Category: Georgia Politics

9
Dec

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

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

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

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

November 15 was a full week after the election.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7
Dec

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

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

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

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

Here are seven interesting facts about Pearl Harbor.

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

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

6
Dec

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

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

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

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

The Washington Monument was completed on December 6, 1884.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5
Dec

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

628px-Grand_Union_Flag.svg

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

USS Alfred

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

christmas-in-athens628

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

2
Dec

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

John Wesley left Savannah on December 2, 1737.

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

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

cd6poll

From the AJC Political Insider:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senator David Perdue travels to New York today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Politico also writes about Ayers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

House District 163: “IAMBECOMEDEATHDESTROYEROFWORLDS.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1
Dec

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 1, 2016

General George Washington set up winter headquarters at Morristown, New Jersey on December 1, 1779.

On December 1, 1824, the election for President of the United States, in which no candidate received a majority of electoral votes, went to the United States House of Representatives.

Andrew Jackson of Tennessee won 99 electoral and 153,544 popular votes; John Quincy Adams–the son of John Adams, the second president of the United States–received 84 electoral and 108,740 popular votes; Secretary of State William H. Crawford, who had suffered a stroke before the election, received 41 electoral votes; and Representative Henry Clay of Virginia won 37 electoral votes.

As dictated by the Constitution, the election was then turned over to the House of Representatives. The 12th Amendment states that if no electoral majority is won, only the three candidates who receive the most popular votes will be considered in the House. Representative Henry Clay, who was disqualified from the House vote as a fourth-place candidate, agreed to use his influence to have John Quincy Adams elected.

The City of Sandy Springs began operations at one second after midnight on December 1, 2005. Three years later, Dunwoody became a new city, on December 1, 2008.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Former Governor Sonny Perdue visited President-elect Donald J. Trump yesterday.

Perdue — who, per the pool report, wore a tie with small tractors on it — said his talk with Trump focused on agriculture, trade and productivity.

But when asked if he was up for agriculuture secretary, Perdue said that he and Trump did not discuss a specific position.

“He asked me what my skills sets were and I told him what they were, aside from having been governor, as a business person and primarily in agricultural commodities, trading domestically and internationally, and he lit up,” Perdue said.

State Senator Judson Hill (R-East Cobb) became the first Republican candidate to throw his hat in the ring for the Sixth Congressional District.Continue Reading..

30
Nov

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 30, 2016

On November 30, 1782, British and American signed a preliminary treaty in Paris to end the American Revolution, which included withdrawal of British troops and recognition of American independence.

On November 30, 1819, the SS Savannah returned to Savannah, GA from its trip as the first steamship to cross the Atlantic.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Yesterday, Congressman Tom Price was announced as President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for Secretary of Health and Human Services.

In choosing Representative Tom Price of Georgia to be his health secretary, President-elect Donald J. Trump has signaled an undiminished determination to repeal President Obama’s signature domestic achievement, the Affordable Care Act, and replace it with a health law that would be far less comprehensive.

And Mr. Trump is handing Republicans and their base voters what they have clamored for since the Affordable Care Act became law in 2010 — a powerful force to reverse course.

Mr. Price, an orthopedic surgeon from Atlanta’s affluent northern suburbs, was one of the first lawmakers to draft a full replacement for the Affordable Care Act. His proposal would take health care in a fundamentally different direction, away from mandated coverage and care and toward a free-market approach, with fewer consumer protections and more freedoms for doctors.

“The president-elect has made it very clear: He wants the Congress, when they convene in early January, to take up the task of repealing and replacing Obamacare first,” Vice President-elect Mike Pence said Tuesday on Fox News. He described Mr. Price as “someone who literally, for the last half a dozen years, has been in the forefront of efforts, not only to repeal Obamacare, but put forward common sense, free-market solutions that will lower the cost of health insurance, without growing the size of government.”

Mr. Trump said Tuesday that he had chosen Seema Verma, a health policy expert in Indiana, to be administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Working in state government and then as president of a consulting company, she helped Indiana expand Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act, with conservative policies that emphasized “personal responsibility.”

