Don't protest the protesters

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Harrisburg residents have been protesting what they say are landlords with nuisance properties. So what may the city do?

Crack down on protests.

We certainly empathize with Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength when he says it's his job to keep protesters safe. So, when a group of peaceful, well-meaning protesters is moved from an unsafe location -- as was the case at a protest on a street with no sidewalks last week -- Strength and his department have to play the bad guys.

He's got our back. We need to have his.

But we wonder if the answer is a new protest ordinance, as the sheriff is requesting the city draw up. No matter how it's intended, it could be seen as a slap in the face to greet justifiable protests with nothing more than a law restricting protests.

Instead, how about creating fewer reasons for protests? Such as, oh, cracking down on nuisance properties?

Instead of focusing on law-abiding good citizens, we wish the city would turn its considerable attention and power toward the properties in question.

Fact is, the sheriff agrees.

Certainly, he plans to do what he can with the manpower and technology at his disposal. But maybe there's more the city could do to help the residents.

We like The Chronicle's Johnny Edwards' suggestion: "Why isn't someone in the city government suggesting a Chronic Nuisance Properties Ordinance cracking down on houses that drag neighborhoods into the proverbial sewer, houses where cars with distant license plates come and go in short trips, where police show up over assaults and domestic violence, where sketchy-looking men loiter in the yard and sketchy-looking women come and go, also in short trips?"

Sheriff Strength not only agrees, but has asked that such an ordinance be drafted.

We think it would be negligent, and wrong, if the city ignores the citizens' concerns over nuisance properties but enacts an ordinance restricting protests in any significant way.

It's time for the Augusta Commission, Mayor Deke Copenhaver and city administrator Fred Russell to hear the citizens and act on their concerns.

People who take a stand deserve more than being told where to stand.

Comments (26) Add comment
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HillGuy
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HillGuy 09/18/09 - 01:23 am
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Lori Davis and Butch Palmer

Lori Davis and Butch Palmer have been advocating this and are working right now to make it happen... www.butchforaugusta.org
Also support Harrisburg by coming out to the community sale this Saturday on corner of Tuttle and Walton way in Family dollar parking lot. lasts from 8am to 2pm.

Jim-bob
1
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Jim-bob 09/18/09 - 02:10 am
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Start with BONNIE RUBENs

Start with BONNIE RUBENs neglected downtown properties!

omnomnom
3964
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omnomnom 09/18/09 - 03:23 am
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Jim Bob, either I've got

Jim Bob, either I've got something in my eye, or you've made a sensible comment.

HillGuy
7
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HillGuy 09/18/09 - 03:29 am
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You are right Jim-Bob.. I

You are right Jim-Bob.. I think a companion ordinance could be a "Chronic Nuisance Eyesore Ordinance".

Riverman1
83569
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Riverman1 09/18/09 - 05:06 am
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If others can walk down the

If others can walk down the street in front of the slumlord's house, protestors should be allowed to. It is up to Sheriff Strength to explain the conditions that allow the protestors to march again in front of the slumlord's house. The onus is on him...and on Slumlord Millionaire.

avidreader
3186
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avidreader 09/18/09 - 06:01 am
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Harrisburg has so much

Harrisburg has so much potential to become a once-again charming neighborhood. Its historic value to Augusta cannot be measured in revewal dollars. I'm proud of the citizens who are standing up not only for their neighbors, but for Augustans as a whole.

Steve Wylie
3
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Steve Wylie 09/18/09 - 07:11 am
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The next time I see a protest

The next time I see a protest I might go join them. That is one U G L Y neighborhood. Its like a blight on the whole city.

