Category: Georgia Politics


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 29, 2017

General Robert E. Lee’s Confederates met General John Pope’s federal forces at the Second Battle of Manassas on August 29, 1862.

Union General William T. Sherman’s forces tore up 12 miles of railroad between Red Oak and Fairburn on August 29, 1864.

The United States Air Force Academy moved to its permanent home in Colorado Springs on August 29, 1958

The Beatles played their final concert at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park on August 29, 1966.

On August 29, 1971, Hank Aaron broke the National League record for most seasons with 100 or more RBI, as he drove in his 100th run to make 11 seasons hitting that mark.

On August 29, 1977, Lou Brock stole his 893d base, to surpass the record set by Georgia-born Ty Cobb.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

From Gov. Deal’s press release:

“We are gathered here today to celebrate the completion of a years-long effort to commemorate the life and works of Georgia’s own son, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” said Deal. “Dr. King’s legacy is one of hope. He gave, and continues to give, men and women a reason to believe and to dream. He expanded the aspirations of future generations. The America we know is a better place because one man followed his conscience. Erecting a monument in his memory, both facing Liberty Plaza and on the grounds of the Capitol of his home state, is a fitting and long overdue honor. Today is an historic occasion, one made possible through the vision, cooperation and collaboration of many. I’m grateful for the dedication and support of the King Estate, Rep. Calvin Smyre, the Georgia Capitol Arts Standards Commission and members of the General Assembly throughout this process. I’m also deeply grateful to Coca-Cola, the Atlanta and Georgia Apartment Associations and the Martin Luther King Jr. Advisory Council for their generous support, without which today would not be possible. Dr. King’s legacy will indeed live on with this tribute, and it’s a privilege to unveil his statue today.”

The project was initiated in April 2014 when Deal signed into law HB 1080, legislation authorizing the placement of a statue honoring Dr. King at the State Capitol. The project was led by CASC, which undertook the statue’s design and fundraising efforts, and overseen by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs under Deal’s leadership. Sponsors of the statue include Coca-Cola, the Atlanta and Georgia Apartment Associations and the Martin Luther King Jr. Advisory Council. The remaining funds needed were made possible through the sale of state bonds.

“This is a great day in the history of our state and nation with the unveiling of a statue on Capitol grounds memorializing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” said [State Rep. Calvin] Smyre. “For the past three years I have worked with and alongside Gov. Deal, the Georgia General Assembly, Carrie Ashbee and the Georgia Capitol Arts Standards Commission, the King family, sculptor Martin Dawe and our entire statue team to make this a reality. As a Georgian and native son, Dr. King inspired our nation and the world with his message and vision. The King statue will inspire and give hope to generations to come.”


“Well, the sons of former slaves and sons of former slave owners sat down in this state capitol and made the decision to erect the Martin Luther King Jr. monument,” Bernice King said.

“This day took much too long to get here,” said David Ralston, the Republican speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives. “From those days we can grow and learn.”

C. Jack Ellis, a former Mayor of Macon, will hold a protest calling for the removal of Confederate monuments.

Two prominent Confederate monuments are in downtown Macon.

An unnamed Confederate soldier statue stands at at the corner of Cotton Avenue and Second Street. Another monument honoring the wives, mothers and daughters of Confederate soldiers is located on Poplar Street — just a stone’s throw from Rosa Parks Square and the Macon-Bibb County Government Center.

Governor Deal yesterday appointed State Rep. Chuck Williams (R-Watkinsville) as Director of the Georgia Forestry Commission.

“Chuck Williams is a dedicated public servant and an effective leader who has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to forest management and sustainable forestry,” said Deal. “As a forest landowner, Chuck has a keen understanding of the forestry community in our state and country. His years of service on the GFC Board of Directors, coupled with his extensive background in economics, make him uniquely qualified to lead GFC as it provides leadership, service and education in the protection and conservation of Georgia’s forest resources. Georgia’s 24.1 million acres of commercial timberlands, more than any other state in the nation, offer a number of benefits to our citizens, from clean air and water to wildlife habitats, products and jobs. I am confident that under Chuck’s guidance, GFC will continue to provide critical support of Georgia’s timberlands and help to solidify our status as a top state for forestry.”

The Athens Banner-Herald discusses the political implications.

Williams’ appointment means Clarke and Oconee County voters will be picking two new state representatives in a special election in November.

Last week, Deal appointed Rep. Regina Quick of Athens to a Western Circuit Superior Court judgeship, replacing Judge David Sweat, who retired at the end of July.

Quick and Williams, both Republicans, represent districts that include parts of Clarke and Oconee County. Quick’s District 117 includes portions of Clarke, Barrow, Oconee and Jackson counties. Williams’ District 119 includes a part of Clarke and most of Oconee County.

State Senator Hunter Hill (R-Buckhead) announced he will resign his seat in order to focus on his campaign for Governor.

Republican Hunter Hill said Tuesday he will resign his state Senate seat so he can concentrate on his campaign for governor, becoming the second gubernatorial candidate to step down from a statehouse post this month.

Hill, an entrepreneur first elected to the Senate in 2012, notified Gov. Nathan Deal of his resignation this week. The timing means that a special election to represent the seat, which spans parts of Atlanta and east Cobb County, will likely be held in November.

“Running for governor is a serious undertaking, and one that deserves each candidate’s full commitment. Unfortunately, two of my opponents have a history of holding one office while pursuing another,” he said. “Georgians don’t want candidates for governor putting their political careers ahead of the future of our state.”

Hill’s seat is a juicy target for Democrats. Democrat Hillary Clinton carried the affluent district in November and Hill barely held onto it, narrowly staving off Democratic challenger Jaha Howard.

Howard, a pediatric dentist, is making a comeback bid next year. He faces trial lawyer Jen Jordan and political newcomer Nigel Sims in the Democratic primary. At least three Republicans are in the hunt: Former Georgia GOP minority engagement guru Leo Smith and attorneys Matt Bentley and Leah Aldridge.

State Rep. Geoff Duncan (R-Forsyth) announced he will resign his seat to focus on his campaign for Lieutenant Governor.

Duncan, a Cumming businessman, said in a letter to Gov. Nathan Deal that his resignation would be effective Sept. 18, which would set up a likely special election to represent his seat this year. You can read the letter here.

“Georgians want big ideas,” he said. “They want good, conservative policy over politics as usual. My announcement today allows me to focus my efforts full time on the goal of becoming Georgia’s next lieutenant governor and exposing corruption and wrongdoing that have permeated far too long under the Gold Dome.”

Duncan and state Sen. Rick Jeffares are both aiming to derail Shafer, a Duluth entrepreneur who has locked up a range of big-name endorsements in his hunt for Georgia’s No. 2 job. No Democrat has yet announced a campaign.

The statehouse crowd has shown Shafer the love as he attempts to climb to the peak of political power. A 15-year veteran of the General Assembly and a longtime GOP activist, Shafer raised $900,000 in the opening months of the race, including $150,000 in contributions from lobbyists and statehouse PACs.

Four Muscogee County Board of Education members are asking Gov. Deal to send in the GBI.

Four of the nine members on the Muscogee County School Board have sent a formal request to Gov. Nathan Deal and the seven Superior Court judges in the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit for any or all of them to call for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to “examine certain instances of potential wrongdoing within the Muscogee County School District.”

The four board members who signed the letter dated Aug. 28 are John Thomas of District 2, Vanessa Jackson of District 3, Mark Cantrell of District 6 and Frank Myers of District 8.

Thomas told the Ledger-Enquirer that Myers, a self-employed lawyer, drafted the letter, emailed it Monday and already got confirmation from the governor’s office that it was received.

The “potential wrongdoing” includes “but is not limited to” the Montravious Thomas and Roy Newman cases, the letter says.

The letter from the board members doesn’t specify any allegations of wrongdoing within MCSD but requests “that the GBI interview school board members as well as present and former employees of the Muscogee County School District who have information relating to misconduct.”

The letter accuses District Attorney Slater of “inexplicably” terminating the GBI’s investigation “four days after it began in December of last year” and requests her to “recuse herself from participation in either the investigation or prosecution of matters brought to light pursuant to this request.”

Savannah Morning News covers candidate qualifying for Effingham County municipalities.

The Augusta Commission will consider a new statue of James Brown, funded by an NEA grant.


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

August 28, 1929 saw Governor Lamartine Hardman sign a Constitutional Amendment authorizing the levy of a state income tax.

On August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered the “I Have a Dream Speech” on the Mall in Washington, DC.

An obscure college professor named Newt Gingrich began his political career on August 28, 1976, as he kicked off his first campaign against Congressman Jack Flynt.

Old Newt Pic

On August 28, 2008, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools revoked the accreditation of the Clayton County Public Schools. Later that day, Governor Sonny Perdue removed four members of the Clayton County Board of Education upon the recommendation of an administrative law judge.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Today at 10 AM, on the 54th Anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I have a dream” speech, Gov. Nathan Deal will unveil an 8-foot statue on the Capitol grounds.

Click here to watch the unveiling live at 10 AM.

State Rep. Calvin Smyre (D-Columbus), who led the fundraising effort for the statute, spoke to the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer.

For three years, State Rep. Calvin Smyre worked on plans for a statue of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to be erected at the Georgia State Capitol.

At 10 a.m. Monday, Gov. Nathan Deal and his wife, Sandra, will unveil the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Statue in commemoration of the 54th Anniversary of King’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech. Other confirmed participants will include Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Speaker David Ralston and representatives from the King family.

“I’m thrilled and I’m happy to have played a role in getting us to this juncture and I’m looking forward to the unveiling,” Smyre said Sunday in an interview with the Ledger-Enquirer. “King was a man who was known throughout the world. And as a native son, he inspired a nation and world with his message and vision of peace and nonviolence.”

“We have a birthday recognition of Dr. King and his works, his legacy and his life,” he said. “We have a statue in our nation’s capital memorializing Dr. King. So I think it’s more than fitting to have a statue on the capitol grounds of one of the most known native Georgians in the world.”

The historic project began in April of 2014 when Deal signed a bill authorizing placement of a statue honoring King at the state capitol.

In March of 2015, the governor signed an executive order appointing Smyre as the chief liaison for fund-raising efforts to create and erect the statue. Smyre’s duties included serving as the liaison between the state, the King Estate, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Advisory Council and the Georgia Arts Standards Commission.

“Now, we’ll have two individuals from Georgia with Nobel Peace prizes on the state capitol grounds — President Carter and now Martin Luther King,” he said. “I do think this will be a great day in the history of our state and our nation. The King statue, in my opinion, will inspire and give hope to generations to come.”

On Friday, Gov. Deal made a number of appointments, including DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond to the Stone Mountain Memorial Association Board, reappointing Rep. Smyre to the Capitol Arts Standards Commission, and three appointments to the Board of Community Health.

Alabamians carried the Confederate battle flag to the Columbus memorial to the Confederate dead.

[N]ine young men from Smiths Station, Ala., converged on a Columbus memorial to the Civil War dead Saturday in the 700 block of Broadway.

Keith Porter said the group from Smiths Station was at the monument to support Southern heritage. “We are against racism,” he said.

Residents in the Historic District paid little attention to the men while they waved their flags and climbed atop the monument.

Republican candidates for Governor addressed the issue at the 8th District Georgia Republican Party Fish Fry in Perry on Saturday.

Junior U.S. Senator David Perdue says after hearing from the people, the majority believe local communities should decide on whether or not to keep the statues.

Georgia’s Secretary of State Brian Kemp says we can’t run from our history; we have to learn from it. He believes not keeping our history in front of us is a big mistake.

State Senator Hunter Hill says we don’t need to focus on this issue.

“Liberals are attempting to divide us on that issue. I’m not for taking them down. What I am for is moving Georgia forward,” said Hill.

“I’d say where does it end? If we start blowing up Stone Mountain, start destroying all of these monuments, what’s next? The Washington monument? Jefferson memorial? There’s got to be a point in time where we say ‘look it’s our past, let’s stop focusing so much on the past and look to the future,’” said State Senator Michael Williams.

Lt. Governor Casey Cagle says the statues will not be taken down if he becomes governor.

“It’s there really as a symbol of what was right and what was wrong to where we learn from history in a path that helps us make sure that we don’t repeat the bad mistakes but we are also able to help in the good things that we learned from in the past,” said Cagle.

Democratic State Rep. Vernon Jones (DeKalb) proposes a statewide commission to address monuments.

Georgia would create a new commission to conduct a “bipartisan, systematic and transparent study” of the state’s historic monuments under legislation to be introduced by a DeKalb Democrat spurred by the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Va.

State Rep. Vernon Jones said the panel would hold statewide hearings and then make recommendations about monument placement and the possibility of adding new statues. The review could include the more than 100 Confederate monuments scattered across the state.

“Hysteria and knee jerk reactions are not the solution. Sensitive subjects such as this deserve calm, practical and open dialogue,” said Jones, a former DeKalb chief executive. “A house divided cannot stand, and Georgians must show the nation that we can unite for the greater good.”

US Senator David Perdue spoke to the Gainesville Times about his immigration proposal.

In the RAISE Act, immigrants are awarded points for their income, savings, job skills, ability to speak English and other factors. Perdue said the proposal was modeled on the immigration systems of several countries, especially those in Canada and Australia.

Unlike the “Gang of Eight,” the group of senators who tried and failed to hammer out comprehensive immigration reform in 2013, Perdue’s legislation has a narrow scope, he explained to The Times.

“The traditional approach has been: We want to solve this thing in a comprehensive, sweeping, Washington-type solution,” Perdue said. “They always start with amnesty and illegals and never get to the real parts that affect the economy in a big way.”

“One out of 15 people that come into the United States come in without any skills that can (get them) work,” Perdue said. “That leads to the fact that today over half of the immigrant households in America are in the welfare system. Now, that’s not what you want. You don’t want to bring people in and deny them an opportunity to achieve the American dream. You want people who can come in and improve the economy.”

“If a worker comes in and gets a green card, they can bring their immediate family and their extended family, and what we did is we brought it back, like most other countries do, to the immediate family,” Perdue said.

The RAISE Act would end this practice and reduce the number of immigrants in general. If the bill becomes law, legal immigration would be cut in half in the next 10 years.

“The legal immigration side, to put it in perspective, we bring 1.1 million people in a year and give green cards to them. In five years, they become citizens,” Perdue said. “… that 1.1 million is about twice our 100-year historic average.”

Green cards would be limited to about 50,000 each year within the law while prioritizing high-skilled immigrants. Those two factors together are intended to benefit Americans earning the least amount of money.

“The intent of this, in all due candor, is to try to get more skilled workers in here, higher-skilled workers,” Perdue said. “Frankly, if you look at the last 40 years, skilled-worker compensation has risen. Low-skilled or non-skilled compensation has actually declined. We’ve had a growing gap in earning of those two groups.”

It’s a very thorough article, well worth reading in its entirety.

Perdue also gave the keynote address at the GOP Fish Fry.

“In unity there is strength,” Perdue said from the podium. “The Republican party is not united behind our president and we can change that.”

Pointing out that Donald Trump is “nobody’s choir boy,” Georgia’s junior senator likened the president to Winston Churchill, Dwight Eisenhower, Harry Truman and Franklin Roosevelt as “men of destiny at a point of crisis in their countries.”

The senator’s cousin, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, who fathered the annual fish fry while he was governor, joined the gathering after taking a “cabinet call” with the president about Hurricane Harvey’s impact on Texas and the nation.

“It was pretty solemn. There’s a lot of water,” Sonny Perdue told The Telegraph in a private interview. “Kind of reminds me of Alberto in 1994. We know how devastating that can be.”

“The battle is not over with the other side getting more aggressive in pushing their socialist agenda,” said Sonny Perdue, who was happy to return to see so many friends in his home county of Houston.

“It’s a warm feeling for me,” Sonny Perdue told The Telegraph.

Congressman Drew Ferguson (R-LaGrange) upped the ante on rural broadband access.

“It is the REA of our time,” he said, comparing broadband to the federal Rural Electrification Act.

The Republican congressman spoke to members of the Three Rivers Regional Commission – comprised of leaders from 10 counties – on Thursday at the A&O Bridges Community Center in Sharpsburg.

The Rural Electrification Act, passed in 1936, was designed to spur the stringing of electrical lines and creation of generating systems so that all Americans would have electricity. It worked.

Now, Ferguson says, the time has come to do the same with broadband. Broadband not only enables individuals to connect with information and entertainment, it also brings economic opportunity.

Ferguson noted Georgians outside the Atlanta area often feel all economic growth goes to Atlanta. “The company is going to go where it wants to go,” Ferguson said, and state economic development leaders generally just want to make sure the company comes to Georgia rather than another state.

He also said, “That economic engine, metro Atlanta, is going to continue to grow.” Then he asked, “How do we harness that power?”

The answer, Ferguson suggested, is expanding rural broadband access.

“Our communities need it. Our state needs it, and our nation needs it,” Ferguson said.

Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, new Director of the CDC, spoke in Carrollton.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is fighting a national battle against opioid addiction, and its researchers are seeing patterns in the problem and revamping drug monitoring procedures.

Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, director of the CDC, said in Carrollton on Thursday that people would be amazed at the number of opioids that are available, and cited Macon as an example of what can happen in a Georgia community if the problem is not controlled.

“You may have heard about the fake opioid outbreak in Macon,” she said. “The total result of those opioids has been a dramatic increase in opioid deaths, and that was something that we really didn’t think about. For every one person that had an opioid death, there over 100 that are already addicted and are likely to have a death. And there are 659 who are using some painkiller and may get addicted. So what the CDC has done — and needs to do more of — is to come up with some recommendations.”

“That’s the reason for prescription drug overdose,” said Fitzgerald. “We really have a pattern of giving painkillers, rather than just really being cognizant and aware of it. So that’s one thing that we’ve come up with: some recommendations and working with the private sector about pain medication.”

“The Legislature this past year just put a prescription drug monitoring program in public health in Georgia. Before then, it had been very cumbersome to use,” she said. “The reality was in Georgia, the prescription drug program, as it was sitting, was being used sort of as a ‘find bad people mechanism,’ and only 10 percent of the doctors in Georgia were even signed up to use it. Only 10 percent — and it didn’t have any clinical alerts.

Hall County Administrator Randy Knighton is stepping down and former Gwinnett County Administrator Jock Connell will serve as Interim County Administrator.

Connell previously worked as interim administrator in 2011, when he was brought in after Charley Nix was forced to resign from Hall County’s top job.

Connell spent more than 23 years working for Gwinnett County as the area’s economy and population exploded, growing from a community of less than 300,000 people to more than 1 million today.

Hall County commissioners said Connell has the needed experience to manage their government as the area sees its own population and economic booms.

“We’re one of the fastest-growing communities in the country and live next door to two of the fastest-growing,” said Commissioner Scott Gibbs, who offered the motion to hire Connell.

Commission Chairman Richard Higgins said they needed “somebody who knows the pitfalls” of the rapid growth in Gwinnett.

Norcross City Council member Craig Newton will be the next Mayor of Norcross, having qualified unopposed.

Newton was the only person who qualified to run for mayor this week since the seat’s current occupant, Bucky Johnson, decided to not run for a sixth term. That means he will automatically become Norcross’ new leader.

It will be the second time in his political career that Newton, who was Norcross’ first African-American councilman, will make history. Gwinnett political observers and officials with the Gwinnett Historical Society couldn’t recall any city in the county ever having an African-American mayor before.

“After serving several terms as a city council member, I am both honored and humbled that our citizens have given me the opportunity to serve as the next mayor of Norcross in 2018,” Newton wrote on his Facebook page on Friday. “With your continued support and with God’s guidance, we will continue to make Norcross a great city for all to live, work and play.”

No new candidates signed up on Friday to run for offices in Auburn and Norcross, the only cities in Gwinnett whose candidate qualifying periods went until the end of the week.

In Auburn, that means no election may be needed, unless a special issue that needs a public vote comes up. In Norcross, it means voters will have to chose two new councilmen to accompany their new mayor.

State Rep. Lynn Smith (R-Newnan) retains the gavel as Chair of the House Energy & Environment Committee of the Southern Legislative Conference.

Rep. Smith is the first and only woman to chair of this committee and also serves as an ex-officio member of association’s Executive Committee. The association is made up of lawmakers from 15 Southern states.

“I am honored to serve a second term as chair of this important committee,” she said. “I will continue to use this role to highlight Georgia’s diverse energy portfolio and successful stewardship of natural resources, while also providing a platform for the exchange of innovative policy practices among Southern lawmakers.”

Three candidates will seek the State House seat being vacated by Regina Quick, who was appointed to a judgeship.

The candidates for Quick’s seat in the Legislature include Watkinsville lawyer Doug McKillip, who had held the seat before Quick, but was ousted by voters in 2012 when he switched parties from Democratic to Republican after the legislators redrew district lines. That changed the formerly Democratic Party-leaning district into one with more Republican voters.

Houston Gaines of Athens, a graduate of Athens Academy and the University of Georgia, is also running as a Republican. Gaines was president of the UGA Student government Association in 2015-2016 and is the grandson of the late Judge Joseph Gaines of Athens.

His supporters include Athens-Clarke County Mayor Nancy Denson — Gaines was her campaign manager in her 2014 re-election bid — and Oconee County Commission Chairman John Daniell.

Athens lawyer Deborah Gonzalez is the only Democratic candidate so far. She announced in June, citing jobs, economic opportunity and education as top issues for her campaign.

The three will face off in a special election Nov. 7, conducted without party primaries. If there is no outright winner, the top two vote-getters will face off in a runoff Dec. 5.

District 117 encompasses parts of Clarke, Barrow and Oconee counties, but the largest area is in Jackson County.

2018 Elections

Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams (D-Atlanta) resigned her state house seat, triggering a special election.

Democrat Stacey Abrams resigned her state House seat this week to focus on her run for governor, setting up a likely special election in November to represent her Atlanta-based district.

In her resignation letter to Gov. Nathan Deal, she thanked her constituents, the governor’s administration, House Speaker David Ralston and other members of the Legislature.

“Both in our work together and the lessons from our conflicts, we have demonstrated the importance of our system of government, to often put aside partisanship to work towards a better future and to learn from one another, despite our differences,” she wrote of her colleagues in the General Assembly.

Abrams, who earlier stepped down from her post as the chamber’s Minority Leader, faces state Rep. Stacey Evans in next year’s Democratic primary. It’s unclear if Evans will resign to focus on her campaign.

Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle (R-Gainesville) previewed a couple of issues in the 2018 Session of the Georgia General Assembly.

On Thursday, Cagle brought out the specifics of what he’ll pursue in the Capitol come January. He wants:— A sales tax exemption on equipment used to install fiber optic cable that would apply to Georgia counties lacking broadband capacity. Twenty-three states already have something like it.

— Expedited permitting for the use of public rights-of-way.

— A public-private partnership law that would allow local governments to partner with local firms on Internet expansion projects. The same effort would be intended to encourage private companies to consider broadcasting broadband internet over unused “white space” channels of the television spectrum — a technique currently being explored by Microsoft.

— An expanded Georgia Technology Authority that would be tasked with coordinating the expansion effort. That could include a project being contemplated by the state Department of Transportation, to lay broadband trunk lines along Georgia’s interstates that could be leased by private companies.

But the eye-opener in Cagle’s plans is this: The GTA would be “directed and funded” to monitor speed and reliability of existing broadband in rural counties. Georgia would have an Internet cop.

Earlier this year, on the final day of the 2017 session, House Bill 159, the first re-write of Georgia adoption law in 19 years, stalled in the Senate. At issue was an amendment to offer legal protection to taxpayer-funded child placement agencies that refused to work with same-sex or other couples due to religious convictions.

Cagle expects passage of the adoption measure early in the session.

“I expect the committee to do its job and vet the legislation. I don’t expect the Senate to adopt a bill that they have not vetted,” Cagle said. Senate fingerprints are to be expected, but “ by and large the bill seems to be good,” the lieutenant governor said.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp, running for Governor, rolled out a new round of endorsements.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp picked up a trio of endorsements on Friday, landing the support of Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, former Rep. Bob Barr and Athens media personality Barbara Dooley.

The three each called him a hard-working candidate with a conservative track record who is the right fit to succeed Gov. Nathan Deal. Dooley and her husband, former Georgia coach Vince Dooley, will also hold a Sept. 14 fundraiser for Kemp in Athens.

Vance Dean of Adel will challenge Congressman Austin Scott (R-Tifton) in the Republican Primary.

Dean, who sells commercial real estate, made news in telling the crowd he will soon be announcing his primary challenge against Scott.

“I’m just tired of excuses, people telling us one thing and doing another,” Dean said.

Gwinnett County Planning Commissioner Paula Hastings will run for the State House seat being vacated by Buzz Brockway.

Paula Hastings announced this week that she will run as a Republican for Brockway’s House District 102 seat. Brockway has chosen to run for secretary of state next year rather than seek re-election to the state legislature, therefore creating an open seat in the House of Representatives.

“This community has been fortunate to be represented by Buzz Brockway,” Hastings said in her campaign announcement. “Now that he has chosen to run for secretary of state, I am ready to continue my long track record of grassroots leadership and service in the community to ensure that we continue to have the very best representation and a conservative voice at the State Capitol. Our families deserve no less.

“I feel strongly that this district must continue to be represented and protected by someone that has a deep, hands-on connection. I have an unquestioned and unmatched record of serving and protecting this community — of providing a voice for homeowners, parents, schools and taxpayers, all with the goal of ensuring that this remains a world-class community for our kids now and for them to return in the future. I have the record needed to advocate for our district at the State Capitol.”

Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul will run for reelection against challenger David Crim.

Qualifying ended at noon Friday, and the office of mayor and the District 4 seat on the City Council will each have two candidates vying to win over the hearts and minds of their prospective constituents.

Incumbent Mayor Rusty Paul, who is seeking a second, four-year term, will be challenged by David Crim.

Two candidates — Le’Dor Milteer and Jody Reichel — have qualified to seek the District 4 seat held by incumbent City Councilman Gabriel Sterling, who is not running for re-election to the post.

Johns Creek candidates for the City Council seat being vacated by Cori Davenport now number four.

Trey Holladay, a local entrepreneur and homeowners association president, officially qualified for City Council Post 3 on the Johns Creek City Council.

Holladay qualified for the seat held by incumbent Cori Davenport, who decided not to seek re-election. He faces a crowded field, as fellow contenders Vicki Horton, John Bradberry and Mark Venco all qualified to run in the race.

Dallas City Council member Chris Carter drew a challenger in the November contest.

Terry David Johnson qualified this week for the Dallas City Council’s Ward One seat. He wil challenge Carter, who qualified to seek a second full term.

Others who qualified for Dallas council seats up for election this year include incumbents Nancy Rakestraw Arnold for her at-large council seat; and Griffin White for his Ward 3 seat. They will be unopposed in the Nov. 7 city election.

Roswell has a full slate of contested elections for Mayor and City Council.

Office of Mayor
Michael Litten
Lori Henry
Donald J. Horton
Sandra Sidhom
Lee Jenkins

City Council Post 4
Marie Willsey
Andrew Leonardi
Meg M. McClanahan

City Council Post 5
Keith Goeke
Matthew C. Tyser

City Council Post 6
Matt Judy
Karen Parrish
Gus Hadorn

Shafer Steamrolls Straw Polls

Four straw polls were held at GOP events this weekend, with Senator David Shafer (R-Duluth) taking first place by wide margins in the three that included the Lt. Governor race. Each straw poll of the gubernatorial race yielded a different winner, but Shafer stands undefeated in the meaningless highly predictive straw polls.

The Eighth Congressional District GOP Fish Fry (with over 1,000 attendees) polled the races for Governor and Lieutenant Governor:

Casey Cagle 37%
Brian Kemp 34%
Hunter Hill 19%
Michael Williams 6%
Marc Urbach 3%
Write In 1%

Lieutenant Governor
David Shafer 62%
Geoff Duncan 20%
Rick Jeffares 15%
Rick Knox 3%
Write In 1%

The Barrow County Republican Party BBQ polled only the race for Governor.

Brian Kemp 49%
Hunter Hill 29%
Casey Cagle 8%
Michael Williams 6%
Marc Urbach 0%

The Georgia Association of College Republicans Leadership Conference polled the races for Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of State.

Hunter Hill 54%
Brian Kemp 23%
Casey Cagle 23%
Michael Williams 0%

Lieutenant Governor
David Shafer 54%
Geoff Duncan 38%
Rick Jeffares 8%

Secretary of State
Buzz Brockway 54%
Josh McKoon 38%
David Belle Isle 8%
Brad Raffensperger 0%

Separately, the Georgia Association of College Republicans held an online straw poll, opening up voting to all followers of their Twitter feed.

Michael Williams 41%
Hunter Hill 33%
Brian Kemp 17%
Casey Cagle 9%

Lieutenant Governor
David Shafer 68%
Geoff Duncan 26%
Rick Jeffares 6%

Secretary of State
Josh McKoon 43%
Buzz Brockway 38%
David Belle Isle 14%
Brad Raffensperger 4%

Nuke Notes

Georgia Power continues to explore the future of two new reactors under construction at Plant Vogtle.

After a tumultuous spring, the Vogtle expansion is at a crossroads. Its main contractor, Westinghouse Electric Company, declared bankruptcy in late March. That led to utility companies in South Carolina abandoning the partially built twin project at the V.C. Summer nuclear power plant near Columbia. SCANA, which has already sunk billions into those reactors, is allowing lawmakers to review the situation but has stood by its decision to walk away.

At Vogtle, Georgia Power agreed to a $3.68 billion payout from Westinghouse to become the main contractor on the project, allowing it to continue for now.

But as construction goes on to the tune of $50 million a month for Georgia Power — a 45.7 percent owner of the expansion — the utility is weighing its next steps. It expects to complete its assessment of how much more time and money it will take to complete Vogtle by the end of the month. It will also come up with a cancellation cost assessment by that time.

For its part, the Georgia Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities, wants Vogtle to be completed.

“This vote today sends a message to the company, the company’s partners, ratepayers, and Wall Street that the commission continues to be supportive of this project provided it can be done economically. This information will help us in deciding the appropriateness of whether this project should go forward or not go forward,” said Chairman Stan Wise.

Chatham County Commission Chairman Al Scott views it similarly. Scott was a state senator when Vogtle units 1 and 2 were constructed. That project also had enormous cost overruns and delays. Both projects were already underway when nuclear power plant disasters occurred elsewhere, at Three Mile Island for the original project and at Fukushima for units 3 and 4. For Scott, it’s a bit of deja vu.

Ultimately the state benefited from Vogtle, he said. He expects it will again, though it may be a benefit for his grandchildren’s generation not his own.

Scott based his optimism in part on the assurance that the new units already are at least 65 percent complete.

“It’s equivalent to if you were building a house and it was 65 to 70 percent complete and you just walk away. What would that benefit?” Scott asked.

Duke Energy Corp. pulled the plug on its construction of a new nuclear plant in South Carolina.

Duke Energy Corp. said it wants to cancel a planned nuclear plant in South Carolina, according to a published report, citing the bankruptcy of a key contractor that has also bedeviled Georgia’s Plant Vogtle project.

In filings to the North Carolina Utilities Commission, the Charlotte, N.C., utility requested approval to cancel the project and a rate hike to recover $368 million spent on planning and early construction work, according to the Charlotte Business Journal.

The utility said it cannot cancel the project without the agency’s approval.

Duke’s move follows the decision late last month by two utilities, SCANA Corp. and Santee Cooper, to pull the plug on a South Carolina nuclear project because of rising costs and the bankruptcy of Westinghouse Electric, the supplier of the nuclear reactors.

All three projects were to use Westinghouse’s AP-1000 reactors.


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

On August 25, 325, the Council of Nicea adopted the Nicene Creed.

On August 25, 1864, Union troops stopped artillery bombardment of Atlanta and withdrew from fortifications around the city. On the same day, in Virginia, Confederate forces attacked Federals under Gen. Grant at Ream’s Station.

On August 26, 1864, having withdrawn from trenches and fortifications outside Atlanta the previous day, U.S. General Sherman sent most of his forces westward around Atlanta and toward the south of the city. Sherman’s forces tore up 12 miles of railroad between Red Oak and Fairburn on August 29, 1864.

On August 25, 1877, delegates to the state Constitutional Convention approved a new post-Reconstruction state Constitution, the seventh in state history, to be submitted to the voters on December 5, 1877.

On August 26, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted. Ratification took place on August 18, 1920, as the Tennessee House of Representatives adopted it, but adoption became official on August 26, when United States Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby certified the Amendment. It reads:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

The all-time highest score in a professional baseball game was recorded on August 25, 1922, as the Chicago Cubs beat the Philadelphia Phillies by 26-23.

Advertising in the rights of way of state roads and placing signs on private property without the owner’s approval were prohibited in the first Georgia law regulating outdoor advertising, which was signed by Governor Richard Russell on August 27, 1931. Over the years, both practices would become enshrined in Peach State political strategy.

On August 26, 1939, the first televised major league baseball game aired, as the Brooklyn Dodgers and Cincinnati Reds split a doubleheader in Ebbets Field.

Paris was liberated from German army control on August 25, 1944.

On August 25, 1950, President Harry S. Truman ordered the seizure of the nation’s private railroads by executive order.

On August 26, 1961, the 718th Engineer Light Equipment Company of Fort Valley and the 210th Signal Base Depot Company of Augusta were called up to take part in the American response to the crisis in Berlin.

President Lyndon B. Johnson was nominated for President by the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey on August 26, 1964.

On August 26, 1965, Sonny & Cher were at No.1 on the UK singles chart with ‘I Got You Babe’, the duo’s only UK No.1. Sonny Bono was inspired to write the song to capitalize on the popularity of the term “babe,” as heard in Bob Dylan’s ‘It Ain’t Me Babe’.

