Practice What You Preach; The Conclusion

The majority of our June 16th piece was devoted to the rudeness and unprofessional policy and practice of News Times publisher Barry Paschal.  There came a time when we decided that the piece was just too long, so we decided to stop and resume at a later date, which is today’s date.  We have had major issues with Paschal’s antics and behavior for years.  And that being so, we decided to present some…some of his more obvious examples of bias, unprofessionalism, rudeness, and pure bitterness towards a select few.  We report.  You decide.

On April 17, 2011 while reporting his thoughts on the District 4 special election created by the resignation of Ron Cross’ errand-boy Scott Dean (Mike Sleeper, Campaign Manager), Paschal had this to say: “I also worried about whether Thomas truly was up to the task. I believe he was in his earlier tries for the seat in simpler times. He’s run a small business, but that is planets away from overseeing multi-million-dollar government budgets.”  Let’s see here, Ron Cross bankrupt two companies and has one personal bankruptcy on his resume.  Trey Allen has been sued for allegedly not paying rent on his toy store (Superior Court Civil Action File #2009CV0940).  Ron Thigpen has guided Georgia Bank and Trust to a rating of a high of C- to a low of D (more on him later).  These guys have a lot of experience working with big numbers, and they have guided Columbia County to a debt that is approaching $200,000,000.  But Thomas is black and a Democrat while Cross, Allen, and Thigpen are white establishment Republicans.

On April 6, 2011 Paschal wrote:

This sort of thing tests party unity. It also was strained when an anonymous blogger created a juvenile cartoon depicting Morris as a puppet of Commission Chairman Ron Cross (which would be funny, if the idea of Morris being anyone’s puppet weren’t so absurd).  Newly minted Party Chairman Brian Slowinski fired off a strongly worded memo to members of the executive board – which includes a handful of people hostile to Cross – calling the cartoon and its anonymous commentary “cowardly,” and urging any members linking to the blog to remove it.

This is the “juvenile cartoon” he speaks of:

Some may see this in Paschal’s light.  Granted, Paschal is not familiar with satire nor will he accept that there is some truth to it as is his right.  If he feels so strongly about this, then we are positive that nothing like this ever appeared in Paschal’s “news”paper.  Oh wait a minute…found one in his July 2, 2008 issue of the News Times:

Is this juvenile?  The cartoon depicts State Representative Ben Harbin gesturing towards his 2008 Republican primary opponent that Paschal depicts as a clown.  Is Lee Benedict perfect?  He is not, and neither is Ben Harbin.  But Lee Benedict is no clown.  But Lee Benedict challenged Ben Harbin and Paschal took exception to that, so he’s a clown.  Columbia County School Board chairman Regina Buccafusco submitted a letter to the editor that Paschal published on July 9th.  She wrote:

Was Barry Paschal on vacation last week? When I came to the editorial page of the July 2 News-Times that is the only conclusion I could make. Surely a man of his integrity would not have allowed such ridicule as demonstrated in the editorial cartoon (by B.J. Wood, depicting Lee Benedict as a clown).  Don’t get me wrong. I believe that Ben Harbin is now and has been the best person to represent our district in the Georgia House of Representatives.  But there is no need to publicly humiliate anyone who offers themselves for public office. It is difficult enough to campaign and have arrows shot at your ideas, but no candidate should endure such personal insults.  I can only imagine that when Barry gets back from vacation, whoever was responsible for approving the publication of this cartoon will get an earful. The News-Times is better than this.

To our knowledge, Benedict had no problems with the cartoon, but still, the hypocrisy is fairly obvious coming from Barry Paschal.  Remember, Paschal claims to publish all letters submitted.  We happen to know that’s not true, but that’s what Paschal claims.  No letters were published about people upset with our cartoon.  Even though Paschal’s paper has a much higher audience than ours, he got admonished by the chairman of the school board.  WHOA!

On March 23, 2011, Paschal had this to say when writing on the new Columbia County GOP chairman Brian Slowinski:

Slowinski’s challenge, then, isn’t just to make the party operate smoothly and for its meetings to be respectful, an area where he expresses expertise, but to make it important to those candidates flying the party’s banner.  Toughening his challenge is the executive board elected recently as party leaders along with Slowinski. It includes Brett McGuire, who last year lost one of the nastiest local elections ever to County Commission Chairman Ron Cross; Jim Bartley, a self-styled political activist who helped ladle savage attacks on Cross; and George Snelling, a hefty political donor who was a major player in those personal attacks.  When party officials are hostile to the county’s top elected Republican, don’t expect them to sing campfire songs.

