Category: Georgia Politics


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 22, 2017

On June 22, 1633, Galileo Galilei recanted his published theory that stated the sun was the center of the world and the earth was not.

Georgia’s Trustees voted on June 22, 1737 to seek bids for building churches at Savannah and Frederica.

Georgia Whigs voted on June 22, 1775 to join a boycott against British goods. That same day, the Continental Congress approved the issuance of $2 million in debt-backed currency.

The donut was invented on June 22, 1847.

The Battle of Kolb’s Farm was fought near Marietta, Georgia on June 22, 1864.

The United States Department of Justice was established on June 22, 1870.

On June 22, 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the G.I. Bill.

On June 22, 1970, President Richard M. Nixon signed a law extending the 26th Amendment Right to Vote at age 18 to all federal, state, and local elections.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal announced that Georgia retained its credit rating from the three major agencies.

Gov. Nathan Deal today announced Georgia again earned a rating of AAA, with a stable outlook, from each of the three main credit rating agencies — Moody’s, Fitch and Standard & Poor’s. Of the states that issue general obligation bonds, only nine currently meet this standard. This rating resulted in low interest rates during the sale of $1.39 billion in bonds, which includes $349 million of refunding bonds to refund previously issued bonds and achieve total debt service savings of $43.8 million.

“The state of Georgia works diligently to maintain the coveted AAA rating, and we are one of only nine states to earn this distinction,” said Deal. “By consistently earning top marks, we ensure our bonds remain highly sought after and provide the state flexibility to secure low interest rates for capital projects. Ultimately, this AAA bond rating reflects our fiscal responsibility and results in millions of dollars of savings for our taxpayers. Thank you to the General Assembly, Chairman Jack Hill and Chairman Terry England for their diligent work and cooperation to keep Georgia a leading state for taxpayer stewardship and economic growth.”

The credit rating agencies cited the strength of Georgia’s economy with a positive employment trend, growth of the state’s rainy day fund, a balanced approach to the state’s primary revenue sources and consistent funding of obligations as factors contributing AAA rating.

Gov. Deal and the State Road and Tollway Authority awarded $3 million for bridge widening in Gwinnett and Fulton counties and SRTA awarded $23.6 million for three projects in Cobb County.

The Hall County Board of Commissioners will meet tonight to adopt a FY2018 budget and property tax millage rate.

The City of Loganville government will move to a new City Hall in July.

Centerville City Council adopted a $10.2 million FY 2018 budget with the same millage rate as 2017.

The Savannah-Chatham Public School Board adopted a $561 million FY2018 budget, also keeping the same millage rate as before.

Polk County Sheriff Johnny Moats will reduce the sentences of six inmates who helped a work detail guard after the officer collapsed.

Columbus City Council awarded more than $700,000 in grants aimed at crime prevention.

Henry County Water Authority projects its long-term capital needs will exceed $900 million.

The Columbusc consolidated city-county government mailed property tax notices four weeks late this year due to a billing system conversion.

Normally, property owners are sent tax notices June 1 and tax bills Aug. 1, with the first installment due Oct. 1 and the final installment due Dec 1. But this year, tax notices will be issued June 30, tax bills will be mailed Oct. 1, and only one installment will be required, due on Dec. 1. Taxpayers may still make an earlier installment, which is encouraged but not mandatory, officials have said.

Northeast Georgia saw an uptick in unemployment, while Gainesville held steady from the previous month.

Savannah also saw a slight unemployment increase, while Southeast Georgia remains unchanged.

Valdosta Regional Airport is hoping to tap a new Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) to fund renovations.

Government leaders in the area recently decided to hold a public vote on a regional T-SPLOST. If approved, the one-penny sales tax would fund transportation projects through 18 counties, including Lowndes.

A roundtable of elected officials is in the process of deciding projects to be funded by the T-SPLOST, which is estimated to rake in $500 million during a 10-year period, [airport executive director Jim] Galloway said.

Congressman Rick Allen (R-Augusta) lauded the House passage of a measure extending the deadline for tax credits that would benefit construction of two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle.

<“The tax credits were originally approved by Congress and were set to expire,” said Rep. Rick Allen, of Augusta. “We wanted to make sure that we included the units both at Vogtle and over in South Carolina and that the plants under construction right now received these credits when they are completed, which takes it out beyond 2020.”

Homer Bryson, new director of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, spoke to the Rotary Club of Athens.

District Six Post Mortem

Karen and Steve Handel

Probably the first Post Mortem on the Sixth District that I saw was by Steen Kirby. I don’t agree with everything he writes, but it’s a thoughtful analysis.

$30,000,000 dollars later, people still aren’t sure what Jon Ossoff stood for, and cared about, and the Democratic party leadership and consultant class still don’t know how to win. For the price of a dozen competitive House elections or statewide campaigns–and hundreds of local and state legislative contests–Democrats are left standing in the same place they were after November 2016 in Georgia’s 6th district, and across the country.

Ossoff’s improvement can largely be tied to the fact that spending does move the needle to an extent, but it wasn’t enough. Ossoff’s polling lead was squandered away by a poor final salvo, and most likely GOP voters being motivated by the horrific terror attack against GOP congressman on a baseball field in Virginia.

1: Ossoff Lacked a Clear Message and Had an Irrelevant Platform

If you visit Ossoff’s website, you’ll see a smorgasbord of issue positions, written in a cold, distant, unengaging tone, and without any real priority placed on any specific issue. This matches Ossoff’s advertising, mail, and messaging overall. Months later, I’m not sure anyone has a clear answer what Ossoff stands for, or what his top agenda items would have been if elected to Congress. He was neither “Anti-Trump,” nor “Progressive” or “Centrist,” or frankly anything else.

Molly Ball writes for The Atlantic about the election:

They hoped to send one message to Washington; instead, they may have sent the opposite one—that the mass of American voters are in no hurry to deliver a rebuke to the chaos in Washington, and that Republican representatives still have wide leeway to pursue their policy objectives on issues like health care without losing or disheartening their base.

That is a tough pill to swallow for Democrats who have convinced themselves opposing Trump will bring them back from the brink of powerlessness. So far, they have cut into Republicans’ margins, but they have not yet figured out how to win, and moral victories get no votes in Congress.

Trump was He Who Must Not Be Named as the race wound down. “This race—it’s not about what’s going on around the rest of the country,” Handel told her supporters in the restaurant. “It’s about you and about the people of the Sixth District.” Earlier that day, the president had repeatedly tweeted in support of her.

Ossoff, too, seemed to spend most of his time deflecting questions about Trump, pivoting ceaselessly back to well-worn talking points about “fresh leadership” and “quality of life” and “bipartisanship delivering solutions.” “There are a lot of folks trying to look for national implications,” he told me, sitting in a back room of his campaign office in Chamblee, hands folded in his lap. “But that’s not what voters in the Sixth District are focused on.”

A Daily Kos writer has one very interesting data table:

A lot of attention is paid to early vote vs. election day vote, with mixed predictive success at best. Here’s how it broke down for Fulton Co. GA-6 precincts:

ossoff handel ossoff margin
mail 5,781 3,698 +21%
early in person 35,111 37,140 -2.8%
election day 17,321 24,062 -16%

Ben Shapiro, in the Daily Wire writes:

So, what happened?

1. Ossoff’s Chances Were Inflated From The Outset.

2. Democrats Nationalized The Race With Outside Money. Democrats made the crucial mistake of nationalizing the GA-6 with outside cash. This led Republicans in the district to react negatively — instead of staying home, which Democrats desperately needed them to do, they got offended and voted in large numbers. Ossoff received more money from California than Georgia. Voters took it as an insult, and acted accordingly.

5. Democrats Still Have The Albatross Of Nancy Pelosi. Republicans hammered at the relationship between Ossoff and Nancy Pelosi, who is still the most unpopular politician in America (29% favorable). Democrats may be enamored of a San Francisco nut job running the House for themselves, but voters in Georgia aren’t.

6. Ossoff Didn’t Live In The District. Combined with the outside money, the focus on Pelosi, the Hollywood involvement, and the nationalized focus on Trump, Ossoff not living in the district hurt him. He seemed like a carpetbagger emissary from San Francisco to enough voters to lose him the district.

From Harry Enten at FiveThirtyEight, who sees it as a question of “reluctant” Trump Republicans:

And that brings us back to Georgia 6: It’s a reluctant Trump district. If Democrat Jon Ossoff can win in Georgia 6 over Republican Karen Handel, it could be a sign that Democrats can win over reluctant Trump voters nationwide next year.

Nationally, reluctant Trump voters differ from other Trump supporters in three important ways.

Reluctant Trump voters, on average, have more education than other Trump voters; it’s one of their defining features as a group. According to SurveyMonkey, 37 percent of reluctant Trump voters have at least a college degree compared with 25 percent of other Trump voters. That matches with the general movement away from the Republican Party by well-educated voters in 2016.

Trump voters in Georgia 6 are also probably more loyal to the Republican brand than to Trump specifically. In the Atlanta Journal Constitution survey, only 35 percent of people who voted for Trump in 2016 say their vote in the special election is meant to express support for Trump now.

Reluctant Trump voters are more likely to believe that health care is a top concern than Trump’s more enthusiastic supporters.

One takeaway from The Hill may be relevant to Georgia’s 2018 elections:

Democratic infighting ramps up

Squabbling among Democrats and liberals began before the final results were in from Georgia. The debate was conducted in raw terms.

The central issue was whether Ossoff had run too timorous and centrist a campaign to fire up the base.

Amid all the drama of the Trump presidency, the depth of divisions among Democrats — and the continuing rancor between centrists and progressives dating back to the Clinton-Sanders primary fight last year — has often been underreported.

From the PBS NewsHour:

For Democrats especially, redistricting matters

The biggest political battle of the year (so far) didn’t take place in Atlanta’s politically moderate suburbs by accident. Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District belongs to a dying breed of moderate House seats. The reality is, there aren’t many left. In the midterm elections next year, Democrats will undoubtedly target the 23 Republican House seats that Clinton carried in 2016. But even if they won every single one, that still wouldn’t be enough for them to flip the House.

Both parties have a stake in the redistricting debate. But Democrats, as the minority party in Congress, have more to lose in the short-term if the status quo doesn’t change. That’s why their hopes of flipping the House hinge in large part on redistricting reform — and why liberals should thank Obama and his ally and former attorney general Eric Holder for making redistricting their top political priority under Trump.

It won’t be easy. Republicans will fight reform efforts, and redistricting is a convoluted issue that doesn’t pull at voters’ heartstrings. Holder, the chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, acknowledged as much this week, saying that “part of my job is to make redistricting sexy.” The Supreme Court’s decision Tuesday to hear a case on partisan gerrymandering will help. As the Georgia election showed, Democrats have a lot riding on the outcome.

Congresswoman Karen Handel

East Cobb gave Karen Handel her margin of victory on Tuesday, according to the Marietta Daily Journal.

“The east Cobb part of the 6th District gave Handel a huge win,” Swint said. “That was the single biggest margin for her of the three counties. So there’s no question Cobb helped deliver her the win.”

In Cobb, Handel received just over 58 percent of the vote. In Fulton and DeKalb, she got 52.7 percent and 41.5 percent respectively.

Handel lost DeKalb by 9,777 votes. In her home turf of Fulton, she picked up 6,687 votes, leaving her about 3,000 votes shy of a win.

Handel’s margin of victory in Cobb was 12,792 votes, giving her a nice soft cushion on which to comfortably bounce over the 50 percent mark.

East Cobb Commissioner Bob Ott, an early Handel supporter, said he was not surprised Cobb Republicans came out in large numbers for the runoff.

“The folks in Cobb have a big concern over the schools and the community and everything else if they see that’s going to be threatened and changed,” Ott said. “I think they’re going to come out and speak their mind at elections just like they do at my town halls. I have 100, 150 people at my town halls. So it doesn’t surprise me to see such a large turnout from folks in Cobb. They’re very engaged and know what’s going on in the district.”

2018 Elections

Georgia Court of Appeals Judge John Ellington announced he will run for a seat on the Georgia Supreme Court next year.

Ellington told the Daily Report this week that he has organized a campaign for the state’s highest court and plans to announce his candidacy Thursday.

“The quality of life in any community depends on the quality of the judicial system,” Ellington said. “I have spent my entire judicial career of 25 years serving every classification of court in Georgia.”

“The Court of Appeals has been described as the salt mine of Georgia jurisprudence,” Ellington said. “Our Supreme Court provides the leadership for all levels of court. I want to take my experience now to the Supreme Court and share that experience.”

Ellington said he will run for the seat now held by Justice Carol Hunstein. She has said she will not run for reelection in 2018 because she will reach the age of 75 before her next six-year term would end. Georgia requires appellate judges to retire before their 75th birthday or forfeit their pensions.

Suburban women are the key to Democratic victory in Georgia, or so we’ve been told since at least 2014. If that’s the case, Democrat Stacey Evans is making a play for Ossoff supporters ahead of the 2018 Gubernatorial election. From a campaign email:

Last night, Jon Ossoff came SO CLOSE to winning the Georgia Special Election.

It was a long and tough election. Republicans spent MILLIONS to buy the results they wanted, and used every dirty trick in the book.

Now Republicans are counting on us to feel discouraged by the results.

But they are WRONG. We proved that Democrats are fired up and hungry for a win.

And if we came that close to flipping Georgia’s Sixth District, we can definitely WIN the race for Georgia governor.

But because of hardworking Democrats like you, he put a solid-Red district on the defensive.

We can keep up his momentum, [name]. We can still keep the hope alive that his campaign inspired in so many Georgians.

We’ve come so far, [name]. Don’t let Republicans think we’re done fighting.

-Team Evans

If it’s true that suburban women fueled the Ossoff effort, consolidating their support could be a very savvy tactic headed into 2018.


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

Georgia’s Royal Colony Seal was approved on June 21, 1754.

Georgia Colony Seal

The Constitution of the United States of America was ratified on June 21, 1788, when New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify.

On September 17, 1787, after three months of debate moderated by convention president George Washington, the new U.S. constitution, which created a strong federal government with an intricate system of checks and balances, was signed by 38 of the 41 delegates present at the conclusion of the convention. As dictated by Article VII, the document would not become binding until it was ratified by nine of the 13 states.

Beginning on December 7, five states–Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, and Connecticut–ratified it in quick succession. However, other states, especially Massachusetts, opposed the document, as it failed to reserve undelegated powers to the states and lacked constitutional protection of basic political rights, such as freedom of speech, religion, and the press. In February 1788, a compromise was reached under which Massachusetts and other states would agree to ratify the document with the assurance that amendments would be immediately proposed. The Constitution was thus narrowly ratified in Massachusetts, followed by Maryland and South Carolina. On June 21, 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the document, and it was subsequently agreed that government under the U.S. Constitution would begin on March 4, 1789. In June, Virginia ratified the Constitution, followed by New York in July.

A lynch mob including members of the KKK killed three young civil rights activists who were trying to register African-Americans to vote near Meridian, Mississippi on June 21, 1964.

When Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney, a young black man, were coming back from a trip to Philadelphia, Mississippi, deputy sheriff Cecil Price, who was also a Klan member, pulled them over for speeding. He then held them in custody while other KKK members prepared for their murder. Eventually released, the three activists were later chased down in their car and cornered in a secluded spot in the woods where they were shot and then buried in graves that had been prepared in advance.

