Sylvia Cooper

City Ink columnist and correspondent for The Augusta Chronicle.

Reserve judgment of politicians

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And the race is on in the Augusta area, with four Republican candidates, three of them local, vying to unseat Democrat 12th District Congressman John Barrow, two announced candidates for the District 3 seat on the Augusta Commission, and one challenger to the District 2 incumbent in Columbia County.

They’re barely out of the gate, but the political shenanigans have already begun with the circulation of a video clip from a Statesboro forum in which someone asked congressional candidate Lee Anderson whether he would try to change the Federal Reserve or abolish it if elected.

“We must build our reserves even stronger than what it is now … on the federal level,” Anderson replied. “On the state level, we are building back our reserves up now.”

When contacted by phone for comment about the clip, Anderson said, “They’re trying to be dirty already. They can play dirty politics. I go the high road. I run a positive campaign.”

“And,” he added, “the federal reserves, we need to get them on a level where we can audit them, so we’ll know exactly what they’re doing.”

CAN THEY MANAGE IT? The Augusta Commission District 3 race got more interesting last week, when both attorney Ed Enoch and Mary Fair Davis announced they’ll run for the seat.

Mary Davis was campaign manager for Deke Copenhaver when he ran in 1996, and Enoch has been state Sen. Hardie Davis’ campaign manager since his first run for the senate.

So, if Mary Davis is elected, Mayor Deke will have a strong ally on the commission. And if Enoch wins, Hardie Davis will have a buddy on the board, too.

Enoch, attorney for the Augusta-Richmond Coliseum Authority, said if he’s elected, he’ll give up that job.

“I think I’d have to,” he said.

Commissioners and legislators appoint members to the authority, so Enoch would end up appointing members who could conceivably hire him as attorney.

“It would be a conflict,” he said.

Why, you might ask, would Enoch give up what you might expect to be a lucrative job for one that pays $13,000 a year?

The answer is that it’s not so lucrative nowadays. A few years ago, when authority members were having knock-down drag-outs at meetings, Enoch had a lot more legal work to do. Now, not so much. He’s paid $150 an hour, which he says is “a bargain” and makes $500 to $1,000 a month.

AND HE’S NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE! Meanwhile, Damon Cline, former business editor for The Augusta Chronicle, said he’ll challenge Commissioner Trey Allen for his District 2 seat on the Columbia County Commission.

The catalyst for Cline’s decision to run is the current commission’s approval of a government subsidized housing development near his neighborhood.

In a letter to the editor published Dec. 5 in The Chronicle, Cline notes the weakening of the “bedroom-community haven for achievement-oriented middle-class families … during the past decade by a proliferation of ‘affordable’ high-density developments.”

“Now the commission’s rubber-stamp approval of a 50-home development designed for welfare recipients in the heart of Martinez, to be called Magnolia Trace, effectively drives a stake in heart of a community that people could once call ‘a nice place to live,’ ” he wrote.

Cline, 39, is now the publications manager for Georgia Health Sciences University and is past president of Augusta West Rotary Club.

WHO WILL HAVE ENOUGH STRENGTH TO BE THE NEXT SHERIFF IN TOWN? “When I came to Augusta 40 years ago, two sheriffs back-to-back went to federal prison, and a Columbia County sheriff admitted to civil rights violations against a newspaper editor and was voted out of office.

“But after those calamities, a breath of fresh air came in when Charlie Webster was elected,” said attorney David Hudson, one of more than a dozen prominent citizens gathered to heap praise on Sheriff Ronnie Strength last week and pressure him to run for four more years.

“With Charlie and Ronnie Strength we’ve had over 35 years when we knew the sheriff’s office would be run with integrity and with the best interest of the community at heart,” Hudson added.

Others delivering heart-felt messages to the sheriff at a luncheon put on by Augusta businessman Rodger Giles were former DOT Chairman Bill Kuhlke; Augusta Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Carlisle Overstreet; Webster, attorney Paul Dunbar and others too numerous to mention.

