Williams continues push for Russell's hard drive

Augusta Commissioner Marion Williams is continuing a push to review the contents of former administrator Fred Russell’s computer, despite having little or no support on the commission for the move.

Williams demanded a copy of the computer’s hard drive Jan. 7, but it isn’t the first time the commissioner wanted to get inside Russell’s computer: He and former Commissioner Calvin Holland asserted their right as commission members to review the drive in 2007, but were refused.

Widely rumored to be planning a run for Augusta mayor, Russell was fired by the commission Dec. 9 for a variety of stated reasons, none of them criminal.

Asked Monday what he was searching for or expected to find on Russell’s computer, Williams didn’t say.

“I’m looking for any- and everything,” he said. “I don’t have a trail… What gives me heartburn is why we haven’t seen it. Who’s holding it up?”

Several on the commission said Monday they would not support Williams’ inquiry.

“Marion is just one commissioner,” Mayor Pro Tem Corey Johnson said. “He can’t speak for the whole commission.”

Johnson said he expected to vote against Williams’ request in an earlier vote on the agenda item sought by Mayor Deke Copenhaver.

Commissioners Mary Davis and Wayne Guilfoyle said the request was a waste of time.

“I don’t feel like that’s a necessary move on our part, and I’m focusing more on the needs of the city and our commission priorities, on finding a new administrator, and working on the SPLOST package and looking at budget cuts. Not on anybody’s hard drive,” Davis said.

“I’d rather see energy used for positive things,” said Guilfoyle.

Williams, who has alienated colleagues and city employees in recent weeks by demanding that staff reside in Richmond County, said those who don’t want a look at the computer may have something to hide.

While a member of the general public would be charged for the city’s time to redact privileged information from the computer files, a commissioner has the right to examine its entire contents, he said.

“They’ve got an award-winning department that could do this in the flash of an eye,” Williams said.

IN OTHER BUSINESS

Other items going for approval during Tuesday’s regular commission meeting include:

• An application from National Science Center Foundation for a special zoning exception to establish a private school on 7.8 acres just outside Fort Gordon at 159 Craig Sims Pkwy.

• Commissioner Bill Lockett’s initiative to designate Augusta as an “Age-Friendly Community” under American Association of Retired Persons guidelines

• A measure, pushed by Commissioner Joe Jackson, to relinquish commission approval of Augusta Regional Airport expenditures and contracts, regardless of size, and forward them to Augusta-area legislators instead. Jackson has said the move would streamline operations in need of expedience at the airport.

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