Solicitor: Merry's outburst might violate order

Friday, Nov. 6, 2009 11:20 AM
Last updated Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2010 9:07 PM
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The Solicitor’s office plans to interview commissioners and the mayor about Woody Merry’s outburst at a budget hearing Thursday, part of an effort to determine if the activist violated an agreement to behave himself at public meetings.

Solicitor Harold V. Jones II said he checked the dead-docket order in the 2008 simple battery case of Mr. Merry on Friday, and it said he could not act in a disorderly manner while attending any public meetings in Augusta. The Nov. 17 order is effective for one year, after which the case will be dismissed if Mr. Merry has abided by the terms.

Now, Mr. Jones said, he’s looking into whether the case should be revived.

Told of the development, Mr. Merry said “they’re going to get me one way or another, and I’m onto them.

“They don’t like me telling the truth,” he said. “They’re going to try to shut me up again.”

At a hearing on the budget Thursday – 12 days before the order expires – Mr. Merry was the only person who signed up to address the commission, and he was given four minutes to speak.

When his time was up, he refused to stop talking, started shouting, and shouted even after Mayor Deke Copenhaver had adjourned the meeting. Mr. Merry was initially giving ideas on ways to cut the budget, but by the end was yelling about the wastewater treatment plant operator not making the short list in the bidding for the job next year.

Mr. Merry said he had asked for extra time to speak, since City Administrator Fred Russell had started his presentation late and took up most of the hour-long meeting. He said he couldn’t talk about a subject so complicated as the budget in just four minutes.

If Mr. Jones brings the simple battery case back up, he said he won’t take it lying down.

“If that happens, then I have no choice but to go to the ACLU and ask about my freedom of speech,” Mr. Merry said. “I don’t think the taxpayers are going to sit still for it.”

In May 2008, Mr. Merry got into a brawl with former Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority member Bill Fennoy, who’s now running for the District 1 commission seat, before a meeting. Mr. Merry was upset that Mr. Fennoy had sat out of an earlier meeting, preventing a quorum and the possible rehiring of the former facilities director.

Both men were charged with simple battery in the shoving and kicking match, but interviews of witnesses indicated Mr. Merry had started it.

The charge against Mr. Fennoy was dismissed, and the charge against Mr. Woody was set aside on the condition that he write a letter of apology and behave at future meetings. Mr. Merry has since said that he was injured in the fight, and that he signed the dead-docket agreement under pressure from Mr. Jones.

Mr. Jones said he will talk to Mr. Fennoy and find out if he still wants to pursue the charge. He said he will also review the 2008 case and evaluate whether it can be proven without a reasonable doubt.

“As you will recall,” Mr. Jones said in an e-mail, “there was some conflict in the testimony concerning the incident and that contributed to placing the case on the dead docket.”

An investigator will interview city commissioners and the mayor, Mr. Jones said, and his office will obtain a tape of Thursday’s meeting to see if Mr. Merry’s conduct could be considered disorderly conduct.

Mr. Russell said Friday that the solicitor’s office has asked him to make a statement. A former law enforcement investigator himself, Mr. Russell declined to say whether Mr. Merry’s behavior rose to the level of disorderly.

As for only giving Mr. Merry four minutes, Mr. Russell said he didn’t realize it was a public meeting until he saw the notice, and that since he had a lengthy presentation to give, he felt that was the best time limit to set. Residents are given five minutes to speak when they address the commission at regular meetings.

Mr. Russell said members of the public will have another chance to speak at a budget workshop Monday at 1:30 p.m. in commission chambers. There will also be a third meeting, yet to be scheduled, he said.

Input can also be given through a budget survey on the city’s Web site at www.augustaga.gov.