“I think the two most important public officials in a county are the sheriff and district attorney,” Hudson said. “We’ve got numerous judges, and they don’t have to be right every time, but when the sheriff and district attorney make a decision, we need for them to be right every time.”

“I was moved,” Strength said afterward. “I am honored by everything. I was appreciative.”

Still, he didn’t say he would run, and he didn’t say he wouldn’t. Instead, he said he’d announce his intentions in two or three weeks.

HR WANTS TO GIVE ADP THE BUSINESS: There was a leak in the Marble Palace last week that left Deputy City Administrator Bill Shanahan looking all wet.

Shanahan gave a TV reporter an internal memo that he wrote listing problems with the city’s existing relationship with Automatic Data Processing, the company wanting to take over the city’s human resources functions, but didn’t tell his boss, City Administrator Fred Russell.

Russell was livid that the informal notes Shanahan made during an ongoing dialog with ADP were turned over to the media in what was essentially a rough draft and with Shanahan for not telling him he’d done so.

As it turned out, Russell said, the city’s human resources, not ADP, is to blame for more than 75 percent of the issues and problems listed in the memo. And many have already been resolved.

Russell called the memo “an ill-conceived document that never should have seen the light of day.”

Commissioners voted in January to move forward with obtaining a price quote from and negotiating a contract with ADP.

THEY’RE AT IT AGAIN: Two years ago, Columbia County Republican Party Chairman Lawrence Hammond was ousted by party members but later reinstated by the 10th District party committee, only to resign.

Last week, the party’s executive committee, many of whom had targeted Hammond, resigned at the end of a meeting and walked out after past chairwoman Pat Goodwin’s reading of a three-page letter outlining “major concerns” about board members not being allowed to speak and voice their opinions or ask questions during executive board meetings.

Resigning were Jim Bartley, Bob Beckham, Stefanee Berry, T.R. Brooks, Vennis Farrell, Carolyn Kirkland and Goodwin.

Former Columbia County Commissioner Frank Spears said the problem with the party is that the members have nothing to do but fight among themselves. What they need, he said, is a real enemy to target.

“The number of Democrats in Columbia County can fit into a phone booth,” he said. “The old Guard, Bob Beckham and his buddies, don’t know how to give it up. And the new people don’t have a sense of humor.”

Comments (20) Add comment
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Many Arrows
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Many Arrows 01/28/12 - 11:31 pm
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There will be an unlimited

There will be an unlimited reserve of laughs like that at Lee Anderson's expense and of his own making. Meanwhile, to the north Paul Broun has a highly intelligent, qualified, and committed candidate in Stephen Simpson.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 01/28/12 - 11:51 pm
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Ahhhhh, Ronnie Strength is

Ahhhhh, Ronnie Strength is put in the same boat with Southside Mafia darling, Charlie Webster. It seems like someone in the media this week spent a lot of time trying to say Strength had little to do with Webster and the Southside Mafia. I mean we all knew it was a fact that Webster had picked and promoted Strength, but this connects them at the hip again as if they were ever separated. The boys on the end of Broad St., of course, knew that all along.

Many Arrows
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Many Arrows 01/29/12 - 12:16 am
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Someone in the media has

Someone in the media has declared himself the first and last arbiter of who is SSM and who is not. I thought that whole tempest was silly, especially since the arbiter was about 8 years old when hos despised old rogue Roy Harris was in last days.

GeezeLouise
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GeezeLouise 01/29/12 - 01:03 am
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Deke ran for mayor in 1996?
Unpublished

Deke ran for mayor in 1996? What was he, like 16 then?

Riverman1
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Riverman1 01/29/12 - 08:28 am
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Many Arrows, that was a silly

Many Arrows, that was a silly diatribe we heard, but the intent was to distance Strength from Webster and those old connections we all know about. The truth is the connections continue. I also believe Strength is going to leave because Scott Peebles' name was thrown out. That's what this is all about. Those of us who believe the old connections that continue back to Webster should be broken are being led to believe they have been and Peebles will be even further away when, if fact, he won't be.

It was funny that David Hudson sort of went off script with his comments. They all must have been shuddering. Maybe that's why Sylvia quoted him. She knows.

GeezeLouise
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GeezeLouise 01/29/12 - 12:16 pm
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In the Dist 12 race, which
Unpublished

In the Dist 12 race, which candidate is being backed by tthe Augusta Cabal?

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 01/29/12 - 12:39 pm
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Well, it is a safe bet that

Well, it is a safe bet that Mary Fair Davis will be a reliable vote for the taxpayer-financed ball park. I will be asking Ed Enoch where he stands on that issue.

GeezeLouise
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GeezeLouise 01/29/12 - 01:15 pm
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I meant the dist 12
Unpublished

I meant the dist 12 congressional race. I think I may already know the answer to that.

politicalparty
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politicalparty 01/29/12 - 02:22 pm
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Dirty politics? The video

Dirty politics? The video was posted by a staff reporter on the Statesboro Herald website!

allhans
24842
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allhans 01/29/12 - 02:38 pm
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Hold on there, now. Roy

Hold on there, now. Roy Harris was my kinfolk.

Many Arrows
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Many Arrows 01/29/12 - 02:38 pm
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Lee and instant video

Lee and instant video communications will make for an entertaining campaign.

Many Arrows
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Many Arrows 01/29/12 - 02:42 pm
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No River, the radio guy

No River, the radio guy delights in poking fun at a local group who cannot be named on the radio when one of said group made a very valid counterargument that no one will see here or hear on the radio. The once dominant media outlets are immolating themselves.......yeah, they are committing suicide and cannot seem to stay their own hands. There were several GOP who were SSM. This is not my bailiwick and it was not worth the time to challenge.

GeezeLouise
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GeezeLouise 01/29/12 - 03:28 pm
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Did someone seriously say the
Unpublished

Did someone seriously say the SSM doesn't have any Republicans? True, back in the day, the old SSM under Roy Harris was a Democratic Party machine.. but that was back when southern democrats were against civil rights and they ruled over Georgia. Times have changed and so has the SSM.. it started to change in the 80s to include more republicans. The thing is tjhough in Richmond county, to win a partisan county wide race you still pretty much have to run as a democrat.. which is why Strength always runs as a democrat. There are two SSM folks on the school board, but that's non partisan. The party labels really dont mean much anymore as far as the SSM is concerned.

Asitisinaug
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Asitisinaug 01/30/12 - 01:18 am
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River, you make some good

River, you make some good comments supporting deputies at times. It is also obvious for whatever reason that you don't care for Sheriff Strength although I doubt it is possible to actually show any connections to anyone of the such as you continue to allude to. Never once has anyone filed anything or any media outlet even as much as questioned the Sheriff's loyalty, honesty or integrity to this community. He has been through a lot and the death of JD has consumed him, as it would most any caring Sheriff. He has served this area loyally for many years and if he elects to retire, he is deserving of our appreciation for many fine years of service.

As for Captain Peebles, he is an excellent leader, very progressive and has led many of the programs and operations within the agency as well as a strong supporter of true community policing. He is one of the main reasons the burglary task force (which works well with the community, stays in the neighborhoods and looks for signs of suspicious activity) has been so successful and greatly reduced burglaries in our area. This comes straight out of any community policing handbook. I don't know yet if Sheriff Strength will decide to run or not although I have my ideas. I also don't know if Captain Peebles will run because he has not made that clear as of yet. I do however know that Scott Peebles by far will be the best choice as the new Sheriff for Richmond County in order to enhance standards, have true community policing (which you and I both believe in) and to take the Sheriff's Office to the next level. He is very active in all areas of the community and cares for and works with everyone regardless of sex, race, income status, etc. If the Sheriff decides not to run, we can only hope that Scott decides to run and gets elected as our next Sheriff.

