Originally created 07/24/02

Facts in black & white

Augusta Commissioner Lee Beard is leading the charge against the special grand jury findings, telling the local NAACP chapter that the report is a biased account of ex-Fire Chief Ronnie Few's "progressive" effort to improve the department.

Biased? Do Beard and his ilk know more about Few's morale-destroying 1997-2000 regime than the scores of line-firefighters whom grand jurors interviewed? But then, what would firefighters know about Few's leadership? They only worked under his command.

Beard's attack demonstrates he either hasn't read the report, or he's in denial. The scathing 124-page report has more than 300 attachments of documentary evidence. Anyone who reads it objectively will realize how silly Few's few apologists are being.

Few's tenure as Washington, D.C.'s fire chief provides even more evidence of his unfitness for command. The mostly black firefighters' union there voted to oust him, and the black D.C. mayor forced Few's resignation after finding out he's a liar.

With the sorry record Few compiled as chief in both Augusta and D.C., it's inexplicable why any leader would still stand up for him. He has no defenders left in Washington (not even the NAACP), but his cronies here still won't face the fact that, even if their pal did do a few good things for the department, they were far outweighed by the awful legacy of banditry, favoritism, cronyism and lack of professionalism that he left behind.

Beard told the local NAACP that Few never acted without the approval of then-City Administrator Randy Oliver. The record shows the opposite. Beard and two other black city commissioners ran interference for Few, enabling the chief to ignore Oliver.

Of course, if Oliver had hiring and firing authority - which black commissioners won't give the administrator - Few could have been made to hew the line.

It's distressing to see the local NAACP play the race card. "It appears to me (grand jurors) had an agenda, and that agenda was to stick it to the blacks," whined NAACP's Herman Fort.

That charge just won't stick. African-American-run D.C. didn't "stick it" to Few because of his color. And there are African-Americans on the local special grand jury - five of whom signed the fire department presentment.

Clearly, not all Augusta blacks were enamored with Few, although those who weren't were considered "traitors" by those who did. If there's an agenda, it's Beard's and his fellow commissioners', Marion Williams and Willie Mays.

The grand jury pointed out that whenever this trio is criticized, instead of responding to the substance of the criticisms, they claim they're the victims of "white racists." Sadly, some things never change.

But we would urge anyone who is tempted to believe the "racist" charge to read the special grand jury's full presentment with an open mind. There's a racist agenda at work, all right, but it's not on the part of the grand jury.


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