While the most hated man in the area this week is probably Columbia County Administrator Scott Johnson for creating a hostile work environment for the extremely popular EMA Director Pam Tucker and forcing her to resign from a position she has loved for almost two decades, The Insider will let columnist Austin Rhodes speak on that topic this week.
After all, he’s probably known Pam Tucker longer than the majority of journalists in the Augusta area.
But, just know, Scott Johnson, The Insider isn’t letting this go. Not by a long shot.
Bosses are allowed to be tough and demanding, but not get involved in a deliberate campaign to force a highly respected employee out of job.
Verbal attacks from a boss are abusive, disruptive and unproductive in the workplace.
In fact, it could spell a lawsuit for the county, but we’ll wait and see about that.
But, let’s just say, Pam Tucker isn’t the first employee who has suggested that Johnson’s behavior is hostile and abusive.
There’s been others; only Tucker was the first to have the strength and wisdom to say it publicly.
So, Scott Johnson, get ready.
You want to create a hostile work environment? You got it.
The local media can make your job extremely uncomfortable.
In fact, The Insider is looking forward to the day that you are issued a pink slip from the Columbia County Board of Commissioners.
So be warned.
We’ll be watching.
But since Austin Rhodes is fully covering the shocking resignation of Pam Tucker, The Insider will focus on another widely hated former resident of Augusta: Dr. Ricardo Azziz.
Last week, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Azziz, the former president of then-Georgia Regents University, was the highest paid University System of Georgia’s employee last year making a whopping $1.735 million in 2016.
Wait, what? You might be asking.
But Azziz’s last day at work was in June 2015, so how is he still the highest paid in University System worker in 2016?
This is what The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found out:
Charles Sutlive, a spokesman for University System, said Azziz has not been on the system’s payroll since last fall, when he began working for the State University of New York as chief officer of academic health and hospital affairs.
“The majority of Dr. Azziz’s compensation in fiscal year 2016 was from a deferred compensation account that the University System had been contributing to since Dr. Azziz first began working for our system,” Sutlive said.
He added, “After stepping down as president, Dr. Azziz continued to see patients and conduct research.”
So, Azziz received $1.735 million in 2016 from a “deferred compensation account” and for work involving “patients and conduct research?”
That’s an impressive salary for someone who resigned back in June 2015.
Especially for someone who headed the agonizing consolidation of Augusta State University and the Georgia Health Sciences University into the awful name of Georgia Regents University.
For many in this community, Azziz’s three years in Augusta was seen as wasted time, wasted effort and wasted money.
They remember all the pain, discord and absolute shock over Azziz’s announcement that Georgia Regents University was the chosen new name for the school.
They remember the “Save the A” signs scattered throughout neighborhoods and the anger in people’s voice when the name “Dr. Azziz” was merely muttered.
But, more importantly, they remember the division between the two schools.
They remember faculty and staff at the former Augusta State University feeling like red-headed stepchildren.
They remember the ASU faculty saying their opinions didn’t matter.
They remember the fear.
Fear from students that their GRU diploma wouldn’t mean as much as an ASU or GHSU diploma.
Fear from the alumni that their historic school would no longer exist.
Fear from the administration that enrollment would drastically drop.
And fear from the athletic departments that recruitment would suffer.
So, that’s some pretty sweet salary for Azziz more than a year after he turned this city upside down.
The amazing fact is that Azziz made more in the year that he was not employed with the University System than Georgia Tech’s president, the University of Georgia’s president,
a neurosurgery professor at Augusta University and even current Augusta University President Brooks Keel.
Poor Keel only made $765,558 last year, according to the AJC article.
The native Augustan, who has been credited with finally moving the university in the right direction, didn’t get even half the salary of Azziz last year.
What’s wrong with this picture?
Keel is not alone.
Hank Huckaby. the chancellor of the University System of Georgia, who was instrumental in Augusta University’s name change, only made $500,500 last year.
It’s pretty unbelievable.
After all, many Augustans knew that Azziz was going to receive a $1.1 million package paid by both the University System of Georgia and Georgia Regents Health System after resigning in 2015.
It was announced when Azziz was leaving that he was going to get a $670,000 “education leave” salary and a one-time payment of $470,000.
But no one thought it would carry over to 2016.
Needless to say, it’s safe to say that Azziz “played Augusta,” all right.