Ms. Verma worked closely with Mr. Pence, the Indiana governor, who honored her this year with a Sagamore of the Wabash award, for Hoosiers who have made outstanding contributions to the state. She has won praise from health care providers and state legislators of both parties in Indiana, and has provided technical assistance to Medicaid officials in other states.

In his campaign manifesto, Mr. Trump said Congress should give each state a lump sum of federal money — a block grant — for Medicaid, the program for lower-income people. Regardless of whether they can achieve that goal, Mr. Price and Ms. Verma would almost surely make it easier for states to obtain Medicaid waivers, the vehicle for a wide range of state innovations and experiments, which could include new eligibility rules and cost-sharing requirements.

Senator Johnny Isakson praised Trump’s choice of Price for HHS.

“Tom Price is a true leader in Congress and an exceptional choice to head up the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. With his background as a practicing physician, Tom will bring real world experience and a single-minded focus on the needs of patients to this vital role. I fully support his nomination and am confident that he will put the department back to work for the American people.”

“Tom doesn’t just talk about replacing Obamacare — he’s put years of thought and hard work into developing a plan that can actually make health care more affordable and accessible. By nominating Tom to fill this post, President-elect Trump is signaling his commitment to repealing Obamacare. With Tom at the helm, we can begin implementing free-market principles that will increase choice and lower the cost of health care for families and businesses.”

“I congratulate my good friend and a great Georgian, Tom Price.”

Senator David Perdue also had kind words for Price’s appointment.

“Tom is a fellow Georgian who understands that we need to stop Washington’s takeover of our health care system. As a doctor, he is seen as a leading voice on health care policy and has a common-sense plan to replace Obamacare that will lower costs and put patients in charge of their health care choices. I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with Tom, and there is no doubt in my mind that he will do a fantastic job improving our nation’s health care system and the lives of all Americans.”

Dr. Louis Sullivan was the last Georgian to serve in a presidential cabinet, having served as Secretary of Health and Human Services under President George H.W. Bush from 1989 to 1993. At least he served more recently than any of the reader submissions. Sullivan was also the last physician appointed to head HHS.

State Rep. Betty Price (R-Roswell), also a physician, had a few words to share about her husband’s appointment.

The Marietta Daily Journal looks at what will happen once Price is confirmed.Continue Reading..

29
Nov

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 29, 2016

Georgia ratified the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution on November 29, 1794, which reads,

The judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by citizens of another state, or by citizens or subjects of any foreign state.

On November 29, 1947, the United Nations passed a resolution to partition Palestine and allow the creation of a Jewish state of Israel.

On November 29, 1963, President Lyndon Johnson appointed the President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, referred to as the Warren Commission. Senator Richard B. Russell, Jr. of Georgia was appointed to the Commission.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Flags at the Georgia State Capitol will fly at half-staff today under an Executive Order by Gov. Nathan Deal.

Gov. Nathan Deal has issued an executive order that the American flag and Georgia state flag be flown at half-staff on the state capital building and grounds through sunset on Tuesday to honor U.S. Marshal Patrick Carothers.

Deal’s order said it was a mark of respect and honor for the sacrifices Carothers and others in the law enforcement community make to put their lives on the line every day.

Tom flag

Georgia Congressman Tom Price (R-GA) is expected to be named today as Secretary of Health & Human Services under the incoming Trump administration.Continue Reading..

28
Nov

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 28, 2016

On November 28, 1777, Congress appointed John Adams as commissioner to France, replacing Silas Deane.

The Grand Ole Opry began live radio broadcasts from Nashville, Tennessee on November 28, 1925.

The Tawana Brawley case began on November 28, 1987; the greatest lasting impact would be the rise to celebrity of community activist the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

United States Marshal Service Deputy Commander Patrick Carothers was honored at a funeral service in Gwinnett County this weekend.

