For almost two hours, Mayor-elect Hardie Davis sat patiently waiting outside a closed-door legal meeting and the beginning of the Augusta Commission’s public services committee meeting in hopes of discussing the future of the mayor’s office.
It’s no secret that Davis has his eye on some additional space next to the mayor’s office on the second floor of the newly renovated Marble Palace, other wise known as the Municipal Building.
But when the discussion finally came rolling around as to what the Augusta Commission plans to do with the additional space currently not used by Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver, Davis was left out of the discussion.
Only Augusta Commissioner Bill Fennoy requested the mayor-elect be given an opportunity to tell commissioners some of his ideas for the unoccupied space, but that suggestion was quickly dismissed by Augusta Commissioner Marion Williams.
Williams, who was chairing the public services committee this past Monday, didn’t allow Davis to say one word.
It was a curious move.
Everyone in Augusta knows that Williams was a huge advocate for Commissioner Alvin Mason to become mayor earlier this year, but Mason was crushed at the polls with Davis earning 75 percent of the vote.
It might be time for Williams to at least pretend like he is embracing the new mayor of the Garden City.
Instead, Mason took center stage during the discussion by chastising his fellow commissioners for trying to shape the second-floor office space to fit the needs of the new administrator, Janice Allen Jackson, who will come on board in mid-November, and the new mayor, who will take office in January.
“When we started talking about the renovations of this building, we didn’t come to this conclusion based on who was going to be mayor or who was going to be the commissioners,” Mason said, adding that the commissioners need to stop “kicking this can” down the road. “I don’t know how many times we are going to change this. It is not based on a personal preference. It is based on the need.”
When it comes to positions like the mayor, those are elected officials in a temporary office space, Mason said.
“We are getting into all of these personal agendas with the public’s and our citizens’ money, about who wants what space and who needs this space or that space,” Mason said.
That is not using the public’s money wisely, especially considering the renovations to the building are almost 80 percent complete, Mason said.
In fact, Mason insisted the new city administrator may prefer to be located on the ninth floor away from the mayor and commission.
Mason jokingly said, in his opinion, former City Administrator Fred Russell probably needed to be on the ninth floor, seven floors away from commissioners.
“But that is just one commissioner’s opinion,” Mason joked.
Augusta Commissioner Ben Hasan pointed out that Russell failed to add one important feature to the administrator’s penthouse suite on the ninth floor: a bathroom.
“I guess, he throws his mess out the window,” Hasan said, chuckling.
But, all joking aside, Mason said it was ridiculous to think that the administrator couldn’t comfortably operate and work with the mayor and commission from the ninth floor.
“You are trying to tell me that a city administrator cannot operate from the ninth floor if they need to, in the same building?” Mason asked. “Or, you are trying to tell me that the mayor can’t operate unless the city administrator is on the second floor? I mean, we are really getting down in the weeds with this thing.
“But at the same time, we are using taxpayers’ dollars to do all of this. It is not our own money, so I guess it is a little easier to spend if it is not coming out of your pocket.”
It was as if Mason was campaigning for mayor all over again as Davis silently sat in the back of the commission chamber.
Well commissioners, don’t expect Davis to be so quiet come Jan. 1.