Azziz's transit authority

GRU's reigning monarch grabs taxpayer-funded resources for personal enrichment

Can you imagine a mayor commandeering a city bus, as well as city police officers, to help pull off an extended relative’s wedding at a taxpayer-owned home?

Of course not. That would be a raw abuse of power, an imperious and legally questionable, ethically dubious act. No leader worth his salt would even contemplate such an autocratic, high-handed appropriation of the public’s resources for personal benefit.

But Ricardo Azziz actually did such a thing.

The president of Georgia Regents University last weekend seized the university’s shuttle, a driver and four university police officers to help him put on his niece’s wedding. The shuttle, on duty for some 11 hours, ferried wedding guests between the Partridge Inn and Azziz’s state-owned home.

These are the actions of a man who appears to think the university is there to serve him, that all its employees and resources are at his beck and call.

It is yet another example of this man’s continued bad judgment.

If what he did is legal, it ought not be. Government officials should never be allowed carte-blanche use of taxpayer-supplied resources for purely personal uses. This wedding in no way advanced the university or the president’s role in it.

Quite the opposite, in fact; Azziz has yet again diminished his office with his pretentious wielding of nearly unchecked power for his own selfish gain – not to mention his cheapskate attempt to avoid the cost of a
private limo.

We checked. By seizing state assets instead, Azziz saved all of $1,200 off the cost of a limo. This, from a man making in the neighborhood of $600,000 a year and living rent-free.

But while he’s offered to reimburse the university its alleged cost of $416, money isn’t the issue. The issue is the kind of self-exalted thinking that leads this man to presume the university is his kingdom, and himself the monarch.

Azziz wouldn’t deign to answer questions this week, and a television reporter who showed up to one GRU office was put in phone contact with an Azziz spokeswoman who told the reporter to leave.

The reporter asked GRU students what they thought of Azziz’s actions. They were rightly outraged, with one noting that students recently had to use their own cars to get to a school-sponsored trip to the Augusta Youth Development campus.

The four university officers were initially described by a spokeswoman Monday as having “volunteered” to work the wedding – which would raise a number of questions about the propriety of such an arrangement.

Wednesday, after growing questions about the supposed volunteer officers, the story oddly changed: The officers are now said to have been paid in cash by the happy couple.

Although, since one of the four officers is an hourly employee, the university must now pay him time and a half.

Given Azziz’s ill treatment of the Augusta community – particularly his ramming the Georgia Regents name down our throats, despite near-unanimous revulsion at it and a national survey prefering the name “Augusta” – you have to believe this is but the tip of the iceberg.

Heaven knows what other resources have been expended, borrowed or conscripted by royal decree, in order to please the king.

It’s a good bet there are other tales of outrage to be had, but he’s got the workforce at the university so frightened into silence that there’s a lid on them.

Sooner or later, the truth will out. The serfs will have had quite enough.

When that time comes, we’ll be happy to pony up the cost of a limo to take him to the airport.

Azziz seeks independent review of use of GRU resources at family wedding

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