On August 25, 1973, the Allman Brothers of Macon, Georgia released “Ramblin’ Man” as the first single from the album “Brothers and Sisters.” From the Wall Street Journal,

Dickey Betts: In 1969, I was playing guitar in several rock bands that toured central Florida. Whenever I’d have trouble finding a place to stay, my friend Kenny Harwick would let me crash at his garage apartment for a few days in Sarasota. One day he asked me how I was doing with my music and said, “I bet you’re just tryin’ to make a livin’ and doin’ the best you can.”

Then one day in 1972, I was sitting in the kitchen of what we called the Big House in Macon, Ga.—where everyone in the band lived—and decided to finish the lyrics.

My inspiration was Hank Williams’s “Ramblin’ Man,” from 1951. His song and mine are completely different but I liked his mournful, minor-chord feel.

Except for Kenny’s line, the rest of the lyrics were autobiographical.

The WSJ article is worth reading in its entirety if you’re a fan of the Allmans.

Former Georgia Governor Lester Maddox was nominated for President on the American Independent Party ticket on August 27, 1976, making the race probably the only one to ever feature two former Georgia governors. During the campaign, Maddox described Jimmy Carter as “the most dishonest man I ever met.”

On August 27, 1982, Oakland Athletics outfielder Rickey Henderson broke the record for stolen bases in a season, nabbing number 119 against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Georgia Governor Zell Miller addressed the Democratic National Convention on August 27, 1996. In 2004, Miller would address the Republican National Convention, likely becoming the first Georgian to address both major parties’ national conventions. Congressman John Lewis and Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney also addressed the ’96 DNC. That day, President Bill Clinton signed a Welfare Reform bill, called the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996.

On August 27, 2008, Barack Obama became the Presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, the first African-American nominee of a major United States political party.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal appointed Margaret L. Spencer as a Judge in the State Court of Clayton County and Jeffery O. Monroe as Judge of the State Court of Bibb County.

This past Wednesday, Gov. Deal appointed Regina M. Quick as Judge of the Superior Court for the Western District of Georgia.

On Monday at 10 AM, Gov. Deal will unveil a new statue of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the Capitol grounds.

Gov. Nathan Deal will be joined by members of the King family, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Rep. Calvin Smyre, Capitol Arts Standards Commission members and other dignitaries to unveil the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. statue at the Georgia State Capitol on Monday, Aug. 28, at 10 a.m. The event is open to the public and seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

David Perdue Sandy Springs Chamber

Senator David Perdue spoke to the Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber of Commerce yesterday.

“It’s no secret Georgia is the best state to do business, and our state chambers deserve much credit for this success,” said Senator Perdue. “In order for Georgia to continue benefiting from pro-growth policies, Washington must work at a business-pace. President Trump has approached his new role with a business-like mindset and the results so far are nothing short of encouraging. While there is still a lot to do, I’m committed to advancing our Georgia priorities and getting government out of the way so we can unleash our full economic potential.”

“The Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber was honored to have U.S. Senator David Perdue meet with the business leaders of Sandy Springs,” said Tom Mahaffey, President and CEO of the Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber. “Our members were impressed with his candor regarding health care, infrastructure, debt crises, and immigration. We were encouraged to hear Senator Perdue say that while he believes Congress can do a much better job of working together across the aisle, there are bipartisan efforts happening now, especially at the committee level. Georgia is privileged to have an outsider and businessman like Senator Perdue representing our state in the U.S. Senate.”

Congressman Rick Allen (R-Augusta) co-hosted a forum on the region’s growth in Cyber Security.

U.S. Reps. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., and Rick Allen, R-Ga., held the forum at the North Augusta Municipal Building.

As the post prepares to become the new home to U.S. Army Cyber Command by 2020, an estimated 4,000 soldiers and their families are expected to boost the area’s population.

Said Allen: “Obviously, education is going to be so important to what we can actually do economically with what’s been handed to us here.”

Brig. Gen. Joseph McGee is the U.S. Cyber Command’s deputy commander for operations. In a matter of months, he said, the post “is going to be the absolute center of gravity for all things cyber-related in the U.S. Army.”

Carmen Foskey, new Executive Director of the Georgia Republican Party, is profiled by the AJC Political Insider.

The new executive director of the Georgia GOP is a 21-year-old part-time college student who is already something of a legend in state Republican circles. She turned down her admission to an Ivy League school to help pull off a string of improbable GOP victories.

“I’m a keep-my-head-down kind of person who just lets my credentials speak for themselves,” she said. “I’m a firm believer that hard work beats strategy. It doesn’t matter how grand the strategy is, if there’s not someone there to execute it.”

Carmen will make us proud.

Augusta hosted a peaceful rally calling for the removal of a Confederate memorial.

Coweta County Commissioners voted 4-1 to raise the property tax millage rate.

The Muscogee County School Board will meet today at 5 PM to consider changing the millage rate ahead of expected revenue gains.

Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson will not run for reelection, stepping down after his term.

Norcross is one of two Gwinnett cities that won’t wrap up qualifying until Friday — Auburn is the other — but five-term Mayor Bucky Johnson told the Daily Post on Thursday that he won’t seek re-election, saying he was ready for a change after leading the city for 10 years.

“I’ve really enjoyed being mayor, but my wife has retired and I’m retired, and we have a new grandchild on the way,” Johnson said. “We also like to do a lot of traveling so it seemed like the right time to move on to another chapter in my life.”

Councilman Craig Newton is the only candidate who has so far qualified to run for mayor. If Newton remains unchallenged in the mayor’s race, he will have a clear path to become Gwinnett County’s only African-American mayor.

The changes in Norcross extend beyond the mayor’s office, though. Since Newton, whose seat was already up for election this year, is running for mayor, that leaves his council seat up for grabs. Meanwhile, Councilman Pierre Levy told the Daily Post that he too will not seek re-election.

So far, Chuck Paul and Hoyt Hutcheson are running for Newton’s seat while Daniel Watch and Thad Thompson are running for Levy’s seat.

Senoia Mayor Larry Owens is not running for reelection, and Council member Jeff Fisher is the only candidate to succeed him.

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

In Turin, Mayor Alan Starr is being challenged by Tony Crunkleton.

In Moreland, only one person, Jim Lane, qualified for the two council seats that are up for election. Unless someone qualifies as a certified write-in candidate, a special election will have to be held to fill that seat. Mayor Dick Ford is unopposed for re-election.

Will Byington is running for Rome School Board, after being appointed in 2016.

In Hall County, the Mayors of Clermont, Flowery Branch, and Lula all drew opposition.

Flowery Branch Mayor Mike Miller … is being challenged by Michael Justice, who has made a couple of unsuccessful runs at a city council seat.

Two challengers in Lula — Jim Grier and Felton Wood — will attempt to end the 16-year hold on power by Mayor Milton Turner. Grier is a Lula businessman and civic leader making his first attempt at elective office. Wood made an unsuccessful run for Lula City Council in 2015.

Also getting tested is Clermont Mayor Jim Nix, who is being challenged by Steve Reeves. Meanwhile [Clermont City Council] incumbents Margaret Merritt and Kristi Crumpton are not running, leaving newcomers to take their seats.



Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 24, 2017

General Charles Lee of the Continental Army told Congress that Georgia’s value to the young nation required more forces to defend against the British on August 24, 1776.

On August 24, 1931, the Georgia General Assembly adopted a joint resolution appointing a committee to work with the Governor in planning a bicentennial celebration to be held in 1933.

On August 24, 1945, the United States Postal Service held a first day of issue ceremony in Warm Springs, Georgia for the release of a stamp bearing the images of Franklin D. Roosevelt and The Little White House.

FDR Warm Springs

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal said he expects legislators to address issues related to Confederate monuments and street names in 2018.

“I think they will do a pretty in depth look into whether or not we should continue to restrict local jurisdictions – counties and cities – in terms of what they may want to consider in their areas,” he told [AJC reporter] Rhonda Cook. “It’s an issue I’m sure is going to be before the General Assembly in January.”

He’s referring to a compromise struck during the debate to remove the Rebel emblem from the Georgia flag that makes it illegal for anyone to “deface, defile, abuse contemptuously, relocate, remove, conceal or obscure” any Confederate memorial without authority.

Deal wouldn’t say where he stood on the debate.

“There are many facets of it,” said the governor. “The one that’s got the most attention lately has been the prohibition on local governments being able to make independent decisions about monuments and flags within their jurisdictions. I think they will give it a serious look.”

Gwinnett Technical College has begun training technicians for Mercedes-Benz.

When Mercedes-Benz began moving its headquarters to Sandy Springs in 2015, it was logical to test out a college program at Gwinnett Tech.

So Mercedes-Benz USA began investing in everything the school would need to educate promising technicians. It created opportunities for each student to intern with a local dealership. The company also helped create the cohort’s own MBUSA classroom, complete with dealerships signature emblem on its back wall.

The students also have their own garage, stuffed full with Mercedes-Benz vehicles they can use to get hands-on practice.

Because of Mercedes-Benz’s need for qualified technicians, all 25 of them are virtually guaranteed jobs upon graduation. Their starting salaries could be about $50,000. And [MBUSA supervisor of technician recruitment Robert] Tomlin said there’s room for more training and to move up.

Congressman Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) toured the Chatham County jail to learn about the number of mental health patients housed there.

U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler, got an “eye-opening ” look at one of Chatham County’s largest health mental institutions this week as he toured the Chatham County jail.

“I really want to thank the sheriff and his staff for this very sobering experience,” he said. “I can tell you that this is real life, and we are doing a disservice to those who are mentally ill that we are throwing in our jails and that’s not where they need to be.”

At the heart of the issue is the costly and ineffective cycle of arresting mentally ill patients who commit minor crimes, treating and releasing them, only to arrest them again for the same crime, Wilcher said at a news conference Wednesday.

“We need a facility in this county that we can take people and offer them medications if they are arrested on misdemeanor charges,” he said. “I know the police department has a job to do — every police department in this county does. But they arrested a girl Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday for criminal trespassing. She is a mental health person. We let her out of jail and she goes back to that same house (where she’s trespassing) because she thinks she lives there.”

Wilcher and Carter are looking for alternatives to cut costs while safely housing inmates with mental illness. It costs taxpayers about $70 per day per inmate, according to the sheriff. And with the help of Sen. Lester Jackson, D-Savannah, and County Commissioner Helen Stone, Wilcher said he thinks progress is finally being made.

“I’ve been trying to get this done for over 30 years and I think that it’s finally coming to head with the help of these people,” he said. “Are we going to get it all done in a day? No. Are we going to try? Yes.”

Carter said he is co-sponsoring a bill with Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., to address mental health-related issues including funding for necessary facilities.

State Rep. Christian Coomer (R-Cartersville) was named 2017 Policy Maker of the Year by the Georgia Association for Career and Technical Education (GACTE).

“Career, technical and agricultural education (CTAE) programs are all essential in thoroughly preparing Georgia’s students for future success,” said Rep. Coomer. “GACTE is a tremendous organization that advocates for the advancement of these programs, which are critical in equipping Georgia’s next generation of workers. I’m honored to receive this prestigious recognition, and I look forward to continuing my work in furthering educational and career opportunities for all Georgians.”

The Policy Maker of the Year Award is given annually to legislators who have made a significant contribution to career, technical, and agricultural education (CTAE).

“Representative Coomer was selected to receive this award because of his strong support of our CTAE programs as a member of the Georgia House of Representatives,” said GACTE Executive Director Matthew Gambill. “He has contributed to the success of CTAE programs during his time serving as a member of the Georgia House.”

Forsyth County Commissioners voted against a proposal to raise their pay by 25 percent.

The board voted 3-0 Aug. 17, with Chairman Todd Levent absent and the newly vacated District 2 seat open, to deny a resolution approved last month that would give board members an increase in compensation.

The proposed compensation was for an annual salary for the chair of $49,500 and an annual salary for other board members at $48,000.

It would have represented a $10,000 increase from the base salary for board members, with the chair receiving a slightly higher salary due to added duties.


Republican candidates for 2018 statewide elections are paying attention to rural Georgia.

With the vote more than a year away, candidates have already crisscrossed the plains of South Georgia and the mountains of the north with a pledge to deliver the goods: more reliable Internet connectivity, new economic development initiatives, better infrastructure and improved access to health care.

In the opening months of the race, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp have made the bulk of their campaign stops far from metro Atlanta, from tours jotting through small towns near the Tennessee line to fish fries in farming communities.

They are using President Donald Trump as something of a muse. The Republican won a comfortable 5-point victory in Georgia despite losing much of Atlanta’s suburbs, including the GOP strongholds of Cobb and Gwinnett counties, because he notched huge margins in smaller, rural counties.

“The precedent has been set and they’re all here,” said Clint Hood, an agricultural banker in Milledgeville. “I feel like our needs are really getting heard. Atlanta has always been the spoke of the wheel, but rural Georgia has put our state on the map. And the candidates are showing they realize that.”

With the collapse of the GOP health care overhaul, rural leaders are also pushing gubernatorial candidates to consider changes that could open the spigots for more federal dollars. Several officials talked about seeking waivers to implement what could be vast changes to the state’s Medicaid program but wouldn’t involve a formal expansion of the program.

All four GOP candidates signaled they were open to waivers, and at an event Tuesday with small businessmen on the outskirts of Tifton, Kemp spoke about finding new ways to prevent rural towns from “drying up” without sparking a city-vs.-farms divide.

“If we can help focus attention on rural areas, it’s going to be good for the whole state — the ports, the airport, Home Depot,” he said. “It’s not us against them.”

“As places like Cobb and Gwinnett turn purple, metro Atlanta becomes break-even or even a loss for GOP nominees,” said Bryce Johnson, a Tifton attorney and Republican organizer. “Rural Georgia is where the GOP has to win statewide elections now and these candidates realize they have to build the ground game here early.”

Democratic candidates for Governor Stacey Abrams and Stacey Evans both appeared at an event in Columbus.

The goal for the meet and greet was to get citizens in Muscogee County involved in the democratic process.

“It’s important so that the Muscogee County Democrats can get on board early, can get ready for the election that’s coming up in 2018. We’ve got the elected Governor and we want to paint the state blue,” said Saundra Ellison, Chairman of the Muscogee County Democratic Party.

Fulton County Commission Chair John Eaves resigned his office to run for Mayor of Atlanta, setting up a countywide special election.

Eaves, who has led the county since 2007, left office with a year and four months remaining in his third term. In a letter to Vice Chairman Bob Ellis announcing his resignation, Eaves said he was saddened to close that chapter in his life but excited about the prospect of becoming mayor.

Two people — former County Commissioner Robb Pitts and Sandy Springs City Councilman Gabriel Sterling — have already announced they intend to run for Eaves’ seat, which will be on the ballot in November. Pitts said he thinks the county needs a stronger leader who is proactive, while Sterling said the county’s next leader needs to “right-size” government to respond to the number of new cities.

State Senator Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) also qualified for Mayor and a special election will be held to fill his Senate seat.

State Rep. Regina Quick (R-Athens) is expected to be nominated for a Superior Court seat in the Western Judicial Circuit. Houston Gaines and Doug McKillip have both announced they will run for Quick’s state house seat.

The Forsyth County Board of Elections and Registrations scheduled a Special Election for Commission District 2 for November 7th, the same day as municipal election.

Rick Swope announced his resignation from the post last week, having accepted a position with E*TRADE that has strict limits on public service, according to the county.

Qualifying for the special election begins next Wednesday, August 30 and runs through Friday, September 1, according to Luth.  The hours are 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday and 9:00 a.m. to noon on Friday.

The runoff date, if needed, is Tuesday, December 5.

Canton will host two contested City Council elections in November.

Incumbents Bill Grant of Ward 2, Sandy McGrew of Ward 1 and John Rust of Ward 3 all qualified to seek another four-year term on the City Council. Grant will be challenged by former City Clerk Susan Stanton while Rust will face off against resident Nick Estes.

Stanton was Canton’s city clerk for about five years until April when the City Council voted to terminate her employment.

Along with the city’s election, voters countywide will consider renewing the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or SPLOST. If approved, Cherokee County and each of its cities will get funding to carry out various capital improvement projects.

An Alpharetta City Council open seat drew two candidates.

The qualifying period for the municipal elections ended late Wednesday afternoon, and only one seat on the City Council will result in a race. Incumbent Mike Kennedy did not qualify to seek re-election, so contenders Ben Burnett and Ben Easterling will duke it out for the Post 2 seat.

Incumbents Don Mitchell of Post 1 and Chris Owens of Post 3 will not face challengers this year.

Burnett, a member of the city’s Planning Commission, said he’s running to give Alpharetta homeowners a “stronger voice in the future of their community.”

“My biggest concern is that Alpharetta is on course to become the next victim of uncontrolled density and urbanization,” he added. “Our city is at a critical juncture. If we don’t make an adjustment now it will be too late in four years.”

Milton City Council member Karen Thurman is not seeking reelection.

Thurman’s District 1, Post 1 seat is being sought by Peyton Jamison.

Qualifying for the Nov. 7 municipal election will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 21 through Friday, Aug. 25 in the office of city clerk at Milton City Hall, which is at 2006 Heritage Walk. Qualifying fees are $390 for Council seats District 1, Post 1; District 2, Post 1; and District 3, Post 1; and $690 for the office of mayor.

