The blog.

26
May

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for May 27, 2016

Zoe

Zoe is a young female Beagle & Hound mix puppy who is available for adoption from Refuge Rescue, Inc. in Woodstock, GA.

Koa

Koa is a young male German Shepherd Dog & Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Refuge Rescue, Inc. in Woodstock, GA.

Makana

Makana is a young female German Shepherd Dog & Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Refuge Rescue, Inc. in Woodstock, GA.

26
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 26, 2017

Lt. Colonel George Washington fought French and Indian scouts on May 28, 1754, beginning the Seven Years War.

On May 27, 1813, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to John Adams to let Adams know of the death of a mutual friend.

On May 28, 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act, requiring all Native Americans to relocate west of the Mississippi River.

Georgia Militia under General John Floyd began rounding up Cherokee Indians on May 26, 1838.

General Robert E. Lee wrote a letter dated May 26, 1861 to Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown asking the state to send any weapons available for Georgia volunteers who arrived in Virginia unarmed.

On May 27, 1863, Chief Justice Roger Taney, sitting as a federal district court judge, issued a decision in Ex parte Merryman, which challenged President Abraham Lincoln’s suspension of the right of habeas corpus. Lincoln ignored the ruling.

Today is the 153d Anniversary of the Battle of Pickett’s Mill in Paulding County, Georgia, where Sherman’s forces attacked Johnston’s Confederates on May 27, 1864. Among the combatants on the Union side was Ambrose Bierce, who would later write The Crime at Pickett’s Mill.

On May 27, 1864, the Federal Army, having been stopped in its advance on Atlanta two days earlier by the Battle of New Hope Church, attempted to outflank the Confederate position. Some 14,000 Federal troops were selected for the task, and General Howard was given command. After a five-hour march, Howard’s force reached the vicinity of Pickett’s Mill and prepared to attack. Waiting were 10,000 Confederate troops under the command of General Cleburne.

The Federal assault began at 5 p.m. and continued into the night. Daybreak found the Confederates still in possession of the field. The Federals had lost 1,600 men compared to the Confederate loss of 500. The Confederate victory resulted in a one-week delay of the Federal advance on Atlanta.

Here are some photos of the battlefield and links to additional material.

The Battle of Dallas, Georgia began on May 28, 1864. Click here to watch Week 7 of the Georgia Public Broadcasting/Atlanta History Center series on the Civil War in Georgia.

President Calvin Coolidge signed the “Comprehensive Immigration Act” on May 26, 1924.

Many Americans saw the enormous influx of largely unskilled, uneducated immigrants during the early 1900s as causing unfair competition for jobs and land. Under the new law, immigration remained open to those with a college education and/or special skills, but entry was denied to Mexicans, and disproportionately to Eastern and Southern Europeans and Japanese. At the same time, the legislation allowed for more immigration from Northern European nations such as Britain, Ireland and Scandinavian countries. A quota was set that limited immigration to two percent of any given nation’s residents already in the U.S. as of 1890, a provision designed to maintain America’s largely Northern European racial composition. In 1927, the “two percent rule” was eliminated and a cap of 150,000 total immigrants annually was established.

The law particularly angered Japan, which in 1907 had forged with U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt a “Gentlemen’s Agreement,” which included more liberal immigration quotas for Japan. By 1924, strong U.S. agricultural and labor interests–particularly from California, which had already passed its own exclusionary laws against Japanese immigrants–favored the more restrictive legislation signed by Coolidge. The Japanese government viewed the American law as an insult, and protested by declaring May 26 a national day of humiliation in Japan.

Fort Frederica National Monument was established on St Simons Island, Georgia on May 26, 1936.

On May 27, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said the United States was in an unlimited national emergency and laid out conditions under which Germany’s expansionism would constitute an attack on the United States. There are those who believe that Roosevelt suspended the right of habeas corpus with Executive Order 9066, which led to the internment of Japanese-Americans in concentration camps.

Happy Birthday to Gladys Knight, born in Atlanta on May 28, 1944.

May 26, 1949 was named Clay Day in Marietta, Georgia in honor of General Lucius Clay, who spoke at the courthouse square.

On May 27, 1976, former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter blasted the “Stop Carter” movement in a speech in Cincinnati.

Actor Christopher Reeves was thrown from his horse in an equestrian competition in Culpepper, Virginia on May 27, 1995, becoming quadraplegic.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal will attend the Georgia Republican Party State Convention next weekend.

Fulton County is moving twelve polling locations ahead of the June 20 Special Runoff Election in the Sixth Congressional District.

Fulton County is moving 12 of its polling places to different locations a little more than three weeks out from the highly watched Sixth Congressional District runoff election because officials said they had no choice.

Most of the polls are located in Fulton County School District schools, and shortly after the April 18 primary election, school officials informed elections director Richard Barron that they needed to renovate those buildings, so they could not be polling locations for the June 20runoff between Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff.

Most changes are within a mile or two of the original locations, but some are more than three miles away.

Georgia has taken the number one spot globally for film production.

More top 100 feature films released at the domestic box office in 2016 were made in Georgia than any other place, according to a new industry study by FilmL.A. – Los Angeles’ film office.

The rapid growth of the film and television industry in Georgia and the state’s steadfast commitment to its support is remarkable,” the group said in its report. “With 17 projects in 2016, the first-ranked Peach State hosted nearly three times as many feature films as fifth-place New York and Louisiana.”

The steadfast commitment came in large part to Georgia’s generous use of tax credits, which are worth hundreds of millions of dollars as the state has tried to lure both movie and TV productions here.

