Commission censures Holland

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Augusta commissioners censured Commissioner Calvin Holland on Tuesday for directing a city employee to remove the hard drive from City Administrator Fred Russell's computer, despite Mr. Holland's fiery protest that he had done nothing wrong.

"I followed every code. I did not violate any code. I did not violate any ordinance," Mr. Holland said, suggesting the censure was not an attack on him but on "the people of Augusta."

Commissioner Andy Cheek called for the censure on the grounds that it is illegal for a commissioner to direct the work of a nondirect city employee or seek to remove material, equipment or documents from an employee's office unless authorized by six commission votes. His censure motion passed on a 6-3 vote.

Efforts by Mayor Deke Copenhaver to abort the public discussion by making sure there had been due process and discussing the matter in a closed-door legal meeting failed, as did his repeated efforts to limit Mr. Holland to two-minute speeches.

Mr. Holland accused the mayor, Mr. Russell and Mr. Cheek of going on TV to hang him "out in the cold" in an effort to humiliate him.

He insisted that he followed protocol when seeking the hard drive and questioned whether general counsel Eugene Jessup and City Attorney Stephen Shepard had followed protocol when they removed the hard drive from staff attorney Vanessa Flournoy's computer.

Mr. Holland contended that he was both Mr. Russell's and the mayor's supervisor.

He accused the mayor, Mr. Cheek and Mr. Russell of trying to "come up with" a violation. When the mayor said his two minutes were up, Mr. Holland replied, "Mr. Mayor, you are going to have to have security come in here and take me out because you are not going to stop me from talking. ... We are going to discuss this today, and we're going to discuss it to the end."

"I am calling you out of order now," the mayor said. "I will not put up with this in these chambers. ... I will not put up with outbursts, playing to the crowd. The people you referenced that we represent are 200,000 people. They're not solely the people in this room."

Commissioner Bernard Harper yielded his two minutes to Mr. Holland, who continued by saying he did not get the information he requested because the employee he asked to retrieve the hard drive and Mr. Russell both said no.

"That was totally insubordinate to say no to your supervisor," Mr. Holland said. "If he would ask a department head for some information, and that department head would tell him no, he would be ready to reprimand that department head immediately."

"But he is an employee of the city," the mayor said.

"He is an employee, and I am an elected commissioner," Mr. Holland said. "I am even your supervisor."

"Let me tell you this," Mr. Copenhaver said. "We as elected officials are public servants. We are not ..."

"I am supervisor over Fred Russell," Mr. Holland said. "He reports to me and the other nine commissioners."

Being refused the hard drive was not fair or legal, Mr. Holland insisted, continuing his defense, which prompted the mayor to say, "This is a disservice to the people."

Mr. Hatney, Mr. Harper and Mr. Holland voted against the censure. Commissioner Marion Williams left the room before the vote.

Afterward, Mr. Hatney asked of the censure, "What does that mean?"

Mr. Copenhaver said it was an admonition or reprimand.

"That's all it is," he said.

"It don't mean nothing," Mr. Hatney said.

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

PENSION PLAN MERGER OK'D


Commissioners voted 6-4 to merge two city defined-benefits pension plans with a defined-contributions plan and offer medical insurance coverage to retirees, though they do not know how much the merged plan will cost. Employees with no pension plan will be allowed to join the merged plan.


Commissioners Marion Williams, Johnny Hatney, Bernard Harper, Calvin Holland and Mayor Pro Tem Betty Beard voted for the merger. Commissioners Jerry Brigham, Joe Bowles, Jimmy Smith and Don Grantham voted against it.


The board also voted to have an independent audit determine the cost of the merged plan and health insurance costs. Voting against that motion were Mr. Williams and Mr. Harper. Mr. Holland abstained.

Commissioner Andy Cheek read this letter to commissioners before making a motion to censure Commissioner Calvin Holland:

May 1, 2007


To: The Mayor and Commission of Augusta-Richmond County

From: Andy Cheek, Commissioner District 6

Where As:



- All Elected Commissioners and the Mayor are expected to work within City codes and Rules.

- That out of respect for the governing body any commissioner that has a suspicion of a subordinate employee should inform the body of commissioners and mayor or appropriate administrative staff of said suspicions before taking actions unless they involve public safety or life and death.

