Category: Georgia Politics

28
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 28, 2017

On April 28, 1776, Colonel Lachlan McIntosh wrote from Savannah to General George Washington.

he concluded his letter with the report that because the South had limited manufacturing capability, the price of needed goods was two or three times higher than in the North, making procurement of clothing and arms for the new recruits difficult.

This last tidbit would prove prescient as lack of manufacturing proved an insuperable problem for the Confederacy. On May 16, 1777, McIntosh dueled against Button Gwinnett, scoring a fatal wound against one of Georgia’s signers of the Declaration of Independence. McIntosh was acquitted at trial but forced to leave Georgia and eventually served under Washington at Valley Forge.

In 1787, McIntosh was a Commissioner representing Georgia in a series of three boundary disputes with South Carolina, two which were resolved on April 28, 1787 with the Convention of Beaufort.

George Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the United States of America in New York City on April 30, 1789. From Washington’s inaugural address:

it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge.

In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either.

No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States.

On April 30, 1803, negotiators from France and the United States finished discussions of the Louisiana Purchase, which would double the size of the country.

By the middle of the 18th century, France controlled more of the modern United States than any other European power: from New Orleans northeast to the Great Lakes and northwest to modern-day Montana. In 1762, during the French and Indian War, France ceded its America territory west of the Mississippi River to Spain and in 1763 transferred nearly all of its remaining North American holdings to Great Britain. Spain, no longer a dominant European power, did little to develop Louisiana Territory during the next three decades. In 1796, Spain allied itself with France, leading Britain to use its powerful navy to cut off Spain from America.In 1801, Spain signed a secret treaty with France to return Louisiana Territory to France.

Reports of the retrocession caused considerable uneasiness in the United States. Since the late 1780s, Americans had been moving westward into the Ohio and Tennessee River valleys, and these settlers were highly dependent on free access to the Mississippi River and the strategic port of New Orleans. U.S. officials feared that France, resurgent under the leadership of Napoleon Bonaparte, would soon seek to dominate the Mississippi River and access to the Gulf of Mexico.

U.S. envoys agreed to pay $11,250,000 and assumed claims of its citizens against France in the amount of $3,750,000. In exchange, the United States acquired the vast domain of Louisiana Territory, some 828,000 square miles of land. In October, Congress ratified the purchase, and in December 1803 France formally transferred authority over the region to the United States. The acquisition of the Louisiana Territory for the bargain price of less than three cents an acre was Thomas Jefferson’s most notable achievement as president.

In 1874, the Georgia General Assembly passed legislation designating April 26th of each year as “Confederate Memorial Day,” choosing the day of Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston’s surrender to Union General William T. Sherman at Durham Station, North Carolina. There is no longer a statutorily-recognized Confederate Memorial Day, but it has become custom for Governors to issue a proclamation yearly designating April 26th as Confederate Memorial Day or to make it the Monday or Friday closest to the 26th.

On April 30, 1886, former Confederate President Jefferson Davis stopped in LaGrange, Georgia en route to Atlanta for the unveiling of a monument to Benjamin Hill. On May 1, 1886, Jefferson Davis visited the Benjamin Hill monument at Peachtree and West Peachtree Streets in Atlanta, having arrived the previous day.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt made his fourth trip to Georgia on April 29, 1926, closing on the purchase of property at Warm Springs, Ga.

Dachau concentration camp was liberated by American troops on April 29, 1945. At least 31,951 inmates died there, more than 30,000 survivors were found on liberation day, and more than 250,000 passed through the camp and its subcamps.

Dobbins Air Force Base was dedicated on April 29, 1950, named for in honor of the late Capt. Charles M. Dobbins and in memory of the other servicemen from Cobb County. Dobbins was shot down over Sicily in 1943 and his family attended the opening of the base.

Hank Aaron hit his first home run in Atlanta against the Houston Astros on April 29, 1966, providing the winning margin as the Braves won 4-3.

Kennesaw, Georgia City Council adopted an ordinance on May 1, 1982 requiring each household to own a gun and ammunition.

(a) In order to provide for the emergency management of the city, and further in order to provide for and protect the safety, security and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants, every head of household residing in the city limits is required to maintain a firearm, together with ammunition therefore.

(b) Exempt from the effect of this section are those heads of households who suffer a physical or mental disability which would prohibit them from using such a firearm. Further exempt from the effect of this section are those heads of households who are paupers or who conscientiously oppose maintaining firearms as a result of beliefs or religious doctrine, or persons convicted of a felony.

Atlanta was selected as the host city for the 1996 Summer Olympics on April 29, 1988.

On April 29, 1993, Barry White guest-starred on The Simpsons. I guess that makes today “Whacking Day.”

On April 28, 2014, the earliest ever Primary Elections in Georgia began, as in-person early voting started across the state.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Donald Trump speaks today at the NRA Convention at the World Congress Center at 12:30 PM. At 1 PM, a fundraiser featuring the President and benefiting Karen Handel’s congressional campaign begins, with the program at 2:30. Expect traffic delays in downtown all afternoon. Bigly.

Cobb County Commissioner Bob Ott told the MDJ he’ll be attending the event.

“It’s exciting because any time you have the opportunity to meet the president of the United States, it’s a big deal,” Ott said. “The fact that the president is taking time out of his busy schedule to be involved in the 6th District race shows the national significance of the race.”

Governor Deal was in a bill-signing mode, yesterday, inking ten pieces of legislation from this year’s General Assembly.

HB 139 – Education; provide transparency of financial information of local school systems and schools; provisions; signed April 27, 2017
HB 198 – Elementary and secondary education; influenza vaccine; provide information; signed April 27, 2017
HB 224 – Quality Basic Education Act; military student may attend any school in local system; provide; signed April 27, 2017
HB 237 – Public Education Innovation Fund Foundation; receive private donations for grants to public schools; provisions; signed April 27, 2017
HB 338 – Education; system of supports and assistance for low-performing schools in the greatest need; provisions; signed April 27, 2017
HB 37 – Education; private postsecondary institutions in Georgia shall not adopt sanctuary policies; provide; signed April 27, 2017
HB 430 – Governor’s Education Reform Commission; charter schools; implement recommendations; signed April 27, 2017
HB 437 – Agricultural Education Advisory Commission; recreate; signed April 27, 2017
SB 186 – Education; HOPE; students who earned high school diploma through dual coursework are eligible; associate degree; clarify; signed April 27, 2017
SB 211 – Student Assessments;consideration of local reading programs; research based formative assessments; summative component; provide; signed April 27, 2017

From the Governor’s press release:

Gov. Nathan Deal today signed HB 338, legislation sponsored by Rep. Kevin Tanner, which aims to improve education outcomes for Georgia’s students. This critical and bipartisan bill provides a method for identifying low-performing schools and establishes a multiyear, multifaceted turnaround plan to assist them. Deal also signed legislation addressing sanctuary policies, increased school choice opportunities for military children, testing standards, and governance and funding of charter schools.

“Georgia remains committed to improving our state’s education system by increasing student access to high-performing schools and learning environments conducive to today’s academic standards,” said Deal. “To that end, Rep. Tanner has worked tirelessly with my office, members of the General Assembly and other stakeholders on HB 338. By focusing improvement efforts and education resources on our lowest-performing schools, our most vulnerable students will have greater opportunities for success. The educational investments in this legislation will produce long-term benefits for students, families and communities by ensuring education outcome is not hindered by zip code, but rather enhanced by state support and local accountability. I want to thank Rep. Tanner, members of the General Assembly and many others who worked together for the benefit of Georgia’s current and future students.”

“It has been a true honor to work closely with Gov. Deal and his incredible team on HB 338,” said Tanner. “I believe that working to improve our state’s low-performing schools can have a greater impact on the future of our state than any other issue we could address as a General Assembly. I appreciate Gov. Deal’s leadership in this area, and I look forward to continuing to work with his staff and the State Board of Education to put this plan into real action.”

In addition to HB 338, signed legislation includes:
• HB 37, sponsored by Rep. Earl Ehrhart
• HB 139, sponsored by Rep. Dave Belton
• HB 198, sponsored by Rep. Katie Dempsey
• HB 224, sponsored by Rep. Dave Belton
• HB 237, sponsored by Rep. Brooks Coleman
• HB 430, sponsored by Rep. Buzz Brockway
• HB 437, sponsored by Rep. Robert Dickey
• SB 186, sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Tippins
• SB 211, sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Tippins

State Senator Michael Williams, determined not to be left out of any news cycle discussing possible 2018 candidates for Governor, has launched a new splash page suggesting a statewide run is imminent.

The Cumming Republican has unveiled a new website (“Williams for Georgia 2018”) that includes an attack on “career politicians pushing us further down the road to less freedom and more government!” Not that he has Cagle in mind.

Williams, a businessman who once owned a chain of Sport Clips barber shops, has hinted repeatedly he would run for governor in 2018 after Donald Trump’s victory.

His strategist, Seth Weathers, said Williams has been encouraged by people “looking for a viable candidate for governor other than the same career politicians.”

“As the first Republican elected official in Georgia to endorse Trump, a lot of that core Trump base is looking to Williams as someone who can carry that mantle at the state level,” said Weathers. “He’s leaving all options open.”

Kennesaw City Council member Andy Morris called his colleague Philip Goldstein “lazy.”

The sparring match took place during the council’s Judicial and Legislative Committee.

It’s actually an interesting debate on the role of elected city council members versus appointed board members.

 

27
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 27, 2017

German scientist Johannes Kepler dated the creation of the universe to April 27, 4977 BC(E).

On April 27, 1773, the British Parliament enacted the Tea Act, granting a monopoly on selling tea to the American colonies.

Richard B. Russell, Sr. was born on April 27, 1861 near Marietta, Georgia. Russell served in the Georgia House of Representatives, on the Georgia Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, and ran for Governor, Congress, and United States Senate. His son, Richard B. Russell, Jr. served in the Georgia State House, including a stint as Speaker, as Governor of Georgia, and in the United States Senate.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Ron “Big D” Daniels, the official Court Jester Legal Counsel and Poet Laureate for GaPundit.com is running for Secretary of the Georgia Bar Young Lawyers Division. Click here to vote for him today if you’re a YLD member.

House Bill 196, signed this week by Governor Deal, was titled as a bill dealing with tax exemptions for the music industry, and that’s how it started its legislative life.

The version that passed and was signed into law was gutted and became a “Christmas tree” bill carrying a number of other non-controversial tax measures, including “to revise the criteria used by tax assessors to determine the fair market value of real property; to allow certain business corporations to participate in the indirect ownership of a home for the mentally disabled for financing purposes;…. to provide that certain disabled veterans shall be issued refunds of certain ad valorem taxes paid during certain periods of time when such disabled veterans receive final determinations of disability containing retroactiveperiods of eligibility.”

Consider this both a clarification without an admission of fault, and a cautionary tale about the nature of the legislative process.

Governor Deal will sign House Bill 338 today, creating a system to help “turnaround” failing school systems.

The bill is an alternative to Deal’s preferred strategy for low-performing schools: A constitutional amendment seeking to let the state take over some schools. Voters rejected that in November.

Lawmakers instead proposed a “chief turnaround officer” to work with struggling schools. Schools selected by the new official will sign contracts with the state, creating a plan to improve student performance. Deal’s signature will begin work to implement the plan, including a national search for the new position.

Deal’s office says he plans to sign nine other education bills on Thursday.

The AJC’s Get Schooled blog has information on some of the other bills the Governor will sign today.

The Special Election for the Sixth Congressional District will likely end up the most-expensive house race ever.

Right now the record is held by the 2012 election in the 18th congressional district of Florida, pitting wild-man incumbent Republican Allen West against Democrat Patrick Murphy. West, being a wild man, had a national fundraising base, and he and his allies spent close to $20 million. Murphy and his allies spent enough to push the total to a reported $29,279,964. Murphy narrowly won.

Runoff candidates Karen Handel and Jon Ossoff aren’t there yet, but are off to a blazing start in fundraising and spending after a combined $14 million was deployed for the first round.

