Category: Georgia Politics

14
Jun

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

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

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

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

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

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

Governor Nathan Deal released a statement on the escapees.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overdoses in a recent Middle Georgia outbreak now number thirty.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marietta Planning Commissioner Brent Bennett died from drowning in Montana.

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

2018 Campaigns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13
Jun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—Justice Black

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2018 Campaigns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One area Democrats hope to rally is the Latino population.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Power Breakfast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12
Jun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the AJC:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another suspected overdose is being investigated in Macon.

Georgia’s peanut crop looks good this year.

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

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

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

Fort Gordon’s cyberwarfare center continues to grow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tifton City Council heard an update on the Zika virus.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Drones in Campaign Videos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

9
Jun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alcoholics Anonymous was founded on June 10, 1935.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the AJC Political Insider:

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

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

From the Marietta Daily Journal:

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

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

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

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

Scavino Infrastructure

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

More on the Trump infrastructure summit:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Savannah is considering a moratorium on short-term rentals.

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

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

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

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

8
Jun

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

The first Porsche automobile was completed on June 8, 1948.

Ghostbusters was released on June 8, 1984.

On June 8, 2004, Georgia hosted the G-8 summit meeting of the world’s major industrial democracies, which included representatives from the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, and the United Kingdom, plus a representative from the European Union. The 30th meeting of the G-8 was held at Sea Island at the Cloister.

The Augusta Chronicle writes about efforts to learn from the remains of the H.L. Huntley, the first submarine to sink another ship.

For years, two scientists have been painstakingly cleaning a century and a half of sand, sediment and corrosion from the first submarine in history to sink an enemy warship.

The most recent discovery, made public Wednesday, involves how the sub moved through the water.

Hidden underneath the rock-hard stuff scientists call “concretion” was a sophisticated set of gears and teeth on the crank in the water tube that ran the length of the 40-foot sub. These gears enabled the crew rotating the crank to propel the sub faster by moving water more quickly through the tube, conservator and collections manager Johanna Rivera-Diaz said.

The biggest surprise for Rivera-Diaz? Discovering that some of the men wrapped the crank handle in thin metal tubes covered with cloth to try to prevent blisters.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal has created the Commission on Children’s Mental Health to formulate recommendations on improving mental health services for children.

“This commission is modeled after several successful interagency collaborations, including the First Lady’s Children’s Cabinet, the Child Welfare Reform Council and the Criminal Justice Reform Council,” said Deal. “These councils have provided invaluable guidance in helping shape effective, meaningful policies. In fact, the Child Welfare Reform Council’s advocacy on the importance of early examination and treatment resulted in changes to mental health coverage for Medicaid and PeachCare members. This year, my budget included an additional $2.5 million to provide mental health services to the full population of children from birth to age five.

“The Commission on Children’s Mental Health is part of the state’s ongoing efforts to better care for Georgians, particularly our most vulnerable, and it’s a natural progression of the work done by the aforementioned groups. Following my state of the state address in January, I began working with appropriate agency directors, legislators and stakeholders to address issues and suggest policy changes to mental health services provided by the state. This commission will review the programs and areas identified, as well as the funding necessary to make improvements, and report back to me in the fall. Its members will work to help ensure our youngest patients receive the treatment necessary to help them grow up as healthy and productive members of society. I look forward to reviewing their feedback and taking the next steps in reforming mental health services for Georgia’s children.”

The commission members include:

•    Co-Chairwoman Katie Childers, Governor’s deputy chief of staff of policy
•    Co-Chairwoman Commissioner Judy Fitzgerald, Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities
•    Commissioner Frank Berry, Department of Community Health
•    Director Bobby Cagle, Department of Family and Child Services
•    Director Teresa MacCartney, Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget and the state’s Chief Financial Officer
•    Stephanie Blank, Founding Chairwoman, Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students
•    Erica Fener Sitkoff, Policy and Outreach Director, Voices for Georgia’s Children
•    Dr. Jordan Greenbaum, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke in Atlanta to law enforcement officials this week.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke to about 1,500 law enforcement officials at the National Law Enforcement Conference on Human Exploitation June 6 in Atlanta, a city considered by the FBI to be a global hub for child prostitution.

“By all accounts, the scourge of child exploitation is getting worse,” he said.

Sessions noted the rising role of technology in child exploitation as a common tool for child predators.

“Because of technology, no place is safe for our kids Any child with access to a smartphone or tablet is vulnerable to predators,” he said. “Meanwhile, the proliferation of cheap cameras in phones and other devices has made it easier than ever for pedophiles to produce child pornography and share this filth with countless others.”

“Last November, the Alabama and Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children task forces coordinated an investigation called ‘Operation Southern Impact,’” he said. It resulted in the arrest of 29 suspects from both states on charges of possession and distribution of child pornography, and the seizure of 731 digital devices as evidence. The investigation included more than 70 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.”

The Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles elected James Mills as its new Chair.

Mills, who was appointed to the board in November 2011, has served as vice chairman for the past three years and succeeds Terry Barnard.

The board also elected Braxton Cotton as vice chairman.

The Georgia Supreme Court dismissed a writ brought against Savannah Recorder’s Court Judge Tammy Stokes.

Judge Stokes was suspended from her Recorders Court duties last September following Human Resources issues within the court and a formal study commissioned by the City of Savannah.

After the suspension, Judge Stokes and her attorney appealed a writ of prohibition, and shortly after that the Georgia Supreme Court held a hearing and determined that the writ could not be enforced. This left the Supreme Court with little to discuss and led to the dismissal of the case.

Atlanta lawyer Christopher Wray has been tapped by President Trump as Director of the FBI.

President Trump on Wednesday announced that he had selected Christopher A. Wray to be his F.B.I. director, turning to a former federal prosecutor who recently defended Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey in the so-called Bridgegate scandal to lead an agency under a harsh political spotlight.

The president revealed his decision in an early-morning tweet without alerting members of Congress in advance.

Hours after the Twitter post, the White House followed up with an official statement in which Mr. Trump called Mr. Wray “an impeccably qualified individual,” citing his role in major fraud investigations and antiterrorism efforts at the Justice Department after the 9/11 attacks.

“I know that he will again serve his country as a fierce guardian of the law and model of integrity once the Senate confirms him to lead the F.B.I.,” Mr. Trump said in the statement.

Senator Johnny Isakson (R) released a statement on the Wray nomination.

“Chris Wray has exceptional experience, including as a former federal prosecutor in Atlanta and assistant attorney general, that I believe will serve him well as head of the FBI,” Isakson said. “Ultimately, we need an FBI director who is dedicated to upholding the rule of law and honoring the trust that the American people place in our justice system.”

Wray served as assistant attorney general under former President George W. Bush and led the criminal division of the Department of Justice from 2003 to 2005. Previously, he served as assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta, Ga.

Senator David Perdue (R) also released a statement.

“Today President Trump chose former Atlanta federal prosecutor, Christopher Wray, to lead our nation’s highest law enforcement agency. Mr. Wray has proven he is dedicated to upholding our nation’s laws and seeking justice. His work with DOJ on major cases like the Enron scandal and September 11th terrorist attacks make him an ideal candidate for this very important job.”

Congressman Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) is being targeted by a conservative organization for collaborating on legislation with Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA).

Dr. Kay Kirkpatrick (R-Cobb) was sworn into the Georgia Senate after winning a Special Runoff Election in District 32.

Kirkpatrick’s win in a May 16 runoff election against Democrat Christine Triebsch buoyed Republican hopes ahead of this month’s nationally watched contest between Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff.

That’s because Kirkpatrick’s new Senate District 32 shares many of the same neighborhoods as Georgia’s 6th Congressional District in the suburbs just north of Atlanta.

Kirkpatrick began her first term with a swearing-in ceremony Friday at the state Capitol.

Marietta held a meeting about the city budget and nobody showed up.

Savannah-Chatham County’s school board tentatively adopted a $561.1 million budget for FY 2018 and kept the millage rate the same level as the last year.

Chatham County Commissioners are considering a $273 million FY 2018 budget that includes a millage rate increase for some property owners and raises some fees.

Gwinnett County Commission Chair Charlotte Nash (R) will also chair the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District.

Former Henry County Commissioner Gary Freedman pled guilty to child molestation charges.

Pharmacies in Macon do not have naloxone available for purchase.

On Wednesday, The Telegraph called dozens of pharmacies in Macon and only found one that carries the spray: Graves Pharmacy inside the Medical Center, Navicent Health.

Owner David Graves said there hasn’t been a demand for Narcan, but he ordered a box of it after talking with Tindol.

“It’s kind of like you hope to have a fire extinguisher in the home when you have a fire. When something happens, you want to be prepared and have it,” Graves said. “But there’s a cost.”

