Category: Georgia Politics


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

William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, invaded England on September 28, 1066.

Washington Yorktown

General George Washington led continental troops into the siege of British forces under General Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia on September 28, 1781.

On September 28, 1863, two Union generals lost their commands after the Confederates routed federal forces at the Battle of Chickamauga.

On September 28, 1889, Georgia Governor John B. Gordon signed legislation designating January 19th a state holiday in honor of Robert E. Lee’s birthday. Lee’s birthday is still a state holiday, though it has become “a moveable feast.”

On September 26, 1928, future President Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke in Atlanta on behalf of Democrat Alfred Smith’s campaign for President.

Atlanta-born Robert Tyre “Bobby” Jones won his first Grand Slam on September 27, 1930.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle spoke yesterday at a legislative meeting to kick ff the Rural Healthcare 180 task force.

Andy Miller of Georgia Health News wrote about the kickoff.

The chief executive of two financially stressed hospitals in southwest Georgia looks forward to the promise of donations under a new state tax credit program.

“The tax credit legislation is a lifeline for us, helping us keep essential services in our rural communities,’’ said Kim Gilman, who runs Phoebe Worth Hospital in Sylvester and Southwest Georgia Regional Medical Center in Cuthbert.

Since the beginning of 2013, five rural hospitals in the state have closed, and many others are struggling financially, such as Phoebe Worth and Southwest Georgia Regional.

Gilman’s remarks illustrated how small hospitals often feel caught between forces they can’t control. Each of her hospitals, she said, has had to sink more than $1 million into an electronic medical records system to comply with federal regulations. Meanwhile, “we are unable to improve our facility infrastructure.”

The tax credit program can help sustain the state’s rural health care network, said Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who is honorary co-chairman of the new task force. “We have way too many of our rural hospitals closing.”

The big news yesterday was supposed confirmation that Attorney General Sam Olens will be appointed President of Kennesaw State University, leaving a vacancy to which Georgia Economic Development Commissioner Chris Carr is expected to be appointed.

No source is named nor timing. Make of it what you will.

I texted the AG at about 10 PM last night asking for comment, to which he replied, “no comment.” So, I’d say the party balloons are premature at this time. If this were to happen, I would expect no announcement until at the earliest November 1, 2016.Continue Reading..


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 27, 2016

On September 27, 1779, John Jay, who previously served as President of the Continental Congress, was appointed minister to Spain to seek Spanish support for the revolution.

President Franklin Roosevelt made his ninth visit to Warm Springs, Georgia on September 27, 1927.

September 27 is a red-letter day for the Atlanta Braves and pitcher John Smoltz. The team won a record 14th straight Division Championship on this day in 2005. Smoltz set a team record for regular season wins (24) on September 27, 1996 and extended his team record for strikeouts hitting 276. On September 27, 2002, Smoltz set a National League record with 54 saves.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Feds approved a restart of the Colonial Pipeline scheduled for Wednesday.

The U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a written approval for restart of the line late Tuesday. Earlier in the day, Reuters reported that the approval was forthcoming, citing an official familiar with the matter.

When Line 1 restarts, it will take several days for the fuel delivery supply chain to return to normal, and some markets served by the pipeline may experience “intermittent service interruptions,” Colonial said.

Retail prices may continue to climb until supply kinks are straightened out.

Dark money groups are responsible for one-third of television ad spending in United States Senate races, according to a study by the Center for Responsive Politics and Wesleyan University’s Media Project.

[A] type of political group that does not have to disclose its donors is responsible for $80 million in ads nationally.

That’s 35.8 percent of all advertising in Senate races, according to the study out this week.

Without knowing who is paying for the ads, voters are robbed of “an important clue” that allows them “to take a claim made in an ad with a grain of salt,” said Travis Ridout, a Washington State University political science professor who works with the Wesleyan University project that analyzes campaign donations.

Robert Maguire, a Center for Responsive Politics investigator, said voters should know the identities of those supporting their elected representatives.

“If you, as a voter, are watching an ad about a certain candidate’s stance on environmental regulations, it makes a difference if that ad is funded by a true grassroots organization or if it’s bankrolled by an energy company that has a financial incentive in certain policy outcomes,” Maguire said.

Six weeks before the November 8 General Election, Secretary of State Brian Kemp agreed to register voters whose information did not match precisely records from state driver’s license and social security databases.Continue Reading..


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 26, 2016

On September 26, 1928, future President Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke in Atlanta on behalf of Democrat Alfred Smith’s campaign for President.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle will soon add another title – published author – when his book, Education Unleashed, goes on sale October 3d.


From the blurb at

What is the purpose of public education? Writing from his experience as a father, small business owner, and policymaker, Georgia’s Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle presents a comprehensive vision to transform the way that public schools educate our students. Beginning with an idea which unites all Americans–that public education establishes the foundational promise of opportunity for all individuals by empowering us with the ability to learn, develop, and obtain anything we are willing to work for–Cagle makes the case for reforming our schools and rethinking the premise behind how we set and measure goals for student achievement. This is truly the challenge of a generation.

Public schools are important–not just because of the millions of students who will spend thirteen years of their lives learning and preparing for the future in their classrooms–but also for the hundreds of thousands of teachers and educators who spend countless hours each week going above and beyond their duties to make sure all students are able to succeed. Most importantly, the central role of public education includes fostering the strength of our families, communities, and upholding the guiding principles of our nation.

Seeking to remove the obstacles that impede student achievement, while eliminating any justification for complacency in our schools, Cagle explains a thoughtful vision for the future of public education, turning the status quo on its head in favor of leading individual systems, schools, teachers, students, and communities to educational excellence–today and for future generations.

Democratic VP candidate Tim Kaine was in Atlanta yesterday, for a private fundraiser and a public stop at Gwinnett Place Mall for the Fiesta Mexicana.

Kaine shook hands and spoke with dozens of people before he was enticed on stage by festival hosts from the La Raza radio station.

Kaine, who once worked in Honduras, spoke briefly to the crowd in Spanish. He first asked if anyone in the crowd was from Honduras. A few indicate they were.

“There are people from Mexico, right?” he said, according to a translation provided by the campaign. “But we are all Americans, right? I’m in Georgia because the Latino vote in Georgia is a powerful vote.”

In Gwinnett County, a majority-minority county, that may be true, but Latinos make up just 2 percent of the state’s registered voters and 4 percent of Georgia’s voting-age population. The number of Latinos registered to vote, however, has increased by 47 percent since 2010, according to data from the secretary of state.

“The population is growing really fast and the Latino vote can make the difference in almost every election here,” Kaine said. “I trust Hillary Clinton because we support the Latino community, we want to reform our immigration system, because we are a nation of immigrants not a nation of deportations.”

A Trump-Pence event in Macon featured well-known African-American supporters of the GOP nominee.

Diamond and Silk urged others to ditch the Democratic party for Trump. The sisters from North Carolina spoke their minds and threw political correctness out the window.

The sisters shared the same type of political commentary as on their YouTube channel, “The Viewers View.”

“I’m tired of being up under the bus, and you know I’m not trying to talk about Obama,” Diamond said.

Diamond continued, “Because there ain’t no sense crying over spilled milk. … We’re going to bring somebody in like Donald J. Trump that can clean up the milk.”

Jones County may have been the safest place in Georgia when more than 40 Georgia sheriffs were hosted.

More than a quarter of Georgia’s 159 elected sheriffs attended the fourth annual Salute to the Georgia Sheriffs in Jones County on Thursday.

“It’s just a pleasure to be in a crowd that makes you feel at home and lets you know you’re appreciated,” Terry Norris, Executive Director of the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association said.

At a time when law enforcement feels push back, Norris wanted the state’s top cops to be thanked.

“Most people don’t realize the public truly supports law enforcement,” Norris said. “It’s no surprise that we had such a good turnout today as we have in past years.”

There were approximately 500 people that attended.

Henry County Sheriff Keith McBrayer was profiled by the Henry Herald.

Keith McBrayer is a lifelong Henry County resident and has worked with the Henry County Sheriff’s Office most of his adult life. Even so, he continues to look for innovative ways to keep the department moving forward as he seeks re-election to his third term as sheriff.

“I’ve been here a long time. I have watched Henry County grow and change, and I have grown and changed with it,” McBrayer said. “I come to work every day excited to serve the people in our county.”

Staying on the cutting edge of technology has been a priority for McBrayer. For example, he said, all the patrol cars have computers so that deputies can enter in the information when they serve papers. All deputies, including baliffs at the courthouse, are equipped with Tasers, giving them another option when confronting a combative individual. An iris scanner is now in place in the jail as part of the book-in and book-out process. The Sheriff’s Office Special Response Team is equipped and trained so that they can assist the Flint Circuit Drug Task Force with drug raids.

McBrayer also said that the Sheriff’s Office has a firearms simulator. This way, deputies receive ongoing firearms training not only at the firing range but with the simulator that places them in various situations where they have to decide when and if to shoot.

“We do a lot of training on judgmental firearms use,” he said. “In today’s time, you cannot train officers enough so they can stay on track mentally, keep up with the laws that are changing constantly or all the physical work we do.”

Gwinnett County voters can hear from candidates at a forum Tuesday night.

New Jerusalem Baptist Church’s Political Action Ministry, the United Ebony Society, the Gwinnett County Alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta sorority and Raising Empowered Voices Uplifting People Inc. will host a Gwinnett County Candidates Forum at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday.

The gathering will give voters a chance to hear from candidates in the races for county commission chairman, commissioner District 3 and state House of Representatives districts 81, 96, 101, 102, 105 and 108. Former Snellville Mayor Kelly Kautz will moderate the forum.

“The purpose of the candidate forum is to give Gwinnett voters an opportunity to hear candidates discuss the issues of importance to them in this election,” organizers said in an announcement. “This event is free and open to the public as well as the media.”

The church is located at 422 E. Crogan St., in Lawrenceville.

France awarded the Legion of Honor to Whitemarsh Island, Georgia resident James Livingston.

“On behalf of France and the French people, I am here to thank you, James L. Livingston, for the role that you played in liberating France and defending the values of freedom and democracy that we have in common,” [Honorary French Consul Denis] Blackburne said during the ceremony.