Ossoff and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reserved three-quarters of a million dollars in ads almost instantly after the April 18 returns. With the Democratic candidate coming so close to a knockout, there is no reason to think his amazing fundraising will slack off significantly. And whether or not he remains highly competitive in the ad wars, his investment in field operations (costing $2 million before the first round) is impressive….

On the GOP side, it’s not Handel (who will supposedly benefit from a fundraiser headlined by Donald Trump himself) who’s burning money, but the outside GOP groups that may have actually outspent Ossoff in the first round. Paul Ryan’s leadership PAC spent a reported $3 million in the first round, and has already committed $2.5 million for ads and another cool million for field operations. You can expect the National Republican Congressional Committee (the DCCC’s counterpart), which spent $2 million the first time around, to stay engaged, along with the Ricketts family’s Ending Spending PAC, which was unique in backing Handel from the get-go. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is also expected to spend some dough backing Handel.

The West-Murphy spending record might have been safe if the runoff campaign in sixth congressional district wasn’t a nine-week marathon. As it is, the money will keep rolling in like the ocean tides.

A fundraiser featuring President Donald Trump in support of Republican Karen Handel will certainly add to the spending total.

[T]he June 20 must-win runoff for Republicans has fast become a circle-the-wagons moment. Bitter rivals from Handel’s past races — including a 2010 bid for governor and a 2014 run for the U.S. Senate — have quickly endorsed her. And a raft of Washington-based super PACs have pledged their support.

That could help neutralize one of her most glaring weaknesses. She’s long struggled to keep pace with rivals in the race for campaign cash, and her last fundraising haul was about 20 times smaller than Ossoff’s unprecedented $8.3 million take.

New donors have buoyed her campaign with more than $1 million since last week’s vote, and Trump’s Atlanta fundraiser will add another tide of cash. Tickets start at $2,700 a person or $5,400 a couple. A hosting sponsorship will cost $25,000.

She’ll have reinforcements from outside groups ready to pour money and resources into what could wind up being the most expensive House race ever. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed Handel on Tuesday, and the Congressional Leadership Fund — a super PAC with ties to U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan — said Wednesday that it will pump an additional $3.5 million into the contest.

The Congressional Leadership Fund’s $3.5 million spend will include $2.5 million in TV ads beginning May 10 along with a door-to-door canvassing program, direct mail, and digital ads.

Democrats, meanwhile, are using the Trump-Handel fundraiser as fodder for more fundraising of their own.

“Trump’s SO scared of losing that he’s leaving work early to crush our historic momentum,” said an email solicitation sent out by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The organization said it had created an “Emergency Response Fund to match the piles of cash Trump will rake in” for Republican Karen Handel.

Floyd County Commissioners named six members to the committee planning a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) referendum.

The Georgia Department of Human Services Division of Aging held a listening session in Hall County for input into a comprehensive plan on addressing senior hunger.

Uptown Macon will loan $800k to a private business in downtown Macon.

When a Macon-Bibb County Commission committee agreed Tuesday to help NewTown Macon with revenue bond funding for a downtown business, a TV media report caused some confusion.

[NewTown President/CEO Josh] Rogers wrote in a statement posted on his group’s website that “13WMAZ inaccurately said that the County approved use of its money to provide the loan to the Downtown business, and we want to be very clear that at no time was taxpayer money allocated to this project nor to this Fund.” The station has since posted a correction on its website.

A commission committee approved an $800,000 loan to NewTown Macon for City Ventures LLC, which is the company that owns Crazy Bull, a nightclub at 473 Second St.

NewTown created its Real Estate Development Loan Fund in 2012, which consists of bond funds issued by the Macon-Bibb County Urban Development Authority and backed by the “full faith and credit of the Macon-Bibb government,” Rogers said. The fund provides loans to help develop the downtown area and businesses downtown. If a loan is more than 40 percent of the total project cost, NewTown must notify the commission, which is what happened Tuesday.

“Even if all we ended up with is the real estate, it will be more than sufficient to cover the outstanding debt,” Rogers said.

Roswell City Admininstrator Kay Love submitted her resignation and will start a new job with the Georgia Municipal Association.

2018 Campaigns

Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle will conduct a tour of Georgia next week, including a stop at Nonami Plantation in Albany on Nonami Plantation in Albany on Wednesday, May 3rd.

Cagle will also speak at the Georgia Southern graduation ceremony on Saturday, May 6th.

The Lieutenant Governor is holding a free event in Gwinnett County on Sunday.

Casey Cagle Event

26
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 26, 2017

On August 26, 1864, having withdrawn from trenches and fortifications outside Atlanta the previous day, U.S. General Sherman sent most of his forces westward around Atlanta and toward the south of the city.

On August 26, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted. Ratification took place on August 18, 1920, as the Tennessee House of Representatives adopted it, but adoption became official on August 26, when United States Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby certified the Amendment. It reads:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

On August 26, 1939, the first televised major league baseball game aired, as the Brooklyn Dodgers and Cincinnati Reds split a doubleheader in Ebbets Field.

On August 26, 1961, the 718th Engineer Light Equipment Company of Fort Valley and the 210th Signal Base Depot Company of Augusta were called up to take part in the American response to the crisis in Berlin.

President Lyndon B. Johnson was nominated for President by the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey on August 26, 1964.

On August 26, 1965, Sonny & Cher were at No.1 on the UK singles chart with ‘I Got You Babe’, the duo’s only UK No.1. Sonny Bono was inspired to write the song to capitalize on the popularity of the term “babe,” as heard in Bob Dylan’s ‘It Ain’t Me Babe’. Bono would later be elected to Congress as a Republican in 1994 and served from 1995 until his death in 1998.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Donald Trump will headline a fundraiser on Friday, April 28th for Karen Handel’s congressional campaign.

The fundraiser is scheduled for an Atlanta site after Trump’s keynote speech at a National Rifle Association convention at the Georgia World Congress Center, and it’s likely to bring a tide of cash for Handel’s campaign. A ticket starts at $2,700 and a host sponsorship will cost $25,000.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is also supporting Handel in the Special Runoff Election.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce confirmed Tuesday it will put its muscle behind Handel ahead of a June 20 runoff in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District that covers northern suburbs of Atlanta.

Chamber officials didn’t say how much they’ll spend on Handel’s behalf, but the organization’s endorsement usually precedes a heavy media blitz. The race is widely viewed as a potential preview of the 2018 midterm elections.

Governor Nathan Deal signed five bills yesterday.

HB 196 – Income tax; exemption for royalties paid to musical artists; provide, signed April 25, 2017
HB 199 – Income tax credit; interactive entertainment companies; change certain provisions, signed April 25, 2017
HB 208 – Game and fish; boat registration fees and additional methods for reporting the sale of boats; revise, signed April 25, 2017
HB 265 – Income tax; credit for establishing or relocating quality jobs; revise provisions, signed April 25, 2017
HB 342 – Enterprise zones; certain urban redevelopment zones; provide designation, signed April 25, 2017

The Atlanta Business Chronicle discusses two of the bills Gov. Deal signed.

House Bill 199 will provide a 20 percent tax credit for post-production companies with at least a $250,000 payroll in Georgia. The companies must also spend at least $500,000 per tax year to qualify.

While the state has offered generous tax credits to the film industry since 2008, the post-production portion of the business has been left out until now.

The new credit for post-production work will be capped at $5 million next year, $10 million in 2019 and $15 million from 2020 through 2022. No single company can get more than 20 percent of the total statewide credit available in a given year.

House Bill 265 exempts from state and local sales taxes building materials used for renovating or expanding performance arts venues run by a nonprofit organization containing an art museum, symphonic hall and theater. While the Woodruff Arts Center is not mentioned in the legislation by name, that definition matches the center.

Former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue was sworn in yesterday as Secretary of Agriculture.

Perdue was sworn in by U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, who also is a native of Georgia.

“The only legacy that I seek is the only one that any grandparent or parent seeks – to be good stewards, and to hand off our nation, our home, our fields, our forests, and our farms to the next generation in better shape than we found it,” Perdue said.

“Making sure that Americans who make their livelihoods in the agriculture industry have the ability to thrive will be one of my top priorities. I am committed to serving the customers of USDA, and I will be an unapologetic advocate for American agriculture.”

As ag chief, Perdue will oversee the nation’s nutrition, farm and forestry programs and will play a major role in shaping the upcoming U.S. farm bill and in U.S. ag trade negotiations. He said he plans to be guided by four principles: maximizing the ability of farmers and agribusiness to produce, create jobs and sell their goods; prioritize customer service in the USDA; ensure a safe and secure U.S. food supply, and stewardship of the land.

“As secretary, I will champion the concerns of farmers, ranchers, foresters and producers, and will work tirelessly to solve the issues facing our farm families,” Perdue said. “I am proud to have been given this opportunity and look forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting to work as we continue to move the USDA and our nation forward.”

Perdue launched his official Twitter handle Tuesday: @SecretarySonny.

Democrat Jon Ossoff is not only ineligible to vote for himself because he doesn’t live in the Sixth District, he also has never voted in a runoff election.

Voting records reveal that the 30-year-old Ossoff, who has been an eligible Georgia voter for over a decade, has never voted in one of the state’s many runoff elections, according to information obtained through the Georgia secretary of state.

Ossoff’s campaign did not return a request for comment on his decision to ignore runoff elections in the past.

Dick Williams with the Dunwoody Crier, write about Ossoff’s family wealth.

At 30, courtesy of an inheritance and a wealthy family, he shows a net worth of $1.7 million. That includes a town house on Capitol Hill in Washington purchased by his family. He is a good investor, favoring Apple and Warren Buffett.

His family has a yacht and a Cessna, the latter purchased through a limited liability company using a relative’s address in New Hampshire, one of a handful of states that don’t charge sales taxes on airplane purchases. In Georgia it would have been a taxable event.

Ossoff researchers point to a family that uses multiple LLCs in many states to avoid taxes and shield personal assets.

DeKalb County is considering opening multiple early voting locations ahead of the runoff. Jon Ossoff won’t be able to vote at any of them.

The Georgia NAACP filed suit against the state, claiming a 2015 redistricting violates the Voting Rights Act.

The Washington, D.C.-based Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law filed the federal lawsuit against the state of Georgia on behalf of the state chapter of the NAACP and five residents of the affected districts. Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the state’s top elections official, also is named in the suit.

“Lawmakers firmly placed their thumb on the scale by redrawing district boundaries in ways that would preserve their incumbency and freeze the status quo in place,” said Kristen Clarke, executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee. “They seek to disregard the demographic changes occurring across Georgia by putting pen to paper mid-decade.”

The changes in 2015 affected more than a dozen of the House of Representatives’ 180 districts, but the lawsuit focuses on the 105th District represented by Republican Joyce Chandler in Gwinnett County and the 111th in Henry County represented by Republican Brian Strickland.

The lawsuit says the changes increased the percentage of white voters in Chandler’s district to about 53 percent in 2016 elections, compared to 48 percent. Black voters went from 32 percent to 30 percent. The suit says the changes increased the percentage of white voters in Strickland’s district to 58 percent in 2016 elections, compared to 56 percent. Black voters went from 33 percent to 31 percent.

Both Republicans were re-elected to their seats last year over black Democrats.

From CourthouseNews.com:

This is the second federal lawsuit related to voting rights violations filed in Georgia in the past week.

On April 20, five civil rights organizations filed a complaint alleging that a Georgia law requiring voters to register three months prior to participating in federal elections violates the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.

If left in place, the statute determines who can vote in the upcoming, high-profile runoff election for Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District seat.

Augusta Commissioners are set to vote on a ban of sagging pants.

Augusta commissioners remain divided on whether to ban saggy pants and a committee referred a vote to draft an ordinance to the full commission Tuesday.

“Your belt ought to be around your waist, not around your legs,” said Commissioner Marion Williams, who has pushed to outlaw wearing pants so low they expose the skin or underwear. “The belt is around their knees in most cases, and in their hand.”

General Counsel Andrew MacKenzie said he’d explored ways of expanding Augusta’s indecent exposure law to include the practice, with “progressive discipline” for violators to start with community service, then a fine.

But Commissioner Bill Fennoy said he wished others such as the school system and businesses would deliver the message instead.

