The blog.

9
Dec

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for December 9, 2016

whitney

Whitney is a young female Hound puppy who is available for adoption from CARES Cedartown Animal Rescue, Education & Sterilization in Cedartown, GA.

Whitney is a fun puppy! Whitney came to us as an owner turn in from someone who could no longer keep her. She is extremely playful, friendly and loves everyone. She gets along and plays well with all the animals here and doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. Whitney does well in a fenced yard for interactive play time but of course prefers to be with people. At approximately 3.5 months old, Whitney weighs 18 pounds. She enjoys toys, walks well on a leash, is crate trained and eager to learn new things. Fully vetted now, Whitney is ready for her new home. She is looking for an inside forever home who understands the time and financial commitment that a puppy (or any animal) takes.

jenny

Jenny is a young female Lab and Collie mix who is available for adoption from CARES Cedartown Animal Rescue, Education & Sterilization in Cedartown, GA.

delilah

Delilah is a young female Miniature Pinscher & Manchester Terrier Mix who is available for adoption from CARES Cedartown Animal Rescue, Education & Sterilization in Cedartown, GA.

Delilah is a beautiful puppy! She was saved out of a high kill shelter just in time. She is a beautiful dark chocolate with white on her throat. At 6.5 (DOB 2/23/16) months old, she is 17 pounds. This girl is very sweet, super playful and loves everyone. She enjoys playing and is just precious. Delilah walks perfectly on a leash/collar or harness and is completely crate trained. She is well behaved in a safe fenced area and is used to interactive play outdoors but sleeps with her family at night. Delilah is healthy now, fully vetted and ready for her forever home.

9
Dec

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 9, 2016

Solomon’s Masonic Lodge, the first in Georgia, was organized on December 10, 1735. Upon his return to the colony, James Oglethorpe would join the group.

Patriots captured liberated Virginia on December 9, 1775 as militias from Virginia and North Carolina defeated the redcoats at Great Bridge.

John Jay was elected President of the Continental Congress on December 10, 1778.

Emory College was incorporated on December 10, 1836, as Governor William Schley signed legislation chartering the school.

On December 10, 1850, a special convention met in Milledgeville to determine the state’s reaction to the Compromise of 1850, a series of five bills passed in Congress attempting to deal with issues between slave states and free states.

The [Georgia] platform established Georgia’s conditional acceptance of the Compromise of 1850. Much of the document followed a draft written by Charles Jones Jenkins and represented a collaboration between Georgia Whigs and moderate Democrats dedicated to preserving the Union. In effect, the proclamation accepted the measures of the compromise so long as the North complied with the Fugitive Slave Act and would no longer attempt to ban the expansion of slavery into new territories and states. Northern contempt for these conditions, the platform warned, would make secession inevitable.

This qualified endorsement of the Compromise of 1850 essentially undermined the movement for immediate secession throughout the South. Newspapers across the nation credited Georgia with saving the Union.

On December 9, 1867, a Constitutional Convention to draft a new state document convened in Atlanta. Among the 166 to 169 delegates elected to the Constitutional Convention were 33 or 37 African-American members – accounts vary.

The Atlanta City Council appointed the first Board of Education on December 10, 1869.

The Spanish-American War was ended on December 10, 1898, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris.

The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 1964 in Oslo, Norway, becoming the youngest recipient of the award.

Jimmy Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 2002.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson asking why the agency appears to have attempted to break into Georgia’s data systems.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp alleges that a computer with a DHS internet address attempted to breach its systems.

Kemp writes: “On November 15, 2016, an IP address associated with the Department of Homeland Security made an unsuccessful attempt to penetrate the Georgia Secretary of State’s firewall. I am writing you to ask whether DHS was aware of this attempt and, if so, why DHS was attempting to breach our firewall.”

November 15 was a full week after the election.

“At no time has my office agreed to or permitted DHS to conduct penetration testing or security scans of our network,” writes Kemp. “Moreover, your department has not contacted my office since this unsuccessful incident to alert us of any security event that would require testing or scanning of our network.”

“Under 18 U.S.C. § 1030, attempting to gain access or exceeding authorized access to protected computer systems is illegal,” he notes.

A representative for DHS said it had received the letter and was investigating.

“DHS takes the trust of our public and private sector partners seriously, and we will respond to Secretary Kemp directly,” said Deputy Press Secretary Scott McConnell.

letter-to-jeh-johnson-dhs_1letter-to-jeh-johnson-dhs_2

Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston settled a complaint with the State Bar, accepting a verbal reprimand for inadvertant issues.

The Supreme Court of Georgia also unanimously voted Thursday to accept House Speaker David Ralston’s petition for voluntary discipline. The court ordered that he receive a “Review Panel reprimand” by a panel of the State Bar of Georgia.

Ralston in turn agreed to admit that he inadvertently violated two state bar rules, including loaning money to a client for living expenses.

Ralston’s attorney James Balli issued a statement after the settlement.

“From the first day this matter was reported, we said this was nothing more than an honest mistake made while helping a client’s family pay for medicine and other necessities.”

“As determined by the Special Master and confirmed today by an unanimous Supreme Court, all of the other accusations and speculation were absolutely false.”

“While somewhat biased, I believe anyone who engaged in furthering such rumormongering owes my client an apology.  However, knowing his commitment to public service, I am certain the Speaker will put this matter behind him and continue to focus on moving our state forward.  I do know he is very grateful to his family and friends for their unwavering support throughout this ordeal.”

 

State legislators will once again clean up after themselves, having to pass new legislation to address problems raised by legislation passed in the previous session.

The Georgia legislator who authored a constitutional amendment to remake the state Judicial Qualifications Commission says that “a mix-up” during drafting of the amendment and “last minute” changes will result in three separate watchdog agencies overseeing judicial discipline between now and July 1, 2017.

The stumbling block is the effective date to abolish then and replace the JQC, which has been overseeing judicial discipline for more than 40 years. Under the amendment passed by voters last month, the current JQC ceases to exist on June 30, 2017. But its replacement, created by underlying legislation passed in the General Assembly, is supposed to start six months earlier, on Jan. 1. Rep. Wendell Willard, a Sandy Springs lawyer who chairs the House Judiciary Committee said the admittedly “tricky” incongruities will be resolved by abolishing the current JQC on Dec. 31; creating a new interim agency with different members and different operating rules on or shortly after Jan. 1, 2017; and then on July 1 abolishing that agency in favor of one shaped by as-yet-unwritten legislation. But he acknowledged that members of the final version of the judicial watchdog agency would likely not secure Senate approval—a requirement of the constitutional amendment approved by the voters earlier this month—until the 2018 legislative session.

Nick Genesi, a spokesman for Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, said the attorney general believes Willard’s view “is accurate.”

Charles Bullock, a political science professor at the University of Georgia, said the snafu Willard referenced “sounds like one of those things where the left hand didn’t know what the right hand was doing.”

Bullock said he has seen similar situations before where a law—although not one associated with a constitutional amendment—is passed in the final minutes of the annual four-month session of the General Assembly only to have legislators realize “in the cold light of day … this is not good law” and quietly ask the governor to veto it. “That something slipped through would not be new,” he said. “The real question, I think, is that do the three key players—the Speaker, the lieutenant governor and the governor—get together and say, ‘We’ve got a bit of a problem. How are we going to fix it?’ If they are all on the same page, it probably gets fixed pretty quickly. If somebody wants to play hardball, you’ve got more of a problem.”

Two candidates for Roswell City Council have announced campaigns in the March 21, 2017 Special Election.

Jay Small has said he will run in the March 21, 2017, special election to fill the Post 4 on the Roswell City Council.

That seat has been vacant since November when former Council member Kent Igleheart resigned following his arrest on child sex charges.

Former City Council member Lori Henry previously announced she will run in the special election.

Lori Henry on Tuesday announced her bid to run in the March 21, 2017, special election to fill the Post 4 seat on the council.

Henry, who served on the Council from 2001 to 2009, is seeking to replace Kent Igleheart, who resigned last month following his arrest on child sex charges.

“Roswell has a need for leadership, particularly on the issue of redevelopment of our commercial corridors,” Henry said of why she’s running. “While maintaining the character of existing neighborhoods, we need to diversify our tax base, strengthening both our commercial and business development. The recent announcement of Target’s pending closure in East Roswell, and the departure of the nearby Kohl’s, drives home this point. We need to think outside the box and get ahead, not behind the curve.”

Marietta Board of Education Ward 6 voters will also go to the polls on March 21, 2017 in a special election.

Ward 6 residents Kerry Minervini and Patricia Echols filed for the election Wednesday.

The special election was triggered when school board member Tom Cheater resigned in September and moved out of the ward.

Ward 6 covers the northeast section of Marietta stretching from a section of Cobb Parkway up to the Sandy Plains Exchange at the intersection of Sandy Plains Road and Scufflegrit Road and is the same area that is represented on the Marietta City Council by Michelle Kelly Cooper.

Ward Six voters must be registered by Feb. 20 to vote in the special election.

Gwinnett County Commissioners are asking legislators for changes in how public agencies deal with people who might have mental illnesses.

Officials argue getting that legislation introduced and passed into law would go a long way in helping police intervene in situations where a person may be posing a threat to themselves or others. Law enforcement can’t arrest someone they suspect may be dangerous because of a mental illness issue unless that person has committed a crime.

“This is a situation where our folks in public safety are very concerned that they need to do something, but they can’t because the person isn’t committing a crime,” county Legislative Liaison Susan Lee said. “They’re afraid the next call might be a situation where something has happened and someone is injured or killed.”

The proposal Gwinnett leaders want the legislators to support would let a physician declare someone to be mentally ill and in need of being placed into custody based off the observations of cops, deputies and paramedics.

Gwinnett County Schools Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks is asking legislators to address issues with the Title Ad Valorem Tax collection.

As it stands, the “local target collection amount” prohibits school districts and local municipalities from receiving the minimum amount of TAVT collections required to be “made whole” for lost motor vehicle Ad Valorem Tax collections, school district officials said.