- That it is illegal for a commissioner to direct the work activities of a non-direct reporting city employee



- That no commissioner should seek to remove material, equipment, or documents from an employee's office when they are on vacation unless authorized by six votes of the commission and follow all appropriate protocol.

- That a Commissioner or Mayor should follow the agreed upon behavior that is the will of the body unless consent is given by the body of commissioners to deviate from the initial agreed upon course of action.

- That no Commissioner should take it upon him or herself to launch an investigation that is disruptive to the government of the city of Augusta without the consent of six members of the commission.


- Given that these criteria were violated by Commissioner Holland, I ask the commission to (censure) said commissioner for these activities as actions non becoming an elected commissioner of the city of Augusta and in violation of the ordinances of this City. Further that he be instructed by this body to undertake no such actions like those listed in the future.

Respectfully Submitted,

F.A. (Andy) Cheek III, Commissioner District 6, ARC

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toppergem
125
Points
toppergem 05/02/07 - 07:50 am
0
0
Just what does censuring a

Just what does censuring a commissioner mean? It really means nothing. What punishments does the cesuring carry? None...at least none were mentioned before, during or after the vote. What it really amounts to is a slap on the hand by a group of people who have no real power to slap another commissioner on the hand. Yesterday's meeting was nothing more than grandstanding on the part of all of the commissioners. If Fred Russell does not receive his supervision and direction from members of the commission he is a free from all supervision? I think not! Why did Marion Williams remove himself from the room during the voting? Wasn't he elected to represent the people of his district? How does he do that when he leaves the room everytime a vote is called for that he personally disagrees with? Who is he really representing?
Yesterday's actions only goes to show what we all have been saying that bunch down at the courthouse have absolutely lost their collective minds and are making the city of Augusta look like a town full of hicks.

The A Train
0
Points
The A Train 05/02/07 - 07:59 am
0
0
I love the city of Augusta,

I love the city of Augusta, but some of the crappola never changes. This stuff is unbelievable and totally insane. Even internet encyclopedias are aware of this crappola. It is embarrasing. There is so much better that can be done than to drag the people of Augusta through episdes like this. Mercy.

kudzo-n-roses
2
Points
kudzo-n-roses 05/02/07 - 08:00 am
0
0
It looks as though holland is

It looks as though holland is grooming himself to become the next buffoon of the commission...there was some hope that once williams left, the commission might have been able to gain a bit of respectability but now it seems like holland is going to carry on the tradition of stupidity and grandstanding that makes all of them a laughing stock.....sad...I call for the idiot to step down and save Augusta more embarassment.

concernednative
28
Points
concernednative 05/02/07 - 08:17 am
0
0
It seems Holland has

It seems Holland has appointed himself torch bearer to keep the commission as a source of embarassment. He is auditioning now since Marion Wms is leaving and he passed with flying colors this time.

THESOUTHLOST
0
Points
THESOUTHLOST 05/02/07 - 08:17 am
0
0
Andy Cheeks did this so he

Andy Cheeks did this so he can kicks butts of the tahoos here. Why do you think he went on Austin Rhodes first to tell of his request? When did the Austin Rhides show become the voice of Augusta?

justanotherjake
0
Points
justanotherjake 05/02/07 - 08:18 am
0
0
Commissioner Holland is

Commissioner Holland is mistaken. He is not any city employee's supervisor. No employee whether it be Fred Russell, a deptartment head, or any other city employee reports directly to any one commissioner. All employee's ultimatley are responsible to the Augusta/Richmond County Commission as a whole. Commissioner's all need to understand that it is there responsibility to set policy and govern. That doesn't mean run the day to day activities of the county, that's what the administrator is for.

AsItIs
1
Points
AsItIs 05/02/07 - 08:33 am
0
0
City/county equipment should

City/county equipment should be audited occasionally, but not at Mr. Holland's whim!

Dark Lord
2
Points
Dark Lord 05/02/07 - 09:09 am
0
0
The taking of someones

The taking of someones property without their consent or knowledge is called STEALING. If a commissioner felt that something illegal or criminal was going on, that person should have brought it to the attention of the commission and follow legal protocol. Mr Holland is a private citizen elected to represent the people of his district. It is only a part time job that most commissioners take as game anyway. Most commissioners are only there for a personal agenda with no real care or concern for the people of augusta.

