Williams' requested search of Russell's computer turns up little

Commissioner Marion Williams’ search of fired Augusta Administrator Fred Russell’s computer turned up few documents, and Williams thinks someone on city staff may have helped Russell delete them.

Williams, who demanded access to the files for no specified reason last month, restricted his request to the last five years after city Information Technology and Law Department staff warned it would require a voluminous amount of time and labor to retrieve the information and redact personal data such as Social Security numbers.

But when the law department provided its response to his request, Williams said he was given a stack of paper about 3½ inches tall.

“It’s got about 100 things in there in five years,” he said. “Conversations between a couple of people. Everything else is gone.”

Georgia records retention laws require that all records created in the course of local government operations be retained for a certain amount of time, depending on their subject matter. E-mails of short-term interest with “no documentary or evidentiary value” might be discarded after 30 days. However, records involving capital projects, personnel, contracts or financial matters, even a simple travel reimbursement request, must be retained from a minimum of three years to permanently.

“There’s no e-mails from the mayor, the attorney, the finance people” in the response, Williams said.

Since his termination, Russell has begun a campaign to serve as Augusta’s next mayor. His campaign chairman said last week Russell would likely make an official announcement this week.

Williams said his request included all documents and correspondence, including documents and e-mails stored not just on Russell’s hard drive, but on city servers, and doubted Russell could have deleted all of it himself.

“They’ve done stepped into the big league and for whoever did it there ought to be some consequences,” Williams said, adding he has discussed the matter with law enforcement.

The Chronicle’s requests for comment on the documents and on Williams’ allegations from interim city administrator Tameka Allen, General Counsel Andrew MacKenzie and Russell were not answered Monday.

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Mon, 12/05/2016 - 22:47

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