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Augusta Commission censures members over work for city

Tuesday, March 5, 2013 8:31 PM
Last updated Thursday, March 7, 2013 4:46 PM
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Three Augusta Commission members were punished by their colleagues Tuesday for breaking the city’s ethics code by having their companies do business with the city while each held a commission seat.

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Augusta Commission member Grady Smith was among three officials censured Tuesday for doing business under city contracts.  FILE
FILE
Augusta Commission member Grady Smith was among three officials censured Tuesday for doing business under city contracts.

The commission voted on each of the censures, a written reprimand permitted under the city code, separately at Tuesday’s regular commission meeting. No evidence was presented other than each commissioner being allowed to speak about the violations.

Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle, whose tile business worked as a subcontractor at Augusta Regional Airport, said he’d believed his abstentions from votes on the airport contract had been sufficient to avoid a conflict of interest under the city code.

“I was recently informed by (city general counsel) Andrew MacKenzie that I had followed the correct process by abstaining,” Guilfoyle said. “But I also needed permission from the board of commissioners prior to my company doing any work. I have instructed my estimator not to quote any more jobs pertaining to the city of Augusta-Richmond County... I leave it up to the board of commissioners to take any action they deem necessary with respect to this matter.”

Commissioner Alvin Mason offered a motion to censure Guilfoyle. The motion to censure Guilfoyle passed 9-1 with Guilfoyle abstaining.

Next, Commissioner Joe Jackson admitted his locksmith business had performed work under city contracts, including work for the sheriff’s office in an undercover sting operation that led to numerous arrests. He quit doing the work for pay in 2010 after the city administrator told him it was inappropriate, Jackson said.

“I accept whatever punishment and I apologize,” he said.

On a motion from Com­missioner Mary Davis, the group voted 9-1 to censure Jackson with Jackson abstaining from voting.

Commissioner Grady Smith, noting the business he and his brother inherited from their father once did heating and air conditioning work on the municipal building, said he was unaware the subcontract Smith Brothers Mechanical won at Fort Gordon was a city project.

“I didn’t know Richmond County owned property on Fort Gordon,” he said. “Yes, I made a mistake.”

Smith’s request last year to amend the ethics code to permit commissioners and city employees to serve as subcontractors is what triggered the commission inquiry into possible conflicts of interest.

“I question the fact that you contacted the general counsel,” Commissioner Bill Lockett said. “Being a former federal investigator, that tells me you had some suspicion what you were doing wasn’t right.”

At Mason’s request, Jack­son and Guilfoyle agreed to abstain from seeking city business for two years after they leave office. With Smith’s firm still completing the plumbing subcontract at Fort Gordon, it was trickier, but a vote to censure him gave Smith time to wrap up business on post.

“Based on the law or the code, it is clear that not a single commissioner up here should be doing business with this city,” said Commissioner Alvin Mason. “The blame lies squarely on the commissioner that took the oath.”

Smith said his company didn’t do much work for Augusta-Richmond County generally, although it handles many plumbing subcontracts for the school system.

“I can’t tell you what is going to happen when I resign,” Smith said. The resignation would be from his position as president of the company, not the commission, he added after the meeting, due to ongoing issues with diabetes and heart disease that plagued him much of last year.

Several on the commission clearly wished a greater punishment was available to them. Commissioner Marion Williams called the censure “really nothing” and unlikely to keep a commissioner off the city dime. The last time the commission voted to censure one of its own was in 2007, when former Commissioner Calvin Holland was punished for asking an employee to retrieve information from City Administrator Fred Russell’s computer.

“If we’re going to censure somebody for asking for a hard drive,” Williams said, “I’m in the wrong world.”

Mason said the group needed to “move on” and do what it was legally permitted to do. “I’m not trying to shove anything under the table.”

In other business, the hiring of New Haven, Conn., recreation di­rector Bob Levine as Au­gusta’s new recreation director was approved at a salary of $110,000. The group also started the process of hiring University of South Carolina human resources director Tanika Bryant as Augusta HR director.

Comments (59) Add comment
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Young Fred
17448
Points
Young Fred 03/05/13 - 09:38 pm
6
0
Oh, the shame of it all!

Oh, the shame of it all!

fedex227
11187
Points
fedex227 03/05/13 - 09:39 pm
8
0
Welcome to Mayberry.
Unpublished

That'll show 'em what fer!!