A single box costs $150 and it contains two doses.

2018 Elections

Congressman Rob Woodall (R-Gwinnett) picked up a pair of announced challengers for the 2018 General Election.

David Kim, the Harvard-educated founder of a national test prep company and the son of Korean immigrants, announced his plans Wednesday to run for the House seat in 2018. He did it with a nod toward Democrat Jon Ossoff, another political novice whose out-of-nowhere campaign has shaken up the special election next door in Georgia’s 6th District.

“I am not your traditional Democrat,” Kim wrote in a fundraising email to supporters Wednesday. “I want to represent those voices who feel like they’re not really being represented accurately. I want to be a voice that’s independent minded — thinking about what’s best for the long term for all of us.”

“I think there is a strong desire for someone who is less partisan, for someone who’s had a voting record that’s been less of a rubber stamp along party line,” Kim said in an interview. He added that Woodall “has been more interested in partisan purity than getting things done for the people” and that he’s been more of a “rubber stamp” for President Donald Trump than a consensus-builder.

Opiate abusers “don’t typically budget for preventable measures,” he said. From a business standpoint, buying the expensive drug is “cash sitting on a shelf.”

Kim isn’t the only Democrat to jump into next year’s 7th District race. Political organizer Kathleen Allen also plans to hold a campaign kickoff on June 22nd in Norcross.

Congressman Austin Scott (R-Tifton) also picked up an announced challenger for 2018.

Now a self-described “progressive Republican” affiliated with a coalition of Bernie Sanders alumni is arguing he has the winning formula for breaking through the Washington antipathy.

Danny Ellyson, a business owner and disabled Iraq War veteran, is mounting a primary challenge against U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton, in Georgia’s 8th congressional district.

His agenda centers on breaking through Washington’s political tribalism to ensure that people have “the right to expression, the freedom of choice … and to building relationships (based) on tolerance and respect.”

“The progressive nature of what we’re doing, and I do identify as a progressive Republican, is not about just throwing laws up because laws can be thrown up,” he said. “It’s simply saying that I believe in taking away laws that are not productive. I believe in the restructuring and the evaluation of everything that’s in existence. Some things need to be removed and some things need to be created and negotiated.”

7
Jun

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

Richard_Henry_Lee_at_Nat._Portrait_Gallery_IMG_4471

On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia introduced a resolution before the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia calling for American independence from Great Britain.

Lee’s resolution declared: “That these United Colonies are, and of right out to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; that measures should be immediately taken for procuring the assistance of foreign powers, and a Confederation be formed to bind the colonies more closely together.”

Four weeks later, Georgia’s members of the Continental Congress – Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, and George Walton — voted for a version written by Thomas Jefferson of Virginia and called the Declaration of Independence.

The first successful ascent of Mt. McKinley, also called Denali, in Alaska, the highest mountain in North America, was completed on June 7, 1913.

On June 7, 1942, Japanese troops occupied American territory in the Aleutian Islands off Alaska.

Ronald Reagan became the Republican nominee for Governor of California on June 7, 1966.

June 7, 2016 was declared “Prince Day” in Minnesota under a proclamation issued by Governor Mark Dayton. Prince was born on this day in 1958. Governor Dayton missed his chance to begin a proclamation with “Dearly beloved, we are gathered together today….” This year, Dayton proclaimed Prince Day on April 21, 2017.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

At least four Georgians died of overdoses yesterday in Central Georgia, with dozens hospitalized.

Christopher Hendry, the chief medical officer at Navicent Health, a hospital in Macon, said at a news conference that officials believed the spate of overdoses was linked to yellow pills that users bought on the street. He noted, however, that toxicology reports will not come back for a few more days, so the causes of the deaths have not been confirmed.

“There is a new drug that’s surfaced in our community,” he said. “It’s being sold on the street as Percocet, however, when it’s taken, the patients are experiencing significant and severe decreased levels of consciousness and respiratory failure.”

In a statement, the Georgia Department of Health said while the overdoses were reported in south and central Georgia, the drugs may also have been sold in other parts of the state.

David Davis, the sheriff of Bibb County, appealed to anyone who had information to help the authorities find the source of the overdoses. If anyone were concerned that they’d be in legal trouble by coming forward with information, “we’re going to let that pass,” Sheriff Davis said.

There were likely more than 59,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2016, the largest annual jump ever recorded, according to preliminary data. In 2015, there were more deaths from heroin alone than gun homicides.

From the Macon Telegraph:

The emergency room at the Medical Center, Navicent Health, has treated more than a dozen people for opioid overdose in the last 48 hours, said Dr. Chris Hendry, the hospital’s chief medical officer. Deaths have been reported at the Medical Center, the Houston Healthcare emergency room and Coliseum Medical Centers.

Someone is passing off the pills as prescription drugs, said Bibb County Sheriff David Davis. All of Navicent Health’s overdose patients so far have swallowed the medicine, Hendry said.

Patients have experienced respiratory failure and unconsciousness, Hendry said. Symptoms, which include difficulty breathing and slurred speech, come on fairly quickly after taking the drug.

“We need to know who’s putting this poison in the community,” Davis said. “This is a poison, and it acts very fast. Right now, our primary concern is to help those who are suffering overdoses and then get more leads.”

Hendry said Navicent Health is working with the state to make sure they have adequate supplies of Narcan, although the medicine isn’t effective in every case.

The Bibb County Sheriff’s Office has some Narcan kits but should receive more in the next month through a grant from the Medical Association of Georgia, Davis said. The hope is for all of the department’s patrol cars and drug units to carry kits in case deputies encounter people who’ve overdosed.

I think we need to make sure we get all the facts and, more importantly, have the public awareness so that people know what to watch out for,” said Ninfa Saunders, Navicent Health’s president. “We don’t know how pervasive this is. We don’t know how intrusive this is going to be.”

Seventeen Georgians died in the first four months of 2017 after taking two manufactured drugs that have since been banned, U-47700 and furanyl fentanyl. In comparison, a total of 17 people died during the entire 2016 year.

From WMAZ in Macon:

According to a press release from the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office, the counterfeit pills have the numbers 10/325 on one side and the word PERCOCET in all capital letters on the opposite side.

On the counterfeit pills, the word PERCOCET is not stamped as deep as the manufacturer typically does on their pills.

Also on the counterfeit pills, the imprint of the name is also at an angle.

This follows two deaths from overdose, including a 16-year old, in Catoosa County on Sunday.

Gov. Nathan Deal appointed Mike Rast as an At-Large Alderman for the City of Hapeville, after Ruth Barr was removed from office after being convicted of a felony.

DeKalb County Commissioner Nancy Jester (R) will serve on a White House panel discussing state and local infrastructure needs. From Facebook:

I am excited to announce that I will be attending an Infrastructure Summit at The White House.

A group of Governors and Mayors from around the nation will meet and work with Cabinet Secretaries, The Vice President, and The President on the challenges faced by states and cities when dealing with federal infrastructure funding.

The administration has shared that they are committed to improving the amount of time it takes to move forward with federally funded projects. They want to remove burdensome requirements and make the process more effective and efficient. The administration has expressed that they want to make major Infrastructure investments in the upcoming years.

The Gwinnett County Ethics Board has recommended Commissioners censure Commissioner Tommy Hunter.

The board’s decision was announced in a conference room at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center on Tuesday afternoon while Hunter and other county commissioners met downstairs.

“You need to be responsible and accountable for the things that you do and the things that we say,” Ethics Board member Charles Rousseau said. “It’s critically important that that message is delivered. It’s the proverbial throw a rock and hide your hand. We’ve got to stand tall and accept the consequences that sometimes come with it.”

The Board of Commissioners will make the final decision on Hunter’s fate. County Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said a public hearing on the board’s recommendation will be held at 6:30 p.m. on June 20.

The ethics board found Hunter did commit two of the alleged Ethics Code violations outlined in a complaint attorneys for Atlanta resident Nancie Turner filed in February. The allegations the board found he committed included showing disloyalty to the county and engaging in conduct unbecoming of a commissioner by making the remarks.

Senator David Shafer “dominated” a straw poll held at the Georgia Republican State Convention, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

State Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer, R-Duluth, captured a commanding lead in a lieutenant governor’s race straw poll conducted over the weekend at the Georgia Republican Convention in Augusta.

The unscientific straw poll was conducted by the Georgia Association of Republican County Chairmen for governor, lieutenant governor and secretary of state races.

Results as of the end of the convention on Saturday put Shafer in first place with 54 percent of the votes cast in the straw poll. Results posted late Monday afternoon however indicated Shafer may have gotten 41 percent of the vote, with 33 percent of poll respondents undecided.

