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Copenhaver issues statement on Russell firing

Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013 12:48 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013 12:42 AM
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Mayor Deke Copenhaver, who was absent for the Augusta Commission’s firing Monday of eight-year City Administrator Fred Russell, has issued a statement on the decision.

“Having worked with Fred for eight years now, I consider him a man who kept the greater good of our city as a whole at the forefront of his decisionmaking process,” Copenhaver said Tuesday. “His job was never easy and I respect his commitment to always moving Augusta forward.

“I respect the will of the body and truly hope the Commission will work with me to help find a qualified replacement as this will not be an easy task, but is something we should all take very seriously at a critical juncture for a city we love and are blessed to serve.

“With all of the transformational initiatives we are currently working on for Augusta the stakes couldn’t be higher and I have faith that my elected colleagues will work together to ensure that they come to fruition.”

Copenhaver has not returned a request for further comment.

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TrulyWorried
16487
Points
TrulyWorried 12/10/13 - 08:25 pm
6
1
Fred Russell gone

and now the commission will be looking on the outside AGAIN for a replacement - as if there is noone available locally. Or, maybe all local folks are too smart to get involved and who could blame them.

Pops
14354
Points
Pops 12/10/13 - 08:51 pm
6
2
I would look no further

than the obvious choice.....Marion Williams......intelligent.....hard working.....
experienced in the ins and outs of the government.....he seems to know or acts like he knows everything so this would be a perfect opportunity for him to show it.....come on Marion......demand you be given the job.....

galaxygrl
1350
Points
galaxygrl 12/10/13 - 09:08 pm
7
1
Scapegoat Fred

I think Fred has the best deal in town and am glad he is going fishing. He has endured insult, threat, intimidation, promise and has tried to give the "crazies" everything they asked for that was possible. He even told them how to manipulate the system to get the result they wanted. Brad, you are right the Southside has been left out to support downtown, How has that worked out for all the hard working individuals and companies out there? And last but not least, the employees in Richmond county went several years without raises, except the elite few; during the "Great Recession" as Lowell Grenbaum and his party call it, without help and with many difficult times they had to manage on their own. So, blaming Fred is a little silly considering the local commissioners passed all the things they wanted and rejected the rest. PS. I have not stake in Richmond County, I am just an observer.

Love Augusta
21
Points
Love Augusta 12/10/13 - 09:07 pm
6
4
Disappointed in Dichotomy

I am disappointed in the ignorance on some of these posts. This isn't about "a gang of 7". That gang of 7 was the only group of people who decided to show up to the meeting after seeing the agendas that were made public (to the commissioners and the press) last Friday. Yes.... there were some missing.....but there was no "letting this happen"!!! It had to have been tough given the attendance of this scheduled LEGAL meeting!

countyman
21630
Points
countyman 12/10/13 - 10:01 pm
3
7
Facts

It's hilarious when the same people that bash South Augusta everyday also want to portray the city is spending their money downtown.

Please make up your minds? Is everybody in South Augusta poor and black or is South Augusta full of upper middle class residents paying for the improvements downtown?

The high property taxes are located in West Augusta, Summerville, Forest Hills, and North Richmond. Even the CBD and Southwest Augusta are richer compared to South Augusta.

None of the commissioners live downtown and the majority of them live on the southside... The only commissioner that lives close to the CBD is Mr. Fennoy who resides in Laney Walker.

Anybody who has visited downtown Savannah, Charleston, Greenville, Chattanooga, etc would never confused the leaders of Augusta for being progressive in terms of downtown revitalization.

We had people complaining about the TEE Center lol. The TEE Center was approved by the local citizens and wasn't even out of the box thinking(the building of the Riverwalk) but only an regular convention center found in every small to large city...

Only in Augusta would people consider the new judicial center, library, and convention center(all approved by local voters) 'major progress' from the city lol... All of these building should have been completed years ago.

When the city of Augusta builds a new park downtown including waterfalls/bridge, the Augusta Greenway, multimodal transportation center, and the streetcar then I'll believe the leaders of Augusta are progressive in terms of downtown revitalization.. The leaders of Savannah and Charleston have spend millions of more money downtown and that's why their urban cores look so much better.

dichotomy
37443
Points
dichotomy 12/11/13 - 12:09 am
5
1
Disappointed with Dichotomy

Love Augusta....."'That gang of 7 was the only group of people who decided to show up to the meeting after seeing the agendas that were made public (to the commissioners and the press) last Friday."

I do believe two articles in the paper and comments from two of the commissioners who were not there all said that THERE WAS NOT ANYTHING ON THE AGENDA FOR THIS MEETING ABOUT TERMINATING FRED RUSSELL. Now maybe new information has come out since I read these things but I do believe the initial reports specifically said NOTHING ON THE AGENDA......NOTHING PUBLISHED BEFORE HAND......ABSENT COMMISSIONERS WERE NOT AWARE THIS WAS GOING TO HAPPEN.

I will assure you though that you are not the first person I have disappointed.

Bodhisattva
7192
Points
Bodhisattva 12/11/13 - 04:52 am
2
2
Scapegoat? Good one. More

Scapegoat? Good one. More like handmaiden to the powers that be. Deke "I'm just here for the downtown baseball and the TEE Center" Copenhaver can't run again, they got the one vote they wanted from Matt "Thanks for the millions of taxpayer money" Aitken, so they had no more interest in him. North Augusta got the baseball, no there's no more taxpayer money for the big wigs to steal for the time being. Fred's not needed now, so they don't care if he's kicked to the curb. They gave away as much tax money as they could to the downtown power brokers who don't need it. His and Deke's job is done (with Matt's done a few years ago).

Shadow8161
27
Points
Shadow8161 12/11/13 - 06:32 am
3
1
people of the County.

I think we need to look in depth into our commissioners, including there backgrounds of business. The fact that some have used there seat to prosper by getting city contracts. Others, are using there seat as power trips. This firing was done in such a malice way. As for me, I am going to start researching, all aspects of my commissioner, and if I don't like what I see, I will work to get someone else in there position. This has been a very dis functional commission and has been for years. To move forward for us, our kids and our futures we need a shake up. IT CAN'T GET WORSE.

Riverman1
93600
Points
Riverman1 12/11/13 - 07:26 am
4
1
South Augusta Contribution

When we speak of South Augusta, don't forget the millions the industries pay in taxes and jobs they provide creating even more taxpayers. Even the ballyhooed Starbucks is in South Augusta. Fort Gordon is in South Augusta providing billions for the economy. If any part of the city comes close to matching all that revenue, it's news to me. Does South Augusta get its share or does the relatively small downtown area scarf up the money like an aggressive panhandler who needs a drink?

Riverman1
93600
Points
Riverman1 12/11/13 - 07:31 am
4
1
Consolidation Was Supposed to Mean What

It appears South Augusta residents who thought consolidation meant spreading out the city expenditures and facilities over the entire county were wrong. It meant taking the county money to give to the tiny old city area.

nocnoc
49129
Points
nocnoc 12/11/13 - 08:08 am
2
1
About hiring his assistant

FRED trained her didn't he?
Think about that.

harley_52
25851
Points
harley_52 12/11/13 - 08:22 am
1
6
"The truth is Russell was incompetent....

....many of the commissioners are incompetent and Deke is incompetent."

So sayeth a Columbia County resident who has no skin in the game. When you start voting and paying taxes in Richmond County I'll start taking your comments seriously.

Little Lamb
49000
Points
Little Lamb 12/11/13 - 11:07 am
3
1
Taxes and Voting

Well, I vote and pay taxes in Richmond County and I agree that Russell is incompetent to be Augusta City Administrator.

But he was much worse than incompetent. He was an employee who reported directly to the Augusta Commission for work direction, and many, many times he ignored direct orders of said commission and they looked the other way. When he refused to provide what the commission directed him to provide on this recent budget deliberation, it was the last straw.

I'm sure Ms. Allen will figure out a way to work with the commission better than Russell did.

Little Lamb
49000
Points
Little Lamb 12/11/13 - 08:36 am
2
1
2012

If you remember, there was a motion and a second to fire Russell in 2012. The motion received four votes.

Two commissioners who did not like how Russell was running the city (and playing the commission) — Jerry Brigham and Joe Bowles — nevertheless voted to keep Russell on.

They told the Chronicle reporter and the radio talk show host that the reason they voted no was because the commission had not established a succession strategy. Brigham and Bowles knew how exhausting the search for a new administrator would be, and they did not want to expend that kind of energy, since they were lame ducks.

toldyaso
595
Points
toldyaso 12/11/13 - 08:47 am
2
0
Incompetent government-

How did these guys get in office any way? Oh yeah- we elected them. Who's the fool now? The only thing that will solve this problem is term limits. By the way- I NEVER voted for that Rahm Emanual follower Copenhaver.

harley_52
25851
Points
harley_52 12/11/13 - 09:07 am
1
4
"Well, I vote and pay taxes in Richmond County....

....and I agree that Russell is incompetent to be Augusta City Administrator."

Well, you've bought and earned your ticket to criticize the Richmond County government. I've watched your comments for years and have always admired your knowledge and insights. I wish more citizens of Richmond County would follow your example.

Similarly, I'd like to see residents of other counties save their vast knowledge and sharp tongues for their own home counties where THEY vote and pay taxes.

But that's just me, I know...

Little Lamb
49000
Points
Little Lamb 12/11/13 - 09:11 am
2
0
@ toldyaso

Augusta consolidated government does have term limits for mayor and county commissioners. The tax commissioner, on the other hand, does not have term limits.

harley_52
25851
Points
harley_52 12/11/13 - 09:34 am
3
0
Reporting Directly....

...to ten different supervisors, each having their own priorities and their own ideas about what needs to be done, is a recipe for disaster.

