Williams not worried about censure

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May 3, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---Commissioner Calvin Holland never got to see what was on city administrator Fred Russell's hard drive, but the matter turned into a huge deal at the Commission.

Now Marion Williams say he has the rights to the hard drive. That means the controversy continues.

The debate got hot at Tuesday's Commission meeting.

Commissioners ultimately voted 6-3 to reprimand Holland for ordering a search of the city administrator's computer without full Commission approval. But now Williams is giving the same order, because he says too many folks are doing personal work on city computers.

This could lead to a search of every PC the city owns.

"This is taxpayers' business," Williams said. "This ain't private stuff."

Williams has asked the city IT director to let him see what's on four city worker's computers, including city administrator Fred Russell's.

"I feel like I as a commissioner, I have the right to inquire and find out about it," Williams said.

Williams was out of town today, but he told us by phone he is not worried about being reprimanded. He says he just wants to find employees who are using city computers to do their personal business. If that is going on, it could violate city policy:

City of Augusta Computer Policy
"No one without specific authorization shall use any County computer or network facility for non-county business."

Source: City of Augusta Handbook

"If that is being done, it is an issue," Mayor Copenhaver told News 12. "One of the things we discussed as a commission was bringing in a computer software that would randomly sweep employees hard drives to check and make sure that's not going on."

The man whose hard drive seems to be a hot item says he has nothing to hide, but doesn't feel his computer should be seized at the order of one commissioners.

"I've got a hard drive that unfortunately I'm not skilled enough to put a whole lot in anyway," Russell said. "For those who know me, it's somewhat flattering to think that anyone would think I have something on my hard drive."

We called the city's IT director to see if she will give Williams access to the computer. She has not returned our calls.

Williams says he will go to the attorney general if he has to.

The mayor says he's working to get a legal opinion on whether it is a violation for one commissioner to order a search. He says if it's not, he will ask the Commission to change their decision to censure Commissioner Holland.

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