The top echelon in the Augusta Fire Department started falling like dominoes last week starting with the announcement that embattled Chief Howard “Bubba” Willis is hanging it up for good after 37 years. The next day, Assistant Chiefs Mike Rogers and Carl Scott announced they’re retiring too, as did Willis’ brother Tommy Willis.
The chief’s retirement plans came as no surprise because he’s been out on medical leave since leaving University Hospital’s Heart and Vascular Institute on Sept. 20. His brother has been under fire over his moonlight work, 1-800-BoardUp, since Augusta Chronicle staff writer Tracey McManus let the sunshine in and discovered he’d had the inside track on boarding up burned-out houses at the expense of similar companies that didn’t have firefighters on the scene to recommend them. All without department authorization.
1-800-PORNUP? Now Assistant Administrator Bill Shanahan is investigating allegations of pornography being disseminated on city computers and the possible misuse of vehicles.
“It’s like somebody handed us a big gift wrapped box and inside there were hundreds of little boxes, and the first one we opened was dynamite,” said Joe Jackson, chairman of the commission’s public safety committee.
I don’t quite get the analogy, but as the late Chronicle reporter Margaret Twiggs used to say, “Any old quote in a storm will do.”
But if somebody tells me Chief Willis disseminated pornography on his computer at work, I just won’t believe it. I’ve always considered him a fine man and dedicated professional. Until Charles Masters, spokesman for the Augusta Firefighters Union, appeared at a meeting in September and said the fire department under Willis’ leadership had gone to pot and firefighters‘ lives were in danger, I’d never heard a bad word about him.
But Masters had the support of a roomful of firefighters who gave him a standing ovation, and what he said carried weight. So the next thing you know, Willis is having chest pains, in the hospital and out the door.
Jackson said some of Willis’ top people might have been working against him which was similar to what Masters told commissioners about rivalry and backstabbing in the top ranks. Et Tu Brute?
They’ll eventually hire some fire chief from someplace like Sioux City who won’t know he’s entering a political twilight zone until it’s too late.
AN OCCUPATION WORTH OCCUPYING: Occupy Wall Street? Occupy Augusta? What about occupy a forklift? Occupy a grocery store cash register? Occupy a beauty shop? Occupy a police car? Occupy a classroom?
Occupy a medical specialty like GHSU/MCG vascular surgeon Dr. Gautam Agarwal who opened the arteries in Ernie’s legs with balloons and stents last week so he’ll be able to walk without pain.
Occupy a critical care cardiac nurse specialty like Anne Rogers who gave information, support and encouragement from start to finish.
Occupy nursing and medical technician jobs in the Cardiac Intervention Unit of the hospital like Rhonda Beasley, Sarah Wilcox, Deanna Wells, Marcia Smith and Donovia Culbreth who arrive chipper at 7 a.m., help people all day and don’t leave until the job is done.
Occupy anything but the streets spouting ignorance, class envy, socialism, and demanding more free stuff.
YEAH, MAN. PEACE, LOVE, DOPE: As the Occupy Wall Street protest spreads across the globe and into the Garden City, TV reporters take to the streets with their cameramen to capture the action in time for the 5 o’clock news which will be repeated at 6 p.m., 10 p.m., 11 p.m. and again at 6 a.m. and noon the next day. But now we take you there live and on the scene.
Reporter: Sir, I see you’re carrying a sign that says, “Stop printing money!”
Man on the Street: Yeah, the government bailed out the banks with our money, and the banks gave all the fat cats big raises while the people the government took it from still work for peanuts. If the government would stop printing money, they couldn’t do that.
Reporter: Then what would happen?
Man on the Street: Wall Street would collapse, and the greedy bankers would starve to death.
Reporter: What about the rest of us?
Man on the Street: We’d still get our unemployment checks, food stamps, health care and free cellphones. We’d get by. Hey, I gotta go, man! Down with the government! Down with corporate greed and corruption! Down with the American way of life!
(The reporter turns to a group of the Y generation standing nearby waving signs at the camera with one hand and holding their pants up with the other.)
Reporter: I see you have a sign there saying, “We want jobs!” What’s it like in the job market for young people today?
Y Generationer: It’s like insane! I like graduated from college in June with a degree in psychology, and like nobody wants to pay me but like $30,000 a year to be like somebody’s administrative assistant. It’s like beneath me. Just thinking about it gave me the Yippie Flu. I couldn’t get out of bed for a month.
Reporter: Why do you think you can’t get a six-figure job?
Y Generationer: Like corporate greed and government corruption. The fat cats, the congressmen, the military-industrial complex and everybody like on Wall Street and in like Washington want to keep all the money and ride around in big black limousines while I like answer the phone and like answer dumb questions all day. I won’t do it! I’ll like die first.
Reporter: So how are you getting by?
Y Generationer: Daddy sends me a check like every month. He’s on Wall Street.