So there they were Tuesday gathered around a conference table for a second meeting of the Augusta Commission’s ethics ordinance subcommittee: Chairman Donnie Smith and Commissioners Alvin Mason, Corey Johnson and Mary Davis.
Commissioners Marion Williams, Bill Fennoy and Grady Smith were also sitting in to hear the subcommittee discuss a process for determining the guilt or innocence of a commissioner deemed to have violated the city’s ethics ordinance.
Commissioners created the subcommittee to revamp the ordinance after censuring Grady Smith, Joe Jackson and Wayne Guilfoyle for doing business with the city. Commissioners Bill Lockett, Williams, Mason and Fennoy, vocal critics of the three accused, had complained the ordinance has no teeth.
Shortly after the meeting started, Williams asked Mason and Johnson to recuse themselves because of reports that they had received gifts and contributions from Heery International, the city’s private construction management firm.
Augusta Chronicle Staff Writers Susan McCord and Sandy Hodson had worked on stories that week about Heery’s fees and how the company wooed commissioners and school board members with box seats at Atlanta Falcons games and Atlanta Braves tickets.
The stories detailed Johnson’s and Mason’s requests to Heery for money for community breakfasts, newsletters, neighborhood association awards, donations to nonprofits and scholarships. An Aug. 20 memo from Mason to Heery sought $9,800 to pay for those necessities.
Since being hired in 2003, Heery has contributed to many commission candidates’ campaigns. Memos in some company records indicate officials contributed to commissioners who supported their contract, which, by the way, is up for a two-year extension. Heery has also made about $9.5 million the past 10 years.