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No action taken on commissioners' conflicts

Monday, Feb. 25, 2013 8:42 PM
Last updated Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013 1:22 AM
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An Augusta Commission committee declined Monday to weigh in on how three commissioners were paid to perform work for the city, leaving the matter to a future meeting of the commission.

Committee Chairman Bill Lockett said the contractors might have to return the money paid.  Sara Caldwell
Sara Caldwell
Committee Chairman Bill Lockett said the contractors might have to return the money paid.

The administrative services chairman, Bill Lockett, said he had received "additional information" – that commissioners might be required under the city code to return money they were paid to do the work and that any companies involved might be barred from again doing business with the city.

Lockett cited former Com­missioner Calvin Holland's censure by the commission in 2007 after he told a subordinate of a department head to remove the hard drive from City Adminis­tra­tor Fred Russell's computer.

“A precedent has been established,” Lockett said.

A motion to refer the matter to the full commission failed, with Lockett and Bill Fennoy voting yes, Mary Davis voting no and Joe Jack­son abstaining because he is one of the commissioners at issue.

Davis, who took office in January, said she voted against a motion she had seconded after Lockett raised the other issues.

“My intention was we needed more information and more clarity,” she said. “I should have done a substitute motion.”

Commissioner Marion Wil­liams said he'll make sure the item appears on a future agenda, and Davis said she expects Mayor Deke Copen­ha­ver to call a special meeting to air the issue.

“We just want the full story and then to decide as a commission, 'What do we do?’ ” Davis said.

Three commissioners – Grady Smith, Wayne Guilfoyle and Jack­son – have acknowledged their businesses received payment for work performed under city contracts while they held elected office, an apparent violation of the city code, which forbids elected officials or employees from benefiting as contractor or subcontractor on city projects.
Smith, who owns a plumbing business with his brother, stood by the work his firm had done with the city over the past two years. He has asked for an exception to the conflict-of-interest policy to allow commissioners and employees to work as subcontractors.

“I'm sitting there with 40 guys looking at me about how they make their living,” Smith said of his business, Smith Bros. Mechanical. “These small jobs like this, they're going to call somebody they can depend on.”

Jackson performed a handful of locksmith jobs for city departments from 2008 to 2010, according to an open records request, and Guil­foyle's flooring company was paid as a subcontractor to do work on a new Augusta Regional Air­port terminal. Jackson said he had quit accepting payment for the work in 2010, and Guilfoyle said he made the subcontracting bid before taking office, but that it was carried over when the airport hired a new general contractor.

In other business Monday, the finance committee affirmed a recommendation by the Richmond County Board of Elections to award raises to elections Executive Di­rector Lynn Bailey and As­sis­tant Director Travis Doss. Bailey’s salary will rise from $76,500 to $88,000, and Doss’ will rise from $57,200 to $65,800.

Elections board member L.C. Myles said the raises are warranted because the employees ares near the bottom of their pay range and have been recruited for elections positions in other jurisdictions.

The Back Story
CITY CONTRACTS

BACKGROUND: Three Augusta Commission members – Joe Jackson, Grady Smith and Wayne Guilfoyle – have acknowledged their businesses received payment for work performed under city contracts while they held elected office, an apparent violation of the city code.

DEVELOPMENTS:

• Smith has asked for an exception to the conflict of interest policy to allow commissioners and employees to work as subcontractors.

• Commissioner Bill Lockett said the companies involved might be required to return money they were paid to do the work and that any companies involved might be barred from doing business with the city.

• A motion to refer the matter to the full commission failed.

WHAT’S NEXT: Commissioner Marion Wil­liams said he’ll make sure the item appears on a future agenda, while Commissioner Mary Davis said she expects Mayor Deke Copen­ha­ver to call a special meeting.

Comments (18) Add comment
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Little Lamb
48879
Points
Little Lamb 02/25/13 - 09:58 pm
7
0
Two to One

Please explain why two yes votes, one no vote, and one abstention (very appropriate because of the conflict of interest) is not an affirmative vote in a committee?????????

Little Lamb
48879
Points
Little Lamb 02/25/13 - 09:26 pm
7
1
Question

For Susan McCord: The Administrative Services Committee had forty-some-odd agenda items today. We read above of only one. Did they take up the draft ordinance (drafted by city attorney MacKenzie) that would weaken the city's conflict of interest ordinance and allow Grady Smith's business to do business with the city?

dichotomy
37375
Points
dichotomy 02/25/13 - 10:14 pm
8
1
"Lockett cited former

"Lockett cited former Com­missioner Calvin Holland's censure by the commission in 2007 after he told a subordinate of a department head to remove the hard drive from City Adminis­tra­tor Fred Russell's computer.

“A precedent has been established,” Lockett said."

I don't see where the situations are even remotely similar. Is this one of those "well y'all did this to him so we've got to do something to y'all" things? Never mind there Lockett.....I know the answer.

Little Lamb
48879
Points
Little Lamb 02/25/13 - 10:46 pm
6
1
Hard Drive

The Fred Russell hard drive scandal that led to Commissioner Calvin Holland's censure is an interesting idea to contemplate. At first we thought the Administrative Services Committee was going to discuss censuring Grady Smith (along with Joe Jackson and Wayne Guilfoyle) for doing business with the city, a clear violation of the conflict of interest ordinance.

