Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 14, 2016

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 14, 2016

Happy Birthday to the French, who today celebrate the 225th anniversary of Bastille Day, 14 July 1798, when citizens stormed the Bastille, a prison in Paris.

On July 14, 1798, the Alien and Sedition Act became federal law.

The first three acts took aim at the rights of immigrants. The period of residency required before immigrants could apply for citizenship was extended from five to 14 years, and the president gained the power to detain and deport those he deemed enemies. President Adams never took advantage of his newfound ability to deny rights to immigrants. However, the fourth act, the Sedition Act, was put into practice and became a black mark on the nation’s reputation. In direct violation of the Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of speech, the Sedition Act permitted the prosecution of individuals who voiced or printed what the government deemed to be malicious remarks about the president or government of the United States. Fourteen Republicans, mainly journalists, were prosecuted, and some imprisoned, under the act.

On July 14, 1864, General Sherman issued Special Field Order 35, outlining the plan for the Battle of Atlanta.

On July 14, 1976, former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter won the Democratic nomination for President at the Democratic National Convention.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Cobb County voters are coming out at a higher rate for the runoff election than for May’s General Primary Election, according to the MDJ.

Through Wednesday, a total of 2,796 ballots have been cast in the runoff election. By this time in the May primary, just 1,685 ballots had been cast, according to Janine Eveler, director of Cobb elections.

The ballot for the runoff election features Cobb Chairman Tim Lee squaring off against retired Marine Col. Mike Boyce for the Republican nomination for the chairman’s seat as well as a race between local attorneys John Morgan and Kellie Hill for a seat on the county’s State Court.

Meanwhile, embattled Cobb Chairman Tim Lee was the only candidate in the GPB runoff debate.

Cobb commission Chairman Tim Lee criticized his opponent, retired Marine Col. Mike Boyce, for not taking part in a Wednesday debate to which the two had been invited, but the challenger said he believed his time was better spent staying on the campaign trail.

The Atlanta Press Club had invited both candidates to participate in the debate’s taping; it is scheduled to air Sunday morning. Last week, press club officials said Boyce had opted to not to participate, which the candidate himself confirmed.

Marietta City Council will place an advisory referendum on the November ballot to gauge voter support for term limits.

Both Drew Ferguson and Sen. Mike Crane are seeking votes in Carroll County for the Third Congressional District runoff election.

District 3 congressional candidate Drew Ferguson, campaigning in Carroll County Tuesday, discussed his stance on the Dallas shooting, what Carroll County constituents are most concerned about, meeting fundraising goals and what he is doing to gain votes from those who supported the candidates who did not make the run-off.

Carrollton Mayor Walt Hollingsworth ….[o]n Thursday… joined Ferguson at Lakeshore Park for a meet-and-greet with Carroll County constituents, going on record to say that he is now supporting him….

Early voting is under way in the July 26 runoff.

Ferguson’s challenger in the runoff, Mike Crane, this week received the support of Villa Rica City Council member Leslie McPherson, who said she has watched him over the last five years as a state senator stand strong against the many temptations of elected office, unwavering in his commitment to the communities he serves. She said she knows Crane will keep his promise of principled leadership once in Washington

“Mike has a proven track record of choosing the people over the politically powerful,” McPherson said. “Mike has demonstrated that elected officials have a choice — they can sell out to big business, big government, big interests and cave to pressure from leadership, or they can truly represent the people they serve.”

Carrollton City Councilmen Jim Watters and Met Lane are also throwing their support behind Crane.

DeKalb County Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton is a disgrace

The DeKalb County Board of Ethics asked for the dismissal of a lawsuit by Sharon Barnes Sutton seeking to prevent the Board to hear complaints against Barnes Sutton.

Allegations of 12 ethical violations by Sutton have been put on hold since she sued in November, alleging that the Board of Ethics is unconstitutional because some of its members are appointed by private organizations. A judge prevented her ethics cases from moving forward while the lawsuit is pending.

“Likely, the commissioner’s real plan is to avoid investigation entirely, or at least to stall any particularized inquiry until after the runoff election on July 26,” according to the motion to dismiss filed Friday by attorney Darren Summerville, who represents the board.

Sutton’s attorney, Dwight Thomas, said the Georgia Supreme Court has made clear that government board members can’t be chosen by private entities. He said the DeKalb Board of Ethics is attacking Sutton to distract from the legal issues of the case.

“When you don’t have the facts or the law on your side, then you try to smear your opposing party,” Thomas said. “This is not about delaying anything.”

Remember that line from the lawyer for Sharon Barnes Sutton, “When you don’t have the facts or the law on your side, then you try to smear your opposing party.” As we’ll see, that’s Sutton’s strategy in her reelection campaign as well.