Either way, the results put him ahead of his competitors, Rep. Geoff Duncan and Sen. Rick Jeffares, by double digits.

“David Shafer is the overwhelming choice of grass roots Republicans,” state Rep. Clay Cox, R-Lilburn, said. “They know and trust him.”

State Sen. P.K. Martin, R-Lawrenceville, said, “This is a major victory for David Shafer. He is strongly in the lead and continues to build momentum.”

Warner Robins City Council Member Chuck Shaheen is considering running for Mayor this November.

Shaheen said he does not expect he will run again for his council post but he may run as mayor. He said that depends on whether the council approves a city administrator position before qualifying starts on Aug. 21.

Shaheen said he would like to serve as mayor again, but keep his job in pharmaceutical sales and have a city administrator running the day-to-day operations. He said he would not be interested in doing it as the job is now.

[Current Mayor Randy] Toms, who is in his first term, said he will seek re-election. He said he had no comment on the possibility of Shaheen running against him. However, Toms said he believes the city clerk’s position could be turned into a job similar to a city administrator by giving the city clerk more authority. But he said he does not advocate creating a new position for a city administrator.

Greg Dolezal is the first announced candidate for the State Senate District 27 seat being vacated by Sen. Michael Williams, who is running for Governor. From Facebook:

Natalie and I are excited to announce my candidacy for the Republican nomination for Georgia State Senate District 27 representing the citizens of Forsyth County.

It has been our joy to root our marriage, family and businesses in Forsyth County. The foundation of my candidacy is the strength of our community and I’m excited to have a diverse Steering Committee of intelligent, forward thinking, solution oriented, local leaders linking arms with us.

Together, we will ensure that Forsyth’s conservative values are represented at the Gold Dome. Please click on the link below to learn more about our campaign, join our email list, and feel free to contact me with any questions at 404.915.1212.

State Senator John Albers (R-Roswell) has called a special meeting of the Senate State and Local Government Operations Committee, which he chairs.

Mark your calendar for a special called meeting of the Georgia Senate State & Local Government Operations Committee. It will take place on Monday, June 19th at 4:00 p.m. to discuss the Fulton County Tax Assessments. The meeting will be held at Roswell City Hall. Public comment about your Fulton Tax issue is welcome and valuable to the discussion for finding solutions.

WHEN: Monday, June 19th @ 4:00 p.m.
WHERE: Roswell City Hall, 38 Hill Street

State Rep. Robert Dickey is holding a Peaches and Politics Rally” in Musella on Thursday, June 22nd. Looks like an awesome event. Heck, I’d buy a t-shirt with that artwork on it.

Dickey Peaches Politics

Georgia Sixth District Debate

From Politico.com:

Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel clashed on the debate stage for the first time Tuesday night, sparring face-to-face over their resumes, campaign financing and foreign policy positioning in Georgia’s special House election after months of trading campaign attacks over the airwaves.

Ossoff and Handel, who are running to replace HHS Secretary Tom Price in Congress in suburban Atlanta, stuck largely to the same lines of attack repeated in the flood of TV ads that have made their race the most expensive House contest ever. But both of the candidates also weighed in on President Donald Trump, with Handel advising the president to change his “Twitter policy.”

“Sometimes you should just put down the computer, the phone and walk away,” Handel said.

But Handel also accused Ossoff of not wanting the people of Georgia to “know that he is a liberal Democrat and he’s supported by the most liberal elements of the Democratic Party,” adding that he “rarely mentions that he’s a Democrat.”

From CNN.com:

the most important moment of the debate came in Handel’s answer — sure to be played on repeat in Democratic television ads — to a question about the minimum wage.

“This is an example of a fundamental difference between a liberal and a conservative,” Handel said. “I do not support a livable wage.”

She added that she instead wants “an economy that is robust with low taxes and regulation.”

Prodding Ossoff’s residence — he and his fiancée live just outside the district while she attends medical school — Handel said: “I’ve been in Georgia almost as long as you’ve been alive. You might live just outside of the district, but your values are 3,000 miles away in San Francisco.”

Ossoff also hit Handel for the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s decision during her tenure as vice president for policy to halt its partnership with Planned Parenthood. The charity eventually reversed that decision and resumed funding breast cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood, leading to Handel’s ouster and her rise to prominence through a book called “Planned Bullyhood.”

From Mediaite.com:

On Tuesday night, Ossoff and Handel and faced off in a locally televised debate. And one moment that is going viral was when Handel asked the Democratic candidate one simple question.

“Who are you going to vote for in this election?”

Ossoff was literally speechless.

Why was he speechless? It’s because Ossoff cannot vote for himself due to the fact that he does not live in the district he’s actually running in, something he was criticized for back in April.

After several seconds of silence, Ossoff acknowledged his current residence was outside the 6th District of Georgia but he grew up there and retaliated by mentioning the fact that Handel was born and raised in Washington D.C. and not in the 6th District of Georgia.

Here’s a longer account of Handel’s response on Ossoff’s residence, from DailyCaller.com:

“Actually, it is of concern to the voters of the 6th district that you do not live in our community. And while I was born in Washington, D.C., I didn’t get to pick where I was born but the fact is I’ve been in Georgia almost as long as you’ve even been alive,” Handel shot back. “You might live just five miles outside of the district but your values are nearly 3,000 miles away in San Francisco, and that’s why so many of your contributions have come from liberals from California, New York and Massachusetts. It’s why you’re supported by Nancy Pelosi, and folks it matters.”

“It’s no wonder that my opponent didn’t want to do the Atlanta press club debate — it was going to be aired on CNN where all folks from around the country, all of his liberal supporters were going to see it and the fake Jon Ossoff was going to collide with the real Jon Ossoff who is a Nancy Pelosi-backed liberal,” Handel concluded emphatically.

“My record is one of results — in the private sector and in public service. As chairman of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners I was able to balance a budget without tax increases and Jon, I did that without a Republican majority, working with Democrats. As CEO of the North Fulton Chamber of Commerce I helped create tens of thousands of jobs with the economic development program,” Handel said.

“My opponent here, he just talks about it. He talks about cutting spending, I’ve actually done it, reducing the budget in the secretary of state’s office by nearly 20 percent. What we need is someone who knows how to get the job done, someone with real experience. What we don’t need is a career staffer who was a junior staffer for [Democratic congressman] Hank Johnson.”

Revisiting the issue of Susan G. Komen and Planned Parenthood, Politifact rated statements made in 2012 by Karen Handel as “True.” Those statements were virtually identical to what Handel said last night in the debate.

Some critics suggested Handel was behind Komen’s policy decision. But in her book, Handel says Komen had considered ending the relationship with Planned Parenthood “for at least a decade,” as Komen restructured its grant model to focus on measurable outcomes to fighting breast cancer. That focus, she said, excluded much of what Planned Parenthood did.

In her book, Handel makes pointed statements regarding Planned Parenthood’s services, noting that the organization promoted itself as a provider of mammograms to poor women.

“The truth is, Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms,” she wrote. “Planned Parenthood refers women to mammography providers, serving as the middlewoman, if you will.”

Handel’s statement that Planned Parenthood doesn’t provide mammograms and only refers clients for those services at other facilities is supported by the organization itself.

We rate the claim True.

Jon Ossoff, on the other hand, was awarded a Pinocchio by the Washington Post for misleading voters and a “half-true” by Politifact.

6
Jun

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

The expulsion of the Cherokee from Georgia began on June 6, 1838 as 800 members left by riverboat.

On June 6, 1944, seventy-three years ago, Allied forces under the command of General Dwight D. Eisenhower began the invasion of France, called D-Day.

On the morning of June 5, 1944, U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe gave the go-ahead for Operation Overlord, the largest amphibious military operation in history. On his orders, 6,000 landing craft, ships and other vessels carrying 176,000 troops began to leave England for the trip to France. That night, 822 aircraft filled with parachutists headed for drop zones in Normandy. An additional 13,000 aircraft were mobilized to provide air cover and support for the invasion.

By dawn on June 6, 18,000 parachutists were already on the ground; the land invasions began at 6:30 a.m. The British and Canadians overcame light opposition to capture Gold, Juno and Sword beaches; so did the Americans at Utah. The task was much tougher at Omaha beach, however, where 2,000 troops were lost and it was only through the tenacity and quick-wittedness of troops on the ground that the objective was achieved. By day’s end, 155,000 Allied troops–Americans, British and Canadians–had successfully stormed Normandy’s beaches.

On June 6, 1949, George Orwell published 1984.

The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer spoke to two local WWII veterans about D-Day.

Charlie Maupin, 97, and Jim Wooters, 94, both of Columbus, didn’t know each other at the time but they were only a couple of miles apart on different ships in the English channel on the morning of June 6, 1944.