Painter
24
Points
Painter 05/02/07 - 09:43 am
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toppergem, who do you think

toppergem, who do you think elected those bafoons? Like you said, a town full of hicks.

BigRed
0
Points
BigRed 05/02/07 - 09:47 am
0
0
It is disappointing that some

It is disappointing that some are trying to make this a racial issue when skin color is irrelevant here. The real issue is about misuse of power. If Mr Holland had legitimate concerns about Mr Russell, he should have taken this to his fellow commissioners for collective action instead of playing Lone Ranger. Mr Holland and Mr Russell are both civil servants, which means service not political grandstanding. Mr Holland not only insulted Mr Russell, but also the commission and the mayor. If you want to be a leader, then act like one. Going outside the established chain of command this way looks more like a vendetta than any serious inquiry or investigation. Plus, as other technology-savvy folks have pointed out, any data generated by ARC government computers should be backed up on server network, not just an individual computer hard drive. Most companies monitor their computer systems for misuse, and the county government IT department should be doing the same. In the meantime, let's keep the discourse civil and leave aside the rudeness and name-calling.

Newsreader
11
Points
Newsreader 05/02/07 - 09:50 am
0
0
What does the censure mean?

What does the censure mean? Well, contrary to statements "It don't mean nothing", it does mean something. It means that six of the commissioners agree that Mr. Holland’s actions were not appropriate. It is not the responsibility or privilege of a single commissioner to act as representing the entire constituents of Augusta/Richmond County. NO COMMISSIONER HAS AUTHORITY TO ACT ALONE! All of commissioners know that it takes a majority rule to pass anything by the commissioners. There was no act of the commission to investigate the use of city equipment by the employees, and there was no act of commission to remove the hard drive of Mr. Russell. Therefore, Mr. Holland was not only acting outside of any authority he may have, but was simply acting like a fool. Mr. Holland was not representing the people that elected him; he was on a revenge trip, doing some self-promoting. Mr. Holland, this is not what your district elected you to do. Ask them, they will tell you. As for Mr. Holland’s statement “I am supervisor over Fred Russell," Mr. Holland said. “He reports to me and the other nine commissioners" is only partially true. {Post Continued below}

Newsreader
11
Points
Newsreader 05/02/07 - 09:50 am
0
0
{Post continued from above}

{Post continued from above} Yes, Mr. Russell reports to the nine commissioners, but he reports to them as a whole, not to the nine members individually. Does Mr. Holland think he alone can fire anyone employed by the city? I am sure it is fear of retribution that forces the employees to take orders from individual commissioners. Finally where does Mr. Holland get the idea that he is supervisor over the Mayor? Is the Mayor not elected by majority vote of the people of Augusta/Richmond County? Isn’t true that it takes more votes to be elected Mayor than be elected commissioner? Even getting elected to represent one of the “super districts” still takes less votes than winning a Mayor’s race? How did Mr. Holland get the notation that in regards to the Mayor, “I am even your supervisor”? As my smart mouthed sister used to say, did you get crowned King when Elvis died? I do not think so Mr. Holland. Please wake up and smell the roses. If you have issues bring them before the commission and let majority rule.

GotCha
0
Points
GotCha 05/02/07 - 10:01 am
0
0
I had respect for Coach

I had respect for Coach Holland, until I saw him on the NEWS acting like some of my disobedient students having absolutely NO respect for authority. I wonder what he would have thought about if WE had of talked to HIM that way when he COACHED us! No, let me put that in a better way. Coach Holland would have KICKED our butts if we had of acted that way and thrown us off the TEAM. Right, Coach? You are on a TEAM now. Remember what that stands for. Black & White working together everyone accomplishes more.

trashman63
0
Points
trashman63 05/02/07 - 10:36 am
0
0
Mr. Holland should have been

Mr. Holland should have been charged with stealing from the very minute his illegal actions were discovered. And why wasn't he arrested? Is it because he is a man of color?
How long will there be a double standard being used by both blacks and whites in Augusta and on the Board of Commissioners?
I strongly believe we the citizens of Augusta, who pay property taxes so others that don't pay can have paved streets, etc., are due some explanations and then strong censuring for Mr. Holland, not just words. He should be arrested and made to resign from Board of Commissioners.
We, the citizens, deserve more than "censoring" for Mr. Holland.And please, Mr. Holland, you are not Mr. Russell's boss, "all" of the members of the Board of Commissioners are his boss. How arrogant of you to presume you are superior and the supervisor of the Mayor and all employees of the city.
I will be praying for you and all of the Commissioners that God will be in charge of the Board and its actions.

