Category: Georgia Politics

5
Oct

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 5, 2017

On October 5, 1864, the Battle of Allatoona Pass was fought in Bartow County, Georgia.

The first televised Presidential address from the White House was broadcast on October 5, 1947.

The Georgia Supreme Court outlawed use of the electric chair as “cruel and unusual punishment” on October 5, 2001.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal earlier this week named a new Executive Counsel.

Gov. Nathan Deal [] announced the departure of David Werner, executive counsel to the governor. Beginning Nov. 1, Werner will become the director of state and local government relations for Delta Air Lines.

“Werner has been an instrumental member of my administration since the 2010 campaign and I’m grateful for his service to our state,” said Deal. “During his tenure, Werner has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the well-being of our citizens and his efforts as executive counsel have helped to advance the interests of many Georgians. His knowledge and experience have been assets to the State of Georgia and I wish him the best as he transitions to the private sector.”

Deal tapped Carey Miller, deputy executive counsel and public safety policy advisor, as Werner’s replacement. Miller will assume this position on Oct. 15.

Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) and eight of his Georgia Republican colleagues voted to ban most late-term abortions.

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act passed 237-189, largely along party lines. Republicans control 240 seats in the House, and Democrats hold 194.

Speaking on the House floor Tuesday, Collins referred to his own experience as a father being told that he and his wife should abort the pregnancy of their now-25-year-old daughter, Jordan, who was diagnosed with a form of spina bifida while still in the womb.

The timeframe of the ban is based on research that shows children begin to feel pain at 20 weeks, or about five months, into the pregnancy.

“When modern medicine leads doctors to administer anesthesia to children at 20 weeks’ gestation, basic integrity gives us no way to ignore their personhood,” Collins said in an announcement after the bill cleared the House. “Science leaves us no room to justify their slaughter, and our Founding Fathers leave us no path to disregard their right to life.”

Both of Georgia’s senators, Johnny Isakson and David Perdue, are co-sponsors of the Senate bill and have supported similar bills in the past. The most recent vote was taken 2016.

“We have a moral obligation to protect unborn life, and it is unconscionable that federal law currently permits unborn babies to feel such unimaginable pain,” Perdue said in 2016. “It is likewise reprehensible that we would even have to require doctors to save every newborn’s life.”

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp has a 2018 campaign issue teed up by the federal voting rights lawsuit filed this week.

The suit was filed by the National Redistricting Foundation against Kemp, in his role as the state’s top elections official, in U.S. District Court Tuesday.

In a statement released by Kemp’s gubernatorial campaign, the secretary of state pointed to past battles his office had with the U.S. Department of Justice while Barack Obama was president. Holder was Obama’s first attorney general.

“I took on the Obama Justice Department twice — and won — to implement our common sense Voter ID and citizenship check laws,” Kemp said in a statement released by his gubernatorial campaign. “I’m ready to fight for hardworking Georgians again as Eric Holder and his team of liberal lawyers attempt to turn Georgia ‘blue’ through the court system.”

The suit targets redistricting done in 2015 for Chandler’s district, as well as the district represented by state Rep. Brian Strickland, R-McDonough, arguing they were redrawn by Republican lawmakers to dilute African-American voting strength and keep Chandler and Strickland in office.

Kemp’s department also recently opened a field office in Cartersville.

Clermont business owners want state legislators to step-in as they fight for alcohol sales.

A political battle that’s been brewing in Clermont for years is coming to a head as prominent business owners are lobbying state leaders to help them with the town council’s unwillingness to allow a referendum that would let voters decide whether beer and wine can be sold within city limits.

Business owners wanted to have the issue placed on the ballot of the Nov. 7 municipal elections, but with election day a month away, it’s too late for that to happen.

Chris Nonnemaker — owner of Papa’s Pizza To Go, 6483 Cleveland Highway, and Mark Kirves, whose wife Valerie operates nearby Iron Accents — are so fed up with what they perceive as an affront to their rights as property owners that they want to de-annex their businesses from Clermont.

Kirves and Nonnemaker said they have petitioned state Rep. Lee Hawkins and Sen. Butch Miller, both Republicans from Gainesville, to file legislation that would allow them to exit Clermont and be under Hall County jurisdiction, which allows alcohol sales

Rome City Council candidates spoke to the Floyd County Republican Women about their campaigns for three open seats.

Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital spoke about their results from the state rural hospital tax credit program.

The tax credit program, known as the Georgia HEART Program, that went into effect in January is meant to benefit the state’s rural hospitals by giving taxpayers who direct their tax dollars to hospitals that meet a certain criteria a 90 percent credit. An update heard on the program by the Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital Board of Directors on Wednesday included a push for taxpayers to contribute to the program.

Among this year’s 49 eligible hospitals are Phoebe Sumter Medical Center, Phoebe Worth Medical Center and Southwest Georgia Regional Medical Center. Brian Church, chief financial officer for the health system, said the latest numbers on the Georgia HEART donations were $64,777 for Phoebe Sumter, $41,421 for Phoebe Worth and $3,719 for Southwest Georgia Regional.

The program — anticipated to expand to about 60 hospitals in 2018 — is expected to provide $60 million in tax credits annually, with individual hospitals being able to receive up to $4 million.

“(The current Phoebe hospital figures) are well below the $4 million they could receive,” Church said.

The deadline to contribute to the tax credit program for this year is Nov. 1. More information can be found at https://dch.georgia.gov/rural-hospital-tax-credit.

[Phoebe Putney chief financial officer Brian] Church segued to address funding sources, including the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Disproportionate Share Hospital, or DSH, and the “cliff” for federally-qualified health centers, all of which were facing major monetary gaps in recent days when windows expired due to inaction from legislators to close those gaps.

The CHIP lapse impacts a portion of families supported by Medicaid, and DSH provides compensation for indigent care. The DSH gap alone reflects a $2 million loss for Phoebe.

“There is nothing predictable in Washington,” Phoebe CEO Joel Wernick said. “If anything is clear, it is that it is (difficult) to get a majority on anything.”

Chatham County Commissioners are considering proposals to provide healthcare at the county jail.

As amended midway through the day Wednesday, the agenda for the commission’s Friday meeting indicates commissioners will have to determine whether to extend their current contract with Atlanta-based CorrectHealth, approve a new contract with the company, or end it and hire a new provider by emergency procurement. The Chatham County Manager’s office is not making a recommendation one way or the other, and the county did not immediately respond to requests for comments on the matter.

For his part, Sheriff John Wilcher said Wednesday he is satisfied with the work CorrectHealth has done at the jail since the company came on board last August, but he will not intervene in the negotiations between the company and the county. The contract was being developed before he was elected sheriff in a special election last April, Wilcher said, and is between the county and CorrectHealth.

If nothing is done, however, documents indicate the current contract with CorrectHealth will expire Oct. 17, leaving more than 1,000 inmates without a critical and constitutionally mandated service.

Dalton candidates for City Council, Board of Education, and State House will meet voters in a series of public forums.

On Monday at 6:30 p.m. at Dalton City Hall, the Daily Citizen-News, the Coalition of Latino Leaders (CLILA) and the League of Women Voters of the Dalton Area will host a forum for candidates for the City Council, the Dalton Board of Education and the special election for state House of Representatives District 4, which covers most of the city of Dalton as well as four surrounding precincts. Bruce Broadrick stepped down as representative recently, citing health concerns.

On Thursday, Oct. 12, at 6 p.m. at City Hall, the Daily Citizen-News and the League of Women Voters of the Dalton Area will host a forum for candidates for House District 4.

On Monday, Oct. 16, at 6 p.m. at the Mack Gaston Community Center, CLILA, the Concerned Citizens of Dalton, the Concerned Clergy, the Dalton-Whitfield NAACP and the Woman’s Community Club will host a forum for candidates for the Dalton Board of Education and the City Council.

The League of Women Voters of the Dalton Area will hold its annual political picnic on Thursday, Oct. 19, at 6 p.m. at the Dalton-Whitfield Senior Center. While not a formal forum, candidates will have the opportunity to give a brief presentation and to meet members of the public.

Cobb County Juvenile Court’s Gang Suppression Program said through a spokesperson that gang activity is rising.

“We’re seeing gang activity pick up, and it’s not just in this district, it’s in the whole entire county,” she said, speaking at a town hall meeting held by Commissioner Lisa Cupid Tuesday night. “We’re seeing a lot of kids coming in from Fulton County. They’re coming into our county and they’re trying to recruit. We’re a thriving county, so they’re going to come where they’re going to find other people.”

District Attorney Vic Reynolds said gangs are present in every high school in the county, and their activities contribute to other types of crime.

“We know that gang activity is prevalent in Cobb County, and that it is a major factor in every type of crime, including violent crimes, drug distribution and theft,” Reynolds said. “As an example, in many car break-ins, also known as entering autos, thieves are specifically looking for firearms, and those investigations often reveal gang connections.”

Grantville Sign Police are cracking down on campaign signs in rights-of-way.

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

Sandra Luttrell, Dee Berry and Alan Wacaser are running for the Post 4 seat currently held by Leonard Gomez, who did not qualify for re-election. Barham Lundy, a former member of the Grantville City Council, is challenging Post 3 Councilman Mark King.

Jewell said city workers were instructed to pick up the signs. He recalled his time of campaigning in 2014.

“I had several of my signs removed,” Jewell said. “Like these candidates, I felt they were in the right spot. Evidently they did not comply, and they picked them up, and I came to city hall and picked them up.”

The city elections will be held Nov. 7. Also on the ballot will be the extension of the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Coweta County.

4
Oct

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 4, 2017

On October 4, 1918, President Woodrow Wilson sent a telegram to the Georgia Democratic Party Convention delegates in appreciation for their support of his admininstration.

The Savannah River Bridge opened on October 4, 1925.

Beverly Hills, 90210 debuted on October 4, 1990.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal has appointed former State Rep. Reqina Quick as a Superior Court Judge for the Western Judicial Circuit, filling the vacancy created by Judge David Sweat’s resignation.

