Sylvia Cooper

City Ink columnist and correspondent for The Augusta Chronicle.

City Ink: Richmond County sheriff race heats up

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All signs point to a knock-down, drag-out sheriff race.

Just last week, Scott Peebles’ campaign signs started going up in flames. Then two women got into a fight and one began hitting the other with one of Richard Roundtree’s signs which doesn’t mean anything except that I found it humorous.

Still, it could be a sign.

Also, during a sheriff candidates’ forum at Tabernacle Family Life Center, vehicles were blanketed with fliers critical of all the Democrat candidates, except Roundtree; the sheriff’s undercover operations, especially Operation Smoke Screen; police coverage in the black community; and everything else about the sheriff’s office – except the criminals.

Well, sure.

DIVISIVE? WHO’S DIVISIVE? “If Sheriff (Ronnie) Strength is right about the criminals coming if they set up the stings, why won’t Richmond County Sheriff’s Office set them up in white areas where marijuana, ecstacy, heroin and crystal meth are readily available?” began one flyer.

“Why haven’t east and south Augusta gotten more police coverage with the growing crime (burglaries and home invasions) in the area?

“Why did it take over 30 years and an EEOC charge for a black male sergeant to be promoted to the rank of lieutenant on the sheriff’s office road patrol?

“Why are blacks second-class employees at the sheriff’s office?

“Was the ‘Smoke Screen’ a ploy to steal black votes?”

THEY’LL NEED A BIGGER ROOM: The Richmond County Board of Elections is scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. Monday at the Municipal Building to consider a challenge to Roundtree’s candidacy.

Roundtree reportedly has worked out a payment plan with the IRS to pay federal tax liens.

The issue will be whether he can show he’d worked out a similar plan to pay state tax liens or had paid them off when he signed the affidavit to qualify May 23.

OTHER CAMPAIGN NEWS: Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver has endorsed Peebles.

“I have nothing against the other guys,” he said. “I just think Scott is the best candidate.”

In other election news, William Fennoy says he’ll announce a second try for the Augusta Commission District 1 seat in the next two weeks. He ran for the seat in 2009 and was defeated in a runoff with Matt Aitken.

Four other candidates have said they’ll also try to unseat incumbent Aitken, but one person who’d been rumored to run has decided against it.

Former District 1 Commissioner Betty Beard said many people had asked her to run again, and she’d considered it until a relative reminded her she’d been investigated by the FBI because she’d helped an obese city employee get a gastric bypass in 2007.

Beard steered $20,000 to Otasha Harden’s surgery out of a $25,000 donation given to the city by the developer who turned Maxwell House Apartments into Section 8 housing.

“I’m not bitter about anything,” Beard said. “Politics is the way it is. I’m doing very well. I’m enjoying life. I’m very active. I’m just happy it’s all behind me and I was able to walk away intact.”

JUST LOOKING: Developer Jim Hull flew Copenhaver; administrative assistant Karyn Nixon; City Administrator Fred Russell; Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Margaret Woodard; and four Georgia Health Sciences University officials, President Ricardo Azziz, vice president of government relations Michael Shaffer, director of facility management Jennifer Smith and senior vice president for advance and community relations Susan Darcus, to Columbus, Ga., to look at Columbus State University’s downtown performing arts center.

“Downtown Columbus in the past 10 years has had a tremendous amount of redevelopment, which has been helped a great deal by the expansion of Columbus State downtown,” the mayor said. “They moved the arts and music program downtown, and they have student housing downtown as well. We got some great ideas. As we’re looking to consolidate two universities and grow, a portion of that growth will be downtown.

“It’s similar to the situation to what we have here, with two campuses, one that has athletic facilities, student center, student housing which is about five miles from downtown, and then they have a downtown campus. They really are seeing a renaissance in their riverfront development.”

THE PALEST INK IS BETTER THAN THE STRONGEST MEMORY: Twelfth Congressional District Republican candidate Wright McLeod must have gotten a little bumfuzzled when questioned about voting in five Democratic primaries since 1998 and giving $7,100 to a statewide Democratic candidate.

McLeod said he voted in Democrat presidential primaries “because they win most general elections for local partisan posts. But presidential primaries include no local contests,” reporter Larry Peterson noted on savannahnow.com on Friday.

McLeod also said he voted for Bill Richardson in the 2008 presidential primary because he had objections to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, but Richmond County Board of Elections Director Lynn Bailey said records indicate no votes were cast for Richardson in McLeod’s precinct in 2008. And records show he voted at his precinct.

McLeod said he thinks he voted absentee or early, and either the records or his memory is wrong, but he trusts his memory.

THANK JERRY AND DON: Augusta’s financial management consultant and CPA Dianne McNabb updated commissioners on the city’s bond and financing projects, credit ratings and long-term debt and said Augusta is in sound financial shape.

The 2007 water and sewer bond refunding saved $8.3 million and the termination of the $160 million utility bond swap came “just in time” to save the city between $10 million and $12 million, she said.

Commissioner Jerry Brigham and former Commissioner Don Grantham, were the only commissioners to vote against the $160 million utility bond swap, or derivative, that the rest of the board got suckered into approving in 2006.

They finally convinced their colleagues to rescind the swap and re-issue conventional bonds. If they hadn’t, the city would be upside down on the bonds by as much as $12 million. Not as much as Jefferson County, Ala., was on its derivative sewer bonds that forced the county to file the biggest U.S. municipal bankruptcy ever in November.

THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT: I sincerely apologize to Augusta author Naomi Williams’ long-haired Chihuahua, Prince Hamlet, for calling him a long-haired Dachshund in last week’s column.

A long-haired Chihuahua looks nothing like a long-haired Dachshund.

But they’re both hard to spell.

Williams will be signing her latest book, Sunny Acres, at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Columbia County Library.

Comments (38) Add comment
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Little Lamb
47861
Points
Little Lamb 06/09/12 - 08:12 pm
10
0
Just Looking:

From Sylvia's story up above:

Developer Jim Hull flew Copenhaver; administrative assistant Karyn Nixon; City Administrator Fred (What, me worry?) Russell; Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Margaret Woodard; and four Georgia Health Sciences University officials, President Ricardo Azziz, vice president of government relations Michael Shaffer, director of facility management Jennifer Smith and senior vice president for advance and community relations Susan Darcus, to Columbus, Ga., to look at Columbus State University’s downtown performing arts center.

My, wasn't that cozy? Did developer Jim Hull also tell those esteemed dignitaries that that performing arts center was paid for entirely by private donations, led by businessman Bill Heard? We have plenty of deep pockets here in Augusta. Any performing arts center or minor league ballpark can be financed privately here, too.

rational thought trumps emotion
2625
Points
rational thought trumps emotion 06/09/12 - 08:31 pm
7
5
Deputies are always wrong

The deputies (black, white and brown) worked hand in hand with federal and state agents in each operation and helped take many hardened and violent criminals off of the streets. The feds prosecuted most cases saving local citizens a lot of tax money. Hundreds of guns taken from violent criminals probably helping to save the life of a young black man as many of our local murders are young black men killing other black men. For Roundtree to continue to condemn these hardworking deputies, state and federal officers while preaching education instead of incarceration shows all local officers who we don't need as the next Sheriff. If he is so bent on education, stay in the school system because they aren't doing a great job of educating and graduating them now and please stop making everything about race. It is about those who obey the law compared to those who don’t and from my experiences, most people no matter their race appreciate locking up criminals. By the time they are 18, education probably isn’t going to work on most but either way, it is not the job of the Sheriff to baby criminals and make excuses for them as Roundtree continues to do. I was undecided (except about Roundtree having worked with him) until I attended the event Capt. Peebles held for the deputies and heard the improvements he plans on making for the agency. He has been a great leader, supports those under his command, makes himself accessible to the community and cares about Augusta not to mention he is the most qualified and has the best credentials. This election can not be about race because we all have too much to loose. Voters in our area have proven plenty of times that most of them vote for the person and we need to do that again to make Capt. Peebles our next Sheriff.

Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 06/09/12 - 08:54 pm
8
0
Thumbs up rtte. Unless I'm

Thumbs up rtte. Unless I'm just 'different', I can't imagine anyone who doesn't mind having a bunch of armed criminals out on the street shooting, killing, and stealing. And where I'm from this goes for black, white, and every color in between. Many of these crimes hit home mainly for people in the black communities. So taking the thugs and guns off the streets could very well be saving a persons life.

countyman
21260
Points
countyman 06/09/12 - 09:44 pm
5
1
The city of Columbia did used

The city of Columbus did raise a large amount of private funds in order to help build the performing arts center, but also used a sales tax component similar to SPLOST....

The arrangement sounds very similar to the renovation of the Miller Theatre....

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 06/09/12 - 09:55 pm
6
0
Sincerely, a grateful mother

At least the flyers stuck on the cars weren't anonymous. They were all signed "a grateful mother."

Little Lamb
47861
Points
Little Lamb 06/09/12 - 10:00 pm
5
0
Okay

Well, we've already fleeced the taxpayers for the Miller Theater renovation, so surely we don't need to do another one, eh Countyman?

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 06/09/12 - 10:40 pm
8
0
And a parking deck, too!

Maybe I should fund a trip for the mayor and other "leaders" to see the TEE Center parking deck. It's a great example of a "public-funded private partnership."

I could then convince them to give me your tax dollars to build a parking deck for the droves of people who will be coming downtown for the athletic complex (AKA downtown stadium) and performing arts center (AKA downtown stadium).

I can cut them one sweet deal. For the right price, I will even consider selling them the land they build the parking deck on. Cha-ching!

Khan'tB4Real
948
Points
Khan'tB4Real 06/09/12 - 11:10 pm
7
2
Since we are ALL stupid
Unpublished

It takes rocket science to understand Copenhaver's endorsement of Peebles AND his desire for a non-partisan election. How else can the contributors to RW Allen vote for a Republican & the same contributors for Peebles vote Democratic? Hate to have to make a rational decision, huh?

Khan'tB4Real
948
Points
Khan'tB4Real 06/09/12 - 11:21 pm
7
1
For Sylvia ...
Unpublished

Let's say a MARRIED Sgt gets sent to Quantico, VA to the FBI Academy (a must have in CID to be promoted to LT) and given another known fact, this Academy AND accommodations are paid for by the County. Let's add that this Sgt. took a female coworker, they allegedly had a sexual relationship with, and let that person stay with them in said motel, use their county paid for cell phone to call in sick. Is that a misuse of taxpayers dollars? Just curious?

JohnBrownAug
1962
Points
JohnBrownAug 06/10/12 - 04:41 am
6
0
Somebody said a long time ago

Somebody said a long time ago the way to develop Augusta was to have ASU hopscotch towards the downtown area. It worked in Charleston and Columbus, plus many other cities. A college in the city is a tremendous asset and engine for growth.

JohnBrownAug
1962
Points
JohnBrownAug 06/10/12 - 05:28 am
2
5
The Congressional Election

The Republican Congressional election drew a lot of attention this week with McLeod's voting history being scrutinized. That's the interesting race with all three candidates having large followings. McLeod appears to be the Richmond County favorite, Anderson, Columbia County and Allen, some of both with his business connections all over the place. We stand a good chance of eliminating another Democrat in the House if we field a strong candidate to oppose Barrow.

seenitB4
93458
Points
seenitB4 06/10/12 - 06:19 am
3
3
WOW

I mean wow...I can't add anything to these posts....jba & B4Real have done the job ......thank you...the readers need ALL sides & sometimes the posters have the "other" side.

Thanks.

Little Lamb
47861
Points
Little Lamb 06/10/12 - 07:39 am
3
1
Palest Ink

Thanks, Sylvia, for putting McLeod's 2008 vote in context. Here is a link to the original Morris News Service story:

Democratic Vote Questioned

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 06/10/12 - 09:00 am
10
0
McLeod is not a Republican.

McLeod is not a Republican. He isn't a Democrat either. He is a run-of-the-mill politician.

When it's convenient, he will give money to Democrats and vote Democratic.

When it's convenient, he will swear up and down that he is a Republican and run in the Republican primary.

But at the end of the day, he is 100 percent politician.

shootamonkey
12
Points
shootamonkey 06/10/12 - 09:30 am
0
0
Lee Anderson is the ONLY true
Unpublished

Lee Anderson is the ONLY true conservative in the race and the only chance we have of beating John Barrow! It was downright hilarious and kinda hard to listen to Wright McLeod and Austin Rhodes explain his voting record. When the fit hit the shan Rhodes immediately jumped to McLeod's defense. It was obvious he was a McLeod supporter which is even more of a reason to vote for Anderson. Isn't if funny how when someone Rhodes supports is caught doing something wrong it's no big deal. If it had been any other candidate Rhodes would have crucified them.