Gov. Nathan Deal, who just helped host a “Georgia Night in L.A.” reception in Los Angeles, has been a consistent advocate of the approach while pushing executives and studios to put down roots that would keep them here. He also backed creation of ancillary efforts such as the Georgia Film Academy, which aims to provide training for Georgians to get industry-supported jobs.

Walton County hosted the greatest political event in the state this week.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, state Sen. Hunter Hill and Secretary of State Brian Kemp were among the Republicans in attendance for the annual Walton County Republican Party Barbecue on Tuesday at Nunnally Farms.

Cagle, Hill and Kemp are vying to succeed term-limited Gov. Nathan Deal in 2018.

“We need to be doing more for the conservative values of this state,” Hill, of Atlanta, said. He promised to oppose any effort to create “sanctuary cities” for immigrants in the state.

Cagle, the third-term lieutenant governor from Gainesville, said all of the candidates agreed on many of the basic values.

“I don’t have to be governor,” he said. “I want to be governor.” He pledged a $100 million tax cut in his first 100 days in office.

Kemp, a regular visitor to Walton GOP events, said he’s traveled Georgia in his current office, fighting efforts to strike down voter ID laws.

“I feel like no one has a better idea about what’s going on around the state than I do,” he said.

Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Kathy Schrader and state Senator Renee Unterman (R-Buford) hosted an event last night discussing the epidemic of mental health issues and opioid addiction.

Schrader called the event a “reality check” for Gwinnett County to make people aware of the seriousness of mental health and substance abuse issues in the county.

“For a couple of years, I have been speaking in front of community groups about the fact that I don’t have many community resources to support my participants in drug court,” she said. “Then I realized that really the community needs resources to support everyone in the community because there is not a family today that has not been impacted by mental health or substance abuse issues.”

Unterman said she was inspired to get involved in the issue of addressing mental health and substance abuse issues in Gwinnett County partially because she is a former nurse, but also because of parents who have come to see her at the state Capitol.

“I look in their eyes and I know the feeling so intimately because I lost my child, and any parent, or any loved one, who has lost a loved one, you will do anything within your power because you know the grief and you know the feeling you had,” Unterman said. “You never get over it.”

Gainesville’s unemployment reached the lowest level since November 2007.

Metro Gainesville’s unemployment rate in April fell to 3.9 percent, the lowest it’s been since November 2007 for Hall County, when the rate was 3.5 percent.

“A diverse economy is growing and needing some workers,” [Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce CEO Kit] Dunlap said. The rate remains the lowest in Georgia, according to state Department of Labor figures released Thursday, and was down from 4 percent in March.

Metro Dalton, which includes Whitfield and Murray Counties, hit 5.2% unemployment, which is also down for the area.

The unemployment rate in April for Metro Dalton — Whitfield and Murray counties — was 5.2 percent, down from 5.8 percent in March, according to the Georgia Department of Labor. The rate in April a year ago was 5.5 percent.

The rate dropped as “employers created more jobs and reduced the number of new layoffs,” the department said in a press release.

Metro Gainesville had the lowest area jobless rate at 3.9 percent, while the Heart of Georgia and River Valley regions had the highest at 5.9 percent.

The state’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for April was 5 percent, a decrease from 5.1 percent in March. The rate was 5.4 percent in April of 2016.

Lockheed Martin is testing its first commercial C-130 aircraft.

The first Lockheed Martin LM-100J commercial freighter aircraft completed its initial flight Thursday.

“This first flight is a source of pride for Lockheed Martin and serves as a proof-point to the ongoing versatility of the Super Hercules aircraft,” said George Shultz, vice president and general manager, Air Mobility & Maritime Missions, and Marietta site general manager. “ … the LM 100J is exceeding all expectations in terms of performance and capabilities.”

This first flight route took the plane over north Georgia and Alabama.

The number of able-bodied welfare recipients in Georgia has been reduced, according to new state figures.

State figures released this week revealed that 11,779 people considered able-bodied without children were required to find work by April 1 to continue receiving food stamps, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Sixty-two percent were dropped after the deadline, whittling the number of recipients to 4,528.

State officials began enforcing the work mandate in 2016, and plan to expand work requirements to all 159 counties by 2019.

About 1.6 million Georgia residents use food stamps, which are funded with federal dollars managed by the state Department of Family and Children Services. The number of food stamp recipients deemed able-bodied and without children in Georgia has dropped from 111,000 to 89,500 in a year, a drop that state officials believe is attributed to a statewide review of the population.

The Hall County Board of Education plans to adopt a property tax millage rate higher than the rollback rate, but lower than the current rate.

The Muscogee County Board of Education voted against hiring Camelot Education to run special programs, and also voted against upgrading the AV systems in the Board Room.

25
May

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for May 25, 2017

Summer

Summer is a female Labrador Retriever mix, listed as an adult, but looking like a puppy, who is available for adoption from Paulding County Animal Control in Dallas, GA.

Harmon

Harmon is a 29-pound, adult male Hound mix (low-rider) who is available for adoption from Paulding County Animal Control in Dallas, GA.

DinoPaulding

Dino is a 4-month old, 20-pound male Hound mix puppy who is available for adoption from Paulding County Animal Control in Dallas, GA.

25
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 25, 2017

The Constitutional Convention of 1787 convened at Independence Hall in Philadelphia on May 25, 1787.

With George Washington presiding, the Constitutional Convention formally convenes on this day in 1787. The convention faced a daunting task: the peaceful overthrow of the new American government as it had been defined by the Article of Confederation.

