Category: Georgia Politics


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

New Jersey became the first state to ratify the Bill of Rights on November 20, 1789.

Duane Allman was born in Nashville, Tennessee on November 20, 1946.

President John F. Kennedy lifted the naval blockade of Cuba on November 20, 1962, ending the Cuban Missile Crisis.

On November 20, 1975, Ronald Reagan announced he would run for President of the United States against incumbent Republican Gerald Ford. On May 4, 1976, Reagan won Georgia’s Presidential Primary with 68% over Ford.

Newt Gingrich was reelected Speaker of the House on November 20, 1996.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the water lawsuit between Georgia and Florida on January 8, 2018.

Georgia lawyers hope to use the showdown to convince the high court to confirm a major legal victory in February. That’s when a special master appointed by the Supreme Court urged the justices to reject Florida’s call for strict new water consumption limits.

The nine justices could approve or reject Lancaster’s recommendation regarding the “equitable distribution” of water or direct him to re-examine the case. Congress could also weigh in — lawmakers from Georgia, Florida and neighboring Alabama have all tangled to have their say in recent years — and other lawsuits are possible.

Gov. Nathan Deal has shifted more than $30 million in the state budget so far to pay for this particular legal battle with Florida, and his administration signaled it was ready to spend more to win the fight.

President Trump added Georgia Supreme Court Justice Britt Grant to his short list for a future nomination to the United States Supreme Court.

Trump said he would consider Georgia Justice Britt Grant for a position on the nation’s highest court should a new vacancy occur, adding the jurist to a pool of roughly two-dozen other potential appointees.

The president also added Atlanta-based federal court Judge Kevin Newsom to the list. The former Alabama attorney was recently confirmed by the Senate to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, which has jurisdiction over Georgia, Florida and Alabama.

Grant joins colleague Keith Blackwell on Trump’s list of conservative jurists. The former Cobb County prosecutor and state Court of Appeals judge was named by Trump last year in the weeks leading up to the election.

Former Democratic National Committee Chair Donna Brazile spoke in Atlanta this weekend.

Brazile told the AJC she didn’t know Keisha Lance Bottoms or Mary Norwood, the two women vying in Atlanta’s Dec. 5 mayoral runoff, but that she’d “sent a check” to Democrat Bottoms’ campaign.

“I clearly would prefer the Democrat to win,” Brazile said. “But Atlanta, which has already elected a female mayor years ago, will once again have another female mayor.”

She later told the crowd she’d made a donation to Democrat Stacey Abrams’ gubernatorial campaign.

Dennis Brown has taken the oath of office as the new Forsyth County District 2 Commissioner.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation warned that suicides among minors are rising.

Youth suicides in Georgia have been spiking in recent years, causing alarm among officials at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and prompting a summit at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center in Lawrenceville on Friday night.

The GBI hosted the event with state Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, as an honored guest. The summit was designed to highlight the issue and prompt the Gwinnett community to try and address it. Similar summits are expected to be held around the state.

But, it was the statistical numbers that GBI Child Fatality Review Unit Special Agent in Charge Trebor Randle said people should find alarming: 38 Georgians between the ages of 5 and 17 have committed suicide this year.

Last year, the total was 48. In 2015, it was 51. The numbers from 2012, 2013 and 2014 fluctuated between 32, 36 and 30 respectively.

“Suicide deaths in Georgia has reached an all-time high from what we’ve been seeing,” Randle said of the five-year data.

Georgia Senate Committee meetings will be live-streamed.

Beginning the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday, Georgians who are interested in watching state senators at work can live-stream committee meetings being held in the statehouse.

Members of the Georgia Senate on Friday held a mock committee meeting led by Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer, R-Duluth, to test out the new wiring and equipment.

“The work of the General Assembly should be transparent to everyone without having to take off work or drive to Atlanta,” Shafer said. “Legislators do a better job when they’re being watched, and the people of Georgia ought to be able to see the laws that impact them being made.”

Three committee rooms in the Capitol and two more in the adjacent Coverdell Legislative Office Building have been wired for video and sound. Events held in the Senate Press Conference Room also will be live-streamed.

State Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs) has an announced opponent for his 2018 reelection.

[Jen] Slipakoff, who has never run for office before, explained why she decided to challenge Ehrhart, who was elected 30 years ago in 1988.

“He’s been on my radar for a bit. I’ve seen some of the bills that he has put forth, and I’m not happy with several of them,” she said. “I’m not happy with his methodology and some of the forms of intimidation that he likes to use, particularly where I have a lot of concern surrounding some of his threats that he makes to our public universities and the universities that receive public funding in terms of taking away their funding — most recently Georgia Tech, where they had indicated they planned to be a sanctuary school and the funding was cut for their library. He’s threatened Kennesaw State funding after they hosted the Art AIDS in America art show. I went to that exhibit. I thought it was an impactful — certainly controversial — but also very impactful, and I certainly learned something. And it pushed me to think. And it was beautiful and it was haunting, and I was disappointed to see that it also became sort of a catalyst for threatening Kennesaw State’s funding. I don’t think that that’s the role of our state Legislature. He’s a legislator, not a Board of Regents member, and I was very concerned about that tactic of intimidation.”

“Representing the views of the vast majority of your constituents is not intimidation,” Ehrhart said. “Radical leftists like Slipakoff want to intimidate everyone like her heroes in (Barack) Obama’s administration did when actually threatening funding of university units who did not adopt the hateful radical Democrat agenda. My job is to hold universities accountable who spend taxpayer money.”

State Rep. Sam Teasley (R-Marietta) also has drawn opposition for next year.

[Democrat] Lucy McBath is running for House District 37 held by state Rep. Sam Teasley, R-Marietta.

Another [Democratic] candidate, Luisa Wakeman of east Cobb, said she is running for House District 43 held by state Rep. Sharon Cooper, R-east Cobb.

[Democrat] Erick Allen, who lost to state Rep. Rich Golick, R-Smyrna, in 2016, by a margin of 46.5 percent to 53.5 percent, announced he would be challenging Golick again.

Cobb Democrats were particularly enthusiastic about voters sending two Democrats into the runoff for the seat formerly held by former state Sen. Hunter Hill, R-Smyrna: attorney Jen Jordan and dentist Jaha Howard.

“No longer in Cobb County can they put up candidates that are not of good quality and expect to win,” said Michael Owens, chair of the Cobb Democratic Committee. “From this day forward, Cobb County Dems will be a force in this county. Our candidates will be strong.”

Warner Robins voters will head to the polls for a December 5th runoff for City Council between Daron Lee and Eric Langston.

The population of Warner Robins is about 75,000, and on Dec. 5, it could be that fewer than 5,000 voters decide an election for an at-large City Council post.

Just 17 percent of registered voters turned out for the Nov. 7 general election, which featured a hotly contested three-way mayoral race and two City Council contests. The city has 39,126 registered voters, and only 6,797 people voted in the general election.

Savannah City Council is considering holding a referendum for a Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (T-SPLOST).

The Savannah City Council recently voiced support for holding another transportation sales tax referendum, five years after voters rejected a previous effort to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for roads, bridges and bicycle paths in Chatham County.

The mayor and aldermen directed staff on Oct. 26 to send a letter to Chatham County expressing their interest in pursuing another Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.

The Chatham County Commission must call a formal meeting and invite all of Chatham’s municipalities to start the process before a referendum can be held. The city council decided to encourage the county to move forward in response to a letter the Coastal Regional Commission of Georgia recently sent to the state’s counties to gauge their interest in TSPLOST.

Legislation passed since the 2012 referendum now allows for single-county TSPLOSTS of up to 1 percent on sales, rather than requiring the tax be raised and spent in multi-county regions. That change could increase the likelihood of a second referendum passing since many local voters were opposed to funds raised in Chatham going toward projects in other counties, said City Attorney Brooks Stillwell.

The City of Rome and Floyd County are asking state legislators to consider reforms to sales tax collections.

[Floyd] County Commission Chair Rhonda Wallace noted that expected bumps haven’t materialized from big events such as the recent air show and tournaments at the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College.

“We didn’t have a sales tax holiday this year, and our collections were down that month,” Assistant County Manager Gary Burkhalter added.

The problem is threefold, according to the Association County Commissioners of Georgia: internet sales, sales tax exemptions and the state Revenue Department’s sole control over the distribution.

Two bills that passed the House and are awaiting Senate action would require out-of-state vendors to collect tax on the items they sell in Georgia, and require the DOR to provide more specific information to local governments.

Joel Wiggins of the Georgia Municipal Association said local brick-and-mortar businesses also are losing sales to online retailers that are not collecting sales tax.

“It’s a question of marketplace fairness,” Wiggins said, adding that “It is a shame that someone who won’t put a building up in Georgia, we give them a 7-percent break on taxes.”


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

On November 17, 1732, the first English headed to colonize Georgia set off from Gravesend, England, down the Thames. Their supplies included ten tons of beer.

On November 17, 1777, Congress submitted the Articles of Confederation to the states for ratification.

Abraham Lincoln began the first draft of the Gettysburg Address on November 17, 1863.


Abraham Lincoln traveled to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on November 18, 1863; he delivered an 87-word speech at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on November 19, 1863.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

On November 19, 1864, as Sherman marched toward Savannah, the Georgia delegation to the Confederate Congress in Richmond, Virginia, sent a message to the state,

“Let every man fly to arms! Remove your negroes, horses, cattle, and provisions from Sherman’s army, and burn what you cannot carry. Burn all bridges and block up the roads in his route. Assail the invader in front, flank, and rear, by night and by day. Let him have no rest.”

Carl Vinson was born on November 18, 1883 in Baldwin County, Georgia. At noon on that day, U.S. and Canadian railroads implemented four time zones for the first time.

Efficient rail transportation demanded a more uniform time-keeping system. Rather than turning to the federal governments of the United States and Canada to create a North American system of time zones, the powerful railroad companies took it upon themselves to create a new time code system. The companies agreed to divide the continent into four time zones; the dividing lines adopted were very close to the ones we still use today.

Most Americans and Canadians quickly embraced their new time zones, since railroads were often their lifeblood and main link with the rest of the world. However, it was not until 1918 that Congress officially adopted the railroad time zones and put them under the supervision of the Interstate Commerce Commission.

Mickey Mouse debuted in a black-and-white film called “Steamboat Willie” on November 18, 1928.

On November 18, 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt traveled from Washington, DC to Savannah, Georgia by train for Georgia’s Bicentennial and delivered a speech at Municipal Stadium.

Herman Talmadge was sworn in as Governor of Georgia on November 17, 1948, ending the “Three Governors” controversy. Click here for a review of the “Three Governors” episode by Ron Daniels.

The first issue of National Review magazine was published on November 19, 1955.

Carl Vinson was honored on his 81st birthday in Milledgeville, Georgia on November 18, 1964; Vinson did not run for reelection in 1964 and retired after 50 years in office.

Richard Nixon declared before a television audience, “I’m not a crook,” on November 17, 1973.

President Richard M. Nixon flew into Robins Air Force Base for Carl Vinson’s 90th birthday on November 18, 1973; on the trip he announced the next American nuclear supercarrier would be named USS Carl Vinson.

President Ronald Reagan met for the first time with Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev on November 19, 1985.

On November 18, 1989, Pennsylvania Governor Bob Casey signed the Abortion Control Act, the first abortion restrictions enacted after Roe v. Wade.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Democratic state legislators prefiled legislation to allow local governments to remove confederate monuments.

State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur, pre-filed house Bill 650 while state Sen. Elena Parent, D-Atlanta, pre-filed Senate Bill 302. State law prohibits the defacing, removal or concealing of monuments to the Confederate States of America, including the carving on Stone Mountain.

If either bill passes, local governments or the “public entity” that owns monuments at Stone Mountain and other places around the state would have the authority to remove those monuments.

“Citizens in the city of Decatur and DeKalb County have voiced their opinions and asked me to introduce legislation to allow local governments to decide to remove or modify monuments that are located in public spaces,” Oliver said in a statement. “This legislation would simply return this decision making authority to Georgia’s cities and counties and provide more local control.”

State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur) also introduced her annual anti-gun bill, this year targeting bump stocks.

State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur, filed the bill Wednesday, the first day lawmakers could present legislation to be considered when the Legislature returns in January.

“There is no justification for this kind of device being easily sold and easily implemented to make a weapon more dangerous,” she said.

Passing such legislation will be a tall order. At least one state senator and the lieutenant governor [Casey Cagle] said they oppose state-level restrictions on the devices.

A State House Study Committee heard testimony that the incidence of Hepatitis C is rising amid the opioid epidemic.

For the first time in history, Georgia’s level of hepatitis C infection has surpassed 14,000 victims in one year, the state epidemiologist on Thursday told a study committee in the Georgia House of Representatives. And the likely main culprit, she said, was heroin needles.

Health officials can’t interview every patient whose case is reported. But among those who are, the most common risk factor is the hepatitis C victim also reporting intravenous drug use: More than 70 percent report having done it at some time in the past, and more than 60 percent report having done it within the past six months.

“It leads us to believe that the ongoing heroin and opioid epidemics are related to hepatitis C as well,” said the epidemiologist, Dr. Cherie Drenzek.

