Stick to the mission

Government inquiry shouldn't degenerate into quest for vengeance

  • Follow Editorials

In plenty of time for Halloween, Fred Russell donned pointy hat and broomstick and invited a witch hunt.

He’s gotten it.

The ultra-sanguine city administrator set about a restructuring of city government some months ago armed with the blessings of a slim majority of Augusta commissioners and a devil-may-care attitude about who knew what about his actions. His assistant administrators Monday professed little involvement, for instance, in some of the key aspects of the restructuring – in particular, raises going to 44 employees in a restructuring aimed at saving money, and at a time of contraction in every other sector of society.

Now, belatedly and in ill temper, the other commissioners who opposed the restructuring all along have embarked on an inquest of sorts to find out what he did and why. Monday, in Russell’s absence, they pelted department heads with questions.

We would urge the more inquisitive commissioners to follow their instincts – there’s been entirely too little information about all this, and much too little curiosity on the part of the majority of commissioners who approved the restructuring. But we implore them to avoid the appearance of a vendetta against anyone, and of treating city employees and department heads with accusatory contempt.

And while we appreciate requests for information as much as anyone, such requests can be used as a bludgeon. We pray commissioners aren’t employing a vindictive strategy of inundating Russell with demands for documents – though “It’s the playbook,” one close observer laments.

Commissioners probing the restructuring have a delicate task: getting to the bottom of things without making things worse. Morale won’t
be helped by a climate of fear and retribution. We need sunlight and answers, not vendettas.

Comments (12) 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.
Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 08/31/11 - 12:56 am
0
0
Yes, sir.

Yes, sir.

Riverman1
79774
Points
Riverman1 08/31/11 - 06:33 am
0
0
The Chronicle was just as bad

The Chronicle was just as bad as the mob. The editorial weeks ago saying he was gone encouraged those with pitch forks looking for Frankenstein in the castle.

DuhJudge
206
Points
DuhJudge 08/31/11 - 07:12 am
0
0
Sunlight? Your version of

Sunlight? Your version of sunlight requires me to read with sunglasses on. Admit you invited us to a hanging. For some reason there was the smell of blood coming from your side of the Commission, and Corey Johnson spoiled your fun. I believe what you smelled stinks.

Little Lamb
44029
Points
Little Lamb 08/31/11 - 08:02 am
0
0
We need to stick to the

We need to stick to the plan:

1. Rescind the Russell raises.

2. Remove the severance package provisions from the Personnel, Policies & Procedures Manual.

3. Fire Fred Russell for insubordination, dereliction of duty, and general carelessness. Give him no severance package.

4. Appoint the current city employee who exhibits leadership qualities the best to the position of city administrator.

5. Abolish the two deputy administrator positions.

6. Give all city workers an across the board 10% pay cut.

7. Do away with this silly "furlough" nonsense.

dichotomy
30804
Points
dichotomy 08/31/11 - 10:22 am
0
0
You will have a hard time

You will have a hard time firing Fred for cause. Technically, he was not derelict or insubordinate. I don't think he did anything that he was not authorized to do in the Restructuring plan. Like it or hate it, he exercised the authority given to him under the plan. Not that the commission has to have cause to fire him. All it takes is a vote.

Personally, I think that what Russell did may be on the right track. It's just that he did it at the wrong time. The way I see it, if our gutless commissioners turn around and vote against provisions of the plan that they approved a few months ago just because somebody did exactly what they told him to do, then THEY should be the ones losing their jobs. That's how I feel about the commissioners who orginally voted for the plan. As for the race baiting dissenters, I ignore them because they NEVER DID and STILL DO NOT have a plan. I don't like the the timing of Russel's raises either but I still have more confidence in him that I do ANY of the commissioners. Instead of seeing if the plan works going forward, everybody is jumping up to support a few commissioners that have NEVER HAD A PLAN. "Let's hang Russell". The only man who ever got a reorganization plan approved by our pathetically paralyzed county commission and at least moved things slightly in the right direction. You should all gather at the courthouse annex and sing a few choruses of "The Way We Were" since you all seem to like the way things have been for the last 16 years. I KNOW what we WERE doing DID NOT WORK. I DO NOT KNOW whether Fred's plan will work or not but I think it MIGHT and it's BETTER THAN NO PLAN AT ALL WHICH IS THE OPPOSITION'S ONLY PROPOSED ALTERNATIVE. Think about it while you are winding those thirteen coils in your ropes.

harley_52
22276
Points
harley_52 08/31/11 - 11:31 am
0
0
I agree with you dichotomy.

I agree with you dichotomy. I may be missing something, but I can't find anything Fred did that was either illegal, or even outside his job description.

So what we apparently have here is a Commission divided on whether they like what he did and divided on what to do about it, a City Administrator who has been marginalized and stripped of any semblance of dignity or authority by his own bosses, morale within the City government lower than whale poopoo, potential lawsuits behind every nook and cranny, and the entire city looking foolish.

Oh....and a bunch of posters still demanding he be "fired."

Hoo boy.....it's a fine mess we have here.

Riverman1
79774
Points
Riverman1 08/31/11 - 12:00 pm
0
0
The retired Colonel,

The retired Colonel, assistant administrator from St. Mary's, would be a fool to move up and take over. I hope he's been clued in by now.

harley_52
22276
Points
harley_52 08/31/11 - 12:58 pm
0
0
Little Lamb said "Do away

Little Lamb said "Do away with this silly "furlough" nonsense."

I heard a Fireman on Austin Rhodes' show yesterday discussing that. He said whenever they furlough a Fireman to save his salary costs, they have to call in another (off duty) Fireman who's already worked his time and pay him time and a half for working the time of the furloughed Fireman. One Fireman gets ripped off, another gets rich, and the city spends more money than before they furloughed the guy in the first place. He said it was addressed, in writing, to the Fire Chief and his main deputies almost a year ago (November 2010) and nobody has taken any action to fix it.

harley_52
22276
Points
harley_52 08/31/11 - 01:01 pm
0
0
Riverman, sounds to me like a

Riverman, sounds to me like a retired Army Colonel may be just what they need.

Riverman1
79774
Points
Riverman1 08/31/11 - 01:29 pm
0
0
Harley, you can't wish this

Harley, you can't wish this government on him. One of us should call him and warn him how crazy the situation is if he hasn't already picked up on it.

Riverman1
79774
Points
Riverman1 08/31/11 - 01:37 pm
0
0
Harley, reminds me of a

Harley, reminds me of a story. When I was at Walter Reed we had a Marine Corps Colonel on medical hold for about a year being treated for cancer. He wanted to work so we put him to work as the operating room administrative officer since we didn't have one. He had no idea about hospitals, but he was energetic and knew how to get things done.

We weren't getting supplies in on time as is the usual case in the Army and complained to him one day. He called the civilian supply guy in and in front of us started to chew on him like a dog with a hambone. I thought I would die. It was hilarious and I did all I could to keep from laughing. Our supplies started to come on time from then on. So maybe the Colonel would work here. Sure tick some people off I bet.

harley_52
22276
Points
harley_52 08/31/11 - 01:47 pm
0
0
Riverman, do you know his

Riverman, do you know his name?

I'll bet you if you had a retired colonel in Fred's place things would be much different.

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs