Mason, making his first public appearance since his arrest for domestic violence last week, echoed questions raised by Commissioner Bill Lockett about the one-page code, which has twice been adopted by the commission.

"We tried this in 2006, in 2009, and now we contemplate doing it again in 2012, and nothing has changed," Lockett said.

Mason said one of the code's nine bullet points, which deals with setting aside individual differences and supporting the commission's actions, immediately jumped out as problematic.

"It's awfully difficult to meet up and lay down your differences," he said, "especially if you have some legitimate reason in your own mind, and/or some proof."

Throughout 2011, Mason and Lockett – and, usually, commissioners Corey Johnson and J.R. Hatney – often split with their white colleagues to oppose and publicly speak out against most measures involving a new personnel manual, outsourcing city functions and whether to increase the administrator's authority.

Copenhaver said he wanted to readopt the code because "last year, things got a little sideways on us."

The mayor, who read the existing code into the record, said he was "fine" with Johnson's motion to call a commission retreat to revisit the code instead of reapproving the document Tuesday.

During a half-hour meeting, the first of 2012, the commission also withdrew without prejudice an agenda item dealing with a new overlay district in the Laney-Walker historic district.

That maneuver frees the applicant to present a revised application to the Augusta Planning Commission, Planning and Development Director George Patty said.

The original application, filed by APD Urban Planning and Management, a consulting firm hired to assist with Augusta's massive redevelopment plan for the Laney-Walker and Bethlehem neighborhoods, hit snags when bloggers noticed procedural errors in the original application process, Patty has said.

Both agenda items passed 9-0 Tuesday with Commissioner Joe Jackson out.

Comments (37) Add comment
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Asitisinaug
3
Points
Asitisinaug 01/03/12 - 09:46 pm
0
0
They can't even sign a code

They can't even sign a code promising to do the right thing for the community and to act in a civil manner.

Then, after cutting employees, salaries, cops on the streets, and slashing various budgets they think it is ok for them to "Go on a Retreat" to get to know each other and work better together.

Give us a break already!! Do your jobs for the betterment of the community, nothing more and nothing less. Stop wasting our money with your large gas bills, cell phone usage, increases in salaries for yourselves, ridiculous studies that you never listen to anyway, twice a week trash service and the list goes on.....

raul
5729
Points
raul 01/03/12 - 10:07 pm
0
0
@Asitisinaug. Like.

@Asitisinaug. Like.

tckr1983
365
Points
tckr1983 01/04/12 - 12:33 am
0
0
Is there ANYTHING else that

Is there ANYTHING else that can make our city government look any more inept than it already is? It's a circus, it's embarrassing and it needs to be fixed. Local leaders apparently think they can dodge questions that need answers... man up. If you can't comment, say so.

Mr. Mason needs to resign and if the rest of them can't even agree to be civil... they all need to resign. With this group... when all is said and done, more is said than done.

Riverman1
93509
Points
Riverman1 01/04/12 - 07:06 am
0
0
The "bloggers" should be

The "bloggers" should be thanked for the examination of the Laney Walker dealings.

proud2bamerican
441
Points
proud2bamerican 01/04/12 - 07:34 am
0
0
Amen to asitisinaug...so wish

Amen to asitisinaug...so wish the retreat would be cancelled and someone would 'man up' and take a lead in the right direction...what a mess!!

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 01/04/12 - 07:43 am
0
0
Pop quiz... When was the

Pop quiz...

When was the last time the commission held a retreat to discuss public safety?

How about job creation?

How about anything of actual importance?

Riverman1
93509
Points
Riverman1 01/04/12 - 07:54 am
0
0
Retreat equals going

Retreat equals going somewhere nice at taxpayer's expense, getting liquored up and acting as if you like each other until you get back home.