The process began with the proposal of James Madison’s Virginia Plan. Madison had dedicated the winter of 1787 to the study of confederacies throughout history and arrived in Philadelphia with a wealth of knowledge and an idea for a new American government. It featured a bicameral legislature, with representation in both houses apportioned to states based upon population; this was seen immediately as giving more power to large states, like Virginia. The two houses would in turn elect the executive and the judiciary and would possess veto power over the state legislatures.

William Patterson soon countered with a plan more attractive to the new nation’s smaller states. It too bore the imprint of America’s British experience. Under the New Jersey Plan, as it became known, each state would have a single vote in Congress as it had been under the Articles of Confederation, to even out power between large and small states.

Alexander Hamilton then put forward to the delegates a third plan, a perfect copy of the British Constitution including an upper house and legislature that would serve on good behavior.

Confronted by three counter-revolutionary options, the representatives of Connecticut finally came up with a workable compromise: a government with an upper house made up of equal numbers of delegates from each state and a lower house with proportional representation based upon population. This idea formed the basis of the new U.S. Constitution, which became the law of the land in 1789.

The Battle of New Hope Church was fought near Dallas, Georgia May 25-26, 1864 between Confederates under General Joseph E. Johnston and Federal troops under General William T. Sherman.

On May 25, 1907, an equine statue of John B. Gordon was unveiled on the grounds of the Georgia State Capitol.

The United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia held on May 25, 1962 that the Georgia General Assembly was malapportioned and ordered the reapportionment of the State House and Senate.

Star Wars opened on May 25, 1977.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

My Ride to Vote, a SuperPAC, will sponsor free Uber rides to the polls in the Sixth Congressional District for the Special Runoff Election.

“Our mission is to make sure every citizen has an equal ability and right to participate in the political process,” said Ben Leiner, My Ride to Vote’s executive director.

Here’s how it works: 6th District voters can text “VOTEGA” to 38470 to get a promo code for a free ride to and from the polls. They then access the ride from the Uber app, which they must download if they don’t already have it.

The money to pay for the rides is coming from My Ride to Vote, which is raising money toward the project using the crowdsourcing site Crowdpac. Uber itself is not providing free rides or making any sort of political endorsement.

My Ride to Vote is also working with several voter advocacy groups to get the word out to voters about the service, including Voto Latino, the New Georgia Project and the left-leaning Georgia Engaged, which is a coalition of progressive organizations in the state.

“We offer rides to any voter who needs one, regardless of their political views,” Leiner said. “We’ve partnered with progressive organizations in the district simply because they are in contact with the voters who most need rides.”

Of course this will benefit Democrat Jon Ossoff, because most free riders are Democrats or progressives.

University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley has issued implementation guidelines for campus carry.

“I understand that many of you have strong feelings about this bill,” Wrigley wrote in the statement. “Yet, whether you opposed or supported the legislation, it will soon be state law, and I respectfully ask everyone to exercise patience, understanding and respect as we implement it. We all share the same goal of ensuring a safe campus environment. We should work together to implement the law as written and thoughtfully address any complications that may arise.”

Wrigley noted six points for how House Bill 280 should be implemented.

Wrigley said that while current law already allows license-holders to keep weapons secured in motor vehicles, beginning on July 1, House Bill 280 will allow anyone who is properly licensed in Georgia to carry a concealed handgun on property owned or leased by public colleges and universities, with some exceptions.

“It will not allow any other type of gun to be carried around campus; nor will it allow handguns to be carried openly,” said Wrigley, who noted that the pending law does not apply to institution-sponsored events or excursions away from campus on property not owned or leased by a University System institution.

Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) wants poultry processing speeds boosted to increase competitiveness with foreign producers.

Poultry producers in South America, Asia, Canada and Europe “are safely operating at line speeds that outpace the maximum speeds allowed in American facilities,” states a press release from the congressman’s office.

And those practices represent “a significant disadvantage to Northeast Georgia’s poultry industry and America’s domestic production.

Mike Giles, president of Gainesville-based Georgia Poultry Federation, said he supports the line change, pointing to the success of the pilot program.

“We have the data,” he said. “We know it can be done … in a way that produces safe food and protects worker safety.”

He also agreed with Collins that “restricting our plants to lower line speeds reduces our competitiveness with other countries.”

The Augusta Chronicle spoke to locals about proposed federal healthcare legislation.

U.S. Rep. Rick Allen, R-Ga., said the [Congressional Budget Office] score was proof his vote in support of it showed he was doing what his constituents wanted him to do.

“Some Georgians in the 12th District have only one choice when it comes to insurance providers – and often not the choice they want,” Allen said. “Enough is enough. I promised my constituents that I would vote to repeal and replace Obamacare and nearly a month ago, my colleagues and I passed the American Health Care Act. Today, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has confirmed that this legislation will lower premiums and lower the deficit. I am proud to have supported the American Health Care Act and urge my colleagues in the Senate to act swiftly to end this Obamacare train wreck.”

Cindy Zeldin of Georgians for a Healthy Future, who estimated the previous version of the bill would cut coverage for more than a half-million people in the state, said the score showed this version was not an improvement.

“This legislation would crush consumers by destabilizing insurance markets, eliminating critical protections, and forcing too many Georgians into the ranks of the uninsured and underinsured,” she said. “Congress should go back to the drawing board and take time to craft responsible health care legislation that helps, not harms, consumers.”

President Trump‘s proposed federal budget could add $50 million to funding for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project.

Boosters had hoped for about $100 million in the fiscal 2018 budget to dredge the Savannah River, but the White House’s spending plan of $50 million, while a high-water mark for the federal government, falls well short.

And the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dashed hopes by Georgia leaders late Wednesday when it announced no discretionary construction funds from fiscal 2017 would be added to this year’s appropriation. That decision could put the project at risk of further delays

“In a budget crafted with many spending reductions, it is extremely reassuring to see that this administration realizes how important this project is not only to our area, but to the entire nation,” said U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler, whose 1st Congressional District includes the Savannah port.