Critics have said a ban will increase encounters between law enforcement and young black men.

25
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 25, 2017

James Oglethorpe won reelection to the British Parliament while in America on April 25, 1734.

The United States declared war on Spain on April 25, 1898.

On April 25, 1996, Georgia Governor Zell Miller signed Senate Bill 519 designating English the official language of Georgia.

An extremely rare 18th-century parchment copy of the Declaration of Independence has been located and authenticated in southern England.

The researchers dated the manuscript, known as “The Sussex Declaration,” to the 1780s based on handwriting, spelling errors and analysis of parchment style and preparation. The document likely once belonged to the Third Duke of Richmond, the so-called “Radical Duke” who supported the Americans during the Revolution, according to the experts.

The parchment was likely produced in New York or Philadelphia. Researchers think that it may have been commissioned by Founding Father James Wilson, or one of his political allies, as part of his advocacy efforts on behalf of the Federal Constitution.

Unlike other 18th century versions of the Declaration, the list of signatories on The Sussex Declaration is not grouped by states. Allen and Sneff think that this detail may reflect efforts by Wilson and his allies during the Constitutional Convention and ratification process, to argue that the Declaration’s authority rested on a unitary national people, not on a federation of states.

On the Sussex Declaration, the phrase “the pursuit of happiness” is followed by a dash, not a period. However, the phrase “consent of the governed” is followed by a period.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation worked with Gwinnett County Police and other law enforcement agencies in “Operation Spring Cleaning,” resulting in 23 arrests.

They came from all over metro Atlanta and beyond to meet children they’d groomed online for sex in Gwinnett County.

They were men of all different backgrounds ranging in age from 19 to 48. They worked as electricians, construction workers and janitors. Others were unemployed. One was a member of the United States Air Force.

“I guess it’s just a cultural thing with us here in the United States. You know, spring time means cleaning,” said Detective David Smiths with the Gwinnett County Police Special Victims Unit. “We’re cleaning out the offenders in Gwinnett County.”

The Gwinnett County Police Department joined with the GBI, the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office, the Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office and the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force to plan “Operation Spring Cleaning,” which officially began April 20.

“Gwinnett is a huge hub because (Interstate) 85 runs through here,” Smiths said. “So, we knew we’d get a lot of people traveling from all over metro Atlanta who’d be willing to drive to Gwinnett because it’s so central.”

As of Monday afternoon, all 23 of the suspects arrested during “Operation Spring Cleaning” have been charged with violating child pornography laws. But Smiths said further charges are likely, including sexual exploitation of a child and child molestation.

Governor Nathan Deal will sign House Bill 208 today, raising prices for hunting and fishing licenses to fund conservation programs.

HB 208 increases the cost of resident annual hunting licenses to $15 from $10 and annual fishing licenses to $15 from $9. The sportsman’s license, which covers most hunting and fishing privileges in the state from big game to trout, will increase to $65 a year from $55. Similar increases are scheduled for the majority of the hunting and fishing licenses in the state, including those offered to seniors and for children.

Costs won’t increase until the beginning of the next fiscal year, which means hunters and anglers can purchase annual, multiyear and lifetime licenses at the cheaper rate until the end of June.

HB 208 was sponsored by Rep. Trey Rhodes, R-Greensboro, and came after a state audit in 2016 found that Georgia’s license fees are lower than most of the southeastern United States.

Several years in the making, the increases are estimated to raise more than $11 million each year for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, according to department spokesman Wes Robinson, with the extra money to pay for more game wardens, infrastructure and maintenance.

State Senator Steve Gooch (R-Dawsonville) spoke to FetchYourNews about issues in rural Georgia.

Cobb County government buildings will fly the flag at half-staff today in honor of the late firefighter and EMT Ron Herens.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is supporting Democrat Jon Ossoff in the 6th District runoff.

“Let me be very clear. It is imperative that Jon Ossoff be elected congressman from Georgia’s 6th District and that Democrats take back the U.S. House,” Sanders said in statement. “I applaud the energy and grassroots activism in Jon’s campaign. His victory would be an important step forward in fighting back against Trump’s reactionary agenda.”

Former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue was confirmed as Secretary of Agriculture by the United States Senate on an 87-11 vote.

A source close to the process told The Albany Herald that Perdue is to be sworn in as secretary early Tuesday at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Gov. Perdue’s appointment was announced by his cousin, U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., who was presiding over the Senate for the vote. Sen. Perdue said that 87 senators had supported the secretary, 11 had opposed and one had voted present — Sen. Perdue.

As ag secretary, Gov. Perdue will oversee the nation’s farm and forestry programs, as well as the U.S. nutrition programs. He’ll also be take the lead in the upcoming U.S. farm bill and farm trade work.

“Tonight, he has been confirmed as our next secretary of agriculture and I could not be more proud for him, for our family, but most importantly for our country,” Sen. Perdue said. “I want to be the first in this august body to call my cousin, Sonny Perdue, by his new title, Mr. Secretary. I believe he is an outstanding candidate.”

“As secretary of agriculture, my cousin has a big job,” the senator said. “He’s got a big responsibility. I look forward to working with him as a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee to make our agriculture, farming, and ranching industries vigorous and strong now, and for future generations.”

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., who spoke in favor of Gov. Perdue before the vote, said he was proud to cast his vote for Perdue, who he noted served as Georgia Senate president pro tem as a Democrat before moving to the Republican Party and winning the governorship.

“Sonny’s experience and leadership in public service, business and agriculture will benefit our nation as he takes the reins as secretary of agriculture,” Isakson said. “Agriculture remains Georgia’s number one industry, and our state is fortunate to have him in this important leadership position. I was proud to cast my vote today in support of Sonny Perdue.”

Candidates for Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party met in a forum sponsored by the CSRA Republican Women’s Club.

On Monday, the four candidates – Alex Johnson, Michael McNeely, John Watson and Mike Welsh – debated numerous topics at the CSRA Republican Women’s Club monthly meeting. The event was held at Jones Creek Golf Club.

“As a local, I’d like to welcome my opponents to Columbia County,” said Welsh, the only candidate from the 12th district.

In all, more than 100 guests attended the event, while candidates were given a minute to answer pre-selected questions.

Former Attorney General Sam Olens said he’s working to make Kennesaw State University more transparent.

“My goal is for everyone to feel vested and engaged in the process, so that we can continue to move this university forward,” said Olens during his first State of the University address Monday morning at KSU’s Marietta campus. “Together, we’ve made great strides over the past six months.”

Olens said he has tasked KSU Provost Ken Harmon with overseeing the university’s academics while he focuses on the university’s operations and fundraising — the major areas of concern from the Board of Regents’ audit.

The audits were released last summer and accused a handful of KSU officials — including former President Dan Papp and former Auxiliary Services Vice President Randy Shelton — of financial improprieties, and the audit enforced new regulations, such as more legal oversight for contracts.

Monday, Olens said KSU is moving forward and reviewing its policies.

“We have made many improvements in these areas, but we still have much work to do to safeguard against further ethical lapses,” he said.

The Dougherty County Commission is moving forward on eminent domain proceedings to take property owned by State Rep. Darrel Ealum (R-Albany).

The land is adjacent to county-owned property at what was once the Radium Country Club and Golf Course, and County Attorney Spencer Lee said the vote by the commission will allow him to “start negotiating” with Ealum on a purchase price before the county moves forward with eminent domain proceedings.

“The land has been appraised, and it is valued at $40,000,” Lee told commissioners. “This property has been on the county’s radar since around 2009. The structure on the property is an eyesore that has considerable damage, and it’s not damage caused by the storms (of Jan. 2 and Jan. 22).

Ealum said after the meeting that he had no idea the matter would be discussed Monday by the commission.

“I didn’t know the item was on the commission’s agenda,” he said. “I haven’t seen the entire thing, so I don’t know what was voted on. Other than that, I have no comment at this time.”

Macon-Bibb County Manager Dale Walker resigned after more than 30 years in government service.

Augusta Commissioner Sammie Sias wants to hire additional Animal Services employees and raise the pay for other department employees.

The revised city animal ordinance, which requires owners to register their pets, “has strained our animal services department to the breaking point,” Sias said in the agenda item going before the city’s Public Safety committee Tuesday.

Muscogee County parents spoke in opposition to a proposal to hired a private, for-profit company to run alternative education programs.

Elections 2018

State Senator Hunter Hill (R-Atlanta) announced that he is running for Governor in the 2018 election.

Today conservative businessman, Army Ranger, and State Senator Hunter Hill announced his candidacy for Governor of Georgia.

Georgia needs bold, conservative leadership to move our state forward. Hunter Hill’s many years of diverse leadership experience in military combat, business, and politics provides a unique perspective that will guide Georgia to reach its full potential.

Senator Hill said: “I am running to cast a bold vision for Georgia that can only come about with true, conservative leadership. Republicans have an opportunity to bring about sweeping change in Georgia, and I refuse to stand by and simply mark time. Georgians expect and demand results, and I am ready to deliver.”

“In the coming months, I’m going to take my message directly to Georgians. I am dedicated to America’s founding values and principles of God-given rights, limited government, free enterprise and expanded liberty. I have fought to defend these values in Afghanistan and Iraq and in the Georgia Senate.”

“I would be honored to earn your vote and support to be the Governor of our great state.”

24
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 24, 2017

The Library of Congress was founded on April 24, 1800 and is the largest library in the world today.

On April 24, 1945, President Harry Truman was briefed on the Manhattan Project to create the first atomic bomb.

Jack Kingston was born on April 24, 1955. He was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1984 and served four terms and in 1992 was elected to the United States Congress.

“Georgia On My Mind” became the official state song on April 24, 1979, when Governor George Busbee signed legislation designating it.

IBM introduced the Personal Computer Model 5150 on April 24, 1981, though some authorities date the introduction to April 12. It sported an Intel 8088 processor at 4.77 Mhz, a whopping 16k of RAM, which was expandable to 256k, and a clicky keyboard. The initial price tag was $1565, equivalent to more than $4000 today.

Creepy wax figures from a Warm Springs museum will be sold at auction.

About 60 life-size wax figures, including a one-of-a-kind figure of Albert Einstein that was signed and inscribed by Einstein himself, will headline an auction of items owned by Preston Evans, the Cowetan who operated the museum for more than four years. The auction is set for May 13 at the Eisenhower Hotel and Conference Center in Gettysburg, Pa.

These include figures of 10 U.S. presidents and four first ladies, civil rights leaders –including Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph Bunche, entertainers Rudolf Valentino and Dolly Parton, military figures such as Patton and MacArthur, cowboys and Indians including Geronimo.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Former Governor Sonny Perdue is expected to win confirmation as Secretary of Agriculture in a vote of the full United States Senate today.

Perdue would be the first Southerner in the post in more than two decades. He’s the son of a farmer and has owned several agricultural companies. The Senate plans to vote on his nomination Monday.

At his confirmation hearing in March, Perdue assured nervous farm-state senators that he will advocate for rural America, even as President Donald Trump’s administration has proposed deep cuts to some farm programs. He promised to reach out to Democrats, and several Democratic senators have said they will vote for him.

Perdue may also find himself in the uncomfortable position of defending agriculture in an administration that has given the issue very little attention, despite Trump’s strong support in rural areas. Trump has proposed a 21 percent cut in USDA programs and has harshly criticized some international trade deals, saying they have killed American jobs. But farmers who produce more than they can sell in the United States have heavily profited from some of those deals, and are hoping his anti-trade policies will include some exceptions for agriculture.

Tamar Hallerman of the AJC writes about what Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue could mean for Georgia.

 “He knows the struggles that farmers deal with on a day-to-day basis,” [Bonaire farmer Matt] Coley said of Perdue. “Having that perspective in D.C. would certainly be a benefit when decisions are having to be made.”

“When he was governor, he spent a large amount of his time traveling the world selling Georgia and selling Georgia ag products,” said Georgia Chamber of Commerce President Chris Clark, who served as natural resources commissioner in the Perdue administration.

Perdue’s expected confirmation, he said, gives “us, our farmers, our forestry an opportunity to grow our brand.”

