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Mayor named acting Augusta administrator

Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013 3:17 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013 1:17 AM
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Left with only one person in the administrator’s office come Jan. 1 and unable to agree on an interim administrator, the Augusta Commission appointed Mayor Deke Copenhaver on Tuesday as “acting administrator” to ensure the continued operations of government.

FILE/STAFF
The Augusta Commission appointed Mayor Deke Copenhaver on Tuesday as “acting administrator” to ensure the continued operations of government.

The decision follows the commission’s vote last week to fire City Administrator Fred Russell, effective Dec. 31. Russell currently has only one deputy administrator – longtime city employee Tameka Allen, who doubles as Information Technology director – since the resignation of Deputy Administrator Bill Shanahan in August.

The 9-0 vote, with Com­mis­sioner Marion Williams voting “present,” prevents a situation in which the government would be left with no executive if Allen had to be away. Mayor Pro Tem Corey Johnson will serve as acting administrator when Copenhaver is absent.

“It provides a layer of protection where there would never be an occasion where there was no one to sign off on something,” City General Counsel Andrew MacKenzie said.

Under the city code and personnel manual, the administrator oversees operations and staff in all city departments. The administrator signs off on all hirings, firings, promotions and raises up to 15 percent, oversees the budget and can make purchases and contract for services up to a certain amount.

Commissioner Mary Davis said the vote provides “a safety net” ensuring the continued day-to-day operations of government while the commission selects an interim and eventually, a permanent administrator.

“We gave the authority to the mayor if the deputy isn’t available, and to the mayor pro tem if the mayor isn’t available,” Davis said.

Commissioner Donnie Smith said commissioners couldn’t agree Tuesday on who will serve as interim administrator during the search, hence Tuesday’s decision.

Several commissioners, including Bill Lockett, have pushed to make Allen interim, but others, such as Smith, say someone without a possible interest in the top job should be named until a new administrator is found.

“My position has not changed,” Smith said. “We agreed to work on it some more during the break period.”

Asked if he’ll take on hirings, firings and other day-to-day functions Jan. 1, Copenhaver said he’ll leave those tasks to Allen, unless she’s out.

“We haven’t been in this situation before, and I’m willing to do whatever is necessary to step up and help the team,” he said. “I don’t want to run the day-to-day operations of the city; that’s not the role of the mayor.”

Copenhaver said he expects no additional pay for the assignment.

Williams said he voted “present” because the motion, prepared by Senior City Counsel Wayne Brown, was confusing.

“I told them that motion was crazy,” Williams said. “It made it sound like we voted them interim administrator, and we didn’t.”

Also left uncertain Tues­day was the amount of severance pay the city will give Russell. Under the city’s personnel manual, he’s eligible for six months’ salary and benefits, about $100,000, if fired for any reason besides breaking the law. But a 2005 “engagement letter,” signed by Williams when he was mayor pro tem, gives Russell another six months’ pay and benefits, including the pension plan and leave time of a 20-year employee. MacKenzie has refused to comment on whether the letter is enforceable.

In other business Tuesday, the commission:

• Approved a memorandum of understanding with Augusta National Golf Course detailing both parties’ intentions to fast-track a plan to realign Berckmans Road and add a turn lane to improve traffic flow. The club has expressed a desire to loan the city funds for the project, to be repaid as Transportation Investment Act sales tax collections come in

• Learned but took no action on information that city department heads who live outside Augusta garner more than $600,000 in salaries each year

• Approved 7-2, with Smith and Guilfoyle opposed, issuing up to $28.5 million in bonds to fund renovations at Augusta Municipal Building and construction of a new IT building. Special City Counsel Jim Plunkett told Smith the commission could reduce the scope of the construction project, if desired, but needed to do so at the next commission meeting

• Voted 8-0, with Com­mis­sioners Bill Fennoy and Guilfoyle out, to create a new Tax Allocation District 4 using 294 downtown parcels and dissolve TAD 1, which has generated no tax increments used to fund development in the district. TAD proceeds have been promised to developer T.R. Reddy, who is remodeling a Holiday Inn Express on Broad Street.

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SemperParatus
3225
Points
SemperParatus 12/17/13 - 04:36 pm
8
5
Make Deke permanent administrator

Make Deke the permanent administrator! He has the business acumen and certainly understands the ins and outs of local government!

