Thursday, February 16, 2012

Lori Davis: Re-examining the Mayor's Job Description

City Stink columnist & community activist Lori Davis

Lori Davis Commentary

Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012
Augusta, GA

By Lori Davis

In the past few weeks it has become apparent to me just how incredible social media has become in getting groups of people together of like mind in an effort to solve problems. Some social media groups are trying to find a new puppy a home while others are trying to change the world.  Our group, “Augusta Today,” is trying to change the way in which our city leaders do their dirty business along with a media that will seldom report it.  As I have forwarded our City Stink articles to friends and acquaintances, I have been bombarded with phone calls from unhappy and uninformed citizens who can’t believe how uninformed they really are. 

It seems that so many people have recognized that something is terribly wrong in Augusta but have never been able to put their finger on it or do anything about it. Citizens are beginning to feel empowered reading our articles and are beginning to ask many questions that we are striving to answer in our daily blog. Many people  are sharing their individual stories of disgust with the way they have been personally treated by our dysfunctional Augusta government on a variety of levels.  One devoted reader of City Stink has implored me to share my thoughts and feelings on an issue in my Mayoral campaign that was conveniently overlooked by the Augusta Government and the media until it was convenient to do so. This issue actually was the backbone of my mayoral platform.

 Article 2, Sec. 1-2-27
Authority and duties of Mayor as chief executive officer:

The Mayor shall be the chief executive officer of Augusta Richmond County.  It shall be his/her duty to have the ordinances and laws governing Augusta Richmond County put into full force.

How many of you readers and followers of City Stink knew that existed?  There is no way that you would have known it because it was purposely left out of anything that had to do with my campaign, unless the words were spoken from my own lips. The reasoning behind the neglect of these words had to do with the fact that it sure would make the Mayor look bad to know that these words existed when he had said time and time again that he had no real power and the true power brokers followed along with it. Covering up for designed weak Mayor was better than revealing the truth that there really was some power in the job. Did our Mayor know of these words and just chose to ignore them? I can answer that.

Before deciding to run for Mayor, I kept thinking over and over about the Mayor not having any power to get things done. To me, the power would rest in the chosen leadership style of the individual person. With this in mind I decided to find the Mayor’s job description as stated in the charter of Augusta Richmond County.  When I found Article 2, Sec. 1-2-27, I was more than excited. Yes there was power in the job!  These words staring me in the face were exactly what I was looking for.  

With these words literally in hand, I went to see Mayor Copenhaver to tell him that he really did have power to do the things that he was not doing. When I presented the Article to him, I could tell that he had no clue that this was part of his job description. He tried to discourage me from running which was totally opposite of what I expected.  I expected him to embrace these new found words and say that he was ready to enforce them as they were stated.  He proceeded to tell me that there was really no power in those words.  This is when I made the decision to run against him in the Mayoral election of 2010.

In 2011 these words emerged again as City Administrator Fred Russell began to discuss the restructuring of the government and it’s designation of power. Funny how I knew all along where the power rested, but no one else did because either the need to care about it was not great or they were not made privy to the information. One thing I knew for sure, the Mayor did know that it existed because I had made him aware of it. As the power struggle began between Administrator and Mayor, someone stumbled across the very words that I had run my entire campaign on. 

One would have thought that gold had been struck in these here parts! The Mayor threatened to seize his new found power as if he knew nothing of it and was elated to know that he could run the company.  After all, this is what a CEO does. Today, the Mayor has yet to embrace this part of his job description even though the whole world has been made aware. The words have conveniently been swept right back under the rug from which they emerged and it is business as usual.  The one question remains.  When will Augusta start to get it instead of the few of us who make it a point to stay informed? With the help of AugustaToday and City Stink as alternative media, we will continue to make sure they do.***


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