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 03/05/13 - 10:23 pm
13
0
Finish Well, Mr. Grady

Completely dishonest Mr. Grady. You ARE your company. This is a disingenuous move on your part. Do what is right, resign the commission.

dickworth1
954
Points
dickworth1 03/05/13 - 10:20 pm
8
0
mason jar
Unpublished

I think the commission should censure commissioners that beat up on women

Riverman1
83725
Points
Riverman1 03/05/13 - 10:22 pm
9
0
Greedy Grady

Greedy Grady Plan...haha....Yeah, Willow, you picked right up on that. He will resign from the company. Ha, again.

Anybody know how the voting went?

404Law
226
Points
404Law 03/05/13 - 10:33 pm
5
0
At least two more things are coming down the road...

The censure process was just way to smooth tonight. And, I think I know why.

I kept hearing the words "authority" and "jurisdiction" which suggests to me that some who sit on the dias have been given a head's up so-to-speak about pending actions. That's number one.

Also, now that Guilfoyle, Smith, and Jackson are on record admitting to 'breaking the law' and being enabled by the City attorney, I would not be surprised if aggrieved citizens (i.e., contractors who lost bids to sitting Commissioners) prepare to file civil action against the City. That's number two.

The Commission did the right thing tonight. In fact, it is the only thing they could have done legally (besides nothing at all). Now, let's see what comes down the road.

triscuit
3084
Points
triscuit 03/05/13 - 10:29 pm
5
0
Getting censured by that

Getting censured by that remaining bunch of clowns? That's pretty meaningless. Move on.

404Law
226
Points
404Law 03/05/13 - 10:40 pm
3
0
Votes for censure and two-year moratorium on contracting w/ city

Jackson: 9-0-1 Jackson abstained
Guilfoyle: 9-0-1 Guilfoyle abstained
Smith: 8-1-1 Smith abstained (Lockett - No vote)

Riverman1
83725
Points
Riverman1 03/05/13 - 11:27 pm
4
0
Thanks, 404. I wonder why

Thanks, 404. I wonder why Lockett did a no vote on Smith?

Brad Owens
4423
Points
Brad Owens 03/05/13 - 10:39 pm
4
1
404 Law

Where did you get you law degree? Breaking city ethics guidelines is not breaking the law. Also, these are sub contracts, so the idea that "other" bidders could challenge it isn't correct. I think you are confused.

404Law
226
Points
404Law 03/05/13 - 10:45 pm
2
0
BO

If you say so my friend - in specific ref. to Smith laws were broken. But, hey, I don't know anything. I only stayed in a Holiday Inn last night.

Riverman1
83725
Points
Riverman1 03/05/13 - 10:44 pm
6
0
How A Censure Should Be Delivered

I can only imagine how this “censure” went with our caricature of a mayor. If they were censured, shouldn’t the words have been harshly directed at the culprits? Shouldn’t the mayor have firmly and loudly read the censure resolution after the vote with a few tsks, tsks? I can guess right now Mayor Copenhaver never paused and simply said the motion carried as if it were approval of a motion to trim the crepe myrtles.

Riverman1
83725
Points
Riverman1 03/05/13 - 10:46 pm
6
0
About Sub Contracts

Don't all bids from general contractors with the county have to list the sub contractors they will use?

gargoyle
16948
Points
gargoyle 03/05/13 - 11:07 pm
6
1
Clowns

What would it take to run these clowns off?
Who oversees the charter for Augusta, and how could a state level oversight be empowered. Children could provide better leadership

itsanotherday1
42932
Points
itsanotherday1 03/05/13 - 11:15 pm
5
0
However this turns out I'm

However this turns out I'm happy. Augusta government has been small town good ol boy politics for a long time; much longer than the 42 years I've lived in the area. It is time the nepotism, favoritism, and back scratching get cleaned up.

Looks like a good start; they just need to keep digging and be sure to apply the same scrutiny across the board. These violations are petty in the scheme of things, but this septic tank is DEEP; and the precedent has been set.

Riverman1
83725
Points
Riverman1 03/05/13 - 11:13 pm
3
0
I'd like to see a description

I'd like to see a description of exactly what the rules are? Guidelines only? Or grounds for legal action?

dichotomy
32853
Points
dichotomy 03/05/13 - 11:19 pm
8
0
Yeh......and I don't think

Yeh......and I don't think commissioners should be able to sell property to the county for 10 times what it was worth for two years after they are gone.....AIN'T THAT RIGHT MARION WILLIAMS.

And now that the tone has been set for the next two years may things grind to an absolute halt and maybe the taxpayers will be safe for a while.

showboat
336
Points
showboat 03/05/13 - 11:23 pm
0
0
What a bunch of
Unpublished

What a bunch of c@@@@@@@@@@!!!! should run all of these clowns out of town!!!!!

gargoyle
16948
Points
gargoyle 03/05/13 - 11:33 pm
4
1
Look around dichotomy :

Look around dichotomy : Things are grinding to a halt unless it has a downtown connection

leadorfollow
12
Points
leadorfollow 03/05/13 - 11:44 pm
2
2
Riverman1... Id like to see...

