Reconsider, appeal, start over; commissioners react to media lawsuit ruling

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Some Augusta leaders continue to defend the city’s process for hiring the next fire chief and say despite the judge’s decision this case is likely not closed.

Judge Stone was loud and clear the city must release the information on the top three fire chief finalists.

And even though commissioners interviewed four candidates they say Antonio Burden was the only finalist. 

“Once you determine a finalist or a number of finalists that’s when the information is released out to the public, so I disagree with the judge’s decision,” said Commissioner Dennis Williams. 

 But other commissions saying it’s time for a do over after the judge’s ruling against the city. 

“I would want to re do this process all over again and make sure we do it right and be transparent,” said Commissioner Catherine Smith McKnight.  

“We’ve done it basically the same way since I’ve been on the commission so there’s nothing to hide what is it to hide,” said Commissioner Dennis Williams. 

But a superior court judge says Augusta violated state law, but there’s the right to appeal and that appears likely.

“Augusta appealing it is pretty much automatic so we’re right back to the waiting game,” said Commissioner John Clarke.  

“I feel like yes an appeal will take place,”said commissioner McKnight.  

 A special legal session has been called for Friday where city leaders will have their say on an appeal. 

 “I would recommend an appalling it because even though the judge is the law interrupter it could be that he’s not totally understanding what was done and the objective behind it,” said Commissioner Williams.

Ironically city lawyers argued in court that ruling in favor of the media would put the city in danger because it would put off hiring the next fire chief  by two weeks well appealing this ruling would certainly last a lot longer than 14 days.

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