Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Recreation and Parks Director Tom Beck Shown the Exit Today

Rec. & Parks Director Tom Beck
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Augusta, GA
From CityStink.net Reports

UPDATE: In a special called legal session today (Monday April 23) Augusta Commissioners voted 8-1 to fire Parks and Recreation Director Tom Beck with cause. Only Commissioner Grady Smith voted to keep Beck. Commissioner Jerry Brigham was absent from today's meeting.

*Below is our report from April 17th:

After today's Augusta Commission meeting, Recreation and Parks Director Tom Beck may be out of a job. Chris Thomas of WRDW first broke the story last week about what is being called "The Augusta Wreckreaction Scandal."  A whistle-blower within the department came forward with allegations of time cards being falsified and rampant favoritism. City Administrator Fred Russell has placed Beck on administrative leave and sources say that he will recommend his termination before commissioners today. That's strong action coming from Russell who has taken a passive role over the years when it came to disciplining incompetent employees. Since this involves a personnel matter, those discussions about Beck's job will be held behind closed doors in a legal session. So the question regarding Beck is.... Will he stay or will he go?

With the bunch we have on the commission there's no telling what to expect. Even if Fred Russell recommends termination, that's no guarantee the commission will fire Beck. And it would not be the first time the commission refused to discipline Beck on the advice of  a City Administrator. Back in 2000, then City Administrator Randy Oliver recommended that Beck be suspended for one week without pay for similar infractions. But Beck's supporters on the commission overrode Oliver, refusing to discipline the Recreation and Parks Director. Will the same happen this time? It's hard to tell, but perhaps this latest screw-up is the straw that breaks the camel's back and Beck is sent packing.

But Beck has been allowed to get away with a lot over the years, so commissioners may just end up giving him a slap on the wrist.  There have been numerous complaints over the years of Beck's lazy style of running the department and of rampant cronyism. Before being handed over to a private company, The Patch golf course was directly under The Parks and Recreation Department. The course lost hundreds of thousands of dollars annually for the city partly because of a lack of oversight from management and favoritism that allowed certain people to play for free. The course had also been allowed to deteriorate into such a poor state it was almost unplayable. Critics say this is indicative of Beck's lack of leadership and the lax way he runs the department.

Just over a month ago Beck made headlines when it was revealed that it was he who went to Brian Hendry, the now private operator of The Patch, and told him that there was $300,000 of SPLOST funds that he could get. When Hendry was awarded the contract for The Patch, he had agreed to absorb the costs of maintenance, but here was Tom Beck telling him that there was free tax money out there that he should get. Ultimately, commissioners denied the request by Hendry for the $300,000 in SPLOST money, but it showed blatant insubordination by Beck to go around his superiors trying to give hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax money away. Many critics ask why Beck wasn't fired or at least suspended for that? Critics argue that this lack of punishment over the years has made Beck feel as though he is untouchable and able to get away with almost anything. Will he be proven right again after today's meeting?


UPDATE--> Commission Stalls on Firing Beck

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