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Garage addition at home of Georgia Regents President Ricardo Azziz planned without state approval

Saturday, April 27, 2013 7:18 PM
Last updated Sunday, April 28, 2013 1:29 AM
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Georgia Regents Uni­versity has awarded a contract to build a $75,500 addition to the president’s garage without seeking the required approval for construction from the Board of Regents, officials said.

Georgia Regents University President Ricardo Azziz is planning to add a three-car carport beside a two-car garage at his state-owned home.  SARA CALDWELL/FILE
SARA CALDWELL/FILE
Georgia Regents University President Ricardo Azziz is planning to add a three-car carport beside a two-car garage at his state-owned home.

The school sought bids in February for the project, a three-car carport to be added to the side of the two-car garage at the Augusta home of GRU President Ricardo Azziz, according to documents obtained by The Augusta Chronicle. The contract was awarded to the low bid – $75,500 – submitted by Veracity Construction of Thomson, GRU spokeswoman Christen Carter said. In addition to the estimated construction costs – which have since increased by as much as $50,000, GRU has agreed to pay Cheatham, Fletcher, Scott Architects more than $23,000 for design work.

All this occurred before anyone sought necessary approval of the project from the University System of Georgia Board of Regents.

According to university system policy governing university presidents’ homes, any project other than routine maintenance “shall be submitted for review and approval by the Chancellor and the Board of Regents. Any subsequent changes in the scope of the project or budget shall be similarly submitted for review and approval.”

John Millsaps, the spokesman for the chancellor and the board, said state officials were unaware of any such projects and no work had been approved to modify the GRU president’s home at 920 Milledge Road. Millsaps said such a project would have to be submitted to the board to move forward.

This comes while the board is preparing to conduct an inquiry into the use of college resources by Azziz for a recent family wedding.

As of Friday, GRU had been told by university system officials that the policy governing the president’s home applied to the carport project.

Carter said the project has yet to break ground, so there is still time to seek the board’s approval.

“Of course we will need to receive a proposal before any work can be done,” Millsaps said Thursday.

The 100-year-old home known as Twin Gables is located in the Summerville Historic District. Revisions to the architectural designs requested by the Augusta-Richmond County Historic Preservation Commission could push the carport project over budget, which could result in delays, Carter said.

“If the changes exceed $50,000, (University) Fa­cilities will need to delay start of the project and revisit the scope and budget next fiscal year,” she wrote in an e-mail.

Carter said the purpose of the carport addition is to provide space for setup and support for events.

“The residence is used for functions all throughout the year,” she said. “It is our hope that we can become more efficient and have a better set up for future events.”

As for state approval, Cart­er said GRU officials thought that such approvals were unnecessary for projects budgeted less than $1 million.

Another Board of Regents policy allows the state university system’s chief of facilities to delegate authority to approve up to $1 million for projects that “are in accordance with the accepted campus master plan.”

She said GRU officials were operating under that policy when the contract was awarded. She said as far as they knew, Phil Howard, the vice president of GRU’s Facilities Service, had the authority to sign off on the Twin Gables project, without state approval.

Georgia Regents University president's home addition by Connor Threlkeld

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KSL
129903
Points
KSL 04/28/13 - 03:30 pm
6
2
Over paid architects

A $23,000 fee should get you something costing $300,000 to $350,000 in construction. This fee was permission to gouge.

KSL
129903
Points
KSL 04/28/13 - 03:34 pm
6
1
If I were a Georgia taxpayer,

If I were a Georgia taxpayer, I would be outraged.

tanbaby
1293
Points
tanbaby 04/28/13 - 03:44 pm
0
0
is anybody REALLY surprised
Unpublished

is anybody REALLY surprised at this?????????????? if i didn't have to suffer the consequences of abusing my position (as obviously he doesn't), i would be doing the same stuff.....it's time for him to go....

Young Fred
17467
Points
Young Fred 04/28/13 - 04:45 pm
4
0
Lay Off the man!

You people need to lay off!!!

What's a man that's above the rules and public opinion to do?!

Jeez, this man is an asset and a fine example to his peons...ur employees.

my.voice
4824
Points
my.voice 04/28/13 - 04:53 pm
5
0
KSL IS EXACTLY RIGHT, SOMEONE

KSL IS EXACTLY RIGHT, SOMEONE AT CFS NEEDS TO EXPLAIN THEIR FEE OF 30%

palmetto1008
9782
Points
palmetto1008 04/28/13 - 05:03 pm
6
0
KSL has a keen eye.
Unpublished

KSL has a keen eye. Certainly, another wrinkle that I didn't pay attention to. I'd say that's your REAL abuse of public funds right there. A bus for a wedding night seems rather minor.

john29860
11
Points
john29860 04/28/13 - 05:09 pm
5
0
GRU really stands for...

