Sylvia Cooper

City Ink columnist and correspondent for The Augusta Chronicle.

City Ink: Qualifying ended, but the political games continue

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Qualifying ended Friday, and the competition for Augusta Political Idol – the city’s hottest reality show – is under way.

First up was lawyer Jack Long who filed a complaint with the state elections director objecting to Juvenile Court Judge Willie Saunders running for Superior Court judge.

Saunders, who filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy in September, owed more than $159,000 to the Internal Revenue Service. He filed a payment plan, but the plan is not to pay his taxes in full. He will pay nothing on $73,000.

“Article 2, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the Georgia Constitution states that anyone who doesn’t pay their taxes in full or file a payment plan to repay the full amount is not eligible to run for public office,” Long said. It’s a little-known law that nobody pays attention to.

Long said his complaint “hasn’t got a damned thing to do with” Saunders personally or Long’s friendship with incumbent Augusta Judicial Circuit Judge Carlisle Overstreet.

“If anyone else is running that has not rendered unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, I’ll do the same thing. Taxes are what we pay for the benefit of living in a free society.”

SHORT AND SWEET: Former Mayor Bob Young e-mailed last week to say the sheriff’s candidates would be speaking to the Summerville Neighborhood Association. I didn’t go because I’d heard them earlier and didn’t want to get over-exposed. Still I wanted to know what His Honor thought, so I e-mailed him the next day. He said he didn’t go either and was counting on me to go and give him a report.

So I did.

“In a nutshell, I’ll give you my honest opinions of the sheriff’s candidates from what I’ve observed so far.

Scott Peebles – of the Democrat candidates, he’s obviously the most qualified and able to handle the job and the media. Just the right age, too. I just wish he’d quit the talk about community policing, which would be nice but unaffordable for Richmond County. Do you want to pay an extra $100 a year in property taxes to send deputies out to babysit at high-crime hot spots?

Richard Roundtree – nice looking, makes a plausible presentation of himself, and would not be an embarrassment during a news conference after a shooting or something. However, he seems to be a chick magnet with a penchant for Econo Lodges and that could be a problem. He’s also a little lax with evidence, guns and ammo. And he owes $17,450 to the IRS and $789 to the state.

Robbie Silas – Sheriff Ronnie Strength’s brother-in-law seems to be an officer and a gentleman. Nothing bad to say about him except ... nothing bad to say about him.

John Ivey – Solid as a rock. Not too innovative though. I’d vote for him before Roundtree because he seems trustworthy and serious.

Freddie Sanders – Republican candidate talks law and order. What I like to hear. Definitely needs a new toupee though.

I’ve forgotten the other Republican candidate’s name already although he seemed sincere when I talked to him. What does that tell you?

Bob replied he thought it was a good analysis.

“Community policing is a buzzword for progressives, who vote Democrat. Scott needs them to win. Richard has gone a step further by saying he’ll use the office for social engineering. The reality is there is no money to do either, and this could spill over into the commission race as an issue about raising taxes for law enforcement.

As for Richard’s taxes, it would be unusual to have a sheriff whose wages were garnished.”

NO JUSTICE AT ALL: Listen carefully. You can almost hear the skeletons rattling in the Marble Palace.

Last week, I told you about now-demoted Augusta Recreation Department employee Melinda Pearson’s report to Deputy Administrator Bill Shanahan concerning perceived threats from employee Millie Armstrong. Armstrong asked Pearson to meet her at Smack Down where she would put her in a “sleeper hold.”

Shanahan promised to look into Armstrong’s file to see whether Pearson’s concerns were justified. He also told her not to go to her office the next morning until she heard from him. She never did. So I decided to do his job.

I asked to review Armstrong’s and one other personnel file, for which the law department charged $71.74. Funny thing, when the law department released documents from Shanahan and company’s timecard investigation to the media it included old disciplinary reports from Pearson’s file, which hadn’t even been requested and had nothing to do with the investigation – at no charge.

Anyway, I paid and settled down for some hair-raising tales. Suffice it to say, it would take two newspaper pages to print it all. But during her tenure, Armstrong has received at least two dozen verbal and written warnings, reprimands and has been suspended six times for gross misconduct, insubordination, harassment of co-workers, fighting, racial and derogatory remarks and “uncontrolled violent behavior.”

She received a verbal warning in 2000 for threatening to poison her supervisor, Horace Dunbar, who complained she said she was going to get her .38 and shoot him. In 2001, she picked up a pipe and started toward Dunbar who locked himself in his office to get away. In 2005 she tried to kick a co-worker and created such a disturbance risk management and two sheriff’s deputies got involved.

Not in the file were two complaint reports and a suspension this year.

There is a letter – “non-punitive in nature” if you can believe that – from Shanahan indicating he did meet with Armstrong about the Smack Down incident, and she told him she was just joking, and he told her not to do it again and that he appreciated her honesty.

That’s a fine example of why it’s almost impossible to fight City Hall. They manufacture evidence and hide documents.

The same officials who conducted the timecard investigation that led to Director Tom Beck’s firing and Pearson’s demotion heard Pearson’s appeal last week. How’s that for a stacked jury? A decision is expected this week, but the heavens would have to open up if the appeal weren’t denied. They’re too deep into it now to say they’re wrong – although they are. If they said she didn’t commit timecard fraud, where would that leave them with Beck who was fired on the same bogus accusation?

Anyway, why should they care? They won’t pay the piper with their money. They’ll wad up some more of yours and throw it at the lawsuits.

WHAT LIFE WAS LIKE SURROUNDED BY ALL THAT DEATH: Ernie and I visited the Vietnam Veteran Memorial wall at Fort Gordon on Friday and with the help of Sgt. 1st Class Justin Cooley found the names of two boys Ernie grew up with in south Georgia. We then went to the display of photographs, guns, ammunition and other war memorabilia created by John Fribley Hosier, an Airborne Ranger who became a combat photographer after being shot in Vietnam.

He took thousands of photographs. After the war was over, he stored them in his attic for almost 30 years before realizing what a treasure he had.

“Every photographer is always looking for that great shot like the raising of the flag on Mt. Suribachi,” he said. “I was like that, wanting to go to this battlefront or firefight to get that shot and was disappointed. But when we got the old pictures out, I realized they were all great. Some of them are the last pictures taken of these boys.”

If you go to any of the programs at Barton Field between now and the closing ceremony Monday, don’t miss “Through the Eyes – a Vietnam Experience.”

Comments (29) Add comment
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star
643
Points
star 05/26/12 - 09:18 pm
9
0
The best

Sylvia you are the best at keeping us informed - if it were not for your column the citizens of Richmond County/Augusta would be in the dark about what goes on in our political arena. Thank you.

No_Longer_Amazed
5143
Points
No_Longer_Amazed 05/26/12 - 09:58 pm
6
0
".....not eligible to run for public office...."

If Lawyer Long says that "anyone who doesn’t pay their taxes in full or file a payment plan to repay the full amount is not eligible to run for public office," why would it not also apply to candidates in the sheriff's race? Lawyer Lyons has already said that if candidates are "not ligit they need to be called out" in the high school diploma debacle!

what he said
21
Points
what he said 05/26/12 - 10:55 pm
2
8
That sound you hear...

is the last shred of Sylvia's objectivity flapping in the breeze.

I do realize that is is difficult to consider another point of view when you have only looked at one side. There is more than enough information out there to reasonable conclude that the Recreation Department is much better off without Beck and Pearson. I assure you that neither of them want the skeletons in their closets revealed, or the shortcomings and outright incomptence in management skills exposed either.

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 05/27/12 - 05:40 am
3
4
Ok. Time to hire a deputy for

Ok. Time to hire a deputy for specials, you high crime area people. Sylvia done spoke, and so it shall be.