No need for commentary…you can figure it out.  Paschal’s never-ending quest to take swipes at Brett McGuire, Jim Bartley, and George Snelling is on display…AGAIN.  Here’s a mission for our readers –  search the archives and see if Paschal attacked Bartley or Snelling when they supported Cross years ago.  We suspect you won’t find anything, but there’s plenty now that they changed their views after seeing Cross in office.  So Paschal uses the freedom of the press to launch nasty attacks apparently with Morris’ consent.  He’s such a big man.

On June 30, 2010 Paschal wrote: 

Speaking of grievances, County Commissioner Scott Dean’s critics were all a-twitter this weekend after his campaign sent out invitations to a barbecue and listed at least one person on the “host committee” who denied having anything to do with it.  Others reported as such turned out not to be the case. But 10th District Republican Party Chairman Dave Barbee was downright blunt in disavowing his support – despite an organizer’s insistence that Barbee personally had given him verbal approval.  This proves two things: These preenings lists of political “host committees” are downright silly; and, some people have way too much time on their hands, and way too little to complain about.

How dare anyone question the one and (thank God) only Scott Dean!  Dean’s campaign was managed by Ron Cross’ son-in-law and sparring partner, Mike “Camera Seeker” Sleeper.  The campaign distributed fliers claiming that its “host committee” had close to 2 dozen members and even listed their names.  The truth is that at least 4 people came forth and said that they either do not support Dean or never gave permission for their name to be used and an announcement was made about the lies at the next monthly breakfast of the Columbia County Republican Party.  The campaign lied.  Mike Sleeper remained Dean’s manager even after married Dean’s sexting of 900 monthly text messages to a female Columbia County employee married to a soldier deployed to deal with the war on terror was made public.  But those who complained about Dean’s lies were just being “silly” and have “way too much time on their hands, and way too little to complain about.”  How dare you not live your lives according to the Gospel according to Paschal?  How are we doing Barry?  Too little to complain about?  Your devotion to Dean, Cross, Sleeper…noted.  Speaking of too much time on one’s hands, who spends all day at “work” surfing Facebook and insulting patrons on forums?  Barry, remember how you complained about Scott Dean’s sexting being made public “nine days” before the election?  How many days before the election did Scott Dean (Mike Sleeper, Campaign Manager) and Ron Cross (Mike Sleeper’s father-in-law and sparring partner) vote to give Dean’s sexting partner a raise? 

On July 9, 2008, the News Times endorsed Barry Fleming for the US House of Representatives over incumbent and proven conservative Paul Broun.  This is what Paschal had to say:

Our county also is the home of the best candidate in this race, though at this stage you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who believes Barry Fleming will win.  If he loses, it would be a shame – but he has no one to blame but his own campaign.  Jim Whitehead lost to Paul Broun last year by running a nice-guy race. Fleming has taken the opposite route. Rather than introducing himself to voters, he came out swinging at the incumbent. That allowed Broun to portray himself as the picked-on underdog even as his campaign touted his poll-driven, front-runner status.  What Broun’s polls really measure is cynicism. Only in an era in which Congress has such dismal ratings could there be support for an elected official who has accomplished virtually nothing – and who shows no prospects for future success.

Paschal claims to be “conservative” and has made references to being libertarian.  If he were being truthful about that, he would not have endorsed Fleming and would have volunteered for Broun.  Barry Fleming, Esq., ran the nastiest and most pathetic campaign in our memories.  Hey wait…what was Paschal writing about McGuire running a nasty campaign?  McGuire spoke of his vision while simply showing the numbers on taxation, debt, spending, and population.  Fleming claimed that Broun does not support veterans, supports marijuana, and is soft on child molesters.  Paschal endorses him!  WHOA!  It was obviously because their styles are so alike.

Speaking of the July 9, 2008 issue of the fish wrapper, this is what Barry Paschal, Publisher, had to say to a patron in the comments section of his Fleming endorsement: “I don’t often say this to people who hide behind their anonymity, idealistic: but you’re an idiot. Phil Kent has never been my “mentor.” The good news is that it takes no effort to make Barry Fleming “look great,” because he has a substantial record of achievement to back up any claims I’ve made. Paul Broun does not. Then again, I couldn’t help but notice that you failed to dispute any of that, and instead decided to make false claims in an absurd diversionary response. You’ve learned from the Broun camp very well” Posted by Barry Paschal on Wed Jul 9, 2008 4:50 PM  Barry Fleming can “look great” with “no effort”?  The guy quits every position he is elected to.  As majority whip he failed to get anti-abortion legislation out of committee.  During his failed congressional campaign, he didn’t spend time boasting his accomplishments, probably because there are none, but he spent roughly a cool million telling lies about Paul Broun.  Fleming got what he deserved on election day.

