Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 5, 2016

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 5, 2016

Georgia and American History

On February 7, 1733, the first Georgia colonists had been here a week and they finished building a hand-operated crane to move heavy supplies and livestock from their boats to the top of the forty-foot high bluff where they were building a settlement.

John and Charles Wesley arrived at Tybee Roads, at the mouth of the Savannah River on February 5, 1736, along with James Oglethorpe and 254 other colonists.

On February 5, 1777, Georgia’s first Constitution was adopted in Savannah, creating the first eight counties. Happy birthday to Wilkes, Richmond, Burke, Effingham, Chatham, Liberty, Glynn, and Camden counties.

The 1777 Constitution was progressive for the time, outlawing primogeniture and entail, English common law doctrines that controlled inheritance of land.

Primogeniture ensured that the eldest son in a family inherited the largest portion of his father’s property upon the father’s death. The practice of entail, guaranteeing that a landed estate remain in the hands of only one male heir, was frequently practiced in conjunction with primogeniture. (Virginia abolished entail in 1776, but permitted primogeniture to persist until 1785.)

Georgians restructured inheritance laws in Article LI of the state’s constitution by abolishing entail in all forms and proclaiming that any person who died without a will would have his or her estate divided equally among their children; the widow shall have a child’s share, or her dower at her option.

The House of Assembly, Georgia’s legislative body, held its second meeting after statehood on February 6, 1788 in Savannah.

The Southern Pacific Railroad completed its “Sunset Route” from New Orleans to California on February 5, 1883, giving the SP a dominant position in transcontinental railroading.

Ronald Wilson Reagan was born on February 6, 1911 in Tampico, Illinois. In 1980, Reagan would be elected President of the United States, beating incumbent Jimmy Carter. When he was born, his father said, “he looks like a fat little Dutchman.  But who knows, he might grow up to be president some day.”

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt announced his “court packing” plan on February 5, 1937. After the United States Supreme Court found some of his “New Deal” legislation unconstitutional, Roosevelt’s proposal would have encouraged the retirement of justices older than 70 and for those who did not retire, appoint an assistant Justice with full voting rights on decisions by the Court.

On February 5, 1945, Governor Ellis Arnall signed legislation abolishing the poll tax, making Georgia the first Southern state to do so.

Georgia’s 1877 constitution authorized the tax, which limited voter participation among both poor blacks and whites. But most whites got around the provision through exemptions for those whose ancestors fought in the Civil War or who could vote before the war.

In 1937, the U.S. Supreme court upheld Georgia’s poll tax as constitutional. But in 1942, Georgia voters chose Ellis Arnall for governor and the progressive Arnall ushered in a wave of reforms, including abolishing Georgia’s poll tax.

Nigel Tufnel, of the band Spinal Tap, was born on February 5, 1948.

On February 6, 1952, Governor Herman Talmadge signed resolutions of the General Assembly that included:

A resolution calling on Congress to call a convention to propose a constitutional amendment to repeal the Sixteenth Amendment and instead allow a maximum rate of 25 percent on any federal income, transfer, gift, or inheritance tax.

A resolution urging U.S. Senator Richard B. Russell to run for the presidency.

On February 6, 1956, Governor Marvin Griffin addressed a joint session of  the Georgia General Assembly, asking their support for House Resolution 1185, which introduced the idea of “interposition,” in which the State of Georgia would declare the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 and 1955 Brown v. Board of Education decisions “null and void” in Georgia. That day Griffin also signed a raft of legislation for his “massive resistance” agenda against integration of state schools.

On February 5, 1974, “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe,” by Barry White reached #1 on the charts.

Def Leppard’s “Pyromania” began a 92-week run on the best-seller charts on February 5, 1983. Rock on.

On February 6, 1985, Reagan gave the State of the Union. During the speech he announced what would be known as the “Reagan Doctrine.”

Reagan began his foreign policy comments with the dramatic pronouncement that, “Freedom is not the sole prerogative of a chosen few; it is the universal right of all God’s children.” America’s “mission” was to “nourish and defend freedom and democracy.” More specifically, Reagan declared that, “We must stand by our democratic allies. And we must not break faith with those who are risking their lives—on every continent, from Afghanistan to Nicaragua—to defy Soviet-supported aggression and secure rights which have been ours from birth.” He concluded, “Support for freedom fighters is self-defense.”

With these words, the Reagan administration laid the foundation for its program of military assistance to “freedom fighters.”

On February 7, 1990, the Communist Party Central Committee of the Soviet Union agreed to a proposal by Prime Minister Mikhail Gorbachev that is should give up its political monopoly.

The response from the United States was surprise and cautious optimism. One State Department official commented that, “The whole Soviet world is going down the drainpipe with astonishing speed. It’s mind-boggling.” Former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger indicated that he was “personally gratified and astonished that anyone would have the chance to say such things in Moscow without being shot.” President George Bush was more circumspect, merely congratulating President Gorbachev for his “restraint and finesse.”

