They’re Baaaacccckkkk…..!

Years ago, we at WGAC busted the CSRA Business League for practices that skirted the edge of legality. After the death of Director Todd Gaines, group seemed to go silent. Now, with a new director, Ellis ALbright, the group is back in the headlines. This time they want to be the city’s official representative and liaison to local minority owned businesses to the tune of a $175,000 a year payout…I hope they are not holding their breath. Click here to hear the story: MZ000177

Laney Walker Loan denied…for now.

Aired this week on WGAC AM/FM. Click here to hear the report: MZ000169

Da Big Mo

Here is the Audio of my report on the Big Mo in South Carolina airing today on WGAC…

Click here for audio: MZ000158 (1)

Great News!!

My Friends,

I have great news! I am about to embark on an amazing journey. JK Public Relations out of Washington, DC has agreed to represent me to the world! I am being added to their stable of clients that includes the NRA and Forbes 2000. Getting on with them as a client was no small feat, they are very selective about who they represent.

For years, I have been on the radio and in print telling you the truth as I know it to be, and now I am going national. But I need your help, every book I sell right now pays for the plane tickets and hotel rooms for me to travel and be on Fox news and speak for groups like C-PAC. The more books I sell means the more appearances I can make. I am asking for your support, if you buy my book, you get an excellent little read and you also will help send this hometown boy onto the national media stage…click the link below TODAY! Move over Ann and Charles, country is coming town!
The Contract On The Government

Don’t Shoot The Messenger!!

(This is a reprint of my column in this week’s Verge newspaper)

Crime throughout Augusta seems to be on the rise and officials are struggling to come up with ways to stem the problem. In the recent past, we have had a couple beat within an inch of their lives at Riverwalk, a melee on Broad Street, Waffle House workers beating each down in the middle of the diner and a probation officer shot. The crime headlines that pop up daily are making some wonder if Augusta isn’t turning into a mini-Chicago.

Let’s be honest.

Every city has to battle crime and some have it worse than others; but rest assured, Augusta’s crime problem is tame compared to other cities. The “gangs” that exist here are boy scouts compared to what you find in Atlanta. However, there are gangs operating in Augusta and they are getting more and more brazen. One of the very few criticisms I had against Sheriff Ron Strength was that he waited years to acknowledge the fact that gangs were becoming a problem. Sheriff Roundtree, on the other hand, was a street cop before being elected top law enforcement officer, so he has a much better grasp on the problem than his predecessor.

Some crime simply can’t be prevented. If a man and his wife get into a drunken argument and one decides to shoot the other, then it is simply going to happen and no one will be able to stop it from happening. Other crimes though, can be prevented. Law abiding people should not be terrified of going downtown to Riverwalk.

Unfortunately, our city leaders see the crime problem as a convenient way to raise taxes. If the extra revenue were to go to hiring more cops and increasing patrols, then I would be the first to endorse the tax hike. But instead, some on the Commission and the Sheriff want to place cameras downtown, which to me is pointless.

Cameras only serve the function of identifying criminals after the fact, and do not serve as any kind of deterrent. Criminals are not afraid of a camera, in fact, it is just the opposite. The public only became aware of the melee on Broad Street after a video surfaced on You Tube. A quick search of that website shows other brawls that have occurred in some of the public housing units and those videos were shot by the participants!

The idea that is being floated is to bring back the failed Business Improvement District but rather than fund green shirted guys on Segueways, it will go to install the cameras. Business owners can also “buy in” to the camera system and be able to view the monitor for their block. Again, this is nothing more than a feel good measure for the politicians. By putting a Band-Aid on a laceration, they can claim they at least tried something.

I have to agree wholeheartedly with commentator Charles Krauthhammer who contends that the soaring inner city crime problem across the country boils down to culture of violence that will take generations to solve, if it is ever solved. Am I going to profile here? YES. It is not Justin Beiber fans that are the ones committing crime; it is fans of JayZ and Tupac Shakur. In our culture, there is an undercurrent in mainstream society’s wake that everyone knows exists, but few are willing to admit is there.

Let me ask: if a group of people who listen primarily to Lady GaGa on the radio and own at least one Queen record, dress impeccably, correct others on their grammar, and grow hydroponic tomato gardens in their yard were known to be a group of people who shoplifted, then would every retail store owner be wary every time a gay man walked into his outlet? In reality, the people committing the crimes that impact innocent people the most listen to hard core rap, wear “hip hop” attire, speak unintelligibly and deal in marijuana. This is a fact and everyone knows it.

As I state in my book, The Contract On The Government, I know from covering the crime beat here in Augusta that the vast and overwhelming majority of armed robbers, burglars and home invaders are young black men. These are the same people who embrace the “gangsta” culture and embrace the thug lifestyle. Now, does that mean all young black men are criminals? Of course not, just like not all gay men enjoy listening to Madonna and like the smell of patchouli. It is not at all racist to point out that the people who call themselves gansta are the very demographic that is the problem in our society.

