Sylvia Cooper

City Ink columnist and correspondent for The Augusta Chronicle.

City Ink: Much ado about GRU

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Three months ago, Rich­mond County GOP bigwig Dave Barbee told me all the reasons Freddie Sanders couldn’t possibly be elected sheriff running as a Republican, chief among them being the number of registered Repub­li­cans versus Demo­crats. In fact, he’s the one who initially said, “Sanders’ chances are slim and none, and slim has left town.”

Well, I called Dave, who’s manning the local GOP headquarters, to hear his take on last week’s runoff,

“All these people so upset about the name of the university and the TEE Center, which they have no control over, sat on their butts and didn’t go to the polls and vote for a sheriff and congressman, which they do have some control over,” he blustered. “How can 667 people who voted in July sit on the couch and not vote in August? With the 667 votes, Peebles would have won by 227 votes!”

“But Dave,” I said, “they’re not necessarily one and the same people. Some who don’t like the name might have voted both times. And some who like the name might not have voted.”

He changed the subject to how he’s working to get Sanders elected in November.

“But you told me just three months ago it would be impossible,” I said. “You said his chances were slim and none, and slim had left town.”

Dave laughed and said he’d called Sheriff Ronnie Strength and asked him to issue a warrant for Slim.

“Ronnie told me he’d have Slim back in custody the first of next week, and we’re on to victory in November,” he said.

Needless to say, supporters of Democratic sheriff’s candidate Scott Peebles were stunned when he lost to Richard Roundtree in last week’s runoff. Peebles’ strategy of targeting voters by mail, playing nice, not smearing Roundtree over past indiscretions and hoping his voters would forget about the runoff didn’t work.

The last-minute endorsements by the sheriff and Mayor Deke Copenhaver didn’t help much either. But Roundtree’s efforts to get his voters to the polls did work. He received 1,987 more votes in the runoff than in the primary.

MUCH ADO ABOUT GRU: The week in Augusta began with a campus protest and ended with the resignation of an MCG Health Inc. board member over the name of Augusta’s soon-to-be merged university, Georgia Regents University.

Outrage over the name continued with obscene bumper stickers; letters to the editor from former Augusta State University employees and professors; Regent University in Vir­ginia threatening a trademark infringement lawsuit; and regent Thomas Hopkins, in town for a Georgia Health Sciences University board meeting, saying, “The decision has been made. It will not be taken up again.”

The subject was off-limits with GHSU President Ricardo Azziz, who said, “We’re moving on. We are moving on.”

TOO LITTLE TOO LATE: Augus­ta Com­mission members voted to send the Board of Re­gents a letter asking that the university “be named any name other than Geor­gia Re­gents University or GRU.” It was a feeble effort but more than any other elected body or official has done.

LET THERE BE LIGHT: “Fiat Lux,” a commenter on The Augusta Chronicle Web site, hit the bull’s-eye with this:

“It is not just infuriating but alarming that our own elected officials, who might have some influence, refuse to step up and support the people who trusted in their character and backbone sufficiently to put them in office.

“There is, as Mr. (Dan) Cook points out, a day of reckoning coming. And they brought it on themselves, whether out of self-interest or cowardice. Even speaking out in favor of the name choice because they believed it was the right decision would have been more palatable than hiding or mealy-mouth caving in. That behavior has been at least as damaging to us all as the stupid name would be.

“To have Augusta slapped down by people from outside and then not have our own leaders step up and defend our community is simply stunning, and disheartening beyond belief. I still can’t wrap my head around that.”

HELLO GOODBYE: Last, but certainly not least, Ed Turner, whose band Ed Tur­ner and Number 9 helped raise money for children’s charities with an annual concert, said he was cutting ties with the Columbia County Exchange Club because its president asked him to explain and apologize for spoofing Azziz onstage and calling out regent and Synovus Bank CEO Kessel Stelling Jr. for voting for the name.

HE’S MOVING ON, TOO: MCG Health board member Nick Evans resigned from the board over the GRU name. During a TV interview Friday, he indicated he had visited Azziz to discuss the name and got nowhere.

“We felt like school boys being scolded by the president,” he said.

WHAT’S IN A NAME NOBODY LIKES?

ACT II, SCENE I

(The Board of Regents in emergency session via telephone conference)

Chairman Tarbucket III: Re­gents, those people over in Au­gus­ta just won’t let it go. They’re bombarding us and the governor’s office with so many phone calls, the governor’s getting antsy. I think we’re going to have to do something.

Regent Boneman Jr.: Like what? We can’t back down now. We’d look like fools backing down now.

Regent Dink Jr.: We already look like fools to everybody but the gutless elected officials who think they might get an appointment to the Board of Regents or the university by playing ball. Who knows? They might even get a field to play ball on.

Regent Leebeam: If the governor’s getting antsy, I say we change it.

Chairman Tarbucket III: We can’t change it. Have you forgotten about the shirts and terrycloth bathrobes with the GRU emblem they’ve already ordered? Not to mention the golf umbrellas, coffee cups and glasses. Dr. ZZZZZ is going to China next week. Maybe he can meet with some Chinese manufacturers to see if they can make them cheaper. Wait, gentlemen! My secretary says the governor’s office is on the line with a very important message.

Uh huh. Uh huh. Uh huh. I see. OK. Goodbye. (Goes back to conference call) Gentle­men, a federal judge just ruled on Regent University’s lawsuit. He found us not guilty of trademark infringement but guilty of bad punctuation. He said since we named the university after ourselves we must show ownership in the name by using an apostrophe after the word “Regents” or change the name. And I quote, “You are, after all, naming an academic institution and shouldn’t have a glaring punctuation error in the name. Therefore, if you intend to use the name ‘Georgia Regents University,’ it has to be “Georgia Regents’ University.”

Regent Pottsdam Jr.: This may be a blessing in disguise. It gives us a way out without losing face. We can vote to rescind GRU and name it something else.

Regent Smelling Jr.: But what are they going to do with all those shirts and umbrellas they’ve ordered with GRU on them?

Chairman Tarbucket III: Put ’em on eBay. They’ll sell like hotcakes. I say this is a win-win for everybody. Meeting adjourned.

GET WELL, GRADY: Augusta Commissioner Grady Smith is recuperating from triple bypass surgery at University Hospital. His wife, Cathy, said he’s lucky that during treatment on his diabetic toes last week, doctors detected his heart condition. He cannot have visitors for at least a week, she said.

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rational thought trumps emotion
2549
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rational thought trumps emotion 08/26/12 - 06:19 pm
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River

I maybe did not word my post correctly. I do/did support Captain Peebles and his platform as did a large majority of the RCSO. I do support the platform of Lt. Roundtree which is very similar in nature to Captain Peebles. When I hear more from Freddie Sanders, I will be able to determine how to vote since we have until November. Freddie has helped many within the agency over the years, is an excellent attorney and a good person. I am just not sure that what I have heard him say so far will take us forward or be much of a change for the good from Sheriff Strength.

Riverman1
82448
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Riverman1 08/26/12 - 06:22 pm
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3
Oh...soooooooooo, so you

Oh...soooooooooo, so you can't support someone the Sheriff doesn't support? You could have fooled me with those free booze parties for Peebles, one for RCSO employees only. But talk about disrespecting the sitting sheriff there was sure lots of that...and disrespect of his wife, too. So all you can do is INFER here anonymously that you support Roundtree? I guess y'all are getting jumpy about job security and all that now.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 08/26/12 - 06:25 pm
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SeenIt, hilarious. Who are

SeenIt, hilarious. Who are the only ones who have been straight forward the whole way? You, me and Freddie.

Riverman1
82448
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Riverman1 08/26/12 - 06:26 pm
3
1
Wait a second, I'll give

Wait a second, I'll give credit where it's due. Roundtree ran in the party he believes in and never backtracked either.

seenitB4
85810
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seenitB4 08/26/12 - 06:28 pm
2
4
JUMPY---jumpy...which way to

JUMPY---jumpy...which way to go....

Different set of people ----I don't see Rtree or Freddie holding a grudge or frankly causing someone to lose their job ....more than anything they will probably want ALL working together....

seenitB4
85810
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seenitB4 08/26/12 - 06:31 pm
1
4
Yeh RM

Sometimes we are too dang honest....folks just don't appreciate it either...Brad can YAWN all he wants....sometimes the best way to curb crime is the ole way of doing it....
I sure wish we could make the school system like it was years ago....at least the TEACHERS controlled it then!!

Sargebaby
4693
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Sargebaby 08/26/12 - 06:33 pm
0
1
"Roundtree will be good for

"Roundtree will be good for Augusta."

And you know this for certain? This is like saying the earth will be destroyed by a fiery comet in two days! While Rountree has the potential to "be good for Augusta," no one can guarantee that he won't end up like some previous politicians, now currently in prison. No one can say for certain who will be good or bad for the Augusta community, until after a record of accomplishments, or the lack thereof is established. Get Rountree elected first, then, wait and see if he was good...or bad for Augusta! Time will tell!

rational thought trumps emotion
2549
Points
rational thought trumps emotion 08/26/12 - 06:36 pm
2
1
I have never attended any

I have never attended any free booze parties and the few events I did attend did not even have alcohol. The election night party did have beer if that makes you feel better but I don't drink. I went to the event for the RCSO deputies only and again there was no alcohol, not even campaign materials. I don't know or care where you get your information from because the election is over for now but much of what you have posted repeatedly is not true. I don't know of a single deputy that disrespected the Sheriff's wife nor did Captain Peebles and I believe what Austin did was wrong. Unless you wish to publically post your name I am pretty sure most of us here are posting anonymously so I don't see you point but the moderator of this board knows and you are welcome to email me directly if you prefer. As for job security, most new Sheriff's will change people of high rank around, everyone knows that so Lt.'s and below really don't have much to be concerned with. Time to feed the youngins so you have a great night.

