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City positions conflict with consolidation blueprint

Monday, June 24, 2013 8:35 PM
Last updated Tuesday, June 25, 2013 12:16 AM
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Another piece of unfinished business from the 1996 consolidation of Augusta and Richmond County resurfaced last week, and like most, it does not appear an easy fix.

Georgia House Bill 805, which set the rules for Augusta’s system of government, called for the city to hire a single department director to preside over equal opportunities, both in city employment and in the award of city contracts.

“The commission-council shall employ a person to serve as equal opportunity director and as director of minority and small business opportunities,” states the city charter.

Seventeen years later, however, city Equal Employment Opportunity Officer Jacqueline Humphrey’s title of “director” remains in dispute, while a separate hire – Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Coordinator Yvonne Gentry – has done little to assist specifically minority- or women-owned businesses since a federal judge in 2007 barred Augusta from using race- or gender-based criteria in the award of contracts.

Augusta Commissioner Joe Jackson claimed he was not trying to aggravate his colleagues when he slipped the hire of a single new EEO and DBE “director” onto the June 10 administrative services committee agenda.

“It’s not about them,” Jackson said of Humphrey and Gentry, whose jobs would undoubtedly be impacted if a new director was hired.

It was a sore subject, however, with Commissioner Bill Lockett, who insisted the move targeted Humphrey, who uses the title “EEO Director” on her work.

City documents vary. A 1998 job description lists duties of an “Equal Opportunitiy Coordinator,” reporting to the mayor and commission, to include both EEO and DBE functions such as informing minority business groups of future bid openings.

Eleven years later, however, when the position remained open, the city advertised for an “EEO Director” to oversee employment opportunity-related issues, with no mention of other duties Gentry by then was prevented from performing by the injunction. Humphrey and several others listed “EEO Director” on their applications for the job.

Commissioner Alvin Mason denied the commission had authority to hire “coordinators;” only the directors that report directly to them. Yet, former employment manager Moses McCauley’s recommendation of Humphrey for the post, and a Nov. 5, 2009, commission motion to hire her listed her title as “coordinator.”

Former City Attorney Jim Wall called it “an unusual situation” for a single director to oversee both DBE and EEO, “but that’s the way the consolidation bill was drafted.”

Wall said during his tenure as city attorney, a subcommittee made the decision in 2003 to create two “coordinator” positions to handle EEO and DBE responsibilities, with the EEO coordinator as first priority.

“It was to be a single director who would be over both departments,” Wall said. “The coordinator title has been carried through because there was never the appointment of a director.”

Titles or not, the women earn salaries in the $75,000 range and are included in a 2007 severance plan for department heads that guarantees them six months’ pay and benefits if fired without cause after five years on the job.

Since the 2007 court order, Gentry, who had proposed participation goals and ways of attracting and tracking women and minority involvement in city contracts, has converted her office to focus on “local small business” and ceased collecting disparity data until recently. City Administrator Fred Russell, who, like most commissioners and the mayor, was attending a Savannah conference of local elected officials on Monday, said in 2010 that the court order may have eliminated Gentry’s primary function.

Copenhaver suggested the commission take up the conflicting statuses at an upcoming committee meeting while a vote to have “outside counsel” review them failed.

“Just because it was done wrong in the past, doesn’t mean this commission needs to do it again,” the mayor said.

Comments (17) Add comment
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Pops
9047
Points
Pops 06/24/13 - 10:50 pm
7
1
Both positions

pay $75,000 a year? FOR WHAT?

Is this one dysfunctional system Augusta has, or what?

“Just because it was done wrong in the past, doesn't mean this commission needs to do it again,” the mayor said.

This ought to be good.

dichotomy
33550
Points
dichotomy 06/24/13 - 11:15 pm
7
1
Consolidation was an

Consolidation was an unplanned abortion.....and both of those positions are unnecessary, expensive boondoggles. The are a solution looking for a problem in a county that is majority black and the elected government is 50% or more black. Why are we keeping these antiquated, useless positions on the books? And our politicians don't even know who they work for and the employees probably don't know who they work for or what their current duties are since the judge ruled the function of at least one of the jobs is illegal.

Why are our commissioner's so stupid? Why is our administrator so incompetent? Is there ANYBODY in charge downtown? Why are WE so stupid as to let this crap go on and on?