On June 22, 2008 Paschal devoted 258 words to this:

Bizarre, and wrong

Meanwhile, state Rep. Ben Harbin’s challenger, Lee Benedict, sent out a press release this past week making a strange attack that seriously backfired.  Harbin’s campaign committee has made two $1,000 donations to Fleming’s campaign. That is a legal and common use of campaign funds, a point Benedict acknowledges. But that isn’t the issue.  Instead, Benedict filed a complaint with the State Ethics Commission because, he said, Fleming didn’t list the donations on his campaign disclosures.  That’s right: He isn’t blaming Fleming for failing to record the donation; he’s criticizing Harbin because of what he alleges is Fleming’s non-disclosure.  “I’m not really sure how Benedict arrived at the conclusion that an alleged omission on another candidate’s disclosure was my problem,” Harbin said in an e-mailed response. Harbin then points out that donations from the “Committee to Elect Ben Harbin” to his fellow Columbia County legislative delegation member are in fact recorded in Fleming’s disclosures on the Federal Election Commission’s Web site, and helpfully provides a link for Benedict to see for himself. I had previously found both disclosures.  Making matters worse, Benedict uses the absurd Harbin complaint to then launch a nasty attack on political consultant Jim Cox.  Cox issued a separate response to Benedict’s accusations. Cox says he could sue Benedict for libel, but that it would be an “exercise in futility” because of a laundry list of legal judgments already levied against Benedict in Georgia and New York. Ouch.  Benedict used to be in the Army. Don’t they teach you to aim before firing?

Ouch!  Paschal felt that this was so important, another column (330 words) in the next issue was warranted.  So on June 25, 2008, Paschal wrote this:

Let’s be blunt with this message to Lee Benedict:

 When you’re in a hole, quit digging.

On Sunday we reviewed his press release in which he fired both barrels at state Rep. Ben Harbin and political consultant Jim Cox.  The unmistakable inference of Benedict’s message was that Cox was helping Harbin launder campaign money. Harbin made two $1,000 donations to Barry Fleming, and Benedict’s “gotcha!” moment was his charge that Fleming had not disclosed the donations – and blamed Harbin for it.  Harbin and Cox responded that Benedict was factually incorrect: Fleming has, in fact, documented the donations in his Federal Elections Commission filings. I found the disclosures on the FEC Web site and shared it with Benedict.  There is no gray area. Benedict was flat wrong.  After we went to press Friday, Benedict issued his second press release. This should have been the one in which he said, “Oops – sorry. Guess I should have been more careful.”

Instead, he dug the hole deeper.

Benedict’s rambling response hits bottom with this sentence in the middle of Page 2: “I do apologize for any confusion this may have caused, but would also like to illustrate the fact that the FEC is misleading the public, and Congress should address this matter with due speed in order to avoid future conflicts.”  In other words, “I screwed up by conducting poor research and based my entire argument on bad assumptions, but it’s not my fault! The FEC site is just too complicated! And Congress oughta do something about it!”  Never have I suggested that a candidate quit a race and just walk away, but here it is: Lee, don’t torture us any more. Harbin’s ongoing legal troubles provided someone with an opening to run against the veteran incumbent, but that issue only opened the door to a substantive race.  Lee, you clearly are not that someone, and you just slammed that door on your own foot. Please; put yourself out of our misery.

Did Benedict make a mistake?  A rather large mistake?  An embarrassing mistake?  He certainly did and we’ll tell him that (even still, he received a greater percentage of the votes in his race against Harbin than Fleming received in his race against Broun).  But Paschal devoted 2 columns and 588 words to this.  So Barry, 2 columns for Benedict’s goof, 2 columns to private citizen Jim Bartley’s “Taxpayors” spelling…HOW MANY COLUMNS WERE DEVOTED TO YOUR GOOF/LIE ABOUT GEORGIA ELECTION LAW?  Less than ONE.  Barry Paschal admitted weeks after…get this…Lee Benedict…made him aware of his flawed reporting, that he made a mistake.  Barry Paschal was 8:2 excuses:facts, and they were excuses, pathetic, meaningless excuses:

I, and others, had said because it was a special election, the five candidates shouldn’t have had a party affiliation listed; Benedict forwarded a copy of state law calling for just such listings.  Elections Director Deborah Marshall says that’s true – but it wasn’t always.  My recollection was that special elections were entirely non-partisan. That was largely based on the previous five-way race for the same District 4 seat, in 2003, which Lee Anderson won.  But the law has since changed, Marshall says, pointing out that then-state Rep. Sue Burmeister included the amendment in a major election overhaul, House Bill 244, which passed in 2005.  Among other things in the 59-page bill, Burmeister struck the word “not” from a sentence that previously read, “Candidates in special elections shall not be listed on the ballot by party affiliation.”

