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Augusta Commission gives raises to sheriff, solicitor-general

Bus company's contract will be terminated

Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013 10:06 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013 1:24 AM
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Richmond County’s new sheriff and state court solicitor received the pay raises they requested Tuesday by a 6-4 vote of the Augusta Commission.

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Richmond County Solicitor-General Kellie Kenner-McIntyre asked for a 10 percent increase to the minimum salary of $97,000.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/FILE
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/FILE
Richmond County Solicitor-General Kellie Kenner-McIntyre asked for a 10 percent increase to the minimum salary of $97,000.

This was the second time the matter had gone before the commission, and the increases got the needed sixth supporting vote from Commissioner Grady Smith, who was absent because of illness last week.

Smith said he had checked into the performance of Sheriff Richard Roundtree and learned staff members were pleased with their new boss.

“If you’re going to talk the talk, he’s walking the walk. He gets in the squad car, he goes out and checks around with things. I think he’s smart enough, too; he’s brought in some new blood. I say give the man a chance,” Smith said. “There’s been a lot of negative, but you know, you might disagree with the coach, but keep it in the dugout.”

A previous vote on the pay raises to Roundtree and Solicitor-General Kellie Kenner-McIntyre, who became the county’s first black sheriff and first black female solicitor after their election last year, failed by one vote last week and fell along color lines. The increases had the support Tuesday of Grady Smith, Corey Johnson, Bill Fennoy, Bill Lockett and Alvin Mason. Commission members Mary Davis, Joe Jackson, Donnie Smith and Wayne Guilfoyle were opposed.

Roundtree and Kenner-McIntyre, who did not attend Tuesday’s meeting, requested the salary supplements in letters they sent to City Administrator Fred Russell in January. Roundtree sought a 15 percent increase over the minimum of $110,000 set by local legislation to $126,500 based on his qualifications and experience. Kenner-McIntyre wanted a 10 percent increase to the solicitor’s minimum salary of $97,000, to bring her salary to $106,700.

The commission met behind closed doors with attorneys for more than an hour before the regular meeting. Russell previously said he supported the raises based on the job descriptions of each and the salaries paid other department heads.

Smith, a lieutenant with the Georgia State Patrol, said he opposed the increases because other city employees have been denied a cost-of-living adjustment this year because of city budget constraints.

In other business, the commission voted 9-1 to give Mobility Transit Services LLC, the company that runs the city bus service, 90 days’ notice of its intent to terminate its contract. Guilfoyle opposed it.

“Clearly Mobility has not lived up to the standard that they need to as far as adequate transportation for Augusta-Richmond County,” Mason said. “As we begin to move forward with expanding, extending transportation, one should not be rewarded for doing a bad job by being given more money.”

The commission last year warned Mobility of several contract violations related to late reporting, late payment of vendors and rider complaints.

Lockett, who has championed restoring a city-run transit system at least since Mobility took over in August 2011, said the Florida-based company hadn’t created the $400,000 annual savings it promised and has no local staff other than former city transit employees originally laid off in the outsourcing.

“This is something we’ve been working on for well in excess of a year, and we finally got the votes to do something about it,” Lockett said.

Those former city bus and paratransit drivers likely will be called on to operate the service when the city terminates the contract, he said.

Lockett achieved another one of his objectives Tuesday with the commission’s unanimous decision to add Veterans Day as a paid holiday for city employees.

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Little Lamb
63352
Points
Little Lamb 02/20/13 - 09:15 am
7
1
Ethics

Here’s the link to Ms. McCord’s story about Grady Smith’s strategy to weaken the city’s ethics ordinance:

MacKenzie Smith

When MacKenzie’s draft ordinance is introduced as a motion, things will get interesting. Under the existing ethics ordinance (in the “conflict of interest” section), commissioners are prohibited from voting on matters in which they might have a financial interest. Grady Smith, Wayne Guilfoyle, and Joe Jackson have businesses that could benefit from weakening the ethics ordinance, so they should recuse themselves from the vote. Mary Davis’ status is unclear regarding her husband’s financial activities. That leaves only six or at most seven commissioners who would be able to vote (ethically, that is).