According to Lieutenant Calvin Chew of the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, there are no hard statistics that are collected by law enforcement on the criminal demographic. However, for four years it was my job to collect that data everyday and put it out on the radio and I can tell you the prime BOLO for armed robbery and home invasion is black males of ages between 17 and 30. Those are just the facts, folks. The ganga lifestyle glorifies violence and criminal activity and you can verify that easily by simply going to these people’s Facebook pages or looking at the videos they post on YouTube. Even in the absence of published statistics here locally, Lt. Chew agrees with my observations here calling them “truthful.” Lt. Chew should know, he is the man in the Sheriff’s office in charge of alerting the media on the crime that takes place daily. Sheriff Roundtree knows this to be a fact too as he has created a gang task force and that department is not looking out for roving bands of drag queens. They know the profile of the average gang member and they know it is not young adults from the suburbs, but young men who primarily grew up in the housing projects.

What compounds the problem is that the black leadership here and across the nation refuses to acknowledge this as a fact. Indeed, when police were forced to shoot and kill Justin Elmore, the black leadership blamed the police! At his funeral, hundreds of people packed the church to listen to the (race baiter) Reverend Al Sharpton sing Elmore’s praises. Vendors stood outside the church selling tee-shirts and it was just days before the funeral that a mini-riot broke out in Cherry Tree Crossing.

The black ministers are not going to own up to the truth because they profit on pointing their fingers in the other direction. Rather than state the cautionary tale that if you run with gangs and break the law you may lose your life, they simply blame racism and the congregation cheers and the offering plates fill over. Black public officials like Commissioner Bill Fennoy won’t admit the truth either. He was quoted in the Augusta Chronicle as suggesting the way to curb crime is to spend more tax payer money on building parks and recreation areas so that the kids have something to do when they are not busy committing crime.

Yes, Krauthammer is right, it took generations for the problem to manifest itself and it will take generations before it ever goes away, if ever. However, rather than put up a bunch of silly cameras, there are ways to make our local environment safer. Sheriff Roundtree’s idea of community involvement in policing is beginning to sprout some success. As I stated earlier, Roundtree was an investigator before he became Sheriff and he knows that if the police can forge a relationship with the public, then the public will help identify the hood rats.

We need to elect judges that will have enough backbone to mete out harsh prison sentences to violent offenders. We, as taxpayers, also need to demand that the tv sets and basketball hoops be removed from prisons and the workout gyms in those institutions need to be converted into libraries. Prison shouldn’t be a holiday, it should be prison.

Finally, a more aware public will help ease the problem. The people of Harrisburg have learned that a watchful eye and a cell phone reduces crime. However, until we as a society finally, as a unified one, acknowledges the root of the problem, then we can put up cameras all over the place, but the criminals will remain in our midst and they will continue to ply their illegal trade. If we are going to raise taxes to protect the innocent, then let’s do it, but let’s also spend the money on measures proven to work. Spend the money on putting more police on the street so that the law abiding outnumber the lawless.

You can find out more about Tommy Scott Hudson’s book, The Contract On The Government, at http://www.thecontract.us.

My Liberal Friends…

I enjoy having ideological debates with my left-leaning friends. What I have learned from them has really strengthened my conservative stand on most issues. Intellectual lefties are the minority in that camp; most liberals I encounter spew out a party line and when their ideological inconsistencies are pointed out they hurl invective and slurs and then walk away. Intellectual lefties, on the other hand, put reason into their arguments and sometimes they are right.

Real liberals, I have found, are compassionate people. It makes them feel good to think they are helping others. The problem is that they allow that compassion to go too far and that is the core of the problem facing our once great nation. Here are some examples:

1. There are certain things that only government can do and just because it is not expressly written in the Constitution does mean government should not perform the task.

This is partially true. There are things that only government can do beyond paving streets and picking up trash. Rural electrification is a great example. Back in the 1930’s, no private company was going to spend millions of dollars to wire up the countryside for no profit. What that New Deal program did though was wire up farms during the Great Depression doubling and tripling the output of those farms. As a result, the farms grew, more people were employed and grocery store shelves were packed with produce.

What the liberals do not get is that there is a Constitutional mechanism for this; it is called the General Welfare Provision. The “general welfare” means that the government action eventually benefits everyone. That provision, though, has been bent like taffy due to people’s compassion run amok. The general population benefits when the elderly and sick of mind are taken care of, but suffers when the able bodied are given food, healthcare, shelter and a cell phone with no expectation they will attempt to pay anything back.

2. Corporations are not people and they shouldn’t be treated as such.

Again, this is partially true. Corporations are not people, they are made up of people, but even a dead person’s estate can own a corporation. Corporations are structures built on profit and loss ledger books. Corporations do not have emotions and therefore do not care if their employees are young children working long hours around dangerous equipment. However, again, the liberal sense of compassion has caused a knee jerk reaction that has destroyed the manufacturing base of this country. It is very true that when capitalism is left to its own devices, the few profit and the many starve.

Government should have reasonable regulations such as a standard work day, workplace safety, age requirements and a minimum wage. However, what has happened over the past century is that the government has allowed unions to dictate virtually everything to the people who sign their paychecks. Unions have demanded and received unreasonable salaries, a system where no one can be fired for poor performance and out of control pension plans. As a result, the cost of American goods went up while quality went down. Trust me, the big three automakers did not set out to make expensive crappy cars in the 1970’s and 1980’s, they were crippled by a lopsided pay structure for a lazy and under-productive labor force. So, Japan enters the market with affordable cars that run forever and pushed American car companies to the brink of destruction.

In Augusta, we once had a thriving textile industry where thousands were employed. However, the companies could not stay in business when, due to regulations and union demands, goods from overseas we cheaper at retail than the cost of the raw materials stateside. The only thing those companies could do was move overseas themselves and the result here are a bunch of empty mill buildings ringing the Augusta Canal.

3. Equality is a human right and it is up to the government to insure those rights.

Yep, I agree. However, once again, my liberal friend’s sense of compassion has led them down an empty path. Equality enforcement has never been much a function of the executive or legislative branches. Sorry kids, Abraham Lincoln did not free the slaves; the Emancipation Proclamation was a brilliant document that actually did nothing. It took a Constitutional amendment to abolish slavery. While the Congress was able to use the Commerce clause to end legal segregation by private businesses, much of the drive for equality for black people came through the Supreme Court, ie. Brown v. Board of Education, Heart of Atlanta Motel v. The United States and Loving v. Virginia.

Take the current gay marriage debate. Most thinking people, both liberal and conservative, are coming around to understanding that equality under the law for gays and lesbians is right and proper and that government needs to insure that equality. However, since the federal government has no authority to issue a marriage or civil union license or any mechanism for issuing guidelines for states in this area, the issue will ultimately have to be addressed by the Supreme Court. Here is how it will happen, a couple of guys will get married in Washington D.C., then set up residence in Georgia. They will then get into a tiff and decide to divorce, since they are now residents of Georgia they can’t get divorced in Washington and they have standing to sue the state of Georgia for not recognizing their marriage license and not properly dissolving their union. The Supreme Court will likely find that Georgia was in violation of the Full Faith and Credit clause since the state recognized licenses from Washington D.C. involving heterosexuals. See how easy that was?

The problem of my liberal friends is that their endless compassion dupes them into believing pandering politicians who promise to demand equal treatment for gays. They buy into the line that liberal politicians are the only ones who care about human rights, and vote based solely on that one issue. What they get is a liberal politician that goes to Washington, pays back their donors with legislation in their favor, raise taxes on the very people that voted for them and do absolutely nothing to forward the issue of equality.

4. (And my favorite) The Constitution is a living document that should be interpreted by modern standards since the framers could not conceive of a world with airplanes and the Internet.

Actually, no. The Constitution was designed to be interpreted as a set of rules of what the federal government can and cannot do and those rules need no interpretation from anyone other than the Supreme Court. No, the Framers did not have airplanes, but the modern Congress has every right to create the FAA since it is in the general welfare for that agency to exist. The Framers had the same basic needs we have today; they needed food, shelter, healthcare ect. They did not feel though, that everyone has a right to those things and other people should pay for it.

Those are my four favorites, and there are plenty of others to list. I really enjoy debating back and forth with my liberal friends, like Ron and Benji, who approach things from a basis of intellect and the rule of law. It is too bad that too many libs out there (and the most vocal among them) can’t or won’t ground their opinions in reality and rather than have a reasoned conversation simply turn to calling me a racist, a hate-monger, an imbecile or my personal favorite – a faggot.

The Rain Tax

(I am going to start posting my columns that show up in Verge and Buzz On Biz directly in my blog after the papers hit the street. However, I want to remind my readers that there is a lot of great features and information and you should pick up a hard copy when you can! And support our advertisers!!)

The Rain Tax – January 2 Edition The Verge

The latest attempt to raise revenue for the City of Augusta has some up in arms accusing the city of attempting to tax the rain. The so called “rain tax” is currently under study by the Augusta Commission and could be put in place starting next year. So what is the rain tax?

Every time a house is built or a parking lot paved, the runoff that occurs during a heavy storm is displaced. That water has to go somewhere and so infrastructure such as retention ponds and ditches need to be created and maintained. The problem for the city is that the vast majority of money collected through property taxes goes to education and law enforcement. According to city administrator Fred Russell, only about $70.00 collected on a $100,000 home goes into the general fund. It also must be noted that while the tax digest for homeowners has shrunk in recent years, Augusta has added new roads and bridges and there has been a rise in commercial construction. So, every square foot of pavement simply adds more storm runoff.