“Now, I will work diligently with my colleagues to continue this momentum and fight for (the project) as budget discussions continue,” he added.

On Wednesday, Deal’s office said in a statement that it was “grateful” for the $50 million from Trump’s budget, calling it a “sign of good faith from the federal government.”

“Unfortunately, the Army Corps of Engineers chose not to prioritize this project in its discretionary funds,” the statement said. “It is our hope that the Corps will decide to devote future funding to (the Savannah port project) so that it will continue on its current timeline.

“While the governor is certainly thankful for President Trump’s and the Congress’ contributions to this effort, we look forward to the federal government following Georgia’s lead by fully funding its portion of this vital project,” Deal’s office said.

Chatham County Commission is considering a contribution to beach renourishment on Tybee Island.

Southern Company CEO Tom Fanning held a Q&A with shareholders and talk turned to Plant Vogtle.

“This spring Westinghouse…declared bankruptcy,” Fanning told shareholders. “We were well-prepared when that unfortunate event happened. We have been working on an agreement with Toshiba for the $3.7 billion.”

Fanning expects the project development to transition to Southern and a couple of partner contractors.

“We are 65 percent complete on site,” Fanning said, adding that the company is studying the efficiency, the schedule and the costs. “We believe we will make that evaluation probably in August. We’ll know the cost to complete somewhere in that time frame. The board will make a conclusion (about whether to continue or stop the work on Plant Vogtle).”

During the annual meeting, Fanning outlined what the company has done to move away from coal, increase its renewable energy offerings and invest in natural gas.

“Before I got here, 70 percent of our energy came from coal,” Fanning said. “Now it is below 30 percent.”

At the time, Southern was “zero on renewables,” Fanning added, “and now it’s just less than 10 percent of renewables. Renewables are growing.”

But the problem remains with “what do you do when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine?” Fanning asked. The company is trying to bridge the intermittency of renewables with natural gas, fuel cells and ways to store renewable energy.

Elections 2018

State Rep. Stacey Evans (D-Cobb) has announced she is running as a Democrat for Governor in 2018.

The Smyrna attorney’s campaign sets up what will likely be a divisive Democratic primary for the state’s top job in 2018. House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams has also filed paperwork to run for governor and is expected to soon make a formal announcement.

Evans said in an interview she is putting “hope” – the scholarship and the concept – at the heart of her bid to replace a term-limited Nathan Deal. She has been one of the most forceful critics of the 2011 law he signed that slashed funding to the popular program.

“It gutted the program that was responsible for everything that’s good in my life,” Evans said. “The Stacey Evans born today doesn’t have the same opportunity that the Stacey born in 1978 had.”

“The party will be fine. Choices are a good thing,” she said. “My intention is to be positive and spread my message – a message that all Georgians want to hear. I’m not running against Stacey Abrams. I’m running for Georgia.”

“My story starts with the HOPE scholarship. It was the center of my success,” she said. “But it’s also about a much broader theme. It’s about having hope in your government. And it’s about having hope in yourself.”

Former Congressman Lynn Westmoreland (R-Senoia) said yesterday he will not run for Governor in 2018.

“After much prayer and consideration, Joan and I have decided that I will not be a candidate for Governor in 2018. While I am humbled by the kind words and encouragement that we have received from so many over the last few months, I think the best contribution that I can make to our state is outside of elected office. I’ve always thought of public service as a noble cause and it was truly an honor of a lifetime to represent so many hard working Georgians for so many years in both in the legislature and then later in congress. I look forward to doing all I can to support the Republican nominee for Governor and the entire Republican ticket in 2018.”

Ken Hodges, a former Dougherty County District Attorney and 2010 Democratic candidate for Attorney General, launched his campaign for the 2018 election to the Georgia Court of Appeals.

24
May

Lynn Westmoreland will not run for Governor in 2018

A statement from former Congressman Lynn Westmoreland:

“After much prayer and consideration, Joan and I have decided that I will not be a candidate for Governor in 2018. While I am humbled by the kind words and encouragement that we have received from so many over the last few months, I think the best contribution that I can make to our state is outside of elected office. I’ve always thought of public service as a noble cause and it was truly an honor of a lifetime to represent so many hard working Georgians for so many years in both in the legislature and then later in congress. I look forward to doing all I can to support the Republican nominee for Governor and the entire Republican ticket in 2018.”

 

24
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 24, 2017

John Hancock was elected President of the Second Continental Congress on May 24, 1775.

Then-Lt. Governor Marvin Griffin announced his candidacy for Governor on May 24, 1954.

John Smoltz tied the record for most strikeouts by a Braves pitcher, throwing 15 Ks against Montreal Expos on May 24, 1992.

Happy Birthday to Bob Dylan, who was born on this day in 1941.

One year ago today, the 2016 General Primary and Nonpartisan General Election was held in Georgia.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Nick Ayers is profiled in Politico as a Presidential advisor who might become a candidate for Governor of Georgia.

Ayers has been a mainstay in Republican politics for a decade, working as a former top hand at the Republican Governors Association and as a campaign consultant.

Ayers joined up with the Trump campaign after Trump won the primary. There, he served as then-vice presidential nominee Mike Pence’s senior adviser and on the White House transition team.

Now, Ayers advises America First Policies, the Trump-affiliated nonprofit that promotes his agenda outside of the White House.