When news of their disappearance got out, the FBI converged on Mississippi to investigate. With the help of an informant, agents learned about the Klan’s involvement and found the bodies. Since Mississippi refused to prosecute the assailants in state court, the federal government charged 18 men with conspiracy to violate the civil rights of Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney.

John W. Hinckley, Jr. was acquitted of attempted murder of President Ronald Reagan and others in the Presidential party by reason on insanity on June 21, 1982.

Voters in Sandy Springs approved the new city’s incorporation on June 21, 2005.


Georgia Department of Corrections Sergeant Christopher Monica was laid to rest in yesterday.

Authorities said Sgt. Monica and Sgt. Curtis Billue were shot and killed by two inmates during a prison transport last Tuesday. The accused inmates, Donnie Roe and Ricky Dubose, were captured following a three-day massive manhunt.

Monica, 42, started with the Department of Corrections in October 2009 working as a correctional officer at Hancock State Prison. He was moved to Baldwin State Prison in February of 2011 where he quickly rose through the ranks, being promoted to sergeant.

Friends have set up a GoFundMe page to help Monica’s family. It says he had been taking on extra shifts so his wife wouldn’t have to work because she was having health issues.

On Saturday, friends, family and fellow officers gathered to honor and remember Sgt. Curtis Billue, who’d been with the DOC since July 2007 stationed at Frank Scott Correctional Facility.

Flags flew at half-staff yesterday in honor of Sgt. Monica.

United States Navy Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm, Jr. (no relation) is being lauded as a hero after his death in the aftermath of the USS Fitzgerald collision.

When the Fitzgerald collided with the merchant ship, 37-year-old Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., “leapt into action,” according to The Daily Beast.

The Fitzgerald was struck below the waterline, and Rehm Jr.’s family was told by the Navy that he went under and saved at least 20 sailors, according to WBNS-10TV in Columbus, Ohio.

But when he went back down to get the other six sailors, the ship began to take on too much water, and the hatch was closed, WBNS-10TV said.

“That was Gary to a T,” Rehm Jr.’s friend Christopher Garguilo, told NBC4i in Columbus, Ohio. “He never thought about himself.”

“He called [the sailors on the ship] his kids,” his uncle, Stanley Rehm Jr., told The Daily Beast. “He said, ‘If my kids die, I’m going to die.’”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

“Taking Out the Trash Day” refers to Friday in the news cycle, which is traditionally a good day to release unfavorable news items. I wrote that yesterday was the ultimate Take Out the Trash day in Georgia politics because all attention from everyone would be focused on the Sixth District Special Runoff Election between Republican Karen Handel and Democrat John Ossoff.

The Gwinnett County Commission took advantage of that yesterday, when they voted to publicly reprimand Commissioner Tommy Hunter. Whether intentional or not, doing so last night probably downplayed the event. While the vote made the Gwinnett Daily Post, the AJC, and WSB radio, I don’t see much TV news coverage. For instance, WSB-TV covered it, but any other night, I think it would have been more prominently featured.

From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

An emotional public hearing on whether Gwinnett commissioners should reprimand one of their own for making controversial comments on Facebook was capped with Chairwoman Charlotte Nash fighting back tears as she addressed residents.

The commissioners voted unanimously to publicly reprimand Commissioner Tommy Hunter for his comments, which included calling U.S. Rep. John Lewis a “racist pig,” and referring to Democrats as “Demonrats” and “Libtards” on his personal Facebook page.

Hunter was not present at the meeting, but his colleagues, who have remained silent on the matter for months, made their feelings known before the vote was taken.

Commissioner Jace Brooks also criticized Hunter for making the remarks on Facebook, but added he disagreed with the idea that the comments constituted an ethics violation. Nonetheless, Brooks offered the motion to accept the ethics board’s recommendation, saying he supported a public reprimand of his colleague.

Hunter’s spokesman, Seth Weathers, criticized the commission for voting to accept the ethics board’s recommendation of a public reprimand, however.

“We now know that mob rule controls the Gwinnett County Commission Board,” he said after the hearing ended. “Charlotte Nash lead her fellow board members in the public burning of the Constitution this evening. People are used to politicians caving to political correctness but tonight it reached a new level. Spineless politicians do spineless things.

“Where is the public reprimand for Charlotte Nash, John Heard, Jace Brooks, and Lynette Howard for their public disregard for the U.S. Constitution? Speaking of, where do I file the ethics complaint to get the process started?”

I am uneasy with several parts of this whole affair.

First, the idea that an elected official would be subject to an ethics process for being stupid on Facebook while on his or her own time.

Second, the idea that continued disruption of public meetings by citizens can appear to drive decisions by elected officials when legitimate issues of the role of elected officials in policing each other’s conduct are raised.

Third, that the actions of one Commissioner could lead to the continued disruption of a functioning elected board.

Fourth, that anyone would take the opportunity to take a cheap shot at Charlotte Nash, one of the finest public servants I’ve seen.

Fifth, that public discourse in our community has fallen to the point where people are so comfortable being jerks in public.

The other side of “Take Out the Trash Day” is knowing that when a major national political story is happening in your community, it will drive news coverage for days. Democrat Kathleen Allen announced she will run against Congressman Rob Woodall (R-Gwinnett) in the 2018 election.

Norcross resident and homeless advocate Kathleen Allen will kick off her bid to run for the Seventh Congressional District seat at 7 p.m. on Thursday at 45 South Cafe, 45 S. Peachtree St., in Norcross. She is seeking to defeat U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Ga., who has held the seat for more than six years.

Allen made headlines earlier this year when she, along with homeless assistance groups in Gwinnett, took on Norcross’ hotel and extended stay ordinance, which she said would negatively affect homeless families. The city ultimately made changes in the ordinance to minimize the impact on homeless residents.

Allen and her campaign will canvas neighborhoods throughout the district this summer and into the fall to meet with residents and hear their concerns.

“I don’t want to tell my community what they should care about,” Allen said. “I want to know what they do care about so that I truly represent everyone in our district.”

It’s an interesting timing choice, perhaps hoping to capitalize on national attention on what just happened in the Sixth District and become the next liberal darling of the online left. Or maybe it was just amateur hour.

Democrat David Kim previously announced he will challenge Woodall.

Congratulations to Karen Handel

Last night, earlier than I and many others expected, Karen Handel was declared the winner of the Special Runoff Election for the Sixth Congressional District. Congratulations to Karen and Steve Handel, and to my fellow constituents of the Sixth District, who have chosen an experienced, effective leader.

My analysis of this will probably span several day, maybe longer, because there’s a lot to unpack.

But I want to start by recognizing two people for their contributions. These mentions are not intended to downplay anyone else’s contribution.

Jade Morey, who was in my class in Republican Leadership for Georgia, went above and beyond. Her personal energy and relentless enthusiasm were a major boon to the Handel campaign. Yesterday, at 4:25 PM I received a text from her asking me to make phone calls from my cell phone at home for Karen. I’m sure everyone else she’s known since kindergarten got a similar text, but that’s a great illustration of running the race through the tape.

Mark Rountree of Landmark Communications, though he was not engaged in the campaign to my knowledge, added significantly to my understanding of the race dynamics in the last days.

Several days ago, I tweeted that any “I think we can all agree that a poll showing GA-6 within the MOE doesn’t even qualify as news, much less justify “BREAKING.”’ My point being that the arms race for new polling among media outlets leads to a lot of breathless, cheap stories entirely devoid of news or useful content. Seriously, save your money folks. Polling is not a substitute for good reporting from the field.

Anyway, the last Landmark poll of the cycle was the only one worth reading, from any pollster, in my opinion. That one still showed a race within the margin of error, but it showed movement to Karen Handel from the last previous poll, by the same firm, using the same methodology, less than a week prior.

A facebook post on the survey put it best:

Seeing some momentum toward Handel.

One of my other polling mentors, Bruno Gianelli, spoke of campaigns and polling in relation to racing sailboats.

The importance of that last poll can also be compared to sailing, more precisely to navigation. Any single poll is a snapshot in time; it tries to tell you what is happening now, but has little predictive value on its own. It’s like knowing where you are on a map of the open sea, of limited use. To have a better idea where you’re headed, you also need to know the directions of the current and of the wind, which help you plot your speed and direction.

The second poll, by the same firm, using the same methodology, adds that vector information – it can tell you speed and direction. So “seeing some momentum toward Handel,” is the most useful information I had seen in weeks and it helped my decide over the weekend that I thought Karen Handel would win.

Senator David Perdue sent out a statement congratulating Congresswoman-elect Handel:

“Georgians again sent a loud message to Washington that we are committed to changing the direction of our country. Liberal Democrats dumped millions of dollars into this campaign to try and buy another House vote for Nancy Pelosi, and it still didn’t work. Nobody knows Georgia’s 6th District better than Karen Handel. I congratulate Karen on her victory and look forward to working with her on the issues that matter to all Georgians.”

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp also issued a statement:

“Despite the millions of dollars spent, thousands of paid activists shipped in from around the country, and countless lies told by her opponent and his radical supporters, conservative Karen Handel earned victory at the ballot box and sent a clear message to democrats far and wide that Georgia is a red state and it’s not for sale.”

“Karen Handel has a proven record of accomplishments and she is uniquely qualified to serve Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District in Washington. I am confident that she will stand up for our conservative, Georgia values and fight tirelessly to ensure a better, brighter future for all Americans. We have some difficult challenges ahead but I know that Karen can handle it.”

“Congratulations to Karen Handel, her campaign team and supporters, and the Georgia Republican Party on a well-deserved victory!”

Opioid Epidemic

A report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality indicates that the opioid and overdose epidemic is having a major impact on our healthcare system.

The coast-to-coast opioid epidemic is swamping hospitals, with government data published Tuesday showing 1.27 million emergency room visits or inpatient stays for opioid-related issues in a single year.

The 2014 numbers, the latest available for every state and the District of Columbia, reflect a 64 percent increase for inpatient care and a 99 percent jump for emergency room treatment compared to figures from 2005. Their trajectory likely will keep climbing if the epidemic continues unabated.

The AHRQ report does not speculate on why some states have such high rates of hospital admissions. It suggests that people in the most urban places are more likely to be treated in a hospital than those in rural areas — which would indicate that lack of access to medical care is a factor in the uptick in death rates seen in less-urban parts of the country.

The sharpest increase in hospitalization and emergency room treatment for opioids was among people ages 25 to 44, and that women are now as likely as men to be admitted to a hospital for inpatient treatment for opioid-related problems. In 2005, there was a significant gap between men and women, with men more likely to be admitted. That gap closed entirely by 2014.

Georgia has had the greatest increase in opioid-related admissions during that period.

Of the 43 states where data was available, Georgia saw the highest increase in opioid related inpatient stays between 2009 and 2014. Hospital stays increased 100% in Georgia, compared with an average rise of 24% across the country. In Kansas, Maryland, Illinois and Louisiana, inpatient stays fell across the six-year time period.

Today, an op-ed in the Atlanta Business Chronicle by Monty Veazey, President of the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals, gives some context to what that explosive growth in overdoses means for Georgia hospitals, many of which are already endangered.

Increasingly, overdoses come in clusters of multiple incidences within a short time. The impact on an emergency room can be paralyzing, even for a large Metro Atlanta hospital, much less a smaller facility in a rural market. The impact can also be lasting, as stabilized patients often require prolonged medical support, including intensive care and services from a number of different departments.

On top of this growing epidemic, emergency rooms are also experiencing increased visits related to behavioral or mental health, which have have skyrocketed nearly 60% over the same period. This is in addition to the heart attacks, accidents and other life threatening situations that bring patients through their doors and require a hospital’s full capabilities to treat. This week, Becker’s Hospital Review ranked the emergency rooms with the most visits per year, placing two Metro Atlanta facilities in the top ten nationwide.

As hospitals deal with the strain of increasing admissions, the existence of a strong network of neighboring hospitals helps distribute the patient load and ensure timely access to care. But today, as hospitals across Georgia struggle under the pressure of financial challenges caused by factors including changing demographics, growing numbers of underinsured and uninsured patients, and declining populations – that network is at risk.

For example, it is estimated that Georgia hospitals performed $1.7 billion dollars worth of uncompensated care in 2015 alone, which is simply unsustainable. In addition, potential cuts in Medicare and Medicaid are being discussed in Washington, DC, that would force more hospitals to close their doors, as 7 in Georgia and 80 across the nation have been forced to do since 2010.

One of the keys to the stability of Georgia’s network of care is the state’s Certificate of Need (CON) program. This critical tool helps the state manage the availability and financial survival of safety net hospitals while ensuring access to emergency departments, advanced treatment, and routine healthcare needs.

The time could not be worse for weakening protections for our hospital system, which would come at the unquestionable risk of reducing access to health-care and emergency services.

[Disclaimer: I work on communications with the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals.]

A Northwest Georgia hospital accuses an insurance company of underpaying for services.

The only hospital in northwest Georgia’s Walker County has sued Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, claiming the insurer’s refusal to pay its contractually agreed-upon rates for services threatens to put Cornerstone Medical Center out of business.

The hospital, located in Fort Oglethorpe near the Tennessee state line, has already struggled though one bankruptcy, which resulted in its being bought for $4.1 million in late 2015.

Cornerstone’s is the only emergency room in Walker County, the motion said, and more than 60 percent of the patients seen there “have no means to pay nor any perceived interest in doing so.” The hospital also provides radiology, laboratory and pharmaceutical services to the county’s residents.

Nuclear News

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure that should benefit Georgia electric ratepayers.

House lawmakers approved legislation that would add life to federal tax credits that could save hundreds of millions of dollars for the companies and non-profits behind the struggling Plant Vogtle nuclear project and a similar one in South Carolina.

A resolution that removes a 2021 deadline for using the tax credits passed a voice vote Tuesday afternoon on the House floor. The proposed tax change also will have to win the Senate’s approval to become law.

That extension could help preserve $800 million worth of tax credits that Georgia Power has been counting on to help lower its cost of the Vogtle project, which includes construction of two new reactors at the plant near Augusta.


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

On June 20, 1732, the signing of the Georgia Charter was completed by the British government.

On June 20, 1782, Congress adopted the Great Seal of the United States. Charles Thomson, Secretary of the Continental Congress, was responsible for the final design presented to Congress. The design approved by Congress was a written description without any sketches.

On June 20, 1819, the SS Savannah entered the port at Liverpool, England, marking the first transatlantic crossing by a steam-powered ship, having sailed out of Savannah on May 20th.

General Robert E. Lee moved on Union forces under General Ulysses S. Grant at Petersburg, Virginia on June 20, 1864.

Jaws was released on June 20, 1975.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Thanks, Facebook! I almost forgot!

Election Today Thanks Facebook

Today is also the day that voters in Clarkesville, Georgia will choose a new City Council member.

The office of Council Member of the City of Clarkesville, Georgia, being Post 3, will be elected at large for the remainder of a four (4) year term, being approximately two (2) year’s and six (6) months, beginning on or about June 21, 2017 through December 31, 2019, with said seat currently vacant and formerly held by Casey Ramsey.

Election Day voting will be held June 20, 2017 at the Ruby Fulbright Aquatic Center, 120 Paul Franklin Road, Clarkesville, Georgia 30523, from 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Gwinnett County Commissioners today will consider a recommendation by the county ethics board that Commissioner Tommy Hunter be censured for impolitic Facebook posting.

