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As ordered, Augusta turns over info on fire chief job candidates

Updated: May. 10, 2021 at 6:10 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Complying with the orders of a judge, Augusta officials have turned over to News 12 and other local media the documents on finalists for the city fire chief position.

Judge Jesse Stone on Friday confirmed his ruling from earlier in the week that the the city needed to turn over the documents, giving the city until Monday to comply. And the city handed over the documents on Monday.

News 12 teamed up with other local news outlets to fight for transparency in the process of choosing a new fire chief, and we went to court last Monday After our day in court, Judge Jesse C. Stone issued a decision Wednesday that the city must turn over the documents.

However, city officials said the order was unclear and they asked for clarity, so we went back to court on Friday and prevailed again, with the city getting the deadline. The city also must take no final action appointing the new fire chief for at least 14 calendar days after the records are released.

The judge said under state law, the city must turn over information on the three best-qualified candidates.

What led to the courtroom battle is that after an extensive search for fire chief candidates, the city brought in four to interview.

After selecting one of them as the finalist, the city provided some information on that person — Antonio Burden from DeKalb County — but nothing about the others who were interviewed, not even revealing their names.

City officials said publicly revealing information about them could get them fired from their current jobs.

Stone said any candidates who are concerned about their names being made public could choose not to be identified — if they withdrew themselves from consideration for the job.

The documents we received:

Here’s Stone’s Wednesday decision:

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