Carleton Duvall
6305
Points
Carleton Duvall 05/27/12 - 07:37 am
12
2
Community policing

Yes, Sylvia, I would pay $100/year to save a life or two in high crime areas. That is about the cost of 15 six packs which I wouldn't drink anyway.

avidreader
3189
Points
avidreader 05/27/12 - 08:05 am
0
8
Community Policing

We need some community policing in our neighborhood. Our version of Gladys Kravitz called the police because her neighbor's sprinkler went haywire and the trajectory was spraying onto Gladys's driveway and her petunia bed was in danger. How tragic! Maybe a couple of full-time beat cops would solve our delicate problems.

justthefacts
21707
Points
justthefacts 05/27/12 - 09:05 am
9
2
Credibility (lack of)

I wonder if "what he said" will ever provide any evidence that they are right and the columnist is wrong.

JohnBrownAug
1962
Points
JohnBrownAug 05/27/12 - 09:13 am
9
0
What a revealing column.

If this column doesn't cause the earth to tremor in city government I don't know what it will take. The Beck-Pearson-Armstrong events simply show it's impossible to run the department with the non-support Shanahan, Russell, Mayor and Commission give department heads. After all, Russell kept D'Agniac on his payroll right next to his office for a long time.

JohnBrownAug
1962
Points
JohnBrownAug 05/27/12 - 09:16 am
5
7
About the Sheriff's Race

If we are going to jump on Roundtree about the women, I suggest we take a look at the other major candidates. Peebles just got remarried about a year and a half ago.

About the finances and tax debts some have, I guess y'all don't remember when Mayor Willie Mays and a Commissioner had their cars towed away by the repo man while a Commission meeting was going on. Candidates without money and in debt have never been unusual around these parts.

OIC
25
Points
OIC 05/27/12 - 09:36 am
3
2
Where is the news on the rest

Where is the news on the rest of the candidates that qualified on Friday. Who is running unopposed? Was Qualification week fair to all since some non-partisan elected posts were postponed? Why some and not all? Why does the election board not post qualification dates and fees for the elected posts? When is the Solicitor General qualification date? Did someone already qualify? Anyone else qualify? City Ink should quit the soap opera column and begin to dig deep for the stories that the readers of this paper and the citizens need.

owensjef3
5639
Points
owensjef3 05/27/12 - 09:43 am
3
9
What
Unpublished

Why did she single out the Black candidates?

" John Ivey – Solid as a rock. Not too innovative though. I’d vote for him before Roundtree because he seems trustworthy and serious." I guess if she was force at gun point to choose between the two Blacks.
lol I Would rather be good looking than trustworthy any day. lol

justthefacts
21707
Points
justthefacts 05/27/12 - 09:59 am
6
3
That says alot.

"I Would rather be good looking than trustworthy any day"

dichotomy
32777
Points
dichotomy 05/27/12 - 10:32 am
12
0
Unqualified candidates,

Unqualified candidates, debtors and tax evaders, already failed and disciplined candidates, bushwhacker commissioners and administrators, fabricating evidence on some and hiding and covering up disciplinary records of others. Our government is a rats nest. The commission, the administrator, and the "regular" employees. It's rotten from the top down to the foundation. No decent candidate would want anything to do with this cesspool. Anyone who declares themselves a candidate or applies for a job with this county is immediately suspect of incompetence, tax evasion, disciplinary problems, criminal history, or, in the case of the most recently exposed employee, mental instability.

South Richmond County this is your money at work and the kooks, quacks, crooks, criminals, and crazies from downtown are in charge of it. We deserve what we get and we are certainly getting what we deserve for approving Consolidation.

And can you imagine a male supervisor locking himself in an office to hide from a female employee? If it had been me they would not have had to worry about a disciplinary report because I would have slapped the snot out of her and fired her on the spot, or as soon as possible after she got out of the hospital from having the pipe removed from her bottom side. Threatening to get a gun. Coming after a supervisor with a pipe. Are you kidding me? Don't you think this nutcase should have been fired immediately....and probably locked up to boot? Apparently we have some gutless supervisors and the inmates are in charge of the asylum downtown. That's one of many reasons why Augusta's government is the laughing stock of two states and always will be. And we were stupid enough to "consolidate" and send our money downtown where we have little to no representation, no influence, no power, and no recourse. Way to go South Augusta...you suckers. Oh wait.....we DID get garbage service out of it, at an extra cost, and it only costs us twice the going rate. Ain't we lucky?