Ironically, the fact that the Communist Party was willing to accept political challenges to its authority indicated how desperately it was trying to maintain its weakening power over the country. The measures were little help, however–President Gorbachev resigned on December 25, 1991 and the Soviet Union officially ceased to exist on December 31, 1991.

Georgia Politics

State Rep. Tom Rice (R-Norcross) announced yesterday that he will not run for reelection, and will endorse Scott Hilton to succeed him.

Tom Rice Retiring

Scott Hilton is a friend of mine, and a classmate from the Conservative Political Leadership Institue. He’ll be a very strong candidate, and if elected, will serve honorably.

Earlier this week, State Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) quashed speculation that he would run for Lt. Governor in 2018.

State Rep. Allen Peake is abandoning the idea of a 2018 run for lieutenant governor, saying his well-reported deliberations about the office are undercutting his push for medical marijuana.

“I keep hearing that the only reason I’m pushing this medical marijuana bill is to elevate my name … as a platform for higher office,” Peake, R-Macon, said.

“I thought it was time to make it clear: My motivation for pushing this bill has nothing to do with higher office,” Peake said.

Peake said he will run for re-election to the state House this year.

Former State Senator Floyd Griffin, Jr. of Milledgeville will run against Rusty Kidd, the sole Independent in the State House.

“I’m announcing my intent to run for House seat 145,” said Griffin, a Democrat.

The district covers all of Baldwin County and part of Putnam.

Griffin, 71, said he thinks that he is the best-qualified person for the office. He also said it is time for incumbent Rusty Kidd, an independent, to leave office.

“Kidd has lost the trust and confidence of the citizens here in this district, especially in Milledgeville and Baldwin County, because of his involvement and heavy-handed approach with the consolidation effort,” Griffin said.

Griffin also said he will step aside if a more qualified candidate with a better chance of winning shows up.

“I have been encouraged, recruited … by citizens here in the community to run for this position,” Griffin said. “I’m not overly enthused about going back to Atlanta but I think it’s an obligation since I’ve been asked to do this and I’m the most qualified person in this district.”

Griffin was elected to the state Senate in 1994 and left in 1998 to run for lieutenant governor. He was mayor of Milledgeville from 2002 to 2006.

Macon-Bibb County Mayor Robert Reichert and Coroner Leon Jones announced separately that they would run for reelection to their respective posts.

Monique Walker announced she will run for State Court Judge in Richmond County.

The daughter of former Georgia state Sen. Charles Walker, Monique Walker managed the family business while he served eight years in federal prison for mail fraud, conspiracy and tax evasion.

She has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a law degree, both from the University of Georgia. Walker said she is responsible for more than 1,000 employees and runs a boutique law firm.

Also seeking the judgeship are Kellie Kenner-McIntyre, Augusta’s solicitor general and the daughter-in-law of former Augusta Mayor Ed McIntyre, and attorney Bo Hunter. The nonpartisan post is held by John Flythe, who is running for Superior Court judge. The election is May 24.

Wright McLeod’s campaign for House District 123 became more complicated after he was arrested on allegations of assault.

Attorney Wright McLeod, a candidate for Georgia House District 123, was booked Thursday on a charge of false imprisonment then released on his own recognizance.

Richmond County Magistrate Court Judge William D. Jennings III signed the warrants for the arrests of McLeod and Amy Palowitch, ruling there was probable cause to
support a charge of false imprisonment.

At a pre-arrest hearing last week, Janice Jamison presented her side of a Dec. 28 incident in which she said that McLeod and Palowitch came into her office at the Augusta War­rior Project and told her she was fired.

According to Jamison’s complaint, McLeod, a board member of the Augusta Warrior Project, and Palo­witch told her she wouldn’t be allowed to leave unless she let them search her purse and backpack. Jami­son refused and the sheriff’s office was called in.

A subcommittee of the Georgia House of Representatives Judiciary Committee voted to recommend passage of House Bill 757, the “Pastors Protection Act” by Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville).

The bill now goes to the full Judiciary Committee for consideration. The measure known as the “Pastor Protection Act” is among at least eight bills seeking religious exemptions for same-sex marriage objectors.

But it’s the only bill backed by Speaker David Ralston, the House’s top Republican.

Supporters of the bill said the Supreme Court’s decision last year legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide prompted the push for its passage.

“The Bible states a marriage is between a man and a woman,” state Rep. Carl Rogers, R-Gainesville, said.

He added that protections are “absolutely” needed if pastors feel pressure to act against their own belief.

The measure approved by a subcommittee Thursday also would allow religious organizations to prevent its property from being used for purposes “objectionable” to their beliefs.

Click here for the full text of the Pastors Protection Act, HB 757.

The House Governmental Affairs Committee greenlighted the City of Stonecrest incorporation bill to move to the House floor for a vote, according to the AJC.

The next metro Atlanta community to become a city could be Stonecrest in DeKalb County, a proposal that is advancing through the Georgia General Assembly.

The Stonecrest cityhood bill unanimously passed the House Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday and could soon receive a vote in the full House of Representatives. The legislation, Senate Bill 208, already passed the Senate last year.