State Rep. Sharon Cooper, the committee’s chairwoman, pressed on the issue of treatment, which she noted was wildly expensive compared with most Georgians’ household incomes, at a cost approaching $20,000 or more.

“When we say ‘referring to treatment,’ ” Cooper said, “it would seem that for many people and drug users that would be a big huge barrier.”

The House Study Committee on Georgians’ Barriers to Access to Adequate Health Care has now finished meeting and is tasked by law with considering whether to recommend legislation. Over the course of its meetings it has discussed infectious diseases such as the flu, asthma and HIV, as well as the opioid epidemic and mental health services. Any recommendations are to be issued by Dec. 1.

Former Congressman Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta) writes about the federal response to the opioid crisis.

Following months of uncertainty, President Trump late last month made good on his promise to declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency. After much talk about fighting the devastating and deadly impact of these highly addictive drugs, the administration is now taking action.

The president is asking the Department of Health and Human Services for a declaration of a public health emergency under the Public Health Service Act. This action allows medical personnel to be deployed to the hardest hit areas, and empowers HHS to ease any regulations that could get in the way.

But such declarations were designed to deal with infectious diseases, not addiction and substance abuse disorders. There is also no clear way for paying for it. At present, the .

That realization begs the question of how this emergency declaration will address the years of treatment and recovery support that many with opioid addiction will need. One thing remains certain — this epidemic will not follow the dictates of government declarations.

This country cannot afford to let Congress’s failure to pass health care reform derail the fight against opioid addiction. Nor can it afford to pat itself on the back by making dramatic, but ultimately toothless, declarations that opioid addiction is a serious problem and one that needs more resources but they are not forthcoming.

Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) wielded the gavel on the Speaker’s rostrum upon passage of the House Tax Reform plan.

The Gainesville Republican has not only been a supporter of his party’s tax reform proposal — which has attracted mixed reviews as experts debate whether the complicated proposal cuts or raises taxes and spending in the long term — Collins gaveled in the vote that passed the bill Thursday. The bill now goes to the Senate, where it faces an uncertain future.

Collins praised the bill in an announcement Thursday, saying that “middle-class Americans and job creators deserve relief from burdensome taxes and the opportunity to pursue more of their ambitions on their terms.”

The tax reform bill, called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, delivers those changes to voters, Collins argues.

But while the GOP and Democrats continue to debate tax reform in the Senate, Collins told The Times this week that he hopes another of his bills will get some more attention in the House.

The Redemption Act is Collins’ attempt to get Georgia-style criminal justice reform on the federal books. The bill focuses on evaluation, training and education of nonviolent offenders, including dealing with drug addiction, to make adjusting to society easier when sentences are concluded.

Among other things, it allows offenders to finish their sentences in lower-security prisons and halfway houses if they complete their program.

But on Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions expressed some skepticism about pre-release programs like the Redemption Act.

During a hearing largely focused on investigations of Russia, Sessions and Collins discussed the Georgia Republican’s bill.

Attorney General Chris Carr‘s office will hear public comment on the sale of Savannah’s Memorial University Medical Center to for-profit Hospital Corporation of America.

The hearing will provide a detailed look at the proposed sale of all assets of Memorial Health Inc. to Hospital Corporation of America Healthcare Inc. through Savannah Health Services, its wholly owned subsidiary, and the continuation of its core services for area residents.

If approved, the deal would mean the sale of nonprofit Memorial to HCA’s subsidiary possibly as soon as year’s end.

The public hearing is part of the state attorney general’s office review of the Sept. 22 filing and the required 90-day review period before that office can either approve or reject the proposal.

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.

A key piece of the proposal will be whether charitable assets are placed at unreasonable risk if the transaction is financed in part by the seller and whether any disposition proceeds will be used for appropriate charitable health care purposes.

Memorial’s 2016 financial report showed a loss of almost $44 million, with total revenues of $581 million – a significant increase from the previous year’s $22.5 million loss, but one that officials had warned of for several years. Memorial, the region’s safety net hospital, is a two-state health care organization serving a 35-county area in Georgia and South Carolina. It includes a 612-bed academic medical center, Memorial primary and specialty care physician networks, a medical education program, business and industry services and NurseOne, a 24-hour call center.

Navicent Health and Houston Medical Center are in discussions that could lead to a partnership.

Navicent Health and Houston Healthcare officials are exploring a potential partnership that could be groundbreaking for the region.

Details of how the two medical care companies join forces will be worked out over the next few months, but officials say it will be a “strategic combination” and not a merger.

Based in Macon-Bibb County, Navicent Health is the region’s largest operator of medical facilities. The company has expanded its scope over the last year with the acquisition of the hospital in Baldwin County and taking over management of the Monroe County hospital.

Houston Healthcare includes two acute care medical facilities with a total of 282 beds in Perry and Warner Robins.

The goal is to create a new health system that improves the level of services and keeps “health care being local without our patients having to go somewhere else for care,” Navicent President and CEO Ninfa Saunders said Thursday. “Having a high performance organization that is supported by a group of employees that are vibrant and energized because we are doing exactly what we started out to do. … The synergy between the two organization will get us to a better place.”

“We do feel pursuing this agreement … will allow us to improve the access of quality of care and value for our communities, for our employees, for our patients and physicians,” said Charles Briscoe, the chief operating officer and vice president of Houston Healthcare.

The Macon-Bibb Industrial Authority moved forward toward issuance of $556 million in bonds.

University Hospital in Augusta approved the purchase of automated pharmacy systems.

The board of University, which traces its history to City Hospital founded in 1818, approved $4.4. million on Thursday to purchase three automated pharmacy systems that employ robot arm technology developed for automotive company Tesla to pick up and compile drugs. The hospital will recover the purchase price within four years through savings on drugs and personnel, said Teresa Buschbacher, vice president of University Heart & Vascular Institute.

A new automated IV Station, for instance, will allow University to create its own IV solutions and pre-filled syringes it was buying from a vendor for about $1.2 million a year, and “will be a solution we control on-site,” she said. Another for cancer drugs will be more efficient, cost effective and help shield clinicians from potentially harmful exposures, Buschbacher said. The systems will free up nurses from having to get the drugs together from machines themselves, which can take up about a quarter of their shifts, she said.

“They’ll be able to spend more time at the bedside with their patients,” Bushbacher said. It will also cut down on the personnel needed in the pharmacy, who were doing many of these things by hand, and remove the possibility of human error, said Marie Jackson, director of the pharmacy.

The Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center in Augusta reached a construction milestone with placement of the highest steel beams in the new structure.

For weeks before the topping-out, project partners and the local community were invited to sign the final beam for posterity. The beam features more than 150 signatures. A crane raised an American flag and a Georgia state flag at the building site Thursday, both of which were flown over the State Capitol on Oct. 1, the first day of National Cyber Security Awareness Month.

“With the signing and the placement of this beam, Augusta takes a step forward as the potential cybersecurity capital of the nation and soon to be the world,” Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis said. “Our skyline and our community have forever changed by the addition of this state-of-the-art facility.”

The education and training center will prepare professionals to protect the nation from cybersecurity threats. The center is aligned with Augusta University’s Cyber Institute and AU’s recently launched School of Computer and Cyber Sciences. The center will anchor AU’s Riverfront Campus.

The center also will house an incubator for start-up cybersecurity companies and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s new cybercrime unit.

The center also is partnered with Augusta Technical College.

“You’re not just building a building here in Augusta,” AU President Dr. Brooks Keel said. “You’re building the future. You’re building the future of how this region of the country prepares itself for the cyber tsunami that’s coming.”

ISO Georgia Peanut Commission candidates: I won’t feel like I’ve experienced the full-spectrum of the political profession in Georgia until I manage a campaign for Georgia Peanut Commission. From the Albany Herald,

Nomination meetings to fill two positions on the five-member Georgia Peanut Commission will be conducted during simultaneous grower meetings at 10 a.m. Dec. 14.

The commission’s Board of Directors consists of five Georgia peanut farmers who are elected from single-member districts. Representatives for Districts 1 and 3 will be determined at the meetings, which will be conducted by the Georgia Farm Bureau Federation.

Any producer living in the district may be nominated or make nominations at the meeting. Incumbents are eligible for renomination. If more than one person is nominated, an election will be conducted by mail ballot. Commission by-laws state that a person must receive a majority of the votes cast for a position in order to be elected to the commission board.

Seven candidates have applied with the Judicial Nominating Commission for a new Superior Court judgeship for the Northeastern Judicial Circuit, which comprises Hall and Dawson counties.

Gov. Nathan Deal signed House Bill 138 this year, creating the fifth seat. State Rep. Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville, said the circuit qualified for a fifth judge due to the caseloads.

The commission will next submit a short list to Deal of up to five people deemed qualified for the position.

The governor’s appointment will have a term running from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2020. After that, a nonpartisan election is held in 2020 for a four-year term.

An Atlanta City Council election might be headed for extra innings, at least in court if not at the ballot box.

At first, the Atlanta City Council race between Courtney English and incumbent Michael Julian Bond was headed to a recount.

But late Thursday, the outcome was still unclear: Bond claimed victory while English dropped his recount request and contended instead that a runoff election is required.

An incredibly close race is to blame for the confusion.

Results indicate Bond received 49.97 percent of the vote and English 49.52 percent. There were 422 write-in votes, or 0.51 percent.

Bond said the Atlanta election superintendent told him he had won. He said write-in votes don’t count if they aren’t cast for an eligible write-in candidate and there are no certified write-in candidates seeking the at-large council post 1.

“I believe this all stems from Fulton County. When they published the certified results they mistakenly included the write-in calculation and that should not have happened,” Bond said.

Richard Barron, the director of registration and elections in Fulton County, said when he first certified Fulton’s results, he did not realize that neither of the two candidates had reached the 50 percent mark.

He certified the results with write-ins. But with only two people in the race, he said perhaps he should have left them out.

“My guess is, it’s going to end up in court,” Barron said. “I’ve never had to worry about write-ins in a two-person race skewing results.”


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

The Georgia Trustees visited the first group of settlers on November 16, 1732, the day before they were scheduled to depart England for the New World.

On November 16, 1737, the Georgia Trustees learned that England’s King George II would send 300 soldiers, along with 150 wives and 130 children to the settlement in Georgia.

On November 16, 1864, Sherman left Atlanta in smoking ruins.

A 2010 Wired article argues that Sherman’s rampage through Georgia and the Carolinas changed modern warfare.

Vengeance aside, the real objective of Sherman’s march was to cut the Confederacy in two, cripple Southern industrial capacity, destroy the railroad system and compel an early Confederate surrender. It was also intended to break Southern morale — in Sherman’s words, to “make Georgia howl.”

Sherman was vilified for his barbarism, but the Union commander was a realist, not a romantic. He understood — as few of his contemporaries seemed to — that technology and industrialization were radically changing the nature of warfare.

It was no longer a question of independent armies meeting on remote battlefields to settle the issue. Civilians, who helped produce the means for waging modern war, would no longer be considered innocent noncombatants. Hitting the enemy where he ate and breaking him psychologically were just as important to victory as vanquishing his armies in the field.

Sherman grasped this and, though he wasn’t the first military proponent of total war, he was the first modern commander to deliberately strike at the enemy’s infrastructure. The scorched-earth tactics were effective. The fragile Southern economy collapsed, and a once-stout rebel army was irretrievably broken.

Meanwhile, the marshals of Europe watched Sherman’s progress with fascination. And they learned.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Former State Representative Melvin Everson (R-Snellville) announced he will run for Republican National Committeeman from Georgia, assuming Randy Evans vacates the seat upon his confirmation as Ambassador to Luxembourg. From the press release:

In a letter to members of the Republican State Committee former State Representative Melvin Everson announced that he will run for Republican National Committeeman.

Fellow Republicans serving on the State Committee, after prayerful consideration, I have decided to announce my candidacy to become Georgia’s next Republican National Committeeman.

It is a great, and well-deserved honor, President Trump has bestowed upon Randy Evans in nominating him to become the next U.S Ambassador to Luxembourg. Randy has earned the respect of Republicans nationwide for his wisdom, his capabilities as a fair arbiter, and trusted leader within the Georgia Republican Party.

When Chairman John Watson sets in motion a called election to fill Randy’s position, I will enter the race and formally begin my campaign. At that time, there will be ample time for you to consider all the candidates’ qualifications, so that you can make an informed decision as to whom you will support and choose to serve our great state.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…”

Humbly, I ask for your consideration to become the next Georgia Republican National Committeeman, while looking forward to the opportunity to personally speak with you about the future of the Georgia Republican Party.

Melvin Everson

State Rep. Amy Carter (R-Valdosta) announced her resignation from the State House, effective December 31, 2017. From the Press Release:

Rep. Carter will assume her new role as Executive Director of Advancement at the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG).

Currently, she represents House District 175, which includes Brooks County as well as portions of Lowndes and Thomas counties. As a member of the House leadership team, Rep. Carter chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government.

“It has been an absolute honor to serve my district as a state legislator for the past 11 years, and I am forever grateful to my constituents for entrusting me to represent them,” said Rep. Carter. “I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside what I consider the greatest delegation in the state, and I am proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish as a team.”

As a classroom teacher for more than 20 years, Rep. Carter has devoted herself to educating and empowering students.