TAG1313
0
Points
TAG1313 05/02/07 - 10:37 am
0
0
The 3 H's are the problem,oh

The 3 H's are the problem,oh and williams for running from the vote again. Holland is a obnoxious, arrogant person. Does he think all department head work at his pleasure? No I don't think so! Holland go get the sheriff's computer hard drive and see what happens next. What is Mr. Russell surpose to be hiding on the Hard Drive, Porn, or frick and frack.This is the reason people are moving from Augusta, and new business what come to this cesspool of racisum. We need a new law before running for public office your IQ needs to be in the 3 digit range as well as the voters who elect these morons.

jmoval
0
Points
jmoval 05/02/07 - 11:03 am
0
0
It's always about race. Lets

It's always about race. Lets be honest and admit this. Who gets fired and who gets away, look at tale of events. It is always about race.

toppergem
125
Points
toppergem 05/02/07 - 11:15 am
0
0
Sure, many feel Mr Holland's

Sure, many feel Mr Holland's actions were inappropriate. A better approach would have been for him to taken his concerns to the commission, where his concerns could have been discussed and then the commission as a whole could have decided how to handle Mr. Holland's concern and his actions. The group could have moved forward from there. But, the actual process of censuring means nothing more than a slap on the hand and that could have been done without the showboating of other members of the commission in the media. All the back and forth actions that took place on the radio (Austin Rhodes' show) and local TV coverage, prior to the commission meeting, was simply juvenile.

NoSocialism
5
Points
NoSocialism 05/02/07 - 11:28 am
0
0
Commissioner Calvin Holland

Commissioner Calvin Holland has demonstrated behavior that is not conducive how leaders should act. Being sneaky and underhanded in his efforts to stage the debacle of Mr. Russell has placed Commissioner Calvin Holland in the ranks of the most sinister personalities in this community.

whyme
2110
Points
whyme 05/02/07 - 11:39 am
0
0
If there was such a concern

If there was such a concern about the actions of Mr. Russell, Mr. Holland should have brought them up to the commission then taken action with Mr. Russell's knowledge. Instead he waits until the man is on leave and then tries to sneak the hard drive out. Race should have nothing to do with it. However, once again it turns out that way. If a white commissioner did that to a black worker, racism would have been announced. Would that have been the issue if Mr. Holland had gone after a black worker? What a mess.

TAG1313
0
Points
TAG1313 05/02/07 - 11:50 am
0
0
While all this turmoil is

While all this turmoil is going on in Augusta, North Augusta is developing new river front property "Hammond Ferry" and Aiken is opening a new arena with Kenny Rogers playing there this weekend meanwhile we continue to fight among ourselves. We have first fridays what a joke it's just a lower form of Atlanta's "FreakNick"

KingJames
11
Points
KingJames 05/02/07 - 11:50 am
0
0
Commissioner Holland has

Commissioner Holland has brought shame to the city of Augusta. He must have forgotten that as a member of a collective body, one cannot act alone, but must have the conscent of all. His behavior is a prime example of what is slowing the expansion of Augusta. The Internet makes it possible for the world to keep watch over everything said and done in the city, so as a native Augustan, I can truly say that I am embarassed for the city. I think all Augustans, no matter what race, can say that Mr. Holland's actions were uncalled for.

Native Augustan
12
Points
Native Augustan 05/02/07 - 11:52 am
0
0
What would have been the

What would have been the reaction if someone, maybe Fred Russel had suggested taking 'Coach' Holland's hard drive to see if there was anything on it? You never would have heard the end of the screaming. I agree that Holland seems to be trying to be the next Marion Williams which certainly would set him apart from anyone with common sense. Until the Citizens of Augusta wake up and change the way we select and elect our leaders we will continue to have these problems. It seems once elected to the Augusta Commission one takes on a more mighty presence, a more exhaulted presence. As a long time girlfriend once said "he is a legand in his own mind".