Safe Harbor Amendment

Senator Renee Unterman spoke to Maggie Lee of the Macon Telegraph about Constitutional Amendment 2, the Safe Harbor Amendment.

Every year, hundreds of Georgia children, some as young as 9, are lured to run away, or they’re brainwashed. They’re pimped, sold for sex.

“People in the rural areas they say, ‘It doesn’t happen here.’ (But) it happens any place you got the internet. You got chat rooms and kids run away from home. Or they make an acquaintance in the chat rooms, and they get picked up,” she said.

And it happens wherever you have a lot of potential buyers passing through, she said. Like say, on the big highways through Macon.

If Georgia voters approve, people convicted of things like pimping would pay a new $2,500 fine, above whatever a court may fine them. And strip clubs would pay a fee of either $5,000 or 1 percent of their annual revenue, whichever is greater.

Those collections would be worth about $2 million for services for children who have been extracted from the sex trade.

As for the question of the fund for victims, early voting begins Oct. 17. The final day to vote is Election Day, Nov. 8.

In the Savannah Morning News, Kris Rice writes in favor of voting Yes on the Safe Harbor Amendment.

Amendment 2 would allow the development of a fund to provide services to sexually exploited children and teens — without the need to levy any new taxes.

Services desperately needed for these young victims include shelter, therapy, educational resources and medical care, but particularly lacking in our part of the state is housing. Currently, only two such facilities are available for juvenile trafficking victims, both in the Atlanta area.

Unfortunately, however, of eight girls placed in one of those two group homes earlier this summer, six were from the Savannah area.

Developing appropriate options for safe and secure therapeutic shelter is crucial — away from the city centers 
the girls’ pimps frequent, and the streets they know so well — and in areas away from urban cores. But without adequate funding to support the development of such residential treatment facilities in southeast Georgia, these girls will continue to be forced to ply their trade in seedy motels in Savannah and surrounding areas.

We have an opportunity to change that.

Let’s do so. For the future of our exploited kids, please vote “yes” on Amendment 2 on Nov. 8.

Kris Rice is the former director of the Coastal Children’s Advocacy Center in Savannah.

Opportunity School District Amendment

State Rep. Brooks Coleman, Chairman of the House Education Committee and a retired career educator from Gwinnett County writes in favor of passing the Opportunity School District Amendment.

Voting “yes” would allow for the creation of the Opportunity School District. If approved by voters this November, the OSD would authorize the state to temporarily intervene in chronically failing public schools and rescue the children languishing within them. These are schools receiving an “F” on standardized tests for three consecutive years.

Unfortunately, we have almost 68,000 students in Georgia trapped in these failing schools. The graduation rate for students attending failing schools is an abysmal 55.7 percent. As a former teacher, principal and assistant superintendent for the Gwinnett County School System and current chairman of the State House of Representatives Education Committee, this statistic is not acceptable. That is why I support the sorely needed state intervention and passage of the Opportunity School District amendment.

Supporters of the status quo continue to use scare tactics to intimidate voters and parents; however, what’s really scary is the fact that there are 68,000 children trapped in these failing schools statewide. These groups have yet to come forward with any viable solutions to fix that. How much longer can our students wait for their districts to turn these failing schools around?

The OSD will give our neighborhoods a needed voice for change, and hold those accountable that refuse to roll up their sleeves and commit to improving Georgia’s schools. The OSD has been uniquely designed to heavily involve local parents and teachers, improve failing schools and meet the needs of our local communities.

It would be a mistake to continue to devote precious taxpayer funds to schools where failure is the norm and accountability for those in charge is altogether absent. Children are suffering – in some instances for the entire duration of their K-12 careers – because of it.

We have a real chance on Nov. 8 to provide students, families and communities a lifeline. Voting “yes” on Question 1, the Opportunity School District amendment, is a vote to ensure that future generations of Georgians will have the best opportunities available. It is an opportunity to declare that in Georgia, the zip code you were born into will not determine your path in life.

Robert A. Clay, also a retired educator, writes against the OSD Amendment.

The OSD superintendent would determine if the school taken over would be, (1) operated by the OSD, (2) converted to a state charter school, which currently are experiencing a 25 percent failure rate, (3) operated by the local board of education under strict supervision and veto power by the OSD, (4) closed completely with students re-assigned to other schools.

The OSD superintendent would also determine if services would be purchased from for-profit educational service providers. The superintendent or charter governing board would make all decisions, including those regarding finances, personnel and curriculum.

Funding for opportunity schools would be with regular local, state and federal entitlements, plus any special appropriations made by the Legislature or received from private solicitations.

I urge you to vote no on Amendment No. 1 in November. Then urge Georgia’s political leaders to redirect the $50-plus million in tax credits given annually for scholarships to private schools. These schools are not subject to the state grading system and never risk being labeled failing. Use these redirected funds in schools labeled as failing to provide tutoring for students, additional training for teachers, school and district level leaders and parents and rigorous supervision by the Georgia Department of Education.

And from Carrollton’s Times-Georgian,

“I don’t speak for our entire board, but I believe we have a consensus that the Opportunity School District is something that we oppose,” said Mike Rothschild, a Carrollton Board of Education at-large member. “I have to applaud Gov. Deal for coming up with a plan to help failing schools, but this would eliminate the system of checks and balances we have between our state and local government.”

Carroll County Superintendent Scott Cowart urged voters to oppose the amendment during the November elections.

“Some of the concerns we have with that is that the state has changed the way they have rated the CCRPI each of the last three years,” said Cowart. “There is no consistency in how they grade the CCRPI from year to year because it has changed each year.”


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

Georgia and American History

James Oglethorpe was named Commissioner of Indian Affairs and Charles Wesley was named Secretary of Indian Affairs by the Georgia Trustees in London on September 24, 1735.

Bon Homme Richard

John Paul Jones, at the helm of US ship Bonhomme Richard, won a naval battle off the coast of England on September 23, 1779.

After inflicting considerable damage to the Bonhomme Richard, Richard Pearson, the captain of the Serapis, asked Jones if he had struck his colors, the naval sign indicating surrender. From his disabled ship, Jones replied, “I have not yet begun to fight,” and after three more hours of furious fighting the Serapis and Countess of Scarborough surrendered to him.

The Judiciary Act of 1789, which established the first federal judicial system, was adopted on September 24, 1789 with the signature of President Georgia Washington. Under the Act, the original size of the Supreme Court was five Associate Justices and a Chief Justice. Washington nominated John Jay as Chief Justice, and John Rutledge, William Cushing, John Blair, Robert Harrison, and James Wilson as Associates.

Also established on September 24, 1789 were the office of Attorney General of the United States and the United States Post Office Department.

On September 25, 1789, Congress adopted the first twelve amendments, called the Bill of Rights, to the United States Constitution. A little more than two years later, in 1791, enough states had ratified ten of the Amendments, with two not receiving sufficient support.


Meriwether Lewis and William Clark returned to St. Louis Missouri from their exploratory trip to the Pacific coast on September 23, 1806.

On September 24, 1862, the Confederate Congress adopted the Seal of the Confederate States of America.

On September 25, 1864, Confederate President Jefferson Davis met with General John Bell Hood and visited troops at Palmetto, Georgia.

The Decatur Female Seminary opened with 60 students on September 24, 1889 and would later be chartered as Agnes Scott College.

Sir Albert Henry George Grey, 4th Earl Grey was appointed British Governor General of Canada on September 26, 1904. We shall drink his tea in his honor this afternoon.

On September 26, 1928, future President Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke in Atlanta on behalf of Democrat Alfred Smith’s campaign for President.

Atlanta-born Robert Trent “Bobby” Jones won his first Grand Slam on September 27, 1930.

On September 23, 1944, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was speaking at a dinner with the Teamsters union and addressed attacks that had been made by Republicans, including the allegation that after leaving his dog, Fala, behind in the Aleutian Islands, he sent a Navy destroyer to fetch the dog. This would become known as the “Fala speech.”

These Republican leaders have not been content with attacks on me, or my wife, or on my sons. No, not content with that, they now include my little dog, Fala. Well, of course, I don’t resent attacks, and my family don’t resent attacks, but Fala does resent them. You know, Fala is Scotch, and being a Scottie, as soon as he learned that the Republican fiction writers in Congress and out had concocted a story that I’d left him behind on an Aleutian island and had sent a destroyer back to find him—at a cost to the taxpayers of two or three, or eight or twenty million dollars—his Scotch soul was furious. He has not been the same dog since. I am accustomed to hearing malicious falsehoods about myself … But I think I have a right to resent, to object, to libelous statements about my dog.

The idea for the joke was given to FDR by Orson Welles. The political lesson here is that any time you get an audience laughing at your opponent, you are winning.

A statue of former Georgia Governor Eugene Talmadge on the grounds of the Georgia State Capitol was unveiled on September 23, 1949, the 65th anniversary of Talmadge’s birth near Forsyth, Georgia in 1884.

On September 23, 1952, Senator Richard M. Nixon was under fire for allegedly accepting $18,000 and using it for personal expenses. To salvage his place as the Vice Presidential candidate on Eisenhower’s Republican ticket, Nixon took to the airwaves in the first nationally-televised address and delivered what came to be known as the “Checkers Speech. From The Atlantic:

[A] 1999 poll of leading communication scholars ranked the address as the sixth most important American speech of the 20th century — close behind the soaring addresses of Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

The “Checkers” speech wins this high rank for one stand-out reason: It marked the beginning of the television age in American politics. It also salvaged Nixon’s career, plucking a last-second success from the jaws of abject humiliation, and profoundly shaped Nixon’s personal and professional outlook, convincing him that television was a way to do an end-run around the press and the political “establishment.”

Click here for the full text of the “Checkers Speech.”

On September 24, 1960, USS Enterprise CVN-65, was launched from Newport News Shipbuilding in Norfolk, Virginia, the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Enterprise was inactivated on December 1, 2012.

On September 26, 1960, Democratic Senator John F. Kennedy and Republican Vice President Richard M. Nixon met in the first nationally-televised Presidential debate.

The Warren Commission report on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy was delivered to President Lyndon B. Johnson on September 24, 1964.

On September 23, 1976, President Gerald Ford and former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter met in their first televised debate. On September 24, 1976, former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter resumed campaigning after the first debate.

