City Ink: 'Regents' might prove popular with regents, but not city leaders

So the Georgia Board of Regents will be asked to approve “Georgia Regents University” as the new name for Augusta’s consolidated ASU/GHSU this week.


Seems like a slam dunk, especially if Georgia Health Sciences President Ricardo Azziz has been lobbying for it. How clever to play on the regents’ egos, as they hold the purse strings. But I was thinking: Shouldn’t it be “Georgia Regents’ University,” with an apostrophe? Or “Georgia Regent University” and just let everybody wonder which regent they’re talking about?

Anyway, the news that Georgia Regents University is the recommended name sent shock waves through Augusta.

“It’s the dumbest name I’ve ever heard,” said Augusta Com­mis­sion member Joe Bowles. “What is a regent? Are you going to have a guy with a bowtie and a pocket protector as your mascot?”

“I ain’t digging that name,” Commissioner Corey Johnson said. “That sounds like some security firm, like we’re educating people to be security officers. They’d get a no vote from me on that.”

“Who came up with that name?” asked Commissioner Grady Smith, a trustee of the Augusta State University Foun­dation. “I’ll be honest with you. I’m not much on that name. Then I would ask, ‘What do they do?’ Usually, you name a university for something they specialize in, like Georgia Tech is known for its engineers, architects and the building industry.”

Mayor Deke Copenhaver said he was “a little bit shocked” but had thought about it and decided it might not be such a bad name in the long run.

“But it’s not the one I thought they would have preferred,” he added.

How’s that for fence straddling?

Commissioner Jerry Brigham said he’d still like to see “Augusta” in the name, but to get funding from the Legislature, the university needs to have “Georgia” in the name “for broad based appeal.”

Former ASU President Bill Bloodworth at first said he’d rather not even have an opinion, but later said “Georgia Regents University” satisfies those who want “Georgia” in the name.

“My favorite name didn’t make the list,” he said.

What else could that be but Augusta State University?

“Hopefully, they’ll come up with something much better next week,” former Mayor Bob Young said. “That name is terrible. That name plays to the ego of the board of regents. It’s my understanding that would be inconsistent with the intent of the board that there would be a list of unranked names for them to consider.”

Commissioner Bill Lockett, however, said he’s very supportive of “Georgia Regents University.”

“It’s better than what they came out with initially,” he said. “The reason I was opposed to ‘Augusta’ was that there are so many Augustas throughout the United States, especially Augusta, Maine. So when we say, ‘University of Augusta,’ which Augusta are you referencing?”


ONE SIGN, ONE VOTE: You might say the South Augusta Mafia took a hit in last week’s Democratic primary for sheriff, but that would just be hyperbole because there’s nobody left to hit.

The once-powerful kingmakers are all dead, and the wannabes are just that, as evidenced by Robbie Silas’ poor showing. A lot of folks were surprised he received only 8.57 percent – 2,562 votes – because he had almost that many signs up throughout the county.

That was reminiscent of the 1998 mayoral race, when Mayor Larry Sconyers received only 16.6 percent of the vote after having drawn huge crowds to his barbecues and fish fries. About 4,000 people came to his fish fry at Julian Smith Casino before the election, which he took as a sign of easy victory. But rival Bob Young said, “Just because they eat your fish doesn’t mean they’ll vote for you.”


POLLING THE POLS: Most of the respondents in a totally unscientific poll last week predicted Scott Peebles will beat Lt. Rich­ard Roundtree in the Aug. 21 runoff, especially since Sheriff Ron­nie Strength has endorsed him.

“The number of votes Robbie Silas got will give Scott Peebles more than enough people to win the runoff,” Brigham said. “They might sit it out, but I don’t think the vast majority are going to vote for Roundtree. Not the old southern Democrats anyway.”

Johnson said the candidate who works the hardest and gets his voters back out will win.

“If I had to say who has the advantage, I would say Scott because he has the support of the sheriff,” he said.

“Good God! Let’s elect a man we can be proud of,” Smith said. “When you look at the credentials for somebody to head up our sheriff’s department, it’s a no-brainer. Black or white, most people want to do what’s good and best for Richmond County. Scott stands head and shoulders above everybody.”

“Scott Peebles is going to win,” Young said. “There’s no question about that. He has a well-organized campaign, and Richard Roundtree has not been able to put together a coalition that Ed McIntyre and Charles Walker were able to do to mobilize the black vote. The black people are no longer led around. They’re independent thinkers.”

As for the District 12 Repub­lican runoff, Johnson is betting on Lee Anderson, whose opponent has not yet been determined. In unofficial returns, Rick Allen holds a narrow lead over Wright McLeod for second place.

“Allen said he was going to Washington to defeat President Obama,” Johnson said. “I feel like that should not be part of anybody’s platform.”

Young predicts Allen will win the runoff.

“The issue of raising taxes is hung around Lee’s neck because he supported TSPLOST,” he said.


HOT DOGS AND CHILDREN AND COMMISSIONERS’ WHINE: At an Augusta Commission committee meeting last week, City Administrator Fred Russell said the attorney was moving forward with drafting an ordinance that would allow animal control officers and sheriff’s deputies to enter vehicles where animals have been left unattended.

“Do we have an ordinance in place about children?” Commissioner J.R. Hatney asked. “It makes no sense to me. I’m not a dog hater. An ordinance for dogs you don’t have for babies don’t make sense.”

General Counsel Andrew Mac­Kenzie said sufficient state law already exists that would allow entry if there was a life safety issue.

“When y’all don’t want to answer, y’all point to the state,” Hatney said.

Lockett said he thought the ordinance is needed but that the first course of action shouldn’t be to break a window.

“Generally speaking, the first thing would be to get the window open some other way,” Russell said. “I think this is sort of a last-case scenario.”

“How are you going to determine how long that animal has been in the car?” Johnson asked. “The minute you notice the animal is in the car? Is he unconscious or nonresponsive? How do you make that determination, because that’s something unlike a child, a dog can’t tell you. Of course, if you don’t see a movement, that’s a sign, but you don’t want to overreact the minute somebody walks in the store and by the time they come out five minutes later, the window’s broken out.”

Russell said he thought officers would use reasonable discretion to evaluate all the circumstances, including the temperature outside, the temperature of the vehicle and the condition of the animal.

“Mr. Attorney, would it be too much to draft one for babies and bring it back?” Hatney asked. “Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have nothing against dogs. As long as they’re in somebody else’s yard, I got no problem.”