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Augusta Commission rejects transit chief nominee

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The latest surprise in Au­gusta’s relationship with Mo­bility Transit, the company hired last year to run its beleaguered bus service, was Mobility’s recommendation of a former Miami-Dade County, Fla., transit director to serve as general manager.

Roosevelt Bradley, the head of the transit system for five years, presented himself to the Augusta Commission on Nov. 8 as a “top gun,” experienced at all levels, who could steer Augusta’s system to success and growth, all within the $4.6 million annual transit budget.

He said Tuesday that he’d been vetted by the Obama administration to head the Fed­e­ral Transit Adminis­tra­tion and had relatives in Au­gusta.

However, the commission voted 9-1 last week against hiring Bradley, citing his termination in Miami after 23 years for financial mismanagement.

“I guess they thought we were a bunch of yo-yos or something,” Commissioner Bill Lockett said. “Don’t they realize there is such a thing as the Internet?”

A series in the Miami Herald detailed the city’s mishandling of $800 million in sales tax funds dedicated in 2002 to bus and rail expansion. Under Bradley, overtime budgets exploded and relatives of commissioners and other politicians gained transit jobs. After he was fired, 523 new transit jobs were eliminated, The Herald reported.

Bradley said Tuesday that he was “a little political” and lost the job because he “had some issues with the new mayor.” In 2011, he ran for Miami mayor himself.

Mobility has evolved dramatically since a Tennessee-based firm fronted by Kevin Adams was awarded a bid to run Augusta’s bus service last year.

Since then, the firm’s headquarters have changed to West Palm Beach, Fla., and its leadership has shifted to Florida taxicab mogul Cullan Meathe, who owns numerous transportation companies there. Meathe has a long trail of liens and judgments against him and his companies, according to court records and media reports.

Bradley said he’d worked as a consultant for Meathe and was coming to Augusta during a “stop gap” temporarily as general manager and “turn things around.” Outgoing general manager Mike Rosson said he was leaving the company for another job.

Mobility has struggled nearly from the start of its time in Augusta. Earlier this year, Blue Cross Blue Shield canceled employee health insurance because Mo­bil­ity hadn’t paid the premiums. It was later reinstated.

In May, the city threatened to terminate its contract with Mobility for a list of issues ranging from improper driver drug testing and accident reporting to nonpayment of multiple vendors, including Geor­gia Power, which almost cut off electricity at bus facilities.

Despite the issues, the firm is continuing to save the city nearly a half-million dollars annually on transit operations, Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle said. He and Commissioner Jerry Brigham said they voted against Bradley because he was not the direction Augusta transit needed to go.

The transit system is now headed by former city bus administrative assistant David L. Jones, who was named interim manager, according to City Administrator Fred Russell. Jones and the rest of city transit staff were laid off when Mobility took over, but most were hired by the firm.

The Mobility hire isn’t the only 2011 outsourcing decision that has come back to bite the commission. Earlier this year, the contractor hired to run Augusta Mu­nicipal Golf Course defaulted and left a dozen employees unpaid. The course is back under city management.

“Unfortunately we are not doing enough research,” Lock­­ett said. “We are making knee-jerk responses and having to pay for it in the long run.”

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rmwhitley 11/28/12 - 08:54 am

What can you say?

OpenCurtain 11/28/12 - 09:25 am
Yahoos and the Internet

Commissioners Got It Right
(this time)

The fact he was "VETT" vetted by the Obama administration should have set off red flares, sirens, and warning bells in itself.

I Am Very Glad To See
Some Commissioner(s) doing some background research for themselves. Instead of just trusting the info passed along to them.

Who was it that initially recommended him again?
Who Voted to Keep him?

Bulldog 11/28/12 - 09:58 am
Not enough reasearch

Mr. Lockett is spot on with that observation! Part time commissioners with no staff running the scond largest city in Georgia is a recipe for disaster! Wonder why things get screwed up? Hell, they can't begin to read the hundreds of pages a week of documents that they need to be "on top" of our affairs. The whole process needs a revision.

bubbasauce 11/28/12 - 10:32 am
I am amazed that the

I am amazed that the commissioner's did a little research on this guy. And did he really think by using Obama's name he would get the job? Good job commissioner's for not hiring this guy. It is unbelievable that people can just move to another city after gross mismanagement of funds and think they can get hired again! Wow! I will say that Wayne Guilfoyle is doing a great job for us out here in South Augusta.

Voyager Dawg
Voyager Dawg 11/28/12 - 11:48 am
Good Work By the County Commissioners

This guy Bradley is bad news. He was brought into the Jacksonville public transit as a "consultant" a couple of years ago by the outgoing Executive Director there. He was apparently paid thousands of dollars and produced nothing. I know some folks down there and there was some question as to whether or not he could actually read. Unfortunately the internet apparently hadn't caught on in Jacksonville or the signs were just ignored by the leadership there. It's hilarious (but not surprising) that he would actually invoke the President's name. It's also funny that he would mention that he has family in Augusta as part of his resume`. You can be assured that based on his history of favoritism and nepotism, all of those family members would have been employed in our public transit. This guy Bradley has been discredited everywhere he's been. In his failed mayoral bid in Miami, he was even beaten by the guy from "Two Live Crew" - No Joke.
Mr. Meath is actually from Detroit and has shadow companies all over the country. There is some interesting reading on the web about him as well. It is amazing what you can find with a simple Google search. Thank God our commissioners had the forethought to do their research before letting this guy come in to "turn things around". It definitely would have been a turn for the worse. Good Work!

Riverman1 11/28/12 - 01:00 pm
Now we know what other

Now we know what other communities feel like when we send them Ronnie Few.

SemperParatus 11/28/12 - 06:57 pm
Ronnie Few

Speaking of Ronnie Few, his job contract was not renewed in Demopolis AL a couple of weeks ago. My concern is that he will be heading back this way for something! Is it possible that he could run our bus company? No experience? No problem! Take a look at our current fire chief, Chris James. James never served as an officer on a fire truck but our commission made him fire chief anyway!

Brad Owens
Brad Owens 11/28/12 - 07:44 pm

"Under Bradley, overtime budgets exploded and relatives of commissioners and other politicians gained transit jobs..."

Sounds about right.

JohnBalzer 11/29/12 - 12:41 am
Roosevelt Bradley is getting an undeserved beating

I know this man personally and I can tell you he is honest and has integrity. Assertions made in this article and commentary that impune him are at best highly speculative and I personally do not believe them. I have seen the good work this man does and I trust him. While I'm not sure it matters to mention it but I am no Obama lover and I am not a racist either. I affirm that Roosevelt is a good guy and urge people that care about Augusta and Georgia to take a deeper look into a man I know can help us in a job that he is most experienced at.

circus 11/30/12 - 07:12 pm
I'll try this again more politely.

Here are the for yourself and determine whether this is an honest man with integrity.

Funny thing....I typed in Meathe on google images search, and the actual little photo from the poster above who says Bradley is a man of integrity came up. No kidding!!! So with that said, let's throw in the first article I came upon about Mr. Meathe. Birds of the feather for sure...

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