Keith Goeke is running for the Roswell City Council Post 5 seat currently held by Jerry Orlans.

Northwest Georgia has a number of contested municipal elections.

The City Council will have two contested races, and both seats up for election on the Board of Education will have opposition as qualifying came to an end on Wednesday in Dalton. Councilman Gary Crews, who qualified for re-election for Ward 4 on Monday, will be challenged by Edgar Rincon, who qualified on Wednesday. Annalee Harlan and Aaron Marcelli will meet for the Ward 2 spot held by Tate O’Gwin, who is not running for re-election. Matt Evans and incumbent Steve Laird each qualified for the school board seat held by Laird. John Conley joined the race Wednesday with Robert Palmer Griffin Jr. for the school board seat held by Sherwood Jones III, who is running for re-election.

Cohutta: Qualifying concluded on Wednesday with Sandra Claiborne and Greg Fowler qualifying for re-election to their Town Council seats with Wanda Manis qualifying as well. The two top vote getters in the general election will win the two seats. Mayor Ron Shinnick, who qualified on Monday, will be unopposed on the ballot.

Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker has drawn an opponent, Alex Marchetti.

For Post 1 on the city council, incumbent Leonard Zaprowski will face a challenger in Issure Chen Yang.

City council member Cori Davenport is not seeking re-election for Post 3, so that race is wide open. Residents Vicki Horton, Richard Holladay, John Bradberry and Mark Venco will be vying for that seat.

For Post 5 on the city council, incumbent Stephanie Endres will face a challenger in Chris Jackson. Endres was elected to the position in 2015 to serve out the unexpired term of Kelly Stewart, who left to launch a bid for the state House of Representatives.

Woodstock will host contested elections for Mayor and two City Council seats.

Mayor Donnie Henriques is seeking his fourth consecutive term in the upcoming election and now has a former council member vying for his seat.

Elizabeth “Liz” Baxter has served three terms on the Woodstock City Council and qualified Wednesday to run against Henriques on Nov. 7.

The Ward I seat held by incumbent Councilman Warren Johnson is being challenged by Dennis Conway, who has served on the Cherokee County Board of Tax Assessors for 19 years.

Longtime incumbent for the Ward III seat, Bob Mueller has two vying for his seat. Former Planning and Zoning member Colin Ake and Judy Davila.

Cobb County voters will choose municipal leaders in at least nine contested elections.

Kennesaw’s qualifying had perhaps the most volatility in its final day of qualifying, with current Post 5 Councilman Jim Sebastian qualifying not for re-election to his seat, but rather for the Post 4 position held by Jimmy Dickens, who qualified Monday. Also seeking the Post 4 seat is Chris Henderson, a senior research engineer for Georgia Tech Research Institute, according to his campaign website.

Kennesaw will see another three-way race on the Nov. 7 ballot, as Antonio “Tony” Jones was joined on the final day of qualifying by Pat Ferris and Jeffrey Oparnica. The seat is currently occupied by Councilman Nimesh Patel who is not seeking re-election.


Cherokee County will host a forum on how the state can respond to the opioid crisis.

The forum will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, Oct. 2 in the Building A Chapel at First Baptist Church of Woodstock. The forum, which is free and open to the public, is being organized by Tony Black, a Woodstock resident working closely with State Senator Renee Unterman.

Unterman, the chair of the Health & Human Services Committee, has also been on the forefront in introducing legislation that will lead to advances in heroin and opioid awareness, education and any necessary policy reforms to address addiction to these drugs.

Black is the organizer with the Cherokee County chapter of Georgia Connects, an organization connecting state law, local government agencies, private organizations and citizens to discuss how “we can help create solutions to drug addiction, opioid abuse and overdoses, and mental health disorders,” he said.

Speakers at the event will include Georgia legislators and officials and state and local law enforcement officers.

Black said he and other organizers are specifically targeting communities in counties in north metro Atlanta “that have particularly been hit hard by the increased incidence of illegal synthetic opioids.”

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr‘s office approved the proposed sale of Oconee Regional Medical Center in Milledgeville to Navicent Health Oconee, LLC in Macon.

Still pending, though, is an actual property closing, as well as transfers of certain state-issued licenses and permits.

“Oconee proposes to sell substantially all of the assets associated with the healthcare services to Navicent Health Oconee, LLC, a wholly-owned and controlled subsidiary of Navicent Health, Inc., according to a copy of the approval of the hospital sale by the Georgia Attorney General’s Office. “Navicent owns the Medical Center, Navicent Health in (Macon)-Bibb County, formerly known as the Medical Center of Central Georgia and leases and will ultimately wholly control the Medical Center of Peach County and Navicent Health in Peach County.”

In the document, a copy of which was obtained by The Union-Recorder, the approval by the AG’s office of the sale of the local hospital includes substantially all of its assets, including those owned by the Baldwin County Hospital Authority, as well as Oconee Regional Health Systems, Inc. and any affiliates of ORHS.

Northside Hospital and Gwinnett Health System will merge to create one of the state’s largest healthcare networks.

The agreement, if approved by the Georgia Attorney General’s Office, would create a system with 1,479 beds, nearly 21,000 employees and 3,500 physicians on staff.

Northside is by far the larger and most financially sound of the two.

It has $1.7 billion in annual revenue through its three hospitals and various care facilities, according to Dun & Bradstreet.

Gwinnett has revenues of $735 million through its two hospitals and other care facilities.

Anchored by Northside Hospital in Sandy Springs and Gwinnett Medical Center in Lawrenceville, this latest merger will include hospitals in Canton, Cumming and Duluth, as well as cancer treatment centers, imaging centers, urgent care centers and other outpatient locations throughout the state.

The merger adds to a growing trend in Georgia and the nation where hospitals pool resources to save on costs and expand their footprints.

Last year, Marietta-based WellStar acquired Tenet Healthcare’s five Georgia-based hospitals, including Roswell’s North Fulton Hospital, and formed a new partnership with West Georgia Health in LaGrange, to make it the largest health system in the state with 11 hospitals.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 23, 2017

On August 23, 1784, four counties is western North Carolina declared themselves the State of Franklin, setting up its own Constitution and treaties with local Indian tribes. In 1788, they rejoined North Carolina but would eventually become part of a new state, Tennessee.

The Kimball Opera House, serving as the Georgia State Capitol, was sold to the state on August 23, 1870.

On August 23, 1961, four African-American citizens attempted to play tennis at Bitsy Grant Tennis Center in Atlanta, which was informally “whites only.” The Tennis Center was hastily closed rather than allow them to play, but it was the first volley leading to the eventual desegregation of Atlanta’s public recreation facilities.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Eight overdoses since Saturday in middle Georgia are being blamed on counterfeit Percocet pills.

Eight overdoses reported in Houston and Bibb counties since Saturday are suspected to be related to poisonous tablets being sold on the streets under the guise of a prescription pain killer.

One person overdosed in Macon on Monday after taking some of the round white pills Bibb County sheriff’s Lt. Randy Gonzalez called “fake Percocets.”

Seven others were hospitalized for suspected overdoses in Houston County, and some of them are only breathing with aide from ventilators, Warner Robins Police Department said in a news release Tuesday. The patients range in age from 25 to 60.

The suspicious white pill reportedly being passed around now is thick and glossy, Warner Robins police said. The letters “RP” are embossed on one side of the pills with a“10” above “325” on the other.

Warner Robins Assistant Police Chief John Wagner said the first of the overdoses in Houston County was reported Saturday night. One overdose occurred in Centerville, and the remainder in Warner Robins, he said.

Those who overdosed either came into the Houston Medical Center emergency room, or emergency responders were dispatched to their homes and, in one case, to a place of business, Wagner said.

“We can’t say that there is a for-sure link with that,” Wagner said. “But that is something that we definitely investigate to see if indeed they moved from yellow pill to white pill, the same person or the same supplier. … Or do we have a new person or a new type of pill that’s on the street that we need to be worried about from a totally different source?”

Anyone with any information about the fake prescription pills is urged to call Warner Robins police at 478-302-5380 or call Macon Regional Crimestoppers at 1-877-68-CRIME.

From the Macon Telegraph:

So far, the patients range in age from 25 to 60.

Congressman Jody Hice (R-Monroe) and Doug Collins (R-Gainesville), along with Senators Johnny Isakson and David Perdue, reacted to President Trump’s speech on Afghanistan.Continue Reading..


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

The sale of Coca-Cola Company from the Candlers was announced in the Atlanta Constitution on August 22, 1919.

N/S Savannah, the first nuclear-powered merchant ship, visited the Port of Savannah on August 22, 1962. Savannah was named after S.S. Savannah, the first steamship to cross the Atlantic Ocean. N/S Savannah is moored at the Port of Baltimore and designated a national historic landmark.

More than 3000 demonstrators disrupted the Democratic National Convention on August 22, 1968.

In 1972, it was the Republicans’ turn, as demonstrators struck outside the Republican National Convention.

Nolan Ryan recorded his 5000th career strikeout against Rickey Henderson of the Oakland A’s on August 22, 1989.

McNeel Marble Company in Marietta created many of the Confederate stautes under fire.

Two generations ago, [Morgan McNeel's] kin founded the McNeel Marble Co. in Marietta and grew it into one of the nation’s most prolific Confederate monument makers. Often using Georgia granite and Italian marble, they built more than 140 Confederate monuments, of which dozens are in Georgia.

Gould Hagler, a Dunwoody man who wrote the book “Georgia’s Confederate Monuments,” said McNeel made more of the state’s monuments to the Confederacy — 42 — than any other company. And McNeel prospered, eventually opening offices in Birmingham and New York.

Experts agree that demand for Confederate monuments spiked twice: at the turn of the 20th century and about the time of the civil rights movement.

Advertisements from the early 1900s show campaigns to sell monuments to communities for the 50th anniversary of the Civil War.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal nominated Robert “Bo” Hunter III as a judge in Richmond County State Court.

The governor called Hunter with the news Monday afternoon, Hunter said. “I talked with (Chief Judge David D.) Judge Watkins and Judge (Patricia Booker) and they want help as soon as possible,” Hunter said. Solicitor Omeeka Loggins told Hunter she already has a team together for him.

Hunter said he hopes to be able to close out his law practice in a week or so. He said he has asked the governor to swear him in when that is finished.

“I hope to bring good changes working with my colleagues,” Hunter said.

Hunter will complete [Judge Richard] Slaby’s unfinished term. The judgeship is up for election in 2019.

Hunter ran for a State Court judgeship vacated in 2016 when Judge John Flythe chose to run for a Superior Court judgeship. Although Hunter was the top vote-getter in the March election, Kellie McIntyre won the runoff.

First Lady Sandra Deal visited new parents at Piedmont Henry Hospital.

Deal, a mother of four, met with new parents to stress the importance of immunizations, not only for their children, but for themselves and future caregivers. She also passed along information that has been updated since she was a new mother nearly 50 years ago.

“Every mother wants her child to grow up healthy and strong,” Deal said. She said that new research has changed parenting these days.

For example, sleeping babies should be on their backs rather than their bellies. When Deal was a new mother, she said the advice was the opposite.

“Things have completely changed,” Deal said. “A child is a precious gift and parents want to take the very best care of them they can, and we want to help.”

Piedmont Henry Hospital CEO Deborah Armstrong said its a privilege to host Deal at the hospital.

“She’s clearly passionate about getting moms on the right foot,” Armstrong said. “We appreciate her visiting with us.”

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue will visit the National Detector Dog Training Center in Newnan on Thursday.

The 18-acre facility is in the International Industrial Park off Ga. Hwy. 34. The training center provides a state-of-the-art learning environment for training detector dogs and their handlers to help safeguard American agriculture by preventing pests and agricultural diseases from entering the United States through airports, international borders, postal facilities and cargo areas.

Perdue, Georgia’s previous governor and a former veterinarian, will tour the facility. During the tour, he will watch a demonstration of how the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service canines and handlers demonstrate how they locate and eradicate invasive or diseased foreign plants that have crossed America’s borders.

South Georgia may have new help at the Capitol, as a new lobbying group forms to focus on non-agriculture issues.

For 25 years [Franklin] Richards has led Second Harvest Food Bank of South Georgia in Valdosta, which gets food to low-income people in a nearly 13,000-mile region that includes 30 counties.

Richards said the focus has mostly been on issues tied to the Farm Bill, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program also known as “food stamps” or SNAP.

But Richards and other leaders of Second Harvest are now planning a separate organization called the Rural America Initiative (RAI) that will primarily focus on advocating for a broad set of rural interests on a state and federal level.

“We’re not in the business of just always feeding hungry people. Our long term goal is to put ourselves out of work,” Richards said. “We cannot do that until we make changes in … everything that affects these rural communities, and that’s what we want to do. We want to be at the table saying, ‘OK, if this is what you’re looking at doing, let us tell you how that’s going to affect rural America.’”

He rattled off a number of sensitive issues for rural areas where RAI might try to influence policy: water, natural resources, healthcare, jobs, broadband and other infrastructure.

DeKalb County is seeing more mosquitoes infected with the West Nile Virus.

The DeKalb Board of Health reported recently that the virus has been seen in five times the number of mosquitoes they normally see it in, according to local media. A map released by the health board shows virus-positive mosquitoes in a number of cities in the area, including Decatur, Chamblee, Pine Lake, Brookhaven, Clarkston, Tucker and Doraville.

“We are concerned,” Juanetta Willis, the arbovirus coordinator, told WAGA-TV. “So we want, not to alert people, but to make people aware that they really need to be taking the precautions. Most people infected with West Nile Virus are infected during August, September and in October. So, even though the kids are back at school, I need you to keep using the repellent and dumping the water.”

A Brookhaven resident was diagnosed with West Nile virus in early July. The results come from a notification from the DeKalb County Board of Health, the city said.

“In an abundance of caution, we are working with the DeKalb County Board of Health and redoubling our efforts to minimize any exposure to the West Nile virus in Brookhaven,” City Manager Christian Sigman said in a news release. “We are comparing our stormwater drainage maps with the Board of Health maps, to ensure every storm drain is treated with a larvicide which is safe for humans, but interrupts the life cycle of mosquitoes. This includes all of our parks and ponds in the City.”

Grayson City Council approved a $1.26 million dollar budget for FY 2018, which includes keeping the millage rate at the same level as last year.

Pooler City Council will consider creating a municipal stormwater utility.

Warner Robins City Council voted to create the position of City Administrator.

The Warner Robins City Council approved a city administrator position Monday, despite a request from the Chamber of Commerce that it be put on the ballot in November.

Councilman Mike Davis cast the lone dissenting vote, with Councilman Clifford Holmes abstaining. Holmes said he was not opposed to an administrator but supported having it on the ballot for voters to decide.“I think this is a major decision where we are trying to change our form of government and I think it ought to be the people’s right to have a say,” Davis said before the vote was taken.

Mayor Randy Toms did not comment. He has previously said he has a plan to turn the city clerk’s job into an administrator’s position by giving the clerk more authority.

April Bragg, president and CEO of the Robins Regional Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber’s board of directors supports putting the issue on the ballot for voters to decide.

Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker qualified for another term.

“We have worked as a team to successfully build the nicest city with the highest standards and best quality of life available in Georgia,” Bodker said Monday.

Johns Creek is also widely touted as the safest city “with the lowest crime rate of any city of its size, anywhere,” he added.

“We enjoy the best schools, an extremely low unemployment rate and growing parks and recreational programs for families,” he continued. “These successes don’t happen by accident. They are the result of mature leadership that also looks out for taxpayers.”

Bodker’s re-election bid won’t be a cakewalk, however. Local businessman Alex Marchetti has indicated he will also run for the office of mayor in the Nov. 7 general municipal elections.

“With one more term, I will be able to complete the mission that we started out to do when we first incorporated our city,” Bodker continued. “I want to work to make sure our traffic relief plans are implemented, new sidewalks are put in and all neighborhoods are repaved. I want to work to keep taxes down, and want to focus on keeping Johns Creek moving forward rather than going backward.”

Milledgeville opened qualifying for municipal offices.

Milledgeville City Council incumbent Alderman Steve Chambers was the first to qualify on opening day, according to Milledgeville City Clerk Bo Danuser.

Chambers, a longtime member of city council, represents District 6.

Another longtime member of city council qualified a few minutes later. Jeanette Walden, who has served on city council for the past 20 years, is seeking re-election to another four-year term as the District 2 representative.

Other candidates who qualified Monday for seats on city council and mayor included: Mary Parham Copelan, a political newcomer, qualified later in the day to seek the office of mayor. Copelan is a retired captain with the Georgia Department of Corrections, and has never held public office.

Marietta City Council member Philip Goldstein will not run for reelection, though his 23-year old son qualified for his seat.

Warner Robins municipal qualifying saw an early stampede of candidates.

Joe Musselwhite, the city’s former public works director and runner-up in the last mayoral election, was the first to qualify Monday. Later in the morning, Mayor Randy Toms qualified to run for re-election to a second term. City Councilman Chuck Shaheen said at the last council meeting he plans to run for mayor, but he did not qualify Monday.

