Category: Georgia Politics

19
Sep

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chickamauga National Battlefield was dedicated September 19, 1895.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Protests at Georgia Tech last night included setting a police vehicle on fire.

Three people were arrested Monday night during a protest after a vigil for a Georgia Tech student who was fatally shot by campus police, a university spokesman said.

Police shot and killed Scout Schultz late Saturday night after the 21-year-old student called 911 to report an armed and possibly intoxicated suspicious person, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has said.

After a peaceful vigil, about 50 protesters marched to the campus police department, university spokesman Lance Wallace said. A police vehicle was damaged and two officers suffered minor injuries, with one taken to a hospital for treatment.

Police restored order relatively quickly, and three people were arrested and charged with inciting a riot and battery of an officer, Wallace said.

Governor Nathan Deal made some changes in his senior staff yesterday.

Deal recommended Christopher Nunn to serve as Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs (DCA). Nunn’s appointment follows current DCA Commissioner Camila Knowles’ announcement that she will depart at the end of September for a position in the private sector. Pending DCA board approval, this change will take effect October 1.

Deal also appointed Georgia Student Finance Commission (GSFC) President Shawn Ryan to fill the position of Commissioner of the Department of Administrative Services (DOAS). The appointment will take effect on October 1. Pending board approval, GSFC Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer Caylee Noggle will fill the vacancy left by Ryan’s departure as interim President of GSFC, also effective October 1.

“I would like to thank Commissioner Knowles for her service to our state,” said Deal. “Her efforts at DCA have helped build and grow strong, vibrant communities around Georgia, especially her work helping to revitalize rural areas in our state. I wish her the best in her future endeavors as she transitions to the private sector. I’m confident the incoming leadership at DCA, along with DOAS and GSFC, will continue advancing the needs of and serving Georgians throughout the state.”

Camila Knowles is leaving state government to work at Cornerstone Government Affairs.

Cornerstone Government Affairs announced Monday that Camila Knowles will join the firm October 1 as Senior Vice President and Counsel in the company’s Atlanta office.

Knowles comes to the firm after serving in Governor Nathan Deal’s cabinet as Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) since 2015. She led that agency’s work for community development, ensuring that through workforce housing, community infrastructure, downtown development and economic development financing, communities are prepared for opportunities to meet Governor Deal’s top priority: creating jobs across the state. DCA provides funding and technical assistance throughout Georgia, partnering with local communities to create a climate of success for Georgia’s families and businesses. The Agency also manages millions of state and federal dollars through its 65 programs, 24 of them funding programs.

“I would like to thank Camila for her service,” Governor Deal said. “I appreciate her focus at DCA on building strong, vibrant communities around Georgia, and her particular attention to revitalizing rural communities. I wish her the best in her future endeavors as she transitions to the private sector.”

Prior to her service in the Deal Administration, she was chief of staff to U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss. She began her career with Senator Chambliss in 2003 as one of the Senator’s designees on the Senate Judiciary Committee focusing on immigration law and policy. After serving as a legislative assistant and chief counsel for the Senator in Washington, she moved in 2009 to his Atlanta office as state director and was named chief of staff in 2013.

“I have known Camila her entire life, and had the pleasure of spending 12 of those years working closely with her at the forefront of policy issues that impact our state and our country,” Senator Chambliss said. “Camila has a clear, analytical approach and a true servant’s heart. I am fortunate to have benefited from her friendship, intelligence, focus and counsel. Cornerstone is fortunate to have her joining their team.”

She holds an A.B. in History from Harvard, from which she graduated with cum laude distinction, and a law degree from Georgetown University.

“Camila joining our Georgia team offers our clients new legal and policy research capabilities unmatched in our market,” Cornerstone Senior Vice President Jerry Usry said. “Her experience in every facet of government expands Cornerstone’s drafting, analysis and strategic advisory services to a new level. We are excited to see how far her knowledge and skills sets will advance our firm.”

San Francisco liberals are looking for the next Jon Ossoff to throw millions at.

New billboards popping up in greater Atlanta and Northwest Georgia this week will have a different sort of message than the typical plugs for local eateries and colleges: run for office.

The San Francisco-based political startup Crowdpac is launching a new national campaign in Georgia urging citizens to consider challenging their local congressmen using their crowdfunding website.

The nonpartisan company is homing in on the three-dozen or so U.S. House districts with members of Congress who did not face major party opposition in November — representatives who were “automatically reelected,” per the group’s assessment. It is kicking off its initiative in Georgia’s 14th Congressional District, the home base of fifth-term Republican Congressman Tom Graves.

This isn’t Crowdpac’s first foray into Georgia. The left-leaning Atlanta super PAC My Ride to Vote used the site to crowdfund more than $75,000 to give free rides to the polls to “traditionally underrepresented” voters during the 6th Congressional District special election earlier this year.

The site lets users mulling a run for office post their policy pitches and solicit pledges from potential donors. The candidates see the money only if they formally jump into the race.

Federal funds for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) are at risk pending congressional action.

And while experts believe that much of the funding, if not all, will be renewed by Oct. 1 or afterward, there are no guarantees, with a fractious Washington dealing with the bitter aftermath of votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

The money at risk includes funding for a popular children’s health insurance; Medicaid funds for hospitals that deliver a high level of indigent care; and financial support for community health centers.

And there’s about $10 million at risk for rural hospitals in Georgia that have a low number of Medicare patients.

Another big chunk of money involves Medicaid “disproportionate share’’ (DSH) funding being cut by $43 billion between fiscal 2018 and fiscal 2025. Under the ACA, these cuts for facilities serving a large number of Medicaid and uninsured patients were supposed to be offset by expanded health coverage and the creation of more paying patients. But for many reasons, that has not always worked out as envisioned, especially in states, such as Georgia, that have not expanded their Medicaid programs under the ACA.

Under the radar among the imperiled funding streams involves another potential financial setback to rural hospitals.

The “low-volume adjustment’’ money from Medicare helps rural hospitals that are at least 15 miles from a similar hospital and have fewer than 1,600 Medicare discharges annually.

Three candidates qualified for the Smyrna City Council open seat.

Travis Lindley is a partner/owner of Capitol Strategy Group and has cofounded three small businesses. He is a current member of the Smyrna Downtown Development Authority and the Cobb Chamber of Commerce.

Lindley has been campaigning since earlier this year and has already gotten an endorsement from Ward 1 Councilman Derek Norton, who called Lindley an “old friend” and Smyrna native who has served the city well in the Downtown Development Authority.

Marshall A. Moon works security at Adventures Outdoors. He said he decided to run earlier this year.

Moon said he is running to give voice to the regular people of Smyrna, and he hopes to do that by increasing the amount of time residents are given during public comment at government meetings from three minutes to between 15 and 30. He also said he believes Smyrna residents should be able to vote directly on issues, rather those issues being decided solely by the council.

“It’s time that Smyrna had a voice instead of the people sitting up on the board,” Moon said. “They’re doing all the voting. The people that’s in the meetings, they don’t have that right. And they should have the right to … voice their opinions through voting, and it’s not right for the people who are sitting behind the desk, that they’re doing all the voting, and the people in the meeting, they don’t have a voice, and I think that’s wrong. And that’s my personal opinion.”

Gwinnett County Commission Chair Charlotte Nash is asking residents for input on transit.

We are considering different kinds of transit systems, new routes, and, of course, the cost and value of potential improvements. Ultimately, all of the information and analysis will be available to the community for use in deciding whether to support funding an expanded transit system for Gwinnett.

But for the study to be worthwhile, we need to hear from you, the residents of Gwinnett County. We currently have a quick online survey through Sept. 25 for people to complete that will help guide the decision-making process. It is available on the website www.ConnectGwinnettTransit.com/survey. Our team of consultants and in-house professionals are going to community events to talk to people and get their feedback and their vision for transit in Gwinnett.

But now is the time for you to get involved while the plans are still being formed. So go to www.ConnectGwinnettTransit.com/survey and take the survey. Follow Connect Gwinnett: Transit Study on Facebook. We also have lots of valuable information on www.ConnectGwinnettTransit.com.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Gainesville and Hall County schools are back in session after missing a week during Irma and its aftermath.

Augusta officials are assessing local efforts to prepare for Hurricane Irma.

Camden, Chatham and Glynn county residents may register for FEMA aid after Irma.

Warner Robins City Council adopted a slight millage rate increase for FY 2018.

The Muscogee County School District voted to borrow up to $50 million dollars to address delays in property tax billing and revenue.

Corporate Executives ranked Georgia number three in the nation for favorable business climate.

18
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns and Elections for September 18, 2017

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

Forty-one delegates signed the United States Constitution, including Abraham Baldwin and William Few representing Georgia, at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787 before adjourning sine die. Constitution Day was celebrated yesterday and the National Archives has some great background materials.

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

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

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

On September 17, 1796, George Washington began working on the final draft of his farewell address as the first President of the United States of America.

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

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

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

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

General Robert E. Lee retreated from Antietam Creek on September 18, 1862, following the bloodiest day of fighting in the Civil War.

A single pistol shot on September 16, 1920 opened former Cherokee land in Oklahoma to white settlers in a “land run” to claim property.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Georgia General Assembly approved a new state Constitution on September 18, 1981, which was placed on the 1982 ballot and after approval by voters, went into effect in 1983.

On September 18, 1990, Atlanta was announced as the location for the 1996 Summer Olympic games.

Ted Turner announced on September 18, 1997 his intent to donate $1 billion to the United Nations.

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns and Elections

The Georgia Department of Revenue is extending some deadlines for victims of Hurricane Irma.

This announcement coincides with the relief announcement issued by the Internal Revenue Service. The Department is postponing until January 31, 2018, certain deadlines for individuals who reside, and businesses whose principal place of business is located, in the disaster area but the person or business must have been affected by the disaster. The postponement applies to return filing, tax payment, and other time-sensitive acts as specified by the Internal Revenue Service.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue toured Georgia last week to assess crop damage from Hurricane Irma.

Perdue [was] slated to tour damaged farms with U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Albany). The tour was slated to include a visit to Mason Pecans, a pecan farm in Fort Valley, according to an advisory on Bishop’s congressional website.

The impact is shocking and will be felt for many months,” Perdue said in a statement released Wednesday. “In addition to efforts being made on the ground to assist producers, we have taken a hard look at our regular reporting requirements and adjusted them so producers can take care of pressing needs first and mostly deal with documentation and claims later. President Trump’s directive is to help people first and deal with paperwork second. And that’s what USDA is doing.”

Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black also discussed crop losses.

Fifty percent of Georgia’s pecan crop might be lost, according to state Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black.

“If we lose half this pecan crop, fruitcakes will be more expensive at Christmastime, one would think,” Black said.

“It’s gonna affect livelihoods and income, and then what those people do in the local economy, too,” he said.

Cotton is nearing harvest, which made it susceptible to high winds, and crop consultants are estimating between 25 percent and 50 percent of the cotton yield is gone.

Black said Irma may mean at least one positive result for farmers.

All the storm’s rain could boost Georgia’s peanut crop toward a record-breaking harvest.

Qualifying closed last week for the “Six-Pack” of legislative seats up for Special Elections in November.Continue Reading..

15
Sep

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

James Oglethorpe arrived at Augusta on September 12, 1739, 277 years ago today.

The Second Continental Congress opened in Philadelphia on September 13, 1775; Georgia was represented by Archibald Bulloch, Lyman Hall,  John Houstoun, and John Zubly.

