Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 11, 2014

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 11, 2014

The first twenty-three cadets at Virginia Military Institute began their service on November 11, 1839.

On November 11, 1918, word reached Georgia that an armistice was signed between the Allies and Germany, ending World War One. Georgia Governor Hugh Dorsery declared a state holiday. Armistice Day, marking the end of World War I, was first celebrated on November 11, 1919 and is celebrated on November 11th every year.

The Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery was dedicated on November 11, 1921.

On Armistice Day, in the presence of President Harding and other government, military, and international dignitaries, the unknown soldier was buried with highest honors beside the Memorial Amphitheater. As the soldier was lowered to his final resting place, a two-inch layer of soil brought from France was placed below his coffin so that he might rest forever atop the earth on which he died.

The Tomb of the Unknowns is considered the most hallowed grave at Arlington Cemetery, America’s most sacred military cemetery. The tombstone itself, designed by sculptor Thomas Hudson Jones, was not completed until 1932, when it was unveiled bearing the description “Here Rests in Honored Glory an American Soldier Known but to God.” The World War I unknown was later joined by the unidentified remains of soldiers from America’s other major 20th century wars and the tomb was put under permanent guard by special military sentinels.

On November 11, 1942, the draft age was lowered to 18 and raised to 37. At the time, African-Americans were excluded from the draft over concerns about a racially-diverse military.

In 1945, the idea was put forth to expand Armistice Day to honor all veterans and in 1954, Congress made the change to “Veterans Day” official.

The “General Lee” first left the ground, using a ramp to clear a police car, during filming of “The Dukes of Hazzard” on November 11, 1978.

Ronald Reagan became the first President of the United States to address the Japanese Diet in Tokyo on November 11, 1983.

On November 11, 1988, the Georgia Vietnam Memorial was dedicated in front of the Sloppy Floyd state government building across the street from the Georgia State Capitol.

On November 11, 1997, a monument to Georgia’s World War I veterans was dedicated, also in front of the Sloppy Floyd building.

One year ago today, on November 11, 2013, the Atlanta Braves announced they would move from downtown Atlanta to Cobb County.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Yesterday, I assumed that the City Council seat vacated by the death of Red McDaniel would be filled in the usual method by a Special Election, but the city charter specifies how vacancies are filled:

If a vacancy occurs within one and one-half years after the date of a regular election for the office of mayor or councilor, then the board of elections shall, within ten days after the occurrence of such vacancy, call a special election to fill the balance of the unexpired term of such office by giving notice in one or more newspapers of general circulation including the newspaper with the largest circulation in Columbus, Georgia. If vacancy occurs more than one and one-half years after the date of a regular election for the office of mayor or councilor, then a person shall be appointed by a majority vote of the total membership of the Council to serve until a successor is elected and qualified at a special election held concurrently with the next regular election for the office of mayor or councilor. The successor elected at such special election shall serve the remainder of the unexpired term of such office.

Here’s what the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer thinks that means:

The city’s charter sets out how McDaniel will be replaced, according to City Attorney Clifton Fay.

If a councilor leaves office within a year-and-a-half of being elected, there is a special election to elect an interim to serve out the term. If the councilor leaves after a year-and-a-half, which is the case with McDaniel, Council will appoint an interim to serve out the rest of the term, Fay said.

However, because the person is serving as an interim, and because Columbus holds municipal elections in the spring or summer, the person elected at the next municipal election would take office immediately instead of waiting until the next January, Fay explained.

Read that again, I think they may be wrong.

The actual phrase in the City Charter is “If a vacancy occurs within one and one-half years after the date of a regular election for the office of mayor or councilor,” but the City Attorney and the newspaper apparently believe it means within 18 months of the election for the specific seat in question, as City Council members serve staggered terms. But by the letter of the Charter, since a regular election for Mayor and Council members was held this year, we are within the eighteen month period in which a Special Election is required.

Does anyone care to tell me what they think the proper interpretation is?

In DeKalb County, Superior Court Judge C.J. Becker announced she will resign her seat on the bench.

DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Cynthia Becker issued a statement Monday defending her record in the DeKalb schools corruption case, in which last month she suddenly ordered new trials for two defendants convicted in the matter. Also in her statement, Becker confirmed she is the subject of a JQC investigation and that she plans to step down from the bench later this year to get married. (JQC Chairman Lester Tate III confirmed the investigation and said it is ongoing. He would not comment on the allegations being investigated.)