Congressman Hank Johnson (D-DeKalb) sent a robocall apologizing to Steve Bradshaw, who is running against Sutton in the Democratic Primary election.

Johnson, D-Ga., had previously recorded a campaign call for Sutton that falsely implied Bradshaw supported Republican John McCain over President Barack Obama.

“The call was released without my authorization and included erroneous information which I now understand was not true,” Johnson says in the latest recorded phone message. “This was a regrettable mistake on my part and it’s my sincere hope that you, like Steve, will accept my apology.”

Adam Murphy of CBS46 asked both Johnson and Sutton about what happened.

Johnson’s people said they were provided a script with the false claim, which we’ve learned came from Barnes Sutton.

“Obviously there’s a disconnect between what she’s stating and what reality is,” Bradshaw said.

Barnes Sutton said the congressman changed her robocall script. Whatever the case, Bradshaw said the voters will decide who’s best for the county on election day.

“The sense I get from my constituents that I hear over and over again is that they want change, they want change. And what I say in my meetings repeatedly is there won’t be any change until there’s a leadership change,” Bradshaw said.

A Muscogee County School Board race is also getting heated.

A Muscogee County School Board candidate has accused her opponent of paying a Columbus weekly newspaper for its endorsement and to publish a racially inflammatory editorial cartoon.

District 7 candidate Shelia Williams made the allegation during the debate the Columbus chapter of the National Associated for the Advancment of Colored People conducted Tuesday night in the Columbus Public Library’s auditorium. One of her campaign volunteers handed out a flyer detailing the accusation to the audience of about 40 folks.

Her opponent, former board chairwoman Cathy Williams, strongly denied the accusation and called it a lie.

“There was an editorial illustration of me in the paper, in the Courier, with me saying, ‘Yessa Massa,’” said Shelia Williams, executive director of B&O Services, which provides support and a group home for the intellectually disabled. “Yes. And there was a Caucasian gentleman holding the strings over my head. I am an educated, well-educated, black woman.”

Then she alleged that her opponent paid for that racial message.

District 7 is one of the board’s two races that weren’t decided in the May 24 election. Also heading toward a July 26 runoff is the District 1 race, with three-term incumbent Pat Hugley Green facing retired educator and political newcomer JoAnn Thomas-Brown.

Thomas-Brown is Shelia Williams’ boss as owner and chief executive officer of B&O services.

The Green Party turned in nearly 1700 pages of signatures to get their presidential candidate on the ballot.

Tuesday morning, the Georgia Green Party filed with the Elections Division for the Georgia Secretary of State’s office a nomination petition consisting of 1,672 pages of signatures from Georgia voters. State Party leadership are extending their appreciation to dozens of petition circulators from around and beyond Georgia who collected signatures in the hot Georgia Summer sun. The filing provides a comfortable margin beyond the 7,500 signatures threshold imposed by Order of Judge Richard Story who on March 17th struck down as unconstitutional the application of the Georgia Election Code to deny access to the state ballot for Presidential campaigns of emerging political parties.

“Our earlier ballot access victory in court made possible this ballot access vistory in the streets, and makes possible our next ballot access victory at the polls,” said Hugh Esco, cochair of the Georgia Green Party. The Georgia Election Code provides for a means to retain a ballot line, avoiding the cost of repeated petition drives. A political party which delivers for their state-wide candidate the vote of 1% of the registered voters of the state may nominate by convention its candidates for state-wide office for the next four years.

I don’t know what the Georgia Green Party considers “a comfortable margin,” but my rule of thumb for signatures for ballot access is that you want to turn in twice as many signatures as required as a large number will be found invalid.

Governor Nathan Deal announced a partnership with South Carolina to upgrade bridges between the two states.

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston named members to a House Study Committee on Historic Site Preservation.

  • Chuck Williams – Chair (R-Watkinsville)
  • Debbie Buckner – Vice Chair (D-Junction City)
  • Beth Beskin (R-Atlanta)
  • Buzz Brockway (R-Lawrenceville)
  • Trey Rhodes (R-Greensboro)

Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle named Rick Jeffares as Co-Chair of the Joint State Commission on Petroleum Pipelines Study Committee.

“Over the next several months, my colleagues and I will begin studying the current environmental impacts of pipeline siting, construction and operation, and evaluating the ways we can streamline this process while maintaining the integrity of our state’s natural resources,” said Sen. Jeffares. “I look forward to conducting an in-depth review of this important issue and gathering feedback from citizens throughout the state.”

“Sen. Jeffares has a proven track record in addressing the needs of our citizens and will be an invaluable resource as the Co-Chair of the Joint State Commission on Petroleum Pipelines Study Committee,” said Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle. “I’m confident he will examine the issues at hand and provide new legislative recommendations to the General Assembly as we prepare for the 2017 Legislative Session.”

Senator Renee Unterman will be busy this summer, having been named to co-chair three study committees.

Sen. Renee Unterman (R– Buford) was selected by Lt .Gov. Casey Cagle to serve as Co-Chair of the Georgia Pallative Care and Quality of Life Advisory Council and as Chair of the Surprise Billing Practices and the Opioid Abuse Senate Study Committees.

“Access to palliative care is critical to every community in the state and finding solutions to improve availability is critical,” said Sen. Unterman. “Along with access to care, we must address the widespread abuse of opioids. This issue affects people from all walks of life, social classes and areas in the state. We must do all we can to educate, rehabilitate and save lives.”

“Also, I look forward to addressing the issues with surprise billing for patients for out of pocket procedures. Medical bankruptcy has become a new social phenomenon due to the current state of the healthcare crisis which our country is now experiencing. Patients cannot afford to pay bills that are out of network. Solutions must be examined and proposed to save consumers who are hit with high bills and expectations to pay them.”

“Sen. Renee Unterman has a proven track record in addressing the needs of our citizens and will be an invaluable resource as Co-Chair of the Georgia Pallative Care and Quality of Life Advisory Council and as Chair of the Surprise Billing Practices and the Opioid Abuse Senate Study Committees,” said Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle. “I’m confident she will examine the issues at hand and provide new legislative recommendations to the General Assembly as we prepare for the 2017 Legislative Session.”

Among the approaches likely to be discussed by the Opioid Abuse Senate Study Committee is a bill in the United States Senate that seeks to treat opioid abuse as a health issue rather than primarily as a criminal justice issue.

The Senate is set to approve a bill intended to change the way police and health care workers treat people struggling with opioid addictions.

The bill is an amalgam of more than a dozen proposals passed through the year in the House and Senate. And while it has lots of new policies and provisions — from creating a task force to study how best to treat pain, to encouraging states to create prescription drug monitoring programs — it doesn’t have much money to put them in place.

For example, it allows nurses and physician assistants to treat people with addictions using medications, which is considered the evidence-based standard.

“Treatment capacity is really a crisis. There just isn’t enough,” Rosenberg tells Shots. “But what this bill does to address that — it expands the kinds of people who can prescribe medications for addictions. And that’s a very big deal.”

The bill also allows the Department of Health and Human Services to give grants to states and community organizations for improving or expanding treatment and recovery programs. It has several provisions that would allow police departments to send people with addiction problems to treatment rather than to jail.

Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) will serve on a House Committee looking at relations between law enforcement and the African-American communities they serve.

The Port of Savannah received the first of what is expected to be a flotilla of larger container ships that can now transit the Panama Canal.

The MOL Benefactor is the first vessel to call on Savannah through the new locks of the expanded Panama Canal. At a capacity of 10,100 twenty-foot equivalent container units, the Benefactor is also the largest ship ever to call the Port of Savannah.

“The arrival of the MOL Benefactor today ushers in a new era of larger vessels and services that will increase capacity, volumes and economic opportunities for Georgia and this region,” said Griff Lynch, GPA’s Executive Director. “GPA is well-positioned to handle the larger vessels and greater volumes due to the scale and scope of our operations.”

With eight new neo-panamax cranes on order, GPA will have a total of 30 ship-to-shore cranes by 2018. GPA has also added 30 rubber-tired gantry cranes – used to handle containers on terminal – for a current fleet of 146 machines – the most of any single container terminal in the U.S. “Over the next six months to a year, we expect a higher ratio of 8,000- to 10,000- TEU container ships among our vessels calls. Within two years, we expect market shifts to send 12,000-TEU vessels to the U.S. East Coast,” Lynch added.

Researchers have identified more than 2800 sea turtle nests on the Georgia coast, and predict the number may go over 3000.

As of Tuesday, monitors had documented 2,810 sea turtle nests on the beaches of state’s barrier islands with perhaps a month left in the nesting season, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources said.

That’s about a third more than the previous high — the 2,335 nests found in 2015 — and Mark Dodd, the senior biologist who coordinates the DNR’s Sea Turtle Program, said he expects more than 3,000 nests by the end of the season.

“Things are going well. The big thing is we reached this recovery goal,’’ Dodd said. “We’ve been creeping toward that. We got there this year.”

“When you think about the fact that for many years we averaged about 1,000 nests, and this year we may be beyond 3,000 … it suggests an exponential increase,’’ he said.

Sea Island is seeking a permit that would allow them to create another beach on the exclusive coastal enclave.

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