Ha!  Well, it was done that way before and the Elections Director said so and the state legislature took a word out of a 59-page bill and others thought so too and even though it was done this way in 2003, it wasn’t in 2007 in the special election to replace Charlie Norwood and Jim Whitehead so I should have known not to write what I wrote in 2011 but I was so busy seeking ways to use the First Amendment to ridicule the establishment’s opposition and the dog ate my homework and gee officer, I didn’t know I was going so fast.  Please Barry.  “I, and others, had said that because it was a special election, the five candidates shouldn’t have had a party affiliation listed”.  That may be true…but who’s the publisher?  Who roasted a candidate in 2 columns for making a mistake?  Who roasted a private citizen in 2 columns for a spelling error?  Who called for a candidate to withdraw because of his error and to put himself out of our misery?  Get the picture people?  Look at how Paschal went after Bartley and Benedict, and compare that to his pathetic excuseapalooza and his censorship of Judge Bobby Christine’s violations of judicial canon.  We still can’t believe that he’s a Publisher and Editor and that Morris Communications keeps him around.

How long has he been in this business?  Pathetic.  He demands that Benedict pull out of a race, but Harbin, Dean, and Fleming were given not only a pass, but a daggum endorsement!  He still refuses to write on Judge Bobby Christine flaunting his violations of judicial canon.  Barry, you withdraw from your position.

Have a seat.  Swallow your food and/or beverage.  Brace yourself for what Barry Paschal wrote on May 4, 2008…ready, here it comes: “The public is insulated from most of the petty nastiness of races. Generally the media picks up and redistributes only the more substantive charges and counter-claims. Or the really ugly ones.”  Is he serious?  Well, you know what Paschal deems “substantive” and more important, what IS NOT.

On June 19, 2011, Paschal wrote: “Coffee drinkers are well aware that the price of the bean has skyrocketed. If you want to brew a pot at home, you’ll pay nearly double what it cost a year ago.”  He continues with,

That increase in cost is what led the county’s vendor for employee coffee service to request a price hike for the contract’s renewal, which comes up for debate at Tuesday’s Columbia County Commission meeting.  Even with the higher cost of coffee, the price to supply coffee to government employees and guests in 34 offices is “not expected to exceed $22,000” next year.  Now: If you just spit out your morning coffee upon reading that, you’re probably not alone.  What in the name of Juan Valdez is the county government doing spending taxpayer money on coffee for county employees?  In general terms, we have few quibbles with the way the county government runs. Contrary to the chronic complaints of a few malcontents, Columbia County sails a fiscally responsible ship. But there is no way, none, that an elected official who even remotely thinks of himself as a conservative can justify spending taxpayer money on coffee for employees, especially while Joe Taxpayer is forking over big bucks to pay for his own cup of Joe.

We agree with Paschal 100% that taxpayers should not be footing the bill for a bureaucrat’s beans.  Well done Barry!  We also agreed with Brett McGuire 100% LAST YEAR when in speech after speech he pledged to cut the coffee budget, and if memory serves us correctly, he said that Columbia County budgeted $16,000 per year for coffee.  That must be more of the “rabid” campaigning Paschal whimpered about, eh?  If you recall, McGuire was saying “tax cuts now” and calling for reduced spending, coffee being one of the cuts.  If you recall, Paschal & Co. was quick to print and post questions to McGuire along the lines of, “What 42 police officers will you fire?” and “Pam Tucker will be fired”.  Remember?  Oh we do!  To show what Paschal knows, McGuire, or even Ron Cross, can’t fire Tucker or police officers.  But Paschal had a job to do.  No, no.  It wasn’t report the truth and allow the people to make an informed decision…that would have meant a defeat for Cross.  His job was to scare people into thinking that Pam Tucker would be fired and that we would lose law enforcement personnel.  Well Barry, a year later, you come around and concede that the coffee must go…A WHOLE YEAR LATER.  What took you so long Publisher, newsman, journalist?  Pretty sad, eh?  Now Paschal is Mr. Conservative talking tough on spending.  Where was he when Cross and pals were spending and spending and spending?  Now that it’s “popular”, Paschal tries to cash in and gain some street cred by plagiarizing Brett McGuire.  Barry Paschal is no more a conservative than Jane in Appling County or James in Wilcox County.

