News 12 at 11 o'clock/ Monday, Dec. 9th, 2013
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- After more than a decade as Augusta's City Administrator, Monday afternoon commissioners voted seven to zero to fire Fred Russell.
It's been a bumpy road for Russell and with this vote, he's finally hit a dead end. A unanimous vote by every commissioner in the room means his time with the city is over.
"The important thing is we've come to a crossroads here. The commission's gonna go one way and Fred Russell's gonna go another," said Russell.
This isn't the first time this conversation's come up. Russell's had his fair share of controversy since he first took office 11 years ago.
"Obviously these jobs are tough. We are very proud of what we've gotten accomplished here," said Russell.
Russell was hired in 2002 as Deputy Administrator under George Kolb. Two years later he was promoted.
In 2010 he took on one of his biggest projects, Augusta's master plan. The next year a city restructuring and a News 12 investigation into raises for city employees left commissioners calling for him to be fired and Russell with a lot of questions to answer.
"Call it straight with people is all I'm asking you to do," said News 12's Chris Thomas in August 2011. "Chris don't go there at all Chris. Don't even begin to go there Chris. Or I'll never give you another interview Chris," responded Russell as he stepped back from the camera.
In the end, while Russell applied for jobs in Florida and Washington, commissioners voted to keep him on.
Then just last year the Tee Center deals brought their own controversy and this year's slum vote and budget put him in the hot seat once again.
Ultimately, no reason was given for his termination on Monday.
"It's not about Fred Russell," Russell said. "It's about a management style and a change in direction."
Now, he says what's important is for the city to keep moving forward.
"Today, until a few minutes ago, it was moving forward with Fred. Now it's gonna be moving forward without him," Russell said.
As for what's next Russell says, "It's time to look at the future. It's time to move forward. For Fred, you know, I'm going fishing."
The vote was taken after a two hour legal meeting. Just last week, a number of commissioners told News 12 Russell was planning to retire.
His last day is Dec. 31.
Commissioners voted to hire a head hunter to fill the position. They plan to do a national search. As for Russell's retirement package, it's still being worked out.
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