Power Struggle at Commission Meeting

December 19, 2005
It was the last commission meeting of the year and elected officials were taking no holiday. Before three seats change hands, commissioners voted on some controversial issues.

Some commissioners say the structure of Augusta’s government is in need of a makeover. In this final meeting of the year, some commissioners were passionate about making some major changes, like giving the mayor veto power while others were saying not so fast.

“We need to empower the leader of this commission with a veto,” said Roy Rearden.

It’s a debate over structure and power in Augusta’s government.

“We and that’s more than one are not in agreement with doing this,” Marion Williams said.

As commission chambers were filled with folks on both sides of several key issues on the agenda, commissioners too were split on several key issues including give the city administrator power to hire and fire employees, changing to a simple majority vote for commission decisions, and the highly controversial topic of giving the mayor the power to veto.

“How in the world can that be far? In fact, I’m embarrassed to have to have that brought forth to say that’s a fair way of doing things,” Marion Williams said.

Commissioner Williams says on a commission racially divided, a vote for the mayor means an advantage for one side.

“If we give anybody, a green, blue, purple or any other mayor veto power and there’s matching commissioners that fit that description, it’s going ot be one-sided in this city of Augusta,” Williams said.

But Commissioner Cheek says it’s important to moving the city forward.

“We are either going to get on with the business of Augusta and become one Augusta or we are going to continue to walk in this same circle over and over,” Cheek said.

And as Commissioner Cheek was ready to give the green light on the changes, three red lights from Commissioners Williams, Hankerson, Beard and Colclough put a half on it going through.

“My substitute motion is to deny the veto power for the mayor or anybody else that wants to veto anything,” Williams said.

“It’s not an issue with the community, so why is it an issue here?” Cheek said.


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