Ga. city officials clash with each other and ambulance service over contract talks

The city and Gold Cross have fought over the zone designation and taken each other to court over it


Tom Corwin
The Augusta Chronicle, Ga.

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Mayor Hardie Davis and Mayor Pro Tem Sean Frantom clashed Tuesday at the end of the Augusta Commission meeting over the state of negotiations with emergency ambulance provider Gold Cross and Davis had sharp words for Gold Cross as well, leading to a gentlemanly rebuke from the company's attorney Pat Rice.

Frantom pointed out that the commission voted Oct. 9 to have a subcommittee begin talks with Gold Cross on a new contract, which it has not had since the end of 2017, but that subcommittee has only met twice and not since December.

"We are stalling, in my mind," he said. "We need to have these meetings and stop this subcommittee stuff and put it on the floor (for the whole commission). This is important information we need to know. Frankly, it's time we get this solved. The citizens deserve better. The community deserves better."

But Davis said Frantom's arguments are "specious at best." The full subcommittee has met three times and various members have met with Gold Cross and its attorneys numerous other times, he said. The problem is the city offered Gold Cross a draft contract based on those talks and the company sent back proposed changes "in complete contrast to what we agreed upon," Davis said.

"That's not true," Frantom interjected.

The whole point of the subcommittee negotiation was to avoid the public sniping that has gone back and forth between the parties, who have battled over the right to be the emergency ambulance provider for years, Davis said. He rejected the notion "that we're not operating in good faith.'

Having sat through a four-hour meeting to get to this point, Gold Cross attorney Brian Coursey said they are still "sitting there at the table and ready to do a deal. We would be giving up the zone (the official designation of emergency provider), which is a huge concession for Gold Cross.'

The city and Gold Cross have fought over the zone designation and taken each other to court over it.

But Davis said he is not about to let Gold Cross "bludgeon the city of Augusta into submission." That brought Rice forward to speak. He noted he has known Davis for a long time and counted himself "as your friend, as your admirer." But Rice said he had to "take exception" and was "very disappointed" he used the word bludgeon and asked Davis twice to retract it.

"I will not," Davis told him.

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©2019 The Augusta Chronicle (Augusta, Ga.)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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