City Ink: Election is a three-ring circus

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Tuesday’s primary election in Richmond County has turned into a three-ring circus.

In the center ring is the sheriff’s race, which has turned scandalous on the Democratic side, with some fire-breathing supporters of Lt. Robbie Silas attacking Capt. Scott Peebles via newspaper and social media Web sites.

An investigator’s wife obtained the personnel files of other officers and started smearing them, too.

You can just imagine how that went over in the sheriff’s office. Officers aren’t speaking to one another, and the investigator was given a few days off for his own good.

WHERE IS THE RING­MASTER? Lots of folks say it all could have been avoided if Sheriff Ronnie Strength had endorsed Peebles early on as he had said he’d do before brother-in-law Silas got into the race.

“If Ronnie had announced he was endorsing Peebles back last October, you could have put all this to bed,” Augusta Commission member Grady Smith said. “I think some of what’s going on is not good for the county. Some of the cuts run deep. Neighbors and friends won’t be speaking after this is over. I just see it’s sad for what’s going on.”

Republicans are crossing party lines to vote for Peebles like lemmings headed to the sea.

The negative campaign has turned Commissioner Joe Bowles into a Democrat – temporarily.

“Thanks to the criticism of Scott Peebles by Robbie Silas supporters, I have decided not to vote for my friend Wright McLeod and vote in the Democratic primary,” he said.

Commissioner Joe Jackson said he, too, is crossing party lines to vote for Peebles.

“He asked me for my support,” he said. “No other candidate asked me to support him. I believe in my heart of hearts Scott can pull this off without a runoff. Who is most qualified to handle a $55 million budget and a 790-man sheriff’s office? I’m going to vote for Elaine Johnson, Carlisle Overstreet and TSPLOST.”

THE JUDGE OF JUVENILE DELINQUENTS IS DELINQUENT: In another ring, where Juvenile Court Judge Willie Saunders is challenging incumbent Carlisle Overstreet, the chief judge of the Augusta Judicial Circuit, lawyer Jack Long will seek another venue to pursue his challenge to Saun­ders’ eligibility because of delinquent federal taxes.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp ruled in Long v. Saunders that although Saunders owes more than $159,000 in federal taxes, his bankruptcy repayment plan meets the state law standard and he’s qualified to run for office.

Next week, Long and his attorney, former Gov. Roy Barnes, will appeal Kemp’s ruling in Fulton County Superior Court.

“It now leaves the executive branch of government, where it’s been, and goes to the judicial branch,” Long said. “It’s not a moot issue even after the election, because we’re dealing with something that could reoccur.

“And I think for the state of Georgia we need to have a definitive ruling of the plain meaning of the constitution.”

Saunders has not paid federal taxes for self-employment income from his law practice in eight years, nor has he paid his 2011 taxes. He filed for an extension to file his return but not for an extension to pay.

Of the $159,000 delinquency, Saunders will pay only $87,000 as part of his bankruptcy plan, Long said.

IGNORANCE OF THE LAW IS NO EXCUSE TO RUN: In the third ring of the primary circus is an improper flier that showed up in mailboxes and on Web sites that states “Official Democratic Ticket” at the top and “Vote & Elect” above photos of President Obama, sheriff candidate Richard Roundtree and clerk of court candidate Hattie Holmes-Sullivan. At the bottom it states, “One Team One Dream 2012.”

When Richmond County Dem­ocratic Party Chairman Lowell Greenbaum heard about the flier, he issued a media release stating the party is endorsing no candidate in the primary.

“Any mailing, Web site or Facebook that carries such an endorsement is false,” he stated.

Greenbaum said he’d made it clear to everyone that the party did not endorse in the primary.

YOU OUGHT TO BE ON TV: Former Mayor Bob Young was such a good moderator during Friday’s televised roundtable discussion with the four candidates for Georgia’s 12th Congressional District, he should consider a career in television.

Oh, wait! He already had one. Thirteen years as assistant news director and anchorman at WJBF, the
station that held the debate.

He looked very good for someone who spends most of his time in the swamp. He’s the president of Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy. He’d done his homework and kept the discussion lively.

Questions ranged from the new penny tax for transportation to the federal budget and farm subsidies, about which Young presented some interesting statistics.

Candidates Maria Sheffield and Rick Allen said they were opposed to the transportation tax. McLeod called it “just another tax increase, another layer of bureaucracy.” Lee Anderson said he sees it as an investment in the community.