Little Lamb
48970
Points
Little Lamb 01/04/12 - 04:44 pm
0
0
I wish we still had Stacey

I wish we still had Stacey Eidson reporting the city beat for the Spirit. She used to give a blow-by-blow of the motions and substitute motions. From the story above we really don't know what happened during the meeting. We get only the final score. So the mayor read a document into the minutes. We surmise that the mayor was pleading desperately for someone, anyone, to make a motion to approve that document. Did any commissioner step up to the plate to make such a motion supporting the mayor? We don't know from the story above. Was Johnson's motion to hold another retreat at taxpayer expense the first motion on the matter or was it one of those famous “substitute” motions?

No matter, I guess.

We have a miniature model of the U.S. government down on Greene Street. The bloc of white commissioners represents the U.S. Senate. The bloc of black commissioners represents the U.S. House. The mayor represents Barak Obama. Obama wants to impose higher tax rates on the uber-rich. Copenhaver wants to impose a feel-good document of courteous behavior. The lawmakers want no part of charades.

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

Now I return to a previous question : Why is it so important to have an overlay district in the Laney-Walker area? The city normally uses spot zoning to accommodate mixed-use areas. Spot zoning has worked for over 200 years here. Spot zoning is safer than overlay districts if you think that property rights are a good thing.

Riverman1
93509
Points
Riverman1 01/04/12 - 08:10 am
0
0
LL, isn't this idea Deke is

LL, isn't this idea Deke is proposing of passing a resolution to have everyone act courteous such a classic Deke move? He must email in his ideas from the beach. This is something only a surfer could come up with, dude. He leads Commission meetings looking out of place as he would be drinking 40 oz with the Cherry Tree boyz.

Discussionstarter
501
Points
Discussionstarter 01/04/12 - 08:37 am
0
0
These are our leaders?

These are our leaders? Disappointing!

Privy
106
Points
Privy 01/04/12 - 08:59 am
0
0
I was informed that Dennis

I was informed that Dennis Stroud was terminated yesterday, anyone know why? Things are smelling pretty bad in the city government!

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 01/04/12 - 09:01 am
0
0
I'd take a dude up there

I'd take a dude up there sippin 40's if they are an effective mayor moreso than a prototypical one who produces nothing of merit. Tvveedie for Mayor 2014 ! ! !

JRC2024
10398
Points
JRC2024 01/04/12 - 09:55 am
0
0
Have the retreat in the new

Have the retreat in the new courthouse. Call up the furniture rental place and order some bunk beds and get their wives to cater it. Might get some good food and they would get their business done in a jiffy. Mason might want to take up residence there since it is hot at home. Get some psychologist to come in after hours and teach him anger management at his expense.

Iwannakno
1533
Points
Iwannakno 01/04/12 - 10:03 am
0
0
I would settle for votes
Unpublished

I would settle for votes instead of abstentions and leaving the room or just not showing up...it's laughable and pathetic and borders on dereliction of duty. you were elected to move this city forward...VOTE if you represented your district and lost then at least you stood up for the people that elected you. It's like kids taking their ball and going home. If I hear one more study mentioned I am gonna scream!!

Dipshot
-5
Points
Dipshot 01/04/12 - 10:45 am
0
0
Does anyone not think that

Does anyone not think that this effort by Deke was nothing more than an act of political theater to exploit the Mason domestic situation? I mean the commission has already approved this code more than once... what's with the timing here? And it seems a bit premature before Mason has even had his day in court.. we still don't know the whole story of what really happened and already the mayor wants to score political points.. how's that for trying to set a new tone on the commission?

Little Lamb
48970
Points
Little Lamb 01/04/12 - 11:04 am
0
0
I never would have thought of

I never would have thought of that, Dipshot, but you do make an interesting supposition: The mayor's grandstanding by scolding Mason is political theater, indeed.

And when I first heard on Sunday about the Mayor wanting to bring up this code of conduct again, I thought it was fishy. The only reason you would want to bring a code of conduct before the commission again is if you wanted to change something in it. The code does not need "re-approving." It does not expire like a gallon of milk does.

Little Lamb
48970
Points
Little Lamb 01/04/12 - 11:06 am
0
0
Good idea about holding the

Good idea about holding the retreat in the Ruff House, JRC. And I hear that there is a kitchen in the judge's chamber area that can prepare some real gourmet meals. Mrs. Brigham must be a good cook, so she can supervise the kitchen during the retreat.

