Category: Georgia Politics


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

General James Oglethorpe, founder of Georgia, signed a treaty with the Spanish government of Florida on October 22, 1736.

USS Constitution, named by President George Washington, was launched in Boston Harbor on October 21, 1791.

During the War of 1812, the Constitution won its enduring nickname “Old Ironsides” after defeating the British warship Guerriére in a furious engagement off the coast of Nova Scotia. Witnesses claimed that the British shots merely bounced off the Constitution‘s sides, as if the ship were made of iron rather than wood. The success of the Constitution against the supposedly invincible Royal Navy provided a tremendous morale boost for the young American republic.

Today, Constitution serves as a museum ship, and has sailed under her own power as recently as 2012. Southern live oak, harvested and milled on St. Simons Island, Georgia, is a primary construction material for Constitution.

The United States Senate ratified a treaty with France on October 20, 1805, closing the deal on the Louisiana Purchase.

On October 22, 1832, the Cherokee Land Lottery began in Milledgeville, with more than 200,000 Georgians competing for 53,309 lots of land.

Georgia Governor John B. Gordon signed legislation on October 22, 1887 that increased the number of justices on the Georgia Supreme Court from 3 to 5.

President Grover Cleveland arrived in Atlanta for the Cotton States and International Exposition on October 22, 1895.

On October 20, 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt stopped in Roswell to visit his mother’s girlhood home at Bulloch Hall.

Dizzy Gillespie was born on October 21, 1917 in Cheraw, South Carolina.

President Warren G. Harding spoke in Alabama on October 21, 1921, and publicly condemned the practice of lynching.

Harding was a progressive Republican politician who advocated full civil rights for African Americans and suffrage for women. He supported the Dyer Anti-lynching Bill in 1920. As a presidential candidate that year, he gained support for his views on women’s suffrage, but faced intense opposition on civil rights for blacks. The 1920s was a period of intense racism in the American South, characterized by frequent lynchings. In fact, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) reported that, in 1920, lynching claimed, on average, the lives of two African Americans every week.

Lewis Grizzard was born on October 20, 1946 at Fort Benning, Georgia.

On October 21, 1976, Billy Carter spoke to an audience in Albany, Georgia, about his brother’s campaign for President.

On his brother Jimmy’s drinking habits, Billy said, “Jimmy used to drink liquor. Now he’s running for president he drinks Scotch, and I’ve never trusted a Scotch drinker.” Billy preferred the alcohol choice of his brother’s running mate, Walter Mondale – “I liked him the best of all the ones who came to Plains. He’s from a small town and he’s a beer drinker.”

Today, Billy Carter’s service station is preserved as a museum in Plains, Georgia.

On October 20, 1977, a small twin-engine plane carrying members of Lynyrd Skynyrd from Greenville, South Carolina to Baton Rouge, Louisiana crashed in a swamp in Gillsburg, Mississippi. Singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, vocalist Cassie Gaines, assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray died in the crash.

On October 22, 1991, the Braves played Minnesota in the first World Series game in Atlanta.

The Atlanta Braves won the first game of the 1995 World Series on October 21, 1995, as Greg Maddux dominated the Cleveland Indians, allowing only two hits. Native American groups protested the names of both teams.

The Atlanta Braves won Game 2 of the 1995 World Series, beating Cleveland 4-3, on October 22, 1995.

Georgia artist Howard Finster died on October 22, 2001.

Emory University Library has acquired nine letters hand-written by Barack Obama dating to 1982-84.

Hall County will celebrate its 200th anniversary next year.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Donald Trump invited 7-year old Dalton resident Mackenzie Koger and her family to tour the White House.

On Thursday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders read Mackenzie’s letter during the daily press briefing, inviting the 7-year-old and her family for a personal tour of the White House, lunch at the Navy Mess and to meet Trump — if he’s in town.

“She was just blown away,” Laura Koger said of her daughter, adding she checked her out of school so they could watch the briefing together. “You could just see it. Mouth dropped, she stood still and watched it. She said ‘Momma, we get to go!’ I said ‘We get to go!’ I think me and her both were equally excited. I just love it.”

Mackenzie wrote the letter “because I wanted to tell President Trump how much I appreciate him.” When she listened to Huckabee Sanders read the letter, Mackenzie said “I just thought it was amazing.”

Congressman Rick Allen (R-Augusta) read to pre-K students on Thursday.

Congressman Rick Allen had pre-kindergarten students at The Childcare Network on Wrightsboro Road in the mood for food and reading Thursday morning.

The Augusta native read “The Very Hungry Catepillar” to students and talked about their favorite fruits and vegetables— after all, Allen serves on the House Committee on Agriculture.

Last week was Pre-K Week in the state of Georgia, marking the 25th birthday of the state’s early learning program. Georgia’s Pre-K program has helped put nearly 1.6 million children on track to read at grade level by the end of third grade, and achieve academic excellence and future success.

“By the time you finish the third grade, if you’re not reading at or above a third grade level, it’s likely you’re not going to graduate from high school,” Allen told the students.

Conyers voters will have more hours for early voting using proposed new voting machines.

Rockdale County Elections Supervisor Cynthia Welch said her office is extending hours, 8 a.m. until 7 p.m., the last two days of the early voting period. Extended hours will be available on Thursday, Nov. 2, and Friday, Nov. 3, to attract more voters to use the new machines Rockdale is piloting for the state of Georgia.

Welch said 96 voters had cast ballots in person, while 16 ballots had been issued by mail.

Rockdale was selected to pilot the Voter Express machines to gauge how well a small pool of voters could navigate the new system, said Welch, who projects a 12 percent turnout for Conyers elections. The new system allows voters to review a printed ballot before it is then placed in a tabulator. If a voter makes a mistake on a selection, he or she may turn in the ballot, receive a new one and start over.

Early voting for the Conyers elections is only available at 1400 Parker Road.

To confirm voter registration and for more information, Rockdale voters may call 770-278-7333.

Georgia Senate Appropriations Chair Jack Hill (R-Reidsville) writes about state revenues and expenses in the Savannah Morning News. Here are a couple tidbits.

With revenues reaching $2.1 billion for September, the state returned to positive territory with a 3.1 percent increase. Individual income taxes grew 3.6 percent for the month and net sales taxes grew 3 percent. Corporate income taxes were up 8.8 percent and title ad valorem taxes were down -11.3 percent. Title and tag fees were up slightly at 0.4 percent.

Motor fuel taxes were up 3.9 percent with impact fees negative at -15.7 percent, but hotel/motel fees were up 3.9 percent. Altogether, taxes and fees dedicated to transportation were up $6.3 million or 3.82 percent. Tobacco taxes were negative at -4.5 percent and alcoholic beverage taxes grew 3.6 percent.

After three months of the FY 2018 fiscal year, state revenues have taken in $5.5 billion, showing an increase of $171.4 million ahead of the same three months last year with a percentage growth of 3.2 percent. Compared to the budget passed this March, the state is $44.6 million ahead in collections to this point.

Savannah’s port is the largest trading partner of the Panama Canal and has had some 20 post-Panamax ships call on the port. Savannah’s port is the No. 1 port in the country for the number of ship calls per week. The port handles 8.2 percent of the total U.S. containerized cargo and 10.5 percent of the total U.S. containerized exports.

Warner Robins City Council candidates spoke to the Macon Telegraph.

Cartersville City Council candidates spoke to WBHF Radio.

Port Wentworth City Council candidates addressed a forum sponsored by the local Chamber of Commerce.

Thunderbolt voters heard from eleven candidates for Mayor and City Council.

The Red & Black looks at campaign contributions in local State House special election campaigns.

As for the District 117’s candidates, Republican Houston Gaines and Democrat Deborah Gonzalez, have reported their campaign contributions. Both were required to report contributions to the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission in July.

In Gaines’ corner, there is a contribution total of $66,136.33 supports his efforts, whereas Gonzalez’s total rests at $7,451.25.

Gaines’ support comes from donors both within Athens beyond.

He has received donations from University of Georgia professors, the assistant Athletic Director of marketing for the Georgia Athletic Association John Bateman Jr., Vice President of Student Affairs Victor Wilson and Athens Mayor Nancy Denson.

Beyond that, Edward John Flythe, the Superior Court Judge in Augusta has donated to Gaines campaign, as well as Paul Amos, the president of Aflac.

The majority of Gonzalez’s donors tend to remain in Athens, with support coming from UGA professors and locals.

Gwinnett County Transit buses will feature wi-fi after the commission approved spending $318k on installation.

The DeKalb County Republican Party will host Lt. Gov. candidate David Shafer at their October breakfast at Wright’s Gourmet tomorrow from 8:30 to 10 AM. On Sunday the DeKalb GOP will host a fundraiser for Rep. Karen Handel.

Look, Up In the Sky!

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels will perform at the Wings over North Georgia air show in Rome this weekend.

The unit has a decidedly Peach State flavor this year.

Cmdr. Frank Weisser USN, a native of Atlanta, pilots Blue Angel Five, the lead solo; and Lt. Tyler Davies USN of Kennesaw, pilots Blue Angel Six, the other solo performer.

Maj. Mark Montgomery of Cartersville, USMC, pilots the C-130 ‘Fat Albert’ airlift craft; however, it will not be in Rome this year, having been grounded as part of the investigation into the crash of a similar aircraft that took the lives of 16 Marines in Mississippi in July.