French troops arrived near Savannah to prepare for a siege against British forces there on September 12, 1779.

On September 13, 1788, the Confederation Congress voted to implement the Constitution and authorized states to elect Senators and Representatives and called the first Presidential election, with selection of presidential electors in the states to be held on January 7, 1789, and February 4, 1789 as the day electors would cast their ballots.

Francis Scott Key composed the lyrics to “The Star Spangled Banner” on September 14, 1814.

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

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

On September 14, 1885, Georgia Governor Henry McDaniel signed legislation granting up to 200 acres in Fulton and DeKalb Counties to the federal government to be used in the constuction of Fort McPherson, which was named after Union Maj. Gen. James McPherson, who was killed in the Battle of Atlanta in 1864.

On September 14, 1901, President William McKinley died of an infection from gunshot wounds suffered eight days earlier.

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

The first two women to enter the Georgia General Assembly, Viola Ross Napier of Bibb County and Atlanta Constitution reporter Bessie Kempton of Fulton County, were elected on September 13, 1922.

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia Power reported outages of more than 950,000 customers. Their twitter profile says they serve 2.5 million customers. Math tells me they had nearly 40% of customers offline at the height of the outages. Because of the company’s statewide footprint, you can just think of that as being roughly 35-40% of Georgia without electric power in order to get a sense of the scale of the outages. The latest is that the company has restored service to 920,000 customers, with about 75,000 remaining offline.

Georgia Power also warned about post-hurricane scams.

In a news release Thursday, the company stated it wanted to make customers aware of potential scams during the statewide recovery from Hurricane Irma. The company offers the following tips to avoid scams and fraud.

• Georgia Power will not offer to expedite power restoration for an additional fee.

• Georgia Power will not refuse to reconnect service to customers impacted by Hurricane Irma due to a past due bill and demand payment prior to re-connection. The company will work with customers who are behind on payments or need to make payment arrangements through its usual customer service process.

Customers can check the status of outages, sign up for outage alerts and get safety tips at www.georgiapower.com/storm. Customers can report and check the status of an outage 24 hours a day by contacting Georgia Power at 888-891-0938.

An Arkansas lineman working to restore electricity in Georgia was electrocuted earlier this week and is in serious condition.

Marshal Freeman is in serious condition after he was nearly electrocuted Wednesday night.

Freeman was working in the 200 block of West Society Avenue with Southern Electric Corporation, an electrical company out of Fullwood, Mississippi when the incident happened.

Ocilla Police said Freeman was working on the power lines when he was shocked.

Southern Electrical Corporation has been helping Georgia Power restore electricity to the area.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the injured employee,” said Lynn Lovett, the area manager for Georgia Power.

Lovett said safety is a top priority.

“Our jobs are dangerous and that’s why initially when the storm blew through on Monday we could not even start work because it wasn’t safe,” explained Lovett. “We don’t want to rush. We want to get customers back on, but we need to do it safely.”

The Irwin County coroner said Wednesday night that Freeman was alive, but he was taken to the Augusta Burn Unit for his injuries.

Governor Nathan Deal surveyed damage from Hurricane Irma yesterday and viewed coastal areas by helicopter.Continue Reading..

11
Sep

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

911 memorial 2

I was in my car that morning, on the way to my job when I heard on the radio of the first plane hitting. The announcers thought at first that it must be a small plane and likely an accident. Seventeen minutes later all doubt vanished as the second hit. Over the next hour, a third plane hit the Pentagon and a fourth went down in a field in Pennsylvania. We watched on television as the towers burned, then collapsed.

Shortly afterwards, the Family Room opened in a nearby tower to provide a place for loved ones to grieve out of the public eye.

The Family Room opened in April 2002 in space donated by Brookfield Office Properties, the owners of 1 Liberty Plaza, across Church Street from the trade center site. By presenting what was known as a medical examiner’s family identification card, victims’ relatives were admitted during regular workdays and at night, on weekends and on holidays.

On the 20th floor, behind a door marked “The Family Room,” relatives could settle into ample leather couches or stand at windows 15 and 20 feet wide. The room was intended for “quiet contemplation,” said a 2002 notice from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, which created and maintained the space, just a few doors down from its own headquarters and those of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center Foundation.

When the Family Room at 1 Liberty Plaza was replaced this summer by a new private gathering space in the National September 11 Memorial Museum pavilion, the [New York] State Museum and the memorial museum painstakingly documented the older room, and the State Museum acquired what contents family members themselves did not choose to reclaim.

There are materials in the Family Room collection related to about 1,000 victims, Mr. Schaming said, or roughly one-third of all casualties that day. “It is the most singular collection of the faces of people who were killed on 9/11,” he said.

A monument on Long Island to victims of 9-11 will include the names of 582 people who later died of conditions related to the aftermath of the attacks.

A separate plaque will have the names of 582 police officers, firefighters, construction workers, cleanup volunteers and others who spent time in the rubble of the World Trade Center in the days or months after the attacks and, years later, died of a variety of causes that they, their families or their doctors suspected were linked to toxic ash and smoke at the site. There will be room to add more names.

“I think what the town of Hempstead is doing is nothing short of honorable,” said John Feal, a longtime advocate for 9/11 responders with health problems. “People who lost a loved one to illness suffer just like someone lost on that day. Hopefully this will offer some ease and comfort to them.”

In May, officials at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum announced plans to set aside a commemorative space at the World Trade Center to honor rescue and recovery workers.

New York’s police and fire departments also have memorials for personnel who have died of illnesses since Sept. 11. A 9/11 memorial in Staten Island recently added a plaque with the names of residents there who have died of illnesses.

Feal’s charitable organization also maintains a memorial wall to 9/11 responders in Nesconset, New York.

One day after Perry’s victory in the Battle of Lake Erie, American Master Commandant Thomas Macdonough led American forces in the Battle of Plattsburg at Lake Champlain, New York on September 11, 1813.

The Union Army began evacuating civilians from Atlanta via Lovejoy’s Station on September 11, 1864.

Georgia-born Ty Cobb took his last at-bat on September 11, 1928.

After a week-long Presidential campaign swing through ten states, former Governor Jimmy Carter returned to Plains on September 11, 1976.

On September 11, 1985, Pete Rose broke Ty Cobb’s career hit record, notching number 4,192 against the San Diego Padres.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal has declared an emergency for all of Georgia and the Georgia State Capitol is closed today and tomorrow.

For up-to-date information on hurricane Irma, visit the Georgia Emergency Management Agency website.

Georgia EMCs report more than 146,000 customers without power as of 10 AM today.

Approximately 146,000 customers are without power at the present time, up from 31,000 earlier today.

The numbers have increased as the weather continues to pound the state and produce tropical storm-force winds that are blowing trees and other debris on power lines. Winds, ranging from 40 to 60 mph, are wreaking havoc on the electric infrastructure and causing severe damage especially in south, southeast and southwest Georgia.

Anticipating significant property damage and outages as a result of the storm, EMCs have been in discussions with states east of a line from Texas to Wisconsin to make plans for crew movements. Likewise cooperatives are working with EMCs within Georgia and may be able to move crews from EMCs that are least impacted to ones that are most impacted.

EMC customers should contact their local EMC to report power outages.

Georgia EMC is the statewide trade association representing the state’s 41 EMCs, Oglethorpe Power Corp., Georgia Transmission Corp. and Georgia System Operations Corp.  Collectively, the 42 customer-owned EMCs provide electricity and related services to 4.4 million people, nearly half of Georgia’s population, across 73 percent of the state’s land area.

Georgia Power has 3400 workers positioned to respond to electrial outages due to hurricane Irma.

Georgia Power officials said Sunday night that they have 3,400 personnel positioned to respond to what are expected to be extensive power outages caused by Hurricane Irma, which will affect Georgia starting late [Sunday night].

Georgia Power officials said all of its resources have been held to respond to storm restoration in Irma’s wake.

“Once the storm leaves affected areas, the company must wait until conditions are safe for damage assessment teams to enter the field and begin the restoration process, followed by repair crews, which could take several days, if not weeks, depending on the amount of damage and safe access to the area,” Georgia Power officials said. “As weather conditions improve, restoration efforts will accelerate, but it could take an extended period of time for all customers to be restored.”

Georgia Power has asked for help from other utilities through a mutual assistance network, but officials said those resources have been assigned to harder-hit areas in Florida before Georgia.

Savannah Memorial Hospital evacuated 45 babies from their neonatal ICU.

In advance of Hurricane Irma 45 babies from Savannah Memorial Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit evacuated to several Georgia hospitals. Fifteen of the babies were transported via ambulance and helicopter to Navicent Health in Macon.

Dr. Mitch Rodriguez is the Medical Director of the NICU. He said, “Some of our patients that came were relatively stable, just completing their hospitalization. Some of them were relatively critical in the sense that they were either post-surgical and/or still on the ventilator or on a significant amount of support.”

Rene Gunner is in the Macon NICU with her daughter, Quinn, who was born at 26 weeks. Gunner said, “You don’t even want to be in this situation, but things have just kind of lined up for us, and so we’re incredibly grateful and thankful for all the blessings because I consider this a blessing, coming to Macon.”

Augusta University Medical Center also welcomed 12 newborns from Savannah.

Augusta University Medical Center is continuing to take in patients from the coastal areas, including 12 Neonatal patients from Savannah.

There were a couple steps nurses had to take before sending the babies off from Savannah.

“We had to make sure they were medically cleared to go, copied all of their charts, made sure their parents were aware, got consent from them to come up and made sure all the parents had accommodations once they got here,” said [Lauren] Brooks.

A few nurses from Savannah also made the trip to Augusta.

“We have different hurricane teams, I’m on team C which I’m here in Augusta I’m taking care of babies,” said Brooks.

Other infant patients were evacuated to Atlanta hospitals.

Facilities like Northside Hospital and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta have begun to take in infant patients from south Georgia.  Northside Hospital’s Atlanta and Forsyth campuses, for example, say they’ve opened their doors to 11 infants.

According to a spokesperson with the hospital, 11 babies from the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit at Memorial Health Hospital in Savannah arrived with their parents on Friday.

In all, the Georgia Department of Public Health facilitated moving a total of 59 infants on life support–from hospitals in the Savannah area to other hospitals in metro Atlanta and the rest of Georgia that are not expected to be impacted by hurricane-force winds.

Patrick O’Neal, M.D. is the Commissioner of Georgia DPH, and explained that the young infants, many of them premature, each had to travel inside a mobile ICU called an isolette to survive the hours-long evacuation.

“It will allow almost like a cocooning of the baby, so that it can be moved, very safely, maintaining all those requirements that the baby would have had in the original hospital,” Dr. O’Neal said.

Georgia DPH has activated its emergency operation center–part of GEMA’s state operations center–helping coordinate hospital evacuations across the state and making sure shelters for thousands of evacuees are staffed with doctors and nurses, and equipped with cots and necessary supplies.

Qualifying for Special Elections has been postponed for State House Districts 42 (Stacey Evans), 89 (Stacey Abrams), 117 (Regina Quick), 119 (Chuck Williams), and State Senate Districts 6 (Hunter Hill) and 39 (Vincent Fort).

Given the expected impact Hurricane Irma will have on the state of Georgia, the qualifying period for House Districts 42, 89, 117, 119 and Senate Districts 6 and 39 shall be postponed pursuant to Georgia law (O.C.G.A. § 21-2-50.1).

The new qualifying period shall be Wednesday, September 13, 2017 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Thursday, September 14, 2017 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Friday, September 15, 2017 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in the Secretary of State’s Office (2 MLK Jr. Drive SE, Suite 802 West Tower, Atlanta, GA 30334).

Additionally, voters are encouraged to take the following steps to ensure they are prepared for the upcoming elections as several county election offices are temporarily closing in preparation for Hurricane Irma.

“I want voters to be prepared for Election Day ahead of this storm,” said Secretary of State Brian Kemp. “My office is encouraging voters in affected counties to use these steps if they have any questions about their voter registration status.”

Six candidates qualified for a special election in Roswell City Council Post 3.

George Vail is running for the seat, which has been vacated by Donald Horton, who is running for the office of mayor.

Vail is one if six candidates who’ve qualified to serve out Horton’s term, which expires Dec. 31, 2019. The other candidates running in the Nov. 7 special election are Hanny Alexander, Bassem Fakhoury, Sean A. Groer, Mike Nyden and Joe Piontek.

Former Governor Roy Barnes is among the lawyers filing a class action lawsuit against Equifax.

A team of lawyers, including former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes, has filed a class-action lawsuit against Equifax over the massive data breach that has compromised the personal information of more than 140 million U.S. consumers.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta faults Equifax for “gargantuan failures to secure and safeguard consumers’ personally identifiable information … and for failing to provide timely, accurate and adequate notice” to consumers that such sensitive material had been stolen.

The Atlanta case calls Equifax reckless in its handling of consumers’ data, and also said the company failed to disclose why there was more than a month’s delay in making the breach public. It cites the sale of stock by three executives days after Equifax learned of the breach, but weeks before the company alerted consumers to the cyber theft.

8
Sep

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

The Continental Congress renamed their new nation the United States of America, from the previously used “United Colonies” on September 9, 1776.

An American fleet of nine ships under the command of Captain Oliver Hazard Perry routed a British fleet in the Battle of Lake Erie on September 10, 1813.

After the battle, Perry sent a famous dispatch to U.S. General William Henry Harrison that read, “We have met the enemy, and they are ours.” The Battle of Lake Erie forced the British to abandon Detroit, ensuring U.S. control over Lake Erie and the territorial northwest.

Years later, Pogo, Georgia’s Official State Possum, would paraphrase Perry’s dispatch.

Pogo Enemy

And eventually, Pogo’s statement that, “We have met the enemy and he is us” would become the official slogan of the Georgia Republican Party.

On September 7, 1864, General William T. Sherman sent a letter to his Confederate counterpart, General John Bell Hood, offering to transport civilians out of Atlanta for their safety.

The Georgia General Assembly appropriated $1 million for construction of a new State Capitol on September 8, 1883.

The Fulton County Courthouse was dedicated on September 8, 1914.

On September 9, 1933, WSB Radio in Atlanta was upgraded to broadcasting via 50,000 watt transmitter. The first broadcast included Will Rogers and a letter from President Roosevelt.

On September 9, 1939, an audience at the Fox Theater in Riverside, California watched a preview of Gone With the Wind.

The first actual computer bug was identified on September 9, 1947, when Grace Hopper removed a moth from an electrical relay in the Harvard Mark II computer. Hopper received her Ph.D. in Mathematics from Yale in 1934 and attained the rank of Rear Admiral, Lower Half in the United Stated Navy. USS Hopper (DDG-70) was named after her.

On September 9, 1954, Marvin Griffin won the Democratic Primary election over Melvin Thompson.

Elvis Presley first appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show on September 9, 1956.

The Professional Football Hall of Fame opened on September 7, 1963 in Canton, Ohio.

On September 8, 1966, viewers of the Star Trek debut first heard the monologue opening, “Space, the final frontier…”

On Sept. 8, one of the most enduring franchises in TV and movie history celebrates its 50th birthday. Star Trek debuted on NBC in 1966, developed by Roddenberry, a former Los Angeles cop who wanted to make a TV series which could sneak past the rampant escapism of most programs back then.

At a time when scripted TV rarely dealt directly with the turbulence of the times, Star Trek set its social messages against a space opera backdrop. Swashbuckling Captain Kirk ran the Enterprise, backed by cerebral first officer Mr. Spock and emotional Southern medical officer Dr. Leonard McCoy.

On the surface, the show’s plots dealt with exotic alien worlds in a future where space travel was commonplace. But Roddenberry and his writers slipped in subtle messages.

One classic story pointed out the absurdity of racism by depicting a war among members of an alien race, where one faction was colored black on the left side of their face and body and white on the right. The other faction had the colors reversed.

And as the end of state-sanctioned segregation rattled America, Roddenberry featured TV’s first interracial kiss: Aliens forced Captain Kirk to smooch his African American communications officer Lt. Uhura.

President Gerald Ford pardoned former President Richard Nixon on September 8, 1974 for“all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from January 20, 1969 through August 9, 1974.”

Future Atlanta resident Curtis Mayfield saw his song, “Superfly” turn gold on September 7, 1972.

On September 7, 1977, President Jimmy Carter signed the Panama Canal Treaty, which promised to turn over control of the canal to Panama by 2000.

On September 10, 1991, Senate confirmation hearings began for Georgia-born Clarence Thomas, who was appointed by President George H.W. Bush (41) to the United States Supreme Court.

Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit was released as a single on September 10, 1991.

Google was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin on September 7, 1998.

On September 10, 2002, the Atlanta Braves clinched an eleventh straight division title without playing, as a loss by the Philadelphia Phillies assured the Braves the title.

On Saturday, we wish a happy 75th birthday to former Congressman John Linder. Linder served in the State House from 1974-1980 and 1982-90. In 1990 he ran unsuccessfully for Congress against incumbent Democrat Ben Jones; in 1992, after redistricting, Linder was elected to Congress from the 7th District and served until his retirement after the 2010 election.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal yesterday declared a State of Emergency covering six Georgia counties, later expanding it to cover 30 counties.

Following a recommendation from Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA/HS) officials and local Emergency Management Agencies, Gov. Nathan Deal is expanding his emergency declaration to include 24 additional counties, with a total of 30 counties now included in a state of emergency. Deal also issued a mandatory evacuation order for all areas east of I-95, all of Chatham County and some areas west of I-95 that could be impacted by potential storm surge from Hurricane Irma. The executive order also authorized up to 5,000 Georgia National Guard members to be on state active duty to support Hurricane Irma response and recovery. The state of emergency prohibits price gouging for all goods and services related to the storm. Read the executive order here.

“The state is mobilizing all available resources to ensure public safety ahead of Hurricane Irma,” said Deal. “I encourage all Georgians in our coastal areas that could be impacted by this storm to evacuate the area as soon as possible. Beginning Saturday, a mandatory evacuation order will take effect for Chatham County, all areas east of I-95 and some areas west of I-95 that could be impacted by this catastrophic hurricane and storm surge. GEMA/HS continues leading our preparedness efforts as we coordinate with federal, state and local officials to safely evacuate the coastal areas, provide public shelter and minimize the disruption of traffic. Finally, I ask all Georgians to join me in praying for the safety of our people and all those in Hurricane Irma’s path.”

The 30 counties under a state of emergency are: Appling, Atkinson, Bacon, Brantley, Bryan, Bulloch, Burke, Camden, Candler, Charlton, Chatham, Clinch, Coffee, Echols, Effingham, Emanuel, Evans, Glynn, Jenkins, Jeff Davis, Liberty, Long, McIntosh, Pierce, Screven, Tattnall, Toombs, Treutlen, Wayne and Ware Counties.

At 10 AM, Gov. Deal will hold a press conference to discuss storm preparations. You can watch the live stream here.

This weekend in Georgia, you may run into folks who are part of the evacuation. They will cause traffic delays, possible shortages, and jean shorts. Please treat them with the grace you would wish for if you were forced from your home.

Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Lisa Branch has been nominated to a seat on the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

President Trump intends to nominate Judge Elizabeth L. “Lisa” Branch, of Atlanta, to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta. Branch has served as the 77th Judge on the Georgia Court of Appeals since September 4, 2012.

For the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, President Trump intends to nominate R. Stan Baker of St. Simons Island, Georgia, where he has served as magistrate judge for the same district since February 3, 2015.

“I applaud the president’s choices and look forward to working with these excellent judges as the confirmation process moves forward in the Senate,” said Senator Isakson.

“Once again President Trump has nominated two impressive Georgians to fill judicial vacancies in Georgia,” said Senator Perdue.

“I look forward to working through the Senate confirmation process with Lisa Branch on her nomination to a Georgia-based seat on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and Stan Baker on his nomination to be a judge in the Southern District of Georgia.”

The Senate Study Committee on Georgians’ Barriers to Access to Care will meet on Monday at 10 AM in Room 310 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Building.

Georgia Ports are closing ahead of Hurricane Irma.

With some 40 ships scheduled to call on Garden City and Ocean terminals between Friday morning and Tuesday night, advance planning is critical, Witt said.

“Typically by this point, most ships are in storm avoidance mode, either delaying transit or changing routes,” he said, adding that ships under power are usually safer riding out a storm at sea.

At GPA’s Savannah terminals, truck gates will close at 6 p.m. Friday with operations ceasing around midnight and the last ship sailing on the high tide before dawn Saturday, according to GPA executive director Griff Lynch.

Gates at Colonel’s Island and Mayor’s Point terminals in Brunswick will close at 5 p.m. Friday.

“The safety of our employees and partners in the maritime community is our highest priority,” Lynch said, adding that operations will be restored as soon as it is safely possible.

“Our terminals in Savannah and Brunswick play a vital role in customer supply lines,” he said. “After the hurricane passes, we are committed to assessing any damage and getting our ports back up and running as quickly as possible.”

Rev. Jentezen Franklin of Gainesville’s Free Chapel talked about lobbying President Trump for DACA.

Franklin said he hopes the approximately 800,000 people involved in the program are not deported.

“I can tell you now that I believe … and the other ministers that are there, the black pastors and Hispanic pastors and those of us who pastor to multicultural churches,” Franklin said. “We were basically saying, ‘We’re in the trenches.’ I know these kids; they’ve been in my home. I know these kids; they’ve been in my children’s ministry, my youth ministry. I love these kids — these are great kids. We pleaded passionately with the president that we have got to find a pathway.”

He said that he believed Trump would sign a bill granting amnesty for DACA residents if Congress sent one to his desk. People covered by DACA are often called “Dreamers” — an acronym referencing the failed Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act first introduced in 2001.

Franklin’s discussions with Trump were reported by The Washington Post on Monday. He’s one of several pastors on Trump’s evangelical advisory council.

If the residents here illegally do end up getting deported, Franklin said he wouldn’t resign from Trump’s faith council.

“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘Presence is everything,’ when he was asked, ‘Why are you going to the White House?’ He said presence is everything,” Franklin said. “(If I wasn’t on) that board, I wouldn’t have been able to look across the table there, the desk in the Oval Office, and have this very conversation that I’m having for you.”

Franklin said that if “you’re not at the table, you can’t argue the points.”

“If he chooses not to listen, he chooses not to listen, but you know, you don’t resign from a board — at least I don’t — every time somebody does something you don’t agree with,” Franklin said. “The president has done (several) things that I didn’t agree with, but I can’t influence that world if I’m not in it. I didn’t ask other pastors who served on President Obama’s board to resign — I wanted them there.”

Snellville Mayor Tom Witts has been indicted on 66 charges, of which 65 are felonies.

