Augusta Commissioners head to New Orleans for another training trip

By: Ryan Houston Email
By: Ryan Houston Email

News 12 First at Five/ Wednesday July 2nd, 2014

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Augusta Commissioners are hitting the road for yet another conference.

Commissioners Bill Lockett, Alvin Mason, and Marion Williams are headed to New Orleans for a 4 day conference.

City officials say the trips are necessary for growth. Commissioners Bill Lockett, Marion Williams and Alvin Mason could be listening to impressions by Comedian Frank Caliendo.

He'll be one of several at the national association of county officials. The four day conference in the big easy starts next week. Each commissioner could receive a more than $2,000 check and that's about $400 each day to cover meals, driving and hotels.

"Let me tell you if you don't go you don't grow. Savannah is small," said Commissioner Marion Williams.

Commissioner Marion Williams is no stranger at hitting the road on the taxpayers dime. Last year, he went on at least four trips each costing no less than $1,200. During Commissioner Williams first time on the commission he went to Hawaii for training.

He says just because the location is exotic, doesn't mean the training isn't worth it.

"It's part of the United States. Are we supposed to not go because it doesn't look like Augusta," said Williams.

This comes about a week after all commissioners except Grady Smith went to a training conference in Savannah. Eight city leaders took classes on how to make proposed policies reality.

Some also took classes on how the city can use social media to get the word out. State Senate Candidate Corey Johnson took the seminar on changing demographics dealing with race and population.

"How do you prepare for that? How do you prepare for growth now that you know the demographics are changing. It was a very informative class," said Commissioner Corey Johnson.

There was also a class on taxes which none of the ten city leaders including the mayor signed up for.

Whether commissioners travel by air or by road, it's all paid for by the county. Leaders say they're going is a part of growing.

With more than 30 classes offered, the city clerk's office didn't have any record of what Commissioner Joe Jackson or Mayor Deke Copenhaver signed up for.

Commissioner Bill Lockett on the other hand took so many training seminars in Savannah he received an award for it.

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