The Blue Angels support squad includes four other Georgians, including AD1 Shane Miller from Woodbine, AM2 Demaude Prescott from Atlanta, AM1 Daniel Yater from Dacula and AM2 Michael McDuffie from Blackshear.


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

British General Charles Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington at Yorktown, Virginia on October 19, 1781,  ending the American Revolution.

On October 19, 1790, Lyman Hall, one of three signers of the Declaration of Independence from Georgia, died in Burke County, GA. Hall was elected Governor of Georgia in 1783, holding the position for one year, and was an early advocate for the chartering of the University of Georgia.

On October 19, 1983, the United States Senate voted 78-22 to create a federal holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., to be celebrated on the third Monday of January. The House passed the King holiday bill, sponsored by Reps. Katie Hall (D.-IN) and Jack Kemp (R-NY), by a vote of 338-90 in August. President Ronald Reagan signed the legislation on November 3, 1983.

Gwinnett County will host the Ninth Annual Frontier Faire this Saturday from 10 AM to 5 PM at the Fort Daniel Historic Monument, 2505 Braselton Highway in Buford.

The faire is staged each year by the Fort Daniel Foundation and the Gwinnett Archaeological Research Society.

“You get a chance to see archaeology, or the rediscovery of history, in action,” Frontier Faire publicity official Eli Stancel said. “It’s more than just a sign on the side of the road. You actually get to touch and feel, and see how we go through the process of discovering things.”

This year’s event will feature a special ribbon cutting — or more likely a “rope cutting” to be more true to the period — that will be held at 10 a.m., on the spot where the original gate for the War of 1812 era fort was located.

Fort Daniel, which sat on Hog Mountain, predated Gwinnett County by about four years and became the staging ground for a road that went to another fort at Standing Peachtree, known as Fort Peachtree. That road, according to officials from the Fort Daniel Foundation and the Gwinnett Archaeological Society, was the original Peachtree Road.

The opening of the replica gate marks the second year in a row that the faire has included the opening for some new feature for the site. Last year’s event featured the opening of the blacksmith’s shop, which is now fully operational and will be open for this year’s festival.

In addition to the ribbon (or rope) cutting, this weekend’s Frontier Faire will also feature many of the event’s traditional hallmarks, such as opportunities for attendees to participate in archaeological excavations, War of 1812 reenactors giving flintlock musket demonstrations, presentations by local members of the Sons of the American Revolution, frontier life demonstrations and Native American food preparation and hominy demonstrations.

Augusta Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge J. Wade Padgett received an award from the Georgia Historical Records Advisory Council for his book on the history of the circuit.

The Georgia Historical Records Advisory Council selected Padgett’s book, “From Court in the Wilderness to Court in the Metropolis: A History of the Augusta Judicial Circuit,” as this year’s recipient for the award. Padgett is to receive the award at a ceremony in Morrow, Ga.

“When I was sworn in as a Superior Court judge, Judge (Bernard) Mulherin gave me a ‘scroll’ with the names of all the judges who had served as Superior Court judges since 1870. I was flattered to be among that number,” and it sparked his interest to learn about those who preceded him on the bench, Padgett wrote in an email.

Padgett started in 2012 with his research from newspaper archives at the Georgia Archives in Atlanta. He focused his project on developing biographical descriptions for every judge, clerk and prosecutor for the Superior, State, Civil and Magistrate, Probate and Juvenile courts in the Augusta Judicial Circuit, which is composed of Richmond, Columbia and Burke counties.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Voter registration for federal elections must remain open until no fewer than 30 days before an election, even for runoffs, under a federal court decree.

A federal judge says Georgia cannot close voter registration for any federal election, including runoff contests, more than 30 days before the election.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Batten in May ordered the registration deadline extended to 30 days before the June runoff election. The consent decree filed Tuesday applies that to all federal elections and runoffs.

Liberty Plaza across from the Georgia State Capitol will be reworked under an RFQ issued this week.

The plan is to demolish a parking deck and utility bridge located between Liberty Plaza and the Downtown Connector and replace those structures with an extension of Capitol Square to the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Jesse Hill Jr. Drive, according to an RFQ released by the Georgia State Financing & Investment Commission (GSFIC).

The extension may create a four-lane street with two lanes in each direction and sidewalk improvements along the east edge of Liberty Plaza. Other upgrades to existing intersections at the site would include traffic signals, crosswalks and pedestrian refuge islands.

The main purpose of the project is to provide an alternate route around Liberty Plaza, allowing traffic to be routed around the plaza during large events when Capitol Police may want to close Capitol Avenue.

Kennesaw State University President Sam Olens came under pressure from a local State Representative and the Cobb County Sheriff, according to the Marietta Daily Journal.Continue Reading..


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

The Mason-Dixon line separating Pennsylvania from Maryland was established on October 18, 1767.

In 1760, tired of border violence between the colonies’ settlers, the British crown demanded that the parties involved hold to an agreement reached in 1732. As part of Maryland and Pennsylvania’s adherence to this royal command, Mason and Dixon were asked to determine the exact whereabouts of the boundary between the two colonies. Though both colonies claimed the area between the 39th and 40th parallel, what is now referred to as the Mason-Dixon line finally settled the boundary at a northern latitude of 39 degrees and 43 minutes. The line was marked using stones, with Pennsylvania’s crest on one side and Maryland’s on the other.

Twenty years later, in late 1700s, the states south of the Mason-Dixon line would begin arguing for the perpetuation of slavery in the new United States while those north of line hoped to phase out the ownership of human chattel. This period, which historians consider the era of “The New Republic,” drew to a close with the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which accepted the states south of the line as slave-holding and those north of the line as free. The compromise, along with those that followed it, eventually failed.

On October 18, 1867, the United States took over Alaska from Russia and ran up Old Glory there for the first time.

Separated from the far eastern edge of the Russian empire by only the narrow Bering Strait, the Russians had been the first Europeans to significantly explore and develop Alaska.

Seeing the giant Alaska territory as a chance to cheaply expand the size of the nation, William H. Seward, President Andrew Johnson‘s secretary of state, moved to arrange the purchase of Alaska. Agreeing to pay a mere $7 million for some 591,000 square miles of land-a territory twice the size of Texas and equal to nearly a fifth of the continental United States-Seward secured the purchase of Alaska at the ridiculously low rate of less than 2¢ an acre.

On October 18, 1870, Rockdale and McDuffie Counties were created when Georgia Governor Rufus Bullock signed legislation creating them.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

State Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer (R-Duluth) will kick off his campaign for Lieutenant Governor this Sunday from 2-4 PM at the Atlanta Coliseum, (formerly Wild Bill’s). Click here to R.s.v.p.

Shafer Campaign Kick Off Website

Governor Nathan Deal appointed Virginia Pryor as Interim Director of the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services, as current Director Bobby Cagle will leave the post.

“We have no greater responsibility than caring for Georgia’s most vulnerable citizens,” said Deal. “It is imperative that we work to ensure that each child is safe and has the best possible opportunity for a good life. Virginia Pryor has been a longtime advocate for the wellbeing of children and she has already played a vital role in the administration of DFCS. I am confident that she will serve our state well as interim director. I am grateful for Director Cagle’s efforts as he helped move DFCS forward in a number of ways while protecting the interests of many young Georgians. I wish him well in his next endeavor to serve Los Angeles County.”

Former Georgia Governor and U.S. Senator Zell Miller will no longer appear in public, according to the AJC Political Insider.

The 85-year-old former Georgia governor and U.S. senator, though frail, rests comfortably in the rock house on Miller Street that his widowed mother built in the mountain town of Young Harris. Shirley Miller, his wife of 63 years, is there — as always.

But his family has declared that the former governor’s public life is at an end. There will be no more speeches, no more appearances. Visitations are restricted to close family members.

“Zell is not experiencing a lot of the tremors, but he is experiencing the cognitive symptoms that are associated with this type of Parkinson’s,” said grandson Bryan Miller, who heads up the Miller Institute – a public policy and leadership organization intended to carry on the legacy of the governor who gave Georgia the HOPE scholarship and pre-k education.

The Miller Institute is now handling all of Governor Miller’s official business, and on Tuesday sent along these thoughts from Shirley Miller:

“We want other families with loved ones suffering from Parkinson’s to know they are not alone,” said Georgia’s former first lady. “We understand the daily challenges that are associated with a disease that has no cure. In times like these, we lean on our faith and believe that there is no challenge too great that we cannot overcome with God’s grace.”

Hall County is in the early stages of considering a Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (T-SPLOST).

A change to state law means Hall County became eligible to create a local sales tax of up to 1 percent to fund transportation projects in addition to existing special purpose local option sales taxes.

A five-year TSPLOST could be spent on resurfacing, rights of way, utility relocation, road, sidewalk and bike path construction, public transit and airports, drainage, patching and shoulder work, culvert repair and stormwater management. The tax revenue could also be used to pay down debt related to any of the other uses.

If commissioners support the idea, the county would be one of nine counties considering the tax. Athens has a popular vote set on a TSPLOST for November, and Bulloch County has a vote in May.