With limited resources, the city is finding it difficult to create the needed storm gutters and maintain them and that can lead to a public health problem. When ditches and retention ponds are not maintained correctly, they become a breeding ground for mosquitoes and rodents, both of which spread disease. The city already has a nightmare on their hands each spring trying to battle the swarms of mosquitoes that breed at Phinzy swamp and other marshy areas of the county.

“Technically, you can call it a rain tax,” explains Russell, “but really it is a fee for having a roof, a driveway or a parking lot.” According to Russell, the only alternative to a “storm water management fee” is to raise ad velorum taxes. In that case, private property owners would get hit, but churches and non-profits would be exempt. Under a fee, everyone who owns property whether it is commercial or residential contributes. And unlike other “taxes,” the money is earmarked for a purpose.

Not everyone supports adding a new fee. For many, adding a “rain tax” sets a dangerous precedent, after all since the sun causes grass to grow, will the Commission eventually add a new fee for sunny days? Former Augusta Commissioner Joe Bowles was quoted recently in the press as saying the recent Transportation Special Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST) that added a penny taken from every dollar ought to be enough to help the city cover the cost of storm run-off. Others, though, argue that TSPLOST is for building roads and bridges, but not necessarily ditches and retention ponds. They say it is quite the opposite that with every new road built comes new drainage issues.

While many areas in the city do not experience flooding problems, downtown in many areas is like a large bowl. Every time a large downpour comes through the hospital district, you almost need a canoe to get where you are going. Also, the drainage collection infrastructure in many parts of the city is a century old and was designed for dirt streets roamed by horses rather than pavement that supports automobile traffic. Indeed, the “demonstration block” sidewalk project along 10th Street seemingly took forever and ran way over budget simply because the storm water sewers were so old and obsolete. Once the workers removed the sidewalk, they discovered that rat had carved out burrows in the old pipe system creating headaches for the engineers. City leaders say a new fee is the only way to fix aging infrastructure and maintain storm water run-off effectively.

Currently, the city is spending about $3.5 million for consultants to study the issue and they are expected to report back to the Commission with advice on how much should be charged and how it should be collected. According to Russell, if the fee is about $10, then the city could raise somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 million.

The fee ultimately will likely pass the Commission. For politicians, it is easy for them to hide behind the semantics and say they raised revenue without raising taxes. Also, as Russell points out, the rain tax is nothing new for city and county governments. Both Columbia County as well as North Augusta do not have the flooding and infrastructure problems that plague Augusta, and both of those governments have some form of storm water utility fees.

Suck It Up Folks, Roberts Was Right!

Right now the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court might need bodyguards to keep conservatives from killing him over his vote on Obamacare. While I have been absolutely against the scheme from the start, I have to side with him on the Constitutionality of the issue.

Roberts job as Justice is to apply the Constitution to laws that are passed, not to decide based on whether or not he likes or agrees with a law. The 16th Amendment gives the Congress the power to tax income in any manner they see fit. Roberts had no choice but concede that fact.

The Progressives of the early 20th Century effectively gave us Obamacare when they voted in the 16th and 17th Amendments respectively. The 17th Amendment took away the several states representation in Congress, making is a free-for-all and the 16th Amendment gave them access to your bank account.

See what happens when you amend a legal document without putting much thought into what you are doing?

The Richmond County Sheriff’s Race…

Some people consider the Sheriff’s position to be purely administrative. They think the Sheriff merely sets policy, awards promotions, and shows up to press conferences to preen in front of the camera when a big bust occurs. This, folks is not true.

The Sheriff does what was listed above, but there is so much more. When a near riot erupted in Cherry Tree Crossing, the first person I saw there was Sheriff Strength. There have been times when officers went and committed crimes themselves, who was the first person I heard from? Sheriff Strength. Rather than sweep incedents under the carpet, Strength was quick to fire and jail members of his own staff no matter how long their tenure. When Officer J.D. Paugh was killed in the line of duty, I spoke with the Sheriff by cell phone and could hear him choke up in tears as he told me “I feel like I have lost a son.” Strength has been a hands on leader and it shows that in what is his most important function: keeping department morale high.

I have worked with the cops in various ways for nearly a decade in a variety of ways. As a small business owner, I have needed the police for a variety of reasons, from vagrants causing problems to burglary. Even though most beat cops do not know that I am in the media, the response time on the times I have needed the police averages about 6 minutes. I haven’t been given special treatment, they heard the alarm and rushed to the scene.

Even under budget cuts, furloughs, rising crime, and the daily risk of death, the morale in the Sheriff’s Office is extremely high and it shows in the manner they go about doing their jobs. We must keep that morale where it is and should the wrong person be elected Sheriff, you are going to see a mass exodus from that department. Should that happen, the people of Harrisburg and Faith Villiage may as well give up their attempts to fight the crime and blight in their neighborhoods. Business owners better sleep with a cell phone next to them in case of trouble occurring at their business.