Little Lamb
49000
Points
Little Lamb 12/11/13 - 09:44 am
0
0
Disaster

I agree, Harley, but I cannot think of another way to do it when you have by charter a weak mayor form of government.

harley_52
25851
Points
harley_52 12/11/13 - 09:50 am
0
0
Little Lamb....

Two questions...

First, do you know where one can view the original charter, approved by DOJ, for the Augusta-Richmond County Consolidated Government?

Second, in your recollection of the history of ARC, has there ever been a sitting Commission in which the Commissioners were NOT split 5/5 according to race (black/white)?

Riverman1
93600
Points
Riverman1 12/11/13 - 10:08 am
1
0
The commission was 6-4 white

The commission was 6-4 white until William Fennoy ousted Aitken.

harley_52
25851
Points
harley_52 12/11/13 - 10:16 am
1
0
"The commission was 6-4....

....white until William Fennoy ousted Aitken."

Thanks, Riverman...

Little Lamb
49000
Points
Little Lamb 12/11/13 - 11:03 am
1
0
Charter

Your first question is a tough one, Harley. I don't know where to get the original "charter" of consolidation. The current thing called a "charter" is Article 5 of the city/county code. You can get to it from the government web site. Here's how:

Hover over "Departments"
Hover over "F - P"
Hover over "Law Department"
Click on "Codes and Statutes"

Then when you get there click on "Charter and Laws of Local Application"

You can start on page 22, and then pick up on page 32. The powers of the mayor are on page 34. Powers of commission are on page 43. Duties of administrator are on page 45. Here is paragraph showing the duties of the administrator on page 45:

Said board of commissioners shall have the
power and authority to elect a county administra-
tor, who shall have an office at the courthouse.
The county administrator shall be responsible to
the board of commissioners of Richmond County
for the proper administration of the affairs of the
county. The terms and conditions of employment
of the county administrator, and the duties of the
county administrator shall be as determined by
resolution of the board of commissioners of Rich-
mond County.

It is sad they have to pass a resolution to tell the administrator what to do, but that's the charter.

pja5529
2719
Points
pja5529 12/11/13 - 11:21 am
2
0
The citizens are just as dysfunctional as the commssion.

Over the past years I have seen and heard people comment on how bad or incompetent Fred Russell was and how he needs to be fired/replaced. And now that the commission has done that, they are getting bashed for it. It looks like we the citizens don't know what we want. We as a community are dysfunctional and it shows by who we elect.

pja5529
2719
Points
pja5529 12/11/13 - 11:28 am
1
1
South Augusta

As a resident of south Augusta, I am pleased with some of things that have happened since consolidation. Could things be better? Yes but South Augusta isn't "ignored" like some people like to complain. I want the whole city to prosper but that can't happen without a strong urban core and that is what Augusta needs. That is what will attract new businesses, jobs and eventually tax revenue to the city.

Btw just got done playing a racquetball indoors at the Diamond Lakes park, you know the nice huge park built in South Augusta after consolidation...just one of few things I enjoy living here.

pja5529
2719
Points
pja5529 12/11/13 - 11:31 am
2
1
To Dichotomy

IMO unless they have emergencies, they should be at all meetings regardless of what the agenda says is being discussed. I guess those 3 absent felt that what was on the agenda wasn't important enough for them to be there (unless the had legitimate reasons for not being there).

Little Lamb
49000
Points
Little Lamb 12/11/13 - 11:32 am
2
0
Bashed

I think that the people bashing the commission for firing Russell are Russell’s friends and cronies. You can see that most of the comments here support the decision. The Mayor said he supports the decision. Even Fred Russell himself said he supports the decision.

It would not surprise me if those criticizing the commission for firing Russell are county government employees who feel their job might be less secure under a county administrator who might start holding his employees accountable for performing their jobs; something Russell did not do.

pja5529
2719
Points
pja5529 12/11/13 - 11:49 am
1
1
Little Lamb

You might be right...all of this "support" he has all of a sudden quite ironic.

The commission is far from perfect, but they got it right this time. I'm just surprised by some of the backlash they are getting from their decision, since I always thought that most wanted Russell gone anyway.

Marinerman1
5461
Points
Marinerman1 12/11/13 - 12:02 pm
2
0
Multiple Directions Here

I'm not bashing the Commissioners for WHAT they did, but for HOW they did it. It is within their power to replace pretty much anyone @ their pleasure, provided they have the votes. I think it was pretty lowlife to have an "Executive Session" without it being on the docket, and knowing that three sitting Commissioners AND the Mayor would not be there. AND THEN, to have the spokesman be "I have a copy of Fred Russell's hard drive" Marion Williams.
@Countyman -- I spent thirteen years in the bowels of three paper machines @ Federal Paper Board. And while I now do live in Columbia County, I come downtown every day to work, and now have done this for almost fourteen years. My Son went to National Hills. I get to see the outcomes of the ARC Commissioners each and every day. And as to your last post, I actually agree with most of what you said.

pja5529
2719
Points
pja5529 12/11/13 - 12:05 pm
2
1
@marinerman1

Two of the absent commssioners actually said they would have went along with it if they were there and actually support the decision.

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