Patrick Carothers, 53, was killed in Long County when he tried to serve a warrant for fugitive Dontrell Montese Carter’s arrest. Carother’s team was entering a single-wide trailer where they’d found Carter hiding when Carother was shot twice.

A little over a week later, a funeral procession guided his body from Flanigan’s Funeral Home in Buford to the Norcross school where his wife Terry teaches. It’s the same school three of his five children graduated. Two more are still enrolled.

GAC President David Fincher said Patrick brought his positive attitude and leadership skill into the school family.

“He was remembered as the calm in the middle of every storm,” [United States Deputy Attorney General Sally] Yates said. “He was famous for saying, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it.’”

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch was one of those in attendance who never met Patrick, but said she felt she knew him after talking to those who had worked with him. She said he had taken up the challenge “to close the gap between the world as it is and the world as it should be.”

“He pledged his energy, his talent and if necessary, his life to the well-being of the U.S. people,” Lynch said. “It was keeping that pledge until his last breath that made him a hero.”

Patrick Carothers recieved a hero’s send-off Saturday. His family members were presented with folded American flags as a thanks for his service before the fallen deputy’s casket was carried off on a horse-drawn carriage.

Medical cannabis supporters say that passage of measures in eight states to allow in-state growing or production of medical cannabis ratchets up the pressure for similar legislation in Georgia.

“We were obviously encouraged by all the positive votes,” said Shannon Cloud. She and her husband, Blaine Cloud, are two of Georgia’s most vocal medical cannabis activists. Their 11-year-old daughter, Alaina, has taken a liquid made with cannabis to treat the symptoms of a rare seizure disorder.

“The fact that Florida passed medical was a huge win. We’re not that different from Florida. We are hopeful that we could get it on the ballot here in 2018,” Shannon Cloud said.

What Florida passed is the licensed cultivation, manufacture and sale of cannabis products to Florida patients who have a medical marijuana card.

But in Georgia, unlike Florida, the question of medical marijuana cultivation must go through the state Legislature before a public vote. In Florida, supporters bypassed the state Legislature, instead collecting nearly 700,000 signatures to put the question on the ballot.

The Macon restaurateur who sponsored the bill that created Georgia’s medical cannabis registry said nationwide momentum and poll results favor medical cannabis.

“It’s coming. It’s now in 29 states, after Election Day, that have full-blown medical marijuana programs. It’s coming to Georgia at some point,” said state Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, counting medical-only cannabis states such as Florida, plus places like Colorado that allow recreational marijuana too.

Representative Allen Peake also appeared in a brief video by McClatchy news discussing the issue.

Atlanta area mom Katie McCoy will be among those pushing for greater availability in Georgia.

McKoy was in the hospital with one of her sons when the legislature shot down a bill that would have given everyone prescribed cannabis oil legal access.

“I got to see the bill fail from the ICU bed,” she said.

Currently, in state cultivation is also illegal. So someone with a medical marijuana license can possess it in Georgia, but they can’t buy it here.

McKoy said the restrictions place a cruel burden on families who are already suffering so much.

“Why is my child more worthy of a medication even though there are other children who are equally in pain and equally suffering,” she said.

State Rep. Alan Peake said they’re working with the governor’s office right now to expand the list of approved illnesses.

He said they’re targeting autism, Tourette syndrome and chronic pain in 2017.

The Georgia CARE Project is pushing for de facto decriminalization on a city-by-city basis.

The campaign is based, in part, on a July decision by the city council in Clarkston, in metropolitan Atlanta’s DeKalb County, that reduced the city fine for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana from as much as $1,000 to $75. The city’s new ordinance also eliminated the possibility of serving jail time for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.

The new Clarkston ordinance does not eliminate the possibility that a person in possession of less than an ounce of marijuana could still be charged under state law, which classifies a violation as a misdemeanor. In Georgia, a misdemeanor conviction in punishable by a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail.