Former State Rep. B.J. Pak was confirmed by the Senate as United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia.Continue Reading..

2
Oct

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 2, 2017

On October 2, 1789, President George Washington signed a resolution transmitting the (then-twelve) amendments constituting the Bill of Rights to the states that had ratified the Constitution. Click here for the letter from Washington to Governor Charles Pinckney of South Carolina that accompanied the amendments.

On October 2, 1835, Texans and Mexicans met in the first military battle of the Texas Revolution, the Battle of Gonzales.

In 1831, Mexican authorities gave the settlers of Gonzales a small cannon to help protect them from frequent Comanche raids. Over the next four years, the political situation in Mexico deteriorated, and in 1835 several states revolted. As the unrest spread, Colonel Domingo de Ugartechea, the commander of all Mexican troops in Texas, felt it unwise to leave the residents of Gonzales a weapon and requested the return of the cannon.

When the initial request was refused, Ugartechea sent 100 dragoons to retrieve the cannon. The soldiers neared Gonzales on September 29, but the colonists used a variety of excuses to keep them from the town, while secretly sending messengers to request assistance from nearby communities. Within two days, up to 140 Texians gathered in Gonzales, all determined not to give up the cannon. On October 1, settlers voted to initiate a fight. Mexican soldiers opened fire as Texians approached their camp in the early hours of October 2. After several hours of desultory firing, the Mexican soldiers withdrew.

Texas Cannon Flag 600

On October 2, 1879, Wallace Stevens was born. Stevens would become a renowned poet and insurance industry lawyer. My favorite poem of his is “Connoisseur of Chaos.”

A. A violent order is disorder; and
B. A great disorder is an order. These
Two things are one.

President Woodrow Wilson suffered a stroke at the White House on October 2, 1909.

Thurgood Marshall was sworn-in as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court on October 2, 1967.

Betty Talmadge, then wife of Senator Herman Talmadge, hosted a fundraiser with Rosalynn Carter and Joan Mondale on October 2, 1976.

Ground was broken for The Carter Presidential Center in Atlanta on October 2, 1984.

The last Braves game at Turner Field was played on October 2, 2016, with the Detroit Tigers besting the Braves by 1-0.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Tonight, First Baptist Church of Woodstock will host Georgia Connects and a forum on the opioid crisis.

Cherokee County Opioid & Heroin Community Awareness Forum to be held this Monday evening October 2nd from 7:00 – 9:00 PM at First Baptist Church Woodstock.  Event is open to the public and children/teens are invited to attend.  This event will be very educational and informative.

In addition to our guest speakers, we will have an addiction recovery testimony and a skit to promote the Georgia 911 Amnesty Law.
Guest speakers:
>    Senator Renee Unterman – Senate Chair, Health & Human Services Committee (District 45 – Gwinnett County)
>    Nelly Miles – GBI Director Public Affairs
>    Judge Ellen McElyea – Superior Court Judge – Blue Ridge Judicial System and Cherokee County Felony Drug Court
>    Dr. Tim Simpson, MD - Emergency Medical Services Director for Northside Hospital – Cherokee
>    Dr. Susan Blank, MD – Atlanta Healing Center
First Baptist Church Woodstock
Building A – Chapel  (EVENT IS IN CHAPEL, NOT SANCTUARY)
11905 Highway 92
Woodstock, GA  30188

Tom Price resigned as Secretary of Health and Human Services on Friday.

Price submitted a four-paragraph resignation letter in which he said he regretted “that the recent events have created a distraction” from the administration’s objectives. “Success on these issues is more important than any one person,” he continued.

Not long after, HHS staff received a message from Price praising employees as “dedicated, committed” and saying it had been “a great joy” to serve with them.

He closed: “Duty is Ours — Results are the Lord’s!”

But Trump had also directed some of his frustration at Price over the inability of Republicans in Congress to pass a health-care replacement bill. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and former House speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia had pushed for the then-congressman to lead HHS, arguing that Price’s medical and policy expertise and congressional ties could help Trump deliver on his vow to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Several congressional Republicans praised Price on Friday: Ryan called him “a good man. He has spent his entire adult life fighting for others, first as a physician and then as a legislator and public servant. He was a leader in the House and a superb health secretary.”

From The New York Times:

The resignation of Tom Price as secretary late Friday over his use of costly chartered jets capped a week of setbacks on health care for a president who made the issue a centerpiece of his campaign and his first eight months in office. Mr. Trump’s decision on a successor could be an opportunity to shift the debate, but he faces the prospect of an arduous confirmation battle.

The president has sent mixed signals since the latest effort to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act collapsed in the Senate. He asserted that he had the votes to pass the repeal legislation in early 2018, while offering to negotiate with Democrats who are adamantly against it. One adviser said on Saturday that Mr. Trump was serious about compromising with Democrats and would pick a secretary who would help make that happen.

Democrats urged him to pursue such a course. “Let’s get a new H.H.S. secretary who’s finally devoted to improving health care, move past these debates and come to bipartisan agreement on how to stabilize markets and make health care cheaper,” said Senator Christopher S. Murphy of Connecticut.

The White House had no comment on Saturday, but two advisers who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters said two top candidates were Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, and Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Both have previously been vetted by the White House, nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate to their current jobs within recent months, a significant selling point.

Other names have been floated as well, including David Shulkin, the secretary of veterans affairs and a favorite of the president’s. But he has been criticized for a European trip with his wife that mixed business and sightseeing and was partially financed by taxpayers, and Mr. Trump may be reluctant to move him because he has been critical to fixing veterans’ care.

Federal funding for several components of healthcare expired last week.

Meanwhile in Georgia, a clinic network funded by regular federal grants halted replacement of badly needed dental chairs and stopped work on a planned contract to recruit a pediatrician.

A Houston County couple watched their health insurance crumble. The Georgia commissioner of community health drew up contingency plans.

All of that is happening here now because Congress — absorbed over the past few months in undoing the Affordable Care Act — has not approved funding for other long-standing, bipartisan health care programs that affect millions of patients and faced Sept. 30 expiration or crucial deadlines.

• Community Health Center subsidies such as Miracle’s fund 35 centers in Georgia with about $86 million a year, perhaps 70 percent of which was cut. Nationally, the program is facing a $3.6 billion cut, and that cut will be distributed among the states.

• Subsidies for rural hospitals, called “rural extenders,” have expired to the tune of at least $11.7 million in this state this coming year. The small facilities say that represents a large portion of their bottom lines.

• Subsidies for hospitals that treat a disproportionate share of indigent patients, such as Grady Memorial Hospital, are cut by $49 million in Georgia for the coming year. The figure depends on changing variables but is to expand to approximately $149 million by 2025.

• Subsidies for working-class kids, called the Children’s Health Insurance Program nationally and PeachCare in Georgia, face cuts of $427 million in Georgia this year.

• In addition, some companies offering policies on the Obamacare exchange market said they raised rates and pulled back coverage because of uncertainty about federal subsidies for lower-income customers.

“It’s a real concern,” [Georgia Commissioner of Community Health Frank Berry] added. “If we lose potentially millions — hundreds of millions — of dollars of federal funds, it will have an impact on Georgia.”

Gov. Nathan Deal’s chief of staff, Chris Riley, said the governor “is confident that Congress will meet its obligations and reauthorize the CHIP program and not place hundreds of thousands of Georgians in jeopardy.” He did not address the other lapsed programs.

Some, but not all, of the federal programs are expected to be taken up starting in a U.S. House hearing in the coming week.

Hospitals that treat a disproportionate share of the poor are particularly concerned. They benefit from a federal program called DSH, or Disproportionate Share Hospital grants. A long-planned funding cut is scheduled to go into place Sunday, and there’s been no mention on Capitol Hill about staving off the cuts as they have three times before.

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia said he was working to attach DSH money onto other legislation moving through the Senate so that “it doesn’t hurt our hospitals.”

Meanwhile, more than 220 members of the House — representing more than half the chamber — wrote Thursday to leaders of both parties urging that the House act swiftly to delay the DSH cuts for at least two years or until a more permanent solution can be found.

On the state level, the Legislature might be able to replace some of the federal money, but at great cost, Unterman said.

“The fiscal part of it has huge implications,” she said. “Because then it bleeds over literally into education. The money is going to come from somewhere. Do you take it from public safety? Do you take it from roads? Do you take it from natural resources? Health care is a priority.”

Unterman asks one thing of Washington: “To have a plan of action.”

“To be definitive,” she said. “We’re either going to help you, or we’re not going to help you. The ambiguity is devastating.”

The AJC piece by Ariel Hart and Tamar Hallerman is must-read if you’re interested in health policy.

The United States Department of Energy announced it approved an additional $3.7 billion in loan guarantees for the nuclear reactor construction at Plant Vogtle.

The commitments include $1.67 billion to Atlanta-based Georgia Power, which owns almost half of the plant; $1.6 billion to Oglethorpe Power and $415 million to subsidiaries of the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia, the project’s other two large partners. A sliver is also owned by the city of Dalton.

“Advanced nuclear energy projects like Vogtle are the kind of important energy infrastructure projects that support a reliable and resilient grid, promote economic growth, and strengthen our energy and national security,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry.

In a statement, Georgia Power hailed the move as welcome support for the Vogtle expansion that will provide $500 million in “present-value benefits to its customers” through savings on debt costs for the project.

“The (Trump) administration, Secretary Rick Perry, the entire cabinet and members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have been exceedingly helpful with the construction of the Vogtle 3 and 4 project,” said Georgia Power CEO Paul Bowers.

Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., said he is “doing whatever I can to ensure that the Plant Vogtle project stays on track for completion.” That includes pushing for an extension of a separate tax credit for the project, he said, that is expected to otherwise expire before the plant in completed, because of new project delays.

The new guarantees are in addition to $8.3 billion in earlier Energy Department loan guarantees for Plant Vogtle, including $3.46 billion for Georgia Power.