But there are major warning signs coming from suburban Atlanta, where anti-Trump backlash has prompted a serious tightening in the upcoming House special election runoff there. That could mean that moderate Georgia Republicans will be willing to turn against the president, especially if a more moderate Republican makes a strong showing in the run-up to the primary.

More money and more staffers are heading to the Sixth Congressional District Special Runoff Election between Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC favored by House Speaker Paul Ryan, said Wednesday it will hire another 45 door-knockers to reach an additional 100,000 households. The group also stuck to its latest theme – linking Ossoff to San Francisco – with a new radio spot.

The group has doled out $6.6 million and already had a team of 90 field operatives on the ground in the district, which spans from east Cobb to north DeKalb. It also plans to keep its field office in the district open after the June 20 runoff – regardless of who wins – to prepare for the 2018 vote.

House Democrats upped their ante as well. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said it will pour in another $2 million to back Ossoff, bringing the total investment to nearly $5 million.

Much of the money will be spent on TV, though about $150,000 will fund radio on stations geared to African-American listeners.

Handel and Ossoff will debate live on WSB-TV on June 6th at 8 PM.

It is the first debate announced between the two candidates in the hotly-contested June 20 runoff to represent Georgia’s 6th District, which spans from east Cobb to north DeKalb.

It’s unclear how many additional debates will be held, but Handel’s campaign has said it would agree to “several” others – though it has not confirmed which ones.

The Georgia State House Rural Development Committee discussed broadband service in their first meeting this week in Tifton.

“Tell me why I shouldn’t look at asking for y’all to come up with something that guarantees us 100 percent of that tax exemption you’re getting will be used in rural Georgia,” Rep. Ed Rynders, R-Albany, said to internet service providers on Tuesday.

Rynders was referring to a plan to give up state revenues from a sales tax on equipment used to build out broadband networks in underserved communities. Several rural lawmakers have questioned whether waiving the tax would actually lead to a boost in coverage in the areas that need it most.

The tax break is among the changes that service providers say would help spur expanded broadband services in areas where companies have been reluctant to invest limited resources because of a smaller customer base.

“I think it’s ironic that here on the rural development council we’re having a conversation about rural broadband access that’s livestreamed and most of rural Georgia won’t get to watch it because of limited access,” said Rep. Dominic LaRiccia, R-Douglas.

“This is a two-year task, so don’t think that we’re going to solve this in a day, in a month or in a year,” said Rep. Jay Powell, R-Camilla, who is co-chairing the council.

Rob Hosack has been appointed as the new County Manager for Cobb County.

Rob Hosack officially became Cobb’s county manager Tuesday night after commissioners’ voted 5-0 to approve his contract.

Hosack had been serving as interim county manager since May 1 as his salary and employment terms had not been negotiated last month when commissioners tapped him to succeed longtime County Manager David Hankerson, who retired April 30.

“It’s not often you get a chance to come back and work with such a fantastic group of folks. I feel really blessed just to get this opportunity,” Hosack told the MDJ before Tuesday’s meeting, alluding to his nearly three decades of experience with the county.

Under the terms of the approved contract, Hosack will be paid $210,000 per year, retroactive to his May 1 start date, with the contract running until Dec. 31, 2019.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr argues to the Georgia Supreme Court that Northside Hospital should be required to comply with the Open Records Act.

Chris Carr, in office since late last year, said in a Monday court filing that the Georgia Open Records Act is broader in its applications than what Northside Hospital has argued.

Attorneys for the plaintiff have argued that Northside is subject to the Open Records Act because it was created by a public hospital authority, which is a government entity, and that it operates solely on the authority’s behalf.

“The Office of the Attorney General has long served as a champion of open government,’’ Carr wrote in his brief. “The Attorney General — as a champion of open government, and as the state’s chief legal officer — urges the Court to honor the plain text of the Georgia Open Records Act, which embodies the state’s “strong public policy . . .  in favor of open government.”

Northside has said it is not bound by the open records law. The hospital says that because it’s a private nonprofit corporation, not a public entity, the records law does not apply to it. An attorney for Northside, Randy Evans, told the state’s highest court last month that the system is a regional player, owning other hospitals in areas that are not governed by the hospital authority in Fulton County.

The Georgia Supreme Court asked for Carr’s opinion on the case after oral arguments were heard. A request by the court for an attorney general or an agency to weigh in on a case doesn’t happen a lot, but it’s not unheard of, said Jane Hansen, a spokeswoman for the court.

“And when it does happen, it usually involves a legal question posed to the agency responsible for enforcing the area of law in question,’’ Hansen said Tuesday.

“Project Meatball” is the moniker given to a project in which a private company is seeking for the Development Authority of Cobb County to assist in refinancing an airplane through issuance of a $50 million bond.

“We can’t release (the company’s name) right now,” Geter said. “They requested that we not release the information. … That’s why we’re calling it ‘Project Meatloaf.’”

The company’s name will be made public at the Development Authority’s next meeting, Geter said, when the board will vote on the final bond resolution. Also at that meeting, the results of a fiscal impact study of the proposal to be conducted by Georgia Tech will be presented.

The entertainment company wants to use most of the funds to refinance the jet, but also plans to spend some of the money to upgrade a hangar at Cobb County International Airport-McCollum Field, where the jet and two others could be housed, according to Andrew Egan, an attorney at the firm Kutak Rock who represented the company at Tuesday’s meeting.

The company is also seeking a tax abatement on the plane, meaning it would be added to the tax rolls gradually over 10 years, Geter said. In the first year, the company would only pay 10 percent of the local taxes owed on the plane; in year two, it would pay 20 percent and so on.

State School Superintendent Richard Woods told Gainesville Rotary Club members that students and teachers should prioritize being “life ready.”

