Two Augusta commissioners are to be commended for exposing shoddy city building inspections, and a Commission majority should be applauded for prompting Housing and Neighborhood Development Director Kevin Mack to initiate reform.
The Commission recently deadlocked on reorganizing the city's housing department and hiring two new inspectors and a development manager, leaving it to Mayor Bob Young to cast the deciding "yes" vote.
The proposed reorganization led Commissioners Andy Cheek and Marion Williams to reveal that some of Mack's building inspectors are approving shoddy, substandard work on houses rehabilitated with the city's share of federal tax money.
These are serious charges that cry out for redress. Poor inspections can lead to potential dangers ranging from fire to electrocution.
"Sorry workmanship (is) in not one but every project that we've looked at," Cheek charged. "If we expand that to larger projects, what can we expect?" Cheeks says he personally checked shoddy roofing jobs and places where inspectors OK'd renovations that include painting over rotten boards, walls, paper and glass. This just reinforces the view, we think, that Mack's department is in need of reorganization and reform.
In fact, in recent months, it seems there has been nothing but bickering between Mack's department, the CSRA Business League and the Laney-Walker Development Corp. (To be fair, though, this is not entirely Mack's fault; all entities share some blame for lack of planning and coordination.)
But the bottom line is that the city's housing department head must be held accountable for any shoddy inspections. If this issue is not rectified, or they keep occurring, Mack's fitness for the job should be questioned.