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University patrol car picked up Azziz's children from school

Thursday, April 25, 2013 9:07 PM
Last updated Friday, April 26, 2013 12:30 AM
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As the state prepares to conduct an inquiry into the use of college resources by Georgia Regents University’s president for a family wedding, other instances of personal use of school vehicles have come to light.

Georgia Regents University President Ricardo Azziz has called for an independent review of the use of state resources for a family wedding at his home.  SARA CALDWELL/FILE
SARA CALDWELL/FILE
Georgia Regents University President Ricardo Azziz has called for an independent review of the use of state resources for a family wedding at his home.

GRU officials confirmed Thursday that university police cars have been used in the past to pick up President Ricardo Azziz’s children from school. University spokeswoman Christen Carter said patrol cars were used twice to transport the children from Augusta Preparatory Day School in Martinez.

Carter said both cases occurred more than 18 months ago and were “emergent incidents” in which university police were requested by a member of the Azziz family who was unable to pick up the children “due to an unexpected incident which made them unavailable.”

Carter said those were the only such incidents, to her knowledge.

“This is not the normal practice, and the Azziz family realized the potential concerns and have not
repeated the request,” she said.

The Georgia Board of Re­gents’ Office of Internal Audit and Compliance is responding to a request by Azziz on Wednesday for an “impartial assessment” of the issues and actions connected with Saturday’s wedding, which was held for his niece at the president’s home at 920 Milledge Road, known as Twin Gables.

John Millsaps, the spokesman for the Board of Regents, said field work for the assessment will begin next week.

GRU officials have acknowledged the use of state resources at the event and said the Azziz family planned to reimburse the state $416 for the use of a marked patrol car and a university system shuttle bus to ferry guests from the hotel to the event and to other locations. Four GRU police officers also worked as security for the wedding.

Millsaps said that the results of the inquiry would be made available to the public once completed but that there was no timeline on how long that might take.

Millsaps could offer no specifics, but it is expected the review will determine whether state resources were used in accordance with GRU and Board of Regents policy.

The use of the shuttle bus appears to be contrary to both.

A university policy memorandum dated Sept. 14 states, “The university should not provide transportation to the President or his family for personal business, including transportation to and from schools, vacations, etc.”

Carter provided an invoice for the shuttle bus and patrol car, billing the groom, Brian Straessle, who is not a university employee.

The invoice also appears to run counter to a Board of Regents policy governing the use of university property. The policy states that university property cannot be “removed from the campus of an institution for use on either a rental or loan basis for personal use.”

The shuttle bus was used to carry guests from the Par­tridge Inn to the wedding, and to a photo shoot at Sa­van­nah Rapids Park in Co­lum­bia County.

Carter said university shuttles have been used before by other administrations for similar activities,
which is why it was offered this time.

“During a discussion with the Azziz family, Public Safety offered the use of a shuttle, remembering the shuttles were also used as a form of transportation at events (i.e. wedding) held at Twin Gables during the administrations of two previous university presidents,” she wrote in an e-mail.

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whyme
1652
Points
whyme 04/25/13 - 09:23 pm
20
1
All I can say is...

really? What a sense of entitlement, but then can I really blame him? He is doing all of this because he can. No consequences for any of his actions since he's arrived here and started making such unpopular choices, so this doesn't really surprise me. What does surprise me is the total apparent lack of power we as Augustans seem to have when someone such as Dr. Azziz conducts himself in this manner.

GiantsAllDay
9422
Points
GiantsAllDay 04/25/13 - 09:26 pm
13
1
This keeps getting better and

This keeps getting better and better. Ok so the players in my shuttlegate scenario are (so far):
Azziz: Nixon
Chief McBride: G Gordon Liddy
Spokeswoman who kicked the reporter out: Rosemary Woods
Mr Crawford: an amalgam of Woodward and Bernstein

triscuit
2995
Points
triscuit 04/25/13 - 09:27 pm
6
22
I get it, the city/chronicle

I get it, the city/chronicle does not like Azziz, but I can assure you that incidents like these occurred with ALL past MCG presidents. They just did not have the media scrutinizing their every breath.

GiantsAllDay
9422
Points
GiantsAllDay 04/25/13 - 09:27 pm
12
2
Is it just me, but does he

Is it just me, but does he look a little like Al Franken in that photo?

Cynical old woman
1099
Points
Cynical old woman 04/25/13 - 09:28 pm
14
1
Keep digging

Lots of abuse by the Azziz clan. Painters schedules totally derailed when their services called for at the Azziz residence on a whim. Maintence same story. Folks scared to talk....those that talk are run off!

