Originally created 02/11/06

Commission agrees on code of conduct

The city's finance director is leaving; the residential zoning of 45 acres in west Augusta is standing; and the city's warring commissioners are turning over a new leaf.

Commissioners unanimously adopted a code of conduct that was developed during a January retreat aimed at improving communication and trust.

Mayor Deke Copenhaver and commissioners agreed Wednesday to strive to maintain the code in their actions with one another and at commission meetings. Among the nine provisions:

- "We will represent the city in a positive manner at all times."

- "We will respect and support the action of the commission above our own views and lay aside our differences and move forward."

- "We will respect each other as public servants elected by the people, and we will communicate honestly with each other in a professional and respectful manner, keeping the public interest in mind at all times."

- "We will hold confidences with each other."

- "We will stay focused on the long-range direction of the city."

One item they will have to focus on in the short term is the replacement of Finance Director David Persaud, who has resigned, effective March 3, to become the chief financial officer for the Hillsborough Regional Transit Authority in Tampa, Fla.

Mr. Persaud said his work in Augusta has been challenging but he wasn't looking for another job when a headhunter came calling and made him an offer he couldn't refuse. He has directed the government's fiscal affairs since June 2001, having come to Augusta from Chatham County where he served as finance director for 16 years.

He said it was time to do something different.

Commissioners Don Grantham and Joe Bowles thought they'd try to get their colleagues to do something different Wednesday - rescind a decision from three weeks ago, when commissioners voted 6-3 to deny a rezoning in west Augusta. They did not succeed.

Commissioner Jerry Brigham's motion not to rescind the action passed 6-3 with Mr. Grantham, Mr. Bowles and Commissioner Jimmy Smith voting against it. Commissioner Andy Cheek was not present when the vote was taken.

Mr. Grantham said that he and Mr. Bowles were not seeking to change the zoning but to give the Forum Development Group an opportunity try to resolve a safety issue, which it had not been allowed to do at the earlier meeting.

Mr. Grantham's explanation elicited groans from the crowd of Foxhall residents who do not want a 300,000-square-foot shopping center near their neighborhood, prompting Mr. Copenhaver to bang the gavel.

The developers are threatening to sue the city because they were not allowed to state their case before the commission as the residents were.

Mr. Bowles predicted the property off Walton Way Extension will be developed, possibly with something less desirable than an upscale shopping center.

Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or sylvia.cooper@augustachronicle.com.


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