“When I landed, I saw rows and rows of bodies covered on the beach,” said Maupin, who was delayed before going ashore on June 7, 1944, with the 175th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division. “They died for the cause of freedom. We must never forget.”

Wooters served on the USS Arkansas with 1,200 sailors, and most thought they wouldn’t survive the pounding by the German guns. “We knew that we were going to be hit and we didn’t think we would come out of it,” he said. “When you know you’re going to die, you are no longer afraid. That has stuck with me over the years since Normandy.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal announced that May tax revenues were up more than ten percent over the same period last year.

Gov. Nathan Deal … announced that Georgia’s net tax collections for May totaled nearly $1.73 billion, for an increase of $161.5 million, or 10.3 percent, compared to May 2016. Year-to-date, net tax revenue collections totaled roughly $19.79 billion, for an increase of $880.3 million, or 4.7 percent, over last year when net tax revenues totaled $18.91 billion.

Individual Income Tax: Individual Income Tax collections for the month totaled $871.4 million, up from $740.8 million in May 2016, for an increase of $130.6 million, or 17.6 percent.

Corporate Income Tax: Corporate Income Tax collections for May totaled $33.4 million, for an increase of $6.3 million, or 23.2 percent, compared to last year when net Corporate Tax revenues totaled $27.1 million.

Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff meet tonight in a debate televised by WSB-TV.

The debate will be hosted by Channel 2 Action News Anchor Justin Farmer and will include panelists WSB Radio’s Condace Pressley, Atlanta-Journal Constitution’s Greg Bluestein and WSB-TV Political Reporter Richard Elliot.

The debate will take place tonight from 8 to 9 p.m. The debate will air LIVE on Channel 2, and will be livestreamed on WSBTV.com and the official WSB-TV Facebook page.

If you have questions for the candidates, tweet them with the hashtag #WSBdebate, according to Richard Elliot.

Handel spoke yesterday to the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce.

Republican candidate Karen Handel pledged in front of Cobb Chamber of Commerce members to be a “pro-business” congresswoman as the race for Georgia’s 6th District congressional seat made an early stop here Monday morning.

Both Handel and her Democratic opponent, Jon Ossoff, were invited to Monday’s event, but the latter did not attend, citing a “schedule conflict,” Chamber Chairman Gary Bottoms said during the organization’s First Monday Breakfast.

“If I have the privilege of being your next congressman, you will have a pro-business individual in this seat just as you did with Tom Price and Johnny Isakson, and before him, Newt Gingrich,” Handel said, vowing to help roll back “the onerous regulatory climate” and push for comprehensive tax reform that would bring down both the corporate and individual rates.

“Those are the things we need to get this economy going again,” she added.

Reality Leigh Winner, an Augusta woman, has been charged with sending classified documents to news media.

The government announced Reality Leigh Winner’s arrest Monday, about an hour after The Intercept reported that it had obtained a top-secret National Security Agency report about Russia’s interference. The NSA report, according to The Intercept, says Russian military intelligence officials executed a cyberattack on a U.S. voting software supplier and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials days before last November’s presidential election.

Winner is a contractor with Pluribus International Corporation and is assigned to a U.S. government facility in Georgia, where she has held a top-secret clearance, according to the U.S. Justice Department. The government started investigating her after the news outlet contacted it on Tuesday about an upcoming story concerning the intelligence materials.

While the Justice Department did not identify the material Winner allegedly mailed the news outlet, it did disclose it is classified at the “Top Secret level, indicating that its unauthorized disclosure could reasonably result in exceptionally grave damage to the national security, and is marked as such.”

Winner’s attorney, Titus Nichols, said she is a U.S. Air Force veteran with no criminal convictions. Winner’s last station with the Air Force was at Fort Meade in Maryland, where the NSA is located. She was still in federal custody Monday, Nichols said, and a court hearing about her detention is set for Thursday. Nichols plans to argue for her release.

“We look forward to getting the evidence and reviewing it and working hard to resolve this matter so my client can put it behind her and so she can go back on with her life,” he said. “She is a good person.”

 Some state legislators are looking to Electric Membership Cooperatives (EMCs) to fill in broadband gaps.

At least two of Georgia’s 41 not-for-profit electric membership corporations already offer fiber broadband service; at least one other, Central Georgia EMC in Jackson, is considering it.

“For us, broadband makes a lot of good sense,” said Erik Brinke, economic development director with Blue Ridge Mountain EMC.

“It’s similar in a lot of ways to the electric service that we started out with in the late 1930s, and it’s just kind of an extension of that,” Brinke said. “We’re just building a different kind of utility infrastructure.”

Not everyone may see it that way, though. Some states have barred EMCs from offering broadband service, although Tennessee recently reversed course.

In Georgia, a bill that stalled this year but remains alive for next year would clarify in state law that the electric co-ops are authorized to provide broadband service.

A legislative study group that examined rural broadband issues last year concluded a clarification was in order. A new rural development council is also likely to consider whether a legislative fix is warranted.

“While the EMCs can and will contribute to the solution to the problem, no one should be under the impression that the EMCs represent the silver bullet for rural broadband,” [Georgia Electric Membership Corp. (EMC) CEO Dennis Chastain] said.

 Warner Robins City Council voted to enhance employment benefits for veterans in a bid to lure more to work for the municipality.

The council approved a resolution that would give new hires who have served in the military and extra week of vacation and to make them immediately eligible for benefits. Currently there is a 60-day waiting period for new city employees to get benefits.

The council approved a second resolution that would apply only to the 74 veterans already working for the city. That change will allow veterans to have military service count toward the calculation of retirement benefits with the city.

Each four years of active-duty military service would count toward retirement as one year of service with the city, up to 20 years of military service. That would mean a maximum of five years counted toward city retirement. Also, each eight years of guard and reserve military service would count for one year toward city retirement. It would apply only to the calculation of retirement benefits, the resolution states, not for vesting or retirement eligibility purposes.

A second part of that resolution would apply only to new hires as a recruiting incentive. That would give a $1,000 bonus for each four years of active-duty service and each eight years of guard and reserve service up to a maximum of $5,000. The money would be paid in annual installments over five years.

Warner Robins City Council also heard a report that salary levels could be negatively impacting employees.

Some Savannah residents took to the streets to protest President Trump’s pull-out from the Paris Accords.

Hall County Commissioners are looking to break ties with a medical clinic that was expected to provide services to indigent residents.

Augusta Commissioner Marion Williams is urging his colleagues to burnish the image of James Brown.

The City of Pooler deeded land for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to build a new crime lab.

Gwinnett County Tax Commissioner Richard Steele announced new hours for county tag offices.

Tax Commissioner Richard Steele announced the new office hours on Monday. The changes are two-fold. For starters, all offices will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., five days a week, starting July 1. For most branch offices, with the exception of the Lawrenceville one, that means a Monday through Friday schedule.

The Lawrenceville tag office’s will be slightly different because it and the North Gwinnett tab office in Buford will trade responsibilities for being open on Saturdays. That means the North Gwinnett office will now be closed on Saturdays and the Lawrenceville office, at 750 South Perry St., will now be open on that day instead.

Columbus is considering raising property taxes.

“The budget tentatively adopted by the Columbus Consolidated Government requires a millage rate higher than the rollback millage rate,” according to a news release issued by the city. “Therefore, before the Columbus Consolidated Government may finalize the tentative budget and set a final millage rate, Georgia law requires three public hearings to be held to allow the public an opportunity to express their opinions on the increase.”

Property taxes would increase by 7 percent in urban service districts 1, 2, 5, 6 and 7; and 1 percent in Urban Service District 4, the release said.

Public hearings on the tax increase will be held 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Tuesday, as well as 9 a.m. on June 13. The meetings will be held in Council Chambers on the second level of the City Services Center, 3111 Citizens Way.

5
Jun

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

According to “This Day in Georgia History, on June 5, 1775, the first Liberty Pole in Georgia was raised in Augusta, Georgia. Another account holds that the first Liberty Pole in Georgia was raised June 4, 1775 at Tondee’s Tavern in Savannah. Those who fly the “Appeal to Heaven” flag should know that it has some common history with Liberty Poles.

Light Horse Harry Lee, later the father of Robert E. Lee, led a group of Continental soldiers, South Carolina and Georgia militia as the British surrendered Augusta on June 5, 1781. The capture of Augusta led to Georgia’s inclusion in the United States, though it had previously been so divided between Patriots and Loyalists that Georgia was the only American colony to not participate in the First Continental Congress.

The Republican National Convention met in Philadelphia on June 5, 1872, nominating Ulysses S. Grant for President the next day. Twelve years later, on June 5, 1884, William T. Sherman refused the Republican nomination for President, saying, “I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected.”

