Augusta Commission Gridlock

By: Jonathan Martin
By: Jonathan Martin

January 4, 2006
It’s a new year with some of the same old problems for the Augusta commission. News 12 explains why commissioners are gridlocked on several key issues and how the mayor plans to get them to work together.

Most people would not expect commissioners to agree on every issue. But with recent decisions racially dividing the commission and others being tabled due to abstentions, many agree that it’s time for a change.

“Stop this pettiness and get down to what you are supposed to be doing and stop it,” Harold Shapiro said.

You can call Harold Shapiro the voice of the people.

“To me that’s childish,” Shapiro said.

People with mounting frustrations toward the Augusta commission’s often inability to find ground.

“If they would just stop this racial junk and get down to the facts of life,” Shapiro said.

Tuesday’s meeting may have been like deja-vu for some, with commissioners voting along racial lines on several issues.

Some also option to abstain from votes and in the past some commissioners have been accused of leaving the room or not showing up at all to prevent items from passing.

“People don’t want to go against someone so they don’t show up and don’t vote at all. I don’t think that’s a good idea,” said Gerald Merriwether.

“I’m going to lay out because I don’t want to vote on something, that to me, you’re not doing your job,” Shapiro said.

Mayor Deke Copenhaver and some commissioners echo these same concerns.

“I think that is exemplary of why we need to end abstentions. It hinders the progress of the business of the city,” Copenhaver said.

“When you have people abstaining from votes just to make sure there isn’t a broken tie, that to me shows a problem with the structure of our government,” Joe Bowles said.

“It’s a tool that’s been used to stop actions that people don’t agree with,” Andy Cheek said.

But Mayor Copenhaver says constant communication between commissioners is the key to unlocking the gridlock.

“That breakdown in communication helps lead to the gridlock we saw yesterday. I’m already working on that and will continue to work on that in the days and months to come,” Copenhaver said.

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1212 Augusta, GA 30903 Main Telephone: (803) 278-1212 Newsroom: (803) 278-3111 Fax: (803) 442-4561
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