Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis has taken to hiding in his bunker in the midst of a barrage of Open Records Act requests from multiple media agencies. The requests seek information on how he spends public money on what are, at best, vanity projects and that could be considered campaign support material.
It is public knowledge that the “My Brother’s Keeper” charity bank account, a separate account slipped into the Mayor’s budget by former Augusta City Administrator Janice Jackson, has given Davis around $200,000 in discretionary spending over the last six years even though no such charity exists in Augusta.
The public has the right to know why the mayor spent money that was earmarked to mentor at-risk young men of color on photo shoots, hair and make-up, non-active websites and media consultants.
The mayor has not been forthcoming or transparent on the matter. Instead, he has attempted to load his closest associates into his own version of Noah’s Ark and make a dash to sail past the storm until he finds peaceful waters when he resigns to run for higher office.
It took hiring a lawyer for The Augusta Press to get any type of response out of the Mayor’s Office, and that response was a request for a meeting. Mayor Davis canceled the meeting he requested twice and has now responded that he will not meet and answer questions.
A paralegal for the city was authorized to respond that the remaining documents would be provided Thursday, May 20 and that any follow-up questions we have about the financials would have to be submitted in writing.
So much for the meeting the mayor requested. Instead, he has sailed off in the distance looking toward the end of his term as the Augusta mayor, a mere footnote in his quest for higher office, and he has his campaign team that he has been building on the backs of Augusta taxpayers on the boat with him.
Davis seems to be blissfully unaware of the submarines circling his ship, and those submarines are armed with torpedoes.
To be clear, the mayor and county commission work for the citizens of Augusta/Richmond County and should be accountable to them. This means transparency, especially from the very politicians who campaign and win office on pledges of transparency.
When public officials begin to act like a politburo and stall the release of public records or deny its release altogether, the public’s faith in government collapses.
Mayor Hardie Davis has until May 20 to decide to cooperate fully and to fulfill his duties to the public or face the consequences in court.
Mayor Hardie’s ark is headed toward treacherous waters.