The ethics board assembled to investigate the complaint agreed with that assessment earlier this month, recommending the stiffest penalty available to county commissioners — that Hunter be publicly reprimanded.

That reprimand would involve posting a written rebuke on the county’s website, on the wall of its courthouse and in the local newspaper.

Commission Chair Charlotte Nash said she expects her board to vote on the matter during a public hearing scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. One hour has been set aside for public comment in support of the ethics board’s recommendation and one hour for those against.

Optim Medical Center – Jenkins has been spared, as a buyer has been found to keep the local hospital open.

Optim Medical Center-Jenkins, set to close this month, announced Monday that it has been sold to GA Medical Holdings Corp.

The 25-bed “critical access’’ facility in Millen in Jenkins County was due to merge operations with another hospital in the area. It would have been the seventh Georgia rural hospital to shut down since the beginning of 2013. Two of those that closed have been revived as medical facilities, but no longer function as full-fledged hospitals.

If a last-minute buyer had not been found, Optim-Jenkins would have merged with an Optim hospital in Sylvania in neighboring Screven County.

Like other rural hospitals, Optim Medical Center-Jenkins had cited declining reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid; decreased patient census; and needed upgrades to its infrastructure, as forcing the closure.

The Georgia Supreme Court held that the state cannot be sued to prevent enforcement of an abortion statute.

But, in a 71-page opinion, Justice Keith Blackwell left the door open for challenges to state officials individually.

“Simply put, the constitutional doctrine of sovereign immunity forbids our courts to entertain a lawsuit against the State without its consent,” Blackwell said.

“We hold today that the doctrine of sovereign immunity extends generally to suits against the State, its departments and agencies, and its officers in their official capacities for injunctive and declaratory relief from official acts that are alleged to be unconstitutional. In so holding, however, we recognize the availability of other means by which aggrieved citizens may obtain relief from unconstitutional acts, including prospective relief from the threatened enforcement of unconstitutional laws.”

The suit targets a 2012 state law banning nearly all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, known as the “fetal pain statute,” because it is tied to the fetus’ feeling rather than its viability, the latter of which is the standard used in the U.S. Supreme Court’s watershed ruling in Roe v. Wade. The constitutional challenge targets a facet of the law allowing district attorneys access to abortion patients’ medical records. In oral arguments, the attorneys never mentioned abortion; instead, they focused on whether the state’s immunity outweighs its citizens’ right to privacy under the Georgia Constitution.

“This is an astounding proposition that would make Georgia the only state in the union in which the Bill of Rights is subordinate to the Legislature,” Samuel told the high court.

Today is “take out the trash day” in Georgia politics. If you must release unfavorable information and hope it doesn’t get noticed, today is the day to do it. Anything released or announce today by any government agency in Georgia should receive extra scrutiny. Maybe next week.


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

The Georgia Whig Party held its first convention on June 19, 1843 in Milledgeville and elected ten delegates to the 1844 National Convention.

The first Republican National Convention, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, ended on June 19, 1856.

The Republicans, who called for the abolition of slavery in all U.S. territories, rapidly gained supporters in the North, and in 1856 their first presidential candidate, John Fremont, won 11 of the 16 Northern states. By 1860, the majority of Southern states were publicly threatening secession if a Republican won the presidency.

The Civil War firmly identified the Republican Party as the official party of the victorious North. After the war, the Republican-dominated Congress forced a radical Reconstruction policy on the South, which saw the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution, abolishing slavery and granting voting rights to African American men in the South. By 1876, the Republican Party had lost control of the South, but it continued to dominate the presidency, with a few intermissions, until the ascendance of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933.

On June 19, 1864, Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston retreated from Pine Mountain and Lost Mountain toward Marietta. Click here to watch a two-minute video by Georgia Public Broadcasting and the Atlanta History Center about this week in Georgia in 1864.

On the same day, USS Kearsarge sank CSS Alabama off the coast of Cherbourg, France in one of the most-celebrated naval battles of the Civil War.

Under its captain, Raphael Semmes, the Alabama prowled the world for three years, capturing U.S. commercial ships. It sailed around the globe, usually working out of the West Indies, but taking prizes and bungling Union shipping in the Caribbean, off Newfoundland, and around the coast of South America. In January 1863, Semmes sunk a Union warship, the Hatteras, after luring it out of Galveston, Texas.

During its career, the Alabama captured 66 ships and was hunted by more than 20 Federal warships.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

From the AJC Political Insider on Saturday’s GOTV Rally with Secretary of HHS Tom Price and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

“We want lower taxes. We all want a government that respects you. You all want patient-centered healthcare,” said Price. “You all want national security to be an absolute priority for the federal government. If you want any one of those items, then who you want is Karen Handel for the 6th District.”

And Perdue, who hired Handel as a deputy when he was governor, urged conservatives not to be fooled by a Democrat who sports a “few Republican buzz words.” He led voters in a chant of “no turning back.”

“This is a harbinger of national politics. The world is looking, the nation is looking – and all the money has flowed in here,” Perdue said. “Don’t be fooled by someone who doesn’t have a record. Let me tell you something, he’s a puppeteer and the strings are being pulled by Democrats and the Nancy Pelosi.”

The Saturday event was organized by John Watson, the newly-minted Georgia GOP chair, who has made boosting Handel one of his first priorities. A former aide to Perdue, Watson won this month’s vote to lead the cash-strapped party on a pledge to shore up its finances and make it more relevant.

Today, the Karen Handel campaign will rally across the Sixth District to encourage Republicans to vote in the Special Election tomorrow.

DeKalb GOTV STOP with Karen Handel and Congressman Kevin McCarthy
11:30 AM – 12:00 Noon at Old Hickory House
2202 Northlake Parkway
Tucker, GA 30084

Cobb GOTV RALLY with Surprise Guest
12:45 – 2:00 PM at Cherokee Cattle Ranch
2710 Canton Road
Marietta, GA 30066

Click here to register for Cobb GOTV Rally

Fulton and Grand Finale GOTV RALLY with Gov Deal, First Lady Sandra Deal and Banks and Shane
6 – 7:30 PM at Houck’s Grille
10930 Crabapple Road, Suite B1302
Roswell, GA 30075

Click here to register for Fulton GOTV Rally

Here are the latest numbers for early votes cast:

Cobb 25,346 19.39%
DeKalb 30554 23.37%
Fulton 74850 57.25%

The Marietta Daily Journal has a write-up on early voting.

In Cobb alone, 27,257 people cast their ballots early through mail-in ballots or advance in-person voting. Cobb Elections Director Janine Eveler said that represents more than 23 percent of registered voters.

In the April free-for-all primary election that pitted Ossoff and Handel against 16 other candidates, 11,860 Cobb voters voted early.

In addition to east Cobb, District 6 also includes parts of Fulton and DeKalb. All told, over 140,000 early votes have been cast in this race, including from 36,000 people who did not vote in the primary, Politico reports.

If you live in District 6 and have not voted yet, tomorrow, Election Day, is your only chance to do so. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

[Note: the difference between the Cobb figure above from the SOS database and the number in the MDJ article may be due to lag in the system by which the County reports ballots cast to the state.]

Ms. Lillian Mortimer, 100 years old, of Cobb County may be the oldest voter to cast a ballot in the Sixth District.

When 100-year-old Lillian Mortimer ran into trouble getting her Georgia identification card to ensure she could cast a ballot in the House District 6 runoff between Karen Handel and Jon Ossoff, she was undeterred.

Born at home in February 1917, she didn’t have a birth certificate. Her North Carolina driver’s license, which she had before moving in with her daughter Lynn Strickland of east Cobb about three years ago, had expired, and the passport she once had was lost in that move.

It was soon thereafter that the two turned to one of their fellow parishioners at Mt. Bethel United Methodist — Cobb Commission Chairman Mike Boyce.

“Lillian came to me, she grabbed me in the church narthex about a month ago … Lillian and her daughter grabbed me and said Lillian really wanted to get a Georgia ID card so that she could vote,” Boyce said, sharing the story at Tuesday’s Board of Commissioners meeting. “This is a lady that was born in the year that America entered World War I, and yet her primary consideration and concern is that she wanted to vote.”

Since then, Mortimer has mailed in her absentee ballot — a vote for Karen Handel.

“I thought it was important, and I’ve always voted,” she said. “In fact, I used to work at the poll in (my former home) Greensboro (North Carolina), and it is important. I wish people that complain so much about things would get out there and get voting. And there’s much to complain about.”

National Democrats are beginning to manage expectations in case their wunderkind Jon Ossoff falls short tomorrow.

A loss in Georgia’s special election here could leave the party demoralized, with little to show for all the furious organizing, fundraising and spending in a handful of congressional special elections in the early months of the Trump administration. As a result, Democrats are now straining to throw everything they have at Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District to push Jon Ossoff over the top against Republican Karen Handel, aiming to prove they can win the suburban districts that may pave the way to a House majority in 2018.

According to Democrats close to the contest, the high early voting turnout has rendered Tuesday’s result less predictable than expected. And that unpredictability has party leaders — stung by criticism from liberal activists for not spending enough money on earlier special elections this year in Kansas and Montana — urging activists not to be disappointed by a tight race that ends in defeat.

Their concern is that anything less than victory could dampen the party’s torrid energy and cash flow, with the next round of House races still nearly a year-and-a-half away.

“From the start, the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] understood that winning the Georgia 6th special election would be a monumental task. Simply put, virtually every structural advantage benefits Republicans in a special election in this traditionally conservative district,” wrote DCCC Executive Director Dan Sena in an expectation-setting memo circulated to a group that included donors and friendly groups last Tuesday.

He reminded them that the committee “has spent more than $6 million to fundamentally transform a traditionally Republican electorate, turn out low-propensity voters, channel the unprecedented grassroots energy, and communicate with swing voters.”

The Gwinnett County Republican Party Chairman’s Cookout on Saturday, June 24 from 11 AM to 4 PM will draw some of the 2018 Statewide candidates.

Tickets cost $10 for adults, and $5 for kids ages 6 to 16, and can be purchased at Children under 6 will be admitted for free.

Among the candidates expected to be there are Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who is running for governor, and Reps. Buzz Brockway and Brad Raffensperger, who are running for secretary of state.

Information [on the website] about the event says gubernatorial candidates Sen. Hunter Hill and Secretary of State Brian Kemp have also been invited to attend the cookout. U.S. Reps. Rob Woodall and Jody Hice are among the invitees as well.

Cagle, Hill, Kemp and state Sen. Michael Williams, R-Cumming, make up the Republican field for governor so far, but qualifying won’t take place until next spring, so other candidates could still emerge.

Groundbreaking for the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center in Augusta will be today, though preparations have already begun.

The Georgia Department of Labor reports that unemployment has hit the lowest level in nearly a decade.

The Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday that the rate dipped from 5 percent in April to 4.9 percent in May. That gives the state its lowest number since October 2007. The recession, fueled by the housing market meltdown, officially started in December 2007, with economists gauging its end in June 2009.

A year ago, the state’s jobless rate was 5.3 percent.

“Georgia saw its unemployment rate dip below 5 percent for the first time in nearly 10 years as more individuals gained jobs,” Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said in a statement. “It’s a testament to the attractiveness of Georgia’s job market when we continue to see more and more individuals enter and re-enter the job market and find employment.”

The department said the total number of Georgians with a job increased by nearly 10,000 from April to May, bringing the total to a record 4,788,627. That total is up by nearly 156,000 from May of last year.

Jack Bernard, a former Jasper County Commission Chair writes that Georgia should not get rid of Certificate of Need laws.

[E]very year or two, some state politician suggests doing away with Georgia’s Certificate of Need (CON) laws, which regulate where and how health care facilities can operate. Sometimes people in the health care field make similar suggestions.

Unfortunately, while many of these proposals invoke the principle of the free market, they are misguided.

Most of my career was spent in the private sector in for-profit health care corporations. For four years, I was with two major for-profit hospital chains, and I had the responsibility of trying to obtain CON permits for new and existing facilities.

I learned that corporate executives have a legal responsibility to put their firms’ interests first, ahead of societal concerns. There’s nothing wrong with that, since people in a free society have a right to see that their particular interests are represented. But government regulation has a broader aim. It is intended to protect the consumer rather than the corporation.

I am a fiscal conservative, and I dislike paperwork as much as the next guy. But I know that government regulations are put in place for a reason, to protect the public. At least in the case of Georgia’s CON laws, the current regulations are working well.



Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 16, 2017

On June 16, 1736, General James Oglethorpe arrived in England with Tomochichi, the Yamacraw Indian chief, Tomochichi’s wife and several other members of the tribe on a trip to meet the Georgia Trustees and King George II.

On June 17, 1759, Sir Francis Drake claimed California for England.

On June 17, 1775, British forces under General William Howe engaged American colonists at the Battle of Bunker Hill.

On June 17, some 2,200 British forces under the command of Major General William Howe (1729-1814) and Brigadier General Robert Pigot (1720-96) landed on the Charlestown Peninsula then marched to Breed’s Hill. As the British advanced in columns against the Americans, Prescott, in an effort to conserve the Americans’ limited supply of ammunition, reportedly told his men, “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes!” When the Redcoats were within several dozen yards, the Americans let loose with a lethal barrage of musket fire, throwing the British into retreat.

After re-forming their lines, the British attacked again, with much the same result. Prescott’s men were now low on ammunition, though, and when the Redcoats went up the hill for a third time, they reached the redoubts and engaged the Americans in hand-to-hand combat. The outnumbered Americans were forced to retreat. However, by the end of the engagement, the Patriots’ gunfire had cut down some 1,000 enemy troops, with more than 200 killed and more than 800 wounded. More than 100 Americans perished, while more than 300 others were wounded.

A distant ancestor of mine, John Logue, fought with the Americans at Bunker Hill, though he was not yet an enlisted soldier.

British forces under General Sir Henry Clinton left Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on June 18, 1778 after occupying the former capital for nine months.

Creek Indians signed the Treaty of Fort Wilkinson on June 16, 1802, ceding two parcels of land in Georgia to the United States.

On June 18, 1807, commissioners from Georgia and North Carolina agreed to recognize the 35th parallel as the boundary between the two states. North Carolina conducted a survey that placed the boundary further South than the 35th parallel, though Georgia never accepted the survey and continues to argue that the 35th is the proper boundary against both North Carolina and Tennessee.

As of today, the dispute with Tennessee continues.

The War of 1812 began on June 18, 1812, as President James Madison signed a declaration of war against Great Britain passed by the House and Senate.

On June 16, 1858, Abraham Lincoln addressed the Illiniois Republican Convention as a candidate for U.S. Senate and warned that “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”

President Andrew Johnson appointed John Johnson (no relation) provisional Governor of Georgia after the Civil War on June 17, 1865; John Johnson had opposed secession.

The Atlanta Constitution was first published on June 16, 1868.

On June 18, 1873, Susan B. Anthony was fined $100 for illegally voting in Rochester, New York. At the conclusion of her trial, the judge read a statement that, “The Fourteenth Amendment gives no right to a woman to vote, and the voting by Miss Anthony was in violation of the law,” and directed the jury to convict her. Anthony responded,

“Yes, your honor, I have many things to say; for in your ordered verdict of guilty, you have trampled underfoot every vital principle of our government,” Anthony said. “My natural rights, my civil rights, my political rights, my judicial rights, are all alike ignored. Robbed of the fundamental privilege of citizenship, I am degraded from the status of a citizen to that of a subject; and not only myself individually, but all of my sex, are, by your honor’s verdict, doomed to political subjection under this, so-called, form of government.”