Marijuana reform advocates in Athens have repeatedly pushed Athens-Clarke County’s mayor and commission to consider an arrangement like the Clarkston ordinance for Athens. That approach is dubbed a “parallel ordinance” in that the local, less punitive, law would exist in tandem with the state law. That would, proponents argue, give police officers some discretion in determining whether an individual violation merited the potential state misdemeanor punishment or could be handled much more simply, and with less consequence, through the issuance of a local citation.

In announcing the “City by City” campaign recently, James Bell, the director of the Georgia C.A.R.E. (Campaign for Access, Reform and Education) Project contended that “public opinions and attitudes have changed in Georgia and the nation” with regard to marijuana laws.

Bell also tied the “City by City” effort to Georgia C.A.R.E.’s initiative to influence state law on marijuana. That initiative, the “40 Days” campaign, aims to have a representative of Georgia C.A.R.E. lobbying state lawmakers for every one of the 40 days the state legislature is in session next year, beginning on the second Monday in January.

Colorado, whose voters legalized recreational marijuana, is seeing more cases of driving under the influence of marijuana.

[WSB-TV's Justin] Farmer rode along with Cpl. Roger Meyers, a Colorado State Patrol officer who has been trained as a drug recognition expert.

Meyers said when he suspects someone is driving while impaired by marijuana, he starts a conversation with the person.

“How much cannabis have you smoked tonight or how much cannabis have you used tonight?” Meyers said he asks the person.

An estimated 12.4 percent of the deadly crashes in Colorado in 2015 involved a driver who tested positive for cannabis. That’s up 8.1 percent since 2013, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Police in Georgia do not have a roadside breath test for drugs, as they do for alcohol.

The Colorado State Patrol is running a pilot program with marijuana DUI devices that test saliva. But there are concerns about those devices.

The Chatham County Narcotics Team found ten pounds of marijuana believed to have originated in a state with legalized recreational marijuana.

In one of the largest busts tied back to Colorado marijuana, $200,000 worth of marijuana is off the streets of Savannah after a huge bust in Port Wentworth.

Here’s what’s interesting about the drugs seized Thursday—they started off perfectly legal. The growing number of states legalizing recreational marijuana is bumping up the supply in states that haven’t—like Georgia.

CNT agents said they’re targeting those who go to the states where the drug is legal to buy it and then come back here to sell it. They said they have one of the biggest dealers in Chatham County now behind bars.

“There is no doubt that they know what they’re doing is illegal. They’re going to a state where it is legal to buy it in large amounts and then bring it back to Chatham County for the purpose of distributing it,” said Sergeant Gene Harley with the Chatham Narcotics Team.

This makes at least five busts tied back to a legal purchase of marijuana in other states. Now with eight states and D.C. allowing the recreational use of the drug, that number might keep climbing.

“Number 1, it’s simply illegal in the state of Georgia, and number 2, despite what a lot of people may think, violent crime is regularly associated with marijuana,” said Sgt. Harley. “We hope that this is a lesson to anyone who may think about taking their place, that CNT is out and about, and we simply will not tolerate it.”

Firearm manufacturer Daniel Defense will break ground today for a new 250,000 square foot facility in Ellabell, Georgia.

“We’re excited about physically breaking ground on our new facility, as it will play a big role in helping us increase efficiencies in manufacturing and day-to-day operations, which is good for the company and our customers,” said Daniel Defense president/CEO Marty Daniel.

“It also represents the creation of many new jobs and overall growth for the company—which is good for Bryan County and the local economy.”

Daniel Defense has been located in Bryan County since 2009, when the company moved operations from Chatham County.

Hillary Clinton’s loss in the presidential election is causing some women to consider running for office themselves, according to the Washington Post.

Among young, liberal women who expected to see the country elect its first female president Nov. 8,…. many are responding to Hillary Clinton’s defeat with a new sense of obligation to seek political power. After years of never imagining a career in the public eye or only vaguely entertaining the idea of working in politics, these women are determined to run for elected office.