On Monday, Becker issued this statement:

“[I]t has been headlined that these allegations could end my career of service as a Superior Court Judge. As my family, friends, colleagues, and Courthouse family had known for months before this trial, I plan to leave office before my term ends, not due to any pressure from anyone, but because I am engaged to be married in early spring 2015. I am happily exchanging the very public life of a Judge for a very private life with my husband and I am looking forward to this next exciting chapter of my life. It has been an honor serving DeKalb County to the best of my ability.

“I will give Governor Deal my letter of resignation after closing out professional obligations later this year as planned. I want to ensure that Governor Deal has several months to choose the best possible replacement to serve.

“The People of DeKalb County deserve no less.”

Speaking of gubernatorial appointments to the bench, the Judicial Nominating Commission released a short list of nominees for Superior Court in Paulding County.

Dean Bucci, a partner at Plumley & Bucci in Dallas, who has served as an associate judge of the Paulding County Juvenile Court.

Sandra Miller, the chief judge of the Paulding County Juvenile Court.

Lani Gardner Skipper, a family law attorney at Talley, Richardson & Cable, is an associate judge of the Paulding County Juvenile Court.

That law firm named last happens to be where former Republican Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives Glenn Richardson currently hangs his shingle.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter quickly reversed his own ruling that enjoined media from publishing a story over concerns it might taint the jury in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating trial.

The Fulton County judge presiding over the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating trial lifted a ruling on Monday that prohibited the news media from publishing a story about a trial witness who said he received an anonymous threat.

Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter issued his ruling before news media lawyers made their arguments, saying he realized the order he signed Friday was in error.

District Attorney Paul Howard had asked Baxter on Friday to restrain Fox 5 Atlanta and other news media from airing a story about the threat. Lawyers for Fox 5 and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution were present at the hastily called hearing before the start of testimony.

The order, signed late Friday afternoon by Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter, “restrained and enjoined” the media, particularly TV station Fox 5 Atlanta, from airing “a certain news story.” It granted a request filed earlier in the day by Howard, who asked the court to ensure that “the jurors are not exposed to this news story.”

Baxter’s order was example of “prior restraint,” in which a judge orders a news outlet not to publish certain information. Higher courts have generally ruled that prior restraint is an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment; if it were permissible, courts could bar the media from publishing any information that was objectionable to the government, business interests or anyone else who asked the court to intervene.

Muscogee County Sheriff John Darr filed suit against the city government over the budgetary process.

The suit says the sheriff submitted a proposed budget of $26,853,715, but the mayor or “someone acting on her behalf” substituted a budget of $24,827,343 for the sheriff’s office, cutting it by more than $2 million.

That violates the city charter, the sheriff claims: “The charter does not authorize the mayor to submit a proposed budget to the sheriff.”

Darr’s lawsuit claims that in the city’s overall budget proposal for this fiscal year that began July 1, City Manager Isaiah Hugley included the mayor’s proposed budget for the sheriff’s office instead of the sheriff’s, though the sheriff “is the budget officer for the sheriff’s department.”

Darr afterward circumvented the city manager by sending his own budget proposal directly to city councilors, who during meetings on June 10 and June 17 rejected the sheriff’s budget and adopted the one submitted by city administrators.

The suit claims the city charter requires that the sheriff submit his budget to the city manager for inclusion in the city’s overall budget, not that city administrators tell the sheriff what his budget will be. It also maintains that Georgia law requires the sheriff’s budget be sufficient to operate the office for a year.

Tomlinson [says] the sheriff is wrong about the city charter: “The charter is very clear,” she said. “All elected officials are to submit their budgets to the city manager Then the city manager working with the mayor to present the mayor’s proposed budget. That is what was done.”

Savannah has a new police chief, Jack Lumpkin, Sr., who took the oath of office yesterday.

Lumpkin said he would work daily to earn the trust of the community and would not tolerate unethical behavior after taking the oath of chief before dozens of uniformed officers, elected leaders and residents.

He said the department will be community oriented and will incorporate 21st century policing that is fair and impartial.

