Thursday, September 4, 2014

Should Donnie Smith Resign as Commissioner?

AUGUSTA, GA (Special Report) - In a special called meeting the Augusta Richmond County Commission replaced Donnie Smith appointing an Interim Commissioner for District 7. Election to chose a successor to finish Smith term will take place March 15, 2015. Click Here for Update.

9/9/2014 - It is official the resignation of Donnie Smith to his seat as Commissioner District 7. The former Commissioner page is no longer at the city' s website. Replacement until March 15 of next year election is not known yet. So far 2 white men are favorite and no woman or other minority are mentioned to be appointed by the Commission.

The GSP Report

National and International Impact
Constituents of District 7, The District Attorney, the City,
a State Agency, and the private golf so far impacted by Smith.

Due to Smith relationship with the District Attorney Ashley Wright his actions indirectly impacted her office, and because the investigation of the Georgia State Patrol, statewide implication, occurred at the Augusta National Golf Club, one person probably could not have done more damage to District 7, Augusta Richmond County, Georgia, at national and international level than any other individual ever before.

Donnie Smith is accused of falsifying his time sheets during 2014 Masters Week. Investigators with Georgia State Patrol said that Smith was working private security with a business called Augusta Sports & Travel despite the fact that he reported himself as on-duty with GSP.  Officials say that the officer, also Augusta Commissioner, has violated state law and his oath of office while working as a state trooper, but he probably will avoid charges, pending another investigation. He is thinking to continue as Commissioner for District 7.

He has been the focus of more than two month investigation on his job where he worked as a Georgia State Trooper. Commissioner Smith recently walked out of two decades career with the Georgia State Patrol. He apparently applied for retirement after he was aware of the investigations this year.

Smith, 51, was elected as District 7 Commissioner in 2012, and took office for a four year term starting January 1st 2013 thru 2016, representing 25,000 west Augusta residents.

The embattled Commissioner serves on the following Augusta-Richmond County committees, Vice Chairman of Public Safety and the Finance Committee. He has been selected as one of three Commissioners to serve on the Urban/Suburban Tax allocation committee which is working to equalize tax rates between the two districts.

He has completed numerous leadership programs, including the Columbus State Command College, the F.B. I. National Academy, and is a graduate of the 2010 Leadership Georgia class. Smith is a graduate of Georgia Military College, according to the city’s website. He also holds a Masters Degree in Public Administration from Columbus State University.

Smith has been placed on administrative leave with pay from his position of lieutenant with the GPS for months before his abrupt retirement.

If Smith chooses to resign, there cannot be a special election to fill his role until March next year meaning someone would have to be appointed to fill his seat.

Kenny Echols run against Smith in 2012. Echols is retired from Medical College of Georgia with experience in management. Smith is a State Patrolman. Echols spent 12 years on the Richmond County School Board, Smith dates the District Attorney, Ashley Wright, which could be irrelevant or not, depending of what taxpayers think about "conflict of interest" in these cases. 

Two censured commissioners doing business with the city last year were censured then reelected in November for 4 more years. It has being frustrating for some members of the Commission to have a more serious consecuences when officials play with ethics. 

An attempt to have a response from the District Attorney or the Georgia General Attorney were unsuccessful. Even the GA was fined recently by a judge for ethics related to Governor Nathan Deal.

Chairman of Ethics Subcommittee

In the middle of 2013 Alvin Mason and Corey Johnson admitted to going to Falcons games courtesy of city contractor Heery International. City rules allow commissioners to accept tickets so both felt no reason to leave the subcommittee on Ethics. Commissioner Marion Williams wanted them to recuse.

At that time Mayor Pro-Tem Corey Johnson said to a reporter: “There's nothing wrong with that, people say that it's perceivable to be a big issue but it's not.”

"People are making much to do about nothing. If you don't like the rule we can always change it. The fact of the matter is I'm following the rules of the game. There is no reporting requirement I just want to follow the rules and that's what I've done," says Commissioner Alvin Mason.

Commissioner Donnie Smith as Chairman of the Ethics subcommittee asked the law department to review the actions of the commissioners to see if policy was violated.

Later in August 2013, city leaders took no action to end the practice of commissioners getting courtesy tickets to events like Falcons games in Atlanta or the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta.

The legislative body only decided that Commissioner guilty of doing city business should be barred from doing any future work for five years after they leave. In this particular case involves to Joe Jackson, Grady Smith and Wayne Guilfoyle.

Grady Smith attempt to change the code in order to allow Commissioners to do business with the city without being censured (worthless and inconsequential punishment) was unsuccessful.

Ethics subcommittee Chairman Donnie Smith comment was that there was no public outcry about the tickets and the committee did not want to lose focus on its goal of acting on commissioners doing work with the city.

At the Committee for Good Government forum March 14, 2012, Smith made the comment: “I love Augusta, I love everything about it, even the things that make us bad."

Excerpt From the Endorsement to Vote for Smith - Augusta Chronicle, 10/27/2012

“We first got to know Donnie Smith when the Georgia State Patrol lieutenant returned from a volunteer stint helping keep order in the Gulf after Hurricane Katrina. We were struck by the profound impact it had on his heart, and on his optimistic view of an America that knows how to pull together.

Now, Smith is wanting to pitch in here at home – as an Augusta commissioner. And we’re thrilled to ask District 7 voters to let him.

We have had the privilege of meeting scores of candidates over many years, and we can tell you we’ve never, ever, met a more earnest one than Donnie Smith. When he pauses to respond to a question, you’re not exactly sure whether he’s composing an answer or himself. He’s that passionate, and compassionate, for this community…”

District 7

—> Edited by Anibal Ibarra

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