The Southern Railway Company was organized on June 18, 1894 and through predecessor railroads traces its heritage to the nation’s first regularly-scheduled railroad service, The Best Friend of Charleston. Samuel Spencer, of Columbus, Georgia, was the first President of the Southern. In the 1980s, the Southern merged with Norfolk & Western Railway to form Norfolk Southern.

France announced its intention to surrender to Germany on June 17, 1940.

Bob Dylan recorded “Like a Rolling Stone” on June 16, 1965.

The Monterey Pop Festival opened at the Monterey Fairgrounds on June 16, 1967, often considered one of the opening events of the “Summer of Love.” Among the artists playing the Festival were the Jefferson Airplane, The Who, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, and Macon-born Otis Redding.

Six Flags Over Georgia opened on June 16, 1967.

Five men were arrested for burglary of the Democratic National Committee offices at the Watergate office and apartment complex in Washington, DC on June 17, 1972.

The affair began with the arrest of five men for breaking and entering into the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters at the Watergate complex on June 17, 1972. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) connected cash found on the burglars to a slush fund used by the Committee for the Re-Election of the President, the official organization of Nixon’s campaign.

In July 1973, as evidence mounted against the president’s staff, including testimony provided by former staff members in an investigation conducted by the Senate Watergate Committee, it was revealed that President Nixon had a tape-recording system in his offices and he had recorded many conversations.

After a protracted series of bitter court battles, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the president had to hand over the tapes to government investigators; he ultimately complied.

Recordings from these tapes implicated the president, revealing he had attempted to cover up the questionable goings-on that had taken place after the break-in.

Facing near-certain impeachment in the House of Representatives and equally certain conviction by the Senate, Nixon resigned the presidency on August 9, 1974. His successor, Gerald Ford, then issued a pardon to him on September 8, 1974.

Atlanta Braves player Otis Nixon tied the modern record for steals in one game with six stolen bases agains the Montreal Expos on June 16, 1991.

Newton Leroy Gingrich was born on June 17, 1943 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Gingrich graduated from college at Emory University, where he founded the Emory College Republicans. Gingrich’s congressional papers are collected in the the Georgia’s Political Heritage Program at West Georgia College, where he taught before being elected to Congress. Also at West Georgia are the papers of former Congressmen Bob Barr, Mac Collins, and Pat Swindall, along with a near-perfect replica of Georgia Speaker Tom Murphy’s office.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal thanked law enforcement officers who helped capture two Georgia prison escapees who allegedly murdered two Department of Corrections officers.

“Earlier tonight, with the assistance of our law enforcement partners in Tennessee, dangerous fugitives were captured and taken into custody,” said Deal. “Rest assured, justice will be served. My sincere thanks to our local, state and federal law enforcement officers who assisted in the manhunt. Because of their tireless efforts, the public is safe. The pain endured by the families and loved ones of Sergeant Christopher Monica and Sergeant Curtis Billue endures, however. We will do everything in our power to support their loved ones, and we will not forget their sacrifice and service.”

Deal also ordered flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of the Corrections officers who lost their lives. Flags will fly at half-staff on Saturday, June 17, 2017 in honor of Sergeant Curtis Billue and on Tuesday, June 20, 2017 in honor of Sergeant Christopher Monica.

Today is the last day of early voting in the Sixth Congressional District Special Runoff Election between Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff. Click here for early voting locations and hours.

From the Marietta Daily Journal:

The two candidates vying to fill the seat vacated by Health Secretary Tom Price have raised nearly $30 million in the race for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District. And political action committees campaigning both for and against the two have raised millions more, campaign disclosures show.

With just four days remaining until Tuesday’s runoff, members of both campaigns are ramping up their efforts to get voters from the three-county district out to the polls.

East Cobb resident Fran Cameron stood next to coolers full of bottled water and snacks as she passed out refreshments to voters waiting to cast their early ballots.

“We want to take care of our neighbors,” she said. “I’m here because this race is so important. I want everybody to vote and I don’t want anybody passing out in line.”

The Republicans and Democrats the MDJ spoke with at the government center seemed to agree on one thing: they were ready for the phone calls and advertisements to stop.

“It’s really aggressive the way that they’ve been contacting people,” said Christine Holt. “I get three or four calls a day and it’s the same people calling back time and time again.”

Early Voting Tally

Runoff Election early voting so far:

Cobb 25346 19.39%
DeKalb 30554 23.37%
Fulton 74850 57.25%

Special Election total early and election day:

Cobb 61229 31.80%
DeKalb 44299 23.00%
Fulton 87041 45.20%

Special Election total early voting:

Cobb 14169 24.93%
DeKalb 11752 20.67%
Fulton 30924 54.40%

My concern is that Cobb County appears to be underperforming proportionately compared to the Special Election, while DeKalb is overperforming. But isolating early voting from the two periods shows that Cobb County early voting is ahead of where it was in the Special Election. And Fulton County is killing it. Put me down as cautiously optimistic

Please mind your manners if you’re voting early today or on Tuesday. Apparently, it’s becoming a problem.

Local poll workers in two of the district’s three suburban counties say they have seen noticeably aggressive behavior among people coming to cast ballots in the runoff election between Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff.

Among the transgressions being reported local officials during the runoff’s early-voting period are voters wearing campaign paraphernalia and arguing when told to take it off, not getting off their mobile phones when asked to do so, and otherwise barking at poll workers when they’re approached.

The worst behavior appears to be in Fulton County, where officials decided to post retired marshals this week at five of its six early-voting locations as both a precaution and deterrent. The sixth, the county’s North Annex in Sandy Springs, is a location that regularly has sheriff’s deputies for security.

“It’s slightly disturbing that people are losing their civility over voting,” said Richard Barron, Fulton’s director of registration and elections. “The election is really getting heated. Poll workers are feeling insecure over these incidents. People are being aggressive.”

….Yet another voter, who was registered in Gwinnett County and not qualified to vote in the 6th District runoff, got so upset that he yelled at everyone in the precinct, then went outside and tore the “Vote Here” signs out of the ground and threw them back into the room.

Karen Handel and several of her neighbors received nastygrams that included an unidentified white powder.

Authorities were called to the neighborhood where Karen Handel lives in Roswell after suspicious envelopes were found in mailboxes Thursday afternoon.

At least five homes in the neighborhood received an envelope with a “white powdery substance” in it.

The FBI was called in to take the lead on the investigation.

One woman opened the envelope, found a white powdery substance inside and called police Thursday afternoon. Neighbors said the envelope also contained a threatening letter.

From the AJC:

One of Handel’s neighbors, Melissa De Feis Lentz, provided a copy of a letter that she received. It said “your neighbor Karen Handel is a dirty fascist” expletive, and to take a “whiff of the powder and join her in the hospital.”

The Coweta County Board of Education tentatively adopted a $196 million budget for FY 2018.

Hall County Commissioners heard from residents opposed to an increase in the property tax millage rate.

Flowery Branch adopted a FY 2018 budget that keeps the same millage rate as last year, but results in higher revenue due to increasing property values.

The Georgia Department of Insurance announced it will monitor Blue Cross Blue Shield after the state’s largest health insurance company said it will tighten reimbursement for emergency room visits.

Blue Cross recently told policyholders that starting in July, it will stop covering ER visits it considers to have been unnecessary. The health insurer, Georgia’s largest, said it’s pursuing the move, involving its coverage of individual policies, due to the costs of routine primary care being administered in an ER setting. Physician groups, meanwhile, have been critical of the policy.

Jay Florence, deputy state insurance commissioner, said in a statement that the agency supports insurers’ attempts to reduce “unnecessarily high premiums.”

But Florence added, “You buy health insurance to make sure you are protected when something bad happens. We are tracking our phone calls and have created a specific code for complaints related to Blue Cross Blue Shield’s new policy. . . . We will closely monitor this new policy to make sure that it is not abused to the disadvantage of Georgia policyholders.”

Blue Cross has cited the high cost of care in formulating its policy.

“We’re hoping that patients go to the most appropriate setting’’ for care, said Blue Cross spokeswoman Debbie Diamond. The company “has a 24/7 nurse line and online tools that are always available to help members find the right care option for their neighborhood,’’ she added. Urgent care and retail health clinics are other alternatives for patients, Diamond told GHN.

Former Cobb County Republican Party Chairman Joe Dendy will appear in court again, facing molestation charges.

The attorney for former Cobb County Republican Party chairman Joe Dendy, who faces charges that he molested two children, is set to argue today that most of the charges against his client be dropped. Cobb prosecutors, however, are seeking to introduce evidence that Dendy committed a number of similar acts against six other alleged victims, potentially over the span of nearly seven decades.

Dendy faces charges in Cobb that he allegedly molested two young boys in separate incidents as far back as late 2004.

Partnership Gwinnett Chief Economic Development Officer Nick Masino criticized the current owners of Gwinnett Place Mall.

Partnership Gwinnett Chief Economic Development Officer Nick Masino said Moonbeam Capital Investments has continually offered promises of big plans for the mall since the company bought it in 2013. Masino’s problem with Moonbeam, however, is that he said they have not delivered on any of those plans.

Gwinnett’s top economic development official is fed up and now wants to see someone else running the mall.

“When I talk to developers and investors about coming to Gwinnett, I intentionally try to strike up their interest in buying Gwinnett Place Mall because (Moonbeam) has done nothing with it,” Masino told the Daily Post.

Gwinnett Place Community Improvement District Executive Director Joe Allen agrees with Masino.

“We are also very frustrated that they do seem to say ‘We’re going to be doing something’ and then nothing ever occurs,” Allen said.

Upcoming Political Events

GAGOP Invite2

Former Sixth District Congressman, now Secretary of HHS, Tom Price and former Governor Sonny Perdue, currently serving as Secretary of Agriculture will rally with Karen Handel to Get Out the Vote on Saturday at 9:30 AM at Peachtree DeKalb Airport.

Gwinnett GOP Logo

Next Saturday, June 24, the Gwinnett County Republican Party will hold it’s annual Chairman’s Cookout, beginning at 11 AM at Tribble Mill Park in Lawrenceville.

Cherokee Cagles2

The Cherokee County Republican Party will hold a Candidate forum for the 2018 elections on July 27 at 6:30 PM at Cagle’s Family Farm.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 15, 2017

The Magna Carta was sealed by King John on June 15, 1215.

The charter consisted of a preamble and 63 clauses and dealt mainly with feudal concerns that had little impact outside 13th century England. However, the document was remarkable in that it implied there were laws the king was bound to observe, thus precluding any future claim to absolutism by the English monarch. Of greatest interest to later generations was clause 39, which stated that “no free man shall be arrested or imprisoned or disseised [dispossessed] or outlawed or exiled or in any way victimised…except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.” This clause has been celebrated as an early guarantee of trial by jury and of habeas corpus and inspired England’s Petition of Right (1628) and the Habeas Corpus Act (1679).

On June 15, 1740, Spanish troops attacked the English who were led by James Oglethorpe, at Fort Mose, two miles north of St. Augustine, Florida. With 68 English killed and 34 wounded, it was the heaviest losses sustained by Oglethorpe during his campaign against St. Augustine.

George Washington accepted the assignment of leading the Continental Army on June 15, 1775.

The Oregon Treaty was signed on June 15, 1815 between England and the United States, establishing the border between the U.S. and Canada.

On June 15, 1864, a funeral was held at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta for Confederate General Leonidas Polk, who was killed the day before at Pine Mountain near Marietta.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

An enraged former Bernie Sanders supporter opened fire yesterday at a Congressional Republican baseball team practice, severely wounding Republican Whip Steve Scalise (LA) and several others.

Rep. Steve Scalise, a congressional staffer, a lobbyist and a member of the Capitol police force were shot Wednesday in Alexandria, Virginia, during a Republicans’ early-morning practice ahead of a charity baseball game.

Federal law enforcement officials identified the alleged shooter as James Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Illinois, who died following a shootout with authorities.

At least six people including Scalise, the third ranking member of House Republican leadership as the majority whip, were hospitalized.

Trump made a surprise visit to MedStar Washington Hospital Center around sunset Wednesday.

He sat next to Scalise’s bed and spoke with the congressman’s family, according to White House press secretary Sean Spicer. He also spoke with [Capitol Police officer] Griner and her wife, as well as hospital doctors.

Georgia Congressman Barry Loudermilk (R) was at the practice with his Chief of Staff Rob Adkerson, both were uninjured.

“I was on the field, but I’m okay,” said Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, via a statement released by his office at mid-morning Wednesday. “This was a senseless act of evil. Please pray for those who were shot and their families. There were a lot of heroes here today.”

Shortly after the shooting, Loudermilk discussed security issues for members of Congress.

“If this had happened in Georgia, he wouldn’t have gotten too far,” Loudermilk told reporters Wednesday at the Capitol. “I had a staff member who was in his car maybe 20 yards behind the shooter, who was pinned in his car, who back in Georgia carries a 9-millimeter in his car. . . . He had a clear shot at him. But here, we’re not allowed to carry any weapons here.”

While firearms are strictly regulated on the Capitol grounds and in the rest of the District of Columbia, gun laws in Virginia — where the shooting took place — are significantly less strict.

“Most of us are here in D.C., so how do you have the gun here and just transport it to Virginia?” Loudermilk said when Virginia’s laws were pointed out. “I think we need to look at some kind of reciprocity for members here.”

Loudermilk said perhaps a larger group of lawmakers ought to receive security protection, rather than just the top leaders who have a round-the-clock Capitol Police detail.

“We’re not any more special than anybody else, but we are targets,” he said. “This is exactly why there is a lot of fear of even doing town halls at this point. Some of the things this guy is posting on Facebook — we get the same things, and even worse.”

The apparent shooter had recently criticized Karen Handel on Twitter.

ATLANTA – Accused congressional baseball practice gunman James Hodgkinson penned a rant on social media that excoriated 6th Congressional District Republican candidate Karen Handel last week.

In the post, Hodgkinson reposted a Yahoo article about comments made by Handel during a debate with her Democratic opponent Jon Ossoff last week, along with a one-line comment referring to Handel with a profane term.

Republican S*** Wants People to Work for Slave Wages, when a Livable Wage is the Only Way to Go! Vote Blue, It’s Right for You!”

Handel released this statement Wednesday afternoon:

My thoughts are with the victims of this morning’s despicable, unprovoked attack on the Republican congressional softball team. Representative Scalise is a friend, and my heart goes out to him and his family. Steve and I wish him and the others wounded a speedy recovery. They remain in our thoughts and prayers.

I also want to commend the heroic actions of the Capitol Police officers who clearly prevented today’s attack from being a much bigger tragedy.

I am aware that the suspect recently made vile comments about me on social media. It also appears that the suspect targeted members of congress specifically because he disagreed with their views.

We should not allow our political differences to escalate to violent attacks. We must all refuse to allow the politics of our country to be defined in this way. Now more than ever, we must unite as a one nation under God. It is incumbent upon all of us to work together in a civil and productive way, even when we disagree.

HHS Secretary Tom Price and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue will join Karen Handel for a Get Out The Vote (GOTV) Rally on Saturday.