There is no “silver bullet” to fighting crime, Lumpkin said.

“We’re all going to have to put our shoulder to the plow to make this work,” Lumpkin said.

The Georgia War Veterans Home in Milledgeville is home to about 250 veterans and will undergo an $8 million expansion next year.

The expansion will renovate the fourth floor of the Russell Building, and those residents will move into the Vinson Building, which has been empty since the state cutbacks.

The Russell renovation will bolster a new mission, which is rehabilitating Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with severe physical and mental trauma. The aim is to get them back to living on their own.

[Executive Director Dennis] Mize hopes a couple of former Central State Hospital staff homes can be converted to use as practice homes for those veterans to demonstrate that they can live on their own.

“It’s really more than an expansion,” he said. “It’s a new direction for us.”

A Norcoss-based charity that helps veterans with housing assistance received a $1000 grant from Wells Fargo.

Legislative Leadership

Yesterday, the House Republican Caucus voted to support Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) to continue as Speaker and reelected existing party leadership.

The House Republicans voted to keep their leaders in place, with Speaker David Ralston of Blue Ridge at the top of the totem pole. The House GOP enjoyed a perfect day at the polls last week giving them no reason to fire the coach, so to speak. But Ralston has become the subject of controversy since the last caucus election over his law practice, becoming the subject of an investigation announced in June by the State Bar of Georgia over whether he abused his legislative post while representing a car-wreck client. The speaker’s spokesman said he denies intentional wrongdoing.

In addition to Ralston the leadership slate includes Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones of Milton, the highest-ranking woman in state government; Majority Leader Larry O’Neal of Bonaire, Majority Whip Matt Ramsey of Peachtree City; Caucus Chairman Matt Hatchett of Dublin; Vice Chairman Sam Teasley of Marietta and Secretary Allen Peake of Macon.

The senior chamber may have a tougher job, with contested elections for the top spots. From the AJC Political Insider.

We mentioned several weeks ago that Butch Miller of Gainesville had announced his candidacy for majority leader, to replace the exiting Ronnie Chance of Tyrone.

We know not why, but over the weekend, Miller apparently decided to up his game, and will challenge the No. 2 leader of the Senate, incumbent President pro tem David Shafer of Duluth. Renee Unterman of Buford is already challenging Shafer for his job.

We’ve put in a call to Miller, but have not heard back. Jeff Mullis of Chickamauga, the chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, confirmed that Miller has been placing calls for support. But Mullis said he committed to Shafer several weeks ago and intends to nominate him next Monday.

We’re told that Bill Cowsert of Athens would replace Miller in the majority leader slot, offering opposition to Judson Hill of Marietta.

Ponder the geopolitical implications – Miller serves from Gainesville, home to Governor Nathan Deal, while Cowsert represents Athens, home to Georgia Republican Party Chairman John Padgett. Most short lists of 2018 candidates for Governor include both Lt. Governor Casey Cagle from Gainesville and Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp of Athens.

Meanwhile the richest troves of Republican votes in Georgia can be found in suburban Atlanta, specifically Cobb County, from which Sen. Judson Hill serves, and Gwinnett County, home to Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer.

Isakson to Announce Reelection Campaign

Senator Johnny Isakson will kick-off his 2016 reelection campaign on Monday, November 17, 2014 at 11:30 AM at the Georgia State Capitol.

Event Calendar


Cobb YR: Meeting with Cobb Commission Chair Tim Lee

November 11 @ 7:00 PM9:00 PM

Johnny McCracken’s Pub, 15 Atlanta St SE, Marietta, GA+ Google Map

The November Regular meeting will be on Tuesday, November 11th, with Cobb Commis…

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Sen. Johnny Isakson: 2016 Re-election Campaign for U.S. Senate

November 17 @ 11:00 AM12:00 PM

Georgia State Capitol – North Wing, 206 Washington Street, S.W., Atlanta, GA 30334+ Google Map

Please join Johnny Isakson at the ‎kickoff announcement for his 2016 Re-election…

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Nancy Jester for DeKalb County Commissioner ~ An Evening in Brookhaven

November 17 @ 6:00 PM8:00 PM

Pub 71, 4058 Peachtree Rd NE, Atlanta , GA 30319+ Google Map

Come to meet and support the best choice to bring integrity, competence a…

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