Shaheen shrugs off recent criticisms during radio appearance

Warner Robins Mayor Chuck Shaheen shrugged off a pair of recent criticisms Tuesday morning, saying they amount to little more than politics.

Shaheen made the comments during an hour-long appearance on the Kenny B and Charles E Mix in the Morning show.

Shaheen was recently accused of spiking an investigation into an illegal tire dump thought to have been related to the clearing of old tires from Commercial Circle. He said during the show that he had not signed a prosecution waiver and that if a crime was committed, the city should prosecute. Late last week he asked the GBI to look into the city's handling of the case. (Related: Shaheen asks GBI to investigate handling of tire probe)

Shaheen was also asked about a criticism by some members of City Council that he may have misused city money for a trip to the Daytona 500 in February.

"The mayor has a travel budget to promote the city," Shaheen said. Shaheen said he used $451 of his allotted $1,000 travel budget for the trip — "I get paid for mileage," Shaheen said during Tuesday's interview — but some council members have questioned whether the trip was of benefit to the city.

Asked if he thought the criticism was just politics, Shaheen said he thought that was the case.

"I think that's what it is, but I'm just going to use it to become a better mayor," Shaheen said.

Later in the show, he was more pointed.

"I just think that everybody wants to try to make the news and make a name for themselves, but I just want to make a name for Warner Robins," Shaheen said.

The Kenny B and Charles E Mix in the Morning show can be heard each weekday from 6-9 a.m. on 100.9 FM, 980 AM and 1400 AM. The show is owned by The Telegraph and operated jointly with Register Communications.

The interview touched on several other current topics:

- Shaheen reaffirmed that he believes it is time to build the new law enforcement center. He continued to express concern over the cost - which City Council recently approved at $9.5 million - and the location. The city has $5 million in SPLOST funds for the project, and City Attorney Jim Elliott has been tasked to find sources for the $4.5 million balance. The proposed location, currently the site of Perkins Field, has been controversial and carries with it some federal hurdles. The field was originally established using federal money, so a suitable location has to be found as a replacement for the park and the move must be approved by the Department of Natural Resources.

- Asked about the possibility of bus transportation in Warner Robins, Shaheen indicated that the city was studying the issue. "That's kind of in the beginning stages," Shaheen said.

- Shaheen reaffirmed a commitment to developing the Commercial Circle area. He said a building was being demolished today, and that there were plans to grade the street to improve water flow in the area.

- Regarding the Georgia-Robins Aerospace Maintenance Project (G-RAMP), Shaheen again confirmed that a contract for the environment assessment would be handed out this month. He also restated his level of commitment to the project, saying, "In my opinion, Robins Air Force base is the heartbeat of our region, all of the Robins region. ... We want to do whatever we can to build our strength."

- Asked about annexation, Shaheen said that the city's current focus was on providing service to pockets of county land enveloped by the city. "We're not going to use the word annexation anymore," Shaheen said. "We're going to use 'providing services to the citizens of Warner Robins'."