Republican candidate for Governor A. Ed Smith died in a car accident on June 5, 1962.

Senator Robert F. Kennedy was shot after winning the California Primary on June 5, 1968 and died the next day.

President Ronald Reagan died on June 5, 2004.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Democrat Jon Ossoff is ducking the Atlanta Press Club/CNN debate against Republican Karen Handel.

It appears now that Ossoff and Handel will debate twice – Tuesday, June 6th on WSB-TV and Thursday, June 8th on WABE/PBA30.

Sign thefts are plaguing the Sixth District election as well.

It’s become a common refrain, not just among the Ossoff faithful, but supporters of Republican Karen Handel as well. Residents say signs have been ripped down or stolen right off their private property. Late at night or when they’re away during the day. Repeatedly, in some cases.

“They went on private property and stole signs,” John Frisbie said of whomever removed 17 Handel signs from supporters’ lawns on two Roswell streets. “I was shocked when I got up in the morning and they were all gone.”

Local police departments have dealt with at least a half-dozen reported incidents of sign theft, with one arrest so far in Roswell. Meanwhile, victims on both sides of the political spectrum are fighting back by placing invisible dog fences around their yards and GPS-enabled tracking devices on signs; posting info about incidents and possible culprits on social networking sites like Facebook and Nextdoor; or, like Walker, quickly replacing the original three Ossoff signs that were swiped off her lawn with nearly a dozen new ones.

“It’s childish stuff, but it is a crime in the state of Georgia,” [Cobb County Police Sgt. Dana] Pierce said.

If I were having trouble with sign thieves, I’d buy one of these: a motion detector sprinkler system.

Scarecrow Motion Detector

Sea turtle nesting season has begun along the Georgia coast.

Tybee’s sea turtle nesting season is off to its best start in recent memory, with nine loggerhead sea turtle nests already recorded.

With the height of the four-month nesting season still to come, Tybee could top its record of 23 nests in a season set in 2012, said Maria Procopio, executive director of the Tybee Island Marine Science Center.

Loggerheads, Georgia’s most abundant sea turtles, are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Nesting continues through August and hatching typically continues through October. Tybee’s impressive showing in May is even better than the rest of the Georgia coast where nest numbers are down slightly overall so far compared to a record-breaking 2016. The 511 nests tallied statewide are still impressive though, said Mark Dodd, a wildlife biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources who coordinates the state’s sea turtle program.

“This is the second highest nest count for the month of May since we began keeping statewide records in 1989,” he said.

Senator Butch Miller (R-Gainesville) spoke to the Gainesville Times about the House Commission on Transit Governance & Funding.

“It’s going to take transit, light rail, commuter lanes, ridesharing, buses,” Miller said.

He is one of House Speaker David Ralston’s four state residents on the committee, which also is made up of six House members and four representatives of either transit systems or counties that provide mass transit.

“From congestion relief to economic development, a robust transit network across our state will have long-term benefits for our citizens,” Ralston said in a press release.

The committee plans to hold six public meetings around the state, including in Atlanta, Columbus, Macon and Savannah.

“I’d love to get one in Gainesville,” Miller said.

“We cannot have continued economic prosperity without adequate transportation,” Miller said. “That’s on a statewide basis.”

Another group of state house legislators will study distracted driving.

A panel of Georgia lawmakers plans to study the effect of drivers who are distracted by cell phones and other technology.

House Speaker David Ralston this week appointed Rep. Bob Trammell, D- Luthersville, along with seven Republicans and two other Democrats to a study committee on the issue. Trammell is a member of the House’s standing committee on motor vehicle issues.

The new research panel plans to consider what role distracted drivers play in the state’s high number of fatal accidents on highways and other crashes. According to a resolution creating the study committee, the rate of fatal car crashes in Georgia is rising at three times the national rate.

Early Voting

The last thing I wrote in Friday’s update was, “That number for DeKalb is alarming,” referring to early voting turnout. I didn’t take time to explain, but luckily, the AJC Political Insider took that and ran, giving a great explanation for why I said that.

Todd Rehm is a Republican consultant who loves his wife, dogs and numbers – possibly in that order.

What is intuitive to Rehm may not be to you, so allow us to explain why early balloting in the race between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel has him worried.

Back on April 18, in the first round of voting, the Sixth District had 445,095 registered voters. About 8,000 have been added since then, but that shouldn’t have too much impact on the geographic breakdown, percentage-wise:

— Fulton, 48 percent;

— Cobb, 29 percent;

— and DeKalb, 23 percent.

In April 18 voting, each county’s share of 192,084 ballots cast roughly followed the above construct:

— Fulton, 46 percent;

— Cobb, 32 percent;

— and DeKalb, 23 percent.

You’ll notice that turnout in Cobb, the most Republican territory in the district, was slightly more robust than elsewhere.

Rehm’s worry is more evident if you convert early ballots already cast into percentages:

— Fulton, 50 percent;

— Cobb, 20 percent;

— and DeKalb, 29 percent.

In early voting, Democratic-heavy DeKalb is punching well above its weight, while early voting in Cobb lags behind. That’s a clear sign that the Ossoff campaign has a competent turn-out system in place.

I’ll say this. My home in the DeKalb portion of the sixth district has been visited by Ossoff supporters at least three different times in the runoff, and I haven’t seen a Republican darken my doorstep.

Here are the most-current numbers available from the Secretary of State’s Office.

Cobb………….8,163…….17.1%
DeKalb……..12,253……25.7%
Fulton………27,236……57.2%

Georgia Republican State Convention

Herman Cain spoke at the Victory Breakfast on Saturday at the GAGOP Convention. Cain wrote of his vision for the Georgia Republican Party in the MDJ:

There is no point in repealing and replacing Obamacare, for example, and sending many decisions back to the states if state officials refuse bold change that will save consumers money or restore the doctor-patient relationship.

We cannot afford to have weak Republicans within our ranks as the Trump agenda will need enacting on the state level. We need a courageous, conservative governor, state legislators, school superintendent and insurance commissioner to put in place policies that enable freedom.

There are other reasons why this chairman’s race is critical in the history

of the Georgia GOP. Just 12 years ago, the party took the majority of all three branches of state government — the first time since Reconstruction. It was a big time in Republican history as the Georgia House, Senate and Gov. Sonny Perdue enacted bold, conservative ideas from medical malpractice reform to a voter ID requirement to increased abortion restrictions. There was much unity in the GOP agenda in the state.

Now there appears to be many factions as the grassroots wants protections for religious liberty and abhors legalizing marijuana and casino gambling. Special interests now influence many who govern the State Capitol, discouraging them from governing like conservatives.

A strong chairman will recruit candidates for governor, the Legislature, Congress and local offices who listen to the grassroots, communicate with them and support protecting freedom.

Our heartfelt congratulations and condolences go to John Watson, who was elected Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party this weekend.

Convening a second year in Augusta, the state Republican party on Saturday elected John Watson, a lobbyist who helped turn Georgia red, as new chairman of the state party.

“Our party is in debt and Democrats are once again gunning for us,” Watson said in a campaign speech to 1,578 voting delegates and alternates attending the state convention. “If we take a single vote, a single day or a single dollar for granted, we could all feel the pain of liberalism inflicted on this great state.”

Born in Virginia, Watson was a consultant and later chief of staff to former Gov. Sonny Perdue, now Secretary of Agriculture, when Perdue switched parties to become Georgia’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction. Watson’s registration with the state ethics commission lists him as a lobbyist for 21 groups and industries, including casino gambling.

Watson said the party must “shake off our internal sniping” and engage African-American, Hispanic and Asian voters, as well as millennials, “on a daily basis.”

Greg Bluestein of the AJC writes about how President Trump is affecting the 2018 Georgia elections.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, the presumptive GOP frontrunner, marveled at what he called the “cultural change” brought by Trump, but focused on his promise to add 500,000 jobs during his first term. He cited the speedy repair of the collapsed I-85 bridge as an example of efficiency.

“No one thought that bridge could be rebuilt in 45 days,” he said. “But that’s what happens when government gets out of the way and lets the private sector work.”

One of his three announced GOP rivals, state Sen. Michael Williams, took direct aim at Cagle and other “so-called leaders of our state” who he said have betrayed conservative interests. He promised his pro-Trump campaign would expose “what really goes on at the state Capitol” to undercut the political establishment.

“For generations, the same groups and individuals have controlled our political system. They have conspired with big corporate interests to create crony capitalism that allows them to line their pockets — all on the backs of every day, hard-working Americans,” he said, adding the political elite “know we’re coming for them.”

2018 Elections

Democratic State House Leader Stacey Abrams kicked-off her 2018 campaign for Governor in Albany this weekend.