Perdue would be the first ever agriculture head to hail from Georgia, and the first southerner in more than two decades.

“The voices of Southeastern agriculture are going to be heard and that’s exciting,” said Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black.

Democrats claim that Georgia’s requirement that special runoff election voters were registered in time to vote in the initial special election suppresses voters in violation of federal law.

The Georgia NAACP, Lawyers Committee for Civil rights, Asian Americans Advancing Justice and other organizations said Secretary of State Brian Kemp is violating the National Voter Registration ACT by prohibiting voters from registering for the upcoming June runoff election. The lawsuit indicates federal elections, including runoff elections, allow for voter registration up until 30 days before the election.

“Georgia has a sordid history of discouraging voter participation. We ask they follow the federal guidelines, 30 days prior to the election should be when the registration period should ends,” Atlanta NAACP President Richard Rose said.

But Kemp said the June runoff is a continuation of Tuesday’s election and Georgia law said if you were not registered for the initial election, then you cannot register now.

“For us to have to stop and have our local election officials and registrars stop what they are doing in this process and implement something like this, it would be a nightmare that would really effect the integrity of the election,” Kemp said.

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson weighed in on the Sixth Congressional District Special Runoff Election.

Tomlinson likes Ossoff’s chances, stating that Ossoff carried 200 precincts and Handel just eight. Tomlinson said “that is a pretty heavy lift for her.”

The mayor said while Republicans did get 52 percent of the vote in the special election, she wanted to point out 81 percent of those coming to the polls voted against Handel.

Tomlinson said while it is historically true that the district is predominately Republican, there are a lot of “business Republicans” who are moderate.

“It is not a heavy ideological district,” said Tomlinson, 52, who was raised in the district and has family there.

She said there is obviously a lot of interest in the race, with about 193,000 voters coming to the polls.

“For a special election, that is extraordinary,” she said.

Washington-based Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) said it will file an ethics complaint against Congressman Hank Johnson (D-Lithonia), alleging improper use of his official website to boost the election of Jon Ossoff.

Georgia Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols will serve as vice chairman of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’  Nuclear Issues-Waste Disposal Subcommittee.

“The wise disposition of nuclear waste continues to be one of the most important issues of our day,” Echols said. “If we don’t come up with a solution soon, we’ll need nine Yucca Mountain repositories by the end of the century, and that would be impossible to bring about.”

Houston County Commissioners face a tough budget process this year.

Tax revenues are expected to have slow growth this year in Houston County, which means another tough budget year.

The county is just now starting the process for formulating its budget for the upcoming fiscal year to begin July 1. Commission Chairman Tommy Stalnaker, who always issues words of caution as the budget year starts, gave an especially stark assessment last week.

“I am more concerned this year than I’ve ever been before in putting this budget together,” he said at the end of Tuesday’s commission meeting. “I’ve never felt the way I do this year going to this budget cycle. It is going to be gruesome.”

Rep. Ed Rynders (R-Leesburg ) is enthusiastic about the House Rural Development Council.

“HR 389 is chiefly Speaker David Ralston’s initiative,” Rynders said. “I don’t know if any speaker has visited more communities than Speaker Ralston. In his travels he has listened to the people throughout rural Georgia who are seeking meaningful economic development.

“I appreciate the speaker’s commitment to rural Georgia and look forward to trying to improve the quality of life for all Georgians. But keep in mind that one size doesn’t fit all even in rural Georgia. This council will look for solutions for job creation while addressing the unique challenges facing our communities.”

2018 Elections

State Senator Burt Jones (R-Jackson) is considering a run for statewide office in 2018.

Even though two well-known politicians already have announced their intentions to seek the seat of governor in 2018, Jones’ name continues to surface in political circles as a possible third GOP candidate. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp are already campaigning for the seat currently held by Gov. Nathan Deal, now in his second term as the state’s top political leader.

“Probably the biggest problem I have is that I actually enjoy what I’m doing right now,” Jones said with a laugh, as he talked about his political aspirations with The Union-Recorder. “I really do enjoy what I’m doing, because of the fact that I can still run my business and I’ve got a very flexible schedule with family and everything. And that’s important to me.”

“Right now, I’m weighing all of my options, and looking to see if there is an opportunity lying out there in the pits,” said Jones, an insurance executive in his family’s business in Jackson, who is in his fifth year as a state senator. “You can make up all kinds of reasons not to do something, but the biggest issue for me would be that I get a good comfort level, and that this is something my family allows me to take on, and then I’ll make a decision.”

Jones said he plans to make a decision about his political future within the next couple of months.

“I’m looking at all the parameters of what it would cost, and what kind of team I could put together, etc.,” Jones said of possibly becoming the third Republican incumbent state office holder to run for governor.

“If, and that’s the big word, if, I would announce my intentions at some sort of an event,” said Jones, noting that it could happen at a political fundraising rally at an area venue.

Liberal Daily Kos says this about the timing of the Governor’s race.

If Jones does get in, he does have one potentially strong selling point to voters. Jones was the co-captain of the University of Georgia’s football team when they won the 2003 Sugar Bowl, which came just after the Bulldogs won their first SEC championship in 20 years. However, Secretary of State Brian Kemp is already running while Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle is raising money for his likely bid, and a number of other Peach State Republicans are considering. By the time Jones makes up his mind, other campaigns may have a huge organizational head start.

Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle will announce today that he is running for Secretary of State in 2018.

Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle said Friday he plans to enter the race for Georgia Secretary of State in 2018.

Belle Isle, 42, became mayor in 2012 and is in the last half of his second and final term.

A formal announcement will take place Monday.

“I love the city of Alpharetta and want to keep serving it,” Belle Isle said Friday. “I think this is an opportunity to do for Georgia what we’ve done for Alpharetta.”

“I want to make Georgia the best at what it does,” he said. “Technology is one of those things, but also the moving of people and goods from our ports … and the marketing of crops and livestock.”

Belle Isle will join previously announced candidates for Secretary of State Buzz Brockway, Geoff Duncan, and Brad Raffensperger, all current State House members.

21
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 21, 2017

According to tradition, on April 21, 753 B.C., Rome was founded. The one in Italy, not the one in Floyd County.

William Shakespeare was born April 23, 1564 and died April 23, 1616.

On April 21, 1732, King George II signed the royal charter creating the colony of Georgia. The King’s signature did not make the charter effective as several additional steps were required.

On April 21, 1789, John Adams was sworn in as the first Vice President of the United States.

On April 22, 1891, Asa Candler bought the recipe for Coca-Cola for $2300 and eventually turned its marketing from a “brain tonic” into a plain old tasty beverage.

Lucius D. Clay was born in Marietta, Georgia on April 23, 1898, the son of Georgia U.S. Senator Alexander Stephens Clay, who served in the Senate from 1896 until his death in 1910. Clay graduated West Point in 1915 and eventually rose to serve as Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Deputy for Military Government. During the Berlin Airlift, Clay helped keep Allied-occupied West Berlin supplied with food for almost a year after Soviet forces blockaded all land routes into the city.

On April 21, 1904, Ty Cobb made his debut in professional baseball for the Augusta (Georgia) Tourists in the South Atlantic League in center field; Cobb hit an inside-the-field home run and a double.

Manfred von Richthofen, known as “The Red Baron,” was killed in action on April 21, 1918, shot by either an Australian gunner or a Canadian. At the time of his death, Richthofen has shot down 80 aircraft in aerial combat.

Adolf Hitler admitted defeat in World War II on April 22, 1945.

Hank Aaron his his first home run in major league baseball on April 23, 1954, playing for the Milwaukee Braves against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Atlanta Braves won their first home game in Atlanta Stadium on April 22, 1966. The Braves beat the New York Mets 8-4. It’s interesting to look back at how the Braves landed in Atlanta.

During his 1961 campaign for mayor of Atlanta, Ivan Allen, Jr. promised to build a sports facility to attract a Major League Baseball team. After winning office, Allen chose a 47-acre plot in the Washington–Rawson neighborhood for the building site, citing its proximity to the Georgia State Capitol, downtown businesses and major highways. Allen, along with Atlanta Journal sports editor Furman Bisher, attempted to persuade Charlie Finley, owner of the Kansas City Athletics, to move his team to Atlanta. Finley was receptive and began discussing stadium design plans with Allen. The deal, however, ended in July 1963 when the American League did not approve the move.

In 1964, Mayor Allen announced that an unidentified team had given him a verbal commitment to move to Atlanta, provided a stadium was in place by 1966. Soon afterward, the prospective team was revealed to be the Milwaukee Braves, who announced in October that they intended to move to Atlanta for the 1965 season. However, court battles kept the Braves in Milwaukee for one last season.

The Blues Brothers made their worldwide debut on Saturday Night Live on April 22, 1978. Two prominent Georgia musicians, Ray Charles (born Albany) and James Brown (died Atlanta) would co-star in The Blues Brothers movie.

New Coke was announced on April 23, 1985.

Former President Richard Nixon died on April 22, 1994.

Former President Jimmy Carter was appointed Distinguished Professor at Emory University on April 21, 1982. Carter holds an annual Town Hall in which he takes questions from students.

On April 21, 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Israel. From the press statement released that day,

The MOA reiterates for the public record our long-standing relationship of strategic cooperation with Israel. Strategic cooperation can only succeed when there are shared interests, including the commitment to building peace and stability in the region. It reflects the enduring U.S. commitment to Israel’s security. That commitment will never flag. The U.S. commitment to peace will also not flag. The President knows that a strong Israel is necessary if peace is to be possible. He also knows that Israel can never be truly secure without peace.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal yesterday signed HB 573 – Cook County; Probate Court; judge shall have jurisdiction to try misdemeanor cases where defendant waives jury trial and pleads guilty; provide.

Jeremy Berry will trade in private practice at Dentons to become Atlanta’s City Attorney.

“I am excited to name Jeremy Berry as the new City Attorney,” said Mayor Reed. “Over the last decade, I’ve gotten to know Jeremy as a talented attorney and as an active, dedicated member of his community. I believe he will bring his unique insight and valuable experience to this role, and will serve the people of Atlanta, the Atlanta City Council and my Administration in an exemplary fashion.”

“I am honored that Mayor Reed has offered me the opportunity to serve as City Attorney,” Berry said. “For the past fourteen years, I have focused my career on working with governments and elected officials, and working at the intersection of law, politics, and business. I am thankful to have the opportunity to serve the public, the Atlanta City Council, and of course Mayor Reed. I know I have very big shoes to fill, and look forward to working with each member of the City’s Law Department.”

Berry graduated from Emory University School of Law in 2003. Prior to graduating law school, Berry served as the assistant director of federal affairs for Emory University. In 2014, Emory College honored Berry for his distinguished community and public service with its Young Alumni Service Award.

Berry is alumnus of Leadership DeKalb. He is active in the community, serving on the Board of Directors and Civil Rights Committee of the Anti-Defamation League. Berry is also active with the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, Jewish Family and Career Services of Greater Atlanta, and Red Clay Democrats.

Speaker David Ralston has appointed members of the House Rural Development Council, created during this year’s legislative session by House Resolution 389 to work with rural communities to find ways to encourage economic growth.

“Georgia is a growing and prosperous state, and we are thankful for that,” said Speaker Ralston.  “But that prosperity isn’t being felt in every community across Georgia. Some of our rural areas are still struggling, and we must do everything we can to help private businesses grow jobs in every corner of our state.”

Speaker Ralston has previously announced that the council will be co-chaired by Appropriations Chairman Terry England (R-Auburn) and Ways & Means Chairman Jay Powell (R-Camilla). Rep. Sam Watson (R-Moultrie), who chairs the House Rural Caucus, will serve as vice chair of the council.

