Sylvia Cooper

City Ink columnist and correspondent for The Augusta Chronicle.

Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree announces media policy

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Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundt­ree has announced his media policy.

Here it is, with a little creative editing:

Pow! Hear this, you bunch of sniveling liars! From now on, nobody in the sheriff’s office or connected with the sheriff’s office is going to tell you anything – except for my designated mouthpiece. And he’ll send a FAX when he’s good and ready. Nobody else connected with the sheriff’s office is authorized to speak to you about anything, and we’re not above checking e-mail and cellphone records to see who’s been talking to whom. When we need you to help us catch a criminal by printing his photo in the newspaper, online or on TV, we’ll let you know.

Could this surprising reversal of the previous sheriff’s media policy be the result of negative stories about Round­tree’s record before the election, such as his delinquent taxes and romantic trysts with three female officers on his shift at the Econo Lodge hotel in a room formerly used for a sheriff’s substation?

The situation created such a less-than-convivial workplace environment that his superior asked that Roundtree be reassigned.

In all, he racked up seven disciplinary actions during his tenure with the sheriff’s office, including a suspension and demotion in 2008 for moving and leaving seven murder-case files, one of which was later used to solve the murder of an 84-year-old woman, along with a gun, ammunition and SWAT gear in an apartment.

When that lapse was reported in The Augusta Chronicle, he posted complimentary online comments about himself under the name of Grateful Mother.

No matter that the stories were all true. Payback is hell. Of course, this new policy of If Asked Don’t Tell could be an attempt to quash new stories of Round­tree’s as-yet-unknown sheriffing exploits.

HE’S TOUGH: Super District 10 Augusta Commission member Grady Smith is down but not out.

He is in University Hos­pital for more treatment of an infected foot caused by diabetes, but rumors that he will be stepping down are not true, he said.

“I’ll be back swinging at a ball bat next week,” he said.

Next week might be a little too soon as he’s scheduled for more surgery, but Smith is one tough guy, and he’ll be back sooner than most people would, no doubt. He had open-heart surgery Aug. 24 and came to the first commission meeting in September. He also went to a called meeting Dec. 27 only a few days after having toes amputated.

“If I can be there,” he said, “I’m going to be there. When I can’t, it will be for a damn good reason.”

WHAT IS REALITY ON THE GROUND? WE HATE THE NAME GRU: The University System of Georgia Board of Regents gave final approval last week to the merger of the former Augusta State and Geor­gia Health Sciences universities and the school’s much-hated new name, Geor­gia Regents University.

Since ignoring a national, state and local survey that indicated proposed names with “Augusta” in them received by far the most favorable responses, GRU President Ricardo Azziz now says he’s going on a listening tour. He said he’s found in the past that it just provides an invaluable insight into what’s going on, what’s on people’s minds and “what’s really the reality on the ground.”

DR. ZZZZZ AND THE IMAGINARY LISTENING TOUR: Dr. ZZZZZ, the president of GRU, is conducting a listening tour disguised as Groucho Marx on the pre-GRU campus of ASU. He approaches two students sunning themselves on benches.

“Beautiful day, isn’t it?” he asks.

Both agree it is.

“What do you think of the university’s new name?” he asks.

“GRUish,” the first student replies.

“GRUish? What does that mean?” ZZZZZ asks.

“Cool. You know, like the new president ZZZZZ. He came from California and brought ‘cool’ to a backward town that thought a clunky name like Augusta State University was something to be proud of.”

(Sounds of a demonstration from across campus) “Down with GRU! Up with ASU! Down with GRU! Up with ASU!”

“What do you think of the name GRU?” he asks the other student.

“GRUsome. I mean really GRUsome even with the A, which makes it even worse. GRUAsome is like GRU and then some.”

“But I’m confident that as time passes the people who don’t like GRU and GRUA will forget ASU and MCG.”

“Forget hell!”

(More sounds of demonstrators from across campus) “Down with GRU! Up with ASU! Down with GRU! Up with ASU!”

“Thank you for your input. Here comes the GRU bus. I think I’ll catch it and go back to my office where everybody tells me what I want to hear. I’ve had enough reality on the ground for one day.”

TOGETHER AGAIN: Augusta commissioners were among officials from several county departments to meet with the local legislative delegation last week.

It was the first time commissioners and legislators had met since before lawmakers got involved in the controversy over whether the city administrator had the authority to hire and fire department heads in 2011.

On Tuesday, Geor­gia De­partment of Transpor­ta­tion Board member Don Gran­tham had the elected officials salivating over how much money will be coming into Augusta for transportation projects from a new sales tax over the next 10 years – about half of $800 million, about $5 million of which can be spent on transit. There was even talk of forming a transit authority.

So you voted for a tax to subsidize other people’s rides.

OFF THE SHELF? Commis­sion­ers will meet Monday to talk about how to implement a $500,000 disparity study before it expires next year.

Commissioner Marion Williams said the court-ordered study has been sitting on the shelf for four years.

“I’m trying to bring it back up and see what we need to do before it expires,” he said. “With­out it, we can’t have a Dis­ad­van­taged Business Enterprise.”

Williams also said he will seek to change Adminis­trator Fred Russell’s employment letter, which gives him $100,000 severance pay if he is fired for any reason.

“I’m also going to question the latest raises,” he said, referring to the raises Russell gave some city employees last year. “I want to know what they were making before, who got what, when and how much.”

WHAT’S IN A NAME? EVERYTHING: The correct name of the musicians who provided the music for Round­tree’s inaugural ball is PRESTON & WESTON (and Sandra, who performs with them much of the time). They are Wayne Preston & David Weston & Sandra Simmons and sometimes play at Malibu Jack’s.

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dichotomy
32715
Points
dichotomy 01/12/13 - 09:50 pm
10
1
That's what the support for

That's what the support for TSPLOST was all about with segments of the local community. They didn't vote to fix the roads. They voted for the taxpayer to subsidize the bus routes. THAT was not mentioned, advertised, or spelled out in the TSPLOST proposal. Oh the TSPLOST was DEDICATED to FIXING OUR LOCAL ROADS. BULLCRAP!!!! Everytime you fools approve one of these things the taxpayers get screwed. If a politician's mouth is moving he is lying and you have just one ONE BIG, JUICY, EXPENSIVE, SUBSIDY LIE TOLD TO YOU. You will be paying that extra sales taxes to see 40 passenger buses running around the county with 2 people on them.

And I see Marion is still living in the past as usual. Just keep wasting time Marion 'cause you ain't never helped anything anyway. My guess is that you and all the folks who elected you still have LBJ All The Way bumper stickers sticking out from under your Forward bumper stickers on your cars. Still trying to find something in the present to validate your past and you screwed it up so bad there just ain't nothing there.

Little Lamb
45819
Points
Little Lamb 01/12/13 - 10:00 pm
8
2
Severance

If Marion Williams can get the commission to pass an ordinance or policy or whatever that denies Fred (What, me worry?) Russell a severance package when he is dismissed, I will make a large contribution to Williams’ next campaign.

Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 01/12/13 - 10:10 pm
2
0
I'll straddle the fence with

I'll straddle the fence with Roundtree's new media policy. I agree in that certain individuals in radio (and we all know who he is) had first-hand information before anyone else. Why we will never know. On the other hand, for certain individuals that are receiving their '2nd' chance (or not arresting, or whatever), he may not want the general public to know about.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 01/12/13 - 10:50 pm
7
1
I see Roundtree's point

HE is responsible for the RCSO.
He is the go to person not 20 captains, or other anonymous mouths.

I also see why the media is having ^%$# fit over it also.

This game is a Tie score media 1 roundtree 1

dichotomy
32715
Points
dichotomy 01/12/13 - 11:14 pm
13
3
Roundtree's media

Roundtree's media policy.........Nobody talks until I have a chance to cover things up. There might be a young lady I need to help out like the embezzling lady school employee. Got to be able to take care of....you know....them second chances and all that.

I hope we are not seeing the beginning of what it looks like.

Brad Owens
4402
Points
Brad Owens 01/12/13 - 11:25 pm
8
11
More Roundtree bashing...

The more I hear about how "bad" Sheriff Roundtree is from members of the press, the more I think I like him.

By the way, I saw him on the news about the sex slaver guy being arrested and he looked great. Didn't seem like he was ducking anything to me.

Brad

Little Lamb
45819
Points
Little Lamb 01/12/13 - 11:28 pm
4
0
One more time.

The motion to approve construction of the pedestrian bridge over Reynolds Street failed in December. That didn't stop Fred (What do you want now, Paul?) Russell from putting it on the Commission agenda again this week. It would be good if we contact our commissioners and tell them we would appreciate it if they voted No, No, No! on the covered pedestrian bridge.

Contact them soon, because I think the meeting is Tuesday. I contacted mine today.

Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 01/12/13 - 11:40 pm
2
0
Well Brad I would hope he

Well Brad I would hope he wouldn't cover up for a 'sex slaver.' I'd never think he would do that.

mycomments
330
Points
mycomments 01/13/13 - 01:04 am
13
4
A certain individual in radio

A certain individual in radio received information earlier than others because (1) he has the largest audience to whom the information can be disseminated quickly and efficiently. (2) he grew up in this town, has been in media(radio and TV) for 20 years and therefore has the most sources from which to draw. You may not like him, but you cannot dispute the facts.

Ray Marks
48
Points
Ray Marks 01/13/13 - 01:59 am
8
1
Media Policy MEETING

Not sure an official policy was really released, and a policy certainly is meant to be clear and not "with a little creative editing" thrown in. When an official written policy is released then you can go on whining to whoever will listen. It certainly won't be the citizens or the sheriff's team. It is a smart thing to have a media policy in place and should be a welcome addition to help Sheriff Roundtree's team do the job they want to do. Sorry that doesn't really include you in the media. You will get what you need to get when you need it. Sounds like a good plan to me.

How a Sheriff department with 750 employes would not have a media policy in place is kind of telling about Augusta politics in general. No policy is bad, maybe the politics will start turning around too!

Riverman1
83470
Points
Riverman1 01/13/13 - 02:20 am
11
3
Lucky Media Didn't Get a Wedgie

If you wanted to see a Sheriff tough on the media you should have been around one past Richmond County Sheriff. If he found someone from the media in the wrong place, trying to get confidential info, he would personally grab him by the back of his belt, give him a wedgie so hard it would make him squeal like Ned Beatty in Deliverance, affect his T-levels forever and walk him out of the area he wasn’t supposed to be in on his tiptoes.

What Sheriff Roundtree’s policy is about is controlling who gives the definitive interviews to the media. It is not about stopping the cop on the site from talking. The face of the department is the person giving the in-depth interviews to the media and that’s something that should be carefully controlled for many reasons.

The truth is some who enjoyed the limelight in the past, possibly saying things not carefully considered, are now upset they can’t go before the cameras or be heard on the radio. A Sheriff has to run his own department and be its face.

specsta
6505
Points
specsta 01/13/13 - 02:57 am
6
5
Information Is Key

How about we give the Sheriff a chance to organize the department the way he sees fit? Most larger cities have media policies that designate a spokesperson to talk to the media, and also the ranking officers on the scene of a crime can relate pertinent information to the media.

It would be a good idea to have published copies of the media guidelines, preferably online, for the media or the public to access. Also, the Sheriff's department should have a website, maybe separate from the main city gov site, that is more comprehensive in providing resources and information to the general public. A daily commander's report online would be a great way to give out information. The current city Sheriff's page looks like a page that was designed in the 90's.

The idea of having a consistent conduit to relate information to the media is not a punitive measure - it seems to be an effort to get everybody on the same page is disseminating information to journalists.

Truth Matters
6745
Points
Truth Matters 01/13/13 - 08:55 am
9
2
Media policy

Riverman @ 1:20
Your comments are spot on. There are things that go on in very large operation that lower level employees do not know. Allowing any and everybody to dribble in font of a camera or microphone is not in the best interest of an agency. Wonder how much personal info employees of a daily newspaper could release before being given the boot.

There has to be a balance. Let's give the sheriff's office a chance. If they don't make good on the policy, I know 14 people (Sylvia and myself included with the other posters here), who will gladly call him out.

If I were to contact the media right now about an investigation that my agency is conducting, many of you would frown on me when I ended up in the unemployment line.

Also, everyone who has a job should understand that nothing is private on one's work computer. In this case the computer belongs to taxpayers and there should be monitoring to ensure employees are surfing the web or posting on this page when they should be working. Who can argue with that?

Truth Matters
6745
Points
Truth Matters 01/13/13 - 08:59 am
0
2
Self-editing

Font=front
Meant to write "Employees are not surfing"

If you caught anything else, I apologize.

seenitB4
86692
Points
seenitB4 01/13/13 - 09:14 am
10
4
Cry Babies..Boo Hoo

Soo The Tree shut down some mouths...now they can't go running to the news & the radio guy...boohoo hoo....

Great....He is doing just what needs to be done....Freddie would have done the same......actually the man has been more forgiving than most....some need to thank their lucky stars ..(ya know whatta mean).

seenitB4
86692
Points
seenitB4 01/13/13 - 09:17 am
2
1
A Wedge??

You are not talking about a salad wedge are ya?? lol

seenitB4
86692
Points
seenitB4 01/13/13 - 09:21 am
2
2
Deliverance

That wonderful movie was made in the North Ga mountains...but why is it the scene with Ned Beatty stands out in the minds of most....beautiful river scenes---mountains--great locals in the movie...but NOOOO...can't talk about the beauty of the movie....& of course my man Burt was fantastic during those days....sigh....

SB3
3934
Points
SB3 01/13/13 - 09:27 am
0
0
I'm liking Sheriff Roundtree more and more

That article was a classic "upset the media and we will retaliate by smearing you" piece of trash. I frequently learn more from the online comments than most of the articles. That goes for every other media outlet as well. You want to know why the mainstream media is not trusted? Review that article. Even if the items mentioned are true, it is nothing more than a smear job. None of those things have anything to do with the topic.

Why not be professional and make your argument as to why the policy is wrong and what changes should be made to improve it? The AC is not as bad as many other outlets I've seen. Yet. This makes me wonder if they're heading in the wrong direction.

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
7621
Points
ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 01/13/13 - 09:30 am
7
0
Bridge to Nowhere

Yes let's not build the "Bridge to Nowhere".. Now that that's been well publicized, how long before some "poor, unfortunate soul" gets hit by a car crossing the street? How long before that "poor unfortunate soul" gets hooked up with "Mr One Call, That's All" and takes the city for several Million dollars and we see them in the next commercial series of "He got me paid!" Does anyone on the commission try to think beyond their next knee jerk reaction and how to grandstand it?

seenitB4
86692
Points
seenitB4 01/13/13 - 10:01 am
3
2
Bridge to somewhere

We need a bridge....right across the Savannah river into N Augusta....sooo we all can enjoy what they are paying for....easy peasy....build it..like this one...

http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.colourbox.com/preview/415...

seenitB4
86692
Points
seenitB4 01/13/13 - 10:14 am
2
1
coldbeer

I miss your menu...esp breakfast menus....you should get 1000 points for that!

concercitizen
340
Points
concercitizen 01/13/13 - 10:33 am
3
7
Looks like Roundtree is Bill

Looks like Roundtree is Bill Clinton and Barack Obama all rolled into one package.

Brad Owens
4402
Points
Brad Owens 01/13/13 - 10:46 am
9
3
Patty-P

That was not the point, the point was, when he needs to make a comment he will. This idea that somehow the Sheriff is hiding or trying to prevent the media from knowing what needs to be known is just not the case.

Also, the rehash of all the anti-Roundtree rhetoric here seems petty. He won, everyone needs to accept that but it looks like a lot of folks are going to try to make mountains out of mole hills.

I know you all are rooting for him to fail Patty-P, but PROFESSIONAL departments all have these media policies in place, if they don't, eventually something happens that shows all the reasons you need one and it is put in place then.

Also, the Sheriff has an obligation to make sure that the truth gets out there in it's entirety. I appreciate factual information being released and timeliness should be based on that, not who can get the "Breaking News" the fastest.

Brad

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 01/13/13 - 11:14 am
10
1
It is the Media and Presses job to investigate.

The RCSO is not run like a Gough Ga. size Police dept.

It is NOT the job function of a Road Patrol Deputy to hold a press conference about official LEO activities. Never has been and never should be.

I am not sorry about it, I can't accept the whining of some of our lazy media that want their stories handed to them without doing their own leg work.

Besides what is so hard about the Media contacting the RCSO Media Spokesperson. Who then pulls the Official police scene report and releases only data not harmful to the ongoing investigation.

I am sure the Media will still have its share of anonymous sources. That will feed them 1/2 the facts and requiring them to electronically post "updates" to correct the facts, when the official reports are released.

bubbasauce
20603
Points
bubbasauce 01/13/13 - 11:26 am
5
2
Well at least I know what I

Well at least I know what I will be listening to on the Austin Rhodes radio program Monday.

palmetto1008
9782
Points
palmetto1008 01/13/13 - 12:00 pm
4
5
It's getting REALLY old,
Unpublished

It's getting REALLY old, bubbasauce.

catawba7
319
Points
catawba7 01/13/13 - 12:03 pm
5
3
Sheriff Roundtree and the Media

I agree with your policy Sheriff Roundtree. Often a statement is released and the words are picked apart and distorted, guard your words carefully and God's speed.

catawba7
319
Points
catawba7 01/13/13 - 12:07 pm
5
3
Comm. Williams, Thanks!

I am glad you are back on the commission. We need a second look at the laws etc. sitting on the books and not being addressed. Russell has to much power, give him a package equal to the job he has performed and let him move on his way

Oh, and take CJ with him, can't wait until 2014, all will be corrected in God's time.

Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 01/13/13 - 01:07 pm
6
0
BRAD

I have never once said that I wanted Roundtree to fail. I'm not that type of person. I simply hope that he applies the LAW and doesn't waiver from it for personal reasons. I am insulted that you would say something like that and you've NEVER heard me say such a thing.

Sweet son
10323
Points
Sweet son 01/13/13 - 02:11 pm
5
1
Tree's Media Policy..........

wouldn't be a big deal if he didn't have so many skeletons in his closet. If the public didn't already know of some of his misgiving in his career with the Sheriff's Dept. they have the right to know since he is a public figure paid by the taxpayers. I hope the radio "Mouth of the South" keeps getting info and putting it out. And he will get info. No one passing info is stupid enough to use Tree's email, phones or cell phones to contact Austin. Too many other ways!

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