Augusta Commissioners Clash On Fred Russell's Replacement - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Augusta Commissioners Clash On Fred Russell's Replacement

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It was a little housekeeping for City Administrator Fred Russell, as he was picking up some paper outside his eight floor office at the Augusta Municipal Building and tossing it in the trash can.

He's on the job, but in less than three weeks, Augusta Commissioners have to get the city's house in order finding someone to fill in after firing him on Monday.

"I think we will have some help for that position there. I think we will get a caretaker, somebody who is not going to be in the running for the permanent position," says Commissioner Donnie Smith.

Commissioner Smith and others say, next week they'll nominate former Augusta-Richmond County Planning Department Director George Patty, who retired at the end of September, to serve as a caretaker administrator.

Patty didn't want to talk on camera, but has indicated he'll serve on a limited basis if approved for the position.  

"George is a good guy, I have no problem with George, but that's not my focus at this particular point," says Commissioner Alvin Mason.

One reason is is Deputy Administrator Tameka Allen, who some Commissioners say should step into the interim position.

"That would be my recommendation. She's the one who's in position, she's the one with the expertise, and if she's interested in applying for the full-time position, she can get in line with everybody else," says Commissioner Bill Lockett.

With Bill Shanahan leaving earlier this year, Allen is the lone deputy. She's also working double duty as Director of the I.T. Department. That's why some Commissioners say the outside help is needed.

"We've had three people in administration in the past, two deputy directors and the administrator. Now, we're asking one person to do that job. I don't think it will be the outcome," says Smith.

Commissioners fired Russell without a plan about who will be in charge during the replacement search, but Commissioner Alvin Mason says the ones pushing a caretaker now are rushing to a decision.

"What I get a little upset with those Commissioners who say it's fast and we didn't do it correctly, and they come out and bring other people's names into play without the proper respect for the person who is sitting there still, and the deputy as well, so you can't have it both ways George," said Mason.

Smith called the way Russell was fired Monday an embarrassment because Russell got the word he had been fired from WJBF News Channel 6 while sitting in his office.

Smith was out of town and arrived at the meeting late.

Allen declined comment on whether she wants to serve as the interim administrator.

Last Wednesday afternoon, a special called legal session was announced for Tuesday to allow Commissioners to go behind closed doors to talk about who takes over when Russell hits the road three weeks from now.

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