The other members of the House Rural Development Council are:

  • Patty Bentley (D-Butler)
  • John Corbett (R-Lake Park)
  • Matt Hatchett (R-Dublin)
  • Mack Jackson (D-Sandersville)
  • Dominic LaRiccia (R-Douglas)
  • Eddie Lumsden (R-Armuchee)
  • Chad Nimmer (R-Blackshear)
  • Clay Pirkle (R-Ashburn)
  • Terry Rogers (R-Clarkesville)
  • Ed Rynders (R-Albany)
  • Darlene Taylor (R-Thomasville)
  • Bill Werkheiser (R-Glennville)

In addition, Speaker Ralston has named the following committee chairmen to serve as ex-officio members of the House Rural Development Council based on their subject-area expertise:

  • Brooks Coleman – Chairman of Education
  • Sharon Cooper – Chairman of Health & Human Services
  • Robert Dickey – Chairman of K-12 Education (Appropriations)
  • Penny Houston – Chairman of Economic Development (Appropriations)
  • Rick Jasperse – Chairman of Higher Education
  • Tom McCall – Chairman of Agriculture & Consumer Affairs
  • Butch Parrish – Chairman of Healthcare (Appropriations)
  • Don Parsons – Chairman of Energy, Utilities & Telecommunications
  • Jason Shaw – Chairman of Transportation & Infrastructure (Appropriations)
  • Ron Stephens – Chairman of Economic Development
  • Kevin Tanner – Chairman of Transportation

The House Rural Development Council will host its first meeting next month. More details on that meeting will be announced soon.

Green Power EMC brought a 52 megawatt solar installation near Hazlehurst, Georgia online.

The new 52-megawatt solar facility in Hazlehurst is expected to generate more than 134 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy annually for customers of Green Power EMC for the next 30 years, according to a news release.

Green Power EMC was the first green energy provider in the state. It was created by Georgia’s EMCs in 2001 and has been selling green energy since 2003. Green Power EMC obtains green power from renewable energy facilities throughout Georgia, including solar power, low-impact hydroelectric, landfill gas and biomass from wood waste.

Cobb County Commissioners will consider applying for $6.8 million in federal funding for transit on Sundays.

Hospital Corporation of America will buy Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah for a package valued at $710 million dollars.

“This will essentially be a sale of the hospital,” said J. Curtis Lewis III, board chairman of Memorial Health. “I think it’s a very positive thing for the community.”

HCA will now have a 60-day period to conduct due diligence, Lewis said, adding, “Our next step is to keep the place going.”

The deal is valued at $710 million. Included in the $710 million purchase fee is $430 million, which will pay off bonds and other debts as well as $280 million over the next 10 years to fund capital improvements — $100 million for non-routine capital expenditures and $180 million for routine capital expenditures.

All other proceeds of the sale will go to the Chatham County Hospital Authority for creation of an indigent care trust fund.

He said the authority insisted and got guarantees that, as part of the deal, HCA will maintain core services including Level 1 trauma care, the Level 3 neo-natal ICU and Mercer University School of Medicine Savannah Campus at Memorial.

Coweta County held a Town Hall meeting to discuss Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) priorities, but few showed up.

Just four members of the public attended the meeting, which was for the 2nd District, represented by Commissioner Tim Lassetter. It’s the largest of Coweta’s five districts, covering nearly half of the county – almost everything west of Carrollton Highway on the north side, and everything west of U.S. Highway 29 on the south side, as well as Moreland and nearly to Sharpsburg.

The primary focus of the meetings is to discuss SPLOST and to ask Cowetans what important projects they would like to see funded with the 1 percent sales tax. Cowetans will go to the polls in November to decide whether to extend the tax, which expires at the end of 2018, until 2025. The SPLOST vote will coincide with municipal elections.

Senoia City Council members heard from the City Manager about priorities for the city’s SPLOST portion.

A vote on the six-year extension of the 1 percent sales tax is set for November, though the current tax doesn’t expire until the end of 2018. Before the vote, Coweta County and all its municipalities must put together a list of projects to be funded with the tax. That process is getting started.

Senoia City Manager Harold Simmons told the Senoia City Council about his priorities at Monday’s council meeting.

Sixth District Congressional Runoff Election

United States Senator David Perdue has endorsed Karen Handel in the Runoff Election for the Sixth Congressional District.

“Republicans are at our best when we are united. In Georgia’s 6th District, our work is not over. We now have nine weeks for an all-hands on deck effort to reveal the true choice in this race. National liberal groups are spending millions to mislead the people of the 6th District. We all know Jon Ossoff will not be a moderate if he gets to Congress. It’s time for Republicans to come together. I not only endorse Karen Handel, but pledge my full support in the coming weeks to make sure Nancy Pelosi doesn’t get one more vote in the United States House of Representatives.” – Senator David Perdue

House Speaker Paul Ryan is making plans to campaign for Handel.

Patricia Ryan writes in The Hill about how Democrat Jon Ossoff became the focus of nationwide liberal angst over President Trump.

In the days after Donald Trump was inaugurated in January, liberals in America were depressed, despondent, and asking themselves what to do next. David Nir, the political director of the liberal blog Daily Kos, had an answer and that answer was Jon Ossoff.

Nir and the Daily Kos team had been crunching the numbers from Trump’s election since the day after it happened. Which districts did Trump underperform in? Where were the opportunities for Democrats? They quickly noticed that in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, which Mitt Romney won by 23 points in 2012, Trump had won by just a point and a half. Could Rep. Tom Price be vulnerable the next time around?

But within weeks, the Price seat was not just a target for 2018, it became the prize in a 2017 special election, after Trump tapped Price as his secretary of Health and Human Services to oversee the dismantling of Obamacare. In the minds of progressives, the Price seat was not just open, it was ground zero for the Trump resistance.

“No one wants to wait until 2018 — or 2020 — to fight back against Donald Trump,” Nir wrote in a post on Daily Kos at the end of January. “The good news is, we don’t have to.”

Nir then went on to introduce the site’s 3 million readers to Ossoff, a then-29-year-old former congressional staffer who had jumped into the special election in early January.

The most interesting issue to me in the 6th District race is how Ossoff consolidated all the national organizations behind him despite a number of other credible-looking candidates. Patricia Murphy’s story is the best I’ve seen on that and is worth reading in its entirety.

20
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 20, 2017

Yesterday, I mistakenly included the history items from today, so now I’m making up yesterday’s history lesson.

On April 19, 1775, British troops entered Lexington, Massachusetts, encountering 77 armed Minute Men.

British Major John Pitcairn ordered the outnumbered Patriots to disperse, and after a moment’s hesitation the Americans began to drift off the green. Suddenly, the “shot heard around the world” was fired from an undetermined gun, and a cloud of musket smoke soon covered the green. When the brief Battle of Lexington ended, eight Americans lay dead or dying and 10 others were wounded. Only one British soldier was injured, but the American Revolution had begun.

Two hours later, another confrontation between the British and American patriots took place in Concord, Massachusetts.

On April 19, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln ordered the blockade of ports in “Rebellious States.”

Whereas an insurrection against the Government of the United States has broken out in the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, and the laws of the United States for the collection of the revenue can not be effectually executed therein conformably to that provision of the Constitution which requires duties to be uniform throughout the United States; and

….

Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, with a view to the same purposes before mentioned and to the protection of the public peace and the lives and property of quiet and orderly citizens pursuing their lawful occupations until Congress shall have assembled and deliberated on the said unlawful proceedings or until the same shall have ceased, have further deemed it advisable to set on foot a blockade of the ports within the States aforesaid, in pursuance of the laws of the United States and of the law of nations in such case provided. For this purpose a competent force will be posted so as to prevent entrance and exit of vessels from the ports aforesaid.

Union forces skirmished against The Worrill Grays, a Georgia Reserve Militia, at the Battle of Culloden, 30 miles west of Macon on a date generally believed to have been April 19, 1865, though it may have occurred later.

On April 19, 1995, Governor Zell Miller signed legislation declaring the peanut the Official State Crop.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Deal signed three bills on Tuesday:

HB 264 Georgia World Congress Center Authority; revenue bond capacity; increase April 18, 2017

SB 121 “Jeffrey Dallas Gay, Jr., Act” April 18, 2017

SB 18 Georgia Public Safety Training Center; any member of security police force; retain his/her weapon and badge under certain conditions April 18, 2017

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich writes for FoxNews about the Sixth Congressional District.

Tuesday, after spending more than $8 million, the Democrats failed to win the special election in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District.

I had a personal interest in this vote since I represented the Sixth District in Congress for 20 years – however my daughter, Jackie Cushman, likes to note for historical accuracy that the district was originally south and west of Atlanta and was gerrymandered by the Georgia Democrats into the northern suburbs for the 1992 election. That effort backfired spectacularly and cost the Democrats four congressional seats as every part of my old district elected a Republican.

The race was close enough that President Trump, Vice President Pence, Secretary Price (who had won the district by 23 points last year) all made robocalls. Voters were bombarded with vote messages.

Republicans staved off defeat – but by a surprisingly narrow margin.

Now Democrats must decide if they want to pour another $8 million into the runoff in June.

The Democrats have now spent a lot of money to almost win two special elections.

“Almost” doesn’t win elections.

The New York Times looks at what a runoff election means for the Sixth District.

“I think we could be facing all-out war here for the next two months,” Kerwin Swint, a political science professor at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga., said Wednesday.

Alan Abramowitz, a political scientist at Emory University in Atlanta, believes that Mr. Ossoff’s supporters will remain motivated enough to return to the polls, and considers the race a “true tossup.” He noted that the conservative Tea Party movement, which bubbled up in early 2009, was still going strong enough to have a significant impact on the midterm elections in late 2010.

“The anti-Trump sentiment, we’ve seen that persist now since the election,” he said. “All the indications are that it is still present, and I don’t think it’s going to fade that quickly.”

CBS46 has an idea what a runoff will be like on the ground.

Just hours after the District 6 congressional race was forced into a runoff, the Republican campaign committee had already begun running attack ads against Democrat Jon Ossoff. Voters say they’re already getting tired.

We have fatigue of all the robocalls, it’s just horrible,” said voter Anna Hunter.

While voters may be tired, the Handel and Ossoff campaigns say they’re ready and refreshed for round two. Ossoff’s campaign manager Keenan Pontoni, says their ads are still running and so are staffers.

“We are talking to voters.  We have over 100 field staffers still doing field work,” said Pontoni.

Dr. Andra Gillespie, an associate political science professor at Emory University, says the ground game will be the key.

“This all comes down to infrastructure and turnout and organization. So both sides have to be mindful of this,” said Gillespie.

Tamar Hallerman writes in the AJC Political Insider about DC plans for the 6th District.

 Corry Bliss, the Leadership Fund’s executive director, said there are plans in the works to scale up their field work – they’d like to knock on 200,000 doors between now and election day on June 20 – and place plenty more media spots attacking Ossoff’s credentials. They unveiled their latest Wednesday.

“We’ll continue to be aggressive in exposing and defining the real Jon Ossoff to the people of Georgia,” Bliss said in an interview Wednesday. “We’ve just begun on that education, and there’s a lot more research that we’ve saved and will be using soon.”

Not to be outdone, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, House Democrats’ political arm, moved Wednesday to reserve $450,000 worth of ad time on Atlanta television stations. They’re aiming to run those in conjunction with Ossoff’s campaign, which made a similar $300,000 buy, the Washington Examiner reported.

Corry Bliss, the Leadership Fund’s executive director, said there are plans in the works to scale up their field work – they’d like to knock on 200,000 doors between now and election day on June 20 – and place plenty more media spots attacking Ossoff’s credentials. They unveiled their latest Wednesday.

“We’ll continue to be aggressive in exposing and defining the real Jon Ossoff to the people of Georgia,” Bliss said in an interview Wednesday. “We’ve just begun on that education, and there’s a lot more research that we’ve saved and will be using soon.”

Not to be outdone, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, House Democrats’ political arm, moved Wednesday to reserve $450,000 worth of ad time on Atlanta television stations. They’re aiming to run those in conjunction with Ossoff’s campaign, which made a similar $300,000 buy, the Washington Examiner reported.

The DCCC’s GOP counterpart, the National Republican Campaign Committee, laid down nearly $2 million in the first round of the race. It’s also gearing up for a new round of fights. Along with other GOP-aligned organizations such as the opposition group America Rising, they’re planning to double down on arguments they think stuck in the media the final days of the campaign: that Ossoff is inexperienced and doesn’t live in the 6th District.

From Elena Schneider at Politico:

“It’s probably going to be the most expensive House seat in U.S. history by the time it’s over,” said Rob Simms, a senior adviser to Handel and former National Republican Congressional Committee executive director, predicting that it will also be even more competitive and hard-fought than the primary.

This is a hard district — period. [But] Ossoff’s got a huge fundraising list, a huge volunteer list and a strong infrastructure already in place. He’s in a strong position to put up this fight,” said Martha McKenna, a Democratic consultant.

“Handel wants to have everyone’s help, and that certainly includes President Trump,” Simms said. “It’s clear that in the response over the past 12 hours that the party is aligning with her, galvanizing and uniting around her. That’s going to be important in June because of the resources that we are going to face on the Democratic side behind Ossoff.”

“Ossoff’s team will continue to do what they’ve done — maximize Democratic turnout in every way they can,” said David Mermin, a Democratic pollster who worked with the Ossoff campaign before the primary and is now helping independent-expenditure efforts in the district. “They’ve identified voters who don’t normally turn out for specials, but they will for Ossoff and for this race.”

State Rep. Chuck Efstration (D-Dacula) and Sen. David Shafer (R-Duluth) spoke to the Gwinnett Chamber about this year’s legislative session.

The pair split the topics, so Shafer talked about statewide issues, such as renewing the hospital bed tax, while Efstration talked about what Gwinnett got in the state budget.

And Gwinnett got a good bit in the budget, ranging from a juvenile justice transition center to an expanded GRTA Xpress Park and ride facility at Sugarloaf Mills that were in the budget.

A lot of the news about what Gwinnett got in the state budget may be familiar to people who follow state politics, but a big item awarded to the county in the budget was the juvenile transition center. The county’s legislators have been kicking around the idea of getting a new regional youth detention center in Gwinnett since the old one closed a few years ago.

“The juvenile transition center is a first of its kind facility in this state to allow more efficient utilization of state resources, Efstration said. “What it will allow for is a detention facility that gives law enforcement officers a drop off point for those juvenile offender so that the officer is not spending an extended period of time taking them to a neighboring county.”

Sandy Springs City Council Member Gabriel Sterling wants to fix the Fulton County elections office that kept political junkies up late Tuesday night, as their reporting of election results was predictably slow.

“We wake up to a newspaper headline that we’ve all gotten accustomed to seeing… ‘6th District Vote: Fulton extends polling hours; DeKalb and Cobb smooth’” noted Fulton Commission Chairman candidate Gabriel Sterling. “I get this question every year, from Democrats and Republicans alike, ‘What the heck is wrong with Fulton elections?’”

In yesterday’s election, a judge had to intervene to extend hours at some Fulton precincts. Also, the final numbers for Fulton were reported several hours after DeKalb and Cobb had reported their final returns due to “technical difficulties”.

“After years of failure, it will take a revolutionary way of thinking to fix the very real, and systemic, problems. I will work with anyone and everyone, Democrat or Republican, willing to admit there are serious issues here,” continued Sandy Springs Councilman Sterling. “Yes, we are a large county. That shouldn’t stop us from doing a great job in conducting our elections. If we fail in that core area, it undermines our credibility across the board.”

“It’s ridiculous and unfair that Ossoff and Handel supporters, as well as every other campaign, had to wait for hours with no updates. It’s not acceptable anymore,” Sterling concluded. “As Chairman, I’ll fix our elections office. We should never have to have judges come in to correct issues that should never exist in the first place. It’s now time to truly fix it.”

2018 Elections

Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball rates the Georgia 2018 Gubernatorial race as “Likely Republican.”

Trump carried the Peach State by five points, and it’s pretty clear that the GOP bench is much deeper than the Democratic one in the race to replace outgoing Gov. Nathan Deal (R). Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) is already in, and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle (R) is almost certain to run. Campaign guru Nick Ayers (R), a protégé of former Gov. Sonny Perdue (R), might also run, as could former Reps. Jack Kingston (R) and Lynn Westmoreland (R). The Democrats may wind up nominating state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D), state Rep. Stacey Evans (D), or perhaps 2014 nominee and ex-state Sen. Jason Carter (D). Former acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates (D) also gets mentioned, but no one really knows if she would run. Likely Republican

Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer (R-Duluth) is reportedly being urged by his legislative colleagues to run for Lieutenant Governor in 2018.

Rep. Chuck Efstration told the Gwinnett Chamber during its legislative recap luncheon at the Sonesta Hotel on Wednesday that Duluth-based Senate President Pro Tempore David Shafer is being sought out as a candidate for lieutenant governor for next year. The seat looks to be open with current Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle making moves to run for governor.

“I’m very excited right now that as discussions about statewide races for constitutional officers takes place, I know Sen. Shafer is being encouraged by many people, including myself, to consider running for lieutenant governor,” Efstration said. “I don’t think we’ve ever had the kinds of opportunities that we do right now for additional influence in Atlanta.”

For his part, Shafer — who also addressed the chamber during the luncheon — was somewhat tight lipped about whether he would run for lieutenant governor next year. He would only offer a tease that something could happen in the next couple of weeks.

Although that is not quite a confirmation that he will announce plans to run for lieutenant governor, it’s not a denial that he’s considering it either.

19
Apr

Bonus Georgia History for April 19, 2017

On April 19, 1775, British troops entered Lexington, Massachusetts, encountering 77 armed Minute Men.

British Major John Pitcairn ordered the outnumbered Patriots to disperse, and after a moment’s hesitation the Americans began to drift off the green. Suddenly, the “shot heard around the world” was fired from an undetermined gun, and a cloud of musket smoke soon covered the green. When the brief Battle of Lexington ended, eight Americans lay dead or dying and 10 others were wounded. Only one British soldier was injured, but the American Revolution had begun.

Two hours later, another confrontation between the British and American patriots took place in Concord, Massachusetts.

On April 19, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln ordered the blockade of ports in “Rebellious States.”

Whereas an insurrection against the Government of the United States has broken out in the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, and the laws of the United States for the collection of the revenue can not be effectually executed therein conformably to that provision of the Constitution which requires duties to be uniform throughout the United States; and

….

Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, with a view to the same purposes before mentioned and to the protection of the public peace and the lives and property of quiet and orderly citizens pursuing their lawful occupations until Congress shall have assembled and deliberated on the said unlawful proceedings or until the same shall have ceased, have further deemed it advisable to set on foot a blockade of the ports within the States aforesaid, in pursuance of the laws of the United States and of the law of nations in such case provided. For this purpose a competent force will be posted so as to prevent entrance and exit of vessels from the ports aforesaid.

Union forces skirmished against The Worrill Grays, a Georgia Reserve Militia, at the Battle of Culloden, 30 miles west of Macon on a date generally believed to have been April 19, 1865, though it may have occurred later.

On April 19, 1995, Governor Zell Miller signed legislation declaring the peanut the Official State Crop.

19
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 19, 2017

On April 20, 1861, Robert E. Lee resigned his commission as a Colonel in the United States Army.

On April 20, 1982, the Atlanta Braves set a major league record, winning the first twelve games of the regular season.

On April 20, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed legislation authorizing a $165 billion dollar bailout for Social Security, saying,

“This bill demonstrates for all time our nation’s ironclad commitment to Social Security. It assures the elderly that America will always keep the promises made in troubled times a half a century ago. It assures those who are still working that they, too, have a pact with the future. From this day forward, they have one pledge that they will get their fair share of benefits when they retire.”

On April 20, 1992, Governor Zell Miller signed legislation naming Pogo ‘Possum the official state possum of Georgia.

On April 20, 1999, two students entered Columbine High School in Colorado and killed twelve student and one teacher, and wounded 23 others before shooting themselves.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Former Congressman Dawson Mathis died yesterday at the age of 76. From the Albany Herald:

Mathis, who died Monday, served as U.S. representative for the 2nd Congressional District of Georgia from 1971-81, succeeding U.S. Rep. Maston O’Neal Jr., D-Bainbridge, who decided not to run for re-election in 1970.

Mathis left that House seat to run unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 1980, and then attempted in 1982 to return to his House post by challenging his successor, U.S. Rep. Charles Hatcher, D-Newton.

Mathis left his 2nd District office in 1980 to challenge fellow Democrat U.S. Sen. Herman Talmadge, who had been censured by the Senate for financial misconduct. Talmadge, who had served in the Senate since 1957, survived the challenge from Mathis and a runoff election against future Georgia governor and U.S. senator Zell Miller, but was defeated by Republican Mack Mattingly that fall in the general election.

In April 1982, Mathis, who had served on House Agriculture Committee subcommittees that oversaw peanut and tobacco legislation, announced he would seek to regain his House seat. Pledging that, if successful, he would not abandon it again to run for higher office, he said that he wanted to remain politically active and described his idea of public service.

Fulton County Commissioner Joan Garner died after a long fight with cancer.

Garner is the commissioner for District 4, which encompasses the heart of the City of Atlanta, Midtown, and neighborhoods west of downtown Atlanta to Fulton Industrial Boulevard.

She was appointed to the Transition Team of Mayor Elect Maynard Jackson and the Atlanta Olympic Citizen’s Advisory Commission. She also served as Senior Advisor on Gay and Lesbian Issues under Mayor Jackson.

Under Mayor Kasim Reed, Commissioner Garner served as a member of the Public Works Commissioner Search Committee.

Gwinnett County Commission Chair Charlotte Nash wrote about Garner on Facebook:

Joan was a special person who could find common ground with just about anyone and who disagreed with grace when she felt it was necessary. I was honored that she accepted my invitation to serve as a member of ACCG’s Executive Committee during my year as President. She brought a special sort of wisdom to our deliberations! God’s peace to Jane as she grieves.

Cobb County Commissioners met with employees of the Georgia Secretary of State’s office to discuss the theft of voting equipment before yesterday’s campaign.

The unannounced meeting occurred at about noon Monday in a conference room in the basement of Cobb County State Court on East Park Square in downtown Marietta. Commissioners typically hold meetings in the Cobb Government Building on Cherokee Street, either in the second-floor commission chamber that can hold members of the public, or the third-floor commissioners’ boardroom, which is much smaller.

“We had a special called emergency meeting with the secretary of state’s office, his chief of staff and several of his staff members to discuss the theft and the investigation, and chairman (Mike Boyce) authorized our police department to share information and work with their investigators in anything they needed to continue the investigation,” county spokesperson Sheri Kell said.

Monday’s meeting had been called by Cobb Chairman Mike Boyce in concert with officials with the secretary of state. Boyce said he found out about the theft of the devices at about 9:30 a.m. Monday, and by noon, he, the entire Board of Commissioners and other officials were meeting with representatives from Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office.

“That’s how seriously both sides took this to mean,” Boyce said. “(Kemp’s office) expressed their concern about what had happened over the weekend, so I thought this was a serious enough concern that everyone on the board should hear about. So they came up from Atlanta, sat down with us and explained to us what are the implications.”

Others in attendance at the meeting included Cobb Board of Elections and Registration Chairman Phil Daniell, Cobb County Manager David Hankerson, County Attorney Deborah Dance and County Clerk Pamela Mabry.

Sixth Congressional District

President Trump weighed in on the 6th District results after a brief tweet-storm.

Trump GA6 Post

 

Trump Tweets GA6

Candidate
Party
Percent
Votes
DAVID ABROMSR0.851637
MOHAMMAD ALI BHUIYANR0.22414
RAGIN EDWARDSD0.26502
KEITH GRAWERTR0.22414
BOB GRAYR10.8120755
KAREN HANDELR19.7837993
ALEXANDER HERNANDEZI0.06121
JUDSON HILLR8.7716848
RICHARD KEATLEYD0.12227
AMY KREMERR0.18349
BRUCE LEVELLR0.24455
WILLIAM LLOPR0.17326
DAN MOODYR8.8516994
JON OSSOFFD48.1092390
ANDRE POLLARDI0.0355
REBECCA QUIGGD0.16304
RON SLOTIND0.25488
KURT WILSONR0.941812

From the New York Times:

Jon Ossoff, a Democrat making his first bid for elective office, narrowly missed winning a heavily conservative House district in Georgia outright on Wednesday, according to The Associated Press. It threw a scare into Republicans in a special congressional election that was seen as an early referendum on President Trump.

