Augusta Commissioner Marion Williams gains access to former administrator's files

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Augusta Commission member Marion Williams is getting his request to peruse numerous files from former Administrator Fred Russell’s computer.

After extensive discussion Tuesday about whether Williams’ Jan. 7 request required a commission vote and what files he wanted, the Augusta Commission agreed that no commission action was needed, and city staff said they’ll proceed with reviewing and printing the files for Williams.

Williams, who helped lead a similar, but unsuccessful 2007 effort to review Russell’s hard drive, won’t say what in particular he’s looking for.

Russell, who was fired Dec. 9 without any allegations of criminal wrongdoing, is widely reported to be planning a run for Augusta mayor but hasn’t announced his intentions.

In the end, Williams agreed to limit his request to the past five years of correspondence and documents, rather than all files from Russell’s 10-year tenure as administrator, to save time. He said he did not want employee health records or private data such as Social Security numbers, all of which General Counsel An­drew MacKenzie said would have to be redacted anyway.

The commission has no specific policy on the allocation of staff resources toward fulfilling commissioner requests, but Williams’ request is resource-intensive because of the volume of records sought, MacKenzie said.

But, “procedurally, everybody up here has asked for something and has received it, and it took no motion to get it done,” such as recent requests for employee salary data, Commissioner Alvin Mason said.

“What I don’t want us to do is pick and choose depending on the message or the messenger,” said Mason, who is seeking the mayor’s seat.

Williams, who has angered his colleagues with numerous requests and questions about all aspects of city government, questioned why he hadn’t already received at least part of the files.

“This is the type ruling that I am talking about, it’s finding a way not to do something,” he said.

Interim City Ad­min­is­trator Tameka Allen, who also serves as Information Tech­nology director, said copying the computer’s hard drive was easy and had already been done, while e-mails are saved on the server.
Commissioner Bill Lockett questioned why Williams continued such a “trivial” pursuit.

“We should concentrate on those things that could benefit the people of Augusta-Richmond County,” Lockett said.

“I think if Mr. Williams could narrow the scope of what it is we’re looking for,” Commissioner Donnie Smith said. “If we’ve got to go through 10 years’ worth of e-mails and personnel files, that is a significant amount of money.”

At that, Williams said he would cut his request to the past five years of documents, e-mails and other correspondence, and Allen said she would proceed with fulfilling the request.

“I expect to have the information when the information becomes available,” Williams said.


Other action taken by the Augusta Commission included:

• Approval of a zoning change allowing an extended stay hotel on Marks Church Road, despite the protest of a nearby Kingston subdivision homeowner who said drainage in the area is poor

• Delaying voting on proposed changes to the administrator’s job description, to be used in a search for Fred Russell’s replacement, after several commissioners said they expected to review the changes in committee

• Receiving as information rather than voting on Commissioner Marion Williams’ call for a “no confidence” vote on the city law office’s performance

• Referring Commis-sioner Joe Jackson’s request to relinquish commission oversight over Augusta Regional Airport to a Monday committee meeting

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just an opinion
just an opinion 01/22/14 - 12:08 am
invested in Augusta's post should be removed

An accusation like that should not be able to be made anonymously

jwilliams 01/22/14 - 01:06 am
Marion is like the dog

Marion is like the dog chasing their own tail, once they catch it, what will they do with it.

Just My Opinion
Just My Opinion 01/22/14 - 05:49 am
Sitting here, reading this,

Sitting here, reading this, wondering what exactly is the deal with Marion. We all know that he's come out with other outlandish requests and statements in the past. Why is he pursuing this? Then it hit me. Maybe he's doing it because he HOPES that he...or rather someone smart enough and patient enough to read through 5 years worth of notes...he HOPES that he will find something, anything at all that will validate Marion Williams! For years, people have looked upon him as a fool. Well, maybe this is his chance to show people that he was right.
Maybe. I'm just going to sit back and let the rest of the "Marion Show" go on.

iaaffg 01/22/14 - 07:37 am
maybe fred russell can make a

maybe fred russell can make a request for marion williams' computer hard drive? what's good for one should be good for all when it comes to the blame game of politics, especially in this day and age. (inquirin' minds wanna know: what's on marion's computer????) this is another classic example of what happens when that insidious disease 'hubris' strikes those holding a public office: they absolutely lose their minds and become megalomaniacs, and then firmly believe the pee they are dumping on your leg is really rain.

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 01/22/14 - 07:51 am
Hard Drive Information

So, will Marion read all of this himself, or will he pass it off to someone who should not be looking at it. The info that can be made available to him may not all be for public consumption and if he allows anyone else to see it may be committing a more serious offense than the "Speedway Snackbar". But wait, maybe he can occupy the same cell that Ed McEntire and Charles Walker slept in...... It looks like Marion has been given the rope, now what will he do with it!!

nocnoc 01/22/14 - 09:38 am
They just opened the BARN DOOR for TAXPAYERS

Now that the files have been released, guess what?
The Media and the TAXPAYERS get to see what he gets to see.

A Major Problem
Some of the DEALS involved Big Media Names.
So who will drop a unbiased Dime on them?


something turns up shady?

Russell was an EX-LEO
He would know better than to put something on a ARC computer that get backup and stored for pretty much life.

IF this is going to be a Investigation SMART PHONE Files, Calls and data records would be a better start.

Riverman1 01/22/14 - 09:45 am
NocNoc, good points. This

NocNoc, good points. This could be Pandora's Box.

jwilliams 01/22/14 - 10:17 am
Marion is one to talk. He

Marion is one to talk. He lists the monetary amounts on his campaign contributions sheet (2012) but he doesn’t list some of the names. I wonder why? Just recently he “pushed” very hard for his “friend” at Gold Cross.

Red Headed Step Child
Red Headed Step Child 01/22/14 - 11:36 am
Like most, I am wondering

Like most, I am wondering just what he's looking for. It would make sense if Russell was still in office, and he's looking for some sort of information that would be grounds for his dismissal...but Russell's already gone.Or if it's SOP to review hard drive / files when someone in that position leaves, but that doesn't appear to be the case. No one else seems to be hot and heavy on reviewing the information. Not disclosing what he's looking for seems a little shady. Why not be up front on why he wants access to the information? It'll be interesting what comes of this... stay tuned Augusta!

Marinerman1 01/22/14 - 11:47 am
Pandora's Box -- Loose Cannon -- Same Thing

Both equal Marion Williams. Since the Commission washed their hands of this fiasco, they think they will have no legal responsibility if something gets released by accident. It will not work like that. Be ready !!

David Parker
David Parker 01/22/14 - 03:02 pm
My guess is the most

My guess is the most fascinating thing that will be found on the hard drives is countless logged hours on Candy Krush Saga or possibly Farmville.

God save America
God save America 03/03/14 - 01:49 pm
marion williams

i heard that williams wants the sheriff to look at fred Russell's hard drive . i think the sheriff has more better things to do as look at fred's hard drive. williams needs to stop running his mouth about hard drives of people who don't work for augusta anymore.

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