TAG1313
0
Points
TAG1313 05/02/07 - 11:57 am
0
0
Very Well put KingJames

Very Well put KingJames

jmoval
0
Points
jmoval 05/02/07 - 12:00 pm
0
0
I don't agree with what

I don't agree with what Holland did, but the way Andy Cheek handle this was wrong too, King James there is more to this story than what Holland did and you know this. You know that the same thing happened to an employee and Mr. Holland jump the gun, but there was an issue of fairness involved here. I don't recall KingJames saying that Tom Beck shamed this city, but of course now you want to impress the white readers with your condemnation of Mr. Holland. This whole matter should have been handle behind close doors. Why is Mr. Holland still not sure of a rule that would prevent him from doing this?

jmoval
0
Points
jmoval 05/02/07 - 12:08 pm
0
0
The issue of fairness was

The issue of fairness was that Fred Russell was trying to fire someone for doing somthing that he was doing. He knew he would not get the support of any white members of the commission. He wanted to get that evidence in his hand first and show the double standard. I think he should have went to the entire commision, but as you can see with Tom Beck some people can do what they want and not get fired , and some can't.

KingJames
11
Points
KingJames 05/02/07 - 12:09 pm
0
0
Jmoval and fizast, I think

Jmoval and fizast, I think everyone agrees that Holland's behavior was inappropriate and shameful. Bringing race into it only makes it worse. The races need to stop looking for any reason to stay apart and come together. Holland was just wrong. Let me give you an example. The vice mayor of a nearby Viriginia city made some racial remarks to a TV reporter about the city police. Citizens, city council, the police, and the mayor came together to demand his resignation. One of the most vocal councilmembers was visibly disturbed by the remarks and led the charge for the resignation. The vice mayor resigned in shame over some stupid racial remarks. The vice mayor was black. The councilman leading the call for his resignation was also black. The point here is that elected officials are to serve all people, and when they do something stupid, all people should band together across racial lines to demand they be held accountable. That is the only thing that should be discussed here; not race. Is this censure really enough for Holland's actions, or should more be done? Keep in mind, with the Internet, the world is watching.

jmoval
0
Points
jmoval 05/02/07 - 12:21 pm
0
0
This should have been handle

This should have been handle behind closed door with the leagal folks there to insure that all members of the commision we on the same sheet of music. Is this a rule or is this assumed that all members must act as one concerning the city administrator. I assume all should vote on this, but I ask again why is Holland still think he can do this and no one is able to make him understand. Any one who is honest knows that the city government is all about race. I refuse to ignore the race issue here. King James can you Acknowledge the fact that race plays a huge part in Richmond County politics

jmoval
0
Points
jmoval 05/02/07 - 12:25 pm
0
0
There's always a picking

There's always a picking cotton reference on this site, and when someone complains everyone calls that person a racist. Some people (Blacks who think they are doing well) see what they want to see, they refuse to see the double standards downtown, thats why this majority black county will always get the short end of everything.

KingJames
11
Points
KingJames 05/02/07 - 12:53 pm
0
0
Jmoval, I'm not trying to

Jmoval, I'm not trying to impress white readers. The two of us have posted on some of the same articles in the past so you should know by now that I'm not worried about what any man of any race thinks of my views. I stand to gain nothing by impressing white readers. I must say though, there is a right way to accomplish something and a wrong way. Mr. Holland demonstrated the wrong way. If the information on the hard drive was so important, his duty to the citizens of Augusta was to ensure that it was obtained in the proper manner by proper authority. Instead, he caused needless commotion. Comparing this situation to others ony causes more confusion among the races. The issue here is Holland's actions and the embarassment he brought to the city; not Tom Beck, or at this point Fred Russell. Holland simply could have used better judgement.

jmoval
0
Points
jmoval 05/02/07 - 12:55 pm
0
0
whats your point jgscott2100,

whats your point jgscott2100, don't speake in codes what 's your point.

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