In our May 26th column, we promised that we would have this for you. So here it is; Columbia County government and media on display.
Ron Cross…what can we say? His featured column in May 2011’s water bill insert titled, “IF YOU DON’T FEEL SAFE, LITTLE ELSE MATTERS!”, was entirely too much, and to that, and please forgive us, we say, “bullshit!”
Ron Cross wrote, “In a little research, I discovered quite a few amazing statistics: In Columbia County since 1996, the population has increased 49.3%; overall reported crimes in the county have decreased 24.4%. Whoa! Should not the number of crimes increase as population increases?” He rambles on and on…and on. And why shouldn’t he? He has Barry Paschal in tow reporting whatever he tells him. Is it or is it not professional journalism practice to perform “a little research” to verify?
1. Unless you are at least 219 years old – the length of time since Columbia County’s creation – you lack the perspective to make such a broad-brush declaration.
2. Perhaps you are confusing a heavier media emphasis on crime reporting with a rise in crime. You wouldn’t be the first.
Columbia County’s crime rate – the measure of crimes rendered to and apples-to-apples comparison year to year – has been in steady decline in recent years (and months) even as the county’s population has increased. Those are real statistics – not the anecdotes of cutting and pasting from news sites.”
This is vintage Paschal speaking to Morris Communications patrons, apparently with Morris’ blessing. Not to be outdone, on November 12, 2009, radio host Austin Rhodes wrote, “100% on the mark, Barry…
We live in a 24 hour news cycle now…and the media has greater access to crime reports and cops than ever before. It isn’t that we have a huge increase in crime…but we do have a huge increase in coverage and community conversation about it…”
Whoa! Ron Cross, Barry Paschal, and Austin Rhodes bragging about Columbia County’s low crime rate. We would like to know where they get their information from. We get ours from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation…THIS is what GBI reports, and be prepared to view official statistics that are very different from what Cross, Paschal, and Rhodes so eloquently and arrogantly claim:
- why did Ron Cross select 1996’s crime figures to compare? Why not 2003, the year he took office? Probably because 1996 saw the “most” crime…or, most crime until 2007. In 1996, there were 2,536 total crimes; 2 murder, 3 rape, 25 robbery, 62 assault, 369 burglary, 1,917 larceny, 158 vehicle theft. In 2007, there were 2,619 total crimes. When we say total crimes, according to the GBI, it reports the numbers that each county reports to it.
- why did Ron Cross not select 2003’s crime figures to compare? Ron Cross took office in 2003, and in 2003, there were 1,748 total crimes. Again, the year Ron Cross took office, there were 1,748 total crimes.
- in 2003, the year Ron Cross took office, there were 1,748 total crimes.
- in 2004, there were 2,282 total crimes.
- in 2005, there were 2,285 total crimes.
- in 2006, there were…hmmn, Columbia County did not report ANY crimes for March 2006 or for April 2006. Whoa! WHY? In any event, 1,953 (asterisk) crimes were reported for 2006, with NO CRIME figures reported to the GBI by Columbia County in March and April. Let’s check the police blotters for confirmation that no crimes were committed. One of us will have to do it since Barry Paschal sure won’t.
- in 2007, there were 2,619 total crimes.
- in 2008, there were 2,660 total crimes.
- in 2009, there were 2,618 total crimes.
- remember, these numbers come right from GBI’s website and GBI states that it reports the figures provided by each county… kinda like the Department of Revenue.
- Year by year comparison of crime in Columbia County:
Year Murder Rape Robbery Assault Burglary Larceny Car Theft
2003 2 19 13 42 273 1325 74
2009 4 16 46 89 409 1923 131
- so, Ron Cross wrote that there has been a 24.4% decrease in crime since 1996, which is not close to being accurate. Again, why he would pick 1996 as a starting point is not difficult to figure out once you have all of the facts. Why he insults our intelligence goes directly to his arrogance. That aside, if we took 2003, his first year in office, and compared it to 2009, the last year with official numbers reported, COLUMBIA COUNTY, GEORGIA went from 1,748 crimes to 2,618 crimes, or, an increase of 49.77%. Factually speaking, an alleged 24.4% decrease, when factually there was a 49.8% increase, puts Ron Cross’ error at 74.2%. Whoa!
What did Barry Paschal say about crime in Columbia County? County hierarchy has the publisher of Columbia County’s newspaper following blindly. What did Austin Rhodes say about crime in Columbia County? The powers that be have a CSRA radio talk show host following blindly. Whoa! Why is that? The people are on to the games and we say, bullshit!
For sake of argument, let’s say that what Ron Cross wrote and then had printed, published and delivered at taxpayer expense is 100% true (we proved that it’s not). If it’s true, then what would you think expenditures for law enforcement, jails, and the like would be? One would think that there would be a decrease in expenditures to a degree…maybe…maybe, a slight increase due to repairs, replacement, maintenance, and salary increases. So, let’s look at the figures reported by Columbia County and available for viewing on its website, for 1996, 2003, and 2010.
- Public Safety Costs for Columbia County – includes Sheriff, Emergency Services, Jail, Emergency Medical Service (Gold Cross) and the Coroner’s office
1996 – $9,208,051
2003 – $15,514,812 (an increase from 1996 of $6,306,761, or, 68.5%…WHOA!)
2010 – $23,747,982 (an increase from 2003 of $8,233,170, or, 53.1%…WHOA!)
- Sheriff and Jail Costs
2003 – $14,304,664
2010 – $21,965,043 (an increase from 2003 of $7,660,379, or, 53.6%…WHOA!)
- Operating Costs for Sheriff and Jail (brace yourselves)
2003 – $2,427,937
2010 – $4,873,362 (an increase from 2003 of $2,445,425, or, 101%…WHOA!)
So now what did Ron Cross, Barry Paschal, and Austin Rhodes say about crime in Columbia County? Why would paid and alleged professional journalists make such false claims, and, do so in such an arrogant holier than thou manner, and, and this is the main thing, and permit Ron Cross to go unchallenged and agree with whatever he says? Just go back and read what he wrote during Ron Cross’ 2010 primary race; he used the freedom of the press to attack Cross’ opponent and his opponent’s supporters. We proved Cross to be not accurate and did so with less than an hour’s work. Shame on Ron Cross and shame on the local media. As an aside, isn’t the county expanding a jail or something? We’ll hit on that in a future piece. But for right now, Ron Cross’ taxpayer funded propaganda tool,…bullshit!