Khan'tB4Real
948
Points
Khan'tB4Real 06/10/12 - 12:55 pm
3
2
Rational thoughts
Unpublished

RTTE I am just wondering something. Do you work road patrol or in another position for RCSO? That answer will tell me a lot about your judgment of the candidates.

Also remember this: politicians make MANY promises to get elected, there are people in very high ranking leadership positions within our community who have only a GED yet are appointed to make a difference by our Governor (meaning a degree doesn't make for effective leadership), someone who hasn't worked road patrol in a decade plus is not in touch with the needs of our patrol division (road patrol IS the first line of defense) and typically those who have spent a long time "upstairs" in CID tend to look out primarily for those they've worked with recently.

JohnBrownAug
1962
Points
JohnBrownAug 06/10/12 - 01:43 pm
2
4
I’m going to try this one

I’m going to try this one more time with the bare facts since I was told using the word “former” would make it acceptable. Sylvia said in her column April 14 concerning Scott Peebles’ campaign, “Contributors donating the maximum $2,500 this go-round are Lewis Blanchard…”

This is the same FORMER night club owner, Lewis Blanchard, who ran against the respected Columbia County Sheriff Clay Whittle and was beaten handily in a messy race. Races for Sheriff draw interesting people.

Little Lamb
47861
Points
Little Lamb 06/10/12 - 01:51 pm
4
0
It's Business, Not Personal

I would think that if one is a nightclub owner (or a FORMER nightclub owner) he would want to stay on the good side of the sheriff and the sheriff's deputies.

JohnBrownAug
1962
Points
JohnBrownAug 06/10/12 - 02:01 pm
1
1
LL, that's gets into an

LL, that's gets into an interesting point which you wisely point out. Without naming names, although there have been Chronicle stories and even photos of certain officials involved with club owners on the bad end of Broad St and Wash. Rd., I won't name them. But there's entirely too much influence wielded by the club owners. We need to get rid of that factor. We need a "Walking Tall" like clean-up.

fatboyhog
2082
Points
fatboyhog 06/10/12 - 02:03 pm
3
0
How about a Sgt. (at the

How about a Sgt. (at the time), in this race, who has a side business and takes care of some of that business while on county time? Or how about taking care of personal business on the precinct to which he isn't assigned. Kinda hard to supervise when you aren't where you are supposed to be, when you are supposed to be, no? Is that a misuse of taxpayers dollars, taking care of a side business while working?

Khan'tB4Real
948
Points
Khan'tB4Real 06/10/12 - 02:04 pm
4
3
JohnBrownAug
Unpublished

I saw that your earlier apology was removed; as was my response to your apology. My best guess is some connections don't want to be acknowledged and/or associated unless there is a contribution.

Little Lamb I am less concerned about favoritism to a nightclub than possible promises to a former owner. That IS scary.

JohnBrownAug
1962
Points
JohnBrownAug 06/10/12 - 02:51 pm
1
0
A FORMER or current night

A FORMER or current night club owner being given an official position in the RCSO would be amusing.

seenitB4
93458
Points
seenitB4 06/10/12 - 02:52 pm
2
1
Heating up!

Now my post at 719am doesn't make sense.....

Not only is the sheriffs race heating up.....posting on here is heating up....we might need to know the EXACT rules to post about the candidates...

rational thought trumps emotion
2625
Points
rational thought trumps emotion 06/10/12 - 03:13 pm
4
2
Khan'tB

So, if I am not in the road patrol division, I am unable to form an accurate opinion? I have worked the road, cid, and special opps and I believe we need a Sheriff that recognizes that the Road Patrol is the front line of defense but at the same time will break down division within the agency and that is Captain Peebles. I don't have anything negative to say about any of the candidates as I don't bash law enforcement officers simply because they now have decided to run for Sheriff or help a specific candidate. The only person whom I am sure should not be our Sheriff based on past history and experience is Roundtree. As for your obsession of bashing a good friend of mine (ours) I don't know many that have done all that he has done for law enforcement for the past 15 years from bringing training opportunities to the area as well as taking care of fallen officers families and many other charitable events for officers. He made it clear to me he has no desire to be fulltime anywhere (why would he) but does believe strongly in the reserve program and his credentials are exemplary. He has helped 3 nearby agencies start this program in the past 2 years has donated countless hours to various agencies. He worked with Sheriff Strength to try and get it started here and although approved it still has not been implemented. Your attempt to put down various individuals simply because they believe Peebles is the best choice is just sad, especially those who also serve and protect.