The 43-year-old Democratic leader of the Georgia State House, who enters as the front-runner for her party’s nomination, is aiming to become the first African American woman to be elected governor in U.S. history. Abrams is widely considered to be one of the most skilled and savvy political leaders in the state legislature and hopes to replace term-limited Gov. Nathan Deal (R), who has served since 2011. But it won’t be easy: No Democrat has won statewide office in Georgia since 2006, and just 11 black women have ever been elected to statewide positions nationwide.

“Pray for me and work with me,” Abrams told about 100 supporters who braved persistent swarms of gnats to help her kick off her campaign at a barbecue at Chehaw Park in Albany, a small city about three hours south of Atlanta. “I want government to work everyday, for everyone.”

The rapidly changing complexion of the South, which has seen the percentages of African Americans, Hispanics and Asian Americans increase, creates the potential for a political makeover. Abrams and other progressive political activists of color believe new voters will want candidates who look more like them.

“Democrats in the South have to reject the notion that our geography requires that politicians soften our commitment to equality and opportunity and that you have to look a certain way,” Abrams said in an interview Friday. “We have to be architects of progressive solutions, and that means leadership that believes we can defy the odds. I believe Democrats have the ability to win, because we have the votes.”

Emily’s List, which promotes female candidates who support abortion rights, is backing Abrams, who in 2014 received the organization’s first Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star Award, named in honor of the former Arizona congresswoman who was seriously wounded when a gunman opened fire, killing six people, as she met with constituents at a Tucson shopping center.

Charles Bullock, a professor of political science at the University of Georgia, said that many believe Abrams is the smartest member of the General Assembly, noting that “most Republicans would not want to be quoted on that, but in private many will acknowledge her intellect and hard work.”

But Bullock said Abrams might be slightly ahead of her time. “Despite her abilities, she may be running four to eight years too early,” he said, pointing out that in 2014, Michelle Nunn, daughter of a popular former U.S. senator, had a well-funded campaign but got just 45 percent of the vote in the race with David Perdue (R-Ga.) for the U.S. Senate.

Abrams analyzes the race differently. In 2006, she said, the Democratic nominee for governor lost to his Republican opponent by 400,000 votes; in 2010, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate lost by less than 260,000 votes; in 2014, Nunn lost by 197,000 votes.

“We’ve been able to cut their margin of victory in half in two cycles, but what we have never done is reach out to those voters who’ve been left out and been forgotten,” Abrams said. “What we haven’t done is register hundreds of thousands of new voters who come to the election wanting to see progress, wanting to see opportunity. And what we have not done is build a coalition of voters who have a shared ambition for success. I’ve done that.”

From the Albany Herald, by way of the Gwinnett Daily Post:

“I am running for governor of Georgia because we must build a future for our state where people can succeed — not just survive,” Abrams said in a news release.

Abrams joins Rep. Stacey Evans, D-Smyrna, who also is running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

“The governor has three priorities, and he or she has to be able to do them all at the same time,” Abrams said. “We have to educate bold and ambitious children; we have to engage the power of the citizens so they understand this is their government, and we have to have a thriving and diverse economy. We have to realize we are a one statewide coalition and start in the corners of the state in the areas which have always lifted up Georgia, but often get forgotten by politicians in Atlanta.

“Atlanta cannot live without Albany, and Albany cannot live without the investments that come from Atlanta. We need to talk to those forgotten voters, the ones who are rarely talked about. I am running for governor because we need a governor who comes from a town like Albany. Where we begin does not dictate what we become.”

The crowd Saturday appeared to number between 100 and 130 supporters.

2
Jun

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

On June 2, 1774, Britain’s Parliament passed the Quartering Act, the last of the Coercive Acts, meant to punish the American colonies and reassert British control. Eventually, the Third Amendment to the United States Constitution would prohibit the forcible quartering of soldiers in private homes.

On June 4, 1785, James Oglethorpe, founder of Georgia, met with John Adams, the first ambassador from the new United States to Great Britain.

Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith, commanding forces west of the Mississippi, surrendered on June 2, 1865, and this date is generally considered the end of the Civil War.

On June 4, 1919, Congress passed the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to always be right vote. In August 1920, enough states had ratified the 19th Amendment that it took effect.

On June 3, 1941, Georgia voters ratified a Constitutional Amendment extending the term of office for Governor and the other Constitutional Officers from two years to four. Governor Eugene Talmadge campaigned for the Amendment, hoping to serve a four-year term after the two-year term he currently held, but was defeated in the 1942 Democratic Primary by Ellis Arnall. Remember this phrase: legislation almost always has unintended consequences.

On June 3, 1942, Curtis Mayfield was born in Chicago, Illinois and would later live in Atlanta, dying in Roswell in 1999.

The Battle of Midway began on June 4, 1942. During the battle, four Japanese aircraft carriers that had participated in the attack on Pearl Harbor and one cruiser were sunk at the cost of one American carrier and one destroyer.

Queen Elizabeth II was crowned on June 2, 1953.

On June 2, 1962, Georgia-born Ray Charles hit #1 on the charts with “I Can’t Stop Loving You.”

On the morning of June 3, 1962, a plane carrying 106 Georgians crashed on take-off from Orly near Paris, the deadliest crash in aviation to that date.

On June 3, 1980, Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter had amassed enough delegates to assure his nomination in the Democratic Primary for President.

Today is the anniversary of the beginning of the Tiananman Square Massacre in Beijing, China. Pro-democracy protests had begun on April 15, 1989 and on May 20, martial law was declared. The People’s Liberation Army began taking the square back on the evening of June 3d.

Jim Galloway was in Beijing during the protests and crackdown and wrote about it at the AJC Political Insider Blog.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

As of the latest absentee voter file from the Secretary of State’s office, 33,957 early and advance votes have been cast to date in the Sixth Congressional District Special Runoff Election.

Cobb………6,709
DeKalb……9,991
Fulton…..16,897

State Senator Michael Williams announced yesterday that he is running for Governor in 2018. From his press release email:

GEORGIA’S TRUMP STATE CO-CHAIR, REPUBLICAN BUSINESSMAN MICHAEL WILLIAMS, TAKING ON CAREER POLITICIANS AND BUREAUCRATS WITH LAUNCH OF OUTSIDER CAMPAIGN FOR GOVERNOR

Businessman and Georgia State Senator Michael Williams formally launches his campaign for Governor of Georgia. His will be a campaign focused on radical conservative reform and opposition to politics as usual.

June 1, 2017 – Businessman Michael Williams is officially running to be the next Republican Governor of Georgia. Mr. Williams is running on a message of fearless conservative reform, exposing the political games played by the establishment in Atlanta. It’s time for more results, less talk, and no excuses.

Taking on the establishment is nothing new for Mr. Williams, he challenged a career politician for State Senate in 2014. He self-financed his campaign by spending over $300,000 of his own money, beating the incumbent 66% – 34%. Williams is committed to spending a significant sum of his personal wealth on his campaign for Governor.

Mr. Williams stated, “Voters are tired of the political games and the false promises of career politicians. People want someone willing to take a stand for what they believe, someone who will relentlessly pursue fearless conservative reform.”  He continued, “If you want more politics as usual, vote for my opponents. If you want fearless conservative reform, vote for Michael Williams.”

Georgia has had a Republican Governor for almost 16 years and a Republican controlled House and Senate for over a decade. Yet we have not passed basic conservative legislation. We have yet to pass tax reform, school choice legislation, constitutional carry, spending cuts, and many other bedrocks of the Republican Party. The gamesmanship of “election year conservatives” will end under Governor Williams. More results, less talk. No excuses!

As the first Georgia elected official to endorse Donald Trump for President, Mr. Williams has witnessed the passion of voters who are fed up with politics as usual. He looks forward to sharing more of his conservative, outsider message to voters across the state of Georgia. To learn more about his campaign and to get involved, visit williamsgovernor.com.

A fundraising email sent later in the day adds more:

As the first Georgia elected official to endorse Donald Trump for President, I’ve witnessed the passion of voters who are fed up with politics as usual. Voters are tired of the political games and the false promises of career politicians. People want someone willing to take a stand for what they believe, someone who will relentlessly pursue fearless conservative reform.

If you want more politics as usual, vote for my opponents. If you want fearless conservative reform, vote for Michael Williams.

You and I both know that the establishment and career politicians oppose our fearless conservative message. They know that if I am elected Governor we will implement the conservative policies they have long opposed.