They don’t speak for all women, many of whom voted for Trump – 42 percent of them, according to exit polls conducted by Edison Research. Notably, a majority of white women favored the Republican. But Clinton still benefited from an overall gender gap, and young women supported her by a margin of 32 percentage points.

For many of those rooting for Clinton to break the glass ceiling her campaign repeatedly invoked, her loss, painful as it was, could be an even greater mobilizing force than a victory might have been.

Michele L. Swers, a professor of government at Georgetown University who specializes in gender and policymaking, said this response has historical precedent.

In the early 1990s, televised hearings brought the Senate debate over the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court into living rooms across the country. The all-male Judiciary Committee’s treatment of Anita Hill, who accused Thomas of sexual harassment, helped motivate women to run for office, Swers said. In 1992, four successfully ran for the U.S. Senate, increasing the number of women in that body threefold. They were Patty Murray of Washington, Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois and Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer of California, all Democrats. Their electoral success branded 1992 the “Year of the Woman.”

You had people who decided they didn’t like what they saw,” Swers said. “In general in politics, anger is a very motivating factor.”

Swers said this year’s election may be another pivotal consciousness-raising event for women “deciding the only way to change things is to get into the halls of power.”

House Bill 202 from 2015 may help some property taxpayers in disputes with their local government, according to the AJC.

One provision, for example, provides that taxpayers won’t be charged interest on the unpaid balance of their property taxes while an appeal is pending. As it stands now, taxpayers have to pay interest if the final value shows more taxes are due.

Rep. Brett Harrell, R-Snellville, one of the sponsors, speaks from experience on this provision, having been billed $11.13 in interest on his tax bill. “The taxpayer had no ability to impact the time it would take…to reach the conclusion,” Harrell said. “For me, $11.13 was not a significant amount of money, but it was the principle of the thing. I had no control.”

Early voting begins today in the December 6 runoff election for Muscogee County Sheriff.

Monday is the first day of early voting for the Dec. 6 Muscogee County Sheriff’s runoff between incumbent John Darr and Donna Tompkins.

Voters can cast ballots FROM 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through Friday in the community room of the Citizens Service Center, 3111 Citizens Way, off Macon Road by the Columbus Public Library.

The service center’s public access off Rigdon Road at Midtown Drive is more convenient because visitors must enter through the rear of the building by the parking garage, as the front doors remain locked for security.

Each voter must show a government-issued photo ID to prove identity and residence.

Anyone registered to vote by the Oct. 11 deadline for the General Election is eligible to vote in the runoff. They do not have to have voted in the Nov. 8 election.

Residents with online access can check their voter registration status at Georgia’s “My Voter Page.” Others may call the elections office at 706-653-4392.

Berrien County voters will also choose a sheriff in a December 6 runoff.

Interim Sheriff Ray Paulk won a special election to finish the current term, but he’s in a runoff to win a new term as Berrien County’s Sheriff.

“A candidate must have 50 percent plus one of the votes to take the election,” said Melanie Ray, Elections Supervisor.

In the general election vote, Paulk pulled in just under 49 percent of the vote in a four-man race. “Ray Paulk and Frank Swanson took the top two percentages. So they will both be in a runoff,” said Ray.

Paulk and Swanson will face off in December to see who will serve a full term as Berrien County Sheriff. “In the end, I was banking on a runoff and that’s what we were dealt with” said Swanson.

DeKalb County “Super” District 7 voters will choose between two candidates for County Commission in a runoff election.

Voters will decide between Greg Adams, an Emory University police officer, and Randal Mangham, an attorney, in the Dec. 6 runoff for Super District 7. They received the most votes out of nine candidates in the Nov. 8 general election. The winner of the race will represent 350,000 people in the eastern half of the county, from Doraville to Stonecrest.

Dozens of officials and employees have been found guilty of crimes over the past few years, including DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis and former Commissioner Elaine Boyer.

“I really don’t believe we have a (corruption) problem to that end at this point,” Adams said. “We just need to focus on moving forward. I will focus on being transparent and accountable for my actions.”

