Suspension is part of fire finalists personnel record, as judge rules against city


AUGUSTA, Ga (WJBF) – Antonio Burden is seen as the man for the job of running Augusta’s Fire department.  

“I think we picked the right person of the four people we interviewed. He seemed the most mature of the four people we interviewed. I think that’s what we’re going to need,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Bobby Williams.  

But Burden’s selection has been controversial because the city did not release any information on the other candidates interviewed, landing the city in court.  

“I don’t like how that process was done…still don’t like the way the process was done. First time we ever done it that way,” said Commissioner John Clarke  

We obtained Burden’s personnel file going back to 1994, for the most part it shows an employee who met or exceeded standards. What you would expect for someone who’s career patch has taken him to be the finalist for Augusta’s Fire Chief. 

But in May of 2020, Burden was suspended for 40 hours, after being spotted getting out of his county vehicle and entering a liquor store.  

“I heard about that. I think about people and their careers, I think anybody who hasn’t made a mistake in their career, I don’t mean to throw rocks, I don’t know…I made quite a few in my early career,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Williams. 

“That’s a violation of county and city policy, no matter how you cut it or how you try and cover it up or excuse it, that was done in a government vehicle, it violated policy,” says Clarke.

“Not Disqualifying?” 

“I don’t think so. I don’t think so,” said Williams.  

Burden spent five days off the job last year, it doesn’t see like it will cost him a new job this year.

Today, Judge Jesse Stone issued a ruling against the city stating that all information requested by media organizations involving the top three chief finalists be released within three days.

He also ruled no vote on the fire chief take place until at least 14 days after the records have been made public, as is stated in the open records law.

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