Garages R' Us. Entitlement and arrogance sometimes catches up with you!

amberjudge
3
Points
amberjudge 04/28/13 - 05:37 pm
1
6
Aren't there 2 sides to every story?

JRC2024, more than just Dr. Azziz and wife live in the home.

LocalGirl, you bring up a good point as many, including myself, have had or have homes worth less than $75k. If this is the price for a carport, something does sound a little odd.

But, and this is for everyone, shouldn't we get all the facts first and allow Dr. Azziz to speak for himself and give some explanation before we jump to conclusions and convict him? If no explanation comes or it is insufficient, then that is another matter. But, we need to give everyone a chance to respond to public attacks; that's what I would want if it were me in the paper.

KSL
129903
Points
KSL 04/28/13 - 05:47 pm
2
1
What possible explanation or

What possible explanation or justification can he provide? He and his staff made an erroneous assumption, broke the rules, and proceeded with complete and total arrogance. His actions explain exactly why there is oversight, review, and approval of the spending of taxpayer monies over a certain amount.

Young Fred
17467
Points
Young Fred 04/28/13 - 05:54 pm
3
3
amberjudge is correct! We

amberjudge is correct! We should give the man ample opportunity to explain why rules do not apply. I'm thinking he will justify with an Obama-like silver tongue.

KSL
129903
Points
KSL 04/28/13 - 05:57 pm
2
1
You really think he is going

You really think he is going to explain his side? Like he explained how he could commandeer a university owned bus for 12 hours for personal use. Yes, he did agree to pay the paltry amount of $400 after he got caught.

OnTheHill1
345
Points
OnTheHill1 04/28/13 - 05:57 pm
7
0
If Azziz had a history of forthrightness

To Amberjudge, if Azziz had a history of forthrightness, I think all the posters would agree that we should wait for his side of the story. Unfortunately he has a long history of not being honest, just a few examples:

Azziz said he had no involvement with the name change. His e-mails proved him wrong.

Azziz said the police officers were volunteers, changed later to paid in cash.

Azziz says he runs a transparent administration, nothing could be farther from the truth.

We have been duped too many times to believe anything that emerges from his administration. Thus the nearly 100% vitriol to his antics.

CarlA
114
Points
CarlA 04/28/13 - 06:50 pm
5
0
I find it very disturbing

I find it very disturbing that Azziz operates without any oversight or accountability while the people of Augusta have no voice or power to stop him. The BOR won't do anything but a slap on the wrist. Ithe citizens of Augusta need to be putting pressure squarely on Gov. Deal .

Little Lamb
46040
Points
Little Lamb 04/28/13 - 08:55 pm
2
0
Lukenbach, Texas

We got a four-car garage
And we’re still buildin’ on . . . . . . . . .

Baby, it’s time to get back to the basics of honesty, ethics, transparency, and common sense.

curly123053
4671
Points
curly123053 04/28/13 - 09:27 pm
3
0
Sad!

It is hard to believe that in these times of tightening the belt Zizzzz is being allowed to splurge on the "People's" money for his own benefit, and "overlooking" the proper channels to get the job done. I am surprised he is still looking forward to being here will all the hard feelings HE has caused in the community. He has conned most of the local politicians into silence, from the mayor to the state legislatures, to the governor's mansion. The true local citizens have no voice in anything Zizzzz does, or has done in regards to what used to be our university.
When the consolidation was announced I stated in this column that "if it was done right it could be a positive change for Augusta". I have seen nothing but total contempt towards the citizens wishes and desires for the university in this city. The administration of Zizzzz has bent over backwards to show Augusta that they have no say in HIS endeavors at HIS university. As long as the Governor is not willing to get involved, as long as the mayor is not willing to stand up for his citizens, I see nothing happening.

TruthJusticeFaithHope
220
Points
TruthJusticeFaithHope 04/28/13 - 09:30 pm
3
0
Sure wish Gov. Deal hadn't chased Dan Rahn away...