Mangham, who himself has been criticized over his failure to file financial disclosures on time, also said the county should move on from allegations of official wrongdoing.

“We’ve been through some stormy times in DeKalb County, and it’s time to turn a new leaf,” Mangham said. “It’s time to put some of that in the past.”

23
Nov

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 23, 2016

President George Washington declared November 26, 1789 the first “public day of thanksgiving and prayer.”

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
Go. Washington

Milledgeville-Old-Governor-Mansion-3

On November 23, 1864, General William Tecumseh Sherman himself entered Milledgeville, where used the Governor’s Mansion as his headquarters. Sherman’s forces left the capitol city on November 24th.

On November 25, 1864, Sherman’s 14th and 20th Corps moved toward Sandersville while the 17th Corps fought briefly against a mix of Kentucky Militia, Georgia Military Institute cadets, and Georgia convicts.

On November 27, 1864, Sherman ordered the courthouse in Sandersville, Georgia burned.

On November 25, 1867, Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel filed a patent for dynamite. On November 25, 1895, Nobel wrote his will, leaving the equivalent of roughly $186 million (2008 dollars) to endow the Nobel prizes.

On November 26, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Fourth Thursday in November as the modern Thanksgiving celebration.

[I]t was not until 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving to fall on the last Thursday of November, that the modern holiday was celebrated nationally.

With a few deviations, Lincoln’s precedent was followed annually by every subsequent president–until 1939. In 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt departed from tradition by declaring November 23, the next to last Thursday that year, as Thanksgiving Day. Considerable controversy surrounded this deviation, and some Americans refused to honor Roosevelt’s declaration. For the next two years, Roosevelt repeated the unpopular proclamation, but on November 26, 1941, he admitted his mistake and signed a bill into law officially making the fourth Thursday in November the national holiday of Thanksgiving Day.

On the same day, a Japanese navy fleet left port headed toward Pearl Harbor.

President John F. Kennedy was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on November 25, 1963.

Construction on the Georgia Dome began on November 24, 1989.

On November 24, 1992, Republican Paul D. Coverdell defeated Democratic incumbent Wyche Fowler in the runoff election for United States Senate.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Voter turnout reached a new record, with more than 76% of registered voters making it to the polls for the November 2016 General Election.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp announced the final results Tuesday. His office had previously predicted turnout in the Nov. 8 general election would break a state record for votes cast in an election.

The turnout numbers were even higher in Hall County, where 78.5 percent of voters cast ballots, a total of 71,396 out of the 90,878 people registered.

Kemp says more than 4.1 million people voted early or on Election Day this year statewide out of 5.4 million active registered voters.

The record previously was more than 3.9 million votes during the 2008 fall elections.

“I am thrilled to see Georgian’s enthusiasm this cycle,” Kemp said. “Voters turned out in record numbers for the (March) SEC Primary, and that trend has continued all year long.”

Forsyth County voters turned out at more than 80% in the General Election.

More than 80 percent of registered Forsyth County voters turned out Nov. 8, voting to extend an education sales tax and pass a revision to the county’s homestead exemption.

The education sales tax passed with 63 percent of the vote. It establishes a one-cent sales tax for education that runs five years or until the cap of $195 million is reached. By law, special purpose local sales taxes imposed for schools can only be used for capital projects and to make payments on bonds. Forsyth County voters approved similar referendums in 1997, 2001, 2006 and 2011, with the current SPLOST expiring in June 2017.

The second major ballot issue was a senior homestead exemption which would reduce a property owner’s eligibility for school tax exemptions. Forsyth voters approved this measure with 60 percent in in favor.

In 2001, Forsyth voters approved a 100 percent senior, or age 65 and up, homestead exemption for school taxes. Since that time, Forsyth County’s population has grown from 98,407 to 212,500, and school enrollment has increased from 17,249 to 46,061. In 2015, senior exemptions amounted to over $19 million in lost revenue.

In the presidential election, Republican Donald Trump garnered 71 percent of the votes, while Democrat Hillary Clinton received 24 percent. Libertarian Gary Johnson took 4 percent.