Hall County Planning Director Srikanth Yamala said Tuesday that the county has 12 to 16 months of work ahead of it if commissioners hope to get a referendum on the ballot. The earliest a vote could occur is 2018, if not 2019, he said.

“The county is not looking at any solid referendum date. There’s a lot of additional (work) that needs to happen between now and when the board wants to take that route,” Yamala said. “… The county and cities at some point need to come to the table and see if this is something that we even want to consider (doing).”

Gainesville Police are working to deploy drones.

“I believe the goal for the department is to have one officer on shift that will have the ability to deploy it where it’s needed,” [Gainesville Police Department Officer Doug] Whiddon said.

The Federal Aviation Administration certified Whiddon as a small unmanned aircraft flyer at the beginning of October, as the department is in its infancy with unmanned aircraft.

Whiddon said its main function will be for personnel safety, but it has enormous potential in terms of search-and-rescue missions.

“Missing children and things of that nature, we’re able to put this in the air quickly and see a greater distance,” Sgt. Kevin Holbrook said.

The drone can be airborne in four minutes, a fraction of the time to get a boat in Lake Lanier or walking out in Chicopee.

“Obviously we’re going to be very careful with flying over residential type airspace in terms of privacy, but in general, unless we’re near a controlled airspace … if it’s Class G [airspace], it’s fair game,” Whiddon said.

Gwinnett County Commission Chair Charlotte Nash endorsed Republican Matt Reeves for Senate in District 48.

Reeves’ campaign announced that Gwinnett County Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash endorsed the political newcomer Sunday during a fundraiser at Sugarloaf Country Club. Nash was listed as a headliner at the fundraiser.

“Nash expressed to Reeves’ Sugarloaf and Peachtree Ridge area supporters the need to have a proven, local leader who understands the issues important to Gwinnett like Matt Reeves at the State Capitol to continue to move our community forward,” the campaign said in a statement.

Reeves also announced he had picked up endorsements from Johns Creek City Councilman Jay Lin, Gwinnett County Solicitor General Rosanna Szabo, Duluth City Councilman Greg Whitlock, Duluth Mayor Nancy Harris, Suwanee Mayor Jimmy Burnette, Peachtree Corners Mayor Mike Mason, Gwinnett County Commissioner Jace Brooks, state reps. Brooks Coleman and Scott Hilton and former state Sen. Dan Moody.

The Georgia Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and Muscogee County Superior Court decision on whether a retirement community qualifies for a property tax exemption.

The Supreme Court sent the case back to the lower courts.

“We are still trying to study the opinion and get a grip on what will happen next,” said Randy Lomax, an attorney for the Board of Tax Assessors. “It is not over.”

Though it is not over, it was the first battle victory recorded in the ongoing legal war for the Board of Tax Assessors in its bid to get the property on the city tax rolls.

Andrew A. Rothschild, who represents the Medical Center Hospital Authority, agreed that the case is not over. Though the Supreme Court appeared to send the case back to the Appeals Court, Rothschild in a prepared statement said it would be removed back to Muscogee County Superior Court.

“The Georgia Supreme Court has returned the case to the Superior Court for additional findings,” Rothschild said. “The Georgia Supreme Court has absolutely not ruled that any property taxes are owed by the Medical Center Hospital Authority. We are firm in our position on this matter, and it would be unwise to comment further on this pending litigation.”

Superior Court Judge Art Smith ruled in favor of the Hospital Authority, stating that its “property interest in the facilities and improvements constituting Spring Harbor qualifies as public property, and therefore, it is exempt from ad valorem property taxation,” according to the news release from the Supreme Court. Specifically, the trial court ruled that, “the validity of Plaintiff Hospital Authority’s property interest in Spring Harbor under the ground lease, and the validity of the ground lease itself, has been established by the Superior Court of Muscogee County in two separate bond validation orders, one in 2004 and another in 2007.”

Eric Thomas has been chosen as the top candidate for Chief Turnaround Officer for the Georgia Department of Education.

They were interviewing in downtown Atlanta because of House Bill 338, which passed along bipartisan lines during this year’s legislative session. Gov. Nathan Deal readily signed it, after backing the bill as a comeback from a political miscalculation. Last year, he hoped voters would let him create a statewide “Opportunity School District” with authority to take over schools deemed “chronically failing,” but they rejected his constitutional amendment in November, preferring to keep schools under local control.

HB 338 requires a more collaborative approach, though school districts could still lose control of schools that do not improve. That puts the turnaround chief in a delicate position, as both the person targeting schools for state intervention and an ally coaching them to improve enough to avoid that fate.

Thomas, is chief support officer of the University of Virginia’s turnaround program, and works with schools across the country.

People who interviewed him said he possessed a winning combination of expertise and the ability to articulate a vision to different audiences.

Glynn County Commissioners heard a proposal for ferry service between St Simons Island and Jekyll Island.

The Glynn County Board of Elections announced the hiring of Monica Couch as Director of Elections.

Dalton State College students heard from local candidates in a public forum.

Macon-Bibb County will hire Troutman Sanders to advise the county on a proposed sales tax referendum to rollback property tax millage rates and freeze property tax values.

Commissioners are proposing the new tax after the millage rate increased 3-mills this year. The amount of revenue taken in from the local option sales tax would determine the extent of the property tax rollback.

“In looking for ways to provide additional property tax relief to its citizens, the Macon-Bibb County Commission is interested in learning more about the legal requirements for implementing (the new sales tax) in Macon-Bibb County,” the resolution said.

The County Commission would still need to request that state legislators OK a tax referendum, which would go before Bibb voters in November 2018.

The new tax would go into effect in 2019, and a millage rate rollback would occur in 2020.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 17, 2017

Five thousand British and Hessian troops surrendered to patriot militia on October 17, 1777, ending the Second Battle of Saratoga, and leading to France recognizing American independence and sending military aid.

An editorial published pseudononymously by Alexander Hamilton on October 17, 1796, accused Thomas Jefferson, then a Presidential candidate, of having an affair with a slave.

Happy birthday to the Texas Rangers, created on October 17, 1835.

In the midst of their revolt against Mexico, Texan leaders felt they needed a semi-official force of armed men who would defend the isolated frontier settlers of the Lone Star Republic against both Santa Ana’s soldiers and hostile Indians; the Texas Rangers filled this role. But after winning their revolutionary war with Mexico the following year, Texans decided to keep the Rangers, both to defend against Indian and Mexican raiders and to serve as the principal law enforcement authority along the sparsely populated Texan frontier.

Paul Anderson, known as the “World’s Strongest Man,” was born in Toccoa, Georgia on October 17, 1932. From his New York Times obituary:

As the unknown substitute for the injured American champion at the first Soviet-American dual athletic competition, in Moscow in 1955, the 5-foot-9-inch Anderson was scorned by his hosts.

The scorn turned to snickers when Anderson called for a weight of 402.4 pounds, more than 20 pounds above the world record. The snickers stopped when the 340-pound Anderson lifted the weight. By the time he set another record, in the clean and jerk, he was being hailed by Soviet fans.

The stunning achievement at the height of the Cold War made Anderson an instant American hero, and it was largely an anticlimax when he set three more world records at the world championships in Munich, Germany, later that year.

Although virtually conceded the gold medal at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia, Anderson was stricken with a severe inner-ear infection.

Competing at 304 pounds and with a 103-degree fever, he fell so far behind his chief rival that on the final of three required lifts, he needed to clean and jerk 413.5 pounds, an Olympic record, to claim the gold. Twice he tried and failed. On the third attempt he asked God for a little extra help and got it.

“It wasn’t making a bargain,” he said later, “I needed help.”

Paul Anderson Memorial Park in Toccoa is a private park supported by a 501(c)(3) organization.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Fulton County will extend voting by one hour on November 7.

The Fulton County Superior Court has granted a petition filed by the county to extend Election Day voting by one hour at its polls. The petition was filed by the Fulton County Attorney’s Office on behalf of the county’s Board of Registration and Elections.

The petition allows the county to match the voting time frame provided to the city of Atlanta for its municipal elections, meaning all county polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7. Fulton Elections Director Richard Barron said the office requested to change the hours of operations in an effort to have all polls open and close on a consistent basis.

New voting machines being demoed in Conyers made it through the first day of early voting.

More than a dozen voters have used new paper-ballot voting machines in Conyers with no reported problems, the first step of a new pilot program to test the machines in Georgia.

“It’s fair to say we’re excited to get the ball rolling and partner with a good elections office and give voters a preview of what the future of voting may look like,” said Chris Harvey, Georgia’s elections director.

The National Infantry Museum in Columbus, Georgia dedicated a memorial to the Global War on Terrorism.

Gen. John Abizaid, a retired four-star general who was the longest serving commander of the U.S. Central Command and directed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, was a driving force behind the planning and fundraising for the $2 million memorial.

“How fitting that this living memorial is dedicated here at Fort Benning and in the city of Columbus, where for so many years so many of these soldiers have ventured forth to fight our nation’s wars,” Abizaid said. “Some of us have seen the carnage of war and understand how devastating the cost can be. Yet all of us understand that our freedoms are not free and the courage, commitment and dedication are necessary to secure the common good.”

Abizaid asked a profound question Monday during his keynote address at the dedication, which was attended by about 3,000 people, many of them uniformed Fort Benning soldiers.