Valdosta and Lowndes County have adopted emergency ordinances to discourage “price gouging” during the evacuation.

The declaration states Lowndes County Emergency Management Agency activates both the emergency operations plan and ordinance 04-1265, which prohibits the overcharging for goods, materials, services and housing during an emergency, better known as “price gouging.”

While some prices could increase based on supply and demand, price gouging is when prices are raised above the legally allowed margin solely because of an emergency, according to officials.

Since the beginning of the week, Lowndes County has observed a shortage of gasoline, bottled water and other supplies while Florida residents make their way north to escape Hurricane Irma.

“With I-75 coming out of the middle of Florida, there is certainly going to be a lot of traffic coming up,” Lowndes County Commission Chairman Bill Slaughter said during a press conference Thursday. “It’s going to be extremely important to protect those evacuating (from price gouging). They’re going to be needing to buy gas and food.”

The City of Columbus is opening a 220-bed shelter for storm evacuees.

The mayor’s office confirmed that a 220-bed shelter will be opened at Frank D. Chester Recreation Center at 1441 Benning Drive to help house evacuees from Florida and the affected areas of the Georgia coast as Hurricane Irma approaches the mainland.

If the shelter fills up, another shelter could be opened at the Roy Martin Center in Russell County, said Candace Poole, 2-1-1 Manager at United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley.

Poole also said that people can find housing resources by dialing 211 or by texting “31902 IRMA” to the number 898211.

Evacuees have already booked nearly every hotel room in Georgia, including those in Columbus. Columbus State University will host more than 130 students from Armstrong State University after the university announced an emergency closure.

Campaigns and Elections

Cumming City Council Post 2 member Quincy Holton drew an opponent for his reelection to the seat he was first elected to in 1969.

Holton, the longest-serving member of the City Council, will face a challenger for the seat this year from local businessman Jason Evans. Holton said the city has changed a lot since he took office but that he wants to continue serving its residents.

“I’ve been in office quite a while, and when I went in we only had about a $15,000-a-year budget, and today we have about $29 million, almost $30 million for the budget,” Holton said. “Also, I’d like to keep the ad valorem tax off so we don’t have to pay it, and I like to work for the people; that’s what I’m in there for.”

Mayor H. Ford Gravitt, who was first elected to his seat in 1970, will face challenger Troy Brumbalow, a local businessman. Post 1 Councilman Chuck Welch, who took office in 2015 to fill the unexpired term of predecessor Rupert Sexton, will be challenged by Chad Crane, a project manager.

The election will be held on Nov. 7, and three weeks of advance voting will be held 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on weekdays between Oct. 16 and Nov. 3. All voting will take place at City Hall.

The candidate with the most votes in each race will be elected, and no run-off will be held if a candidate gets less than 50 percent of votes plus one vote, as is the case in Forsyth County and other municipalities.

Qualifying has been set for the following Special Elections:

HD 42 (formerly Stacey Evans)

HD 89 (formerly Stacey Abrams)

HD 117 (formerly Regina Quick)

HD 119 (formerly Chuck Williams)

SD 6 (formerly Hunter Hill)

SD 39 (formerly Vincent Fort)

Qualifying for the special election shall be held in the Elections Division of the Office of Secretary of State, 2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive SE, 802 West Tower, Atlanta, Georgia 30334.

The dates and hours of qualifying will be Monday, September11, 2017 beginning at 9:00 a.m. and ending at 5:00 p.m.; Tuesday, September 12, 2017 beginning at 9:00 a.m. and ending at 5:00 p.m.; and Wednesday, September 13, 2017 beginning at 9:00 a.m. and ending at 1:00 p.m. The qualifying fee shall be $400.00.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017 is the last day to register to vote for all persons who are not registered to vote and who desire to vote in the special election. Advance in-person absentee voting will begin on Monday,October 16, 2017.

Steven Strickland announced he will run for State House District 119 in the Special Election, with his party affiliation to be chosen later.

A third Oconee County resident recently announced he will seek the State House of Representatives District 119 seat that was vacated when Chuck Williams resigned to become the director of the Georgia Forestry Commission.

Steven Strickland of Bishop said Wednesday he will wait until he qualifies to announce his party affiliation.

Republican candidates Tom Lord and Marcus Wiedower have already announced they intend to run in a special election in November. During the same election, a candidate will also fill the House District 117 seat vacated by Regina Quick, who was appointed as judge of the Western Judicial Circuit.

Republican Bryan Dobbs announced he will run in House District 19 against incumbent State Rep. Paulette Rakestraw. From the press release:

Dallas,​ ​Ga.​ ​–​ ​Bryan Dobbs, owner of local business Dobbs Defense and community advocate, formally announced his candidacy for Georgia House of Representatives District 19 on Sept. 8, 2017.

The people of District 19 deserve honest diligent representation. Bryan Dobbs wants to put Paulding first by improving the confidence and integrity of the office and give the people a strong voice.

This is Dobbs’ first run for public office. The government faces many challenges, to include tax reform, wasteful spending, second amendment rights and public safety.

The community of District 19 wants to see action. Bryan Dobbs humbly asks the people for an opportunity to serve them.

To find out more about the campaign, visit BryanDobbs.com.

Bruce McPherson, running against incumbents Democratic Congressman Sanford Bishop (Albany) campaigned in Cordele.

Pam Tucker kicked off her 2018 campaign for Chair of the Columbia County Commission.

Nearly 50 volunteers gathered for a campaign kickoff meeting and dinner in support of Pam Tucker, the longtime emergency services director in Columbia and Richmond counties, on Thursday night.

Tucker, who is running for the position of Columbia County Commission Chair, discussed and coordinated different duties ranging from installing and collecting yard signs to making phone calls and knocking on doors.

“Tonight kicks everything off, then we will start doing our big fundraiser in October,” Tucker said. “Then, after that, we’ve got fashion show fundraisers, and all kinds of ideas and wonderful things that we are going to be doing.”

Tucker said she plans to run on a platform promoting transparency and uniting the county through collaboration. Other than her “Tucker Time” supporter chant, Tucker said she embraces her slogan that she will “bring fresh air and sunshine back to Columbia County.”

To date, current county commissioner Doug Duncan and small business owner Mark Herbert have also submitted declarations of intent to run for the county commission seat currently held by Ron Cross. Cross has not announced whether or not he plans to seek re-election.

The primary election will take place May 22.

6
Sep

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

The Mayflower left Plymouth, England for a voyage to America on September 6, 1620.

President William McKinley was shot on September 6, 1901. He is buried in Canton, Ohio, not far from the Professional Football Hall of Fame.

Alonzo Herndon founded the Atlanta Life Insurance Company on September 6, 1905, one of Georgia’s great success stories.

The first supermarket, a Piggly Wiggly, opened on September 6, 1916 in Memphis, Tennessee.

On September 6, 1941, Margaret Mitchell christened the cruiser USS Atlanta – Atlanta would later sink after being hit by 50 shells and a torpedo during the Battle of Guadalcanal.

The Summerhill Race Riot broke out in Atlanta on September 6, 1966.

Former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter returned to the Little White House in Warm Springs, Georgia, on September 6, 1976 to kick off the final phase of his presidential campaign.

On September 6, 2014, USS John Warner (SSN-785), a mighty Virginia-class nuclear attack submarine, was christened at Newport News Shipbuilding. Big John calls Naval Station Norfolk its homeport. USS John Warner was commissioned on August 1, 2015 at Norfolk Naval Station.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal issued yet another Writ of Election, scheduling a November 7, 2017 Special Election in State House District 42, to fill the vacancy caused by Stacey Evans, who resigned in order to run for Governor.

“Citizen Newt,” an authorized biography of the former U.S. House Speaker, was released last week.

An authorized biography spanning two decades from the 1970s to the 1990s, “Citizen Newt: The Making of a Reagan Conservative” explores how Newt Gingrich, a twice-failed nominee to Georgia’s sixth district of the House of Representatives, rose in influence in American politics, becoming one of the most significant conservative politicians.

When Newt Gingrich became a representative of Georgia’s sixth district in 1979 – the first Republican to ever be elected there – he came on a platform of cleaning up the corruption reeking the political world. In doing so, with concurrence with fellow outsider Reagan, Gingrich rose to popularity, winning the next nine congressional elections.

In the span of 20 years, Gingrich went from outsider to Minority Whip, to coauthoring the Contract with America in 1994, a promise to the nation among the Republican Party congressmen.

“Newt’s influence on American politics has not waned over the decades,” [author Craig] Shirley said.  “He was instrumental both as an adviser to Donald Trump in 2016 and continues to define the political landscape through his books, op-eds, videos and media appearances.  Very few have been as successful.”

Cherokee County School District Superintendent Brian Hightower sent a message that employees should refrain from sharing political views after a teacher was seen upbraiding students for wearing “Make America Great Again” t-shirts.Continue Reading..

5
Sep

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

On September 5, 1774, the Continental Congress convened for the first time at Carpenter’s Hall in Philadelphia; delegates attended from all the colonies except Georgia.

heartofatlanta.digitalcollections.library.gsu.edu

The Heart of Atlanta Motel opened at 255 Courtland Street in downtown Atlanta on September 5, 1956. It included a three-story diving platform reached by spiral stairs and a pool large enough to hold a ski boat. African-Americans were not allowed at the Heart of Atlanta. [Photos © Georgia State University]

heart of atlanta pool.digitalcollections.library.gsu.edu

After passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which banned racial discrimination in interstate commerce, the Heart of Atlanta’s owner sued the federal government, asserting that the Act was an overly broad interpretation of the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution.

The resulting decision by the United States Supreme Court upheld the Act, finding that Congress was within its authority to ban racial discrimination in businesses affecting interstate commerce.

Atlanta Time Machine has a webpage with interesting images of the Motel.

On September 5, 1969, United States Army Lieutenant William Calley was charged with murder in connection with the deaths of 109 Vietnamese civilians at My Lai. An Army inquiry listed 30 people who knew of the event and charges were filed against 14; Calley was the only conviction. Later, President Nixon paroled Calley. From 1975 to 2005 or 2006, Calley lived and worked in Columbus, Georgia, before moving to Atlanta. In 2009, Calley apologized for the events at My Lai while speaking to a meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Columbus.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal issued a writ of election, scheduling a November 7, 2017 Special Election for House District 89, which was vacated by Stacey Abrams (D-Atlanta), who is running for Governor in 2018. Gov. Deal previously issued writs of election for Special Elections on November 7, 2017 in House District 89 (formerly Stacey Abrams), House District 117 (formerly Regina Quick), and House District 119 (formerly Chuck Williams).

The Democratic/Media Outrage Machine continues to churn against State Rep. Jason Spencer (R-Woodbine).

A coalition that includes the ACLU’s Georgia chapter and the Georgia NAACP issued a statement Thursday calling Spencer’s comments “dangerous” and called on House Speaker David Ralston to remove him from the Game, Fish & Parks committee.

“If Rep. Spencer keeps refusing to retract and apologize for his remarks,” the coalition said in a statement, “Georgia lawmakers should demand his resignation from the Georgia General Assembly.”

Both Democratic candidates for governor – state Rep. Stacey Evans and former state Rep. Stacey Abrams – have condemned Spencer. Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson said Spencer’s remarks were “worthy of censure.”

Some have also urged police involvement. Nita Chaudhary of UltraViolet, a women’s rights group, called on state law enforcement officials to investigate Spencer. And Vincent Fort, a former state senator who is running for Atlanta mayor, said the Georgia Bureau of Investigation should probe the comments.