csraguy
2274
Points
csraguy 05/30/12 - 02:07 am
10
0
Captain Peebles is by far our best choice for Sheriff

Community Policing is a philosophical change in the current policing from re-active to pro-active. It is simply improving upon what we have now and studies from NYC to LA and many places in between shows that it works very well. It also works well in our neighboring county. Does the Sheriff’s Office need more personnel/budget – of course they do, the commissioners have cut over 40 personnel in the past few years not to mention millions from the Sheriff’s budget and jail budget. No matter what policing method you use, these types of cut will have a drastic affect. That being said, Richmond County statistically is still a very safe area, violent crime is at one of its lowest points in 7 years and burglaries have decreased. According to the DOJ and other websites community policing is an aggressive strategy to deal with all crimes, even minor ones and has nothing to do with social engineering although I do believe we need more programs in our county aimed at keeping our youth in school and out of trouble.

Captain Peebles – By far the most qualified, experienced and prepared leader to take over as our next Sheriff. Will enhance the Sheriff’s Office and is already a proven leader who has helped to oversee many programs within the current administration.

Lt. Richard Roundtree – Seems to be more into social programs and helping our youth – both are good things but not the primary functions of a Sheriff’s Office. Based on his many on-duty past troubles, combined with his philosophies, he is better suited working with our youth in the school system as our system is barely graduating 50% of their students. Not prepared to run a 55 Million $ budget and has proven that by his current financial past due obligations.

Lt. Robbie Silas – Nice guy, good police officer but simply not Sheriff material. No advance training, college, command schools, academies, etc. and therefore lacks not only the educational needs but the experience.

Lt. John Ivery – Good philosophies but not a great speaker. With over 30 years experience, mostly handling polygraphs, etc. he simply is not prepared to be our next Sheriff. He has served us well and should enjoy his retirement.

Freddie Sanders – Old School philosophy as he says himself and hasn’t had any in the past 20 years.. Would like reduce 40 beats to 20 beats and have 2 man cars which would greatly increase response times. Would like many calls to be handled over the phone which is one of the worst policing philosophies out there – officers who go to the scene, even on minor cases, see clues and find evidence to help solve crimes before they fester and increase. Would be a good judge who issued very strong punishments but in reality there is no way he could possibly statistically beat Roundtree or Peebles.

Mike Gowdowns – Seems to care about the deputies and is making his number one campaign initiative to improve the morale of the Sheriff’s Office. Since the deputies pay in Richmond County is deplorable compared to other counties, this is something the Sheriff and Commission greatly need to work on. He has very little law enforcement experience, command experience or leadership experience.

allhans
23619
Points
allhans 05/27/12 - 10:58 am
1
5
Does wearing a toupee count

Does wearing a toupee count for you or against you? LOL!!!~

JohnBrownAug
1962
Points
JohnBrownAug 05/27/12 - 11:10 am
6
2
The racial factors can't be ignored.

The truth is that all over the nation voters vote along racial lines. There appears to be a push in Richmond Cty for blacks to turn out to support black candidates for all offices. That's going to have a major influence in this election. Whites in Augusta may decide to vote Republican is the other factor.

owensjef3
5639
Points
owensjef3 05/27/12 - 11:52 am
4
2
@justthefacts
Unpublished

See lol at the end the comment, Stop looking for trouble.

JRC2024
8847
Points
JRC2024 05/27/12 - 12:54 pm
8
0
And what is wrong with Scott

And what is wrong with Scott getting remarried? I met the couple at a restaurant on Walton way and her x repaired my garage door. All three are fine people that work hard and are not on a welfare check.

Truthbetold74
108
Points
Truthbetold74 05/27/12 - 01:49 pm
5
0
Sheriff's Race
Unpublished

for Carleton's comment, I too would gladly pay an extra $100 a year to the Sheriff's Office to improve the way they interact with the public but it's not needed. They need somebody willing to change and with the vision to make it happen.

