Rumors over 'package deal' to fire city administrator, procurement director laid to rest

Rumors have been circulating around Augusta about a plan for commissioners to fire the city administrator and procurement director. (WRDW-TV)

Rumors have been circulating around Augusta about a plan for commissioners to fire the city administrator and procurement director. (WRDW-TV)

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- 'Tis the season to be jolly, but for a couple of city administrators in Augusta, it's the season to fear for your job. Rumors have been circulating around Augusta about a plan for commissioners to fire the city administrator and procurement director.

We went straight to the source to lay some of those rumors to rest.

"I'm not looking to go anywhere, but if they want me to leave, that's well within their power to do," said City Administrator Fred Russell.

After hearing rumors of a plan to fire him at Tuesday's final commission meeting, he said, "It's a shame that people have to go through that kind of scare tactic."

And he isn't the only one worried about getting the boot. City Procurement Director Geri Sams says she's heard her name thrown around as well.

We asked Sams if she was concerned about what she was hearing.

"Of course, you are concerned about the rumors that you hear, and it's not a good feeling, it's not a good place to be, but it's out of your control," Sams said.

So, we took the rumors to the people who make the decisions, asking them if there is a backroom deal in the works to fire the two as a packaged deal?

"There are no talks. I haven't been involved in any talks in the last six months about firing anyone," Commissioner Joe Bowles said.

A similar story from Commissioner Matt Aitken. We asked him if he's been involved in any discussions about firing personnel.

"No," he replied. "There is no merit to that, so it doesn't deserve a comment."

Commissioner Lockett agrees, saying, "That's not going to happen, not on Dec. 18 of 2012. It's not going to happen."

"It's a rumor, we've had a ton of phone calls about it," Corey Johnson said.

He says there's no validity, but we did speak with one commissioner who admitted it isn't completely a rumor.

"It might have been in discussion, but it was in small discussion ... among a select few," said Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle.

The administrator says he has spoken with the commissioners personally, and at least eight have told him he has nothing to worry about.

"Politics is rough, but if they tell me what they're going to do, I would only disbelieve them if they proved themselves wrong," he said.

We also spoke with commissioners Brigham, Mason and Smith who say they have not been contacted about any deal to have Russell and Sams fired.


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