AS GEORGIA’S GOVERNOR I WILL:

  • Support a Georgia FairTax, eliminating the state income tax and replacing it with state sales tax similar to what they have in Florida.
  • Support important legislation defending the 2nd Amendment, known as “Constitutional Carry”.
  • Support term limits for all statewide elected offices. Currently, the Governor is the only term limited office in the state. Our current Lt. Governor has held his office for 12-years!
  • Support Religious Freedom legislation. Georgia has tried for several years to enact this legislation. I am already working to bring all the stakeholders together in order to pass and sign this legislation into law as Governor
  • Support Law Enforcement Pay Raises. Georgia law enforcement officers are some of the lowest paid in the nation. I have teamed up with Duane “Dog The Bounty Hunter” Chapman to bring attention to  legislation to increase the minimum salary for all officers. As Governor, I will ensure this becomes law.
  • Improve Homeschooling Laws. Allow home-schooled students access to school athletic programs and facilities. This has been successfully implemented in Florida and can be done here. Home-school parents pay the same school taxes as everyone else and should receive equal services.
  • Always Stand for Pro-Life Causes.
  • Keep Casinos Out of Georgia. Casino gambling is not right for Georgia. It is now being proposed to “save” the HOPE scholarship. Yet we are currently not collecting over $400 million a year that is owed from the state lottery. The lottery was supposed to contribute 35% of proceeds to HOPE. Currently, HOPE is only receiving approximately 23%. This money will be immediately recovered when I am elected Governor.
  • Many more important issues that I will share as we spread our message across this state!

The Georgia Republican Party State Convention is being held in Augusta this weekend.

Last year’s convention was also held in Augusta. Delegates from nearly all 159 Georgia counties will be at the two-day event beginning at 10 a.m. today at the Augusta Marriott at the Convention Center. State party spokesman Ryan Mahoney said about 3,000 are expected to attend.

Herman Cain, a 2012 GOP presidential candidate, is the featured speaker at a “Victory Breakfast” on Saturday.

Four men, including Evans plant manager and 12th District GOP Chairman Mike Welsh, are running for state chairman.

Gov. Nathan Deal and other state Republican officials are scheduled to attend. One of the goals for delegates and party officials will be to garner support for next year’s statewide and legislative elections.

From the AJC on the State Convention.

A tumultuous fight is underway to lead the cash-strapped state party, and its outcome could determine whether the party veers to the right or aims for a more mainstream message. And candidates in the pitched battle for governor and other 2018 races face an early test from grass-roots activists.

It’s a fraught time for Republicans, and many of the hundreds of activists gathering for the two-day event have poured their energy into the vote over the party’s leadership. W. John Wood, the chairman of the Savannah-based 1st Republican District, said the mood is undeniably “anxious.”

“Across the state, you have this feeling where you are in the locker room, lights out trying to stay focused — but you know once you walk out the tunnel there is no going back,” he said. “The party has the resolve, but the real question is who we will follow out of that tunnel.”

Republican leaders complain about an ineffective party operation that provides them little help. Contributions have largely dried up, and the Georgia GOP’s balance sheet is mired in red ink. The latest federal filings show the party has $223,000 in the bank — and $317,000 in debts.

Each of the announced candidates in the governor’s race — Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, and state Sens. Hunter Hill and Michael Williams — is expected to speak. So will Attorney General Chris Carr and a gaggle of candidates seeking to replace Kemp and Cagle.

“There is a lot of momentum going into the state convention as we look forward to a fresh start and new beginnings,” said Jade Morey, a Republican activist from Middle Georgia and Handel volunteer who called it an opportune time to “come together and coalesce around our message” behind the candidate.

Flowery Branch officials complain that Hall County tax assessors valuations are causing issues for the municipality.

Some members of the city council had hopes of lowering the rate in order to remain revenue neutral, but an unexpected re-evaluation of one property in particular by the Hall County Tax Assessor’s Office is forcing council members to rethink that move and assume a defensive posture.

“My problem is the bigger issue of the problems within the tax accessor’s office,” Miller said.  “I don’t see how a property that’s been there for over ten years…can overnight double in value.”

“We’re living on a hope and prayer of an office that can’t even get an estimate right,” Miller added.

Moon was asked if she knew if the owners of Tree Park had appealed their tax appraisal with the county, hoping to get it reduced.  Moon said she did not know.

Miller said that because the city council did not know if Tree Park would be granted a lower appraisal, compounded by the unknown of how much other revaluations granted by the Hall County Tax Assessor’s Office might affect their revenues, keeping the millage rate the same as last year was pragmatic.

Columbus police targeted distracted drivers, issuing nearly 100 citations.

1
Jun

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 1, 2017

Benjamin Franklin became Georgia’s agent in England on June 1, 1768, making him also Georgia’s first lobbyist.

On June 1, 1775, Georgia patriots sent a care package to their brethren in Massachusetts comprising 63 barrels of rice and £122 after the battles at Lexington and Concord.

The court martial of Benedict Arnold convened in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on June 1, 1779.

Arnold negotiated his defection to the British and the subversion of West Point over several months. The British already held control of New York City and believed that by taking West Point they could effectively cut off the American’s New England forces from the rest of the fledgling nation.

In August 1780, Sir Henry Clinton offered Arnold £20,000 for delivering West Point and 3,000 troops. Arnold told General Washington that West Point was adequately prepared for an attack even though he was busy making sure that that it really wasn’t. He even tried to set up General Washington’s capture as a bonus. His plan might have been successful but his message was delivered too late and Washington escaped. The West Point surrender was also foiled when an American colonel ignored Arnold’s order not to fire on an approaching British ship.

Arnold’s defection was revealed to the Americans when British officer John André, acting as a messenger, was robbed by AWOL Americans working as pirates in the woods north of New York City. The notes revealing Arnold’s traitorous agreement were stashed in his boots.

On June 1, 1942, a Polish newspaper first published information about the gassing of Jews at Nazi concentration camps in Poland.

The Beatles released Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on June 1, 1967. The album is listed as #1 on the Rolling Stone top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is the most important rock & roll album ever made, an unsurpassed adventure in concept, sound, songwriting, cover art and studio technology by the greatest rock & roll group of all time. From the title song’s regal blasts of brass and fuzz guitar to the orchestral seizure and long, dying piano chord at the end of “A Day in the Life,” the 13 tracks on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band are the pinnacle of the Beatles’ eight years as recording artists. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr were never more fearless and unified in their pursuit of magic and transcendence.

Issued in Britain on June 1st, 1967, and a day later in America, Sgt. Pepper is also rock’s ultimate declaration of change. For the Beatles, it was a decisive goodbye to matching suits, world tours and assembly-line record-making. “We were fed up with being Beatles,” McCartney said decades later, in Many Years From Now, Barry Miles’ McCartney biography. “We were not boys, we were men… artists rather than performers.

“It was a peak,” Lennon told Rolling Stone in 1970, describing both the album and his collaborative relationship with McCartney. “Paul and I were definitely working together,” Lennon said….

Rolling Stone should stick to writing about music.

A summit between President Ronald Reagan and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev ended on May 31, 1988. Four years later, in 1992, Gorbachev was dancing for dollars in the United States, including the keynote address at Emory University’s graduation.

The 153d Anniversary of the Battle of Pickett’s Mill will be commemorated this weekend with Civil War reenactors and history hikes.

Pickett’s Mill Battlefield Historic Site is marking the 153rd anniversary of the battle this weekend with history hikes and Civil War re-enactors this weekend.

The 765-acre site is about 34 miles from Rome, at 4432 Mount Tabor Church Road in Dallas. It’s open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.

On Saturday, Civil War re-enactors will be demonstrating their skills in a living history encampment from 10 a.m. to noon. At 2 p.m., Brad Butkavich — author of “The Battle of Pickett’s Mill: Along The Deadline” — will lead a history hike that goes to a cornfield to see an important area of the battle. The site is normally closed on Sundays but will present a special program on Civil War trench warfare that includes a battlefield tour.

Brothers and Sisters in Macon may find some road closings on Saturday for the funeral procession of Gregg Allman.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Karen Handel and Jon Ossoff will meet in four debates in the Sixth Congressional District Special Runoff Election.

The Karen Handel campaign released its confirmed debate schedule today, agreeing to 4 debates through the runoff election. To reach the largest audience possible, Karen Handel has confirmed 4 debates, 3 of which will be televised.

Karen is looking forward to the opportunity to debate Jon Ossoff and his ever-changing policy positions and inflated expertise. The Handel campaign calls on Jon Ossoff to confirm the debates, as he has promised, and give the voters of the 6th District the opportunity to hear from the candidates. This schedule maximizes that opportunity.

“I look forward to several robust debates on the issues so that the people of the 6th District can be informed about the stark contrast between my record of results, and my opponent’s false claims and flimsy resume,” said Karen Handel.

Confirmed Debates below:
WSB TV: June 6, 2017
WABE/PBA30: June 8, 2017
CNN/Atlanta Press Club: June 13, 2017
WSB Radio: June 15, 2017

More than 8000 newly-registered voters in the 6th district may change the electoral math in the runoff election.