Republicans in Richmond county face a dilimma in either voting for the right Democrat candidate or voting in the Congressional primary. Please let me remind that a congressman is just 1 of 435 and the Sheriff is a local office able to personally intervene in local affairs.

Therefore, I am urging my friends to follow me to the polls with a Democratic ticket and vote for Scott Peebles. Out of the Democrat field, Peebles is the only one that can step into Strength’s shoes.

Now, Republican Freddie Sanders has been a family friend since before my birth. I am sure my father is squirming in his grave at me suggesting people vote for Peebles. But remember this, Sanders has the Republican ticket sown up, if nothing else, by making sure Peebles gets the Democrat nomination then we will ensure that voters will have two of the best candidates running against each other and that would be a win-win.

To My Conservative Friends,

The presidency of 2012 is lost, Barak Obama is going to win. Naturally, we can stand behind Mitt Romney, but the fact is that the Obamabots are going to come out in force to put him back in office. As conservatives, we have to understand that the “game over” icon appeared when Herman Cain was forced out of the race. It had nothing to do with his color of skin, it had everything to do with content of his message and his articulation of that message. Herman Cain could have beaten Obama and “team Obama” knew it and that is why they and their media cohorts considered Cain enemy number one and torpedoed his chances of running with vapors and innuendo.

What was left of the Republican field was a joke. Michele Bachmann? Really? Newt Gingrich? Are you kidding me? Now, don’t get me wrong. I like Mitt Romney but he is unelectable. Obama and his campaign will use two major themes to defeat him and those are class warfare and Romney’s religion. Mitt is wealthy and that is all that matters to Obamabots who think no one under any circumstance should be wealthy unless they themselves are given a share of that wealth. They are also, without giving any thought to what Obama’s religious practices are (and aside from the “Rev.” Wright, no one really knows what religion the President practices), already branding Romney as member of a cult. I have family and several friends who belong to the LDS church and have myself attended services as a visitor and can attest there is nothing “cultish” about that faith. No, they do not practice polygamy, but you can bet the mainstream media will remind you that in the 19th century they did. People in the 19th century also believed bloodletting was a cure for ailments.

The point here is that we as conservatives must wrap our heads around the fact that Obama is likely going to be elected for a second term. Therefore, our best hope is to get behind congressional and senatorial candidates and give “team Obama” a Republican Congress that will stand against his tyrannical policies. We must remember that the “bailout” of General Motors was a government takeover and not a “bailout.” We must acknowledge the fact that Obama flung billions of dollars at “green energy” while stymying every effort to drill for oil on our own continent and territorial waters. Meanwhile, the Chinese and Mexicans are reaping the benefits of oil just off our shores and nearly every last one of those “green energy” companies took money from the government and then filed for bankruptcy.

A Republican majority in Congress will create four years of gridlock. We can expect four more years of economic misery because hardly anything will get done to fix the mess we are mired in now. However, it would give us conservatives time to regroup, groom candidates that have a clear message and vision, and a Republican Congress can render Obama’s plans for this country null and void.

We also must pray daily for the health and welfare of the conservative members of the Supreme Court and pray they remain at their posts until the day Obama takes that final flight on Air Force One and returns to life as a citizen with multi-million dollar speaking engagements and retires as a former President of this country.

In the meantime, please, my friends, look up the 17th Amendment and then read the Federalist Papers and learn why the Senate was constructed in the manner that it was originally and join me in the fight to overturn the Amendment that got us where we are today. Obama is going to win this election, but we the People can restore this republic back to what is was designed to be and it must start with supporting conservative congressional candidates.

God bless Mitt Romney, I intend to vote for him. But, my friends, I am telling you that he is not going to win this election.

It Is Time To Celebrate….

After four years of work finally we have seen the passage of our bill that eliminates the statute of limitation on child molestation. House bill 1176 passed the Assembly 164-1 and won unanimous approval in the Senate. The Governor will sign this legislation which is an overall reform of Georgia criminal law.

At first, I and others were misled by language in the reform act, but after scrutiny, I find nothing that is unconstitutional and therefore I support the act and I am happy that the work of so many people has finally come to fruition.

What our portion of the bill does, in my mind, is two-fold: it strikes fear in the hearts of child predators that they may at any time in their twisted lives be prosecuted for their crimes; it also brings child “molestation” to the level of what it actually is and that is a “violent assault.”

After all this work, I don’t want anyone to tell me thank you and neither does any of the other people who made this happen. What we want you to do is arm your children with the knowledge they need to protect themselves, and make sure that your relationship with them is close enough that they feel comfortable telling you if they find themselves entering into a situation they intuitively know is wrong. Predators do not strike at random, they reel their victims in slowly. You can prevent that if you have a strong, honest relationship with your child.

