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WHOA! Penn & Teller Follow UP

You asked for it.  You want it.  Let’s revisit the Ron Cross May 2011 water bill newsletter insert and our most popular article created by Ron Cross’ water bill whopper.  How does Ron Cross live with himself after such an inaccurate and misleading water bill campaign flyer?  What made him do it in the first place?

We’re not going to rewrite the article…above is the link to it (in blue).  We’re going to retell you that publisher Barry Paschal and radio entertainer Austin Rhodes were posting online that Columbia County crime rates are low and dot dot dot.  Their quotes are in our article, but the links no longer are good because we have learned that the Augusta Chronicle removed its forums section (did Barry Paschal’s and Austin Rhodes’ behavior have anything to do with that call?).  They were just as wrong and incorrect and full of things not true as Ron Cross was…is…in our opinion and you’re welcome to form your own.  Actually, we will copy and paste a few things from our article.

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?

On November 11, 2009, Barry Paschal wrote in response to a patron who wrote that crime in Columbia County has never been this bad” (brace yourselves):

“Two things:

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.”

“Those are real statistics – not the anecdotes of cutting and pasting from news sites”?  Whoa!  Real statistics?  Whatever Ron Cross feeds you does not classify as “real statistics”.

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, publisher Barry Paschal, and radio entertainer with falling ratings who has been in the same job and same market for many many years Austin Rhodes, bragging about Columbia County’s low crime rate.  We would like to know where they get their information from.  How’s that go…”Austin tells the truth to the people he never tells a lie”?  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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. in 2003, the year Ron Cross took office, there were 1,748 total crimes.
  4. in 2004, there were 2,282 total crimes.
  5. in 2005, there were 2,285 total crimes.
  6. 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.
  7. in 2007, there were 2,619 total crimes.
  8. in 2008, there were 2,660 total crimes.
  9. in 2009, there were 2,618 total crimes.
  10. 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.
  11. 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!

How was that for a flashback to vintage Ron Cross, Barry Paschal, and Austin Rhodes?  To our knowledge, Ron Cross, Barry Paschal, or Austin Rhodes did not address these number errors.  WHOA!  If you’re wondering why we “WHOA!”  here and there, it is in tribute to Ron Cross’ water bill Whoa!  Donald Trump has “You’re fired” and Ron Cross has “Whoa!”  Cross has a personal bankruptcy and 2 business bankruptcies on his resume.  Trump has at least one.  Where are they now?  Columbia County probably has as much debt as Trump’s organization.

Did you read this Augusta Chronicle July 19th articleWe were told of “two men who robbed three teens at the Columbia County amphitheater Sunday.”  The amphitheater…the one that is complete, not the new one being built across the street (WHOA!) is at the county’s government complex.  The amphitheater is right next to the police station and right next to the County Commission offices.  How can this be?  Why did this happen? 

Ron Cross…an answer.  We know that you do not like to speak in public or have media attention, unlike your son-in-law and sparring partner and school board member and Scott Dean manager, Mike Sleeper.  But how about addressing these issues with the people?  The people…you do remember them don’t you?  At least tell us why you didn’t report crime figures for 2 months.

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