Holland looks to mayor for reversal

Augusta Commissioner Calvin Holland said Friday he won't push to overturn the censure his colleagues voted last week to give him. He expects Mayor Deke Copenhaver to do that.

"The mayor said if he found out I didn't do anything wrong, he would be the first to push to have the censure rescinded," Mr. Holland said, citing a previous television interview.

"All I can do is see if he's a man of his word."

Mr. Copenhaver was on vacation Friday and did not respond to an e-mail seeking his response.

Although Mr. Holland said he would not initiate a new vote, he had earlier placed the issue on Tuesday's commission meeting agenda.

It would be the first meeting since May 1, when his fellow commissioners voted 6-3 to censure him for asking a city employee to give him the hard drive from City Administrator Fred Russell's computer while Mr. Russell was on vacation.

Mr. Holland said he was vindicated after an independent Atlanta attorney, hired to give an impartial ruling on whether an ordinance concerning commissioners' contact with city employees was violated, said Mr. Holland did not violate the ordinance, although what he did wasn't the best practice.

"If you tell the truth, stick with your beliefs and maintain the faith, it will come to pass," Mr. Holland said.

It did not appear Friday, however, that a new vote would overturn the censure. Calls to city commissioners indicated no one seemed likely to change position. Commissioners who supported Mr. Holland and voted against the censure say it should be rescinded; those who voted for it said it should stand.

"I stand exactly where I stood two weeks ago," Commissioner Joe Bowles said. "I think the censure should stand."

Mr. Bowles said the independent attorney, Quinton S. Seay of Atlanta, clearly stated that Mr. Holland had violated the intent of the city ordinance concerning contact with employees.

"The letter of the law is one thing," Mr. Bowles said. "The intention of the law is another."

Commissioner Jerry Brigham, who also voted for the censure, said he would not vote to rescind it.

"I think he did wrong," he said. "I think if he was going to investigate the administrator, he ought to have the decency to talk to the other commissioners before he launched into a tirade."

Commissioner Jimmy Smith said he was going to stand by his vote.

Commissioner Don Grantham said he disagreed with Mr. Seay's opinion and would not vote to rescind the censure.

"The lawyer's letter is his interpretation of his legal opinion," he said. "I have my legal opinion, too. My opinion is he violated the ordinance. I object to the method in which it was accomplished.

"He waited until he was out of town to ask for the computer. He's entitled to receive assistance from an employee, but he set precedent. That's the main concern of the commissioners."

Commissioner Andy Cheek, who called for the censure, said Mr. Holland's request for the hard drive was blatant retaliation for General Counsel Eugene Jessup's seizure of in-house attorney Vanessa Flournoy's computer hard drive.

Mayor Pro Tem Betty Beard said she just wants the issue to go away.

"I just don't think it's worthy of the city's time," she said.

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

What's Next:

Commissioner Calvin Holland has placed the censure issue on Tuesday's city commission agenda for discussion. The meeting will be at 2 p.m. at the commission chambers on the eighth floor of the Municipal Building, 530 Greene St.