But in the cases where children wait until adults to come forward, if they have credible information then the “Ed Melones” living in Georgia can no longer hide behind the law…And I hope a man living in Lincoln County is reading this. Yep, you SOB I finally beat you.

The Joe Neal Mess

What has occurred with attorney Joe Neal should be a lesson to all. I am not going to comment on the circumstances of the charges against him and his ex-wife. But, as someone who has made himself a public figure by way of being a high profile attorney and activist for his neighborhood, the amount of press regarding his arrest was warranted. If found guilty of the charges I have full faith that the justice system (the jury) will act appropriately. On the other hand, if extenuating circumstances emerge and he is convicted of extremely poor judgment as opposed to rape, he will never regain his standing in this community and will have a difficult time practicing his trade. Once charged with a serious crime that is covered in the media whether it be DUI, Rape or Bribery that person rarely recovers whether exonerated or not. I know of only two exceptions: Ed McEntyre (Bribery) and Ben Harbin (DUI).

The point I want to make is that this rule of thumb used to only apply to public figures. And, admittedly, in the past even some public figures with the right connections could use their influence to quash coverage and quietly settle a legal issue. Everyone knows a good attorney can turn a DUI into a lesser reckless driving charge thereby sparing the client from complications at work and in society. However, neither is the case anymore.

With the onset of social media and the availability of the internet anyone can find themselves a “public figure” overnight. For a while, I struggled with whether the publication and Facebook page “The Jail Report” was a public service or a sensationalistic tool to make money. After speaking with publisher Greg Rickabaugh at length, I have come to the conclusion that while some charges that accompany mug shots under the heading “disorderly conduct” can mean anything (ie. spitting on the sidewalk) that the Jail Report is indeed a public service.

Why is that? Well, comedian George Carlin once commented that humans were the dumbest species on planet Earth. He said no animal, of which we are supposed to be superior to, knowingly puts itself in a situation it knows for a fact could cause it harm. Carlin was right, people engage in behavior that even though they are fully aware will destroy them if they are caught, they simply bank on not being caught.

People like Austin and myself know that if we go to a bar and drink to excess then get behind the wheel and get caught we not only get featured all over the media, but we also lose our livelihood. We know thanks to Google, we can’t simply move to another city and start over because the internet records our transgressions for all the world to see. So, that is one of the reasons you never see either of us hanging out in a bar swinging from a ceiling fan.

Nowadays that also applies to anyone who has a professional career. A case in point: I know of a person in the sales industry who was busted for DUI. Since he did not drive a car owned by his company, the company treated it as an indiscretion and declined to discipline or fire him. But, his clients saw his bloodshot-eyed mug shot and many called the company that employed him and asked for a different sales representative. Eventually he lost his job because he could not generate revenue.

So, in my mind, The Jail Report and the availability of mug shots by simply going on-line and accessing law enforcement records does lower that amount of hubris inherent in all of us. It is a public service. No longer do you have to be a Joe Neal to receive 15 minutes of fame for an indiscretion or crime that normally would appear in a back page in the newspaper or receive 4 seconds on the TV news, these days even Joe Blow gets the front page treatment.

In today’s world, our actions (good and bad) follow us for life.

Can’t Help Myself

The History Press has informed my co-editor, Dr. Debra Van Tuyll and me that the release date of our book “Augusta’s WGAC: The Voice of the Garden City For 70 Years” will be released April 9th. So I decided to go ahead and present the cover of the book. The right side is the front and left side the back jacket…
Here it is:
339.4 wgac radio

Hey City Stink People

Kudo’s on holding the public officials feet to the fire over over Tee Center….But I am wondering why people are calling for the recall of Joe Jackson and Joe Bowles-both of whom are term limited and can’t run again-and are the very two commissioners that have spent the past five years of their lives donating one Saturday a month to clean the community and have never once used it as a media ploy or election pat on the back. Neither Jackson nor Bowles have a city cell phone or gas card. Neither has done anything improper that I can ferret out.

Meanwhile, Commissioner J.R. Hatney regularly falls asleep in in commission meetings and is listed as the registered agent for the East Augusta Development Corp….a group that apparently just received a cool $1 million in a rider stuck into a transportation bill by John Barrow. What have they developed with that money? What about relocating people from an area not proven to be contaminated and paying off land speculators like Charles Utley. Meanwhile creating a “detention” pond in a former swamp which will become a mosquito breeding ground for those of us who live in South Augusta?.

I am not criticizing you folks, in fact I applaud my good friend Al Gray for dropping the pseudonym and speaking publicly using his real name. Al is not some kook looking for attention, he knows his stuff. All I am saying is now that you all are satisfied with the Tee center arrangements and seem to have finally gotten the Mayor to shut the hell up about a stadium on the river, start turning over the rocks that have the real rattlesnakes beneath them.