Oh, yes, I forgot about Corey Johnson. What does he do for a living? Would he be able to benefit from the weakened ethics ordinance? No one will say.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see how this ethics thing plays out in light of Grady Smith’s joining Marion and the gang on the pay raise shenanigans.

soapy_725
49205
Points
soapy_725 02/20/13 - 09:17 am
0
0
Welcome to the new and progressive
Unpublished

ARC government. The ARC is full of holes and sinking fast. Detroit, Mo Town, is its future. In the case of ARC, Mo Town means MO TAXES and MO POLITICAL CORRUPTION.

soitgoes
1044
Points
soitgoes 02/20/13 - 09:31 am
8
3
ridiculous

waste of taxpayer money. Clean up Augusta. Start with the Commission.

...point to ponder
1396
Points
...point to ponder 02/20/13 - 11:28 am
10
2
Squander..

No elected official should get a raise under this situation.

They ran knowing the pay scale.

Now throw in Grady Smith's family ties to Lewis Blanchard.. a part of the Sheriff's Department and a big player on Roundtree's campaign... and it all smells like something is really wrong with this yea vote by Smith.

Bad precedent has been set with this vote.

Little Lamb
63352
Points
Little Lamb 02/20/13 - 09:49 am
6
2
Public Transit

From the story:

Commissioner Bill Lockett, who has championed restoring a city-run transit system at least since Mobility took over in August 2011, said . . . those former city bus and paratransit drivers likely will be called on to operate the service when the city terminates the contract.

Well, you can bet those former city bus drivers cannot work without a top-heavy departmental structure over them. So the city will have to re-create the transit department with a new department head, new assistant directors, new secretaries, a financial manager, new accountants, an internal auditor, new office space, new furniture, new computers with new, untested software custom-written for Augusta, and who knows what else? Can anyone spell "Cha-Ching?"

Now, with this precedent of the sheriff and the solicitor raises after 45 days on the job, what do you think a new Transit Department manager is worth? Marion Williams knows. Just ask him.

Little Lamb
63352
Points
Little Lamb 02/20/13 - 09:53 am
6
2
Merit System

We learned on the Austin Rhodes Radio Program (with guest Freddie Sanders) that there is a sitting board empowered to review grievances of improper hiring, firing, promoting and demoting within the sheriff department. This hiring of campaign manager Lewis Blanchard would on the surface appear to be improper. But it would take some department employee who could demonstrate that he/she has more experience and rank than Blanchard to trigger the board to investigate. Will anyone step forward?

HenryWalker3rd
2393
Points
HenryWalker3rd 02/20/13 - 10:17 am
5
2
...and the beat goes
Unpublished

Which county is bigger...Columbia or Richmond?

Austin is def. going to blow a blood vessle.....has anyone checked out his FB page for the ARS??? I am sure that his undies are really knotted up this Wed. morning.

JRC2024
21508
Points
JRC2024 02/20/13 - 10:27 am
5
2
RM you know well that any RC

RM you know well that any RC Sheriff will have a much tougher job than any Columbia County Sheriff. Columbia County has very little public housing and Richmond County is loaded with it and with low income people who cause the majority of the problems. The government has poured billions of dollars into programs and built many nice low income home only to be demolished by the residents. Hasn't worked at all and never will. While I do not begrudge the sheriff decent pay, I think the patrolmen and women deserve it more than he does. Look at the condition of Columbia County cars after a year on the job, they are still nice and shiney, and then look at the same type car in Richmond County with all the not so nice people they have to arrest, rearrest and re-rearrest.

nocnoc
109698
Points
nocnoc 02/20/13 - 11:02 am
10
2
Download and read the proof

the Open Record requested info is located on:

http://www.augustagapolitics.com

Look in the file section and the file is called "re-rtree.zip", click and download it. View the Photocopies of the official documents, then judge for yourself.

