Yep, it's the politics

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The fine folks in Sarasota who were mulling over whether to steal Augusta city Administrator Fred Russell were looking at the political contretemps here and were apparently wondering: Is Russell the problem, or is it Augusta politics?

It’s the politics, Russell said.

No doubt put out by that very public slight, several Augusta commissioners became determined this week to only prove him right. So they walked out on yet another commission meeting – just before the entire 2012 budget had to be voted on.

Yep. It’s the politics.

Mr. Russell is hardly perfect; we’ve had our own issues with him. There’s a line between easy going and out to lunch, and he’s crossed it more than once.

But on the whole, he’s been a steadying influence, and much progress has occurred on his watch. And we asked one public official here if the problem is Russell: “No,” the official said. “I’d recommend him (for the Florida job).”

He didn’t get it. Lucky him, he gets to stay on amid the gross dysfunction.

Commissioner Bill Lockett – who fancies himself the “nitpicker in chief” – led a three-commissioner walkout in disgust Tuesday when the agenda included changes to the personnel manual.

Another commissioner we talked to said changes to the personnel manual, an ongoing issue much of the year, can’t be news to Lockett, who has opposed them at every turn and seemed Tuesday mostly to want to delay another of his “no” votes.

“We discussed (the changes) in his d--- workshop!” the commissioner told us. “We held off for three months because he kept canceling the meetings.”

Several officials we talked to privately said they believe some commissioners want mostly to stall progress in an attempt to get District 1 Commissioner Matt Aitken voted out of office next year. The election of the white Aitken last year tilted the racial balance of the commission from 5-5 to 6-4.

We don’t know if all that’s true. We sincerely hope it’s not. Most of us in this town are dog-tired of racial machinations anyway. And any attempt to block progress for short-term political gain only hurts the community these folks are supposedly there to represent.

Constituents of Commissioner Al Mason, for instance, ought to ask why he chose not to attend two budget workshops before walking out on the budget vote Tuesday. Why did they bother sending this guy to City Hall? How are such commissioners representing their constituents, by walking out before the budget vote?

Oh, yes. We forgot. If you don’t vote for the 2012 budget, it’s not your fault and you have an entire year to grouse and gripe about it. What a deal!

It’s just one reason why the city administrator is looking elsewhere, and why competent replacements would be crazy to put their names in the hat.

Yep. It’s the politics.

Comments (25) Add comment
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404Law
212
Points
404Law 11/16/11 - 11:30 pm
0
0
Hmm...the next time you quote

Hmm...the next time you quote Brigham, you should print his expletive.

Nevertheless, the AC is attempting to widen the divide (racially) on the Commission by publishing this. It's passive aggressive reporting and quite amateurish to be honest.

Furthermore, this paper criticizing racial politics is like the pot calling the kettle black. Paronomasia intended.

Little Lamb
43820
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Little Lamb 11/16/11 - 11:54 pm
0
0
ACES wrote: . . . much

ACES wrote:

. . . much progress has occurred on his [Russell's] watch.

I'm sure the parent company had to say this after receiving such a sweetheart deal on the TEE Center and parking deck from Fred.

Riverman1
79202
Points
Riverman1 11/17/11 - 06:33 am
0
0
Russell endured twenty years

Russell endured twenty years on the streets as a police officer, but I'm sure he never took this kind of abuse even from street derelicts.

As far as the racial politics, I'm reminded of the words of David Justice. He said when he had a good year and negotiated his contract with the Braves, they would remind him it was a game and not a business. But when he had a bad year they would remind him it was a business.

THEY didn't find Matt Aitken playing in the Negro Leagues to play second base. Richmond County is a predominantly black county with a white government and officials. That's going to create an inherent conflict. Oh, yeah, we are past racial politics.... because the whites are in control now.

Maybe a black controlled Commission would at least stop the antics of the cabal wasting millions with the aid of the Chronicle which gets its share of the booty.

Brad Owens
4098
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Brad Owens 11/17/11 - 07:00 am
0
0
How come asking questions

How come asking questions about things makes you an obsatcle to progress? Do they REALLY think that the intention is to "stall progress?"

Well, I guess if you consider the TEE Center "progress" and ParkinGate no big deal yes.

Stalling the CABAL's "progress" at getting more money out of tax payers pockets and into their bank accounts is the type of "obastacle" I expect good honest elected officials to be.

