A year and a half after becoming president of the Medical College of Georgia (MCG), Dr. Ricardo Azziz got the name of MCG changed to Georgia Health Sciences University (GHSU).
A few months later, the names of Medical College of Georgia Hospital and MCG Children’s Medical Center were changed to Georgia Health Sciences Medical Center (GHSMC) and Georgia Health Sciences Children’s Medical Center (GHSCMC) to align with the identity of GHSU.
Then Azziz got GHSU and Augusta State University (ASU) changed to Georgia Regents University (GRU). The Georgia Board of Regents approved the name GRU for the merged campuses after Azziz lobbied for it behind the scenes while the survey he authorized to find the most popular names was under way.
Now, the MCG Health system’s boards have approved a resolution to change the hospital’s name to Georgia Regents Medical Center (GRMC) and the Children’s Medical Center to Children’s Hospital of Georgia (CHOG). So now we have GRU, aka GRUsome; GRMC aka Grimace; CHOG; but no ASU.
“This is getting real crazy,” Augusta Chronicle commenter “Riverman1” wrote on Chronicle Staff Writer Tom Corwin’s article about the latest name changes in Thursday’s newspaper.
Even better was commenter “noxiousfumes”: “Somebody please make it stop!!! Make it stop.”
Commenter “triscuit” asked a question many others have asked: “And now all new signs on buildings, stationery, etc. How many more dollars will this take?”
CORWIN HAS THE ANSWER: Many people in Augusta grumbled about a waste of taxpayer money with the name changes. But the transition from the Medical College of Georgia (which now stands for the School of Medicine and not the whole university) to GHSU involved only temporary signs and cost around $200,000, officials have said.
The bulk of the $3 million or so for changing the signs around has yet to be planned for or spent, so the new names should not add to that. And where the money is coming from is increasingly not from state taxes.
Over the past four fiscal years, GHSU and its clinical systems have been cut by more than $53 million, and the percentage of state support at the whole system has dropped to 16 percent of funding overall, Azziz said last week during a clinical system board meeting.
The university, he said, is “becoming state-assisted but certainly not state-supported.”
STICKS AND STONES: Speaking of naming things, the Augusta Commission will discuss proposed guidelines for naming public buildings, bridges, parks and other city-owned property at a committee meeting Monday.
There are four main guidelines, the most significant being that you have to be dead to get something named for you unless you’re rich and donate a “significant” amount of money to the development of a public building or have contributed land for it – “or except for other extraordinary circumstances,” the meaning of which God only knows.
HAIL TO THE CHIEF: Augusta was well represented at President Obama’s inauguration last weekend.
Marlene and Dr. William Johnson checked off one more item from their “bucket list” by attending the inauguration and inaugural ball. They were guests of their daughter Linda Johnson and her husband, Steve Florence.
Marlene and Linda were getting ready for the ball when the presidential motorcade passed by on their street. Marlene had just put on a mink coat her mother passed down to her from a deceased elderly cousin.
“We were the only people on Sixth Street when the motorcade came by,” she said. “We waved, and somebody in the front seat waved back, but I don’t think the president would have been sitting in the front.”
“The inauguration was a wonderful experience,” she said. “A million people were there, but it was so peaceful and well organized. And I was happy that no one sprayed paint on me at the ball that Bill and I attended.”
Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree also attended the inauguration, as did Terrence Dicks.
“It was an electric weekend,” state Sen. Hardie Davis said. “People had said the attendance would be down from the first inauguration, but there were at least a million-plus people there. The weather was wonderful, as opposed to 2009. It was a wonderful opportunity for Benjamin to be a part of history.”
Davis said everybody was amazed with the dresses Michelle Obama wore to the inaugural balls and the inauguration.
Paine College held a reception last Saturday night attended by Davis, his wife, Yvette, and their 11-year-old son, Benjamin; U.S. Attorney Ed Tarver, his wife, Beverly, and their daughter Elizabeth; Minnesota Fatz and Cher Best of WKSP-FM’s Fatz and Cher Morning Show; Augusta attorney Randy Frails and his wife, Marian; Charles Lamback and his wife, Judith; Mildred Kendrick and Danielle Mackie, according to Davis.
The Davises, Tarvers, Frailses, Azziz and his wife, Cindy; U.S. Rep. John Barrow and Lynthia Ross, Barrow’s district director, attended a black-tie gala Sunday night, Davis said.
NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED: Augusta Ports Authority Chairman Wayne Hawkins said he’s disgusted by the lack of support he received from city officials, particularly City Administrator Fred Russell, after marina operator Mike Stacy accused him and authority member Paul Muckenfuss of burglary.
Stacy, who runs the marina under leases approved by the authority, made the accusation during an authority meeting 10 days ago. He presented an incident report showing deputies responded to reports of a burglary in progress Dec. 31.
When they arrived, Hawkins and Muckenfuss were there, and Hawkins told them the alarm was sounding in the marina store and that a back door was open when he arrived. He and Muckenfuss had agreed to meet there and then go to lunch, he said.
“We called 911 and waited for the police to come,” he said. “A burglar doesn’t break into a building, then call the police and sit there and wait for them to come.”
Stacy, however, told deputies that the door was locked when he arrived and that the only means of entry was a special key that he and Hawkins had. The report listed a “key” as the manner of entry and said there was no evidence of damage.
Hawkins said Russell called a meeting about a month ago with Deputy Administrator Bill Shanahan, acting recreation department Director Ron Houck, assistant city attorney Kenneth Bray, Hawkins and Muckenfuss and said he’d received a lot of complaints about Stacy and the marina and asked Bray to look into the status of Stacy’s lease. Later, Hawkins received a message from the attorney stating that the corporation the lease was signed under no longer existed.
When Russell was asked about the lease after Stacy made his accusations, he said it was under review for performance-related issues but that Mobile Marine had not been evicted. When Hawkins asked the city attorney whether he would defend him in a legal dispute, he was told no because the Ports Authority is its own entity, Hawkins said.
“When it’s to their advantage, you’re part of the city,” Hawkins said. “When it’s not, you’re on your own.
Hawkins said the authority meets six times a year, but he, as chairman, has spent hundreds of hours working on authority business throughout the year.
“And you get nothing for it but ridiculed and lied to,” he said.
His term expires in March. He was asked to remain on the board, but refused.
“You get tired of not knowing where you stand or who to go to,” he said. “The politics in Augusta are so crooked, my wife wants to sell our house and move.”