Leaders adjourn abruptly

File/Staff
Andy Cheek: Official moved to adjourn even though the issue of Calvin Holland's censure had not been discussed.

Tuesday's Augusta Commission meeting ended abruptly before a shocked audience when Commissioner Andy Cheek moved for adjournment with the issue of Commissioner Calvin Holland's censure still on the agenda.

The motion to adjourn passed on a 6-4 vote, with the commissioners who voted to censure Mr. Holland two weeks ago voting for adjournment and those who voted against censure voting against it.

Mr. Holland said commissioners who voted to censure him didn't want to discuss it because an independent attorney has said he did nothing wrong when he asked a city employee for information from City Administrator Fred Russell's computer.

"I did not violate the ordinance, and that's what stands," Mr. Holland said. "They know I did not do anything wrong, and this is the reason why they didn't want to discuss it."

"We've done lost our minds," Commissioner Johnny Hatney said immediately after the adjournment. "We can't operate like this."

Mr. Cheek and Commissioners Jerry Brigham, Joe Bowles, Don Grantham, Jimmy Smith and Mayor Pro Tem Betty Beard had voted to censure Mr. Holland.

Mr. Holland was supported in the May 1 meeting by Mr. Hatney, Marion Williams and Bernard Harper, who also voted against adjournment.

An independent attorney hired to render an impartial opinion said last week that Mr. Holland did not violate the law by seeking the information but did violate its intent.

Mr. Holland had placed discussion of the legal ruling and censure on Tuesday's agenda.

Mr. Cheek bolted from commission chambers after making the motion and could not be asked whether he had discussed his motion beforehand with the other five who voted for it.

Mr. Brigham said he voted for adjournment because he thought the people's business had been done, but Mr. Williams disagreed.

"This is the people's business," he said. "They opened this can of worms, and the worms are going to crawl all over the place now. Trust me. They're going to be everywhere. They're going to be all over them. They could have dealt with this today and gotten it over with. All they got to do is say they made a mistake and let it be done."

Mr. Copenhaver said afterward that he did not know that Mr. Cheek would call for adjournment.

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