“Representative Carter has been an invaluable asset to the House of Representatives, and we will certainly miss her insight and leadership,” said Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge). “Without a doubt, her work in the classroom brought a fresh perspective to the House of Representatives, and I know her students will equally miss her leadership. She is truly a champion for education, and the role she is assuming will allow her to continue touching the lives of students at an even greater level, which will ultimately build a better Georgia for us all.”

Rep. Carter added, “Impacting the lives of students on the classroom level has been an incredible experience. While leaving the classroom and my legislative position was an extremely difficult decision to make, I will now have the opportunity to extend that impact to more than 130,000 TCSG students across our state.”

Throughout her service in the state legislature, Carter has made several notable accomplishments, which have made monumental impacts on both the community and state.  For example, she played a crucial role in securing funding for Valdosta State University’s construction of the Health Sciences and Business Administration building. In addition, she was the lead sponsor of the Music Investment Act of 2017, as well as the chair of the Governor’s Teacher Advisory Commission of 2016 and a working member of the Georgia HOPE scholarship and grant revision. She also served as Governor Nathan Deal’s House Floor Leader.

In recognition of her positive impact on education in Georgia, Rep. Carter has received numerous awards including Lowndes County Schools’ Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award, the Georgia Association for Career and Technical Educators Legislator of the Year Award, and Georgia School Counselors Association Legislator of the Year Award.

Representative Carter also participates in multiple community service organizations and has been recognized for her service through several civic awards.  In 2012, she received the Loyce W. Turner Public Service Award and an Above and Beyond Award from 4-H in honor of her support of youth development education.   In addition, she was named Valdosta’s Woman of the Year in 2002 and Brooks County’s Woman of the Year in 2014. She also received the Liberty Bell Award from the Valdosta Bar Association, the Mac McLane Award from Leadership Lowndes, and holds an honorary state FFA degree. In 2013, Rep. Carter received the high honor of being named one of only four “Power Women” in the state by Georgia Trend Magazine.

Rep. Carter is an alumni of Leadership Lowndes, Leadership Georgia, Valdosta Junior Service League, First Lady’s Children’s Cabinet, and the Valdosta-North Rotary Club. Upon resignation, she noted she looks forward to continuing participation in her community.  “Even though my work will be statewide, I will continue to reside in South Georgia,” she stated. “This is where my home and my heart are located.”

Bobby Christine has been confirmed by the United States Senate as the new United States Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia.

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today applauded the Senate’s unanimous confirmation of Christine.

“Bobby Christine has served our state and nation in countless ways, including in the U.S. military as Judge Advocate General in Iraq, and I look forward to his continued service as U.S. attorney,” Isakson said in a news release from his office. “I applaud the Senate for its bipartisan unanimous confirmation of Bobby, and I am proud that he will be serving in this important role.”

Christine replaced Augusta attorney Ed Tarver, who was appointed by President Obama to the job in 2009. Tarver was one of the 46 U.S. attorneys asked to resign by President Trump when he took office.

The Southern District of Georgia includes 43 of Georgia’s 159 counties in the southeastern region of the state.

Former First Daughters Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush will be in Metro Atlanta this weekend on a book tour.

[Their book] “Sisters First” may help put an end to that. Less celebrity tell-all than a raising of the blinds on two simultaneously intertwined and independent lives, the book largely comprises alternating chapters written by Hager Bush and her sister, Barbara Pierce Bush.

The fraternal twin daughters of former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, will headline a sold-out event at the Book Festival of the MJCCA on Saturday night. They’ll be “in conversation” with best-selling novelist and Atlantan Emily Giffin.

At Georgetown University, Congressman John Lewis (D-Atlanta) called the Trump Administration “hell on wheels.”

Republican Businessman Clay Tippins has kicked off his campaign for Governor.

Clay Tippins, 44, formally entered the race Wednesday to succeed a term-limited Gov. Nathan Deal. He enters the race as a virtual blank slate, with no public profile or voting record, little name recognition and without the huge trove of cash needed to finance his campaign on his own.

A graduate of Shiloh High School, Tippins was captain of Stanford University’s swim team and joined the elite Navy SEALs shortly after graduating. In the mid-2000s, he re-enlisted in the Navy Reserves and was recently dispatched to Iraq for a counter-terrorism tour of duty.

He’s now an executive vice president of Capgemini, the global consulting firm, and lives with his wife and two kids in Buckhead.

Tippins kicked off his campaign at his Buckhead headquarters and dozens of supporters, including his uncle, state Sen. Lindsey Tippins. He compared the campaign to a “mission” that he’s determined to successfully carry out.

Tippins’s entry to the election probably most affects Senator Hunter Hill, whose campaigns have always highlighted his military service and who also shares a geographic base in Buckhead and Vinings.

“A Voice for all of Georgia” is a group attempting to recall Secretary of State Brian Kemp.

The group needs to collect nearly 800,000 signatures of registered voters by December 27 to put the recall on the ballot.

The number of signatures needed, as well as the fact that historically, roughly half of election petition signatures are invalidated, make this more of a negative public relations campaign than an actual recall.

The Liberal Athens tabloid Flagpole has an interesting story on the Democratic victories in this month’s special legislative elections.

[Republican Houston] Gaines made some strategic choices that, in retrospect, obviously didn’t work. He labeled himself “the voice of a new generation,” but surrounded himself with old-school Athens figures like Denson and Vince and Barbara Dooley. It seemed like he was the only person in his campaign photos under 70. Past ACCDC chairman Russell Edwards hounded him about Trump, and he never could figure out a good answer. Then he stumbled again when Flagpole lobbed him a softball about his “unique perspective,” and he responded that, “It’s obvious just by looking at us that we have a different perspective.” He might have meant their age, but he was running against a Latina woman, so not everyone took it that way.

In the end, Gaines couldn’t justify why he was running as a 22-year-old, other than that a lot of powerful people liked him. Gonzalez has a lifetime of experience as a working-class mom and as a media and entertainment lawyer, and voters grew more comfortable with her as they got to know her.

“I think it was a lack of motivation” among Republicans, said Watkinsville City Councilman Dan Matthews. “[Gaines] didn’t have an issue that fired people up, and the lack of experience led people to not want to vote for him.”

Meanwhile, Wallace’s Republican opponents—Tom Lord, Steven Strickland and Marcus Wiedower—all wholeheartedly embraced Trump. That didn’t work, either.

While Gonzalez emphasized progressive, populist positions like Medicaid expansion, a $15 minimum wage and net neutrality, Wallace ran a more centrist campaign focused on pocketbook issues like lowering Georgia’s car insurance rates, which are among the highest in the nation. “My goal in entering this race was to push the conversation back to the middle, where I think most of this district, this state, this country lives,” Wallace said.

Bob Trammell must have known something we didn’t. House Democrats recently elected the Luthersville representative their leader—replacing Stacey Abrams, who resigned to run for governor—and he trekked all the way to Athens to drop in on Gonzalez and Wallace. After years of leaving deep-red districts uncontested, Democrats ran for all eight open seats and flipped three of them.

“I think the takeaway is we should always strive to have competition,” Trammell said. “We should contest districts like this [119] where we haven’t had candidates, because voters are craving choice.”

If there’s one lesson for Democrats and Republicans to take from the Athens elections in HD 117 and HD 119, it’s that step one to an election victory is a name on the ballot.

Absentee votes appear to have swung the Hampton City Council elections.

Just over 13 percent, or approximately 135, of the 1,035 votes cast in the city of Hampton’s election this year were submitted by mail. That’s more than the average 3 percent of absentee voters in the cities of McDonough, Stockbridge and Locust Grove.

Winners Mayor Steve Hutchison and council members-elect Errol Mitchell, Willie Turner and Elton Brown each received 100 or more absentee votes in the election.

The defeated candidates received eight votes or fewer from absentee voters.

“We win the best way we know how. We do know a lot of our people, if they can do absentee, they prefer not to go to the polls,” said Turner. “It was up for us to get on the ground and rattle the ones we can in the neighborhoods. We needed to get as many absentee votes as we could on the ground. If we could be competitive out there, then we knew the absentee could be the key to pull us over the top. We knew the community and from the last election a lot didn’t want to go to the polls. So we talked to them and told them they need to do absentee ballots.”

The Republican Governors Association is meeting in Austin, Texas this week ahead of the 2018 elections.

Vice President Mike Pence will be the keynote speaker during the two-day gathering of the Republican Governors Association, which kicks off Wednesday in Austin, Texas.

Earlier this year, Democrats lost special congressional elections in Kansas, Montana, Georgia, and South Carolina, but last week won the governorships in Virginia and New Jersey. The party also erased a previously dominant Republican majority in the Virginia House and gained control of Washington state’s Senate.

Republicans will still hold a 33 to 16 advantage in governorships nationwide after January. Alaska Gov. Bill Walker is an independent up for re-election next year.

The Democratic successes revealed some potentially troublesome trends for Republicans. In Virginia, suburban women failed to turn out strongly for GOP candidates. In 2016, that demographic helped put Mr. Trump in the White House. By comparison, minority turnout for Democrats was strong.

Republican Governors Association spokesman Jon Thompson called the results a “voice of displeasure with some things that are happening in Washington.”

Even so, Mr. Thompson said Republicans should not panic.

“You already have Republican governors in some blue states that have their own brand separate from Washington,” said Thompson, pointing to Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Larry Hogan of Maryland.

Georgia’s own Paul Bennecke serves as Executive Director of the Republican Governors Association.

National GOP Strategists are also accelerating their plans for 2018 ahead of midterm elections, where the party holding the White House usually loses seats.

Republican strategists are warning that some of the party’s veteran House incumbents aren’t adequately preparing for the 2018 election, putting the GOP majority at risk by their failure to recognize the dangerous conditions facing them.

Nearly three dozen Republicans were outraised by their Democratic challengers in the most recent fundraising quarter. Others, the strategists say, are failing to maintain high profiles in their districts or modernize their campaigns by using data analytics in what is shaping up as a stormy election cycle.

“There are certainly incumbent members out there who need to work harder and raise more money if they want to win,” said Corry Bliss, executive director of the Congressional Leadership Fund, the House GOP’s top super PAC. “They’re fundamentally not prepared for how they’re about to be attacked.”

After Democrats’ sweeping victories last week, Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican polling firm, wrote a pointed memo — titled “Surviving the 2018 Election” — addressing Republican incumbents. The firm counseled incumbents to start their reelection campaigns earlier than planned, to do early message testing and to begin planning their voter turnout operation now, as opposed to next fall.

“Some [members] get it and some don’t,” said Glen Bolger, a Republican pollster with POS. “First thing we’re saying to them is, ‘Don’t be in denial, this can happen to you.’”

The [Congressional Leadership Fund]  test-ran the on-the-ground strategy this spring in Georgia’s special House election, where more than one-third of its spending to help Republican Karen Handel went into its field program and other non-TV work. The super PAC will likely need to do the same next November for GOP voters, who have grown frustrated with Congress’ failure to repeal Obamacare.

Stockbridge city government could lose between $4.2 million and $6.1 million in annual funding if a new city of Eagles Landing is incorporated.

City spokeswoman Charisma Webster said Mayor Judy Neal and the city council heard the results Nov. 8 from the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government in a hearing before the state Senate committee on state and local governmental operations.

Henry delegation members District 17 State Sen. Rick Jeffares, R-McDonough, and state representatives Dale Rutledge, Andy Welch and Brian Strickland submitted bills supporting the city of Eagle’s Landing in the 2017 session, which can be carried over in 2018.

If enacted into law and approved by voters, the legislation can be “damaging,” Neal said.

“To remove between 44 percent and 64 percent of the city’s revenues is wrong and will tear this community apart,” she said in a statement.

Webster said the property proposed to be de-annexed will, if approved, put about 33 percent of the existing city’s population into the new one.

It will also relocate 48 percent of the assessed value of the city’s residential properties and 54 percent of commercial properties’ assessed value, she said.

The Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District (CID) has changed its name to Gateway 85 Gwinnett CID.

The United States House of Representatives passed a defense bill that includes money to keep A-10s flying.

The 2018 defense spending bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday includes money to keep Warthogs flying.

The bill contains $103 million for replacing aging wings for the Air Force’s A-10C “Warthog” ground attack planes, some of which are stationed at Moody AFB. Lack of money for replacing the aging parts led an Air Force general earlier this year to warn that some of the Warthogs would have to be grounded.

Boeing is under contract with the Air Force to deliver 173 wingsets through 2017. Defense News reports that Boeing is having trouble delivering wingsets on time due to a part that is being reworked. Moody’s Warthogs are newer so the base “is in better shape than a lot of units,” said Rachel Ledbetter, spokeswoman for Ga. Rep. Austin Scott (R-8th Dist.)

Tybee Island will begin a program of grants targeted to raising some homes above flood levels.


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

James Oglethorpe left London on November 15, 1732 headed to a Thames River port named Gravesend, where he would board the ship Anne and lead the first colonists to Georgia.

On November 15, 1777, the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union were adopted in York, Pennsylvania.

Congress was a single house, with each state having one vote, and a president elected to chair the assembly. Although Congress did not have the right to levy taxes, it did have authority over foreign affairs and could regulate a national army and declare war and peace. Amendments to the Articles required approval from all 13 states. On March 2, 1781, following final ratification by the 13th state, the Articles of Confederation became the law of the land.

