Commissioner conflicts on Tuesday's agenda

Monday, March 4, 2013 8:20 PM
Last updated 11:23 PM
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Three Augusta Com­mission members who have admitted profiting from city contracts could learn their fate at a commission meeting Tuesday.

An agenda item, carried over from the Feb. 25 meeting of the Administrative Services Committee, calls for the commission to discuss allegations that Grady Smith, Joe Jackson and Wayne Guilfoyle wrongfully benefited directly or indirectly from city contracts.

What could happen when the 10-member governing body reaches the agenda item remains to be seen, however.

“The charter states that the mayor is responsible for the enforcement of ordinances, codes, etc.,” Commissioner Bill Lockett insisted Monday. “I did what I was supposed to do.”

After referring the agenda item to Mayor Deke Copenhaver last week, Lockett cited the commission’s 2007 censure of then-Commissioner Calvin Holland for instructing an employee to access material on City Administrator Fred Russell’s computer.

In that instance, Copen­haver presided over a commission meeting at which evidence against Holland was presented. The mayor later sought an impartial ruling from Atlanta lawyer Quinton Seay, who said that Holland hadn’t broken the law but had acted in a manner disruptive to city government. Holland asked Copenhaver to rescind the censure, but commission votes to do so failed.

If the probe into the three commissioners’ activities continues, any evidence must be received in open session, according to general counsel Andrew MacKenzie.

The commission can involve other parties – such as the mayor, city administrator or general counsel – in the investigation, but it is the final arbiter, he said.

Smith has admitted that his company, Smith Brothers Mechanical, profited from plumbing and air conditioning work as a subcontractor on an Augusta Utilities project at Fort Gordon and on several service calls for the sheriff’s office, 911 center and other city buildings since he took office in 2010.

Jackson acknowledged his locksmith business performed several service calls from 2008 to 2010, while Guilfoyle conceded last year that his tile business served as subcontractor on renovations to Augusta Regional Airport’s new terminal for private aircraft.

A local pastor said he has grave concerns about “a systemic issue” of corruption in city government.

The Rev. Christopher Johnson, who will speak to the commission on the matter today, said the city must address an atmosphere that allows commissioners and others to break the rules, starting with the three in question.

“The only reason someone feels compelled to keep doing this is for practice,” Johnson said. “Where is the purchasing department? Where are the administrators? We’re John Q. Citizen; we don’t have time to be policing them.”

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GnipGnop
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GnipGnop 03/05/13 - 02:28 am
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Don't look for Deke to do anything....

Without someone else telling him to do it...Why does Augusta even have a Mayor? Talk about a waste of money!

soapy_725
43555
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soapy_725 03/05/13 - 08:59 am
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A tried and true punishment
Unpublished

Thirty lashes with a wet noodle. Move on. There are new ARC contracts to be written to third party shell corporations.

just an opinion
2378
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just an opinion 03/06/13 - 01:12 am
5
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Hey pastor, while your at it:

Ask Mr. Hatney what happened to all the money his group took from HUD for the housing development that was never built which the TAXPAYERS had to pay it back. Then look over to Marion Williams and ask him how he sold his church to the city for 10 times the value. And you think cutting keys, do plumbing work and laying tile at market value is "corrupt"?

Riverman1
79615
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Riverman1 03/05/13 - 10:01 am
4
0
Rev. Christopher Johnson was

Rev. Christopher Johnson was on TV last night and said the Commissioners in question should be forced off the Commission or resign. He said if they were black it would be done. JustMyOpinion makes some good points about wrongdoing by black Commissioners that was never addressed. We could be carrying this whole thing, too far. It will be a 5-4 vote with 1 abstention or 5-2 if the 3 Commissioners in question are not allowed to vote. Nothing changes.

Little Lamb
43942
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Little Lamb 03/05/13 - 10:16 am
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Jail

Actually, RM, what I heard Rev. Johnson say on TV last night was that if commissioners doing business with the city were black, they would be in jail!

Riverman1
79615
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Riverman1 03/05/13 - 10:32 am
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LL, you are probably right.

LL, you are probably right.

David Parker
7923
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David Parker 03/05/13 - 11:04 am
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"And you think cutting keys,

"And you think cutting keys, do plumbing work and laying tile at market value is "corrupt"?

How can it be FMV if one of the parties has such a unique perspective and insight? "Do or do not, there is no try" (Yoda).

If you want to be a locksmith, be it.
If you want to be a commissioner, be it.
If you want to be both, it is your job, nobody elses, to keep them separate. Not just legitimate, but separate. G. Smith says something to the effect that he received no money for work that wasn't done. I'm not so concerned about whether the work was done at a fair price. I'm in support of just keeping the two separate for the sake of it. If your business needed the city's contracts to succeed, you may have stretched things too far by moonlighting as commissioner. If your business didn't need the jobs, then there is no harm. It's just too much to ask tax-payers to "trust" that you are working within rules. We don't get the disclosure that you do as commissioners, so why shouldn't we have authority to say it's a conflict of interest. No matter how virtuous your intention is to save the city money, it's not appropriate.