On the local level, incumbents District Attorney for the Bell-Forsyth Circuit Penny Penn, Probate Judge Lynwood Jordan, Superior Court Clerk Greg Allen, Tax Commissioner Matthew Ledbetter, District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills, Board of Education District 3 representative Tom Cleveland and Board of Education District 4 representative Darla Light all won their spots with 100 percent of votes.

Some new faces will be joining the county including Ron Freeman as sheriff, Lauren McDonald as coroner, Rick Swope as District 2 County Commissioner and Laura Smanson as District 5 County Commissioner.

The Board of Education District 5 seat was up for grabs, but incumbent Nancy Roche held onto that seat with 79 percent of votes.

Incoming Department of Community Health Commissioner Frank Berry announced leadership changes that will become effective when he takes the lead at the agency.

Joseph W. Hood III, Andrew Johnson, and Kate Pfirman will serve as Deputy Commissioners, and Lisa Walker will assume the role of Chief Financial Officer.

“As I plan for my role as Commissioner of the Department of Community Health (DCH), I am pleased to announce the addition of several executives to the DCH leadership team,” said Berry. “The combined experience and knowledge-base of this team will be an asset to accomplishing the agency’s mission.”

Joseph W. Hood III serves as the Division Director of Public Safety at the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget. Prior to his current position, he served as Comptroller for the Georgia Department of Public Safety. He was a staff member of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council for more than 10 years, serving as the Grants Division Director for five years. He also served as an auditor with the Georgia Department of Human Resources and as Finance Director at the Georgia Emergency Management Agency. Hood earned a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia.

Andrew Johnson is currently Director of Public Affairs for the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities where he has served for four years. Prior to his service to the state, he worked with the office of Georgia Congressman Phil Gingrey, M.D., for five years, as well as in the private sector as a mortgage banker.  Mr. Johnson studied Political Science at Kennesaw State University.

Kate Pfirman has been with the state over 20 years. She currently serves as the Chief Financial Officer for the Department of Public Health and has held a variety of roles including Division Director at the Governor’s Office of Planning (OPB), and Deputy Commissioner at the Department of Human Resources (DHR). Pfirman received her Bachelor’s degree in economics from Emory University and her Master’s degree in accounting from The American University in Washington, D.C.

Lisa Walker is currently the Division Director of Health and Human Services for the Office of Planning and Budget. She has worked in multiple state agencies during her 20 years of public service with the State of Georgia. She serves on the Board of Georgia Health Information Network. Walker earned a Bachelor’s degree in finance from Georgia State University and also holds a MBA with a concentration in finance.

The Fayette County Republican Party is considering putting together a bus trip to Washington for the Inaurgual, to leave on January 19 and return January 22, 2017. If you’re interested, get in touch with the county party’s leadership.

State Rep. Shaw Blackmon (R-Bonaire) will introduce legislation outlawing “upskirting” after the Georgia Supreme Court overturned the existing statute.

“It’s something we all recognize as unacceptable behavior,” said state Rep. Shaw Blackmon, R-Bonaire, sponsor of House Bill 9.

But this year, a Georgia court reversed the conviction of a man for one count of criminal invasion of privacy for what’s called “upskirting.” That man, Brandon Lee Gary, admitted to police about three years ago that he had secretly snapped cellphone videos up the skirt of a woman shopping at the Perry Parkway Publix, where he then worked. He was pretending to tie his shoes.

But the Georgia Court of Appeals said that, technically, Georgia laws guaranteeing privacy don’t apply to the space under peoples’ clothes.

“All this (bill) does is patch that up, allow this to be deemed criminal behavior,” Blackmon said.

GPB News takes a look at wildfire-fighting operations in North Georgia.

“It was bad last night when it was flaming up real high,” [Dolores] Duncan said from her back porch the following morning. “First, it was coming down the mountain over there–you could see it coming down the mountain–so we went down to see how bad it was. I guess it was about 50 feet from the bottom when we went down, and that was before dark.”

