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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.

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Adam Bomb
331
Points
Adam Bomb 03/06/13 - 08:47 am
5
0
This brings up a question.

Why aren't these guys resigning from the unpaid commission instead of their corporate positions? One commish will be resigning from his company but staying on the commission. I think others besides myself are wondering just what exactly is so lucrative about serving on the county commission. Maybe a full audit is needed. Too much good ole boy stuff going on in Richmond County and this seems to reinforce that statement.

justthefacts
20356
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justthefacts 03/06/13 - 09:06 am
3
0
Wonder no more

And we wonder why successful people, who have run successful business, provided jobs, met budgets will not run for office. So, we get people, who for them, this is their job. Retired ministers and such...

leadorfollow
12
Points
leadorfollow 03/06/13 - 09:14 am
2
1
Riverman1 I am at every

Riverman1 I am at every meeting. The penalty available to the commission is what they did. Censure.

Little Lamb
43826
Points
Little Lamb 03/06/13 - 09:17 am
7
1
Next

Willow Bailey knows her way around small business. Her 9:23 p.m. post back on page one is right on the mark.

Ms. McCord's story says that Grady Smith's company will be allowed to finish out his contract on the utility work. Why? Why can't Fred (What, me worry?) Russell just tell the primary contractor to replace Smith Brothers Mechanical with another subcontractor to finish the work?

Another question was raised by Riverman. He asked whether bids from prospective prime contractors contain a list of intended sub-contractors. They are supposed to, but who is watching the hen house to make sure they do? Is it Geri Sams, head of procurement? What if a prime contractor includes a list of sub-contractors and conveniently leaves one off the list? What if a prime contractor includes Smith Brothers Mechanical on his list of intended sub-contractors and Geri Sams sees it and decides that that prime contractor should get the business so it will make Mr. Smith happy and he will look favorably on her?

Where is the reprimand of Geri Sams in all of this?

justthefacts
20356
Points
justthefacts 03/06/13 - 09:18 am
3
0
LL

What if another sub contractor won't do it for the same low bid?

Riverman1
79266
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Riverman1 03/06/13 - 09:34 am
8
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LeadorFollow said, "Riverman1

LeadorFollow said, "Riverman1 I am at every meeting."

I figured you were by your question to me. Probably getting paid to be there, too.

Little Lamb
43826
Points
Little Lamb 03/06/13 - 09:35 am
7
0
Low Bid?

No evidence has been presented that the prime contractor selected was the low bidder. Augusta city government under Geri Sams has a long and strong tradition of not selecting the low bidder.

Riverman1
79266
Points
Riverman1 03/06/13 - 09:39 am
5
1
As I said awhile back, what

As I said awhile back, what Jackson did was miniscule and not worth anything. Guilfoyle was innocent because he was locked into the contract before he was elected. Grady is the one whose actions are hard to defend. But, again as I said previously, Grady is a physically sick man and there's not much you can do to him. My earlier dig at him was a little mean.

Thanks, LL, for verifying my thought that sub contractors have to be listed on the bids.

jwilliams
750
Points
jwilliams 03/06/13 - 09:52 am
4
3
Hello nocnoc, I commend you

Hello nocnoc, I commend you for your support of Guilfoyle, but right is right and wrong is wrong and unfortunately for Guilfoyle “HE’ has admitted to doing wrong. I have read the posts of many people stating that Guilfoyle is a “GOOD” guy; well I do not think anyone, to include myself, has ever said that he wasn’t, but we ALL unfortunately know some “GOOD” people that have either knowingly or unknowingly done something wrong. I am not a lawyer, so I cannot say if Guilfoyle simply violated the city ethics code or if he committed a crime; I do not have the authority to officially decide in either case, but I do know without a reasonable doubt that “HE” committed a wrong, because “HE” has said so and the evidence supports it. I would openly invite anyone that is privy to any wrong doing by ANY commissioner to step forward as a citizen and seek the proper remedy.
On another note, this is to the people that are “JUST NOW” talking about Marion Williams and the church deal in or around the year 2005. If “YOU ALL” thought that there was something wrong going on why has it taken “YOU” nearly “EIGHT” years to say something? If “YOU ALL” had any suspensions that there was some wrong doings, you should have said so before now and stepped up as a citizen and requested an investigation. As a taxpayer I am very disappointed in “YOU ALL” for suppressing “YOUR” information and not stepping up before now.

Riverman1
79266
Points
Riverman1 03/06/13 - 09:57 am
4
0
JWilliams, that discussion of

JWilliams, that discussion of Marion Williams and the money he received for his church was heavy when it happened. If I recall correctly he only had about 20 members of his church.

