The entire file contains over 700 pages of documents. It is also embedded at the end of this article for online viewing without downloading. It is the result of an Open Records request conducted in 2012. It is not new or exclusive but it has been a bit hard to find so it was time it was made more easily accessible. This document is searchable by keyword though you may have to download the entire file to your computer and open it with with Preview on a Mac or Acrobat on Windows if you are one of those unfortunate souls still using Windows. 😎
With over 700 pages, the conversation and topics are all over the place. There are emails and discussions about the budget shortfall at Georgia Perimeter College and the ouster of Dr. Anthony Tricoli and others on the financial team. There are discussions about buying an airplane because I suppose they think this is Alaska and not Georgia where all parts of the state are accessible in a few hours drive by car. How do us ordinary peons ever manage to survive with just cars and not planes?
There is a childish email exchange between two high ranking USG officials where Steven Wrigley and John Brown have a childish back and forth about calling Milsaps a putz. The only reason I mentioned this exchange is the Board of Regents refused to hear an appeal by an employee that worked for the Medical College of Georgia for 16 years. He was fired shortly after he acted as a whistleblower against a member of the powerful Board of Regents named Don Leebern Jr. It turns out his whistleblower activity appears justified. Leebern was disciplined and fined $37,750 by the State Ethics Commission and unbelievably still serves on the Board of Regents.
Vice Chancellor of the Board of Regents Burns Newsome said Brandenburg was fired for allegedly telling a patient’s father that he had “the most stinkiest feet,” which Newsome called “a patently offensive comment.” But the patient’s father wrote in a sworn affidavit that he wasn’t offended by any comment Brandenburg made and didn’t report it to hospital officials. He wrote that hospital officials tried to convince him to sign a complaint against Brandenburg to justify his termination – an effort he referred to with an expletive. The father obviously understood the comment was made in jest and fun and was on very friendly terms with Brandenburg. He became enraged when the Board of regents henchman tried to use him as a pawn to get Brandenburg fired. Read more about Todd Brandenburg here.
So how is it copacetic for two highly paid USG employees to call another highly paid employee of the USG a putz behind his back, but okay to fire a 16 year USG medical employee for joking with a patient’s father? Having worked in the medical field I can personally vouch for the need to bring humor as an important tool in your arsenal to treat patients and make them comfortable and relaxed. Laughter is a miraculous weapon to fight illness since it can boost morale which is essential to recovery. When I was about to stick needles into peoples arteries I would often do my best to make them laugh before the ABG which could be painful. ABG’s aren’t fun.
Newsome certainly understood it was a joke but nevertheless used that as justification for firing Brandenburg and also for not allowing him a hearing or an appeal to get his job back. Newsome clearly needs surgery to remove a large corncob in his ass and I hope he has the good fortune to have a man like Todd Brandenburg take care of him after this recovery to bring to levity to his room. I believe the technical term for this procedure is a corncobectomy and I think many at the USG, BOR, politicians and many other state offices are long overdue for this procedure. 😀
In all sincerity I think Newsome understood this was a joke and was simply playing the role of henchman or simply didn’t feel Brandenburg had a good chance to prevail in a lawsuit. You don’t reject 97% of appeals for a hearing by treating employees or students as human beings. To reject 97% you need to treat them as case numbers based on percentages of winning or losing a lawsuit. Only 3% have a chance to prevail and those are the ones that get rehired or readmitted quietly . The Board of regents and the University System of Georgia are practically untouchable with their immunity from lawsuits which encourages them to act with impunity.
I really hope the politicians decide to try and reign in the Board of Regents and USG officials. They are out of control and it is time to shift the balance of power back to the peasant class (AKA voters and taxpayers) that pays all the tribute and allow us to have a voice that gives a damn about us and not their airplanes, seven course meals and galas, and six figure salaries.
When you create an atmosphere where a cabal of privileged pricks with immunity have all the power and are the judge, jury and executioner you inevitably will foster an ethos of impunity. In other words, you create an elite and incestuous group of rich and very powerful assholes that simply do not care about us lesser folk paying them tribute. Why should care when they are untouchable under law? They act with the confidence and knowledge that they have the protection of the Attorney General who is acting like a Norman sheriff to maintain the status quo. Until there is accountability among this noblesse oblige class of Georgia aristocrats nothing will improve and whistle blowers will continue to be victimized, silenced, and intimidated. The elites spend more time talking about private planes they should buy on the taxpayer dime than innocent people who were fired for trying to do the right thing and reporting crimes and abuse. Georgia is desperately in need of our own 21st century version of the Magna Carta. The peasants are restless and it is time our grievances were addressed.
We need far stronger whistleblower protection laws in Georgia!
The best way to ensure accountability and transparency is to stop allowing a Governor to appoint members of these powerful Boards. Make these positions elected offices from all districts in the states using state senate district maps. Impose term limits. Don’t allow too many from one school, cabal, or family sit on more than one board or agency. Avoid cronyism and nepotism as many on various boards have relatives on other boards or offices of power.