“What would our country be without such men and women who gave their lives in service to our nation?” the general asked. “All of us can answer in different ways, for we are citizens of a nation that admires diversity of thought, thrives on individual freedoms, that seeks many answers for even the most simple of problems. Yet all of us must admit, except for those who fight for such rights, none of us could expect to enjoy them.”

The detail in the memorial, which is in a plaza on the side of the National Infantry Museum, is what struck many on Monday. It incorporates a piece of the World Trade Center’s north tower.

The Georgia Supreme Court dismissed a challenge by two Cartersville doctors to the state’s Certificate of Need program.

The high court held that the Certificate of Need (CON) law serves a legitimate state interest in ensuring that health care services are distributed reasonably and economically. It also said the law does not violate the Georgia Constitution’s “Anti-Competitive Contracts Clause.”

The court upheld rulings by a Fulton County judge who first refused to dismiss the case on the administrative appeals grounds, then several months later tossed it, ruling that the law is not unconstitutional.

As detailed in court filings and Melton’s order, the case began in 2014, when Drs. Hugo Ribot Jr. and Malcolm Barfield wanted to add a second operating room to their business, which does business as Georgia Advanced Surgery Center for Women in Cartersville.

Georgia’s CON law, first passed in 1979, requires hospitals and certain other medical providers to obtain the clearance before opening a new facility, expanding or adding certain medical equipment.

The complaint sought declaratory and injunctive relief, asking that the CON law be declared unconstitutional, arguing that it restrained competition and limited patient choice.

But the center’s claims that the CON law violates the due process clauses of the federal and state constitutions and the state’s Anti-Competitive Contracts clause “are without merit,” Melton wrote.

From the AJC:

“Georgia’s certificate of need laws play a critical role in ensuring access to quality care, including emergency services, for all Georgians by providing for a statewide distribution of hospitals and other medical facilities,” said Monty Veazey, the president and CEO of the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals.

Disclosure: I work on communications issues for the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals.

A Georgia Senate Study Committee met in Augusta yesterday to discuss how to increase the number of health care providers in Georgia.

With a lack of health care providers in Georgia, the state could increase access by turning out more advanced practice nurses and using them in more innovative ways, a Georgia Senate Study Committee heard Monday. But the state’s physician association is still strongly opposed to nurses doing more, a resistance that may finally be overcome in the next legislative session, a key state senator said.

The Senate Study Committee on Barriers to Georgians’ Access to Adequate Healthcare held a session at Augusta University to hear about the role of advanced practice nurses in the state in meeting many of those gaps of care and where more could be done.

Medical Association of Georgia opposes expanding their scope of practice and one member said it is for the good of the patients, particularly the rural patients he sees.

“These patients are very complex,” said Dr. Scott Bohlke of Brooklet, Ga., a past president of the group. “We want the best care for these patients and I think a team approach (with the nurse practitioner) is the best way to do it.”

But Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, chair of the study committee and chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, was not buying it.

“If you want to provide care to more people, why don’t you allow the people who are taught and educated to practice at their highest level?” she said. “If you have more people practicing medicine, then it allows more access to care. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure this out.”

The College of Nursing also has a proposal, in concert with Medical College of Georgia, to take highly trained nurse practitioners and train them alongside Emergency Medicine residents and also provide training in telemedicine. Those nurse practitioners could then staff rural Emergency Departments with the ability to consult by telemedicine with colleagues in Emergency Medicine when needed, said Dr. Beth NeSmith, chair of the Department of Physiological and Technological Nursing.

The project is looking for $260,000 to fund a pilot program but projects it could save a hospital $500,000, NeSmith said. She is hoping the legislature will take a look at it.

“That’s a great suggestion,” Unterman said.

“Rural hospitals in Georgia really struggle to provide urgent and emergent care to the citizens they serve,” NeSmith said.

Sixteen thousand Northwest Georgia residents buy their health insurance through the federal exchange.

More than 3,500 Floyd County residents buy their insurance through the state’s Affordable Care Act exchange, according to data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Another 12,800 are enrolled in the six surrounding Northwest Georgia counties of Chattooga, Polk, Bartow, Gordon, Catoosa and Walker.

President Donald Trump announced last week that he would stop making key subsidy payments to insurers — although the full effect on the 2018 ACA coverage that starts Nov. 1 remains unclear.

Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgen’s office has approved rate hikes of more than 50 percent for three of the state’s four insurers, in anticipation of losing the CSR payments, Georgia Health News is reporting. Kaiser Foundation Health sought a 30-percent increase but officials there are now weighing their options.

Southern Company sold several local natural gas companies in New Jersey for $1.7 billion.

A surveyor has been ordered to testify in a border dispute between Macon-Bibb County and Monroe County.

Sprint will provide wireless internet to 500 students in Richmond County public schools.

The school system is among 118 school districts to receive devices from Sprint to assist high school students in need of internet access in their homes. Fort the next five years, students who lack access will receive a free tablet device and wireless service as part of 1Million.

Sprint created the initiative to help close the homework gap by providing 1 million free devices and wireless service to high school students. Richmond County was selected as one of three school systems statewide and is expected to receive up to 600 devices.

“All high schools in the county were submitted on the basis of need,” said James Lunsford, the district’s director of information and technology . “So if they don’t have internet at home or a computer at home Sprint will accommodate (the need).”

The Augusta Commission is working on a 2018 budget that includes raises for some law enforcement officers.

Several commissioners reported they heard a radio promotion several times over the last few days in which a spokesman describes the heavy workload and low salaries endured by sheriff’s deputies, followed by a demand that Jackson include the raises in the budget.

Commissioner Marion Williams said the radio spot admonishes “the administrator” to “do the right thing” by including the raises.

[Sheriff Richard] Roundtree pitched two plans for increasing his staff’s pay in August. One cost $2.8 million, gives all certified and sworn deputies 10 percent raises and increases a starting deputy’s salary from $34,629 to $40,292. A second option costs $2.7 million and gives most certified personnel eight percent raises, with a starting salary of $39,500.

The City of Valdosta held its second annual Affordable Housing Summit and Town Hall.

Charlie Daniels Band will play the Macon Auditorium on March 22, 2018.

Candidates for Dalton City Council and Board of Education discussed diversity issues at a candidate forum.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Hispanics now make up 47.9 percent of the city’s population and blacks 8 percent of the population. And several questions at the forum — hosted by the Concerned Citizens of Dalton, the Coalition of Latino Leaders, the Dalton-Whitfield NAACP and the Woman’s Community Club — focused on how candidates in the Nov. 7 races for the board of education and City Council would help the city deal with this diversity.

Savannah City Alderman Van Johnson proposed reducing penalties for marijuana possession.

On Monday, Alderman Van Johnson announced his intention to reduce the penalty for misdemeanor marijuana possession. It is his intention, Johnson said, to present an ordinance within 45 days to the Savannah City Council to eliminate jail time and and reduce the maximum fine from $1,000 to $150 for those caught with less than one ounce of marijuana in the city limits. He proposed that 20 percent of the fines collected be earmarked to offset the cost of drug treatment for those who seek it.

The proposal does not minimize the fact that marijuana is still illegal in Georgia and does not decriminalize it, which is not allowed under the state law, Johnson said.

“It’s still illegal and will remain illegal,” he said. “The question is how it is handled locally.”

Mayor Eddie DeLoach said he is open to discussing the proposal with Johnson and the rest of the council, but that his support for the change would depend on the recommendation of local law enforcement officials such as the police chief, sheriff and district attorney.

“I do trust their judgment,” DeLoach said.


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

The Pennsylvania Gazette published a criticism against the British Tea Act on October 16, 1773.

The Tea Act of 1773 was a bill designed to save the faltering British East India Company by greatly lowering its tea tax and granting it a virtual monopoly on the American tea trade. The low tax allowed the company to undercut even tea smuggled into America by Dutch traders, and many colonists viewed the act as yet another example of taxation tyranny. In response, the “Philadelphia Resolutions” called the British tax upon America unfair and said that it introduced “arbitrary government and slavery” upon the American citizens. The resolutions urged all Americans to oppose the British tax and stated that anyone who transported, sold or consumed the taxed tea would be considered “an enemy to his country.”

On October 16, 1854, Abraham Lincoln, a candidate for Congress, spoke against the Kansas-Nebraska Act and called the practice of slavery “immoral.”

Lincoln, who was practicing law at the time, campaigned on behalf of abolitionist Republicans in Illinois and attacked the Kansas-Nebraska Act. He denounced members of the Democratic Party for backing a law that “assumes there can be moral right in the enslaving of one man by another.” He believed that the law went against the founding American principle that “all men are created equal.”

On October 16, 1918, visitors to the Southeastern Fair at the Lakewood Fairgrounds were required by the Georgia State Board of Health to don face masks in order to prevent the spread of the Spanish flu.

Maynard Jackson was elected Mayor of Atlanta on October 16, 1973. Jackson was the first African-Amercian Mayor of Atlanta; he served eight years, and was elected for a third, non-consecutive term in 1990.

On October 16, 1976, Jimmy Carter campaigned in Youngstown, Ohio.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Today is the opening of early voting in some municipalities in Georgia. Click here to find early voting information for your county.

Conyers voters will cast their ballots on new machines that create a paper trail.Continue Reading..


