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Azziz transition trip cost nearly $6,900

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Four Medical College of Georgia administrators spent nearly $6,900 to fly to Los Angeles in early June to meet with incoming MCG President Ricardo Azziz, according to documents obtained under the Georgia Open Records Act.

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Bowes

Topic: Medical College of Georgia
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One of those involved defended the action as necessary for the kind of intensive planning needed for the transition to Azziz, who takes over as president today.

Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue and University System of Georgia Chancellor Erroll B. Davis Jr. will join Azziz today to take part in a ceremony to sign reorganization documents that restore the MCG president as head of the school's clinical systems.

Azziz, a prominent researcher, was chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles before being tapped as MCG president. On June 8, four administrators flew to Los Angeles to meet with Azziz while he was packing his laboratory for the move to Augusta, according to Deborah L. Barshafsky, the vice president for strategic support, who is one of the four. The other three are: William Bowes, senior vice president for finance and administration; R. Bryan Ginn Jr., assistant to the president for external relations; and Elizabeth Meehan, interim vice president for development.

The group stayed at the Sofitel Los Angeles hotel, which is across the street from Azziz's lab and frequently used by visitors to Cedars-Sinai, Barshafsky said. They rented a meeting room for two days of in-depth planning, and rented audiovisual equipment, including a speakerphone, to call MCG to bring others in when needed, she said. The room and expenses cost $1,810.

"We didn't want to take a junket where we took 20 people because we were aware of the costs associated with this," Barshafsky said. "So what we did was we called in for certain items and we had people on standby" to answer questions.

The trip was paid for by the Georgia Health Sciences University Foundation out of an account called the presidential transition fund. The foundation funds were used so a single fund could finance the trip, rather than charging each administrator's expenses to their departments' budgets, Barshafsky said.

The trip allowed Bowes to take Azziz on a "deep dive" into MCG's finances and allowed others to do intensive planning with the new boss, Barshafsky said. Her issue was "strategic planning and core institutional priorities in messaging," she said, while others talked about fundraising, for instance. After two days of meetings and working dinners and lunches, the MCG crew left around midnight the final day, Barshafsky said.

The meetings perhaps could have been done over the phone, she said.

"I assume that really that's the question that could be asked about any meeting, but in light of what we wanted to accomplish this really was the best way to do it," Barshafsky said.

She has heard nothing but "positive feedback," she said.

"People know that we've got a huge amount of work ahead of us and Dr. Azziz certainly wants to, as a new president, hit the ground running," Barshafsky said. "It was an important investment of time and resources."

Foundation foots bill

A breakdown of the June 8-10 trip by four Medical College of Georgia administrators to Los Angeles to meet with incoming MCG President Ricardo Azziz.

Airline tickets and fees$2,095.80
Hotel$2,090.32
Meeting room and other expenses$1,810.04
Meals$431.28
Mileage$164.20
Transportation$115.55
Miscellaneous$131.00
Parking$56.00
Total$6,894.19
Comments (19) Add comment
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FedupwithAUG
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FedupwithAUG 07/01/10 - 12:56 am
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Kinda cheap for 4 people to

Kinda cheap for 4 people to go to LA. At least they didn't have to pay him for 2 days of meeting.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 07/01/10 - 03:35 am
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Dr. Azziz is using his own

Dr. Azziz is using his own time and trying to be ready to go when he officially takes over. He is doing lots and hasn't been paid for any of it. Let's all wish him well after our last regime sold us down the river and left matters in a mess.

fd1962
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fd1962 07/01/10 - 07:45 am
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Chump change. About three
Unpublished

Chump change. About three X-rays for some poor sap on Medicaid ought to offset that.

PositiveThinker
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PositiveThinker 07/01/10 - 07:49 am
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Tom corwin, was it really

Tom corwin, was it really worth the time and effort it took to write this article? Augusta is incredibly blessed to have the MCG campus. Just about every business and individual benefits from the campus. Quit bitching and moaning about MCG and start thinking about the advantages to having it.... They need our support now more than ever

omnomnom
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omnomnom 07/01/10 - 08:05 am
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lets say it together

lets say it together positivethinker, t-r-a-n-s-p-a-r-e-n-c-y. keeping the toes of officials, elected, appointed, or otherwise, to the fire, helps keep them honest. go tom! show 'em what its like!

scott-hudson
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scott-hudson 07/01/10 - 09:11 am
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No mention they flew coach,

No mention they flew coach, and they took that red eye flight to save on hotel costs when they could have stayed and flew out Sat. morning...No mention Azziz has participated in committee meetings over the past month by teleconference...No mention Azziz salary does not kick in until today and all those meetings he attended with no compensation....Why Tom?

disssman
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disssman 07/01/10 - 09:11 am
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They stayed in a hotel with

They stayed in a hotel with no parking? And only $261 a day for a hotel room. And what is miscelaneous? What is the reason for mileage and transportation? I guess mileage is from their home to Bush field and transportation is the taxi fare from LAX. They sure got a deal on the meeting room at a little over $900 a day. I really wonder just how many "vice presidents" they have? Final question. If the job really entails financial planning and fund raising, why are we hiring a researcher to do it?

benzero
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benzero 07/01/10 - 10:16 am
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absolutely useless article.

absolutely useless article. This was extremely cheap, done the right way for a good reason. The title of the article makes it seem like this money was wasted. Scott Hudson's comments say it all.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 07/01/10 - 10:26 am
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I take the article as a

I take the article as a positive for what Azziz is trying to do. I sense he sees the place is a mess and is trying to straighten matters out fast as he can. But don't be getting on Corwin for letting us know what's going on at MCG. Remember he is the one who broke the story on the administrators giving themselves huge raises when everyone else was taking a pay cut.