“When I got a threat like that, I called the GBI,” he said. “That kind of threat warrants it.”

The Georgia Legislative Black Caucus asked the GBI to investigate.

State Sen. Lester Jackson, the caucus chairman, said state Rep. Jason Spencer’s “behavior cannot and will not be accepted or tolerated” and urged the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to probe “the threat of physical violence ” from the lawmaker.

A GBI spokeswoman said the agency had not yet opened an investigation.

Conyers voters will get a sneak peek at what could be a new voting system for Georgia.

Express Vote machines will get a trial run in the Conyers mayoral race this November.

“The pilot program in November addresses some concerns that have been raised about the state’s machines,” says Dr. William Boone, a political science professor at Clark Atlanta University.

Rockdale County Elections Director Cynthia Welch told CBS46, “If all goes well, the state will probably ask for legislation where we can test the system statewide.”

“Here, you’re getting a verifiable trail,” says Boone. “So it does address a part of the problem. It is certainly an improvement over what presently exists.”

So far, from what he’s seen, Dr. Boone says the Express Vote system is moving Georgia in the right direction.

CBS46 has also learned that in the next couple of weeks, Rockdale County will be doing voter education and demonstrating the system in senior centers and nursing homes.

From the AJC:

“Purchasing a new voting system is no small matter,” said Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, whose office is coordinating the pilot program with Rockdale County election officials. “This is a large investment for Georgia, but voting technology has progressed to the point where I feel comfortable inviting a vendor to demonstrate to Georgians a system that could last us for many years to come.”

Atlanta Public Schools intends to issue up to $100 million in Tax Anticipation Notes – borrowing against expected property tax income.

Pat St. Claire, spokesperson for APS, has sent this statement from Lisa Bracken, chief financial officer for the school system:

“[B]ecause of the assessment freeze and the time it took for the Fulton county assessors’ office to recalculate and resend new notices, we are more than two months behind our typical millage rate process. As September represents a low point in cash flows for most public school districts, this delay required that we seek a tax anticipation note in order to meet expenditure requirements until taxes are received. We anticipate borrowing no more than $100 million.”

We’re told that APS was in the same situation last year, and ended up borrowing $75 million, at a cost of $147,000 or so. Any money from the new loan would have to be paid back by Dec. 31, 2017.

Candidates for Gainesville City Council may be discussing the city’s at-large voting system during their campaigns.

the city charter [requires] that “one councilmember shall be a resident of each ward.” Yet when it comes to electing a candidate the charter states: “The mayor and councilmembers shall be elected by a majority vote of the voters of the entire city of Gainesville voting in the election.”

“The at-large voting system requires that every member of the City Council is accountable to every single citizen in Gainesville,” the statement emphasized. “Instead of posturing for what is best for ‘our district’ we work together for what is best for the city of Gainesville. We believe that the voters should have a voice in choosing all five candidates at the polls, not just one.”

Incumbent George Wangeman faces two challengers in the election Nov. 7. One is former downtown restaurateur Albert Reeves, who previously served a four-year term on the Clermont Town Council. The other is Maria del Rosario Palacios, a young Mexican mother who holds a prominent position with the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials.

Atlanta-based GALEO is a nonprofit group that advocates public policies beneficial to Latinos. GALEO members go into communities with large concentrations of Hispanics — such as parts of Gainesville — to register voters, and encourages them to participate in the process and seek public office.

Last year, GALEO filed a lawsuit against Gwinnett County to end at-large voting there.

GALEO also has had its share of run-ins with Gainesville city officials over the same issue, but has not taken the city to court over it.

The Voter Participation Center will begin a direct mail campaign to register new voters.

The Voter Participation Center, a non-partisan, nonprofit based out of Washington, D.C., announced this week that it will send thousands of voter registration applications to unregistered people of color, unmarried women and millennials in Georgia.

The group plans to send registration forms to 2.8 million potential voters in nine states this month, including 390,230 people in Georgia. The organization said 30.6 percent of voting age Georgia residents are not registered to vote.

More specifically, it said 40.1 percent of millennials, 33.1 percent of unmarried women and 31.2 percent of African-Americans are not registered to vote.

“Nationally, about 46 million people of color, unmarried women and millennials are not currently registered to vote,” Voter Participation Center President Page Gardner said in a statement. “In Georgia, 1.6 million of these historically under-represented citizens are unregistered.

The three demographic groups targeted by the Voter Participation Center are groups that are expected to see voter drop offs from the 2016 presidential election to next year’s election. The group said they makeup about two-thirds of the estimated 40 million voters who voted last year but are not expected to vote in 2018.

In Georgia, they said 790,000 millennials, unmarried women and people of color who voted in the presidential election are not expected to vote in either next year’s partisan primaries or the gubernatorial election.

Springfield Mayor Diamond Joe Quimby Barty Alderman was reelected without opposition.

No one qualified as a write-in candidate, so Springfield’s election Nov. 7 has been canceled.

After qualifying ended Aug. 25, two people were signed up for the mayor’s race in Rincon – incumbent Mayor Ken Lee and current council member Christi Ricker.

Incumbent council members Ann Daniel and Levi Scott Jr. will join newcomers Eric Brierton, Jerome Erwin, Kevin Exley and Patrick Kirkland in the competition for three council seats that currently are held by Daniel, Scott and Ricker.

In Guyton, incumbent alderman Michael Johnson will face Thomas Marshall Reiser for Post 4.

And Michael Gerwig, Joseph Lee and Quinton White will run for Post 3, which has been vacant since early 2016, when Ulysses Eaton moved from the area.

Dalton City Council is expected to adopt a property tax millage rate tonight.

The Dalton City Council is scheduled to set its 2017 tax rate when it meets tonight, and council members could authorize the Dalton Building Authority to issue $18.2 million in bonds for Dalton Public Schools.

The council has advertised that it will leave the city’s tax rate unchanged this year at 2.506 mills. But some council members say they are still considering rolling it back.

Because of the growth of the tax digest, the 2.506 mills rate would bring in more revenue, $8.76 million compared to $8.45 million last year, so it would be considered a tax increase under state law.

According to a city press release, a property owner with a homestead exemption with a fair market value of $150,000 would see its city tax payment rise approximately $9.80 if the rate is not rolled back, and a property with a fair market value of $350,000 without a homestead exemption would see its city tax increase approximately $24.50.

State Reps Allen Peake (R-Macon) and David Lucas (D-Macon) spoke the the Macon Telegraph about redistricting.

“My comments were more of sensing the frustration that most Americans seem to have that Congress is so polarizing; in particular, they can’t get anything done,” the Macon Republican said. “Some of that in my opinion is congressional districts being drawn to favor for Democrats or Republicans.

“You get those elected many times that are on the far right or far left, that may be so dogmatic in their political philosophies that they’ll never come to any consensus,” Peake said. “Seventy percent in America are left wondering why they can’t get anything done. I hear it at the grocery store, at the ballgames, at church, (that) people are mad and fed up and some of it is the result of the polarization of redistricting.”

Peake’s colleague on the opposite side of the political aisle, state Sen. David Lucas, D-Macon, says Georgia legislators are able at times to work together across political lines. But it was a different result when Democrats were accused of gerrymandering in the past.

The process of setting up new district boundaries after census data is reported should not be as difficult as it is. Republicans have taken the practice to a new level, Lucas said.

“We drew lines and went to court and it was thrown out and Republicans took control,” he said. “They did the same thing we did, and when they did it the courts went along with it. Republicans drew lines that had less than 35 percent blacks in it and made it conservative, which meant it was going to be Republican regardless.”

State Rep. Micah Gravley (R-Douglasville) and Senator John Albers (R-Roswell) were each named legislator of the year by the Georgia State Firefighters Association and the Georgia Association of Fire Chiefs.

Roswell will hold qualifying this week for a special election in City Council Post 3.

Ellen Diehl announced she will run for State House District 81, currently held by Democratic State Rep. Scott Holcomb. I’m assuming she’ll run as a Republican.

Republican Matt Reeves, announced endorsements in his campaign for State Senate District 48, being vacated by David Shafer, who is running for Lt. Governor.

Johns Creek City Councilman Jay Lin, Gwinnett Solicitor General Rosanna Szabo, and Duluth City Councilman Greg Whitlock have joined a growing list of elected leaders supporting Matt Reeves in his campaign for State Senate District 48. Also, Columbia Engineering, on Buford Highway in Duluth, hosted a fundraiser for Matt Reeves’ State Senate campaign last week, and over fifty local small businesspeople contributed at the event. Notable donors were Whitlock, Bill Russell, Norwood Davis, and former U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss, who Matt worked for in college when he attended Mercer University in Macon and when Senator Chambliss was a Congressman in a competitive middle Georgia congressional district.  Duluth Mayor Nancy Harris and House Education Committee Chairman Brooks Coleman headlined the fundraising event. Reeves has additional fundraising events planned over the next few weeks in Johns Creek and Sugarloaf. Reeves held a fundraising event at Arena Tavern in Duluth in June.

Recently, Reeves spoke at the Fulton County Republican party breakfast in Johns Creek, and launched a campaign Facebook page, and website, www.votemattreeves.com. Reeves is running on a platform of reducing the state income tax, keeping Georgia as a jobs leader through fiscal conservatism and prioritizing education and transportation, strengthening the family through making Georgia a leader in foster care and adoption, and re-creating Milton County in North Fulton.

Reeves previously announced the endorsement of Former Senator Dan Moody, Suwanee Mayor Jimmy Burnette, Peachtree Corners Mayor Mike Mason, State Representative Scott Hilton, and County Commissioner Jace Brooks. Reeves is running for the seat left open in 2018 by virtue of State Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer’s run for Lieutenant Governor.

1
Sep

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

On September 4, 1682, Edmund Halley first sighted the comet that bears his name.

The Stars and Stripes first flew in battle on September 3, 1776 at Cooch’s Bridge, Delaware.

A fleet of 22 French ships arrived off the coast of Savannah on September 3, 1779 to help wrest control of the city from the British.

Scheduled steamship service first began on September 4, 1807, when Robert Fulton’s North River Steamboat began plying the trade on the Hudson River.

On September 3, 1862, the writ of habeas corpus was suspended in Atlanta and within five miles of its border by the Confederate government. Two years later, September 3, 1864, General William T. Sherman would occupy Atlanta.

Atlanta Mayor James Calhoun surrendered the city to federal forces on September 2, 1864.

Calhoun’s two-sentence letter, directed to Brig.-Gen. William Ward stated: “Sir: The fortune of war has placed Atlanta in your hands. As mayor of the city I ask protection of non-combatants and private property.”

General William T. Sherman ordered all civilians out of Atlanta on September 4, 1864.

The Georgia General Assembly expelled 25 of 29 African-American members from the State House on September 3, 1868, arguing that Georgia’s constitution did not allow them to hold office.

The cornerstone of the Georgia State Capitol was laid on September 2, 1885.

The last hanging in Atlanta took place on September 1, 1922 outside the Fulton County jail.

Vince Dooley was born on September 4, 1932. Happy birthday, coach!

Anne Frank, age 15, and seven other Jews who were hiding together in Amsterdam were the last Dutch prisoners transported to Auschwitz on September 3, 1944.

Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus called out National Guard troops to prevent the desegregation under court order of Little Rock’s Central High School on September 4, 1957.