JohnBrownAug
1962
Points
JohnBrownAug 06/10/12 - 03:29 pm
2
2
SeenIt, I'd like to know the

SeenIt, I'd like to know the rules, too. Good point.

We just had a post above in support of a certain person. We are at least getting admissions this person is linked to a certain candidate. Trust me, it was hard to get even this admission even though Sylvia clearly stated the association. I was fought tooth and nail ever time I brought it up. We are making progress.

Still it is kind of bizarre with all this tap dancing around the facts. Their person has demonstrated his opposition to Sheriff Clay Whittle in the past and was soundly defeated when he actually ran, proving to me the electorate distrusts him. Personally, I believe the nightclub connections are a factor in the misgivings.

Khan'tB4Real
948
Points
Khan'tB4Real 06/10/12 - 03:52 pm
2
1
First off
Unpublished

I am not trying to bash your "friend" or candidate of choice or any person that backs him. I am simply trying to get factual information out there so that the voters can decide with ALL of the information given who is best fit to run RCSO.

Associations (people you surround yourself with) are the key to judging the intent and character of any person.

On the other hand I am putting it out there that having a degree or not having one doesn't make the leader. Again it goes back to character and associations. If you surround yourself with respectible people in key positions you do not need to micromanage. If you surround yourself with shady characters in key positions then you always have to watch out and watch your back. You lie down with dogs you expect to get fleas; so to speak.

Everyone has a story and that is not the problem. It is when people try to embellish their story, deny their story, or create an entirely new fairytale instead of owning up to THEIR truth is when I have a problem. If you are wrong then say it and deal with it instead of doing everything to cover up the facts.

seenitB4
93458
Points
seenitB4 06/10/12 - 03:57 pm
3
0
Banners

You know what is amazing to me....the thread about the pride banners has almost 100 posts now.....& some are stretching it to say the least....BUT on here ...every i has to be dotted---every t has to be crossed.....well you get my drift.....
Freddie--honey....it will be uphill race but you have what it takes.....you might have to get some dancing girls with posters & put them out around Sconyers...just don't put them out on Broad close to a certain building......heh heh
have fun guys.....seeya.

Khan'tB4Real
948
Points
Khan'tB4Real 06/10/12 - 04:04 pm
2
0
Speaking of rumors and gossip
Unpublished

Repost from another article:

Funny thing about rumors ... And funny thing about real estate closings (whether commercial or residential) is you never know who has information regarding one or the documents involved. There are attorneys, paralegals, agents, buyers, sellers, title examiners, appraisers, employees in clerk of courts, etc. There are definitely people who are privy to a wealth of information. Perhaps even privy to the fact that in a particular closing where First Presbyterian Church of Augusta purchased a couple of buildings (and a certain apartment) where a Sgt for RCSO resided prior to leaving for VA to the FBI academy. And this person DEFINITELY knows that the owner of that apartment was not the person to notify or complain about any contents remaining in that apartment due to the fact that THEY drew up the 30 day Notice to Vacate and were in constant contact with landlord. I sure hope one candidate remembers the intent of another candidate.

happychimer
19348
Points
happychimer 06/10/12 - 04:36 pm
5
0
I am really enjoying reading

I am really enjoying reading these comments today.I have already made up my mind who will get my vote for sheriff.May the best man for the job win.

Khan'tB4Real
948
Points
Khan'tB4Real 06/10/12 - 04:45 pm
2
0
Just for facts
Unpublished

http://gisweb.augustaga.gov/gisweb/default.aspx
047-1-242-00-0
Sale Date: 08/15/2006

RICHMOND County WARRANTY DEED FILED: 8/17/2006
BOOK: 1072 PAGE: 1189
SEC/GMD: LD: LL: 0000
SUBDIVISION: UNIT: BLOCK: LOT: COMMENTS:
DESCRIPTION NOT WARRANTED: LOT E/S MCINTOSH/7TH ST

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