“We think the cap on that, as it grows, we think that probably needs to be raised for not only school districts, but municipalities as well,” Wilbanks said. “Hopefully you’ll give attention to that.”

“This TAVT is going to be a huge battle,” [Senator Renee] Unterman said. “And Gwinnett County has a lot at stake.”

The TAVT was one of several main issues related to education and educating funding that Wilbanks touched on to relay priorities to the lawmakers ahead of next year’s legislative session.

Georgia Gwinnett College President Stas Preczewski addressed a question from a legislator about campus carry legislation.

“It’s a challenge,” Preczewski said. “All the presidents have opposed it. All of the faculty senates have opposed it. All of the student government associations have opposed it. … In terms of actual firearms on campus, everybody still remains, students, faculty, staff, presidents. And I’m a former Army guy.”

Preczewski said he’d prefer the move toward Tasers on campus to allow the personal kind, not the projectile.

“Right now, if you’ve ever seen it, it looks like a real gun,” the president said. “You can’t tell. So a police officer comes on the scene of a student who’s got a gun pointed at another student who’s laying on the ground, that’s a potentially bad situation for a lot of people.”

Floyd County Commissioners met with local legislators ahead of the upcoming session of the General Assembly.

The County Commission and incoming commissioners met Thursday with state Rep. Eddie Lumsden, R-Armuchee, Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome, and Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, to discuss a wide range of issues as the legislative session approaches in January. As expected, most of the issues centered on money.

While Whitfield and Pickens counties are seeing a rise in sales tax returns from the state, every other county in Northwest Georgia has seen a decrease, said Assistant County Manager Gary Burkhalter.

Commissioners also asked the lawmakers to look at how, and how much, the state reimburses the county for housing offenders.

State Rep. Trey Kelley (R-Cedartown) said he has not been convinced to change his position in opposition to casino gambling in Georgia.

“This is such a large departure from Georgia’s tradition, and the way our state is now,” he said. “I need to see a more robust debate with a lot more details than we’ve had up to now before I could allow this to come up for a vote.”

Kelley’s concerns about the idea for casino gambling revolve around several items, but the most important being that Georgia should keep with its roots and focus more on promoting tourism efforts without the need for the resorts, along with other business interests such as expanding the state’s film industry.

He also sees problems with proponents who are pushing for the gaming industry to come to the state by using a new revenue stream for the HOPE scholarship as reason to allow for the change in the state constitution.

“The argument putting all the money toward the HOPE scholarship hasn’t been a convincing argument for me,” Kelley said. “It’s not a lack of revenue, but a lack of leadership at our colleges and universities to keep their tuition rates down. I’m leery of giving them a whole new bucket of money instead.”

 State Rep. Michael Caldwell (R-Woodstock) is refunding leftover campaign funds to donors.

From 2012 through 2014, Caldwell raised more than $32,000. He refunded nearly 40 percent of that to donors. (Final 2016 figures have yet to be reported.)

“The reason I do it is to give people the opportunity to decide for themselves and decide what happens with their money,” Caldwell said in a recent interview.

“One cashed his check and one asked it go to charity,” he said. The pair totaled about $10, Caldwell said.

7
Dec

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for December 7, 2016

sheila

Sheila is a young female German Shepherd Dog mix who is available for adoption from Animal Rescue Foundation Inc in Milledgeville, GA.

My name is Sheila and I am a sweet German Shepherd mix. I am an adult and pretty calm. I will make a great pet. Please come and get me.

roscoe-arf

Roscoe is a small adult male Chihuahua & Miniature Pinscher mix who is available for adoption from Animal Rescue Foundation Inc in Milledgeville, GA.

Hi! I’m Roscoe! I am a chihuahua minpin mix and I am a sweet boy.I am a little skittish when I first meet you but I really warm up after a bit.

bird

Bird is a young female Hound mix who is available for adoption from Animal Rescue Foundation Inc in Milledgeville, GA.

My name is Bird because a lot of people say I look like a birddog. All I know is that I am a sweet and energetic boy who loves people and other dogs. I am also a bit of an escape artist so I would need to be a house dog or in a good fence. But I really need a home. Please come and take a look at me at the shelter.

7
Dec

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 7, 2016

On December 7, 1801, Georgia’s United States Senator Abraham Baldwin was elected President Pro Tem of the Senate.

Today is the 75th anniversary of the Japanese bombing attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

Lauren Bruner didn’t speak of his experience on USS Arizona until recently, but found that speaking of it helped relieve his nightmares.

Here are seven interesting facts about Pearl Harbor.

GeorgiaInfo has the reactions of Georgia leaders to the Pearl Harbor attack,

U.S. Sen. Walter F. George stated: “Japan’s deed is an act of desperation by a war-mad people. The attack on Hawaii is a deliberate act of the Japanese government. I am utterly amazed. It is unthinkable… . An open declaration of war will give us greater freedom of action.” Noting the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, George optimistically predicted that “it may take two or three years to fight this war to the end.”

U.S. Sen. Richard B. Russell responded to the attack by stating: “Japan has committed national hari-kari. I cannot conceive of any member of Congress voting against a declaration of war in view of the unpardonable, unprovoked attack on us. I am utterly astounded.”

U.S. Rep. Carl Vinson, chairman of the House Naval Affairs Committee, added: “Of course we will have to declare war. There is nothing else for Congress to do. This is a concerted action by the Axis Powers, but I am confident our Navy is ready and will render a glorious account of itself. It probably means we will be drawn into the world conflict on both oceans.”

On December 7, 1946, the Winecoff Hotel in downtown Atlanta, previously considered fireproof, burned in the worst hotel fire to date.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Washington Democrats are considering “slow-walking” Trump’s cabinet nominations, including Tom Price for Secretary of Health and Human Services.Continue Reading..

6
Dec

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for December 6, 2016

chloe-rydal

Chloe is a senior female Shar Pei & Australian Shepherd Mix who is available for adoption from Georgia Pet T.A.I.L.S. Inc. in Rydal, GA.

Chloe is a sweet, sweet girl who loves attention. Chloe has spent her entire life in a hoarding envirnoment and was forgotten. She gets a little intimated by bigger dogs and becomes shy but does get along with everyone. This girl deserves to enjoy her later years being spoiled. Georgia Pet TAILS offers a foster-to-adopt program to make sure Chloe is the right fit for you and your home.

rivers

Rivers is a young female Black Mouth Cur who is available for adoption from Georgia Pet T.A.I.L.S. Inc. in Rydal, GA.

Rivers is very sweet and loves to “mother” other pups especially smaller dogs. She is a calm, lower energy girl. She loves cuddles and enjoys being with her family. She was rescued from Bartow county AC and is currently in a foster home and is thriving. She is ready for her furever home! Please contact www.georgiapettails.org for more information about Rivers.

todd-lab

Todd is a male Labrador Retriever who is available for adoption from Georgia Pet T.A.I.L.S. Inc. in Rydal, GA.

Todd is a happy-go-lucky pup. He loves everyone and everybody. He is afraid of motorcycles! He gets a little spooked when he hears them rumble. He loves to play and romp around the yard. His age is estimated to be five years, but this guy is one big puppy! He loves being a part of the family and being with people.

baby-rydal

Baby is a young female Labrador Retriever and Terrier mix who is available for adoption from Georgia Pet T.A.I.L.S. Inc. in Rydal, GA.

Baby is a sweet girl whotakes her time warming up to new people but once she opens up and trusts you, you are given a gift of a lifetime. This girl has been through such rough circumstances and still is able to love. Baby is available for foster or adoption through www.georgiapettails.org

6
Dec

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 6, 2016

On December 6, 1847, Dr. William White spoke to a group of Atlanta residents about a proposal to move the state capital to Atlanta and was met with cheers.

The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified on December 6, 1865, when Georgia ratified the Amendment outlawing slavery.

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

The Washington Monument was completed on December 6, 1884.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Muscogee County voters go to the polls today to choose between two candidates for Sheriff in a runoff election.

All of Muscogee County’s neighborhood voting precincts will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday for the runoff between Independent incumbent John Darr and his Democratic challenger Donna Tompkins, a retired sheriff’s captain.

The official results on Nov. 8 left Tompkins with 29,866 votes to Darr’s 21,608, or 44.3 to 32 percent. With Republican Mark LaJoye taking 20.2 percent and write-in candidate Brown drawing 3.4 percent, neither of the top two had the majority needed to win outright.

Runoffs are also being held in Henry County for Commission Chair, in Oconee County, and in DeKalb County Commission District 7.

Speaker David Ralston reiterated his desire to avoid revisiting religious liberty legislation in 2017.

“I’m content letting Congress have a go at it,” Rep. Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) said Thursday at a pre-legislative conference at the University of Georgia.

Ralston says a vigorous Republican majority in Congress ought to be able to pass a law that provides for religious freedom in Georgia and the rest of America.

“Let’s see if they can fix whatever defect there might be in the current federal law,” Ralston said, before addressing a question about religious freedom “fatigue” in the legislature.

“Well, I don’t know that I would call it fatigue,” Ralston said.  “But we’ve debated the bill for three sessions.”

“This is a priority for a lot of us,” said state Sen Josh McKoon (R-Columbus), a vocal backer of religious freedom.  He says he expects another full-throated religious freedom debate at the Capitol starting in January.

“I certainly intend to prosecute the case for this vigorously in this legislative session,” McKoon said. “And if we don’t get anything done in 2017, my goal is that any candidate for governor of this state, I hope one of the first questions people…ask them is, what’s your position on religious freedom?”

Legislators at the Biennial Institute in Athens heard about how economic development works with the various public agencies.

The institute is jointly sponsored by the university’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government and the leadership of the Georgia General Assembly. It is designed to give newly elected state lawmakers some background on the legislature, which convenes on the second Monday in January, and to help both new and old legislators explore a number of public policy areas.

The state’s economic development efforts extend beyond the high-profile, high-technology stories like Axion BioSystems, lawmakers learned Thursday from Josh Walton, director of the Macon office of the University of Georgia’s Small Business Development Center, a network of 17 offices across the state providing training, consulting services and research assistance to the state’s smaller businesses.

For 2015, Walton told lawmakers, the SBDC assisted more than 4,100 clients, hosting more than 21,000 counseling sessions, and the center is on pace to at least meet those numbers this year. Over the last five years, Walton said, the SBDC has been involved with starting more than 1,600 new businesses employing almost 12,500 people.

Among the businesspeople who received assistance from the SBDC, and continue to rely on it, is Hawkinsville-based Hardy Farms Peanuts. Brad Hardy, president of the company, told lawmakers Monday about how his family began selling peanuts straight from the field from the back of a truck, and is now working out of a 45,000-square-foot processing facility.

In its first year, Hardy said, the business sold 10,00o pounds of peanuts; today, the company is selling 5 million pounds of peanuts.

Georgia legislators are also considering how to address failing schools after voters rejected Amendment 1.

At the legislative biennial conference in Athens, House Education Committee Chairman Brooks Coleman said Monday there will be legislation outlining a “six-step” plan to give the state more power to address the schools.

He wouldn’t talk specifics, referring questions to state Rep. Kevin Tanner, a Dawsonville Republican who will be championing the measure. Tanner was tight-lipped, too, but said he’s already met with state School Superintendent Richard Woods, educators groups and state administrators to lay the groundwork. Deal’s office has also been consulted.

“We want to brief some other folks on this before we talk publicly. We want to work within the existing system we already have, working with the state board of education and the school superintendent,” he said. “We’re not creating a new bureaucracy, it doesn’t require a constitutional amendment.”

He indicated the measure would give the State Board of Education – whose members are appointed by the governor – more power to intervene.

He also said it would avoid the constitutional questions raised by the 2011 Georgia Supreme Court ruling that concluded that only county and area school boards have the explicit authority to create and maintain charter schools. Deal has said that ruling is why he pushed for a constitutional amendment rather than the simpler route of a legislative change.

“We feel like we’d be on good constitutional ground,” said Tanner, a member of the House education committee. “We think there’s a route.”

Floyd County Hospital officials spoke to the Rome News-Tribune about the future of healthcare as the federal government prepares for turnover in the executive branch.

“Both of these individuals have markedly different philosophies toward health reform than what’s in the (Affordable Care Act),” said Kurt Stuenkel, president and CEO of Floyd Medical Center.

Republicans in Congress say they are gearing up to quickly repeal and replace the ACA, known as Obamacare, but Stuenkel said it’s too early to do more than keep an eye on the proposals floating around.

He and Redmond Regional Medical Center CEO John Quinlivan both touted the current law’s provisions that gave coverage to about 20 million formerly uninsured Americans.

“Our biggest concern under a repeal and replace scenario is that the expanded health insurance coverage accomplished under the ACA be continued in some form,” Quinlivan said. “If we don’t do this, millions of citizens who’ve gained coverage will find themselves once again uninsured.”

Trump has said he favors making block grants to the states, and that could provide the flexibility Georgia needs, Stuenkel said.

“We’re a large Medicaid provider and would like to see more coverage there,” Stuenkel said. “The Georgia Chamber of Commerce had proposals we had hoped would be considered this year. Now, we’ll have to wait to see how that unfolds.”

Judy Fitzgerald was sworn in as Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD).

The Marietta Daily Journal takes a look at how Tom Price’s appointment as Secretary of HHS could affect local elected offices.

Last week, state Sen. Judson Hill, R-east Cobb, announced he’ll seek Price’s 6th District seat. On Monday, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Kay Kirkpatrick, a 30-year Cobb resident, announced she’ll run for Hill’s state Senate seat.

Kirkpatrick, a Republican, is former president of Resurgens Orthopeadics. She and her husband, Thomas, an emergency physician, have two adult children, live in the Ashebrooke subdivision and attend East Cobb United Methodist Church.

Kerwin Swint, a political science professor at Kennesaw State University, expects five or six candidates to enter the congressional race.

“It’s open, and it’s a special election, so it’s a shorter campaign. It favors people with name ID and money, normally,” Swint said.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the special election to fill Price’s seat could be held with the March 21 SPLOST vote already on the books? While that would save taxpayer money and resources, Eveler says it’s unlikely. There’s simply not enough time between an expected confirmation and the March election. While it’s mathematically possible, Eveler doubts the political machine can move that quickly.

Atlanta taxi owners have sued the state over allowing Uber to compete without the same regulatory burden.

The taxi companies told the Georgia Supreme Court Monday they spent tens of thousands of dollars to buy exclusive certificates needed to offer rides in the city, only to see lawmakers undermine that investment when they opened the door to ride-sharing services last year. The state said the taxi owners should have known the regulations could change.

In 2015 Georgia lawmakers approved House Bill 225 to regulate ride-sharing services. Among other things, HB 225 required drivers to pass background checks and said the companies must pay taxes and fees and carry insurance on their drivers.

Taxi owners say the bill also opened them up to less-regulated competition and undermined their business.

Under state law, taxicab drivers have long had to buy a special certificate – dubbed a “medallion” – to operate in Atlanta. The city capped the number of medallions at 1,600.

State law also allows drivers to sell or lease the medallions, to give them as gifts and even use them as collateral to secure a loan. On Monday attorney William Pannell told the Supreme Court his clients paid up to $80,000 for medallions.

But after HB 225 allowed the new ride-share services to compete, Pannell said the value of medallions plummeted to as little as $2,000.

Matt Kempner of the AJC does a good job of describing the cab owners’ plight.

One of the plaintiffs I spoke with is a cabby with a economics degree from Georgia State University and a minor in public policy.

Mohamed Hussein said he’s not complaining about market forces. He assured me he’s a big believer in capitalism. He’s owned a restaurant, a cell phone store and a phone-card business in the past. Recently, he started a tax service firm to make up for the diminished money in taxi driving.

“If I lose the business fair and square, I’m OK with that,” Hussein told me.

But Hussein and his fellow plaintiffs contend that by letting Uber and Lyft skirt costly regulations they slashed the market value of a government certificate, known as a medallion. Atlanta taxicab drivers are required to have them. Ride-sharing drivers are not.

“It was an investment for me, for my kids,” he said. He stuffed it in a bank security box.

“They told us you need to buy this to work in the city. Now, let them keep their word or let them reduce our money.”

“This idea of medallions, to me that was an impediment to the free enterprise system,” [State Rep. Alan] Powell, the state legislator, [said]. “If their medallions lost value, it is because of an outdated system.”

The issues at play in the Uber v. Taxi cabs market are the same that confront many Georgia industries when a traditionally regulated industry faces deregulation. This is occuring in healthcare, alcohol sales, and utilities. If there’s an app for that, there’s an upcoming economic fight.

5
Dec

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for December 5, 2016

jack

Jack is a 1-2 year old male Catahoula Leopard Dog Mix who is available for adoption from the Washington-Wilkes Humane Animal Shelter in Washington, GA.

He is a very friendly, energetic, playful boy. Unfortunately, he is heart worm positive.He is currently in foster care receiving treatment for his heart worms.

black-magic

Black Magic is a 4-6 year old male Black and Tan Coonhound mix who is available for adoption from the Washington-Wilkes Humane Animal Shelter in Washington, GA.

He is a sweet boy with lots of life and love. He gets along with other dogs and kids.

bristol

Bristol is a 2-3 year old Boxer and Pointer mix female who is available for adoption from the Washington-Wilkes Humane Animal Shelter in Washington, GA.

She is a fun, energetic girl who currently weighs 59 lbs. She can sit, “kennel up”, loves to ride, loves to play ball, gets along with most dogs, kids. Not sure about how she feels about cats. She needs improvement on leash walking and is currently in foster care.

5
Dec

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

628px-Grand_Union_Flag.svg

On December 3, 1775, the Grand Union Flag, comprising the Union Jack with thirteen red-and-white stripes was raised for the first time by Lieutenant John Paul Jones over the USS Alfred, a colonial warship. The flag would be used by Continental forces thorugh 1776 and early 1777.

USS Alfred

On December 3, 1776, General George Washington wrote Congress that he had moved most of his army across the Delaware River from Trenton, New Jersey to Pennsylvania.

On December 4, 1783, General George Washington told his officers he would resign his commission and return to his life at Mount Vernon.

On December 3, 1864, Union forces under the command of Gen. William T. Sherman skirmished against Wheeler’s Confederate cavalry at Thomas’ Station in Burke County, Georgia.

The Battle of Waynesboro, Georgia was fought between Wheeler’s Confederate cavalry and Kilpatrick’s federal troops on December 4, 1864.

On December 5, 1887, Georgia voters approved a new State Constitution and voted to keep the state capital in Atlanta instead of moving it back to Milledgeville.

Governor William Northen signed legislation placing on the statewide ballot a constitutional amendment to increase the number of Georgia Supreme Court Justices from 3 to 5 on December 4, 1893.

On December 4, 1932, a 12-foot tall statue of Tom Watson, former state legislator, Congressman, and United States Senator from Georgia, was placed on the State Capitol Grounds.

On December 4, 1945, the United States Senate voted to approve full U.S. participation in the United Nations. Georgia’s Senators voted in favor.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

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Last night at the legislative Biennial Institute in Athens, I heard State Rep. Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta) say, “I’m in,” with respect to the campaign for the Sixth Congressional District that Tom Price will vacate when he’s confirmed Secretary of HHS.Continue Reading..

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Dec

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for December 2, 2016

martin

Martin is a young male Pointer who is available for adoption from Augusta Animal Services in Augusta, GA.

petro

Petro is a young male Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Augusta Animal Services in Augusta, GA.

raeburn

Raeburn is a young male German Shepherd Dog mix who is available for adoption from Augusta Animal Services in Augusta, GA.

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Dec

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 2, 2016

John Wesley left Savannah on December 2, 1737.

John Wesley’s strict discipline as rector of Christ Church in Savannah irritated his parishioners. More trouble followed when he fell in love with Sophia Hopkey, the niece of Georgia’s chief magistrate. When she married another man, Wesley banned her from Holy Communion, damaging her reputation in the community.

His successful romantic rival sued him; but Wesley refused to recognize the authority of the court, and the man who would eventually found a major Protestant denomination in America left Georgia in disgrace on December 2, 1737

Touro Synagogue, the oldest existing synagogue in the United States, was dedicated on December 2, 1763 in Newport, Rhode Island.

The Skirmish at Rocky Creek Church took place near Waynesboro, Georgia on December 2, 1864.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Karen Handel leads to field of potential Republican candidates in the Sixth Congressional District, according to a poll released by WSB-TV.

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From the AJC Political Insider:

Former Secretary of State Karen Handel has carved out an early lead in the wide-open race to replace Rep. Tom Price, according to a Landmark/Rosetta Stone poll commissioned by WSB-TV.

Handel, who has not yet announced but appears likely to run, is one of about a dozen Republicans considering a bid for the seat after Price was tapped as Donald Trump’s health secretary. The only declared Republican so far is state Sen. Judson Hill, who hopes to take the 6th District back to its Cobb County roots.

Congressman Tom Price told The Daily Caller he expects the district to elect a Republican to succeed him.

Price assured that he thinks the chances of Democrats pulling off an upset are unlikely in a special election if his nomination is confirmed.

“I don’t think so, we’ll be fine,” he told The Daily Caller News Foundation. Price said he doesn’t have any favorites in terms of successors either as a congressman or chairman of the Budget Committee, but hopes to stay in the role until he assumes his next position.

“We’ll let that play out,” he said. “There are a lot of good folks looking at each.”

Senator David Perdue travels to New York today.

“As a fellow businessman and outsider himself, Sen. Perdue was invited to Trump Tower to discuss working together to advance President-elect Trump’s 100-day plan in the Senate and changing the direction of our country,” said Perdue spokeswoman Caroline Vanvick said in a statement.

Perdue, who chaired Trump’s election campaign in Georgia, was one of the Republican president-elect’s earliest, staunchest and most vocal supporters. Because of that, he is widely viewed to be a valuable conduit between the new administration and the Senate.

In announcing the meeting on Thursday, Jason Miller, communications director for the Trump transition team, told reporters that Perdue “was a big supporter of ours on the campaign trail. He’s a fantastic ally for the president-elect.”

Sonny Perdue spoke to The Macon Telegraph about his meeting in Trump Tower.

Perdue described his meeting with Trump as “a very businesslike-type interview. Really kind of a job interview. It was not political. It was about the essence of the job and trade and agricultural potential and productivity, and I think he was trying to really find some content-expertise people to put in rather than political appointees. So I was encouraged by that.”

Asked Thursday if a cabinet position and a job in Washington is something that interests him at this stage in his life, Perdue, a grandfather of 14 who turns 70 later this month, said, “That had to be contemplated and answered before I would agree to be interviewed. I think it would have been very duplicitous to go up for an interview, get the cameras and then to turn down somebody.”

He added that he and his wife, Mary, are not “looking forward to having our lives disrupted again, but honestly at this stage of America, I think it is truly one of those serve-your-county kind of deals. And if we get drafted, then we’re gonna report for duty.”

Perdue said he was told that a decision on the agriculture post could be made “in a week or two.”

Nick Ayers, an alumnus of Governor Sonny Perdue’s campaigns and administrations, is being spoken of as a candidate for Chairman of the Republican National Committee.

A person close to Mr. Trump said the president-elect’s allies are coalescing around Nick Ayers, a member of the transition team, to be the party’s chairman. Mercedes Schlapp, another Republican operative, is being considered for a role as co-chairwoman.

Politico also writes about Ayers.

Pence, meanwhile, has been supportive of Nick Ayers, a Georgia-based operative who advised Pence during the presidential campaign. Ayers, a former RGA executive director, is currently helping the transition. During internal conversations, the vice president-elect has told aides that Ayers would be a solid pick.

Once Trump makes his choice, that person must get final approval from the 168 members who comprise the national committee. The vote is expected to take place in January, when the RNC meets for its annual winter meeting.

WMAZ-13 in Macon gives some background on Ayers and Sonny Perdue.

James Nicholas Ayers is a Cobb County native and major operative of the Republican Party. In 2010, Time Magazine listed Ayers as one of its 40 most influential Americans under 40.

But Perdue put Ayers on his high-speed trajectory when he tapped Ayers to manage his 2006 re-election campaign. Ayers was 22.

Since then, Ayers has led the national Republican Party and also worked on several GOP campaigns. That includes the senatorial campaign of U.S. Sen. David Perdue, Sonny Perdue’s first cousin. More recently, Ayers was a political advisor to Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s re-election campaign.

Pence ended his re-election efforts when Trump chose Pence as his running mate. Because of Ayers and his Sonny Perdue connections, Pence made a campaign stop in Perry during the presidential race. Perdue introduced Pence to the crowd and afterwards stood with Pence backstage while he greeted supporters and fielded questions from reporters.