JOHN DEERE GREEN: Dur­ing a discussion of farm subsidies, Young said, “Now we know ZIP code 30904 is the home of many family farms, the Hill section in Augusta. And over the past 20 years in 30904, 88 residents have collected subsidies of $684,000.

“How about ZIP code 30901, downtown Augusta? Well, they’ve got the Satur­day market down there. They’ve got the farmers market. They’ve also got 67 family farms receiving $564,747 in the same period. Move on out to Columbia County. There’s a lot of family farming out there, right? Two hundred twenty-two people received $1.5 million in subsidies in 30907.

“And Lee, you received $110,000 in farm subsidies, didn’t you?”

“How many years?” Anderson asked.

“Since 1995,” Young replied. “The point is, do you need those to run your farm? Do the people living in urban centers need subsidies?”

“When a true farmer has a severe drought, they need help,” Anderson replied.

Allen said that’s why he wanted to audit every agency and department of federal government.

“This is nonsense,” he said. “This waste has got to stop.”

Sheffield said it was not only waste but fraud in some cases.

McLeod, however, said the subsidies passed the tax code and were in the rules and regulations of the agriculture department.

“Come get your check,” he said. “It’s not illegal. And some people will say it’s not even unethical.”

YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE ELECTED TO SERVE: Toward the end, Young asked the candidates whether they had anything they wanted to say to one another. McLeod took exception to Anderson’s mailer that compared Anderson to the other candidates.

In the category of public service, Anderson listed being a state representative and Columbia County commissioner. By McLeod’s name, he stated “None.”

“I served in the military 20 years,” McLeod said.

“As an elected official,” Anderson said.

“What is that, Lee?” McLeod asked.

“I respect your service tremendously,” Anderson said.

“Well, then send out a retraction,” McLeod said.

Anderson apologized but didn’t mention a retraction mailing.

Comments (92) Add comment
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Shellman
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Shellman 07/28/12 - 08:08 pm
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Great One Sylvia!
Unpublished

Wow, this is one of your most informative columns ever Sylvia. Great Job! After reading this I am sorry I missed the 12th congressional debate hosted by Bob Young. I hope they will replay it. It sounds like Bob asked some hard-hitting questions and held their feet to the fire. Wow I wish Bob were running for that seat, he would have my vote for sure.

Here are a couple things I learned about Anderson.... he's for government subsidies for people who should not be getting them. He calls the T-SPLOST TAX an "investment." His 3 challengers are against it and call it what it is, "another tax". Heck we might as well just send John Barrow back to Congress if Anderson is the GOP nominee.

Commissioner Joe Jackson also says (according to Sylvia) that he is voting for T-SPLOST. I've had my suspicions for quite some time as to why Jackson routinely sides on issues that are completely opposite to the interest of his constituents in south Augusta. I think Jackson is a good guy, but he seems to be taking his marching orders from Don Grantham. I'd suggest Jackson change course now if he wants to maintain any credibility with the public. I don't live in his district but supported him when he ran. He has been an utter disappointment these last few years though. He seems completely out of touch and his stance on T-SPLOST confirms that. J. Jackson, do yourself a favor and distance yourself from Don Grantham, please!

Karen Slater-McDaniel
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Karen Slater-McDaniel 07/28/12 - 08:08 pm
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Sylvia where, by chance, is

Sylvia where, by chance, is your EVIDENCE that anyone was given a day off? Because you are INCORRECT! Not one person at RCSO has been given a day off much less days off. You may want to recheck your source ma'am. LOL

Karen Slater-McDaniel
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Karen Slater-McDaniel 07/28/12 - 08:12 pm
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I do believe I would KNOW if

I do believe I would KNOW if the investigator you are referring to was suspended. And BTW he is not just an investigator he is a SERGEANT. You may want to change your inaccuracies and double check your information.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 07/28/12 - 09:01 pm
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KSM "obtained" the personnel

KSM "obtained" the personnel files in the most legal way. FOI request. She said exactly what was in the files. Is that smearing?

As far as attacks, the worst ones I've seen were right here in the Chronicle comments during Monday Night Mayhem where some Peebles supporters who are officers in the RCSO accused Patti and Ronnie Strength of everything under the sun. How those officers keep their jobs is beyond me. Sheriff Strength is a forgiving man.

Shellman
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Shellman 07/28/12 - 08:14 pm
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2
Oh and btw
Unpublished

I hope Peebles wins the primary for Sheriff, but I will be taking a GOP ballot. I think who we put up against Barrow is more important.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 07/28/12 - 08:16 pm
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Conservative Man
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Conservative Man 07/28/12 - 08:21 pm
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What?