Comments (21) Add comment
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Notreally
4
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Notreally 11/06/09 - 12:53 pm
0
0
Considered LOL it is, this

Considered LOL it is, this man is a NUT.

zigzag
0
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zigzag 11/06/09 - 12:55 pm
0
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It's sad that the city won't

It's sad that the city won't hear from citizens on how to save money - the depth of their knowledge only causes them to want to raise taxes. You city "leaders" take note - frustration with your performance is reaching the boiling point.

jack
10
Points
jack 11/06/09 - 01:04 pm
0
0
Silence a citizen's

Silence a citizen's opposition to government fraud, waste and abuse. Augusta, USSR.

worldhistory
0
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worldhistory 11/06/09 - 01:32 pm
0
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I believe the man needs some

I believe the man needs some medication. He has a right to express his thoughts but in an appropriate manner. Everyone is frustrated with Augusta's lack of government and with all decisions based on whose race it benefits. This is OUR city not blackies or whities city.

baronvonreich
0
Points
baronvonreich 11/06/09 - 01:38 pm
0
0
You're exactly right zigzag.

You're exactly right zigzag. It is appalling that city leaders have the audacity to adjourn a meeting while a concerned is speaking. It might be different if they had a good and proven track record of success but all that is seen are their failures. Sad.

Notreally
4
Points
Notreally 11/06/09 - 01:43 pm
0
0
Ummm aren't meetings time

Ummm aren't meetings time limited? HELLO. And didn't they give him his due time? HELLO... if he wanted to get in more he should have hired a speed reader. This man is a looney. I just hope his past tactics taught him not to CONFRONT.

JackBootedThug
0
Points
JackBootedThug 11/06/09 - 01:55 pm
0
0
Woody, You have the right

Woody, You have the right idea to be a watchdog on city gubment, and we all know that Augusta needs someone watching them, but you make yourself look really bad with your antics and you may have NO credibility left at this point. Even your best supporters will bail at some point if you keep acting like a buffoon.

BeenThereDoneThat2
0
Points
BeenThereDoneThat2 11/06/09 - 02:03 pm
0
0
So I ask... What is so

So I ask... What is so different about Woody Merry "disrupting" a budget meeting and commissioners disrupting the flow of government by conveniently being on the phone, in the bathroom or otherwise AWOL when it comes time to make a controversial or important vote? Can we ask the Solicitor to investigate that? I didn't think so. (And, trust me, I am not taking up for Woody. While he may be on the right track, you can't take the short bus down the rails without bouncing around too much.)

gagirl68
0
Points
gagirl68 11/06/09 - 02:31 pm
0
0
I was there; this whole

I was there; this whole incident could have been avoided if the mayor had been polite enough to notify Woody that he had 30 seconds left to wrap it up. Woody asked for leniency on his four mintues before he began. He noted he may go over the four minutes but he would stay as close as he could get. How rude? I think it is suspect that he was cut off right before he brought attention to possible bid rigging, the procurement department, and OMI getting the boot. Somebody needs to investigate.

grinder48
2015
Points
grinder48 11/06/09 - 02:46 pm
0
0
The Aug RC gov't is so inept
Unpublished

The Aug RC gov't is so inept and corrupt that it's extremely exasperating to citizen taxpayers. If the Aug RC gov't functioned properly, there'd wouldn't be Woody's going off the deep end. Joe Bowles seems to be the only commissioner with any sense. Vote the rest of them out. If you can vote in the D 1 run-off, vote for Aitken; Fennoy has already shown he's like the rest of those idiots down there.

crackertroy
540
Points
crackertroy 11/06/09 - 02:49 pm
0
0
No Commissioner wants to hear
Unpublished

No Commissioner wants to hear anything about cutting a budget. Money, money, money, that is what they want to hear. I suggest if Woody Merry wants to be heard he talk to them about raising taxes and taking on worthless projects. They'll be ALL EARS!

justus4
105
Points
justus4 11/06/09 - 03:05 pm
0
0
Lets review: Ol' Woody is
Unpublished

Lets review: Ol' Woody is beat down because of his mouth and placed on probation, now he is in obvious violation of the established terms and the Solicitor must look into the case being "reopened." This Solicitor's statement is suspect because the violation is clear and his duty is to impose the terms of the probation order. He sounds like his efforts will be to assist ol' Woody in beating the charge. Merry's behavior clearly violates the order and to keep watching the laws being mocked by those sworn to uphold justice will require federal oversight and intervention.

grinder48
2015
Points
grinder48 11/06/09 - 03:22 pm
0
0
interesting post by someone
Unpublished

interesting post by someone who was actually there. See above

Posted by gagirl68 on Fri Nov 6, 2009 1:31 PM

spartan22
0
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spartan22 11/06/09 - 03:28 pm
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0
eyeopening post by someone

eyeopening post by someone who was actually there. See above Posted by gagirl68 on Fri Nov 6, 2009 1:31 PM, Mayor wasnt polite, wasnt planning on being polite, b/c he was predisposed to rudeneess and prejudiced to the speaker and anything tabled. Thats your first clue of corrupt, inept gubment

Notreally
4
Points
Notreally 11/06/09 - 03:40 pm
0
0
They need to ban him from

They need to ban him from attending meetings, or better yet don't put him on the agenda. This ia a QUACK look at him, QUACK.

ONLY THE TRUTH
2
Points
ONLY THE TRUTH 11/06/09 - 04:54 pm
0
0
justus4--Were you there???

justus4--Were you there??? Of course not. If Merry was a black man you would be saying "innocent until proven guilty". Since he is white you say he "clearly violates the order". Isn't that the very definition of racism????

Riverman1
86917
Points
Riverman1 11/06/09 - 06:18 pm
0
0
Merry is kind of extreme and

Merry is kind of extreme and fanatical at times....just like Riverman.

Riverman1
86917
Points
Riverman1 11/06/09 - 06:40 pm
0
0
It is now 5:33 and I just saw

It is now 5:33 and I just saw the video of Woody on the WJBF news and he did nothing out of line. He was dressed appropriately and followed the rules. After his 4 minutes expired that he honored he simply asked as he sat down if anyone else would speak for him. I really don't get charges being brought by Harold Jones because of that incident. I certainly hope he views the WJBF video.

Riverman1
86917
Points
Riverman1 11/06/09 - 06:57 pm
0
0
"When his time was up, he

"When his time was up, he refused to stop talking, started shouting, and shouted even after Mayor Deke Copenhaver had adjourned the meeting. Mr. Merry was initially giving ideas on ways to cut the budget," That was not reflected in the video. Did you guys see that? I am so amazed at the paper and others going after Woody on this. Same with Butch, I now understand.

bettyboop
7
Points
bettyboop 11/06/09 - 07:30 pm
0
0
Keep it up Woody...do not

Keep it up Woody...do not shut up ..do not sit down and tell them all tho KYA!!!

DEVGRU
0
Points
DEVGRU 11/06/09 - 07:40 pm
0
0
This "may" be a man with a

This "may" be a man with a problem. We will see in the future.

Riverman1
86917
Points
Riverman1 11/06/09 - 07:43 pm
0
0
Woody? Haha.. I'll pick a few

Woody? Haha.. I'll pick a few more that I'll watch. Heh, heh.

Southern_Patriot
0
Points
Southern_Patriot 11/06/09 - 08:38 pm
0
0
You folk's slamm'in Woody

You folk's slamm'in Woody Merry better be glad you have somebody that will speak up.

Lumbarsupport
0
Points
Lumbarsupport 11/06/09 - 09:59 pm
0
0
Harold Jones is using the

Harold Jones is using the power of government to silence one its critics. 1. If the racial roles were reversed the city would be on fire. 2. Be very afraid when the government uses the power of law to imprison those who disagree with the ruling class, next time they might be coming for YOU comrade.

actuallynot
0
Points
actuallynot 11/06/09 - 10:06 pm
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0
Go grinder48... Ditto your

Go grinder48... Ditto your remarks.. Thus the reason I reside in Columbia County. I grew up in Richmond County and refused to raise my child there. It is truly the MOST corrupt government I have ever seen. When Woody first started stating his views, he WAS appropriate in his behavior. He believes in what he stands for and he doesn't give up. So to you "NotReally", either you are a member of the Richmond County Government or you are a coward.

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