The event, set for Saturday at 9:30 a.m. at the Peachtree-DeKalb Airport, is the latest and perhaps last in a string of high-profile visits that have brought Donald Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Vice President Mike Pence to town to back Handel in the Tuesday runoff against Democrat Jon Ossoff.

The Saturday event was organized by John Watson, the newly-minted Georgia GOP chair, who has made boosting Handel one of his first priorities. A former aide to Perdue, Watson won this month’s vote to lead the cash-strapped party on a pledge to shore up its finances and make it more relevant.

Cabinet officials are permitted by the Hatch Act, a 1939 law, to engage in electoral politics as long as they’re not acting in an official capacity. The campaign invite mentions nothing of the word “secretary,” instead calling the two Cabinet officials “special guests.”

Governor Deal announced the opening of the STABLE tax-free savings program to benefit Georgians with disabilities.

Georgia STABLE is an important part of our ongoing efforts to provide effective tools and better opportunities for Georgians with disabilities,” said Deal. “This savings program will be a beneficial asset for people with disabilities across the state as they live more independent lives, seek gainful employment and plan for the future. Georgia STABLE is another step toward ensuring our citizens with disabilities have the means and support necessary to live and work as independently as possible.”

State Rep. Lee Hawkins (R-Gainesville) worked to pass the STABLE legislation.

The program offers 401(k)-style accounts that are exempt from state and federal taxes if used for education, health care, housing and transportation, according to a Wednesday announcement from Gov. Nathan Deal’s office.

STABLE is modeled on federal legislation and will be managed by the Georgia Achieving a Better Life Experience Program Corp., a state-chartered organization created in 2016 through legislation sponsored by state Rep. Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville.

“While many people with a disability lead a productive life, the passage of the ABLE legislation will allow many more to pursue their dreams of living independently and pursuing a career,” Hawkins said in the Wednesday statement.

Eligible Georgians can use the accounts to save and invest their cash without losing eligibility for other benefits programs, including Medicaid, Supplemental Social Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance, based on their income.

State Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) will chair the State House Commission on Transit Governance and Funding.

The group will be chaired by Rep. Kevin Tanner of Dawsonville. Two of the six House members chosen, [Rep. Tom] Taylor and Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, are from DeKalb County.

The transit agency group includes Fulton County Commissioner Liz Hausman and Gwinnett County Chairman Charlotte Nash.

State resident members include men and women from Cobb County and Columbus.

The transit leaders are Russell McMurry, commissioner of the state department of transportation, Keith Parker, MARTA’s chief, and Chris Tomlinson, executive director of the Georgia Regional Transit Agency, known most for its regional bus system.

University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley spoke to members of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce.

Wrigley said knowledge creation, transfer and innovation are things that drive the economy and have driven the economy since human beings organized into a society.

“That’s really something as a university system we’re fundamentally about,” he said.

Wrigley didn’t address the recently passed campus carry law in his speech, but he told the Daily Post after the lunch that he’s tried to emphasize to campus leaders that it is the law and it must be implemented. The legislation, which becomes law on July 1, was opposed by virtually every president and campus leader across the state. Wrigley’s office has sent two pieces of guidance on the law that allows guns on some areas of college campuses since it was passed this past spring.

“We’ve really focused on making sure whatever questions we get, we address, and make sure people understand what the law says,” he said. “Once something becomes law, it is our obligation to implement it, and implement it as fairly and accurately as we can. I feel good about their attitude and willingness to do that.”

Georgia Chamber of Commerce President Chris Clark spoke to the Hall County Chamber of Commerce.

Despite economic positives, such as job growth, Hall County has a serious poverty issue that it needs to deal with, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce’s president told a Gainesville audience Wednesday morning.

“As prosperous as you are, as well as you’ve done, over 25 percent of your kids live in poverty,” Chris Clark told a group meeting for a Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce breakfast, citing census data. “Does that surprise anyone in the room?”

“Successful communities are going to have a strategy of how to deal with this poverty rate issue. It is a concern for us.”

“It used to be that government would solve (some issues) and businesses would solve (other) issues, and maybe nonprofits would be over here doing their work,” he said. “No. We’ve got to do this together.”

“A lot of the issue we’re dealing with — the faith-based community is probably better to deal with them,” Clark said. “They’re on the front line. We need to work with them to make sure they’ve got the resources.”

Yancey Brothers CEO James E. Stephenson will serve as Vice Chair of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“We are pleased to welcome Jim, an innovative leader in the transportation and construction field, to this leadership position with the U.S. Chamber,” Thomas J. Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber, said. “Jim has successfully led Yancey Bros. for more than two decades, expanding the scope of operations while staying true to the company’s long-standing legacy of service to its customers. Jim has also been a tireless advocate for pro-business policies at the state and federal level, particularly when it comes to improving our nation’s infrastructure. We look forward to the perspective his experience will bring to our board.”

Stephenson has served as chairman and CEO of Yancey Bros., which bills itself as the nation’s oldest Caterpillar dealer, since 1994. Yancey Bros. Co. employs approximately 1,200 people at 24 locations in Georgia.

“I have spent my business career striving to strengthen and grow a great family business representing some great American manufacturers,” said Stephenson. “The opportunity to serve on the leadership of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a high honor. I look forward to helping the U.S. Chamber become an even more effective advocate for all of America’s businesses.”

Joyce Mink has been appointed to fill a vacant seat on the Cave Spring city council.

The Marietta Board of Lights and Water wants to provide natural gas services to customers, but existing gas marketers oppose the move.

Documents show the city registered Marietta Natural Gas LLC on Oct. 28. Mayor Steve Tumlin said the goal was to make the city-owned utility a one-stop shop for residents’ energy needs.

“We just looked at the advantages of being a full-service utility provider,” he said. “We already did water, sewage and electric. We decided to pursue being a natural gas provider, just to kind of complete the cycle.”

Every year, the City Council transfers at least $10 million from the Board of Lights and Water to its general fund. This year, the city is expected to transfer $12 million.

On Feb. 23, a group of energy companies — Infinite Energy, Inc., SCANA Energy Marketing Inc., Southstar Energy Services LLC, Georgia Natural Gas and Gas South — filed a joint motion with the Georgia Public Service Commission to dismiss the city’s application to sell natural gas.

Cobb County Commissioners approved issuance of  bonds to fund a new emergency department at WellStar Kennestone Hospital.

The $160 million price tag includes construction and equipment for the expansion that will quadruple the size of Kennestone’s existing 37,000-square-foot emergency department, and nearly double the number of emergency room beds, bringing it from 84 to 166. The expansion will be located across the street from Kennestone in “the triangle” between Church, Cherokee and Cherry streets, the MDJ previously reported.

The two-story expansion will also include two helicopter landing pads on top, with patients parking in an underground lot beneath the facility.

The Cobb County Kennestone Hospital Authority in April adopted a resolution to issue $275 million in bonds, or revenue anticipation certificates, with a significant portion of the funding to go toward Kennestone’s expansion. But the resolution required approval by the Cobb Board of Commissioners as the authority is located within the county’s jurisdiction. Commissioners approved the resolution without discussion by a 5-0 vote as part of the meeting’s consent agenda.

Of the $275 million, $120 million will go toward the emergency department project, which is expected to break ground this fall, WellStar spokesman Tyler Pearson said. The remaining $40 million cost of the project will be paid through cash reserves, he added.

Savannah-Chatham Police Chief Joseph Lumpkin is at odds with Chatham County Commissioners over an operations study by outside consultants.

Savannah-Chatham Board of Education held public meetings and is poised to adopt a $561 million budget for FY2018.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 14, 2017

On June 14, 1736, James Oglethorpe ordered plans to be drawn for a new city to be called Augusta.

Happy birthday to the United States Army, established on June 14, 1775.

On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress adopted a resolution, “the flag of the United States be thirteen alternate stripes red and white” and that “the Union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.” One hundred years later, on June 14, 1877, was the first observance of Flag Day.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Yesterday, two inmates escaped from a prison transport bus, killing two guards.

two inmates on a transport bus got out of a locked prisoner area, overpowered two Georgia correctional officers and shot and and killed the guards in front of 31 other prisoners, according to local, state and federal authorities.

The fugitives, identified by the Georgia Department of Corrections as Ricky Dubose and Donnie Russell Rowe, went on to carjack a dark green 2004 Honda Civic, break into a home in Madison, dump their prison clothes and escape again, officials said.

Officials have increased the reward from $60,000 to $70,000 for information leading to the capture of Dubose and Rowe.

Funeral arrangements have not been announced for the slain Baldwin State Prison officers, identified as Sgt. Christopher Monica and Sgt. Curtis Billue.

Governor Nathan Deal released a statement on the escapees.

“Today, two families lost everything in a heinous and senseless act of violence perpetrated at the hands of cowards,” said Deal. “Words do not adequately express our sorrow in losing Sergeant Christopher Monica and Sergeant Curtis Billue in the line of duty. The selflessness and courage of these two brave souls will not be forgotten, nor will their sacrifice and service. Sandra and I mourn alongside their families and communities, and we offer our deepest sympathies to their loved ones. Our heartbreak is matched only in our resolve to bring their murderers to justice. No effort will be spared in pursuit of the killers, and no state resources required in this endeavor will be spared. ”

“Led by the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, multiple local, state and federal agencies are assisting in the investigation. State law enforcement agencies involved in the manhunt include the Georgia Department of Corrections, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Georgia Department of Public Safety, and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Joining them are our federal partners from the U.S. Marshals Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Local law enforcement officers engaged in the effort include the Baldwin, Greene, Henry and Jasper Counties Sheriffs’ Offices and the Eatonton Police Department. ”

“Finally, I urge all those in the surrounding areas to be vigilant and cautious while the killers remain at large. They are extremely dangerous. Anyone with information regarding their whereabouts should immediately contact 9-1-1.”

Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills penned an open letter to the escapees.

“You made your escape, but you won’t be out long,” it read in part. “Every lawman in the Southeast is looking for you. Every citizen in the Southeast is looking for you. You may have help hiding out for a few days, but someone is going to snitch you out and then we will find you. There is no one you can trust … and nowhere you can go that we won’t find you. … Stop now, dial 911 and turn yourself in peacefully.”

Asked by a reporter how authorities would go about catching the escapees, Sills, anger welling in his voice, said, “We get these guys by the public looking for this green Honda Civic. We need somebody to find this car. … They are armed. They are dangerous. … We have no idea where they are. … They may well have dumped that vehicle and stolen another car.”

The sheriff added, “I would suggest that they surrender before we find them.”

Overdoses in a recent Middle Georgia outbreak now number thirty.

The GBI identified Tuesday the contents of counterfeit pills that are the suspected causes of more than 30 overdoses in Middle Georgia, and it’s nothing the state has ever seen before.

U-47700, a drug nearly nearly eight times stronger than morphine, and Cyclopropyl fentanyl are two synthetic opioids found in the counterfeit Percocet pills being passed around Macon, according to a GBI news release.

The opioid crisis was a topic of a lengthy discussion Tuesday, where Miles was among other state agency officials present for the Georgia Department of Health’s regular monthly board of public health meeting.

“What we’re finding in general is that there’s a heavy market for counterfeit pills,” [GBI spokeswoman Nelly Miles] said. “People make these poisons overseas, they get shipped to our states and they’re marketed as the real thing.”

Nancy Nydam, spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Health, said the estimated number of overdose cases in Middle Georgia had reached 30 Tuesday. Toxicology results are pending for five people who died from a suspected overdose here since June 3.

However, Nydam said that number isn’t exact because “some have been ruled out” and “we’ve had a trickle of (overdoses) over the weekend” including at least two Monday.

“It looks like we’ve kind of leveled off with this cluster, but … every day there’s a drug overdose,” Nydam said. “The opioid crisis is ongoing, whether we’re talking about fake Percocet or any other kind of drugs that have (opiates) in there.”

Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle cut the ribbon to open a new diverging diamond overpass at Windy Hill and I-75.

As cars whizzed by on Windy Hill Road behind them, officials with the Cumberland CID, the Georgia Department of Transportation and state and county government gathered on a grassy nook near Papasito’s Restaurant to celebrate.

The cause for their cheer was a major transportation project: a $46.4 million Windy Hill Road project from Cobb Parkway to Powers Ferry Road.

The bulk of that cost came from the Cobb Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, a one-penny sales tax.

“It’s always a great honor for me to be here in Cobb County, particularly looking at the skyline behind you and seeing SunTrust Park and the impact that is having on this community,” Cagle said.

In his speech, Cagle praised Cobb County for having the vision to complete the project in an area that is expected to see rapid growth. He said the diverging diamond interchange and future managed toll lanes will move traffic through the county quicker and more safely.

“None of those things are possible without great vision, and the individuals here in Cobb County continue to work a strategic plan,” Cagle said.

State tax credits for music production are boosting a nascent South Georgia recording industry.

State lawmakers passed legislation earlier this year that creates tax credits for the music production companies.

Rep. Amy Carter, R-Valdosta, who sponsored the bill, said she wants to replicate the success of a tax break program that is credited with bringing the film industry to Georgia.

Music production companies will receive a 15 percent tax credit for setting up in Georgia, if they spend $100,000.

The new law, which takes effect in January, also offers a tax break to music companies that agree to kick off large tours in the state, if the performance costs $500,000 to put on.

Carter’s plan also provides a 5 percent tax credit to production companies that send work to the state’s most economically distressed counties, a provision meant to target rural communities. Lowndes County, which is home to Valdosta, is one of those counties.

Carter said earlier this year that she wanted the program to benefit rural Georgia similar to how the film industry helped towns such as Senoia, which has about 4,000 residents. There is no special tax break for filming in rural Georgia.

[Music producer Mark] Neill said he believes Georgia is on the verge of a music revival, if those in the industry — or those who aspire to break into the industry — go to work making it happen.

“We need to get people in the state of Georgia making this stuff. Not little fits and starts like we’ve had all these years. We need to really organize and get this done,” Neill said. “We just need to get busy.”

The City of Valdosta is poised to adopt a FY2018 budget $12 million higher than the current year.

The city’s budget for FY2016-2017 (which ends June 30) included $85 million in expenses.

The proposed 2018 budget projects $97 million in expenses, a 14 percent increase from last year.

For the past two years, the city’s projected expenses have been around $7 million below total revenues, but the 2018 budget doesn’t follow that trend.

Instead, total 2017-2018 expenses come in just below the total projected revenues of $97.8 million. The expenses stay under-budget, but with less leftover (around $650,000) than previous years.

The city will hold three public hearings on the new budget in the next week, starting 3 p.m. Wednesday, June 14.

Hall County and its municipalities are facing a June 3 state deadline to put in place a Service Delivery Strategy.

Failure to reach an agreement — established by state law almost 20 years ago to “minimize inefficiencies resulting from duplication of services and competition between local governments” — could result in the county and cities losing out on state grants, loans or becoming ineligible for permits.

The parties are looking to amend an agreement that’s been in the books since 2004. The agreement delineates districts responsible for the distribution of water and sewer services in unincorporated and incorporated areas of Hall County.

The Floyd County SPLOST Citizens Committee will assess $170 million worth of potential projects for inclusion in the November 1, 2017 ballot measure.

Floyd County could have a new accountability court for drug offenders open by July 1, 2017.

Marietta Planning Commissioner Brent Bennett died from drowning in Montana.