Qualifying continues through Friday.

Jim Taylor, a parks activist who works for Warner Robins Building Supply, qualified to run for Shaheen’s at-large Post 1 seat. Jeffery Walker, a previous unsuccessful council candidate, qualified to run for Shaheen’s seat.

The mayors of Centerville and Perry, as well as council posts in each, are up for re-election. No incumbents in those cities had drawn challengers as of late Monday afternoon, while all of the incumbents qualified.

Matt Evans qualified to run for Dalton Board of Education.

Rome Mayor Jamie Doss qualified for another term, and Commissioner Windy Davis is running for another term.

Lowndes County municipalities continue candidate qualifying.

Positions up for election are:

— Valdosta City Council Districts seats 2, 4 and 6

— Hahira City Council District seats 1, 4 and mayor

— Dasher Post 1, 2 and mayor

— Lake Park two seats at-large

— Remerton City Council three positions open

— Valdosta Board of Education District 5 and 6.

The Gainesville Times reviews municipal posts up for election this year.

Lula City Council member Lamb Griffin was hospitalized after being hit by a car.

The Rev. Joseph Lowery has endorsed Democrat Stacey Abrams in the 2018 election for Governor.


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

James Oglethorpe and the Creek Indians signed the Treaty of Coweta Town, delineating geographic areas open to British settlement, on August 21, 1739.

On August 21, 1831, Nat Turner led the largest slave rebellion in American history; Turner was later hanged in Jerusalem, VA.

The first of the Lincoln-Douglass series of seven debates was held in Ottawa, Illinois, on August 21, 1858, pitting Democrat Stephen Douglass against Republican Abraham for the United States Senate seat held by Douglass. Expansion of slavery in the United States was the topic for the debates.

On August 21, 1907, Georgia Governor Hoke Smith signed legislation to place a Constitutional Amendment designed to disenfranchise African-Americans by requiring passage of a literacy test to vote. A number of exceptions allowed local officials to exempt white voters whom they wished to allow to vote; one exemption was for anyone descended from a U.S. or Confederate wartime veteran – the so-called “grandfather clause.”

On the same day, Gov. Smith also signed legislation prohibiting fishing on Sunday, subject to misdemeanor prosecution.

On August 21, 1935, Benny Goodman and his orchestra began a seven-night stand at the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles, beginning the Swing Era.

Happy 55th birthday to Hawaii, which became the 50th State on August 21, 1959; they’ve undoubtedly been receiving AARP literature in the mail for ten years.

The 1968 Democratic National Convention began in Chicago on August 21, 1968.

The name of Julian Bond of Georgia, then-27 and too young to serve, was placed in nomination for Vice President during the 1968 DNC.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Heard on NPR this morning:

Heard on NPR: Experience from past eclipses suggests that it has been younger people who are more likely to ignore safety warnings, says Chou.

“It does tend to be young males,” he says. “Teens to early 20s — the ones who don’t think about any protection for a number of different circumstances.”

No kidding?

Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols had an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal on Plant Vogtle.

Georgia’s decision to continue building two new nuclear reactors—the only commercial ones now in development in the U.S.—means my state stands alone. Vermont’s Yankee nuclear plant went offline in 2014, and Massachusetts’ Pilgrim Station is scheduled to close in 2019. The company behind two half-finished reactors in South Carolina began publicly considering last month whether to abandon the project.

Georgia has been down this road before. The first two nuclear reactors at the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant near Augusta were completed in 1987 and 1989, in the aftermath of the 1979 Three Mile Island accident. What was supposed to be a $1 billion project turned into $8 billion. Still, it was a great deal for ratepayers in the end, delivering low-cost power for decades.

Today, finishing the Vogtle plant’s two new Westinghouse AP1000 reactors is the right call—for their owners, including Southern Co., as well as for Georgia and the U.S. There are four reasons:

Diversifying the energy supply makes sense, because no one knows what the future holds. The U.S. could institute a carbon tax, as President Obama envisioned, or even regulate frackers out of a job. No matter what happens, nuclear reactors will ensure Georgia’s electric rates stay competitive.

They also will keep the U.S. from completely forfeiting its nuclear leadership. As other states have decommissioned reactors without replacing them, the world has begun looking to nations like China and Russia. The World Nuclear Association reports that China is increasing its nuclear generation capacity 70% by 2020-21 and will surpass U.S. output by 2030. The only way for America to continue setting international standards for nuclear safety and security is to invest in reactors and technology.

Don’t forget, too, with all the talk of health care in the news, that nuclear reactors produce isotopes needed for medical imaging and cancer treatment.

Last week a Canadian electric company, Bruce Power, announced a partnership to expand isotope production using its reactors.

Finally, reactor technology gives American naval vessels a distinct advantage. The U.S. has 10 aircraft carriers and dozens of submarines powered by nuclear fuel. These vessels can go years without refueling. But the Navy program relies on a strong commercial nuclear industry to provide steady employment and training and keep the supply chain humming.

While Georgia’s two new reactors are moving forward, I understand the angst surrounding such massive construction projects, as well as the concern over their costs. I know that Yucca Mountain, where the nuclear waste would ultimately be stored, is only now emerging from limbo. And I do value renewables like solar.

But the job of a state utility commission is to plan for the future. Georgia is pressing ahead—despite fears fanned by the 2011 tsunami in Fukushima, Japan, and despite the financial meltdown that put the reactor designer, Westinghouse, in bankruptcy this year. Against great challenges Georgia and Southern Co. persist. With vision, perseverance and God’s help we will make the Vogtle reactors America’s next nuclear energy flagship.

VEEP worthy. The eight-page memo detailing how to drive Congressman Todd Rokita (R-Indiana) has leaked.

Demanding, high-maintenance bosses are notorious on Capitol Hill. The late Sen. Ted Kennedy’s staff had to walk his dog, poop pick-up and all. Former Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison made her male aides carry her purse.

Who knew it could take eight pages of instructions on how to properly escort a member of Congress around his district? Yet there it is, laid out in mind-blowing detail, in a memo obtained by POLITICO that’s sure to make any young, eager-beaver political aide shudder.

Tasks listed in the document, entitled “Instructions on Staffing and Driving — District Version,” include handing Rokita a cup of black coffee upon picking him up at his home, acting as a physical barrier between him and trackers looking to capture embarrassing footage of the congressman, and “avoid[ing] sudden acceleration or braking” while driving.

“The goal is to provide as smooth a ride as possible,” reads the instruction manual, co-authored by a former chief of staff to the congressman and Tim Edson, Rokita’s ex-communications director-turned-campaign spokesman.

Drivers are expected to transport not only Rokita’s toothbrush and toothpaste but also stock and tote around the district a nearly 20-item supply box that Rokita’s staffers call “the football.” The contents include gum, hand sanitizer, business cards, bottled water, napkins and Kleenex, lozenges, a stapler and stapler remover, Post-it notes and Shout wipes, among other items.

Rokita needs a hanger in the car for his jacket. Never allow him to be photographed with a drink in his hand. And never forget, the memo states multiple times in boldface, underlined letters, to remind the 47-year-old to bring the essentials.

“When TER enters the car, check to ensure he has his phone and wallet,” the instructions say, referring to Rokita by his initials.

“When you arrive at the event, get Todd a non-alcoholic drink that he can carry with him as he visits (water, diet soda, and coffee are best),” the manual reads.

Pro-tip: if you work for an elected official who wears reading glasses, always keep an eye on the glasses; when they set them down and start heading in a different direction, grab the glasses.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is receiving an education in diplomacy at the State Department’s “spouse school.”

Last week, Newt Gingrich sat in a classroom surrounded by 11 women and one other man, furiously jotting notes.

In the weeklong intensive, where classes ran from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with only a short cafeteria lunch break in between, the former House speaker and onetime presidential candidate received a crash course in a new role: invisible spouse.

In a series of back-to-back 75-minute lectures he described as “tiring,” Gingrich and the 12 other spouses of waiting-to-be-confirmed ambassadors were educated on some basic rules of the road. “You always have two fridges,” Gingrich marveled in an interview with POLITICO, “one for personal food, one for entertaining, so you’re not eating out of the taxpayer refrigerator. I didn’t know that.”

The group was instructed on ground rules for entertaining. “If you invite eight or 10 ambassadors over for dinner,” Gingrich said, “there’s protocol for who sits where. A protocol officer who helps you think through everything.”

“I’ll be the person at the front door saying, ‘Hi, I’m Newt Gingrich. The ambassador will be down shortly,’” he laughed. “It’s a great new role. Callista supported me in ’12 when I ran for president; I get to support her now. And I get to join the spouse organization.”

“I sat through a couple of hours on how to do interviews,” Gingrich said. “The first point they make over and over is, you are not the principal. I’m wearing my spouse hat. I’ve got to be very circumspect. We don’t want to confuse people about who speaks for the United States. Callista speaks for the United States. I just speak for Newt Gingrich.”

Macon-Bibb County Commissioners voted by a 5-3 margin to raise property tax rates by about 20 percent.

The millage rate will increase by 3 mils, from 14.652 to 17.652.

Commissioners Larry Schlesinger, Gary Bechtel, Al Tillman, Scotty Shepherd and Virgil Watkins voted for the increase. Commissioners Elaine Lucas, Joe Allen and Mallory Jones voted against it. Commissioner Bert Bivins was absent.

The proposed tax increase for a home with a fair market value of $125,000 is approximately $129 and the proposed tax increase for non-homestead property with a fair market value of $125,000 is approximately $150.

The extra revenue will be used to pay for recreation staff and raises for the sheriff’s and fire departments.

Muscogee County Jail has become overcrowded again.

The facility, which can accommodate a maximum of 1,065 people, had about 1,077 inmates as of Friday, said Muscogee County Sheriff Donna Tompkins.

“I just met with judges and we’re sending information to the DA and the Public Defender and the Chief of Probation about all the people we have in the jail,” the sheriff said Thursday. “We’re trying to get everybody to work toward moving some of these people somehow, somewhere, some way.”

The numbers continue to climb two years after the city implemented a Rapid Resolution initiative to more efficiently move people through the legal system and relieve jail overcrowding.

Earlier this year, the issue of jail expansion surfaced at a meeting concerning the future of the Government Center. Mayor Teresa Tomlinson told members of the Mayor’s Commission on the Government Center and Judicial Building that about $33 million of OLOST funds had been slated for jail expansion. However, the expansion was not needed at the time, she said, and she wondered if that money could be used to build a judicial center instead.

On Friday, Tomlinson said the jail numbers have been as high as 1,200 during her tenure, and she doesn’t see the current statistics as an alarming, irreversible trend. She said the jail population tends to go up and down based on a variety of factors, including time of year, judges’ schedules and the pace of state probation cases.

“Certainly, for the vast majority of my awareness, during the prior Sheriff’s administration, there were around 1,100 (to) 1,130 —those are the numbers we’re very used to seeing,” Tomlinson said. “So, it wasn’t until we started Rapid Resolution, and also the criminal justice reform that the state did, that a lot of things began to adjust that.

A survey of butterflies in Coastal Georgia netted strong results.

Around mid-afternoon we are chased by a storm and decide to call it a day. And what a day. We have recorded 439 individual butterflies of 35 different species. An observation of the uncommon Dion Skipper is nominated for sighting of the day. Mike is disappointed that we didn’t document Little Metalmarks, a declining species that has previously been recorded at Harris Neck.

I learned that butterfly surveys are non-invasive and don’t involve netting or collecting your quarry — identification can be determined using close-focusing binoculars. Upon my return home, I dive into my increasingly dog-eared copy of “Butterflies of the East Coast” by Rick Cech and Guy Tudor (Princeton University Press, 2005), with the ardor of a thirsty Palamedes Swallowtail nectaring at a buttonbush blossom.


Ryan Gravel, whose Georgia Tech thesis led to creation of the Atlanta Belt Line, wants to turn his sights to Buford Highway.

“I love Buford Highway,” said Ryan Gravel in a recent interview in his office on the eighth story of Ponce City Market. “Buford Highway has this amazing spirit, culture and vibrancy, [and it] would be inspiring to see the next chapter of that story.”

Home to more than 1,000 immigrant-owned businesses, Buford Highway is a regional attraction in large part because of its ethnic and cultural diversity that many know because of its numerous restaurants.

Korean, Mexican, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, Bangladeshi, Central American, Somali and Ethiopian goods and services are part of the fabric of Buford Highway’s “International Corridor.” But as metro Atlanta grows by an expected 2.5 million people in the next 20 years, the property values along the road will continue to increase. Gentrification and redevelopment threaten to change the nature of the corridor.

Gravel’s Generator is partnering with another nonprofit, We Love BuHi, founded by Brookhaven resident Marian Liou to preserve and promote Buford Highway’s cultural diversity. The ideas they hope to be generated by Georgia Tech students will be ways to acknowledge the growth of the region while also finding ways to celebrate and preserve the diversity of the people who live and work on Buford Highway.

A major issue facing Buford Highway is affordable housing as people, many of whom are immigrants, are being displaced from inexpensive apartment complexes to make way for luxury housing. Affordable housing along the Atlanta BeltLine is currently a hot and controversial topic. Gravel resigned last year from the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership over concerns of not enough emphasis on equity and affordability.

“If our only aspiration for the BeltLine was new housing and jobs and green space, then we succeeded,” he said. But the vision created for the BeltLine included the people already living there and ensuring their success as well — and “the jury is out if we’ve been successful or not” on that, he acknowledged.

Mary Rose Taylor helped found the Emory Brain Health Center after her husband died from Alzheimer’s; now she is a patient at the ALS Clinic there.

She was diagnosed that October [2014] with ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also called Lou Gehrig’s disease. She became a patient at Emory’s Brain Health Center, a place that she had championed. Soon she would lose the ability to walk, to speak, to swallow and, eventually, to breathe. In January, she made the difficult decision to undergo a tracheostomy as her muscles weakened.

But with her mobility reduced to the use of a single finger, her determination to assist the Brain Health Center never flagged. The center is a unique organization that puts under one roof treatment of — and research into — the major neurodegenerative diseases.

“There would not be a Brain Health Center today if Mary had not been a founding partner, a co-conspirator, an inspiration and an instigator,” said Levey. “She came up with the name.”

Back in the 1990s, that personality came to the fore during her long campaign to rescue the house where Margaret Mitchell wrote Atlanta’s most famous book, “Gone with the Wind.”

Burned by arsonists, threatened by the wrecking ball, the Midtown apartment house was a shambles when Taylor arranged financing and lined up allies in 1994. The house museum was fully renovated and ready to open its doors in time for the 1996 Olympics — Atlanta’s big coming out party — when arsonists burned it again.

Taylor dusted herself off and started over. Rebuilt a second time, the house opened to the public a year later. Only one part of the building was truly historic, the ground-floor rooms where Mitchell did her writing, and that’s the part that, miraculously, was unscathed in the multiple fires.

Daren Wang, founding Executive Director of the Decatur Book Festival, has resigned effective at the end of the year.

Wang, whose debut novel, “The Hidden Light of Northern Fires, launches at this year’s festival, has announced his resignation, effective at the end of year.

“With the book coming out at this point, it feels like a natural break for me,” said Wang, 51. “As much as I love the festival and what we’ve accomplished, I’ve become the guy who says, ‘That’s not the way we do things,’ as opposed to the guy who says, ‘Hey, what a great idea Let’s do that.’ And I think that’s not what the festival needs in leadership.”

Festival director Julie Wilson said she’s excited for Wang and hopes to continue fostering what he helped establish.

“He has built this amazing event that this city loves and that has brought attention to the literary community in Atlanta, and we want to continue to build on that,” she said.


Qualifying for Mayor and City Council in most Georgia cities that have odd-year elections will run today through Wednesday, though some differ.

Qualifying for council seats up for election this year in Dallas and Hiram is set to begin Monday, Aug. 21, at each city hall. Dallas will end its qualifying period Wednesday, Aug. 23, at 4:30 p.m. while Hiram will keep its qualifying period open through Friday, Aug. 25, at 4:30 p.m.

Both elections are set for Nov. 7.

Dallas voters will choose members for the Ward 1 and 3 seats and one of two At-Large seats. Incumbents in those seats include Nancy Arnold, Griffin White and Chris Carter.

All three incumbents said they planned to qualify for re-election.

Hiram voters will select members for four-year terms for the Post 3, 4 and 5 council seats. Current council members in those seats include Derrick Battle, Jeff Cole and Mayor Pro-Tem Kathy Carter.

Cole and Kathy Carter said they plan to seek re-election this year. Battle did not return an emailed request for comment.

Check with your local government if you’re considering running.

John Creek City Council member Cori Davenport will not run for reelection this year.

With a “heavy heart,” Cori Davenport announced she will not be running for re-election to the Post 3 seat.

Davenport said she has been thinking about this option for some time, and decided it would be best to allow other residents to vie for the votes of citizens.

“My intent four years ago was to serve my community well and to lend my business knowledge, common sense judgment and a no-agenda approach to our city government,” she said. “I have kept that promise to the citizens and to myself.”

