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Commissioners discuss decorum

Monday, Aug 26, 2013 9:56 PM
Last updated Tuesday, Aug 27, 2013 12:06 AM
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Augusta Commission members talked about the need to improve the panel’s public image for the good of the city Monday.

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Commissioner Bill Lockett put the discussion on the agenda for the administrative services committee.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
Commissioner Bill Lockett put the discussion on the agenda for the administrative services committee.

“No one of us is guilty, but we all are to a certain extent,” said Commissioner Bill Lock­ett, who put the item on the agenda of the administrative services committee he leads. “Let’s take the past; let’s make it history.”

Several on the commission have been publicly critical of each other and of city staff in recent weeks, on issues ranging from whether an employee is a department head to the job performance of General Counsel Andrew Mac­Kenzie. The disputes have often fallen along racial lines and the meetings have run long, with some members leaving early on occasion after tensions escalated.

Commissioner Bill Fennoy said he was surprised to hear of Lockett’s agenda item so soon after the commissioner blasted him in one of the city’s black weekly newspapers.

“What made me surprised was an article I read in one of the local tabloids,” Fennoy said, quoting a recent Metro Courier article that portrays Lockett as reminiscing about former District 1 Commissioner Matt Aitken’s tendency to vote predictably with his white colleagues, after Fennoy voted with several white commissioners to hire Mc­Donald Transit to run the city bus service.

“It’s very difficult when you say ‘do as I say not as I do,’ ” Fennoy said. “Any time I vote, I will vote for what’s in the best interest of my district, and I have not to my knowledge made any vote that will harm anybody in any part of my district.”

Mayor Deke Copenhaver read the commission code of conduct, first adopted in 2006, into the record.

“If we just treat each other with dignity and respect, we’ll be fine,” he said.

“I had perfect opportunities in the past to attack colleagues, but never have and never will,” said Commis­sioner Wayne Guilfoyle.

Absent Monday were two of the body’s more vocal members: Marion Williams and Alvin Mason. Williams, who said he’d missed the meetings because of doctor’s appointments, argued that commissioner decorum was not what was setting Augusta back.

“That’s not the reason business isn’t coming,” Williams said. “Nobody’s making money but a few people.”

In other committee business Monday:

• A 2014 contract with Sen­ti­nel Offender Services for Richmond County State Court was not approved because it did not get three affirmative votes. Com­mis­sioner Donnie Smith voted against. Grady Smith and Lockett voted for. Mason, who is chairman, was absent. Donnie Smith likened the probation company’s jailing of people for nonpayment of probation fees to predatory lending, but Chief State Court Judge Richard Slaby said state court is not concerned with lawsuits filed against Sen­tinel. The contract will go before the commission for final approval.

• The administrative services committee approved Hou­sing and Community De­velop­ment Director Chester Whee­ler’s request for a $2.5 million “bridge loan” to cover redevelopment in Laney-Walker and Bethlehem until the city can issue more bonds for the project in 2015, with the stipulations that Wheeler return with a cost-benefit analysis of decisions to rely heavily on pricey consultants and seek alternative funding sources in addition to the effort’s guaranteed annual $750,000 in hotel bed taxes. The interdepartmental loan won’t hurt the city’s credit rating, Assistant Finance Director Tim Schroer said, but dipping frequently into savings could.

• Administrative services referred a final vote on the city’s Disadvantaged Busi­ness Enterprise program for federally assisted transit contracts to a legal session. The program has been under development for more than a year as the city law department, DBE Coordinator Yvonne Gentry and the Federal Transit Administration have been unable to agree on what it should contain.

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Pops
14245
Points
Pops 08/26/13 - 09:16 pm
12
2
Typical ignorant comment

“That’s not the reason business isn't coming,” Williams said. “Nobody’s making money but a few people.”

He really does have a big mouth.............

Little Lamb
48900
Points
Little Lamb 08/26/13 - 09:36 pm
8
5
“Nobody's Making Money But A Few People”

Well, you can’t blame the mayor for that. You need to blame Barak Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi.

Little Lamb
48900
Points
Little Lamb 08/26/13 - 09:30 pm
7
0
Sentinel

I hope the full commission denies the motion to approve Sentinel Probation’s contract. These private probation proprietorships are predators on poor people.

Little Lamb
48900
Points
Little Lamb 08/26/13 - 09:33 pm
7
1
Bridge Loan

I hope the full commission denies the bridge loan to Chester Wheeler’s shady organization. He needs to just make do with the $750,000 a month coming in from the hotel bed tax.

Little Lamb
48900
Points
Little Lamb 08/26/13 - 09:35 pm
6
2
Vampire

I hope the full commission does not approve any support to the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program. They don't have to garner six votes. All they have to do is ensure there are four votes against and one vote abstaining or absent. It's not that hard to count.