But now, Commissioner Bill Lockett resurrects hard-drive-gate (that also had Marion Williams’ fingerprints all over it). If they use hard-drive-gate as the precedent, then they are considering censuring Super-Commissioner Grady Smith not for doing business with the city; but instead for directing a top-level city official to do work for him. There are legs to this line of thinking.

Little Lamb
48879
Points
Little Lamb 02/25/13 - 10:49 pm
8
1
Quick

Look at the photo up above that accompanies this story. Do you think Fred Russell is worrying?

Riverman1
93292
Points
Riverman1 02/26/13 - 04:43 am
10
2
I thought Lockett had said

I thought Lockett had said the Mayor should take the helm of this investigation. That doesn't seem to be reflected in the story. I can only imagine anything with the Mayor in charge. It would be so watered down you couldn't taste the liquor.

nocnoc
49121
Points
nocnoc 02/26/13 - 07:09 am
5
1
Interesting turnabout

Some people reading between the lines, might think this to be a form of attempted Political Blackmail by the Downtown 5 (D-5).
The old proverbial tie a Albatross around the neck, so to speak.

Or, it might be because of the growing knowledge that 2, of the D-5, may have some serious issues their own. Issues that trump their own complains against the Non-City Commissioners.

Jan Warren Holley
39
Points
Jan Warren Holley 02/26/13 - 07:49 am
6
1
commissioners

If you pick up a snake and he bites you, who is at faught? You knew he was a snake when you picked him up. He just did what comes naturally.

justthefacts
24935
Points
justthefacts 02/26/13 - 08:15 am
9
0
Russell

From the picture, I think Russell was trying to figure out how to work his new phone.

Little Lamb
48879
Points
Little Lamb 02/26/13 - 08:15 am
6
1
Parliementary Procedure

From the story:

Commissioner Mary Davis, who took office in January, said she voted against a motion she had seconded after Lockett raised the other issues. “My intention was we needed more information and more clarity,” she said. “I should have done a substitute motion.”

Don't fret, Commissioner Davis. There is nothing to be embarassed about in voting no on a motion that you seconded. It is perfectly understandable. In the first place, a motion must be seconded in order to begin discussion on the merits of the motion. So, during the discussion period the person who at one time was in favor of the motion might actually change his/her mind and vote no.

In the second place, sometimes a member might second a colleague's motion just out of courtesy to the colleague when that member has no intention of voting for the motion he/she just seconded.

Regarding "substitute" motions — Roberts Rules of Order does provide for substitute motions, but if one is not careful, one can create a tangled mess with substitute motions. My recommendation is to avoid them.

seenitB4
96999
Points
seenitB4 02/26/13 - 08:35 am
4
1
I agree JTF

From the picture, I think Russell was trying to figure out how to work his new phone.

More important than that dang meeting...lol

nocnoc
49121
Points
nocnoc 02/26/13 - 09:11 am
4
1
Fred & his Command phone

OR could he have been getting his marching instructions from one of his behind the curtains managers?

my.voice
5159
Points
my.voice 02/26/13 - 09:57 am
2
0
Look at FR playing breakout

Look at FR playing breakout on his blackberry :)

GnipGnop
12744
Points
GnipGnop 02/26/13 - 10:17 am
7
1
Nope.....

Fred is trying to google salaries of other city administrators to see if he can finagle a raise too. After all, this commission seems to be like Santa with our tax dollars and even the bad ones don't get a lump of coal....

bubbasauce
24260
Points
bubbasauce 02/26/13 - 10:24 am
5
1
This is the first time I have

This is the first time I have seen all thumbs up and no thumbs down! Oh you forgot to mention justthefacts that his new phone is paid for by us the taxpayer.
Now let's go ahead and give everyone raises in the entire county so the one's that really deserve a raise get one. Let's go bust just like all them yahoo's in D.C.! Maybe I can get a thumbs down by someone?

tinman
35
Points
tinman 02/26/13 - 12:27 pm
1
0
Raises? All of them in 5 digits??

The economy must be really doing great since all these folks are getting 5 digit raises for not doing anything in the first place. It is all a "I gotta have one 'cause so-n-so got one." This is the most pathetic bunch of cry babies I've ever seen trying to run a government that doesn't want to be run! Only the blacks in Augusta can run it to their satisfaction. If you ain't black you ain't Augustan!! It's all about race!!!

bubbasauce
24260
Points
bubbasauce 02/26/13 - 12:51 pm
2
0
There's my thumbs down!

There's my thumbs down! Thanks to whomever gave it to me. I just knew you wasn't out looking for a job or what not! And by the way I was just kidding about giving everyone raises.

nocnoc
49121
Points
nocnoc 02/26/13 - 01:27 pm
2
0
Are more sparks about to fly?

Hint: The Stove calling the Kettle ...

Also who is the backdoor opportunist that is trying to stir things up? His behind the scenes efforts are directly helping the D-5 with their political goals.

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