John Bradberry, founder of Preserve Johns Creek had previously announced he would run for the seat currently held by Davenport. Vicki Horton also announced for the District 3 seat.

Roswell City Council member Don Horton will run for Mayor.

Post 3 City Councilman Don Horton on Thursday said he will run for the seat held by incumbent Jere Wood, the longtime leader who announced he is not seeking re-election after a court ruling determined he was unqualified to run for the office in 2013.

Horton, who was first elected to the Council in 2015, outlined a list of accomplishments have taken place over the last two years. Some of those positive outcomes have been changing the city’s Unified Development Code to protect established neighborhoods, creating term limits for elected officials and working with the Roswell Downtown Development Authority to redevelop old shopping centers such as the old Southern Skillet property.

Along with Horton, candidates Michael Litten and Sandra Sidhom are also in the running for the seat.

In Milledgeville, Mayor and all six council members are up for election.

Every four years, city elections are held in Milledgeville. It’s also time for candidates interested in seeking a seat on the Georgia Military College Board of Trustees to qualify.

Candidates interested in qualifying for city council or mayor, as well as a seat on the Georgia Military College Board of Trustees, are reminded that qualifying for a position begins at 8:30 a.m. Monday and runs through 4:30 p.m. Friday, according to Milledgeville City Clerk Bo Danuser, who this year also is serving as city qualifying officer

Several incumbent members of city council have indicated they plan to seek re-election, as has the mayor.

Qualifying will be held in the clerk’s office located in City Hall, 119 E. Hancock St.

The Gwinnett Daily Post has a helpful review of city council elections for municipalities within Gwinnett County.

The Savannah Morning News reviews local elections qualifying this week.

The Marietta Daily Journal also highlights local election qualifying.

Today is the first day to qualify to get your name on the ballot for Nov. 7 elections in Acworth, Kennesaw and Marietta. Qualification begins Wednesday in Austell and Powder Springs.

Positions in all of Cobb’s cities except Smyrna will be up for a vote. No county or state offices will be on the ballot.

Thomasville is holding qualifying for City Council and Board of Education seats.

Seats open are:

• District 1, Post 2

• District 2, Post 2

• At-Large

Mayor Greg Hobbs currently serves District 1, Post 2, Council member Max Beverly currently serves District 2, Post 2, and mayor pro tem Don Sims currently serves as the at-large council member.

The second general election is for three seats on the Thomasville City School Board.

Seats open are:

• District 1, one seat

• District 2, two seats

Board member Dr. Hazel Jones currently serves District 1 and board members David Cone and John Everett currently serve in District 2.

Qualifying begins Aug. 21 and lasts until Aug. 25. Qualifying times are from 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2 p.m.-4:30 p.m.

Cairo voters will elect the Mayor and two City Council members.

The mayor’s seat and two council member seats are up for election on the Cairo City Council.

District 2 and District 4 seats are up in the election. Council members Ernest Cloud and James Douglas currently serve Districts 2 and 4, respectively. Robert Burns currently serves as the mayor.

All seats are up in the election for Whigham City Council.

The Whigham mayor and council members serve at-large.

The elections’ qualifying period begins Aug. 21 and lasts until Aug. 25, 4:30 p.m.


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

On August 18, 1591,the English settlement at Roanoke Island in the Outer Banks of what is now North Carolina was found deserted.

On August 20, 1781, General George Washington sent Continental troops from New York toward Yorktown, Virginia to engage British troops under Gen. Cornwallis.

On August 18, 1795, President George Washington signed a treaty with Great Britain called the Jay Treaty, after Supreme Court Justice John Jay who negotiated it. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison led opposition to the treaty.

USS Constitution earned the nickname “Old Ironsides” in battle against the British ship Guerriere off the coast of Nova Scotia on August 19, 1812. Launched in 1797, Constitution is today the oldest commissioned vessel in the United States Navy. Live oak from St. Simons Island were cut and milled for timber used in the constructions of Constitution. From a 1977 New York Times article:

The Constitution won her way into Americans’ hearts in 1812, when she defeated the British Guerriere off Nova Scotia in an exchange of broadsides. The spirit of the Constitution crew was noted by the Guerriere’s commander, James Dacres, who boarded the Constitution to present his sword in surrender.

”I will not take your sword, Sir,” the captain of the Constitution, Isaac Hull, replied. ”But I will trouble you for your hat.”

In the battle, a sailor — whether British or American is disputed by historians — is said to have cried out, ”Huzzah, her sides are made of iron!” as he watched an English cannonball bounce off the side of the Constitution. It was the birth of her nickname.

Part of the ship’s secret lay in the wood used in the design by Joshua Humphreys. He picked live oak, from St. Simons Island, Ga. The wood has proved so strong and resistant to rot that the original hull is intact, said Anne Grimes Rand, curator of the Constitution Museum in Charlestown, Mass.

On August 18, 1862, Confederate Major General of Cavalry J.E.B. Stuart was nearly captured, losing his distinctive hat and cloak and written copies of Lee’s orders near Verdiersville, Virginia.

On August 20, 1906, Gov. Joseph Terrell signed legislation to build a statue of Georgia founding father James Oglethorpe in Savannah and a bill to build a statue of former Confederate General and Georgia Governor John B. Gordon at the State Capitol.

The Georgia General Assembly adopted a joint resolution urging the creation of a federal Health Department on August 18, 1908.

The Georgia Department of Insurance was created on August 19, 1912 when Governor Joseph Brown signed legislation regulating companies selling policies in the states.

On August 18, 1916, the Cherokee Rose was designated the official state flower of Georgia by a joint resolution of the State House and Senate.

Governor Nathaniel Harris signed the first state law requiring school attendance for children 8-14 years of age on August 19, 1916; on the same day, Harris also signed legislation authorizing women to practice law in Georgia.

The practice of tipping service employees was outlawed by legislation signed on August 18, 1918.

The Georgia Department of Archives and History was created by legislation signed by Georgia Governor Hugh Dorsey on August 20, 1918.

Georgia Governor Hugh Dorsey signed legislation regulating the practice of architecture and licensing practitioners on August 18, 1919.

The Georgia Board of Public Welfare was also created on August 18, 1919 when Gov. Dorsey signed legislation establishing that body and a companion bill that created the Community Service Commission.

On August 20, 1920, the American Professional Football Association, which would later be renamed the National Football League, was formed in Akron, Ohio.

“Georgia” was designated the official state song on August 19, 1922 with Gov. Thomas Hardwick’s signature on a joint resolution passed by the General Assembly; in 1979, “Georgia On My Mind,” replaced it.

On August 20, 1923, Georgia Governor Clifford Walker signed legislation requiring state schools teach the United States and Georgia Constitutions and students pass an exam on the documents before being allowed to graduate.

Adolf Hitler became President of Germany on August 19, 1934.

The United States Central Intelligence Agency supported a coup in Iran that restored the Shah of Iran on August 19, 1953.

On August 18, 1924 Gov. Clifford Walker signed legislation that would allow a referendum on a Constitutional Amendment to allow Atlanta, Savannah, or Macon to consolidate their respective municipal governments with their county governments. Macon-Bibb County merged in 2014 after voters passed a referendum in July 2012.

The Beatles played at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium on August 18, 1965. has a couple images from the night.

On August 20, 1965, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones was released in the UK.

On August 20, 1974, President Gerald Ford nominated Nelson Rockefeller as Vice President of the United States.

On August 19, 1976, President Gerald R. Ford was nominated for President by the Republican National Convention in Kansas City, Missouri. Ford received 1,157 (52.6%) delegates to 1,087 for Ronald Reagan (47.4%). Georgia’s 48 delegates voted for Reagan on the first ballot.

Dr. Betty Siegel became the first female President of a state college or university in Georgia when she was named President of Kennesaw College on August 19, 1981; under her leadership, it became Kennesaw State University in 1996. Siegel served until 2006. Kennesaw State was recently named the 4th best college for food in the nation.

Also on August 19, 1981, President Ronald Reagan nominated Sandra Day O’Connor as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

On August 19, 1984, President Ronald Reagan was nominated for reelection by the Republican National Convention in Dallas, Texas.

On August 18, 1991, hardline Commies in the Soviet Union arrested Prime Minister Mikhail Gorbachev as part of a coup against Gorbachev’s reforms.

On August 18, 2015, Jeb Bush visited The Varsity in Atlanta. Here’s the funniest line from the CBS46 story:

Recently, Bush put a series of “Jeb No Filter” videos on YouTube and some say it’s a way to bring up his popularity.

“We’re going to work hard to earn the support of Georgians in the March 1 primary. It’s the second largest state in the primary, it’s our neighbor to our north, we’re going to be working hard,” Bush said.

While the instinct behind “Jeb No Filter” may have been good, it would take Donald Trump to show what No Filter really means.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Massachusetts state legislature passed a bill designating the first week of August as an annual “Ice Bucket Challenge Week.”

Governor Charlie Baker’s office says he plans to sign a law that would make the first week of August every year Ice Bucket Challenge Week.

The bill calls for the state’s governor to recognize the efforts of all Ice Bucket Challenge participants, and one of its biggest proponents, Pete Frates, 32.

A former Boston College basketball player, Frates, 32, originally of Beverly, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, in 2012. After a stint in Massachusetts General Hospital earlier this year, Frates’ family shared that he was back home earlier in July.

House Bill 1697 was sponsored by Representative Jerald A. Parisella, a Beverly Democrat, and Senator Joan B. Lovely, a Salem Democrat, along with more than 30 other petitioners.

“Governor Baker was pleased to support Pete Frates and his family by hosting the Ice Bucket Challenge at the State House to raise awareness and resources for those battling ALS and looks forward to signing this bill soon as a fitting tribute,” Baker spokesman Billy Pitman said in a statement.

The Georgia House Rural Development Council met in Dalton on Wednesday to hear from local leaders.

Brian Cooksey, director of operations training and development at Shaw Industries, briefed council members on how in Whitfield County representatives of industry, the local school systems, Dalton State College and Georgia Northwestern Technical College are working together to provide students with the skills that industry needs.

He said that up until a few years ago, Dalton State College was serving as both a technical college and a university.

“They did a really good job. But that’s a tough situation,” he said.

Cooksey said leaders at Dalton State, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia and local leaders worked together to allow the college to focus on its core strength as a university and to create programs in areas of demand by the floorcovering industry, such as bachelor of applied science in chemistry.

The next step, Cooksey said, was getting a campus of Georgia Northwestern in Whitfield County. Whitfield County Schools offered space inside the Northwest Georgia College and Career Academy and local industry provided equipment.

State Sen. Chuck Payne, R-Dalton, who sat in on some of the proceedings, said he was happy to hear how much cooperation is going on.

“We are working together here, and I hope that what we are doing can be expanded on in other places,” he said.

Rep. Rick Jasperse, R-Jasper, a member of the council, said the presentations they heard in Dalton and in other cities where the council has met should result in new legislation next year.

“We want to see what we can do to make it easier for our citizens to get the education and the skills they need to succeed,” he said. “Education is the key to a better life and the key to a higher income. We want all of Georgia to succeed, not just metro Atlanta.”

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson responded to requests to remove memorials in the city.

[T]he mayor said the city wouldn’t remove the memorial to the Civil War dead on Broadway.

“I investigated it and its history some time ago, before the horrific events in Charlottesville,” she wrote. “I do not advocate its removal for these reasons: It was erected in 1879, not during the pushback from the civil rights movement or in conjunction with Jim Crow. It was erected 14 years after the cessation of war and after Confederate soldiers (other than Jefferson Davis, Robert Lee and the Confederate Secretary of War) had been pardoned by two presidents in an effort of national reunification — to not forget, but to move forward as one nation.”

Tomlinson said the memorial was not erected by the city, county or state, but by family and friends of the dead.

“I am distinguishing between the memorial for the dead and these memorials that glorify and encourage the themes of the war and continue its upraising as a celebration,” she said in an interview with the Ledger-Enquirer.

Later in a news conference, she said state statute prohibits the removal of public monuments, which might apply to the one on Broadway.

Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach wants the state to change the name of the Talmadge bridge.

The city is now planning to host a forum to discuss the Confederate monument in Forsyth Park and the Eugene Talmadge Memorial Bridge in the wake of the violence that occurred in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend when white supremacists marched to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Staff was directed on Thursday by the Savannah City Council to schedule the forum after Mayor Eddie DeLoach spoke about the “acts of violence committed in the name of hate and racism” during the weekend’s tragic events, which included injuries and the death of a 32-year-old woman when a speeding car rammed into anti-racist protesters. Two law enforcement officers died when the helicopter they were using to monitor the event crashed.

“We all must denounce these forms of domestic terrorism and rally around each other in the name of peace and unity,” DeLoach said. “We must not just be on the right side of history, but we must write the right version of history.”

DeLoach went on to propose that the council send a resolution calling for the state legislature to rename the Talmadge Bridge to be a more inclusive name that represents the entire community. Georgia law requires the state must give approval to rename the bridge.

In addition, DeLoach called on city staff to find a way to “expand the story” of the Confederate monument to be inclusive of all Savannahians, regardless of race, creed or color, who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the Civil War.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr announced he will work with the National Association of Attorneys General on strengthening laws against elder abuse.

“The abuse, neglect, and exploitation of at-risk and older citizens is a tragic and evolving issue that is plaguing not only Georgia, but our entire country,” Carr said. “When I learned of NAAG President and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s intentions for the working group, I was eager to get our office involved.

“This type of collaborative effort is exactly what we need to create real results, and we look forward to working with our national partners to crack down on this malicious behavior in all its forms.”

Glynn County Commissioners heard from residents on a proposed property tax millage rate increase.

The commission approved a budget in June that relies on the millage increase.

Resident Chuck Cook said the public should more- critically weigh the benefits of the millage rate increase, as the county provides a lot of services that many see as necessary, such as 24-hour public safety services.

Another resident said that she liked living in the Golden Isles when she moved here because she was able to find a job and live comfortably. Now, however, times are tougher and she isn’t sure she’ll be able to swallow the cost of a property tax increase.

This hearing on the millage was the first of three. Another will be held at 11 a.m. on Aug. 22 in the St. Simons Island Casino and the third will be held at 6 p.m. on Aug. 24 in the Old Glynn County Courthouse, 701 G St. in Brunswick.

Flowery Branch will hold weekly events to promote voter registration.

Don McKee writes in the MDJ about another voter registration effort.

While the new SEC Primary gained a lot of attention and confirmed Kemp’s creativity, the secretary of state also started up a smaller program relating to voting within Georgia in 2016. It’s the Student Ambassador Program for “encouraging civic engagement and voter registration among young adults.” The pilot program began in January 2016 with just 14 Georgia high schools and 160 students participating.

After the program was started, electronic voter registration among 18-year-olds more than doubled using the state’s online platform and a free “GA SOS” mobile app. “Prior to the program’s pilot year in 2016, only 8,132 young adults registered to vote using the state’s electronic platforms,” Kemp announced this week. “Now, 16,737 young adults — and counting — have electronically registered to vote in Georgia.”

This year, 175 high schools and organizations in 94 Georgia counties will take part in the program, and beginning in September, more than 1,500 sophomores, juniors and seniors will receive training in how to register other young people and “engage with their local officials” — which no doubt will be respectful, aimed at gaining information, in contrast to the anger and yelling of insults at the town hall meeting held by U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-GA, and other members of Congress. On that point, civility should be a part of civics lessons — maybe including a crash course for people attending town halls before the meetings start.

Competition is a tried and true key to the Student Ambassador Program. Teams of students compete against those from other schools in statewide and regional events to win points by “hosting voter registration drives and volunteering within their communities.” Last year’s statewide winner was Newnan High School. Surely, one of our outstanding Cobb County schools has what it takes to be a winner.


Campaigns & Elections

Jessica Tarlov and Evan Roth Smith write for Fox about how Democrats could start winning elections again.

The problem is simple, but deeply entrenched: the Democratic Party is overcentralized, run from Washington and other power centers where established party elites and career operatives dispense favors, funds, and a party line that fails to reflect the needs, wishes, and priorities of actual Democratic voters.

Democratic elites and big-money donors continue to back bad candidates in winnable races, instead of letting local Democratic leaders build the party from the ground up.

Put another way, Democratic elites support well-connected carpetbaggers like Jon Ossoff, or comically underqualified political novices like Rob Quist, over actual local Democratic elected officials, activists, organizers, business owners, or community leaders.

In June’s special election for Georgia’s 6th Congressional district, Democrats spent a staggering, record-setting $23 million on Jon Ossoff’s losing campaign. Ossoff, who had never run for as much as school board, was a former D.C. congressional staffer who hadn’t lived in the district for over a decade and couldn’t even cast a ballot for himself.

Nonetheless, party elites anointed Ossoff over a slew of truly local candidates, including a former Georgia state senator, a black businesswoman running as a government reformer, an accomplished doctor running on her genuine health care expertise, and a college professor who served in the first Gulf War.

Ossoff lost to an experienced campaigner with a clear local constituency, former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel.

Now it’s time for another warning that Democrats should heed: run your local talent.

Doraville City Council Member Robert Patrick will seek reelection in District 1.