Little Lamb
43826
Points
Little Lamb 03/06/13 - 10:13 am
3
0
Low-Ball Assessments

The scandal was over low assessments in certain parts of the city. Here is a link to the story:

Church Sale

noway
201
Points
noway 03/06/13 - 10:40 am
4
1
politics as usual

Isn't this why people GO into politics? So they can get the special, insider deals? and what is a censure going to do anyway?

jwilliams
750
Points
jwilliams 03/06/13 - 10:46 am
2
4
Thank you Riverman 1. My

Thank you Riverman 1. My question now would be was there “ANY” evidence of any wrong doings by Commissioner Marion Williams or did he admit to any wrong doings “EIGHT” years ago. There was definitely evidence against Guilfoyle, Smith and Jackson, as well as a verbal admission to wrong doings by each of them. I believe in doing the right thing, so if there was any evidence “EIGHT” years ago or if there is any now let’s do the right thing. Again, I am not a lawyer, but “EIGHT” years may be too late to do anything. If that is the case I am very disappointed in the people that are talking about it now and did not push harder then. One thing that I definitely know about Augusta, if Marion had done something wrong he would be in “JAIL.”

Riverman1
79266
Points
Riverman1 03/06/13 - 10:51 am
2
0
JWilliams, I can somewhat

JWilliams, I can somewhat understand what you mean when David Fry's attempted bribe of Mason and Johnson resulted in nothing...Not even him having to tell who put him up to it.

Little Lamb
43826
Points
Little Lamb 03/06/13 - 10:55 am
6
0
Church Sale

The sale of Friendship Baptist Church to the school board did not violate the city's ethics ordinance.

Likewise, if Grady Smith or Joe Jackson or Wayne Guilfoyle wanted to do business with the school board, that would be completely proper. They just are not allowed to do business with Augusta city government. The school board is a separate entity. In fact, Augusta commissioners can do business with North Augusta, Thomson, Waynesboro, Grovetown, etc. Just stay away from Augusta city business. It's kind of like the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden. God prohibited just one thing from Adam and Eve, and that became just the one thing they had to have.

jwilliams
750
Points
jwilliams 03/06/13 - 11:33 am
2
1
Hello Little Lamb. I agree

Hello Little Lamb. I agree with your post, I was simply being sarcastic in my previous posts pertaining to the church sale. I am very aware of the entire situation pertaining to the sale. The real reason why people are talking about Marion Williams and the church deal is for what I consider the “DROWNING MAN/WOMEN (to be politically correct) SYNDROME.” A drowning man/women will reach for anything when they are going down.

Little Lamb
43826
Points
Little Lamb 03/06/13 - 11:43 am
2
0
Final Talleys

We got the final talleys reported by 404Law last night around 9:40.

404Law says that Commissioner Lockett voted for the censure motions on Jackson and Guilfoyle, but against the censure motion on Smith. That is curious.

Were the motions different in substance? Was the prohibition about bidding on city business two years after leaving the commission left out of the censure motion on Smith?

seenitB4
81244
Points
seenitB4 03/06/13 - 11:46 am
2
1
How does he do that

noc noc....can you enlarge everything on here....geez

WOW..I'm impressed..:)

Sweet son
9682
Points
Sweet son 03/06/13 - 12:30 pm
3
2
This is ugly: But!

Remember how when us older folks used to take our index finger and pull down our lower eyelid and tell someone; "look in my eye and see if I give a ****." Usually one of two four letter words took the place of the "stars" in my quote. If I were Smith, Jackson and Guilfoyle that might be the gesture that I would use on my fellow commissioners.

Wonder how long this charade took out of commission meeting time. I guess it doesn't matter they wouldn't have accomplished anything anyway.

And don't you just love it that Lockett calls himself a Federal Investigator like he was an FBI agent or something along those lines!

Chigger Hill Man
159
Points
Chigger Hill Man 03/06/13 - 02:03 pm
2
0
I wonder

If the new recreation director has been clued in to the to the fact that he can work two months and then get his salary raised from $110,000 to $118,000?

Shortcomment
1158
Points
Shortcomment 03/06/13 - 04:46 pm
3
0
jwilliams - Lets talk Facts

And what are your facts?

jwilliams
750
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jwilliams 03/06/13 - 05:40 pm
2
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Hello ShortComment, You

Hello ShortComment,
You first.

Shortcomment
1158
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Shortcomment 03/06/13 - 07:18 pm
1
2
By all Means jwIlliams, you should go 1st.

