The public outcry over the consolidated university’s new name – Georgia Regents University – must be hell for Georgia Health Sciences University President Ricardo Azziz, but heaven to two Augusta officials usually on the hot seat.
One is Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength, who’s had a tough summer, what with the shootings on Broad Street after First Friday and the Democratic primary for sheriff that became a family affair when his brother-in-law, Lt. Robbie Silas, qualified to run against his chosen successor, Capt. Scott Peebles.
The other is City Administrator Fred Russell, always the target of criticism, most recently over the stalled Reynolds Street parking deck management contract. Azziz and GRU took the focus off the parking deck and the heat off Russell, for now.
AZZIZ AND THE BOARD VS. EVERYBODY: Mayor Deke Copenhaver, Board of Regents Chairman Ben Tarbutton, a few state legislators and a minority of other folks who drank the GRU Kool-Aid and started speaking in tongues say the decision on the name is final and that anybody who doesn’t like it can just go pound sand, or something to that effect. They say it’s time to move on.
Why? Because we don’t want to make the governor mad. He’s sending Augusta hundreds of millions of dollars for a new medical commons building and a cancer center.
Well, why would expressing our outrage make the governor mad? He didn’t choose the name. But the board he appointed voted to name it GRU, so it’s a reflection on him.
Anyway, it’s not going to change.
Why? Is the board infallible? Governing bodies everywhere make decisions one week and rescind them the next all the time. What’s going on here?
THE MUSICAL M.D.
“WHAT’S IN A NAME NOBODY LIKES?”
ACT I, SCENE I:
(The emergency room at GHSU, soon to be GRU)
Nurse: Doctor, you’re not going to believe this, but the president is out here having a panic attack.
Doctor: The president?
Nurse: Yes. Dr. ZZZZZ.
Doctor: Ohhhhh. I’ll be right there.
(Entering examining room) Good night, Dr. ZZZZZ. I mean good evening. I heard you like to pop into different departments to see firsthand what’s going on. Welcome to the emergency department. As you can see, we’re understaffed, and I’ve been wanting to …
Dr. ZZZZZ: I’m not here to chat-chat about the ER, doctor. I’m here for treatment.
Doctor: What seems to be the trouble?
Dr. ZZZZZ: Can’t you see? I’m having a panic attack. They’re burning me in effigy again because of the name the Board of Regents chose for the university. I need help. Everybody’s blaming me because they didn’t pick a name this city’s known all over the world for. And now the newspaper’s got the records that show the survey we spent $45,500 for prove the name this city’s known all over the world for was the top pick in every poll. And tomorrow they’re holding a big protest against the name they think I chose and twisted the regents’ arms to vote for.
Doctor: I think the only thing that could possibly help you is a big shot of sodium pentothal.
Dr. ZZZZZ: My God. You mean truth serum?
Doctor: Yes. It’s all I can think of offhand.
Dr. ZZZZZ: (Getting up to leave) I could never take sodium pentothal.
Doctor: Have you ever had it before?
Dr. ZZZZZ: No, but I’m sure I’d be allergic to it.
Doctor: You can’t be sure until you’ve tried it. Here, this will feel like a mosquito bite.
(Sings as he gives Dr. ZZZZZ a shot of sodium pentothal)
“I’m sick and tired of hearing things
From uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocritics
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth
I’ve had enough of reading things
By neurotic, psychotic, pig-headed politicians
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth.”
Dr. ZZZZZ: (Jumps up, slaps his forehead and sings:)
“I saw the light I saw the light
No more darkness, no more night
Now I’m so happy, no sorrow in sight
Praise the Lord, I saw the light.
Just like a blind man I wandered along
Worries and fears I claimed for my own
Then like the blind man that God gave back his sight
Praise the Lord, I saw the light.”
AWOP-BOP-A-LOO-MOP: Augusta Professional Firefighters Association spokesman Charles Masters managed to offend quite a few folks when he said in a TV interview that fire stations shouldn’t be named for “rootie-pootie politicians.”
The interview was prompted by Augusta Commission member Jerry Brigham’s request that the Alexander Drive fire station be named in honor of former Richmond County Commissioner Herb Beckham, who was buried Saturday.
“What’s with the Augusta firemen?” one person wrote. “First one of their AFL-CIO members completely destroys a firse station because he can’t figure out how to fit an eight-foot wide fire truck through a 12-foot door. Maybe the drivers should be replaced with Teamsters. But to throw down on all county commissioners past and present is not a forward step for any hourly fire department employee.”
Masters said he’s opposed to naming any fire station for a politician.
“If they’re going to name things for politicians, let them name landfills and backhoes and tractors, and when they’re worn out, put them in a field somewhere,” he said.
IN THE SMALL WORLD CATEGORY: Businessman Rodger Giles held a fundraiser at his beautiful pink Mediterranean-style manse on Milledge Road for sheriff’s candidate Scott Peebles last week.
Guests included Becky and Dr. Randy Smith and their daughter Rebecca; Commissioner Grady Smith; state Rep. Earnie Smith; state Sen. Hardie Davis; Terri and Lynn Allgood; Dr. Chip and Nan Story; Brenda Williams; Bonnie Ruben and Jeff Gorelick; Cheryl and Whitney O’Keefe; Susan and Sam Nicholson; Franny and Jim Bennett; Robert Osborne; investment banker John Rhodes; Carolyn and Paul Simon; Cedric Johnson, State Court Solicitor Charles Evans; Trisha and Clint Bryant; Wondal and Ed Perry; Dan Blanton; Elaine and Tony Henderson; and others I didn’t get around to speaking to.
I didn’t open the attachment to the e-mail invitation until the day of and therefore didn’t RSVP. So I e-mailed Rodger that I was coming but wouldn’t eat anything.
The best part of being there was as I joined a group of women, I noticed the name tag on one of them said “Paula Dodson.” I said, “I went to high school with a girl named Paula who married a man named Dodson,” just as I realized she was one and the same. She was as surprised as I was. I had kept up with her through the years through my brother, who was a good friend of her late husband, but I had not seen her in a while.
Oh, by the way, they raised a lot of money.
City Ink thanks the late John Lennon and Hank Williams and Richard Penniman for their contributions to this week’s column.