Augusta leaders react to Mayor's call for review of the city charter

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News 12 at 6 o'clock, February 08, 2008

AUGUSTA, Ga.---First it was state lawmakers, now community activists and local commissioners are speaking out as Augusta's mayor calls for a review of the city charter.

Augusta's mayor is looking to change the way the city does business. Some newcomers to the chambers say not just yet.

"I would say give us an opportunity to show you that this particular government...the way it was set up in terms of the voting can work," said Commissioner Alvin Mason.

"I have worked within the framework of this government for two years, so it's not like I came into office and demanded changes to the government," said Mayor Copenhaver.

The mayor says it's now time to talk. The issues: what he calls an outdated charter and a power struggle--should the city administrator have the right to hire and fire, and the mayor the right to veto and vote?

"I will say I'm not grabbing for power, but I think it would not be a bad thing for the person who is elected city-wide to have the ability to vote."

Commissioner Don Grantham agrees, and supports more power for the administrator. He says city department heads have too many bosses. "I don't want too many chiefs under the Commission the way it's set up," he said.

The Augusta NAACP spoke out Friday, saying, "If it's not broken, don't fix it. We're making extraordinary and exemplary progress in our community. We have a new set of commissioners that should be given a chance to come in and bridge the gap of the social, racial, and political divide."

The mayor sent out an email to commissioners Friday. He provides his full state of the city address, and calls for internal dialogue on the charter. The mayor is asking that commissioners read the current 150 page charter. They will discuss the issue in an upcoming retreat.

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