Governor Nathan Deal announced last week that the number of Georgians receiving GEDs increased to 10, 128 from the previous year’s 9,842.

“An educated workforce provides a strong foundation for a prosperous economy, and we are dedicated to providing Georgia citizens with high-quality educational options,” said Deal. “A GED diploma opens doors to a brighter future and greater opportunities, and I applaud these graduates for embracing those opportunities. The graduates this year have each accomplished a praiseworthy feat and are now better equipped for Georgia’s workforce as a result of their hard work.”

United States Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) spoke to First Congregational Church of Atlanta yesterday.

California Sen. Kamala Harris told a Georgia congregation founded by former freed slaves that the United States remains wracked by racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination that flout the nation’s core values.

But the rising Democratic Party star added that Americans aren’t as split as “forces of hate and division” suggest. “I believe it is time we replace the divide-and-conquer,” she said from the pulpit of First Congregational Church in downtown Atlanta, adding that national unity comes from citizens’ recognizing their share priorities while still honoring diversity.

From the pulpit, Harris criticized “the attorney general,” without naming Sessions, for renewing the push for harsher sentences in nonviolent drug crimes and for rolling back some of policing overhauls from the Obama administration.

Her calendar is noticeably devoid of visits to the early nominating states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. But she’s also met in recent months with key Democratic donors and hired aides who worked for 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

And her path to the Democratic nomination would certainly run through voters like those she addressed Sunday in Atlanta. Obama in 2008 and Clinton in 2016 each lost the cumulative white vote in Democratic primary states, according to exit polls, but both of the eventual nominees won black voters overwhelmingly, propelling them to key victories in Southern states that gave them early delegate leads they never relinquished.

United States Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) spoke on behalf of Vincent Fort’s campaign for Mayor of Atlanta.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders lent Atlanta mayoral hopeful Vincent Fort some of his star power Saturday in a rousing rally that was part sermon for “the 99 percent” and part call to arms to fight back against Washington.

Enthusiasitc Sanders fans — many of them white millennials — crowded into the sanctuary of Saint Philip AME Church to hear the man for whom they packed arenas and outdoor stadiums during his unsuccessful presidential run in 2016.

The throng, more than 2,400 in number, gave Sanders — Hillary Clinton’s rival for last year’s Democratic presidential nomination — and special guest, Atlanta rapper Killer Mike, the rock star treatment with screams and defeaning applause that shook the rafters as the duo entered the room with Fort.

“What this campaign is about is not just electing a progressive mayor,” Sanders said. “This campaign is about bringing forward a political revolution that revitalizes democracy and gives the people the hope and the belief that in this democracy we can have a government of the people, by the people and for the people.”

“Vincent, when the Democrats regain control of the Senate, I’m going to invite you as the mayor of this great city to testify why the people of Atlanta need a Medicare for all, single-payer system,” he said.

The Muscogee County Jail kitchen has been closed due to needed repairs.

City Manager Isaiah Hugley sounded the alarm on behalf of the Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office at a recent Columbus Council meeting. He requested approval for authorizing the spending of Other Local Option Sales Tax dollars to bring in a mobile kitchen from California while the floor is being repaired.

“The tile floor in the kitchen at the Muscogee County Jail is both a safety hazard and in violation of health codes,” according to information provided by the city. “The floor is cracked/chipped, missing grout, and has areas of pooling with standing water and continues to deteriorate. The Sheriff’s Office is working with the Engineering Department to remove the existing floor and install new floor drains along with the new flooring system.”

“If an AC goes out in the Government Center building, and we have to order a part out of Atlanta, we might be able to wait until tomorrow,” [Hugley] said. “But if it goes out in the jail we have to drive to Atlanta and get it tonight because of their protection and their rights. So it has to be done right.”

Councilor Thomas asked why the funding was coming out of the public safety OLOST contingency fund instead of funds designated for infrastructure.

“The bottom line is while it’s a public building, it’s a public safety facility, and it makes sense to use public safety OLOST to fund this need for public safety,” said Hugley.

“I don’t have a problem using OLOST money for this purpose,” Thomas said. “I’m just questioning because it is construction, if you will, and why would it not be coming out of the infrastructure side? I don’t want us to get into the habit of just whoever happens to have money, we’ll take it.”

Savannah City Council approved a resolution asking the General Assembly to rename the Talmadge Memorial Bridge.

While proposing the resolution, Mayor Eddie DeLoach said he wants the city to be united and on the right side of history.

“We will drive over the iconic bridge that leads to our city that will no longer be named for a man that divided us, but for the city that we are all proud to call our home,” DeLoach said.

As part of the resolution, the council recommended the bridge be named “The Savannah Bridge,” a name Alderman Brian Foster said the business community had advocated for when the current bridge across the Savannah River replaced an older one in 1991.

“We are an international city,” Foster said. “Let’s use this opportunity to promote our city, our state, and our Georgia Ports Authority by naming the bridge the Savannah Bridge.”

The resolution will now be sent to Georgia’s lawmakers, who will have the final say over whether the state bridge’s name is changed. A bid by the previous council to get the state legislature to change the name failed to get the support of enough state lawmakers to pass.

Tom Barton of the Savannah Morning News writes about Georgia’s Air National Guard 165th Airlift Wing, currently serving relief missions to Puerto Rico.

28
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 28, 2017

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

Washington Yorktown

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Macon Bacon was announced yesterday as the name of the middle Georgia city’s new baseball team. From 1996 through 2002, Macon hosted a minor league hockey team called the Macon Whoopee.

Governor Nathan Deal announced yesterday that Nestle Purina Pet Care will hire as many as 240 and invest $320 million in a new manufacturing and distribution facility in Hartwell, GA.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will open a disaster response center at Ballard Park in Brunswick today.

Representatives of the U.S. Small Business Administration will also be available at the recovery center. The SBA offers low-interest disaster loans to businesses, renters and homeowners. The SBA also opened a business recovery center at the UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant Center at 715 Bay St. in Brunswick.

FEMA opened centers in Camden, Chatham and Liberty counties as well. They are in the Camden County Recreation Center at 1050 Wildcat Blvd. in Kingsland; in the Tybee Island YMCA gym at 202 5th Street on Tybee Island; and 9397 E. Oglethorpe Hwy. in Midway. They adhere to the same schedule as Ballard.

Ballard Park is at 323 Old Jesup Rd. For more information, call 800-621-3362 or visit FEMA’s website at disasterassistance.gov.

President Trump’s voter fraud panel will pay the standard $250 fee to the Georgia Secretary of State for a copy of the voter registration file.

State Rep. Jason Spencer (R-Woodbine) and former State Rep. LaDawn Jones (D-Douglasville) offer suggestions for addressing Confederate monuments.

In what Spencer calls the meat of the bill, control of Confederate monuments would be vested with the cities and counties that have monuments on their properties. Other states — North Carolina, for example — passed laws doing the opposite, putting all the control with the legislature. Jones said they made a conscious decision to make sure people did not have to go back to the General Assembly regarding monument removal.

“(Local governments) can do one of two things in this bill — they can decide if they want to remove a monument that they consider offensive, that’s a Confederate monument, they can decide to move that to an interested private party to sell it or auction it, but it would have to be to a person who has a bonafide interest in preserving that monument and that history,” Spencer said.

He said the other part is that if a local government cannot find a buyer, they can send the monument to Stone Mountain to be a part of the park, and Stone Mountain “would serve as the repository” of the removed monuments. The bill also includes tougher penalties for defacing Stone Mountain, and changes Stone Mountain Park from a “memorial to the Confederacy” to a “historical memorial.”

“We don’t need a Confederate park in Georgia,” Jones said. “What we do need is a historical park that talks about all the Civil War. This will allow us to expand the history there, will allow us to discuss the contributions of not just the Confederate war or Confederate army soldiers, but the African-Americans who were free and enslaved that contributed, to the women who contributed, to the Native Americans who contributed during the Civil War era.”

She added, “I believe that when that when history is not erased, but put into full context, is given to the state, it makes it all better.”

Army veteran Carmen Baldrich is walking every day this month to raise money for, and awareness of, homeless veterans.

The event is part of her larger campaign to “Ruck for a Good Cause.”

“The purpose behind the marches for this month is to bring people together, talk about any issues us veterans are facing, and to bring awareness about our homeless vets out there and to hopefully help them as much as we can,” she said.

In 2016, there were more than 39,000 homeless veterans across the country, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

And while that number has been on a steady decrease, it’s still a concerning statistic locally, according to Chris Lancia, community engagement director of Team Red White and Blue, which joined Baldrich during a march around Forsyth Park on Wednesday afternoon.

“Our mission is to enrich the lives of veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity,” he said. “Social activity can be hard for veterans when they return home. While you’re in (the service) you do everything together. But it’s different when you come home and it can be difficult.”

The Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission will hold a special called meeting today at 10 AM to discuss issuing an Advisory Opinion on “Independent Expenditures and Coordination between Candidates and Non-Candidate Committees.”

Georgia College and State University will host a debate on October 7 among Republican candidates for Governor in 2018.

Five hopefuls on the Republican side are scheduled to attend a gubernatorial forum scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 7 in Georgia College’s Arts & Sciences Auditorium.

The public is invited to attend the event sponsored by the 10th District Republican Party and hosted by Georgia College’s chapter of College Republicans.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Sec. of State Brian Kemp, state Sen. Hunter Hill (6th District), state Sen. Michael Williams (27th District), and Marc Urbach are all vying to be the Republican candidate for governor and will be in attendance.

“This is the first forum of its kind for this election and voters have to decide which candidate they believe is the best for the state of Georgia,” said Baldwin County Republican Party Chairman Joannah Hollis. “It’s the first opportunity of its kind with this election cycle to hear directly from them face-to-face and see how it is that they interact with the other candidates. It won’t just be based on hearsay or how someone looks on TV — this is an opportunity to see them live and in person.”

Hollis said that although it seems early in the process to hold an event such as this it’s important for the candidates to get a jumpstart so their messages can reach as many voters as possible.

“It’s something that the Georgia GOP has endorsed because it’s good to have things throughout the state so some of the more rural areas have access to these candidates and be able to meet them in person,” she said.

“I really want it to be positive thing for Milledgeville because it’s not every day that we get this much political attention and concentration in our community,” she said. “I hope that we will have a good turnout and I hope that people will be respectful and learn something. That’s the ultimate goal.”

Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Carla Wong McMillian spoke to AP Government students in Columbus.

Don’t be afraid to take calculated risks so you can seize opportunities during your career, and make sure you take time to thank and help others along the way. That’s the main message the Southeast’s first Asian Pacific American state appellate judge gave students at a Columbus private school Wednesday.

Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Carla Wong McMillian, who in 2014 also became the first Asian American to be elected to statewide office in Georgia, visited the Advanced Placement Government class at Calvary Christian School. The teacher, Craig Johnson, invited her because he’s been following her career since he taught her history at Westminster School of Augusta in the late 1980s.

“She was a top student, a very hard worker, sharp, inquisitive and just an academic leader, so it’s not a surprise that she has succeeded in the legal profession,” Johnson, also Calvary’s upper school principal, told the Ledger-Enquirer before McMillian’s presentation. “It’s important for students to have someone they can look to and say, ‘Maybe I can do that.’ It’s inspirational. They get kind of locked into thinking their world is the next week or two versus many things they could be doing in the future.”

Andy Miller of Georgia Health News reports that Georgia insurance officials approved rate increases for plans offered on the federal exchange.

The Georgia ACLU disputes accusations that Bryan County has more registered voters than eligible citizens.

Marietta City Council members declined to move forward with a measure that would allow some open alcohol containers in public.

Cobb County Commissioner Lisa Cupid will hold a Town Hall Meeting on October 3d at 7 PM.

Gwinnett County Commissioners deferred action on a proposed farm-oriented development near Grayson.

27
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 27, 2017

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Senator Johnny Isakson is working to retain the US role in commercial development of nuclear power.

Georgia Power and other sponsors of the Vogtle expansion are eligible for an $800 million tax credit if the reactors are up and operating by Jan. 1, 2021.

The tax credit is essential to making the expansion economically viable. But hope of meeting that deadline has dried up. Georgia Power says the new reactors will be operational by late 2022, at a cost of $28 billion — about double the original estimate.

Isakson said he’s likely to tack an extension for the nuclear energy tax credit to “catch-all” legislation in late December, perhaps coupled with tax breaks targeted for wind, solar or biomass interests.

“There are plenty of opportunities. There are also plenty of folks who have an interest in tax credits in the Senate who will need help getting theirs through,’ Isakson said. “I know who they are and where some of them live.”

Isakson’s new role as a protector of nuclear power has an element of karma. In the early 1980s, at the beginning of his political career and when he first became the House minority leader in the state Capitol, Isakson was a key supporter of legislation that allowed the first nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle to be built.

Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Robert “Bob” McMahon has been nominated as assistant secretary of defense for logistics and materiel readiness.

He retired from his position at Robins Air Force Base in 2012 and has remained in the community, serving as president of the 21st Century Partnership more than a year following his retirement.

President Donald Trump’s nomination is pending Senate confirmation, and McMahon said he isn’t sure how long that might take.

“I am honored that the president and the secretary of defense have given me this opportunity,” he said. “If confirmed by the Senate, I’ll be humbled to once again serve our nation with those who protect our freedoms.”

“I think it will be a good thing for Robins and the Air Force,” Brooks said. “He is the right guy, and I don’t think President Trump could have made a better choice. I think it’s always good to have friends of Robins and friends of Middle Georgia and the Robins community in high places.”

“General McMahon and his wife Hope have contributed their time, talent and treasure to the Museum of Aviation Foundation for many years,” Chrissy Miner, president of the Museum of Aviation Foundation, said in a statement. “His demonstrated leadership, not only at the Museum of Aviation Foundation but in Middle Georgia as a whole, shows that he is the absolute right person for this appointment, and we couldn’t be more proud.”

Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) introduced legislation to name the Clermont post office after Zack T. Addington, a marine who was killed in action in Vietnam.

Six University System of Georgia professors are suing over campus carry legislation.

The professors hope to overturn the controversial guidelines using a legal argument that the “campus carry” law usurps the University System of Georgia’s constitutional authority over its campuses. Their complaint was filed Monday in Fulton County Superior Court against Gov. Nathan Deal and Georgia Attorney Georgia Chris Carr.

The professors, who’ve been teaching at various University System of Georgia (USG) campuses between 16 and 40 years, believe guns in the classroom stifle discussion on contentious issues, will lead to more student suicides and could create a safety hazard if a firearm is accidentally discharged in areas with hazardous materials.

University of Georgia geography professor John Knox, who is described in the complaint as a gun owner, said guns on campus “make the learning environment less safe for everyone and negatively impact his educational mission.” Valdosta State professor Michael Noll fears “armed intimidation or gun violence from students who receive failing grades.” Noll has posted a “no weapons” sign on his faculty office door, according to the complaint. Aristotelis Santas, a Valdosta State professor, said he “will no longer promote discussion of hot-button issues in his classroom” and allows students to leave his class if they don’t feel safe.

The Georgia State Road and Tollway Authority received an award from the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association.

The International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association chose SRTA as the recipient of the Presidents Award for its Commuter Credits Pilot Program. The program is designed to offer drivers an alternative to driving by themselves on the interstate during peak traffic hours.

“SRTA is pleased to be recognized by our peers for our work on the pilot program,” SRTA executive director Chris Tomlinson said in a statement. “Results show us that commuters are willing to try new methods of transportation given the right incentive.

“We hope that transit agencies use our experience as a best practice to highlight the benefits of collaboration and cross promotion of services.”

State officials said the credits program was designed to get drivers to consider either riding transit systems such as Gwinnett County Transit or Xpress buses on I-85, shifting their driving schedules away from peak traffic times or participating in carpools.

The idea, at least in the transit option is to give riders toll lane credits for taking a buses rather than driving during peak hours.

State House District Four received two additional candidates for the November Special Election.

Kasey Carpenter, owner of the Oakwood Cafe and Cherokee Pizza and Brewing, and computer programmer Peter Pociask qualified Tuesday for the Nov. 7 special election for the District 4 seat in the state House of Representatives that became open when Bruce Broadrick stepped down for health reasons recently.

Carpenter unsuccessfully challenged Broadrick in the 2016 Republican primary.

Republican Party activist Beau Patton, who had previously announced plans to run for the District 4 seat next year, was the sole qualifier on Monday, according to the Secretary of State’s website.

The race is nonpartisan, but the candidates have the option of listing a party identification. Carpenter and Patton listed Republican. Pociask listed the Democratic Party.

Cobb County Commissioners adopted a $403 million dollar budget for FY 2018.

Chairman Mike Boyce’s $403.4 million budget for fiscal 2018 was approved by a 3-2 vote with Lisa Cupid and Bob Ott voting against.

“When you defund challenged populations, you are paying for it, whether or not you want to. And I’m very concerned about the fallout of not paying for or not continuing to pay for some of these services that impact the population,” Cupid said, but added that some residents in her district had shared concerns that the distribution of nonprofit funding was inequitable as their organizations of choice were not getting any county dollars.

Commissioner Bob Ott kept his comments on the matter brief, saying he did not see in Boyce’s budget a way to continue to fund operations without needing one-time funds.

“I just don’t see that in there. That’s all I really need to say,” he said, referring to the $20.8 million the county is using to balance the budget.

The Valdosta Police Department will hold public meetings to discuss a proposed curfew for youth.

The ordinance would make it where “juveniles from the age of 7 to 16 are prohibited from roaming the street from midnight to 5 a.m. unless they have a legitimate excuse to include being accompanied by a parent/legal guardian,” according to a statement from VPD.

It would also hold parents and legal guardians responsible for failing to properly supervise juveniles.

The ordinance is designed to prevent juveniles from being charged with serious crime, prevent serious injury to juveniles, help parents who may require assistance with supervision of their juvenile and reduce crime in the city at night, according to the VPD.

Dalton State College celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Gwinnett County Public Schools had higher SAT scores than the state average,

Gwinnett’s Class of 2017 received an average score of 1084 out of a possible 1600. That’s 24 points higher than the national average and 34 points higher than the state average.

The Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology scored highest on the SAT in Gwinnett with a 1315.

Gwinnett students scored an average of 545 on the evidence-based reading and writing score and 539 on the mathematics section. Possible scores in both section range from 200 to 800.

Muscogee County schools also posted higher than state average numbers.

The Muscogee County School District’s average total score on the SAT beat the state average for the first time (by 1 point) and the average of Georgia’s three other second-tier cities by more than 50 points – and is 9 points shy of the national average.

MCSD’s average total score is 1051, Georgia’s is 1050 and the nation’s is 1060, according to results for the graduating class of 2017 released Tuesday by the New York-based College Board, which administers the SAT college entrance exam.

The Columbus public schools in Muscogee County outperformed the school districts in Georgia’s three other second-tier cities: Bibb County (Macon) scored 909, Chatham County (Savannah) 978 and Richmond County (Augusta) 996.

Georgia Department of Revenue approved the tax digest for Muscogee County, which will send property tax bills today.

The Georgia Elections Board settled a complaint involving a 2014 Cobb County election.

[T]he State Election Board signed off on a consent order that publicly reprimands former Tybee Council Candidate Stephen Friedman and resolves all matters involving his 2015 candidacy for public office, along with his participation in an election in Cobb County, Ga., in 2014.

The election board also ordered Friedman to “cease and desist from further violations of the Election Code” and levied a civil penalty of $500.

The state board was first brought on to review Friedman’s candidacy and earlier voting habits in 2016, when Tybee Island City Councilman Monty Parks brought the case to its attention.