GiantsAllDay
9422
Points
GiantsAllDay 04/25/13 - 09:30 pm
15
1
Mr Azziz, there is a cancer

Mr Azziz, there is a cancer growing on your presidency......

Riverman1
82431
Points
Riverman1 04/25/13 - 09:32 pm
15
1
Taking Safety Officers From Duty Assignments

This driving the kids to and from school is what I was hinting at this morning. Notice, University spokeswoman Christen Carter used the term "to my knowledge" when saying how many times they had transported the kids to the school in Columbia County. I've been told this practice happened often. Realize taking officers away from their duty assignments at the university could have dangerous consequences. When we finally get an investigation there will be no denying the numerous cases of misappropriation of state resources.

Bubba
144
Points
Bubba 04/25/13 - 09:38 pm
15
1
Bubba says...

I need to get my grand daughters tomorrow afternoon, can I call Augusta State Police department and arrange my pickup time from school? How much will that cost? Maybe I don't have to pay. He didn't, and he didn't offer to reimburse because he didn't get caught... Until now. Will he promise to reimburse for those trips? This is just unbelieveable. Really.

itsanotherday1
42228
Points
itsanotherday1 04/25/13 - 09:41 pm
21
8
Sounds like he and the first

Sounds like he and the first family in Washington have a lot in common.

Riverman1
82431
Points
Riverman1 04/25/13 - 09:49 pm
14
1
Interview Lt. Derik Still

I'd interview Lt. Derik Still of the MCG Public Safety Office. He seems to be one of them who is truthful.

Dixieman
14425
Points
Dixieman 04/25/13 - 09:50 pm
15
1
Uh-oh

People in positions of authority (CEOs, politicians, ministers, etc.) can make trillion dollar mistakes or implement policies that harm thousands of people and keep their jobs. But dip your hand in the petty cash jar for coffee or something like this + the niece's wedding and you are T-O-A-S-T. Sayonara, Dr. Azziz.

Little Lamb
45344
Points
Little Lamb 04/25/13 - 09:56 pm
18
0
Distance

Dr. Azziz should have enrolled his children into Episcopal Day School. That way, they could have walked home.

Riverman1
82431
Points
Riverman1 04/25/13 - 09:55 pm
2
2
Augusta Prep, LL.

Augusta Prep, LL.

GiantsAllDay
9422
Points
GiantsAllDay 04/25/13 - 09:57 pm
11
3
Dixieman: Ricardo sounds

Dixieman: Ricardo sounds Hispanic, so I believe the proper term is adios.

Little Lamb
45344
Points
Little Lamb 04/25/13 - 09:57 pm
3
0
Late

Yeah, RM. I thought it was Episcopal Day. I changed my post above before you posted yours. My Bad.

sassylassie
442
Points
sassylassie 04/25/13 - 10:03 pm
18
1
What is it going to take for

What is it going to take for us to rid this town of Azxiz and his determined efforts to undermine established authority, to destroy the history of our school, and the blatant misuse of taxpayer funded equipment and manpower?
Augusta, enough is enough!

Can we please send him on his way?

And while we're at it, can I call the University Officers to pick up my kid from school when I can't get away from my tennis game, luncheon, or shopping trip? Of maybe if my nails aren't quite dry at the salon.... Sometimes I just can't get away to pick up my kids! So, like Azziz, I will use taxpayer money to do that...or can I plan my kid's wedding to be held in the garden of his home? Maybe we all should!

Some people have an entitlement mentality and HE IS ONE OF THEM.
Disgusting. Enough.

sassylassie
442
Points
sassylassie 04/25/13 - 10:05 pm
4
2
Funny... I guess this town is

Funny... I guess this town is "cool" enough to host his niece's wedding...... Just a thought.

crossyourarms
211
Points
crossyourarms 04/25/13 - 10:23 pm
3
1
Oh, it was an emergency?

Oh, it was an emergency? Man, it would be nice if this worked for all of us. I guess it's good they didn't need extra police on hand that day. It seems like most people would get fired for misappropriation of state resources--- even ones not as significant as a POLICE CAR driving into another county to pick up kids. What happens when other parents can't pick up their kids from school on time? They call the police to get them, right? Irony.

Darby
25094
Points
Darby 04/25/13 - 10:25 pm
17
2
"I can assure you that incidents like these

occurred with ALL past MCG presidents. They just did not have the media scrutinizing their every breath."