I live in 30904....It's an urban zip code.....What in the heck constitutes a "family farm?" Nowhere in this district have I seen a lot over three fourths of an acre. Does this mean, that as a taxpayer I'm subsidizing people to grow a few tomatoes and sunflowers? I grow basil in my herb garden. Does that make me a "family farmer?" Someone...PLEASE explain. This defies logic and common sense.....to the tune of MILLIONS....
RE the sheriff's race......Peebles has this one locked up....I therefore will not let the words "Democratic ballot please" cross my lips....He is, after all the best man for the job....cream rises to the top in this case...

Riverman1
82158
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Riverman1 07/28/12 - 09:03 pm
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Wonder where erroneous info came from?

Sylvia writes the husband of the woman who obtained personnel records was given a few days off. That's apparently wrong info and is damaging to his career. I wonder where the bad info came from?

Shellman
623
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Shellman 07/28/12 - 09:06 pm
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1
Bob
Unpublished

Bob Young.. if you won't run for congress.. please consider going back into broadcasting. Augusta desperately needs someone who will ask tough questions like this and not settle for non answers

Riverman1
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Riverman1 07/28/12 - 09:22 pm
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One point about farm subsidies

Many people don't live where their farmland is located. That should be easy enough to understand. When I inherited my farm in Aiken County I went by the Farm Bureau. They told me I had a cotton allowance for not growing cotton. I told them it was a good thing because I didn't know how to grow cotton.

Dr_Evil
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Dr_Evil 07/28/12 - 09:26 pm
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To sgossip2012

Your first two "statements" make no sense. Would you care to "clarify"?

Also, you just made an "accusation" that Sheriff Strength had an affair with a dispatcher. Do you have "proof" to back up that "accusation"?

Laughingatchu007
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Laughingatchu007 07/28/12 - 09:33 pm
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LOL River

I'm sure Sylvia's article is not the most damaging thing that has happened to that particular investigator's career. And she never said he was suspended.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 07/28/12 - 09:33 pm
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If I see any more attacks on

If I see any more attacks on Ronnie Strength and his wife I'm going to be nauseated.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 07/28/12 - 10:02 pm
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Oh, another new name.

Oh, another new name. Interesting. Laughingatchu said, "I'm sure Sylvia's article is not the most damaging thing that has happened to that particular investigator's career. And she never said he was suspended."

Sylvia said, "the investigator was given a few days off for his own good."

That's damaging and not true. By the way, you also imply there's damaging info about that officer. Name one thing. Just one. I'm listening. Maybe HIS personnel record would have that info?

rebellious
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rebellious 07/28/12 - 09:52 pm
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3
Here we go

1) The information presented by Mrs. McDaniel has not been challenged. If it were false or erroneous, she would be open to lawsuit. None filed to date
2) Big surprise the 2 Joes are voting as instructed. That is what the Cabal ticket calls for. Thank God for term limits.
3) With all due respect, Sylvia should have stayed in retirement.

Laughingatchu007
89
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Laughingatchu007 07/28/12 - 10:02 pm
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2
Yes "given"

Given as hey guy take a few days off. Atleast thats how I took it. This whole thing from the drama on the comments here, Facebook, and Austin Rhodes has been a real circus. Sylvia nailed on that aspect. While Austin was out of line for his comments about our Sheriff, KSM has also been out of line and downright vicious at times. That is what I referred to in my previous post. I know I would not want that type of drama if he were my employee. My name is new but I'm a long time reader. As far as his personnel record one would have to ask someone at the S.O. or file F.O.I. themselves. I don't know where to start nor do I care. I simply find the entire circus amusing to say the least.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 07/28/12 - 10:05 pm
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Laugh

Laugh, what if I told you that officer has a spotless record? What if I told you that officer has not missed a day at work after this thing broke with his wife's name? Maybe we should check his timecard? So was that false info or not?

allhans
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allhans 07/28/12 - 10:10 pm
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1
Let's let Sylvia explain.

Let's let Sylvia explain.
With so many accusations of "misinformation" on all sides it is impossible to know who is wrong.

None of this will change the mind a voters.

Laughingatchu007
89
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Laughingatchu007 07/28/12 - 10:13 pm
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Then....

