Government

More News | | | Editor

Q&A: Former Augusta City Administrator Fred Russell

Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014 9:24 PM
Last updated Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014 1:17 AM
  • Follow Government

Fred Russell’s eight year tenure as Augusta city administrator ended Tuesday, after the city commission voted Dec. 9 to fire him for a variety of reasons. The Chronicle interviewed Russell during his final days on the job with the city.

Fred Russell's eight-year stint as city administrator ended after the Augusta Commission voted Dec. 9 to fire him.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/FILE
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/FILE
Fred Russell's eight-year stint as city administrator ended after the Augusta Commission voted Dec. 9 to fire him.

Q: Why did you stay in Au­gusta government for 12 years?

A: “The reason I stayed as long as I did is I got a lot of respect from a great deal of the community. I feel like I haven’t really finished what I needed to do.”

Q: What advice do you have for the mayor and commission, as they begin a search for your replacement?

A: “They need to get a headhunter … The first thing they need to do is get over the sticker shock. The second thing, because of the way they did me and the way this organization works, you’re going to get hundreds of people to apply, and very few people able to make it work. It’s going to be tough for somebody. This one is particularly hard, based on the nature of the way the government is set up.”

Q: Did four new faces on the commission contribute to your termination?

A: “Obviously I haven’t changed, but the political waters changed around me. I’m amazed still at how Augusta politicians sometimes get bogged down in the minutiae and lose track of the end goal.”

Q: You had offered to train a replacement prior to retiring next year, but the commission opted instead to vote you out Dec. 9. How do feel about the way your job ended?

A: “It’s the cost of doing business in Augusta. It wasn’t done as classy as it could have been. I thought that I recognized the issue and gave them a path forward. I gave them what I thought was appropriate. Obviously, I was wrong.”

Q: Do you have any regrets about your time as city administrator?

A: “I think I’ve continually underestimated the response of the commission to, like the slum thing. We argued amongst ourselves about whether to put that in there. I rolled the dice on that and was amazed at their knee-jerk reaction. It was much to-do about nothing.”

Q: Commissioners learned about the decision to designate the central business district as a “slum” from a Chronicle reporter, who found it on a meeting agenda. Were you surprised at the reaction?

A: “The commission’s been known for their overreaction to things. It’s what we as a profession have to deal with in attempting to do our jobs. I made a lot of decisions, some better than others, over 12 years.”

Q: You really think the “slum” report got you fired?

A: “Their response is what always amazed me. These are people that voted to fire me without a plan whatsoever, after I gave them a nice, easy way out. Occasionally, I got criticized about telling people what was going on but not telling everybody.”

Q: With which commissioner were you closest the last eight years?

A: “None of them particularly.”

Comments (6) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
corgimom
31145
Points
corgimom 01/05/14 - 09:31 am
2
2
And did they overreact when

And did they overreact when it was discovered that the multi-million dollar parking deck was built on land that the city didn't, and still doesn't, own?

Conservative Man
5429
Points
Conservative Man 01/05/14 - 12:23 pm
2
2
Fred said…..

"…I’m amazed still at how Augusta politicians sometimes get bogged down in the minutiae and lose track of the end goal.”

IT'S THEIR JOB TO PAY ATTENTION TO THE MINUTIAE FRED!!!

If they HAD been paying attention to the minutiae then we wouldn't have had the debacle that corgimom described above…

Those who had the position Mr. Russell had, DEPEND on Commissioners NOT paying attention…That's how they get away with the shenanigans that have been going on for years in city government…

Little Lamb
45282
Points
Little Lamb 01/05/14 - 03:10 pm
1
0
Excellent analysis,

Conservative Man. I concur.

Now look at this from the story above:

Q: With which commissioner were you closest the last eight years?

A: “None of them particularly.”

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

That is the answer of a bitter man; a man with a cold, dark spirit.

A man with a heart like that should not get elected dog catcher, much less mayor.

Little Lamb
45282
Points
Little Lamb 01/05/14 - 03:24 pm
0
0
Slum

First, when asked about any regrets during his tenure (at first blush a soft-ball question), Russell said:

We argued amongst ourselves about whether to put that in there. I rolled the dice on that and was amazed at their knee-jerk reaction.

Look carefully at his answer:

We argued amongst ourselves about whether to put that in there. I rolled the dice on that and was amazed at their knee-jerk reaction.”

Whoever the we were that argued amongst themselves, the group did not include a single commissioner. Russell is still playing cry-baby. He refuses to see that what this commission asked him to do, told him to do, was to keep them informed. They told him they wanted not to be blindsided by commission meeting business that they heard about through the grapevine instead of from his lips.

Reporter Susan McCord picked up on this and exposed his whining:

Q: Commissioners learned about the decision to designate the central business district as a “slum” from a Chronicle reporter, who found it on a meeting agenda. Were you surprised at the reaction?

A: “The commission’s been known for their overreaction to things. It’s what we as a profession have to deal with in attempting to do our jobs. I made a lot of decisions, some better than others, over 12 years.”

Here is Russell again with the "Royal We" usage. Wherever he goes, he sees the world as out to get him. He will always play the victim.

raul
4561
Points
raul 01/05/14 - 11:32 pm
0
0
@Little Lamb. Re: your 2:10

@Little Lamb. Re: your 2:10 p.m. post. When I read Fred's reply, it struck me as odd. I mean you don't have to be personal friends with the commissioners, and drink beer together and do BBQs. But wouldn't most people expect that there would be at least some semblance of an alliance between Fred and some of the commissioners? I didn't know quite how to take that. Was it Fred being aloof and not personable as an individual? I don't know Fred personally and my opinion comes from what I've read and seen on T.V. To me, Fred, just doesn't have the personality and karisma to be a true politician.

GnipGnop
11839
Points
GnipGnop 01/05/14 - 11:39 pm
3
0
It's all about power

Fred stepped out of line a bunch of times...raises anyone? Slum designation anyone? Etc etc etc. he fit right in though. A clown answering to a bunch of other clowns. The only difference being Fred showed up for the meetings. The others show up occasionally....

lifelongresident
1323
Points
lifelongresident 01/06/14 - 10:03 am
0
0
yes it was mr. fred being
Unpublished

yes it was mr. fred being aloof, i briefly spoke with him on one occassion and came away with the impression that he looked upon me as wasting his time..i guess he was in a hurry to meet up with his next mistress, just like he was doing with his now wife, but was someone else's wife when he was sneaking around with her..well i am sure she still has her cushy/high paying promotion, at the time being the city administrator it helped her get.....

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs