Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 1, 2017

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 1, 2017

On September 4, 1682, Edmund Halley first sighted the comet that bears his name.

The Stars and Stripes first flew in battle on September 3, 1776 at Cooch’s Bridge, Delaware.

A fleet of 22 French ships arrived off the coast of Savannah on September 3, 1779 to help wrest control of the city from the British.

Scheduled steamship service first began on September 4, 1807, when Robert Fulton’s North River Steamboat began plying the trade on the Hudson River.

On September 3, 1862, the writ of habeas corpus was suspended in Atlanta and within five miles of its border by the Confederate government. Two years later, September 3, 1864, General William T. Sherman would occupy Atlanta.

Atlanta Mayor James Calhoun surrendered the city to federal forces on September 2, 1864.

Calhoun’s two-sentence letter, directed to Brig.-Gen. William Ward stated: “Sir: The fortune of war has placed Atlanta in your hands. As mayor of the city I ask protection of non-combatants and private property.”

General William T. Sherman ordered all civilians out of Atlanta on September 4, 1864.

The Georgia General Assembly expelled 25 of 29 African-American members from the State House on September 3, 1868, arguing that Georgia’s constitution did not allow them to hold office.

The cornerstone of the Georgia State Capitol was laid on September 2, 1885.

The last hanging in Atlanta took place on September 1, 1922 outside the Fulton County jail.

Vince Dooley was born on September 4, 1932. Happy birthday, coach!

Anne Frank, age 15, and seven other Jews who were hiding together in Amsterdam were the last Dutch prisoners transported to Auschwitz on September 3, 1944.

Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus called out National Guard troops to prevent the desegregation under court order of Little Rock’s Central High School on September 4, 1957.

On September 5, 1969, United States Army Lieutenant William Calley was charged with murder in connection with the deaths of 109 Vietnamese civilians at My Lai. An Army inquiry listed 30 people who knew of the event and charges were filed against 14; Calley was the only conviction. Later, President Nixon paroled Calley. From 1975 to 2005 or 2006, Calley lived and worked in Columbus, Georgia, before moving to Atlanta. In 2009, Calley apologized for the events at My Lai while speaking to a meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Columbus.

Author John Ronald Reuel Tolkien died on September 2, 1973.

Having received the Democratic nomination for President, Jimmy Carter began the General Election with an address from his front porch in Plains, Georgia on September 3, 1976.

On September 1, 2004, United States Senator Zell Miller, a Democrat, spoke at the Republican National Convention.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal yesterday praised the announcement by Georgia Power that the company recommends completing reactors 3 and 4 at Plant Vogtle.

“I’m extremely pleased to learn the co-owners of Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4 have recommended completion of construction,” said Deal. “Georgia Power, Oglethorpe Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities have made the right decision for our state. These new units will provide clean and affordable energy to Georgians for more than 60 years while creating 6,000 jobs during project construction and 800 well-paying, permanent ones after.”

The Oglethorpe Power Corporation Board of Directors also supports Georgia Power’s recommendation.

The Oglethorpe Power Corporation Board of Directors determined this week that it is in the best interest of the corporation to support Georgia Power Company, acting as the agent for the co-owners of Vogtle Units No. 3 and No. 4, and to proceed towards completion of the Vogtle Project.

“We believe we must take a long term view and recognize the benefits of fuel diversity and the price stability of emission-free nuclear power over the next 60 to 80 years,” Mike Smith, president and CEO, stated, “especially when considering the risks of carbon-based fuel volatility and the potential for carbon regulation.”

Oglethorpe Power owns a 30 percent share of Vogtle Units No. 3 and No. 4.

Oglethorpe Power is one of the nation’s largest power supply cooperatives with more than $10 billion in assets, serving 38 Electric Membership Corporations which, collectively, provide electricity to approximately 4.1 million Georgia residents.

Congressman Rick Allen (R-Augusta), whose district encompasses Voglte, released a statement,

“I am thankful for Georgia Power, Oglethorpe Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities’ continued investment in Plant Vogtle. More than 6,000 people in my district are employed by Plant Vogtle, where they are constructing two of the first new nuclear reactors in the United States in more than 30 years.”