Originally at issue was whether Friedman made a false statement under oath when he qualified to run for Tybee City Council in September 2015. Tybee requires its candidates to have lived on the island for a full year before they’re eligible to run for municipal office, but eagle-eyed city residents discovered that Friedman had actually participated in another election in Marietta, Ga., one day short of a year before the 2015 general election.

During the hearing before the election board in Savannah last summer, Friedman described casting the ballot in Marietta as an oversight and stressed that he considered himself a resident of Tybee as of September 2014. That assurance, however, raised further questions about whether he intentionally deceived polling officials when he voted in Cobb County in 2014. After a long discussion of the issue, the election board voted last year to continue the investigation at hand.

Rincon City Council continued 20 years of rolling back the property tax millage rate entirely.

Bryan County has more registered voters than eligible residents, according to a lawsuit.

According to the [Public Interest Legal Foundation] registered voters in Bryan County for the 2016 Election equaled 101 percent of the adults in the county of voting age.

“During the 2016 Election, 24 states had bloated voter rolls,” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said. “Voter fraud begins with corrupted voter rolls. Our nation’s voter rolls have records that cannot be distinguished between living or dead; citizen or alien; resident or relocated. We hear about possible cyber-attacks, but we aren’t doing enough to fix voter rolls that are certainly corrupt. The voter rolls are so bad in some states that election officials would have a hard time telling the difference between sabotage and negligence.”

After learning of the accusation Bryan County Election Supervisor Cindy Reynolds released a statement saying that the Bryan County Board of Elections is not aware of the data used by the PILF to make the claim. And, that in Georgia, voter rolls are maintained by the state through the Secretary of State – not local the elections boards.

“On July 28, 2017, the SOS purged our files, and removed 2,934 voters from our roll due to no activity for two General Election cycles. This is a regular process of the SOS provided by Georgia laws to ensure that our voting rolls are as accurate as possible. The SOS also uses the vital records to remove, on a regular basis, individuals who have passed away,” said Reynolds.

“The board takes its obligations very seriously and makes every effort to make sure that all citizens have their right to vote,” she added.

Warner Robins City Council candidates met in a forum last night.

Post 3 Councilman Keith Lauritsen and his challenger, Terri Murray, were the first to take the stage. They were followed by three of the four candidates for the open Post 1 seat, which is a citywide post. Those candidates were Eric Langston, Daron Lee and Jim Taylor. The no-show was Jeffery Walker, who called in earlier and said he couldn’t make it due to an illness.

26
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 26, 2017

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

The first televised debate between major party candidates for President took place on September 26, 1960 between Democrat John F. Kennedy and Republican Richard M. Nixon.

Kennedy emerged the apparent winner from this first of four televised debates, partly owing to his greater ease before the camera than Nixon, who, unlike Kennedy, seemed nervous and declined to wear makeup. Nixon fared better in the second and third debates, and on October 21 the candidates met to discuss foreign affairs in their fourth and final debate. Less than three weeks later, on November 8, Kennedy won 49.7 percent of the popular vote in one of the closest presidential elections in U.S. history, surpassing by a fraction the 49.6 percent received by his Republican opponent.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia Court of Appeals Judge William “Billy” Ray, II was introduced to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee by Senators Johnny Isakson and David Perdue, as the committee begins its confirmation process on his nomination as a U.S. District Court Judge.

Most nominees were introduced by one senator from their state, but there were two nominees to two District Court seats in Georgia, so Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue introduced both men. The other nominee was Michael Brown. Both men were nominated by President Donald Trump earlier this year.

“Billy is from Gwinnett County, Ga., and served in the Georgia State Senate for six years, went from there to the Superior Court of Gwinnett County and from there to the Court of Appeals in Georgia, and has been an outstanding participant in the bench all of those times,” Isakson said.

Perdue praised both Ray and Brown in his remarks.

“I’m proud to support both of these impressive nominees without reservation and applaud the president for his selection of two such qualified and well-regarded Georgians to fill these seats on the federal bench in my state,” he said. “This is a high honor to introduce both of these candidates from Georgia.”

“I’d like to thank President Trump for his nomination of me, and for the support that both Sen. Isakson and Sen. Perdue have given me in forwarding my name to the White House for consideration,” Ray said.

He also thanked his fellow judges on the Gwinnett County Superior Court and the Georgia Court of Appeals.

Georgia Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer will kick-off his campaign for Lieutenant Governor on October 22d.Continue Reading..

25
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 25, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp set qualifying for Special Elections in House District 4, vacated by State Rep. Bruce Broadrick (R-Dalton) and House District 60, vacated by State Rep. Keisha Waites (D-Atlanta). The qualifying period begins today from 9 AM to 5 PM and continues Tuesday 9-5 and Wednesday from 9 AM to 1 PM at the SOS office in the Twin Towers.

Kemp also told the AJC that Homeland Security officials told him Georgia was not targeted by the Russians in the 2016 campaign.

Former Georgia Congressman John Barrow announced yesterday to the Athens-Clarke County Democrats that he will run for Georgia Secretary of State.

Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico filed paperwork to raise funds for a 2018 Lieutenant Governor campaign.

Amico is executive chairman at Jack Cooper Holdings Corp., a trucking and logistics firm run by her father, Michael Riggs. Trained at Harvard’s business school, she’s previously worked at talent and literary agencies in New York and Hollywood.

She hasn’t publicly announced her campaign yet, but her Twitter biography provides a clue about how she might run the race: She identifies herself as a “politically purple advocate for common sense policy.”

Vice President Mike Pence has a full travel schedule, including a fundraiser in Alabama for Republican Senator Luther Strange.

Vice President Mike Pence went home to Indiana on Friday to pressure the state’s lone Democratic senator to support a GOP tax overhaul. He’ll bounce to Alabama on Monday, campaigning for President Donald Trump’s pick in a special Senate election. And by Thursday, he’s scheduled to be in Milwaukee, headlining a $35,000-per-couple fundraiser.

Pence is expected to campaign extensively on behalf of congressional Republicans seeking to maintain their majorities next year. More immediately, Republicans expect him to help Ed Gillespie, the former Republican National Committee chairman who is running for governor in Virginia this fall.

Pence will also campaign in Alabama today for Sen. Strange in the GOP Runoff Election.

The State House Science and Technology Committee met Friday to discuss a new voting system for Georgia.Continue Reading..

22
Sep

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

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

Bon Homme Richard

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

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

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

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

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

bill-of-rights-hero-lg

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

rutherfordhayesatlanta

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On September 24, 1976, former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter resumed campaigning after the first debate against President Gerald Ford.On September 24, 1979, CompuServe offered the first dial-up computer information service to consumers.

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

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

Friends debuted on NBC on September 22, 1994.

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Donald Trump announced his nomination of Randy Evans as Ambassador to Luxembourg.

Mr. Evans is a distinguished attorney, author and public servant. He is currently a partner in the global law firm, Dentons US LLP, which has offices in over 90 countries, and co-chairs the Georgia Judicial Nominating Commission. Mr. Evans was Counsel to the Office of the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 – 2007. Mr. Evans has been a leader in both the American Bar Association and the Georgia Bar Association serving in senior positions in both. He has co-authored eight books and is a syndicated columnist writing on ethics, climate change and current events. Mr. Evans attended West Georgia College (B.A. 1980), Carrollton, Georgia, and the University of Georgia Law School (Juris Doctor 1983), Athens, Georgia.

The Trump Administration also announced the nomination of A.D. Frazier to the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders will campaign in Atlanta for Vincent Fort’s campaign for Atlanta Mayor.

Former Congressman Paul Broun is endorsing Judge Roy Moore in Alabama’s Republican Senate runoff. From the press release:

Former Congressman Paul Broun has announced his endorsement Judge Roy Moore for the U.S. Senate.

“Judge Moore is just the kind of man we need in the Senate. He has demonstrated the courage of his convictions over 20 years of service to the people of Alabama and I am confident he will continue to do the same in Washington.” said Broun, “When I was in Congress is used a four step criteria for evaluating legislation – Is it Constitutional and a proper function of government? Is it morally right? Is it something we need? Can we afford it? – I am confident that Roy Moore will do the same as Senator.”

Congressman Paul Broun served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2007-2015. During his tenure, Congressman Broun was ranked in the Top 10 Conservatives by Heritage Action and received a career average rating of more than 95% Conservative from the American Conservative Union, Conservative Review, Americans for Prosperity, and Club for Growth.

Governor Nathan Deal announced yesterday that OneTrust will create 500 new jobs and invest $5 million in Fulton County.

“Georgia’s status as a top technology hub continues to attract and retain innovative industry leaders like OneTrust,” said Deal. “With years of experience in Georgia’s business community, OneTrust’s leadership recognizes the advantages of operating and expanding in our competitive economic environment. By reinvesting in Georgia’s strategic resources and our deep talent pool, OneTrust will grow its access to the global market and reach its customer base more efficiently. This announcement is a testament to the strength of our technology infrastructure and will further strengthen Georgia’s reputation among technology companies in the global marketplace.”

The Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission decided against moving forward with charges in last year’s Muscogee County School Board elections.

After a 90-minute hearing Thursday in Atlanta, a state ethics commission chose not to pursue a complaint against Muscogee County School Board representatives Frank Myers and John Thomas for their efforts last year to defeat two board candidates in a runoff.

The hearing was to determine whether the board found “probable cause” to further investigate the actions of the committee “School Reform 2016,” through which Myers and Thomas funded a campaign against Cathy Williams, who won the July 26 runoff for the school board District 7 seat, and Pat Hugley Green, who was re-elected to represent District 1.

Though the ethics panel now called the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission chose not to pursue the case, it also did not dismiss the complaint. The effect was to table the matter.

Myers said the commission’s finding no probable cause was a victory for him and Thomas, ending 14 months of controversy. He repeatedly said during the hearing that he hoped it would settle the matter once and for all.

“I want this to be done,” he said.