Asitisinaug
3
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Asitisinaug 09/18/09 - 07:13 am
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We have city ordinances in

We have city ordinances in place under code violations and if strictly enforced, many of these problems could go away. However, that being said, you should have to meet certain standards for safety and compliance in order to be a lanlord and if you fail to do so your rental permit is pulled.

harrisburgwillrise
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harrisburgwillrise 09/18/09 - 08:27 am
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We do NOT have the right

We do NOT have the right ordinances in place under code violations at this point. It's hard to find in the Augusta Richmond County website, but when you do, you will see that the nuisance ordinances right now are concerned with tall grass, broken windows, junk cars, and generally noise violations. That's about it. We have to strengthen the ordinance, specifically and comprehensively. Concerned Citizens of Harrisburg are studying this, as we speak, looking at what other cities have done. Many cities across our country have already addressed these issues. Aiken County is one. All will be presented to the Safety Committee, and then to the full Commission on Oct 6. Thank you Sheriff Strength for backing us on this. It was a great meeting!

Harrisburg Homeowner
0
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Harrisburg Homeowner 09/18/09 - 08:55 am
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Harrisburg's Neighborhood

Harrisburg's Neighborhood Association Board Members met with Sheriff Strength yesterday morning. The meeting was highly informative and when we left we knew exactly where we stood with the Sheriff and he knew why we are resorting to protests as one of our last efforts to try to get landlords to come to the table to talk to us about their properties. Sheriff Strength supports us 100%. All he asks is that we inform him in advance of any planned protests so that he can ensure the safety of the citizens he was elected to protect and serve. He believes a chronic nuisance ordinance is the right path to take. In addition, he is looking into obtaining a retired Brink's Armoured Vehicle outfitted with infrared cameras to help put a stop to these nuisances. It has worked wonders in Peoria, Il and would do the same here. Check it out at: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125046098403135197.html#articleTabs_vide.... It is an awesome opportunity for Augusta. Other than delivering and picking up the vehicle, buying, outfitting, and maintaing the truck would not cost taxpayers one dime. All the monies would come from seized drug money. WAY TO GO SHERIFF STRENGTH!

Harrisburg Homeowner
0
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Harrisburg Homeowner 09/18/09 - 09:19 am
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I ran out of room before I

I ran out of room before I also expressed my sincere thanks to The Augusta Chronicle for supporting us to help change Harrisburg and the City of Augusta for the better. We couldn't have gotten this far without Johnny Edwards and Michael Holahan always being there to cover our struggles. We appreciate your continued support!

Native007
4
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Native007 09/18/09 - 09:21 am
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Exellent Harrusburgers! Look

Exellent Harrusburgers! Look how far your efforts have come! Now take a moment to pause for all the naysayers and morons that denounced your efforts. People like that allow the world to become a mess. GOOD FOR YOU ALL!! I recently helped renovate a house on EVE street for the Salvation Army's use with the KROC center. Seeing the area and properties in question...I support what you do!

AWyld1
3
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AWyld1 09/18/09 - 09:49 am
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You can pass any law you like

You can pass any law you like but you cannot prevent anyone from having whomever they want from "distant" places visit them. That would be struck down in a minute. Who is gonna enforce these laws? I can see this ending up in court and costing the taxpayers a bunch of lawyers fees. I have no problem getting sorry tenants out of good neighborhoods but be careful how you label people and good luck cleaning up your neighborhood. I wish you well!!

TechLover
15
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TechLover 09/18/09 - 09:58 am
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I don't seem to remember a

I don't seem to remember a lot of support for Martha Burk and her protests. Oh my God, tall grass? Espionage with infrared cameras? Aren't these the same kind of people that b*tch about a "government takeover"? Would repeated protests in front of someone's home be considered a nuisance?

harrisburgwillrise
0
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harrisburgwillrise 09/18/09 - 10:07 am
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...Martha Burk is the one who

...Martha Burk is the one who got the protest laws changed in Augusta so that we were able to freely protest the last three months. Even though I did not agree with what Ms. Burk was wanting to protest, WHAT SHE DID MANY YEARS AGO IS HELPING US NOW WITH OUR SITUATION. Also, some people just don't get it. Nuisance properties in Harrisburg are drug related, and we DONT WANT THIS IN HARRISBURG, NOR DO I THINK ANY OTHER NEIGHBORHOOD WOULD WANT IT.