Edward Langworthy of Savannah, Edward Telfair, and John Walton signed the Articles of Confederation for Georgia.

Stephen Heard Conan OBrien

On November 15, 1815, Patriot leader Stephen Heard died in Elbert County, GA. Heard served on Georgia’s Executive Council during part of the American Revolution and as its President from 1780 to 1781. He later served in the Georgia House of Representatives, as a judge in Elbert County, and as a delegate to Georgia’s 1975 Constitutional Convention. The above portrait of Conan O’Brien Stephen Heard hangs in the basement (pied a terre) level of the Georgia Governor’s Mansion.

On November 15, 1864, General William Tecumseh Sherman’s army left Atlanta on its March to the Sea.

On November 15, the army began to move, burning the industrial section of Atlanta before leaving. One witness reported “immense and raging fires lighting up whole heavens… huge waves of fire roll up into the sky; presently the skeleton of great warehouses stand out in relief against sheets of roaring, blazing, furious flames.” Sherman’s famous destruction of Georgia had begun.

On November 15, 1977, President Jimmy Carter hosted the Shah of Iran in Washington, where they spent two days discussing U.S-Iranian relations.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal issued an Executive Order implementing the unanimous recommendation of the  Review Commission and suspending Worth County Sheriff Jeff Hobby from office. Deal later appointed Bobby G. Sapp to serve as Worth County Sheriff until the charges against Hobby are disposed of or until the end of the current term.

United States Senator Johnny Isakson told Rotarians Monday that Roy Moore should withdraw from the Alabama Senate race.

Addressing a crowd of about 150 Monday afternoon at a Rotary Club luncheon, Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, joined a growing list of Republican senators calling on Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore to step down.

“The allegations seem a lot more credible than any defense he has put up.” Isakson said. “Something like that is inexcusable and should be intolerable.”

Isakson said nothing is more important than one’s integrity, and the U.S. Senate cannot afford to house anyone with questionable moral character. But in the unlikely event Moore heeds the calls to step aside, a Democrat winning the seat in deep red Alabama could tip the scales in close votes on the Senate floor.

“As a member of the Republican Party and an elected Republican, there’s no circumstance under which having a Democrat would be better (than having a Republican),” said Isakson, “That said, anybody who violates the moral code of ethics and decency should not be serving in the United States Senate.”

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue designated 83 Georgia counties as disaster areas after Hurricane Irma.

Counties declared under the disaster designation include Glynn, Brantley, Camden, McIntosh and Ware counties, among others.

The declaration means farm operators in the designated counties are eligible to be considered for certain assistance from the Farm Service Agency, according to a news release from the office of U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-1. The assistance includes FSA emergency loans.

“I am very glad this declaration was made today,” Carter said in the release. “Even though time has passed, our community is still rebuilding from Hurricane Irma. One community with an especially hard road to recovery is our agricultural industry. I am glad this new assistance is available and we will be there to assist every step of the way.”

The Georgia Senate Study Committee on Special Tax Exemption, chaired by Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell) is expected to recommend changes to procedures for the adoption of targeted tax breaks.

Under the proposal, the Georgia House would file its usual plethora of tax break bills. The Senate would study the bills that pass the House over the interim between sessions, then decide on them the next year.

The General Assembly currently doesn’t given final approval to pension bills until after they’ve been studied over the interim, so the idea isn’t entirely new.

While the change on tax bills may not seem revolutionary, it would slow down the process dramatically from the way things are usually done. Typically, the House passes a slew of tax breaks on to the Senate with little time to review them before the 40th and final day of the session. They often are voted on, with limited study, on the 39th or 40th days of a session.

State Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, the panel’s chairman, said his committee’s recommendation would give the Senate months to thoroughly vet tax breaks.

“Will it maybe slow things down a little? Yes, but I think the transparency and the good fiduciary part of me says that is the right thing to do,” he said.

Northeast Georgia Medical Center introduced a new peer-support program for patients needing addiction recovery.

Northeast Georgia Medical Center unveiled its ED-CARES Peer Support program Wednesday at its Gainesville campus. The program connects “certified addiction recovery empowerment specialists” in the emergency department.

“We’re going to match up people in recovery with those folks who experience overdose to say, ‘What do you want to do next? I’ve been right where you are. Let me help you,’” said Neil Campbell, executive director for the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse.

The Medical Center is the first hospital in Georgia helping overdose survivors work with peer recovery specialists. Northeast Georgia Health System CEO and President Carol Burrell said the program “demonstrates our willingness to continue to lead the way.”

In May, Gov. Nathan Deal signed the Jeffrey Dallas Gay Jr. Act, which made Naloxone available over the counter. Naloxone, often seen as Narcan, is an opioid antidote.

The Medical Center handled 696 overdose patients in 2016 compared to 281 cases in 2015.

“It’s so prevalent and so widespread and people don’t realize that it’s affecting every family, all families,” said state Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville.

The Georgia Ports Authority approved projects to increase the rail and road throughput from the port.

The Georgia Ports Authority approved rail and gate expansion projects on Monday that will double on-dock rail capacity and open service to inland markets.

The board unanimously approved spending $42.2 million as part of GPA’s $128 million Mason Mega Rail Terminal project.

The project will reduce travel time from Savannah to an arc of inland markets from Memphis to Chicago by 24 hours, Lynch said.

The project benefits imports and exports, and it will also provide much needed relief for Garden City residents and travelers stopped at railroad crossings throughout the day.

“The focus is two-fold,” said Griff Lynch, GPA executive director. “One is to increase capacity for growth (at the port) and to alleviate impact on the community.”

There will be a significant decrease in rail traffic through neighborhoods, Lynch said.

Estimates are that instead of railroad crossings being blocked maybe 10 times a day, it will drop to once or twice a day.

The Medical Association of Georgia honored Dallas Gay for his work fighting the opioid epidemic.

Gay received the Donna Glass Non-Physician Distinguished Service Award, which honors those who are not doctors that make “contributions to the advancement and support of medicine.”

Gay, whose grandson Jeffrey Dallas Gay Jr. died in 2012 from an overdose, has worked to increase availability of naloxone for first responders. The drug, often seen as Narcan, is the antidote in overdose cases.

In May, Gov. Nathan Deal signed the Jeffrey Dallas Gay Jr. Act, which made naloxone available over the counter. Gay and the Partnership for a Drug Free Hall have also worked on expanding access to a downloadable checklist for those responding to an overdose.

The Augusta Commission extended the contract of City Administrator for three more years.

Columbus City Council will create a Liberty District to encourage revitalization around the historic Liberty Theatre.

Simona Perry will serve as the new Executive Director of the Ogeechee Riverkeeper.

The 294-mile blackwater river flowing through portions of 22 Georgia counties is home to unique fish and wildlife as well as a beloved recreational resource for fishing, swimming and boating. The waterway has largely recovered from a 2011 fish kill, Perry said.

“It’s relatively clean and undeveloped,” she said. “There are always issues but we have the opportunity to be the model to keep your waterway what it should be.”

The Ogeechee Riverkeeper organization, which aims to protect, preserve, and improve the water quality of the basin, began in its current form in 2004 with the merger of the Canoochee Riverkeeper and the Friends of the Ogeechee group. It’s licensed by the Waterkeeper Alliance. That massive 2011 fish kill on the river prompted a Clean Water Act lawsuit settlement with King America Finishing (now Milliken), which produced a stricter discharge permit, more frequent and transparent water testing protocol, and a $2.5 million settlement, about $1.3M of which funded an endowment to continue efforts to research and protect the river.

The Georgia Water Coalition released its annual “Dirty Dozen” list of threatened water resources.

Members of the Lowndes County Board of Education disagree on whether to hold out-of-town meetings.

DeKalb Medical and Emory Healthcare have signed a letter of intent to develop a partnership.

The letter of intent means that DeKalb Medical, which has been seeking such a partnership, has ended discussions with other systems and is entering exclusive talks with Emory.

“We think there’s a great synergy between the academic health system [of Emory] and the community-based system,’’ Cheryl Iverson, a DeKalb Medical vice president, said Tuesday after the announcement. “We felt it was the best situation for us.”

“We’re engaged and hoping to get married,’’ she said.

“Both Emory and DeKalb Medical have a strong and historical commitment to providing exceptional care to the community,” Dr. Jonathan S. Lewin, Emory University executive vice president for health affairs and CEO of Emory Healthcare, said in a statement Tuesday. “We understand the importance of both community hospitals and academic medical centers in delivering optimal care to our patients. A partnership with DeKalb Medical will strategically support these efforts.”

Lewin added in an email that both Emory Healthcare and DeKalb Medical “have a strong historical commitment to DeKalb County.  Emory has had a presence in DeKalb County for over 100 years, with more than half of our employees residing in DeKalb and the surrounding vicinity.  DeKalb Medical similarly has a strong history of 56 years serving the patients and families of this region.”

DeKalb Medical has been challenged financially in recent years. The system reported a loss of $15.3 million on net revenue of $465 million in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016.

Hospital officials have linked financial difficulties in part to a high level of uninsured patients.

DeKalb County legislators predict that 2018 will see a short legislative session.

By way of background, 2018 won’t just be  an election year, it’s a year of top-level turnover in state government. The governor is term-limited, the lieutenant governor is one of several folks running for the top job, and every other office under the Gold Dome is up for election as well.

So there’s some incentive for lawmakers to pack their 40 days of work close together at the beginning of the year so they can close the session and start campaigning.

But, there’s also an incentive to push for bills that look good on campaign mailers.

I think there will be significant pressure within the legislature to get out of session early, but counterpressure will exist in the form of uncertainty over federal spending plans and their effect on the Georgia state budget, the only legislation that is required to pass in the session.

State Rep. Buzz Brockway (R-Gwinnett) proposed allowing the creation of special tax districts to fund transit expansion.

 A Georgia lawmaker has a new plan for how to raise money to expand mass transit: let property owners near existing transit stations tax themselves.

State Rep. Buzz Brockway, R-Lawrenceville, presented the idea at a meeting of the House Commission on Transit Governance and Funding this week.

“If the people in [those areas] wanted to self-tax, they could self-tax, and that [revenue] would be given to a commission who would then dedicate those funds to expanding rail,” Brockway explained.

Three-quarters of property owners located within a quarter-mile of an existing transit station — like a MARTA station — would have to agree to create the special tax district.

The revenues collected in the “transit rail improvement districts” would go to expanding rail mass transit.

State Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville) responded to the idea via Facebook.

Brett Harrell Train Tax

 Georgia Senate leaders are discussing seeking Medicare waivers to allow programs tailored to Georgia’s population needs.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle formed a Health Care Reform Task Force to come up with a way to restructure how the state delivers health care services. He said the task force will bring forth its reform ideas in January.

Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, a Rome Republican, said recently that the task force is looking at different types of proposals to help uninsured Georgians keep their health problems from escalating into chronic or serious conditions, the Rome News-Tribune reported recently.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, told media recently that Georgia should “put everything on the table” when it comes to covering more people.

“If you ask me what keeps me awake at night, it is that uncompensated care,’’ said Unterman, chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. “When you’re in the middle of the crisis, you have to look at everything, you have to be amenable, and I believe you have to compromise.”

Unterman told an Atlanta reporter that her ideas do not include a full-blown Medicaid expansion. She has narrower targets: Young people with behavioral problems, and those who are dealing with opioid addiction.

“It’s not opening up the door for a million people. It’s opening up the door for a hundred thousand [frequent patients] who you know you’re spending a lot of money on,” Unterman said. “Let’s bring the cost down. Let’s give them a better quality of life. To me, it’s just compassion.”


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

General Sherman’s army prepared for the March to the Sea on November 14, 1864. The March to the Sea began on November 15, 1964.

The planned route for the 17th Corps was to march from White Hall to Stockbridge, McDonough, Jackson, Monticello, and Gordon and encountered Confederate regiments from Kentucky at the Battle of Stockbridge. To the west, one or two Kentucky regiments engaged the 15th Corps in another skirmish.  [E]arlier that morning, Maj. Gen. Henry Slocum had led the 20th Corps eastward out of Atlanta with instructions to follow the Georgia Railroad eastward to Decatur, Lithonia, Covington, and Madison, tearing up the railroad along the way.

With three of his four columns on the road, Gen. Sherman remained in Atlanta with the 14th corps to oversee the destruction of anything with possible military value to the Confederacy. The next day, they would then proceed east on the road to Lithonia, then in a southeastern direction to Milledgeville, where the 20th and 14th corps would reunite in seven days.

On November 14, 1944, the Constitutional Convention working on a revised document for Georgia reversed its position on home rule that had been adopted the previous day on the motion of Governor Ellis Arnall.

Three astronauts with connections to Georgia – Eric Boe, Robert Kimbrough, and Sandra Magnus – were aboard the space shuttle Endeavor when it lifted off on November 14, 2008.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal issued an Executive Order implementing the unanimous recommendation of the  Review Commission and suspending Worth County Sheriff Jeff Hobby from office.

United States Senator Johnny Isakson told Rotarians yesterday that Roy Moore should withdraw from the Alabama Senate race.

Addressing a crowd of about 150 Monday afternoon at a Rotary Club luncheon, Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, joined a growing list of Republican senators calling on Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore to step down.

“The allegations seem a lot more credible than any defense he has put up.” Isakson said. “Something like that is inexcusable and should be intolerable.”

Isakson said nothing is more important than one’s integrity, and the U.S. Senate cannot afford to house anyone with questionable moral character. But in the unlikely event Moore heeds the calls to step aside, a Democrat winning the seat in deep red Alabama could tip the scales in close votes on the Senate floor.

“As a member of the Republican Party and an elected Republican, there’s no circumstance under which having a Democrat would be better (than having a Republican),” said Isakson, “That said, anybody who violates the moral code of ethics and decency should not be serving in the United States Senate.”


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

President George Washington returned to the City of Washington on November 13, 1789, ending the first Presidential tour.

On the same day, Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter to his friend Jean-Baptiste LeRoy, in which he said,

“Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

On November 13, 1865, the United States government issued the first Gold Certificates.

The Georgia General Assembly adopted a resolution against ratifying the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution on November 13, 1866.

In deciding not to ratify the 14th Amendment, the General Assembly adopted a committee report explaining that: “1. If Georgia is not a State composing part of the Federal Government known as the Government of the United States, amendments to the Constitution of the United States are not properly before this body. 2. If Georgia is a State composing part of the Federal Government … , these these amendments are not proposed according to the requirements of the Federal Constitution, and are proposed in such a manner as to forbid the legislature from discussing the merits of the amendments without an implied surrender of the rights of the State.”

Excavation began for a new Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta on the site of the former City Hall/Fulton County Courthouse on November 13, 1884.

Walt Disney released “Fantasia” on November 13, 1940.

Georgia Governor and Constitutional Commission Chair Ellis Arnall moved that a home rule provision be included in the new draft of the state Constitution and his motion passed 8-7 on November 13, 1944.

On November 13, 1956, the United States Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that struck down a law requiring segregation on buses in Montgomery, Alabama.

Ronald Reagan announced his campaign for the Republican nomination for President of the United States on November 13, 1979.

“The people have not created this disaster in our economy; the federal government has. It has overspent, overestimated, and over regulated. It has failed to deliver services within the revenues it should be allowed to raise from taxes. In the thirty-four years since the end of World War II, it has spent 448 billion dollars more than it has collection in taxes – 448 billion dollars of printing press money, which has made every dollar you earn worth less and less. At the same time, the federal government has cynically told us that high taxes on business will in some way “solve” the problem and allow the average taxpayer to pay less. Well, business is not a taxpayer it is a tax collector. Business has to pass its tax burden on to the customer as part of the cost of doing business. You and I pay the taxes imposed on business every time we go to the store. Only people pay taxes and it is political demagoguery or economic illiteracy to try and tell us otherwise.”

“The key to restoring the health of the economy lies in cutting taxes. At the same time, we need to get the waste out of federal spending. This does not mean sacrificing essential services, nor do we need to destroy the system of benefits which flow to the poor, the elderly, the sick and the handicapped. We have long since committed ourselves, as a people, to help those among us who cannot take care of themselves. But the federal government has proven to be the costliest and most inefficient provider of such help we could possibly have.”

“I believe this nation hungers for a spiritual revival; hungers to once again see honor placed above political expediency; to see government once again the protector of our liberties, not the distributor of gifts and privilege. Government should uphold and not undermine those institutions which are custodians of the very values upon which civilization is founded—religion, education and, above all, family. Government cannot be clergyman, teacher and parent. It is our servant, beholden to us.”

“We who are privileged to be Americans have had a rendezvous with destiny since the moment in 1630 when John Winthrop, standing on the deck of the tiny Arbella off the coast of Massachusetts, told the little band of pilgrims, “We shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us so that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword throughout the world.”

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated on November 13, 1982 in Washington, DC.

On November 13, 2006, groundbreaking began for a memorial to Martin Luther King, Jr. on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Hillary Clinton brings her blamestorming tour to Atlanta today.

Hillary Clinton is headed to Atlanta on Monday for an hourlong conversation as part of her book tour.

Her visit to the Fox Theatre is part of a 16-city nationwide tour where she’s mixed self-deprecating humor with analysis of her 2016 defeat to Republican Donald Trump.

The tour is part of ongoing Democratic hand-wringing about last year’s vote, marked by new questions about whether the Democratic National Committee favored her campaign over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ insurgent bid.

Stephe Koontz became the only openly-transgender person currently elected to local office in Georgia.

When Stephe Koontz knocked on doors ahead of the Doraville City Council election, she was pleased to find people who wanted to talk about potholes and code enforcement, not her gender identity.

Koontz likes to stick to the issues of local government — she lists ensuring the city’s growth while maintaining the hometown feel as what spurred her to run — but she is proud of the bit of ground she’s breaking.

“One of the reasons I ran is, I feel transgender youths need a role model and to be able to see that they do have a future,” she said Thursday. “I’ve been getting dozens of messages since the election from parents of trans youth who are in tears. I tear up every time I read one.”

Koontz is believed to be the second trans person elected to office in Georiga.

Michelle Bruce was sued over her candidacy for the Riverdale City Council in 2007. The trans woman had first been elected unopposed in 2003, but an opponent to her re-election filed the suit, claiming she had misled voters about her identity, though other officials said it was well-known around town that she was transgender.

The Georgia Supreme Court eventually sided with Bruce, but she had already lost the election.

Voter turnout surged in Loganville over past years.

More than 1,100 voters cast ballots in Loganville’s city elections Tuesday, surpassing the number of ballots cast when the mayor’s seat was contested in both 2010 and 2013, according to city officials.

City spokesman Robbie Schwartz said 1,148 of the city’s 7,876 registered voters cast ballots in this year’s election. By comparison, 1,011 ballots were cast in the 2010 election and 780 ballots were cast in the 2013 election.

Niko’s Wine Corner in Snellville is urging a referendum to allow package liquor sales in the Gwinnett County municipality.

The shop’s Scott Danos said the store wants to expand into packaged liquor sales. He also said state law requires a referendum be held in the city on whether Snellville officials can issue permits for those sales to take place.

And the referendum has to be requested via a petition signed by a certain number of registered voters — the number being equal to 35 percent of number of people registered to vote in the city’s last election.

Hence the reason why residents will begin seeing people asking for their signatures.

“We work at a high-end wine and beer store in Snellville and want to expand the liquor side of it, so to do that, we have to jump through these hoops,” Danos said. “So we’re beginning. We’re paying people. We’re hiring people to go door-to-door. We’ve already begun this.”

If the referendum passes, the City Council will have the authority to determine how many packaged liquor sales licenses will be handed out each year. Officials at Niko’s Wine Corner are optimistic about their chances of eventually getting a license though.

“We wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t think we’ve have a good chance,” Danos said.

U.S. Representative Karen Handel (R-Roswell) did a Q&A with Georgia Trend.

GT: What would you like to see in a tax reform bill?

Handel: Making sure corporate relief is coupled with individual relief, because I believe firmly that middle-class Americans and middle-class Georgians need relief. Individual relief is how we ensure that smaller companies and companies organized as S corps and LLCs also are able to benefit from lower rates.

GT: What else?

Handel: Permanent repeal of the death tax. Relief for companies to be able to repatriate dollars that are sitting overseas, to get those dollars back here on the ground in the U.S. That’s investment, and investment means jobs.

GT: It sounds as though you are comfortable with the work of the House.

Handel: Making legislation is not so different than at the statehouse. The real work is not all that sexy and interesting – it’s just hard. When we take up the appropriations bills, instead of all 12 individually, we’re taking them as a package, which I think is going to help the process. There are going to be a lot of amendments. Several human trafficking bills will go to the floor.

GT: You are co-sponsoring one of those human trafficking bills, aren’t you?

Handel: My friend [Missouri Republican Rep.] Amy Wagner’s bill. It will give local law enforcement a little more latitude in how they can investigate and try to make the arrest case for predators on social media. You can imagine some of the First Amendment challenges and privacy challenges. It’s a really, really solid piece of legislation. I’d like to think it would have some fairly significant number of Democrats supporting it, so it’s a bipartisan bill.

State Senator Josh McKoon will introduce legislation to change Special Election “jungle” rules.

State Sen. Josh McKoon, a Republican candidate for secretary of state, said he’ll file legislation next week that would require both parties to nominate their own candidates in a special election.

It was spurred by the results in Tuesday’s vote to replace Republican Hunter Hill, who vacated the Atlanta-based seat to run for governor. The district was becoming increasingly competitive — Hill only narrowly carried it last year — but few predicted the two top finishers would be Democrats.

That’s exactly what happened with a field of five Republicans splitting the GOP vote, while the two leading Democrats — Jaha Howard and Jen Jordan — carved up the Democratic support. That helped them finish atop the field, even though Republicans narrowly outvoted Democrats overall.

McKoon’s measure would establish party primaries in special elections rather than employing the wide-open races that state law now requires. He called Tuesday’s results “an injustice to the citizens of this state to be denied fair representation.”

The State Committee on Compensation has recommended pay raises for state legislators.

State lawmakers would receive $12,000 raises in 2019 under a proposal by a compensation committee that is also recommending that statewide elected officials and the House speaker see their pay bumped up by $20,000 to $43,000.

The latest compensation committee recommended that legislative pay rise to $29,908. The lieutenant governor, who serves as president of the Senate, would be paid $135,000, rather than the current $91,000.

Ralston is not running for higher office. He, or whoever is speaker in 2019, would see the pay jump from $99,000 to $135,000. Probably just as importantly, the panel recommended the person holding the post be allowed to receive a pension from the State Retirement System.

Other statewide elected officials would receive raises of between about $20,000 and $26,000. The state attorney general’s salary, for instance, would rise from $139,000 to $165,611. The secretary of state’s pay would go to $147,128 from $123,637.

State Rep. Emory Dunahoo (R-Gainesville) writes in favor of religious liberty legislation.

We are being sold a bill of goods that says we must go along in order to compete; we have to be friendly to draw these corporations to provide jobs, we must grow as a state economically and can’t commit economic suicide. Many people in Georgia like our values the way they are and wish them to stay this way.

We are allowing small groups of people in our society to overrule the majority. Why is it that if a conservative statement is made that it is intolerant and if an opposing statement is made it is called the right to free speech? Why are there so many double standards? Where has common sense gone? People find offense in every form, where will it end?

Our founding fathers limited religion in government not because they were opposed to religion but because they didn’t want any one religion to come into power over another religion. After all, that was why they left the Church of England, not because they were agnostics. I truly believe they never thought we would not be a Christian nation and could have never envisioned the path we are currently traveling down.

Judas sold his soul for 30 pieces of silver for what he thought was right. God help us if we make the same mistake.

 The Hall County Board of Tax Assessors is suing the County Board of Equalization over 16 assessments made this year.

The Savannah Morning News reports that this year’s baby snakes are now out in the area.

For those passionate about snakes, discovering a brood of newborn pit vipers is the Holy Grail. A few years ago, while conducting a gopher tortoise survey on a remote part of Fort Stewart, I noticed some colorful, rubbery-appearing objects coiled on saw palmetto fronds 2 to 4 feet off the ground. I had stumbled into a litter of timber rattlesnakes.

I hollered to my tortoise survey colleagues, “Watch your step, these are brand-new; Mom has to be close.”

Sure enough, as the little vipers began dropping from their palmetto perches like so many fanged grenades (upon hitting the ground they slithered, all eight of them, into an old armadillo burrow) one of my colleagues spotted her. She was on the ground, one big step to my right, well-hidden under hanging fronds, curled tight as rattlers are wont to do.

I’m so glad I didn’t read that until after returning from a short trip to Coastal Georgia.

Brunswick officials considering creation of a Tax Allocation District are up against an approaching deadline.

The tax allocation district proposed for the city’s historic core, its waterfront and Gloucester Street and U.S Highway 17 corridors must be approved by the county commission and school board by the end of the year, if they choose to participate.

City commissioners approved the plan Oct. 4. The county commission and school board will vote on the matter Nov. 21 and Dec. 12, respectively.

At stake is whether or not the school board and county commission will contribute future incremental tax growth from properties within the district.

The school board heard about the proposal in October and is still considering the issue, said board spokesman Jim Weidhaas last week.

County commissioners will hear about the proposal at a work session later this month, County Manager Alan Ours said.

Cobb County Commissioners will consider fee increases at their Tuesday meeting.

Smyrna voters will choose between city council candidates Travis Lindley and Maryline Blackburn in a December 5 runoff.

Lindley picked up nearly 32.2 percent of the vote, but below the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid the runoff. Blackburn garnered nearly 28.8 percent of the vote in the five-person race.

Albany Commission Ward 2 incumbent Bobby Coleman meets challenger Matt Fuller in a runoff election.


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

Georgia and American History

Today we celebrate the birth of the United States Marine Corps, which traces its lineage to the Continental Marines, formed by a resolution adopted by the Second Continental Congress on November 10, 1775. Here, former Georgia Governor and United States Senator Zell Miller tells of his decision to join the Marine Corps and the change it made in his life.

The first twenty-three cadets at Virginia Military Institute began their service on November 11, 1839.

On November 12, 1889, the University of Georgia was opened to white female students.

