Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 13, 2015

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 13, 2015

Georgia History

On January 13, 1733, the ship Ann (sometimes spelled “Anne”) sailed into Charles Town harbor and was met by South Carolina Governor Robert Johnson and the Speaker of the Commons House of Assembly. Aboard the ship were James Oglethorpe and the first 114 colonists of what would become Georgia. Later that year they would land at a high bluff on the Savannah River and found the city of Savannah.

On January 13, 1959, Ernest Vandiver was inaugurated as Governor of Georgia.

On January 13, 1966, President Lyndon Baines Johnson appointed Robert C. Weaver head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), making Weaver the first African-American cabinet secretary in U.S. History.

On January 13, 1982, Hank Aaron was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

This day in 1987 saw the inauguration of Governor Joe Frank Harris to his second term in office.

On January 13, 1998, Governor Zell Miller presented his $12.5 billion FY1999 budget to the Georgia General Assembly, including $105,000 to provide CDs of classical music for every baby born in the state. According to the New York Times,

“No one questions that listening to music at a very early age affects the spatial, temporal reasoning that underlies math and engineering and even chess,” the Governor said[]. “Having that infant listen to soothing music helps those trillions of brain connections to develop.”

Mr. Miller said he became intrigued by the connection between music and child development at a series of recent seminars sponsored by the Education Commission of the States. As a great-grandfather and the author of “They Hear Georgia Singing” (Mercer University Press, 1983), an encyclopedia of the state’s musical history, Mr. Miller said his fascination came naturally.

He said that he had a stack of research on the subject, but also that his experiences growing up in the mountains of north Georgia had proved convincing.

“Musicians were folks that not only could play a fiddle but they also were good mechanics,” he said. “They could fix your car.”

Legislators, as is their wont, have ideas of their own.

“I asked about the possibility of some Charlie Daniels or something like that,” said Representative Homer M. (Buddy) DeLoach, a Republican from Hinesville, “but they said they thought the classical music has a greater positive impact.”

“Having never studied those impacts too much,” Mr. DeLoach added, “I guess I’ll just have to take their word for that at the moment.”

In 2003, on January 13 at the Georgia Dome, Sonny Perdue took the oath of office as Georgia’s second Republican Governor, the first since Reconstruction.

A little over a year ago, on January 10, 2013, the Atlanta Journal-Consistution released a poll of the Georgia Governor’s race that showed Nathan Deal with 47 percent to 38 percent for Jason Carter. The nine-point Deal advantage was as close as the AJC polling firm would come all year to correctly predicting the point spread in the General Election.

This is neither History nor Politics, but it’s cool nonetheless: Berry College announced that their Bald Eagle pair has two eggs in the nest.

Berry College Eagle Eggs

Click here to check out the Berry College Eagle Cams and learn more about this pair of majestic birds.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Gov Deal Inauguration

Greg Bluestein of the AJC wrote of his four takeaway points from the Governor’s inauguration speech. I recommend reading his article in its entirety, but here are the four toplines:

Education: The governor only hinted about his top policy goal for this session, a constitutional amendment to give the state broad new powers to take over failing schools, in the vaguest of terms.

MLK Statue: He said soon the statehouse grounds will soon have another feature, in the form of a new Martin Luther King Jr. statue that was promised last year.

Criminal justice reform: You have already heard plenty about the overhaul championed by Deal that aims to keep more low-level offenders out of prisons. He’ll push more for a new range of changes aimed at smoothing their transition to society, saying he intends for “Georgia to continue to leading the nation with meaningful justice reform.”

What wasn’t said: He skated over most of the nitty-gritty policy and budget debates likely to eat up his attention this session, but the most noticeable absence was any mention of the coming fight over transportation funding.

Here’s my analysis. It is clear from his speech that Gov. Deal will be continuing to address issues of concern to African-Americans in Georgia, as he said several times in his campaign. The huge majorities in some African-American communities that supported the Charter School Amendment indicates that education reform that works is a high priority for these citizens and a possible in-road. Criminal justice reform was at the heart of advertising to African-American voters almost certainly based on polling that indicated the issue’s salience.