Then I would say good on him. I know that if my significant other was creating this volume of drama I would have a hard time going to work everyday. BTW since you know so much about him what does he actually do at the SO? What does he investigate? How many people does he supervise as a Sergeant? Just curious...But seriously if he was able to do his job through this mess I applaud him, I would have found it distracting and damaging to my personal career if my wife would have acted that way.

Riverman1
82158
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Riverman1 07/28/12 - 10:27 pm
2
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Allhans, This is Clear

Allhans, to me it's not hard to understand. There's no downplaying McDaniel did not miss any time at work "for his own good." Plus it's clear everything his wife said came directly out of personnel files that she obtained legally using a FOI. That's not smearing. In addition, as implied otherwise by a commenter, if you check McDaniel, you will see his personnel file is spotless.

Riverman1
82158
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Riverman1 07/28/12 - 10:18 pm
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2
I've seen the same derogatory

I've seen the same derogatory personal comments in various media aimed at Patti Strength as I see aimed at Karen McDaniel. Tell me one thing either one of them has done wrong except support a candidate you don't approve of.

Little Lamb
45276
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Little Lamb 07/28/12 - 10:30 pm
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What's new?

Augusta Commission member Grady Smith said:

“I think some of what’s going on is not good for the county. Some of the cuts run deep. Neighbors and friends won’t be speaking after this is over.”

So, what else is new?

Please, please, please - - - someone please run against Grady Smith next time.

Laughingatchu007
89
Points
Laughingatchu007 07/28/12 - 10:34 pm
3
1
Sadly

Our entire local government seems to be one big circus lately....It needs new blood all the way around. So with that please go out and vote for the candidate you believe will serve us best. For me and my choice it will stay just that my choice and will not be swayed but who the chronicle chooses to cover and not cover, or based on the remarks from a radio host or wife of an investigator both of which appear to a chip on their respective shoulders. Lets see if there are any more shenanigans before Tuesday. Everyone loves a good drama and so far this has been a good show.

Little Lamb
45276
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Little Lamb 07/28/12 - 10:34 pm
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3
Rebellious wrote:

With all due respect, Sylvia should have stayed in retirement.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

It was a shame that a great investigative reporter had to move on when Sylvia came back. Johnny Edwards, we miss you.

rebellious
20623
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rebellious 07/28/12 - 10:36 pm
2
3
007

Your comments:
LOL River
I'm sure Sylvia's article is not the most damaging thing that has happened to that particular investigator's career. And she never said he was suspended.
Yes "given"
Given as hey guy take a few days off. Atleast thats how I took it. This whole thing from the drama on the comments here, Facebook, and Austin Rhodes has been a real circus. Sylvia nailed on that aspect. While Austin was out of line for his comments about our Sheriff, KSM has also been out of line and downright vicious at times. That is what I referred to in my previous post. I know I would not want that type of drama if he were my employee. My name is new but I'm a long time reader. As far as his personnel record one would have to ask someone at the S.O. or file F.O.I. themselves. I don't know where to start nor do I care. I simply find the entire circus amusing to say the least.

Mrs McDaniels comments had either documentation or eyewitness corroboration. Sylvia Coopers comments are false. The Sargeant in discussion has not taken a day off since then. And if you hvave no knowledge of his file, you should refrain from putting Sylvia's comments in that context.

Amusing? If there was not an important department head with a 54 million dollar budget with control over peoples lives at stake, maybe. On second thought, no it still would not be amusing.

Riverman1
82158
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Riverman1 07/28/12 - 10:47 pm
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3
Former Sheriff Charles

Former Sheriff Charles Webster, whom the jail is named after, is supporting Robbie Silas.

Oh, Joe Jackson, so you found the money to contribute to Peebles? Heh, heh, heh. Why didn't you contribute to Elaine Johnson again? If you guys knew the whole story you would die laughing.

rebellious
20623
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rebellious 07/28/12 - 10:49 pm
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Hey River

Where did the money come from? I know, do you?

Little Lamb
45276
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Little Lamb 07/28/12 - 10:51 pm
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Riverman is right

The money shows up in brown paper bags, in cash, to be turned over the the appropriate campaign. It's the way the game is played.

rebellious
20623
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rebellious 07/28/12 - 10:55 pm
2
2
For the Record

Sgt McDaniels duties are to perform background checks, perform pre-employment polygraphs and Expungements. He has no access to RCSO employee files nor does he handle any compliants investigations against RCSO employees.

rebellious
20623
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rebellious 07/28/12 - 10:59 pm
3
2
LL

Too good! Hey Lefty the Weasel said give dis to da man running for de office. Waddya gonna do?

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