Graymare
3780
Points
Graymare 08/26/13 - 09:45 pm
7
0
Showboats

show·boat (shbt) n.
1. A river steamboat having a troupe of performers and a theater aboard for performances on the river.

2. One who seeks attention by ostentatious behavior; a showoff.

The commissioners would do well to take a lesson from Alcoholics Anonymous to put "Principles Before Personalities" and run this county instead of acting like they are on some reality tv show.

Little Lamb
48900
Points
Little Lamb 08/26/13 - 09:54 pm
4
1
“Nobody’s Making Money But A Few People”

Commissioner Corey Johnson is setting up to make a bundle at his birthday bash. I hope he remembers to report the contributions to the Federal and State elections commissions.

dichotomy
37390
Points
dichotomy 08/26/13 - 10:29 pm
9
1
DO NOT dip into our savings

DO NOT dip into our savings to give Chester Wheeler more money to mismanage. NO ON THE BRIDGE LOAN.

NO on the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program. That's another load of unnecessary crap for a county that is 60% black, half the commission is black, half the school board is black, and the head of the Procurement Office is black. The only disadvantage most of these so called disadvantaged businesses have is that they are UNQUALIFIED.

As for Sentinel, I think private probation contractors should be totally illegal anyway. It's a money hole that many cannot ever get out of and some even go out and start stealing in order to pay their probation fees.

deestafford
31720
Points
deestafford 08/26/13 - 10:45 pm
11
1
The commissioners discussing ethnics and decorum

is like the occupants of a pig pen discussing hygiene...there ain't none there.

gargoyle
20687
Points
gargoyle 08/26/13 - 10:51 pm
3
1
Ethics and Decorum

Ethics and Decorum..... Mayor Deke needs to take them on bus ride, That will straighten them out.

specsta
7137
Points
specsta 08/27/13 - 01:38 am
8
1
Time Is Due

Nothing will change. Traditionalism will continue to keep Augusta 30 years behind the times.

Small-minded thinking and a lack of a great vision is Augusta's undoing. Folks here don't know any better. They are satisfied with a hunk of salty luncheon meat when they could be dining on steak and caviar. They think the luncheon meat is caviar. So the mediocrity continues.

Old families with deep pockets run the city like a syndicate. They don't want Augusta to prosper and become vibrant and dynamic - since that might mean they have less control and less wealth.

Nothing will change. UNLESS someone comes along with the fortitude and the intellect to stand their ground and knock traditionalism to its knees, and finish up with a knock-out punch. Where is that man or woman? The time for being nice is over or this city will continue to be a laughingstock. When the nickname for your town is "Disgusta", you know that something is very wrong.

It's time for Augusta to grow up.

Bodhisattva
7146
Points
Bodhisattva 08/27/13 - 04:57 am
5
0
" the meetings have run long,

" the meetings have run long, with some members leaving early on occasion after tensions escalated." If the meetings are running long, are the members leaving early, or are they leaving on time? If it's scheduled to end at 8:00pm and you leave at 8:00pm, can someone say you left early. or are they leaving at 7:00pm? I don't live there and don't really care. Watching Augusta politics is sort of like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Just curious about them leaving.

nocnoc
49121
Points
nocnoc 08/27/13 - 06:15 am
6
1
scheduling, voting and ducking out

We all pay these 4 or 5 unruly commissioners to be there, and many times waste our tax $$$$. At the very least they could show up act like adults and not like brats fighting over a Sandbox on a playground.

Also is it time to require attendance standards for commissioners?
If nothing else, to eliminate these politically pre-planned absents to avoid doing what they were elected to do. LEAD, DECIDE AND VOTE.

Riverman1
93346
Points
Riverman1 08/27/13 - 06:31 am
5
3
Thanks to Commissioner Bill Lock­ett

First off, thanks to Commissioner Bill Lock­ett for recognizing the problem and trying to get everyone to calm down. Let's not be so cynical.

Riverman1
93346
Points
Riverman1 08/27/13 - 06:37 am
7
2
Warning, Warning, Will Robinson

"The interdepartmental loan won’t hurt the city’s credit rating, Assistant Finance Director Tim Schroer said, but dipping frequently into savings could."

This is the portentous start of paying the bills by using a pyramid, borrowing scheme. Whatever group of commissioners runs Richmond County in the future beware. This practice will have the repo man hooking up the county like cars on Lizard Lick Towing.