Grantville City Council member Mark King had ethics charges against him dismissed unanimously by a citizen panel.

2018 Campaigns

Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer (R-Duluth) garnered the support of all five Republican members of the Georgia Public Service Commission in his bid for Lt. Governor in 2018.

The Duluth-based legislator announced on Tuesday that every member of the Georgia Public Service Commission is backing his campaign. Commissioners Stan Wise, Bubba McDonald, Doug Everett, Chuck Eaton and Tim Echols join a growing list of officials and high profile Georgia residents who are supporting the Senate’s president pro tempore.

“David Shafer has three times been elected by his peers as president pro tem of the Senate,” Wise said. “They know and respect his ability, experience and work ethic. So do I. He is my choice for lieutenant governor.”

McDonald and Everett, both former legislators themselves, praised Shafer’s work in the state Senate.

“David Shafer has been my ‘go to’ guy in the State Senate,” McDonald said. “He will make a great Lieutenant Governor and I am glad that he is running.”

Everett said, “David Shafer is a work horse, not a show pony. He has delivered for Georgia, not just his Senate district, but all of Georgia. I back him 100 percent.”

“David Shafer is one of the great builders of the modern Georgia Republican Party,” Eaton said. “He has campaigned all over the state for Republicans and he was instrumental in my own election to the Public Service Commission. I am proud to call him a friend and proud to support him for Lieutenant Governor.”

Echols said, “David Shafer has been one of the great conservative leaders of the Georgia General Assembly on issues I really care about — life, family, faith and fiscal responsibility. He has my enthusiastic endorsement and I intend to spread the word throughout the state.”

State Senator Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) is testing the waters for a bid for Lieutenant Governor, according to the AJC Political Insider.

State Sen. Steve Gooch said he’s exploring a run for Georgia’s No. 2 job after being pressed by several of his Senate colleagues and other GOP leaders who are “not satisfied with the current choices.”

“While my current plan is to run for re-election to the State Senate next year, I am giving it serious consideration,” said Gooch, who represents a Dahlonega-based district. He said he’d make his decision by July after hearing from community leaders and assessing it with his wife and three kids.

The only thing I know about football is that it doesn’t pay to get injured before the big game. That said, I can tell the difference between a metaphor and an actual threat. From the AJC Political Insider:

Nathan Deal’s top aide delivered quite a message at the Georgia Chamber’s annual conference last week: If you’re a Republican and decide to run against the Georgia’s current governor in 2018, you’re going to get hurt.

The message from chief of staff Chris Riley was directed at Republicans already lining up to replace him, and took the cryptic form of a football metaphor. Imagine a wide receiver running a route over the middle, Riley said. Now imagine the free safety on defense, ready to deck him. Hard.

Riley didn’t say who that free safety would be. Just that he’d be there.

Later Tuesday, [State Senator Michael] Williams released a statement that his campaign was “just getting started.”

“It’s clear the establishment is afraid of our message getting out,” the campaign said. “They want to shut us down now because they know we are gaining ground.”


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 13, 2017

A “Liberty Tree” was planted in Savannah on June 13, 1775 to symbolize support for independence. The first liberty tree was an elm in Boston that became a meeting spot for patriots, but Savannah’s was actually a Liberty Pole. In 2006, a seedling grown from the last of the original Liberty Trees on the campus of St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland was planted in Dalton, Georgia.

The Marquis de Lafayette arrived in South Carolina to assist General George Washington on June 13, 1775.

On June 13, 1966, the United States Supreme Court released its decision in Miranda v. Arizona. In Miranda, the Court held that a confession obtained by police without informing the suspect of his rights against self-incrimination (Fifth Amendment) and to the service of a lawyer (Sixth Amendment) was inadmissible.

Thurgood Marshall was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Lyndon B. Johnson on June 13, 1967.

As the NAACP’s chief counsel from 1938 to 1961, he argued 32 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, successfully challenging racial segregation, most notably in public education. He won 29 of these cases, including a groundbreaking victory in 1954′s Brown v. Board of Education, in which the Supreme Court ruled that segregation violated the 14th Amendment to the Constitution and was thus illegal. The decision served as a great impetus for the African American civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s and ultimately led to the abolishment of segregation in all public facilities and accommodations.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed Marshall to the U.S. Court of Appeals, but his nomination was opposed by many Southern senators, and he was not confirmed until the next year. In June 1967, President Johnson nominated him to the Supreme Court, and in late August he was confirmed. During his 24 years on the high court, Associate Justice Marshall consistently challenged discrimination based on race or sex, opposed the death penalty, and supported the rights of criminal defendants. He also defended affirmative action and women’s right to abortion. As appointments by a largely Republican White House changed the politics of the Court, Marshall found his liberal opinions increasingly in the minority. He retired in 1991, and two years later passed away.

The New York Times began publishing excerpts from the “Pentagon Papers” on June 13, 1971.

After failing to persuade the Times to voluntarily cease publication on June 14, Attorney General John N. Mitchell and Nixon obtained a federal court injunction forcing the Times to cease publication after three articles.Times publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger said:

Newspapers, as our editorial said this morning, we’re really a part of history that should have been made available, considerably longer ago. I just didn’t feel there was any breach of national security, in the sense that we were giving secrets to the enemy.

The newspaper appealed the injunction, and the case New York Times Co. v. United States (403 U.S. 713) quickly rose through the U.S. legal system to the Supreme Court.

On June 18, 1971, The Washington Post began publishing its own series of articles based upon the Pentagon Papers; Ellsberg gave portions to editor Ben Bradlee. That day, Assistant U.S. Attorney General William Rehnquist asked the Post to cease publication. After the paper refused, Rehnquist sought an injunction in U.S. district court. Judge Murray Gurfein declined to issue such an injunction, writing that “[t]he security of the Nation is not at the ramparts alone. Security also lies in the value of our free institutions. A cantankerous press, an obstinate press, a ubiquitous press must be suffered by those in authority in order to preserve the even greater values of freedom of expression and the right of the people to know.” The government appealed that decision, and on June 26 the Supreme Court agreed to hear it jointly with the New York Times case.Fifteen other newspapers received copies of the study and began publishing it.

On June 30, 1971, the Supreme Court decided, 6–3, that the government failed to meet the heavy burden of proof required for prior restraint injunction. The nine justices wrote nine opinions disagreeing on significant, substantive matters.

Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell.

—Justice Black

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal issued an executive order suspending DeKalb County Sheriff Jeff Mann.

State law allows the governor to convene a panel of two sheriffs and the state attorney general to investigate and to recommend whether to suspend a sheriff facing criminal or ethics charges.

Mann has pleaded not guilty to charges of indecency and obstruction of an officer. Mann’s attorney has argued the governor shouldn’t get involved because Mann is accused of violating Atlanta city ordinances.

As of the most recent voter file in the Sixth Congressional District Special Runoff Election, 105,115 ballots have been cast.

Cobb 18466 17.57%
DeKalb 25663 24.41%
Fulton 60986 58.02%

United States District Court Judge Mark Cohen of the Northern District of Georgia, based in Atlanta, blocked a deportation order yesterday.

A federal judge in Atlanta has barred the Trump administration, at least temporarily, from revoking the immigration status of an undocumented woman whose case helped to prompt the creation of President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

U.S. District Judge Mark Cohen on Monday afternoon barred the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service from terminating Jessica Colotl’s immigrant status under DACA. The judge also barred the agency from enforcing its decision to terminate Colotl’s work authorization permit, which the terms of her DACA status permitted her to have.

Colotl was brought to the U.S. by her undocumented parents when she was 11. She grew up in metropolitan Atlanta and was a student at Kennesaw State University when a traffic citation by campus police in 2010 led to her detention at a regional deportation center before she was eventually released. Her case, at a time when Georgia and other states across the country were enacting highly restrictive immigration laws, also led to efforts to pass the federal DREAM Act to secure citizenship for the children of undocumented individuals who were raised in the United States.

Albany lawyer and 2018 candidate for Georgia Court of Appeals Ken Hodges became President of the State Bar of Georgia.

Elder abuse may be an increasingly common crime, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

Cobb County Commissioners are expected today to fund $11.8 million in projects associated with the new Braves stadium.

 An agreement between the county and the Atlanta Braves signed in 2013 stipulated that Cobb’s contribution to the SunTrust Park project would be capped at $300 million, which included $14 million for transportation improvements.

Shortly after Chairman Mike Boyce took office in January, he directed county staff to address the issue, saying he believed it was unclear what the language in the agreements obligated the county to do in relation to transportation.

President Trump honored the Clemson football team and Quarterback Deshaun Watson, a Gainesville native.

In March, commissioners approved a project list negotiated between the Braves and the county by then — County Manager David Hankerson and County Attorney Deborah Dance. It included public roads for the stadium, traffic signals, sidewalks, utility construction and stormwater management projects. Specified in the list had been about $2.2 million already spent by the county on public traffic signals, sidewalks and public roads, leaving $11.8 million due.

“We’re just paying it now. There’s no difference to what (was approved) three months ago,” Boyce said Monday of the measure to be considered by commissioners.

Nearly $11.3 million of the funds still owed by the county is related to water and stormwater projects, which would be paid for out of the county’s Water Renewal and Extension Fund. Bill Volckmann, the county’s finance director, said the $11.3 million would be paid to the Braves immediately, and pays for infrastructure the county would be responsible for at the end of the day anyway.

The remaining $490,000 would come out of the general fund in three equal, annual installments made prior to Oct. 31 of each county fiscal year, beginning in fiscal 2018.

Rome City Commission approved a contract for an energy audit of municipal government.

Woodstock City Council met yesterday to consider a $40 million budget for FY 2018 that would cut property taxes for most residents.

Macon-Bibb County Commission is considering a $2.23 million contract to build a new senior center.

Savannah City Council’s proposed moratorium on new applications for new short-term rental registrations in Savannah caused a spate of new applications ahead of city action.

The Southeast Transportation Security Council will hold a one-day summit on cargo theft and countermeasures.

“We hope to reach area intermodal, drayage and logistics companies, pulling together law enforcement and the private sector to look at ways to combat this growing problem,” [SETC Board vice president Jac Greenlee] said.

“First, we want to share current intelligence regarding container cargo theft: what’s happening and how it’s happening.

“Second, the GBI major crimes unit will share their statistics on where this is taking place, identifying those yards whose security practices leave something to be desired.

“Finally, we’ll go over best practices — how to make sure your cargo is secure.”

The Annie E. Casey Foundation reports that Georgia scores low on measures of child welfare.

Georgia’s high prevalence of low-birthweight babies, some of whom end up in the [Neonatal Intensive Care] unit, is one reason the state continues to rank near the bottom in terms of child health and child welfare in the annual KIDS COUNT Data Book produced by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Georgia ranked 42nd overall for the second year in a row, 38th in health, 34th in education but 44th in economic well-being.

The percentage of low-birthweight babies at 9.5 percent in 2015 is little changed from 2010 and well above the national average of 8.1 percent.

While the state has made significant improvement in reducing teen births from 41 per 1,000 to 26 per 1,000, other measures such as children living in single-parent families or in high-poverty areas have actually increased since 2010.

2018 Campaigns

The Democratic side of the 2018 Governor’s race starts with a yawn as the candidates highlight their respective rural childhoods.

Democratic State Rep. Stacey Abrams (Atlanta) highlights her upbringing in rural Mississippi.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams might represent a metro Atlanta district in the state House of Representatives, but she embraces and leans on her rural southern roots.

“I want to be governor for all of Georgia,” Abrams said during a meeting with supporters and others on Sunday at Miller Brothers RIb Shack in Dalton. “I am speaking for people who think their voice doesn’t matter anymore.”

Abrams was born in rural Mississippi and says she identifies with the concerns of rural Georgia. Her campaign, she said, is built around increased educational opportunities with a plan to make all technical and trade colleges free to all Georgians.

On economic development, Abrams said while the economy is tied to Atlanta, the health of the state will not be determined by big business but by economic development at the small business level.

“It isn’t about 1,500 jobs at one place,” she said. “It is about 15 jobs at 100 places across the state.”

One area Democrats hope to rally is the Latino population.

“The Latino population is 9.5 percent of the population of our state, but only 2 percent of voter turnout,” Abrams said. “We have to engage them early and engage them in meaningful ways.”

Democratic State Rep. Stacey Evans (Cobb County) highlights the poverty of her upbringing.

Sitting at a table and looking directly into the camera, Evans shares — with family photos and video footage — how she was born in Ringgold. Her mother, only 17 at the time, never finished high school, while her biological father wasn’t in the picture. She introduces the viewer to the man who adopted her when he married her mother, calling him Dad and describing him as a good man.

In her 18 years in Ringgold, Evans says she lived in 16 homes, most of them trailers and some of them now empty lots.

“Always one step ahead of a bill collector. Living like that affects a child. You end up looking for something you can hold onto.”

She’s running for governor “to be a champion for every family, for people who work hard and are trying to get ahead in an economy that leaves too many behind and seems more unfair in every way.”

“I remember what it was like to grow up in a family on the edge where you didn’t know what the future might hold or even where you might live next year. As governor, I’ll never forget that,” she says.

Kerwin Swint, a political science professor at Kennesaw State University, said the video was a good political piece.

“Professionally done, with thought given to what her message is, which comes through loud and clear. Her story will resonate with many Georgians,” Swint said.

Meanwhile, Stacey Abrams has resigned as Leader of the State House Democratic Caucus effective July 1.

Power Breakfast

Georgia Power says they have reached agreements that will allow them to move forward with construction of two nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle.

The project to build two new reactors at the complex near Augusta has been under a cloud since Westinghouse Electric, the main contractor, entered bankruptcy proceedings in late March.

Under the new deal, Westinghouse and parent Toshiba Corp. will still make good on guarantees to cover nearly $3.7 billion in previous overruns — money that will eventually reduce the effect on ratepayers.

Even with the payments, however, some experts have told the Georgia Public Service Commission the expansion may no longer be viable because disruptions from Westinghouse’s bankruptcy are expected to add years of delays and billions in additional cost overruns.

“We are happy to have Toshiba’s cooperation in connection with this agreement which provides a strong foundation for the future of these nuclear power plants,” Tom Fanning, Chief Executive of Southern Company, said in a statement.

A second agreement allows Georgia Power and Southern’s nuclear arm, Southern Nuclear, to continue using Westinghouse’s nuclear reactor designs and to rely on the company’s help on the project.

Georgia Power and Southern Nuclear could take over primary management or find a new contractor. The partners also could decide to shut down the project or convert all or part of it to other fuels.

The [Georgia Public Service Commission] will have to sign off on any option.

Right whales off the Georgia coast could be jeopardized by oil exploration and drilling, according to researchers.

Federal regulators at NOAA Fisheries announced recently they are moving forward with the issuance of “incidental harassment authorizations.” The authorizations allow companies that are proposing to conduct geophysical surveys in the Atlantic Ocean using seismic air guns to incidentally, but not intentionally, harass marine mammals.

After significant outcry against seismic exploration on the East Coast, including resolutions from 175 coastal cities including Savannah and Tybee Island, the Obama administration denied these permits. In April, however, President Donald Trump signed an executive order aimed at expanding offshore drilling and exploration. The order calls for a review of the current five-year program for oil and gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf and directs the administration to fast-track the permitting process for seismic airgun blasting for an area stretching from Delaware to Florida.