On November 11, 1918, word reached Georgia that an armistice was signed between the Allies and Germany, ending World War One. Georgia Governor Hugh Dorsery declared a state holiday. Armistice Day, marking the end of World War I, was first celebrated on November 11, 1919 and is celebrated on November 11th every year. In 1945, the idea was put forth to expand Armistice Day to honor all veterans and in 1954, Congress made the change to “Veterans Day” official.

The Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery was dedicated on November 11, 1921.

On Armistice Day, in the presence of President Harding and other government, military, and international dignitaries, the unknown soldier was buried with highest honors beside the Memorial Amphitheater. As the soldier was lowered to his final resting place, a two-inch layer of soil brought from France was placed below his coffin so that he might rest forever atop the earth on which he died.

The Tomb of the Unknowns is considered the most hallowed grave at Arlington Cemetery, America’s most sacred military cemetery. The tombstone itself, designed by sculptor Thomas Hudson Jones, was not completed until 1932, when it was unveiled bearing the description “Here Rests in Honored Glory an American Soldier Known but to God.” The World War I unknown was later joined by the unidentified remains of soldiers from America’s other major 20th century wars and the tomb was put under permanent guard by special military sentinels.

A monument to Nancy Hart was dedicated in Hartwell, in Hart County, Georgia, on November 10, 1931. Hart was an active Patriot in the American Revolution.

On November 10, 1934, two years after his election as President, FDR made his 28th trip to Georgia.

In 1938, Congress recognized November 11th as Armistice Day, making it a legal holiday, and in 1954, at the urging of veterans, Congress renamed the holiday “Veterans Day.”

On November 11, 1942, the draft age was lowered to 18 and raised to 37. At the time, African-Americans were excluded from the draft over concerns about a racially-diverse military.

United States Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Moultrie) was born on November 10, 1943. Chambliss was elected to Congress in 1994 as part of the “Republican Revolution” led by Newt Gingrich.

The iron ore freighter SS Edmund Fitzgerald sunk in a winter storm on Lake Superior on November 10, 1975.

The “General Lee” first left the ground, using a ramp to clear a police car, during filming of “The Dukes of Hazzard” on November 11, 1978.

Ronald Reagan became the first President of the United States to address the Japanese Diet in Tokyo on November 11, 1983.

On November 11, 1988, the Georgia Vietnam Memorial was dedicated in front of the Sloppy Floyd state government building across the street from the Georgia State Capitol.

On November 11, 1997, a monument to Georgia’s World War I veterans was dedicated, also in front of the Sloppy Floyd building.

On November 11, 2013, the Atlanta Braves announced they would move from downtown Atlanta to Cobb County.

Former State School Superintendent Linda Schrenko was indicted by federal prosecutors on November 10, 2004 on eighteen counts.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal signed an Executive Order authorizing the demolition of the Georgia Dome.

We’ll be back Monday morning with the latest Georgia Political news, but are truncating our coverage today for reasons I’ll explain on Monday. I hope you all have a great weekend and take a moment to be thankful for our veterans, find a celebration to attend in their honor, or just tell a veteran in your life that you love them.


Georgia Politics, Campaign, and Elections for November 9, 2017

General William Tecumseh Sherman issued Special Field Order No. 120 on November 9, 1864.

Headquarters Military Division of the Mississippi, in the Field, Kingston, Georgia, November 9, 1864

5. To corps commanders alone is intrusted the power to destroy mills, houses, cotton-gins, etc.; and for them this general principle is laid down: In districts and neighborhoods where the army is unmolested, no destruction of such property should be permitted; but should guerrillas or bushwhackers molest our march, or should the inhabitants burn bridges, obstruct roads, or otherwise manifest local hostility, then army commanders should order and enforce a devastation more or less relentless, according to the measure of such hostility.

6. As for horses, mules, wagons, etc., belonging to the inhabitants, the cavalry and artillery may appropriate freely and without limit; discriminating, however, between the rich, who are usually hostile, and the poor and industrious, usually neutral or friendly. Foraging-parties may also take mules or horses, to replace the jaded animals of their trains, or to serve as pack-mules for the regiments of brigades. In all foraging, of whatever kind, the parties engaged will refrain abusive or threatening language, and may, where the officer in command thinks proper, given written certificates of the facts, but no receipts; and they will endeavor to leave with each family a reasonable portion for their maintenance.

7. Negroes who are able-bodied and can be of service to the several columns may be taken along; but each army commander will bear in mind that the question of supplies is a very important one, and this his first duty is to see to those who bear arms.

8. The organization, at once, of a good pioneer battalion for each army corps, composed if possible of Negroes, should be attended to. This battalion should follow the advance-guard, repair roads and double them if possible, so that the columns will not be delayed after reaching bad places.

Former Confederate General John B. Gordon was sworn-in as Governor of Georgia on November 9, 1886.

The next day, November 9, 1932, President-elect FDR addressed a national broadcast to the American people and mentioned that he would spend Thanksgiving at his “second home” in Georgia.

On November 9, 1938, Kristallnacht began the organized destruction and looting of Jewish businesses and homes in Munich, Germany.

On November 9, 1989, the former East Germany announced that citizens could cross the border to West Germany. That night, crowds began tearing down sections of the wall that divided the city.

Georgia Politics, Campaign, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal issued an Executive Order creating and appointing members to the Governor’s Complete County Council in preparation for the next decennial Census.

The Georgia Judicial Nominating Commission has opened nominations for a vacancy on the Superior Court of the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit, which was created by the resignation of the Honorable Frank J. Jordan, Jr. The Chattahoochee Judical Circuit comprises Chattahoochee, Harris, Marion, Muscogee, Talbot, and Taylor Counties. From the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer:

The vacant job will draw interest from a number of prominent local attorneys. At least six contacted by the Ledger-Enquirer this week said they had some interest in the Superior Court position, one of seven such jobs in the circuit.

[State Court Judge Benjamin S.] Richardson, District Attorney Julia Slater, Assistant Chief District Attorney Alonza Whitaker, Juvenile Court Judge Joey Loudermilk, former assistant district attorney LaRae Moore and criminal defense attorney Stacey Jackson said they were interested in the opening.

“If the opportunity presented itself, I would certainly explore it,” Richardson said Wednesday. “I think it’s a awesome opportunity and I can see why so many people would be interested.”

Slater, a Democrat, was on the short list submitted by the Judicial Nominating Commission to Deal, a Republican, in 2013.

“I would certainly like to be a Superior Court judge at some point,” Slater said on Tuesday. “I know the posting has just gone up, but I would be interested if I were nominated.”

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp‘s office has opened an investigation against Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.

Sources told only Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Aaron Diamant that the investigation started after a complaint about a video posted on Reed’s Instagram and Facebook accounts.

The video, which appears to be filmed outside Fickett Elementary School on Rux Road, showed Reed, his wife and his daughter.

n the video, the Reed family urges people to vote and announces that they voted for Keisha Lance Bottoms.

“I’m Mayor Kasim Reed, here in Southwest Atlanta at Fickett Elementary School. And my wife, Sarah-Elisabeth, and my daughter, Maria Kristan, and I, we just voted for the next mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms,” Reed says in the video.

According to Georgia law: “No person shall solicit votes in any manner or by any means or method on any day in which ballots are being cast within 150 feet of the outer edge of any building within which a polling place is established.”

The video on Reed’s accounts seems to show Reed and his family within that 150-foot limit.

In a written statement, a Secretary of State spokesperson told Channel 2 Action News: “We received a complaint yesterday regarding statements that Mayor Reed allegedly made at his polling place. We review every complaint that we receive, and we have opened a State Election Board investigation into the matter. We cannot say anything further about this pending investigation at this time.”

A violation of the 150-foot rule would be a misdemeanor.

There’s a lot I dislike about the way Mayor Reed has conducted his administration, but this is pretty small potatoes.

Georgia cities have elected at least four new African-American Mayors. From

African Americans were elected mayor for 1st time:
Statesboro GA, Jonathan McCollar
Milledgeville GA, Mary Parham Copelan
Cairo GA, Booker Gainor

Mary Parham-Copelan was also the first woman elected Mayor of Milledgeville.

Norcross elected Craig Gordon as Mayor.

The city of Norcross made longtime councilman Craig Newton Gwinnett’s first-ever black mayor during Tuesday’s election. Newton was not challenged.

And in Loganville — which is in both Gwinnett and Walton counties — former councilman Rey Martinez roughly doubled the unofficial vote total of opponent Donna B. Jones. It’s believed he will become Gwinnett’s first-ever Latino mayor.

Martinez, a U.S. Navy veteran and restaurateur, made a name for himself last fall by helping lead several Georgia rallies for then-candidates Donald Trump and Mike Pence.

Gwinnett is a majority-minority county, meaning it has more non-white residents than white ones. But it has never seen a non-white candidate elected to the county commission or school board.

The AJC writes that Republican state legislators may consider changing district lines for the three legislative districts that went from GOP control to Democratic control this week.

Majority parties — in Georgia that’s the Republicans — don’t like losing seats, and they could file legislation during the session to redraw the district boundaries of at least some of the new Democratic lawmakers.

They could, for instance, add white, conservative neighborhoods to the districts, subtracting Democratic and minority voters, in hopes of making them more Republican by election time 2018.

Democrats did similar voter switcheroos to Republicans when they were in charge, and barely a post-election session goes by without the General Assembly at least rumbling about redrawing lines — most typically to protect incumbents.

Our House Republican Caucus and Georgia GOP are already working to reclaim those seats lost last night in next year’s elections, when a greater percentage of Georgians will go to the polls,” said House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge. Ralston didn’t mention any changes in districts, but he said the newly won Democratic seats will be the top targets of House Republicans.

Georgia Democrats think those seat flips augur great things for the 2018 elections, but they don’t agree on why or how.

The Georgia results were part of a national wave that defeated Republican gubernatorial candidates in Virginia and New Jersey. And with a wide-open race for governor next year, Democrats Stacey Abrams and Stacey Evans trumpeted the results as validation of their strategies.

Supporters of Abrams said Ralph Northam’s victory in Virginia confirms their approach to the election, which hinges on energizing the party’s base. Her campaign said it was “proof that the momentum is on our side going into 2018.”

Evans’ backers said Northam’s success in districts carried by Trump, coupled with the Democratic wins in Georgia GOP strongholds, shows there’s an opening for Democrats like her who aim for disaffected Republican voters.

“While every race is important, only 1 percent of seats in the House changed hands between parties,” Ralston said in a statement. “I would caution against reading too much into such a minor shift.”

Some Republicans didn’t spin defeats late Tuesday in House districts covering parts of Athens and Watkinsville. Trump had carried both districts in November, and Republicans mounted solid and well-financed contenders for the seats.

“It’s a testament to the importance of a party contesting every seat possible,” Republican operative Todd Rehm said. “Kudos to Georgia Democrats for their recruitment efforts.”

He added that he’s not sure what precedent the votes set, since special elections are imperfect predictors of midterm votes. But he warned that the results will likely spur a new Democratic mission to contest all possible elections, even in deeply conservative areas.

Troy Brumbalow defeated 47-year incumbent Cumming Mayor Ford Gravitt.

Local business owner and Forsyth County native Troy Brumbalow defeated incumbent Mayor H. Ford Gravitt in Tuesday’s voting. Gravitt, 75, was first elected mayor in 1970 and has served in the post ever since.

Brumbalow, 46, received 563 votes, compared to 388 for Gravitt, according to county election results.

Brumbalow campaigned on returning a “small town feel” to Cumming, advocating for revitalizing downtown and the possibility of creating a city-center type development.

Gravitt underwent cancer surgery in the spring and was rumored to be retiring from his long-held post. But saying he’d received a clean bill of health, he announced he would seek another term. Prior to becoming mayor, he served from 1967-1970 as a member of Cumming City Council.

Fifty years of service to the City of Cumming is pretty impressive.

Summerville voters passed referenda to allow Sunday sales.

Summerville voters passed alcohol referendums, approving Sunday package and mixed-drink sales in the city beginning Dec. 17.

Polk, Gordon and Walker counties all approved sales tax packages and Euharlee will be adding four homestead exemptions.

Cartersville Mayor Matt Santini was easily returned to office, taking more than 90 percent of the vote over challenger Barbara Jackson. Cary Roth edged out Joey Pogue for the sole contested city council seat, 361 to 339.

Just under 8 percent of Gordon County’s voters showed up to overwhelmingly pass the proposed special purpose, local option sales tax package. Among the many projects are a fire station in Sugar Valley, an agricultural center, trails, recreation, a dog park and a morgue.

Resaca also will have a runoff for a town council seat. Frontrunner Michael Austin barely missed an outright win, with 49 percent of the vote. He’ll face Randy Barron, who got 30.6 percent. Mitch Reed is out, with just 20.4 percent.

Walker County will start collecting a 1-cent transportation sales tax on April 1, 2018. The TSPLOST levy for road projects will run for five years. It won approval from 70 percent of the voters, 2,622 to 1,122.

Colquitt County voters approved a penny Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (T-SPLOST).

A little more than 9 percent of registered voters turned out, with 1,220, or 65.84 percent, voting yes, and 633 no votes cast.

The Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax was the only countywide question on the ballot.