.
Don't need nor want your "assurances". Opinions are like belly buttons. Everyone has his own.

Give us facts or state outright that you have an opinion. Keep it real!

blacklion1001
21
Points
blacklion1001 04/25/13 - 10:28 pm
5
1
Unethical Leadership

Wow, hard to believe that a University would allow this. I am in the U.S. Army, and this would not be tolerated. Example, we had a 4-Star General that did similar things in the position granted to him, his family was given "perks" that were not authorized. He was promptly made to retire, as a 3-Star. Society, please wake up!

GiantsAllDay
9422
Points
GiantsAllDay 04/25/13 - 10:34 pm
11
1
RE: the 4 cops paid in cash

RE: the 4 cops paid in cash by the bride and groom. They were in uniform and providing law enforcement. Therefore that money should be open to the public just like their regular paychecks. Mr Crawford: please file an open records request to find out how much was involved. Here's my reasoning: the bride and groom may have handed them the envelope and the bride and groom's name may have been on the envelope BUT I seriously doubt that the bride and groom fronted the money. Find out who paid ie taxpayers or private money and how much. I need a "deep throat" for my scenario anyway, so please try and find one of those. Thanks.

willie7
955
Points
willie7 04/25/13 - 10:58 pm
5
15
I agree with you triscuit, it
Unpublished

I agree with you triscuit, it has happened at times with other presidents of MCG. Somebody at the Chronicle doesn't like Dr. Azziz and want him gone. I guess he hasn't jump to somebody at the chronicle.

SemperParatus
3225
Points
SemperParatus 04/25/13 - 11:31 pm
14
0
I call on the governor...

...to instruct the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to determine if laws were violated by Ricardo Azziz with respect to his use of state property and services for personal gain. The notion that the Board of Regents can be objective in its investigation of one of its own is absurd.

justputtin
1384
Points
justputtin 04/25/13 - 11:47 pm
12
0
Regents conduct investigation?

We can easily predict this outcome.pitiful. He asked to be investigated by his buds hoping that would be the end of it. Not hard to figure out.

my.voice
4731
Points
my.voice 04/25/13 - 11:59 pm
6
0
That photo looks like a Rick

That photo looks like a Rick McKie cartoon. That karma causing some gas pains there Doc A?

KSL
126827
Points
KSL 04/26/13 - 12:27 am
7
6
Giants, he is Middle Eastern

Giants, he is Middle Eastern via Central or South America. At least that was the info on the internet some time back. He is not important enough to crease my brain with the exact details of his origins.

His artwork was pretty distributing though.

Dixieman
14425
Points
Dixieman 04/26/13 - 12:33 am
9
0
3,992,404 POINTS

1. Giants All Day - I was going to say "adios" instead of "sayonara" but thought the Chronicle might accuse me of being politically incorrect and bar me for life from this scintillating forum.
2. EDS stops in the 8th grade. Maybe his children are older.

Purple_Blood
38
Points
Purple_Blood 04/26/13 - 01:40 am
8
0
Riverman

Lt. Still isn't the only honest one at public safety, but I guarantee there won't be an interview. Come Friday morning all of the officers will be under a gag order.

Truth Matters
6633
Points
Truth Matters 04/26/13 - 05:19 am
4
6
President

Dr. Azziz, let this be a lesson for you. The next time you have out of town guests, book them at the Marriott at Riverwalk, and if there is a wedding you could include the honeymoon suite (assuming there is one) and your problems with this paper's owner will go "poof" into the night.

Don't even think about booking rooms at the Patridge Inn.
(P.S. You should still pay for your own shuttle expenses rather than using state employees.)

Truth Matters
6633
Points
Truth Matters 04/26/13 - 05:36 am
3
14
State resources

Triscuit@ 9:27 made me think of something I often wonder about when I read various posts here. I wonder how many of these readers are writing comments while they are at work! Unless they are self-employed they, too, are guilty of misappropriating someone's resources. This is not an accusation but just something I wonder about when I notice some people are repeatedly posting well into the morning. Many I am sure are retired and their time is their own; God bless them. I had to tell an employee once that she could not use her office computer to job search and prepare a resume' and make other job search-related contacts while "on the boss' " time. And I have heard many of talk show callers say they are calling from work. When you think about it, what is the difference from what Azziz has done? His position gives him greater access but if you are not working when paid to work you are still "taking" what is not yours.

One day a reader here wrote, "gotta get back to work now." Bless his heart; maybe he/she was on a break.

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