Originally created 05/02/04

Kolb deserves better



That Augusta Administrator George Kolb is looking for a new job is about as surprising as the sun rising in the east. The wonder is he hasn't looked sooner.

Kolb is a top-notch administrator. The city was lucky to get him, especially after it chased off Randy Oliver, another fine administrator. We doubt the city will luck out again after Kolb leaves. The word must be getting out by now to other potential city administrators that Augusta doesn't want a strong, effective manager.

Indeed, as Commissioner Marion Williams puts it, Kolb "has a management mind-set and that just doesn't work here in Augusta." What a silly thing to suggest, that Augusta doesn't want good management. Sadly, for the commission, it's true.

What does work, says Commissioner Bobby Hankerson, is "Augusta politics. Once you learn Augusta politics, you'll be safe." Also sad but true.

In our fair city, playing politics is more important than being a good administrator with the authority to hire and fire and to make government run efficiently while being responsive to its residents' needs.

"Playing politics" means being responsive to individual commissioners' whims, letting the politicians ignore the chain of command and micro-manage the city's day-to-day operations, and rewarding city workers for their political connections instead of their work product.

Kolb didn't want to play "Augusta politics," so several commissioners have been working to terminate his contract, giving him low performance ratings for not following their directions, i.e., doing their personal bidding - in short, making his professional life as miserable as possible.

There are some cities, however, that can recognize good management when they see it. Fort Lauderdale, Fla,, is one of them. Its leaders have named Kolb their top candidate to fill the No. 1 administrative post there.

We wish him luck. After three long years here, Kolb deserves to go to work for policy-makers who will welcome his management ability and empower him to use it.

But we Augustans will continue to get the kind of leadership we deserve - which for now is sacrificing good government on the altar of political game-playing.