The total includes two types of voter: the newly registered, plus so-called “transfer” applications — voters already registered in Georgia who moved into the district after March 20, when the registration period originally closed.

It comes after a federal judge in early May extended voter registration in the district through May 21, part of an ongoing lawsuit over how Georgia handles voter registration ahead of federal runoff elections.

As a result, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office, 7,942 people as of Tuesday afternoon had newly registered or transferred into the 6th District following the reopening of voter registration.

Governor Nathan Deal issued an Executive Order creating the Local Government 9-1-1 Authority under the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency.

Former Governor Sonny Perdue has endorsed John Watson for Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party.

I will state unequivocally that without the strategic thinking and planning of John Watson there would have been no Sonny Perdue Governorship. Then, more than likely, the Senate and House would not be Republican, nor all the statewide office holders, and possibly no Senator David Perdue.

After 15 years, we are no longer the rag-tag revolutionary army. John and I both believe that elections are won by passionate supporters supporting the right candidate, but it also takes resources, strategy, and leadership who can bring people together to achieve incredible victories.

I assure you that John is not an “insider”. He’s just an experienced, grimy, war-hardened field general who knows how to beat the Democrats, and I’m excited to watch John lead that charge.

Former Atlanta lawyer Chris Wray may be a candidate for Director of the FBI.

Northwest Georgia could face economic losses if increased tariffs are placed on imports.

President Donald Trump promises to bring back factory jobs by cracking down on imported products from Mexico and China. But many worry he will trigger a trade war—and end up wiping out jobs, not creating them.

Beneath the “Buy American” roadside signs here, a globalist heart beats in this mostly rural corner of Northwest Georgia.

While most of the flooring made here is sold domestically, for housing and commercial space, carpet can also end up installed in vehicles, ships and aircraft bound for export. The Dalton area also directly exports more carpeting than anywhere else in the United States, primarily to Canada and Mexico. There’s no doubt that global trade helps grease the wheels of the economy here.

But if Trump were to squeeze Mexico and China as hard as he’s threatened, the resulting disruption in cross-border trade would have an impact all over the country, even for businesses that don’t export themselves. In fact, Northwest Georgia would get hit with some of the worst job losses in the nation, from manufacturing to retail, according to a complex data analysis based on Trump’s threats by the Peterson Institute of International Economics, a nonpartisan Washington, D.C., think tank.

Savannah City Council voted to censure Alderman Tony Thomas.

The council’s vote to censure Thomas has no impact on his ability to vote or participate in meeting discussions. But the move was a way to show their disapproval of the alderman’s actions, which Alderman Julian Miller described as despicable and Mayor Pro Tem Carol Bell said deserved the “highest level of condemnation.”

The resolution calling for the censure was initially opposed by Alderman Van Johnson, who said the comments by Thomas were “dead wrong,” but he insisted that two paragraphs be eliminated before the council would get his support. One paragraph referred to the St. Patrick’s Day incident, which Johnson said the council had agreed to move past. Johnson also opposed a paragraph that stated that Thomas had refused to apologize to the reporter, after Thomas said during the meeting that he regretted the language he had used.

“He apologized publicly,” Johnson said. “That needs to be addressed.”

Democrat Jason Carter ruled out running for Governor in 2018.

Carter, a former state senator who was the party’s nominee in 2014, said he was focused on “prime dad time” for his two sons, who are 8 and 10. And he said he was charting a future for the Atlanta-based Carter Center, the human rights group his grandfather founded and whose board he now heads as chairman.

“It’s not bittersweet. I’m excited as a Democrat and for Georgia. I’m excited as a Georgian over the fact that we’re going to have an incredibly robust discourse,” he said, emphasizing that the race for the 6th Congressional District and President Donald Trump’s struggles in Atlanta’s suburbs have energized Democrats.

“Georgia is firmly planted in the national discourse in a really compelling way,” he said. “And I think that bodes well in the state and for the other Democrats running for governor.”

Carter, 41, did not rule out a run in the future, likely for statewide rather than federal office. He also declined to endorse either of the Democratic candidates — state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams and state Rep. Stacey Evans — saying only he would be “very engaged” in the 2018 campaign.

“I am very impressed with both Staceys. Both of the candidates are top-flight candidates for our state. Both will make excellent governors,” Carter said. “The key for Democrats is to present a candidate who can bring the state together in effective ways — that can be a governor for the entire state. And both have that potential. Democrats should be excited about having a primary.”

Sue Hammler Lee will run for reelection to Rome City Commission in the November election.

The Port of Savannah will break its own record today for the largest container ship to call in-port.

The OOCL France, now the largest ship ever to call on the East Coast, snatched that title from the COSCO Development less than a month after she claimed it.

Only slightly larger than the Development, the France is 1,203 feet long and 159 feet wide. She is capable of carrying 13,208 TEUs, some 200 more than the Development.

According to Ship Operations at Georgia Ports Authority, the France should begin transit from the channel entrance at 1 p.m. Thursday, passing River Street between 3 and 3:30 p.m. and docking at Garden City Terminal between 4:30 and 5 p.m.

Middle Georgia Regional Airport and Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex signed an agreement to explore economic development opportunities.

Ann Levett was sworn in as the new Superintendent of the Savannah-Chatham County public schools.

Harlem and Columbia County cut the ribbon to open a new library branch.

The Metro Atlanta American Heart Association released a poll purporting to show that a majority of Columbus residents favor a public smoking ban.

Erratum: yesterday I mixed up the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission and the Judicial Nominations Commission. It is the Judicial Nominating Commission that is accepting nominations for a seat on the Richmond County State Court.

Online and Out-of-Line

Gwinnett County Commissioner Tommy Hunter could learn his fate as the Gwinnett County ethics board considers sanctioning him over online comments.

The board held a hearing that lasted a little more than an hour regarding the comments, which included calling U.S. Rep. John Lewis a “racist pig” and referring to Democrats as “Libtards” and “Demonrats,” and then retreated to discuss the matter for nearly another hour.

When they came back, ethics board chairman David Will said the board would hold another meeting later on to announce the recommendation it is making to the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners.

“We’re gong to make a recommendation based the record before us and have asked our attorney to prepare a written decision,” Will said. “Once that is presented, we will then resume for a meeting in the near future at which time we will then render our decision.”

[Investigator Robin] Martinelli said she recorded the conversation, and testified that Hunter told her “this matter is childish” and that he was “done with Gwinnett.”

At one point Martinelli testified that Hunter planned to quit soon, but she later added that he said he would not resign. She said he told her he was looking at seeking an elected office outside Gwinnett County.

Roswell Mayor Jere Wood drew criticism for a Facebook posting he said he didn’t post.

Roswell Mayor Jere Wood said he’s not responsible for a questionable meme published on his Facebook page, and that he has taken it down.

The meme compares Hillary Clinton unfavorably to Melania Trump. It shows a photograph of a frowning Bill Clinton, and reads: “That moment when you realize you and Trump are the same age and he has Melania and you’re married to Hillary.”

Wood, who is apparently traveling, did not respond to a request for comment, except for a brief text: “I did not post this share and I deleted it from my page,” he wrote.

Peaches

Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black said more than 80 percent of Georgia’s peach crop was wiped out.

Black says the lack of peaches could mean a shorter season for Georgia consumers. He says farmers probably won’t ship out of state.

The newspaper reports that the loss, combined with a blow to this year’s blueberry crop, could mean a $300 million hit to farmers.

The peach crop issue has been worse in neighboring South Carolina, where Black says he’s told more than 85 percent of the crop was lost.

Higher peach prices may help some farmers, according to the Gainesville Times.

In North Georgia, Jaemor Farms got the cold weather it needed to push its peach bloom about two weeks later than the rest of the state, sparing them from the March 8 freeze.

“They did bloom earlier than they should have because of the mild (winter),” said farm manager Drew Echols. “We squeaked through the late freeze because we still had a lot of closed blooms on the tree. We were not at full bloom — we (still) lost a lot of flowers.”

But “a lot” doesn’t mean “most.” Jaemor Farms is looking at a 70 percent crop — maybe an 80 percent crop if it’s lucky — while most of the state and South Carolina is looking at 20 to 30 percent yields.

At Ellijay’s B.J. Reece Orchards, co-owner John Reece said he’s looking at what might be “the best crop we’ve ever had.” Reece, unlike farms to the south, plants late peaches that ripen in July — further protecting him from the cold snap that rolled through earlier this year.

Georgia farmers are getting $1 a pound or more for early peaches, according to Jeff Cook, an agent in Middle Georgia for the UGA Extension, when an average price is closer to 65 cents a pound.