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Commissioners want harsher punishment for conflict of interest

Monday, March 25, 2013 12:39 AM
Last updated 7:37 AM
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At least two Augusta Commission members would like to see the city's conflict of interest policy have a little more bite than the “censure” the body inflicted on three of its members March 5 for working as subcontractors on city jobs.

“I think the consequences should be a little bit stiffer,” said Commissioner Bill Fennoy, who placed the item on a Monday administrative services committee agenda. “I think any time an elected official knowingly does business with the city, they should resign.”

The policy, which forbids any elected official or city employee from benefitting financially from doing work for the city, either directly or indirectly as a subcontractor, offers the commission only the options of a reprimand or more formal censure.

Fennoy said he’ll seek guidance on the issue from the city attorney and fellow commissioners at Monday’s meeting.

“I just don't think censure is a deterrent,” he said.

Last year, Commissioner Grady Smith’s effort to change the same policy to allow commissioners to work as subcontractors led to his admission that his company, Smith Brothers Mechanical, had bid to do plumbing work at the new Richmond County Sheriff's Office south Augusta substation.

Smith later withdrew his bid, which he said the sheriff’s office had asked him to make, but acknowledged Smith Brothers had performed two other jobs at Fort Gordon, where a city Utilities department construction project contractor hired Smith’s firm as a subcontractor.

Smith denied knowing the city had the construction job on the Army post, while two other commissioners – tile contractor Wayne Guilfoyle and locksmith Joe Jackson – also admitted they had done work for city government, and on March 5, the commission voted to censure the three, resulting in a formal written reprimand for each.

Commissioner Bill Lockett said he too favors increasing the available penalties for breaking the ethics policy, but Lockett has several other weighty items on Monday's administrative services agenda, including reviewing the findings of a 2009 “Disparity Study” of the use of women- and minority-owned businesses in the award of city contracts.

Lockett has also included a discussion of early retirement options for city employees, a report on pay increases and promotions awarded by the city administrator, having a city employee solicit retail business in areas “not served by the Downtown Development Authority” and adopting a rotating schedule for committee meetings.

Other items up for committee discussion Monday include:

• Asking the administrator to present a proposal for a partnership between First Tee of Augusta and Augusta Municipal Golf Course and proposals from two private firms also seeking to run the course;

• Issuing $20 million in taxable bonds to cover Augusta Utilities’ debt service requirements, required after the city’s bond rating exceeded the bond insurer’s rating, according to Utilities Director Tom Wiedmeier.

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nocnoc 03/25/13 - 06:53 am
Instead of a politically

Instead of a politically vindictive ordinance, what we need is a GA. Statewide Law.

Starting at the top and continuing down to the state, city, county Employee, Elected or Appointee level. Yes Staff and Management included.

Such a Law needs to cover family, X-Family and "relationships","friends" and business acquaintances at least 2 layers deep.

Many of us that have worked around politicians know this is to be a Power Play that found a lame cause to roll.

In actuality The DOWNTOWN Power Brokers and Comissoners are trying to set up the next election for the outlaying districts. Discrediting 3 districts commissioners (2 of 3 for nit-picking things) is a lame process, but they they are rolling with it. If they can install just 2 puppets or friendly's in the old county area consider what they can accomplish?

Everyone stop and think for a minute.
What will happen to the South Side or the West Side, if Downtown Types like Felony, and Willy can put a political machine together?

Besides it takes more than a politically vindictive ordinance
to legally remove an elected official. It takes a change to the ARC Charter. Which opens the door to what other more drastic changes?

Like I said and warned: Everyone stop and think for a minute.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 03/25/13 - 08:11 am

This Bill Fennoy fellow must be duller than I thought. You could pass a law saying a commissioner must resign if he's caught doing business with the city, but you cannot make him resign. He's an elected official. It would take a trial, a court order, and police action to actually keep him away from his duties as commissioner.

A better approach to the ethics ordinance would be to let Bill Fennoy just beat up the offenders. He could handle all of them except Alvin Mason.

GnipGnop 03/25/13 - 09:23 am

What's the punishment for sharing inside commission business with family members to the extent that they lease property and register businesses before the locations have even been released to the public? In the stock market it's called insider trading and very Augusta it's politics as usual and means re-election. Pathetic politics will hold Augusta back. The only difference being the skin color of those playing the game....

bubbasauce 03/25/13 - 12:16 pm
I cannot figure this one out.

I cannot figure this one out. Something smells fishy. Therefore no comment, but will follow the fish.

mike1sc 03/25/13 - 03:12 pm

You know, that may not be a bad idea.....maybe all three should resign along with the remaining white commissioners. If that would occur, then all the race-baiting would have to come to an end...wouldn't it? Marion Williams could have whatever chair he wanted then as well.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 03/25/13 - 03:29 pm
Bloated government

From the story:

Lockett has also included . . . having a city employee solicit retail business in areas “not served by the Downtown Development Authority.”

Instead of using the word "having," I think the esteemed commissioners want to hire a person at high salary for a new position they want to create. I think we've got enough development authorities around here. Some commissioner's brother-in-law must need a job.

Darby 03/25/13 - 05:53 pm
Commissioners want harsher....

punishment for conflict of interest."

And with the inmates running that asylum, good luck with that...

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