As night fell, the fire moved up the hill, threatening Duncan’s home. That’s when rangers from the Georgia Forestry Commission arrived on the scene.

They worked through the night and stopped the flames about 100 feet from Duncan’s back door. The next day, their work continued.

Once a fire is contained within fire breaks bulldozers have plowed through the trees, rangers have to make sure it’s actually out: work known as “mopping up.”

“The duff layer out here–the actual leaves and the pine straw–are so thick that it’s not just burning on the surface. It’s actually burning underneath,” Evans explained. “So, we’re having to remove some of that fuel to get to the real heat, which is under the ground. We use different hand tools, try to put some water on it, and just at least cool it off so it won’t restart.”

“You know, we’ve got a lot of folks up here that’s going to miss Thanksgiving at home, but it’s part of the life,” said Byron Haire, who works for the Georgia Forestry Commission.

Armstrong State University inked a research agreement with the United States Army to study injury prevention.

Health care spending is up in Georgia, partly because of increasing costs for prescription drugs.

In Georgia, average per capita spending was slightly above the national average, at $5,194, and average out-of-pocket spending per capita was $942, significantly higher than nationally.

Spending in Georgia, though, was less than the average for the South, which, at $5,240 per capita, was the second-highest-spending region.

Spending on prescription drugs grew faster than spending on any other health care service. In 2015, $649 per capita was spent on brand prescriptions, an increase of 11.4 percent from the previous year.

The average price per dose on brand-name drugs almost doubled from 2012 to 2015, Frost told [GeorgiaHealthNews.com]. Those increases were especially high for “anti-infective’’ drugs that treat conditions such as HIV and Hepatitis C.

“The only place we’re not seeing price increases is with generic prescriptions,’’ Frost told GHN.

David Howard, an Emory University health policy expert, when asked to comment on the report, said that “it’s striking how much of the spending increases is related to prices.”

He said a key factor could be the rampant consolidation of hospitals systems and physicians, sparked by changes in reimbursements from insurers and government programs looking to emphasize quality of care.  Bigger health systems, experts say, are able to pursue cost savings and also negotiate better pricing from insurers, an industry that’s also seeking to consolidate.

The payment changes were driven by the 2010 Affordable Care Act, and repeal of the law, which Republicans have promised since their recent electoral victories, could ease the pressure of medical providers to merge, Howard said.

Camden County Commission Chair Jimmy Starline spoke about creating a technology corridor in Coastal Georgia.

Starline said the county’s strengths in coming years will be Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, sports tourism and a proposed spaceport.

While launching spacecraft is an important part of the county’s long-term plans, it is the support companies that have potential to have the biggest impact to the county, he said.

“The technology corridor is what we’re really after,” Starline said. “We have a real opportunity for a nice lifestyle here.”

He discussed the agreements between the cities and county such as mutual aid for fire protection, a shared health care clinic and a new pact with St. Marys to lower flood insurance rates as examples of positive changes locally.

Cobb County Commissioners will consider allowing open alcohol containers in and near the new Braves stadium.

Cobb commissioners at their work session Tuesday afternoon were presented with a draft plan that would designate the open container areas within and near SunTrust Park and The Battery Atlanta, its adjoining mixed-use development. Under the proposed plan, which could receive commissioner approval next month, The Battery would be designated as an open container area where alcohol could be consumed outside as well as sold by properly licensed vendors.

Dana Johnson, the county’s community development director, said similar areas have been designated within the Cobb cities of Acworth and Smyrna, as well as other metro Atlanta cities, and within special event areas such as Six Flags Over Georgia in Cobb, the Avalon mixed-use development in Alpharetta and Atlantic Station.“This is not a new concept,” Johnson said. “This is something that has been done and managed appropriately throughout Cobb County and throughout metro Atlanta, and this is something we think will be a very big benefit to the visitors and the public as they come to enjoy a great ballgame.”

LaGrange City Council is considering changes to its sign ordinance.