EyeMaeNo
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EyeMaeNo 01/30/12 - 10:46 am
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It sounds like we may have
Unpublished

It sounds like we may have another "Grateful Mother".

Riverman1, you are right on the money. Maybe NOT about Sheriff Strength but the rest of your comment was dead on.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 01/30/12 - 10:57 am
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The article above said that

The article above said that the executive committee of the Columbia County Republican Party resigned en masse because members of the Board of Directors were not allowed to speak at board meetings. Then it listed the names of seven people who resigned. Wow! If they have seven people on the executive committee, how big must the Board of Directors be!?

Asitisinaug
3
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Asitisinaug 01/31/12 - 02:14 am
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Very good point Little Lamb.

Very good point Little Lamb.

Little Lamb
48879
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Little Lamb 01/31/12 - 07:59 am
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Sylvia Cooper wrote: . . .

Sylvia Cooper wrote:

. . . from a Statesboro forum in which someone asked congressional candidate Lee Anderson whether he would try to change the Federal Reserve or abolish it if elected. “We must build our reserves even stronger than what it is now … on the federal level,” Anderson replied. “On the state level, we are building back our reserves up now.”

It is scary to think that a person running for U.S. Congressman does not know what the Federal Reserve Bank is! Oh well, we have met the enemy and he is us.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 01/31/12 - 09:17 am
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Asitis, it’s natural for a

Asitis, it’s natural for a sheriff to generate allegiance from the public and some in the media. It goes with the job and, in actuality, Strength is a personable person. Many want to take up for him and express admiration. As you say, he has been through a lot with the death of Paugh and his own son, a young man, died not too long ago.

But then we get down to the old connections from Webster. Do you think Webster was a good sheriff with few strings attached to the shady side? Let me see how you answer that. Realize Strength was picked by Webster.

You said, “…I doubt it is possible to actually show any connections to anyone of the such as you continue to allude to.”
You are right, I can’t point out such connections explicitly, but I can refer you to photos in the Chronicle of funerals he has attended and those he has been pall bearers for if you want to see connections to those on the end of Broad St. When I debated someone in the media about these issues he joked Strength attended the funerals to make sure they were dead. Heh, funny, enough, but it also admits the connections. This guy is pretty knowledgeable about Webster and often attempts to distance the two. That’s why it was pretty funny David Hudson linked them so closely in his talk.

Riverman1
93282
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Riverman1 01/31/12 - 09:24 am
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Scott Peebles is now being

Scott Peebles is now being touted by some as the likely successor and, if anything, he is more of a connection to the past events and Webster. His daddy worked for Webster until there was no choice but to fire him after the public outcry over his major mess-up. Scott Peebles is more of the same. We need an outsider, a new sheriff in town.

There’s a reason elections for sheriff generate hundreds of thousands in campaign contributions for sheriff, far more than any other office. Tim Shelnut told the feds he gave 10 grand to Strength in violation of campaign ethics rules. Why do people throw so much money at the administrator of our law enforcement agency?

Riverman1
93282
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Riverman1 01/31/12 - 10:41 am
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I'd like to see a competent

I'd like to see a competent outsider run for sheriff too. Any ideas anyone?

My major concerns with our current RCSO administration besides what I pointed out above is the crime rate in the county and the seeming indifference (I’m not a social worker) indifference to become proactive in preventing crime and have the officers among the public more in what’s known as community policing.

Much of this comes from the fact most of the residents the police deal with are poor black folks, but remember the Harrisburg residents were also thwarted every time they tried to encourage the RCSO to do community policing. These people were largely ignored. That attitude comes from the top and needs to be changed. Frankly, I believe a black sheriff would be much more effective in the county. He would be among the people more. I’ll guess something like 90% of the crime in the county involves blacks. That’s why a black sheriff would be a plus. He could bring certain dynamics to the county.