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

Friday, October 15, 1582 marked the beginning of the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar – the previous day was Thursday, October 4th.

On October 14, 1735, John and Charles Wesley sailed with James Oglethorpe from Gravesend, England, for Georgiaand John Wesley wrote the first entry in his journal that would eventually cover 55 years. On that date, John Wesley wrote,

Our end in leaving our native country, was not to avoid want, (God having given us plenty of temporal blessings,) nor to gain the dung or dross of riches or honour; but singly this, to save our souls; to live wholly to the glory of God.

The First Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Colonial Rights in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 14, 1774.

George Washington left New York, the nation’s capitol, on October 15, 1789, embarking upon the first Presidential tour to New England.

The world’s first combat submarine, CSS Hunley, sunk during testing in Charleston Harbor on October 15, 1863.

On October 13, 1870, Governor Rufus Bullock signed legislation creating the Georgia State Board of Education.

On October 13, 1885, Governor Henry McDaniel signed legislation authorizing the creation of a state school of technology as a branch of the University of Georgia; the school would open in Atlanta in October 1888, and in 1948 was renamed the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Then-former President Theodore Roosevelt was shot before a campaign speech in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on October 14, 1912.

Roosevelt, who suffered only a flesh wound from the attack, went on to deliver his scheduled speech with the bullet still in his body. After a few words, the former “Rough Rider” pulled the torn and bloodstained manuscript from his breast pocket and declared, “You see, it takes more than one bullet to kill a Bull Moose.” He spoke for nearly an hour and then was rushed to the hospital.

On October 13, 1918, the ban on public gatherings in Atlanta to prevent spread of the Spanish flu, was extended an additional week.

The 20th Amendment to the United States Constitution took effect October 15, 1933, changing the Presidential term of office to begin and end on January 20th following each quadrennial election and Senate and Congress to January 3d following biennial elections, both from March 4th.

The War Department renamed Wellston Air Depot to Warner Robins Air Force Depot to honor Brigadier General Augustine Warner Robins on October 14, 1942.

Billy Graham launched his national ministry on October 15, 1949 in Los Angeles, California.

On October 14, 1964, Martin Luther King, Jr. was announced as the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, becoming Georgia’s first native-born winner.

On October 15, 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed legislation creating the United States Department of Transportation. May God have mercy upon his soul.

Interstate 285 around Atlanta was completed on October 15, 1969.

The Omni opened in Atlanta on  October 15, 1972, as the Hawks beat the New York Knicks by a score of 109-101.

On December 13, 1976, Democrat Jimmy Carter received a post-debate bump against President Gerald Ford, with polls showing Carter at 50%-40% over the incumbent, up from 47%-45% before the debate.

On October 14, 1980, Republican candidate for President Ronald Reagan announced he would name a woman to the Supreme Court if elected.

To achieve those ends, we need the best people possible at the highest levels of Government regardless of sex, race or religion. I am also acutely aware, however, that within the guidelines of excellence, appointments can carry enormous symbolic significance. This permits us to guide by example, to show how deep our commitment is and to give meaning to what we profess.

One way I intend to live up to that commitment is to appoint a woman to the Supreme Court. I am announcing today that one of the first Supreme Court vacancies in my administration will be filled by the most qualified woman I can find, one who meets the high standards I will demand for all my appointments.

It is time for a woman to sit among our highest jurists. I will also seek out women to appoint to other Federal courts in an effort to bring about a better balance on the Federal bench.

Former Secretary General of the Communist Party of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev won the Nobel Peace Prize on October 15, 1990.

Georgia-born Clarence Thomas was confirmed as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court on October 15, 1991.

On October 15, 2014, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie came to Georgia to support Gov. Nathan Deal’s reelection.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal has ordered flags on state properties to be flown at half-staff today in honor of United States Army Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright of Lyons, Georgia, who lost his life in the service of our country on October 4, 2017.

Gov. Deal said in Savannah that the federal government should step up with more funding for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project.

“We need the federal government to step up and do their share of what it takes to deepen our harbor,” Deal told about 1,400 people as he introduced the Georgia Ports Authority’s chief executive to give his annual “State of the Ports” speech. Deal said the state wants “more money from the federal government to go ahead and allow us to complete this project in a timely fashion.”

Deal’s renewed plea for federal dollars — he made similar statements when President Barack Obama was in office — comes after a year of explosive growth at the Port of Savannah, the nation’s fourth-busiest seaport for metal containers used to ship retail goods from consumer electronics to frozen chickens.

Trump’s request of $50 million for the Savannah project is about 17 percent more than Obama secured in his last budget. But [Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Griff] Lynch said he fears delays starting in 2019 if the project doesn’t see a substantial funding increase.

“We’re going to need $80 to $100 million (annually) or we’re going to start having shortfalls,” Lynch said.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue criticized allowing able-bodied people to receive food stamps.

Speaking at the WSJ Global Food Forum on Tuesday, Mr. Perdue said that relying on food stamps has become a “lifestyle” for some able-bodied adults.

“We want the people who need the help to get it,” said Mr. Perdue, adding that the benefit shouldn’t be “the whole enchilada” of a family’s food security.

He suggested that enrollment in the program would fall if individuals who are able to work are restricted from using it.

State Senator Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) has resigned from his job at the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce to start a new job as executive director of the North Fulton Community Improvement District.

Grovetown Mayor Gary Jones is accused of bullying by a political opponent.

Grovetown Mayor Gary Jones is standing behind a politically charged Facebook post he called “exposure” of two candidates running for city council, prompting one to say she felt bullied by him.

The post, which has since been removed from Jones’ Facebook page, accuses incumbent Vickie Cook and candidate Deborah Fisher of “teaming up,” to unseat the historical swing vote on the council, Sylvia Martin, who is also seeking re-election. There are two open seats on the four-member council.

Fisher expressed disappointment and surprise at the comment in an email Thursday and said she has never been bullied, but felt she was now. Fisher said she has no connection with Cook and has only met Jones at a city council meeting and at Tuesday’s candidate forum.

Candidates for Braselton Town Council Post 4 agree that public safety should be a focus.

“There’s not a lot of patrol at night,” said Robert Clark. “And we’ve had a lot of issues with theft of trucks … and a lot of kids have been vandalizing.”

“I’m definitely for more cops and (a bigger) budget for the police station. If we can tax some of these bigger companies coming in, it’ll really help out and maybe we can spend that (extra revenue) toward patrols and safety.”

Hardy Johnson said that “when you have growth, crimes rates naturally increase, and we want to create an environment in Braselton where you can live, work and play.”

“It’s important to support the police department. They need adequate training, adequate equipment (and) adequate staffing levels.”

The Macon Telegraph writes about early voting in Middle Georgia municipal elections.

Early voting begins Monday in several Middle Georgia cities holding elections.

It will run Monday through Friday until Nov. 3 at each location. The election is Nov. 7.

In Warner Robins, which has contested races for mayor and two council seats on the ballot, early voting will be at City Hall at 700 Watson Blvd. in the pre-council meeting room, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

Early voting also begins Monday for Thomas County voters.

In Thomas County, folks in Boston, Barwick, Coolidge, Meigs, Ochlocknee, Pavo, and Thomasville all have an important decision to make, who will be the next leaders in their community.

Folks in Boston, Barwick, Coolidge, and Meigs are voting for council members and mayor.

Ochlocknee, Pavo, and Thomasville residents are voting for several new council members.

Ringgold voters may begin casting early ballots for City Council on Monday

The Rome News-Tribune profiles candidates for the Rome Board of Education.

The Valdosta Board of Education is considering a solar proposal.

The three possible solar-array locations presented were at Pinevale Elementary, the Transportation Center and at the new Valdosta High School. However, Dr. Todd Cason, superintendent, said the location at the new high school was most likely not an option but the other two locations would be considered.

Radiance Solar’s proposed 840-kilowatt solar array at Pinevale would provide VCS $16,800 each year during the 25-year lease. Connell said the STEM students at Pinevale could benefit academically from the solar array.

“I think it would be a wonderful learning opportunity for the children of the school to see solar working right there at their school,” Connell said.

The 2.4-megawatt solar array recommendation at the Transportation Center would provide VCS with $50,000 each year during the 25-year lease, Connell said.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 12, 2016

Former Confederate President Alexander Stephens was released from federal prison on October 12, 1865 and returned to Georgia.

1929 UGA vs Yale Tix

The first game in Sanford Stadium was played on October 12, 1929, with the University of Georgia Bulldogs beating the Yale Bulldogs. Here is ten minutes of the game.


On October 12, 1958, The Temple was bombed after a phone call to WSB warned that Black churches and Jewish temples would be blown up.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal issued an Executive Order naming a commission to review charges against Snellville Mayor Tom Witts and yesterday suspended Witts from office.

Gov. Deal lauded Gwinnett County’s water management programs.Continue Reading..


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 11, 2017

Casimir Pulaski, a Polish aristocrat who fought with the colonists in the American Revolution, died in Savannah on October 11, 1779.

Former Georgia Governor and President of the United States Jimmy Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on October 11, 2002.

Bobby Cox managed his last game in Game Four of the NLDS on October 11, 2010.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the water dispute between Georgia and Florida.