Before calling for Joe Jackson’s removal why don’t you assist me in continuing to investigate ANIC….How has millions upon millions been spent in the Laney Walker district and it remains a war zone? Why have these new homes been built that no one wants to buy and so the city just decides to give them away to people living in an area that is “reportedly” contaminated….Hyde Park is not a high crime area, if I lived there, I would not want a free home in Laney Walker, I would want to stay right where I am at…and many of those people do…So, instead the city is apparently telling them they will relocated them anywhere they want to go…even if that place is Columbia County. There is a much bigger rat at work here than what was going on with the Tee Center….I hope you City Stink folks will take a look at what I have reported for years and never once been sued for libel over….This “redevelopment” scheme has been nothing but a money maker for a small amount of people over years none of who care about the poor or redevelopment…They simply want the government money available…that is YOUR money.

All I am saying is keep it up, but find the real crooks and I will go to the ends of the Earth to help you…after all Scott Dean would still be in office and committing crimes while representing the public if it were not the work of the informants I had feeding me information.

Farewell Big Dad…

When I met Jim “Big Dad” Brennan, he was already in the winter of his life-span. He had spent nearly nine decades on Earth and was settling into growing old with the occasional gripe about an aching joint here and there. Over the past several years I had the wonderful experiences of sitting outside next the pool at Jim’s daughter and son and law’s house listening to Jim talk.

While his body was growing frail, his mind was as sharp as a tack. He recounted his experiences in World War II and painted vivid images to me of what it was like to grow up in Augusta. My favorite story took place in the 1920’s when Jim was a boy. His mother ran a boarding house and he was a newspaper boy for the Augusta Chronicle. His downtown route was through an area known as Frog Hollow.

Jim would chuckle in telling me the story about how most of his customers were illiterate. They took the newspaper to play a thing called “the bug.” It was an illegal gambling operation run by some of the power players in the area at that time. People would gamble on what the stock exchange numbers would be the next day. For something like five cents you could play the bug, but you also had to buy a news paper to see if you had won. Back in those days, five cents was a lot of money for a poor person, but just like todays lottery, people would play it in hopes of winning ten or twenty bucks.

There were plenty of stories like that and Jim recounted them like they had just happened yesterday. With his evening cocktail in hand, Jim would talk about flying airplanes in the war, what the 1950’s and 1960’s were like from his perspective. He talked and talked and I listened. Every time I got the chance to sit outside and chat with Jim it was like opening up a time capsule and rummaging through the contents.

Jim was a part of what we fondly call the ‘greatest generation.’ He did not go on to become famous or run for president. He worked, raised children and just tried to live life as an honest and decent man. The winter of his life was spent woolgathering over fond memories  and he appreciated having an ear nearby to hear his stories. I was privileged to be that ear.

Jim bade us farewell over the weekend. He was to me an example of how to live a good life and I will miss him, but I am grateful for the chance to have known him and I will never forget all those wonderful stories.

Four Years Ago…

I covered the Ed Meloan case in South Carolina. Meloan had used his position as a tv personality as a means to serially molest young boys over several decades. At first, for me, it was just a news story like all the others I covered until I heard a quote from one of the victims. He said that he came forward because he could no longer live with the guilt of knowing that his failure to report Meloan meant that other kids became victims of the man. He said he knew that by staying silent, he aided and abetted a criminal and was therefore guilty himself.

That quote hit me in the gut. I understood what he meant, I was in the same boat. I had harbored the same type of terrible secret for decades. So, I called Sheriff Whittle and told him what happened to me in the summer of 1984. That is when we all learned of the statute of limitation on child molestation in Georgia and it set me and many others on the path that we continue on to this day.

Four years ago I sat down and told Austin, Mary Liz, Harley and our general manager Kent that I felt compelled to work to change that law. When Austin learned of what happened to me as a kid, he said, “just damn.” Austin works with kids every year through Storyland Theatre, he is really a “softie” when it comes to kids, and I could tell he almost took it personally because the situation left us all powerless.

We decided that my reputation and my credibility as a reporter had to be protected, so it was agreed that I would do research and stories on the matter and we would work through the channels we had to get new legislation passed.

We contacted Ben Harbin who immediately got to work with Barbara Simms and Lee Anderson. The bill to eliminate the statute of limitations was drawn and filed. It then died slowly in committee. Local political adviser and Boy Scout leader Jim Cox got involved as well as Columbia County Chief Magistrate Bobby Christine. For years, we all pushed to get the bill out of committee and on to the floor of the Assembly. Nothing seemed to work.

“We need a face to put on this crime, Scott,” Judge Christine told me. “Someone needs to step up and say that it happened to them, without it, we just can’t get the momentum.” As it turns out, Bobby’s brother-in-law Jared shared a similar story with me and Jared decided that he would step up and talk about it. I decided, against the advice of everyone at the radio station that I must do the same.