People in Georgia are completely unaware there is a ruling class in Georgia that control billions of our tax dollars and indeed our lives in so many ways. This is really no different that serfs and fiefdoms in the middle ages. The knights and lords are now just wearing suits and collecting their tribute as taxes. But we are just as powerless as the peasants of old. At least the peasants knew they had it bad while people in Georgia are blissfully unaware they are being royally screwed.
For example recently retired UGA President Adams will receive a couple of more million after he stepped down and retired.
A few other good articles about the salaries of some elite Georgia Educrats.
“Georgia Tech President Bud Peterson will receive $773,646 in total compensation this fiscal year after getting a recent salary increase of $16,980. Georgia Regents University President Ricardo Aziz will be paid $675,379 after receiving a $25,379 bump in pay. Georgia State President Mark Becker will be paid $570,604, thanks to a $20,604 salary increase. University of Georgia President Jere Morehead will be paid $567,380, which includes a $17,380 pay hike. University System Chancellor Hank Huckaby, who got a $21,250 pay raise this year, will receive a total compensation of $518,250.”
“Virginia Carson of South Georgia State College, the lowest-paid fulltime president in the University System, will make $193,974 this year for running a school with an enrollment of about 2,000 students. She will be paid 39 percent more than the governor, who runs a state government serving 10 million residents.”
Huckaby was reportedly chosen to mend broken fences with legislators who wanted to tighten the budget. Here’s a crazy thought, how about not accept a $20,000 pay rise and instead send that back to the budget for better uses. Surely you could make do with a paltry $498,000.
It is also worrisome that interim GPC president Rob Watts does not know the difference between gibe and jibe. This is not a typo. It shows a complete misunderstanding of two homophones which speaks to erudition not careless typing. But more importantly I wonder how much this elegant dinner complete with commemorative coins at the mansion cost the Georgia taxpayers. Since nearly all of the guests are already the highest paid public employees in the state of Georgia you would think it would be a nice gesture if they did these events on their own dime. No doubt you can find plenty of errors on this blog, but if I were paid $300,000 a year to write articles instead of doing it in my spare time for free you can be damned sure you wouldn’t find a single error.
With over 700 pages of documents here there is a plethora of useful, interesting, trivial, along with a lot of banality. I think the most important lesson to be learned from this document is that Sunshine laws are essential. They are the only safety check we have in place to make sure politicians, bureaucrats, and wealthy educrats are acting responsibly and within the confines of the duties of their office and the law.
I also find it humorous that Michael Koretzky a member of the Society of Prefessional Journalists lampooned Sam Olens over his blatant hypocrisy and bullying tactics. On the One hand Sam Olens has pranced about like the Golden Boy of Georgia Sunshine laws and has sent his assistant Stefan Ritter all over the state to teach people their rights under the law. But then when people actually start using Sunshine laws to get documents Olens had a hissy fit.
Olens also fought to keep another whistleblower suit sealed. I wrote about his attempts to keep a deposition of a Board of Regent sealed. Dr. Dezso Benedek a UGA professor, also has a lawsuit against Olens where he accused the state’s attorney general of mob-like criminal activities. Dezso Benedek alleged the University System of Georgia, the Attorney General of Georgia, the Board of Regents, former UGA president Michael Adams and others conspired to fabricate and spread false allegations and evidence against Benedek ‘with the intent to harm him –in a pattern of illegal activity under the RICO statute. So it should surprise no one that Olens would treat a student with even less regard if that is the way he treats a professor.
Shortly after that scathing article by Koetzky was written, Olens backed down. From the article Schick hits the fan in May of 2014. “I described how Olens was demanding Schick erase four pages of very public records from his personal blog. Last week, Olens filed a motion with a judge to force the 28-year-old to comply. Yesterday, Olens withdrew that motion.”
“Whenever there’s a blogger whose rights are being threatened, SPJ is the first to ride to the rescue,” says Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center. “There’s no question this needless intimidation tactic would have dragged on for many more weeks without SPJ’s timely intervention. The attorney general’s office thought they could push around one little student blogger, but they didn’t realize they were taking on an entire profession.”
The Fourth estate may be on the ropes and barely breathing, but it is nice to see there is a maquis movement to keep it alive if barely. Bloggers and independent journalists it is up to us now. The media in Georgia will not dare take on the USG thanks to the power they have with advertising. If this article proves anything I hope the lesson to learned is we need a lot more open record requests done at the state and local level. The journalist who usually do this sort of thing are slacking off so bloggers, watchdog groups, and concerned citizens have to pick up the slack.
“I think when money starts to corrupt journalism, it undermines the journalism, and it undermines the credibility of the product, and you end up not succeeding. “Walter Isaacson
“It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising their sovereignty.” James Monroe