In an order issued Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would hear arguments in the long-running “tri-state water wars” case involving Florida and Georgia — a case that has already run up astronomical legal bills for both states.

The high court did not say when it would hear oral arguments, except to say they would be scheduled “in due course.” The court’s current term began last week and will extend through next June or July.

The tri-state water wars, involving not just Florida and Georgia but also Alabama, have been going on since 1990. All three states lay claim to the water flowing through the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee and Flint River Basin. Georgia needs it for the thirsty residents of growing Atlanta. Alabama needs it for the power plants built along the river. And Florida needs it to keep its famed Apalachicola oyster industry going.

Suits between two states go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the court did agree to hear it in 2014. But the justices sent the two sides to a special master to hear the case and make a recommendation. In February, after five weeks of testimony and more than three years of proceedings, the special master ruled for Georgia.

Florida, which has spent nearly $100 million on the case, objected to the special master’s ruling, and so it will at last face Georgia, which has spent $30 million, in front of the the black-robed justices sometime in the next eight months.

From the Daily Report:

Georgia’s outside counsel for the trial before the special master was Kirkland & Ellis in Washington. The winning team included Craig Primis, K. Winn Allen and Devora Allon. This piece of the war alone covered two years of discovery, 100 depositions, testimony from 30 experts and a five-week trial in Maine.

Kirkland & Ellis referred questions to Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr.

Carr said by email Tuesday: “We look forward to vigorously defending Georgia’s interests in the next step of this process.”

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said, “We are pleased the Supreme Court granted oral argument and look forward to presenting our arguments in court.”

Whatever the high court does with this case may not conclude the dispute between the neighboring states. Lancaster’s report noted that big farm operations in the rural southern end of the Georgia have been allowed to drastically increase irrigation with no effectively enforced limits.

State Senator Hunter Hill (R-Atlanta) visited Columbus to campaign for Governor.

Hunter Hill, a former Ranger at Fort Benning, returned to Columbus Tuesday to share ideas in his run for governor with the Muscogee County Republican Party.

More than 50 party supporters gathered at the Double Tree Hotel to meet the veteran who served three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan before becoming a businessman. Hill is among a field of five Republicans in the race, including Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, businessman Clay Tippins and State Sen. Michael Williams.

Hill said his campaign focuses on eliminating the income tax and supporting public safety, transportation and education. “We are going to double our investments in transportation in our first term without raising taxes,” he said.

Hill said he believes the core elements of government such as public safety, transportation and education have been underfunded over the last 30 years by weak politicians.

Hill referred to Columbus as his second home after living in the Reese Road area while serving at Fort Benning.

State Rep. Stacey Evans (D-Cobb) took the progressive path running for Governor in speaking to Hall County Democrats.

Former State Rep. Vance Dean said he will run for the seat currently held by Rep. John Pezold, who is not running for reelection.

Longtime Harris County Republican legislator and former commissioner of the Georgia Department of Transportation Vance Smith announced over the weekend his intention to run for his former House of Representatives seat.

Smith, 65, said he will run in the Republican primary next May for the seat being vacated by Rep. John Pezold.

“I just got it in my blood,” Smith said Monday, confirming his candidacy and what his wife, Michele, had posted on Facebook on Saturday. “We have been looking at it since March, and Michele and I made the decision on Saturday morning. We have talked to a lot of people in Muscogee, Troup and Harris counties about this.”

Smith spent 17 years in the General Assembly before leaving to become the department head of one of the state’s most powerful agencies. He was elected in 1993 to a House district that is different from the one that exists today. When he went into the House, the district included all of Harris County. District 133 now includes about 85 percent of the county, excluding the southeast corner. The district also includes part of northeast Muscogee County and the southern portion of Troup County.

Smith, who had been chairman of the House Transportation Committee, was hired as commissioner of the DOT in June 2009. He resigned from that job in September 2011.

State Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer has been endorsed for Lieutenant Governor by former U.S. Senator and Presidential candidate Rick Santorum.

“David Shafer is the rare politician who talks like a conservative and then actually votes like one,” Santorum said. “He has a phenomenal conservative record in the Georgia State Senate. He wrote Georgia’s zero based budgeting law and successfully amended the State Constitution to cap the income tax.

“David believes in the fundamental dignity of every human life. He understands the importance and dignity of work. He believes the purpose of government is to protect our God given rights. That is why Patriot Voices is joining me in this endorsement.”

Santorum joins a list of Shafer supporters that includes New Gingrich, who was one of Santorum’s opponents in the 2012 presidential race; U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who ran for president last year, and former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr, who was the Libertarian Party’s nominee for president in 2008.

Other high profile endorsements include Bernie Marcus, former Congressman John Linder, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush and state Insurance and Fire Safety Commissioner Ralph Hudgens.

Gwinnett County Republican Paula Hastings will kickoff her campaign for State House District 102 next week.

Forsyth County Commissioners are considering changing the time of some meetings to allow more convenient public participation.

The board voted to move forward with public hearings to amend the Unified Development Code, but it wants the meetings to be scheduled for times that allow for full public participation. The board recommended the time frame from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. County staff will bring revisions, including possibly adding a clause regarding audio/video recording of the meeting, but that will be later determined by the board.

Chairman Todd Levent said he recently went to a meeting that started at 5 p.m. which caused some issues for people trying to attend after work.

“Applicants in the past have been considerate so this hasn’t come up,” Levent said.

Grantville City Council member Mark King is suing Mayor Doug Jewell over campaign signs he says were removed.

The suit was filed last week in the Magistrate Court of Coweta County. King is asking for $104.08, which includes the cost of two signs for $8.08,  $1 for punitive damages,  plus $95 for court costs, according to court documents.

King said a total of six signs were moved, but only four were recovered.

The signs were removed on Sept. 29, according to Jewell, because the signs were not in compliance with city code of ordinances, which says that signs should be at least 10 feet away from the right-of-way line of any street or highway to which it orients.

The councilman said the suit isn’t about him, but about getting the mayor to do the right thing.

“He overstepped his boundaries,” King said. “The right-of-way setback is determined street by street. I used a tape measure from to make sure signs were at least 10 feet away from the street.”

The Federal Railroad Administration has chosen a proposed high-speed rail route from Chattanooga to Atlanta.

“This project will benefit both Atlanta and Chattanooga with more efficient transportation, while also providing rail access to the rural communities in the region,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao, in a statement. “This has been a long time in the making and represents a response to numerous transportation needs along the I-75 corridor.”

The [High-Speed Ground Transportation] HSGT project would run approximately 120 miles along Interstate 75 and provide what FRA terms “a competitive and more reliable transportation choice for people traveling between Atlanta and Chattanooga.”

The corridor includes eight rail stations and is estimated to take 88 minutes of travel time from the first to last station. The route would begin on the east side of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (HJAIA) at the proposed HJAIA/Southern Crescent Station and end at a proposed downtown Chattanooga station.

Valdosta City Council continues moving forward with a proposed curfew for juveniles.

Macon-Bibb County voters will weigh-in on a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) in November.

Macon-Bibb County voters could decide the fate of a new sales tax that would lead to a millage rate rollback and property tax freeze.

The County Commission is scheduled to vote next week on whether to investigate the possibility of an additional 1-cent sales tax — one of several hurdles that must be cleared before the tax is implemented.

Before the referendum could be added to November 2018 Bibb County ballot, it must first receive approval from the County Commission and state legislators.

The proposal comes after the millage rate went up 3-mills this year. The amount of revenue taken in from the local option sales tax would determine the extent of the property tax rollback.

“This is a vehicle for property tax relief, I think more consistent cash flow and addressing some of the concerns of our property owners,” Bechtel said. “But we need to go into this with our eyes open.”

Early voting begins Monday, October 16th, in at least one municipality.

Early voting for this year’s General Municipal Election will begin this Monday, Oct. 16, 2017 at 8:30 a.m. at the Gordon County Board of Elections & Voter Registration Office, located at 215 North Wall Street in Calhoun.

The election involves several posts up for grabs in the City of Calhoun, City of Fairmount, City of Plainville and Town of Resaca.

An important Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) vote is also on the ballot. This SPLOST is not new; if passed it will simply be a continuation of the SPLOST currently in place.


Suicide rates are rising in rural areas, according to Georgia Health News.

Dr. W. Vaughn McCall of the Medical College of Georgia (MCG) at Augusta University said Monday that there’s a growing disparity in the economic status of rural vs. urban residents.

“There’s a lack of access to mental health services of all kinds”’ in rural areas, added McCall, an expert on suicide and chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior at MCG.

“While we’ve seen many causes of death come down in recent years, suicide rates have increased more than 20 percent from 2001 to 2015. And this is especially concerning in rural areas,” CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald said in a statement. “We need proven prevention efforts to help stop these deaths and the terrible pain and loss they cause.”

[Y]outh suicides in Georgia appear to show troubling trends. In May, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said that up to that point, 18 children reportedly took their own lives this year. By June, the AJC reported, 20 youths had taken their lives.

The numbers show a potentially record year for youth suicides in the state.

Bonnie Moore, an advocate at the Floyd County Suicide Prevention Coalition, said northwest Georgia has a high suicide rate  compared with other areas of the state.

“A lot of it has to do with untreated mental health issues,’’ Moore said. “In rural areas, it’s harder to get services.”