You have had so much to say, it was getting hard to figure out what your FACTS were, vs. the media catch phrases.

Could you bulletize them for us?
Or do we now need to toss a Drowning Man, as you called it, a life preserver?

Here are a few facts I know.

NO OCGA (GA) LAW has been broken.

When a legally binding sub-contract is already in place, and a person takes the time to seek out the City's own Lawyer for advice BEFORE TAKING OFFICE and follows the City's Legal advice. NO deliberate ethics violation has occurred.

When a few Commissioners agree to censure, to stop the brewing racial divide, which was being purposely fueled by a few with special agendas. Who took the moral high ground?

When a person clearly makes every attempt to do the right things and others still roast him for political gain and power knowing better. Who has the moral high ground?

An I also state 2 of our 3 censured Commissioners are innocent. . But they did the right thing to stop a racially orchestrated situation that would have caused wider harm.

In the style of another AC poster,

Commodum habitus es & Obesa cantavit

Google it.

just an opinion
2351
Points
just an opinion 03/06/13 - 07:39 pm
1
1
What a disappointment Alvin Mason is.

I campaigned for him but man does he hate white people!

Conservative Man
5295
Points
Conservative Man 03/06/13 - 07:51 pm
1
0
Grady's unrepentant attitude....

....does not play well in this case....No law has been broken BUT the ethics code HAS been violated. The code says "directly or indirectly"....what part of this does he not understand?
At least Joe and Wayne have said publicly that it will not happen again.
Grady needs to seriously rethink his stance on this one....

ARC fan
187
Points
ARC fan 03/06/13 - 07:56 pm
1
0
white flight

This is much ado about nothing! Williams, Mason, Lockett and Fennoy may rejoice that they nailed "the man" but in the long run they have hurt not only Augusta but their supporters as well. They may hate us as the previous poster says but "our" taxes are a very substantial part of what keeps this city going and it will soon be going into Columbia and Aiken counties. A "chocolate city" may be their desire but be careful of what you ask for.

Conservative Man
5295
Points
Conservative Man 03/06/13 - 08:43 pm
1
0
ARC.... as a conservative....

....I must respectfully disagree on one point but a agree on another with you ...
As Thomas Jefferson said, "When you assume a public office, you assume a public trust"...
Grady, Joe and Wayne, may not have been aware of the violations committed by their companies. I'll give them that. But they ARE smart enough to understand the concept of "conflict of interest"...
To blame those that brought this to light is akin to blaming the fire dep. for the house burning down because they didn't get there in time, forgetting the person who initially struck the match...Wayne and Joe said they'd fix it within their companies....Grady said "get lost"....right is right and wrong is wrong....Grady is wrong. Plain and simple....
However I WILL agree with you concerning the tax base in RC....it is a fact that the demographic in RC is changing....any one who lives here or is considering moving here should take this into account...which means that political discussions AND decisions made at the Commission level will reflect this reality.....

404Law
212
Points
404Law 03/06/13 - 08:43 pm
1
0
Laws were broken...

For the last time, laws were broken. All of the details have not been released. If this information turns out to be wrong, then I have no problems being censured by my beloved commenters. :-) But, trust me on this one - it is not over. You will soon see. For those doubting my credibility, just go back and read some of my previous posts. Virtually all have come to pass.

404Law
212
Points
404Law 03/06/13 - 08:54 pm
0
0
And, just for the record...

I said it last month, and I am saying it again. Mary Davis is exploring a possible run for Mayor. She is being 'pushed' forward (literally) by some serious power brokers. Again, if I am wrong, then I have no problems being censured.

jwilliams
750
Points
jwilliams 03/06/13 - 09:32 pm
0
1
Hello ShortComment,Good

Hello ShortComment,
Good post. But I think you should have called Guilfoyle and told him what you are telling me. That way he would not have OPENLY ADMITTED TO THE ENTIRE WORLD (can you say the World Wide Web) that he had violated the conflict of interest policy, a fact might I add. I am disappointed in you shortcomment, you should have told “YOUR FRIEND THAT HE WAS INNOCENT,” not me. In your post “YOU” stated that,” 2 of our 3 censured Commissioners are innocent.” Well obviously they do not see it as you because in an article titled Augusta Commissioners censure colleagues for conflict of interest by Mark Barber of WFXG news 26, “The three Commissioners apologized for violating Augusta's conflict of interest policy.” A fact might I add.
And oh by the way, no one has OFFICIALLY said that the “APOLOGETIC THREE” have violated any portion of an O.C.G.A. ……………………YET! But coming soon. This goose is cooked it is time for me to move on, it’s been fun shortcomment.

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