SCANA was served with a federal subpoena for documents relating to the nuclear reactor construction project recently abandoned in South Carolina.

“The subpoena requires the Company to produce a broad range of documents related to the project,” SCANA officials wrote. “The Company intends to cooperate with the government’s investigation.”

SCANA is the parent company of South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. Along with Santee Cooper, the companies spent nearly $10 billion on two new reactors before deciding July 31 to halt construction following the bankruptcy of lead contractor Westinghouse.

The failure left nearly 6,000 people jobless.

A federal probe into the failure has been rumored, and Thursday’s news that Justice Department attorneys had issued subpoenas served as official confirmation of an investigation.

State lawmakers have convened panels looking into the failure, which has cost ratepayers more than $2 billion and accounts for 18 percent of SCE&G customers’ electric bills. A 2007 state law allows SCE&G to recoup its debt from customers if state regulators deem money was spent prudently, but legislators want to stop that.

Peach County Sheriff Terry Deese was named Sheriff of the Year by the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association.

Lawmen from across the state gave a standing ovation to their 2017 Sheriff of the Year during the fifth annual Salute to Georgia Sheriffs hosted by Jones County Sheriff Butch Reece at the Walnut Creek Shooting Preserve.

Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle spoke of the respect he has for Deese.

“I know the tears in the man’s eyes by having to do what he had to do, but that is what his duty is,” Cagle said. “I love a man who always leads with his heart.”

Not only did Deese rally his deputies, but he comforted the Sondron and Smallwood families, Cagle said.

The Peach County deputies were two killed in what Deese called a “very bad year for law enforcement.”

“In the state of Georgia, we lost nine good men for no reason,” Deese said.

Christopher Gyening announced he will run for the State House seat being vacated by John Pezold, who is not running for reelection.

Christopher Gyening, 27, announced his intentions Tuesday night at the Muscogee County Republican Party meeting. Gyening, who lives in north Columbus but attended high school in Troup County, is a non-traditional candidate for the seat, that covers parts of Muscogee, Harris and Troup counties.

Gyening is a 2016 Columbus State University graduate with a degree in military and global issues. He enlisted in the Georgia Army National Guard, 648 Maneuver Enhancement Brigade assigned to Fort Benning. He works as a part-time teller for Synovus.

Gyening said he was pleased with the way his announcement was received by the local Republican party.

“I am a young, black Republican and I think that kind of shocked everybody,” he said. “But between Troup County and living in north Columbus, I have been around this district for 10 years.”

Democrat Otha Thornton announced he will run for State School Superintendent in 2018.

Healthcare

In Washington, the Graham-Cassidy legislation would partially repeal Obamacare.

• Repeal the ACA Medicaid expansion and individual insurance market subsidies—including premium tax credits, cost-sharing reductions, and the basic health program—as of 2020.

• Create a new block grant program to states, which replaces the ACA’s Medicaid expansion and insurance subsidies, for years 2020-2026. States would have flexibility to use these funds to cover the cost of high-risk patients, assist individuals with premiums and cost-sharing, pay directly for health care services, or provide health insurance to a limited extent to people eligible for Medicaid.

• Convert federal funding for the traditional Medicaid program from an open-ended basis to a capped amount.

The bill also repeals the penalties under the ACA’s individual and employer mandates and allows states to waive benefit requirements and community rating in the individual and small group markets. The proposal would fundamentally alter the current federal approach to financing health coverage for more than 80 million people who have coverage through the ACA (Medicaid expansion or marketplace) or through the traditional Medicaid program.

Six states would see at least 40% more in federal funds under the proposal: Tennessee (44%), South Dakota (45%), Georgia (46%), Kansas (61%), Texas (75%), and Mississippi (148%).

CNN discusses procedures for Graham-Cassidy,

Due to procedural rules under reconciliation, Republicans can currently pass a health care bill with a 51-vote majority, but after September 30 they would need 60 votes, meaning they’d need help from Democrats — who are adamantly opposed to repealing the health care law known as Obamacare.

So far only one Republican — Sen. Rand Paul — has definitively refused to support the Graham-Cassidy bill, and Republicans, who hold a 52-48 majority, can only afford to lose one more of their own in order to pass the bill with a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence. If they lose two more Republicans, then there’s no path for the bill as written to proceed.

Has serious concerns
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) — “My issues are still how they derive the formula and how that works with the numbers for Alaska”
Sen. John McCain (Arizona) — “Deeply disturbed” by the lack of regular order on the bill, still looking at it “carefully”
Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) — Undecided but has concerns about Medicaid cuts, coverage numbers, and the fact that the full CBO score won’t be ready in time.

Unclear
Sen. Johnny Isakson (Georgia) — Spokeswoman said he was undecided
Sen. David Perdue (Georgia) — Said he was still looking at it

Andy Miller at Georgia Health News writes about the economic effects that follow a hospital closure in rural Georgia.

Opportunity has been dying in Wheeler County for the last 20 years. Agriculture was once the primary employer, yet the Wheeler Correctional Facility, a privately run prison, is now the biggest source of jobs. With 39 percent of the central Georgia county’s population living in poverty, there aren’t enough patients with good insurance to keep a hospital from losing money.

The hospital’s closure eliminated the county’s biggest health care provider and dispatched yet another major employer. Glenwood’s mayor of 34 years, G.M. Joiner, doubts that the town will ever recover.

“It’s been devastating,” the 72-year-old mayor said, leaning on one of the counters in Glenwood’s one-room city hall. “I tell folks that move here, ‘This is a beautiful place to live, but you better have brought money, because you can’t make any here.’ ”

The drive to the nearest hospitals in neighboring counties averages between 30 and 45 minutes, depending on where the patient is coming from in Wheeler County. The county’s two ambulances don’t carry blood. And any delay in getting to an emergency room can be deadly for someone who has suffered a heart attack, a stroke or massive trauma.

Wheeler County’s director of emergency medical services, Selena Howell, estimates that keeping Lower Oconee Community Hospital open would have made the difference in saving four or five lives over the last three years.

“Now that may not seem like a lot, but it sure meant something to those folks’ families,” she said.

many uninsured people have come to rely on emergency room care. Under the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act of 1986, hospitals are required to screen and stabilize patients regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay, which means hospitals often end up absorbing the costs associated with those patients. This is called “bad debt.”

Meanwhile, financial help from the federal government has decreased in recent years. Due to sequestration, Medicare payments have been reduced. To find the funds to insure more people, the Affordable Care Act cut back a program to reimburse rural hospitals for bad debt. And cuts are coming to the Disproportionate Share Hospital program, which provides extra funding for hospitals that serve higher levels of low-income patients.

If you’re interested in healthcare policy or in economic development, the article is worth reading in its entirety.

Max Blau takes a look at the impact of cuts to Disproportionate Share Hospitals (DSH) payments.

Since the ’80s, Disproportionate Share Hospitals payments — a part of Medicaid and Medicare — have offset a portion of the uncompensated care hospitals provide to patients every year. But because of a quirk of Obamacare’s implementation, the payments were slated to be gradually cut over an eight-year period. After temporary extensions over the past three years, the first of a total $43 billion in payment cuts are set to kick in on October 1.

Grady Health System faces the prospect of at least $11 million in cuts in 2018 — growing to $45 million in 2024 — that would be a “major hit to Grady’s bottom line,” according to CEO John Haupert. In recent years, Haupert has warned that cuts to DSH payments may force his hospital to close either its OB-GYN clinic or mental health department — the latter being the second-largest provider of mental health services in Georgia.

21
Sep

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal cut the ribbon at a metal shop in Hall County Correctional Institute.

As a former prosecutor, Gov. Nathan Deal said one of the most frustrating parts of the job was the “revolving door,” seeing the same faces and families in court because they “never broke the cycle that they are living in.”

“Some people think mere passage of time is rehabilitation,” Deal said. “It is not. In fact, it may be the exact opposite in many cases.”

The Re-entry Accountability Court Transition program, which started in 2014 for non-violent offenders to get substance abuse treatment and vocational training, is overseen by Superior Court Judge Andrew Fuller. Lanier Technical College and WorkSource Georgia are partners in the welding shop program.

“We’re going to produce 30 returning citizens to Hall County on an annual basis that will have a national and state certification in welding,” Warden Walt Davis said. “That’s a skill that’s needed in this area.”

“The families of those inmates will now have a paycheck that they can depend on. Children will be supported. They won’t be in the prison system, and they won’t be in our court system in-and-out,” [Gov. Deal] said.

The State Elections Board turned over to the Attorney General’s office fifty-three voter registration forms that appear fradulent.

Fifty-three allegedly forged voter applications are being referred to the state Attorney General’s Office for possible prosecution, a decision by the State Elections Board that effectively closes the Secretary of State Office’s 2014 fraud investigation involving an attention-grabbing registration drive by the New Georgia Project.

The unanimous vote Wednesday came as the case’s lead investigator said he found no wrongdoing by the group, which was founded by then-state House Democratic leader Stacey Abrams to increase the number of minorities on voting rolls.

It allows Attorney General Chris Carr to decide whether to prosecute those involved: 14 people that investigator Russell Lewis said essentially acted as independent contractors registering new voters.

The project, however, has continued to take an active role in registration efforts across the state, even as Abrams has stepped back from its operations. To date, those working with the project say it has submitted more than 215,000 voter registration forms, although not all those forms have been accepted.

FEMA and GEMA officials toured Gwinnett County yesterday to assess damages from Hurricane Irma.

[Jennifer] Busch’s home was one of about 26 houses that Federal Emergency Management Agency and Georgia Emergency Management Agency representatives visited with Gwinnett County officials on Wednesday. The FEMA and GEMA officials were assessing damage from Tropical Storm Irma to see if the county could qualify for a Declaration of Individual Assistance.

It’s part of a long process that county officials are going through to try and get recovery assistance for Gwinnett residents whose homes were damaged during the storm.