The file documents show Sheriff Strength signed off on the Roundtree's pay increase on Dec 12, 2012 and the ARC legal eagle K. Bray signed off on it Dec 27, 2012. But for some reason certain commissioners were not informed until after the 1st vote in early Feb 2013, of these facts?

It truly looks like a sneak attack tactic, deliberately used against certain commissioners.

Some people are bound to wonder if the announcement made about a week later by Sheriff Roundtree that he would keep certain deputies and promote some was related in some way.

Little Lamb
63352
Points
Little Lamb 02/20/13 - 11:00 am
2
3
You Decide

Some people might think that bringing in an outsider from the School Board police dept. to become chief deputy might run afoul of the merit system requirements. Roundtree brought his former boss Patrick Clayton in for that job. One would think there are others in the department with longevity and meritorious service that would be more qualified in a civil-service kind of way. But it's going to take a brave soul to step up to the plate and file a grievance.

Also, what about the demotion of Gary Powell? If he files a grievance and loses, he's toast. If he files a grievance and wins, he's toast. Why would anyone file a grievance?

Riverman1
167731
Points
Riverman1 02/20/13 - 11:02 am
7
3
Nocnoc, interesting post. So

Nocnoc, interesting post. So Strength signed off on the raise for Roundtree in Dec.?

Also, about Freddie Sanders explaining the constitutional amendment the other day, I have to believe there's not much power to it these days or there would at least be an article in the Chronicle about it by NOW. I believe the Sheriff had enough exemptions in the amendment that the Merit Board can do little with what Roundtree has done so far.

I'd like to see an article with Roundtree-Clayton, Sanders and the Augusta Legal Department explaining what's what. I mean how hard is it to at least ask the Legal Dept. what the deal is?

AugustaChurch2
116
Points
AugustaChurch2 02/20/13 - 11:02 am
0
3
Jesus

What Would Jesus Have Done???

justthefacts
49656
Points
justthefacts 02/20/13 - 11:14 am
0
3
Riverman1
167731
Points
Riverman1 02/20/13 - 11:15 am
2
2
LL, one of the things I'm

LL, one of the things I'm pretty sure of is the Chief Deputy is exempt from any promotion rules. A sheriff can put anyone in that position. Demoting Powell, I'm not sure about. Colonel to Captain doesn't sound right.

Riverman1
167731
Points
Riverman1 02/20/13 - 11:16 am
3
2
Jesus would have abstained

Jesus would have abstained from all this nonsense.

justthefacts
49656
Points
justthefacts 02/20/13 - 11:19 am
1
3
Jake
41513
Points
Jake 02/20/13 - 11:24 am
5
1
6-4

The article above only names 5 who were in favor. Who was #6?
Was the Patch discussed?

Willow Bailey
20625
Points
Willow Bailey 02/20/13 - 11:25 am
6
2
Jesus would have turned their

Jesus would have turned their money tables over and cleared the building!

Riverman1
167731
Points
Riverman1 02/20/13 - 11:28 am
5
3
Jake, I'm sure Marion Williams'

I'm sure Marion Williams' name was inadvertently left out.

chemchick
21
Points
chemchick 02/20/13 - 11:31 am
7
1
Too bad some of that money

Too bad some of that money couldn't have gone to the men and women on the street actually doing the job. In every job I have had, you must DO the job before you get the raise. I'm not against raises for folks that do their job and do it well. I am against the increasing salary gap between the people on the street actually getting their hands dirty and the folks at the top sitting behind a desk or out pressing the flesh. Mr. Roundtree, how can you expect to have the respect of your troops?