disssman
6
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disssman 09/18/09 - 10:27 am
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In these times of short

In these times of short budgets, why not have a law that a person needs a low cost business license to rent more than one property? That way if propertys are not maintained, the license is pulled and the property would eventually be sold to someone who would take care of it. Further, those folks owning multiple propertys and living in California would have to put some of their money back into this community. Finally I would like to know, if the sheriff is so supportive of the protesters, why did he run them off? Was it because someone in the movers/shakers crowd called and asked for help? We will never know, but his reason was sure scrapping the bottom of the muddy creek.

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
7664
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ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 09/18/09 - 10:41 am
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Did you talk to the Sheriff

Did you talk to the Sheriff personally disssman or are you pulling facts from an odiferous nether region again?

harrisburgwillrise
0
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harrisburgwillrise 09/18/09 - 10:45 am
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dissman, We are hoping to

dissman, We are hoping to have landlord licensing in the new Ordinance. This might be the difficult part because there are not many cities who have added this to their ordinances that I have been able to find. This will quite possibly be the bone of contention.

calltomission
0
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calltomission 09/18/09 - 10:54 am
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I admire the Harrisburg

I admire the Harrisburg residents. The same problem is at the Howard-Hart-Holmes in Waynesboro, Georgia. Some tenants allowed Drug Dealers to come in and alleged to set up a portable meth lab. They took over the neighborhood, and many people got sick, was in the hospital, and still under doctor's care. HUD is covering up, the landlord, stated she will not do anything until the police commission does something. I admire Sheriff Ronnie Strength, at least is is concerned about the protesters, and wanting to do something about the nuisance in his community. It appears the only one get protected in this town are the Nuisance. We never had a police visit to talk to us at the hospital or made a home visit, nor the landlord came by when we was in the hospital. It is terrible for these landlords to keep turning their heads the other way. The only thing they want is the rent. The landlord wasn't even doing her job, because she had the tenants doing her work, because she didn't care what went on. It is sad that HUD continues to support such a landlord as her. The city and the police department could have done something. Gang activities was brought to the city council meeting. NO PROTECTION!

jack
10
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jack 09/18/09 - 11:48 am
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The city has a 10 foot right

The city has a 10 foot right of way on every property next to the street, so why an't the protesters use city (public) property? Strange they don't want property owners to trim trees in that right of way.

harrisburgwillrise
0
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harrisburgwillrise 09/18/09 - 12:08 pm
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huh?

huh?

epilogues
0
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epilogues 09/18/09 - 12:27 pm
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well, atleast sherrif

well, atleast sherrif stregnth has a soul. and a conscience. still doesn't change the fact that he had no right to stop the protesters originally, throwing us a bone isnt going to excuse what they've done.

HillGuy
7
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HillGuy 09/18/09 - 01:51 pm
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If you would like to support

If you would like to support Harrisburg, be sure to come out this Saturday to the Harrisburg Community Sale at the Corner of Tuttle St and Walton Way at Family Dollar Parking Lot. Begins at 9am and lasts thru 2pm. Food and drinks available.

harrisburgwillrise
0
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harrisburgwillrise 09/18/09 - 01:57 pm
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Way to go hillguy. I will be

Way to go hillguy. I will be there. Hope to meet you in person. Harrisburg is rising!!!!

CorporalGripweed
0
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CorporalGripweed 09/18/09 - 02:48 pm
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Congrats, Concerned Citizens.

Congrats, Concerned Citizens. The rest of us Harrisburgers are proud of the work you have done. Now it's time to get the Commission to ACTUALLY pass an enforceable ordinance.Hopefully they will take this grass roots movement seriously and remember we are watching.

eachoneteachone
0
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eachoneteachone 09/18/09 - 03:01 pm
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Mr. Palmers' platform

Mr. Palmers' platform includes a nuisance porperty ordinance: www.butchforaugusta.org

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