On September 24, 1979, CompuServe offered the first dial-up computer information service to consumers.

Launched as MicroNET in 1979 and sold through Radio Shack stores, the service turned out to be surprisingly popular, thanks perhaps to Radio Shack’s Tandy Model 100 computers, which were portable, rugged writing machines that dovetailed very nicely with the fledgling, 300-baud information service.

MicroNET was renamed the CompuServe Information Service in 1980. Around the same time, CompuServe began working with newspapers to offer online versions of their news stories, starting with the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch in 1980. At least 10 major newspapers were offering online editions through CompuServe by 1982, including The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the San Francisco Examiner.

Ronald Reagan appointee Sandra Day O’Connor became the first female Justice of the United States on September 25, 1981. In an interview with Terry Gross, she recalled receiving the call from President Reagan:

“I was working in my office on the Arizona Court of Appeals,” she tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. “I was at the court in my chambers when the telephone rang. And it was the White House calling for me, and I was told that the president was waiting to speak to me. That was quite a shock, but I accepted the phone call, and it was President Reagan, and he said, ‘Sandra?’ ‘Yes, Mr. President?’ ‘Sandra, I’d like to announce your nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court tomorrow. Is that all right with you?’ Well, now, that’s kind of a shock, wouldn’t you say?”

The last game played in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium took place on September 23, 1996.

On September 25, 2008, the last car came off the line at GM’s Doraville Plant.

On September 24, 2009, it was announced that the College Football Hall of Fame would move to Atlanta, where it opened on August 23, 2014.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Another Day, another story about Georgia turning blue or purple. This time from another group of folks who aren’t in Georgia.

About 44 percent of Georgia’s population are members of minority groups, according to the Center for American Progress. That’s up from 37 percent just a decade ago. During that period, minorities have accounted for 81 percent of the state’s population growth.

African-Americans account for the largest share of that growth, followed by Hispanics, whose numbers nearly doubled during that period to more than 850,000, making it the 10th-largest state by Hispanic population.

This demographic shift is apparent in the state’s largest city. Atlanta is 54 percent black — the vast majority of whom are Democrats — 38 percent white and 11 percent Hispanic. Political pollsters, Democratic officials and some residents say racial politics in Georgia could significantly impact the presidential race.

But Republicans in Georgia remain optimistic.

“This is a critical year for the party as we work to elect conservative candidates and advance the Republican message of limited government, personal responsibility, economic freedom and fiscal accountability,” Trey Kelly, chairman of the Fulton County Republican Party, wrote on the party’s website.

“Our efforts in Fulton are essential to keeping Georgia red and achieving victory in statewide elections and our local communities.”

The only thing that’s turning blue or purple in Georgia this year is your face if you’re holding your breath for Georgia to go Democratic.

The Georgia Board of Education, the statewide body that oversees the Department of Education, voted to endorse Governor Deal’s proposed Constitutional Amendment 1, the Opportunity School District.

(Under Georgia law, the governor appoints the state school board with consent of the state Senate.)

The resolution says the state school board supports the OSD “in order to improve the education of Georgia children trapped in failing schools.” Voters will decide Amendment 1 in November.

It states, “Whereas the mechanisms available to the Opportunity School District may involve the local districts, will involve the members of the community and will provide a mechanism for a period of up to five years to correct the problems within those failing schools, we, the state Board of Education, resolve that we support the Opportunity School District.”

Deal issued this statement, “I commend the members of the State Board of Education for their formal resolution in support of the Opportunity School District. There is a shared mission between the proposed Opportunity School District and the state school board, which is to establish an environment where every public school in Georgia is successful and every child can thrive. Students across our state have been left behind to languish in failing schools for far too long, and I believe Georgia can and must do better. By supporting the Opportunity School District, the State Board of Education is taking a stand against the failing status quo. They are seizing the chance to improve our schools and make our children’s future brighter.”

The circus political debate over religious liberty legislation came to Tifton this week.

Senator Greg Kirk, a conservative Republican from Americus, made a name for himself by introducing a controversial religious liberties bill at the state capitol.

On Thursday night, he debated the merits of that legislation and other issues, with Senator Vincent Fort, a liberal Democrat from Atlanta.

Kirk said he may support new religious freedom measures, but he won’t sponsor one after the one bill that passed last year was vetoed by Governor Nathan Deal.

Fort worried new bills could be modeled after a North Carolina law focuses on bathroom use by transgendered people.

Both men said they’re willing to work together in the next General Assembly session to improve health care access and help rural hospitals.

Thursday’s debate was the last of four the two senators held around the state to get people talking about important issues.

He said that would lead to economically disastrous boycotts, but Kirk said that is a legitimate issue.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp spoke about this year’s Presidential election in Candler County.

Will Hillary vs Donald draw more people to the polls on election day, or send them running? Georgia’s Secretary of State is as interested to know as everyone else.

It might be the most polarizing presidential election in history. Kemp told folks in Metter that the two candidates may get as many votes from people voting against the other candidate as those voting for them. However, he says numbers show that more people turn out to vote in presidential elections compared to ballots with local candidates only, but he’s still not sure what to expect this time around.

“Somewhere between 69 and 72 percent, maybe as high as 75 percent, is what we normally see in a presidential election. I would expect us to have that kind of normal turnout. But this year, it’s almost impossible to predict,” said Brian Kemp, Secretary of State.

A Bibb County Superior Court Judge denied a claim by losing HD 142 Democratic Primary candidate Gerald Harvey who sought a redo of the election.

Harvey argued the Bibb County Board of Elections didn’t properly post signs about Frank Austin Jr. being disqualified from the race.

“Even assuming that the 93 total votes cast for Mr. Austin, the disqualified candidate, at the three polling places at which the notices were not posted were not cast due to one of the potential reasons listed … these votes are not enough to cast doubt on the results of the election under any standard which might be applicable to this case,” the judge wrote.

Watson’s lawyer, William Noland, said, “The margin of victory in the race was 475 votes. Accordingly, the outcome of the election could not possibly have been affected, even if you assume that all 93 votes would have gone to Mr. Harvey.”

Seven Bibb County voters who cast ballots in the election testified at the hearing, saying they didn’t see signs at the polls saying Austin had been disqualified. When questioned by lawyers representing the board of elections and Paris, each witness admitted to being a friend or associate of Harvey.

Edward Tarver, United States Attorney and former Georgia legislator, warns of an overdose epidemic.

“Last year, more Americans died of overdoses from heroin, prescription drugs and opioid pain relievers than in traffic accident or firearms-related deaths,” Tarver told a gathering of law enforcement, health care providers and others as part of National Heroin and Opioid Awareness Week.

According to Tarver, heroin overdoses have increased by 244 percent between 2001 and 2013, and on an average day at least 78 people will die from an opioid-related overdose.

“This crisis is real,” he said, adding that Savannah has experienced a “substantial increase” in numbers but not the same increases experienced elsewhere.

“Though the alarming national rise in opioid and heroin abuse has not yet hit Savannah in epidemic proportions, every measure is being taken to ensure prevention and preparedness to prevent this issue from having a larger impact on this community,” he said.

But Diane Diver, chief operating officer at Recovery Place Inc., said local statistics tell her the epidemic is here in Savannah.

Between 2012-2014 there were 82 opioid overdoses reported in Chatham County or 10 per 100,000 people, she said. There were 146 opioid overdoses in DeKalb County or 7 per 100,000 for the same period, she added.

The Cherokee County E-SPLOST will have a committee supporting passage in November.

The penny sales tax has been approved by county residents four times since it was first placed on the ballot in 1997 and typically generates between $30 and $35 million a year for the school system, said Cherokee County Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens.

Ahrens serves as the chair of the Committee to Renew Ed-SPLOST for Cherokee Schools, a group made up of about 30 community leaders that champions the renewal of the 1-cent sales tax.

Other leaders of the group to pass the tax include community volunteer Amy Turcotte, who is serving as vice chair, and treasurer Dennis Burnette, a local businessman.

Those serving as ex-officio members include Cherokee School Board Chair Kyla Cromer, Vice Chair Patsy Jordan, Cherokee Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, assistant superintendent for financial management Kenneth Owen, and Jeremy Law, Cherokee Teacher of the Year.

Chatham Area Transit is seeking more riders, having seen a decrease of more than 11 percent.

Amanda Heath is the newest Juvenile Court Judge for the Augusta Judicial Circuit, covering Richmond, Columbia and Burke counties, while Amber Patterson takes the bench in Cobb County’s Juvenile Court.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 22, 2016


On September 22, 1862, Republican President Abraham Lincoln issued a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which stated,

“. . . on the first day of January [1863] . . . all persons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”

President Rutherford B. Hayes visited Atlanta on September 22, 1877. Click here to read the text of his speech in Atlanta.

White vigilantes seeking to assault African-Americans after reports of four white women being assaulted led to the Atlanta Race Riots on September 22-24, 1906, which would claim the lives of at least 25 African-Americans and one white person.

On September 22, 1918, the City of Atlanta gasoline administator prohibited non-emergency Sunday driving to conserve fuel for the war effort.

Friends debuted on NBC on September 22, 1994.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal appointed William “Billy” Sparks to the bench as Superior Court Judge of the Rome Judicial Circuit, filling a vacancy created by the resignation of Judge Walter Matthews.

Georgia’s gas supply could be restored by the weekend, but it may take several more days before all stations are running again, according to Gov. Deal.

“We have been told by the Federal Energy Commission that they’re putting a quota on every state at the outset, so that the line and product on the line is distributed throughout the entire area that is effected by this,” Deal told reporters, according to a report by WXIA 11Alive, Atlanta Business Chronicle’s broadcast partner.

“Some markets served by Colonial Pipeline may experience, or continue to experience, intermittent service interruptions, the company said in a statement. “Colonial continues to move as much gasoline, diesel and jet fuel as possible and will continue to do so as markets return to normal.”

Anne Holton, wife of Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Tim Kaine, kicked off a day of phone banking for the Clinton/Kaine campaign in Atlanta yesterday.

“When the polls go up and the polls go down, he’s said all along it’s going to be a close race.” Holton told a group of about 100 women gathered at Amelie’s French Bakery in downtown Atlanta for a phone-banking event. “But we’re gonna win it. And let’s win it with Georgia in the plus column. If you all deliver Georgia, we will deliver the nation.”