Dougherty County commissioned a study of a proposed new hospital in neighboring Lee County.

The Atlanta-area law firm that prepared a report on the impact of a proposed Lee County hospital on Dougherty County, Albany-based Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital and health care delivery in Southwest Georgia said the planned medical center would significantly and adversely impact the region’s health care.

The Dougherty County Commission authorized the impact study in August.

In a 46-page report summarized for the Dougherty County Commission Monday by County Attorney Spencer Lee, the BakerHostetler law firm said, “LCMC’s (Lee County Medical Center) project will cannibalize the insured patients already served by existing hospitals and needed to support their provision of care to the financially needy.”

The report also suggested that the certificate of need application submitted for the Lee hospital indicates a desire not to serve less affluent patients, such as those covered by Medicaid.

“LCMC will provide only non-tertiary services, which it defines as excluding basic obstetrical care,” the report reads. “Notably, though LCMC could have sought to provide basic obstetrical care, it did not, likely because such patients are largely covered by Medicaid.”

Dougherty Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas noted what he called a significant finding of the study related to health care costs.

“I found it significant that the study indicates the proposed Lee County hospital will actually charge higher rates, not cut costs as so many have claimed,” Cohilas said. “And I also think it’s important that, lost in all the sabre-rattling associated with this matter, is the fact that Lee County is not applying to build a hospital. A group is applying to build a hospital in Lee County.”

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr has accepted the proposal for the acquisition of Savannah’s Memorial University Medical Center by the for-profit HCA.

The action follows completion of due diligence by the Nashville, Tenn.-based health care provider to acquire Memorial and will now require a 90-day period for the attorney general’s office to approve the sale, valued at $710 million when Memorial, a non-profit, signed a letter of intent in April.

The transaction would need to meet certain regulatory requirements and receive a favorable approval from the Attorney General’s office before it can be completed. Once completed, the hospital and its outpatient clinics and facilities will become full members of HCA’s South Atlantic Division.

The attorney general’s office will schedule a public meeting in Savannah within the 90-day period.

The Stephens County Hospital Authority named a new CEO for Stephens County Hospital after Lynne Fogerty resigned.

“Hospital leadership and the hospital authority are working in tandem to aggressively pursue financial turnaround initiatives, including improving clinical documentation and collections, service quality and increasing efficiencies in providing care,” said Hospital Authority Chairman Mark Wilkinson.

Wilkinson said the hospital has been confronted with declining market share and decreasing inpatient, surgery and emergency department volumes over the past several years.

Stephens County Hospital lost more than $4 million in fiscal year 2016 and $5 million in fiscal year 2017.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 10, 2017

The United States Naval Academy opened in Annapolis, Maryland on October 10, 1845.

On October 9, 1963, the Board of Regents approved a new junior college in Cobb County that is today Kennesaw State University. The next year, Cobb County voters approved a bond referendum to fund construction.

Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned on October 10, 1973 and pled guilty to federal income tax evasion charges.

Democrat Jimmy Carter challenged President Gerald Ford to make his income tax returns public on October 9, 1976.

On October 10 1976, a poll by Time magazine showed Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter with a 2-1 electoral vote margin.

Carter led in 21 states and the District of Columbia, with 273 electoral votes (three more than necessary to win), while President Ford led in 17 states with 113 electoral votes.

The online Georgia archives at UGA has a collection of campaign materials, including a 1976 Carter for President brochure.

On October 10, 1980, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Historic Site was established in Atlanta.

United States Senator Sam Nunn announced on October 9, 1995 that he would not run for reelection. From CNN’s contemporary story:

“I know in my heart it is time to follow a new course,” Nunn told reporters gathered in the Georgia State Capitol. He said his decision followed “a lot of thought and prayer” and he expressed enthusiasm about meaningful days ahead in the private sector.

“Today I look forward to more freedom, to more flexibility,” he said, adding he planned to spend time with his family, to write, and “devote a substantial amount of time” to public policy and public service. He said he has no immediate plans for a presidential bid.

Nunn hailed America as “the greatest country in the world,” but cited problems that need attention, including education concerns, illegitimate children, and widespread violence and drugs. He expressed optimism on such items as the strong military and entitlement reform.

The Chicago Tribune reported that Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said of Sam Nunn’s retirement,

“For those who listened carefully, it is clear that the Democratic Party is not the vehicle for the values outlined by Sen. Nunn.”

Nolan Waters of Knight-Ridder wrote of the announcement,

Nunn’s departure is a watershed.

“Nunn is the last of the great moderate Southern Democrats. This creates a huge hole for the party,” said Merle Black, a specialist on Southern politics at Emory University in Atlanta.

Nunn, like President Clinton, helped organize a group of moderate Democrats, the Democratic Leadership Council, in an attempt to move the party rightward after the 1984 landslide re-election of President Reagan.

“He has been fighting the liberal wing of his party for over two decades,” Black said. “It’s been a losing battle.”

In place of Nunn, the state’s most prominent politician is becoming House Speaker Newt Gingrich – whose futuristic, activist style of conservatism seems radical along-side Nunn’s traditionalism.

On October 10, 2015, Donald Trump made his first campaign stop in Georgia.

Trump Atlanta 1

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal announced that September tax revenues were up 3.1% over September 2016.

Gov. Nathan Deal [] announced that Georgia’s net tax collections for September totaled nearly $2.08 billion, for an increase of approximately $62 million, or 3.1 percent, compared to last year when net tax collections totaled roughly $2.01 billion. Year-to-date, net tax revenue collections totaled $5.48 billion, for an increase of $171.5 million, or 3.2 percent, compared to September 2016, when net tax revenues totaled $5.31 billion.

Ken Wright, first Mayor of Dunwoody, announced he will run for State House District 79, which will be vacated by State Rep. Tom Taylor, who previously announced he will not run for reelection.

“During my tenure as Dunwoody’s first mayor, we started a first-class city that offers great service to its residents while keeping taxes low,” Wright said. “Now, I want to take the lessons about smart investment and cutting waste that I’ve learned as a businessman and as mayor to the Georgia General Assembly.

“I want to help our community at the state Capitol by continuing to work for low taxes, new transportation capacity such as the improvements to the 285/400 interchange, transit system enhancements, access to great schools for our kids and a strong jobs climate that brings even more prosperity to our community. Just as important, I’ll work to keep DeKalb County government accountable to the taxpayers.”

“Bringing the city to life and establishing a solid and lasting foundation was one of the most prized times in my public service life,” Wright said. “The pride, solidarity and dedication my fellow council members showed during this difficult start up period was immeasurable. Over these last 20-plus years, I have been honored to lead this community in numerous public service ways. I would welcome the opportunity to serve Dunwoody and all areas of the 79th House District if it is the pleasure of the voters.”

Taylor, chairman of the MARTA Oversight Committee in the House and a leader in the efforts to retain and attract the film industry to the state, announced last week that he will finish his term that includes the coming legislative session, but will not seek re-election in the fall.

State Democratic Party officials have made District 79 a priority for next year after Jon Ossoff narrowly lost the 6th Congressional District special election this summer. Taylor was considered vulnerable after a drunk-driving arrest, despite winning re-election after that in 2016.

A Democratic trial lawyer new to Dunwoody, Michael Wilensky, has said he was running for the seat.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 6, 2017

The first Mennonites arrived in America on October 6, 1683 aboard the Concord.

King George, III issued the Proclamation of 1763 on October 7, 1763.

With respect to Georgia’s official boundaries, the proclamation expanded Georgia’s southern boundary by giving the colony all lands between the Altamaha and St. Marys rivers. Previously, the Altamaha had served as Georgia’s southern boundary.

So, the impact of the Proclamation of 1763 was to set Georgia’s official southern boundary as the St. Marys River from its mouth to the headwaters, then north to the Altamaha River, then north to the headwaters of that river, and then westward to the Mississippi River. Georgia’s northern boundary was the Savannah River from its mouth to its headwaters.


Patriot militia defeated Loyalists at the Battle of King’s Mountain in North Carolina, near the South Carolina border on October 7, 1780.

The Chicago Fire began on October 8, 1871.

On October 8, 1895, the Liberty Bell arrived in Atlanta for the Cotton States Exposition.

The famously–cracked 2,000 pound pealer left Philadelphia on seven trips between 1885 and 1915. Each time it came home with more cracks. It turned out the men hired to guard the Bell were taking liberties, literally: chipping off pieces and selling them as souvenirs.

Cheering crowds greeted the Bell in Atlanta. A two–mile parade took it to Piedmont Park, where 50,000 people lined up to see it.

Liberty Bell in Atlanta

Georgia Public Broadcasting and the Georgia Historical Society have an interesting video on the Liberty Bell’s trip to Atlanta. You can view a photo of the Liberty Bell Parade at the Atlanta History Center.

Cy Young threw his last professional baseball game as a member of the Boston Braves on October 6, 1911.

On October 7, 1916, Georgia Tech beat Cumberland College in the most-one-sided college football game in history, by a score of 222-0.

The Engineers led 63–0 after the first quarter and 126–0 at halftime. Tech added 54 more points in the third quarter and 42 in the final period.

Tech Cumberland Scoreboard

Tech Cumberland Ball

Recently, a Georgia Tech alumnus paid $44,388 for the game ball with the intention of donating it to the trade school.

