There is some solace in knowing that someone has a much bigger wife problem than I do. I am referring, of course, to my unwise choice of words in last week’s Spirit column (and thank God the problem has nothing to do with my wife… at least this time).
Before I get to the new wife problem that has come up for the Richmond County Sheriff’s Department, let me set the record straight concerning my previous entry here.
In addressing the very real tactical error made by Sheriff Ronnie Strength in his decision to stand quietly while four members of his agency, along with his own attorney and very best friend, all signed up for the strangest political race seen in these parts in many years, I chose some words poorly.
While I believed last week, and believe even stronger now, that it was right to question whether Strength’s wife Patti was ultimately behind his decision to withhold an endorsement in the race to succeed him, I should not have made comments that appeared to reflect poorly upon her as a wife.
While she is clearly working her fanny off to get her brother Robbie Silas elected your next sheriff, that is no reason to even joke about the possibility that her husband should “cut her loose.” Please do consider that the entire piece spoke to the “what if” possibility that Mrs. Strength had given her husband some kind of ultimatum to keep quiet unless he wanted to endorse her younger brother. Clearly that premise, the “what if” scenario, was too subtle to show up for many readers. But it was there.
And when I used outrageous humor to suggest Strength could “find a new and better wife before we could get a new and better sheriff” (if the wrong man won the race), clearly many of you were not smiling. Neither was he.
If you think you were offended, you should have heard the sheriff. As I have already explained to my radio audience, he called to tell me we were no longer speaking.
He is mad, and I understand why. It was wrong of me to write those things, even if I did it knowing full well the whole city has been asking why he has been so quiet on the most important issue requiring his attention right this minute.
Sheriff Strength is, without question, the best chief law enforcement officer Augusta or Richmond County has ever known. He has never been afraid of bad guys or the politicians who occasionally hinder his department’s ability to do their job.
Which is why it baffles me that he has been silent on his possible successor. He personally told me that, without a strong leader, and someone his people could respect and trust, that his best officers would begin to leave for other agencies, and it would create a talent void that would be hard to overcome. Years ago when Sheriff Charles Webster announced his retirement, he ordered his top people to decide among themselves who would run to succeed him. Once that decision was made, the emerging candidate would get Webster’s full support and any one of his team who challenged that chosen man would incur the wrath of the sheriff, and the political machine that put and kept him in place.
Strength was selected to be that man, and while he did get token opposition from a few outside Webster’s inner circle, there was a united front among the top officers. If they had any disagreements or conflicts, the public never knew about it.
How ironic that one of the few good and original ideas Webster is known to have had on his own was squarely ignored by Sheriff Strength.
How bad is it now? It is so bad that we have the wife of one of his internal affairs investigators, Shane McDaniel, slinging mud and nasty allegations at officers she perceives to be working in support of someone other than their (her and her husband’s) chosen candidate, the aforementioned Silas. Karen McDaniel submitted official Freedom of Information requests to see the personnel files of those officers in the quest to drag up any and all damaging information she could on them.
She is posting a lot of the crap, much of it out of context and incomplete, on social websites, and of course she loves to toss out the occasional tidbit as she trolls the Augusta Chronicle comments sections. The nasty rhetoric got so bad Monday night that AC moderators pulled the entire exchange between her and several officers who were calling her out on her campaign of mass destruction. In one entry, she belittled Investigator Griff Garrison by making light of an incident a few years ago when he was forced to shoot and kill an armed suspect. Pure evil, that is.
Oh, and just for good measure, she posted online that I dislike Sheriff Webster and his Southside Mafia fanbase, saying “Sheriff Webster had you FIRED from the TV station. Is that why you don’t like people from South Augusta because you got put in your place?”
It is hard for me to be bothered by that because it is so laughable, but given the fact that she is spewing such ignorant trash in such high supply, Sheriff Strength now has a new wife problem. He better get it under control, because it is tearing his department to pieces.You Might Also Like: