Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 12, 2017

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 12, 2017

Georgia and American History

On May 13, 1607, English settlers founded the first permanent English settlement in America, at Jamestown on the James River. This led to the first English-language politics in America:

Dispatched from England by the London Company, the colonists had sailed across the Atlantic aboard the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery. Upon landing at Jamestown, the first colonial council was held by seven settlers whose names had been chosen and placed in a sealed box by King James I. The council, which included Captain John Smith, an English adventurer, chose Edward Wingfield as its first president.

On May 12, 1740, Georgia forces under James Oglethorpe took Fort Diego in Florida from the Spanish and mocked the defenders’ jean shorts.

Lyman Hall arrived in Philadelphia as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress on May 13, 1775.

The worst American defeat of the Revolutionary War occurred at Charleston, South Carolina on May 12, 1780. American Major General Benjamin Lincoln, who surrendered that day would later accept the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia.

Delegates to the Constitutional Convention began assembling in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 14, 1787, the designated starting day. Because a large number of delegates had not arrived the opening of the Convention was moved to May 25.

On May 12, 1789, the Society of St. Tammany was founded in New York and would grow to a dominant home for political bosses. Plunkitt of Tammany Hall: A Series of Very Plain Talks on Very Practical Politics (Signet Classics) remains one of the best historical versions of how political machines worked.

George Washington visited Georgia on May 12, 1791. From Purysburg, South Carolina, Georgia officials escorted Washington on a barge twenty-five miles down the Savannah River to Savannah, where he would stay four days.

On May 13, 1798, a Constitutional Convention adopted the Georgia Constitution of 1798.

On May 14, 1804, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark left St. Louis, Missouri to explore the Northwest United States from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean.

The Mexican War began on May 13, 1846.

Georgia Whigs, led by Governor George Crawford, Alexander Stephens, and Robert Toombs, criticized the war for raising divisive questions about slavery in the territories. Georgia Democrats, led by Howell Cobb and Herschel Johnson, staunchly supported the war and states’ rights afterward. Because Whigs, nationally, appeared to be antislavery, Georgia Whigs lost the governorship in 1847. The Compromise of 1850 temporarily settled the slavery question in the territories, but the moderating influence of Georgia’s Whigs dissolved in the heated rhetoric of states’ rights in the 1850s. The next war would find Americans fighting Americans.

On May 12, 1864, Confederate General Joseph Johnston pulled his Army of Tennessee and Georgia back to Resaca, Georgia. In Virginia, Major General John B. Gordon saved the life, or prevented the capture of General Robert E. Lee at Spotsylvania. After the war, Gordon would serve as Governor of Georgia and United States Senator.

The first fighting at Resaca, Georgia took place on May 13, 1864 and Union forces marched into Dalton.

On May 12, 1864, the Virginia Military Institute Corps of Cadets awoke in Staunton, where they had marched from Lexington 18 miles the previous day; after another 19 miles headed north up the Shenandoah Valley, the would make camp at Mt. Crawford, near Harrisonburg. The cadets ranged in age from fifteen to twenty-five years.

On May 14, 1864, the VMI Corps of Cadets marched 15 miles and camped overnight at Mt. Tabor, near New Market, Virginia. The next day they would march into history.

On the same day, the Battle of Resaca was fully engaged in Northwest Georgia.

On Saturday, May 14, the fighting at Resaca escalated into a full-scale battle. Beginning at dawn, Union forces engaged the Confederates along the entire four-mile front. In the early afternoon Schofield’s Army of the Ohio attacked the sharply angled center of the Confederate line. The assault was badly managed and disorganized, in part because one of Schofield’s division commanders was drunk. As the Union attack unraveled and became a fiasco, Johnston launched a counterattack on Sherman’s left flank. The counterattack collapsed, however, in the face of a determined stand by a Union artillery battery. In the evening Union forces pushed forward and seized the high ground west of Resaca, which placed the bridges leading south from the town within artillery range and threatened Johnston’s line of retreat.The following day Sherman renewed his assault on the Confederate center.

On May 12, 1970, Georgia National Guard troops were mobilized to end race riots that had broken out the night before in Augusta. On that same day, Ernie Banks of the Chicago Cubs, my father’s favorite player as a youth, hit his 500th home run.

On May 13, 1981, Pope John Paul II was shot at St. Peter’s Square in Rome.

On May 13, 2005, the Pentagon Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) recommended the closing of Fort McPherson in Atlanta, Fort Gillem in Forest Park, the Naval Air Station in Marietta, and the Naval Supply Corps School in Athens.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Deal ordered the flags at all state buildings to half-staff today to honor the memory of First Lieutenant Weston C. Lee, who was killed outside Mosul, Iraq.

600 Georgia Capitol Flags Half Staff

First Lt. Lee will be returned home today.

A U.S. Army paratrooper killed in action last month in Iraq will arrive home to Georgia Friday morning when his body is flown into Lawson Army Airfield at Fort Benning.

First Lt. Weston Lee, 25, of Bluffton, Ga., will be escorted home by a procession of law enforcement officers led by the Georgia State Patrol.

Georgia State Patrol Capt. Buddy Johnson is coordinating the procession that will take Lee from Fort Benning to a funeral home in Blakely, about 80 miles to the south.

There will be about 20 State Patrol cars and 10 members of the motor squad out of Atlanta leading the procession, Johnson said. Local law enforcement on the route will join as it passes through their communities.

“There is nothing more rewarding than to be a part of this escort of a fallen soldier,” Johnson said Thursday night. “This is how we can show our respect as we take Lt. Lee home.”

The plane bringing Lee from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware is scheduled to land at Fort Benning about 11 a.m.

Deal also signed an Executive Order appointing Attorney General Chris Carr, Newton County Sheriff Ezell Brown, and Peach County Sheriff Terry Deese to a committee to investigate charges filed against DeKalb County Sheriff Jeff Mann.

From the AJC:

The committee must report their findings within 30 days and, based on its findings, Mann could be suspended for a period of up to 90 days. If that happens, DeKalb’s chief superior court judge would appoint an interim sheriff.

The Gwinnett County Ethics Board will hold its second meeting today at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center.

The Ethics Board’s meeting is scheduled to take place at 10 a.m. in Conference Room A at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, 75 Langley Drive, in Lawrenceville.It is the second meeting of the board, which was created specially to handle the complaint against Hunter.

Atlanta resident Nancie Turner’s complaint against Hunter alleges he violated the county’s ethics policy in several Facebook posts, including ones that called U.S. Rep. John Lewis a “racist pig” and referred to Democrats as “Demonrats” and “Libtards.”

The agenda for the board’s meeting shows it will hear an attorney’s report, schedule a date to hold a hearing on the complaint and then deal with “preliminary matters to be addressed with complainant’s counsel.”

The Marietta Daily Journal spoke to the Senate District 32 Special Runoff Election candidates.

Democrat Christine Triebsch and Republican Kay Kirkpatrick both lived to fight another day. They will compete at the ballot box during a Tuesday runoff to take the seat of former Sen. Judson Hill, R-east Cobb, who gave up his spot to launch an unsuccessful bid for the congressional seat formerly held by Health Secretary Tom Price.

As of 15 days before the special election, Kirkpatrick had received $308,439 in donations and had $87,728.89 on hand. Triebsch had received $5,174.02 in donations and had the same amount of cash on hand, according to the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission.

Kennesaw State University political scientist Kerwin Swint said the District 32 race could give hints about what could happen in District 6.

“It could be a bellwether,” he said. “That’s what a lot of people are wondering. It could give an early idea of enthusiasm and voter turnout, at least for that section of the district.”

The MDJ interviewed both candidates in separate meetings Monday. Kirkpatrick spoke for about an hour. Triebsch said she only had 15 minutes to speak and did not respond to further questions via phone later in the week.

DeKalb County Board of Elections will open additional early voting locations ahead of the 6th District Congressional Special Runoff Election.

The DeKalb County Elections Board voted 5-0 to open three additional advance voting sites. They will be located in Brookhaven, Chamblee and Tucker — areas that generally supported Ossoff more than Handel and the other Republicans during the April 18 special election. Only two DeKalb early voting sites were open before that election.

Last week, Fulton County added two early voting locations for a total of six. In Handel’s stronghold of Cobb County, election officials declined to open extra early voting sites beyond the two existing locations.

Increased access to early voting in DeKalb could work in Ossoff’s favor, said Republican strategist Brian Robinson. Ossoff won 59 percent of the vote in DeKalb but 48 percent across the 6th Congressional District, short of the majority needed to avoid a runoff.

“Ossoff wants to maximize votes in DeKalb,” Robinson said. “Early voting there is of particular importance to him.”

Maps show which parties and candidates got the most votes in each neighborhood in the Georgia 6th District special election.

Both Ossoff and Handel said they support more early voting locations so that their potential constituents have more opportunities to vote, especially before the June 20 runoff, which comes during summer vacations for many families.

Former Democratic State Representative Sally Harrell announced she will run for the state Senate District 40 seat currently held by Republican Fran Millar.

I am proud to announce my candidacy for Georgia’s 40th Senate District.

We are at a crucial moment in Georgia’s history. Our demographics are changing. Our politics are evolving. Now is the time to stand up, claim our shared values and create change.

Government can have a positive impact on people’s everyday lives. All our citizens deserve affordable healthcare, universal high-quality education from early childhood through college, practical and efficient transportation options, and clean air and water. It’s time that our government works for the people.

I look forward to working with people throughout the district, listening and shaping an agenda that works to improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods and throughout Georgia.

Medical Cannabis activist Dale Jackson told the LaGrange News he’s considering running for Governor or Lieutenant Governor in 2018.

Jackson is preparing for future battles in the state legislature and said he is “contemplating” running for the governor or lieutenant governor seat in 2018.

“My main objective for the next few months is to sit down and talk with all the individuals running for state offices,” Jackson told the Daily News in an exclusive interview on Wednesday, May 10. “I want to find a ‘champion’ for our cause. If I am unable to find someone that I am confident will be able to champion our cause, then I will be forced to explore options myself.”

Jackson’s cause is ultimately to pass a referendum that would allow patients “safe access” to medicinal marijuana in Georgia, and create statewide cultivation labs.

Jackson was not shy in stating what his primary focus will be for the 2018 legislative session.

“The next step is to get a safe access program established in Georgia,” he said. “Our efforts next year will be to pass that ballot referendum. The good news is that Governor (Deal) can’t veto that. It doesn’t go to his desk, it would be signed by the new governor.”

The Lowndes County Commission voted 3-2 to join a regional Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Transportation (T-SPLOST).

Lowndes County’s leaders will support a regional sales tax that residents will vote on in May 2018.

The Lowndes County Commission voted 3-2 — with Scott Orenstein and Clay Griner opposing — in favor of a regional T-SPLOST that, if approved by voters, would fund transportation projects throughout 18 counties.

The one-penny tax would bump local sales taxes up to eight cents on the dollar.

The public will vote on the tax May 22, 2018. If approved, the tax would go into effect October 2018 and last for 10 years.

Even if voters shoot down the regional T-SPLOST, counties will have the option to call another vote for an individual T-SPLOST.

The Floyd County 2017 SPLOST Citizens Advisory Committee will accept project proposals for inclusion in a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) on ballots in November.

The 2017 SPLOST Citizens Advisory Committee set a deadline of 5 p.m. June 8 to receive applications. The 12 appointed local residents will vet the projects for inclusion in a package that will go before voters in the Nov. 7 election. If approved, collections would start when the current tax expires on March 31, 2019.

Gainesville city government staff have proposed a property tax millage rate rollback.

Mayor, for the General Fund, no tax increase is recommended for the General Fund,” City Manager Bryan Lackey said as he began his FY2018 budget presentation at Thursday morning’s Gainesville City Council work session.

“What that means is we’ll be proposing a full rollback on both the General Fund and the Debt Service Fund,” Lackey continued.

That means the current (FY2017) General Fund millage rate of 1.63-mils will be rolled back to 1.55-mils, and the current (FY2017) Debt Service millage rate of 0.60-mils to 0.56-mils.

The Parks and Recreation property tax in Gainesville, however, will rise.

Gainesville officials introduced a budget Thursday that technically raises taxes 1.42 percent, thanks to a special tax approved by a few thousand voters in 1924.

The special tax in the books for the past 93 years requires that not less than 0.75 mill nor more than 1 mill be collected annually for Parks and Recreation services in Gainesville.

City Manager Bryan Lackey explained at a city council work session that because a full rollback would result in a rate of less than 0.75 mill, a 1.42 percent tax increase is required to maintain the minimum level.

“We will have to advertise a legal tax increase for Parks and Recreation,” Lackey said. “They are at 0.75 right now, so therefore, we can’t go below that unless we go back to the voters, and we’re not suggesting that by any means. So, we will need to advertise a 1.42 percent tax increase to the voters.”

As a result of the tax increase, the city will be required by state law to hold three public hearings on the budget instead of the usual two. Tentatively, the first public hearing will be after a work session June 1, the second will be during a special called meeting June 6 and the final will be June 20 at the regularly scheduled council meeting.

Augusta received a strong assessment of its ability to issue bonds to pay for a parking deck at the new Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center.

Davenport and Co. Senior Vice President Courtney Rogers gave a detailed overview of the city’s standing with Moody’s, currently the only agency rating all city bonds, and said Moody’s officials will be in Augusta today for a rare site visit.

Moody’s Aa2 rating – considered “very strong” and investment grade – on Augusta’s November sale of sales-tax backed bonds noted the city’s strength as a regional economic center with a strong military and health care presence, historically sound reserves, a low direct-debt burden and manageable pension costs, Rogers said.

The Georgia Constitution limits the amount of long-term debt payable by property taxes to 10 percent of the assessed value of taxable property – and Augusta’s existing liability is only $26 million, well below its legal limit of $489 million, Rogers said.

“You’ve got plenty of room on the legal side to issue general obligation bonds,” he said.

Davenport is recommending a competitive sale of fixed-rate bonds for Augusta’s parking deck, rather than a negotiated sale, using Moody’s ratings alone in the rapid turnaround required for the state project, he said.

“It makes sense to do competitive sales,” Rogers said. “There is no uncertainty in the marketplace right now” and a recent offering drew 15 bids, something Rogers said he’d never seen.

Savannah City Council voted to double parking rates in downtown.

COSCO Development, the largest container ship to call at the Port of Savannah, docked successfully yesterday.

Capable of carrying more than 13,000 TEUs — or 20-foot equivalent units — the Development made history last week as the largest container ship to pass through the newly expanded locks of the Panama Canal.

The ship called on the Port of Virginia on Monday, where approximately 1,500 containers were moved on and off the ship. It left Norfolk on Tuesday, bound for Savannah. The ship’s expected container moves at GPA’s Garden City Terminal is close to 5,500, more than triple those in Virginia. The Port of Charleston did not disclose the number of container moves expected there, but reports put it at less than 1,000.

Gov. Nathan Deal will join GPA board chairman Jimmy Allgood and GPA executive director Griff Lynch on the docks Friday to officially welcome the Development and watch as six ship-to-shore cranes and hundreds of workers facilitate the loading and unloading.

With this visit, the Development begins a regular schedule of calls on Savannah. The ship is part of a regular rotation deployed in the OCEAN Alliance’s new South Atlantic Express Service, or SAX, which will bring the ship — or others its size — into port every two weeks.

Georgia Power will build a 139 megawatt solar facility near Robins Air Force Base if the Georgia Public Service Commission approves.

“It is large, a very large solar farm,” said John Kraft, with Georgia Power’s media relations department.

“It’s a great location … in the middle of the state,” Kraft said. “It’s available use of land that might not have other uses as is. Also, it’s adjacent to the Air Force base so we can tie it into the base and help Robins meet its energy resiliency and security goals.”

The solar facility would serve Georgia Power’s grid “to the benefit of all customers” and would provide electricity to its overall system, he said.

Although the use of solar energy to produce electricity might not lower residential electric bills, “a primary goal is so electricity doesn’t cost residents more,” he said. “We anticipate ways it would be available to the base to support their energy security needs in a special kind of situation should that occur.”

Georgia Power was before the PSC yesterday and discussed ongoing issues with the construction of new nuclear power units at Plant Vogtle.

Officials from Georgia Power say that construction deadlines on two new nuclear reactors do not seem feasible and the company is evaluating new completion dates now.  The reactors are about three years behind schedule and in February, a new round of completion dates had been set for December of 2019 and September of 2020. But a Georgia Power official told members of the Public Service Commission today those deadlines “no longer seem feasible.”

Testifying before the Public Service Commission, David McKinney, Vice President of Nuclear Development at Georgia  Power, said that the company is evaluating its options now.  McKinney says the company continues to analyze what new completion costs may be now and also a “cancellation assessment.”

In response to a question from an attorney representing a consumer group, McKinney indicated scenarios and cost analyses are now being considered for 1) completion of both reactors 2) completion of one but not the other and or 3) cancellation.

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