The Democratic Republic of Germany (East Germany) was created by the Soviets on October 7, 1949.

On October 6, 1953, WTVM-TV began broadcasting in  Columbus, Georgia.

Democrat John F. Kennedy and Republican Vice President Richard Nixon met in the second televised Presidential debate on October 7, 1960.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience held its first rehearsal on October 6, 1966.

President Richard Nixon proposed a structure for peace and eventual withdrawal of American forces from Vietnam on October 7, 1970.

The second Presidential debate between Republican incumbent Gerald Ford and Democratic challenger Jimmy Carter took place on October 6, 1976. During the debate, Ford said, there was “no Soviet domination in Eastern Europe”. Polling released on October 8, 1976 indicated that Democrat Jimmy Carter won the second debate against President Gerald Ford by a 50-27 margin.

Pope John Paul II became the first Pope to visit the White House on October 6, 1979. Carter’s notes from the meeting are at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta.

On October 8, 1981, former Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Carter visited with President Ronald Reagan at the White House before heading to Egypt to represent the United States at the funeral of assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.

Four Presidents

The last four B-52 bombers stationed at Robins Air Force Base in Warner-Robins left the base for the last time on October 6, 1983.

Long-time Atlanta Braves pitcher Phil Niekro won his 300th game on October 8, 1984, though he wore Yankees pinstripes for that game.

The first C-5A airplane arrived at Robins Air Force Base on October 8, 1997.

C-5 at Robins

On October 8, 1998, the United States House of Representatives voted 258-176 to authorize an impeachment inquiry against President Bill Clinton.

President George W. Bush (43) announced military action in Afghanistan on October 7, 2001.

In a televised address that evening, Bush informed the American public that “carefully targeted actions” were being carried out to crush the military capability of al-Qaida and the Taliban, with help from British, Canadian, Australian, German and French troops. An additional 40 nations around the world provided intelligence, as well as bases from which the operations were conducted.

Bush touted the multinational effort as proof that America, in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, was “supported by the collective will of the world.” He also warned that the war in Afghanistan would likely be only the first front in a long struggle against terrorism. He vowed to continue to take what he called the “war on terror” to those countries that sponsored, harbored or trained terrorists.

President George W. Bush issued an Executive Order establishing the Department of Homeland Security on October 8, 2001.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected Governor of California on October 7, 2003.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Deal has ordered flags on state buildings and grounds to fly at half-staff through sunset today. Flags were lowered to half-staff on Tuesday in honor of the late Polk County Detective Kristin Hearne, who was killed in the line of duty. After Tuesday, flags have been lowered in respect for the victims and families of the Las Vegas mass murder.

Georgia State Rep. Richard Smith (R-Columbus) visited the classroom to read to young students in celebration of the 25th anniversary of Georgia’s pre-K program.

Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta held a mass casualty drill yesterday.

Muscogee County School District is considering a “zero tolerance” policy against racial slurs.

In Gwinnett County, a middle school project requiring students to draw a mascot for the Nazi party is drawing fire.

The assignment — which Gwinnett County schools officials have called inappropriate — required sixth-grade students to draw a mascot for the Nazi Party. They had to pretend they lived in Nazi Germany in 1935 and were tasked with creating the mascot so the Nazi Party could use it at rallies before World War II.

The pupils had to incorporate information they had learned in their history lessons about Adolf Hitler and the Nazis into their drawings.

Gwinnett County Public Schools officials don’t appear to have been pleased about it either. District spokeswoman Sloan Roach said the assignment wasn’t an approved part of the curriculum for that time period and a personnel investigation is ongoing into the use of the assignment.

Officials at the school are addressing it with the teacher, Roach said.

“As outlined in the Georgia Standards of Excellence curriculum for 6th grade social studies, students study the conflict and change in Europe, including the aftermath of World War I, the rise of communism as a result of the Russian Revolution, the Treaty of Versailles, the rise of Nazism, and worldwide depression,” Roach said.

Leesburg City Manager Bob Alexander received another annual contract extension.

Alexander said Thursday he’s looking forward to another year in which he hopes to see many infrastructure projects, including traffic studies, road improvements and the renovation of the train depot, completed.

“The train depot is our biggest project for the upcoming year,” he said. “It will be finished by January or February. It will house our chamber of commerce headquarters. It will also be our visitor center and will be used for small community gatherings. That will be exciting.”

Leesburg also recently qualified for a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant that Alexander said will be used to improve the city’s sewer system.

Worth County Sheriff Jeff Hobby and six employees have been indicted for their roles in an April drug search at Worth County High School.

According to the indictment: “Jeff Hobby on or about the 14th day of April, 2017, in violation of O.C.G.A. 16-10-1 (violation of oath by public officer), O.C.G.A. 16-6-22.1 (d) (Sexual battery against a child under 16), O.C.G.A. 16-5-42 (false imprisonment under color of law), and O.C.G.A. 16-6-22.1 (b) (sexual battery), did, then and there, being duly-elected sheriff, a public officer with the Worth County Sheriff’s Office, unlawfully, willfully and intentionally violate the terms of his oath as prescribed by law, in that he did swear to ‘support the Constitutions of the United States and of this State’ and then did order deputies under his employ to search students present at Worth County High School without probable cause or any other legal basis and without due process, in violation of the Constitution of the United States and its amendments and the Constitution of the State of Georgia, contrary to the laws of said state, the good order, peace and dignity thereof.”

The Worth county Sheriff’s Office has made no official statement since the indictment, but in an April 18 statement about the incident, Hobby said that his deputies were instructed “to perform a basic and non-intrusive pat-down of each student. This was performed in the presence of the principal.

After the pat-downs were conducted, the sheriff said, “It was discovered that one of the deputies had exceeded the instructions given by the sheriff and conducted a pat-down of some students that was more intrusive than instructed by the sheriff. Upon the discovery of the deputy’s actions, the sheriff has taken corrective action to ensure that this behavior not occur again.”

Twelve students have accused the law enforcement officers of misconduct and sexual battery, including the touching of their genitals. Many of the accusations stem from incidents of “physical contact with the intimate parts of the body” during the search, the indictment said.

An official in the office of Gov. Nathan Deal, who has the power to convene a tribunal to investigate the matter, said his office has not been contacted by the District Attorney’s Office, nor has the governor received a certified copy of the indictment.

Attorney General Chris Carr convened an opioid abuse task force.

Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, who chairs the state Senate Health and Human Services Committee, said a legislative package was in the works, as is a push for more funding for treatment services.

“The system of care is not supporting the issue of the epidemic and we need to ramp that up,” she said.

Rep. Beth Beskin, R-Atlanta, said legislative fixes that should be considered include limiting pain prescriptions written for minors and requiring veterinarians to use the state’s prescription drug monitoring program.

“It’s the elephant in the room,” Rep. Terry Rogers, R-Clarkesville, said of the opioid crisis. “It’s right in front of us. It’s a huge problem but nobody wants to talk about it or nobody wants to admit it.

“It crosses every demographic group there is. It’s not a rural problem, an urban problem. It’s not a Georgia problem. It’s a United States problem,” he added. “The way that you solve it is to get good people together and to talk about it and to get the elephant out of the room.”

The Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission announced new policy in an advisory opinion.

[S]eparate funds — which aren’t allowed by law to directly promote a candidate such as Cagle but can push his or her agenda — have proliferated in recent years, and now Georgia’s ethics commission is starting to look at the role such funds play in state politics.

Candidates such as [Casey] Cagle set up campaign funds to raise — within limits — and spend money for their election or re-election. Increasingly, supporters of politicians are creating separate funds that can raise unlimited amounts of money from donors, often individuals or businesses wanting something from state government.

The ethics commission on Thursday approved an advisory opinion essentially saying the law prohibits candidates or their campaign committees from setting up separate funds or coordinating with them to raise money, push the candidate or attack opponents.

“In such instances of solicitation and coordination, the expenditures on the communications are contributions to the candidate reportable on the candidate’s campaign contribution disclosure report,” the opinion stated.

“This pertains regardless of whether the communications are ‘express advocacy,’ regardless of whether the entity was initially created as an ‘independent committee,’ and regardless of the specific federal tax section under which the entity was formed.”

Stefan Ritter, the executive secretary of the ethics commission, said the opinion wasn’t aimed at any one specific case.

“We have heard of organizations that may have been created that may have been inconsistent with what the opinion states is the law,” Ritter said. “If they are not a campaign committee and they are running a separate organization on their behalf, then I think there is a problem.”

The Georgia Republican Party has settled a workplace discrimination lawsuit brought by a former employee.

Details of the settlement were not released, but state GOP Chairman John Watson confirmed the three-year legal fight was over.

“This matter has been resolved,” Watson said. “The Georgia Republican Party will continue to be singularly focused on our core mission: supporting President Trump and electing Republicans now and in 2018.”

The 2014 lawsuit contributed to the state GOP’s troubles attracting donors amid mounting legal bills. Watson took over a party in June that was deep in debt despite the fact that Republicans dominate state politics and Georgia GOP politicians have no problem raising big money for their own campaigns.

This is an excellent development for the Georgia Republican Party and my personal congratulations to Chairman John Watson for prioritizing this issue and helping us get past it.