On September 5, 1969, United States Army Lieutenant William Calley was charged with murder in connection with the deaths of 109 Vietnamese civilians at My Lai. An Army inquiry listed 30 people who knew of the event and charges were filed against 14; Calley was the only conviction. Later, President Nixon paroled Calley. From 1975 to 2005 or 2006, Calley lived and worked in Columbus, Georgia, before moving to Atlanta. In 2009, Calley apologized for the events at My Lai while speaking to a meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Columbus.

Author John Ronald Reuel Tolkien died on September 2, 1973.

Having received the Democratic nomination for President, Jimmy Carter began the General Election with an address from his front porch in Plains, Georgia on September 3, 1976.

On September 1, 2004, United States Senator Zell Miller, a Democrat, spoke at the Republican National Convention.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal yesterday praised the announcement by Georgia Power that the company recommends completing reactors 3 and 4 at Plant Vogtle.

“I’m extremely pleased to learn the co-owners of Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4 have recommended completion of construction,” said Deal. “Georgia Power, Oglethorpe Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities have made the right decision for our state. These new units will provide clean and affordable energy to Georgians for more than 60 years while creating 6,000 jobs during project construction and 800 well-paying, permanent ones after.”

The Oglethorpe Power Corporation Board of Directors also supports Georgia Power’s recommendation.

The Oglethorpe Power Corporation Board of Directors determined this week that it is in the best interest of the corporation to support Georgia Power Company, acting as the agent for the co-owners of Vogtle Units No. 3 and No. 4, and to proceed towards completion of the Vogtle Project.

“We believe we must take a long term view and recognize the benefits of fuel diversity and the price stability of emission-free nuclear power over the next 60 to 80 years,” Mike Smith, president and CEO, stated, “especially when considering the risks of carbon-based fuel volatility and the potential for carbon regulation.”

Oglethorpe Power owns a 30 percent share of Vogtle Units No. 3 and No. 4.

Oglethorpe Power is one of the nation’s largest power supply cooperatives with more than $10 billion in assets, serving 38 Electric Membership Corporations which, collectively, provide electricity to approximately 4.1 million Georgia residents.

Congressman Rick Allen (R-Augusta), whose district encompasses Voglte, released a statement,

“I am thankful for Georgia Power, Oglethorpe Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities’ continued investment in Plant Vogtle. More than 6,000 people in my district are employed by Plant Vogtle, where they are constructing two of the first new nuclear reactors in the United States in more than 30 years.”

“With today’s announcement, Georgia-12 continues to be at the forefront of nuclear energy expansion in the United States. In order to continue to be a dominant player in the global nuclear industry, invest in our own energy independence and provide clean, low cost energy to Georgians – it is vital to continue this project and I applaud the owners in making what I know was a tough decision. I will continue to do all I can to support these projects, because the future of nuclear energy in America depends on it.”

Waynesboro Mayor Greg Carswell is enthusiastic about continued construction at Plant Vogtle.

“I’m excited and happy. I tried to get my dad on the phone because my dad works out at Plant Vogtle. I wanted to make sure. I’m sure he’s aware of what’s going on, but I wanted to tell him myself. We are very excited for everyone,” Carswell said.

“It’s been up in the air, but people have really had confidence in Georgia Power. The company is a part of our community. People were not worried too much, but we knew that everything had to go through the process and procedures,” Carswell said.

Plant Vogtle employs more than 800 people at reactors 1 and 2.

Currently, there are more than 6,000 employees working on the construction of the two new nuclear reactors.

Once the job is finished, 800 more jobs will be created to monitor the facilities.

“They do a lot for our community. I can tell you that if Plant Vogtle and Georgia Power just disappeared from Waynesboro and Burke County, it would be like ghost town, if you will,” Carswell said.

Moody’s Investor Services released a statement on the Vogtle recommendation.

[C]ontinuation of the project will increase the utility’s business and operating risk profile because total costs are open ended and because Georgia Power’s parent company will be assuming construction risk on its balance, sheet.

Georgia Power’s rating outlook remains negative pending the review and approval of the utility’s recommendation and related conditions by the Georgia Public Service Commission, curther clarification of the project’s latest cost and schedule assumptions, the effect that the higher costs will have on Georgia Power’s financial metrics and leverage, and the impact that the conditions incorporated in the recommendation to the GPSC will have on the utility’s credit quality. We believe the decision to move forward has placed a material amount of additional negative pressure on the utility’s credit quality.

Georgia Power backed out of a planned solar farm in Savannah, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Georgia Power pulled the plug at the last minute on its involvement in a solar project on East President Street. But the site will get a solar installation anyway, said developer Reed Dulany III.

“I was furious last night,” Dulany said Thursday. “Yesterday at 3:30 I got a call from three Georgia Power people saying ‘Hey, the project’s off.’”

Savannah City Council had been scheduled to vote Thursday on a contract related to the project, but that agenda item was pulled before the council meeting. The contract would have obligated the city to pay up to $100,000 of the estimated $350,000 needed to clear the site of vegetation and cap it with clean soil. The site’s current owner, Greenfield Environmental Trust, has already paid about $200,000 to ready the site in time for a Georgia Power imposed deadline of early September.

Georgia Power spokesman John Kraft said the company “put in a tremendous amount of time and effort to fully review and consider that site.”

“In the end, it did not prove to be a suitable location because the high cost to construct the facility on the site exceeds the cost parameters outlined in the (Public Service) Commission’s order approving the program,” Kraft wrote in an email.

Gwinnett County’s Citizen Budget Review Panel is working on recommendations for the county commission.

“I always enjoy the budget process, it’s home base for me, and I look forward to our discussions as we try to make decisions on the proposed budget for the next year,” county commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash told the committee as the last presentation ended.

Kevin Danz was booted from the ballot for Gainesville Mayor after a judge ruled his qualification papers incomplete.

Kevin Danz turned in his papers Aug. 24 to run for mayor by filing late in the afternoon close to deadline.

However, Gainesville city officials announced the next day that Danz did not qualify because he left out information on the submitted form.

Danz went before Superior Court Judge Andrew Fuller on Thursday and made his case to be qualified for the mayoral race.

Gainesville City Manager Bryan Lackey told The Times that Judge Fuller denied Danz’s decision.

Savannah City Council adopted a strategic plan to guide it through 2030.

The strategic plan is being implemented in conjunction with a government restructuring that includes the elimination of existing departments and creation of new ones, including an office devoted to developing the new arena and surrounding area, and to make government operations more conducive to achieving goals laid out in the plan.

In addition, the restructuring is meant to make city operations more efficient by combining similar services that had been separated across various departments, such as the grass cutting functions that are currently carried out by Park and Tree, Streets Maintenance, and Parks and Recreation.

The strategic plan and restructuring are the biggest initiatives [city manager Rob] Hernandez has administered since arriving in October, said Bret Bell, deputy assistant to the city manager.

Perry municipal elections are canceled because of no opposition to incumbent officials.

The terms of Mayor Jimmy Faircloth and three council members are expiring this year but no one qualified to run against them in November, so there won’t be an election. The same thing happened in 2013.

The city is scheduled for an election every two years but only one challenger has come forth in the past six years. That was in the 2015 election when Councilman Riley Hunt drew an opponent, and Hunt won. It was his first opposition in 12 years on the council.

The city will save at least $30,000 by not having to hold an election, [Mayor Jimmy] Faircloth said.

Two candidates for Mayor of Columbus in 2018 have announced.

Former Muscogee County School Board member Beth Harris filed earlier this week to raise money for her campaign.

Harris filed the Declaration of Intent on Monday, which allows her to start raising money. But she will have to qualify in March [2018] to officially run for the position, according to officials at the Elections and Registration Office.

So far, Harris is the only person to file the paperwork for the seat currently occupied by Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, who is completing her last term.

Early voting will be held April 30-May 18 at the City Services Center. The election will be held on May 22.

Facebook was the preferred medium for newbie Charles Roberts.

“I am not sure how to go about declaring I am running for mayor, but I turned in my declaration of intent this morning,” he posted Wednesday on the Columbus, GA Concerned Citizens Forum Facebook page. “If anybody can point me in the direction I need to go to make an official announcement, it would be much (appreciated).”

The post generated a flurry of comments from Facebook friends — some offering advice, others questioning his qualifications.

“Um, just a suggestion…. If you want to be the Mayor of the third largest city in the state of Georgia, you might want to check out a book from the library related to Georgia civics and legal requirements for office….,” wrote the first person to comment.

U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson spoke in Valdosta this week.

Sen. Johnny Isakson said the nation is paying the price for the inaction of Congress.

“I’m not here to brag about the Congress of the United States of America. There is nothing to brag about,” Isakson said. “This has been a very unusual year. I’ve been in elected office for 38 years and I’ve been in Congress for 19, but I’ve never seen a year where we talked more and did less. And the country is paying the price for it.”

Isakson discussed a broad series of topics ranging from military funding and Moody Air Force Base, health care, tax reform and government inaction.

He said the military is running short of everything, but doing the best with what it has. The military is not as equipped as it should be if an emergency happens, he said. He mentioned that Moody Air Force Base has deployed personnel to east Texas to help rescue victims of Hurricane Harvey.

“When you just don’t have enough manpower, enough material to make your military do what you’re asking it to do every single day, then you’ve got a big problem,” Isakson said.

Isakson then addressed health care. He said the most recent effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, failed because Congress couldn’t come together. He said too many people were trying to make a decision based purely on politics and not on what was best for the American people.

Health care needs to addressed, he said.

“It is an issue bigger than party lines. I don’t care if you’re a Democrat or a Republican. We’re all Americans,” Isakson said. “Diseases don’t have party lines. Everybody gets sick.”

He said government has a role in health care but so does the private sector. He advised listening to the health-care professionals and involving them in the debate. He also said health insurance should be more accessible for people.

“It’s not going to be cheap. The most expensive thing you can have is no insurance and a dreaded disease,” Isakson said.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp visited Dalton campaigning for Governor.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp says if voters want a blueprint for what his administration as governor would be like, all they have to do is look at the results within his department of the state government.

“I think that is the big difference between myself and the other people who are running is that I have a record of fundamentally reforming the secretary of state’s office, so people can trust me to do that as their governor,” Kemp, a Republican, said Thursday during a visit to Dalton. “We have absolutely reformed and restructured the whole agency to make it more efficient. We are doing more work for less money with less people, which is exactly what Republicans talk about.”

He said by embracing technology and making the business registrations and licensing handled by his office more computer friendly, the entire department has been streamlined, saving those who need the department’s services both time and money.

“Our system is literally saving the taxpayers millions of dollars,” Kemp said.

And even though he has been in the Senate and won two statewide races, Kemp says he still considers himself to be a political outsider.

“I ran for the state Senate the first time as an outsider and a small businessman frustrated with the government and really wanted to change it and bring a common-sense, business-owners mentality and fight for working Georgians,” he said. “That is what has driven me ever since.

“The biggest thing is I am not a career politician,” he said. “I am a businessman. I have been a businessman every single day I have been in office. That is the mentality I take in there. I am frustrated with government and I know the people are. I want them to know they will have a person literally fighting for them every day to make change and do what I promise them to do.”

The Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission continues to pursue former Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine.

Former Georgia Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine’s years-long battle with the state ethics commission has taken yet another turn with a new complaint alleging that he illegally benefited personally from loans totaling $237,000 in leftover campaign money to his own law firm.

Oxendine, whose troubles with the commission began in 2009 when he was the front-runner in the race for governor, lost a bid in June to have previous campaign-finance-related ethics charges thrown out by the Georgia Court of Appeals.