Conservative Man
5578
Points
Conservative Man 01/04/12 - 11:24 am
0
0
This "code of conduct"

This "code of conduct" sideshow is nothing more than Augusta's ruling elite trying to tell everyone who disagrees with them to sit down shut up and don't question anything they do. Period. This coming from a conservative. I don't trust these guys to do the right thing any more than I'd trust my grandmother to do brain surgery.

Dipshot
-5
Points
Dipshot 01/04/12 - 12:17 pm
0
0
When Jerry Brigham was asked

When Jerry Brigham was asked by the media about his thoughts on the day of the Mason arrest.. he simply said it was "unfortunate".. he didn't try and exploit the situation politically like Deke and Bowles (I'm just glad I don't need a a legal team). Now considering the political battles Brigham has had with Mason over the past year he could have certainly taken advantage of the situation and gotten a couple jabs in and made some snarky remarks.. but he chose not to do so. I'm not usually a Brigham fan but I liked the way he handled the question by the media.

Dipshot
-5
Points
Dipshot 01/04/12 - 12:22 pm
0
0
I'm not sure exactly what

I'm not sure exactly what Deke wants.. does he not think there should be debate in a legislative body? What does he want? A politburo that rubber stamps agenda items with no discussion. If that's what he is aiming for with this "Code of Conduct" then I say no way! I happen to think debate is good in a legislative body.. I want commissioners to question items that don't look right. I want commissioners to raise objections when the taxpayers are being duped with things like having a $12 million parking deck built on someone else's land. It would be one thing if we had fist fights in commission chambers like they do in the Taiwanese parliament...now that kind of behavior calls for a code of conduct with sanctions.. But it sounds like what Deke wants is no debate whatsoever.

dichotomy
37418
Points
dichotomy 01/04/12 - 12:32 pm
0
0
You folks voted for a

You folks voted for a "consolidated" government and you definitely got what you asked for. The only thing consolidated about our government is the fact that they take our tax money and consolidate it downtown. With all of the problems we have in this county, why are our mayor and our commissioners wasting time talking about a code of conduct that means nothing, is unenforceable, has been approved twice before. What is this talk of another retreat? What for? It's never worked in the past and isn't going to work now. I really resent our cowardly mayor, who will sneak out of town to avoid making a tie breaking vote, showing up at the next meeting with this code of conduct crap. I'm surprised he didn't do a little "I'm okay, you're okay" training and then maybe have the commissioners do some "role playing". I wish somebody would just stand up and say the truth. We have a white vs. black commission that hates each other, led by a gutless mayor. We are destined by demographics and the structure of our "consolidated" government to stay this way for the foreseeable future. Those same factors dictate that any new development be downtown, on the west side, and in east Augusta while the south side neighborhoods and small businesses deteriorate steadily as they have for 15 years (new chemical factory and trail head aside). As the prosperous west side pretty much stands on it's own development wise, all taxpayer funded improvement projects will be disbursed between the ruling cabal downtown and whatever the black commissioners can get for their districts with blackmail vote swapping. As the demographics change the makeup of our commission, the process will remain the same, just in reverse. South Augusta will get little or nothing and the folks south of Spirit Creek will get nothing.....period, including none of the basics of good police protection, fire protection road maintenance, right-of-way maintenance, and all of those taxpayer funded incentives the rest of the county gets to encourage residential and commercial development. Have you ever seen the "City" give any tax incentives ala Costco to any retail businesses to locate in South Augusta or the south end of the county? All of you folks south of Spirit Creek who own that forcibly rezoned "residential" property.....well you just hold your breath and keep mailing in your "residential" property taxes while you wait for the City of Augusta to do anything to encourage development out your way. Meanwhile, just keep dodging those potholes when you drive to to the other side of town to eat out or do your shopping and hope the little hoodlums don't break into your house and steal you blind while you are out. But don't worry about that. For all of your tax money you are entitled to file a report with the sheriff over the phone, which is probably just as well since I don't think anybody who works for our government can find the south end of the county anyway. And no countyman, I am not just talking about South Augusta where you will remind me that you are actually widening a road. Whoop-tee-do. I am talking about the south end of the county where working people are paying residential taxes on all of this high dollar residential, vacant property that will not see development in your lifetime. In case you haven't noticed, the Five Year Plan or Ten Year Plan that forecast the booming development in rural South Richmond County that prompted the rezoning and tax increase has expired. The City got our money, we got zilch, zero, notta. Well, possibly a Code of Conduct. What a bunch of clowns. Disgusting, just absolutely makes me want to vomit disgusting.