This year in Doraville, three seats, occupied by Patrick (District 1), Dawn O’Connor (District 2) and Sharon Spangler (District 3) are up for election. The qualifying fee is $252. The election will be held Nov. 7.

Jill Fisher will run for Rome Board of Education.

Jill Fisher, a mother of three Rome city school students who is active in the community while acting as bookkeeper in her husband’s dental practice, announced her intention to run for Rome City Board of Education Thursday.

“I am excited to enter the race to become a Rome City School board member. My husband, Mark, and I have three kids: one at Rome High, one at Rome Middle, and one at East Central Elementary. For the last ten years, I have served RCS in many ways, including two terms as PTO President. I have also served on several advisory committees designed to bridge the school system and parents.


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

Georgia Governor Joseph Terrell signed legislation creating the State Board of Health on August 17, 1903.

Georgia Tech was designated the State School of Technology on August 17, 1908 by joint resolution of the State Senate and State House.

In a quaint bit of Georgia history, on August 17, 1908, Governor Hoke Smith signed legislation prohibiting corporate donations to political campaigns. Cute!

On August 17, 1998, President Bill Clinton testified as the subject of a grand jury investigation.

The testimony came after a four-year investigation into Clinton and his wife Hillary’s alleged involvement in several scandals, including accusations of sexual harassment, potentially illegal real-estate deals and suspected “cronyism” involved in the firing of White House travel-agency personnel. The independent prosecutor, Kenneth Starr, then uncovered an affair between Clinton and a White House intern named Monica Lewinsky. When questioned about the affair, Clinton denied it, which led Starr to charge the president with perjury and obstruction of justice, which in turn prompted his testimony on August 17.

Neither History Nor Politics

Researchers at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the Mayo Clinic announced they have identified the basic pathology behind Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

The disease-causing mutation identified is the first of its kind, [Dr. J. Paul] Taylor said. Unlike in other genetic diseases, the mutation does not cripple an enzyme in a biological regulatory pathway. Rather, the mutation produces an abnormal version of a protein involved in a process called phase separation in cells.

There is currently no effective treatment for ALS/FTD. However, the researchers believe their finding offers a promising pathway for developing treatments to restore neurons’ ability to  disassemble the organelles when their cellular purpose has ended.

The TIA1 mutation was discovered when the scientists analyzed the genomes of a family affected with ALS/FTD. Tracing the effect of the mutation on TIA1 structure, the researchers found that it altered the properties of a highly mobile “tail” of the protein. This tail region governs the protein’s ability to aggregate with other TIA1 proteins. Taylor and his colleagues previously identified such unstructured protein regions, called prion-like domains, as the building blocks of cellular assemblies and as hotspots for disease-causing mutations.

In further studies, the researchers found that TIA1 mutations occurred frequently in ALS patients. The scientists also found that people carrying the mutation had the disease.

“This paper provides the first ‘smoking gun,’ showing that the disease-causing mutation changes the phase transition behavior of proteins,”  Taylor said. “And the change in the phase transition behavior changes the biology of the cell.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Former Atlanta Mayor and Ambassador Andrew Young said it’s too expensive to fight the civil war again.

Said Young:

“I think it’s too costly to refight the Civil War. We have paid too great a price in trying to bring people together…

“I personally feel that we made a mistake in fighting over the Confederate flag here in Georgia. Or that that was an answer to the problem of the death of nine people – to take down the Confederate flag in South Carolina.”

Specifically, Young was speaking of Gov. Roy Barnes’ decision to pull down the 1956 state flag that prominently featured the Confederate battle emblem. The move was a primary reason he lost his bid for re-election, split the state Democratic party, and ushered in the current season of Republican rule. Said Young:

“It cost us $14.9 billion and 70,000 jobs that would have gone with the Affordable Care Act – which we probably would have had if we hadn’t been fighting over a flag…

“It cost of us the health of our city because we were prepared to build a Northern Arc, 65 miles away from the center of the city of Atlanta – an outer perimeter that would have been up and running now, if we had not been fighting over the flag.

“I am always interested in substance over symbols. If the truth be known, we’ve had as much agony – but also glory, under the United States flag. That flew over segregated America. It flew over slavery….”

The Georgia Conference of the NAACP is calling for the removal of all Confederate memorials on public property.

On Wednesday, state conference President Phyllis Blake issued a statement calling for elected officials to remove all confederate symbols from public property owned by the state and local governments.

“The traitors of the Confederate States of America were soundly defeated over 150 years ago and today we as diverse Georgians must send a message once and for all, that Georgia is the state too busy to hate,” Blake said in a statement. “We call on all mayors within this great state, including (Atlanta) Mayor Kasim Reed, to remove all symbols of the confederacy from city government property.”

Valdosta residents will rally in response to Charlottesville at 11 AM on Saturday at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park.

Bill Torpy at the AJC writes about fighting among Georgia Democrats.

When I first saw the video of activists shouting down Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Evans at the Netroots Nation convention last weekend, I had one thought: Hello, Governor Cagle.

The event was just the latest example of why the Democratic Party seems ready to relegate itself to permanent bridesmaid status, not only here in Georgia but from sea to shining sea. And the Republican front-runner in the governor’s race, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, was no doubt grinning big time.

Lisa Coston, who told me she’s a progressive Dem from Lawrenceville, responded to Abrams’ post, saying: “What the protesters did was to disrupt Rep. Evans’ speech, for no apparent reason but to try and shut her up. There is no need for that, nor an excuse for that behavior.

“This is the explicit problem with the Democratic Party in general, both at the state and national level. Infighting based on race, religion, whatever else. It prevents progressives from being united, and thus we lose and lose and lose.”

However, [Stacey] Abrams’ deputy campaign manager, Marcus Ferrell, used to be CEO of an activist org called MPACT. And his deputy director at MPACT was a woman named Anoa Changa.

Not long after the shout-down, The Washington Post talked with “protester” Anoa Changa. “An interruption is not necessarily promoting one person over another,” Changa told the newspaper.

Allen Fort, Superintendent/Principal of Taliferro County Schools, wrote about the challenges of rural Georgia in a letter that Maureen Downey ran in her AJC blog.

Taliaferro is the smallest county in Georgia with the smallest school system. There are 175 students, Pre-k-12, who attend this tiny school located about half way between Atlanta and Augusta on I-20. It is hard to imagine a county of just 1,700 citizens exists only miles from two cities that have more than six million people, but it does.

Many people will wonder why this school system even exists. Why it doesn’t consolidate? Why it doesn’t just close?

One of the greatest challenges of educating 21st century youth is that, while technology has increased access to information and experiences, students are increasingly disconnected from education. This dilemma is exacerbated in rural communities where jobs are few and opportunities appear limited. Therefore, our teachers and students must have everyday meaningful opportunities to use technology not to surf the internet, but to teach and learn, creating teachable moments and unique instruction.

We understand we may be our own worst enemy as these students graduate and move on to college (all of our last year’s graduates were accepted and are attending four-year, two-year or technical college at this time). Unfortunately, we may never see them back in Taliaferro again.

What is here to bring them back? We have no adequate housing, no viable businesses and no real industry to entice a young college graduate or recently discharged veteran to return to our community as a working citizen. When the local name for the Dollar General is the “Crawfordville Mall,” you understand your limitations.

Federal grants for the two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle are caught up in larger budget matters in the U.S. Senate.

Boosters of the estimated $25 billion project, the only one of its kind left in the U.S., think the federal bill could throw an economic lifeline to the companies behind the venture as they decide whether to move ahead with construction or abandon work amid major cost overruns and deep delays.

Under current law, newly constructed nuclear reactors can receive federal tax credits for producing electricity only if they are put in service before 2021. The bill before Congress would lift the deadline.

The extension would help preserve the roughly $800 million in tax credits that Georgia Power, which has a nearly 46 percent share of the project, has been counting on as it builds a pair of new reactors at Plant Vogtle near Augusta.

A bill extending the tax credits sailed through the U.S. House nearly unanimously back in June, but it needs the Senate’s approval before it can be sent to President Donald Trump’s desk. And that’s where the bill appears to be stuck, not because of outright opposition but the greater gravitational pull of a broader tax overhaul.

Meanwhile, a 1.4 million-pound steam generator was installed at Vogtle Unit 3.

Georgia Power announced … that a 1.4 million pound steam generator was lowered into the nuclear island of Unit 3 on Tuesday. The nearly 80-foot generator was built in South Korea and shipped to the Port of Savannah and delivered to the site by rail, the company said in a news release. The generators use heat from the nuclear core to convert water into steam for power generation. Each of the two new-generation AP1000 reactors will require two steam generators, all of which are currently on site, the company said.

Southern Nuclear, a division of Georgia Power parent company Southern Co., now has oversight over the expansion after contractor Westinghouse declared bankruptcy in March. Southern Nuclear operates the other two reactors at Vogtle.

Thousands of voting machines may be out of commission due to a lawsuit filed over the 6th Congressional District elections earlier this year.

The suit, filed over the July 4 holiday, demands that Republican Karen Handel’s win in a June 20 runoff be thrown out and the contest redone over concerns some election integrity advocates have about the security and accuracy of Georgia’s election infrastructure.

The machines and related hardware are central to that system, and the three metro counties with areas in the 6th District — Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton — have stored the machines used in the special election after plaintiffs sought to preserve electronic records that could have bearing on the suit.

That includes keeping intact memory cards — which might otherwise be wiped clean in preparation for a new election — as well as residual memory on the machines. Voting on the machines is anonymous — the records can’t be used to identify personal information about a specific voter — but they do track and tally how many votes are cast on individual machines or in the election overall.

Advocates who filed the suit said they aren’t trying to derail the state’s elections schedule or any of those counties’ preparations ahead of November. But their request has also resulted in a litigation hold on 1,324 voting machines in Fulton, nearly 1,000 machines in DeKalb and 307 machines in Cobb.

Gwinnett County Magistrate Judge James Hinkle resigned his office after being suspended for comments on Facebook.

Chief Magistrate Judge Kristina Hammer Blum said in a statement at about 6:30 p.m. that Judge James A. Hinkle “offered his immediate resignation from his position as a part-time Magistrate.”

“For 14 years, Judge Hinkle has dutifully served this Court. He is a lifelong public servant and former Marine,” Blum said. “However, he has acknowledged that his statements on social media have disrupted the mission of this court, which is to provide justice for all.”

Governor Nathan Deal will return to Gainesville to recognize a new state law allowing direct sales of beer to consumers.

Deal will join local elected officials at the brewery on Atlanta Highway to ring in Georgia’s new law allowing direct sales of beer, from pints to cases, at breweries.

The law was approved in the most recent session of the Georgia General Assembly and signed into law by Deal. It’s being celebrated as a major step forward for Georgia breweries.

The event runs from noon to 10 p.m. Deal will make an appearance later in the afternoon, according to Datta.

The business owner is calling it a new era for Georgia breweries, heretofore restricted to selling tours of their facilities and offering “samples” of their beer. Almost all of Georgia-made packaged beer is distributed to wholesalers, but that will change come September.

“Just as with the state’s wine industry, craft breweries are becoming travel destinations, and tourists from within and outside (Georgia) are seeking out breweries to enjoy the local flavors and offerings unique to each brewery,” Datta said in his Wednesday announcement.

Thirty Georgia businesses joined the Business Alliance for Protecting the Atlantic Coast.

Not quite a year old, the South Carolina-based organization boasts the support of more than 41,000 business and 500,000 commercial fishing families for its efforts to protect the Atlantic Coast from offshore oil/gas exploration and drilling.

Michael Neal, owner of Bull River Cruises, is among the local participants.

“Both the beauty of Coastal Georgia and the nature of Coastal Georgia have more importance that the potential of offshore drilling,” said Neal, whose 19-year-old business employs five people for its educational and historical cruises to places such as Ossabaw Island. “Plus, there are potential impacts if anything goes wrong.”

In April, President Donald Trump revived the prospects for offshore drilling and exploration with an executive order. It calls for a review of the current five-year program for oil and gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf and directs the administration to fast-track the permitting process for seismic airgun blasting for an area stretching from Delaware to Florida.

Along with businesses, local governments along the coast have expressed opposition to both offshore drilling and seismic testing. Among those passing resolutions are Savannah, Tybee, Hinesville and Brunswick. The governors of both North and South Carolina have voiced opposition to drilling off the Atlantic coast.

But state and federal elected officials in Georgia still back drilling.

State Rep. Lee Hawkins (R-Gainesville) appeared at the Gainesville City Council meeting to present a state resolution.

“Whereas the State of Georgia lost one its finest citizens and most dedicated law enforcement officers with the tragic passing of Officer Henry Tilman Davis,” Hawkins began reading.

Hawkins continued, “When his life was tragically cut short in September of 1972 after his patrol car was struck from behind and forced into oncoming traffic while traveling on Dawsonville Highway in Gainesville…”

“Be it resolved…that the intersection of Beechwood Boulevard NW and State Route 53/Dawsonville Highway in Hall County is dedicated as the Officer Henry Tilman Davis Memorial Intersection.”

In Gainesville, qualifying for Mayor and two Council seats opens Monday, August 21st.

Cobb County Commissioner Bob Ott will hold a Town Hall tonight at 7 PM at the East Cobb Library, located at 4880 Lower Roswell Road in Marietta.

Voters in Athens-Clarke County will decide on November 7, 2017 whether to levy a Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (T-SPLOST).

With little discussion, Athens-Clarke County commissioners gave final approval to a Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax during a special-called meeting Tuesday.

Officials expect to accrue $109.5 million in collections over the course of the sales tax window to fund road-paving projects, an extension of the Firefly Trail, fixes to the Oconee Rivers Greenway and much more.

The TSPLOST list will go to voters as part of a referendum that also would allow county officials to seek a $95 million bond to get started on some of the projects. Proceeds from the tax would be used to repay the bond.

If voters approve the referendum, collections on the sales tax will start April 1.


Northside Hospital and Gwinnett Health System have filed plans to merge, possibly beginning joint operations in 2018.

The hospital systems have filed their proposed merger agreement with the Georgia Attorney General’s office.

Northside has hospitals in Atlanta, Cherokee County and Forsyth County. The Gwinnett Health System has Gwinnett Medical Center campuses in Duluth and Lawrenceville. The hospitals expect to have nearly 21,000 employees and 3,500 physicians once the merger is complete.

The Dougherty County Commission voted 5-2 to oppose the opening of a hospital in neighboring Lee County.

Dougherty County Commission voted Wednesday at a special called meeting to send the state Department of Community Health a notice of opposition to a certificate of need sought by the group that plans to build the Lee hospital.

After Dougherty Attorney Spencer Lee told the board, “You need to act today if you want to be part of this process,” the board voted 5-2 to send a notice of opposition to the Lee CON to the state Department of Community Health.

Commissioners Lamar Hudgins, who said he “could not vote against a fellow county that is so entwined with us,” and John Hayes, who said he’d had a number of county citizens — including physicians — express their support for the proposed hospital, voted against the resolution to oppose the CON.

[Dougherty County Commission Chair Chris] Cohilas made it clear during discussion of the notice of opposition that Dougherty County’s primary reason for taking the action is to protect the interests of citizens and the health care provided by Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, which cannot speak out against the CON application because of an agreement the Hospital Authority of Albany-Dougherty County reached with the Federal Trade Commission while in the process of purchasing Palmyra Medical Center in Albany. In fact, one of the stipulations included in a letter Lee sent to DCH Commissioner Frank Berry asked that body to allow Phoebe to offer its opposition to the application.

The Times-Georgian in Carrollton looks at the struggles of a local rural hospital and its patients.

Part of the nonprofit Tanner Health System, Higgins General Hospital doesn’t have shareholders — every bit of revenue is reinvested into the facility, financing new equipment, new facilities like the new surgical services center that’s now under construction, and to provide care for people in the community who cannot otherwise afford it.

Each year, Higgins General Hospital alone spends about $10 million on charity and indigent care, ensuring everyone in the community has care when they need it. But like many of their patients, the hospital, too, has to make ends meet.

“It’s unfortunate, but cost is a real barrier to care for a lot of people,” said Bonnie Boles, MD, MBA, administrator of Higgins General Hospital and Tanner Medical Center/Villa Rica. “I saw it first-hand when I was in practice, and I see it now in administration. Having regular access to care, especially for people with chronic diseases like COPD or diabetes, is essential for keeping those diseases under control. And when you can’t, you end up needing a much more acute level of care, like a hospitalization. But you’re not better off financially when you leave the hospital, so the cycle just continues.”

But the cost of providing uncompensated care is making things difficult for hospitals, too.

Since the beginning of 2013, six Georgia hospitals have closed, and others — especially those in rural areas — are struggling to keep their doors open. The most recent Georgia Department of Community Health Hospital Financial Survey found that 42 percent of all hospitals in Georgia had negative total margins in 2015, while 68 percent of rural hospitals in the state lost money in the same year.

Much of that strain is coming from uncompensated care — care hospitals provide but for which they receive little or no reimbursement. According to the Georgia Hospital Association, in 2015 the state’s hospitals absorbed more than $1.7 billion in costs for care that was delivered but not paid for.

Senate Bill 258 — the Georgia Rural Hospital Expense Tax Credit program — allows Georgia taxpayers to make contributions to select rural hospitals in Georgia, including Higgins General Hospital in Bremen. Originally providing a 70 percent credit, lawmakers in the General Assembly this year passed Senate Bill 180, extending the credit to 90 percent and making it retroactive to Jan. 1, 2017.

Under the enhanced rural hospital tax credit, by contributing to Higgins General Hospital in exchange for a 90 percent tax credit, Georgia taxpayers can pay substantially all of their Georgia income taxes — up to the maximum amounts allowed.

Higgins General Hospital is among the rural Georgia hospitals that qualify for the credit. Tanner’s leadership has been making the rounds, visiting civic groups and hosting meetings with local tax advisors and accountants to extol the benefits of the program. The health system has also launched a website,, with information about how people can donate and benefit from the program.

“We are grateful that our state’s lawmakers have signaled that they understand the importance of our rural hospitals to the communities they serve by supporting this innovative program,” said Loy Howard, president and CEO of Tanner Health System — and also a certified public accountant. “This is a unique opportunity for residents to keep their tax money local and do something positive for their community.”


Leo Smith, former Director of Minority Engagement for the Georgia Republican Party, will run for the state Senate seat being vacated by Hunter Hill.

Leo Smith said Thursday he’s running as a “conservative bridge builder with a unique set of skills” to serve the district, which stretches across parts of north Atlanta and Smyrna. He would be the first black Republican in the Georgia Senate in modern times.

The seat is a juicy target for Democrats. Republican Hunter Hill, who is vacating the position to run for governor, only narrowly held it in November. And Hillary Clinton carried the affluent district in November.

Three Democrats are already in the contest. Pediatric dentist Jaha Howard is making a comeback bid after his slim defeat last year. Trial lawyer Jen Jordan has already announced her candidacy.  And political newcomer Nigel Sims has entered the race.

Newt Gingrich endorsed David Shafer for Lieutenant Governor in the 2018 election.

Former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich endorsed Shafer on Tuesday. The veteran Georgia politician and ex-presidential candidate, known for his Contract With America that helped lead to Republicans taking control of the House in 1994, praised Shafer for his conservative credentials.

Shafer led the Georgia Republican Party in the early 1990s and has championed issues such as zero-based budgeting and limiting tax increases.

“David Shafer is an effective, innovative legislator with a solidly conservative record to back up his campaign promises,” Gingrich said. “He has proven time and again that he will fight for us. David Shafer will make an outstanding Lieutenant Governor for Georgia and I am proud to endorse him.”

Gingrich’s endorsement of Shafer is the latest person who, one time or another, had a national profile in Republican politics. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and former congressman and ex-presidential candidate Bob Barr have announced their support for the state senator, as has former Rep. John Linder.

State Rep. Geoff Duncan (R-Cumming) announced that former Coca-Cola Enterprises chief executive John Brock has endorsed his campaign for Lt. Governor.

John Brock … said he wanted to back a candidate for lieutenant governor who “knows what it’s like to sign the front of a check and not just the back of one.”

Brock, who retired as the bottling giant’s chief executive in 2016, said in the statement that he’s endorsing the state legislator because of his entrepreneurial experience. Duncan led several health startups before seeking to succeed Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who is running for governor.

John Bradberry will run for Johns Creek City Council Post Three in November 2017.

Johns Creek small business owner and former United States Marine, John Bradberry, has announced his intention to run for City Council Post 3 in this November’s election.
“Whether it is zoning or road improvement projects, every decision made by the City of Johns Creek should ask “How will this affect our residents’ quality of life?”  said Bradberry.

Bradberry’s campaign slogan is “Preserve Johns Creek…Protect Our Quality of Life!”  Bradberry said, “This is more than just a slogan to me.  Our community is at a critical juncture.  It is vital that we return to our original vision for Johns Creek.  We are a high-end residential community with great schools, low crime, and a high quality of life.  As long as we continue to be the best at that, then there will always be high-demand for our ‘product’.   It sets us apart and makes us unique.  We love it and call it home.”

The highlights of Bradberry’s platform are:
* Restore trust in local government
* Focus on traffic relief for OUR residents
* Stop high density development, billboards and widenings that create cut-through highways
* Term limits for locally elected officials

“These issues are critical to my family and the future of Johns Creek.  I’ll be an independent voice for the residents.”

Warner Robins Mayor Randy Toms has launched his reelection campaign.

Warner Robins Mayor Randy Toms officially began his re-election campaign Wednesday by saying he had kept his lone campaign promise, which was to bring more calm to city government.

Although he admitted before his announcement that the last City Council meeting wasn’t a good example, Toms said overall he has kept that promise.

“I believe the environment has calmed down and I believe this calmness has facilitated a resurgence in growth in the area,” he said.

Monday is also the day that qualifying for the Nov. 7 election begins. Joe Musselwhite, the city’s former public works director who lost to Toms in the 2013 election, has said he is making another try as mayor. Councilman Chuck Shaheen said during the debate on the city administrator that he plans to run for mayor, but he declined to confirm that afterward and has not officially announced.

Toms was a city firefighter for 27 years and won the mayor’s seat in a 6-way race.


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

The State Highway Department was created on August 16, 1916 to comply with federal funding requirements, when Georgia Governor Nathaniel Harris signed legislation by the General Assembly.

Georgia Governor Hugh Dorsey signed legislation creating the State Department of Banking on August 16, 1919.

Georgia Governor Clifford Walker signed legislation changing the method of execution in Georgia from hanging to the electric chair on August 16, 1924.

On August 16, 1974, The Ramones played their first public show at CBGB in New York.

Elvis Presley died on August 16, 1977.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal appointed Douglas Chalmers, Jr. to the Judicial Nominating Commission. Congratulations and concolences to Doug.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr spoke to the Athens Republican Party meeting.

Among other topics, Carr discussed his role in Georgia politics.

“It’s a little bit legal, a little policy, a little communications and awareness and a little bit managerial,” he said after being appointed in October 2016.

Carr is set to run for attorney general in the 2018 election and said that over the course of his time in the position, his main priorities are social security, concealed carry and prayer in the legislature.

Looking to the future, Carr hopes to tackle human trafficking, opioid abuse and elder abuse.

“From June 1, 2016 to June 1, 2017, 541 million illegal doses—that’s 51 illegal doses for every man, woman and child in the state of Georgia,” Carr said. “This issue is ravaging families, communities and companies.”

More than 100 people marched in Gainesville in response to Charlottesville.

Josh McCall organized the event after violent clashes in Virginia on Saturday ….

People began trickling into Roosevelt Square near the Hall County Courthouse a bit after 4:30 p.m. for the 5:15 p.m. march, called A March for Equality and Dignity.

The group was a cross-section of Gainesville, including members of both political parties, white, black and Hispanic residents, old and young, long-timers in the community and students new to the area.

Appeals to Christian beliefs bookended the demonstration by preachers and other speakers at the end of the march.

“All human beings in this country are equal,” McCall told the crowd at the beginning of the event. “Every human being in this country deserves dignity.”

McCall announced earlier this year he is running against U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, next year.

The Hall County Board of Tax Assessors appeared in the Georgia Supreme Court in a case involving ad valorem tax appeals.

Attorneys for the Hall County Board of Tax Assessors and the companies argued before the Supreme Court of Georgia in Atlanta. The case involves Westrec Properties, PS Recreational Properties, Chattahoochee Parks, March First and AMP III-Lazy Days on their 2015 tax assessments.

A law effective Jan. 1, 2016, amended the Georgia code regarding ad valorem tax assessment appeals, which must first go to the Board of Equalization for an appeal.

Within 45 days of receiving an appeal on the Board of Equalization’s ruling and “before certification of the appeal to the Superior Court, the county board of tax assessors shall send to the taxpayer notice that a settlement conference” will be held, according to the code.

The marinas’ attorney J. Ethan Underwood said his clients believed the floating and movable docks should have been taxed as personal property, leading to the initial appeal.

University of North Georgia Police Chief Justin Gaines held another Town Hall to discuss campus carry.

Gaines has done more than a dozen of the meetings over the past few months on UNG’s five campuses. Like the last one in Gainesville in June, Gaines dealt with some faculty and staff members concerned that people could walk on campus with a concealed handgun.

“Where is our rights?” asked one person who did not identify herself but said she was concerned she is not allowed to know who has a gun in her classroom.

“It’s not for me to answer,” Gaines said. “All I can tell you is what the law is.”

Gaines recommended that students and faculty take cellphones into classrooms so they could alert officials about police or medical emergencies either through a call or by using the school’s public safety app, Rave Guardian.

“It may not be a person with a gun; it may be someone seizing on the floor in your classroom that needs (attention for) a medical emergency right then and right there,” he said.

Gaines said he hopes the town halls in recent months have been beneficial to those who attended.

“The whole point of it is for voluntary compliance,” he said. “We protect and serve, but we also educate. Education is a big part of what we do. By investing the time to educate, I think it has been a benefit. Time will tell if it has been.”

Gwinnett County Magistrate Judge James Hinkle has been suspended over Facebook posting.

“After reviewing the Facebook posts brought to my attention this morning, I suspended Judge (James) Hinkle effective immediately while I consider the appropriate final action,” Chief Magistrate Judge Kristina Hammer Blum said.

Hinkle reportedly called protesters concerned about Confederate monuments in Charlottesville “snowflakes.”

“As Chief Magistrate Judge, I have made it clear to all of our judges that the Judicial Canons, as well as our internal policies, require judges to conduct themselves in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity, impartiality and fairness of the judiciary,” she said. “I consider any violation of these principles and policies to be a matter of utmost concern.”

From the AJC:

“Another compelling argument to not engage in social media,” longtime Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter said of Hinkle’s posts. “I think that the comments could raise questions about the judge’s impartiality, and I think [Chief Magistrate Judge Kristina Hammer Blum] did exactly the right thing suspending him immediately upon learning of the posts.”

Joe Sawyer will run for Peachtree Corners City Council Post 4 this November.

The Lowndes County Board of Education adopted the rollback millage rate for property taxes.

The City of Dalton will keep the same millage rate as last year, which under state law must be advertised as a property tax increase.

Augusta Commissioners voted 10-0 to allow small breweries and distilleries in business districts.

The Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission approved an application for a “beer garden.”

The Society Garden at 2367 Ingleside Ave. plans to sell beer and wine and have occasional live entertainment, according to co-owner Megan Evans.

It also will offer gardening supplies, plants and outdoor furniture for sale, said Evans and co-owner Andrew Collier.

“It will have a very small retail (space) with some small, easy-to-pick up things,” she said, addding that she wanted to get the beer garden portion opened first.

The business will not prepare any food on site except for popcorn and Popsicles, the staff report said.

The Varnell City Council has become my favorite soap opera. From the Chattanooga Times Free Press:

In the middle of a city council meeting Tuesday night, an elected official stood up to leave, blocking any further votes.

“I’m calling this meeting,” Varnell City Councilwoman Ashlee Godfrey told the crowd at a local gym. “There is no longer a quorum developed. No more city business can take place. Thank you.”

In the bleachers, a crowd of about 100 people rose and cheered as Godfrey walked outside, ending the meeting just as the council’s two other members planned to vote to put a referendum on the Nov. 7 ballot. Councilmen Jan Pourquoi and David Owens want residents to decide whether to eliminate the city’s police department.

At the same time, voters would also decide whether to eliminate property taxes, which sit at about 2.4 mills. But Godfrey and Mayor Anthony Hulsey objected to the wording on the potential referendum, as did some residents who spoke during the meeting. They feel as though the councilmen should not tie the elimination of the police department to the elimination of taxes.

“It’s kind of like a bribe,” Hulsey said.

In Varnell, the council needs three members present to conduct public business. In the last two months, two other council members have already resigned. This means all three current members have to appear. On July 25, when Pourquoi and Owens tried to vote on this same referendum, Godfrey did not show up, canceling the meeting.

Savannah’s Coastal Center for Developmental Services hosted Labor Commissioner Mark Butler and Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black.

“Our mission is very simple,” CCDS executive director Ken Boyd told the group assembled for lunch. “It’s to place individuals with developmental disabilities into community-wide employment. The more we can assimilate individuals into the community, the better.”

CCDS works with 132 employers in the area and currently has approximately 225 individuals working either full-time or part-time in the community or training with CCDS in anticipation of community employment.

“One of the biggest advantages for an employer is that we provide an on-site job coach, so that when the individual goes out on a job, one of our job specialists is with them, making sure they are fully aligned with the needs and requirements of the job,” Boyd said.

For Butler and Black, Tuesday’s program provided an eye-opening look at the potential and abilities of people who are “differently abled.”

“It’s clear that there is opportunity for everyone, but we have to make people aware of this,” Black said, adding he’d like to explore the application of CCDS’s approach to agricultural employers down the road.

“But certainly there are opportunities in food processing and retail …,” he said. “We just have to recognize that there is opportunity for everyone, if we are just willing to invest in them.”

Butler said he had visited many similar programs around the state and called CCDS “one of the best I’ve seen in both organization and effectiveness.

“We have to do a better job of highlighting these types of programs, because we have a lot of employers who aren’t aware of them,” he said. “These are individuals who are getting the training, and the soft skills will make them the kinds of workers that employers are looking for.”

Savannah will accept applications for citizen members of several boards and commissions.

Congressman Austin Scott (R-Tifton) met with local farmers to hear their needs.

The congressman, who represents the 8th Congressional District that includes Macon-Bibb County, said he wanted to hear farmer’s concerns ahead of the new farm bill that’s in the works.

The average age for a Middle Georgia farmer is 60 years old, said Andrew Bahrenburg, policy director for the National Young Farmers Coalition.

“As the U.S. farm population rapidly ages … there’s a great deal of farmland that’s ready to transition and will need a new farmer,” Bahrenburg said. “It’s estimated that a 100 million acres of farmland will transition over the lifetime of this upcoming farm bill, so over the next five years.”

About half of the farmers invited to sit on the panel with Scott were first-generation farmers.

Julia Asherman, who operates Rag and Frass Farm in Jeffersonville, said a shift in paradigm is to be expected, but the agriculture industry should “expect and invite people you don’t expect” to farming.

Broadband internet was also a concern for farmers, which often work in rural areas.

Bobby Losh-Jones and his wife, Chelsea, said they need internet to operate their boxed farm food subscription.

The Georgia Public Service Commission has instructed Georgia Power to answer a series of questions regarding nuclear construction at Plant Vogtle.

Georgia’s utility regulating agency voted Tuesday for an action intended as a show of support for the struggling Plant Vogtle.

This vote today sends a message to the company, the company’s partners, ratepayers, and Wall Street that the commission continues to be supportive of this project – provided it can be done economically,” Stan Wise, chairman of the Georgia Public Service Commission, said in a statement.

In addition, the PSC voted Wednesday for an action that requires Georgia Power, the primary owner of Plant Vogtle, to state in its next Vogtle monitoring report whether or not it intends to proceed with Vogtle’s construction. The PSC expects that report to be filed on Aug. 31. Wise sponsored the action.

Wise’s action includes an amendment that enables the PSC to revise or rescind any future PSC action if Plant Vogtle is abandoned. PSC Vice-Chairperson Tim Echols sponsored the amendment.

Wise’s measure cites 14 issues that must be addressed in the upcoming report. They include:

“Should the commission approve revisions to cost and schedule?
“What is the company’s new estimate to complete the project and what is the new schedule for commercial operation of the two units if the commission decides to go forward with one or both units?”

“This information will help us in deciding the appropriateness of whether this project should go forward or not go forward,” Wise said.

2018 Elections

Tom Crawford writes that 2018 may see a Democratic Primary that tears the party apart.

You could easily have a situation where Abrams wins the primary by energizing black voters, but in the process turns off white voters who don’t bother to vote for her in the general election.

Similarly, if Evans were to win a bitterly contested primary race over Abrams, that could result in demoralized black voters staying at home during the general election.

We’ve seen this kind of division tear apart the Democratic Party before.

Back in 2006, the party’s two major candidates for governor were Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor and Secretary of State Cathy Cox (both of the candidates were white).

It became a political bloodbath between two candidates who clearly had a deep personal dislike for each other. Cox and Taylor both aired hard-hitting commercials that accused each other of lying and double-dealing. Taylor’s campaign, for good measure, also filed two civil lawsuits against Cox and her aides.

Taylor eventually prevailed in the slash-and-burn primary, but it was an empty victory. The nastiness of that campaign turned off quite a few Cox supporters who either sat out the general election or voted for the Republican incumbent, Sonny Perdue.


Georgia’s state Medicaid chief, Linda Wiant, has left the Department of Community Health.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded a $2.3 million dollar grant to Georgia health centers.

The 32 centers receiving the funds will look to improve performance in the following categories: improving quality of care; increasing access to care; enhancing delivery of high value health care; addressing health disparities and achieving patient-centered medical home recognition.

The recipients include centers in Albany, Athens, Marietta, Palmetto, Ringgold and Swainsboro.