Now his lawyer is fighting a subpoena for bank records related to the loan, which wasn’t disclosed until after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution raised questions about why Oxendine was holding onto more than $500,000 in leftover campaign money years after he’d left office. Under state law, candidates must return leftover money to donors or give it to charity. For the most part, Oxendine did neither, and he reported having $587,771 in his account as of Dec. 31, 2016, the last time he was required to file.

Oxendine’s campaign lawyer, Douglas Chalmers, said Georgia law states that campaigns can invest funds they raise. He noted that Oxendine’s campaign fund made almost $9,000 worth of interest on the loans.

“This (complaint) is just the latest development in an eight-year-old case in which the commission has harassed Mr. Oxendine,” he said. “What is costing the campaign money is the need to defend itself against baseless allegations such as the ones that have been pursued for the last eight years.”

State officials broke ground on a new judicial complex near the Capitol.

The new state courts building will house the newly expanded Georgia Supreme Court and Georgia Court of Appeals with a commanding view of the Gold Dome across the street.

The complex, which is set to cost at least $105 million, was built on the spot where the Georgia Archives Building once rose. Nicknamed the White Ice Cube, the state tore down that building earlier this year to make way for the judicial center that courts officials have said was desperately needed.

At Thursday’s ceremony, Gov. Nathan Deal and a phalanx of judges and justices dug shovels into soggy ground to formally kick off the construction.

Tipplers can now buy beer and spirits at some breweries and distilleries, as a new law goes into effect today.

Let Georgia’s new happy hour begin: For the first time since Prohibition, local craft breweries and distilleries, beginning Friday, will be legally allowed to sell limited amounts of their beer and spirits directly to customers.

The new law ends a decades-old standoff that had been especially tense between the state’s growing number of craft brewers and beer wholesalers, who fought for years to protect their position as the middleman between manufacturers and retailers.

Infants are also among the victims of the opioid crisis in Georgia.

A local doctor is now telling us that during the last five years he has seen the number of infants born with opioid withdrawals nearly double.

“We’re looking at about one and a half to two percent of our babies admitted are admitted with a diagnosis of neonatal withdrawal syndrome,” says Doctor Mitch Rodriguez.

Rodriguez is the director of the NICU at Coliseum Medical Center.

He says the withdrawal syndrome is caused by mothers who take opiates during pregnancy.

“Although that increase and the rate of rise is rather rapid, it’s still relatively low compared to the rest of the nation,” says Rodriguez.

According to a study done by JAMA Pediatrics, the number of newborns dependent on drugs in rural hospitals increased by more than 6 times the amount from 2004 to 2013, and in urban hospitals, the rate more than tripled.

31
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 31, 2017

On August 31, 1864, Confederates charged Union forces at the Battle of Jonesboro, in which the CSA suffered more than 1400 casualties in one hour.

On August 31, 1965, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation creating the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which this Senate had previously passed.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal outlined the state response to Hurricane Harvey.

“On behalf of all Georgians, Sandra and I continue to pray for the victims of Hurricane Harvey as they continue to suffer,” said Gov. Deal. “The devastating impact of this storm has yet to be fully realized, and we offer our thoughts and prayers to the families and communities affected by this disaster. As response and recovery efforts continue, the bravery and selflessness demonstrated by first responders and everyday citizens is nothing short of heroic. The kindness and courage of others acts shines light during the darkness faced by so many, and is a beacon of hope for all of us.”

“To those impacted by Hurricane Harvey, you are not alone. Georgia and the rest of the nation are with you. We have boots on the ground in Texas and teams working here to help coordinate response efforts and provide support. This multiagency initiative includes the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA/HS), the Georgia Department of Defense (GA DoD) and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR). I stand ready to offer any further assistance or resources that may be needed as recovery operations continue.”

“Finally, I’ve taken steps to mitigate the effects that Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath will have on Georgia’s fuel supply. Earlier this week I applied for, and received, a fuel waiver from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This waiver will help ensure our fuel supply remains uninterrupted. Further, I’ve issued an executive order waiving rules and regulations for truck drivers transporting motor fuel in Georgia, as well as for those carrying hurricane relief supplies. While recovery efforts continue and until normal operations resume, I urge the public to maintain regular consumption levels and travel schedules.”

GEMA/HS is coordinating with state and local partners and has offered Texas and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) the support of 75 Georgia personnel to assist in search and rescue efforts. The state is poised to deploy 50 members of the Georgia Search and Rescue task force and 25 members of Georgia Department of Natural Resources swift water teams.

At Gov. Deal’s authorization, the Savannah-based 165th Airlift Wing of the Georgia Air National Guard yesterday deployed a C-130 H3 cargo aircraft and 15 personnel to aid in the emergency response efforts for the destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey. The crew first flew into Scott Air Force Base in Illinois to pick up disaster recovery pallets before mobilizing to provide relief support to Texas and the Texas National Guard. There have been no new requests for additional personnel or equipment.

Gov. Deal appointed a committee to investigate Spalding County Clerk of Courts Marcia Norris.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr announced he will join an amicus brief supporting the public display of the Ten Commandments.

Attorney General Chris Carr [] announced that Georgia recently joined a 23-state coalition in filing an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court, which supports the City of Bloomfield, New Mexico’s decision to allow placement of a Ten Commandments monument on its city hall lawn along with other monuments. Earlier this year, a divided U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit relied on the Establishment Clause to uphold a district court’s order to remove the monument. The brief asks the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.

“The consistent application of our laws is paramount in maintaining the ideals of our democracy,” said Attorney General Chris Carr. “Georgia joined this coalition because we agree that the Supreme Court’s Establishment Clause jurisprudence needs to be clarified, especially in this area. Local governments need clear guidance as they consider whether to authorize or maintain historical displays on government property.”

Depictions of the Ten Commandments appear on public property throughout the country and have been the subject of several notable lawsuits, including two that the U.S. Supreme Court resolved in 2005. Those decisions relied on different legal analyses to reach different outcomes, increasing confusion in lower courts about what the Establishment Clause prohibits and what it permits.

Gwinnett County has 147 vacancies in law enforcement jobs.

Recruitment and retention continue to be issues facing Gwinnett County law enforcement despite officials taking steps over the last year to make those positions more attractive.

Gwinnett Police Chief Butch Ayers and Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Mike Boyd each raised concerns about the issue of attracting officers and deputies, and then keeping them from wanting to leave for someplace else.

In the police department’s case, there are about 105 vacant positions that officials are struggling to fill. Vacant positions in the Sheriff’s Office included 42 full-time deputy jobs, 16 full-time civilian employee positions and two part-time civilian posts.

Gwinnett County Public Schools has 178,811 students enrolled currently.

Gainesville City School Board held two meetings on raising the property tax millage rate and no residents spoke on the issue.

While the tentative rate is the same as last year at 6.85 mills, it would still mean a tax increase for 4,908 properties subject to school taxes, according to Steve Watson, chief appraiser for the Hall County Board of Assessors. The millage rate equals $1 of taxes on every $1,000 of taxable value.

The final public hearing is set for 6 p.m. Sept. 6 at the school district office located at 508 Oak St. in Gainesville. The board has scheduled a called meeting that night at 6:30 p.m. where it will likely have a final vote on the tax rate.

Valdosta School Board District 5 incumbent Trey Sherwood is unopposed after former Valdosta Superintendent Edward Martin Roesch withdrew his candidacy.

Tybee Island set a new record for sea turtle nests.

It was already a record year for loggerhead sea turtle nests on Tybee when another nest was discovered recently.

Those surprise hatchlings brought the nest count to 25, more than this five-mile stretch of beach has seen since record keeping started in 1988.

The previous record was 23 nests in 2012. Little Tybee is also having a good year with 16 nests. And the hatch rate on Tybee has been above average at 85 percent. With each nest holding upward of 100 eggs, that’s a lot of hatchlings.

Savannah City Council will vote on whether to move forward with approval of a Georgia Power-owned solar farm.

If the council agrees, the former Deptford Landfill site could by year’s end host a 1 megawatt solar farm with a pollinator garden growing beneath the ground-mounted solar panels. Georgia Power will own and operate the solar farm and ratepayers will be able to buy into it. The 7-acre farm would produce enough energy to power about 164 homes.

Hannah Solar won the bid to install the solar panels. Grant Tallon, Hannah’s Savannah business development manager, explained the concept of community solar in a letter to the city.

“‘Community Solar’ is defined as a solar-electric system that provides power and/or financial benefit to multiple community members,” he wrote. “This model allows residents and businesses to buy sections of a solar array from one central solar energy plant. The largest benefit being, Community Solar makes it possible for community member with too much shade or not enough roof space to take advantage of solar energy.”

Georgia utility regulators approved Georgia Power’s addition of new community solar last year. One megawatt is planned for Savannah and another 2 megawatts in Athens, according to the Georgia Power web site.

“We are continuing to work to determine the economic viability of locating a solar facility in Savannah as part of our Community Solar program,” said John Kraft, Georgia Power spokesman. “We have put in tremendous effort to review the particular site mentioned and we will continue communicating with the various local stakeholders during this process as a decision is made about a potential location for our forthcoming Community Solar site.”

The Columbus Mayor’s Commission on New Government and Judicial Building was presented with concepts for a new government center.

The Mayor’s Commission on New Government and Judicial Building is getting closer to making a recommendation to Columbus Council on what to do with the 46-year-old structure.

On Wednesday, architects presented members with three conceptual site studies to consider. Later, the group began making plans for a series of forums to seek public input.

Tomlinson said the commission plans to have four simultaneous public forums in about 10 to 14 days, which would give the city time to advertise the meetings. At the same time, the commission will be working on a rough draft of the report that will be submitted to council.

“And then we’re off to the races,” she said. “… I don’t want to make any promises, but I see this getting to council in the Octoberish timeframe.”

Four candidates for Columbus City Council filed paperwork to run.

Charmaine Crabb, a local realtor who helped lead a campaign against recent property tax increases, filed the “Declaration of Intent” on Aug. 24 for the District 5 council seat currently occupied by Councilor Mike Baker.

Waleisah Wilson, a local advocate for ex-felons, filed her paperwork the same day to run against Councilor Evelyn “Mimi” Woodson.

Also intending to run against Wilson is Jeremy Hobbs, director of Colgay Pride and LGBT Liaison for Mayor Teresa Tomlinson’s Office. He filed his paperwork on Tuesday.

All odd number council seats are up for election this year. Hobbs, Crab and Wilson are the only three people to file DOIs for council positions.

Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis discussed a proposal to replace James Brown Arena.

Mayor Hardie Davis hailed a loosely-drawn proposal to replace James Brown Arena with a new facility at the former Regency Mall site as “visionary” during a Wednesday news conference while backers of a downtown location continued to scratch their heads.

The conference followed Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority’s 4-2 vote last week to reject a decision made a few days earlier by a site selection committee to keep the arena downtown and instead, acting on a letter produced by authority member Darren Smith, build at 1700 Gordon Highway, where the vacant mall stands.

Flanked by south Augusta politicians including Smith and his father, former city Commissioner Jimmy Smith, Davis said Wednesday the Regency site choice “takes our future into consideration” but won’t compromise downtown redevelopment.

“The James Brown Arena will do nothing more than open up SOGO,” Davis’ acronym for South of Gordon Highway, he said. While cyber-driven growth at Augusta University downtown shows the importance of Fort Gordon, “we now want to take that same level of momentum” and “send those efforts toward this area as well,” he said.