GnipGnop
12744
Points
GnipGnop 08/27/13 - 06:49 am
6
0
I have always said...

if you didn't show up for your job or left early or refused to do your job then you would be fired. There should be some kind of standard. You ran for the job promising to do the job. If you can't or won't then you should resign. The only reason any commissioner should ever be able to abstain is if they have a conflict of interest on the matter being voted on before the commission. This constant grandstanding and accusations by culprits who are found to being doing the same exact thing must stop. The citizens should start flooding the commission chambers with the cry of NO MORE!!! Represent or resign!!!!!

jwilliams
1106
Points
jwilliams 08/27/13 - 06:59 am
6
1
Little Lamb in respect to

Little Lamb in respect to your post, “Commissioner Corey Johnson is setting up to make a bundle at his birthday bash. I hope he remembers to report the contributions to the Federal and State elections commissions.” Good point, but there are still some that he didn’t remember to report from his last run yet hint, hint.

Riverman1
93346
Points
Riverman1 08/27/13 - 07:05 am
5
2
Campaign Funds

Hey, if anyone believes ANY politician reports all campaign contributions and accurately accounts for the expenditures, I've got some land in Laney Walker to sell you.

Little Lamb
48900
Points
Little Lamb 08/27/13 - 07:10 am
5
1
Cry Out

GnipGnop posted:

The citizens should start flooding the commission chambers with the cry of NO MORE!!! Represent or resign!!!!!

You cannot do that. The Mayor will gavel you out of order and sheriff's deputies will escort you from the chambers. Our commission chambers is a place of quiet decorum, you know.

;-)

Marinerman1
5458
Points
Marinerman1 08/27/13 - 07:17 am
5
1
Commission and Public Image

Well, here are two words on the opposite ends of the spectrum. Don't see this happening anytime soon. Sad but true.

itsanotherday1
48193
Points
itsanotherday1 08/27/13 - 07:21 am
7
2
Thank Lockett???

Am I mistaken,
or is he one of the ascerbic mouths on the commission, right behind Marion Williams?

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 08/27/13 - 07:31 am
6
1
From my experience, the AHCD

From my experience, the AHCD is not allocating funds that were available for small business start-ups in the more blighted sections of the CBD. Now the department underestimated their cost/benefit scheme and need more dollars to string things along or something...nobody knows other than to call it a "bridge". NO to more loans. If the individual entrepeneur isn't deemed worthy of a small percentage to get their operation started, then neither should the department beyond what was already granted. Show some of the payout receipts to small business/start-ups w/ the fed money. Either those were successful loans and more should be considered or they were failures and were just given to the wrong folks. I see nothing to the effect that the department is doing right by the city. From the impression the readers here are posting, neither are they.

lovingthesouth72
1408
Points
lovingthesouth72 08/27/13 - 07:39 am
5
4
pathetic

The reason bidness aint' comin is because of the commission's ineptitude to accomplish anything that is good for the city. They seem to want to remain in the dark - it's so pathetic. In the meantime we will watch North Augusta grow and prosper.

Riverman1
93346
Points
Riverman1 08/27/13 - 07:47 am
5
5
IAD

IAD, sure Lockett has been that way. But someone had to take the step to get everyone being cordial on the Commission. He apologized. I'm willing to see what happens. Of course Fennoy jumped right back at Lockett, but maybe it will sink in a little bit and things will improve.

soapy_725
44107
Points
soapy_725 08/27/13 - 08:04 am
0
0
Old families with deep pockets run the city. THE TRUTH!!!
Unpublished

Old families with deep pockets run the city. THE TRUTH!!!

soapy_725
44107
Points
soapy_725 08/27/13 - 08:06 am
0
0
That is why we have 159 "little "kingdoms" in GA. Gha Ching
Unpublished

That is why we have 159 "little "kingdoms" in GA. Gha Ching

soapy_725
44107
Points
soapy_725 08/27/13 - 08:06 am
0
0
It ain't about a day's travel, it is about controlling MONEY.
Unpublished

It ain't about a day's travel, it is about controlling MONEY.

Little Lamb
48900
Points
Little Lamb 08/27/13 - 08:12 am
5
2
Metro Courier

I picked up and read the issue of the Metro Courier that is mentioned in the story above. Bill Lockett did indeed criticize Bill Fennoy for voting with white commissioners. Fennoy is justified in lashing out at Lockett for criticizing the way Fennoy votes. A person's vote is sacred, and people should not be bullied to vote against their conscience.

Also sad is the editorial in that same edition of The Metro Courier. The editor/publisher made the fervent appeal for all five black commissioners to vote in lockstep on every matter that comes before the body. I was shocked at the blatant appeal to race instead of the substance of the motions. I am glad that Commissioner Fennoy has moved beyond such appeals to race.

chascushman
6653
Points
chascushman 08/27/13 - 08:21 am
8
3
"Nothing will
Unpublished

"Nothing will change."
specsta, you are correct nothing will change until they clean up the section 8 housing and the thugs that live there. But then the folks that live there will just breed more of them.

chascushman
6653
Points
chascushman 08/27/13 - 08:23 am
7
3
" It's time for Augusta to
Unpublished

" It's time for Augusta to grow up."
specsta, Augusta is going up to be like Detroit.

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