“You hear a lot about being college and career ready, but, for myself, it is about being life ready,” Woods told Gainesville Rotary Club members this week. “I think that’s more inclusive for what we want for our children. For our young people who step into a new phase of life (after high school), we want them to be prepared to take on that next challenge.”

Woods pointed to the state’s Move On When Ready program that allows high school students in grades 9-12 to start taking college classes through technical colleges and schools in the University System of Georgia tuition free.

“That is a growing gem for our state,” he said. “Not only are students graduating with a high school diploma, but now I am meeting students who are graduating with an associate degree with two years of college that’s paid for. I can’t think of a better bargain when we talk about our kids getting ready for life.”

“I think all of our students should be exposed to band, music, dance, drama and visual arts,” he said. “Those are aspects of life which I think reflect a very healthy society. They add critical thinking pieces and open up higher-order thinking in the brains of students.”

Flowery Branch property owners could see higher property tax bills even with the millage rate unchanged.

“The increase is strictly due to the value of … property rising,” City Manager Bill Andrew said.

Because of higher property values, to pull in the same amount of revenue, the city would need to reduce the tax rate of 3.264 mills to 3.012 mills.

The city is proposing to keep the rate at 3.264 mills, with 1 mill equal to $1 for each $1,000 in assessed property value.

The proposed tax increase for a home with a fair market value of $175,000 is $17.64, city officials said.

SACS, the regional school accrediting agency, will begin an investigation of the Savannah-Chatham County public school system.

Mariama Jenkins, spokeswoman for AdvancEd — which oversees the SACS accreditation process — said they have received complaints of school board interference and will investigate after Levett takes over as superintendent of the Savannah-Chatham Public School System.

“We received complaints in response to allegations that Savannah-Chatham County Public School System is in violation of AdvancED Accreditation Standards for Quality School Systems. Based on the merits of those complaints we will be conducting an on-site review this fall,” Jenkins said.

SACS investigators can put districts on probation and revoke accreditation if they find that school boards are disrupting the educational effectiveness of a district. Loss of accreditation disqualifies graduates for HOPE scholarships and admission to most colleges and universities. SACS findings may also prompt the governor to suspend and replace board members. In 2013, Gov. Nathan Deal suspended and replaced six of nine DeKalb County School Board members. In 2016, Deal suspended and replaced the entire five-member Dooly County School Board.

Savannah is considering new rules to govern short term rentals.

Staff is considering limiting the number of vacation rentals that can operate in the city, as well as placing caps on how many can be located on a block or street because of concerns among the Savannah City Council members and residents that neighborhoods are being overrun with visitors. Property owners would also have to live onsite for new vacation rentals in more residential areas, and there could be a maximum number of days a property can be rented, under other proposed changes.

The changes are being developed by a group of stakeholders composed of residents, neighborhood leaders, rental owners and management companies that offered feedback to city staff Monday.

The hope is that discussions will lead to an ordinance that will help preserve communities as the number of vacation rentals grows, said Trudy Herod, who was representing the Victorian Neighborhood Association.

The owners of some rental companies have concerns about how their businesses will be affected by some of the proposed changes, such as the potential rental cap and owner-occupied requirement.

An RQ-4 Global Hawk became the first unmanned aircraft to land at Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, Georgia.

The Georgia Ports Authority and Virginia Port Authority have been approved to move forward on an information sharing agreement designed to improve service.

The agreement, approved April 10, allows the Georgia Ports Authority and the Virginia Port Authority to begin discussing ways the two ports can share information in certain operational areas to position themselves as the U.S. East Coast’s leading gateways for containerized cargo.

A joint application to proceed with development of the East Coast Gateway Terminal Agreement was filed by the ports on Feb. 24. The application set into motion a 45-day review period – including a 12-day public comment period – by the Federal Maritime Commission. The approved agreement encourages the exchange of information and best practices in five areas of operational and supply chain efficiencies, safety, communications and customer service.

“Our industry is changing rapidly and, as a result, increased collaboration between ports is necessary to provide the service excellence our customers expect and deserve,” said Griff Lynch, GPA’s executive director. “It is clear that both Georgia and Virginia are East Coast gateway ports and this step further allows us to create jobs, economic development and improve safety. I would like to thank our respective employees and partners in the ILA as we move forward together.”

Columbus city employees may have to wait up to three additional weeks for paychecks as part of a move to a new payroll system.

The gap in the normal cycle — weekly for some and bi-weekly for others — is included in Mayor Teresa Tomlinson’s recommended fiscal year 2018 budget as part of the electronic conversion to a new payroll system. City officials say the conversion is an effort to move all CCG employees to a common bi-weekly pay period, and the lag-time won’t affect the annual amounts employees are paid.

“In addition to getting employees all on a common pay period, the city is upgrading its budgeting financial system and it’s payroll and human resources system and moving to a cloud-based solution,” said City Human Resources Director Reather Hollowell, who notified city employees of the changes in an April 28 memo. “That’s really the initial impetus for this. We need to do it for a system conversion reason.”

Hollowell said all full-time employees will receive a pay bonus on Aug. 11 to help supplement their income during that period. The bonus will be equal to 1/4 of their weekly salary or 20 hours. The first bi-weekly paycheck after the conversion will be issued on Aug. 18. Current federal and state taxes would apply.

In her memo to employees, she wrote: “For employees who are paid every week, your pay period will be converted to a bi-weekly pay period with one week in arrears. For employees who are paid biweekly, you will continue to be paid bi-weekly with one week in arrears. For increased accuracy in your paychecks and to improve reporting of finances, all employees will be paid bi-weekly with a seven (7) day lag time or one week in arrears.