Jared and I went and sat down with Governor Deal and we told our stories and I agreed to go on camera here in Augusta to help get the grass roots support that Ben needed to relaunch the bill. Then this mess in Penn. State happened and it created the momentum to make this a state wide issue.

I have to confess to you that this has been emotionally trying on me, my family and my co-workers. We have had to make hard decisions over the past four years, but we all understand that it is a conversation that we as a society need to have. We need the mechanisms in place within the law to protect our children. If that means that some of us have to come forward and divulge details we would really just like to forget, then so be it, we must. Having access to the media and to the people who craft and vote on our laws comes with its own set of responsibilities.

A reporter never wants to become a part of the story, we are supposed to simply be the medium to disseminate information. But sometimes, we have to break the rules if it is for the greater good. Neither Jared nor I see ourselves as victims. We are both successful and happy in our lives. However, there were events that happened to both of us in our youth that we want to prevent happening to other kids. If nothing else, we want to give a voice to victims of child molestation that do struggle with what happened to them. We decided to man-up and put a face on this crime.

You can help get this bill passed. Send an email to your state representative and your state senator and tell them you support HB 676. The battle to get that statute overturned is four years long at this point, but we are committed to getting it done this year. With your help we will do it.

Uh, Judge Brown, ya wanna comment?

First installment but it will not be the last. We all need to look back at the stuff that has happened over the years…The truth is out there…hear this: MZ000206

From The Sheriff….

This appeared in the Augusta Chronicle Sunday 10/30…A note to all of us from Ronnie Strength, and I add in my “thank you’s” as well. Hopefully we won’t have to do this again, but our community stepped up in this tragic case and showed our law enforcement folks some love and I am very proud of all of you… Here is Ron’s letter:
Tribute to ‘J.D.’ was touching
By Ronnie Strength
Augusta
Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011
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In my 35 years with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, I have attended many funerals of private citizens, elected officials, local and state dignitaries and public safety folks.

Never have I seen the outpouring of support and love that was shown at the funeral for Deputy James “J.D.” Paugh.

The hundreds and hundreds of law enforcement officers and other public safety people were expected, as these folks always come forward in times of tragedy involving one of their own.

But the public support shown by hundreds of citizens that lined the funeral procession was nothing like I have ever seen. People holding American flags, banners and ribbons adorned the entire route – citizens with their hands over their hearts and many crying as the procession made its way to Hillcrest Cemetery.

I wish I could personally thank each and every one who was standing along the roadway showing their respect for what J.D. has done for the past 17 years in dedicating his life to the great citizens of Richmond County.

Our agency is having a difficult time coping with the loss of J.D., but the tribute shown by our citizens during these hard times has helped us so much.

Thank you, each and every one of you, for all you have done in supporting and paying your respects to this agency and to Deputy J.D. Paugh.

Ronnie Strength

Augusta

(The writer has been Richmond County’s sheriff since 2001.)

My Interview With Harley

This interview was conducted as part of our research for the book I am writing along with ASU professor Dr. Debra VanTuyll, an audio copy will be available at Reese Library for the future students who are interested in radio.

We will be making a public announcement soon about this project, which is a historic first on many levels, but I thought I would make the interview with Harley available to my friends early on…Sitting across from him and just letting him talk was, at least to this point, the coolest interview I have ever scored in my career.HDINTERVIEW

So Many Things…

have happened over the past 20 years. Just graduating out of high school, I never would have thought that I would end up working with George Fisher and Harley Drew. In the early years I took for granted working with Mary Liz Nolan and I really thought early on that Austin would be a flash in the pan. When I met J.B. Fuqua, I didn’t realize who he was until I got to his house in Atlanta.

The irony of the fact that I drove a borrowed car to visit Fuqua is now a source of pride, and if you do not know Fuqua’s story, well, when our book comes out you will. The WGAC story started long before I was born, but it became part of my life, and my story. I was so wrong about Austin and where he would end up, but I was also smart enough to hang on to Mary Liz and let her guide me in the adventure we all embarked upon.

In my tenure at WGAC I have witnessed executions, I have witnessed horrific traffic accidents, and sat in on trials where the graphic evidence displayed broke my heart. I have exposed the wrongdoings of people that I thought from the moment I started as a journalist to be corrupt, and then had to expose the people close to me that I genuinely liked and did not think could ever be corrupted. My heart has been broken many times.

I conformed to what I was taught by the masters of the field. In the course of doing this I developed the stiff upper lip required and trudged on knowing that even my best friends who were in politics might become a target tomorrow, or an officer that I adored might become a fatality that I would have to cover as a news story.

It has been a journey, but throughout, I have never given up on my music. I keep on playing even though I know I will never be a rock star. My music reflects my love for this community…The community I serve…

This song is perfect in the way it was recorded, but it is about to be recorded again, with a different voice and a different style…The voice will not be mine, but one that is up and coming and needs to be heard, and it will live up to the standards our community has set…perfection.

I promise.