Why reward incompetence?

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We hear a lot about "reform" these days, especially when it comes to health care. Then there's tax reform, welfare reform, tort reform, campaign finance reform and more. We could also use entitlement reform, as Social Security and Medicare are headed for the rocks.

But the Chiquita Johnson case makes clear that we also desperately need employment reform.

How is it that an employee being forced to resign for, among other things, abusing her purchasing privileges can seemingly have her employer over a barrel?

Why else would the city of Augusta agree to pay the erstwhile and utterly failed city attorney nine months' severance -- three more months than her contract calls for -- as well as make good on her lease of an apartment and, most outrageously, to write a letter of reference for her?

If an employee is essentially forced out, why should employers be forced to lie about that? Doesn't that just kick the can down the road -- and burden a future employer?

That's basically what happened to Augusta in Johnson's hiring in 2007. She had been fired nine months before by a state agency. Augusta officials say that agency told them she left voluntarily. In fact, records suggest she was fired for misuse of her purchasing card.

Augusta officials may want to claim they were had -- but her resignation this week includes a stipulation that Augusta will claim in the future that she voluntarily resigned. And they'll even throw in a "neutral" letter of reference, whatever that is ("Of all our employees in the past 50 years, she was without a doubt one of them"?).

City officials insist people who object to this arrangement -- which is costing taxpayers more than $93,000 -- just don't know how things work.

Well, we do know. And they don't work.

The city needs a better contract next time, one that protects the interests of taxpayers for once.

In the broader picture, employers ought to be able to be honest about why a person is fired. If the person is fired for good reason, the employer shouldn't be punished for it.

The city should never again agree in a contract to give anyone six months' severance if they're fired. Meanwhile, the definition of "fired for cause" ought to explicitly include excessive and unwarranted purchases -- and, in the case of a city attorney, the proffering of legal advice that is so patently and absurdly illegal and/or unconstitutional that a fifth-grader would know it. Example: an attempt to bar reporters -- but no one else -- from chatting with commissioners in the commission chambers or hallway, as Johnson attempted to do.

And finally, employers should be free to fire ineffective, incompetent and irresponsible employees without abject fear of being sued.

Don't our current laws and regulations protect, and even reward, incompetence?

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lifelongresidient
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lifelongresidient 01/07/10 - 06:53 pm
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columbia has a LOT more to

columbia has a LOT more to offer than augusta, if the convention goers have children/families with them there is riverbanks zoo, if they don't there are numerous jazz and comedy clubs and other activities to choose from. augusta, well it has the riverwalk, no wait, i believe it is either not safe or in a state of disrepair or both...well i guess we can see the green jackets, no wait not baseball season, yeah tht's right we can see the lynx..no wait they have been disbanded...well there's always fort discovery..oh it's closed, well at least some of the conventioneers can patronize the various local THUG CLUBS(not many if any other type clubs around) or STRIP CLUBS and local street walkers, that will help out the economy

Fiat_Lux
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Fiat_Lux 01/07/10 - 08:13 pm
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I agree that Augusta has a

I agree that Augusta has a lot to offer if it were marketed well. I don't think successful marketing will have more than a temporary effect on tourism if we don't get control of the roaming panhandlers and predators. If people don't feel safe when they come to Augusta, they are certainly not coming back, and that kind of reputation will spread far and wide. Get rid of the DDA and get somebody in her that knows how to take back urban areas from the lowlife.

disssman
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disssman 01/07/10 - 09:11 pm
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Brad don't get me wrong but

Brad don't get me wrong but what was the "illegal advise" she gave? And I do not believe that all supervisors give consistant 100% good advice. I agree with you about her performance, but what was the bounds of her responsibility and how was she informed about those bounds? In other words what WRITEN directives did she violate and why was she allowed to continue violations for 9 months? If we are concerned about money, why are we still paying the DDA director when all she does is farm out studys? And as to spending money by credit card, just what is the policy on use of those cards? I doubt there is a policy in the city.

disssman
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disssman 01/07/10 - 09:30 pm
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Spunky girl where did you

Spunky girl where did you come up with small salaries? Last I looked the commissioners make between 14,000 and 25,000 a year for attending 12 to 18 meetings a year that last 4 hours at most. Now I know they answer the phone and do other small get togethers, but I also know they chose the position and they wern't forced into it. In fact some of them paid out of their own pocket to campaign for a low paying job, because they?????

disssman
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disssman 01/07/10 - 09:32 pm
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Oh I forgot they also get

Oh I forgot they also get thousands of dollars in free gas for ????? I forgot again. But it must be legal and I am sure they report it as income on their income tax. The finance department does goive them a form showing the amount received, don't they?

thewiz0oz
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thewiz0oz 01/08/10 - 12:09 am
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I have just returned from a

I have just returned from a meeting & was surprised at the perception that some have about the value of tourism and its economic impact on a trade area. Riverman thinks it's the fee paid by an organization to use exhibit facilities, Emeryday seems to think that all of the downtown development has been paid for with public funds & lifelong resident thinks a zoo in Columbia is better for meeting attendees than anything of interest in Downtown Augusta. First, the economic value of hosting an event is in the number of attendees, the number of days here and the average amount spent by each visitor. The Masters Golf Tournament is valued by the Augusta community not in what they paid to the Augusta National to enter their gates but in how much money they spend for food, housing, entertainment, etc. Second, since Augusta Tomorrow launched its 1982 Master Plan to rehabilitate Downtown Augusta over $1 billion has been invested with over half of it coming from the private sector, not the tax payer. Finally, Augusta has been a more significant player in U.S. History than most cities including Columbia & history is of primary interest to tourists. More later.

mommy7
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mommy7 01/08/10 - 12:14 am
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OH PLEASE!! do you guys

OH PLEASE!! do you guys seriously think Chiquita Jackson was the only one abusing power or spending privelages? they ALL do it. you just have to make sure you have friends with power around to protect you (or not rat you out). someone didn't like her or wanted her job so they found a way to get rid of her. simple! it's the same ol', same ol', good ol' boy politics in augusta.