Did you like Paschal’s nugget of wisdom, “In general terms, we have few quibbles with the way the county government runs. Contrary to the chronic complaints of a few malcontents, Columbia County sails a fiscally responsible ship”?  “Chronic complaints”?  “Malcontents”?  Who are they?  The 6,125 who did not vote for Boss Cross?  So let’s see; if you oppose the Cross Agenda, you are a “nut” AND a “crazy” AND “rabid”, AND now, Dr. Paschal considers you a “malcontent” whose symptoms are “chronic complaints”.  This is how the Publisher of your local “news”paper views you, and Morris Communications continues to give its blessing.  Barack Hussein Obama does the same thing with those who question or complain about his crazy agenda, and, the media follows his lead.  In Columbia County, instead of Barack Obama and the “mainstream media”, we have Ron Cross and Barry Paschal.  Fear not though.  Pretty soon, the truth will surface and a bunch of establishment chronies will be in deep hiding.  And if we may Barry, how much debt does Columbia County have?  Well, Ronny has borrowed $110,740,000 to go along with other debt.  And Barry, since a year, more than a year, after Brett McGuire called for eliminating the coffee welfare, you publicly support the idea, we have a question.  The question is, do you consider yourself to be a “nut” AND a “crazy” AND “rabid” AND a “malcontent” whose symptoms are “chronic whining”?  We’re on to you Paschal and we will not let up on exposing the garbage that some call government and journalism.

At over $900 of debt for each man, woman and child living in the county, Columbia County has the highest in the StatePaulding, with 133,655 residents owes $625 per resident, and Wayne County, with 29,407 residents, owes $510 per resident.  Why does everyone get upset when the federal government goes into debt, but everyone seems to look the other way when its the county?  We think it’s because you don’t know, and we know the local paper won’t print it, and Columbia County’s Republican Chief Magistrate Judge states that “We have not lived beyond our means. We have been faithful stewards.”

How far back do we have to go to prove that Barry Paschal has no business being in the news business?  Our opinion is that Barry Paschal has serious issues.  Our opinion is that Barry Paschal has a clear pattern of misinforming the public and we showed a few examples of it.  Our opinion is that Barry Paschal has a long history of unprofessional conduct and efforts to shape public opinion and support for a select few while seeking disdain for those who oppose them.  Our opinion is that people should cancel their subscriptions to the News Times and the Chronicle as long as Barry Paschal is employed with the company.  Yes, our opinion is that Barry Paschal needs to be shown the door, canned, axed, whatever.  This nonsense has gone on long enough.  Our opinion is that replacing him with his lieutenant, Donnie Fetter, will not change a thing since Fetter is a miniature Paschal.  So who would we like to see instead of Paschal?  Just pulling names here…but the 19 of us agree on 4: Michael Ryan has shown to be a professional journalist with integrity and high standards and will automatically restore credibility to the News Times.  Scott Hudson has a history of reporting the news regardless of who may or may not like it.  Lee Benedict has arguably the finest writing and communication skills and is not concerned about who gets their feathers ruffled when the truth is told and substantive charges and news is presented in a dignified manner.  Along those lines, Tom Grant may be too liberal for this area, but he has a history of reporting facts and letting people decide. 

Now you decide.  What do you think?



2 thoughts on “Practice What You Preach; The Conclusion

  1. A few comments on this one:
    1) the “conclusion” is longer than the original, which, you said you stopped because it was too long. Perhaps, maybe, you could have turned this two-parter into a three-part series.
    2) your grammar is showing signs of improvement.
    3) you are correct, I did not have issues with the cartoon. That being said, I took issue with the characterization, but, when you run for office, especially against a six-term incumbent who Chairs Appropriations, these things are expected.
    4) thanks for the vote of confidence given in the final paragraph.
    5) PLEASE tell me that you will write some more about the vote to spend no more than $22,000 for coffee for government employees and customers. Will County employees have this benefit listed on their W-2 (or whatever those things are)? In most well-run organizations, some supply coffee, but most have a “kitty” or workers in the office take turns buying the stuff. Will this end with coffee? Or, will Ron Cross spend $25,000 on doughnuts and assorted pastries? How about valet service?

    Posted by Lee Benedict | June 23, 2011, 11:48 am
  2. What about the employees that do not drink coffee? Is the county going to furnish soda or other beverages for them?

    Posted by lcu1577 | June 26, 2011, 6:45 pm

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