Some elected leaders want to do business with the city

Augusta Commission - Augusta seal with skyline
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News 12 at 6 o'clock / Monday, Feb. 11, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Augusta commissioners just wrapped up an emergency meeting behind closed doors. It had to do with documents that could be connected to companies owned by city leaders.

Commissioner Grady Smith thinks it's time to change the ethics code.

"Commissioner Grady Smith asked us to put that on the agenda," said City Administrator Fred Russell.

Smith is at it again. Last year he placed a bid to do plumbing work with the city.

It was a violation of the code of ethics and he's working to change it.

"There shouldn't be a single commissioner benefiting directly or indirectly from the taxpayers' dollars," said Commissioner Alvin Mason.

Smith had the legal department draft an amendment. It gets rid of the current code and makes it OK for commissioners to do business with the city.

"If you can know firsthand what's going on, then you have a leg up on other people who don't," said resident Alyce Jenkins.

"I don't think that will be fair to the other folks," said resident Betty Lynch.

"When you have a direct influence on those dollars and we've got numbers, we know the dollar amounts we need to spend on certain contracts," Mason said.

Commissioners know what the bids are, how much the city has to spend and which companies are making the bid.

"If you're going to run a business, then you should exclude yourself from any voting processes or decisions on who gets a contract," Jenkins said.

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