“The one-time bonus paycheck is being given to you in order to avoid any cash flow hardship during the transition,” she explained. “The bonus paycheck is in addition to your annual salary and will be subject to required federal and state taxes, but not other payroll deductions.”

24
May

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for May 24, 2017

Barney Boxer

Barney is a three-year old male Boxer mix who is available for adoption from Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

Ely

Ely is a seven-year old male Hound mix who is available for adoption from Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

 

Squirt

Squirt is a 6-year old male Dachshund mix (maybe with some Miniature Pinscher?) who is available for adoption from Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

Johann

Johann is a five-year old male Dachshund mix who is available for adoption from Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

Gwinnett County Police K-9 Draco notched another win against an alleged criminal, this time in court.

Dog bites man. Man sues dog. Dog wins.

The dog was Draco, a prized member of the Gwinnett County Police Department’s K-9 unit. But on July 6, 2013, Draco bit the arm of burglary suspect Randall Kevin Jones, who later claimed the dog clamped down for what “seemed like a lifetime.”

When a federal judge rejected Gwinnett’s initial attempt to dismiss the lawsuit, the county appealed. On Friday, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta threw out the case against Draco.

“We hold that a dog may not be sued individually for negligence since a dog is not a ‘person,’” Judge Robin Rosenbaum wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel. Georgia law, she noted, does not allow such claims to be litigated against dogs.

The mere notion of allowing a lawsuit against a dog raises abundant practical issues, Rosenbaum added. How would you formally serve the lawsuit on a dog? What about the dog’s retention of legal representation? How can a dog be expected to pay damages?

I believe the accepted method for serving a lawsuit on a dog involves the lawyer peeing on the dog’s lawn.

23
May

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for May 23, 2017

Quill

Quill is a male American Staffordshire Terrier puppy who is available for adoption from Circle of Friends Animal Society Inc. in Greensboro, GA.

Baby Groot

Baby Groot is a male American Staffordshire Terrier puppy who is available for adoption from Circle of Friends Animal Society Inc. in Greensboro, GA.

Baby Groot and his brother were rescued from Walton County Animal Control on May 2 after being turned in as strays. They are both loving and playful fellas just looking for a family to cherish them. Since nothing is known about either parent, we can’t say with any certainty what the adult size will be or what they may be mixed with.

Baby Groot is currently suffering from rickets due to poor nutrition but with proper care and nourishment, he should fully recover.

Tirzah and Malah

Tirzah (right, female) and Mahlah (left, female) are female Border Collie and Corgi mix puppies who are available for adoption from Circle of Friends Animal Society Inc. in Greensboro, GA.

These precious sisters were seen being pushed out of a truck on a rural road. COFAS rescued them from Walton AC the same day. They are about 3 months old, 12 lbs., sweet and happy as can be and are looking for their forever homes.

23
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 23, 2017

Serial bank robbers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were shot to death near Sailes, Louisiana by a group of LA and Texas state police on May 23, 1934.

On May 23, 1954, the NAACP petitioned the Fulton County Board of Education to desegregate after the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

Former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter won the Virginia Caucus on May 23, 1976, gaining 24 delegates. On May 25, 1976, Carter won the Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky Primary Elections for President.

On May 23, 1990, the NFL announced that Atlanta would host the 1994 Super Bowl.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

 The State House Rural Development Committee met in Tifton yesterday to begin a series of meetings discussing rural issues.

“Your zip code or county of residence should not dictate your lot in life,” Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, told members of the House Rural Development Council Monday at its kickoff meeting in Tifton, Ga. “Moving to the big city should not, cannot be the only way to get ahead.”

From the AJC’s coverage:

House leaders promised answers but said they won’t come quickly or easily.

“We are going to make a very concerted effort to deal with a lot of issues,” said state House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jay Powell, R-Camilla, the council’s co-chairman. “This is a two-year task.”

State House Speaker David Ralston said rural Georgia can’t afford to wait for the next election to find progress and solutions.

“Rural Georgia cannot wait on political seasons to come and go because they will always come and go,” the Blue Ridge Republican said at the council’s first meeting. “I refuse to allow any personal ambitions to get in the way of what we are doing.”

From the Albany Herald,

State representative Ed Rynders is one of 15 on the council.

He said the policy will help stimulate rural Georgia.

“We’ve got problems, where we got to find fixes that isn’t just about writing checks but about developing good policy to strengthen South Georgia,” said Rynders.

“If we’re going to make significant head way and revitalizing rural communities in South Georgia. We got to deal with the people issue, we got to provide leaders,” said Bridges.

More than 5500 new voters have registered in the Sixth Congressional District after a federal judge ordered the reopening of voter registration.

The total includes two types of voter: the newly registered, plus so-called “transfer” applications — already registered Georgia voters who moved into the district after March 20, when the registration period originally closed.

Several thousand additional applications are still pending, although all three counties that have areas that fall within the 6th District — Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton — have been working overtime to process them ahead of the hotly contested June 20 runoff between Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff.

The 6th District already boasts more than 521,000 registered voters. The impact of several thousand more is unclear, but it has the potential to swing a race that polling suggests is separated by only a few percentage points and within the margin of error for either candidate.

“It’s not beyond the realm of possibility,” GOP strategist Chip Lake said. But, he added, “we won’t know until the votes are counted and the dust is settled and we can have a definite record-by-record look at who voted.”

Vice President Mike Pence will campaign for Karen Handel on June 9th.

Vice President Mike Pence has plans to stump for Karen Handel’s campaign for Georgia’s 6th District on June 9, which would make him the latest high-profile Republican to trek to suburban Atlanta in the nationally watched race.