Little Lamb
46022
Points
Little Lamb 12/17/13 - 04:57 pm
7
4
Resumé Enhancer

When Deke leaves his job as mayor, the dumbest move he could make would be to become city administrator. He has bigger opportunities in the governor's office as a political appointee. He could even find a high-level federal appointment given a president with a different political persuasion.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 12/17/13 - 05:15 pm
7
7
Congratulations on the new

Congratulations on the new position Mister Mayor. Long live Deke!

gargoyle
17077
Points
gargoyle 12/17/13 - 05:25 pm
5
2
" He has bigger opportunities

" He has bigger opportunities in the governor's office as a political appointee. He could even find a high-level federal appointment given a president with a different political persuasion." LL That's what he was groomed to do and why he spends so much time at the beach when a leader is called upon. His style seems to be ignore the problem or ask the boss in time of controversy . Other than that Director of a Non profit seems to be what his handlers are shooting for

countyman
20120
Points
countyman 12/17/13 - 05:35 pm
3
12
Facts

The accomplishments of Charles Devaney and Deke Copenhaver speak for themselves..

The white flight in South Augusta(mainly inside of I-520) stopped when Deke became the mayor(check the 2006 estimates)..

The outlet mall in North Richmond appears to be moving forward and Deke is helping pump new life into the county.

gargoyle
17077
Points
gargoyle 12/17/13 - 06:25 pm
5
3
Does this apply ?

O.C.G.A. § 45-10-20 (TITLE 45. PUBLIC OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES CHAPTER 10. CODES OF ETHICS AND CONFLICTS OF INTEREST ARTICLE 2. CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, PART 1. GENERAL PROVISIONS)

(9) "Public official" means any person elected to a state office and means any person appointed to a state office where in the conduct of such office the person so appointed has administrative and discretionary authority to receive and expend public funds and to perform certain functions concerning the public which are assigned to him by law.

O.C.G.A. § 21-5-3 (TITLE 21. ELECTIONS, CHAPTER 5. ETHICS IN GOVERNMENT, ARTICLE 1. GENERAL PROVISIONS.)

Definitions.

(22) "Public officer" means:
(A) Every constitutional officer;
(B) Every elected state official;
(C) The executive head of every state department or agency, whether elected or appointed;
(D) Each member of the General Assembly;
(E) The executive director of each state board, commission, council, or authority and the members thereof;
(F) Every elected county official and every elected member of a local board of education; and
(G) Every elected municipal official.

Riverman1
83927
Points
Riverman1 12/17/13 - 07:02 pm
11
5
Deke the administrator?

Deke the administrator? Is he going before the Commission and let them tear into him as with Russell or will he stay at the beach as usual?

Pops
8480
Points
Pops 12/17/13 - 08:20 pm
10
3
This whole thing

is a continuation of the joke that is the consolidated Augusta-Richmond County government.

Gage Creed
17222
Points
Gage Creed 12/17/13 - 09:38 pm
10
3
FACTS are pesky things!

I think we can all agree that Deke is responsible for pumping something up... just not sure it's RC.

nocnoc
42592
Points
nocnoc 12/17/13 - 10:12 pm
8
2
Not sure not my area of knowledge

But this whole process raises questions

The Handbook for Georgia Mayors and Councilmembers
http://www.gmanet.com/Assets/PDF/handbook/roles.pdf

Noted in a section that said.

... No member of the council (including the Mayor) can hold any other municipal office during the term for which he or she was elected as council member unless he or she first resigns that council position.

BTW:
Not even sure this still applies, but it is from a GA Elected official training manual.

Little Lamb
46022
Points
Little Lamb 12/17/13 - 11:32 pm
4
3
TAD Fiasco

Giving all that TAD money to the person renovating the old motel building down on Broad will not bring in any kind of development that will lift the appraisals of surrounding properties.

In fact the hotel renovation is 95+% complete already. It's just a gift to a crony, with no benefit to taxpayers.

rebellious
20780
Points
rebellious 12/18/13 - 12:26 am
3
2
Watching

grass grow and paint dry is how observing Augusta's forward progress will be for the near future. Whatever will Al Dallas have to send out updates about?

Riverman1
83927
Points
Riverman1 12/18/13 - 12:42 am
4
1
Were the parcels on Chafee

Were the parcels on Chafee where Jill Hull is involved in a development included in the TAD?

seenitB4
87223
Points
seenitB4 12/18/13 - 09:12 am
1
3
Well now cage

With this..
I think we can all agree that Deke is responsible for pumping something up

The mind can wonder & wander with that post...lol

seenitB4
87223
Points
seenitB4 12/18/13 - 09:14 am
1
3
Please explain ctyman--how so?

"The outlet mall in North Richmond appears to be moving forward and Deke is helping pump new life into the county."

Riverman1
83927
Points
Riverman1 12/18/13 - 10:53 am
3
1
Inside TAD vs. Outside

I would ask questions of what the effects on the 90% of the county not in the TAD will be as services are increased inside the TAD.