Dipshot
-5
Points
Dipshot 01/04/12 - 12:58 pm
0
0
Well I remember The Cabal was

Well I remember The Cabal was pushing consolidation ever since the 1970s.. it took a near financial meltdown of the old city to get it. I've always believed that wise decisions are rarely made under extreme duress.. and it was extreme conditions that gave us the consolidation mess we have now. I'm not saying the idea of consolidating the governments was not without merit but the way in which it was done has resulted in a fatally flawed structure. I still think annexation with some consolidation of county and city services would have been the better way to go. But The Cabal really wanted consolidation.. and you are right.. all it has done is consolidate tax money into their pet projects downtown.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 01/04/12 - 03:01 pm
0
0
This sounds more and more

This sounds more and more like a coordinated "skip day". Can't they use a personal day or something and handle "retreating" on their own dime? What gives? That is directed at you commissioners and I expect an answer. Who knows, I may agree with the reasoning but the only reasoning so far is we are paying for you to take a day off and do something other than focus on doing your work.

madgerman
236
Points
madgerman 01/04/12 - 04:13 pm
0
0
Question. Do these buffons
Unpublished

Question. Do these buffons have a Oath of Office that they swear to? If so where is it published? I just wish they would do something about the city code which is way out of date and almost impossible to follow. BTWnext time a change is made, maybe they could get someone from at least the state of Georgia to to do the work. That document is an absolute mess.

Little Lamb
48970
Points
Little Lamb 01/04/12 - 04:40 pm
0
0
MadGerman wrote: I just wish

MadGerman wrote:

I just wish they would do something about the city code which is way out of date and almost impossible to follow.

I agree, Mad. But we should not fret. Fred (What, me worry?) Russell got his policies, personnel, and procedures manual published last year and he is on top of everything. We don't need the city code anymore. Just do what Russell says.

Willow Bailey
20605
Points
Willow Bailey 01/04/12 - 08:09 pm
0
0
It is not fair to say that

It is not fair to say that Alvin Mason needs to resign from the commission; he has not choked any of the commissioners, Fred or Deke.
(yet, anyway.)

Willow Bailey
20605
Points
Willow Bailey 01/04/12 - 08:27 pm
0
0
Bringing up the code again is

Bringing up the code again is nothing more than indirect communication. Deke is not saying what he is really thinking; which in my opinion is let's decide the business in the back rooms and put on your party manners in the front one. His job is to preside over the meetings; he abhors conflict; has no skills for its resolution; which makes his ultimate goal avoidance.

Though it appears Mr. Alvin Mason (future mayoral candidate?) is somewhat crude in his relational skills (ya, think?) does have the guts to put it on the table for discussion. Like it or not, at least you know what you are dealing with. Perhaps not always admirable, but certainly more honest.

Riverman1
93509
Points
Riverman1 01/04/12 - 08:29 pm
0
0
Dichotomy talking about "I'm

Dichotomy talking about "I'm Okay, You're Okay" got me thinking about the Mayor and Commission. It's a transactional parent, adult, child analysis. They have the Mayor Parent talking to the Children and the conflict occurs when the Mayor is really the Child.

Willow Bailey
20605
Points
Willow Bailey 01/04/12 - 08:30 pm
0
0
River, did you actually read

River, did you actually read that book?

Riverman1
93509
Points
Riverman1 01/04/12 - 08:33 pm
0
0
Willow, yeah, I read them

Willow, yeah, I read them both years ago. TA has been around quite awhile.

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