Mr. Ossoff received 48.1 percent of the vote, just short of the 50 percent threshold needed to win the seat, and he will face Karen Handel, the top Republican vote-getter, in a June runoff.

Mr. Ossoff released a statement early Wednesday after the race was called.

“This is already a remarkable victory,” he said. “We defied the odds, shattered expectations, and now are ready to fight on and win in June.”

Mr. Ossoff’s strong showing will ensure that national Democrats continue to compete here and will increase pressure on the party to contest a special House election next month in Montana that it has so far ignored. Combined with Democrats’ better-than-expected performance in a special House election in Kansas last week, the Georgia result will be an immediate boon to Democratic groups, lifting their fund-raising and bolstering candidate recruitment efforts, while sobering Republicans who are assessing whether to run in Mr. Trump’s first midterm election. Already, Republican candidates and outside groups have had to spend over $7 million against Democrats in a series of deeply conservative districts.

As Mr. Ossoff faces Ms. Handel in a head-to-head race on June 20, it is unclear whether he will be able to sustain the success he enjoyed on Tuesday, in an 18-person field.

Karl Rove weighed in with his runoff prediction:

Karl Rove said if Ossoff doesn’t get the 50% needed to avoid a runoff the question turns to where he finished. If the candidate is in the high 40s it looks like he will win the runoff, if he’s in the low 40s then the Republican candidate will win.

From Politico.com:

Handel called for Republican unity as she claimed victory.

“Tomorrow we start the campaign anew,” she said, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “Beating Ossoff and holding this seat is something that rises above any one person.”

“We are going to rally behind Karen Handel,” tweeted Gray, who was backed by the Club For Growth, which aired TV ads attacking Handel. “We wish her Godspeed.”

“In a one-on-one race over a 9-week period, he’s going to have to answer questions he didn’t have to answer in the primary, like any issue on policy, on Syria, on tax reform. That becomes a lot harder for him,” said Chip Lake, a Republican consultant in the state. “When there’s 18 people in a race, it’s a bar brawl and no one knows what to look at. But when it’s one-on-one, it’s easier for voters to understand and easier to define it.”

A nationalized race could continue to benefit Ossoff, said former GOP Rep. David Jolly, who said he saw parallels between the current situation in Georgia and the special election he won in Florida in 2014.

“For my race, it was Obamacare. It was a clearly nationalized race about Obamacare. For Ossoff, it will be the first 100 days of Donald Trump,” Jolly said. “The Republican in the runoff will have to struggle to figure out, is it my job to defend Trump, who has a historic unpopularity right now, or is it not? But Ossoff gets to talk non-stop about how the last 100 days are bad.”

 

From the Marietta Daily Journal:

The fact that a Democrat took the most votes in the 6th District came as a surprise to everyone, said Kennesaw State University political science professor Kerwin Swint. “Nobody expected this to be competitive,” Swint said. “Republicans at first were assuming they would get the two runoff spots. I think everyone thought that. The Ossoff campaign has just blossomed as national Democrats have tuned in to the race and seen his potential. And the fundraising has really made the difference. It’s a very different situation than anyone expected.”

That’s not true. On December 1, 2016, I wrote:

Democrats do have significant underlying strength in the Sixth District, and if a single Democratic candidate is on the ballot with five to seven Republicans, the Democrat will almost certainly come out of the first round of the special election, possibly even garnering first place.

This dynamic could even happen with an Independent in the race, as happened in DeKalb County in 2014 when Independent Holmes Pyle took the lion’s share of non-GOP votes, taking first place over four Republicans.

But the December 2014 runoff in DeKalb also shows us what would be the likely result in a CD-6 runoff. Republican Nancy Jester, who took second place in November 2014, consolidated GOP votes in the runoff, taking first with a commanding majority and a margin greater than 3-1.

The Democrat part of the ballot effectively became a one-person race, as Ossoff consolidated Democratic organizational support behind him.

Senate District 32

State Senate District 32 goes to a runoff election between Democrat Christine Triebsch and Republican Kay Kirkpatrick.

The runoff is scheduled for May 16.

Triebsch — a Democrat — received 13,386 votes, or 24.4 percent of the vote, while Kirkpatrick, a Republican — received 11,774 votes, or 21.4, according to unofficial numbers posted by Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office.

Candidate
Party
Percent
Votes
HAMILTON MATTHEW BECKR3.72165
MATT CAMPBELLR9.995850
ROYDEN 'ROY' DANIELSR15.218904
EXTON HOWARDD6.924050
KAY KIRKPATRICKR21.112354
GUS MAKRISR10.195963
CHRISTINE TRIEBSCHD24.214169
BOB WISKINDD8.685083

From Michelle Baruchman at the AJC:

[Republican Kay] Kirkpatrick campaigned on a promise to increase public safety disaster preparedness, with an emphasis on addressing the Heroin and opioid epidemic, as well as simplifying the tax code and using conservative principles to change health care at the state level. She was the leading fundraiser with contributions from state Reps. Beth Beskin, R-Atlanta and Deborah Silcox, R-Atlanta, and U.S. Health Secretary Tom Price’s wife, state Rep. Elizabeth Price.

[Democrat Christine]Triebsch, a political newcomer who raised the least amount of money among candidates, said her grassroots campaign resonated with voters.

Other 2017 Elections

William B. Edwards won the runoff election for Mayor of the City of South Fulton, taking 59.85%.

South Fulton voters also chose Catherine Rowell, Carmalitha Gumbs, Helen Willis, Naeema Gilyard, Rosie Jackson, Khalid Kamau, and Mark Baker for City Council.

Lori Henry won the Special Runoff Election for Post 4 on the Roswell City Council with 57.81%.

Chris Coughlin was elected to the Johns Creek City Council seat vacated by Bob Gray.

The City of Stonecrest chose Rob Turner, George Turner, and Diane Adoma for City Council.

2018 Elections

Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle will almost certainly kick off his campaign for Governor in 2018 at an event on April 30 at Infinite Energy Center in Duluth.

Casey Cagle Event

18
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 18, 2017

On April 18, 1775, Paul Revere and William Dawes mounted up on horseback to warn of British troops on their way to confiscate American arms and to warn patriots Samuel Adams and John Hancock, who the British sought to capture.

By 1775, tensions between the American colonies and the British government had approached the breaking point, especially in Massachusetts, where Patriot leaders formed a shadow revolutionary government and trained militias to prepare for armed conflict with the British troops occupying Boston. In the spring of 1775, General Thomas Gage, the British governor of Massachusetts, received instructions from Great Britain to seize all stores of weapons and gunpowder accessible to the American insurgents. On April 18, he ordered British troops to march against Concord and Lexington.

The Boston Patriots had been preparing for such a British military action for some time, and, upon learning of the British plan, Revere and Dawes set off across the Massachusetts countryside. They took separate routes in case one of them was captured….

About 5 a.m. on April 19, 700 British troops under Major John Pitcairn arrived at the town to find a 77-man-strong colonial militia under Captain John Parker waiting for them on Lexington’s common green. Pitcairn ordered the outnumbered Patriots to disperse, and after a moment’s hesitation, the Americans began to drift off the green. Suddenly, the “shot heard around the world” was fired from an undetermined gun, and a cloud of musket smoke soon covered the green. When the brief Battle of Lexington ended, eight Americans lay dead and 10 others were wounded; only one British soldier was injured. The American Revolution had begun.

President William H. Taft learned on April 18, 1912 of the death of his military aide, Major Archibald Butts of Augusta, Georgia on RMS Titanic.

The honeybee was recognized as the official state insect of Georgia on April 18, 1975.

On April 18, 2006, Governor Sonny Perdue signed legislation establishing February 6 of each year as “Ronald Reagan Day” in Georgia and celebrating the date of President Reagan’s birth.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Voters will go to the polls today to vote in Special Elections in the 6th Congressional District, State Senate District 32, and municipal elections in Roswell, Johns Creek, Stonecrest and South Fulton. Voting is open from 7 AM to 7 PM and you’ll need to remember your photo ID.

President Trump continues to tweet about the Special Election in the Sixth Congressional District today:
Trump Tweet Super Liberal

Trump Tweet Eleven

A robo-call from President Trump was also sent to voters, according to The Hill.

President Trump recorded a robocall Monday calling on voters to help defeat Jon Ossoff, the Democratic candidate running for Georgia’s 6th congressional district, saying he will “raise your taxes, destroy your healthcare, and flood our country with illegal immigrants.”

In Trump’s automated call about Tuesday’s Georgia special election, he urges voters fight against the “Washington Democrats” such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to win the seat that former Rep. Tom Price recently vacated to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.

“Liberal democrats from outside of Georgia are spending millions and millions of dollars trying to take your Republican congressional seat away from you. Don’t let them do it,” Trump said in the phone call.

“Only you can stop the super-liberal Democrats and Nancy Pelosi’s group, and in particular Jon Ossoff. If you don’t vote tomorrow, Ossoff will raise your taxes, destroy your healthcare, and flood our country with illegal immigrants,” he continued.

Trump did not name a specific Republican candidate, but he urged qualifying voters to vote “Republican,” which could include Karen Handel, Bob Gray, Dan Moody or Judson Hill.

“That way we can cut spending and get our economy back on track, and keep America safe. It is already happening. There’s only one way to stop the Washington liberals from taking your congressional seat, and your money, and your safety. And that’s by voting Republican for Congress tomorrow,” the president said.

The Republican National Committee, which sponsored the call, declined to comment.

Greg Bluestein of the AJC spoke to a couple voters about the “Trump effect” in today’s Congressional election.

The Trump factor was on vivid display at a campaign stop Monday at a Roswell diner, where attorney Deborah McKinley had but one question for Handel: Did she vote for Trump? When Handel answered yes, McKinley sighed in relief.

“My main concern is finding the Trump loyalists who have the chance to win,” McKinley said after her encounter. “And I think she’s got the best shot.”

Trump is also energizing droves of left-leaning voters who want to hand his administration its first electoral defeat.

“He’s a dark shadow. I despise Trump. I feel like he’s a con man who has manipulated a lot of people,” said Peggy Williams of east Cobb County. “And this is a way to send a message.”

Pollster Mark Rountree of Landmark Communications said his research found that there are 77,000 voters in the district who cast ballots in the past two GOP primaries. On the Democratic side, that number is just 17,000.

“It tells you that Republicans have a huge potential upswing,” he said. “But so far Democrats are battling hard to get their votes out and are having reasonable success.”

Trump’s late tweets could boost Republican turnout — and aggravate Democrats looking for a late edge. Trump won the district with 48 percent of the vote, and the Republicans running as his loyalists hope to land a runoff spot by locking up most of that bloc. And polls show despite his struggles in the district in November, a majority of GOP voters give the president sound approval ratings.

Here are my thoughts on the Congressional election today, originally written in response to questions from a reporter.

- Ossoff’s chances of topping 50 pct on Tuesday -

“I’d estimate Ossoff’s chances of winning without a runoff at less than ten percent.”

– what’s at stake for Republicans – why is this election drawing so much outside attention and dollars

“I don’t see this as being a high-stakes election for Republicans going forward. The result of Tuesday’s election are unlikely to be reproduced elsewhere because it’s such an unusual case – you have a normally Republican district that swung to almost-even in the Presidential election; it’s a “jungle primary” style election that is used in very few states; and you have a field with eleven Republican candidates and a Democratic candidate who has coalesced national organizations behind him.”

“Whatever the result, I think you’ll see Republicans look at ways of either informally or formally limiting the number of GOP candidates in races like this, and you’ll see greater and earlier competition among Democratic candidates for the early backing of liberal and progressive groups outside the district.”

“The eight-million dollar question for Republicans and conservatives going forward is whether someone can build a vehicle to compete with the Democratic funding that poured into this race in small dollar contributions from across the country. Even in the beginning days of President Obama’s first term, when the Tea Party formed, it didn’t have the fundraising clout we’ve seen here. On the Democratic side, it was remarkable to see how quickly and solidly Jon Ossoff got the backing of these outside groups and the effectiveness with which he milked them of dollars.”

– is this a referendum on President Trump?