The Augusta Code is available at augustaga.gov. As far as other laws go, look them up. I doubt that any laws have been broken. Riverman1 have you ever been to a commission meeting?

just an opinion
2638
Points
just an opinion 03/06/13 - 01:10 am
5
0
Reverend Hatney stole how much?

The city had to pay back several hundred thousand dollars that Hatney took from HUD and did he get a censure? Of course not. Wonder why? Hmmmm

whozit
147
Points
whozit 03/06/13 - 01:17 am
2
5
Once again

We hear people act like they have been personally aggrieved.This is nothing more than wanting to see the people who have achieved things be brought down a peg in your eyes. Listen to what these men said as to how they came to be in violation of the ethics rules. Not one said it was intentional and not one bit of evidence has been brought to show intent. So they have been found guilty in the court of public opinion not by a jury of their peers but rather by a jury that is just
poed about the fact they don't get their way and no one listens to them.

rebellious
20737
Points
rebellious 03/06/13 - 01:37 am
3
0
I Shot The Sheriff

But I didn't shoot no Deputy..........

GnipGnop
12227
Points
GnipGnop 03/06/13 - 02:17 am
5
0
Sorry but taxpayers are their peers...

They knew this would be scrutinized if found out and Grady Smith even had the nerve to go on TV and flaunt it in our faces. Ignorance is no excuse for infractions. Next tine you get pulled over by a cop ask him if you have to follow the rules just because you weren't aware of them....this is nothing more than one hand washing the other...funny how the precurment department can find the tiniest of flaws in bids but not the fact that 3 sitting commissioners were doing business with the city? I'm not buying it!!

Riverman1
83725
Points
Riverman1 03/06/13 - 07:12 am
4
0
Leadorfollow, I've watched

Leadorfollow, I've watched almost ALL of the Commission meetings on TV. Been to a few, although not recently. You?

But my bigger question is what is the legal penalty for violating the City codes?

nocnoc
42470
Points
nocnoc 03/06/13 - 07:36 am
4
4
At what price Politics?

Of the 3 Commissioners Censured.

No Laws has been broken.
No Lies have been told.
No hidden intend has even been insinuated.
No Good Old Boy Deals have been suggested.

What we have here is nothing more than Racial Politics - A Amateurish Political Plan, by a few Downtown commissioners scheming and hoping to expand their power base outside Downtown in the coming elections. If you doubt this just wait and see what happens when county districts comes up for re-election.

But Downtown has a major problem.
Too many people can see through the poorly planned smoke screen. They see it for what it is, A Racially Driven Political publicity stunt.

In the case of District #8 Commissioner Wayne G. -
Those that know Wayne either by friends, family, business deals, or are lucky to know him personally are quick to tell you they trust him. A person out here in Dist #8 does not have to poke around much to hear stories of him spending Saturday afternoons helping people do neighborly things or during the week working to see ARC departments deliver services to South Side taxpayers.

BUT Wait for it...

Soon the shoe will be on the other foot, because the Pot has called the Stove Black. Remember a certain Race Track land deal?

The Downtown crowd has only succeeded in 1 thing.

Make Themselves look like fools.

justputtin
1414
Points
justputtin 03/06/13 - 07:32 am
7
0
This is smelly

Circus is still in town. As to the post above, I have font size envy!!!

nocnoc
42470
Points
nocnoc 03/06/13 - 07:39 am
6
1
font size envy

It is not the

size of the Font

The smell is the pile of manure Downtown FAILED to spread.

justputtin
1414
Points
justputtin 03/06/13 - 07:46 am
6
0
Agreed nocnoc

Now I'm surrounded. Some of these commissioners are in it for personal benefit. I think most politicians that work for local govt are.

nocnoc
42470
Points
nocnoc 03/06/13 - 08:22 am
5
1
It Begs Some Questions.

QUESTION: Was Wayne G. was trying to hide the SUB-Contract, his company was ALREADY Contracted to perform PRIOR to taking office?

QUESTION: If so, Why did he contact the City General Counsel Andrew MacKenzie before taking office to check on the matter?

In short Wayne never hid or tried to hide anything.
Nor did he vote on any thing he had a conflict of interest with.

But As far as ETHICS go,
we have plenty to look into Downtown.

QUESTION: So when are we going to see a probe into the numerous downtown commissioners deals?

QUESTION: Shouldn't a certain Commissioner be called on to REFUND the profits for some UNETHICAL deals involving more than just church property. JUST like he himself called on others to do?

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