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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everybodylies
35
Points
everybodylies 05/28/12 - 02:41 pm
2
2
No need to "re watch".
Unpublished

There is no need for me or others to re-watch anything. We KNOW FIRST HAND that your candidate goobles up the credit when operations have been cocncluded. Everyone with Richmond County can see the partiality towards others (and even they get stepped on, they just dont see it). If someone has done wrong, IT WILL COME OUT!!! Be it locally, state, or even FEDERAL...... *wink*..... There are SOME people that KNOW the FACTS!! So, re-watching does NOT do anything when people have first hand knowledge! First hand knowledge is FACT not listening to someone who is being coached!

janderson1945
1968
Points
janderson1945 05/28/12 - 08:18 pm
3
1
Sheriff Election

I just watched Sheriff Strength on the News 12 website. He said the current election was very tough on him because he had one of his key commanders from the Sheriff’s Office, Captain Scott Peebles and one of his longtime best friends, Lawyer Freddie Sanders both running for the office. This is very telling in many ways but it makes it clear that he does not consider Lt. Silas a choice as Sheriff even if he is his brother in law. After my wife and I attended the Good Government Meeting and heard from all of the candidates except one we decided to attend the event at Partridge Inn as well. Every candidate at both events was positive and told us their message with the exception of Silas who was negative both times as he was about a candidate when we spoke with him in person. He seems more interested in putting down 2 candidates than talking about his credentials or accomplishments. I can only conclude that when you have nothing to say positive about yourself, you must attack the others. The crowd did seem to enjoy watching Freddie Sanders do a great job of putting him in his place and calling him out on it at the Partridge Inn. We have not completely made up our minds as of yet mainly because we are Republicans and can’t get behind either of those candidates. Peebles does seem to have his act together and has already proven what he is capable of so I guess we will have to vote in the democratic primary again this year.

Little Lamb
49247
Points
Little Lamb 05/29/12 - 06:45 am
3
0
Bad Mouthing

janderson1945 posted:

I can only conclude that when you have nothing to say positive about yourself, you must attack the others.

Hey, that describes President Obama's campaign strategy pretty well.

everybodylies
35
Points
everybodylies 05/29/12 - 08:46 am
2
0
Remember, Everybody lies!
Unpublished

In order to be an effective elected official you need to make sure that anything you speak about is pure fact; if anyone happens to catch you out in a lie you will lose all the support and trust you have gained. Should you doubt that any of your information is correct or truthful, you should rather leave it out completely in the interest of remaining truthful. This means that you should always check all your information beforehand, it only makes sense to do so. A ruined reputation is not always easy to fix, especially when trust has been compromised.

everybodylies
35
Points
everybodylies 05/30/12 - 07:34 pm
0
0
There is always next time
Unpublished

Apparently, a rebuttal was deleted. Wait for the next Richmond County Sheriff's election article and we will pick up where we left off!!!!!

JohnBrownAug
1962
Points
JohnBrownAug 05/30/12 - 10:41 pm
0
0
Janderson1945, question. Do

Janderson1945, question. Do you have a favorite Republican candidate for Congress?

janderson1945
1968
Points
janderson1945 05/31/12 - 12:19 am
4
0
Congress v Sheriff

JBA,
Yes, I do believe that Anderson would be best but McLeod or Allen will be fine as well. Since I will be able to vote for one of them in November I will not waste my vote on one of them in July. Our local Sheriff is much more important to this community than our Congressman as he will be making many decisions that will have a direct and immediate impact. From the four candidates, it appears that it comes down to Peebles or Roundtree and from Roundtree's past as well as his present he would not be good for our county. I have voted in the democratic primary once before and I guess I will be doing it again because in my opinion as well as many within my circle of friends, it is imperative we have a good Sheriff and Peebles has proven himself to us already so he has earned our vote in the July democratic primary. I can stomach any of the choices for Congressman, even Barrow again if necessary but we just can’t have a Sheriff like Roundtree in office so we all better be out there voting for Peebles.

JohnBrownAug
1962
Points
JohnBrownAug 05/31/12 - 06:40 am
2
0
Janserson, thanks for the

Janserson, thanks for the reply. I'm curious if in the primary do you actually vote for Barrow or do you just leave that blank? Since you are a Republican, most of the time, do you not have a preference of whether it's Sanders or Godowns for Sheriff even if you are going to vote the Democratic ticket?

janderson1945
1968
Points
janderson1945 05/31/12 - 08:15 pm
2
1
JohnB

I assume you are asking what we plan on doing. I have no intention of punching a hole for Barrow or Obama but it doesn't matter as they are the nominees so my vote or non-vote does not hurt or help either of them. As for my preference of Sanders or Godowns, I don’t really have one. I believe Sanders has the name recognition and will easily win the Republican primary. Neither has a chance in Richmond County in November no matter who wins the democratic primary which will most likely be Roundtree or Peebles. That is why I believe it is very important to vote in the democratic primary as it is your only chance to help elect our next Sheriff which is much more important locally than our congressman. I hope that helps even though it’s just my opinion.

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