The transportation sales tax, which will run for five years, was the second 1 percent sales tax approved this year by county voters. In March they voted to extend for six years an existing Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax that funds projects in the county and its municipalities.

The transportation tax, likewise, will fund projects in the cities and on county-maintained roadways.

County officials expect the estimated $15 million share it will receive to allow for resurfacing some 170 miles of roads.

Thomas County voters approved an extension of the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST).

SPLOST was approved by a 3,014-1,045 margin, capturing 74.3 percent of the votes.

The penny tax is expected to generate $42 million in revenue, The seven municipalities and the county would split the tax’s proceeds, based on population.

“I’m relieved to get this behind us,” said Thomas County Commission Chairman Ken Hickey. “That’s one thing we have to worry about for our future plans. It is very much needed for the maintenance of our road system and other projects.”

In other elections on the ballots Tuesday night, voters in Boston approved sales of alcohol by the drink and by the package on Sunday.

Tift County voters also passed a SPLOST.

[Tift County's] SPLOST passed by roughly 86 percent with 820 votes in favor and 131 opposed.

Dalton voters approved a $50 million dollar bond package for school construction.

Decatur County voters passed a T-SPLOST.

T-SPLOST, a 1 cent sales tax that will generate revenue for road projects in Decatur County, was passed on Tuesday 764-455.

T-SPLOST (Transportation Special Local Options Sales Tax) will go into effect April 1, 2018, and runs on a five-year cycle, finishing March 31, 2023. During that time, all sales except for gasoline in Decatur County will see a tax increase from 7 percent to 8 percent on the dollar.

The revenue generated from this, projected to be around $24 million over the five-year cycle, will go toward improving roadways in Decatur County and its municipalities.

“The county’s road maintenance and resurfacing needs greatly surpass the financial resources,” said Decatur County administrator Alan Thomas. “This will bridge that gap and allow us to respond to those needs in a more rapid manor than we would be able to otherwise.”

Decatur County is actively working toward lowering its millage rate for taxpayers, and passing T-SPLOST is a step in the right direction toward that goal. By having a special revenue stream from sales tax that can go toward road projects, Decatur’s County general budget can have more breathing room.

At the very least, T-SPLOST will help stabilize the budget and greatly reduce the likelihood of a millage rate increase.

Troup County voters approved by a 71-29 margin the fifth SPLOST.

The vote unofficially passed 71 to 29 percent Tuesday. There were 4,753 yes votes compared to 1,916 no votes on SPLOST.

SPLOST, or Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, is a proposed 1 percent tax on sales and uses within Troup County.The SPLOST will be used for infrastructure and capital outlay projects, as well as debt services within the county.

SPLOST is estimated to raise $70 million over the next six years and would help fund projects in LaGrange, Hogansville, West Point and Troup County.

LaGrange voters had the good sense to re-elect Mayor Jim Thornton.

The results are in, and incumbent LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton was successful in his bid for re-election, receiving 62 percent of the vote.

Thornton defeated challenger Jimmy McCamey 2,611 votes to 1,583. On Tuesday night, Thornton celebrated his re-election in his downtown law office surrounded by family and supporters.

“I’m very excited,” Thornton said. “I’m very grateful to LaGrange for placing confidence in me to serve a second term.”

“In my second term, I want to continue to emphasize economic development,” Thornton said. “I want to continue to focus on improving public safety and amenities for our residents. I realize that with the growth that is happening all around us, there will be challenges to our infrastructure — challenges relating to transportation, housing and other needs in the community. I will continue to work for creative solutions to address those needs.”

A large portion of Thornton’s final margin of victory was a result of his massive win in the Hollis Hand district. Thornton won 1,338 votes to 45 there.

Dade County rejected the sales tax referendum on their ballot.

Walker County residents voted 2,622-1,122 Tuesday to implement a 1 percent increase in sales tax, while Dade County residents voted 576-435 against it.

After voters shot down the tax increase, Dade County Executive Ted Rumley said the issue would be “back on the ballot in the real election. We’ll have a lot more people [turning out] to vote.”


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 8, 2017

On November 8, 1860, Savannah residents protested in favor of secession following the election of Abraham Lincoln.

President Abraham Lincoln (R) was reelected on November 8, 1864.

Franklin D. Roosevelt made his 15th trip to Warm Springs, Georgia on November 8, 1928 after winning the election for Governor of New York.

Richard B. Russell, Jr. was elected to the United States Senate on November 8, 1932 and would serve until his death in 1971. Before his election to the Senate, Russell served as State Representative, Speaker of the Georgia House, and the youngest Governor of Georgia; his father served as Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court. On the same day, part-time Georgia resident Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected President of the United States.

On November 8, 1994, Republicans won control of the United States House of Representatives and Senate in what came to be called the “Republican Revolution.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Today at 2 PM, I’ll be on Georgia Public Broadcasting’s “Political Rewind” with Bill Nigut, Greg Bluestein, and Patricia Murphy to discuss, among other things, last night’s election results. Here’s a preview of my thinking. In Atlanta, you can tune in to 88.5 FM to listen, and across Georgia, you can hear us on your local GPB radio station.

Last night, the GOP lost three seats previously held by Georgia Republicans.  In Senate District 6, Democrats Jen Jordan and Jaha Howard will face off in the Special Runoff Election on December 5, 2017. The top three Republicans in SD 6 split 46.45 percent of the vote, and the top vote-getter, Leah Aldridge came in 4.05 points behind the second-place finisher. Democrat Deborah Gonzales took the win in House District 117, previously held by GOP State Rep. (now Judge) Regina Quick, and Democrat Jonathan Wallace took an outright majority in a race against three Republicans.

Senate District 6 has been the most evenly divided Senate district for a number of years. Hunter Hill won it in 2012 with about 53% against an incumbent Dem and in 2016, he narrowly defended it with less than 52% against Democrat Jaha Howard. Add in whatever “Trump Slump” exists, and it’s not a surprising result, though it is a disappointment. There is a real chance that the legislature might consider tweaking those lines in the next session, and in any case, I’d anticipate a serious GOP run at it in the General Election next year. In fact, with the kind of accelerated political schedule we’re seeing these days, if I were one of the Republicans who came in double-digits, I’d immediately be looking toward the May Primary.

House District 117 (Regina Quick) and HD 119 (Chuck Williams) are a little harder to gauge based solely on past elections since neither of the previous seat holders ever faced a Democrat in a General Election. Quick was first elected after she beat incumbent Doug McKillip in a Republican Primary after he switched to the GOP, while Chuck Williams has been unopposed in General Elections since beating a Democrat in the 2011 Special Election Primary. So we don’t have much historical data on how a state house race in those districts should perform. But it’s a testament to the importance of a party contesting every seat possible. Kudos to Georgia Democrats for their recruitment efforts.

Going forward, I’m not sure how much precedential value this has, as Special Elections are a breed to themselves, but contesting all possible elections should be the philosophy of the DPG next year.

Special elections like this present a challenge to state parties, especially the GAGOP in HD 119. Without a partisan primary, there is no official way to winnow the number of GOP contestants, and if they split the vote enough, Dems can take a seat, as SD6 shows.

From the Athens Banner-Herald:

The results mean all three of the House members representing Clarke County will be Democats for the first time in years. Two of them — Wallace and Gonzalez — will also be Oconee’s voices in the state House, since the two districts cut across county lines.

In House District 119, Wallace had 57 percent of the vote. Three Republican candidates trailed, with fewer votes combined than Wallace’s total.

In the race for the House 117 seat, Houston Gaines led by a 2-1 vote margin in heavily conservative Oconee, Barrow and Jackson counties, but Gonzalez, a lawyer, was just as strong in Clarke. Clarke has about half the voters in the district, and turnout may have been stronger there than expected.

Wallace also had a strong showing in Oconee, with about 39 percent of the vote.

The choice for voters between the Democratic and Republican sides was clear, with candidates pretty much predictably diverging on issues such as guns on campus, Donald Trump, allowing local governments to decide about moving monuments and expanding Medicaid to cover more people. The three Republicans running in District 119 said in candidate forums they’d vote for Trump again, but Gaines in District 117 didn’t answer.

The Republican candidates also said they favored guns on college campuses, unlike the Democrats and unlike Quick and Williams, who had voted against the new state law that allows guns on the University of Georgia and other college campuses.

Republican Kasey Carpenter won the Special Election for House District 4.

Carpenter, owner of Oakwood Cafe and Cherokee Brewing and Pizza Co., finished first in a four-way race with 1,927 votes (53.87 percent) over Eddie Caldwell with 704 votes (19.68 percent), Peter Pociask with 516 votes (14.43 percent) and Beau Patton with 426 votes (11.91 percent). Carpenter, Caldwell and Patton are Republicans while Pociask is a Democrat.

The seat became open when Republican Bruce Broadrick stepped down in September for health reasons. Carpenter will serve the remainder of Broadrick’s term, which ends Dec. 31, 2018. District 4 includes the city of Dalton and some surrounding Whitfield County precincts.

“I think to go into a four-way race like this and to avoid a runoff shows the support we had across the district, and I really thank the voters for coming out and voting for me,” Carpenter said.

In Fulton County, Democrat Robb Pitts (38.27%) faces Democrat Keisha Waites (33.93%) in a runoff for County Commission Chair. Republican Gabriel Sterling performed admirably, and this was likely our best chance to take a countywide seat for the GOP in Fulton.

I have to wonder if some kind of a “Trump Slump” is in play here. Cobb and Fulton were counties where Hillary Clinton outperformed in 2016 and that may be part of the issue, or maybe some Republicans are complacent with out holding the House, Senate, and White House in Washington.

In Atlanta, Mary Norwood (21% per AJC) and Keisha Lance Bottoms (26% per AJC) head to a runoff election for Mayor. Alex Wan and Felicia Moore go to extra innings for City Council President.

Roswell voters will get a second chance at the apple, as City Council member Lori Henry goes to a runoff leading Lee Jenkins.

[Prior candidate Marie] Willsey returned to the election arena for another run at Post 4 and this time around, she received the majority vote against Andrew Leonardi and Meg McClanahan.

She will serve the full term as Post 4 City Council member.

Matthew C. Tyser received the majority vote against opponent Keith Goeke in the Post 5 race.

The Post 6 seat was close, but just missed the majority mark, with Matthew Judy receiving 49.38 percent.  He will face Karen Parrish in the run-off.

The Special Election for Post 3 seat, previously held by Donald J. Horton, did not result in a majority vote and will also see a run-off.  Of the six candidates in the running for the seat, Mike Nyden and Sean Groer will face each other in a run-off.

 Athens-Clarke County voters chose to impose a one-cent Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (T-SPLOST).

More than 9,400 voters cast a ballot on the referendum with 6,887 signing up to go on the TSPLOST ride and 2,540 telling the referendum to hit the road, according to results provided by Athens-Clarke County Board of Elections.

“It’s a terrific result and something great for the community,” said Mark Ralston, president of the nonprofit Firefly Trail Inc., which advocated for the trail’s inclusion on the TSPLOST referendum. “I’m thrilled. It’s a great project along with many other great projects I’m happy the citizens of Athens chose to support.”

The transportation special purpose, local option sales tax will add 1 percent to the sales tax surcharge on goods sold in Clarke County. It will inflate the county’s overall sales tax rate to 8 percent.

Athens-Clarke County officials expect the penny tax to raise $109.5 million over five years to fund 19 projects.

Coweta County voters extended the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for another six year term.

Coweta voters originally said yes to SPLOST in 1986, and have approved it everytime it came back up for a vote.

The newly-approved SPLOST will begin after the current one ends on Dec. 31, 2018.

The final vote count Tuesday night was 3,381 votes, or 65 percent, in favor to 1,818, or 35 percent, against.

Turnout was light – 6.04 percent of Coweta’s registered voters cast ballots for the special election, which included the county-wide SPLOST vote as well as several city elections.

The 1-percent sales tax is expected to raise $140 million over six years.

Floyd County voters approved the Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (E-SPLOST) by more than 66% and the County Government Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) by more than 60%. Rome passed a city schools E-SPLOST by more than 75% of votes cast.

Bryan, Long, Tattnall and Wayne Counties all approved SPLOST measures.

Bryan County’s SPLOST was the fifth time it passed on the ballot.

In Bryan County less than 5 percent of the 22,346 eligible voters cast ballots Tuesday, but they were enough to renew the special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) for the fifth time.

Revenue from the SPLOST is expected to raise about $33 million which will be divided among Bryan County and the cities of Pembroke and Richmond Hill based on population. Bryan County will receive approximately $18.8 million, Richmond Hill $11 million and Pembroke $3.2 million.

The 1 percent sales tax has been in place in Bryan County since 1987.

Polk County also passed an E-SPLOST.

[V]oters overwhelmingly decided more than 2-to-1 to allow a penny to be drawn off of purchases in Polk County through 2026.

The project list includes a second round of construction at Cedartown and Rockmart High School, repairs at all of the schools of heating and air conditioning, updates to athletic facilities and more.

The tallies ended with 2,032 people voting to decide on the sales tax’s extension, with 1,421 voters (69.93 percent) giving their approval and 611 voters (30.07 percent) saying no.

Twiggs County passed an E-SPLOST by 484 -151 and Putnam County passed a T-SPLOST by 498-332.

DeKalb County passed three ballot measures related to sales and property taxes.