HenryWalker3rd
2393
Points
HenryWalker3rd 02/20/13 - 11:33 am
4
2
Soooooo, Strength signed off
Unpublished

Soooooo, Strength signed off on this.......ah, the irony.

bubbasauce
80756
Points
bubbasauce 02/20/13 - 11:46 am
4
2
Grady Smith, Cory Johnson,

Grady Smith, Cory Johnson, Bill Fennoy, Bill Lockett, and Alvin Mason, you all are a disgrace to Augusta, Richmond County! Appalling and totally unbelievable. If I were a deputy I would be totally [filtered word] off! I'm going into work today and demand a raise today because I haven't gotten one in three years! By the way how is the vote 6-4 when I only counted 5 for, 4 against. Did I miss something? Still, this is very unsettling for Augusta.

bubbasauce
80756
Points
bubbasauce 02/20/13 - 11:51 am
1
5
I know now what I will be

I know now what I will be listening to today on the Austin Rhodes show. I cannot wait!

itsanotherday1
74514
Points
itsanotherday1 02/20/13 - 12:10 pm
4
3
Clay Whittle's salary will go

HUGE difference. Clay has a proven track record AND DID NOT ASK FOR IT!

countyman
27998
Points
countyman 02/20/13 - 01:39 pm
4
6
The fact remains the majority

The fact remains the majority of Richmond County residents would support(if voted on) the new salary for the Sheriff. The commission in the future can start paying deputies more, but the Sheriff deserves the best too.

I want the city to be able to hire additional deputies, increase foot patrol in the urban core, three precincts in the urban core(CBD, Harrisburg, Medical District/Josey area), and one large substation in South Augusta(probably near Tobacco rd).

grinder48
2640
Points
grinder48 02/20/13 - 01:58 pm
0
0
Boo ! ! !
Unpublished

It is so obvious from reading the posts and from talking with citizens throughout the community that these pay raises were not suported by the citizenry, yet the commisioners voted to approve them. This case is a perfect example of elected representatives not following the will of the people. It stinks!

Willow Bailey
20625
Points
Willow Bailey 02/20/13 - 02:24 pm
3
3
The real fact of the matter

The real fact of the matter is the raise was never put to a vote for RC taxpayers so YOU can't say the fact is they would have approved it.
You don't know that. And this is just how Augusta government works.

lsmith
105
Points
lsmith 02/20/13 - 02:27 pm
0
0
If you have to ask for a
Unpublished

If you have to ask for a raise you don't deserve one. Grady didn't do right on this vote. If the sheriff is going to get a raise, at least let him serve long enough in the job to see if he truly deserves it. This is wrong on all levels.

Austin Rhodes
3551
Points
Austin Rhodes 02/20/13 - 02:37 pm
5
3
Strength did no such thing.

...and he may be about to issue a statement clarifying that.

He signed off on a budget...ROUTINE PROCEDURE for the next year. Using baseline accounting, he used his salary as the standard. You think Pat Clayton goes in making what Sid Hatfield was? Don't be insane.

tinman
35
Points
tinman 02/20/13 - 02:43 pm
2
6
Local Government

It is obvious to me, and I am not the brightest star in the heavens, that it really doesn't matter who you are or what you represent, as long as you live in Richmond County and you are black you can get a good job with the country, elected or hired or appointed and get a good pay scale with it! (i.e. The chief of contracting and purchasing--how much has that individual cost the city over the years? and they just keep on keeping on!!) Am I racist? No, just honest and not politically correct. I believe that if you don't like the program on TV, change the channel. But it seems that some folks would rather shut down the program they don't like. Is there something wrong with proving yourself to be worthy before you ask for a raise? Especially one of 10 and 15 % when your co-workers and neighbors are on food stamps and Section 8 housing?

Why should the Richmond County taxpayers pay for a transportation system that serves only a few and indeed serves some in another county? Yes, the buses help people get to work, I know that. but why do we run buses halfway accross Columbia Country to help people go shopping in Evans?

Oh well, I am old, your children and grandchildren will have to pay for it, not mine. I talked mine into leaving!!

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