rational thought trumps emotion
2549
Points
rational thought trumps emotion 08/26/12 - 06:40 pm
2
0
SeentIt

You are totally correct on the school system. If you work for the RCSO now, you have to work specials all of the time to send you children to private school or move to Columbia County. It is more than most of us can afford.

fishman960
1444
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fishman960 08/26/12 - 06:47 pm
0
0
Platform? Platform? (cue Jim Mora)

The only platform I heard from tree was that he should be part of a historic moment.... He was going to change thew way stings were operated....He was going to change the top brass.... He was going to bring in civilians to work with him.... And the one positive I could filter, he was going to work with the youth. Excellent platform, I say.
The voice of Augusta will be heard and when it happens we will have to accept what we get.
And sadly, some of the most vocal on here will not be able to vote on this due to not residing in RC.
River, all I heard out of you was pro Sanders and the Republican party and anti Peebles/ Blanchard. You got half what you predicted, now go to work on the other half. It's looking like you are still grinding that axe. And lets not forget that little wager I proposed

Riverman1
82448
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Riverman1 08/26/12 - 06:59 pm
0
3
Rational, so this party you

Rational, so this party you went to for Peebles didn't even have campaign materials? Are you implying it really wasn't a campaign get-together?

Since you carefully said you didn't go to all the parties, I assume you are saying you don't know whether there was booze at any of them. I have no idea where you are going with the anonymous contact the moderator thing.

Oh, anyone break any furniture at the "Peebles Victory Party" the other night? This is hilarious.

seenitB4
85810
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seenitB4 08/26/12 - 06:48 pm
2
2
Doesn't have to be

The school system has been turned upside down....it doesn't have to be that way...some unruly kids should never be there with kids wanting to learn.....pc has ruined us.....I could go on but I'm tired tonight.......save it for another day.....
I have said this before--many good men wanted to be Sheriff...if they work together I think Richmond county will be a much better place---if they love the county (I think they do) that will happen.

Riverman1
82448
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Riverman1 08/26/12 - 06:50 pm
0
1
Fish, give it time, Sylvia

Fish, give it time, Sylvia brought up the election, not me. Hey, don't get me in trouble with bets again. I even forget what you wanted to bet on, but the last time someone proposed a bet to me and before I could clarify the bet or agree to it, he said you lose. Now don't YOU do that to me, too.

seenitB4
85810
Points
seenitB4 08/26/12 - 06:53 pm
1
2
Vote

Can't vote but can help with money & I do & will continue.......my family in Richmond county can vote ....they will..& many friends in the county will also.....

seenitB4
85810
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seenitB4 08/26/12 - 06:54 pm
1
2
hahha

River won't bet with me either Fish....cause he KNOWS he will lose-lose-lose...:)

Riverman1
82448
Points
Riverman1 08/26/12 - 06:56 pm
2
1
Rational does make

Rational does make interesting points. He says RC officers can't openly support anyone Sheriff Strength has not endorsed. So all those parties for Peebles with RCSO people broke THAT rule I suppose.

seenitB4
85810
Points
seenitB4 08/26/12 - 06:58 pm
0
2
tv time for me

tv trumps politics for me right now...seeya in the am

fishman960
1444
Points
fishman960 08/26/12 - 06:59 pm
2
0
River, just sayin....

Lets get to work on this in a positive manner. And the same goes for everyone else. Too much mud.
My man lost (questionably) fair and square. I now have a choice between two remaining candidates. I mostly vote Republican, so there you have it.

Riverman1
82448
Points
Riverman1 08/26/12 - 07:07 pm
2
1
Fishman, point made. As time

Fishman, point made. As time goes on we can turn it up.

Brad Owens
4290
Points
Brad Owens 08/26/12 - 07:26 pm
2
1
New ideas...

Community policing is a great way to help in the diverse community we have; Roundtree supports it and Sanders is against it.

I supported Scott Peebles and I never trashed Roundtree or ANY other candidate in the race. Now that my number one choice is knocked out I will support the best person in the race qualified to lead the department.

Roundtree has a good platform and if you visit his website like I did and read the ideas he has, they are good ones. Sanders is against community policing so he loses my vote and support.

Brad

janderson1945
1843
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janderson1945 08/26/12 - 11:11 pm
1
0
Not Sure

Our family was behind Scott Peebles as we were two of the "crossover" voters and voted both times. We should not be banned from voting for each candidate as we choose no matter their party affiliation but had we voted Republican, we would have voted for Mr. Anderson and will do so in November.

We attended 3 forums and the Peebles platform does appear to be very similar in nature to Roundtree which I like but I am not sure we could vote for him because of his past issues. At the same time, Mr. Sanders never impressed either of us at the forums with his plan or what he had to say.

We are in a quandary at this time as to how to go, but hope there will be a forum or debate before the election.

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