“No, it’s not a referendum on Trump, but it’s a test-case for how far a Democratic candidate can go in a Republican district on the strength of opposition to Trump. There’s been considerable competition among the Republicans on the ballot to claim the Trump mantle, and Trump supporters appear to be splitting their support among several candidates.”

– how has the race changed in the past week – are Republicans uniting behind a particular candidate?

“The main change I’ve seen in the last week is Republican early voters coming on line to the point where early voters with a past GOP Primary voting history inched past those with a past Democratic Primary history. We on the Republican side have also had more time to reflect on the realities of this race, and the way we’ve seen this story play out in the last couple elections.”

“There was a distinct panic moment when we read that Ossoff’s fundraising total was over eight million dollars, but since then, my anxiety has begun to subside.

“We’ve seen this story about a Democrat becoming suddenly competitive – back in 2014 with Michelle Nunn in the US Senate race and Jason Carter in the Gubernatorial election and in 2016 with the spectre of Hillary Clinton’s campaigning moving assets into Georgia and putting the Peach State in play at the Presidential level for the first time since her husband was on the ballot. And each time, that media-hyped possibility failed to appear.”

“This year’s made for mainstream news scenario of a young Democratic wunderkind somehow winning a district that routinely gives GOP candidates a 20-point margin is even more far-fetched. Republican voters who are disillusioned with Donald Trump aren’t going to vote for a liberal Democrat, and in this district, they’re unlikely to stay home.”

The Center for Public Integrity published an analysis of spending in the 6th District.

Through Sunday, super PACs, nonprofits and other groups independent of any candidate’s campaign have spent $9 million on the Georgia 6th race.

Just one of these outside groups spending money to influence the Georgia 6th election — Athens, Georgia-based Better Georgia Inc. — is headquartered within state lines. Better Georgia Inc.’s $1,070 in spending, all to support Democratic front-runner Jon Ossoff, accounts for less than one one-thousandth of overall non-candidate spending.

Said another way: When the candidates’ own campaign money is excluded, the Georgia 6th special election has attracted about one Georgia penny for every $10 in national cash, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of federal campaign finance disclosures.

So far, Ossoff has raised far more money than any of his 11 Republican opponents. In fact, he’s raised more than all of them put together.

But outside organizations have rushed in to make up the difference: about 65 percent of all non-candidate money spent so far — $5.8 million —has gone toward opposing Ossoff.

If Ossoff fails to win more than half the vote Tuesday, a special election runoff between the top two finishers would be scheduled for June 20 — giving national political groups more than two more months to fight their proxy battle in suburban Atlanta.

FiveThirtyEight weighs in with their prediction in today’s congressional election.

If the polls are right, then Democrat Jon Ossoff will receive by far the most votes in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, which is holding a special election to replace former U.S. Rep. Tom Price on Tuesday.1 But Ossoff will probably finish with less than 50 percent of the vote, which would trigger a runoff between him and the next-highest finisher — most likely the Republican Karen Handel, but possibly one of three other Republicans (Bob Gray, Dan Moody Judson Hill) who are closely bunched behind her in polls.

Furthermore, the combined vote for all Republican candidates will probably exceed the combined vote for Ossoff and other Democrats, although it should be close. And the district has historically been Republican-leaning, although it was much less so in the 2016 election than it had been previously. All of this makes for a fairly confusing set of circumstances and a hard-to-forecast outcome.

Apply these principles to the Georgia 6 race, and you’ll conclude that Tuesday night’s first round won’t actually resolve that much — unless Ossoff hits 50 percent of the vote and averts the runoff entirely. (That’s an unlikely but hardly impossible scenario given the fairly high error margins of polls under these circumstances.) Even if Ossoff finishes in the low 40s, it will be hard to rule him out in the second round provided that he still finishes in first place by a comfortable margin. But even if Ossoff finishes just a point or two shy of 50 percent, and Democrats finish with more votes than Republicans overall, he won’t have any guarantees in the runoff given that it’s a Republican-leaning district and that the GOP will have a chance to regroup. With the runoff not scheduled until June 20, there will be lots of time for speculation about what the first round meant — and a lot of it will be hot air.

In Cobb County, four voting machines were stolen in advance of elections today.

On Saturday, two cases containing four ExpressPoll machines were snatched out of a Ford F-150 parked at the Kroger at New Chastain Corners Shopping Center of Canton Road in Marietta. ExpressPoll machines are the devices into which you put your ID after you walk into your polling place to prove you are eligible to vote.

Cobb County Elections Director Janine Eveler said the machines hold a list of names and addresses of every voter in Georgia. Deeper within the system are driver’s license numbers to go with the names, but it is not clear whether thieves would be able to access this information. Eveler said the machines do not contain social security numbers.

“(The thieves) could type in a name and bring up a name, but they’re not going to just turn it on and there’s voter information in a spreadsheet or something like that,” Eveler said.

“Our office has re-configured the coding for the April 18th election to render the stolen ExpressPoll units ineffective, and we have partnered with local law enforcement to track down the perpetrators and monitor suspicious activity at polling places,” the secretary of state’s office said in a statement. “We are also asking poll workers to be vigilant on Election Day, and we are calling on members of the public to report any and all irregularities at the polls.

In a statement, Secretary of State Brian Kemp blasted the county’s elections office for not going public with the information sooner.

“It is unacceptable that the Cobb County Elections Office waited two days to notify my office of this theft,” Kemp said. “We have opened an investigation, and we are taking steps to ensure that it has no effect on the election tomorrow. I am confident that the results will not be compromised.”

Tech issues at Fulton County voting locations caused outages and delays for voters.

The issues affected voters at the Roswell Library and at Ocee Library in Johns Creek.

Candice Broce, a spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s office, said in an email that the two libraries “experienced internet connectivity issues at the polls starting Friday afternoon and throughout the evening.”

[Fulton Elections and Registration director Richard] Barron said without access to state databases, poll workers had to call in to verify voters by phone.

That extended waits at a time when lines were already long, Barron said. The polls closed at 6 p.m. Friday, and when the issues surfaced at 6:10 p.m., more than 100 people were still waiting to vote.

Broce called the issue an “internet outage at the county level” and said there were no problems with voting machines. She said the matter will be referred to the state elections board.

Three separate sets of votes were taking place at the county’s early voting sites Friday — for the sixth district congressional race, for runoff elections in Roswell and South Fulton, and for a city council seat in Johns Creek. Residents voting in more than one of those elections had to be checked in twice, Barron said, and vote on separate machines. He called on the governor to not schedule new elections at the same time that runoffs are slated.

Barron said that had more of an effect on long lines than the outage did.

“If you’ve got a connectivity problem, plus long lines, plus after hours, it’s kind of the perfect storm,” he said.

Governor Nathan Deal has signed two pieces of legislation this week:

HB 231 – Controlled substances; Schedules I, II, IV and V; change certain provisions – Signed April 17, 2017

HB 238 – Ad valorem tax; use of property for solar power generation; provide exception to a breach of covenants – Signed April 17, 2017

House Bill 231 is the annual bill updating the list of controlled substances to include new drugs. HB 238 allows use of property subject to a conservation easement for solar power generation without breaking the easement for the rest of the property.

Interstate 20 was closed in both directions yesterday in DeKalb County after the pavement buckled, sending a motorcyclist to the hospital.

All lanes of I-20 westbound were closed for several hours after the highway buckled Monday morning. Around 4:30 p.m., crews reopened two lanes. They reopened a third lane just after 5:30 a.m. Tuesday.

The HOV lane and two other left lanes of the expressway near Flat Shoals Road in DeKalb County remain closed as crews work to repair the area.

The Georgia Department of Transportation has started excavating the roadway. GDOT said they hope to have all lanes of the interstate back open by noontime Tuesday.

“It was a bizarre sight. The roadway completely buckled up in the air. Some people I spoke with said it looked as if an earthquake had happened under the roadway,” [Channel 2's Tom] Regan reported.

Buford Highway was also closed in Brookhaven, due to a fire under a bridge.

Buford Highway has re-opened in Brookhaven following a fire under the Peachtree Creek bridge.

The highway was closed in both directions between North Druid and West Druid Hills Road late Monday night.

The highway closed after a debris fire under the Peachtree Creek bridge.

The bridge remained closed after the fire so it could be inspected by the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston spoke to FetchYourNews.com about issues facing rural Georgia.

Ralston went into detail about the new Rural Georgia Economic Council. This council will be co-chaired by (R) Terry England from Auburn, (R) Jay Powell from Camilla and Vice Chair (R) Sam Watson from Moultry. The council will be holding meetings across Georgia to hear from elected officials, local businesses and citizens about how they feel rural Georgia economy can best be improved. Ralston said jokingly that he better not find out that one meeting took place in Atlanta.

Health care is a major concern in rural Georgia. Several hospitals have closed in rural Georgia areas including one in Ralston’s district in North Georgia. We spoke to Ralston abut one possible solution to meet rural Georgia health care needs. Ralston used the example of the first stand alone emergency room, opened by Piedmont Mountainside Hospital in Gilmer county. In this interview we asked Ralston if Gilmer county still had the possibility of having a full hospital.

Ralston told us that sometime within the next month Governor Nathan Deal would be visiting Gilmer county’s Fire Station 1 to sign the fire fighter’s workmen’s compensation bill.

Democratic state legislators hosted a session to review the 2017 legislative session.

Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams and state Reps. Carl Gilliard, D-Garden City, and Mickey Stephens, D-Savannah, hosted a town hall on Monday to talk to residents about the previous legislative session.

About 50 Savannahians showed up to Savannah State University to ask their elected representatives questions about recent legislative session at the state and city level. Abrams said town hall meetings similar to this have been popping up around the state, citing events in Columbus, Atlanta, Macon, with Albany and Valdosta iterations coming in the near future.

“The goal is to make certain, first and foremost, that Georgians understand the work that has been done for them and to them at the capitol,” Abrams said, “We want to make sure people are aware of the work the Georgia Democrats are doing.”

Abrams, Gilliard and Stephens discussed the new bills in three categories: The good, the bad and the ugly. The “good” bills were unanimously or nearly unanimously supported by Georgia Democrats. The “bad” received no or very few votes from Democrats. The “ugly” were bills formally opposed by the Democratic Caucus.

Marie Willsey picked up two endorsements in the Roswell City Council runoff election.

City Council members Donald Horton and Nancy Diamond have endorsed Marie Willsey in her bid to win the runoff for the Post 4 race. Willsey and Lori Henry are vying for the seat, which was vacated when Kent Igleheart resigned after he was charged with child sex crimes.

Horton and Diamond’s announcements come just days after fellow Roswell council members Marcelo Zapata and Michael Palermo announced their endorsement of Lori Henry. Mayor Jere Wood has also expressed his support for Willsey.

CobbLINC buses are rolling out onboard wifi and other tech upgrades.

Marietta Board of Education members will likely discuss the proposed FY 2018 budget at their meeting tonight.

All Marietta City Schools employees could receive average salary increases of 2.5 percent next school year if the school board approves Superintendent Grant Rivera’s proposed budget for fiscal 2018.

There will be no tax increases to fund the raises, according to Marietta school board Chair Randy Weiner.

The school district has scheduled public hearings for the budget on June 13 and June 20 before the board is scheduled to vote on final approval on June 20.

Lowndes County Board of Education will vote on whether to approve a night school program.

Dalton City Council finally closed the books on FY 2016.

Warner Robins City Council voted for a project list to prioritize spending of sales tax revenues for recreation.

Augusta City Council will vote on a measure to host a satellite office of the Georgia Secretary of State.

An effort by Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp to open a regional satellite office at Augusta Municipal Building goes before the Augusta Commission for approval Tuesday.

The matter appears on the regular commission meeting agenda after a vote to deny the request failed in committee last week 2-1.

Commissioner Grady Smith said he referred Kemp downtown and that the addition will make it easier for citizens to file documents with the Secretary of State. “Papers that might have to go to Atlanta, they can do it at that office,” Smith said.

The agenda item states the satellite office would be the state’s second, would not duplicate services of Richmond County Board of Elections and would “offer an added benefits to our citizens who may experience difficulty with contacting the SOS office by phone.”