Public debate continues over private email

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News 12 at 11, September 4, 2007

AUGUSTA, GA-- An email about race and downtown development written by a member of the Public Housing Authority. It has some people calling for his resignation.

It was an email read around the county and Commissioner Marion Williams wanted to make sure it was heard again at Tuesday's Commission meeting.

"I'd like to clearly read the email that was sent out and I think the body as a whole needs to let the city know that we as a Legree group to not participate and do not appreciate what had happened." Commissioner Williams is talking about reading an email written by Augusta Housing Authority Board Member Dave Barbee.

In it, Barbee writes to two developers, and talks about the Housing Authority trying to close Gilbert Manor so the Medical College of Georgia can expand on the property. It's a move Barbee says will make downtown Augusta whiter by moving 200 whites in and moving 500 blacks out.

"It was a poorly worded email. It was not politically correct and for that I am truly, truly sorry." Says Barbee in an apology at Legislative Delegation meeting. Barbee says it was a private email, but his words have led to a very public debate; starting with the Legislative Delegation.

"We cannot allow this particular incident to stop the progress of our community." Remarks from Georgia Representative Quincy Murphy.

The people at the meeting were equally fired up. "The bible is clear: from the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. So what you said, that's what you meant." voiced one concerned citizen.

Barbee responded, "It's not from my heart. Brother, you don't know my heart."

But the damage is done. One of the developers sent Barbee a scathing five paragraph response ending with: please do not send me anymore unsolicited emails. State Lawmakers, and the Mayor, all asking for Barbee's resignation. "I have to say it does not fit with the ideas of this administration or with my own personal views. That's why I request very strongly that Mr. Barbee consider resigning from his position." says Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver.

Barbee requests a meeting with the Mayor to discuss the issue. The mayor says he'd be willing to speak with Barbee, but he still thinks the only proper resolution is for Barbee to resign.

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