Funny stuff ACES.

Austin Rhodes
2852
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Austin Rhodes 11/17/11 - 07:23 am
0
0
But Brad...they didn't walk

But Brad...they didn't walk out on the TEE Center or parking deal...they walked out on a layoff that was unavoidable.

The stuff you and your group are protesting...for the most part...has been supported in one way or another by virtually the entire commission.

Riverman1
79202
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Riverman1 11/17/11 - 07:29 am
0
0
Funny how a $50 million

Funny how a $50 million "payoff" will gain support. Bill Lockett's reminder to Mayor Copenhaver-Boardman.

DuhJudge
206
Points
DuhJudge 11/17/11 - 08:11 am
0
0
ACES ......realize that the

ACES ......realize that the citizens have memories, and the legacy choices you have supported for office has contributed greatly to the culture of suspicion on the Commission. Whether your ink sinks a candidate or puts wind in his sails, you tend to create a tumult of waves that never subside. Respect these men for their decisions because you are naked yourself.

Brad Owens
4098
Points
Brad Owens 11/17/11 - 08:24 am
0
0
Austin, most of the folks on

Austin, most of the folks on the commission now were not there when this mess was passed. And the original TEE Center was approved at $25,000,000.00 not over $100,000,000.00 so the argument that the "voters" said they wanted TEE is hollow. If it had been placed on another ballot with the final true price I am sure it would have failed.

They walked out for the same reason I walked out of the DDA meeting when they revoted the $50,000.00 sidewalk in front of the DeLaigle house, in PROTEST of something I saw as wrong but that was going to be shoved down the tax payer throats no matter what.

I agree cuts must be made, but how do you Austin, justify not cutting non-essential spending along with it? Like the DDA and other non-performing boards/authorities and the Mayor's little slush fund (a new increase among these cuts I might add).

Seems a bit disingenuous to say that Al and Bill are the problem when stuff like that goes on and the Sheriff has to cut another million this year don't you think?

Brad

broad street narrow mind
348
Points
broad street narrow mind 11/17/11 - 08:49 am
0
0
you didn't mention matt
Unpublished

you didn't mention matt aitken's unawareness of what was in the budget. that's negligence. walking out in protest is not negligence at all.

Little Lamb
43820
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Little Lamb 11/17/11 - 09:02 am
0
0
Matt Aitken was one of the

Matt Aitken was one of the seven commissioners who attended the workshop. Perhaps he dozed off and missed the discussion of the 34 positions to be eliminated, but Chronicle reporter Susan McCord did not doze off. Read her report of the meeting at this link .

You can see about mid-way into the article is a bulleted list of items that Russell proposed. The 34 positions are clearly identified.

Little Lamb
43820
Points
Little Lamb 11/17/11 - 09:05 am
0
0
Riverman wrote: Funny how a

Riverman wrote:

Funny how a $50 million "payoff" will gain support. Bill Lockett's reminder to Mayor Copenhaver-Boardman.

The substance of your post is so true, RM. But I think it was Rev. Johnny Hatney who made the "payoff" remark to the mayor.

Carleton Duvall
6305
Points
Carleton Duvall 11/17/11 - 09:43 am
0
0
If the city has a good

If the city has a good financial executive I can assure you that he could go thru this years spending which next years budget is based on and find enough waste to balance the budget. I can assure that I could. It would be a piece of cake. It would probably be a waste of time though as it would step on too many political toes

tinman
35
Points
tinman 11/17/11 - 10:15 am
0
0
Scoobydoo is.correct in that

Scoobydoo is.correct in that it would be fairly easy for a sensible person to sit down with the city/county budget and eliminate enough waste to balance if, BUT it would step on too many toes to ever get passed!

Brad Owens
4098
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Brad Owens 11/17/11 - 10:52 am
0
0
Contract managment and proper

Contract managment and proper control of that will also produce some results as well.

Lots of wasted dollars in certain areas of giverment.

Carleton Duvall
6305
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Carleton Duvall 11/17/11 - 10:59 am
0
0
That is correct, Brad. That

That is correct, Brad. That should be part of the process.

Jilly Bean
0
Points
Jilly Bean 11/17/11 - 12:03 pm
0
0
I think that any

I think that any commissioners that walk out of any of the meetings should be considered a problem. They are there to represent their districts and speak for their citizens. By walking out they are taking the easy road. Stay there and fight for what is right.