CalvinCool
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CalvinCool 01/08/10 - 01:30 am
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Our social

Our social services/entitlement programs reward incompetance and crappy decision-making everyday- just look at the hordes of 'baby momas' & fatherless children we support. This is just one more instance where we are rewarding stupidity by a member of a 'protected population'..
Whatever happed to 'equal protection under the law"..oh, I forget: It died when affirmative action began...

Riverman1
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Riverman1 01/08/10 - 10:47 am
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Mr. Osbon, I totally

Mr. Osbon, I totally understand the concept that the money comes from visitor spending in town. That's why some conventions are given huge discounts. Along those lines, when the economic impact of visitors is calculated, a big mistake often made is counting all visitors as having the same effect. If an event draws mainly local people, that event does not have the economic effect as outsiders coming in. By the way, one of the major complaints about the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center is that it draws events that used to utilize other local facilities.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 01/08/10 - 11:54 am
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The powers that be are going

The powers that be are going to say the TEE is not big enough when it's not drawing in business. They will want more money to enlarge it and create attractions around it. I read a lot researching these buildings in cities all over regions of the country. Building a new TEE in a place where conventions/trade shows are already coming may make sense if all things are right. But building in a city where the visitors are not already coming for conventions/trade shows makes no sense at all. Mr. Osbon yesterday implied we were like Charleston because of our history. That's completely false. It takes too much space to describe here, but we all know that is so wrong. By the way, when is the Ft. Discovery deal going to be announced?

spunkygirl
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spunkygirl 01/08/10 - 04:03 pm
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disssman I was implying that

disssman I was implying that the commisioners are "over paid."
A bit of sarcasm was at play. Thanks for pointing this out.
Why do you think we have so many "has beens". as commisioners? Their interest is not the citizenry, rather supplementing their retirement and other incomes. I have said and I repeat " RC needs some young , competant and innovative thinkers for the Commision". I do not support discrimination of any kind but age seem to be a hinderance with the current commission, with few exceptions. I can not understand why the same old, incompetant and arrogant commissioner are reelected; Hatney is such an exampl. His time would be better served at his church. What ever happened to separation of church and state?

Riverman1
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Riverman1 01/08/10 - 04:17 pm
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Since Mr. Osbon hasn't gotten

Since Mr. Osbon hasn't gotten back to us with the events that have already booked '$10 million' in events at the TEE when it opens as he said he would, I'll go on a bit. It's interesting that he is seemingly now agreeing that the TEE will not make enough money to cover its cost and operating costs. Was that admitted anywhere before? He thinks it doesn't matter if the TEE doesn't make enough to cover its costs because convention goers will spend money in town and it is a situation similar to the JB Arena. I believe the accepted rate for what a convention visitor will spend is $240 a day. There is not a lot of tax money generated from that, although I admit it may act as a stimulus of sorts to get business going. Folks, don't you see what is going on here? The entire county is going to be paying for this thing for years in hard tax money in hopes SOME will benefit from the 'stimulus' package if it even occurs. Remember I told you, it will not be successful and they will tell you we have to enlarge it at a cost of another $30 million.

Emerydan
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Emerydan 01/08/10 - 08:00 pm
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from what I understand, this

from what I understand, this even more expensive TEE Center will still not be able to compete head to head with centers in Columbia, Savannah, Charleston, and Greenville..so I guess we will be competing for conventions with Macon and Columbus.. well I'm sure there's just a ton of conventions looking at these cities.

Riverman1
79221
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Riverman1 01/09/10 - 09:25 am
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I'm simply trying to show the

I'm simply trying to show the numbers and facts with the TEE. I'm not negative about Augusta in any way. I've brought up realistic ways an exhbition center could be created at Ft. Discovery even though my motives were questioned. In addition, I, as someone who has attended conferences all over the country, have gone into detail of how to draw small conferences here that would fit Ft. Discovery perfectly. The medical, signal and education communities have the experts to have these small conferences and shows. Plus, I've explained how to use our assets that have drawn wealthy people to this area for over a hundred years. (Continued)

Riverman1
79221
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Riverman1 01/09/10 - 09:37 am
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By the way, I'm still waiting

By the way, I'm still waiting on Mr. Osbon to tell us about this $10 million in booking the future TEE has already secured. If that's the case it beats all the centers in GA/SC combined and probably a few more states. But back to being positive, Augusta is a different place than larger cities and will have to use its uniqueness to give convention goers a limited taste of what the wealthy visitors come for. The hotels have to coordinate with local golf, tennis, boating, hunting and HORSE facilities and have vans taking people to these places daily. Big slick posters describing all the local possibilites and the time the vans run should be prominently displayed. We have to concentrate on what has drawn tourists here for over a hundred years. Big cities don't have that.

Riverman1
79221
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Riverman1 01/09/10 - 05:40 pm
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For lack of a better place to

For lack of a better place to post this, I'll continue here. I was watching a show about Jupiter Island, FL and its manmade beach on the intracoastal waterway side. This would work on the river by the hotels at a small cost and give us a true attraction for visitors and benefit residents to boot. It would fit in well with Riverwalk and the hotels. White sand is cheap here, palmetto trees grow well. We could do this. We've all heard the most outlandish suggestions that when a workable one is presented we tend to overlook it.

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