Atlanta-based Gray Television says the pace of political ad buying has changed.

“While political revenue remains significant, Gray stations are receiving political advertising orders later than usual and current orders generally are being placed with only a few days advance notice before broadcast,” the company reported Sept. 20. The company owns and/or operates television stations across 51 television markets.

“The Trump campaign and/or allied PAC’s have purchased advertising time in some Gray markets, and it has expressed interest in placing advertising in up to 9 states involving up to 17 Gray markets,” the company added. “At this time, however, the campaign’s future spending is currently impossible to predict. The Clinton campaign and allied PAC’s are currently active and/or are expressing interest in placing advertising in up to 6 states involving up to 7 Gray markets. Recent polling between Clinton and Trump appear to have tightened and could lead to increased ad spending by the respective campaigns and related PAC’s. Nevertheless, there can be no assurance that increased spending will materialize given the very unusual nature of this year’s late presidential campaign season.”

Gray also reported that its stations “are currently seeing somewhat more competitive statewide races in Missouri, Indiana and North Carolina than previously predicted. On the other hand, Senate races in Ohio and Colorado have not led to the robust advertising spending as was widely anticipated. Furthermore, some historically large political advertisers have very recently indicated that they may direct funds to organizing voters and other campaign activities rather than advertising.”

U.S. District Court Judge William Duffey, Jr. ordered Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp to release information on rejected voter registration applications.

U.S. District Judge William Duffey Jr.’s ruling on Tuesday is a victory for Project Vote, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit waging an ongoing fight for records detailing Georgia’s process for reviewing voter registration applications and the reasons why applications are rejected.

Project Vote has been seeking the records since May 2014, and finally sued, it said, after Kemp responded to its request with incomplete database records.

The NAACP and others have accused Georgia of frustrating the minority vote by failing to promptly determine the eligibility of thousands of black, Latino and Asian voters. In 2014, the organization sued the state, contending the delays could potentially deprive minorities of their right to vote in that year’s elections.

In the separate Project Vote case, Judge Duffey said Tuesday that the threatened injury over caused by blocking the release of certain voter registration records outweighs the harm to the state, which had sought to dismiss the case citing privacy concerns and the costs, monetary and in worker’s time, associated with producing the records.

Kemp has consistently maintained his office was cooperative and transparent with Project Vote over the records, and that his staff always acted in good faith in dealing with Project Vote.

Dougherty County voters will be able to vote on Sunday, October 30, after the county board of elections approved a full weekend of voting.

The Dougherty County Board of Registration and Elections voted unanimously Wednesday to allow a Sunday voting period from 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 30.

The Sunday vote would follow a state-mandated Saturday voting period, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 29. Both weekend voting sessions will be conducted at the Riverfront Resource Center’s Candy Room at 125 Pine Ave.

“My recommendation is that we hold the Sunday vote on Oct. 30, the day after the state-mandated Saturday vote,” Elections Supervisor Ginger Nickerson said. “That would allow for a full weekend of voting in Dougherty County.”

Nickerson noted that the county had approved a similar Sunday voting period in 2014, and that it had been well-attended. Asked by Board Chairman Walter Blankenship if there was talk of a statewide move to take the Sunday vote out of the separate counties’ hands and make it mandatory, the elections supervisor said only “five or six” counties had indicated they were interested in such action when polled.

“I believe during the last county-determined Sunday voting day in 2014, there were only about 10 counties that voted to approve it,” Nickerson said.

Congressman John Lewis (D-Atlanta) is requesting federal election monitors for the November General Election.

“We should ask for federal protection,” the Georgia Democrat said Wednesday, warning “the election can be stolen on election day at polling places.”

Lewis, who was badly injured in 1965 while marching in Selma, Alabama for voting rights for African-Americans, said several states including Georgia, Florida, Ohio and North Carolina should be monitored, and potentially all of the states that belonged to the confederacy.

Lewis said the 2016 presidential election is the first since 1965 that voters don’t have the full protections of the Voting Rights Act due to a Supreme Court ruling three years ago. The lawmaker said it was a “shame and a disgrace” that Congress hasn’t acted on the issue.

The American Farm Bureau Federation awarded its Friend of Farm Bureau Award to thirteen Georgia members of Congress.

Georgia legislators receiving the award are: Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue and Reps. Rick Allen, Sanford Bishop, Buddy Carter, Doug Collins, Tom Graves, Jody Hice, Barry Loudermilk, Tom Price, Austin Scott, Lynn Westmoreland and Rob Woodall.

Perdue, serving his first term in the U.S. Senate, is a member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee. Allen and Scott serve on the House Agriculture Committee, where Scott chairs the Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy and Credit.

Bishop serves on the House Appropriations Subcommittee in Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies. Hice is a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources.

The Macon League of Women Voters held a forum on the Opportunity School District with speakers for and against the Amendment.

[Senator John F.] Kennedy was asked specifically what would happen to Bibb County Schools if they were taken over. He said there were of a few possibilities.

“First of which is a cooperative model between the new superintendent and the local school system that’s there,” Kennedy said. “I would submit to you that’s the most likely model that’s followed.”

If the amendment is passed, Gov. Deal will appoint a superintendent to the new school district, approved by the state senate, that’ll have the power to fire teachers and principals.

Kennedy’s question to the crowd of about 30 people was simple:

“How long are we going to leave these children in a failing schools and not do something about it?”

Gwinnett County School Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks told a Chamber of Commerce luncheon that the county school system will not formally oppose the Opportunity School District amendment.

[W]hile Wilbanks didn’t take a side on the issue, he also noted how the question is presented to voters.

“As with many ballot issues, the preamble and the question that will appear on the ballot are written in a way that someone who’s not informed about it would be inclined to vote in support of it,” the superintendent said. “Obviously, if I was writing the preamble about the ballot question, I would probably do the same thing. I’m not here today to advocate for or against Amendment 1, but I do encourage you to learn all you can about it.”

Wilbanks went on to note that Gwinnett does not have any schools on the list that’s subject to a potential state takeover, and the Gwinnett County Board of Education has not issued an official policy statement.

“But we do believe that something does need to be done and that’s what we’re trying to work through,” he said.

However, Gwinnett School Board Chairman Dr. Robert McClure has told the Daily Post that while the board hasn’t made an official policy about the issue, the group is not in favor of the proposal. He said it doesn’t make any more sense than the federal government running local schools, and that it would be only slightly better because the best government is the smallest that’s closest to the problem.

Cobb County Board of Education member David Morgan is taking flak for missing meetings while promoting passage of the Opportunity School District amendment.

Cobb school board member David Morgan will not attend tonight’s board meeting. Instead, he’ll be promoting Gov. Nathan Deal’s Opportunity School District at a Mableton Improvement Council forum.

Morgan is the only Cobb school board member publicly favoring the constitutional amendment.

Athens-Clarke County Commissioners are split on the timing of a sales tax for transportation.

Two weeks before they’re scheduled to vote on a process leading to a Nov. 7, 2017, referendum on a 1 percent local sales tax hike for transportation projects, Athens-Clarke County commissioners are asking about moving the referendum to May 2018.

Moving the referendum forward by six months would mean it would coincide with a number of local nonpartisan elections that could increase voter interest in going to the polls, Commissioner Mike Hamby noted at Tuesday’s commission agenda-setting meeting, where commissioners decided on items they’ll consider at their Oct. 4 voting meeting.

Locally, the May 2018 nonpartisan election will include a mayoral race and could also include as many as five commission races. According to information presented to commissioners Tuesday, the only local races set for Nov. 7 of next year are a couple of city council seats in Winterville, with no countywide races on the slate.

House District 104, held by Rep. Joyce Chandler (R-Grayson) is under scrutiny after district lines were shifted by the General Assembly.

The Georgia General Assembly approved new boundaries for 17 of the 180 House districts, including several in metro Atlanta. But one in particular has drawn interest: Critics say lawmakers took a highly competitive Gwinnett County district and made it easier for incumbent Republican Rep. Joyce Chandler of Grayson to get re-elected.

While partisan gerrymandering is almost as old as the United States, removing hundreds of minorities from District 105 and placing them in adjacent District 104 is a violation of the Voting Rights Act, they argue. They say the move intentionally spreads out minorities so they can’t join together to elect a candidate they think represents their interests.

Prominent Atlanta voting rights attorney Emmett Bondurant agreed it’s worth taking a look to see if a violation has occurred. “I would need to see the demographics of the district before and after (redistricting),” he said. “But if the precincts moved were overwhelmingly minority precincts, the likelihood of a (voting rights) violation is very high.”

[State Rep. Randy] Nix, chairman of the House Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Committee, said lawmakers requested the changes.

“We had done no redistricting since 2011 and numerous members had asked for minor changes,” Nix said. “We announced to all members of the House that we would consider changes during the 2015 session. The requirement was that it not make significant statistical changes and that all members involved in the changes had to agree.”
Chandler said she doesn’t recall requesting a change to her district. “I was not privy to the reason behind that,” she said.

Gainesville retains the lowest unemployment rate in Georgia, decreasing to 4.4% for August.

The Taylor County Board of Education fired its Superintendent.

“Last night the board voted 3 to 2 to terminate the contract of the Superintendent, Dr. Gary Gibson. In another motion, the board voted 3 to 2 to appoint a former Superintendent, Mr. Norman Carter, as interim Superintendent.”


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 21, 2016

On September 21, 1863, the federal Army of the Cumberland retreated to Chattanooga after its defeat at Chickamauga.

Bert Lance resigned as Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Jimmy Carter on September 21, 1977. After a jury acquitted him on ten federal charges in 1980, Lance served as Chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia from 1982 to 1985.

General Colin Powell was confirmed by the Senate Armed Services Committee as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on September 21, 1989. Powell served as National Security Advisor to President Ronald Reagan before being appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by President George H.W. Bush; in 2000, Powell was nominated by President George W. Bush as Secretary of State, the first African-American to hold that post.

On September 21, 2011, R.E.M. announced on their website that they were quitting as a band.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Your absentee ballot may be on it’s way in the mail this week, as County elections boards can now send them out.

Voters in Georgia can request an absentee ballot by submitting a written application to the local county registrar or by logging onto the Secretary of State office’s “My Voter Page (MVP)” to print the application and mail the completed form to the local registrar.

“Through MVP, requesting an absentee ballot has never been easier in Georgia,” Secretary of State Brian Kemp said. “I was proud to bring this new innovation to our state, along with other helpful web-based platforms such as the online voter registration system and the ‘GA SOS’ smartphone app. Georgia is a national leader in utilizing technologies to educate citizens about elections, voting, and the importance of participation in the electoral process for all levels of government.”

Kemp said voters should request absentee ballots to vote by mail in the Nov. 8 election well in advance of the Nov. 4 deadline, officials said. Uniformed military voters are only required to submit one absentee ballot application to receive absentee ballots for an entire election cycle. Currently, there are more than 6.4 million registered voters in Georgia.

Click here for the MVP webpage, where you can sign in and request a mail-in absentee ballot.

Gasoline supplies in Georgia should start returning to normal over the next few days as fuel starts flowing in a bypass around the Colonial Pipeline leak that caused current shortages.

Colonial Pipeline said Tuesday it had finished construction of the 500-foot bypass at the work site near Birmingham and was testing the system. Fuel deliveries through the 3-foot-diameter line will start Wednesday barring any problems, it said.

The leak and resulting disruptions in supply have bedeviled motorists for days in metro Atlanta and other parts of the South. Sporadic outages have meant longer than usual lines at some stores in the region and dry pumps at others.

State Senator Renee Unterman spoke to WMAZ about the Safe Harbor Amendment, which is on the November ballot as Constitutional Amendment #2.

“It’s an amendment that creates a permanent indelible fund that sets up money for children who have been sexually exploited, specifically sex trafficking of children,” said Unterman.

She says kids as young as 9-years-old are victims of sex trafficking.

“It’s actually yours and my kids,” said Unterman. “These are kids that go to the mall, these are kids that go into chat rooms and they get picked up at the four-way stop sign right outside their house and unfortunately they’re picked up for very bad reasons.”

If passed, she says this amendment could bring millions of dollars to the state’s Department of Human Resources and the Department of Public Health.

“The money is brought in from adult entertainment establishments where they pay a certain fee and it’s estimated between a million to two million dollars,” said Unterman.

State Rep. Heath Clark (R-Warner Robins) received an award from the Association County Commissioners of Georgia for introducing and passing House Bill 772, which fixed an issue with advance voting.

Last year July 4 fell on an early voting Saturday and state law required that the polls open. Poll workers had to sit there all day with very few people voting.

Commission Chairman Tommy Stalnaker asked Clark to get a bill passed that would fix the problem and Clark got it done. It was the first bill he got passed.

Clark said it came “down to the wire” to get it passed in time in the Senate.

Previously, early voting was held on the second Saturday before an election. Under the new law if a holiday falls on that Saturday or the following Sunday or Monday, then early voting will fall to the third Saturday before the election.

The Association County Commissioners of Georgia backed the law, and a representative of the organization came to Tuesday’s commission meeting to present Clark with groups Legislative Service Award for his efforts to get the bill passed. Only six of the awards were given out this year.

House Speaker David Ralston appointed Savannah attorney James Kreyenbuhl to the Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission.

A seat on the Georgia Court of Appeals has 79 lawyers nominated for the bench with the possibility of other openings on the Court of Appeals if Gov. Deal appoints one or more of the sitting judges to openings on the Georgia Supreme Court.

Chief Judge Gregory Fowler of the Chatham County State Court was recognized by the Council of Accountability Court Judges, receiving a 2016 STAR Award.

David Wood, the DUI court administrator who nominated Fowler, has been with the court since it started in May 2003. In that time, 1,207 people have graduated with a recidivist rate of 7.9 percent, compared to the 32 percent national rate, he said.

Classes run between 130-180 participants at a time and the current class is 148, Wood said.
“We’re always accepting new people,” Wood said.

Fowler “refuses to allow participants to give up on their sobriety,” Wood said. “Judge Fowler understood, even before DUI Court existed, that jail alone would not help the addict become sober and that the addict need not hit rock bottom to succeed.”

Opportunity School District

The Butts County Board of Education adopted a resolution opposing the Opportunity School District amendment.

In a statement last week, the Butts County School System blasted the plan.

“I don’t think there is a citizen of Georgia who disagrees with the governor that we need to fight to give every student in our state the best education possible,” Butts County School Superintendent Robert “Buddy” Costley said in the statement. “But the governor is apparently misleading our state in allowing this question to be posed to the voters without being transparent about what this question really means. This appears to be more about money and power than it is any real chance to help students and communities. He wants to take away the voices of the local taxpayers and voters because he doesn’t trust them, and he believes the best way to turn around schools is run them from the bureaucracy in Atlanta, a bureaucracy that knows nothing about our people and our community.”

Deal spoke Sept. 8 at the Georgia Education Leadership Institute Conference, lashing out at those who oppose the plan, Costley said. “The governor basically ridiculed locally elected board members in his speech for expressing concerns about the proposed amendment’s effect on the communities the voters elected them to serve, and he almost literally told the superintendents in the state to keep ‘their mouths shut,’” Costley said.

Costley said he has been talking to local organizations about the upcoming vote, including the Butts County Republican Party.

“Some of them were quite surprised,” Costley said. “I guarantee you local taxpayers want control over their own tax money.”

Three reservoirs on the upper Savannah River are in the Drought 2 status and boaters are warned to be cautious.

Because of the drought level, rocks and tree stumps, normally deep underwater, will be closer to the surface, some just out of sight, according to Corps officials.

These obstructions form a particular hazard in coves and along the shoreline. Boaters should use the main channel whenever possible.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 20, 2016

On September 20, 1863, the Confederate Army of the Tennessee under General Braxton Bragg repelled Union forces under General William Rosencrans at the Battle of Chickamauga. After Gettysburg, Chickamauga is generally considered the second-bloodiest battle of the Civil War, with 18,500 Confederate casualties and 16,100 Union dead.

The first classes at Oglethorpe University under it’s current non-denominational charter were held on September 20, 1916. Happy 100th Anniversary to the Stormy Petrels. The university was originally affiliated with the Presbyterian Church and located in Midway, Georgia. In 1870, after a period of closure during the Civil War they relocated to the Atlanta area. Currently, a collection of more than 20,000 pieces of political campaign materials is on display at the Weltner Library on Oglethorpe’s campus.

On September 20, 1976, Playboy magazine released an interview with Jimmy Carter, then a candidate for President.

During the 1976 campaigns, a 13-foot tall smiling peanut sculpture was created by the Indiana Democratic Party for Carter’s presidential campaign.

Since 1976, the Jimmy Carter Smiling Peanut has held its position as the world’s second largest peanut, “the most photographed thing in Plains”, and one of the oddest monuments to a politician worldwide. Unfortunately, in 2000, a reckless driver crashed into the peanut, whose wooden hoops, chicken wire, and aluminum foil weren’t enough to keep it upright. After the accident, the peanut was moved from the Plains train depot to the Davis E-Z Shop in Plains, where it remains today. Although the peanut has been kept in pristine form, the fence surrounding it has become dilapidated as a result of over a decade of tourists posing for photos on it.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal issued an Executive Order to remind gasoline vendors that state law prohibits price gouging during a state of emergency.

“Due to a leak in a critical fuel pipeline in Alabama, which is currently undergoing repairs, Georgia and other states have experienced interruptions in motor fuel supply,” Deal said. “There have been recent reports that wholesale and retail gas prices have substantially increased in some markets. In order to remedy this, I’ve issued an executive order reiterating the state law prohibiting price gouging. In addition to this, I’ve sought and received a waiver from the Environmental Protection Agency as well as lifted operating regulations for commercial truck drivers hauling motor fuel. I urge the public to maintain regular consumption levels and travel schedules in order to reduce further interruption in fuel supply.”

Georgia Code Section 10-1-393.4 reads in part:

(a) It shall be an unlawful, unfair, and deceptive trade practice for any person, firm, or corporation doing business in any area in which a state of emergency, as such term is defined in Code Section 38-3-3, has been declared, for so long as such state of emergency exists, to sell or offer for sale at retail any goods or services identified by the Governor in the declaration of the state of emergency necessary to preserve, protect, or sustain the life, health, or safety of persons or their property at a price higher than the price at which such goods were sold or offered for sale immediately prior to the declaration of a state of emergency; provided, however, that such price may be increased only in an amount which accurately reflects an increase in cost of the goods or services to the person selling the goods or services or an increase in the cost of transporting the goods or services into the area. [Emphasis added.]

Gov. Deal also attended the dedication of Coleman Middle School in Duluth, named in honor of State Rep. Brooks Coleman.

Coleman is named after Brooks Coleman, a former teacher and administrator in GCPS, and in his 12th term as a state representative in the Georgia legislature. It’s Gwinnett County Public Schools’ signature STEAM school, which means it focuses on science, technology, engineering, arts and math. It’s on Main Street and in the same building as the former Duluth Middle School.

During his tenure in the legislature, Coleman has served on numerous committees and has chaired the Education Committee. His ties to the Duluth community run deep, including being the Voice of the Wildcats at Duluth High football games and his work with the Duluth Fall Festival.

Republican John Watson is considering a run for Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, according to the AJC Political Insider.

Watson, a former chief of staff to Gov. Sonny Perdue and adviser to Sen. David Perdue, said he is “taking a serious look at the race” to succeed John Padgett, who will not run for another term next year.

“I have had the opportunity to work alongside extraordinary people to help see Georgia go from blue to red,” said Watson. “And I don’t think that Republicans in the future can simply cross their fingers and hope for continued Republican dominance. That’s why I want to be involved in the future.”

Michael McNeely, who is now the party’s vice-chair, said earlier this month he was running for the top spot. Other possible contenders include former Cobb GOP chair Scott Johnson, state GOP treasurer Mansell McCord, ex-Congressional candidate Martha Zoller, tea party guru Julianne Thompson and DeKalb attorney Alex Johnson.

David Lightman of McClatchy News looks into the crosstabs of a poll by Monmouth University and finds a deeply polarized electorate in Georgia.

–Urban/elsewhere. Clinton’s up 20 in the greater Atlanta area. Trump’s up 18 in the rest of the state.

–Black voters. Clinton 88, Trump 4.

–White Voters. Trump 66, Clinton 20.

–White voters with no college degree. Trump 78, Clinton 10.

–White voters over 50. Trump 68, Clinton 23.

–White voters under 50. Trump 63, Clinton 16, Libertarian Gary Johnson 16.

“There has been some talk of Georgia becoming part of a demographic realignment in presidential politics. However, Clinton is not quite making the needed inroads among young white voters to take the lead here,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, in a news release.

The DeKalb County Board of Education voted to oppose the Opportunity School Board Amendment on the November ballot.

In DeKalb, 26 of the district’s schools are on the state’s list of those considered failing.

Board chairman Melvin Johnson, reading a joint board statement, said local control and community involvement are the best medicine for improving academic achievement.

“We believe it is not only wrong, but risky to give up local control to a new state bureaucracy,” Johnson said, adding the board “strongly believes the answer to improved academic outcomes and achievement is in the classroom and school house.”

Board member Stan Jester, the lone vote against the district statement, said the district should be prepared in case the in-house efforts don’t succeed in addressing years of damage.

“If this does not work for us, what’s the plan?” he asked. “Whether you like OSD or not, what’s the plan if we can’t improve academic achievement?”

The Faith & Freedom Coalition of Georgia has printed 2016 voter guides and is asking for assistance in distributing them. If you’d like to share the FFC guides with your friends and neighbors, contact FFC Georgia Executive Director Dave Baker via email to dbaker [at] ffcoalition [dot] com or via their Facebook page.


Marietta and Cobb County Boards of Education are considering a 5-year Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax projected to raise $750 million.

State Rep. Howard Maxwell presents the four Amendments to the Georgia Constitution that voters will weigh-in on in November.

Fulton County Commissioner Marvin Arrington, Jr. was arrested on allegations of family violence.

Local news media says a police report states Arrington became angry when his wife Kristen Reed Arrington threatened to call a woman in his phone.

His wife told police they wrestled over the phone as he pushed her to the ground, dragged her along the floor and twisted her arm behind her back.

Arrington Jr. was released from the Fulton County Jail on a $2,000 bond. He is the District 5 commissioner of Fulton.

The Fulton County Board of Assessors voted to fire Chief Appraiser David Fitzgibbon after an error in calculating property tax bills by a vendor.

Members of the county board of commissioners have criticized the error and felt Fitzgibbon was at least partly responsible for it. At an August Fulton Board of Commissioners meeting, District 2 Commissioner Bob Ellis expressed concern about Fitzgibbon and asked for more accountability, collaboration and communication from the tax assessors’ office in the future.

“While it appears that the tax assessor’s office has finally provided tax digests to all jurisdictions, this year’s two-month delay is totally unacceptable,” Ellis said. “It has created unnecessary complications and distractions for many local governments. The delay, as well as other issues that have emerged, highlight the need for greater accountability from the Fulton County Tax Assessor’s Office.

Conservation groups are asking to file a friend of the court brief to assess effects on the environments in the Georgia-Florida water litigation.

“The court’s decision here will directly determine the fate of the Apalachicola River watershed and may well establish important precedent for future interstate water disputes that inevitably will arise in the face of growing human populations, a changing climate regime, and myriad federal and state legal mandates to protect ecosystem health,” the organizations stated in a court document filed Thursday.

The City of Warner Robins has hired a firm to study the costs and fees associated with providing water and sewer service.

Cherokee County Commissioners will hold a public hearing tonight on the FY 2017 budget, which will add up to 13 full-time employees while coming in $13 million under the FY 2016 budget.

“The decrease is primarily to the bond refunding that took place earlier this year so we had to transfer those funds to pay those bonds,” county manager Jerry Cooper said at the Sept. 6 work session. “That is the primary factor for the decrease in the budget.”

One of the 13 new jobs proposed for the county is a staff attorney, a move designed to cut legal costs.

“The addition of the staff attorney position will lessen the county’s spending on outside legal services significantly as well as allow even greater oversight into compliance and legal issues while offering a readily available resource to the county manager, agency directors and staff when needed,” Cooper said.

A $75 million solar farm to provide electricity to Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base opened Monday.

The plant, built in partnership with Georgia Power, is supposed to have been completed in December, but the 133,000 solar panels are in place well ahead of schedule, early enough for base commander Capt. James Jenks to wield some of the oversize scissors. Jenks moves on to a new duty assignment in Hawaii at the end of September.

To illustrate the size, Jenks said, it’s big enough for two Disney’s Magic Kingdoms, but with 17,000 acres, Kings Bay has room to spare.

He hinted to Georgia Power officials, “We have some room for expansion.”

The solar plant provides energy security for Kings Bay by providing “redundancy inside our fence line,” he said.

As base commander, one of the bills he approved each month was the $1 million power bill, and Kings Bay is working to reduce that by replacing all lights with more efficient LED lights and replacing the 1980s era heating and air-conditioning systems with more up-to-date technology, he said.

The Georgia Department of Education held a meeting in Columbus to receive citizen input on implementing federal education law.

“We know that our children are very wide and diverse, and our education needs to be wide and diverse,” Georgia Superintendent Richard Woods told the crowd. “We can put not only rigor with it, but also relevance.”

Woods urges stakeholders to take advantage of the flexibility in the new federal law.

“If we create and have the same model,” he said, “then we’ve really wasted a lot of time.”

The Newnan Times-Herald editorial page has become part of my daily reading since Walter Jones took over as Publisher. Their editorial on Constitution Day is worth reading, and if you know a young student, maybe high school or college, would be a great thing to pass along.

Today is the birthday of the Constitution, an amazing political document rightly venerated around the world. But it’s not a “living document.” It’s a contract.

A contract is a binding agreement between two parties, in this case, the government and the people or us. Imagine if your bank simply decided on its own to change the terms of your mortgage or the person you bought your lot from announced you could no longer use your back yard.

The terms of contracts only change by mutual consent. Most, like the Constitution, spell out the ways they can be changed. But it’s not a contract if one side tries to alter things midstream.

So, as we celebrate Constitution Day today, remember why we read the writings of our Founding Fathers, like The Federalist Papers. It’s to be clear on the understanding of those who agreed to the contract on our behalf. What did “domestic tranquility” and “common defense” mean at that time? Especially important is the meaning of the Bill of Rights where most of the controversy resides, like the right to free speech, to bear arms, protection from cruel and unusual punishment, and powers retained by the states.

If a majority of Americans conclude that the reasoning in 1897 is no longer applicable because of changing mores or technology, then we have a duty to propose an update and vote to ratify it. That has been done 27 times, so it’s not impractical, but it is difficult – yet fair.

I highly recommend taking a few minutes to read the entirety of it. And you might also pass it along to any elected officias you know.

Uber launches in Columbus today, with Mayor Tomlinson set for the first ride.

In 2015, the Georgia General Assembly passed legislation that to allow Uber to move into Georgia markets through statewide regulation. The company must purchase a local business license in order to operate, but that is the extent of the local control, Goodwin said.

Uber is currently operating in the Atlanta, Athens, Macon and Savannah markets in Georgia. Last month, Uber launched in Auburn, Ala.

The Mercer School of Medicine is working on the next generation of healthcare professionals with a summer program for high school students from rural areas.

“We’re really trying to look for ways to build up our applicant pool from those areas because those are the kids we want,” Sumner said. “We need to develop a farm team.”

“Farm team” takes added meaning when you consider the audience of teenagers comes from 4-H Clubs in southeast Georgia. The project is a first for Mercer and the state 4-H organization – giving rural kids a taste of what it’s like to be in medical school. The 4-Hers took turns simulating doctor-patient conversations and learning how to test a reflex.

Rural Georgia has a doctor problem. A recent study by the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute finds two-thirds of the state’s counties don’t have enough doctors and most of those counties are rural.

Laura Harker, a health care policy analyst for the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, appreciated the Mercer-4-H recruitment effort. But Harker said that there are large forces at work in rural areas that make attracting new doctors difficult.

“It’s really important to focus on the current issues with rural hospitals and clinics that they’re facing, with having to care for so many people living in poverty or who are uninsured and not able to pay for care,” she said.

That situation can lead to rural hospitals struggling to balance their budgets. And those shaky hospital financial conditions can make small towns unattractive to prospective doctors.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 19, 2016

President George Washington gave his farewell address on September 19, 1796.

The period for a new election of a Citizen, to Administer the Executive government of the United States, being not far distant, and the time actually arrived, when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person, who is to be cloathed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those, out of whom a choice is to be made.

I beg you, at the sametime, to do me the justice to be assured, that this resolution has not been taken, without a strict regard to all the considerations appertaining to the relation, which binds a dutiful Citizen to his country–and that, in withdrawing the tender of service which silence in my Situation might imply, I am influenced by no diminution of zeal for your future interest, no deficiency of grateful respect for your past kindness; but am supported by a full conviction that the step is compatible with both.

On September 19, 1863, the Battle of Chickamauga was joined between the federal Army of the Cumberland under Maj. Gen. William Rosecrans and the Confederate Army of Tennessee under Gen. Braxton Bragg.

Thirteen marchers were shot and killed and forty more wounded in Camilla, Georgia at the Camilla Massacre on September 19, 1868 as marchers to a Republican Party rally were gunned down.

President James Garfield died on September 19, 1881, of wounds sustained on July 2d of that year. Garfield is one of seven Presidents born in Ohio – he and William McKinley, were both killed by assassins.

Chickamauga National Battlefield was dedicated September 19, 1895.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections


This sign greeted me Saturday at the local gas station and increasing numbers of Georgia motorists are encountering similar signs.

Governor Nathan Deal issued an Executive Order extending hours of service for truck drivers delivering fuel.

“Along with applying for, and receiving, a waiver from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) earlier this week, I’ve extended the executive order allowing extended operating times for commercial truck drivers to safeguard against any fuel supply issues in our state. We are confident these measures will help ensure Georgians’ uninterrupted access to motor fuel until Alabama’s pipeline is fixed.”

Governor Deal’s office had not received complaints about gas shortages when reached by the media on Sunday.

The governor of Georgia said Sunday his office hasn’t received any complaints of gas shortages within the state after a pipeline spill in central Alabama but some gas station employees have said they’ve had to close because they’re out.

“As of now … we’ve not received any complaints. If that changes on Monday or at any time in the coming days, the governor’s office will act accordingly,” Gov. Nathan Deal’s spokeswoman Jen Ryan said in a statement Sunday.

Please note that social media is not the same thing as calling or emailing the Governor’s Office.

Colonial Pipeline is working on a bypass for the leak in its pipeline that supplies Georgia.

Colonial Pipeline announced Saturday it is beginning construction of a temporary pipeline that will bypass a leaking section of its main gasoline pipeline in Shelby County, Alabama.

No timetable was given as to when that bypass line would be completed or what path it would take.

The Trump-Pence campaign office grand opening drew hundreds of supporters to their new Sandy Springs location.

Hundreds of Donald Trump supporters showed up to a grand opening Saturday of the campaign’s new Georgia digs. And many walked away as newly-minted volunteers for the businessman’s final push to November.

They left with armfuls of campaign signs, absentee ballot information and pledges to knock on neighbors’ doors and work the phones in the final seven weeks before the election.

Kathy Potts and Becky Love have become something of celebrities in Georgia Republican circles with their T-shirts declaring themselves “deplorables” mocking Clinton’s controversial comments last week. The two have fanned out to GOP gatherings across the state helping to rev up support for Trump in between TV appearances.

At each event, Potts carries her own basket labeled “deplorables.” With its contents, she hopes to make sure Georgia stays in the Republican column: Hundreds of absentee ballots.

“We are trying to make a statement,” she said. “And it’s working.”

In Augusta also, a Trump-Pence campaign office opened this weekend.

“Election Day is right around the corner and Georgia Republicans are working around the clock to ensure victory for Trump-Pence, Senator Johnny Isakson, and the entire Republican ticket,” 12th District GOP Chairman Mike Welsh said in the release.

“The East Regional GOP Headquarters will serve as the hub for volunteer operations in the CSRA. We encourage local conservatives to volunteer their time in the days, weeks, and months ahead. Together, we can stop the Clinton Machine and do our part to make American great again!”

Compare that level of enthusiasm with that of some voters to whom the Gainesville Times spoke.

The old philosophy of choosing the “lesser of two evils” in the voting booth isn’t working for some Hall County residents and students during this presidential election season.

“Not only am I not excited, I am disgusted,” resident Terry Wright said. “I’ve never voted anything but a straight Republican ticket, but there is no way I could vote for (Donald) Trump and still like who I see in the mirror. I will vote but I will write in someone else.”

On the Republican side is a candidate many believe to be a demagogue and racist. The Democrats chose a nominee who many believe is politically corrupt and compromised.

“I think so many students have no faith in (Hillary) Clinton or Trump for many reasons,” said Douglas Young, a political science professor at the University of North Georgia in Gainesville. “Since both candidates are pushing 70, they each have a long record of statements and actions to defend.”

Student Jessica Swords said she considers herself a “little ‘L’ libertarian,” but she’s not sold on that party’s nominee.

“Perhaps the better question is, ‘Why am I not supporting Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump?” Swords said. “Both are not constitutional candidates … and Hillary is too corrupt to even qualify. While I would prefer Trump over Hillary, I do not think that he truly understands the importance of the Constitution and limited power of the executive branch.”

Speaker of the House David Ralston told the Statesboro Herald that he supports passage of all four Constitutional Amendments on the November ballot.

The Voter Participation Center in Washington, DC, which we’ve been following since June, is now targeting non-registered potential voters.

Some locals have already reported receiving the mailers — part of a batch of 11 million sent out recently by the Voter Participation Center in D.C.

Interim Director of Voter Registration Sabrina German said she’s heard that as many as 25,000 Chatham County residents will receive a form from the agency, which uses the Georgia Secretary of State’s master voter registration list, along with other commercial databases to locate unregistered voters.

The goal, according to a statement from VPC President Page Gardner, is to reach the demographics most underrepresented on Election Day — people of color, millenials and single women. She said so far, it’s been successful. During the past 12 years, the VPC has registered 3 million people to vote.

But some of these registration forms have and will miss their mark. Already in Chatham County, mailers have reportedly been sent to the wrong addresses. And representatives of the Georgia Secretary of State’s office have gotten complaints about other issues — including mailers sent to someone who has died.

“Unfortunately, no state makes available a list of individuals who are unregistered to vote,” Gardner said in her statement. “As a result, VPC must use commercially available residential databases and match them to the state’s voter file to determine who is unregistered and otherwise eligible. … VPC uses many ‘protocol improvements’ that are designed to make these lists more accurate, and to reduce mailings sent to people and addresses that should not receive them.”

The 2017 Session of the Georgia General Assembly is likely to be deja vu all over again with a repeat of the 2015 fight over religious liberty legislation.

State Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, a leader of the push for religious liberty legislation, dismissed the veto of HB 757 as a deciding factor in major jobs announcements. He said the bill was misrepresented as discriminatory and included protections previously sought by the business and pro-LGBT community.Opponents of religious liberty bills, he said, “are desperate to get something in print to say there’s a positive economic impact to squelching people of faith.”

North Carolina Department of Commerce spokeswoman Kim Genardo scoffed at any suggestion her state’s bathroom law stunted growth, saying “North Carolina’s economic development pipeline is certainly full.”

North Carolina’s jobless rate, 4.7 percent in July, remains lower than Georgia’s figure, which ticked down to 4.9 percent in August.

Georgia added 116,000 jobs in the 12 months ended in July, compared to 94,000 in North Carolina in that time, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, though how much political factors contributed is impossible to know. From April through July, Georgia added 25,700 public and private sector jobs, while North Carolina performed slightly better in the face of controversy with 30,100.

Reducing the number of polling places may disproportionately affect African-American voters, according to a story by Reuters.

Georgia has been an epicenter for efforts to reduce polling places since the Supreme Court decision [eliminating the pre-clearance requirement for voting changes]. And in that state, which has not backed a Democrat in a presidential election since 1992, polls show Republican Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in a close battle for the presidency that could be decided by turnout of minority voters.

“If you want to restrict voter turnout in minority and disadvantaged communities, a good way is to move a polling place somewhere they can’t get to,” said Stacey Abrams, Democratic leader in the Georgia state legislature.

Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said race was being unfairly inserted into the debate on polling place changes.

“It’s election officials making adjustments based on the changing ways people are voting,” he said.

Georgia Life Alliance gave awards to Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville), State Senator Renee Unterman (R-Buford), and Lt. Governor Casey Cagle.

The Georgia Life Alliance awarded Collins the Federal Legislator of the Year award, noting the congressman has “a 100 percent pro-life voting record with every pro-life organization in Washington D.C.” according to a news release.

Cagle was awarded the organization’s Champion for Life Award, for “actively supporting pro-life legislation at the state capitol.”

Unterman was awarded the State Senator of the Year Award, most notably for her work with S.B. 308, which established the Positive Alternatives for Pregnancy and Parenting Grant Program.

“Senator Unterman is one of the most effective advocates for life at the state capitol,” said Matson.

The Marietta Daily Journal stakes out a position in opposition to the Opportunity School District.

But if you think this question appears on the ballot as a well-intentioned effort to improve childhood education, please reconsider. This has nothing to do with the 1.7 million public school students in Georgia.

It has everything to do with money.

The amendment would allow an unaccountable education czar to seize a local school from the locally elected school board if that school scored 60 or below on Georgia’s College and Career Readiness Index for three consecutive years.

Rescuing students from failing schools, as this amendment purports to do, is an admirable action to take, but it bears mentioning Georgia’s governor already has the power to intervene in problem school systems.

Meanwhile, the Dougherty County School Superintendent advises local Board of Education members against opposing the Amendment.

Superintendent Butch Mosely is taking a neutral stance.

“As far as we are concerned, three out of four members of our local legislative delegation voted for SB133 (which is the foundation of the proposed amendment) and we will not have an official position on the referendum,” Mosely said. “My suggestion to the board of education is to not get involved in politics and let the state’s voters decide the issue in November.”

Dougherty County currently has four flagged schools on the list of 127 schools state-wide that would be impacted if the referendum passes — Southside Middle School, and Alice Coachman, Morningside and Northside elementary schools.

“We have a plan in place and if it works, the amendment should have no impact on us.” Mosely said. “We have put benchmarks in place for each school, each grade level and those that are at the 60 percent level, we expect them to make from three to five percent improvement every year.

“I am hopeful we can get all of our schools to the 90 percent level and we think that’s doable. This plan will work with good leadership at the school level with help from the administration.”

Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway is on-board with the re-election of Senator Johnny Isakson.

Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway is among 70 law enforcement officials who announced their support of U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s re-election campaign.

The group, which calls itself Law Enforcement for Isakson, is made up of sheriffs, police chiefs and Georgia Department of Corrections Board member Wayne Dasher.

“I am proud to have earned the support of law enforcement officials from across our great state who have dedicated their lives to help ensure the safety of Georgians,” Isakson said in a statement. “I applaud their work, appreciate their families and depend upon their expertise.”

Conway joins a list of local officials endorsing the senator that includes Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash, Commissioner Jace Brooks, local GOP officials, mayors and several members of the county’s legislative delegation.

Retroactive property tax refunds for disabled veterans may be an issue gaining some traction heading into the 2017 Session. We noted a related issue in Fayette County last week, and now this from the Gainesville Times.

An uphill battle is nothing new to Russell Rego, but the Hall County resident keeps pushing like the 21-year Marine veteran he is.

When the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs declined to declare him 100 percent disabled several years ago, he appealed the decision and won.

And now, Rego, whose disability stems from his service years, is trying to change state law so that veterans can get a retroactive property tax break based on their lengthy wait to get full disability through the VA.

He’s motivated by his own unsuccessful attempt to claim such a break earlier this year in Hall County.

“Use me as an example of what I tried to do,” said Rego, who served from 1972 to 1993.

State Rep. Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville, is preparing legislation on the matter, which could come up when the General Assembly, which convenes in January.

“Our veterans are running into a problem with tardiness of the VA and moving issues along, especially health issues,” he said.

Opioid Abuse

The Associated Press and Center for Public Integrity have tallied political campaign donations from pharaceutical manufacturers.

Makers of prescription painkillers have spent $880 million nationwide on lobbying and campaign contributions from 2006 through 2015, more than 200 times what those advocating for stricter policies spent, according to a 50-state review.

In Georgia, state lawmakers received more than $1.2 million and were lobbied each year by an average of 41 people representing drug makers and related advocacy groups.

Members of the Pain Care Forum, a coalition of companies and advocacy groups that meets to discuss opioid-related issues, gave more than $1.2 million to state lawmakers, candidates and parties from 2006 to 2015. That total put Georgia eighth in the nation when painkiller producers’ contributions are ranked using a ratio that factors in all campaign contributions.

Pfizer Inc. spent the most in Georgia among all drug companies and advocates – at least $622,686 from 2006 through 2015. The company’s contributions in 2012 were the highest for a single year, totaling $91,550.

The company has several locations in Georgia, including a manufacturing plant in Albany.

In the meantime, nearly 8 million prescriptions were issued in Georgia last year for opioid medications.

Opioids, which can also help patients suffering from fatal illnesses, are contributing to an overdose crisis that killed about a thousand people a year in Georgia between 2006 and 2014. Those deaths involved drugs of all kinds, though most were tied to heroin and prescription painkillers such as fentanyl, the powerful synthetic opioid that killed Prince in April.

Mike Morrison, a Gwinnett assistant district attorney, prosecuted the man who supplied the drugs that killed Futrell and two others. All three plus their dealer were addicted to pain pills. Some of the roots of the problem are clear to Morrison.

“We had a number of these pain clinics pop up in Gwinnett. There would be lines out the door to get prescriptions for opiates,” he said, adding that phenomenon has faded amid enforcement. “And from that addiction, it was cheaper to go to heroin.”

Doctors and dentists in Georgia said they are fighting the opioid epidemic through educational campaigns and by providing patients with safe places to dispose of unneeded or expired medications. They are also using a state database that helps identify “doctor-shopping” patients. And they are helping police get more supplies of a life-saving drug called naloxone, which reverses overdoses.

Dr. Ben Jernigan Jr., president of the Georgia Dental Association, said: “The root of the problem is far deeper than prescribing pain killers. Patients have a responsibility to use opioid painkillers only as prescribed and to keep their unused medications from getting into the wrong hands.”

Garden clubs in Macon dedicated a Blue Star marker and a Gold Star marker honoring Georgia veterans last week.

Rotarians in Perry heard about efforts to fight sex trafficking in Georgia.

Watson shared some facts that included the city of Atlanta has been named one of the top 14 cities by the Federal Bureau Investigation for child sex trafficking.

“It doesn’t just happen in Atlanta it’s all across the state,” said Watson. “Children are being raped for profit everywhere. In 2015 there were 155 active cases for minors in 78 counties across Georgia. This includes 26 cases in Bibb County. And just two weeks ago a man from Warner Robins was charged in trafficking minors in two different hotels. He placed an ad online which included a video of the teenagers he engaged in sexually explicit conduct.”


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Mayflower left Plymouth, England, for the New World on September 16, 1620. Thirty-five of 102 passengers were members of the English Separatist Church seeking religious freedom from the Church of England. Originally aiming to reach Virginia, Mayflower eventually landed at Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Forty-one delegates signed the United States Constitution, including Abraham Baldwin and William Few representing Georgia, at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787 before adjourning sine die. Constitution Day is celebrated September 17th, although sometimes it is observed on the weekday closest to the 17th and the National Archives has some great background materials.

The United States government took out its first loan on September 18, 1789, the proceeds of which were used to pay the salaries of the President, and First Congress. On the same day, future President Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to E. Rutledge in which he requested that a shipment of olive trees be sent via Baltimore.

President George Washington laid the cornerstone of the United States Capitol on September 18, 1793.

We know from that newspaper article, and from Masonic ritual, that Washington placed an inscribed silver plate under the cornerstone at the southeast corner of this building. However, we do not know whether that meant the southeast corner of the Senate wing, the first section of the building to be completed, or the southeast corner of the whole building as intended, which would locate it over on the House side. Two centuries later, the Architect of the Capitol is still searching for that cornerstone. Metal detectors have failed to locate the silver plate.

President George Washington gave his farewell address on September 19, 1796.

The period for a new election of a Citizen, to Administer the Executive government of the United States, being not far distant, and the time actually arrived, when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person, who is to be cloathed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those, out of whom a choice is to be made.

I beg you, at the sametime, to do me the justice to be assured, that this resolution has not been taken, without a strict regard to all the considerations appertaining to the relation, which binds a dutiful Citizen to his country–and that, in withdrawing the tender of service which silence in my Situation might imply, I am influenced by no diminution of zeal for your future interest, no deficiency of grateful respect for your past kindness; but am supported by a full conviction that the step is compatible with both.

President Millard Fillmore signed the Fugitive Slave Act on September 18, 1850, requiring that slaves be returned to their owners even if they were in a free state.

The Army of Northern Virginia under General Robert E. Lee met the Army of the Potomac under General George McClellan at the Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862.

The Battle of Antietam actually consisted of three battles. Beginning at dawn on September 17, Union General Joseph Hooker’s men stormed Confederate General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s troops around the Dunker Church, the West Woods, and David Miller’s cornfield. The Federals made repeated attacks, but furious Rebel counterattacks kept the Yankees in check. By early afternoon, the fighting moved south to the middle of the battlefield. Union troops under General Edwin Sumner inflicted devastating casualties on the Confederates along a sunken road that became known as “Bloody Lane,” before the Southerners retreated. McClellan refused to apply reserves to exploit the opening in the Confederate center because he believed Lee’s force to be much larger than it actually was. In the late afternoon, Union General Ambrose Burnside attacked General James Longstreet’s troops across a stone bridge that came to bear Burnside’s name. The Yankees crossed the creek, but a Confederate counterattack brought any further advance to a halt.

The fighting ended by early evening, and the two armies remained in place throughout the following day. After dark on September 18, Lee began pulling his troops out of their defenses for a retreat to Virginia. The losses for the one-day battle were staggering. Union casualties included 2,108 dead, 9,540 wounded, and 753 missing, while Confederate casualties numbered 1,546 dead, 7,752 wounded, and 1,108 missing.

On September 19, 1863, the Battle of Chickamauga was joined between the federal Army of the Cumberland under Maj. Gen. William Rosecrans and the Confederate Army of Tennessee under Gen. Braxton Bragg.

Thirteen marchers were shot and killed and forty more wounded in Camilla, Georgia at the Camilla Massacre on September 19, 1868 as marchers to a Republican Party rally were gunned down.

President James Garfield died on September 19, 1881, of wounds sustained on July 2d of that year. Garfield is one of seven Presidents born in Ohio – he and William McKinley, were both killed by assassins.

A single pistol shot on September 16, 1893 opened former Cherokee land in Oklahoma to white settlers in a “land run” to claim property.

On September 17, 1932, the Georgia Division of the Roosevelt Business and Professional League was created to work with the Georgia Democratic Party to support FDR’s Presidential campaign in the Peach State.

The original stimulus act was announced to bring $70 million in federal money to Georgia to build roads and public buildings on September 16, 1933.

On September 16, 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Selective Service and Training Act requiring males 26-35 years of age to register for the draft. On the same day, Sam Rayburn of Texas was elected Speaker of the United States House of Representatives and would go on to hold the post for 17 years total, the longest tenure of any Speaker.

On September 18, 1973, Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter filed a report claiming that he saw an Unidentified Flying Object in the sky above Leary, Georgia in 1969.

Carter was preparing to give a speech at a Lions Club meeting. At about 7:15 p.m (EST), one of the guests called his attention to a strange object that was visible about 30 degrees above the horizon to the west of where he was standing. Carter described the object as being bright white and as being about as bright as the moon. It was said to have appeared to have closed in on where he was standing but to have stopped beyond a stand of pine trees some distance from him. The object is then said to have changed color, first to blue, then to red, then back to white, before appearing to recede into the distance. Carter felt that the object was self-luminous, but not a solid in nature. Carter’s report indicates that it was witnessed by about ten or twelve other people, and was in view for ten to twelve minutes before it passed out of sight.

Click here to view a copy of the report, allegedly on file at the Carter Center.

Jimmy Carter received the first ever endorsement of a national ticket by the National Education Association in his bid for President on September 17, 1976.

The Allman Brothers Band was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame on September 19, 1998.

R.E.M. and Gregg Allman were among the inductees into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame on September 16, 2006.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Jim Barksdale campaigned in Athens at the University of Georgia.

On Tuesday, Sept. 13, a small group of students and community members gathered in Room 267 of the Zell B. Miller Learning Center to hear an old man wearing his old-fashioned driving cap speak.

“I’m supposed to wear this hat so I’m in character,” he chuckled.

The man was Jim Barksdale, the investment millionaire hoping to shock normal political conventions by defeating U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson in Georgia’s big ticket race this year.

Actually, you’re not supposed to wear a hat indoors unless you’re a lady.

Barksdale is not the only clown to visit Athens, as police have received reports of menacing clowns.Continue Reading..


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 15, 2016

On September 15, 1831, Dr. Samuel Worcester and Dr. Elizur Butler – missionaries – were tried in a Lawrenceville courtroom for living as white people among the Cherokee and refusing to take an oath of loyalty to Georgia, convicted and sentenced to hard labor. Some historians refer to this case, which went to the United States Supreme Court on appeal, as the beginning of the events that led to the forced removal of the Cherokee people from Georgia on the “Trail of Tears.”

HMS Beagle, carrying Charles Darwin, arrived at the Gallapagos Islands on September 15, 1835.

On September 15, 1904, Wilbur Wright made the first in-flight turn in an airplane.

Early on the morning of September 15, 1963, a bomb exploded in the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, killing four young girls.

On September 15, 1996, the Texas Rangers retired #34 in honor of the most dominant pitcher in professional baseball history, Nolan Ryan.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Rest in Peace to Bill Bryant, Jr.,  who died Saturday,“not wanting to witness the results of the 2016 election and after determining nothing on television was worth watching anymore….”

Two Georgians were on Fox Business News fighting back against Hillary calling Trump supporters deplorable.

I hope they’re selling Deplorables t-shirts online now.Continue Reading..