Merry calls for action against Williams

File/Staff
Merry

Community activist Woody Merry initiated legal action Monday seeking censure of Augusta Commissioner Marion Williams.

The Richmond County State Court petition alleges that if fellow commissioners do not reprimand Mr. Williams, a judge should. It further contends that Mr. Williams should be found guilty of violating a city ordinance - punishable by as many as 60 days in a public works camp.

Mr. Williams said Monday that he has no comment on any of Mr. Merry's legal maneuvers. Monday's petition is Mr. Merry's second attempt to seek a judicial critique of Mr. Williams' behavior as a public official.

In the most recent action, Mr. Merry alleges that Mr. Williams has violated city ordinances dealing with the ethical duties of elected officials.

He contends that Mr. Williams should be censured for his support of a plan to build a south Augusta drag strip across the street from where his son-in-law, Mark Pugh, intended to build a snack shop, Drag Snacks. At the minimum, Mr. Merry alleges, Mr. Williams should have told commissioners about Mr. Pugh's real estate interest near the proposed drag strip site. Mr. Pugh's land purchase came to the public's attention through reports in The Augusta Chronicle.

Mr. Merry also contends that Mr. Williams is in violation of his oath of office because he owes back property taxes. The city filed collection liens against Mr. Williams in March for $2,620.90, according to the petition.

Mr. Merry's petition cites a state law that prohibits any publicly paid official from holding a civil office if he owes back taxes.

The petition asks for Mr. Williams' censure by the commission or by the court, his removal as a commissioner unless and until the back taxes are paid and his conviction for a city ordinance violation.

Mr. Merry, the founder of CSRA Help, filed his first legal action against Mr. Williams and the city in January 2006. He challenged commissioners' use of abstentions to block majority wins and the mayor's ability to break a tie.

In February, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that abstentions stand as nonvotes.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.