Augusta-area politics took a back seat Friday after the Branding Consolidation Work Team Committee unleashed six proposed names for a consolidated GHSU/ASU on the community.
Actually, that’s not quite right Everything in Augusta is politics, especially something as important as naming a university. So let’s just say electioneering took a back seat Friday.
Immediate reactions to the names were shock and incredulity. Some people said it must be a joke. Others want the committee to start over. The only person I heard say he was happy was Commissioner Jerry Brigham, who tried two weeks ago to get his colleagues to adopt a resolution requesting that “Augusta” be in the new name.
“Augusta’s in three of them,” he said Friday afternoon – Augusta University, University of Augusta and Augusta Arsenal University. The others are Arsenal University, Bartram University and Noble University.
I don’t know what everybody expected. Something grander, I suppose.
As for me, I still like Deke U, as well as Georgia Arts Science Business Research and Philosophy (GASBURP) with I Feel Good as the alma mater.
Anyway, to commemorate the occasion and for your enjoyment, I wrote a play. The title is a knockoff, but the play is original.
The Bonfire of the Vanities
(A drama in one act)
(Office of President R. ZZZZZ on the campus of the former Augusta State University, which, along with the former Medical College of Georgia and the former Georgia Health Sciences University, have been consolidated and renamed Arsenal University. The Assistant Vice President for Strategic Support and Other Important Matters rushes in, breathless.)
Assistant VP: Is the president in? I need to see him immediately about a very important matter.
Administrative assistant: I’ll let him know you’re here.
Assistant VP: I can’t wait! It’s an emergency! (Pushes past her and into the president’s office) Dr. ZZZZZ, the students are rioting! They’ve taken over the lobby downstairs!
President ZZZZZ: What? Why?
Assistant VP: The sign with the university’s new name that was put up at the campus main gate this morning. They don’t like it. They’re protesting.
President ZZZZZ: They don’t like Arsenal University? Well, call the campus police and have them removed.
Assistant VP: They’ve chained themselves to the radiators and stair rails.
President ZZZZZ: Radiators? We still have radiators here?
Assistant VP: I meant stair rails. I was just flashing back to the ’60s when I said radiators. There’s a crowd gathered by the main entrance, too. They’re demanding to speak to you and Chancellor Hucklebuck. They’re burning you both in effigy as we speak.
President ZZZZZ: Oh well. All right. Get me my bullhorn.
(At the main gate a huge bonfire is burning)
President ZZZZZ: (Speaking through the bullhorn) I know many of you are upset about the new name.
Crowd: Boo! Boo! Boo!
President ZZZZZ: You’re upset because the name is different from the name you’re accustomed to and represents change. But change is part and parcel of life, and learning to accept it is part of your education. Believe me, this is not the first change you’re going to face in your lifetime. You just have to adjust and go on about your business. Adjusting. That’s what life’s all about. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the name Arsenal University. The Branding Consolidation Work Team Committee spent countless hours going over thousands of suggestions for names.
Crowd: Boo! Boo! Boo!
President ZZZZZ: Can we have one person speak here?
(Student body president Angela Woo steps forward)
Woo: Sorry about the committee, but even an undergraduate knows a camel is a racehorse designed by a committee.
President ZZZZZ: What exactly is it you don’t like about Arsenal University?
Woo: First of all, it sounds like a military school, and secondly, in no time at all people will be calling it Arse U.
Crowd: Boo! Boo! Boo!
President ZZZZZ: The Board of Regents and Chancellor Hucklebuck made the final decision. What do you expect me to do?
Woo: Twenty years ago, another president stood at this gate and changed the name from Augusta College to Augusta State University. We’ve had enough. President ZZZZZ. President ZZZZZ, tear down that sign!
(The next morning, President ZZZZZ stands at a window of his office staring onto the campus below.)
Administrative assistant: Mr. President, the assistant vice president for strategic support is here.
Assistant VP: You wanted to see me?
President ZZZZZ: Yes. I’ve made an executive decision. I’m renaming the university.
President ZZZZZ: Yes.
VP: To what?
President ZZZZZ: Georgia Health Sciences University. I did it before, and I’m doing it again. Of course, I’ll have to put the word “Arts” in there somewhere.
ROCKIN’ AND ROLLING IN THE DOUGH: It’s not even the Fourth of July in Augusta, but the campaign trail is so hot it feels like it.
Young supporters of Democratic sheriff candidate Scott Peebles recently organized and promoted a “Rockin’ for Peebles” concert, featuring two bands: Playback with Tutu D’vyne and Funk You. An estimated 300 to 350 people attended the concert at the Legends Club on Washington Road.
“The event was put on by a group of guys and gals, mostly in their mid-20s, who wanted to get the message out to their peers to get involved in the voting process,” he said. “We raised several thousand dollars for the campaign through ticket sales and donations. We also registered about 25 people to vote. I think it’s the first concert put on in Augusta as a political fundraiser.”
On Monday, sheriff and judicial candidates had to rush from a 5:30 p.m. forum at Carrie Mays Community Center in Turpin Hill to a 7 p.m. forum at the Warren Road Community Center sponsored by the West Augusta Alliance.
I went to the 5:30 p.m. forum but didn’t hear anything new except clarification on the sheriff candidates’ ideas about community policing.
Juvenile Court Judge Willie Saunders, who is challenging Augusta Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Carlisle Overstreet, was a crowd favorite with his animated speeches about keeping kids out of jail and getting rid of one-time offenders’ criminal records.
Absent from the forum at Carrie Mays was Democratic sheriff candidate Richard Roundtree, who was at the board of elections meeting where the board considered a challenge to his candidacy because of unpaid taxes. He satisfied the board that he’d worked out a payment plan on federal tax liens and had paid state tax liens as of June 5. Whether the state taxes were paid May 23, the day he qualified, as the law requires is still a mystery as far as I know.
Friends of sheriff candidate Robbie Silas sponsored a meet and greet at the Hillcreek Subdivision community center last week, along with a well-attended fundraiser at Julian Smith barbecue pit.
FREE FOOD AND ENOUGH HOT AIR FOR THE HINDENBURG: Peebles and friends are holding a meet and greet at Julian Smith Casino on Monday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Everyone is invited, and it’s free.
“Food will be catered by seven local restaurants,” he said. “We’re encouraging folks to come have a free meal on us, get to know me and hear my vision for the sheriff’s office and Augusta.
Also, from 6-8 p.m. Monday the CSRA Republican Women’s Club is holding a meet and greet at the Columbia County Government Complex, Building A Auditorium, where 32 candidates or their representatives are expected to attend.