Fundamental_Arminian
1849
Points
Fundamental_Arminian 06/25/13 - 02:42 am
4
0
Dichotomy, I think the

Dichotomy, I think the consolidated government must have an EEOC director and a DBE director in order to qualify for federal grants. As a grant recipient, the government must keep records to show that it doesn't illegally discriminate in the treatment of its employees or in the awarding of contracts.

seenitB4
88177
Points
seenitB4 06/25/13 - 04:47 am
4
1
Now that is the question..:)

Why are WE so stupid as to let this crap go on and on?

seenitB4
88177
Points
seenitB4 06/25/13 - 05:16 am
7
1
I'm confused

functions such as informing minority business groups of future bid openings.

Wouldn't the minority be the white population in Richmond county?

corgimom
33198
Points
corgimom 06/25/13 - 06:21 am
3
1
seenit, stop making sense!

seenit, stop making sense!

jmo
16265
Points
jmo 06/25/13 - 07:06 am
2
0
Fire them both,....

pay the severance, save in the long run.

nocnoc
43454
Points
nocnoc 06/25/13 - 07:08 am
1
1
The 1996 consolidation has

The 1996 consolidation has failed from the start.
Year after year what was the city of Augusta picks the former county's bones for more $$$$ to survive.

How long ARC survives depends on how long ARC can retain the enough tax base and companies to attract workers to buy property in ARC. The next question will become how many properties will have the owner living in them or renting them out. Because we all have seen the constant migration toward the west side of so many businesses and the middle or upper class population.

(Countyman this is where you step in and tell us how great ARC is.)

But if you are one of the few still interested see:
Check out http://www.augustaga.gov/DocumentCenter/Home/

Or http://www.augustaga.gov/DocumentCenter/Home/View/330
Just change the document number 3## to 399, cover 1990 to 2000 during the Consolidation

BTW:
To put to rest what is DOWNTOWN when it comes to shootings and crime. Here is ARC own designation map
http://www.augustaga.gov/DocumentCenter/Home/View/300

nocnoc
43454
Points
nocnoc 06/25/13 - 07:21 am
0
0
Riverman1
84926
Points
Riverman1 06/25/13 - 09:46 am
2
2
What is the minority race in Richmond County?

The issue of what is the minority race in Richmond County has to be addressed sooner or later. It's becoming a problem with logic for the school system under the federal court order and with equal opportunity measures such as we see here.

internationallyunknown
4244
Points
internationallyunknown 06/25/13 - 11:33 am
0
1
America, the land of the "free"

Why is America the only country that uses the terms minority and majority, when speaking about the race of its citizens???

Sweet son
10555
Points
Sweet son 06/25/13 - 12:24 pm
1
0
$75,000 salary probably does not include benefits. So you have

two employees who actually cost the taxpayer $100,000 each. Give us a break! $200,000 a year to make sure minorities get their "set asides."

Augusta resident
1368
Points
Augusta resident 06/25/13 - 01:53 pm
2
0
sue

A white owner from X-Mart should apply for the job and then scream discrimination when he doesn't get hired. They have a good tract record.

Augusta resident
1368
Points
Augusta resident 06/25/13 - 01:58 pm
1
0
?

What do the commissioners do? I thought they awarded contracts based on race already. This should be a collateral position if anything at all. What if there was a position that ensured white people would get fair treatment based on their qualifications? Sorry you meet all of the qualifications except for you're white. I've been turned down jobs because I'm white. Actually they said it was because I'm not black. Same thing right? Now obama wants to make mexicans a minority and blacks will be under qualified. Do ya'll see where this is going?

Riverman1
84926
Points
Riverman1 06/25/13 - 02:29 pm
0
0
InterNat asked, "Why is

InterNat asked, "Why is America the only country that uses the terms minority and majority, when speaking about the race of its citizens???"

Good question.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 06/25/13 - 03:44 pm
1
0
This reminds me of Office

This reminds me of Office Space the movie. Milton continues to receive a paycheck years after his employment was terminated due to a glitch. Augusta runs pretty much just like Initech in that public offices are held by people who are exclusively concerned with KEEPING the job rather than succeeding at the job.

GnipGnop
12321
Points
GnipGnop 06/25/13 - 04:46 pm
0
0
I would like to know

how many other hidden positions are in the ARC government? I bet you it's more than this one instance....

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