Now, Ayers sits on Trump’s transition team, a group that’ll recommend a person for Secretary of Agriculture. In their first interview meeting, Perdue questioned Ayers. On Tuesday, Ayers and the other transition team members questioned Perdue.

When making their bets, professional gamblers would rate the Ayers/Pence/Perdue connection as a positive in the Secretary of Agriculture sweepstakes.

Muscogee County voters have been streaming to the polls in early voting for a runoff election in the Sheriff’s race.

The early vote in Tuesday’s runoff for Muscogee County Sheriff may top 3,000.

When the fourth day of early voting ended Thursday, 2,686 had cast ballots in the race between incumbent John Darr and challenger Donna Tompkins, with 712 voting Monday, 627 Tuesday, 577 Wednesday and 770 Thursday.

Friday is the last day to vote early 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the community room on the ground floor of the City Services Center, 3111 Citizens Way, off Macon Road by the Columbus Public Library. Voters must enter through the building’s rear because the front entrance is locked for security reasons.

Christopher Sanders will take the reins as Executive Director for the East Metro DeKalb Community Improvement District.

The House Study Committee on Judicial Qualifications Commission Reform issued recommendations for reforming the Board after the adoption of Constitutional Amendment 3 last month.

Study committee chairman Rep. Wendell Willard, R-Sandy Springs, said the commission had done good work for most of its four decades but that in the past few years had “strayed off the tracks a little bit.” A report adopted Wednesday by the committee cited concerns about what it called “coercive investigatory practices” and a failure to provide due process to judges who faced complaints.

The study committee report recommends making commissioners subject to discipline for improper conduct; enshrining commissioner term limits in law; making any discussion of the use of commission funds and a commission decision to file a judicial complaint subject to disclosure under the state Open Records Act; not allowing a commissioner to initiate an investigation without presenting it to the other commissioners first, except in emergency cases; and providing for the removal of commissioners for misconduct.

The commission has always acted under a shroud of secrecy, and the report’s recommendations largely preserve that. They allow the commission to go into private executive session to talk about the investigation of a judge or to meet with a judge or a judge’s attorneys.

Willard said he also expects to expand the commission from its current seven members to either nine or 12 members. Those members would be split into separate panels so that the members responsible for investigating complaints against judges are not also responsible for adjudicating the complaints.

Tupac Shakur and Jesus both received write-in votes in Chatham County.

Jesus, in some form or another, was written in for nearly all of the 27 races on the ballot in Chatham County. Across races, he was written in more than 100 times. God was written in about 30 times and Harambe about 45 times. Choices weren’t necessarily animate either: “Rum Ham,” a booze-soaked piece of meat that was featured in an episode of comedy series “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” made an appearance five times. Someone else, meanwhile, voted for “Breaking Bad,” the name of a TV drama.

U.S. House District 1: Recently deceased Savannah celebrity Lady Chablis, Luke Skywalker and 1990s rapper Tupac Shakur.

Chatham County Commission District 2: “Ghost Buster” – no indication which one or whether the voter meant the original films or the 2016 remake.

Chatham County Commission District 4: “a robotic finger” and horror movie monster “Babadook.”

House District 163: “IAMBECOMEDEATHDESTROYEROFWORLDS.”

Of the two mentioned above, I only expect one of them to return from the grave, and “King of Kings” won’t be on the ballot.

Georgia Ports Authority is super-sizing it’s dockside capacity, with four new large cranes arriving.

“We’re excited to welcome these newest cranes to our fleet,” [Georgia Ports Executive Director Griff] Lynch said. “Savannah is already the most efficient gateway port on the U.S. East Coast. This new equipment will ensure the world-class service our customers have come to expect, with unmatched reliability and no congestion.”

Designed by Konecranes of Finland, the cranes in this latest shipment bring the Port of Savannah’s fleet at Garden City Terminal to 26 – the most at any single terminal in the U.S.Chris Rice, GPA’s general manager of ship operations, notified ships’ agents and stevedores that the Teal will start her inbound transit at approximately 10 a.m. Sunday.

Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) contributed language to The 21st Century Cures Act, which is moving in Congress.

The 21st Century Cures Act, passed Wednesday by the House, would help drug and medical device companies win swifter government approval of their products and boost disease research, but it also calls for mental health reform.

The bill includes language from Collins’ Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act, sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn.

That aspect of the bill calls for “supporting mental health courts and intervention teams and increasing training for law enforcement officers who are often the first to engage individuals with mental health conditions,” Collins said.

“The ongoing mental health crisis affects all of our communities, and we designed this legislation to bring relief to a system in which jails care for more mental health patients than medical facilities do,” he said.

“The common-sense approach to mental health treatment complements criminal justice reform efforts and ultimately serves the law enforcement community, overburdened court systems, mental health sufferers and the taxpayers, whose money goes to public health and safety measures.”

The bipartisan, 996-page bill moves to the Senate, where approval is expected next week.