“With today’s announcement, Georgia-12 continues to be at the forefront of nuclear energy expansion in the United States. In order to continue to be a dominant player in the global nuclear industry, invest in our own energy independence and provide clean, low cost energy to Georgians – it is vital to continue this project and I applaud the owners in making what I know was a tough decision. I will continue to do all I can to support these projects, because the future of nuclear energy in America depends on it.”

Waynesboro Mayor Greg Carswell is enthusiastic about continued construction at Plant Vogtle.

“I’m excited and happy. I tried to get my dad on the phone because my dad works out at Plant Vogtle. I wanted to make sure. I’m sure he’s aware of what’s going on, but I wanted to tell him myself. We are very excited for everyone,” Carswell said.

“It’s been up in the air, but people have really had confidence in Georgia Power. The company is a part of our community. People were not worried too much, but we knew that everything had to go through the process and procedures,” Carswell said.

Plant Vogtle employs more than 800 people at reactors 1 and 2.

Currently, there are more than 6,000 employees working on the construction of the two new nuclear reactors.

Once the job is finished, 800 more jobs will be created to monitor the facilities.

“They do a lot for our community. I can tell you that if Plant Vogtle and Georgia Power just disappeared from Waynesboro and Burke County, it would be like ghost town, if you will,” Carswell said.

Moody’s Investor Services released a statement on the Vogtle recommendation.

[C]ontinuation of the project will increase the utility’s business and operating risk profile because total costs are open ended and because Georgia Power’s parent company will be assuming construction risk on its balance, sheet.

Georgia Power’s rating outlook remains negative pending the review and approval of the utility’s recommendation and related conditions by the Georgia Public Service Commission, curther clarification of the project’s latest cost and schedule assumptions, the effect that the higher costs will have on Georgia Power’s financial metrics and leverage, and the impact that the conditions incorporated in the recommendation to the GPSC will have on the utility’s credit quality. We believe the decision to move forward has placed a material amount of additional negative pressure on the utility’s credit quality.

Georgia Power backed out of a planned solar farm in Savannah, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Georgia Power pulled the plug at the last minute on its involvement in a solar project on East President Street. But the site will get a solar installation anyway, said developer Reed Dulany III.

“I was furious last night,” Dulany said Thursday. “Yesterday at 3:30 I got a call from three Georgia Power people saying ‘Hey, the project’s off.’”

Savannah City Council had been scheduled to vote Thursday on a contract related to the project, but that agenda item was pulled before the council meeting. The contract would have obligated the city to pay up to $100,000 of the estimated $350,000 needed to clear the site of vegetation and cap it with clean soil. The site’s current owner, Greenfield Environmental Trust, has already paid about $200,000 to ready the site in time for a Georgia Power imposed deadline of early September.

Georgia Power spokesman John Kraft said the company “put in a tremendous amount of time and effort to fully review and consider that site.”

“In the end, it did not prove to be a suitable location because the high cost to construct the facility on the site exceeds the cost parameters outlined in the (Public Service) Commission’s order approving the program,” Kraft wrote in an email.

Gwinnett County’s Citizen Budget Review Panel is working on recommendations for the county commission.

“I always enjoy the budget process, it’s home base for me, and I look forward to our discussions as we try to make decisions on the proposed budget for the next year,” county commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash told the committee as the last presentation ended.

Kevin Danz was booted from the ballot for Gainesville Mayor after a judge ruled his qualification papers incomplete.

Kevin Danz turned in his papers Aug. 24 to run for mayor by filing late in the afternoon close to deadline.

However, Gainesville city officials announced the next day that Danz did not qualify because he left out information on the submitted form.

Danz went before Superior Court Judge Andrew Fuller on Thursday and made his case to be qualified for the mayoral race.

Gainesville City Manager Bryan Lackey told The Times that Judge Fuller denied Danz’s decision.

Savannah City Council adopted a strategic plan to guide it through 2030.

The strategic plan is being implemented in conjunction with a government restructuring that includes the elimination of existing departments and creation of new ones, including an office devoted to developing the new arena and surrounding area, and to make government operations more conducive to achieving goals laid out in the plan.

In addition, the restructuring is meant to make city operations more efficient by combining similar services that had been separated across various departments, such as the grass cutting functions that are currently carried out by Park and Tree, Streets Maintenance, and Parks and Recreation.

The strategic plan and restructuring are the biggest initiatives [city manager Rob] Hernandez has administered since arriving in October, said Bret Bell, deputy assistant to the city manager.

Perry municipal elections are canceled because of no opposition to incumbent officials.

The terms of Mayor Jimmy Faircloth and three council members are expiring this year but no one qualified to run against them in November, so there won’t be an election. The same thing happened in 2013.

The city is scheduled for an election every two years but only one challenger has come forth in the past six years. That was in the 2015 election when Councilman Riley Hunt drew an opponent, and Hunt won. It was his first opposition in 12 years on the council.

The city will save at least $30,000 by not having to hold an election, [Mayor Jimmy] Faircloth said.

Two candidates for Mayor of Columbus in 2018 have announced.

Former Muscogee County School Board member Beth Harris filed earlier this week to raise money for her campaign.

Harris filed the Declaration of Intent on Monday, which allows her to start raising money. But she will have to qualify in March [2018] to officially run for the position, according to officials at the Elections and Registration Office.

So far, Harris is the only person to file the paperwork for the seat currently occupied by Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, who is completing her last term.

Early voting will be held April 30-May 18 at the City Services Center. The election will be held on May 22.

Facebook was the preferred medium for newbie Charles Roberts.

“I am not sure how to go about declaring I am running for mayor, but I turned in my declaration of intent this morning,” he posted Wednesday on the Columbus, GA Concerned Citizens Forum Facebook page. “If anybody can point me in the direction I need to go to make an official announcement, it would be much (appreciated).”

The post generated a flurry of comments from Facebook friends — some offering advice, others questioning his qualifications.

“Um, just a suggestion…. If you want to be the Mayor of the third largest city in the state of Georgia, you might want to check out a book from the library related to Georgia civics and legal requirements for office….,” wrote the first person to comment.

U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson spoke in Valdosta this week.

Sen. Johnny Isakson said the nation is paying the price for the inaction of Congress.

“I’m not here to brag about the Congress of the United States of America. There is nothing to brag about,” Isakson said. “This has been a very unusual year. I’ve been in elected office for 38 years and I’ve been in Congress for 19, but I’ve never seen a year where we talked more and did less. And the country is paying the price for it.”

Isakson discussed a broad series of topics ranging from military funding and Moody Air Force Base, health care, tax reform and government inaction.

He said the military is running short of everything, but doing the best with what it has. The military is not as equipped as it should be if an emergency happens, he said. He mentioned that Moody Air Force Base has deployed personnel to east Texas to help rescue victims of Hurricane Harvey.

“When you just don’t have enough manpower, enough material to make your military do what you’re asking it to do every single day, then you’ve got a big problem,” Isakson said.

Isakson then addressed health care. He said the most recent effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, failed because Congress couldn’t come together. He said too many people were trying to make a decision based purely on politics and not on what was best for the American people.

Health care needs to addressed, he said.

“It is an issue bigger than party lines. I don’t care if you’re a Democrat or a Republican. We’re all Americans,” Isakson said. “Diseases don’t have party lines. Everybody gets sick.”

He said government has a role in health care but so does the private sector. He advised listening to the health-care professionals and involving them in the debate. He also said health insurance should be more accessible for people.

“It’s not going to be cheap. The most expensive thing you can have is no insurance and a dreaded disease,” Isakson said.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp visited Dalton campaigning for Governor.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp says if voters want a blueprint for what his administration as governor would be like, all they have to do is look at the results within his department of the state government.

“I think that is the big difference between myself and the other people who are running is that I have a record of fundamentally reforming the secretary of state’s office, so people can trust me to do that as their governor,” Kemp, a Republican, said Thursday during a visit to Dalton. “We have absolutely reformed and restructured the whole agency to make it more efficient. We are doing more work for less money with less people, which is exactly what Republicans talk about.”

He said by embracing technology and making the business registrations and licensing handled by his office more computer friendly, the entire department has been streamlined, saving those who need the department’s services both time and money.

“Our system is literally saving the taxpayers millions of dollars,” Kemp said.

And even though he has been in the Senate and won two statewide races, Kemp says he still considers himself to be a political outsider.

“I ran for the state Senate the first time as an outsider and a small businessman frustrated with the government and really wanted to change it and bring a common-sense, business-owners mentality and fight for working Georgians,” he said. “That is what has driven me ever since.

“The biggest thing is I am not a career politician,” he said. “I am a businessman. I have been a businessman every single day I have been in office. That is the mentality I take in there. I am frustrated with government and I know the people are. I want them to know they will have a person literally fighting for them every day to make change and do what I promise them to do.”

The Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission continues to pursue former Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine.

Former Georgia Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine’s years-long battle with the state ethics commission has taken yet another turn with a new complaint alleging that he illegally benefited personally from loans totaling $237,000 in leftover campaign money to his own law firm.

Oxendine, whose troubles with the commission began in 2009 when he was the front-runner in the race for governor, lost a bid in June to have previous campaign-finance-related ethics charges thrown out by the Georgia Court of Appeals.

Now his lawyer is fighting a subpoena for bank records related to the loan, which wasn’t disclosed until after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution raised questions about why Oxendine was holding onto more than $500,000 in leftover campaign money years after he’d left office. Under state law, candidates must return leftover money to donors or give it to charity. For the most part, Oxendine did neither, and he reported having $587,771 in his account as of Dec. 31, 2016, the last time he was required to file.

Oxendine’s campaign lawyer, Douglas Chalmers, said Georgia law states that campaigns can invest funds they raise. He noted that Oxendine’s campaign fund made almost $9,000 worth of interest on the loans.

“This (complaint) is just the latest development in an eight-year-old case in which the commission has harassed Mr. Oxendine,” he said. “What is costing the campaign money is the need to defend itself against baseless allegations such as the ones that have been pursued for the last eight years.”

State officials broke ground on a new judicial complex near the Capitol.

The new state courts building will house the newly expanded Georgia Supreme Court and Georgia Court of Appeals with a commanding view of the Gold Dome across the street.

The complex, which is set to cost at least $105 million, was built on the spot where the Georgia Archives Building once rose. Nicknamed the White Ice Cube, the state tore down that building earlier this year to make way for the judicial center that courts officials have said was desperately needed.

At Thursday’s ceremony, Gov. Nathan Deal and a phalanx of judges and justices dug shovels into soggy ground to formally kick off the construction.

Tipplers can now buy beer and spirits at some breweries and distilleries, as a new law goes into effect today.

Let Georgia’s new happy hour begin: For the first time since Prohibition, local craft breweries and distilleries, beginning Friday, will be legally allowed to sell limited amounts of their beer and spirits directly to customers.

The new law ends a decades-old standoff that had been especially tense between the state’s growing number of craft brewers and beer wholesalers, who fought for years to protect their position as the middleman between manufacturers and retailers.

Infants are also among the victims of the opioid crisis in Georgia.

A local doctor is now telling us that during the last five years he has seen the number of infants born with opioid withdrawals nearly double.

“We’re looking at about one and a half to two percent of our babies admitted are admitted with a diagnosis of neonatal withdrawal syndrome,” says Doctor Mitch Rodriguez.

Rodriguez is the director of the NICU at Coliseum Medical Center.

He says the withdrawal syndrome is caused by mothers who take opiates during pregnancy.

“Although that increase and the rate of rise is rather rapid, it’s still relatively low compared to the rest of the nation,” says Rodriguez.

According to a study done by JAMA Pediatrics, the number of newborns dependent on drugs in rural hospitals increased by more than 6 times the amount from 2004 to 2013, and in urban hospitals, the rate more than tripled.

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