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Committees take no action on bus service, voting map

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Taking at least two hot-button issues behind closed doors Monday in a 70-minute session with attorneys, the Augusta Commission took no action on the city bus service or a new voting map issued last week by a federal judge.

Mobility Transit LLC officials, Mike Rosson and Elizabeth McLeod sit in on the commissioners meeting.  JACKIE RICCIARDI/STAFF
JACKIE RICCIARDI/STAFF
Mobility Transit LLC officials, Mike Rosson and Elizabeth McLeod sit in on the commissioners meeting.

A month ago, the commission gave Mobility Transit Services LLC a deadline of 30 days to fix several issues or be held in breach of its contract to run the city bus service, but the commission and five of its committees that met Monday took no public action.

“I don’t mind giving them more time, so if we do get rid of them and get sued, we have our bases covered,” Commissioner Joe Jackson said after the meetings.

Meanwhile, the buses continue to run, City Administrator Fred Russell said. Elizabeth McLeod, an Augusta attorney representing Mobility Transit in the contract dispute, attended several of the meetings but did not address commissioners.

Also discussed behind closed doors with Board of Elections Executive Director Lynn Bailey was the district map for the commission and the Richmond County Board of Education.

The map was released by District Judge J. Randal Hall last week. Hall gave plaintiffs and defendants, who include the commissioners, until 5 p.m. Wednesday to comment on the map, which he drew in response to a federal lawsuit filed over the city’s inability to complete a new map based on 2010 census data.

Jackson and Commis­sioner Jerry Brigham said the group was generally pleased with the judge’s map.

In another matter, a committee approved adding three members to a subcommittee established to determine the scope of a forensic audit sought on the city’s Trade, Event and Exhibit Center (Augusta Convention Center) parking deck.

“I don’t know how far they’ve come along, but I’ll give my input,” said Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle, who was appointed to the subcommittee along with Mike Blanchard, the city’s deputy director of Information Technology, and Steve Little, the assistant director of finance in the Utilities Department.

Commissioner Bill Lockett, the subcommittee chairman, said he hoped the forensic audit found no wrongdoing, negligence or incompetence but that he wants it performed to satisfy public concern.

Alcohol fees

The commissioners took no action on proposed retail alcohol-fee increases developed partially in response to restaurant complaints about paying for an additional Sunday sales license.

Other retailers are able to buy a seven-day license, available since voters approved a referendum allowing Sunday alcohol sales.

Commissioner J.R. Hat­ney, who abstains on nearly every alcohol-related agenda item, opposed the increases.

“Some of my best friends are liquor store owners,” he said. “If it’s going to cause further harm to these folks, you might want to rethink that.”

Rob Sherman, the director of licensing for the city, said he would conduct a public meeting on the proposed changes with retailers in the coming weeks to gauge response.

The increases would generate about $104,000 if implemented on existing Augusta businesses, Sherman said.

Housing

The officials on Monday relegated to a future work session presentations from the city’s Housing and Community Development Department and Augusta’s community housing development organizations on how the groups have expended federal Housing and Urban Development money distributed by the city since 2005.

Requested weeks ago by Brigham, the groups have yet to produce a written accounting of expenditures.

They will present information in some form to commissioners at a 1 p.m. work session next Monday in the commission chamber.

The officials agreed to schedule a work session on funding demolition of abandoned and otherwise blighted properties, which Commissioner Corey Johnson said he hoped could come from the city’s next sales-tax referendum.

General counsel Andrew MacKenzie said he would examine whether the demolition qualified.

The city now allocates $100,000 a year for demolition countywide in addition to the $100,000 budgeted for demolition in the city’s Laney-Walker and Bethlehem neighborhoods, according to Sherman.

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dichotomy
36280
Points
dichotomy 06/11/12 - 09:02 pm
7
0
"took no action on the city

"took no action on the city bus service or a new voting map issued last week by a federal judge"

"took no action Monday on proposed retail alcohol-fee increases"

"relegated to a future work session presentations from the city’s Housing and Community Development Department and Augusta community housing development organizations"

"agreed to schedule a work session on funding demolition of abandoned and otherwise blighted properties"

"approved adding three new members to a commission subcommittee established to determine the scope of a forensic audit"

Let's see, we have 3 "took no actions", 1 "relegated", 1 "agreed to schedule", and 1 "approved adding.....to determine the scope". Looks like the total is 5 Did Nothings and 1 Double Speak Gobbledy Gook. Our commission is great at doing nothing except forming another sub-committee which will in turn do more nothing. They can't make a decision on the bus service, the voting map, the Sunday liquor licenses, or the misspent money we got stuck paying back, but they can stuff them sub-committees like champions....I guess so they can do nothing faster.

mrducks
59
Points
mrducks 06/11/12 - 06:30 pm
1
0
No More "Closed-Door" Meetings
Unpublished

I'm sick of these incompetent crooks making shady deals behind closed doors. Legal or not, the secrecy speaks volumes about our incompetent leadership, and their attempts to keep their constituents in the dark.

404Law
226
Points
404Law 06/11/12 - 10:00 pm
2
1
Credit where credit is due

Since when did Comm. Jackson become the point person on Mobility Transit? Comm. Lockett was the person who brought the issue to the table (i.e. unpaid utility bills; lack of overtime compensation, etc), but the AC during the past few weeks seems to always reference Comm. Jackson. Give credit where credit is due. Lockett has been a hawk (e.g., calling for a forensic audit; scrutinizing Mobility transit; opposition to privatizing HR). When the audit reveals some serious accounting issues, I guess Comm. Bowles will become the point person for that?!?! Give credit where credit is due.

mrducks
59
Points
mrducks 06/12/12 - 05:56 am
0
1
It would be nice...
Unpublished

...if Sean would be fair when it comes to deleting posts. But, that's obviously not in his character.

Iwannakno
1533
Points
Iwannakno 06/12/12 - 07:05 am
1
0
Don't forget..
Unpublished

They made the decision to screw the taxpayers out of their trash tax...

Little Lamb
47980
Points
Little Lamb 06/12/12 - 07:08 am
1
1
Keep Quiet

From the story:

The Augusta Commission took no action on the . . . new voting map issued last week by a federal judge. . . . The map was released by District Judge J. Randal Hall last week. Hall gave plaintiffs and defendants, who include the commissioners, until 5 p.m. Wednesday to comment on the map, which he drew in response to a federal lawsuit filed over the city’s inability to complete a new map based on 2010 census data. . . . Commissioners Joe Jackson and Jerry Brigham said the group was generally pleased with the judge’s map.

Come on commissioners. You don't have to comment on something just because the judge said you can comment. It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. Just keep quiet, let the Wednesday deadline come and go, and let the new district map quietly go into effect.

Little Lamb
47980
Points
Little Lamb 06/12/12 - 09:49 am
0
0
Lawyer

I wonder if the attractive lawyer in the photo, Elizabeth McLeod, is the daughter of lawyer Wright McLeod, candidate for the Republican nomination for congressman?

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