Augusta Commission members came out of a legal meeting and into the commission chamber crowded with folks for Tuesday’s regular meeting. After settling in, they began voting on items read aloud by City Attorney Andrew MacKenzie.
One of them would have increased Superior Court Clerk Elaine Johnson’s local salary supplement by $12,731.52. Another would have raised Probate Court Judge Harry James’ supplement by $20,000. Neither was approved.
As you probably recall, the same commission increased Sheriff Richard Roundtree’s supplement by $16,500 and State Court Solicitor Kellie McIntyre’s by $9,700 when the ink on their swearing-in papers was barely dry.
Ironically, the next order of business Tuesday was to honor longtime city employees. Johnson was called forward and recognized for 40 years of loyal service.
IT MAY BE LONELY, BUT THE MONEY’S GOOD: The next topic I’d like to explore also concerns raises, specifically some whopping ones the top docs at the Medical College of Georgia have received, along with the explanations and justifications the school’s spokesfolks had ready and waiting before releasing salary data to The Augusta Chronicle. Let me paraphrase: “Blah., blah, blah.” (Read Staff Writer Tom Corwin’s story from April 12 for a more detailed report.)
From my research of MCG salaries in the Chronicle’s databases, 13 department heads making from $300,000 to more than $500,000 a year received raises totaling well more than a quarter-million dollars. And that’s not counting the ones folks making from $200,000 to $300,000 a year received.
Five department heads make more money than Georgia Regent University President Ricardo Azziz. Dr. Cargill Herley Alleyne, chairman of neurosurgery, got a $20,730 raise to $711,730. But hey, that’s brain surgery, isn’t it? And I’m sure he must be worth every dime of it.
I can’t say the doctors don’t deserve big raises. I’m sure their résumés are impressive, and they do miraculous, life-saving work for which they get the gold mine. It’s just a shame that others who make it all possible too often get the shaft.
THE MUSICAL MD,
A PLAY IN ONE ACT
Scene 1: The ER
at GRR University
Nurse: Get up, Doctor. We’ve got another one of those nuts with paycheck disorders.
ER Dr.: (Gets up and enters examining room) What in the world are you doing here, doctor?
Patient: I think somebody’s out to get me.
ER Dr.: Who’s out to get you?
Patient: I’d rather not say.
ER Dr.: What makes you think somebody’s out to get you?
Patient: The $100,000 raise I got. They’re setting me up. I’m making more than the president now. That’s not good. The president was looking at me funny during last week’s propaganda meeting.
ER Dr.: Looking at you funny?
Patient: Yes, funny. I don’t think he likes anybody who makes more money than he does.
ER Dr.: So how do you think he’s going to get you?
Patient: Find some reason to fire me.
ER Dr.: I’m afraid you’re exhibiting symptoms of PPD – Paycheck Paranoia Disorder. I could write a prescription, but I think it would be better in the long run if you just get over it. (Begins singing)
I turn on the tube and what do I see
A whole lotta people cryin’ “Don’t blame me”
They point their crooked little fingers at everybody else
Spend all their time feelin’ sorry for themselves
Victim of this, victim of that
Your momma’s too thin; your daddy’s too fat
Get over it
Get over it
All this whinin’ and cryin’ and pitchin’ a fit
Get over it, get over it.
Nurse: I hated to wake you up, doctor, but we’ve got another one out here.
ER Dr.: Oh how I wish they hadn’t given those raises. I haven’t had a night this week that three or four haven’t come in with some paycheck disorder. (Enters exam room) Don’t tell me. Let me guess. You’re upset about the raises.
Patient: Exactly. I didn’t get one. I can’t live on $350,000 a year. I haven’t slept one wink since I found out who did get one. The car dealership is threatening to repossess my Mercedeses, or however you say the plural of Mercedes.
ER Dr.: It’s obvious to me you have PDD – short for Paycheck Deficit Disorder, and instead of writing you a prescription for sleeping pills, I’m going to give you some good advice. (Starts singing)
When I’m worried and I can’t sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep counting my blessings
When my bankroll is getting small
I think of when I had none at all
And I fall asleep counting my blessings.
Nurse: Get up quick, doctor! It’s the big man himself, the president.
ER Dr.: (Sighs, then enters exam room) What a pleasure to see you here in our lowly ER, Dr. ZZZZZ.
Patient: Cut the crap. I need some meds.
ER Dr.: For what?
Patient: Humiliation. I can’t show my face in public. I’m the president of this world-class research institution, yet I make less money than a half-dozen of my subordinates.
ER Dr.: Let’s cut to the chase, Mr. President. It’s obvious you have PPD – short for Paycheck Pride Disorder, and, lucky for you, I have the remedy.
ER Dr.: Give yourself a raise. After all, you are the boss, aren’t you?
Patient: I can’t believe I didn’t think of that myself. I’ll do it right away, and I’ll give you one, too.
(They clasp hands and start dancing and singing)
Joy to the world
All the boys and girls, now
Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea
Joy to you and me.
OUT ON A LIMB: Local politics slowed to a snail’s pace during Masters Week. City officials all but abandoned their posts and headed for the golf course, so I decided to go on spring break, which turned out to be uneventful except for the snake.
Since moving to the country, quite a few snakes, including copperhead moccasins, king snakes, green snakes, rat snakes and one pregnant red-bellied water snake, have slithered up from the woods and made themselves right at home, often in our birdhouses. I’ve never killed one. Not because of ecological reasons, but because I’m chicken.
So on my way to the garbage can, I heard birds squawking in a cedar tree. I looked up and saw them flitting back and forth, as if on the attack, and knew they must be after a snake. So I decided that this time, unlike others, I’d get the snake out of the tree and save the bird’s nest he was after. What I’d do after that was a big unknown.
The snake was coiled around a branch too high to be reached with a hoe or rake, but I thought of the long implement with the hook on the end that Ernie uses to cut small branches out of trees. I grabbed it, marched back under the tree and extended it toward the snake, planning to jerk him down with it. But the only way I could reach him was to stand directly underneath the branch, in which case he might fall on my head, and I would immediately have a stroke and die on the spot. So it came down to me or the bird’s nest.
After mulling it over a few seconds, I made the obvious choice and went into the house and had a drink.