NOAA Fisheries estimates that right whales could experience up to 64 incidents of low-level harassment — defined as disruption of their behavior, including such basics as breathing, breeding, and feeding — for just the most disruptive of the five survey permits requested.

An estimated 400-500 right whales remain. They migrate from New England and Canada each winter to the waters off Georgia and Florida to give birth. By the end of the calving season in April this year, a disappointing three babies had been identified in the Southeast. Another two calves were spotted in New England, bringing the total to five, still far short of the average of 17.

Thousands of bottlenose Atlantic dolphins are also among the more than a dozen species expected to be impacted by the seismic testing. Other marine mammals included in the incidental harassment authorizations include humpback whales and harbor porpoises.


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

The first Georgia-Florida war game weekend began on June 12, 1740, as Georgia founder James Oglethorpe led 400 soldiers landing opposite the Spanish fort at St. Augustine.

On June 11, 1776, the Continental Congress appointed Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Roger Sherman of Connecticut and Robert R. Livingston of New York to draft a declaration of independence from Britain. Language in the original draft that condemned the introduction of the slave trade in the colonies did not make the final draft.

The Virginia Convention adopted George Mason’s “Declaration of Rights” on June 12, 1776. From Wikipedia:

The Declaration was adopted unanimously by the Fifth Virginia Convention at Williamsburg, Virginia on June 12, 1776 as a separate document from the Constitution of Virginia which was later adopted on June 29, 1776. In 1830, the Declaration of Rights was incorporated within the Virginia State Constitution as Article I, but even before that Virginia’s Declaration of Rights stated that it was ‘”the basis and foundation of government” in Virginia. A slightly updated version may still be seen in Virginia’s Constitution, making it legally in effect to this day.

It was initially drafted by George Mason circa May 20, 1776; James Madison assisted him with the section on religious freedom.

The Virginia Declaration of Rights heavily influenced later documents. Thomas Jefferson is thought to have drawn on it when he drafted the United States Declaration of Independence in the same month (June 1776). James Madison was also influenced by the Declaration while drafting the Bill of Rights (introduced September 1789, ratified 1791), as was the Marquis de Lafayette in voting the French Revolution‘s Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789).

The importance of the Virginia Declaration of Rights is that it was the first constitutional protection of individual rights, rather than protecting only members of Parliament or consisting of simple laws that can be changed as easily as passed.

Abraham Baldwin, founder of the University of Georgia, arrived in Philadelphia on June 11, 1787 to attend the Constitutional Convention. Baldwin was joined by three other delegates, William Few Jr., William Houston, and William Pierce; Baldwin and Few would sign the Constitution on behalf of Georgia.

On June 11, 1963, President John F. Kennedy issued proclamation 3542 ordering Governor George Wallace of Alabama to allow two African-American students to register at the University of Alabama, as ordered by a federal court.

On the morning of June 11, the day the students were expected to register, Wallace stood in front of the University of Alabama campus auditorium flanked by Alabama state troopers while cameras flashed and recorders from the press corps whirred. Kennedy, at the White House, and Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, in Tuscaloosa, kept in touch by phone.

When Wallace refused to let the students enter for registration, Katzenbach phoned Kennedy. Kennedy upped the pressure on Wallace, immediately issuing Presidential Proclamation 3542, which ordered the governor to comply, and authorizing the secretary of defense to call up the Alabama National Guard with Executive Order 11111.

That afternoon, Katzenbach returned with the students and asked Wallace to step aside. Wallace, knowing he was beaten, relented, having saved face with his hard-line, anti-segregation constituency.

On June 11, 1986, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was released.

[T]he most memorable performer may have been an automobile: the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California, a custom-built car revered by auto collectors.

According to Motor Trend, the first Ferrari 250 GT Spyder California—colloquially known as the “Cal Spyder”—was produced in 1957 and the last was built in early 1963. In addition to the long-wheelbase (LWB) Spyder, Ferrari also produced a sportier, short-wheelbase (SWB) model. Though estimates vary as to exactly how many were made—Cameron says “less than a hundred” in the film—approximately 46 LWB and between 50 and 57 SWB Spyders were produced in all. For “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” the filmmakers used a modified MGB roadster with a fiberglass body as a stand-in for the Ferrari. The filmmakers reportedly received angry letters from car enthusiasts who believed that a real Ferrari had been damaged.

One 1961 250 GT SWB Spyder California, with chassis number GT 2377GT, belonged to the actor James Coburn (“The Magnificent Seven”), who died in 2002. On May 18, 2008, at the second annual Ferrari Leggenda e Passione event at Maranello, Italy, the British deejay Chris Evans bought that car at auction for 6.4 million Euros, or $10,894,400 (including fees), the highest price ever paid for an automobile at auction.

On June 12, 1987, President Ronald Reagan spoke in then-divided Berlin and challenged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.”

Happy 93d birthday to former President George H.W. Bush.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Spending in the Sixth Congressional District Special Runoff Election is nearing $39 million dollars.

A lot of green — almost $39 million, according to the latest campaign financial filings — is flowing toward Georgia’s 6th Congressional District as part of the GOP’s efforts to keep the district Republican red while the Democrats aim to paint it blue.

Federal Election Commission reports retrieved Saturday show that the two candidates had received nearly $28.2 million and spent almost $25.7 million on their campaigns by May 31, the end of the last completed campaign finance reporting period.

Nearly $10.8 million has been spent by independent political groups for and against the two candidates, according to the FEC, though such funds are not given directly to or spent by either campaign. The totals reported by the FEC are based on the groups’ quarterly, monthly and semi-annual reports.

Of the $10.8 million total, more than $8.5 million was spent by groups in opposition to Ossoff, while the Democrat received more than $348,000 in support. Expenditures by groups opposing Handel spent nearly $1.4 million, while the Republican saw several groups spending nearly $528,000 in her favor.

Governor Nathan Deal appointed his former attorney, Ben Vinson, to the State Board of Workers’ Compensation.

Vinson is a partner at Dentons US LLP, where he is a member of the public policy and regulation practice. He previously served as chairman of the Governor’s Commission on Brookhaven. Vinson sits on the boards of the Federalist Society, the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce and the TAG Education Collaborative. He formerly served as majority caucus counsel in the Georgia House of Representatives.

From the AJC:

In 2011, Deal appointed him to a new investigative panel aimed at cracking down on government officials who fail to enforce the state’s immigration-related laws. The Immigration Enforcement Review Board’s members quickly elected him chairman.

Vinson represented a political action committee – Real PAC – that was created to push Deal’s agenda, and he was one of the lawyers who represented the governor’s campaign in cases before the state ethics commission.

The three-member State Board of Workers’ Compensation is responsible for administering workers’ compensation laws in the state. The jobs historically have gone to lawyers with political connections to the administration in power.

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston appointed James Balli to the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission, also reappointing Richard Hyde.

James Balli, who is the Speaker’s attorney-appointee to the JQC, is a partner with the law firm of Sams, Larkin, Huff & Balli LLP of Marietta, Ga. In accordance with state law, Balli’s appointment to the JQC will expire on July 1, 2020.

Richard Hyde, who is the Speaker’s citizen-appointee to the JQC, is an investigator with the law firm of Balch & Bingham LLP in Atlanta. In accordance with state law, Hyde’s appointment to the JQC will expire on July 1, 2019.

In November 2016, Georgia voters approved a constitutional amendment reforming the JQC to ensure fair and impartial consideration of complaints. The amendment and enabling legislation also removed undue influence of special interest groups on this important public body. In the recent legislative session, House Bill 126 was adopted which further restructured the JQC. HB 126 was signed into law by Governor Deal on May 1, 2017.

Georgia colleges and universities are working on rules and education in advance of Campus Carry becoming legal on July 1st.

House Bill 280 makes it legal for those with a Georgia weapons carry license to have a concealed weapon in some campus areas previously prohibited. But the law continues to make it illegal to carry a concealed weapon in many areas, including: sites of athletic events; student housing; any preschool or child care space; any space used for classes related to a college and career academy or other specialized school; any space used for classes where high school students are enrolled, faculty, staff or administration offices and any rooms where disciplinary proceedings are conducted. A person must be 21 years old to apply for the license.

“I don’t think it will affect my job at all simply because our job right now is to enforce the law anyway, albeit the law has changed,” said UNG Police Chief Justin Gaines. “The law has changed, but we will enforce the law, so it really doesn’t change a lot for us.”

The university has set up a webpage ( to answer questions about the law. A list of frequently asked questions and answers are on the page dealing with general information about the law, enforcement information, information for faculty and staff, as well as information for students who are dually enrolled in classes that give both high school and college credit. The law prohibits guns from being brought into classrooms where high school students are present, and dual enrollment students are considered both high school and college students.

In addition, nine town hall meetings have been scheduled to give members of the university family the opportunity to ask questions about the law. At least one meeting has been scheduled at each of the five UNG campuses. Two of those meetings are scheduled at the Gainesville campus — June 29 and Aug. 15 — both at 10 a.m. in the Continuing Education Auditorium. Another pair are scheduled at the Dahlonega campus for June 28 and Aug. 14 — each at 10 a.m. in the Hoag Student Center Auditorium. A list of town halls on the other campus sites is available on the webpage.

Gaines said the new law is not complicated since it puts the burden of finding out whether a gun can be brought to a specific area of campus completely on the person who holds the weapons carry license.

“It’s pretty clear-cut,” he said. “The state has made it very clear that it is the carry holder’s responsibility to comply with the law. It is their responsibility just like if I’m driving a car, it’s my responsibility that I follow the laws of the state of Georgia while I’m driving my car.”

Broadband access in rural Georgia, or the lack thereof, is an education, and ultimately, economic development, issue, according to the AJC.

Sixteen percent of Georgians do not have high-speed internet access, and the vast majority of those broadband deserts are in rural counties. While all public schools in Georgia have broadband internet, many students don’t. And in an age when web access is required for homework and other assignments, students go where they can to get online.

And that’s a problem, Tifton Mayor Julie Smith told a panel of state leaders researching the needs of rural Georgia.

“The availability of that is so important, especially for schoolchildren,” Smith told the House Rural Development Council at a recent meeting in her South Georgia town. “If they cannot get their homework done when they’re home … they can’t learn. If they can’t learn, they can’t go to secondary education. If they can’t get to secondary education, we don’t have a trained workforce.”

It’s not just students. Small businesses, the backbone of most rural communities, increasingly rely on the internet for ordering, sales, payroll and more.

A recent study by the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute asked rural Georgians to share information about internet access at their home or business.

Out of more than 11,000 responses, only 29 percent said their internet speeds were sufficient, while 79 percent said access to broadband was very important to their quality of life. More than 60 percent said it was very important to their ability to earn a living.

Floyd County is working to begin a drug court under a state grant.

The Floyd County Commission is slated to sign off Tuesday on a dedicated drug court aimed at rehabilitating offenders rather than jailing them.

Superior Court Chief Judge Tami Colston sought a state grant to establish the new accountability court and has said she hopes to have it operating by August.

The voluntary two-year program will provide treatment, counseling and heavy oversight in lieu of sentencing. Commissioners plan to add six new positions — a program coordinator, two counselors, two law enforcement officers and a drug-screening technician — that would be funded by the grant.

A 2.5 earthquake shook middle Georgia just after midnight Sunday morning.

The implosion of the Georgia Dome will shake Atlanta at 7:30 AM on November 20th.

Another suspected overdose is being investigated in Macon.

Georgia’s peanut crop looks good this year.

The forecast is for 785,000 acres to be planted in peanuts this year, up from the 720,000 acres of peanuts planted last year, when the average yield was slightly less than 3,900 pounds per acre.

“Acres should be up about 10 percent in response to stronger prices at contracting for the 2017 crop,” Koehler noted. “Consumption of peanut products continues to be strong.”

Georgia is the nation’s top producer of peanuts, accounting for half or more of U.S. production each year. In 2015, Georgia produced about 1.7 million tons of peanuts, which were planted in 75 of the state’s 159 counties. Each year, the peanut industry contributes about $1.3 billion to the Georgia economy.

Fort Gordon’s cyberwarfare center continues to grow.

Gwinnett Democrat David Kim is making his case against Republican Congressman Rob Woodall.

One sign of the shift is the fact that Democrat Hillary Clinton won Gwinnett in last year’s presidential election.

The DCCC plans to go after Republicans in its targeted districts on issues such as health care and by linking them to President Donald Trump. Kim offered a taste of that strategy in his campaign announcement.

“Congressman Woodall has been more interested in partisan purity than getting things done for the people,” he said. “From health care to our budget, he’s been completely ineffective at building consensus or finding common ground. Instead, he’s just been a rubber stamp for an administration gone off the rails.”

Kim’s campaign compared the District 7 race to the neck-and-neck battle for neighboring District 6 in a special election run-off, saying they have similar partisan makeups. He also expects his campaign against Woodall to also be as closely fought as the fight between Jon Ossoff and Karen Handle has been in District 6.

The Chatham County Sheriff’s Office is struggling with vacancies.

More than 100 employees of the Chatham County Sheriff’s Department have vacated their posts since early November — leaving the law enforcement agency with a high rate of unfilled positions and and even higher overtime costs.

Of the former employees who left the sheriff’s department or the county jail since Nov. 1, more than 70 resigned, about 20 retired and another 10 or so were terminated, according to county personnel records. The Savannah Morning News in April requested the documents, along with case files associated with accusations of sexual harassment at the department, after receiving tips from readers.

It’s clear, however, that under-staffing in the two departments has played some part in overtime costs in this year’s budget, which are now double what was originally set aside this fiscal year. A report provided by the Chatham County finance department puts the total overtime costs at the sheriff’s department and jail so far this year at more than $2.4 million. The county originally budgeted a combined $1.2 million for overtime in both departments.

Tifton City Council heard an update on the Zika virus.

Kenneth Lowrey, South Health District epidemiologist, presented the City Council with a Zika update for the area at the June 5 workshop meeting.

According to Lowrey, one of the types of mosquito that carries Zika, Aedes albopictus, is prevalent in Georgia.

“The Georgia Department of Public Health has devised an action plan that mirrors what the CDC (Center for Disease Control) has come out with in the event that we have local transmission within our community,” Lowrey said.

Currently, Georgia has only had instances of travel related transmission, which means that people contracted Zika elsewhere, Both Florida and Texas have had local transmission in 2016, but as of now no local transmission cases have been reported in the US for 2017, according to the CDC.

U.S District Court Judge Clay D. Land writes in the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer about the importance of civics education.

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson writes about what she calls the rise of “Pragmatic Progressives.”

In Columbus, Georgia, we believe in good government, and we have a long history of it. At the local level, we do not care for the partisan hooey – a technical term – that may impede the delivery of that good government.

As a longtime Democrat, I’ve had the privilege of being elected twice to the non-partisan position of Mayor of Columbus. There, I learned something useful to our current national dialogue: people embrace progressive ideals, they simply want them pragmatically implemented. Sure, this pragmatism is more work because the elected leaders cannot rely on either the partisan appeal or moral objective of the proposed policy, but must provide a transparent assessment of how the policy and its process impacts all citizens. The resulting information touches everyone and presents an opportunity for broader consensus.