Polk County Commissioner Stefanie Drake Burford will step down today, as her family moves out of the county.

Retired Army Colonel Dennis Brown is running for Forsyth County Commission District 2.

“I’ve seen combat zones that had better planning than the current residential communities approved over the last few years by the county commission,” Brown said. “We need to protect what’s great about Forsyth. That means setting a mission and implementing a strategic plan to grow responsibly, shield schools from overcrowding and defend our conservative values.”

Brown retired after 30 years of service to our nation. He is a veteran and most recently served as Civil-Military Officer for Combined Joint Task Force “Phoenix” and then as Kabul Military Training Center Chief of Staff Mentor and Forward Operating Base “Alamo” Chief of Staff.

Currently, Brown teaches terrorism and homeland security part-time at Kennesaw State University, while working to obtain his Doctorate degree. He obtained his undergraduate degree from University of Alabama in human resource management and his MBA from Kennesaw State.

Brown has lived in Forsyth County for almost two decades, and is happily married to Suzy, a retired employee of the Forsyth County School System. They currently reside in South Forsyth and are the parents of two children, Lucia and Louie, and three grandchildren, Michael, Allaina and Matthew.

Democratic Party of Georgia Vice Chair Nikema Williams announced her campaign for State Senate District 39, which was vacated when Vincent Fort qualified to run for Mayor of Atlanta.

She’s likely to face primary opponents in the district, which has been in Democratic control for decades. Among the potential challengers is state Rep. “Able” Mable Thomas, who has served three separate stints in the House totaling about 18 years.

Georgia Power will today recommend to the Georgia Public Service Commission whether to continue construction of two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle.

The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) has given Southern [Company] affiliate Georgia Power Co. a deadline of Thursday to make a recommendation on the project’s fate. If the utility wishes to continue the work, the PSC will have until the end of February to decide whether to let the project go forward.

The commission approved a resolution two weeks ago essentially endorsing completion of the project despite the huge price tag, nearly twice the origina[l] estimate when the construction of two additional nuclear reactors at the plant south of Augusta, Ga., was approved in 2009. The work also has fallen six years behind schedule.

If Georgia Power moves forward with the Vogtle expansion, the first of the two new reactors wouldn’t be completed until 2022, followed a year later by the second reactor unit.

UPDATE: Georgia Power recommends continuing construction of the nuclear reactors underway at Plant Vogtle. From the Press Release:

Georgia Power today filed a recommendation with the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) to continue construction of the Vogtle nuclear expansion near Augusta, Georgia. The project’s co-owners, Oglethorpe Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities, all support the recommendation. The recommendation is based on the results of a comprehensive schedule, cost-to-complete and cancellation assessment. The Georgia PSC is expected to review the recommendation and make a decision regarding the future of the Vogtle 3 & 4 project as part of the 17th Vogtle Construction Monitoring (VCM) proceeding.

“Completing the Vogtle 3 & 4 expansion will enable us to continue delivering clean, safe, affordable and reliable energy to millions of Georgians, both today and in the future,” said Paul Bowers, chairman, president and CEO of Georgia Power. “The two new units at Plant Vogtle will be in service for 60 to 80 years and will add another low-cost, carbon-free energy source to our already diverse fuel mix.”

Based on all factors considered, completing both units represents the most economic choice for customers and preserves the benefits of carbon-free, baseload generation. Assessments of the project included robust economic analyses; evaluation of various alternatives including abandoning one or both units or converting the units to gas-fired generation; and assumptions related to potential risks including future payments from Toshiba, availability of production tax credits and extension of loan guarantees from the Department of Energy (DOE). The latter two benefits were prescribed in the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

Georgia Power expects Vogtle Unit 3 will reach commercial operation in November 2021 and Unit 4 in November 2022. The total rate impact of the project remains less than the original estimate, after including anticipated customer benefits from federal production tax credits, interest savings from loan guarantees from the DOE and the fuel savings of nuclear energy. Once the project is on line, the company should still be able to offer retail rates below the national average with the additional long-term benefits from this new source of clean and reliable energy.

“Since the beginning of the Vogtle expansion, we have worked to minimize the impact of this critical project on customers’ monthly bills and, even as we assessed our options of whether or not to continue the project, our focus has been to ensure long-term value,” added Bowers. “Today, the total cost of electricity from Georgia Power is significantly below the national average, and when the project is completed, we expect that the new units will help keep energy bills competitive.”

Georgia Power, which owns 45.7 percent of the new units, has invested approximately $4.3 billion in capital costs in the project through June 2017 and estimates that its cost to complete the project is approximately $4.5 billion, for a total Georgia Power capital cost forecast of approximately $8.8 billion. The Georgia PSC has already approved $5.68 billion in capital costs for Georgia Power’s share of the project. With $1.7 billion in anticipated payments from Toshiba, the company’s potential additional capital costs are approximately $1.4 billion. Based on the new assessments, the total estimated capital cost forecast for 100 percent of the project is approximately $19 billion.

Georgia Power also announced today that it has contracted with global engineering, construction and project management firm Bechtel to manage daily construction efforts. Bechtel will work under the direction of Southern Nuclear, the Southern Company subsidiary which operates the existing units at Plant Vogtle.

“We have seen a marked increase in productivity throughout this year, with the best improvement being the most recent improvement, and our experience provides every indication that we can do a better job than Westinghouse alone as we move forward to complete the project,” said Bowers. “Since Southern Nuclear assumed control of the site from Westinghouse at the end of July, momentum has accelerated with a consistent focus on safe, high-quality construction. We expect this trend to continue with Bechtel.”

30
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 30, 2017

On August 30, 1888, Asa Griggs Candler bought one-third interest in the Coca-Cola company, bringing his total ownership to more than two-thirds of the company.

Georgia native Ty Cobb debuted with the Detroit Tigers on August 30, 1905.

On August 30, 1979, President Jimmy Carter reported being attacked by a rabbit near Plains, Georgia. Here’s an interview in which President Carter was asked about the rabbit incident.

Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell was indicted on August 30, 2004 on racketeering, bribery and wire fraud charges and would later plead guilty to tax evasion.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal has issued writs setting Special Elections for House District 89 (formerly Stacey Abrams), House District 117 (formerly Regina Quick), and House District 119 (formerly Chuck Williams). Those special elections will be held November 7, 2017, along with municipal elections in many jurisdictions.

Tom Lord became the first announced candidate for House District 119.

Local funeral home owner Tom Lord became the first person to announce his candidacy Tuesday to fill the State House of Representatives District 119 to be vacated by Chuck Williams.

A special election will be held in November to fill not only this seat, but the District 117 seat that became vacant when Rep. Regina Quick was appointed to a Western Judicial Circuit judgeship.

House District 119 includes a part of Clarke County and much of Oconee County.

A native of Athens, Lord currently lives in Oconee County, where both of his parents were raised. As a youth his family moved to Columbia County, but Lord said he moved back to Athens in 1977.

“I look forward to meeting with voters over the next few weeks to hear their concerns, learn what issues matter most to them and how I can work to find solutions,” Lord said in his official announcement.

“As a business owner, I appreciate the support of this community in years past,” he said, “and I look forward to earning your support and your vote in this new endeavor.”

Blake Fulenwider will be appointed Deputy Commissioner of Community Health and administer the state’s Medicaid program.

Frank W. Berry, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH) announces the hire of Blake T. Fulenwider as Deputy Commissioner, Georgia Medicaid Chief, effective September 15, 2017. Fulenwider brings broad-based health care policy knowledge to his new role.

Prior to this appointment, Fulenwider was Partner and Georgia Director of Total Spectrum, a policy consulting practice that provided in-depth guidance to clients regarding federal and state-level legislative health care reform developments. He also worked directly with private sector clients and state officials throughout Georgia, providing critical policy analysis and guidance on a wide range of health care issues.

“Blake’s extensive background in health care policy and its implementation encompasses the experience we were looking for in filling this position,” said Berry. “With the changing landscape of health care, it was important that we bring someone on board who understands the intricacies of Medicaid; someone who can hit the ground running in making sure the agency is providing the best possible options for Georgians. I have the upmost confidence that Blake is that person, and look forward to working with him as he assumes this role.”

From 2006-2010, Fulenwider served with then-Congressman Nathan Deal handling health care policy issues in the Health Subcommittee of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. Fulenwider has also held previous roles with the agency as Deputy Commissioner from 2011-2013, and was the Healthcare Reform Administrator with the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget from 2013-2015, providing budget and policy support to the Governor, Chief Financial Officer and senior staff.

Fulenwider received his Bachelor’s degree in business administration, finance from the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business.

The French container ship CMA CGM Theodore Roosevelt is expected to call on the Port of Savannah on Friday.

At 1,200-feet, the vessel is the length of four football fields placed end-to-end and can carry the equivalent of 14,400 20-foot-long cargo containers, or TEUs. That’s nearly 10 percent more than the COSCO Development, a huge ship that was the first to arrive here with a capacity of 10,000 TEUs or more.

The Port of Savannah is one of only four East Coast ports the Roosevelt will visit. After leaving Savannah, it will call on Charleston, then New York/New Jersey, where a four- year, $1.6 billion project to raise the Bayonne Bridge to 215 feet was recently completed, allowing pas

With the arrival of the latest Neopanamax ship Friday, the Port of Savannah will have served 13 vessels with capacities of 13,000-plus TEUs since the first call of the COSCO Development in May.

While it’s in port, the Georgia Ports Authority expects to complete approximately 4,500 container moves on and off the Roosevelt.

The Gwinnett County Board of Elections is asking for the budget to hold Sunday voting in 2018.

The elections office had two issues to address in their 2018 budget requests. One was compliance with a new federal mandate to provide assistance to non-English speaking voters. The other was avoiding a repeat of last November’s early voting issues when voters waited hours at the county’s main elections office to cast early votes in the presidential election.

Those two issues are at the core of three funding requests elections officials made to a citizens budget review committee on Tuesday. Officials want to add new employees to handle Voting Rights Act issues, add an extra week of early voting at Satellite polling locations and begin a half-day of Sunday voting.

“We’re trying to be proactive, and not reactive,” Elections Board Chairman Stephen Day told the committee.

the proposed addition of Sunday voting is another eye-catching request from elections officials. It would only be offered for six hours at the main elections office on the Sunday before the final week of early voting for the November 2018 general election.

It would cost the county $13,252 to do it, and make it one of the rare counties that offers voting on Sundays.

Hall County is watching Gwinnett’s experience with bilingual ballot information.

Hall County elections officials are closely monitoring the actions of cities in Gwinnett County that are scrambling to comply with providing voting materials in Spanish to the county’s large Hispanic population that comprehends little or no English.

Gwinnett municipalities holding local elections Nov. 7 are under the gun to get instructions, directions and ballots translated in time for the start of early voting Oct. 1., said Kim Wolfe, the clerk for the city of Buford.

Gwinnett County and its cities are compelled to provide language assistance to Hispanic residents under Section 203 of the federal Voting Rights Act. The U.S. Census Bureau determined late last year that Gwinnett County must comply based on demographic data showing that more than 5 percent or 10,000 citizens of voting age are members of a single-language minority.

In April, the Hall County Board of Elections and Voter Registration voted 2-1 to voluntarily comply with Section 203 of the VRA and not wait to be forced into compliance. The vote was taken along party lines at a time when the board had three members. Two Democrats voted in favor of providing bilingual ballots, and the lone Republican voted against it.