“From a federal perspective, what we’re looking for is damage to the essential living quarters,” FEMA Emergency Management Program Specialist Steve Michaels said. “We’ve had one home where it was the garage that was damaged. The rest of the house was still functional even though the garage was messed up pretty significantly (so), to us, that would be like a minor issue because it’s not an essential part of the house …

“If it’s going through the middle of the house, what we’re looking for is major structural components being impacted.”

The FEMA assessor praised the work Gwinnett’s assessment team did after the storm to evaluate damage. County officials said they compiled their list of damaged structures by looking at 9-1-1 calls and at a state-run website that allows homeowners to report damage online.

About 200 structures were reportedly damaged in Gwinnett during the storm. County code enforcement officers began going around to check damaged structures Sept. 13.

“They’ve been pretty right on,” Michaels said. “Gwinnett County is very detail oriented and their system that they utilize and implement is one of the best I’ve seen. I’m just sort of validating that the work that they’ve already put into it is accurate, at a federal assessment level, which so far it is.”

Contrast that with Gwinnett County’s rebranding effort.

The colorful overlapping shapes of the logo revealed Tuesday look like a knockoff of the logo for Internet browser Google Chrome, they said. The cursive font used for the slogan — “vibrantly connected” — is hard to read, they said. Why can’t we just bring back the water towers, they said.

I hope it was free, they said.

The logo, slogan and other re-branding efforts — which are not final, could be tweaked and still must be voted on by the county’s Board of Commissioners — in fact cost about $123,000, according to a contract approved by the board in February. And not everyone hates them.

The Judicial Nominating Commission is accepting nominations for a newly-created seat on the Superior Court for the Northeastern Judicial Circuit, serving Hall and Dawson Counties.

Georgia Department of Family and Children Services Director Bobby Cagle will take over the equivalent agency in Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has selected Bobby Cagle as head of the Department of Children and Family Services, the sprawling child welfare agency that has suffered from mismanagement, a handful of high-profile child deaths and a shortage of foster homes in recent years.

Cagle, a former foster youth and case worker himself, serves as director of the Division of Family and Children Services under Georgia’s Department of Human Services.

Cagle’s contract, salary and moving expenses still have to be negotiated and are subject to final approval by the board.

Cagle will take the helm of an agency with a $2.4-billion budget that is responsible for 34,000 youth across Los Angeles County, more than half of whom are in “out-of-home” care.

Five candidates are running for Smyrna City Council Ward 3.

Councilwoman Teri Anulewicz stepped down from the council position earlier this month after nearly 10 years in office to make a bid for the state House. She is running unopposed for the District 42 position formerly held by Stacey Evans, D-Smyrna, who is running for governor.

Qualifying ended at noon Wednesday at Smyrna City Hall with Maryline Blackburn and Jeff Carter entering the field, which already had business owner Travis Lindley, attorney Adam Taylor and Marshall Moon, who works in security.

Fire Fighters Unions  endorsed Mary Norwood and Ceasar Mitchell for Mayor of Atlanta.

IAFF announced its backing of Norwood at a morning event near Fire Station No. 1 in the shadow of the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The union, which has more than 560 paying members, also endorsed Norwood in her 2009 bid for the city’s top job. It did not make an endorsement in 2013.

“Mary Norwood is known citywide, said IAFF Local 134 President Paul Gerdis, who added that the organization picked Norwood because of her commitment to public safety.

“She lost the mayor’s race by only 700 votes in 2009,” Gerdis said. “We’re not going to let that happen again. We believe we can be a difference maker in this race.”

Mitchell, who is president of the Atlanta City Council, was endorsed by Progressive Firefighters of Atlanta Local 134, an independent fire fighting labor group, during a press conference on the steps of City Hall.

The group, which has around 325 members, praised Mitchell for being a leader on pay equity, including helping efforts to increase the city’s minimum wage to $15, raise firefighter starting salaries to $40,000 and restructure the city’s pension plan.

Fulton County voters will have three candidates to choose from for Commission Chair in the November Special Election.

Qualifying wrapped up at noon Wednesday, and voters will have three candidates to choose from on the Nov. 7 ballot: Keisha Waites, Robb Pitts and Gabriel Sterling.

Waites is a former State House member who represented District 60, which includes portions of Fulton and Clayton counties. Pitts is a former Fulton County Commissioner who served between 2002 and 2014 and Sterling sits on the Sandy Springs City Council.

The county will also hold a special election to fill the District 4 seat on the County Commission, which was vacated with the passing of Joan Garner. Candidates who’ve qualified for that seat are Eddie Lee Brewster, Kathryn Flowers Glasco, Natalie Hall, Steven D. Lee, Sr., Reese McCranie and Joshua McNair. The winner of that race will serve out the remainder of Garner’s term, which also expires in December 2018.

Kennesaw State Political Scientist Kerwin Swint predicts that Georgia’s electorate will become purple in 2024.

We’ve had several false alarms. Many thought Barack Obama had a chance of carrying Georgia in the 2012 election, but by the time November rolled around, Mitt Romney won here by a comfortable eight points. In 2014 many pundits were convinced that Georgia was turning purple, as early polling had Michelle Nunn besting David Perdue in the U.S. Senate race, and Jason Carter running even with Gov. Nathan Deal. But 2014 turned out to be a mirage. Perdue beat Nunn by eight points, and Deal also beat Carter by eight.

Then in 2016, stop me if you’ve heard this one, the national Democratic Party and national media outlets were buzzing over Georgia becoming the newest swing state, likely to go to Hillary Clinton in the presidential election, again according to polling. Then November came, and Donald Trump carried Georgia by six points.

GOP supporters tend to be older with higher incomes, which means they have a higher rate of voter turnout. Also, Republicans in Georgia these days normally get to run as incumbents. Then there’s the gerrymandering of districts, which Republicans will probably get to do again after the 2020 Census, unless Democrats manage to win the Governor’s Mansion in 2018, again an uphill struggle.

That’s why I have the Year of Turning Purple pegged at 2024. It will be a presidential election year, so turnout will be high. The presidency will either be open or it will be a Democrat running for re-election. And Georgia will have several more cycles of new voters added to the mix, most of whom will likely be reliably Democrat.

The Graham-Cassidy federal healthcare bill would benefit Georgia in the short-term, according to Andy Miller with Georgia Health News.

The Graham-Cassidy bill – named for its Republican sponsors, Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana — would get rid of many Affordable Care Act provisions, including states’ expansion of their Medicaid programs.

It would take that money and other ACA funding and redistribute it more equally across states, allowing them greater flexibility to shape their health care systems.

The “block grant’’ approach would lead to less funding for states that expanded Medicaid and had high enrollment in their health insurance exchanges, such as California and New York. Non-expansion states such as Georgia would generally gain under the change.

The legislation has until Sept. 30 to pass. No Democratic senators support it, so the Republicans will need almost all their 52 senators to vote for it. The bill could pass with 50 Republican votes, since Vice President Mike Pence would be the one to break a 50-50 tie.

President Trump says he will sign the legislation if it reaches his desk.

The bill worries groups representing doctors and hospitals, as well as consumer advocacy organizations.

A former MARTA executive is accused of stealing half-a-million dollars and buying a Porsche 911, among other things.

A former executive at Atlanta’s MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) public transit system pleaded guilty in federal court to defrauding MARTA of more than $500,000 by writing fake invoices.

Joseph J. Erves 52, of Lithonia, Georgia, was charged via criminal information with one count of Federal Program Theft. Erves has pleaded guilty.

Erves worked at MARTA from 1993-2017 as its senior director of operations. Erves oversaw the maintenance of all buses and rail cars and could approve payments of up to $10,000 for work performed on behalf of MARTA.

Erves personally approved payments to the vendors, who then funneled most of the money back into Erves’s personal bank accounts. He used the money to purchase a Porsche 911 and multiple products at high-end department stores, police say.

Erves had a previous drug conviction and had been sentenced to 41 months in federal prison in 1987, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. He was released in 1992.

Can’t fault his taste in cars, but maybe it was a little conspicuous in the MARTA parking lot.

20
Sep

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

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

The first classes at Oglethorpe University under it’s current non-denominational charter were held on September 20, 1916. Happy 101st Anniversary to the Stormy Petrels. The university was originally affiliated with the Presbyterian Church and located in Midway, Georgia. In 1870, after a period of closure during the Civil War they relocated to the Atlanta area. Currently, a collection of more than 20,000 pieces of political campaign materials is on display at the Weltner Library on Oglethorpe’s campus.

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal yesterday announced that the Georgia Department of Economic Development helped create more than 30,000 jobs this year in Georgia.

Gov. Nathan Deal [] visited the new Honeywell North American Software Center and announced that the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s (GDEcD) Global Commerce Division helped create a total of 30,309 new jobs during FY 17, generating a record-breaking $6.33 billion in investments. This growth is a result of the expansion or relocation of 377 companies covering every region of the state.

“Georgia has consistently been named the No. 1 state for business as companies from around the world continue to choose Georgia to relocate their headquarters or expand operations,” said Deal. “Once companies plant roots here in Georgia, they seem to grow at impressive rates, thanks in part to the business-friendly climate we have carefully cultivated and our highly skilled workforce. The FY 17 investment numbers and new jobs figures represent not only meaningful opportunities for communities across our state, but also new sources of income for more than 30,000 families. From the support of our state legislature and local officials, Georgia has proven to be a reliable and responsible place for businesses of all sizes to plan for future growth. I commend Commissioner Pat Wilson for his leadership, as well as the dedicated GDEcD team that works to keep Georgia on the minds of business executives around the world. These successes should serve as a point of pride for all Georgians and I look forward to more days of celebration like this one in the years to come.”

