No, I am not repeating myself. I am doing my eeny-weeny part in making sure that any prospective employer of GRU’s own “Dr. Frankenstein,” Ricardo Azziz, knows full well that what happened to him in Augusta was not the result of any witch hunt or misguided public protest. Dr. Azziz was run out of our fair city because he was, in my opinion, a lying con man, a charlatan and a coward to boot.
The way most internet search engines work these days, headlines get special attention in published works, so here’s to hoping this little diatribe ranks at the top of what shows up in a routine search.
I won’t bore the local audience with a rehash, but I do need to inform those of you who stumbled across this column when doing a background check on Dr. Azziz that you need to do everything in your power to keep him out of power in your own hometowns and institutions of higher learning.
There is an incredible amount of intelligence that has been gathered concerning the professional fitness and maturity, or lack thereof, of Dr. Azziz, and it has been documented in articles and reports by virtually every media outlet of note in Augusta, Georgia. Keep looking for those stories; you will find them in spades.
One of our former mayors once gave a stellar recommendation to the city of Washington, D.C., when they were looking to hire Augusta’s (then) embattled fire chief, simply to get him out of town. That was wrong. I cannot, and will not, contribute to any effort to see Azziz hired by another university just so the State of Georgia can get out of paying the man his undeserved severance package. We were stupid enough to hire him, which means we should have to bear the burden of paying him.
We know better when it comes to Azziz, and we should do everything in our power to warn others.
This week we learned the university system of North Dakota passed on hiring him, even though he tried to use all kinds of weaselly excuses for why his time here was so controversial. Don’t buy it. The man is a total d-bag, and he deserves to have “GRU” hung around his neck like the rotting albatross it truly was. It was a mess that he made, and when challenged by a well-meaning community, he doubled down with an attitude that was unprecedented in its arrogance and audacity.
When I heard that North Dakota was a possible destination, I was immediately reminded of the final assignment given to the pain-in-the-ass commander of the rag-tag Army unit in “Stripes.” It would have been fun to imagine Azziz frozen to a desk in the arctic like environs, but alas, the Dakota leadership was far smarter than Georgia’s Board of Regents was a few years back and, ultimately, far more fortunate.
“The biggest mistake of my tenure”
Former Richmond County Board of Education Trustee Kenny Echols says the “demolition by neglect” of the old Davidson Fine Arts building in downtown Augusta is likely the biggest mistake made during his time on the board. I would argue that allowing Dr. Charles Larke to serve as superintendent for as long as he did qualifies as a frontrunner in that contest, but since Larke was the “captain of the ship” during the Davidson debacle, the issues are tied together.
In perhaps the most scathing public statement ever issued by Historic Augusta, they condemned the series of bad decisions and utter neglect as some of the worst property management ever seen in this area.
Per Historic Augusta: “The Old Davidson School was named by Historic Augusta to its inaugural Endangered Properties List for 2007 and over the years efforts have been made to direct qualified buyers to the school board. But the organization received little encouragement and no serious cooperation to find a buyer. Over the past 18 years of vacancy, no maintenance was done to the building other than erecting a fence, and boarding up the windows after several years of abandonment. This demolition by neglect on the part of the Board of Education allowed the condition of the building to eventually decline to its present deplorable state of repair with the roof caving in, flooring rotted and beams falling through two stories.
Even so, the handsome property, well located between Augusta’s resurgent central business district and its huge downtown medical complex, was an excellent prospect for redevelopment with its solid masonry walls. Nationwide, historic schools have been reused for many purposes including apartments, condominiums, office space, medical facilities and even charter schools. Furthermore, if the building had been sold, qualified rehabilitation would have provided the buyer substantial historic tax credits and other benefits that could have cut rehab costs by as much as half.”
I say what the BOE did in this situation amounts to political malpractice, and the theft of tax dollars through malfeasance. I strongly urge citizens around the county to stand guard against similar “demolition by neglect” on the properties in their own neighborhoods. We cannot trust the board as a whole to do it, as we see through the demise of Davidson.