The Clayton News-Daily had more on the specifics relating to Criminal Justice Reform.

Deal highlighted the successes of accountability courts, which are designed to help reform nonviolent offenders and put them on paths to brighter futures. The courts had roughly 4,700 participants at the beginning of the state’s fiscal year, said Deal.

These participants are Georgia residents seeking a second chance, and the state should help them become productive members of society, he said.

“While it is important that our criminal justice system punish those who have harmed the lives and property of our citizens, it should also seek to change the direction of their lives so that they will not repeat their criminal conduct upon release,” said Deal. “Punishment for bad conduct coupled with fundamental changes that lead to good conduct are the ingredients that result in true justice.”

A key part of the plan will be to make sure nonviolent offenders have opportunities to further their education while in prison.

By ensuring prisoners have access to a better education behind bars, Deal said the state will reduce the likelihood that they will become repeat violent offenders in society. While calling prisons “schools,” he said they have traditionally taught criminals how to “become better criminals.”

Access to a greater education, he said, will improve their chances of getting work when they re-enter society by providing them with meaningful job skills and diplomas.

Walter Jones with Morris News pulled a couple of excellent quotes from Deal’s inaugural speech:

“Our prisons have always been schools,” Deal said. “In the past, the inmates have learned how to become better criminals. Now they are taking steps to earn diplomas and gain job skills that will lead to employment after they serve their sentences.”

Deal said the students of Utopian Academy benefited from a state commission to authorize charter schools, which was established by a constitutional amendment. Without that change, Deal said, some of the students “would still be sitting in schools that are underperforming.”

“In several years, many of them will be the first in their families to attend college,” he said. “These are exciting new beginnings, and we will work in this term to plant more of these opportunities.”

Deal highlighted the criminal justice reforms he championed by calling on Sean Walker of Augusta to stand in the balcony to the applause of lawmakers and the audience.

Walker spent 21 years behind bars for murder, but a transition program led him to be a cook at the Governor’s Mansion, first under Gov. Sonny Perdue and later under Deal. Today, he’s the banquet-catering sales coordinator for the Augusta-area Goodwill while attending college with plans to become a counselor.

Walker said he hopes others will benefit from his experiences – either from his recounting or from whatever impact they had on Deal’s policies.

“The guys who are still incarcerated, they need to know not to give up and not to succumb to the negative prison environment,” he said.

And a response from House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams,

House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams said she and other Democrats will be paying close attention to the details of any proposal related to education. She said discussion of a recovery district to manage failing schools, which Deal has urged lawmakers to consider, hinges on why schools struggle.

“If it’s a failure caused by underfunding by the state, that requires one solution,” Abrams said. “If it’s a structural issue, that’s a different solution.”

Savannah has a new Board of Education Chair Jolene Byrne, to go along with four retreads incumbents who were unopposed for reelection.

Economic development authorities in Bulloch, Bryan, Chatham and Effingham Counties have come together in the Savannah Harbor-Interstate 16 Joint Development Authority to work on developing projects related to the Port of Savannah Harbor Expansion without limitation to the area directly surrounding the Port.

“What we have found, and what the state likes to see, is counties coming together to attract these larger projects,” [Trip Tollison, president of the Savannah Economic Development Authority,] said. “A classic example of this kind of collaboration is the huge Baxter Life Sciences project outside of Atlanta. The four counties in that case created a unified joint development authority in 1999 — long before Baxter — for the purpose of acquiring large tracts of land and putting an industrial park in place.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that was a key factor in Baxter’s decision to locate its project there,” he said.

“Like the four Atlanta counties, we don’t have a specific project in mind. Instead, we want to set ourselves up for the state to see that we are totally capable of handling a major project anywhere within these four counties that stretch from the port to Statesboro,” Tollison said.

Presidential Election 2016

Paul Ryan, the GOP candidate for Vice President in 2012, will not run for President in 2016, electing to remain in Congress.

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