Sure wish Gov. Deal hadn't chased Dan Rahn away. Anyone else thinking that Dan Rahn, the dignified, professional, respectful, leader of MCG prior to Ricardo, was a great asset for the school and community ?

agrit
178
Points
agrit 04/28/13 - 10:36 pm
3
0
Cars

Azziz is a car fanatic. Perhaps he needed more room for his new "vintage" vehicles.

Purple_Blood
38
Points
Purple_Blood 04/29/13 - 12:16 am
2
0
When I first heard

about this addition some time last year, it was for a five car garage. Remember, there are three drivers in the Azziz home, and he DOES have a passion for cars. How many of you really believe he gives a rats behind about the "setup and support for events" so much that he would build a $75,000 addition just for this pupose? Please? This may be the best lie yet.

CricketSeranade
593
Points
CricketSeranade 04/29/13 - 09:22 am
4
0
No explanations necessary

Amber, Ricardo has NEVER offered an explanation for anything he does. He's told a few lies though. I have no doubt that Ricky thought that kissing the Regents behind was enough to make anything he wanted to do okay. Perhaps it was. He certainly isn't feeling any heat from them on the whole wedding situation. And it sure does seem odd that everytime the Chronicle catches him doing something shady, the standard reply seems to be "we were not aware". Somebody needs to get a clue before the University system is as bankrupt as Azziz's morals.

Little Lamb
46040
Points
Little Lamb 04/29/13 - 10:11 pm
1
0
Disturbing

From Mr. Crawford's story we learned this:

According to university system policy governing university presidents’ homes, any project other than routine maintenance “shall be submitted for review and approval by the Chancellor and the Board of Regents. Any subsequent changes in the scope of the project or budget shall be similarly submitted for review and approval.”

Then, this:

As for state approval, university spokeswoman Christed Cart­er said GRU officials thought that such approvals were unnecessary for projects budgeted less than $1 million. Another Board of Regents policy allows the state university system’s chief of facilities to delegate authority to approve up to $1 million for projects that “are in accordance with the accepted campus master plan.” She said GRU officials were operating under that policy when the contract was awarded. She said as far as they knew, Phil Howard, the vice president of GRU’s Facilities Service, had the authority to sign off on the Twin Gables project, without state approval.

Excuse me, but Grooo’s VP of facility services is not the same as the state university system’s chief of facilities. What kind of saps does Dr. Azziz take us for?

agrit
178
Points
agrit 04/29/13 - 01:00 pm
4
0
As far as they knew

Sorry, but in my job, "as far as I knew" would not cut it. I had better have read the policies and know my limits before I go out on limb.

You are right LL. There is a huge difference in the University System's Chief of Facilities and GRU's VP of Facilities. In fact, I would wager, more than one difference.

Little Lamb
46040
Points
Little Lamb 04/29/13 - 10:07 pm
1
0
The Old Days

Great to hear from you again, Agrit. I miss the days over on the old Augusta Chronicle forums where we could cut up a bit.

eppsone
5
Points
eppsone 04/29/13 - 10:57 pm
3
0
Contract

I am sure Dr Azziz had to sign an employment contract. If his actions are legal by the contract, the lawyer should be fired who wrote the contract.
If his actions are not legal by the contract, send Dr Azziz packing without a severance package.
Dr Azziz is not new at this game. The hiring committee did not do there job in looking into his background. We would all like a blank check with our jobs.
Keep digging, there is always more.

liberal
19
Points
liberal 04/30/13 - 05:33 pm
2
0
What this article missed...why he needs a larger garage.

FromThe Augusta State University Bell Ringer ( 4/17/12)..." His wife said her husband worked on his 1957 Chevy truck for 13 years and would not put anything on it that was not original. After restoring it to pristine condition they moved to California and had to sell the Chevy due to the lack of parking spaces."

This garage may not be needed to '...provide space for setup and support for events.', as his spokesperson states.

ITS LIKELY FOR HIS CAR RESTORATION HOBBY. HE NEEDS THE STORAGE SPACE FOR HIS ANTIQUE AUTOS.

KSL
129903
Points
KSL 04/30/13 - 10:30 pm
2
1
Well, he can rent storage

Well, he can rent storage with his $600,000+ salary instead of sticking taxpayers with the bill.

KSL
129903
Points
KSL 05/01/13 - 07:49 pm
0
1
Oh, I forgot the no house

Oh, I forgot the no house payment, no car gas and maintenance payment, insurance, etc. for his car, lots of free meals. I could go on and on.

KSL
129903
Points
KSL 05/01/13 - 07:50 pm
0
1
Wonder

What the imputed worth of his salary, benefits and perks amount to.

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