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Residents criticize Augusta Commission's behavior

Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013 7:11 PM
Last updated Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013 1:25 AM
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After a spate of arguments and public criticism hurled at the city attorney prompted Augusta Commission members to call for improved decorum and civility on the governing body, we asked readers what they think should be done.

The Augusta Commission met Tuesday in the commission chambers at the Municipal Building on Greene Street. Meetings are streamed live online at augustaga.gov.  TODD BENNETT/STAFF
TODD BENNETT/STAFF
The Augusta Commission met Tuesday in the commission chambers at the Municipal Building on Greene Street. Meetings are streamed live online at augustaga.gov.

The most frequent response, among Facebook users and readers who submitted answers via The Augusta Chronicle’s Web site, was a resounding “RESIGN.”

“Clean house!!” wrote hospital employee Sherry Tanner, of Augusta. “They are just there to listen to themselves talk, a lot like our Congress.”

Augusta musician Sean Sellars took things further. “Disband that corrupt Augusta commission … Biggest collection of crooks this town has to offer.”

Since the 1996 consolidation of Augusta and Richmond County into a government now legally named “Augusta, Georgia,” no commissioner has been indicted or even charged with a crime beyond misdemeanor domestic violence, but the 10-member commission, guided at meetings by a mayor with a limited role, is often viewed as unwieldy and inefficient.

“Break up the Augusta and Richmond County merger,” suggested Grovetown Web developer Keith Pickett. “Let each community incorporate and govern themselves.”

Hephzibah Savannah River Site technician Bob Buckner suggested replacing the government with a private company.

“Maybe we should do away with the commission and subcontract running the city to a competent management company,” Buckner said.

Augusta resident Linda Kight suggested commissioners do their research before meetings to save time and taxpayer money.

“There should be total consideration for what is best, who needs it worst and how much it costs before anyone resorts to name calling and negative attitudes!” Kight said.

Others suggested the group look elsewhere for role models. Jay Lewts, of Thomson, said they could learn a lot from Aiken City Council; Susan Davis, of Mc­Bean, suggested observing a kindergarten classroom.

One of the more detailed suggestions came from The Chronicle’s anonymous Hephzibah commenter nocnoc, who declined to provide a name. Nocnoc recommended the mayor impose a $100 fine, with proceeds going to a local charity, each time someone breaks the code of conduct.

“To be fined requires 50 percent of commissioners present and the mayor to agree … The infraction and the vote published on the official county Web (site) and become part of the official record. This way, voters get to see what they elected, and how they act.”

Still others pointed to a common theme on the commission, where the body’s white members and black members are known to take opposing sides on an issue.

“Grow up!” said Augusta’s Carol Irwin. “Act like men instead of two-year-olds, and for God’s sake, get over the race issue. We are tired of it!”

Deron Lillard agreed: “End the race war inside the commission, for starters!”

“Stop making decisions based on race; research what you vote on,” offered Martinez firefighter and EMT Mark Smith.

Mike Mixon, of Martinez, offered specific advice involving certain officials, Commissioner Mari­on Wil­liams and City Admini­strator Fred Russell: “Marion Wil­liams dominates the agenda far too often, thus unnecessarily prolonging the meeting time … City administrator frequently leaves chamber and chats with commissioners while exiting. General disorder observed during meetings.”

Commissioner Bill Lock­ett, whose protracted questioning of the attorney Aug. 6 prompted in large part the call for civility and his own commitment two weeks later to improve decorum, said some of the suggestions were worthwhile, particularly the call for advance preparation and behaving like adults.

“Just like an alcoholic or a drug addict, sometimes you’ve got to hit rock bottom,” Lockett said. “It’s a wake-up call for all of us. I do believe it’s going to work.”

He disagreed, however, with suggestions the commission was too concerned with race or skin color.

“Our districts are just so different,” Lockett said. “District 3 and District 7 are in pretty good shape compared with the rest, and their needs are going to be somewhat different. What we need to do is look at the city as a whole instead of just narrowly looking at our district.”

MORE RESPONSES FROM FACEBOOK:

CONTACT INFORMATION FOR CITY OFFICIALS

WILLIAM FENNOY, DISTRICT 1

1027 Dugas St., Augusta; (706) 726-4014 (cell); (706) 821-1838 (fax); fennoy@augustaga.gov

COREY JOHNSON, DISTRICT 2

2222 Woodland Ave., Augusta; (706) 736-4435 (home); (706) 993-0224 (cell); (706) 821-1838 (fax); cjohnson5@augustaga.gov

MARY DAVIS, DISTRICT 3

813 Windsor Court, Augusta; (706) 910-2574 (cell); (706) 821-1838 (fax); mfdavis@augustaga.gov

ALVIN MASON, DISTRICT 4

4504 Frank Warren Drive, Hephzibah; (706) 955-6130; (706) 821-1838 (fax); amason@augustaga.gov


BILL LOCKETT, DISTRICT 5

3030 Longleaf Court, Augusta; (706) 798-7175 (home); (706) 825-1847 (cell); (706) 821-1838 (fax); wlockett@augustaga.gov

JOE JACKSON, DISTRICT 6

2328 Neal St., Augusta; (706) 533-7839 (home); (706) 821-1838 (fax); jtjackson@augustaga.gov

DONNIE SMITH, DISTRICT 7

3124 Whaley Road, Augusta; (706) 910-2606 (cell); (706) 821-1838 (fax); ddsmith@augustaga.gov

WAYNE GUILFOYLE, DISTRICT 8

4940 Windsor Spring Road, Hephzibah; (706) 592-2385 (home); (706) 796-3444 (work); (706) 821-1838 (fax); CWayneGuilfoyle@augustaga.gov

MARION WILLIAMS, DISTRICT 9

1941 Kratha Drive, Augusta; (706) 910-2582 (cell); (706) 821-1838 (fax); mfwilliams@augustaga.gov

GRADY SMITH, DISTRICT 10

810 Quail Court, Augusta; (706) 825-9473 (cell); (706) 733-9473 (work); (706) 821-1838 (fax)

DEKE S. COPENHAVER, MAYOR

75 Conifer Circle, Augusta; (706) 738-3156 (home); (706) 821-1831 (office); (706) 821-1835 (fax); MayorDeke@augustaga.gov

Comments (10) Add comment
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angedelune
223
Points
angedelune 09/08/13 - 06:56 am
5
0
replace them all

it's time to replace any commissioner that has served over more than 2 terms, Augusta should lobby for a change from the muck and the mire it has wallowed in for so long. There is an economic boom going on in this town, but it has nothing to do with the commissioners. Replace them all, and then replace the idiots in congress. We need fresh untainted blood

nocnoc
42424
Points
nocnoc 09/08/13 - 08:06 am
4
0
I could not have said it better,

I totally Agree with NOC-NOC ☺

All joking aside ....Question now is:
Will the Commission READ the Article, do something, or blow it off?

Riverman1
83489
Points
Riverman1 09/08/13 - 05:45 pm
4
1
Bill Lockett

I thought Bill Lockett was admirably taking the first step when he brought up the whole matter of civility at commission meetings. But I question his statement that commissioners shouldn't look out for their individual districts. What he's actually saying is the wealthier districts should agree to have more money thrown into the non contributing districts. It's wrong to penalize the successful districts, plain and simple. If you continue, you'll run their residents out of the county. Then you have big trouble. Atlas Shrugged.

MrClen1944
230
Points
MrClen1944 09/08/13 - 09:13 am
6
0
They all have ego problems.

They all have ego problems. Narcissistic comes to mind. I have seen them out as a group and you would think they were "best Buds." King Lear and that genre of literature would best describe this rabble.

MrClen1944
230
Points
MrClen1944 09/08/13 - 09:16 am
5
1
They are really good men who

They are really good men who have this community at heart. They sacrifice time with their families to come together and try to move us forward. NOT

That better than my other comment you wouldn't let go through?

countyman
20023
Points
countyman 09/08/13 - 10:33 am
1
7
I bet these same people can't

I bet these same people can't even tell you five of the commissioners names let alone all ten.

Riverman1
83489
Points
Riverman1 09/08/13 - 11:29 am
5
1
Presumptuous Statement

Countyman, that's kind of a presumptuous statement. It's obvious from the writing on these boards who the more knowledgeable and educated people are. I have no doubt IT shows in the logic, writing ability, knowledge of government and personalities displayed or not displayed here.

GnipGnop
12199
Points
GnipGnop 09/08/13 - 11:06 am
4
0
Don't waste your time writing Deke

a email....he won't respond.....not surprising though. You don't have to know commissioner names to see what a horrible job they do...I don't know all the congressmen's names but I see what horrible shape our country is in...

Dixieman
14942
Points
Dixieman 09/08/13 - 12:30 pm
6
0
Resign en masse

The worst race relations in the CSRA are found in the Commission. They are, collectively, a disgrace to our community and would not be missed. Throw the rascals out!

dichotomy
32720
Points
dichotomy 09/08/13 - 01:17 pm
5
0
"I bet these same people

"I bet these same people can't even tell you five of the commissioners names"

I'll bet I can name you five....five that need to GO.....and no, they are not all black.

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