Tony.C
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Tony.C 07/01/10 - 11:33 am
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Yeah... sounds pretty cheap.

Yeah... sounds pretty cheap. I wish Mr. Tom would go this in-depth about stuff that matters... like local corruption, crime, fat cops, lazy cops, incompetent cops, the fact Augusta doesn't have cops... it only has deputies??? What's wrong with this place? I'd say follow them money, but not this kind of well-spent cash. This article sucks, well the topic does anyway.

Pay What U Owe
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Pay What U Owe 07/01/10 - 01:41 pm
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He's the one who distorted

He's the one who distorted the raises while he was at it. He never reported where the money came from (mostly not state dollars), he included people who were promoted (most of the people did not have the jobs/titles he described over the time in question) and did not bother to point out what non-admin raises were in the same operation (Even the President is only #4 on the top salary lists). What these hatchet jobs on MCG are is a mystery.

corgimom
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corgimom 07/01/10 - 05:04 pm
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If 4 people went to Los

If 4 people went to Los Angeles for 3 days and only spent $6,900, that's not an expensive trip.

I go to California a lot- and it's always close to $1000 if I don't stay in a hotel or eat out, $1500 to $2000 if I do. For just me. And I don't stay in expensive hotels, either.

Perhaps the AC would've liked it better if they would've stayed at a no-tell motel on Hollywood Boulevard and eaten at McDonald's. They could've gotten down with the pimps, prostitutes, druggies, mentally ill, and criminals that you get with "budget" LA accomodations- the ones under $150/night.

$261 for accomodations in LA by C/S is moderate and not luxurious at all.

corgimom
36849
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corgimom 07/01/10 - 05:07 pm
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Miscellaneous is usually

Miscellaneous is usually things like tips for the bell boys, etc. Personally, I want to know how their transportation cost was only $115 for 4 people for 3 days- in LA.

Junket831
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Junket831 07/01/10 - 06:26 pm
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This is an interesting story

This is an interesting story in that it sheds some light on the leaders of MCG and their way of thinking. If the Foundation used private funds to cover this then why is it even being reported? If public funds were used thats a different matter. Exposure is a good thing and should be explored further.

While Dr. Azziz may not have been paid yet by MCG until his effective date, lets not fall into the trap that his time was charitable. Most organizations cover this through consulting fees, if they didn't in his case, I'm still not too worried since he was probably still drawing a full salary from Cedars until his transition was complete. If people think the salaries a high for the MCG doctors they should compare them to what doctors make at UCLA, Stanford, etc. In other words, whatever he is doing, Dr. Azziz is very well compensated.

They essentially held a strategic management retreat, which they need to do on a regular basis. What is missing from the story is why the meeting was held in LA and not here in Georgia or someplace in between.

Riverman1
90826
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Riverman1 07/01/10 - 06:55 pm
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Corwin was spot on about the

Corwin was spot on about the raises for administrators and useless jobs created for political cronies paying $175,000. But here he is not being critical of anything. He is simply giving us the info of how much it all cost and I take it as a positive that they are now trying to be frugal.

I went to a conference in Anaheim and spent more than they did a couple of years ago. One thing I did wonder about is why he didn't invite them to his home for the meetings instead of renting the conference room? But that's just me thinking too much.

The best, most productive conferences with just a few people, as was the case, are at someone's home with a few drinks, a grill, jokes and more time spent talking and getting the feel for situations than is possible at formal briefings.

andrew412
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andrew412 07/01/10 - 08:57 pm
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Online Chronicle readers are

Online Chronicle readers are usually pretty brutal... and judging by the comments listed above, it sounds like the writer has nothing but a big flop of an article on his hands. This is simply not newsworthy, Mr. Corwin. The horse is dead- quit beating it.

Pay What U Owe
5
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Pay What U Owe 07/01/10 - 09:02 pm
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None of the people listed in

None of the people listed in the article are political cronies of anyone. Why people propagate lies is a mystery. While there are probably (as in all organization and there will be under Azziz) some degree of favors paid, almost every single individual named in the original article pre-dates Dan Rahn or were recruited from out of state. The few intra-state recruits with UGA admins advancing through the system. Besides the paranoid ramblings of a deluded moron, there is no substantive evidence that a significant cost burden at MCG has been the hiring of any governor's political hacks.

speeding
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speeding 07/02/10 - 06:31 am
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This is a crime a whole lot

This is a crime a whole lot worse than the average Joe, who gets 5 years for his crime. Lock em up..

Southern Sailor
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Southern Sailor 07/01/10 - 11:33 pm
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Speeding, it is 60 counts

Speeding, it is 60 counts worth, if your count is furlough days for MCG workers earning the magic number of $30,000 per year. Why should it matter whether the state or foundation paid? We at MCG carry on about our ability to bridge distances and learning styles with technology in education, and we have really good people working just as "intensely" on that as the Veeps worked on the California "deep dive." I'd bet you a furlough day that Cibirka and crew could have designed an uber-efficient, multi-media session at a fraction of that cost. Another sign that MCG Executive Administration is disconnected from the good work going on inside its own four walls.

RightWingNut
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RightWingNut 07/03/10 - 09:45 am
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Could have saved $6,900 by

Could have saved $6,900 by teleconferencing and waited until after July 1 for the face time.

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