In FY 17:

  • Businesses already located in Georgia accounted for 59 percent of total jobs created (17,865 of 30,309) and 58 percent of overall investment ($3.7 billion).
  • Companies new to the state created 12,444 jobs and generated $2.64 billion in investments.
  • Georgia’s financial technology sector saw the most significant job growth, with an increase of 250 percent over FY 16. The software and technology industry increased projects by 30 percent (42 projects), representing 9,821 jobs and $1.4 billion in investments.
  • The state’s workforce saw significant job growth in the following industries: logistics and distribution (85 percent), automotive (95 percent) and digital media (97 percent). The food processing sector also saw a 119 percent increase in projects over FY 16.
  • Eighty-six Foreign Direct Investment international projects created more than 6,000 jobs and generated over $1.6 billion in investments.
  • The Athens region saw the greatest number of new jobs (2,918) and the LaGrange region experienced the largest total investment with $766 million.
  • Eighty percent of total economic development announcements were outside of the metro Atlanta region.
  • International investments from European companies included 51 locations, creating 4,468 jobs and generating $809 million in investments. Among European companies, those from Germany, Ireland and Italy created the most jobs in Georgia.
  • Investments from companies in Asian countries included 22 locations, creating 1,445 jobs and generating $751 million in investments. Companies from China, Japan and South Korea provided the largest investments among countries in Asia.
  • Companies from Canada and the Middle East generated total investments of $34 million and $20.4 million, respectively.
  • The Entrepreneur and Small Business team served 1,760 companies in FY 17, 60 percent of which were startup companies.

Gov. Deal issued writs of election for State House District 26, formerly held by Geoff Duncan (R), District 4, formerly held by Bruce Broadrick (R), and District 60, formerly held by Keisha Waites (D). The special elections will be held November 7, 2017.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp scheduled qualifying in HD 26 to begin today at 9 AM to 5 PM and continue Thursday from 9 AM to 5 PM and Friday from 9 AM to 1 PM in the SOS office at 2 MLK, Jr., Drive in Atlanta.

Forsyth County Commissioners voted 3-1 to study compensation for commissioners.

The vote was 3-1, with Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills against and the District 2 seat vacant, to move forward with a study now that the county has hired a county manager.

The topic first came up in June when the board began discussing increased compensation. Just weeks after voting to move forward with a bid to increase the annual compensation, commissioners denied a proposal for a study.

Then in August, the board denied a 25 percent pay raise that had been approved in July.

Now, commissioners are revisiting the topic, and they have decided to go ahead with a study comparing salaries of commissioners in neighboring counties.

County Attorney Ken Jarrard said the study has to be done before election qualifying in 2018. If approved, the raise wouldn’t go into effect until January 1, 2019.

The last proposal that was shot down was for an annual salary for the chair of $49,500 and an annual salary for other board members set at $48,000.

Eric Johnson has begun work as the new Forsyth County Manager.

Three candidates for Roswell City Council Post 4 are profiled by NorthFulton.com.

Gwinnett County Commissioners approved an initial 30-month contract to provide body cameras for law enforcement officers.

The initial three-month term will cost $30,666. If it is renewed to its full potential length, however, the cameras and data management system would cost just over $4.4 million.

“Body worn cameras can help improve the quality of service expected from personnel in the police department, sheriff’s department and corrections department, as well as promote legitimacy and the sense of procedural justice that the citizens of Gwinnett County expect from their law enforcement officials,” Police Chief Butch Ayers told commissioners.

The only question from commissioners about the contract with Axon Enterprises came from Commissioner John Heard, who inquired about the initial length of the contract being three months.

“I’m so happy that we are getting this initiated,” Heard said. “Why is it only for a quarter instead of a year or a continuation?”

Ayers said it was set-up issue.

“The initial item is for license procurement and user license,” he said. “We have to do all of that first and then I expect the contract could be automatically renewed and we expect the project to start probably next month and implementation of the program in the first two quarters of 2018.”

Congressmen Rob Woodall (R-Gwinnett) and Drew Ferguson (R-LaGrange) met with the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and Georgia Transportation Alliance to discuss transportation priorities.

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson denounced a string of murders in the city.

“There have been 26 murders in Columbus this year,” read the statement. “ We are all simultaneously heartsick and frustrated with the level of killing, particularly in this third quarter.”

The three deaths increased the number of 2017 homicides to 26, according to the Columbus Police Department. Muscogee County Coroner puts the number at 32.

“We will continue to concentrate on breaking up areas of known criminal activity,” the mayor said in the statement, “and will continue to ask for the public’s support in helping us get suspects in these murders off the street.”

Kennesaw City Council approved higher fees for sanitation and streetlights.

Gwinnett County is seeking federal aid for recovery from Hurricane Irma.

Stockbridge Mayor Judy Neal withdrew from November’s election.

“After much thought and prayers, I have made the decision to remove my name from the 2017 municipal election ballot. It was not an easy decision, especially because so many Stockbridge citizens, business leaders, donors, pastors and especially staff have supported me so strongly,” stated Neal in a press release.

According to Henry County Elections Director Tina Lunsford, Neal withdrew her name from the race Sept. 5, just 12 days after she qualified for the seat.

Perry City Council adopted the same millage rate for FY 2018 as was used in 2017.

Bainbridge City Council heard a proposed amendment to the alcohol ordinance that would allow open containers in the central business district.

Chatham County officials are considering a proposal to open a 24-hour mental health crisis center.

In a recent presentation to the Chatham County Commission, CEO of Gateway Behavioral Health Services Dr. Mark Johnson said opening a behavioral health crisis center in the county would fill a number of gaps in the community, from providing care to those in desperate need to redirecting low-level offenders suffering from a mental illness out of local jails and emergency rooms.

In Chatham, Johnson said, a crisis center would likely need more beds than what are provided by the facility in Griffin. He proposed a 20,000-square-foot crisis center for Chatham County that would house six beds for 23-hour observation, 24-beds for longer term care — on average, long term stays are about five days — and a walk-in function that allows clients to be seen in less than an hour.

The concept would be less expensive than the constructing a mental health hospital, he said, or continuing the current method of transporting lower level offenders to the county jail. Johnson said that although it’s difficult to quantify just how much constructing a crisis center would save in annual costs at the jail, some scenarios he presented put the savings at between $1.5 million and $4.6 million annually.

“In terms of the effect on the jail, it certainly bends … the costs in the right direction,” he said.

DeKalb County Commissioners approved a project list for a proposed new sales tax.

A proposed sales tax increase in DeKalb County would primarily fund the repaving of cracked and pothole-filled roads, along with building new fire stations, buying police cars and renovating parks, according to a project list approved Tuesday.

The projects would be funded by a sales tax increase, from 7 percent to 8 percent, if voters support it during a Nov. 7 referendum. The special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) would raise about $100 million a year for infrastructure over the next six years.

The project list, approved by a 5-2 vote Tuesday, would cost $388 million that would be raised from sales taxes in unincorporated DeKalb. Another $249 million would go to city governments, which are voting on their own infrastructure project lists this month.

Road repairs are the county’s highest priority for the SPLOST. The project list sets aside $151 million for resurfacing, enough money to repave more than 318 miles of the county’s most neglected streets. That amount represents 39 percent of the unincorporated area’s funds.

Georgia Public Service Commissioners approved a timeline for Plant Vogtle under which they will vote in February whether to continue with construction.

On Tuesday, the Georgia Public Service Commission voted to approve the schedule for a round of hearings on spending at Plant Vogtle. This is routine, every six months the utility presents its costs to the regulators.

What’s different this time around is that Georgia Power will also make its case to keep the project going, despite years of delays and a budget that has grown by billions of dollars. The utility expects to have both nuclear reactors in operation in 2022; they were initially supposed to be up-and-running by now. And the cost has doubled, to more than $20 billion.

The hearings at the Georgia PSC will begin in early November.

From the Savannah Morning News:

Georgia Power spokesman Jacob Hawkins on Tuesday reiterated his previous statement that the company is doing what’s required of it for Vogtle Construction Monitoring, or VCM.

“We filed the 17th VCM Report and recommendation to move forward with the Vogtle expansion on August 31, including responses to specific issues requested by the Georgia PSC such as the reasonableness of the revised cost and schedule forecast,” he wrote in an email. “It is ultimately up to the Georgia PSC to determine the structure of each VCM proceeding — we will continue to work with the Georgia PSC and all parties through the VCM process.

The approved schedule includes hearings on the cases of staff and intervenors on four days, Dec. 11-14. The PSC expects to make a ruling in the case by February.

Live Saving Events

The Forsyth County Suicide Summit will be held on September 20, 2017, beginning at 6:30 PM at the Forsyth Conference Center, 3410 Ronald Reagan Blvd in Cumming.

There have been more than 20 suicides in Forsyth County since January.

That is one reason a group of community members, including Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills, created the inaugural Forsyth County Suicide Summit. The event will be held at 6:30 p.m., Sept. 20 at the Forsyth Conference Center, 3410 Ronald Reagan Blvd.

“We want people to walk away with hope,” Mills said. “It doesn’t have to be about despair. We want to offer more coping skills and be a community about love. We’ve been named the healthiest county the past few years, but wellness goes beyond what you see on the outside.”

“We’ve had a lot of discussions about mental health in the county,” Mills said. “It’s a big issue we’re facing. I started looking at the numbers and talking to deputies and realized how big of an issue we have here.”

Mills attended Gwinnett County’s Mental Health and Substance Abuse Summit and toyed with the idea of also combining the two topics.

“I didn’t think it would do either justice,” Mills said. “They are so much bigger issues than could be covered together. It wouldn’t be fair to either.”

Forsyth County’s total of 22 suicides since January, she said, is high compared to surrounding counties.

“It’s disturbing,” Mills said. “It’s across the gamut and not in just one [type of people]. It’s not all attributed to drugs. Earlier this year, there were two high schoolers who didn’t know each other that did it the same day.”

Forum: Pain Pills and Heroin are Killing Our Families will be held September 26, 2017, 6:30 to 8 PM at Brenau Downtown Center, 301 Main Street, Gainesville, GA 30501.

Georgia Connects Cherokee Chapter is holding a Town Hall on Opioid Abuse on October 2, 2017, 7 to 9 PM at First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Building A Chapel
11905 Highway 92, Woodstock, GA 30188.