JRC, I think the point JohnBrownAug was attempting to make is why Scott Peebles had to get remarried and about the extra activities he has been rumored to have been involved in that caused the divorce. I don't know if he was or if any of that is true, point being that everybody is so quick to point out everybody's short comings but his. Obviously Sylvia Cooper will not, she has made her decision and causally dismisses everybody else as irrelevant.

CSRAguy, while I am in total agreement with your comments - Community Policing is a philosophical change in the current policing from re-active to pro-active. It is simply improving upon what we have now and studies from NYC to L:A and many placed in between shows shat it works very well. It also works in our neighboring county.
I would like to point out that Candidate Mike Godowns has more Law Enforcement experience then Charlie Webster did when he took office and Mr. Godowns has successfully ran 2 businesses in the past, making him the only candidate with budgeting and real administration experience. There is a difference between being an administrator when jobs and budgets fall back to you alone and being a supervisor that is told what to do by the administrator.

Last issue, while I have only had a few conversations with each of the candidates and have heard them speak I was under the impression that Godowns had a two prong attack, 1 improving the morale of the department which makes better and happier officers. 2 is community policing which would be helped by better trained and happier officers.

rebellious
20685
Points
rebellious 05/27/12 - 02:14 pm
3
4
CSRAguy Seriously?

I thought it was classless to not invite 2 of the candidates to the Summerville forum, then give some 2 minutes to speak and Peebles 7 minutes.

"Lt. Robbie Silas – Nice guy, good police officer but simply not Sheriff material. No advance training, college, command schools, academies, etc. and therefore lacks not only the educational needs but the experience."

Silas Resume includes:
Additional Specialized Law Enforcement Training
■Advanced Traffic Law
■Bomb Management Supervision
■Incident Command Supervision
■Advanced Traffic Investigation
■Radar/Lidar Speed Measurement Training
■Forensic Mapping
■GBI Forensics
■Firearms Instructor
■Advanced Management Training
■Field Training Officer
■SFST Training
■Hazardous Materials Certified
■Gang Awareness Training
■Glock Armorer
■Glock Certified Instructor

Professional Accomplishments
■Over 14 years of Safe Driving
■Over 14 years of Perfect Attendance
■Over 14 years of Expert Marksmanship
■Promoted to the rank of Sergeant after only 6 years
■Promoted to the rank of Lieutenant after only 12 years
■Numerous Meritorious Duty Awards and Letters of Commendation
■Assigned Riot Squad Team Leader
■Worked with GBI, FBI, Parole, and DEA
■Has worked with numerous agencies to identify criminals involved in various Law Enforcement Operations
■Specialized Instructor
■Has made hundreds of arrests for various crimes

everybodylies
35
Points
everybodylies 05/27/12 - 02:38 pm
2
6
THANK YOU REBELLIOUS
Unpublished

Thank you Rebellious for posting Lt. Silas's qualifications. It is great to know that some people are aware that the world does NOT revolve around Peebles!!!! I too, agree with your post regarding Lt. Silas. One major difference between the two of them is boiled down to one letter. The letter " I "!!!! Everything that peebles spits out is "I". He has no respect for the word "team" much less gives credit to a team (UNLESS YOUR HIS ONE OF HIS LITTLE MINIONS). At least Lt. Silas includes his team when he talks. In other words, it's not about what Lt. Silas does while at work, rather it's what his shift does. TOGETHER AS A TEAM. Apparently some people forgot where they came from and how the job is done! I hope and pray the citizens of Richmond County realize this and don't put their hopes of a safer county in someone who's sole purpose is to have his ego stroked!!!!

Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 05/27/12 - 06:22 pm
7
0
I would care less if a

I would care less if a candidate has 1 wife, no wife, or 5 wives. If they can tackle the problems with crime then that's the candidate I'd vote for. I think the city needs a new mentality in the way they deal with crime. The old ways weren't and still aren't working. Experience and connection to the community are both good qualifications. But I'd definitely hope this isn't a 'race' race. Whoever wins, hope their philosophy is to battle crime, not make excuses or brush things over the way it's been in the past.

daviddunagan
331
Points
daviddunagan 05/27/12 - 08:22 pm
8
1
Summerville forum

Rebellious- all candidates were invited to the forum through phone calls and messages. Everyone's name was listed on the mass mailing that was sent to residents. It is true, that two candidates there told me they did not receive the message. We regret that. It was assumed that everyone knew of the event because of the multiple media coverage before hand. Capt. Peeples did go long with his introduction however was not allowed to answer the first forum question because of that. The forum was a great success and I believe all candidates would agree they had ample time to speak. We commend our candidates for sticking to issues and giving our full house a great forum. Good look to all. David Dunagan, moderator.

csraguy
2274
Points
csraguy 05/27/12 - 07:19 pm
6
2
Leadership and Training

Rebellious, most all who are at the rank of Lt. have those courses but they have nothing to do with advanced or administrative training. I was not negative towards Robbie but the fact remains he does not have a college degree, does not have advanced training, has not lead any type of operations or administrative duties, has not been to command college which prepares you in today's law enforcement environment to lead a major agency and hasn't been to FBI academy or other leadership training academies.

As for your other comment, I belive the forum moderator corrected your incorrect information accordingly.

And, everybodylies, you may wish to re-watch the entire event where Captain Peebles repeatdly says "we" and gave credit to others.

rational thought trumps emotion
2558
Points
rational thought trumps emotion 05/27/12 - 07:38 pm
7
2
Reality

Scott Peebles is the best candidate, the most prepared and will move the department forward. I am not 100% sold on community policing but after a lot of research, I know that it will work better than what is being done now. After attending a forum Peebles held, it was clear there was no other choice. Having worked for him as well as with some of the others, I personally know Peebles is the best.

In reality the chance of a republican being our next Sheriff is almost impossible. As for the Democratic candidates, it is basically Roundtree or Peebles. If you really want to vote republican then do so in November because if you really want the best Sheriff for Richmond County then you will need to vote for Peebles in the July 31st democratic primary.

everybodylies
35
Points
everybodylies 05/27/12 - 07:43 pm
3
4
Somebody has apparently
Unpublished

Somebody has apparently called his friends and told them to start posting on his behalf........not to worry csra or rational, the AC will soon start deleting some of these posts for fear that the truth will be get out.......(10 years REALLY??????)!!!!!!

JohnBrownAug
1962
Points
JohnBrownAug 05/27/12 - 10:41 pm
1
2
It's apparent Robbie Silas is

It's apparent Robbie Silas is going to be a strong candidate, the South Augusta candidate. It's going to be interesting.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 05/28/12 - 08:52 am
1
0
A Good Reason To Care

If for no other reason, we need to care because their personal life does have a profound effect, not only on their work performance, but also on the personal lives and performance of those they lead. It is "Monkey See, Monkey Do" at play so, yes, personal lives are important.

Equally as important, cheating on a spouse creates chaos and dysfunction at both home and the workplace. It's a major time consumer, energy zapper and distraction.

Leaders who spend their time cheating on their spouses are also cheating those they serve.

JohnBrownAug
1962
Points
JohnBrownAug 05/28/12 - 01:48 pm
1
2
Two Front Runners Have Serious Baggage

It's come out although not all of it was printed that the two front runners on the Democratic Party side have serious baggage. Silas and Ivey not so much. The primary could be surprising. I'd have to say Silas' popularity has grown tremendously as the campaigns have moved along. Then we have the Obama Democratic voters v. Republican Sanders.

Little Lamb
45867
Points
Little Lamb 05/28/12 - 02:52 pm
3
0
The Royal “We”

csraguy posted:

. . . re-watch the entire event where Captain Peebles repeatdly says "we" and gave credit to others.

It can sound kind of creepy sometimes when a politician says "we" when the sentence sounds better it "I." However, we have one national politician who has no problem with the word "I." Have you ever listened to a speech by Barak Obama? The word "I" comes through loud and clear and over and over. Narcissism is his middle name.

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