Stonecrest would include about 50,000 residents along Interstate 20 and near Stonecrest Mall, covering the southeast corner of DeKalb and bordering the city of Lithonia.

Stonecrest supporters said they want the same local control of their government that has been granted to three other young cities in DeKalb: Brookhaven, Dunwoody and Tucker.

“People want to be empowered, and we can focus on our economic development in that corridor,” said Jason Lary, president of the Stonecrest City Alliance. “That’s something that has been lacking in our area, and that’s our path to prosperity.”

Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Chris Carr spoke to DeKalb County leaders about the importance of getting their ish coming together to support the development at the old GM plant in Doraville.

Remarks by state economic development chief Chris Carr underscored the mounting pressure on the DeKalb school board to take part in a tax incentive plan developers say is critical to creating a new downtown for a city decimated by the auto plant’s closure in 2008.

He warned that the effort to upgrade the site could fail without the school district’s support for infrastructure improvements, including a street grid and pedestrian connections to MARTA.

“We have an opportunity in our county to have the best site in metro Atlanta — probably one of the best sites in the Southeast — and we’re on the verge of blowing it,” Carr said during a meeting with a dozen DeKalb lawmakers.

Despite the pressure, DeKalb school board members say they haven’t been convinced the redevelopment would benefit students anytime soon.

Its construction depends on financing for the project that would use expected growth in property tax revenue to pay for $247 million in infrastructure improvements. School taxes would pay for more than half that amount, with the rest of the burden shared by DeKalb and Doraville governments, which have already approved their parts of the deal.

DeKalb Board of Education members rightly put the benefits to students at the center of their deliberations, so let me address that briefly. The tax break being sought by the developers here would waive the increased property taxes on the site for several decades to pay for public infrastructure improvements at the site. At the same time, the school system (and thus, students) will benefit from dramatically increased sales taxes at a now-abandoned site and from increased spending by the hundreds or thousands of people who will eventually work at the site.

Beyond the money that will flow into county school coffers, we can’t afford to ignore the benefits of job creation. If students perform best when their parents can afford to keep a roof over their heads, the student body in DeKalb will surely benefit, even if indirectly, from job creation in the county. Conversely, if this development fails due to government recalcitrance, DeKalb County overall will likely never see a job creation opportunity like this in my lifetime.

The Metro Atlanta Chamber has a report that says increasing taxes will benefit the state economy by less money than it costs to build out MARTA.

A $8 billion plan to expand MARTA could inject $5.2 billion into the region’s economy over the next two and a half decades, a new study shows.

It could also lead to 45,000 new jobs, $1.8 billion saved from loss of revenue due to commuters sitting in traffic and $116 million in increased wages, among other benefits. The estimates are spotlighted in a report released this week by the Metro Atlanta Chamber and Georgia Transportation Alliance (a policy arm of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce) to make a business case for proposed legislation that would help nearly double the size of MARTA’s existing system.

Some lawmakers, however, are skeptical of the study, which was drafted by and and on behalf of companies that could potentially profit from a MARTA expansion.

“I trust the Chamber and Transportation Alliance,” said state Rep. Chuck Martin, R-Alpharetta, who has been critical of MARTA’s expansion plan. “What I would be concerned with is if they only put the things in there that support the conclusion they wish to advocate. That’s what I have seen happen before.”

Meanwhile, Senate Transportation Committee members heard a presentation of the report Tuesday and many seemed receptive to growing MARTA.

Of course, the Senate Transportation Committee is composed primarily of legislators from outside Metro Atlanta who will not be stuck paying increased sales taxes for years into the future. I’m open to the expansion of MARTA, and obviously, that would need to be paid for by someone, but simply raising taxes on DeKalb, Fulton, and Clayton Counties, which already pay the vast majority of MARTA’s costs is not my favored way of doing so.

Maybe showing DeKalb County taxpayers some benefit from a higher tax by chipping in to pick up the BOE’s portion of the Doraville TAD, which is centered on a MARTA station and will increase the utility of that MARTA line would be a way to show us some love.

Georgia Presidential Politics

Candidates for public office have a Campaign Contribution Disclosure due today by 5 PM. This is the end of the grace period for the January 31 filing.

The Trump campaign Farmers for Trump event in Sasser, Georgia yesterday was estimated to have tripled the population of the Southwest Georgia town of 279 souls.

Trump Farmers Rally

The signs were made for the event and will be used at other Farmers for Trump coalition events.

And the event included a four-plane flyover with cropdusters in formation. That’s pretty cool and something I’ve never heard of for a political event.

Farmers Trump Flyover Small

Georgia’s Twitter Trolling is Strong

Yesterday, Congressman Steven Smith (R-GA) of the Fifteenth Congressional District tweeted his endorsement of Donald J. Trump, receiving more than 1600 retweets and 2400 likes.

The only thing is that Steven Smith is not a Congressman from Georgia, and there is no Fifteenth Congressional District.

Among the gullible souls who hit retweet without doing the research was Ann Coulter. (Hat tip to Erick Erickson).

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