The details for Pence’s visit have yet to be finalized, according to people with knowledge of the plans, though it would come as little surprise. Handel has said she is an “all hands on deck” mode ahead of her June 20 runoff against Democrat Jon Ossoff.

John Watson’s campaign for Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party received an endorsement from the Trump campaign’s Georgia Chair.

Rayna Casey called Watson, a former aide to Sonny Perdue, the only contender in the four-candidate contest with a “proven record of success in winning elections.”

“Why take a chance with a likeable amateur when we have a professional willing to volunteer his strategic political expertise, including raising millions, to win our elections?” she wrote in a dispatch sent to GOP activists across the state.

Democracy for America, a progressive PAC, will email its supporters, urging them to support Stacey Abrams in 2018.

Democracy for America, a progressive PAC, is set to send an email to its members encouraging them to “pledge their support” to the Georgia Democrat when she announces she’s formally in the governor’s race.

The organization has more than 32,000 members in Georgia and about a million across the nation, and it’s the first significant group to pledge an endorsement in the still-evolving race for governor.

In a statement, DFA executive director Charles Chamberlain said Abrams is “undoubtedly the best candidate” to lead the state. He cited her opposition in the Legislature to new restrictions on abortions and a tax overhaul that critics saw as unfair to poor Georgians.

“Winning the governorship will require a progressive leader like Stacey who can turn out voters who are ready for a strong contrast to the Republican agenda,” said Chamberlain. “If Stacey Abrams enters the ring, she can count on us to be in her corner.”

The Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office hosted a class in cyber security and crimes for local law enforcement agencies.

Georgia State School Superintendent Richard Woods visited Gainesville to promote summer reading.

“We’re working with our public library systems to make sure that during the summer that not just students, but families, are enrolled together,” Woods told the Gainesville Rotary Club.

He acknowledged following the meeting that he was surprised to learn when he took office that the State Department of Education did not partner with library systems during the summer months to promote summer reading programs.

Woods said DOE is giving away 100,000 books to students across the state this summer, many of those through the public libraries. He said maintaining strong reading skills is a natural tie-in to other subject areas.

Paulding County Commissioners heard from department heads about the FY 2018 budget.

The Fulton County Board of Education tentatively approved a $1.5 billion dollar FY2018 budget unanimously.

Chattahoochee Circuit Juvenile Judges are asking Columbus City Council for a raise.

Georgia Ports Authority notched another monthly record, with more container moves than any prior April, as well as larger ships calling.

The GPA handled 333,006 20-foot containers, or TEUs, last month, which was up nearly 12 percent compared to April 2016. Total tonnage increased across all ports by 13 percent to 2.94 million tons, to mark the GPA’s busiest April ever.

“We feel pretty good about a record TEU count for the FY2017,” Griff Lynch, GPA’s executive director said on Monday.

Much of the recent growth, Lynch said, can be attributed to the Panama Canal expansion and a strong economy.

“… This is really organic growth. We’ve seen larger capacity vessels like the COSCO Development, more moves per vessel and it’s everything that we’ve talked about for years, so we’re happy to see it coming together,” he said.

The COSCO Development, which was the largest container ship to ever call on the U.S. East Coast, arrived May 11 at the GPA’s Garden City Terminal where crews completed 5,500 container moves in 30 hours.

“I think what we’ve shown is not only did we handle it, but we handled it better than anybody else ever did in the U.S.,” Lynch said.

Savannah-Chatham County Board of Education members voted to hire Ann Levett as the next Superintendent, but then started Festivus early with an Airing of Grievances.

Although Levett’s hire was approved pending finalization of the terms of her contract, the board split 5-4 along racial lines, and the four dissenting white board members made their dissatisfaction clear.

The four black board members — Dionne Hoskins, Irene Hines, Ruby Jones and Connie Hall — praised Levett for her extensive experience, educational background and dedication to the district. Levett is a Beach High graduate and worked as a principal in the 1980s. She left to work at districts and universities across the country, including the Comer School Development Program at Yale University School of Medicine. She was hired back four years ago to serve as chief academic officer.

Then one by one the remaining board members listed the reasons they opposed her. Board Member Julie Wade said Levett has surrounded herself with “yes people” and described her leadership style as “dangerous.” Michael Johnson said nearly 100 people in his West Chatham-area district said they don’t want to see her in the position. Shawn Kachmar said the district hasn’t made substantive academic progress.

Board President Jolene Byrne said she doesn’t trust Levett.

“Did you see the red come out those necks? They were bright red during all that talking. I haven’t seen anything like that in a long time,” said Rep. Mickey Stephens, D-Savannah, a former school board member who worked for Levett when she was principal at Savannah High. “That was total disrespect.”

Byrne, Johnson, Kachmar and Wade insisted that their criticisms weren’t personal and pledged to follow board policy and support Levett.

22
May

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for May 22, 2017

Budro

Budro is a young male Labrador Retriever puppy who is available for adoption from the Okefenokee Humane Society Inc. in Waycross, GA.

Giselle

Giselle is a young female Labrador Retriever and Hound mic puppy who is available for adoption from the Okefenokee Humane Society Inc. in Waycross, GA.

“I’m a fun-loving, happy-all-the-time, glass-is-half-full kind of dog looking for someone who loves to laugh and play around. Must have a great sense of humor and some time to spend with me. I’m a dog on a mission to please you. I think everything is fun, interesting and meant for play, especially you. Anything you do, I’ll want to do too. With my own brand of surprises, life with me will keep you constantly on your toes, and the fun is guaranteed.”

Mullroy

Mullroy is a young male Hound and possibly Basset Hound mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Okefenokee Humane Society Inc. in Waycross, GA.