DeKalb County voters overwhelmingly approved a sales tax increase and property tax reduction, according to final ballot counts.

The sales tax hike, from 7 percent to 8 percent, will bring in more than $100 million annually for road repaving, fire station repairs, police vehicles and other infrastructure through a special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST).

Voters also passed referendums to use existing sales taxes to reduce homeowners’ property taxes, and to make permanent a tax break that offsets the cost of rising home assessments.

Clermont voters rejected beer and wine sales in the city limits.

By a margin of almost two to one, Clermont residents resoundly said no to beer and wine sales in town.

Two questions on the non-binding poll asked voters whether the town should license the sale of beer and wine by the drink, and also license package sales of beer and wine. Almost 63 percent of the 127 residents who voted said no.

Mark Kirves launched a petition drive on Facebook urging support for alcohol sales in Clermont. Kirves, who owns Iron Accents on Cleveland Highway, said he’s gotten offers for his property from buyers interested in putting a restaurant on the location.

“Once they learn that they couldn’t sell alcohol there they walk away,” Kirves said. “Clermont and Gillsville are the only two towns in Hall County that won’t allow alcohols sales.”

Despite the setback with the straw poll, Kirves said he would continue his petition drive.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 7, 2017

Georgia Governor Joseph Brown addressed the Georgia legislature calling on them to consider Georgia’s future on November 7, 1860, the day after Abraham Lincoln’s election as President.

Jeanette Rankin was elected to Congress, the first female Member, on November 7, 1916 from Montana. After leaving Congress, Rankin moved to Watkinsville, Georgia in 1925. The Jeanette Rankin Scholarship Foundation, based in Athens, Georgia provides college scholarships and support for low-income women 35 and older.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected to a record fourth term on November 7, 1944.

Democrat Sam Nunn was reelected to the United States Senate on November 7, 1978.

On November 7, 1989, David Dinkins was elected the first African-American Mayor of New York and Douglas Wilder was elected the first African-American Governor of Virginia.

On November 7, 2006, Georgia reelected its first Republican Governor since Reconstruction, Sonny Perdue, and elected its first GOP Lieutenant Governor, Casey Cagle.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Today is election day in many parts of Georgia. Polling places are open until 7 PM in most areas.

Governor Nathan Deal yesterday ordered flags on state buildings and grounds to be flown at half staff in honor of the victims of the Sutherland Springs, Texas mass murder. They will remain at half staff until sundown Thursday.

Gov. Deal spoke to the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce, discussing healthcare.

The intended goal of the healthcare summit was expanding healthcare options for residents and bettering the economy.

Governor Deal spoke on his intended initiatives to positively impact the two.

He expressed that higher education and improved access to it would lead to an enrollment drop in Medicaid and PeachCare.

By providing enrollees better opportunity, the intention is to create a better economy and improve earnings, so the everyday expenses of life, including healthcare are more attainable and manageable.

According to deal, “what Medicaid and PeachCare are spending per Georgia household now, amounts to $1,227 per year. The addition of federal contribution and related cost, results in a jump to $4,476 per year.”

State elected officials’ decision to not expand our Medicaid roles, according to Deal, would have resulted in a needed $288 million in additional funds to cover that.

Deal noted that in order to achieve that deficit, “significant cuts to other elements of state government,” would have to occur.

State currently contributes $900 million in coverage to state employees every year. In addition to $1.2 million currently budgeted.

Deal also attributed the issue to “healthcare providers are not available,” noted a shortage even in the thriving areas. His suggestion is “more homegrown healthcare providers.”

In the next six fiscal years, Deal aims to proposing $3.7 million be allocated to add more residency slots for physicians, what he describes as one “critical element.”

Deal states that physicians are “likely to stay where they complete their residency” and intends for Georgia to achieve that.

He also encouraged a greater number of nursing students.

The Dalton Daily Citizen spoke to candidates in today’s Special Election for State House District 4.

Beau Patton (R)

Eddie Caldwell (R)

Kasey Carpenter (R)

Peter Pociask (D)

Port of Savannah traffic is up 32% for October.

Container trade at the Port of Savannah grew by 32 percent in October, with Garden City Terminal moving 410,000 twenty-foot equivalent container units, an increase of nearly 100,000 TEUs.

It was the first time in the port’s history that it topped 400,000 TEUs in a single month. For the fiscal year to date (July 1-Oct. 31), the Port of Savannah has moved 1.42 million TEUs, up by 155,050 or 12.3 percent.

“Since the opening of the expanded Panama Canal, Garden City Terminal has experienced meteoric growth,” said GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch. “We’re now handling more ships, bigger vessels and larger cargo exchanges. By working more weekly vessel calls than any other East Coast port, and serving more neopanamax ships than any other port in the U.S. Southeast, Savannah has strengthened its position as a vital gateway to the global marketplace.”

Lynch said the Port of Savannah, with the nation’s single largest container terminal in North America, is playing a significant and growing role in supporting the nation’s economy, emphasizing the need for the timely completion of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project.

“With deeper water, today’s 14,000-TEU ships will be able to transit the Savannah River with greater scheduling flexibility, and take on heavier export loads,” he said. “Because these larger vessels provide lower cost per container slot, they help make American farms and factories more competitive.”

The Georgia Ports Authority will be seeking more support from Washington for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project.

Georgia Ports Authority officials plan to hit Capitol Hill this week to press for more federal funding to deepen the Savannah River, and they’ll bring with them new figures to support their case that show record-breaking cargo traffic.

“As great as the numbers are, and they are phenomenal, they aren’t telling the full story,” Lynch said. Because the river channel isn’t deep enough for the newest generation of freighters to ply the river with full loads, Lynch said, Savannah isn’t seeing as much cargo as the shippers would like to bring to the port.

“We are cutting the ships short because of the lack of water,” he said.

he Savannah River dredging is arguably Georgia’s biggest economic development project. But in April, the project’s price tag grew by 38 percent to $973 million.

Georgia’s ports system accounts for some $40 billion in estimated economic impact across the state, and directly or indirectly touches about 400,000 jobs. The Savannah port is the nation’s No. 4 container port by volume.

Lynch said the ports delegation plans to meet with Georgia’s House and Senate delegation and with officials from the Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the deepening project, on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Suwanee City Council candidate Joe Briggs has withdrawn from the election after being accused of making anti-semitic comments on social media.

Voters in Lula and Clermont will cast their ballots on paper.

Augusta area voters will decide several municipal elections.

In the small municipality of Hephzibah, population about 4,000, incumbent Frank Godbee faces a challenge for his at-large commission seat from political newcomer Julius Lee Harris, Jr. Harris, 51, said he’s a retired Army veteran who became a full-time resident of Hephzibah 10 years ago. Godbee, 74, listed his occupation as “retired” and reported living in Hephzibah for 34 years on his qualifying affidavit.

In Grovetown, two council seats are up for vote with five candidates on the ballot. Incumbents Sylvia Martin and Vickie Cook are seeking re-election against challengers Allen Transou, Deborah Fisher and David Payne.

In Harlem, two council seats are up for election, sought by incumbents Danny Bellavance and John Thigpen, along with challenger Al Reeves. Mayoral candidate Roxanne Whitaker is running unopposed.

Floyd County voters will decide two tax referenda as well as municipal elections.

All Floyd County voters will decide whether or not to extend the SPLOST and ELOST collections for five more years.

The 1-cent education local option sales tax would go toward funding up to $80 million in capital projects for the Rome and Floyd County school systems. The 1-cent special purpose, local option sales tax would fund a proposed $63.8 million package of projects.

For residents of Rome and Cave Spring, city elections will be on their ballots. Rome voters will pick three city commissioners and all seven board of education members. Cave Spring voters will fill three city council seats.

Cobb County voters may see a legislative race or municipal elections on their ballot today.

DeKalb County voters have three ballot questions in addition to any municipal races.

The Nov. 7 ballot for DeKalb voters will include a special local option sales tax referendum to raise the tax a penny, from 7 percent to 8 percent.

But that’s not the only choice voters will be making – voters will also be voting on two other measures: an EHOST, or equalization homestead option sales tax, and to freeze home property values for city and county taxes permanently while the EHOST and SPLOST are in place. The EHOST and SPLOST both have to pass for them to be enacted.

Rome City Commissioners met this morning with local state legislators.

Commissioner Milton Slack said Sunday that Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, is expected to attend along with Republican Reps. Katie Dempsey of Rome and Eddie Lumsden of Armuchee. Also invited are Rep. Christian Coomer, R-Cartersville, and representatives of the Georgia Municipal Association.

There’s no set agenda, but a number of city initiatives are dependent on state actions.

“We’ll probably talk about illegal gaming machines, and Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital — which is always on the table,” Slack said.

Rome lost its option to buy the 132-acre former state mental hospital complex off North Division Street but local leaders are still hoping it can be redeveloped to boost the economy. The biggest sticking point is the nearly $6 million in state bonds that a new owner would have to pay off.

Nuclear Options

Senator David Perdue wrote an Op-Ed advocating for the completion of Vogtle units 3 and 4.

Our domestic plants are aging rapidly. Five have closed in recent years. At the start of this year, four new reactors were under construction at two plants: two in South Carolina and two in Georgia. The South Carolina project has since come to a halt because of mounting delays and regulatory hurdles.

Two years ago, Reuters reported that Rosatom – a state-owned Russian nuclear energy export agency – had 29 reactors under construction around the globe. Russia collected billions in nuclear export revenues in 2015, and last year it exported $133 billion worth of nuclear goods and services.

China’s rise is equally, if not more, concerning.

This year alone, China has announced nuclear deals with multiple African nations. Chinese firms are building reactors in Pakistan and Great Britain. China is currently building 20 reactors at an average of one new reactor every five months. That’s why U.S. Energy Information Administration has predicted China will surpass America as the world’s largest nuclear energy producer in just 15 years.

Experts and leaders on both sides of the aisle agree we cannot allow that to happen.

Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge recently wrote, “When other nations buy Russian and Chinese nuclear exports – as they increasingly do – Moscow and Beijing, not Washington, set the standards.”

The Center for Strategic and International Studies has said, “Without a strong commercial presence in new nuclear markets, America’s ability to influence nonproliferation policies and nuclear safety behaviors worldwide is bound to diminish.”

Finally, President Donald J. Trump said in June that, “we will begin to revive and expand our nuclear energy sector.” President Trump also ordered a full review of our domestic nuclear energy policies, and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry recently announced a conditional loan guarantee of up to $3.7 billion for the completion of Plant Vogtle in Georgia.

The Georgia Public Service Commission yesterday opened hearings on Plant Vogtle.

Georgia Power and partner companies overseeing the construction of nuclear plant, Vogtle, presented a united appeal Monday to PSC commissioners, as hearings began on the fate of the embattled nuclear power plant.

The CEO’s led by Georgia Power’s Paul Bowers argued the project would present “the best economic choice” and “long-term benefits to customers.”

“We believe nuclear is the dominant solution. We are confident you will make the right long-term solution for the people in Georgia,” Bowers told the commissioners.

The commissioners now face the task of evaluating the cost and schedule estimates presented by Georgia power, to determine the fate of the project.

“There was always some chance this commission would rule that some of the costs were unreasonable.” Commissioner Chuck Eaton said.

Georgia Power and its co-owners however want to know whether these estimates are reasonable before going on.

“We need to know before we spend additional dollars,” said Bowers.

From WSAV in Savannah:

”We’re concerned this Vogtle project is off the rails and we will hear about the costs that have doubled from the original estimate,” said Sara Barczak from the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. She reminds everyone the project started in 2010. “I think it’s clear Plant Vogtle is already a disaster because it was supposed to e operating by now,”

Barczak says it’s still seems likely the reactors will double in price to up to $25 Billion and says Georgia Power customers have already paid about $2 Billion over the past few years for financing costs. “You won’t get that money back if these (reactors) are not built I can guarantee you,” she said.

But Georgia Power’s CEO Paul Bowers told the PSC Monday that rate payers are actually saving tens and tens of millions of dollars by paying now instead of paying financing after the project is completed. He assured the Commission that the project is still possible and that is is vital to the U.S in terms of overall carbon free energy being produced. Bowers indicated that the project promises reliable and low cost energy for the next 60 years.

Kristi Swartz of Energy Wire drills down into the issues regarding Vogtle.

[I]t was who was going to shoulder the risk of the Plant Vogtle reactor project that concerned consumer advocates and some Georgia commissioners at a meeting of the Public Service Commission here yesterday.

“The risk difference is astronomical,” PSC Vice Chairman Tim Echols said, questioning two Georgia Power officials about the newly signed agreements with contractors. A previous fixed-price contract protected the utility and its consumers from significant rate hikes, but that is no longer there.

“So we’re in a real dilemma. Either we abandon the project and leave it sitting there, or we move forward at great risk,” Echols said.

Georgia Power officials said they are doing all they can to manage the known and unknown risks. At the same time, they — as well as the public power companies that are also building Vogtle — are pressuring commissioners to ensure that they will be able to recoup the project’s costs from customers.

Georgia Power enjoys a strong alliance with the governor and holds significant political sway at the Capitol. Being known as the utility that shepherds the nation’s first nuclear reactors in 30 years through a series of obstacles can only add to that status.