Printer Friendly

Augustus shows his veracity.

Byline: Clive McFarlane

Politics, particularly in these times, is often the art of taking a pure idea, sucking it dry of honor and integrity, weighing it down with personal agendas and then trumpeting the resulting carnage as a great accomplishment.

This was exactly how the city's search for a long-term city manager was unfolding, until Ed Augustus, with his integrity intact, put a stop to it.

When Mr. Augustus signed a nine-month contract earlier this year to become the city's chief executive, he promised that at the end of those nine months he would walk away from the job and not put himself up as candidate for the position.

On Wednesday, he went on record to say he intended to keep his word, and in doing so he put a little trust back into our politics, even as the process revealed how corrupting it can be for a man of honor.

Everyone, except Mr. Augustus, seemed to have forgotten that he made the promise to walk away at the end of the nine months to soothe concerns that the search to replace former City Manager Mike O'Brien lacked transparency and that a back-room deal to hand him the job without a formal search process was in the offing.

City councilors swore that this was not the case, yet in their every action, it was clear they wanted no one else but Mr. Augustus. It was clear that lying to the public was acceptable to them, as long as they had their man.

They reinforced their deception with community "listening sessions'' to help them decide what was needed in a manager, when they already had their mind made up.

It was reported, for example, that "some councilors have said that if Mr. Augustus is interested in the job, there were enough votes on the council to give him the long-term appointment, thus forgoing the need for a national search.''

It was also clear that many in the business community didn't care that Mr. Augustus would be breaking his word if he were to take their advice and "strongly consider submitting your name as a candidate for city manager.''

And it was clear that many residents, bolstered by Mr. Augustus' legislative and community work experience, didn't care if he broke his word, as long as they had him working for them.

One can understand now why Mr. Augustus waited as long as he did to reaffirm his promise to leave at the end of his term. When the whole world is telling you it is OK to lie to get what you want, it takes chutzpah to hold on to your honor.

When he took the position, Mr. Augustus didn't know just how much he would come to love the job, and how passionately the community and business leaders wanted him to take it.

"When I received the call from Joe (Mayor Petty) asking me to consider stepping in as manager, it was not even on my radar,'' he told me Thursday.

"I agreed to do it. I put the nine-month limit in the contract and went about my business, but nobody wanted to take that as the answer.

"Everybody tried to convince me to stay on. It was an amazing cross-section of people from the neighborhoods, the schools, city government and the business community. Organizations and people I care about and whose opinions I respect told me that I had an obligation to do this for the city.''

In the end, Mr. Augustus wisely understood that it was his integrity and not that of the City Council that was at stake.

"I found I loved the job and I began to really see the great things I could do to help the city grow and prosper, but at the end of the day, I have to live with myself. I wanted my reputation and my integrity more than the job.''

Contact Clive McFarlane at
COPYRIGHT 2014 Worcester Telegram & Gazette
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2014 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Local
Author:McFarlane, Clive
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Mar 28, 2014
Previous Article:Financial, tech lead stocks lower.
Next Article:Courthouse Records.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters