Sylvia CooperCity 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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Patty-P 01/13/13 - 05:02 pm
I read a long time ago a post

I read a long time ago a post in which a certain individual in radio received phone calls firsthand from a certain individual at RCSO when there was some juicy information to disseminate. In my opinion, there shouldn't be anyone spending time contacting radio hosts with information like that. It seems a bit unprofessional. So that is where I'll agree with having a media policy.

Riverman1 01/13/13 - 06:12 pm
Who is really mad?

Again it’s nothing new that not everyone is allowed to go to the media. It’s the job of the Sheriff to carefully control the information, who presents it and how it’s presented. Certain individuals want the self-aggrandizement that comes with being on TV, radio and quoted in print. With these individuals it gets to be a reciprocal relationship with their media contact as they both promote each other.

All sheriffs have maintained a degree of media control. It’s the change in the contact people that have some upset in the media and the department. The RCSO media contact person must have the department’s welfare in mind and not himself.

Riverman1 01/13/13 - 06:16 pm
Someone is Upset

I should have known something was up because the other day, out of the blue, I was contacted by someone in the media who told me I’d be brought into court to find out who said he had been escorted out physically by a former sheriff. It was kind of a surprise to me because I had only asked him privately months before about the incident and if it were true. I guess he is touchy about whatever happened. Does it seem like some people spend half their lives in court suing somebody? You can tell he scared me and kept me from commenting today. Heh.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 01/14/13 - 09:34 am
Written Policy

specsta posted:

It would be a good idea to have published copies of the media guidelines, preferably online, for the media or the public to access.

I can guarantee you that Roundtree's handlers have made sure that there is no paper trail here. The policy was announced in a closed, invitation-only meeting. There is absolutely no written policy. Such a written policy could only come back to haunt the sheriff (equal treatment, disparity, favoritism, etc.).

seenitB4 01/14/13 - 09:55 am
Heh heh to this..

You can tell he scared me and kept me from commenting today. Heh.

OpenCurtain 01/14/13 - 11:35 am
Sweet son - Yep I had family in Gough

My Aunt Mary Lou & Uncle Lawnee, lived just cross from the General Store on Broad and Phillips street. (1930's-1979+/-)

There are hilarious stories there.

Jane18 01/14/13 - 11:48 am
Gough, Ga.

Hey Sweet son, I know where Gough is, I just do Not know how it is pronounced! Is it like tough, cough, dough, through...? Help!

greggarn 01/14/13 - 12:00 pm
S.Cooper has nothing better to do

Its funny how she thought she could kill Roundtree's chances of being sheriff is still talking about the same ole things.. Ms Cooper L.I.G... ( Let it go ). No one cares about what you are saying, the man has won the election, go write about something that you can impact, bringing up history on Roundtree is not going to change the fact that he is sheriff. Maybe you can write for Ann Landers or something, or better yet go find some rocks to kick.

P/s can you draw ? maybe you help draw cartoons bashing Obama or something... You failed at bringing Richard down, move on !

Sweet son
Sweet son 01/14/13 - 12:19 pm

"Gawffff!! Like cough with a "G." LOL! Hey Open Curtain, remember M. J. Mobley General Merchandise and the Post Office located in the store? I remember many drink boxes with any kind of a soft drink that a young boy could want. Always thought it was strange that the Post Office was in a store. My uncle ran one of the two cotton gins.

MarinerMan 01/14/13 - 12:55 pm
My Take

Roundtree won the election. However, Sheriff Roundtree has some baggage that makes some people, even me, question how he could have been elected Sheriff of the second largest city in the State. Facts are facts, in BOTH cases. I have concerns, but I'm willing to give him a chance. Let's get to work, cleaning up this town. One of his reorganization transfers, has already earned one negative in my book.

Riverman1 01/14/13 - 01:25 pm
Media Folks Relax

As y'all know Silas and Freddie were the ones I supported, but I say Roundtree deserves a fair chance. I really think he can do a good job for several reasons. That doesn't mean I won't call him on things I see wrong such as the Vegas trip with Blanchard. But Sylvia came out in a frontal assault using old news because she is mad about having to go through the PIO officers. I believe a few officers inside the RCSO are adding fuel to the fire with this nonsense out of office politics. Heck, Mike Hunt in Aiken, put up signs in the offices saying "New Sheriff in Town." Roundtree is being tactful. Everyone relax.

seenitB4 01/14/13 - 03:18 pm
RELAX?? surely you jest..LOL

They CAN'T relax....the sweet has been licked off the lollipop....heck I wanted Freddie & even he is more relaxed than some others.....

I say give Tree a chance...he might surprise us least he has shown he will venture into the lions den.....not to mention he also keeps the lions around him....& they are HUNGRY lions....haha
Figure it out for yaself..

Bet yall don't know NUTHIN about Pine Hill:):) or the big town of Sharon Ga....& cute-quaint Crawfordville Ga....but some do...

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