As far as the Chafee development, it's also inside the enterprise zone and could be exempted from paying ANY property tax increments, while drawing increments from the broader district. Y'all need to get an expert in this TAD deal and have the effects carefully explained. Without exaggeration, hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake.

...point to ponder
755
Points
...point to ponder 12/18/13 - 11:04 am
2
0
...acting...

The Mayor fills the 'acting' role well.

he states, "I don’t want to run the day-to-day operations of the city; that’s not the role of the mayor.”

Personally, I would have respect for the Mayor had he fought to keep baseball (the Green Jackets) in Augusta, Ga. The prospect of losing the team across the river is bigger than most people can comprehend. The Mayor probably was at the beach when Cal needed his help.

Most, if not all, don't quite understand the long term implications of this loss. (the Governor did not and no one else in leadership gave a hoot!)

I believe the Mayor stated that he looked forward to having a water taxi service created to take folks back and forth across the river for the games....come on. And that was his best quote regarding the loss of the team!

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 12/18/13 - 11:58 am
1
0
My vote of confidence for

My vote of confidence for City Administrator goes to Lori Davis.

Bizkit
31423
Points
Bizkit 12/18/13 - 12:10 pm
2
0
Wow so Deke will have

Wow so Deke will have something to do besides public speaking at various events.

gargoyle
17077
Points
gargoyle 12/18/13 - 12:55 pm
2
0
Another case of maximum

Another case of maximum effort exerted to obtain minimum results. Only in the Looney Tune world of Augusta politics would you fire someone who said they were about to retire without a plan to replace them. Wily Coyote would be proud.

countyman
20120
Points
countyman 12/18/13 - 01:04 pm
2
3
The same few people(95% live

The same few people(95% live outside of Richmond County) complain about everything in relation to Richmond County no matter the subject..

The mayor flew on his own personal dime to meet up with the ADP officials and now the entire CSRA has the chance to work at the $40 million facility near the Augusta Exchange.

Deke won over 60% of the vote in two straight elections and doesn't have to prove anything to the naysayers...

Point to Ponder.. Deke was one of the most vocal public officials behind the mixed-use development.... I supported the original idea(not the less extravagant plans for North Augusta) because the city had major developers like Cal Ripken and Jim Jacoby involved.. The Governor transferred the land to GRU and the mayor's hands are completely tied..

The biotech park and student housing/retail development is much better than any baseball stadium, potential hotel, and apartments planned for North Augusta... Do you want high paying jobs in downtown Augusta or service jobs?

Seenitb4... The new outlet mall coming to North Richmond seems to be an reality except for all of the paperwork... The commercial growth has been simply amazing this year and Deke is one of the main reason why.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 12/18/13 - 01:45 pm
2
0
Deke Copenhaver is a nice

Deke Copenhaver is a nice person and no doubt has done plenty of good things for Augusta. He would likely be the first one to say, that he isn't interested in the job.

owensjef3
5639
Points
owensjef3 12/18/13 - 02:38 pm
3
0
This is just dumb, the
Unpublished

This is just dumb, the highest ranking person should assumed the position. How can you serve as an elected official and a high ranking city officer at the same time. What does this do to the moral of the folks who should be considered for this temp post. How can you supervise yourself? The weak mayor has just became a very strong one for now.

Riverman1
83927
Points
Riverman1 12/18/13 - 07:24 pm
1
0
Are the parcels on Chafee

Are the parcels on Chafee also inside the Enterprise Zone? What are the tax effects of that?

Gage Creed
17222
Points
Gage Creed 12/18/13 - 09:35 pm
1
0
Aesop's Fables

One afternoon a fox was walking through the forest and spotted a bunch of grapes hanging from over a lofty branch.
"Just the thing to quench my thirst," quoth he.
Taking a few steps back, the fox jumped and just missed the hanging grapes. Again the fox took a few paces back and tried to reach them but still failed.
Finally, giving up, the fox turned up his nose and said, "They're probably sour anyway," and proceeded to walk away.

Sour Grapes = "The biotech park and student housing/retail development is much better than any baseball stadium, potential hotel, and apartments planned for North Augusta

I wonder what fable will best illustrate Deke's allegiance to Bloomberg?

...point to ponder
755
Points
...point to ponder 12/19/13 - 12:05 am
0
0
countyman...

The Mayor did nothing to stop the transfer. The Mayor did nothing to keep Baseball in Augusta. Nothing.

A Mayor (*any other mayor) would have fought the Governor over this and kept on track to keep Cal Ripkin and the Green Jackets in Augusta.

Augusta's loss of baseball is Deke's legacy

*His hands weren't tied…he just decided not to fight!

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