Brad Owens
4098
Points
Brad Owens 11/17/11 - 12:28 pm
0
0
Jilly Bean, the fight was

Jilly Bean, the fight was over, the walk out was to show disgust.

Brad Owens
4098
Points
Brad Owens 11/17/11 - 12:39 pm
0
0
And yes, they walked out in

And yes, they walked out in disgust to show their loathing and dislike with the choices that were being made and to protest, show dissent and dispute the blatant misuse of power. I am sure it is also meant to show opposition, disagreement, disapproval and resistance to moves that exploit certain majorities on the commission.

Little Lamb
43820
Points
Little Lamb 11/17/11 - 12:51 pm
0
0
ACES wrote: Commissioner Bill

ACES wrote:

Commissioner Bill Lockett – who fancies himself the “nitpicker in chief” – led a three-commissioner walkout in disgust Tuesday when the agenda included changes to the personnel manual.

“Not making sense” describes many, many commission actions; but the walkout is really a puzzler. Susan McCord's article yesterday mentioned that the walkout was over the way Commissioner Jackson had placed an item regarding the personnel manual on the agenda without its having gone through Lockett's committee.

But the strange thing is that the vote that took place during the walkout was a vote on the budget, not the personnel manual. The vote on the budget was 6 - 1, with all white commissioners voting in favor.

By the time they got to the agenda item on the personnel manual, the walkouts had apparently come back to the table, as the vote was 5 - 5 (presumably with Aitken joining the four black commissioners – the article didn't say). Mercifully, the mayor broke the tie in favor of Jackson's motion.

Why did they protest the personnel manual motion by refusing to vote on the budget? It doesn't make sense.

broad street narrow mind
348
Points
broad street narrow mind 11/17/11 - 01:08 pm
0
0
i notice austin rhodes
Unpublished

i notice austin rhodes doesn't complain here that lockett was not interviewed n this judgment call they're criticizing. rhodes does make a major point of necessity of interviewing when it's a frienditician of his whose public records are mentioned.

Jilly Bean
0
Points
Jilly Bean 11/17/11 - 01:21 pm
0
0
Thanks Mr. Owens, handsome

Thanks Mr. Owens, handsome picture btw, I was not aware that the meeting had ended. However, I still think they should stand there and fight for their people. I think if they fought hard enough and long enough maybe more people would see why they are really disgusted about.

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 11/17/11 - 01:35 pm
0
0
Sarasota was trying to

Sarasota was trying to "steal" Fred from us. Also, a few sanitation workers "stole" my trash out of that green can on my curb this morning.

Brad Owens
4098
Points
Brad Owens 11/17/11 - 01:47 pm
0
0
Jilly Bean, thanks for the

Jilly Bean, thanks for the kind words, and please call me Brad, Mr. Owens is my Father. The meeting had not ended, but that particular vote was done so it seems. I watched the videos on the website and it was obvious this was going to pass.

Little Lamb
43820
Points
Little Lamb 11/17/11 - 02:04 pm
0
0
The vote on the personnel

The vote on the personnel manual was quite interesting. It was a tie. Mayor Copenhaver broke the tie. Tie votes are quite rare in Augusta government, because either side can avoid the uncertainty of the mayor by merely abstaining.

If Lockett really was upset with the substance of Commissioner Jackson's motion, he would have abstained, sending Jackson's motion down in flames. Instead, Lockett actually agreed with the changes in Jackson's motion, and we see that by his voting NO, thus allowing the mayor to cast the deciding vote YES.

So Lockett's temper tantrum was over "process" not "substance." That seems petty to me.

Little Lamb
43820
Points
Little Lamb 11/17/11 - 02:08 pm
0
0
ACES wrote: And we asked one

ACES wrote:

And we asked one public official here if the problem is Russell: “No,” the official said. “I’d recommend him (for the Florida job).”

Yeah, and former Mayor Bob Young highly recommended Ronnie Few to the Washington, D.C., city council for fire chief. It helps get him out of your hair.

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 11/17/11 - 02:45 pm
0
0
Like ice on chewing gum...

Like ice on chewing gum...

Little Lamb
43820
Points
Little Lamb 11/18/11 - 11:52 am
0
0
. . . mis-posted. See the

. . . mis-posted. See the comment under Susan McCord's Tuesday evening story about Lockett's temper tantrum.

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