Little Lamb
43942
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Little Lamb 03/05/13 - 11:46 am
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No Humility

On Channel 6 News last night they were questioning Grady Smith on camera. He was unapologetic. He did not say he would quit doing business with the city. He said the city's ethics ordinance was "Mickey Mouse." He needs to do us all a favor and resign the commission.

Little Lamb
43942
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Little Lamb 03/05/13 - 11:50 am
5
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Solicitation

David Parker makes some good points up above. We notice that Joe Jackson and Grady Smith each have said that it was either Geri Sams or someone in the departments (Utilities, Sheriff, etc.) who approached them with a request to do business with the city.

Well, what do you expect? The commissioners set the budget for the departments. They set the salaries. Why wouldn't city workers try to throw city money at the commissioners when there is city work to be done?

That's why the ethics rules were written in the first place, to avoid city workers soliciting city business from city commissioners, the ones who pay their salaries.

soapy_725
43555
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soapy_725 03/05/13 - 12:09 pm
1
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This has already been resolved at Green Meadows GC
Unpublished

Nothing new or news.

I'm Back Again
307
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I'm Back Again 03/05/13 - 01:06 pm
0
0
I don't understand what is
Unpublished

I don't understand what is actually in question here. There is nothing to discuss really. The current policy is that you cannot work for the city and also have your own company submit bids to do work for the city. All 3 commissioners violated the current policy so all 3 should immediately be removed from public office.
It is unethical to do both. That is why the law is on the books. For this very reason. Fire them and move on. Period!

MarinerMan
2107
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MarinerMan 03/05/13 - 01:13 pm
0
4
Sticking Point Here
Unpublished

@LL Other than their taxes, the commissioners don't pay any city worker their salary. I side with "just an opinion". There are a couple of "reverends" that I'm not so SURE about. If reverend Johnson wants to start something, he had best be ready for the whole can of worms to opened. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Little Lamb
43942
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Little Lamb 03/05/13 - 01:43 pm
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Clarification

Of course commissioners don't actually pay any city employee his/her salary. But what I was getting at was that the commission sets the salaries. Hence, getting on the good side of a commissioner is advantageous to any city employee. Throwing city business toward a businessman commissioner is one way of getting on the good side.

palmetto1008
9782
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palmetto1008 03/05/13 - 02:13 pm
4
1
I sure hope the whole can of
Unpublished

I sure hope the whole can of worms does get opened.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 03/05/13 - 02:21 pm
5
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Entrapment

The other day on his radio program, Austin Rhodes told us that Jerry Brigham told him that when the city was planning to do a forensic audit on the TEE Center financial mess, Geri Sams sent his accounting firm a request for quotation on the forensic audit while Brigham was a sitting commissioner!

David Parker
7923
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David Parker 03/05/13 - 03:38 pm
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The thing is MarinerMan, i

The thing is MarinerMan, i knew there was a conflict of interests, to put it nicely, long before I knew there was a Rev Johnson. Doesn't quite play right when suggesting this is racial or this is a kettle and a pot. I take that back, this is Augusta, it plays fine. Doesn't excuse the 3 commish members for breaking the code to make $

Little Lamb
43942
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Little Lamb 03/05/13 - 03:46 pm
3
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Who, Me?

Rev. Christopher Johnson asked:

Where are the administrators?

They’re not worried about it.

David Parker
7923
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David Parker 03/05/13 - 03:59 pm
6
0
If LL is accurate,

"The commissioners set the budget for the departments. They set the salaries."

and when those salaried employees are involved in negotiating, securing, employing, paying any subcontractor, by definition, it is a conflict of interests. I couldn't care one iota how well-intentioned everyone is, b/c as sure as Christmas, once the well-intentioned commissioner leaves, one not so well-intentioned one will replace them. Nah, there's not really a need to have you good gentlemen do double-duty. So if you want the freedom to do business with whoever you want, then stay in the private sector.

Conservative Man
5303
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Conservative Man 03/05/13 - 04:52 pm
6
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My concern isn't...

...so much that the work was done by Commissioners companies...Granted that's bad enough, but Guilfoyle and Jackson have publicly stated that they won't allow it to happen again. What bothers me is Smith's obvious unrepentant and almost belligerent attitude about being called out for it....Grady needs to rethink his position on this one, because if he doesn't, his days on the Commission are probably numbered....

justthefacts
20454
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justthefacts 03/05/13 - 05:34 pm
3
1
Grady Smith

I'm thinking Grady really feels strongly about his position on this and will not change his mind. Also, if the voters don't agree, he will move on. He doesn't need the agrivation.

palmetto1008
9782
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palmetto1008 03/05/13 - 08:45 pm
7
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I'm sure Mr. Smith does feel
Unpublished

I'm sure Mr. Smith does feel strongly about his position. But he is dead wrong. And, the taxpayers with integrity don't appreciate his
agrivation[sic].

gargoyle
13618
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gargoyle 03/05/13 - 08:26 pm
3
0
Having the invisiable man has

Having the invisiable man has Mayor, a City administrator gone wild , and a invidious commission overseeing disfuntional Department heads our only hope would be if the Governor steps in

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