Riverman1
93282
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Riverman1 01/31/12 - 10:46 am
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EyeMaeNo, I wonder how those

EyeMaeNo, I wonder how those cold case files are handled in that murder? Can you refresh my memory of why the elder Peebles was fired again?

EyeMaeNo
20
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EyeMaeNo 01/31/12 - 10:54 am
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Riverman1 there IS one man
Unpublished

Riverman1 there IS one man that not only has the leadership abilities that RCSO needs and he honestly cares about the people of this community. This particular man feels that EVERY crime and EVERY victim should be treated the same across the board. He is also black and has 32+ years as a LEO with RCSO. I think he may be too smart to run for political office. But I'd wager the bet if he were to run the other three who are contemplating running would back out fast. Let's just say he'd be a MAJOR contender in the election.

Riverman1
93282
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Riverman1 01/31/12 - 11:06 am
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EyeMaeNo, he sounds like the

EyeMaeNo, he sounds like the man for the job.

Asitisinaug
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Asitisinaug 01/31/12 - 01:24 pm
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EyeMaeNo, he is a good person

EyeMaeNo, he is a good person and does a good job and is also a good leader.

River, as for the Sheriff needing to be black, I think it is more important that he be a true leader, effective, smart, caring, progressive, etc. and could care less about his race. Black, white or brown, just get the job done effectively. Personally, from those listed so far, I believe Peebles is that person if Strength does not run. However, whomever the Sheriff is, if the commission will not properly fund the department, you can forget community policing - there just isn't enough staff or funds for true community policing.

Now, to answer your question about Webster, I can honestly say I do not know. I am not trying to avoid the question but simply have no real personal knowledge of his workings, etc. I try not assume anything, even though that can be difficult at times.

EyeMaeNo
20
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EyeMaeNo 01/31/12 - 01:51 pm
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Asitis ... you lost me. Who
Unpublished

Asitis ... you lost me. Who is a good man and leader?

Asitisinaug
3
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Asitisinaug 01/31/12 - 02:30 pm
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The person you are eluding

The person you are eluding too - but, I doubt he wants those headaches.

EyeMaeNo
20
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EyeMaeNo 01/31/12 - 04:20 pm
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Gotcha! Well it is a shame if
Unpublished

Gotcha! Well it is a shame if he truly doesn't consider throwing his hat in because I believe he would have the backing of the current Sheriff, the department and the community as a whole. IMO there is not anyone (of the three I've heard are considering vying for the office) who is qualified for that office. No one who could represent the department as a leader without any baggage to be drudged up. It is going to be an ugly race when all the skeletons come dancing out. JMO.

Riverman1
93282
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Riverman1 01/31/12 - 05:28 pm
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I listen to those who comment

I listen to those who comment here and can pretty much tell who is being truthful. EyeMaeNo strikes me that way. So I'd be happy if the Major he is referring to decides to run even if Sheriff Strength supports him.

Like I said, my problems with Strength are more about my concerns with him getting away from the past connections. I'll also say Strength has my utmost respect because he donated $10,000 to charity after the Shelnut revelations. That was the right thing to do.

So, if EyeMaeNo, who is a knowledgeable person, thinks the Major is the best person for the job and believes Strength would back him, too, what's there not to like? Asitis, what's there not to like?

Asitisinaug
3
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Asitisinaug 01/31/12 - 05:29 pm
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River, nothing really, I am

River, nothing really, I am just pretty sure (and EyeMaeNo) is probably as well that isn't even going to be an option. If it was however, it would change the dynamics.

Most people (taking away all names) who have already served over 30 years are not ready for the challenges, long days, and politics that it will require. Also, whomever is our next Sheriff, needs to be in office for at least 2 terms. We also need someone ready to be progressive in many areas, including technology, etc.

However, to be honest, the biggest problem any Sheriff in RC will face at this time is the lack of funding, manpower and support from the commission. Public Safety just does not seem to be a priority for any of them which just makes no since to me since many are good and well educated individuals.

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