As voters in the 6th Congressional District of Georgia begin voting in the June 20 Jon Ossoff/Karen Handel run-off, politicos and uber-engaged voters around the country are wondering if this election will signal a new dawn in our long partisan darkness. It could be that a new pragmatic leadership style is emerging: one that is easier on the eyes and ears of independents, suburban moderates, blue-collar workers, and millennials. The Pragmatic Progressive is a strong Democrat in economic and social/civic policy, but understands these policies benefit many beyond their base and are not afraid to go into the lion’s den, if need be, to let them know so.

A Pragmatic Progressive – and Ossoff sure seems like one – can explain to you why Democratic policies are not special-interest politics but are sound economic strategies for citizens at every economic level. A Pragmatic Progressive believes government is meant to be a partnership with you, your business, and your community. It is government’s role to create a framework within which a citizen can prosper.

Jon Ossoff’s unlikely success thus far has signaled that the dawn is coming. The only question is: Will it arrive on June 20?

State Rep. Geoff Duncan (R-Forsyth) spoke to his local Republican Party about his campaign for Lieutenant Governor.

Duncan, A Republican who represents east and northeast Forsyth as the District 26 state representative and who recently announced his candidacy for lieutenant governor, spoke to members of the Forsyth County Republican Party on Thursday about his campaign and the issues he is facing.

“I’m not the next guy in line. There are others down there that are higher on the ranks, who have spent more decades down there than I have,” he said. “I’m doing it because I believe I can truly make a difference. I truly believe I can impact the state as the next lieutenant governor.”

“As lieutenant governor, I get to stay home every night, raise my kids, coach their teams. I get to be involved in the policy here in Georgia. As lieutenant governor, you run the Senate. I want to create the golden standard at the Senate.

“I want everybody in this state to realize that if you’re going to bring a piece of policy through the Georgia Capitol, it’s going to have to pass through the Senate, and we’re going to vet it out.”

Among the policies he supported as state Representative was a law to help financially struggling rural hospitals by allowing those who donate to receive an income tax credit. At the meeting, Duncan said multiple times he wanted to tackle old problems with new solutions.

“What I got to see firsthand was if you empower folks in the community, groups in the community to go take care of the issues around poverty, it’s amazing what you can do and not have to rely on a government program,” he said. “We have 54 rural hospitals that every single day may not reopen.”

Other Republican candidates for the lieutenant governor so far are District 17 state Sen. Rick Jeffares of McDonough, District 48 state Sen. David Shafer of Duluth, who serves as senate president pro temp. Duncan said one of his opponents’ criticisms did not have its desired effect.

Drones in Campaign Videos

Drones have been making news for their role in political campaigns at least since 2014, when Montana Republican Matt Rosendale shot one out of the sky to illustrate his opposition to government surveillance.

Apparently, drone campaign video is the new thing. Campaigns & Elections has been writing about it for two years.

Media consultants have started incorporating the so-called quadcopters into TV spots. GOP consultant Fred Davis recalled to Politico recently how Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) had to dodge a drone that was capturing footage during a 2013 ad shoot.

Still, campaigns don’t need to rely only on their media consultants to shoot quality video with commercial drones. They can do it themselves and, with a modest outlay, generate content for a campaign YouTube or Facebook page.

Now, drone video is beginning to appear in Georgia political campaigns. I noticed two different recent videos by Democrats that appear to include drone or aerial video.

John Noel, Democratic candidate for Public Service Commission uses drone video on the opening page of his website.

Also using aerial shots is Democratic candidate for Governor Stacey Evans.

Maybe there are earlier examples, but these are the first I’ve noticed. Perhaps the FAA will be the next venue for allegations of campaign shenanigans?



Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 9, 2017

Bridget Bishop was the first person hanged after being convicted of practicing witchcraft in the Salem witch trials on June 10, 1692.

Georgia’s colonial charter, signed by King George II was witnessed on June 9, 1732.

Click here for the full text of Georgia’s Royal Charter from 1732.

Click here to see the oldest copy of Georgia’s Royal Charter, which was presented to Georgia by South Carolina.

The Battle of Bloody Marsh was fought between Spanish forces and colonists under James Oglethorpe on St Simons Island, Georgia in 1742 on a date that is variously cited as June 9 or June 7, 1742. Thus began the rivalry between Georgia and Florida.

On June 9, 1772, the first naval attack of the Revolutionary War took place near Providence, Rhode Island, as HMS Gaspee, a British tax enforcement ship was baited into running aground and attacked by a boarding party the next day.

On June 10, 1793, Washington, DC officially replaced Philadelphia as the Capital of the United States. To honor Washington, today we will adopt a smugly superior attitude, name-drop constantly, and speak condescendingly to those who currently live in the states we used to live in.

Rebecca Latimer Felton was born on June 10, 1835 in Decatur, Georgia and later became the first woman to serve in the United States Senate after being appointed by Governor Thomas Hardwick to fill a vacancy in 1922.

The United States Naval Academy graduated its first class on June 10, 1854.

On June 9, 1864, Gen. W.T. Sherman moved his troops to Big Shanty, Georgia, now called Kennesaw, and beginning a four-week period sometimes called the Battle of Marietta.

The Girl Scouts of America were incorporated in Washington, DC on June 10, 1915.

The Republican National Convention in Cleveland became the first political convention broadcast on the radio on June 10, 1924.

Alcoholics Anonymous was founded on June 10, 1935.

President John F. Kennedy signed the 1963 Equal Pay Act on June 10, 1963.

I AM delighted today to approve the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which prohibits arbitrary discrimination against women in the payment of wages. This act represents many years of effort by labor, management, and several private organizations unassociated with labor or management, to call attention to the unconscionable practice of paying female employees less wages than male employees for the same job. This measure adds to our laws another structure basic to democracy. It will add protection at the working place to the women, the same rights at the working place in a sense that they have enjoyed at the polling place.

While much remains to be done to achieve full equality of economic opportunity–for the average woman worker earns only 60 percent of the average wage for men–this legislation is a significant step forward.

Cream was formed on June 9, 1966 by Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, and Jack Bruce.

On June 9, 1973, Secretariat won the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown, the first to win all three of the Triple Crown races since 1948. Secretariat was bred by Christopher Chenery, a graduate of Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, whose jockeys wore blue-and-white silks in honor of Chenery’s alma mater.

Apple Computer shipped the first Apple II computers on June 10, 1977.

Coca-Cola introduced Classic Coke on June 10, 1985.

Ray Charles, who was born in Albany, Georgia died on June 10, 2004.

Those of you who attended the 2003 Inaugural of Governor Sonny Perdue will remember that Ray Charles played that night.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

In Georgia today, flags will fly at half-staff on state government buildings and property, in honor of SPC Etienne J. Murphy of Snellville, who died of wounds received in Syria. From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

Deal called it a mark of respect for the memory of Etienne Murphy, a 22-year-old soldier on his first deployment, who died last month in a vehicle rollover crash.

Murphy was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment out of Hunter Army Airfield in Georgia. U.S. troops, mainly special operations forces, have helped train, advise and assist local Syrian forces in the counter-Islamic State fight.

Deal noted that Murphy, a 2013 South Gwinnett High graduate, earned the Parachutist Badge, the Army Achievement Medal with three oak clusters, the NATO Medal and the Operation Inherent Resolve Campaign Medal with Campaign Star. He was posthumously awarded the Army Commendation Medal.

Vice President Mike Pence flies into Marietta today on Air Force Two.

On Friday, June 9, Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Marietta, Georgia to meet with airmen, service members and their families at Dobbins Air Reserve Base. The Vice President will give formal remarks at the conclusion of his visit.

In the afternoon, the Vice President will attend an event for Karen Handel for Congress.

From the AJC Political Insider:

Air Force Two will land at the Dobbins Air Reserve Base at 11 a.m., the White House said. He will be accompanied by several Republican Georgia congressmen on the flight. From there, Pence plans to give a short speech after visiting with service members and their families.

Side note: He’s also expected to call into Herman Cain’s show on WSB radio around 10 a.m. Friday to talk about healthcare policy and infrastructure.

From the Marietta Daily Journal:

Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, and Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, will accompany Pence on Air Force Two during the visit, which is set to begin at 11 a.m.

“Dobbins Air Reserve Base is the world’s foremost multi-service reserve training base,” Loudermilk said. “Dobbins provides crucial training and support for Army, Marine, Navy, and Air Force reservists and has a significant economic impact on Georgia’s 11th District. I am honored to join Vice President Mike Pence in recognizing our local military personnel and their families at the base.”

Pence will attend a private event to support Republican Karen Handel’s congressional run in the afternoon. Handel faces Democrat Jon Ossoff in a June 20 runoff to determine who will represent citizens in the 6th Congressional District.

DeKalb County Commissioner Nancy Jester (R-Dunwoody) met with President Trump, Vice President Pence, and a number of local elected officials yesterday at the White House to discuss infrastructure issues.

Scavino Infrastructure

That’s her at the far end of the table in a pink jacket.

More on the Trump infrastructure summit:

President Trump is working to build support for the $1 trillion plan he’s launching this week.

The president has already claimed that the work will be completed ahead of schedule and under budget.

Vice President Mike Pence was also in attendance. He tweeted about the meeting Thursday afternoon, saying it was a productive lunch.

The US Department of Defense wants to convene another Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC).

“From a taxpayer standpoint, I salute the Pentagon wanting to seek BRAC approval again,” said Keith Post, the Navy League’s Georgia state president. “The fact, according to them, that we have 20 percent more shore-based infrastructure than we need as a nation spread out across the country, says all you need to know about the waste of money to maintain those facilities. This has occurred while other things such as funding for shipbuilding and ship and base maintenance have taken a back seat or have been non-existent.”

Sheila McNeill, former national Navy League president and director of the Camden Partnership, said she isn’t concerned about Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay being targeted for closure. Instead, she believes Kings Bay could grow under the right circumstances.

“I think there are opportunities for Camden County in a BRAC,” she said. “As a taxpayer, you have to be happy they’re doing this.”

Governor Nathan Deal yesterday announced the creation of the “Local 9-1-1 Authority.”

Deal will introduce legislation codifying the Authority during the 2018 legislative session.

“For some time now, state and local officials have been exploring solutions to modernize our 9-1-1 system and improve our communications network,” said Deal. “This past session, legislation creating a semi-autonomous body to oversee 9-1-1 operations, fee collections and disbursements came to my desk. While SB 222 attempted to address several current challenges, many of which I’ve incorporated into this executive order, it presented me with other concerns.

“As I explained in my veto statement, the lack of state oversight and coordination could hamper joint emergency response efforts, and the authority would also go unfunded for two years. However, I also recognized the need for better statewide service and announced my intention to create a Local Government 9-1-1 Authority that would be housed at and funded through GEMA/HS. I’m grateful for the input and recommendations provided by local emergency response workers and officials, legislators and other stakeholders and look forward to working with the Authority moving forward.”

The Local Government 9-1-1 Authority Advisory Board is comprised of state agency heads, local elected officials and representatives from the public safety and law enforcement communities, as recommended by SB 222. Its members include:

  • Colonel Mark McDonough, Commissioner, Department of Public Safety
  • Lynne Riley, Commissioner, Department of Revenue
  • Cheryl Greathouse, Instructional Services Division Director, Georgia Public Safety Training Center
  • Greg Whitaker, Director, Douglas County E-911
  • William Wright, Manager, Barrow County E-911
  • Ted Wynn, Public Safety and Emergency Management Director, Bulloch County
  • Charlotte Nash, Chairman, Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners
  • Peter Olson, County Manager, Bartow County
  • Eddie DeLoach, Mayor, City of Savannah
  • John McDonough, City Manager, City of Sandy Springs
  • Michael Wall, Vice President of Government & Regulatory Affairs, Comcast
  • Kevin Curtin, Assistant Vice President of Legislative Affairs, AT&T
  • Billy Hancock, Sheriff, Crisp County
  • Billy Grogan, Police Chief, City of Dunwoody
  • Joel Baker, Fire Chief, City of Atlanta

The role of director was also a recommendation of SB 222, and GEMA/HS Director Homer Bryson appointed Michael Nix to fill this role.

Counterfeit pills associated with a wave of overdoses and deaths may contain a new drug, according to the GBI.

GBI officials said they received evidence Wednesday from the agency’s crime lab related to the cluster of reported overdoses that have been concentrated in the central Georgia area. Preliminary results indicate a mixture of two synthetic opioids, with one of the drugs being consistent with a new fentanyl analogue.

This fentanyl analogue has not previously been identified by the crime lab. Due to the nature of the analysis, testing to confirm the full identity of the drug will require additional time, GBI officials said.

The most recent case count includes a total of 26 cases and four possible deaths. A spokeswoman for the GBI said autopsies were expected to be conducted on the decendants.

Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff are in a dead heat, according to a new poll.

The poll, conducted by Landmark Communications, has Ossoff leading Handel 49.6-47.1. Only about 3 percent of voters are undecided. The margin of error is about 5 percent.

It’s the first poll released since Tuesday’s televised showdown between Handel and Ossoff, and it shows Ossoff’s numbers have inched up by about a half-point since WSB’s last poll was released last week.

The findings solidify many of the trends that have emerged in public polling of the nationally-watched June 20 runoff. Ossoff has a double-digit lead over Handel among women, leading 54-44. The Republican is beating Ossoff among male voters by a 51-44 margin – a closer gap than some previous surveys. He leads Handel among younger voters, she trounces him among those over 65.

He’s capturing about 15 percent of Republican voters and a narrow majority of independents – a crucial voting bloc that typically leans right. It shows almost no cross-over on the flip side; only 1 percent of Democrats say they’re backing Handel.

A Gwinnett County committee has recommended 104 projects for funding under the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) approved in 2016.

The county announced the Citizens Project Selection Committee funding recommendations this week, including the Tier I funded projects. The county’s list of 104 projects does not include $30.8 million that has been set aside for joint Tier I projects between the county and its cities, or another $48.6 million in funding for lower priority Tier II projects.

About 65 percent of the $950 million SPLOST that voters approved last fall is set to be spent on transportation projects.

State Rep. Bert Reeves (R-Marietta) says he will try for a second year to pass comprehensive adoption reform in the next session of the Georgia General Assembly.

State Rep. Bert Reeves, R-Marietta, vowed to make improving adoption practices in the state a top priority when Georgia’s General Assembly reconvenes next year.

Speaking before a crowded room at a Kiwanis Club of Marietta meeting Thursday afternoon, the third-year representative said he would work to get a nonpartisan version of the bill through both legislative chambers and signed into law.

“It’s an important initiative that I’ve been working on for over two years now,” he said. “It’s been 30 years since our adoption law has been updated or revised.”

The internet, he said, has changed the way adoption is done and each year Georgia law falls further behind other states when it comes to the important issue.

Savannah is considering a moratorium on short-term rentals.

Alderman Bill Durrence said there were concerns that the stay, added to the agenda on Wednesday afternoon, was being rushed without enough notice.

Durrence had requested the stay as the city develops new vacation-rental regulations to address concerns about the industry’s impact.

During Thursday’s meeting, Jeanne Glover said that she and her neighbors have to contend with noise issues and drunken behavior near her home on Jones Street from vacation renters who are mostly visiting for celebratory occasions.

Staff is considering limiting the number of vacation rentals that can operate in the city, as well as placing caps on how many can be located on a block or street because of concerns among the council and residents that neighborhoods are being overrun with visitors. Property owners would also have to live on-site for new vacation rentals in more residential areas, and there could be a maximum number of days a property can be rented, under other proposed changes.